Andrew V. was an Army officer that I served with in Sadr City. A police officer in civilian life, he was decorated with the Bronze Star for his acts in Iraq. Upon his return, he faced serious problems dealing with the readjustment to civilian life. Alcohol, PTSD, and family problems worsened, and nothing helped. In the summer of 2004, he donned his formal Army uniform, placed a noose around his neck, and stepped from a bridge, killing himself. He left behind a wife and a legacy of faithful service to his country.
Read the letter by Jason Thelen. His concern about veterans health care is not solely based on a few personal anecdotal examples -- as tragic and moving as they are. Jason's concern also stems from reading articles in his local newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, about the lack of proper health care for veterans, especially in the Dallas area.
I'm concerned about the seeming disconnect from the Bush Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress with the facts on the ground. I'm not talking about the Democrusader's spin machine concerning Iraq. I'm specifically talking about the Veterans Administration.
The newly appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Jim Nicholson, is now in charge of the largest health care operation in the United States, comprised of more than 230,000 employees servicing over five million veteran patients annually.
What are Nicholson's qualifications for this position? For the last three years, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican -- the smallest principality on the planet. While Nicholson is a Vietnam-era vet, I think the fact that Jim Nicholson was a national Republican Party Chairman weighed more heavily on his work resume than anything else.
Larry Craig, chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said the proposals to charge some veterans annual health care fees of $250 and increase their prescription drug co-payment from $7 to $15 must be considered in lean budget times.
While that may seem reasonable enough to you, it's a slap in the face to veterans when our so-called lean budget times are caused by the never-ending cost and consequence of the Democrusader's war of choice in Iraq, compounded with a multi-trillion dollar federal budget deficit.
I fail to see the compassionate conservative ideals and priorities that we were all sold in 2000 and 2004. Like Jason Thelan, other veterans in the Democrusader's home state of Texas are not so pleased, either.
Welcome to Swamp Gas in the Imajica. Similar to the You Can't Make This Shit Up (YCMTSU) section, Swamp Gas will focus solely on news and items of interest in the sunshine state of Florida.
They say, "All the nuts in America roll downhill to Florida," so let's just see how true that phrase really is.
Click on the Swamp Gas logo for the smelly menu.
Swamp Gas v. 003
PORT ST. LUCIE
A Fort Pierce Central High School junior apologized to his former girlfriend while he stabbed her in the back and neck Wednesday night, law enforcement officials said. Then, as she lay bleeding in the street, Bryan Gordon, 16, told the high school freshman he would kill her family if she told anyone, according to officials.
"He was talking to her, looked at her, said, 'I'm sorry,' and pretty much stabbed her in the back," Detective John Holman said. "He apologized the whole time he was doing it, while he was stabbing her."
The woman who claimed to have seen a baby being tossed from a moving car fabricated the story as a cover to abandon her newborn and hide an unwanted pregnancy from her family, authorities said Friday.
"It's not as horrible as we first thought," Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne said. "The baby was never thrown out of a moving car. This is the case of a disturbed woman who gave birth and did not want to keep her child."
On Monday, the WildFyre Society, South Florida's 1200-member all-male nudist group, takes a break from nude shopping excursions, nude theater nights, and nude country line dancing in order to present the Hot Wheels XVIII "Get Your Heart On" Nude Valentine's Day Skating Party at Gold Coast Roller Rink (2604 S. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale). No wallflowers -- nudity is mandatory at the event, which costs $10 and includes skates. The club's spokesman, Seth Paronick, says there won't be any races because "we don't allow horseplay," but limbo is on!
The Department of Defense (DOD) has six reserve components: the Army Reserve, the Army National Guard, the Air Force Reserve, the Air National Guard, the Naval Reserve, and the Marine Corps Reserve. DODís use of Reserve and National Guard forces increased dramatically following the events of September 11, 2001, and on January 19, 2005, more than 192,000 National Guard and Reserve component members were mobilized. About 85 percent of these personnel were members of the Army National Guard or the Army Reserve. Furthermore, the availability of reserve component forces will continue to play an important role in the success of DODís future missions, and DOD has projected that over the next 3 to 5 years, it will continuously have more than 100,000 reserve component members mobilized. Since September, 2001, GAO has issued a number of reports that have dealt with issues related to the increased use of Reserve and National Guard forces. For this hearing, GAO was asked to provide the results of its work on the extent to which DOD has the strategic framework and policies necessary to maximize reserve component force availability for a long-term Global War on Terrorism.
-- GAO report, released 2 Feb 05
Call up, Mobilization, Redeployment, Stop Loss, and even Draft are terms we've all heard over the past two years. Get used to it. Let me restate it: according to the DoD projections above, more than 100,000 reserve component service members will be actively deployed for the next 3-5 years.
Similar to the Bush administration's ridiculous federal budget proposal that doesn't even include the largest expenses involved, let's add something else to the Democrusader's"I forgot to mention this" file. The Democrusader's saber rattling has finally had some reaction from Iran and North Korea.
North Korea not only unsurprisingly announced today that it does indeed have some handy-fucking-dandy nuclear missiles, but also decided to stop all diplomatic talks with neighboring nations on this issue. That's the more troubling aspect of North Korea's reaction to the Democrusader's bravado.
In other Go-fuck-yourself-Democrusader-news, Iranian President Khatami had a few things to tell his fellow Iranians and anyone else that would listen: "Will this nation allow the feet of an aggressor to touch this land?" Khatami asked at the crowd. "If, God forbid, it happens, Iran will turn into a scorching hell for the aggressors." That's the Mullah-with-nukes version of a Texan diplomatic statement of "Bring it on."
The Democrusader seems to be flip-flopping on earlier promises of a diplomatic solution with his junior nuclear meglomaniacs -- which could place further demands on U.S. military personnel. What's the current state of affairs?
Simply read the one page highlight of the recently released GAO report on DoD which clearly states that, "DOD does not have a strategic framework with human capital goals concerning the availability of its reserve component forces." If that example of bureaucratic-speak flew over your head and parted your hair, let's just revisit why the Democrusader's political opponents raised the issue of the military draft during the election season.
The partial mobilization authority limits involuntary mobilizations to not more than 1 million reserve component members at any one time, for not more than 24 consecutive months, during a time of national emergency. Under DODís current implementation of the authority, members can be involuntarily mobilized more than once, but involuntary mobilizations are limited to a cumulative total of 24 months. Given this implementation, DOD could eventually run out of forces.
What would make the military run out of forces? Read the full report to see the hard numbers on the failure of the military to meet its recruitment goals for a voluntary force, as no surprise. Reason number two would be any unknown future military crisis likely caused by over-zealous neocons in the Bush administration. And, something else worth consideration is that we have had a military presence on the Korean peninsula for 50 years, as one example. Do you really expect the U.S. military to be able to leave Iraq in 3-5 years?
WoT? Where's Osama bin Laden? My educated guess is Balochistan (PK).
In the U.S, we call Carnival 'Mardi Gras' and the last decadent day before Ash Wednesday is called Fat Tuesday. I realize for some of you with self-image issues -- you wake up, look in the mirror and say, "Everyday is Fat Tuesday." I agree. I thought we would just discuss the happy Fat Tuesday celebrated today, though. Millions and millions of people all over the world have been partying for Carnival for centuries now.
Although many people celebrate in their own special way, some of the more popular places for you to be on Fat Tuesday are places like Cologne, Germany, or Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or New Orleans, Louisiana in the U.S. I want to check out RdJ once, before I die.
No matter where you are today -- you can join in on the culmination of debauchery -- at least in spirit. I don't want to hear any excuses, either. I just saw 5,000 snowbird retirees getting all jiggy-widdit, so just think how lame you would sound telling me that you have more important things to do than celebrate a little bit.
The Grumpy Old Men and the Q-tips parked their Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (golf carts) up and down all the Villages Town Square. It was so crowded, it reminded me of Daytona Bike Week, except these stumbling drunken partiers had way fewer tattoos and way more wrinkles.
If Grandma and Grandpa can celebrate as if AARP was giving away free Metamucil, surely you can get in the spirit of things on Fat Tuesday. Check out a few of these Mardi Gras webcams, if you need some inspiration.
If you need a gut-busting laugh, watch the bead necklace bedraped drunks sing badly on the Karaoke Cam this evening. If not, then my next favorite webcam is the live video on Bourbon street in the quarter. I mean, except for the FCC and social conservatives, who doesn't like Girls Gone Wild earning their Mardi Gras beads? I don't think I'm wrong.