Nov. 18th, 2005

I'm pissed

Nov. 18th, 2005 07:08 pm
pecunium: (Default)
Which seems to be becoming a semi-normal state of affairs.

Rep Murtha (D-Penn) spoke out recently (not less so than the day before yester) saying we needed to pull out of Iraq now. His reasoning; this pooch is so screwed the question isn't if, but when. He thinks there is nothing going to get better from our being there, and that makes the expenditure of more blood and treasure pointless.

It doesn't matter what you think of the arguments, he's got not only the right, but the duty, to speak to the issue. He's a member of congress, as a Representative he swore to look to the needs of the country, with a focus on the specific interests which affect his district. If he has decided the war (for which he voted, and he makes no bones about his vote; he says that based on what he was told, and knew, he'd vote that way again; is no longer in the interests of the nation, he must speak out, his exact comment was, "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

"General Casey said in a September 2005 hearing, "the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency." General Abizaid said on the same date, "Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is part of our counterinsurgency strategy."

"For 2 ½ years, I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait - the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction - but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

"We spend more money on Intelligence that all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused."

Murtha, to give a bit of background, is no shrinking violet. He's a vet. He did two stints in the Corps; 1952-1955, and 1966-1967. He finished out Marine Corps Reserve career in 1990, doing more Reserve time in between '55 and '66. He's got two Purple Hearts, visits Bethesda and Walter Reed, regularly, and once told the commandant at one of them to award a Purple Heart which had been denied to a kid who'd been blinded and lost both hands; because it was friendly fire, saying that if they didn't he'd give the poor bastard one of his.

He's regularly supported the military; and he has the ear of the Corps, as well as contacts in DoD.

He takes no guff. When someone mentioned Cheney he shot back, "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

The response from the Republicans has been severe.

Today, on the floor of the House Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio)(the woman who barely won the Second District, running against Paul Hackett; Marine)said this, "Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed in what we were doing is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bop, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body – that we will see this through."

After the House lost all semblance of order she asked that it be stricken from the record.

Npw, according to Rollcall (which requires a subscription, so I'll quote it)"Republican lawmakers say that ties between Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and his brother’s lobbying firm, KSA Consulting, may warrant investigation by the House ethics committee.

The calls come as Murtha, a former Marine and pro-military Democrat, has made headlines this week by coming out in support of a rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

According to a June 13 article in The Los Angeles Times, the fiscal 2005 defense appropriations bill included more than $20 million in funding for at least 10 companies for whom KSA lobbied. Carmen Scialabba, a longtime Murtha aide, works at KSA as well.

KSA directly lobbied Murtha’s office on behalf of seven companies, and a Murtha aide told a defense contractor that it should retain KSA to represent it, according to the LA Times.

In early 2004, Murtha reportedly leaned on U.S. Navy officials to sign a contract to transfer the Hunters Point Shipyard to the city of San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. A company called Lennar Inc. had right to the land, and Laurence Pelosi, nephew to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was an executive with the firm at that time.

Murtha also inserted earmarks in defense bills that steered millions of dollars in federal research funds toward companies owned by children of fellow Pennsylvania Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D).

Murtha and KSA have denied engaging in any improper or unethical behavior. Murtha’s offices in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., could not be reached for comment at press time.

But with GOP leaders infuriated by Murtha’s declaration this week that the United States should pull all its military forces out of Iraq in six months, renewed attention is being focused on Murtha’s dealings with KSA.

“I have read the articles about these appropriations projects that benefited his brother’s lobbying firm,” said Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). “If there is a potential pattern where Congressman Murtha has helped other Democrats secure appropriations that also benefited relatives of those Members, I believe this would be something that merits further review by the ethics committee.”

Now, I won't say this isn't unpalatable, because if it's as presented, it sure looks bad, but then again this is the same House which passed a rule saying that the Majority Leader wouldn't have to step down if he was indicted. The same House that thinks paying half a million dollars to one's wife for a stint as campaign manager (and some tens of thousands of dollars to his daughter as a consultant of some sort, IIRC) is just ducks. At least the firms and people to whom Murtha is accused of tossing the red-meat of contracts had to provide something of benefit to the people, in the form of jobs and goods.

On the other hand, the last three grafs go like this, "Jennifer Crider, a Pelosi aide, dismissed the allegation that the Minority Leader was involved in anything improper as “absolutely ludicrous, and an attempt to divert from the real issue that Mr. Murtha is attempting to engage in debate on a critically important topic — U.S. policy in Iraq. The real story here is the Republican strategy to try to discredit at Congressman Murtha” while he is pushing for a U.S. pullout from Iraq.

Republicans acknowledge that Murtha’s Iraq statement — coming from a Member with strong military credentials — is driving their renewed focus on the ethics questions surrounding the veteran Democratic lawmaker.

“It strikes at the heart of his credibility on [military] issues,” said the GOP lawmaker. “He’s put himself on the frontline.”

What we see is more of an organized use of the levers of power to attack, intimidate, and (if successful) destroy people; people who are merely doing their jobs.

Durbin was forced to recant, when he'd done nothing wrong. So was Newsweek. Saxby Chambliss said his opponent was a coward, who hated America, never mind that he was a Vet, who'd lost his legs in Viet-nam. Hackett was called a coward, because after all, he only led a Civil Affairs detatchment (a small group who go out, by themselves, no infantry support, no armor, no helicopter gunships on call) and mingle with the people, trying to convince them we are the good guys. Civil affairs goes and sees what's wrong, and then rolls up there sleeves to fix it. A pothole? They come back with some engineers and fill it.

He did that for a year. But he's not a "grunt" so how can he claim to be a combat vet.

It's reprehensible. It's petty. It's destructive of the political system. The ideas stop counting. Duty is maligned, and those who attempt to practice it are to be brought low, while those who shirk it are raised up.

It has to stop.

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I am overdue for my five-year periodic physical.

If my last one hadn't been 18 months (and a host of pain in the ass hurdles) late, this one would be 3 years late, instead of just a bit more than 18 months.

Last time I had to go to MEPS. MEPS, for those who don't speak MilAcronym is Military Enlistment Processing Station.

Hell on earth. Hundreds of wannabe recruits, all being jerked around by the usual sorts of meat-market apathy and their own ignorance, coupled with a sort of institutional disdain. It's a rite of passage, this being treated like cattle, because you aren't a civilian, and you sure as hell ain't one of us.

Somehow (maybe it was my PT uniform) I didn't get treated quite so badly by the staff. The doctors, however, mostly treated me like dirt. Some of them were the same hacks who'd given my my enlistment physical, almost seven years before. Timeless and ancient, they still seemed like superannuated animitronics. Oh yeah, the seaman who took my weight, refused (I almost had to shake him by his white cracker-jacks) to believe me that the chart to look on was prior service, not enlistee. If he used enlistee he was going to mark me unfit for service, because I was underweight. Sheesh!

This time, because of the war, there's a shop doing physicals up the road. I was supposed to go in today and get the bloodwork done, so I could go in later tomorrow and see the doctors. Only, in that way which is only the Army's I was late. Some of it was my fault. I have a sprained finger (my left pinky) from allowing it to be under someone's foot while I was being tossed about the dojo last night. This slowed me down, and I was about 25 minutes behind the time I was told to be there.

I had checked the time this morning. Only someone at the unit failed to get the word to me that instead of 1300, the appointment was for 1000. Had I managed to get there at 1300, it probably could have been done.

Oh, well, I can go in tomorrow at 0630 (which means being on the road at 0545) and all will be sped along. Since I am not deploying, it doesn't matter that there are lots of other things going on; I (for the price of a couple limes worth of Corona) will be sped to the front of the line and ought to be home, cooking for Alexa's birthday, not later than noon.

In the realm of the strange (and I blame it on the war) two people thought I was going to be getting an over 40 physical (which means fasting, and a prostate exam). Before I went to Iraq, I got carded about 1/3rd of the time (I was 35), now people think I'm more than 40 (I'm 38). Go figure.

BTW, typing with a splinted pinky is only slightly less frustrating than typing with one which is sprained, it does, however, hurt less.

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