Thursday, March 29, 2007

Congress Tells Bush, "Oh yeah?"

Senate passes war spending bill with withdrawal deadline:
Senate Democrats ignored a veto threat and pushed through a bill Thursday requiring President Bush to start withdrawing troops from "the civil war in Iraq," dealing a rare, sharp rebuke to a wartime commander in chief.

In a mostly party line 51-47 vote, the Senate signed off on a bill providing $122 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also orders Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of passage while setting a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008.
Personally, I have a number of issues with the House bill, which are addressed best by Tim Carpenter, Director of Progressive Democrats of America, "The bad news is that the House bill funds Bush's troop surge and won't bring our troops home until a Sept 1, 2008 "deadline" – with provisions allowing troops to stay in Iraq beyond that on vaguely-defined "training" or "anti-terrorism" missions. (That's why a group of progressive Congress members – including Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, John Lewis and Dennis Kucinich – felt the need to stand firm and vote no.)

"More bad news is the disunity stirred up among antiwar progressives in Congress by the House leadership's arm-twisting and the intervention of in support of the leadership's arm-twisting."

However, much as I would have preferred that this bill had gotten it right the first time, its passage by the House, with the Senate signing off on it, is a good step. Of course Bush is going to veto it - there's no chance at this stage of the game that he would allow it to go through. But let's hope that progressive Congress members, to quote Representative Pete Stark, "[We] can write a better bill."

Y'all get started on that better bill writing, ya hear?

Selling His Boss Up the River...

Despite Alberto Gonzales' assertions to the contrary, the Attorney General participated in discussions regarding the firing of the eight US attorneys for political reasons:
Former Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson told senators his boss took part in the process from early 2005, well before the eight prosecutors were dismissed in 2006.

Gonzales "and I had discussions about it during the thinking phase of the process," Sampson testified. "Then after the sort of more final phase of the process in the fall of 2006 began, we discussed it."
Gonzales is following the Bush administration playbook to the letter: commit ethically questionable - if not downright illegal - actions, lie about said actions when they come to light, then have the lies bite him on the ass when the truth is uncovered thanks to incontrovertible evidence. One would think that mere observation would make one less likely to lie through one's teeth.

No doubt that why Monica Goodling took the fifth yesterday, or why Bush and his cronies were so stubborn about not allowing Karl Rove or Harriet Meiers to testify under oath or with a transcript. As many have said, what are they afraid of? The truth? Only wrongdoers have the truth to fear.

Ah - ha!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Next Up: Pardon!

Libby Found Guilty in CIA Leak Trial:
Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was convicted Tuesday of lying and obstructing a leak investigation that reached into the highest levels of the Bush administration.

Libby is the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s. The case brought new attention to the Bush administration's much-criticized handling of weapons of mass destruction intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.
This is a good first step, but it is only a step. It's obvious that Libby was covering for his boss, which is why he ended up Cheney's scapegoat. So the next step must be for investigations to start in Cheney's role in this treason against Valerie Plame.

Any bets as to when the presidential pardon will be?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Walter Reed Commander Let Go

General in charge of Walter Reed hospital has been relieved of command:
The Army said Thursday that the two-star general in charge of Walter Reed Army Medical Center has been relieved of command following disclosures about inadequate treatment of wounded soldiers.

The firing of Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who was commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command as well as Walter Reed hospital, was announced by Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey.

In a brief announcement, the Army said service leaders had "lost trust and confidence" in Weightman's leadership abilities "to address needed solutions for soldier outpatient care." He had headed Walter Reed since Aug. 25, 2006.
Considering that hospital officials have known about the abhorrent conditions and beauracracy faced by wounded veterans for over three years and that, according to the Army Times, soldiers were told, after the Washington Post expose, to keep quiet, this is the very least that could be done. Because the horrendous treatment of our wounded soldiers is unforgivable.

A Young Boy Dies From An Abcessed Tooth

For Want of a Dentist:
Pr. George's Boy Dies After Bacteria From Tooth Spread to Brain
Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.

A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

If his mother had been insured.

If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find.

If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.


Some poor children have no dental coverage at all. Others travel three hours to find a dentist willing to take Medicaid patients and accept the incumbent paperwork. And some, including Deamonte's brother, get in for a tooth cleaning but have trouble securing an oral surgeon to fix deeper problems.

In spite of efforts to change the system, fewer than one in three children in Maryland's Medicaid program received any dental service at all in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

. . .The Driver children have never received routine dental attention, said their mother, Alyce Driver. The bakery, construction and home health-care jobs she has held have not provided insurance. The children's Medicaid coverage had temporarily lapsed at the time Deamonte was hospitalized. And even with Medicaid's promise of dental care, the problem, she said, was finding it.
This is the tragedy of our country's broken health care system. Young Deamonte is, unfortunately, not unique. The most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the "percentage and the number of children (people under 18 years old)without health insurance increased between 2004 and 2005, from 10.8 percent to 11.2 percent and from 7.9 million to 8.3 million, respectively." The higher percentage of children without access to health insurance and health care will ensure a higher percentage of child mortality.

Even from something that starts as humbly as a toothache.

(Tip O' the Hat to John Scalzi)