Keeping In Touch with politics and other issues in Central Virginia .....The Virginia 22nd Senate District and The 6th Congressional District......Vote Democratic for a Better Future....Protect Your Benefits

Democratic Committee Meeting

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Republicans, Cowards and Selling The War

 Greed, Lies and Cowards

Days after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Tomas Young, then a 22-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., made a decision repeated by many other Americans around the country:   He was going to enlist in the military in hopes of getting even with the enemies who had helped coordinate the deaths of nearly 3,000 men, women and children.    

 Less than three years later, Young's Army service placed him not in Afghanistan -- where then-President George W. Bush had told the nation the terrorist plot had originated -- but in Iraq.    On April 4, 2004, just five days into his first tour, Young's convoy was attacked by insurgents.    A bullet from an AK-47 severed his spine. Another struck his knee. Young would never walk again, and in fact, for the next nearly nine years, he would suffer a number of medical setbacks that allowed him to survive only with the help of extensive medical procedures and the care of his wife, Claudia. 

  The incident turned Young into one of the most vocal veteran critics of the Iraq War.   He has, however, saved his most powerful criticism for what he claims will be his last.     Young says he'll die soon, but not before writing a letter to Bush and former Vice President Cheney on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War.     

The Last Letter A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran 

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From: Tomas Young 

 I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans.    I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq.    I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives.    

I am one of those gravely wounded.   I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City.    My life is coming to an end.    I am living under hospice care.     I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries.

 I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day.    I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded.    I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.   

 I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power.    I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done.    You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole. 

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character.    You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit.    Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago.    You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage. 

 I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks.    I joined the Army because our country had been attacked.    I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens.    I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States.    

I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called  “democracy”  in Baghdad and the Middle East.    I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues.    Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. 

I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law.    And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes.    The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history.    It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East.   It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror.    And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. 

On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure.    And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war.    It is you who should pay the consequences.    I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11.    Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love.   

 I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.    I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration.    I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician.    We were used.    We were betrayed.    And we have been abandoned.    

You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian.    But isn’t lying a sin?    Isn’t murder a sin?    Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins?    I am not a Christian.    But I believe in the Christian ideal.    I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.    My day of reckoning is upon me.    Yours will come.   I hope you will be put on trial.    But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live.    I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.    

Young was the subject of the 2007 documentary "Body of War," which was about his recovery process and the Iraq War.   At a February screening of the film, Young told the audience that he planned to end his life in April.    According to the Ridgefield Press, Young announced that he would stop taking all nourishment and life-extending medications at that time.    He's since said that the deterioration to his body from the injury and ensuing complications would make it physically impossible for him to commit suicide in any other way.     "It's time,"  he told the audience over Skype, while seated beside his wife.    "When I go I want be alert and aware."    Young spoke more about his decision in a recent interview with journalist and Iraq War critic Chris Hedges.    “I made the decision to go on hospice care, to stop feeding and fade away,"  he said.    "This way, instead of committing the conventional suicide and I am out of the picture, people have a way to stop by or call and say their goodbyes.    I felt this was a fairer way to treat people than to just go out with a note." 

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News 


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Republican Dream World of Conservative Fantasy

Virginia is ready for the new political season and the fire is ready to get white hot.    Republicans and their sequester have caused hundreds of thousands of Virginia workers their jobs and now these same GOP'ers are up for office statewide..     Can the GOP fool Virginians this time around or it it time for their stranglehold on state government to end?

You can't embarris a republican.   They will follow clowns and comedians and con artists thru the gates of hell.   They overlook the truth and believe in the folly of fools.    In our locality they have pulled the lever for Bob Goodlatte for over twenty years and that alone is enough said.   Now the high muckety mucks of the republican party gather at CPAC and grass root republicans pretend they have nothing to do with this foolishness.   Oh! to live in such a dream world.Media coverage of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference focused more on who didn’t appear than who did.

This suggests that CPAC, as well as the conservative movement it supposedly represents, is having trouble defining itself.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was not invited to speak, and GOProud—an organization devoted to promoting gay rights within the Republican Party—has been barred. These facts were covered so extensively, one had to dig deep to find out who will actually wind up speaking at the event.

It is difficult to understand how or why CPAC is so important. The forum typically features orators who fine-tune their
rhetoric for the grassroots, as well as a presidential straw poll that rarely foretells a winner.

“It is difficult to understand how or why CPAC is so important.”    Republicans are fascinated by simple and meaningless things or don't keep up with what's happening in their chosen party.

What has CPAC accomplished in the past?  Is it honestly going to bring any new issues to the forefront?   Most importantly, does the CPAC gathering accurately represent the conservative movement’s demographics?

Soon after Obama was first elected, Rush Limbaugh went onstage and delivered a speech that gave hope to many dispirited activists.   Fast-forward roughly three years, and Limbaugh was all but toxic as a result of his comments about Sandra Fluke.   A thirteen-year-old named Jonathan Krohn spoke at the same CPAC.   His speech was essentially a rehash of media-approved center-right talking points.   These days, Krohn is a progressive who chalks his conservatism up to immaturity.

Many CPACtivists once considered him a serious voice for their movement.   He hadn’t even graduated high school at the time.

Are modern conservatives really that desperate for a leader?

As the Obama era moved along, Ron Paul’s revolutionaries stormed CPAC and won him the straw poll.    Even the mainstream media started to give Paul fleeting attention as a legitimate presidential contender.    His campaign would eventually fizzle out, as it appealed mostly to hardline libertarians or peaceniks or whatever.

GOProud’s exclusion seems to indicate a rift within the conservative movement.   Only a few years back, issues such as
abortion and gun control divided right-leaning crowds.   Today, gay rights is driving a schism.

Even though many conservatives don’t want to admit it, a majority in this country now favors same-sex marriage.   And for a moment, LGBT conservatives had their day in the CPAC spotlight.   Some apparently thought they had reached a turning point.   No longer would non-heterosexual conservatives be shoved into the closet!

This year, GOProud isn’t even allowed into the closet.    Some people enjoy being treated badly.     They are often called log cabin republicans.

But while pundits bicker over trivial matters, the country is facing far more dire problems.    Despite the Great Recession
having supposedly bottomed out in 2009, most Americans remain less than optimistic about the economy.

When was the last time that CPAC earnestly addressed the issues most Americans care about?   When was the last time that it focused on solutions instead of abstract ideas?   When was the last time that it was a forum for political strategy
rather than feel-good rhetoric?

I have no idea what the Obama-era conservative movement is supposed to represent.  Right now, it seems fractured between social rightists and libertarians, with pro-fair-trade traditionalists cast out into the wilderness.    Are sociopolitical
realists welcome?     What about those who hold fiscally leftish and socially rightish views, and vice-versa?

If the CPAC crowd can’t provide a clear set of answers, they might as well unplug the microphones, dim the lights, and go home.    You can't close the tent when there is money to be made and this in an income producing event that feeds to the promoters pockets.    

In 1960, Barry Goldwater famously urged conservatives to “grow up.”    The conservative/libertarian movement delivered him the Republican nomination four years later.    The movement’s modern participants should carefully consider his words.

They might not want to do it in a ballroom, though, while hanging on the words of people who have been paid to tell them
what they want to hear.

So the local Amherst County republican set continues to keep the wool firmly over their eyes and dream that the GOP represents their and their children's interest.   Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Don't wake up that snoozing republican.

What to Do about gas Prices
Gas prices are up again .     We have failed to deal with the gas crunch for nearly half a century.     Both parties just kick the can down the road like they like to do with any tough issue that requires some hardship on the part of the voters.     Voters are happy to not deal with the issue since it requires action on their part.     Republicans refuse to deal with it in any way in their desperate desire to serve the interest of big oil.

Freezing Gas Prices

In August 1971, hoping to dampen rising inflation, Nixon declared a freeze on wages and prices.   Initially the freeze applied to everything, later just oil and gas.   World oil prices were fairly stable during this time; not surprisingly, so were gas pump prices.

If you weren’t paying much attention, you might think the price freeze had worked.

Then came the real test.    On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel, igniting the Yom Kippur War.     Nixon sent money and supplies to Israel.    Partly in retaliation, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced a 70 percent increase in the price of oil, and not long after Arab countries declared an embargo on oil exports to the U.S.    Oil production was cut 25 percent.

A cease-fire ended major fighting within weeks, but skirmishes continued through the winter, and the Arab states kept up the oil embargo till March.    By then world oil prices had risen from $3 a barrel to $12.    Amid calls for rationing, worried U.S. consumers formed long lines at gas stations; some operators ran out.

What effect did the Nixon price controls have on all of this?    Not much.    The pump price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. rose from 38 cents in May 1973 to 55 cents a year later — a laughable amount now, but a big jump then.    Scholarly analysis of the Nixon controls suggests they had only a trivial impact on gas prices.

Why?    The immediate reason is that Nixon’s price controls applied only to U.S. oil production.    Domestic petroleum output was then in decline, dropping from 79 percent of U.S. consumption in 1970 to 64 percent by 1975.    Even so, roughly two-thirds of the oil we used at the time was produced within our own borders, and a good chunk of that was subject to price controls.    Why then did the rising price of foreign oil drive local gas prices so high?

The answer has to do with a basic but often baffling economic concept called marginal cost.    The idea is this:   in a perfectly competitive market, price is determined by the cost of producing one more unit, in this case a gallon of gas.     With U.S. demand greater than U.S. production, then as now, those additional units had to come from expensive foreign oil.    Since gas was gas and nobody was willing to pay a price differential depending on where the oil was pumped, the price of all gas went up.

Your father may say:  Hold on.    If the price of gas is effectively determined by the cost of the most expensive oil used to make it, that means oil companies with access to a lot of cheap domestic product made out like bandits.

You got it, bubba.    The Carter administration tried to address this problem with a windfall profits tax.    Whatever may be said for the wisdom of that strategy, it had little impact on pump prices.

If you really want to keep the price of gas down, and I mean way down, the only proven solution is to nationalize the oil companies and control the price directly.    Hugo Chavez did that, and the price of gas in Venezuela is the lowest in the world, recently under 10 cents a gallon.    This may be your father’s idea of paradise.    It’s also socialism, and we’re not talking about the current right-wing nutcake idea of socialism, meaning anything Obama does, but actual socialism.

Happily for us, and I say this without sarcasm, we don’t have socialism in this country, we have the free market.    When gas prices are high, the market is telling us a lot of people are competing for a scarce resource.     If you don’t feel like spending so much and don’t want to move to Venezuela, your only choice is to quit whining and figure out some way to use less.

Don't count on any republican help when it comes to keeping the big oil companies on the straight and narrow.      Republicans refuse to cut subsidies to the already flush with profit oil companies and insist on cutting funding to early education and social security and medicare.     If you think the GOP represents your interest you are beyond foolish, you are brain dead.     I could tell you lots more but if you gullible republican sheep aren't beginning to wise up by now most likely you will depart mother earth firmly entrenched in your present deficit of knowledge.

Round Central Virginia....News

Donald Trump and His Really Big CPAC Audience

Photo of Donald Trump Delivering His Self-Aggrandizing CPAC Speech to a Nearly Empty Ballroom

Trump spent the night before tweeting abouit the size of his large audience and how wonderfully well he would be received.    The hall was dam near empty.   Trump had been in an elevator a little eariler with more people.   Trump is a boastful fool on all occasions and this empty hall speech was no exception.   Donald Trump suffers from a mental disease and should be getting medical help to make coping with everyday life easier.

The speech itself was mildly received.   There were a few moments of scattered clapping, some chuckling.   The biggest applause came when Trump suggested, once again, that we "take" Iraq's oil and use the proceeds to pay a million dollars each to the families of the American soldiers who died in the war.   Trump meandered from topic to topic, but the one unifying theme of the speech was the greatness of Trump.    "I've made over $8 billion,"  he declared at one point, for some reason.   Referring to a
country club he just bought, Trump said,  "I'm going to fix it.   I'm going to make it incredible."

Trump has done some remarkable things.   He managed to go bankrupt running a casino.   A casino is a licence to print money and he managed to foul up even at that.    If Trump loses the income from his TV Show he will be unable to keep the carnival show that is his life going.

"He would have had five more minutes to talk if he had stopped putting 'I' and 'me' in there and came up with some solutions instead of promoting himself," a man in the audience told us afterwards.

Infamous businessman Donald Trump delivered an energetic yet somewhat confusing speech bashing leaders in Washington.    Trump spoke at this year's CPAC, calling out the idiocy of the Obama administration and highlighting conservative weaknesses and stupidity.    Although Trump came off as obnoxious, he touched on some important points that conservatives can’t ignore.

“We're run by either very foolish or very stupid people. What's going on in this country is unbelievable.    Our country is a total mess, a total and complete mess, and what we need is leadership," Trump argued.   "The next President we elect should be born in the country and have the paperwork to prove it."
Trump rambled about a variety of topics, including the fragile state of the GOP and immigration reform and how high taxes are on businesses.   He claimed that conservative politicians trying to appeal to a broader electorate, including minorities, is a moot point and a stupid waste of time in that they will just vote Democrat anyway.   Forget about minorities, they will always vote democratic because the democrats help them with education and work and things they care about.   Republicans only make it harder for them to become citizens and vote.

One of the oddest remarks to come from Trump was his interpretation on the war in Iraq.    He argued that simply taking out of Iraq’s oil reserves will help subsidize the war, leaving the audience silent and confused.

"When I heard that we were first going to Iraq, some very smart people told me we're actually going for the oil, and I
said,   'All right, I get that, there's nothing else, I get it,' " he said. "We didn't take the oil.  And then when I said, we spent $1.5 trillion, we should take that — you know, they have the second-largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia, so $1.5 trillion is nothing ... we should take it and pay ourselves back"     "We should take it and get all our money back with interest and force them to sell it to us at a special low rate after their debt is paid."
Trump may be a business connoisseur, but the way he is approaching the Iraq war from a financial standpoint is a bit absurd.    He also criticized Mitt Romney for playing coy about his financial and business successes.

“I think if Mitt made one mistake — and I like Mitt a lot — it’s that he didn’t talk enough about his success,”  Trump
said.   "That's why people love me, because I tell them how much money I have made.   They respect that and they respect me."    "If I hadn't dropped out of the race I could have and would have beaten Barack Obama.     I would have been elected
President and we would not be having the problems we are having today.    I regret not staying in the race."
He did provide some alternatives to the growing economic deficit in the U.S., however.    He claimed that a stable economy would come about from job expansion, and by eliminating outsourcing, namely in China. 

Conservative critiques have expressed their surprise on Trump’s invitation to the conference, while GOP stars like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got snubbed.

Overall the speech was scattered, and many are confused on Trump’s message.    Then again, when has Trump ever been conscious of what he says?   He clearly lacks a filter and is not afraid to speak his mind.   His hopes at a possible 2016 bid will not be promising, though.   Trump reminded the audience to be sure and tune in his TV Show.

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Blog Archive