Thursday, June 04, 2009

House Committe on Veterans' Affairs' Subcommitte on Health

What is "respite"? I really didn't know. Until today's House Committe on Veterans' Affairs. It first came up during Dr. Barbara Cohoon's testimony on the first panel of the Meeting the Needs of Family Caregivers of Veterans and I had no idea what she'd even just said. I looked over at C.I.'s notes and saw the word "respite" written. It wasn't really until the second panel, when Jill Kagan spoke, that I knew what it was. She is the chair of ARCH National Respite Coalition.

After she introduced herself to the committee, she immediately went into what respite care is:

Respite care provides temporary relief for family caregivers from the ongoing responsibility of caring for an individual of any age with special needs. As a preventive strategy, respite helps strengthen families, protects their health and well being and allows them to continue providing care at home. Respite is also an import component of a continuum of comprehensive family support and long term services that are available to caregivers not only on a planned basis but also in the event of a crisis or emergency situation.

So that's a little overview of respite.

My thoughts on today's hearing? This was the Subcommitte on Health (of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs).

To me, the best witness was Anna Frese of the Wounded Warrior Project. She was just really straightforward. I also liked how she spoke of her brother Eric -- which reminded me of two brothers. Eric was wounded while serving in the military in 2007. He was an adventurer and he remains a very caring father and is working on walking. She spoke of his daughter Gracie and how he loaded up on presents before deploying and his wife Stephanie was pointing out some of them weren't age-appropriate -- one was a pink car, kid's car that she could ride in later in her childhood -- and he wanted to be sure that she had things and knew her father loved her in case anything happened to him while he was serving.

Anna Frese really put a face on the issue and I'm surprised she was able to testify without getting choked up because my eyes were watering when she was talking about Gracie.

The first and second panel were knowledgable and interesting. I enjoyed them. Then came the VA crew. Do they really need to be invited? They have nothing to offer but spin and you can hear them bored and distant sometimes. When the woman C.I. tears into in today's snapshot (for good reason) was responding to a question (the exchange C.I. has in the snapshot), you should have been in that room. Looking around, while that woman (Dr. Madhulika Agarwal) was speaking, every face had a "WTF?" expression. And for good reason. (See the snapshot below.)

That's going to be it for me tonight.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, June 4, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Iraq's Oil Minister wanted for questioning by their Parliament, the latest attack on Cindy Sheehan (from the conservative paper) comes as Cindy gears up to protest Bully Boy Bush again, Congress explores the needs of veterans' care-givers and Congress ignores that the VA's contracted duties to EDS either weren't done or a VA administrator lied to them today during her testimony, Arianna Huffington explains what's required for her to grasp a 'teachable moment' and more.

"Let me begin by asking you to think about what it took for each of you to get prepared for the day today," Anna Frese of
Wounded Warrior Project declared. "I'm not talking about the first cup of coffee or your morning paper. I'm asking you to think about more basic activities. Raising your arm to reach for a bedside light switch. Moving a finger to wipe the sleep from your eyes. Getting out of bed, walking to the bathroom. While most of us take this for granted, severely injured service members, like my brother Eric [Edmundson], can no longer carry out these basic activities of daily living without assistance. Eric and other severely wounded warriors get the most intimate, devoted care from family members in the privacy of their homes, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year."

Anna Frese was addressing the US House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health this morning in a hearing entitled "Meeting the Needs of Family Caregivers of Veterans." She explained how her father and her brother are a team in his care and wellness and how "Eric relies on Dad to assist him in everything, and Dad does it with pride and great respect. But there is an unseen price. Our father, now 54 years old, is no longer employed and has used up his retirement funds and savings, no longer has health insurance and has not contributed to Social Security in almost four years. Even though his future has been drastically altered, he tells me often, 'Eric would do it for me'."

Frese was on the first panel as was Ret. Commander Rene A. Campos of
Military Officers Association of America who read a letter from the father of a veteran injured in 2007 during part of her testimony, "All the army ever wanted was a soldier. The army got it. All we want is a little help. We got excellent care at the military treatment facility but we had to fight to get our son in private care and take him home. There are so many problems with the VA bureaucracy. We were lucky to know the system but so many other families are struggling."

US House Rep Michael Michaud chaired the subcommittee and noted that the hearing was a way of "exploring ways to better help the family caregivers of our veterans." Dr. Barbara Cohoon of the
National Military Family Association noted that family caregivers are an integral part of the recovery.

Cohoon, Campos and Frese made up the first panel. Prepared opening statements for this hearing can be found
here. (Individual links did not work in yesterday's snapshot. My apologies. So we'll just note the main page for the statements.)

Chair Mike Michaud: My first question is, we've talked about financial compensation for family caregivers so my question is, to all three, what do you think that compensation should be financially? Commander?

Rene Campos: I couldn't speak to a dollar value but, as I mentioned and as Barbara talked about, this needs to be addressed at the very beginning, at the time of injury and we have to recognize that, I don't believe, one system will fit all, that these situations are going to change over time, that the needs of families are going to change and the service member and the veteran. I -- I look at trying to get DoD and VA to work closer together, than recognizing that these families are -- are getting quite a bit of support and immediate care at the time of injury and they're pretty much in a cocoon. So when they transition into the VA system it needs to be easier for them and not try to guess all over again where to start and that's why in terms of compensation, we want to see DoD and VA work together to build a package that is -- because these folks will be going back into the DoD system and they'll be trans-trans, uhm, transitioning between the systems at several times throughout their longer term care. So I can't give you a dollar value or specifically but we should make sure that it is a package that will meet the needs of veterans, of the family, of the wounded, as they transition over their life.

Chair Mike Michaud: Doctor?

Dr. Barbara Cahoon: Our association has really proposed as far as two different types of payment -- one as far as the non-medical care and the other as far as the medical care which would be more of your hands-on. And the reason for that is that we do find caregivers are really providing two different roles and depending upon the type of injury and also the cycle of the recovery or where they are in the recovery phase kind of determines how much involvement that they're doing. If someone has a severe or a moderate TBI but, other than that, is functional as far as being able to get around then the caregiver is more involved in what you would call non-medical care -- they're making the doctors' appointments, they're making sure they are getting to where they need to go, they're actually maybe looking on their Blackberry and following a GPS to make sure they made it to Walter Reed or to Bethesda or to where ever and they're making sure that they do go home. So there's a lot of non-medical care that go on. So we're looking more at that to be kind of a range but basically a kind of an amount that's given each month. And as far as the medical care? We're looking more at what that would be as far as hands-on, similar to nursing care that would be given -- especially if someone was -- had a spinal injury and basically was from the waist down needed certain types of care, you're turning them in the bed. You're actually physically giving them medication. Those types of things. And there are systems in place now where that's actually then, you know, compensated hourly. So that's -- we're kind of looking at those two different pieces. But also too, as far as the care that they're giving, as far as providing them, they also have lost significant amount of money as far as walking away from the current job that they are. So there's two different financial impacts going on at the same time.

Chair Mike Michaud: Thank you. Ms. Frese?

Anna Frese: That's a good question. Uh -- let me work with the number that we do know. The cost per day for in-house VA nursing home care for next year is projected to rise to $887.33. Per day. We can then get an annual cost of $324,000. And while I don't want to guesstimate the cost of what enacting the caregiver legislation would be I can comfortably express with confidence that the failure to provide such support increase the risk that veterans would have to be institutionalized and those costs are clearly far in excess of the relatively modest cost of caregiver assistance would be.

Chair Mike Michaud: Thank you my next question, I know some of you have answered this in your opening statements, but if all three of you could just address if we were to pass legislation what are the -- would we put in the legislation? The three most important components of offering a caregiver program, what would the three most top priority parts be? Anna? And I know you've talked about some during your opening testimony but not knowing what we'll be able to get through the House and through the Senate, if we had to pick three, what would the three top priorities be? Ms. Frese?

Anna Frese: As we spoke about earlier, each family, each circumstance, family dynamics of each family is so drastically different. From what I hear from families and from our own experience, the health care especially for the parents who are caring and those who are not a spouse and not covered under that health care, they need some form of health care to take care of their own health so they can actually be around and continue to care for the veteran. And also it comes back to the economic support as well. The time spent worrying about how they're going to continue living and paying for their needs. You spend more time focusing on the worrying than actually -- you want to be able to focus your time, your strength and your full ability on your veteran rather than worrying. The health care piece, the income and the mental health to help sustain the long term ability of the care giver.

Rene Campos: As I mentioned, we're concerned about adding more programs or adding more layers onto already complicated bureaucracies. We go back to the need for and establishing some sort of permanent office or seamless transition agency of some kind and, again, I -- I -- if it's extending the current SOC [Joint DoD-VA Senior Oversight Committee] out or whatever, we need some good solid oversight that doesn't change when the administration changes -- So we need the continuity of the leadership and oversight of programs. So I think that's critical to whatever we do. The other thing we need to do is that we have, again, a reciprocal program for caregivers that includes both the medical and the non-medical aspects. Because, again, these families that have been on active duty, have child care, they have a lot of other family support, non-medical support services that are there. So they should have a package that they can expect that would also help transition over into the VA system. And then finally we go back to at the time of injury, they really need an advocate. They need someone that can walk them through all these different things that are going to be happening to them over, in some cases, the course of their life. So we think there needs to be an advocacy program of some kind that's set up. I think the quality of life foundation report I mentioned is a good starting point.

Dr. Barbara Cohoon: First of all this needs to start upstream, as I mentioned before, while they're still active duty if you're going to do anything as far as the caregiver. One of the conversations we recently had with Secretary [of Veterans Affairs Eric] Shinseki is that -- If the care-giver's not taken care upstream, by the time he gets them, in their veteran status, they're either burnt out or they're so frustrated with the system that they may stop being a caregiver and then everyone loses -- especially the family. So this really needs to make sure -- we want to make sure that this actually starts upstream while the service member is still active duty. The other piece is that we have to remember that the caregiver well being is directly linked to the veterans' care, well being. So if the care-giver's taken care of, we know that the veterans' taken care of and vice versa. And so ways in which we can help the caregiver is we can recognize that the role that they're playing is important and then the pieces that they are providing also need to be recognized and how we go about recognizing that can be done in lots of different ways. We talked about the compensation as far as financial, we also realize that they have walked away from a lot of different things. They lose their health care, they lose their ability as far as to maintain a retirement or even lose their retirement. We also need to make sure that they have respite care, those types of pieces. So we need to make -- we're looking at the well being of the caregiver as one of those packages you talked about. The other is the caregiver also needs to maintain a purpose in life -- not only as far as taking care of the veteran but also as far as them personally. And also remember that what surrounds them is their family. It may not be Mom or Dad, it may be their sister or brother. Or if it's Mom or Dad that's doing that, they have other children that they're taking care of or maybe a father that they're also taking care of so that the family unit itself is in a delicate balance so whatever you provide the caregiver effects everyone else.

US House Rep Henry Brown (Ranking Member) raised issues of payment and should it go to the primary care-giver. Dr. Cohoon explained why that was necessary and also addressed how more than one person in the family could be trained in the care-giving but one person would be doing it. She also noted that at some point in the process, someone steps forward and that person becomes the primary care-giver. An important point and one that does conflict with the aim to appoint a care-giver before someone is wounded -- a point she seemed not to grasp or to ignore. A service member, not injured, picking someone as their primary care-giver may fill a blank on a piece of paper but it's a lot more complicated than listing someone as a primary contact should you be injured or killed. There are people who think they can be it and then, exposed to the realities, can't. There are people who think they can do it and in injury comes when they're pregnant or some other health issue has arisen. A service member designating a primary care-giver before deploying would only fill a blank on a piece of paper, it would not really answer anything.

US House Rep Henry Brown would return to the issue of payment during the third panel where you saw government workers from the VA (administrators) pretend they worked for their tax dollars and pretend that progress was being made. How little they are doing (how slowly they are dragging their feet) would emerge slowly. But first Brown hoped he found a roll dog the Dept Under Secretary of Defense Office of Transition Policy and Care Coordination Noel Koch. But first Koch needed to know if he was being asked a question. Then Koch needed Brown to repeat the question because, Brown apparently, hadn't been paying attention. Brown actually had to repeat the question and then he had to explain it. And having to ask the question twice -- the second time at Brown's request -- it does not build confidnece in the VA that their Deputy cannot grasp the basic formulation of words into a question. After Brown explained it (after asking it twice), Koch took a stab at it.

Noel Koch: This is -- this is -- this is a somewhat complicated issue here the question of who is the receipiant of the support is -- is -- is the issue. And there's a point beyond which we can't control how families function so, in some cases, the concern is the money goes to the -- to the family and the family spends it and it's not spent on care and it's not spent on the purpose that it's been provided for. Suggestions that we provide it straight to the service member raise some of the same concerns so this is just -- it's not something -- there's a point beyond which we can't manage the way human beings conduct their lives. I mean, everybody has a sugestion and usually that suggestion is a function of some personal experience or something they're familiar with . . .

And on and on he went. Did he understand the question? If so, his simple answer was, "Different people would feel differently about payment methods." Equally true is he could have pointed to Brown that anyone wrongly using monies that resulted in a veteran not getting care would be subject to prosecution for abuse and neglect. In fairness to Koch, Brown's question may have been so confusing because the monies being discussed in the hearing were not the veterans' benefits. The hearing was about payments to care-givers for the work that care-givers do.

Brown then raised that the services were said to be hard to follow, "We've heard testimony that access to resources and information for family care-givers is highly variable and there's not any standardized and ongoing training of any formal support network. How would you respond to those concerns?" That question was directed at Dr. Madhulika Agarwal who is with the VA and is the Chief Officer of Patient Care Services. Grasp the title and prepare to be frightened. Agarwal strung a lot of words together which said nothing. She ate up time and thought she'd done a great deal of it.

Dr. Madhulika Agarwal: Um. Thank you for the question, sir. Um. [Plays with mike. The same one she was using for her opening statement just minutes prior. But it ate up a second or two of time.] We certainly are making efforts in doing better outreach about our programs. We've had an initiative known as the Combat Call Center Initiative which was instituted by Secretary [James] Peake last year which reached out to about 1600 veterans who were identified in the seriously ill category during the transition process and were given information on our current program -- particularly about the care management -- case management programs and other services and also offered services at that time. The Federal Recovery Program, again, for the seriously injured veterans . . . this resource . . . has been . . . really . . . I think amplifying in helping us with . . . navigating between the VA, the DoD as well as the private sector. They have a resource directory. Which I think is a useful resource for the care-givers and the families. We have a set of liasons in the military treatment facilities and a case management system which is very knowledgable about the programs that we offer uhm. And we are working to improve and align our outreach through the internet, intranet and MyHealth.web.

Once she mentions Peake's name, she is reading from a piece of paper in front of her, it should be noted. That's shameful. In her position, she should damn well know what the VA offers. Someone should have asked that, someone should have said, "Doctor, are you unable to answer this basic question about what the VA provides without stealing long glances at your crib sheet?" Her little cheat sheet didn't even help her. It's the "Combat Veteran Call Center" -- not the "Combat Call Center." In addition, that wasn't a test program. In May of last year, that was a program. It's supposed to be up and fully running. The
VA contracted to EDS who predicted in May of 2008 that the first six months (starting May 1, 2008) would see the Combat Veteran Call Center assisting "nearly 570,000 recent war time veterans." 16,000? 17,000 was the initial focus but by month six, 570,00 veterans were supposed to be served and if they weren't, the EDS didn't do the job they promised and the VA didn't provide the oversight they were supposed to. Now she should have been asked that but Little Debbie got to close up the questions so American veterans and their families suffered. The doctor was an idiot and anyone who needs a cheat sheet and still can't get the facts right doesn't just need to be left behind a grade they need to be expelled. There is no oversight at the VA when it comes to the administrators and, until there is, there will be very little improvement for veterans and their families.

Brown seemed confused by the doctor's wordy non-answer (it was confusing) and attempted to give her the benefit of the doubt.

US House Rep Henry Brown: So you basically have a website that has these services which are available --

Dr. Madhulika Agarwal (overlapping): We're currently working on that

US House Rep Henry Brown: -- and how to get those resources?

Dr. Madhulika Agarwal: We are working on it, sir. It's in -- it's in development phase.

Well Agarwal, the Iraq War is not in the "development phase" so when does the VA plan to get off its ass and gets its act together? Hmm. A website of resources. They're developing it. They're in that phase. The obvious follow up was: "What is the timeline for this project? When is this website scheduled to be up and running?" Again, the committee passed to Little Debbie Halvorson. All the thought Little Debbie put into the day took place in the morning when selecting that very bad outfit (was the necklace a faucet?) with the plunging neckline.

In other news of inept government employees,
last week Iraq's Trade Minister resigned. Abed Falah al-Sudani was arrested over the weekend after attempting to fly out of Iraq only to have the plane he was traveling on forced to return. The Oil Minister is now in the spotlight, as expected. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports al-Shahristani is stating he can handle the questioning from Parlaiament "[b]ut he said he thinks members of parliament have ulterior motives. He said some lawmakers want only to advance their public images before national elections in January, while others are involved in oil-related corruption." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) notes 117 MPs are calling for Shahristani to face their questions and that the "parliament has become far more assertive since Samarai, a Sunni politician viewed as a foe of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, was picked as speaker in April.

Claudiu Zamfir (AGERPRES) reports that Romania has completed their military mission in Iraq (838 at the start of the Iraq War, 365 which are now withdrawaing) and that the country's President Traian Basescu met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani today in Baghdad where the two spoke of building a business relationship between the two countreis and, no doubt, Basescu didn't grasp how it sounded when he bragged, "Romania has a great tradition in oil and gas exploitation". AP notes the ceremony marking the departure took place in Nasinriyah, that 3 Romanians died in the Iraq War and "Aside from the United States, the remaining troops [in Iraq] come from Britain and Australia." England and Australia? They're not out of Iraq. Despite all the hoopla. Mike highlighted the BBC report on the UK Royal Air Force would be ending the "nearly 19 years of operations in Iraq when seven aircraft fly personnel back to the UK." And we've heard all the "England's out!" stories. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports, "Britain's final military mission in Iraq is in disarray after a failure to seal an agreement with the Baghdad Government by the end of last month forced two British ships to leave and scores of Royal Navy trainers to suspend work." This forced, as UPI notes, the British Navy to stop their work. The so-called Status Of Forces Agreement replaced the United Nations Security Council's authorization for the occupation of Iraq -- for the US. By not renewing the authorization, each country was required to set up their own arrangements. Romania and Iraq had worked out a memorandum of understanding. England? AFP reports that they rushed through an agreement -- one which still needs to go before the Iraqi Parliament for ratification -- which would allos the British Navy to remain in Iraq for one year, according to Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Dabagh. The Mirror notes they were to depart at the end of June but now as many as "100 troops and five ships" will remain to "protect its [Iraq's] floating oil terminals". Earlier this week, Jeremy Scahill (RebelReports) reported "with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of 'Private Security Contractors' working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which 'correlates to the build up of forces' in the country. These numbers relate explicitly to DoD security contractors. Companies like Blackwater and its successor Triple Canopy work on State Department contracts and it is unclear if these contractors are included in the over-all statistics. This means, the number of individual "security" contractors could be quite higher, as could the scope of their expansion." Nebraska's North Platte Bulletin reports that the US Army Reserve's 1013th is composed of 98 soldiers and that fifty-seven of those "head to Iraq later this year to support military operations there" while the Honolulu Advertiser reports that the 130th Engineer Brigade is sending over 150 troops to Iraq for a one year tour of duty (their send off takes place tomorrow at Hamilton Field starting at ten a.m.). Tom Barton (Des Moines Register) reports on Tim Geiger, 19-years-old, who compets in the X Games' Hometown Heroes Amateur Skateboard Tour Competition in Urbandale and then leaves for Iraq. Though interest among many so-called 'anti-war' types has vanished, the Iraq War has not ended.

One thing that doesn't have to be sent to Iraq is homophobia -- Nouri al-Maliki ensures that homophobia thrives in the country.
Queerty weighs in noting:

We're about 99.99999999877 percent certain life is pretty miserable for many of Iraq's openly gay and transgender folks. If actually being murdered and tortured weren't bad enough, living in fear that you'll be among those rounded up (sometimes by state police), slayed, and left "wearing diapers and women's lingerie" must be pretty daunting to just getting through the day. But wait, what's this? News that being gay in Iraq is FANTASTIC? Despite laughable assurances from U.S. State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs John Fleming that all is okay with gays in Iraq -- you know, because homosexuality isn't illegal, so what's there to worry about? -- reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and British-based Iraqi LGBT tell a very different story. Like how international advocates, so worried about the fate of queers there, are simply working to evacuate them after attempting the more insurmountable task of just keeping them safe.

Seth Michael Donsky (Boston's The Edge) speaks to Human Rights Watch's Scott Long who states that some believe the assaults on Iraq's LGBT community are an effort by followers of Moqtada al-Sadr to portray "themselves as moral crusaders." Long is quoted stating, "What is clear is that this is an organized and extensive murder campaign and must involve some degree of high-level direction."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports four Baghdad roadside bombings which destroyed 1 military vehicle and a police car while injuring six people, a Mosul "suicide car" bombing apparently aimed at a private seucirty company which resulted in 1 civilian being killed and six being injured.

Today the
US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier died from injuries received during a grenade attack on a patrol in the Kirkuk province of northern Iraq, June 4. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4309.

Turning to the US where Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan's currently on a
speaking tour and these are some of the upcoming dates:
Phoenix: June 5th
Dallas: June 7th and 8th
Waco: June 9th
Austin: June 10th and 11th
Nashville: June 14-16
St. Petersburg, FL: June 17-18
Philadelphia: June 20-23
NYC: June 24-26
Cape Cod: June 27-29
New Hampshire: June 30 - July 1
San Francisco: July 3 - 5 (Socialist Conference)
Cleveland: July 8-9 (National Assembly to end the Iraq War)
Pittsburgh: July 11-12
Norfolk, VA: July 15-18
Vashon Island, Washington: July 25-26
The Dallas Peace Center notes an action Cindy will lead while in Dallas:
Start: Jun 8 2009 - 4:30pm
Cindy Sheehan will come to Dallas to protest crimes against humanity that occured during the Bush administration. According to Sheehan, "The actions of his administration are criminal and we need to keep up the pressure for accountability." To support Sheehan's effort, meet on the SW corner of Preston & Royal to join a march on the sidewalk west on Royal, south on Netherland, east on Meaders to the front of John J. Pershing Elementary School, across from Daria Dr. which leads to Bush's gated compound. No major streets will be crossed. Participants are asked to stay on message – the American people will not tolerate torture in our name, and those who have betrayed our trust must be held legally accountable.
SW corner of Preston & Royal
Dallas, TX
United StatesSee map:
Yahoo! Maps Cindy Sheehan hosts the radio program Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox which airs each Sunday (and archives at link). Cindy notes that she's been attacked online (at the Dallas Morning News' "Park Cities" edition -- they always go north and futher north at the Morning News -- it allows them to keep the paper 'White' and ignore that the city of Dallas became majority minority sometime ago -- so they expand to Park Cities and soon will be in Sherman -- anything to avoid covering Oak Cliff or South Dallas) and explains some of the lies being repeated. She raised Casey. He is her son. She and her husband were married throughout Casey's life. (They divorced sometime after his death.) Though she doesn't note it, the attackers are confusing her (intentionally?) with another mother of a fallen soldier who is against the illegal war. That woman is divorced and the attacks being launched at Cindy are the same attacks that the step-mother (who barely knew the fallen) has repeatedly launched at the mother. Now maybe the hatred of Cindy is so intense that they just can't see clearly but it takes a lot of ignorance not to know Cindy's story. Cindy notes:

In the blog there are a lot of inaccuracies, but these people don't care about fact or reality: they care about propping up and still supporting someone who used his Presidency to enrich his oil buddies and break almost every amendment in the Bill of Rights and shred this country's laws to pieces. Bush left office with a rating that was even lower than his I.Q. and he probably purchased a house in one of the only neighborhoods in this world where he wouldn't be guaranteed a nightly flaming bag of dog poo on his porch. Many people commenting on the blog also wish that I would "Leave that poor man alone." He's not president anymore and we shouldn't be protesting someone who can't do anything about the war anymore, anyway. I think the people making the comments really believe that we are going to protest so Bush will bring the troops home. It didn't work when he was president, so why should it work when he is Citizen Village Idiot? We are protesting in front of Bush's Dallas home because we are tired of American presidents committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and getting away with it to live long lives of bar-be-que, golf and revisionist history to repair their scandalous legacies.

And if you're not understanding that this an orchestrated attack on Cindy from the Dallas Morning News, check out
this hit piece by DMN editor Michael Landauer. Cindy's event is June 8th in Dallas, Texas. The Path to Peace Foundation announces a June 9th event in New York City:On 9 June 2009 the Path to Peace Foundation will bestow posthumously the 2009 Path to Peace Award to Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, of Mosul, Iraq. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, and President of the Path to Peace Foundation, announced that decision was made by the Board of the Path to Peace Foundation, an agency established to carry out projects to support the work of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations. Paulos Faraj Rahho was born in Mosul, Iraq, in 1942. He spent nearly all his life in Mosul, a city with one of the oldest Christian populations. Following his ordination to the priesthood on June 10, 1965, he was appointed to St. Isaiah's Church in Mosul. He later founded the Church of the Sacred Heart on Tel Keppe, a new district of Mosul. He also opened an orphanage for disabled children. On February 16, 2001, he was ordained Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, giving him responsibility for about 20,000 Catholics in ten parishes. Chaldean Catholics comprise a tiny minority of the Iraqi population, but are the largest group among the less than 1 million Christians in the country. Archbishop Rahho expressed disquiet at the moves to incorporate Sharia law more fundamentally into the Iraqi constitution, and continued throughout his life to lead worship in difficult situations. Following the start of the Iraq war, persecution of Christians increased dramatically. Despite the adversities facing Christians, Archbishop Rahho encouraged Christians to stay in Mosul, and he pushed for tolerance among all factions. On February 29, 2008, gunmen kidnapped Rahho outside his church in Mosul as he drove home after he had finished celebrating a prayer service. After two weeks of searching, officials at the Archeparchy were informed that the Archbishop had died and where to find his body. Also murdered were his bodyguards and driver.In addition to the Path to Path Award, four individuals will receive the Servitor Pacis Award for their contribution to the common good. These honorees are: Judge Andrew Napolitano, Bob & Suzanne Wright (Co-Founders of Autism Speaks), and Father John P. Foley, S.J. (Co-Founder of Cristo Rey Network). The event will be held at a Gala Dinner sponsored by the Foundation at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

At wowOwow, Lesley Stahl interviews Republican Arianna Huffington who declares that "I feel that this left/righ way of looking at the world is very obsolete" -- spoken like the wolf in sheep's clothing Arianna is. One exchange quotes Lesley trying to bring in the reality and a news perspective and Ariana bathed in the sweat of 'inspirational glow':

Lesley Stahl: Every time I point my clicker at the television set and surf around, I see Barack Obama. He's making announcements, he's giving interviews, he's there all the time. There's a debate about why he's in our faces so much and whether he's overexposed. What do you think about that? What do you think about the president and is he overdoing it?

Arianna Huffy: I don't think so, Lesley. I believe that Obama's strength from the first time he burst onto the national scene with a speech at the convention in 2004, to the last speech he gave this morning . . .

Lesley: Yes. Exactly, my point.

It's a point that escapes Ari. But a great deal escapes the backlash, anti-feminist Arianna. Why is that? The answer's actually in the interview. Nut case Arianna shares "one of those amazing, teachable moments". A teachable moment? Well here's what it takes Ari to learn something, in this case, over fifty and she's learning the importance of sleep:

And I remember getting up from my desk the first morning and fainting from exhaustion, hitting my head on my desk, breaking my cheekbone and having five stiches on my eye. And it's one of those amazing, teachable moments, because I just knew immediately that I had to change the way I was trying to do things.

Well there you go. The old dog can learn new tricks.

Provided she breaks a bone and requires medical attention.

Arianna always loves to inflate the truth. She made a career out of it. She's like a nun who gave herself to Christ. Only in this case, Christ was a gay man who wanted to stay in the closet and Arianna was a money grubber who was willing to take part in a faux marriage. No, Lesley doesn't ask her about that. It's forbidden. No one ever asks Arianna about that. Despite the fact that it is the most interesting thing about her oversimplified life. How many frumpy socialites end up with her life? Not many. In the UK, she'd be a cross dresser by now. In the US, she pretends she grasps politics. That she doesn't is very clear when Lesley asks her about Sonia Sotomayor (Barack's nominee for the Supreme Court) and Arianna insists "I really feel that she is immensly qualified for the job" but when Lesley (again) asks about the abortion issue (Arianna sidesteps it the first time -- pay attention kids, Republicans don't change their spots) and whether a campaign should be mounted against her "if it isn't clear that she's pro-choice," Arianna immediately responds, "No. I don't think so." Well she wouldn't, now would she. She's the anti-feminist woman and when that comes up, Arianna offers a bunch of sexist stereotypes about feminism ("all that anger twoard men and toward family and children" -- she's just a money grubbing liar) and then tries to prove she's not anti-feminist by insisting her position was like The Second Stage. That's the book
Susan Faludi called out in Backlash, noting it was the most damaging to the feminist movement as a 'leader' set about ripping apart the own movement the press (falsely) credited her with starting. Arianna's a backlash queen, never forget it. For more on anti-feminist Arianna see Isaac Chotiner's "The Puffington Host" (New Republic) which Elaine recommended on Tuesday.

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