mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Shameful, Even For Sarah Palin”: Vets Balk After Palin Connects PTSD, Obama

It’s generally important to consider a politician’s family, especially his or her kids, off limits to political scrutiny. It’s simply unfair to go after private citizens, outside the arena, simply because of their familial connections.

But when a politician chooses to put a spotlight on their family members, on purpose, and uses them to advance an agenda, standards and expectations of privacy change.

On Monday, for example, one of Sarah Palin’s sons, 26-year-old Track Palin, was arrested, charged with domestic violence, possession of a firearm while intoxicated, and assault on his girlfriend. A day later, Palin endorsed Donald Trump, and yesterday she hit the campaign trail – where she suggested President Obama bore some responsibility for Track Palin’s issues.

Sarah Palin suggested Wednesday that her son’s arrest on domestic violence charges this week stemmed from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and – in part – the president’s lack of “respect” for veterans.

Addressing what she called “the elephant in the room” during a rally in support of Donald Trump, Palin said her son Track came back “different” from his year-long deployment in Iraq.

Referencing her son’s problem, Palin specifically said, “[I]t makes me realize more than ever, it is now or never for the sake of America’s finest that we’ll have that commander-in-chief who will respect them and honor them.” She added that veterans like her son “come back wondering if there is that respect … and that starts right at the top.”

Last night, Donald Trump took credit for the rhetoric, saying he “suggested” to Palin that she talk about the issue.

As Rachel noted on Twitter late yesterday, some veterans were not pleased with Palin’s rhetoric.

Don’t blame President Obama for the PTSD that Sarah Palin claims her oldest son is battling.

That was the message Wednesday from the head of a New York City-based veteran’s organization that has fought for years to get Iraq and Afghanistan war vets help with their post traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s not President Obama’s fault that Sarah Palin’s son has PTSD,” said Paul Rieckhoff, who heads Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “PTSD is a very serious problem, a complicated mental health injury and I would be extremely reluctant to blame any one person in particular…. I hope this doesn’t become a portable chew toy in a political campaign,” he said.

It’s quite simple: bringing attention to PTSD is worthwhile; using PTSD as some sort of partisan cudgel to take cheap shots at the president is not.

For that matter, the idea that the Obama administration has somehow been lax in helping veterans returning with PTSD is plainly wrong. There’s ample evidence pointing in the opposite direction, with the White House expanding treatment options several times over the course of several years.

In other words, this line of attack isn’t just ugly; it’s also untrue.

I’m well aware of the fact that in some far-right circles, it’s important to blame President Obama for everything, without regard for propriety or common sense. But for Sarah Palin to exploit her own son’s troubles in the hopes of making the president look bad is just shameful, even for Sarah Palin.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 21, 2016

January 22, 2016 Posted by | PTSD, Sarah Palin, Veterans | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Where Is The Accountability On Iraq?”: At Best A Fool’s Errand, At Worst A Criminal Act

Can someone explain to me why the media still solicit advice about the crisis in Iraq from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)? Or Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)? How many times does the Beltway hawk caucus get to be wrong before we recognize that maybe, just maybe, its members don’t know what they’re talking about?

Certainly Politico could have found someone with more credibility than Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy in the George W. Bush administration and one of the architects of the Iraq war, to comment on how the White House might react to the rapidly deteriorating political situation in Iraq today. Certainly New York Times columnist David Brooks knows what folly it is to equate President Obama’s 2011 troop removal with Bush’s 2003 invasion, as he did during a discussion with me last Friday on NPR?

Just a reminder of what that 2003 invasion led to: Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes authoritatively priced Bush’s war at more than $3 trillion. About 320,000 U.S. veterans suffer from brain injury as a result of their service. Between 500,000 and 655,000 Iraqis died, as well as more than 4,000 U.S. military members.

Yet as Brooks’s words reveal, the prevailing mindset in today’s media is to treat the 2003 invasion as if its prosecution were an act of God — like Hurricane Katrina, an inevitability that could not have been avoided. Seen this way, policymakers can ignore the idiocy of the decision to invade in the first place and can instead direct all of their critical attention to how to deal with the aftermath. It’s almost as though the mainstream media have demoted themselves from a corps of physicians, eager and able to diagnose, prognosticate and prescribe, to one of EMTs, charged instead with triaging, cleaning and cauterizing a catastrophe without investigating its underlying cause.

Since so many liberal hawks reached the same conclusion as did Bush et al., this notion of the 2003 invasion’s inevitability can falsely seem to have some credence (which is, perhaps why, as Frank Rich points out in New York magazine, so many erstwhile hawks, especially so-called liberal ones, feel no need to acknowledge their erroneous judgments of a decade ago).

But if so many were wrong about Iraq in 2003, why are they still being invited (and trotting themselves out) on Sunday morning talk shows and op-ed pages as authorities on U.S.-Iraq policy? Where is the accountability for the politicians’ and pundits’ warmongering of 11 years ago? James Fallows — who was “right” on Iraq in a 2002 Atlantic cover storytweeted Friday, “Working hypothesis: no one who stumped for original Iraq invasion gets to give ‘advice’ about disaster now. Or should get listened to.” Amen.

In the current cacophony of Washington, we must remember that there is no equivalence to be drawn between Bush’s 2003 decision to invade Iraq and Obama’s 2011 decision to withdraw U.S. troops. Bush’s invasion, after all, was not just a mistake. At best a fool’s errand, at worst a criminal act, this great blunder helped set the stage for Iraq’s chaos today. The increased sectarian violence stems not from the 2011 withdrawal; rather, it is the fruit of the 2003 invasion, subsequent occupation and much-vaunted “surge” of 2007–08.

McCain and Graham insist that airstrikes are the only way forward in today’s Iraq. But what we need now are not armchair warriors calling for military strikes or sending weapons. (As an aside, I will say that, should members of the neoconservative movement feel so motivated, we would wholeheartedly respect their decision to enlist in the Iraqi army.) Obama, himself “right” on Iraq during the war’s run-up, is also right today to resist calls for direct U.S. military action — including airstrikes — in Iraq. The U.S. misadventure in Iraq ended in 2011; we do not need another. Experience and history have (clearly) taught us that there is no military solution in Iraq. Only a political reconciliation can quell the unrest, and this requires more than bellicose calls for violence from 5,000 miles away. To find a solution, we must commit to regional and international diplomacy.

We learned in 2003 that when we move in with guns blazing, we tend to spark a lot more fires than we extinguish. In 2014, we cannot afford to learn this same lesson. Regardless of how many are too blind (or proud or foolish) to realize it, we need to write a new scenario for 2014, so that 11 years from now, we can look back and ponder how, this time, we did things right.

 

By: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 17, 2014

June 18, 2014 Posted by | Iraq, Iraq War, Media, Neo-Cons | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Truly Something To Behold”: Republicans War-Monger, Then Complain When We’re Overwhelmed By Sick Vets

It took very little time at all for reports of falsified records covering up delays at a Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix to balloon into just another who’s up-who’s down Washington political story. From the New York Timesfront-page article today declaring in its headline that the “V.A. Accusations Aggravate Woes for White House”:

Republican lawmakers intensified their criticism of Mr. Obama, and some made it clear they intended to use the incidents at the hospitals as fodder for a broader political theme about incompetence in his administration.

“The election of President Obama ushered in a new era of big government and with it a renewed flurry of mismanagement,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican whip, said in a statement. “If the president truly did not know about these scandals and mistakes, we should doubt his ability to properly manage the leviathan government that he helped create.”

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican in the House, told reporters on Tuesday that Mr. Obama had not acted swiftly enough. He added that “it is time for our president to come forward and take responsibility for this and do the right thing by these veterans and begin to show that he actually cares about getting it straight.”

Meanwhile, after Obama addressed the Phoenix scandal at the White House this morning, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell huffed, “Unfortunately [we] have yet to hear” Obama treating the “VA crisis with the seriousness it deserves.”

The hypocrisy on view here is truly something to behold. If V.A. employees in Phoenix, or anywhere else, were engaged in fraud and cover-up of the sort that is being alleged, that is a travesty and heads will have to roll, as one already has. And it’s fair to ask, as we did with the bungled rollout of healthcare.gov, why the White House hasn’t paid more attention to the nuts and bolt functioning of the federal bureaucracy. But for Republicans to expand the scandal into a broader indictment of Obama’s overall handling of veterans affairs means overlooking some relevant context.

For starters, there is the matter of funding. If there’s been one side pushing for greater resources for the Veterans Administration in the age of austerity these past five years, it hasn’t been the Republicans. It was the much-maligned economic stimulus package of 2009 that included $1 billion for the V.A. While the V.A. itself was protected from the budget sequestration that Republicans fought to keep in place last year, many other veterans programs—providing mental health services and housing, among other things—were hit hard by the sequestration cuts. And when the Senate was poised to pass a $24 billion bill for federal healthcare an education programs for veterans three months ago, Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, blocked it in a filibuster, saying the bill would bust the budget and complaining that Senate Democrats had refused to allow an amendment on Iran sanctions to be attached to the bill.

But there is a whole other level of context to consider here as well. There is a pretty basic reason for backlogs at V.A. facilities and in the disability claims process, the other ongoing V.A. mess. Put simply: when you go to war, you get more wounded veterans, and in a country without a universal health care system, they are all funneled into this one agency with limited capacity. Every one of the Republican leaders quoted above attacking Obama for the V.A. backlogs strongly supported launching the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that resulted in nearly 7,000 fatalities and a huge surge in medical needs and disability claims. Nearly one-half of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have filed claims for permanent disability compensation. These claims need to be assessed for their validity, just as we attempt to do with claims for other programs, such as Social Security disability, unless we want to simply throw open the doors on a compensation program that is already expected to cost close to a trillion dollars for Iraq and Afghanistan vets. Making the assessment all the more challenging is the nature of the disability claims being made. Awarding disability status for a missing limb is easy. Harder are the much larger numbers of claims for traumatic brain injury caused by the IED explosions that were the greatest threat to our service members in these two wars of occupation. Consider this graph:

Something, it appears, happened around 2003 that caused the rate of traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. military to spike. Now what could that have been? Whatever it was, it happened while Barack Obama was in the Illinois state Senate, giving an obscure speech against invading Iraq. He is now having to reckon with the fallout from that event, as is his responsibility to do as commander in chief. But you’d think that those who had actually played a part in bringing about that event would have enough self-awareness to resist scoring political points off of the years-later fallout. Apparently, though, even that is too much to ask.

 

By: Alec MacGinnis, The New Republic, May 21, 2014

May 22, 2014 Posted by | Veterans, Veterans Administration | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“How Karl Rove Plays The Game”: ‘Turd Blossom’ Has A Well-Earned Reputation For Sleaze, Dishonesty, And Ugly Campaign Tactics

In December 2012, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fainted, suffered a concussion, and was hospitalized with a blood clot. Because her injury delayed her congressional testimony on Benghazi, conservative media quickly launched a conspiracy theory: Clinton wasn’t really injured, Fox News and others said, she was merely faking it to avoid talking about the attack.

Even for the right, this was bizarre. Clinton’s injury was not only real, she also had no incentive to mislead – her committee testimony was simply rescheduled.

In a curious twist, Republicans have shifted gears. Arguing that Clinton’s injury was faked is now out; arguing that Clinton’s injury was extremely serious is now in. Karl Rove is leading the way.

He said if Clinton runs for president, voters must be told what happened when she suffered a fall in December 2012.

The official diagnosis was a blood clot. Rove told the conference near LA Thursday, “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”

Rove repeated the claim a number of times to the audience.

The man George W. Bush affectionately referred to as “Turd Blossom” has a well-earned reputation for sleaze, dishonesty, and ugly campaign tactics, and this fits nicely into his established pattern of behavior.

We can note, for example, that Clinton was in the hospital for a few days, not 30. We can also note that Clinton wore glasses because of the temporary “double vision” she suffered after she fainted, not “traumatic brain injury.”

But this isn’t about reality. This is about Karl Rove playing a game – one that he thinks he’s good at.

As reports about his comments generated chatter throughout the political world. Rove told Karen Tumulty, “Of course she doesn’t have brain damage.”

Of course.

Rove added that he believes Clinton suffered “a serious health episode” and she’ll “have to be forthcoming” about the incident if she runs for national office again.

But why say any of this? Every major presidential candidate releases medical records, just as a routine part of the process, so if the former Secretary of State throws her hat in the ring, Clinton already knows her health background will be scrutinized, just like every other candidate.

So why bring it up? Because Rove wants to raise doubts about the Democrat widely perceived as the strong potential candidate in the race.

Rove could go after Clinton’s record, but substantive debates aren’t his style. He could go after Clinton’s agenda, but she isn’t even an announced candidate, so there is no platform to attack.

And that brings us to targeting Clinton’s fitness for office. The next time she forgets a detail or flubs a word during a Q&A, we’re supposed to think about the seed Rove planted in the political world’s mind: an older candidate with a brain injury.

It’s cheap and politics at its most obnoxious, but then again, those are adjectives Rove is probably accustomed to hearing by now.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 13, 2014

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, Hillary Clinton, Karl Rove | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: