Friday, November 11, 2005

Congress Has No Thanks For Vets

Today is Veteran's Day, and while across East Tennessee families and friends and communities have shown much appreciation and love for our troops, Congress just decided they no longer want to hear about their concerns, their suggestions, or their ideas for improving the state of our military.

The change was implemented by House Veterans' Affair Committee Chair Steve Buyer, who was appointed by Tom DeLay

The press release from the Disabled Vets reads:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A proposal to end the long-standing practice of veterans groups addressing a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees is an insult to all who have fought, sacrificed and died to defend the Constitution, according to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). And in a strongly worded letter to House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), the DAV has urged him to continue the joint hearings as an invaluable tool in formulating public policy toward America's veterans.

Chairman Buyer recently announced that veterans service organizations will no longer have the opportunity to present testimony before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees.

"The tradition of legislative presentations by veterans service organizations dates back to at least the 1950s. And the timing of this announcement -- just before Veterans Day -- could not have been worse," said DAV National Commander Paul W. Jackson.

For several decades now, these joint hearings have been held each year to allow the elected leaders of veterans groups to discuss their organization's legislative agenda and foremost concerns with the lawmakers who have jurisdiction over federal veterans programs. Senators and Representatives who serve on those committees also get the rare opportunity to address the hundreds of constituent members from these organizations' who make the annual pilgrimage to Capitol Hill.

"The right to fully participate in the democratic process is a cornerstone of our nation," said Commander Jackson. "Eliminating these joint hearings is an insult to the men and women who have fought, sacrificed and died to protect our Constitutional rights, including the right to petition the government."

This important dialog between veterans and their elected representatives is crucial to the democratic process and a unique opportunity for the men and women who've put their lives on the line for America. Many of the veterans who take part in the hearings view it as their patriotic duty, as well as a fundamental right"

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Law Enforcement Losing Credibility

Day by day and year by year, the indictments and allegations of corruption grow against law enforcement and justice officials in the Cocke County community. A third indictment was just handed down against one deputy, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel, this time for witness tampering.

Too many area residents -- along with 1st District Congressman Bill Jenkins who complained In June of this year that the Feds are wasting time investigating illegal activities - say this is all a waste of time and resources. I suppose since the local law enforcement agencies turn a blind eye, Jenkins approves and does the same.

There are staggering amounts of crimes, convictions and allegations against many who are charged with serving and protecting and they are noted in a vast timeline, again reported by the Knox News Sentinel. While this Timeline does indeed go back to the latte 1960s, anyone who reviews the numerous allegations reported just in the last four to five years should be astonished at the range of the charges, which include federal civil rights violations, illegal gambling, drug trafficking, falsifying records, money laundering, prostitution, witness tampering and on and on it goes. The Newport Civil Service Board says these "good men" need tax payer dollars and called for their reinstatements.

Residents of this mountainous community have reason to be deeply disturbed about such a long history of allegations of corruptions and crime. But too many local officials just want to sweep all this under the rug and let the environment of corruption grow. While many of these allegations are being investigated, other criminal cases will likely be dropped due to a "lack of credibility" from law enforcement:

These officers are innocent until proven guilty under the law, but obviously these charges will hurt their credibility in court," Schmutzer writes. "If the officer's testimony is not critical to conviction or can be independently corroborated, we will prosecute it. Otherwise, it will have to be dismissed." Schmutzer asks for written statements from each of the officers indicating "whether or not they will testify" in pending cases despite the possibility that they could be questioned by defense attorneys about the federal charges. Schmutzer writes: "For these reasons I must ask that, if you intend to keep working these officers, they not be assigned to law enforcement or investigative duties that might require their testimony in future cases until their federal cases are resolved." Schmutzer says as many as 21 criminal cases may have to be dismissed in Cocke County due to credibility issues about the officers’ testimony but adds that the majority of the cases are misdemeanors."

The Newport newspaper, The Plain Talk, reported Wednesday that an employee with the county's ambulance service has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of taking drugs out of ambulance supplies:

... is alleged to have taken the drugs meperidine theft of morphine and Demerol from Allied’s drug supplies, according to the indictment.
The defendant is also alleged to have filled the empty drug vials with saline solution and returned them to the drug storage area, grand jurors allege. That action led to th charge of reckless endangerment of potential patients of the ambulane service who may not have received the medications they needed ...

County residents need to consider the thought their safety may be at risk.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tennessee Regulator Gets Nod For FCC

The President has announced his plans to nominate current Tennessee Regulatory Agency member Deborah Tate to the FCC. Tate has a long career in Tennessee, serving as an Assistant to former Gov. Sunquist, as well as Counsel for fomer Governer Alexander. A full state biography is here. She was also appointed by Sundquist to oversee patient services to TennCare and has been Director of State and Public Policy at Vanderbilt.

Voters Boot School Board

Voters in PA were not going to wait and see what a court might say about the questionable non-scientific teachings in the classroom. The idiotic phrase "intelligent design" brought out the voters who booted 8 school board members who demanded that science education take a powder, so three cheers for the voters.

In Kansas, they have different approach - just change the schools' definition of science.

How often are students in elementary and high school drilled with the idea that a handful of Pilgrims shaped the history of America, when in truth hundreds of thousands of inmates in Europe's prisons were dumped on the shores of America? How many indentured servants came to America seeking freedom? Why not discuss this in America's classrooms?

Anyone remember when students and teachers in public school debated science and biology and civics and students and teachers in churches debated religious issues?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

On Torture

While touring nations south of the Equator, President Bush has had to face some big questions that the U.S. media has left by the wayside, most notably about reports of torture and secret prisons and recent actions in the War on Terror.

While the President fielded such questions, he defended U.S. Policy with the comment "
There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again. So you bet we will aggressively pursue them but we will do so under the law. We do not torture." My comment is this - when has the U.S. NOT had enemies that lurk and plot against us???

Andrew Sullivan has some probing questions too:

The president's only defense against being a liar is that he is defining "torture" in such a way that no other reasonable person on the planet, apart from Bush's own torture apologists (and they are now down to one who will say so publicly), would agree. The press must now ask the president: does he regard the repeated, forcible near-drowning of detainees to be torture? Does he believe that tying naked detainees up and leaving them outside all night to die of hypothermia is "torture"? Does he believe that beating the legs of a detainee until they are pulp and he dies is torture? Does he believe that beating detainees till they die is torture? Does he believe that using someone's religious faith against them in interrogations is "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment and thereby illegal? What is his definition of torture?"

You can also hear an in-depth inverview with General Janet Karpinski, who was removed from her duties at Abu-Ghraib prison, here.

UPDATE: Sen. Frist thinks maybe there should be an investigation into how the non-confirmed report of secret prisons got released in the first place.

UPDATE 2 : Sen. Frist might want to recall the 50-plus times the Senate has gone into a closed session, including the 6 times it happened regarding former President Clinton. And there's the fact that the Frist WhineBlog won't let non-supporters comment.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Make The Facts Fit After We're Done

A new study has compiled some statistics about childhood amputations, though hopefully we all know how such "compilations" seldom provide accurate pictures. Usually, the stat-quoters use the information to make people push some new law or new standard into place. So after reading this report, I'm waiting for the new law -- if doors are the most common cause of amputation incidents among children, the Ban Doors in America. Oh, and Ban Bicycles, Lawnmowers, etc. Let's get the Babyproof America Lobby up and running people!

I suppose I am too paranoid, maybe because I've seen to many End-Of-The-World movies, but a report about the discovery of an ancient Christian church in Meggido (where the battle of Armegeddon is apparently supposed to take place) makes me nervous. We'll be fine, right? ...... Right?

File under Ironic News: Bush Administration officials ordered to take Ethics Classes. (The article comes via a link from Tennessee Guerilla Women.) We'll all be fine, right? .... Right?

The Editor and Publisher has the story about Sen. Harry Reid's challenge to the Senate last week, indicating Sen. Reid and other Democrats have some proof that Congress and the American Public were fed a stack of lies about WMD, Iraq, etc, etc. I'm sure it doesn't really matter if the facts were faked, because our cause is Just. We'll all be fine, right? . .... Right?