So much for poor old Colin Powell who (in Part I) found himself between a rock and a hard place, trying to placate the impossible: the paradox of what he had written in his own words in his book and later serving that which he had abhorred in his own book. Yes, Bush was one of those favored sons Powell had gaffed in his book. Bush had been taking big flak from the Boston Globe, the LA Times and other large newspapers for years to answer for his long absences in his military service in the Texas Air Guard during the Viet Nam War. Powell now served at the pleasure of President George W. Bush. Now Powell was Secretary of State. True, years before Powell had made the statement in his autobiography, An American Journey. Reviewing the text, on page 148, we come to a passionate statement he wrote:
"I particularly condemn the way our political leaders supplied the manpower for that war," he wrote. "The policies -- determining who would be drafted and who would be deferred, who would serve and who would escape, who would die and who would live -- were an anti-democratic disgrace. I am angry that so many sons of the powerful and well placed and so many professional athletes (who were probably healthier than any of us) managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units. Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to our country."
Fast forward to House committee meeting/inquiry where now Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked an embarrassing question that went something like this: “How can you reconcile serving such a person as George W. Bush after making such a passionate statement about the high and privileged sons who pulled strings to get out of the Draft and being sent to Viet Nam, a combat zone?” The unspoken truth was that Bush was one of those very privileged sons Powell decried in his book. The person who called Powell out for his conflicted “truths” was Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
Silence fell upon the House hearing chamber.
Next, the shit hit the fan. Powell cratered. And responded with a vengeance that almost shook the plaster down from the ceiling.
We discussed a lot of the details of Powell’s outburst in Part I of this same article. So let us “not go there” again for fear of boring ourselves to tears with more denials, cowardly evasions, and high-toned platitudes (not to mention bald-faced lies).
Earlier, in Part I I promised to discuss something far more dishonorable when it comes to the treatment of Veterans. In January, 2003 the House met in late session on a Friday evening to vote on chopping off benefits for Category 8 Veterans. And the chop was deep. And terminal. But first we must travel way back to the late 1990s when the House passed a House Resolution to extend full VA Hospital benefits, doctors, drugs, the whole package, to all veterans who had completed 2 or more years of active duty service. Many Categories of Veterans were defined.
A Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (a Category 1) got unlimited medical, hospital, prescription drugs, everything. So did those wounded in battle (Purple Heart recipients Cat 2). All others were placed in Categories with higher numbers that were defined according to a Veteran’s ability to pay for these services. But except for Cat 1 and 2 all other Vets must have completed at least 2 years active duty service in order to qualify for benefits. Category 8 Veterans were the end of the line for receiving VA benefits and had to pay copay on drugs and doctors’ visits. Today those Category 8 Veterans must pay an $8 copay for drugs, $50 for a specialist doctor’s appointment, and $25 for an assigned team doctor who handles general and periodic visits, blood work, X rays, and routine checkups. The idea behind the HR that extended these benefits to Veterans with 2 years active duty service whether it be tours of duty in Viet Nam, Germany, or San Antonio was that Veterans were precious cargo to all Americans for having served their country and were deserving of benefits on a scale of conditions that showed an ability to pay.
Then in January 2003, to add insult to injury, Bush cut off 164,000 new applicants from applying for VA healthcare under the House Resolution that granted VA benefits. Then came the House vote in January, 2003 to cut further funding for Veterans in the Category 8 class. By a margin of only a few votes the Republican-controlled House voted to slam the door shut on any more new applicants for Category 8 VA benefits. These were Veterans who now made less than $25,000 per year and had no service-connected disabilities. No more benefits for them. The number of veterans refused VA benefits grew to over 522,000 by the year 2005. No need to apply. The door for new applicants in Cat 8 stayed shut. It’s still shut. Seems unconstitutional that those Vets who by mere chance got in before the door slammed shut get VA health benefits. But those who did not apply by late January, 2003, got the shaft. Even over 11 years later. I suppose in the spirit of true hypocrisy there should include 2 sub classes of Category 8 Veterans: 8a = VA Benefits, 8b = Poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
By 2005 more than half a million Veterans got their noses broken when the steel door slammed shut in their face. No need for new applicants to apply for VA benefits. If you had not applied and been issued a VA Benefits Card by the end of that House session you could not apply. Ever. This meant that your neighbor who had been on military active duty service for 2 years and who you had advised to apply earlier (but he tarried) could no longer apply! He was turned away. He might have had the same duty, the same time on active duty, but after the House vote, it did not matter if a Veteran had 8 years active duty, no soap. Or even if he fought in the same rice patties as you did. Read all about it in the URL below.
It appears now and in retrospect that Bush was preparing to finance his impending “Shock and
Awe” attack on Iraq just a couple of months later. It was a given that Bush was trying to fool Congress into going along with NO provisions in his budget to pay the piper for his attack on Iraq. Or the subsequent longest US occupation of a foreign country in history. And Congress, true to their lap dog Republican demeanor, did nothing. All knew that there was no money in the budget to spend billions of dollars a week for such a long and costly war. But Congress went along. You only live once. Forget that Saddam Hussein had no WMDs pointed at us as Bush told us and the world in his State of the Union address. Bush might just pull it off. And get us to believe the absurd.
Congress later responded to “off-budget” White House shame tactics like, “Hey you don’t want to support our troops?” Congress gave in every time. The Iraq War was funded. OFF-BUDGET. And refunded. And refunded. Such jellyfish we, the American people, had become. No protest. Just borrow the money. It’s God’s plan, so many brain-dead leaders, including Sarah Palin, had told us. But you got to love the thinking behind the paid-for media lies. Such brilliant work by Karl Rove and all the other propagandists who twisted the lies so they would go down easier. God and country, freedom, the flag, patriotism, you get the picture. Of course Congress would acquiesce to BORROW the money to finance a war that had begun and ended on multiple lies, beginning with Saddam Hussein was in partnership with al Qaeda and had Weapons of Mass Destruction pointed at us. Those suppositions based upon paid-for lies revealed just how dark the American people had become. Friederich Nietzsche had warned us, many years before that, “When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” We had become that which we thought to be dark. And all the prayer in school and pro-life rhetoric in the world would not change it. We attacked a nation, toppled its leader, and hanged him. And in the whole dark dance we became a disgustful nation that sanctioned Toby Keith running over the Dixie Chicks’ CDs in his pickumup truck. Because the group’s lead singer Natalie Maines said that she was embarrassed and ashamed that Bush was from her home state of Texas. We had to become careful of telling the truth when munching on our newly created “Freedom Fries.” We had become Romans at the Coliseum. We had settled for the circus and bread of the moment. In the same fashion we had come to applaud feeding the Muslims to the lions, no matter who or what they were and represented. What was important was Rumsfeld’s coaching to find something on Iraq, Saddam Hussein. Why? Because “Iraq would make a better target.” Such stupid thinking had become us. And many of the American clergy had accepted and embraced that sort of madness. The congregations went along. It was not hard, at last, to imagine Jesus as a warrior who wore a helmet and drove a tank. And invading Muslim countries and killing ragheads was the order of the day.
But back to 2014 when the VA uproar has us blowed up. But please tell me something: who among us objected to the U238 tipped tank shells we fired by the thousands in both Iraq Wars? Doesn’t anybody know that Uranium stays active for over 26,000 years? And gets sucked up and is airborne and is inhaled by every mammal (including our soldiers). Do we not know that U238 gets deposited in the soft tissues of the lungs and irradiates the soft tissue terminally before turning into cancer? Did we not figure on this when we splattered the sand desserts with it for 2 wars? Did we have no more regard for our veterans and every other living creature who breathed the air for the next million years? Did we know how badly this would harm our own soldiers who breathed the air? Did we plan on the long-term effects of providing VA healthcare for victims not only with missing limbs, but those who had been exposed to almost certain cancer in a short period of time? Did Bush and Cheney consider all that? More to the point, did they care about Veterans any more than they did when they cut VA funding for Vets?
So now the vogue is to blame Obama. Bet Bush and Cheney are getting a good laugh out of that. Can’t you just picture Cheney in Caesar’s toga, gold laurel leaf on head, giving a thumbs down to veteran’s funding?
On VA mishaps, corruption, and moral treatment of Vets, the iceberg runneth deep.