Thursday, October 18
Tuesday, October 16
Following the repeated and incessent. attacks on Graeme Frost and his family comes a renewed volley against 2-year-old Bethany Wilkerson and her mother for failing to remain (or go back to) an "unmanageable" job that had health care instead of staying at her current one, which doesn't, prompting her to utiliize S-CHIP when her daughter developed a heart condition at 3-months old.
We now have confirmation that conservatives may believe in a "right to life", but as soon as someone exits the birth canal they have no right to living.
Some backstory on the Wilkersons.
This week, Democrats have brought forth the Wilkerson family, whose two-year old daughter Bethany is covered by SCHIP and had life-saving heart surgery when she was an infant. On Monday the Wilkerson family held a conference call, sponsored by USAction, a liberal grassroots advocacy group lobbying in favor of the $35 billion SCHIP expansion.
For the record, the Bo and Dara Wilkerson say they make $34,000 in combined income from restaurant jobs in St. Petersburg, Fla. They rent their house and the couple owns one car, which Bo calls "a junker." Malkin and other bloggers have revealed over the past week that the Frost family owned two properties, as well as a couple cars, and had a $45,000 income. The accusation against Democrats, and by extension the Frost family, is that they are too middle class to be granted any subsidized health insurance for their children.
The Wilkersons said they are fully aware of the possibility that their finances and personal lives may be investigated by opponents of the SCHIP bill.
"We rent a house, we have one car that is a junker. Let them dig away," Bo Wilkerson said. "I have $67 in my checking account. Does that answer your question?"
And dig away they did.
3-months. That's all it took for Bethany Wilkerson to go from a gift from God to greedy health-fare princess. According to ex-O'Reilly guest-host Michelle Malkin she is the new "toddler-aged human shield" as she quoted from New Republic columnist Mark Hemmingway. (No Link, they don't deserve the hits)
Image Below from Malkin's Site (Don't you know sick kids are just crybabies being used by those Damn Dirty Democrats! Have they no shame?)
While USAction and a labyrinthine maze of leftist activist groups prepare to rally around images of Tampa Bay’s Most Photogenic Baby holding up a crayon sign that says "Don’t Veto Me," Dara and Brian Wilkerson are real poster children — for irresponsible decisions.
On the conference call, Dara admitted to me that she and Brian had been talking about having children since before they were married. She further admitted that after they were married she voluntarily left a job at a country club that had good health insurance, because the situation was "unmanageable." From there she took a job at a restaurant with no health insurance.
Mark doesn't go into details of exactly why Dara left the country club job - for all we know she may have been in the midst of sexual harrasment situation, or it may have been something far less serious such as working hours that conflicted with her sleep and/or caused distance with her husband. I honestly don't know, yet. But whatever her reasons, it seem to me that the price for her making that choice of her own free will shouldn't be that her (future) children are put at risk. Rather than protect herself, or protect her marriage Dara should have simply sucked it up because someday in the future - she might want to have children?
Is that really the "decision making process" that's being advocated here?
...and the couple went on to have a baby anyway, presuming that others would pay for it and certainly long before they knew their daughter would have heart defect that probably cost the gross national product of Burkina Faso to fix. But not knowing about future health problems is the reason we have insurance in the first place.
And not knowing that you might be robbed or mugged is why we have police, while not knowing that you house might catch fire is why we have firemen and oh... never mind.
Now, pause for a second. Are you reading this at your computer at work, in a job that you don’t particularly care for or even downright detest because you have a spouse and child that depend on you? You wouldn’t be the first or last person to make that choice.
That's right, you wouldn't be the first wage and healthcare Slave in the world. Yes, we all know the ankle chain chaffs, just keep shovelling.
For Dara and Brian Wilkerson, the fact that they don’t have health insurance is less about falling through the cracks than the decisions they’ve made. We know that Dara is at least capable of getting a job with insurance — so why does she not have one now?
Since Mark apparently interviewed the Wilkersons himself why doesn't he already have the answer to that question?
Here's what she's said since this criticism has appeared, just for the record.
We have seen the statement about my previous employment and here is what we have to say: I left my previous place of employment years before Bethany became part of our lives. I am a hard working woman. I have worked at Snappers Sea Grill for over 6 years. It is a good work environment and I am a loyal employee. My husband and I were blessed with Bethany two years ago and we are even more blessed to still have her with us today.
So let me get this right, she had worked at her current job for 4 years before Bethany was born, and they think that just when she got pregnant she should have decided to change jobs and return what had been an unhealthy work enviroment while trying to raise a child?? Are you kidding me?
Or worse yet - is Mark and Malkin suggesting that should she have instead Had an Abortion??! That it was irresponsible of them to bring a life into this world that they couldn't provide for on their own?
They couldn't be suggesting birth-control, don't we all know that "Condoms don't work?" (Only when the wingers try to use them, that is!)
And - oh by the way - how on God's no-longer-so-green Earth was she and her husband supposed to know before-hand that their child was going to have a heart condition until it happened?
Ok, let's assume that Dara and her husband would have attempted to find a new job with healthcare once they discovered Bethany's condition - but wouldn't they still have been denied coverage by most insurers since Bethany would then have a "pre-existing condition?"
Why don't these people ask the question - "Why can't Snappers Sea Grill afford Healthcare for it's employees?" When Malkin attacked the Frosts for showing pictures of their injured children Grame and Geeta on Olbermann, did she not notice that Halsey Frost said that his independant business Frostworks had gone under in 1998 because of Healthcare Costs?
Just as Tucker Carlson attempted to argue this weekend on Real Time, the default Conservative position on this is that the Democrats are using our children as "Moral Blackmail". That once you put a child's face on the screen no one can argue against the issue without appearing "mean or evil". (That part of the discussion begins about 3:20 mins remaining into a 7 min discussion)
(Not an exact transcript)
Tucker: What's astounding is that his parents injected him into a political debate. It's moral blackmail. We're having an adult conversation about what's best for the country - you bring you're ailing child in whose 12 - I can't disagree with you because I'm "Mean" all of a sudden. It ends the conversation it doesn't start the conversation.
(It hasn't seemed to have stopped Malkin or Hemmingway a bit! V.)
Krugman: You look at this whole debate about an expansion to this program and the opponents talk all in abstractions. They want you to not notice that there are a lot of kids in America without health insurance. And they don't want to do something to solve that problem.
Tucker: You don't find it unseemly to bring a child in to be used as a peice of propaganda?
Maher: But this isn't out of left field, this is about kids who are in exactly this situation.
Tucker: No one child is a perfect illustration of any problem in this country. [Right not one, try only about 15 Million of them! V.)
Maher: But he also legitimately epitomized the issue.
Maher: Why is it that people are so incensed that money might go out of their pocket to pay for a sick kid, whose father has job and might be able to afford another $3, but they don't seem to care about $Billions being spent on that rat whole in Iraq?
Ok, so using children as an example for how to help - children - is "Moral Blackmail"?
Sure - fine, but it's not like conservatives have been used our Soldiers as a tool for Patriotic Blackmail. It's not like Congress has actually passed resolutions to condemn Newspaper AD or anything. It's not like anyone that asks a question or criticizes President Bush or his tactics in this war is called "Un-American".
It's not like they haven't attacked the troops themselves as being Phony and Suicide Bomb-Throwers when they speak out against the war.
Their hypocrasy on this is so thick you could slice it with a dull butter-knife.
The fact is that 47 Million Americans, including children of parents who work like both the Frosts and the Wilkersons, don't have healthcare. That number has grown over the last six years, and at the same time so have the corporate profits of health insurance companies. The overall cost of health insurance in the U.S. is at least 40% higher than every other industrialized nation. (Largely because our Private Health Care costs are literally through the roof!)
(Comparitive per capita GDP spent on Health Care from UN Human Development Index PDF)
Because they are rationing the care. They're using pre-existing conditions and other roadblocks to keep people out of the system, to keep the supply of healthcare low while the demands remains the same. Low supply - High Demand. That's how they've increased their profits to record levels and they're doing it on the backs of American Businesses and the backs of American Families -- it's well past time we noticed that those backs are breaking and did something about it.
There's a lot we need to do to fix healthcare, bringing down costs being number one, outlawing "pre-existing conditions" being number two, but blocking the expansion of S-CHIP to stop care to children who need it in order to placate the tobacco lobby - regardless of any choices their parents may or may noth have made - is simply unconsionable.
Whatever the parents have or haven't done - their children shouldn't pay the price.
Monday, October 15
From the Wapo.
The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.
Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, head of the Joint Special Operations Command’s operations in Iraq, is the chief promoter of a victory declaration and believes that AQI has been all but eliminated, the military intelligence official said.
So can we bring our troops home now?
But Adm. William J. Fallon, the chief of U.S. Central Command, which oversees Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, is urging restraint, the official said. The military intelligence official, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity about Iraq assessments and strategy.
Just as many determinations coming out of Iraq in the last few years have been contradictory, this particular view is no exception.
The Congressional Research Service recently warned U.S. commanders have increasingly "seemed to equate AQ-I with the insurgency, even though most of the daily attacks are carried out by Iraqi Sunni insurgents." Gen. James Jones, the author of detailed report on Iraqi security forces, said that 98 percent of more of the fighting is an internal civil conflict among Iraqis.
If 98 percent of the violence is coming from the Sunni Insurgency, and that Insurgency as we've seen in Anbar Province has begun to turn against AQ-I, then most of "our job" really does appear to be done. Excepting of course for the Shiite Death Squads and the increasing unease among the largely Shia' and Iran supported Iraqi government at the increasing rise of Sunni influence and control.
The administration’s "Anbar strategy" holds the perilous possibility "that we just end up arming the Sunnis, who still hate the Shi’a...and that eventually the Sunni tribes end up fighting it out with the central government." Echoing this concern, the largest Shiite political coalition in Iraq urged the U.S. military to "abandon its recruitment of Sunni tribesmen into the Iraqi police."
Yeah, that plan seems to be working to perfection doesn't it?
Admittedly the deja vu factor of this declaration is not just a figment of your imagination - particularly since Gen McChrystal happens to be the exact same person who originally recommended that "Major Combat Operations" in Iraq had been completed in April of 2003.
"I would anticipate that the major combat engagements are over," Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. He said U.S. forces are moving into a phase of "smaller, albeit sharper fights."
Maybe all of this might be better understood if we look at recent statements by the former commander of Iraqi Forces when that original "Mission Accomplished" banner was raised - Lt. Gen Ricardo Sanchez.
"There was been a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders," he said, adding later in his remarks that civilian officials have been "derelict in their duties" and guilty of a "lust for power."
Iraq is a living nightmare with no end in sight.
"National leadership continues to believe that victory can be achieved by military power alone," he said. "Continued manipulations and adjustments to our military strategy will not achieve victory. The best we can do with this flawed approach is stave off defeat."
Asked after his remarks what strategy he favored, General Sanchez ticked off a series of steps — from promoting reconciliation among Iraq’s warring sectarian factions to building effective Iraqi army and police units — that closely paralleled the list of tasks frequently cited by the Bush administration.
But he said that the administration had failed to craft a detailed strategy for achieving those steps that went beyond the use of military force.
The only reason logically to make such a declaration that Al Qaeda in Iraq has been Defeated would be in preparation for a full scale pull out of our troops. Declare Victory and Leave, but since everything politically argues that it's to the advantage of the Bush Administration to prolong this conflict until the end of his term, declaring "Victory" now is about as likely as Gen. Petreaus winning the Nobel Peace Prize!.
Looking at all sides of the arguement, it is clearly true as Gen Sanchez points out that our military strategy has been doomed without a coresponding diplomatic effort - however it's also apparent that despite that failure, and regardless of The Surge, Sunni Insurgent forces decided long ago and largely on their own to turn to "our side" and begin to battle back against Al Qeada.
If the measly 1000 or so fighters who represent Al Qeada in Iraq are finally on the verge of defeat it will not be seen as a victory for America, it will be the validation of the ascendency of Sunni power in the region - and situation that already has the Shia led government of Iraq quaking in their boots.
The battle with Al Qaeda may indeed be soon over - if it isn't already as Gen McChrystal suggests - but if so the battle between Sunni and Shia's for control of the nation of Iraq is only just beginning.