Uncle Sam might have wanted Kristen Westerberg and Alton Keith Lee, but apparently they had second thoughts about him.
Last month, police arrested Westerberg, a 24-year-old Wellington mother, in Royal Palm Beach for deserting the Army. A few weeks later, police picked up Lee, 25, in Boca Raton for leaving the Marines without authorization.
Though the number of AWOL military personnel has steadily increased since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, officials say the war has had little impact.
Others say the stop-loss policy, which retains troops beyond their terms of service, often sending them back into combat, is responsible for more military personnel calling it quits.
The policy, often referred to as the "backdoor draft," is the subject of the recently released movie Stop-Loss by director Kimberly Peirce, who grew up in South Florida.
In 2007, nearly 1,200 Marines were accused of deserting as of September. In 2003, there were 877. The Army had 4,698 deserters in 2007, up from 2,610 in 2003.
"It's very apparent that the war in Iraq and the stop-loss program has increased the number of deserters and AWOL soldiers," said Gregory Rinckey, a lawyer who works with an increasing caseload of clients trying to exit the military.
The above is from Rhonda Swan's "Military unfazed at AWOL increase" (Palm Beach Post) and was noted by Wally's grandfather. And staying with the military, we'll highlight this from Paul Elias' "Lawsuit: Veterans Affairs has failed to prevent suicides" (AP):
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs isn't doing enough to prevent suicide and provide adequate medical care for Americans who have served in the armed forces, a class-action lawsuit that goes to trial this week charges.
The lawsuit, filed in July by two nonprofit groups representing military veterans, accuses the agency of inadequately addressing a "rising tide" of mental health problems, especially post-traumatic stress disorder.
But government lawyers say the VA has been devoting more resources to mental health and making suicide prevention a top priority. They also argue that the courts don't have the authority to tell the department how it should operate.
The trial is set to begin Monday in a San Francisco federal court.
Turning to US presidential politics, Liz Sidoti (AP) reports on the losing campaign of Barack Obama who yesterday gave any undecideds a reason to vote for the GOP's John McCain:
Democrat Barack Obama, who often argues that John McCain is the same as President Bush, said Sunday that the Republican presidential candidate would be an improvement over Bush's eight-year reign.
"You have a real choice in this election. Either Democrat would be better than John McCain. And all three of us would be better than George Bush," Obama said.
A sure sign of the ineffective campaign he'd run if he got the nomination. He lacks experience, maturity and, as he demonstrates above, common sense. I could see him doing like Jared Ball in the Green Party debate, stopping mid-debate with John McCain to announce he was dropping out. (Ball announced it and that he was supporting Cynthia McKinney.) Here's "Hillary Clinton Responds to Sen. Obama’s Suggestion that Sen. McCain Would be a Better President than George Bush:"
Hillary Clinton responded today to a statement made by Sen. Obama suggestion that Sen. McCain would be a better President than George W. Bush.
In Reading, PA, Sen. Obama’s said: "You have a real choice in this election. Either Democrat would be better than John McCain...And all three of us would be better than George Bush." Read more.
Hillary Clinton’s response from Johnstown, PA (For an actuality of the audio, click here):
"Sen. Obama said today that John McCain would be better for the country than George Bush. Now, Sen. McCain is a real American patriot who has served our country with distinction, but Sen. McCain would follow the same failed policies that have been so wrong for our country the last seven years.
"Sen. McCain thinks it is okay to keep our troops in Iraq for the next 100 years. Is that better than George Bush?
"Sen. McCain will continue the failed economic policies of George Bush that have brought us deficit and increasing debt. Is that better than George Bush?
"Sen. McCain does not have a health care plan that will cover every American. In fact, we will have more and more uninsured Americans. Is that better than George Bush?
"Sen. McCain has no plans to end the housing foreclosure crisis or cut the cost of gas at the pump. Is that better than George Bush?
"We need a nominee who will take on John McCain, not cheer on John McCain, and I will be that nominee."
Susan notes that Peggy Simpon's "Hand-To-Hand Combat in Pennsylvania" (Women's Media Center) and she notes this from it:
A potentially new controversy made its way into the debate, complements of ABC: Obama's acquaintance with a former Weather Underground figure, William Ayers. He said Ayers' "detestable" actions 40 years ago occurred when he was 8 years old and that "the American people are smarter than" thinking Ayers' views reflect his own.
I'm not sure why people keep repeating that lie. Weather Underground was not a one-year organization. Obama was born in 1961. Weather was active throughout Nixon's presidency (and after) and Bernardine and Bill turned themselves in when Obama was in college. When they turned themselves in, it was front page news, the lead on the evening news broadcasts. It's a nice little lie on Obama's part that what happened happened when he was eight-years-old. But it's a lie none the less and people need to stop repeating it.
Myself, I don't include the 1981 Brinks robbery as a Weather action but that's me. Many others do include it as such. (It was actually an action by the Black Liberation Army.) By that time, and news coverage of it certainly saw it as a Weather action since it involved members of the Weather Underground, Obama was in college. What is this nonsense that he was eight-years-old. If you include it (and, again I don't), then Weather was responsible for the deaths of three people (a security guard and two police officers). In June of 1970, they bombed an NYC police station. The Pentagon's women's bathroom was bombed in the spring of 1972. They smuggle Timothy Leary (after the prison break) out of the country in September 1970. In 1974 alone, they've got at least five bombings including the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in San Francisco (other targes included the AG's office in California and Gulf Oil). Obama wasn't eight-years-old in 1974. 1975 is when they bomb the US State Department a bank in NYC, and another corporation (Kennecott?). He wasn't eight-years-old in 1975. He wasn't eight-years-old during the bank robbery (when Weather was back in the news even though it wasn't a Weather action), he was in college, just like he was when Bernardine and Bill turned themselves in.
Barack declares "I was eight-years-old" and no one must question the Christ-child? I don't think so. I don't play stupid. Now Diane Rehm did last Friday, embarrassing herself repeating the lie, "He was eight years old!" Diane Rehm damn well knows that Weather Underground was not active for only one year. Considering that the bombing wave doesn't even start when Barack's eight-years-old, this lie needs to stop. Barack latches onto it because it's the easy out for him. It's not reality. And if Diane Rehm, for example, really can't remember those days, then it's time to retire. Seriously, the mind is gone if Diane Rehm honestly believes that Barack Obama was just eight-years-old throughout Weather Underground's long history.
It's just like the issue of pardons and commuted sentences. He says something and the press runs with it. They don't bother to check out. They just start repeating it. That's embarrassing and more indicative of the failures of our modern press than anything else. An argument can be made with their known activities that they were more active from 1973-1975 than at any time in their history and Barack Obama was not eight-years-old then. Considering that the grandmother who raised him was a vice-president in a bank, it's highly unlikely that the bank bombings wouldn't have been the topic of conversation in his grandparents' home while Barack was growing up. If you're the child of a police officer and a police officer is shot anywhere in the US, it gets discussed. Also true of a fire fighter. This is nonsense and he gets away with it because we don't have a working press. We have a group of cheerleaders for Obama (and include Diane Rehm in that, she's far from fair as anyone listening can quickly determine -- she has chosen sides in the Democratic primary) trying to pass themselves off as the press. That's why, despite the fact that Bill Clinton did not pardon Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans, the press went with that lie over and over and still continues to go with it. It's shameful.
The actions did not occur when he was eight-years-old and anyone writing that or stating that is lying. It's that simple. Your historical ignorance is no excuse for your failure to check out the facts. Yeah, if you have the memory of pin cushion, doing your job may entail some work. Too damn bad, that's your job. Try actually doing it for a change.
Barack's been given a non-stop free ride. Just because he says something doesn't make it true. The press needs to do their damn job. And they better wake up to something real damn quick: though I draw a line between Weather and the 1981 robbery that resulted in the deaths of two police officers, police fraternities and organizations will not. The fact that Barack Obama has chosen to associate with people whom the police see as responsible for the deaths of two of their own will mean no support for Barack Obama and active protests. I'm actually surprised no police organization has yet issued a press release decrying the "eight-year-old" lie yet and condemning the press for repeating it.
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