Monday, July 05, 2010

Biden steps in it

I'm not Sharon Smith, I don't play favorites. I know Joe Biden, I've known him since the 70s, I like Joe Biden. I have drawn a line with regards to his spouse. I think the world of her and she is not mentioned here, not during the election, not since. Having never mentioned her, should she say or do something that required calling out (I can't imagine that she would but DC is a fishbowl), my stance is, "I've never mentioned her here, there's no reason I should have to call her out."

Joe is mentioned frequently and is called out as needed. It's needed today. He said a really stupid thing in an interview with Mike Allen (Politico). In fact, it may be the stupidest thing he's ever said -- and remember, I've known since the 70s, that's a lot of stupid to go through. (In fairness, my own many stupid remarks would be more than triple Joe's.)

Speaking of the drawdown (and maybe the withdrawal supposedly taking place at the end of next year), Biden declared, "I think Americans will recognize that there aren't body counts . . . that they got 95,000 people home. That will be noticeable that they're home."

What the hell?

Forget the math. 95,000 makes no sense. It's not the drawdown figure, it's not a withdrawal figure because that would be over 126,000. So let's just forget his math for a moment and first of all note that 4411 will not be celebrating any war's end with their loved ones and friends due to the fact that they are dead as a result of the Iraq War. (Over one million Iraqis are also dead. They didn't figure into Joe's comments so we're focusing on the US dead only.)

The 95,000 coming back?

What? Were they hiking in Iran and stumbled into Iraq?

Is that what we're pretending? That it's good news because X number is coming home? It's great news?

That's a bit like Barack Obama's convoy hits a crowd of people and kills 42 and it's 'good news' that one thousand more 'survived.'

People were sent into an illegal war and Joe's desire to paint that as good or wonderful is frankly offensive. His desire to include Bush in the praise is a rejection of everything he believes.

There is no 'survival' for the dead. They were sent into an illegal war under false pretenses. You can't pretty is up and were Beau Biden among the 4411, I doubt Joe would try to. In fact, if Beau were still over in Iraq, I doubt Joe would be pushing such nonsense.

As I've said several times here, Joe belongs at a university. That's what he's suited for. Politico's run an interview and without the full context of the quote it is offensive. There's no excuse for it. As vice president of the United States, there's no excuse for it regardless of the context. Biden belongs at a university because he's a natural professor, he's a natural student of why and how and he never stops searching for answers. He tosses it around, he looks at it from all angles.

And that very well may be what the quote from Allen's article is a part of. A lengthier quote might have revealed that. It would not have taken away the fact that the quote is ugly and, yes, wrong due to his current position as vice president.

As vice president, he is the next in line for president of the United States should Barack Obama step down or some tragic event happen. In such a position, he needs to watch his words a little more carefully. We haven't fretted over his foul language in public (in part because I don't think it's a big deal -- in part because my own is so much worse). But nothing he says should ever give the appearance of minimizing the loss of US service members because he is next in line to be commander in chief over the military.

I love Joe to death. He's a wonderful person and one of the strongest about keeping his word. If he backs out of a promise (very rare), he will let you know ahead of time and he will tell what events demanded that he rethink it. I have tremendous love and respect for Joe but what he said was wrong, what he said was insulting. That he wasn't trying to be insulting doesn't change the nature of the remarks. Becoming vice president meant he no longer had the option of chewing the fat and tossing it around the room in public.

He's not standing before a class engaging in an open debate. He's speaking to a reporter and he has a reputation for gaffes so any reporter worth anything, trained well, will jump on the gaffe because that will be the story. (I don't think Mike Allen jumped on the gaffe -- not because he's a bad reporter but because Politico has never taken a stance against the Iraq War.)

There is no way to pretty up the deaths. Nothing will bring the fallen back to their families and friends. They died. Why did they die? Because an administration lied this country into an illegal war and because Barack Obama has continued it.

Friday the US military announced two more deaths. The News & Observer notes that one of those deaths was Maryland's 19-year-old Spc Morganne McBeth who joined the military in 2008 and was deployed to Iraq August 17th. Let's point fingers since the White House wants to congratulate itself and George W. Bush.

Had the US Congress ever done their damn job, had they not just whined and moaned about the length of deployments, had they -- as Patrick Murphy floated (and he was serious about that, others in Congress shot it down ) -- legislated lengths of tours, Morganne McBeth would not have deployed to Iraq August 17, 2009 and still been there July 1, 2010.

Of course, had Barack Obama kept any of the statements (so hard to call them promises) he made in his tent revivals ("We want to end the war! And we want to end it now!" he was fond of thundering to huge applause), McBeth would not have been in Iraq either.

Morganne McBeth will be home shortly but she's not part of the 'success' spin coming out of the White House because, as with the last administration, we're really not up to telling the truth, are we?

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "U.S. Doctors Approved Torture and Denied Medical Care to Captives" (Global Research):

American doctors in the Middle East routinely approved the torture of captured suspects and denied them critical medications such as insulin, sometimes with lethal consequences, according to a documented report published in the “Utne Reader.”
In Dec., 2002, Defense Secy. Donald Rumsfeld issued a directive allowing interrogators to withhold medical care in nonemergency situations so that “men with injuries including gunshot wounds were denied treatment as a way to make them talk,” writes author Justine Sharrock. Although the directive was soon revoked, “the practice continued,” she said.
Interrogations conducted at the infamous Abu Ghraib correctional facility in Baghdad had to be preapproved by a physician and psychiatrist, and the CIA got like orders for the punishments it inflicted at its sites.
Sharrock quotes medic Andrew Duffy of the 134th medical company of the Iowa National Guard who told her the attitude of Abu Ghraib’s medical officers toward prisoners was “screw these guys” and who said he was ridiculed for trying to save one man’s life using CPR.
Long after the world-shaking Abu Ghraib photos were published in 2004 and the Pentagon vowed to stop abusing prisoners, “men were still being strapped into restraint chairs and left in the sun for hours or locked in cells too small to lie down in,” Sharrock writes. “The medics regularly found prisoners dehydrated, wrists bloody from overtight handcuffs, ankles swollen from forced standing, joints dislocated from stress positions.” (Abu Ghraib’s former commandant Gen. Janis Karpinski once estimated 90% of the prisoners were innocent.)
In one instance involving detainee No. 173379 who appeared to need an insulin injection, medics were told to inject the man instead with saline solution using a 14-gauge needle more than two millimeters in diameter of the sort that was used as punishment or to discourage prisoners from seeking care, MP’s doused him with pepper spray and stuck him in a tiny cell in the scorching heat, Sharrock writes, and he died the next day. Duffy’s written complaint to his supervising captain disappeared.

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