Author Archive

Did the bugles sound The Last Post in chorus?

Clay Hunt I can’t tell this story any better than the AP – besides, I don’t have the heart right now. Rest in peace, brother. See ya on the other side. (The post title is a line I took from a celtic song, The Green Fields of France.)
By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press Fri Apr 15, 3:47 am ET

WASHINGTON – Handsome and friendly, Clay Hunt so epitomized a vibrant Iraq veteran that he was chosen for a public service announcement reminding veterans that they aren’t alone. The 28-year-old former Marine corporal earned a Purple Heart after taking a sniper’s bullet in his left wrist. He returned to combat in Afghanistan. Upon his return home, he lobbied for veterans on Capitol Hill, road-biked with wounded veterans and performed humanitarian work in Haiti and Chile. Then, on March 31, Hunt bolted himself in his Houston apartment and shot himself. Friends and family say he was wracked with survivor’s guilt, depression and other emotional struggles after combat. Hunt’s death has shaken many veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who knew him wonder why someone who seemed to be doing all the right things to deal with combat-related issues is now dead. “We know we have a problem with vets’ suicide, but this was really a slap in the face,” said Matthew Pelak, 32, an Iraq veteran who worked with Hunt in Haiti as part of the nonprofit group Team Rubicon. After news of Hunt’s death spread, workers from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors met with veterans visiting Washington for the annual lobbying effort by the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, or IAVA. A year earlier, Hunt had been with other veterans in dark suits calling on Congress to improve the disability claims process. Snapshots posted on Facebook reflect a mostly grinning Hunt. In one, he has a beard and is surrounded by Haitian kids. A second shows him on the Capitol steps with fellow veterans. There’s a shot of him from the back on a bike using his right arm to help push another bicyclist who is helping to guide an amputee in a specially modified bike. Friends and family say Hunt suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. But with his boundless energy and countless friends, he came across as an example of how to live life after combat. But some knew he was grieving over several close friends in the Marines who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “He was very despondent about why he was alive and so many people he served with directly were not alive,” said John Wordin, 48, the founder of Ride 2 Recovery, a program that uses bicycling to help veterans heal physically and mentally. In 2007, while in Iraq with the Marine’s 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment, Hunt heard over the radio that his 20-year-old bunkmate had died in a roadside bombing. Hunt later wrote online about sleeping in his bunkmate’s bed. “I just wanted to be closer to him, I guess. But I couldn’t — he was gone.” A month later, Hunt was pinned by enemy fire in his truck as a fellow Marine, shot in the throat by a sniper, lay nearby. Hunt wrote that seeing his friend placed in a helicopter, where he died, is “a scene that plays on repeat in my head nearly every day, and most nights as well.” Three days later, a sniper’s bullet missed Hunt’s head by inches and hit his wrist. He didn’t immediately leave Iraq. His parents say Hunt asked to fly to a military hospital in Germany a day later so he could accompany a fellow Marine who was shot in both legs. Hunt’s mother, Susan Selke, said after Hunt was wounded, she’d hoped her son would get out of the military. Instead, he went to school to be a scout-sniper and went to Afghanistan. He seemed to do well. He was honorably discharged in 2009, married and enrolled at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He was frustrated by the Veterans Affairs Department’s handling of his disability claim. He also piled up thousands of dollars in credit card debt as he waited for his GI Bill payments. Hunt found an outlet to help improve the system by doing work with IAVA. He helped build bikes for Ride 2 Recovery and participated in long rides.
“He really was looking for someone to tell him what it was he went over to do and why those sacrifices were made.”

Using his military training, he went to Haiti several times and Chile once to help with the countries’ earthquake relief efforts. He proudly told his parents of splinting an infant’s leg, and after meeting a young orphaned boy in Haiti named D’James, tried to persuade his family to adopt him. “If I had one thing to say to my fellow veterans, it would be this: Continue to serve, even though we have taken off our uniforms,” Hunt wrote in an online testimonial for Team Rubicon. “No matter how great or small your service is, it is desired and needed by the world we live in today.” Hunt’s friends say he was an idealist and voiced frustration that he couldn’t make changes overnight. He also questioned why troops were still dying. “He really was looking for someone to tell him what it was he went over to do and why those sacrifices were made,” Wood said. Last year, Hunt’s life took a downward spiral. His marriage ended, he dropped out of school and he began to have suicidal thoughts, his mother said. She said Hunt sought counseling from the VA and moved in temporarily with Wordin in California. Things seemed to improve for Hunt in recent months after he returned to his hometown of Houston to be near family. He got a construction job, leased an apartment, bought a truck and began dating. He called friends to discuss the possibility of re-enlisting. In the days before he died, he hung out with friends, and he had plans the following weekend to do a Ride 2 Recovery bike ride. He even told Garza he couldn’t wait to see him at a Fourth of July reunion with other Marines. Then he was dead. “Clay was always a fighter,” Wordin said. “He was always a guy to stick things out and he basically quit life, and I was mad that he felt he had to do that at that particular time.” Hunt’s friends and family count him a casualty of war — just like his buddies who died in the battlefield.

Civilian Ways” I hold the cold steel of my rifle as I dream of foreign lands And I promise myself I will cherish every moment I can But there’s ghosts that follow me around Everywhere I am When I say goodbye I try to be strong Now I’m going back to the U.S. where I belong

I ain’t never alone The war seems to follow me home No longer an active soldier When I walk down the street I’m shaking hands with everyone that I meet And I watch everyone wondering what they see

Civilian ways are now what’s foreign to me I came off a long tour I left this place in two o three May we never forget the sacrifices My friends made for me

I live in Marysville out on the county line And my Brother and my Mother both visit me all the time And visions of you are always running right through my mind We always talk about what we’re gonna do when the war is won We’re gonna fix up them old cars and ride them into the sun When I heard you’re no longer with us Man I was done

Civilian ways are now what’s foreign to me I came off a long tour I left this place in two o three

May we never forget the sacrifices My friends made for me.

People I Used to Like, Then I Found Out They Are Right-Wing Nut Jobs

Dennis Miller claims to have gone over to the dark side – that is, he wants us to believe he used to be a liberal. I’m not sure I believe he was ever the liberal he claims to have been. More than likely, he was a-political with conservative tendencies. He may have voted Democrat when he was a poor and struggling comedian, but money sure has placed him squarely in the Republican tent. If you have listened to his radio show, there is no trace of any liberal (or even compassionate) roots. I used to think he was funny, as I really appreciate his acerbic brand of humor, but I’ve come to discover the sarcasm stems from a true pessimism of human nature and a mean streak that runs deep and wide. Dennis, I’ve removed you from my Christmas card mailing list – it’s never reciprocated anyway.

I always used to tell people that while I was waiting for the next Steven King novel to arrive, Dean Koontz was a great fill in. However, his tendency to inject more and more of his conservative views into his books lately is really making it difficult for me to enjoy them. I think I’ve given up. Making sure to address social issues like gun control and pro-life concerns, hasn’t been enough in his more recent novels. Now, the themes have taken on a decidedly conservative world view. Anyone have any suggestions for a good horror/thriller writer that can fill the void?

Victoria Jackson has become a raving lunatic. Maybe she always has

Victoria "Whack Job" Jackson

been and what I thought was comedy was simply a very sad, very ill person crying out for help. Another Saturday Night Live alum that sits on the wrong side of the aisle, Jackson isn’t content to simply vote Republican. Like many celebrities who use their fame to draw attention to a cause, she makes regular speaking appearances to help the needy. That is, if you consider the Koch brothers needy. Unlike Matt Damon or Bono, Victoria isn’t out there to help feed the hungry or shoe the shoeless. She’s out there trying to out crazy Sarah Palin at Tea Party events. If you thought there wasn’t a voice that could annoy you more than Palin’s, it’s only because you haven’t heard the shrill rantings of one Victoria Jackson. That voice was funny when everyone thought she was playing a dingy blonde. When it’s used to rail against “big government” and we find that she actually is dingy, it’s not so funny.

Mel Gibson… Man I loved Braveheart! I always liked Mad Max too. I didn’t even get upset about Passion of the Christ. The fact that the movie casts Jews in a less than flattering light could be construed as creative license and not meant to be offensive. And then came the drunken anti-Semitic rant. Later Mel treated us to the not-so-drunken, violent and blatantly sexist rant. I was beginning to think that William Wallace was not the hero of the people I thought he was. Of course anti-Semitism and misogyny are not relegated to the right-wing alone, but Mel’s another good example of the fact that they are weighted heavily in that direction. It’s a shame too. What a great actor that I will never be able to enjoy in the same way again.

I’m a big fan of John Steinbeck. And no, John Steinbeck was not a right-wing nut job. Anything but, in fact. It was the 1992 movie Of Mice and Men that made me a huge fan of the actor Gary Sinise. I’ve since tried to see just about everything in which he has acted. Then I found out that Sinise is not only conservative, he is considered the leader of the Hollywood Right-Wing. And while I still enjoy his film and television work, I find it difficult to separate the man with his politics, with which I heartily disagree.

John Stossel. Yep, I used to like John Stossel. And if you watch him on Faux “News”, you may find that hard to believe. But before I was as politically aware, and before he was nearly so politically overt in his reporting, I enjoyed his investigative reports for ABC. And while ABC may be the most conservative of the three networks, it is certainly no Faux “News”. As Stossel’s angry libertarian, anti-government wackiness became more and more a part of his reporting, there was simply no other place for him but that bastion of conservative propaganda, Faux.

Why Big Bird Needs And Deserves Your US Tax Dollars

And Why Your Shouldn’t Begrudge Them

As a former journalism teacher, I thought I’d present a little lesson about public broadcasting. It isn’t much different from what I used to present to my students. With yesterday’s vote by House Republicans to defund National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Systems, it is very important that the public understand just what that means. The reason conservatives want to defund public broadcasting has nothing to do with budgetary concerns. As PBS travel reporter Rick Steves correctly points out, the government spends more money on military marching bands than it does on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Public broadcasting, including PBS and NPR combined costs about $1.38 per person annually. That money helps support 21,000 jobs, which, in turn, goes directly back into the economy. Rather, it is because the right perceives public broadcasting to have a liberal bias. To some degree, this is true – as Stephen Colbert correctly joked, Read more…

GOP Answer For The Disabled? Ship ‘em To Russia

Martin Harty - soon to be one of the people he wants shipped off to Russia.

Okay, next time maybe you’ll actually go out and vote. Because this is what happens when Democrats get complacent and stay home for the midterms. “Let’s just cross our fingers and hope for the best. After all, we got Obama into office, now we can take a break for 4 years, right?”
A New Hampshire state house Republican freshman resigned Monday after he suggested to Sharon Omand, a manager of a community mental health program and a constituent, that the mentally disabled be shipped off to Russia.

“It was a girl that (sic)wanted money for the crazy people, the people … a good percentage of the homeless people are mentally disturbed.” ~ Republican Martin Harty

He claimed, afterward, that he was “joking”. And maybe he was, but in light of fact that the state’s GOP is proposing huge budget cuts that greatly defund programs for the disabled, one has to wonder.

Harty told Omand, that “the world is too populated” and that there are “too many defective people.” When asked what he meant, she said Harty clarified, “You know the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions –the defective people society would be better off without.”

There’s a pattern here folks; pay attention. It is always the people with the smallest voice, who are most in need of our community support, that Republicans attack. And why? Because someone has to pay for the loss of revenue caused by the loss of tax cuts for those with strongest voice in government – corporations and the wealthy. And because they are not as smart as they think they are -are, in fact, unable to see a day passed their own self-interest – they don’t even realize that their policies, in the long run, slit their own economic wrists along with the rest of ours’. Taking spending power away from the consuming class topples their cherished free market system from within.

Only 1 Day Left In Fox News Slogan Contest

Just a reminder that, from the time of this writing, there are only about 30 hours left in the New Fox “News” Slogan Contest. The post got tons of views, but only a few entries, so your chances are still pretty darned good to win a cool T-shirt from BanT-Shirts.
Fox is doing its level best to make sure you know that it is a political spin machine and not a real news organization. (Look – here they are on the “No Spin Zone” (More like the “No Truth Zone”) reporting about the violent protestors in Madison, Wisconsin showing a video clip of violent protesters complete with lots of PALM TREES in the background. You are aware of all the palm trees in Wisconsin, aren’t you?) Let’s do our best to help them out with the rebranding by coming up with a glitzy new slogan and tag line. What have you got to lose?
Remember, only you can prevent forest fires.

Categories: Main Blog - General

Why The Dems Should Stay Gone

I could write a book about why what is happening to the public workers in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Rhode Island, and other places is wrong. Somebody probably will and make a million dollars. But I’m going to address one point that I have not heard discussed elsewhere. Time.

My mother recently asked me how I felt about what the Democratic Senators in Wisconsin and Indiana are doing. (Hi Mom!) And sometimes, I’m not really able to pinpoint my thoughts about something until I’ve spoken them aloud or written about them. Somehow, between my brain and my mouth they begin to form a cognizant pattern and actually become a rational thought.

My first reaction had been, while I strongly sympathize with the cause, it’s difficult for my to condone the hijacking of the democratic process because one party or the other doesn’t like the dish about to be served. I jump all over conservatives when they hijack the system (and they quite often do, so “Hey right-wingers, stop the hypocritical bull crap.”)

Over and over again we heard during the health care reform debate that it was moving too fast! and no one has even read the bill, and it was shoved “down the throat of the American people.”

However, the necessity of having a quorum present to vote is in state constitutions for a reason. In part, I suspect, for the same reason the filibuster is part of the process as well. Democrats are using the quorum stipulation in order to force the issue into the public arena.

The longer the Democrats stay out of Wisconsin and Indiana, the more the public learns about just what it is the Republican legislators are attempting to do. Not only do they learn more about the bills being voted on, but they learn more about the tactics used to get these bills put to a vote in the first place.

Without this delay, the bill would have passed without the majority of the public in the affected states, much less the nation, being the wiser until it was written into law. Without this delay, the public would not know that the amount Scott Walker is asking from his working class constituents is less than the amount he granted his rich supporters in tax breaks just days before. Without this delay, the public would be none the wiser to the fact that according to Wisconsin’s government accounting office, Walker and his Republican allies have greatly inflated the state’s budget crisis , and did not, in fact, inherit a budget that needed repair. Without this delay, the public would know nothing about the no-bid sales Walker plans to make of the public property utility companies.

So I say “Stay on vacation Democrats! Shine a light on the agenda of the new right wing.”

Dedication to the Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio Public Unions

    A little dedication to the teachers and other public union workers under attack right now all over the country. Don’t back down.


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