"Sweet Home Alabama" was written as an answer to two songs, "Southern Man" and "Alabama" by Neil Young, which dealt with themes of racism and slavery in the American South. "We thought Neil was shooting all the ducks in order to kill one or two," said Ronnie Van Zant at the time. The following extract shows the Neil Young mention in the song:
Well I heard mister Young sing about her Well, I heard ole Neil put her down Well, I hope Neil Young will remember A Southern man don't need him around anyhow
In Birmingham, they love the governor (boo boo boo) Now we all did what we could do Now Watergate does not bother me Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth
REACHED FOR COMMENT, JAY CARNEY PUT DOWN THE HOAGIE AND PUSHED ASIDE THE ICE CREAM SUNDAE LONG ENOUGH TO SAY, "THE RACIST THING? REMEMBER, HE'S HALF-WHITE."
PRESSED ABOUT THE WATERGATE EMBRACE AS WELL, THE WHITE HOUSE'S PLUS-SIZE SPOKESMODEL INSISTED THAT "BARRY O'S LOVE OF AUTHORITARIAN GOVERNMENT IS WELL KNOWN AND WELL DOCUMENTED. IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW HE HAD HIS OWN ENEMIES LIST, YOU HAVEN'T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION. NOW IF YOU'LL EXCUSE ME, I HAVE TO FINISH MY BREAKFAST, I GET A LITTLE LIGHT HEADED IF I DON'T EAT. IT'S A GLANDULAR THING."
Last night, Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reported on the US Army Medical Command launching an investigation in Washington state's Madigan Healthcare System, specifically investigating "complaints by soldiers that their PTSD diagnoses were improperly reversed and into comments a Madigan psychiatrist made about how costly PTSD diagnoses were for taxpayers." As part of the investigation, Col Dallas Homas was "administratively removed from command" -- that's as part of the investigation and standard procedure which does not mean that he's guilty of anything or suspected of being guility of anything. ABC News (link is video) reports, "Tomorrow 14 soldiers from Joint Base Lewis McCord will receive the results of their PTSD re-evauations" as a result of the complaints.
PTSD is one of the many important issues the veterans community is facing today. Another one is suicide. If you call the VA's suicide hotline, you have a right to believe your call is confidential. Christian Daventport (Washington Post) reported yesterday on Gulf War veteran Sean Duvall's troubles caused by seeking help. He called the hotline and now he's facing criminal charges and, if convicted of them, could spend as many as 40 years in jail. Sean Duvall called because he wanted to take his own life. The homeless man had a gun he'd made himself. He called for help and got that to a degree immediately (or that's how the story is being told). What happened after that is that he found himself charged for the homemade gun. That's what he could face up to 40 years in prison for.
So you save someone's life to throw them in prison? The case can be dismissed and should be dismissed. If it's being done to 'protect' anyone then the answer is clearly to provide Sean Duvall with therapy because he's the one who needs protection. He was contemplating self-harm, he wasn't stating he would harm others. To put him beind bars for this is ridiculous and will also, as many are noting, make veterans less likely to use the hotline. Let's pretend I'm a veteran (I'm not). I'm depressed and I'm considering killing myself and I decide a gun's the way I want to go but I don't have one and I don't want for any waiting period. So I buy a gun from something other than 'direct channels.' I then decide maybe I don't want to take my life and call the VA hotline. I get help and I feel like maybe life is worth living, maybe things weren't as bad as I thought and then, knock-knock-knock, it's the police arresting me for the way I purchased the gun.
Or I decide I want to do it with pills and swipe some from a friend of a hospital tray from a nurse's cart. Then I call the VA hotline because I think I might want to live. I decide not to take my life but then learn that I'm being prosecuted for having those prescription drugs that weren't my prescription.
This is nonsense that is neither therapeutic nor helpful. In the article, a family connection is noted. I'm not interested in that. If they were calling it a conflict of interest, I might be. But a son-in-law (or daughter-in-law) rarely can be called off (prosecution in this case) by a relative. I think the attempt to prosecute is a huge mistake. I think bringing in the family connection to Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the VA, is besides the point. (Unless the point is to humiliate Shinseki.) It is wrong to presume that Shinseki can 'call it off' because people don't know the relationship between the two for starters. It's legally wrong to try to get Shinseki to call it off because someone took an oath not to Eric Shinseki but to uphold the laws. I would hope that the decision to prosecute or not would be resolved (and quickly) by the AG grasping that prosecution did not serve either justice or the interests of the state. If the person can't grasp that, I would hope that a judge would and that he or she would toss the case out when the defense noted the events that led up to the arrest. But while we might hope that everyone related to Eric Shinseki by blood, adoption or marriage thought as he did, that's never going to be the case and to ask someone to disregard what they feel their responsibility is because of the family they married into is a lousy argument and one that most people -- if it were argued to them -- would reject.
Focusing on Shinseki -- who has no role in this at present -- also distracts from the main issue that if the suicide hotline is going to be effective, it's going to require that veterans have trust in it.
Another issue facing the veterans community is unemployment. Sunday, Steve Vogel (Washington Post) reported, "It is against federal law for employers to penalize service members because of their military service. And yet, in some cases, the U.S. government has withdrawn job offers to service members unable to get released from active duty fast enough; in others, service members have been fired after absences." Those Vogel spoke with included people who felt that since the federal government, if caught and prosecuted, doesn't have to pay fines -- the way a civilian company would -- a number of federal employers feel they can risk it.
February 2nd, the House Veterans Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing. The witnesses (government workers) as well as those on the Committee gave no indication that they knew it was against the law to fire someone because they were called up to active duty. As I noted then, I stepped out the second time this came up in the hearing to call a friend with the Justice Dept and make sure the law hadn't changed. (Again, I never assume I'm the smartest in the room, I start with the premise that I'm the least informed. And if House Reps are saying, 'Golly, we should pass a law to stop this,' I'm going to assume that the existing law must have been overturned because surely these law makers know more than I ever could. So I called and asked and, no, the law hadn't been overturned and it was still on the books.) Another reason that this is happening may be because there is so little education on this law. Maybe it's time for the Pentagon and VA to do one of those PSA they love and bombard it over the airwaves. It's one of the few times that a PSA getting information out there might actually work -- especially if combined with serious law enforcement and with federal supervisors ensuring that those under them who broke this law didn't get promoted, didn't get a pay raise and maybe even lost their job over it. If ignorance of the law is no excuse when you're before the court, why are we retaining federal workers who are breaking the law? Whether they know the law or not, if they break this law, they should be fired.
Monday afternoon in Lacey, Washington, Senator Patty Murray held a listening session with veterans. Senator Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Matt Batcheldor (The Olympian) reports on that session and quotes Murray explaining afterwards about asking the veterans if they were putting their military experience on the job applications:
The reason I asked the question about whether or not they put veteran on their employment when they apply for a job is because I'm hearing so many veterans quietly tell me that they never do. We need to call this out; people need to know this is happening, and it needs to be fixed. That's just wrong.
A number of veterans, Guard and Reserve and active-duty service members are following the US presidential primaries. Of those choosing to donate, they've repeatedly donated the most to US House Rep Ron Paul. Veterans for Ron Paul staged an event yesterday. Julie Ershadi (Reason) reports:
On February 20, libertarian activist and Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh, and Nathan Cox, co-founder with Kokesh of Veterans for Ron Paul, hosted a rally and march for veterans and active duty service members who support the Texas Congressman for the 2012 Republican nomination. The "Ron Paul Is the Choice of the Troops" rally began at noon in the Sylvan Theater by the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.. Troops marched on the White House in a 48 x 8 formation, totaling 384, and they were joined by roughly a hundred supporters and observers.
Many people at the event were new to politics, yet they had traveled from out of state to participate in the rally. I spent some time with John, a teacher from Long Island, who told me that he came to support Ron Paul because of the financial meltdown of 2008. "I worked for Morgan Stanley in 2007. That's how I saw it coming. All that reckless betting." He said that in the aftermath of September 11, he supported the Iraq War. "I was eighteen. My dad is a fireman. But I got duped in the Iraq War. Most of us did. The same thing is happening now with Iran." He cited the rational self interest of Iranian authorities as reason to discount them as a threat to the United States, a much more powerful entity capable of causing disproportionate damage in response to any provocation. "That's what I try to teach my students. I say, they're crazy, but they're not stupid. You don't get to be a dictator by being stupid." John said he won't vote for any candidate who supports war at this point. "Look, I don't want to fight, so why am I going to vote for someone who's going to make someone else go and fight?"
Samantha Wagner (Hearst Newspapers) explains, "A crowd of more than a thousand people met alongside the Washington Monument Monday afternoon and marched to the White House in a demonstration of support for Ron Paul. With an "about face," veterans and active duty service members turned their backs to the White House and sent a message to the President: Ron Paul is the choice of the troops." Matthew Larotonda (ABC News) adds, "The demonstration was a mostly silent affair, with the veterans standing calmly at attention in rows. An organizer bellowed that each second of quiet was for every military suicide since President Obama took office. A second moment of silence was for each soldier to die abroad under the current commander in chief." Andrew Moran (Examiner) notes:
Paul, who has received a lot of criticism from the Republican base for his stances, is a non-interventionist that opposes pre-emptive war, wants to bring troops home from Germany, South Korea, Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere and supports defense spending over military spending.
Instead, the bestselling author wants to apply the "golden rule" to foreign policy, which was actually disapproved as some Republican voters booed the Texas Congressman during a debate held in South Carolina last month. However, the voters did cheer when former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said to "kill them," referencing enemies of the U.S. government.