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May 19, 2011 03:50 PM UTC

Thursday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.”

–Franklin D. Roosevelt


71 thoughts on “Thursday Open Thread

    1. You can also call or write to the Vice President:

      Vice President Joe Biden

      The White House

      1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

      Washington, DC 20501

      Please include your e-mail address

      Phone Numbers

      Comments: 202-456-1111

      Switchboard: 202-456-1414

      FAX: 202-456-2461

    2. Upper Press Office phone 202-456-2673, Lower Press Office phone 202-456-2580.

      They’re from the Bush White House, but last time I needed a press pass, about a year ago in the Obama administration, I called them and they still worked.

              1. Can’t you stipulate in advance that he loves his family, works really hard at his job and is a much nicer guy in person than you’d expect? Then you can spend the usual amount of time on substantive questions …

    3. David, if you want to get the most important interview of the decade/century/millenium you should aim for the first interview with Harold Camping on May 22nd.

      Snagging such an interview for ColoPols and HuffPost would be the BIGGEST effing deal (since, at least, really big boats built from gopherwood).

      Camping was born in Boulder, so maybe you can use that as your “in?”

      Contact info for Camping can be obtained via Family Radio. Conveniently, you can make a secure donation at this same address.

  1. TBI, scams by Private Academic Institutes on Student Vets, transition issues, PTSD and now another news story on the sad state of the backlog of Disability claims at the VBA.

    If Faux News and their band of on-air shrieking idiots really did support the troops, why don’t we see these stories on their channel?

    Injured Troops Still Waiting For Claim Processing

    A new system to help wounded troops get disability compensation more efficiently has instead kept them in the military longer than intended, preventing some from taking job offers and starting college as they wait on average more than a year for a claim to be processed, Congress was told Wednesday.

    William Lynn, deputy defense secretary, and W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary at the Veterans Affairs Department, told the Senate Veterans’ Committee that the new program is significantly better than the old system, which they say took on average 540 days to complete.

    But they acknowledged improvements are needed. Lynn said it could take a year or two before the average processing time goal – 300 days – is met.

    “It has not reached the goal we’ve set of 300 days so we have further distance to go, but we don’t plan to stop there,” Lynn said.

    The system is called the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. It started as a pilot in 2007, but has since been introduced at nearly 80 military installations. By this fall, about 140 installations are expected to participate, completing the rollout. It works by consolidating the required medical exams and ratings, so that a service member doesn’t have to go through the disability claims process first in the military and then through the VA.

    The ONLY tiny glimmer of good news is that these wounded warriors are being kept on Active Duty where they can get care and have a place to live. Sucks being short and stuck on base, but that’s infinitely better than living in the back seat of your car and self-medicating your injuries away…

    1. In general. Is it mostly a lack of facilities and personnel? If so, do you feel like this is one of the rare times when throwing money at the problem would fix it? Or does the new program suck, too?

      If you have a moment, of course. I realize that I just asked you to open a can of worms, but I don’t have another VA expert to ask.

      1. The most important one is that the Army’s digital record keeping system doesn’t work with VistA, the VA’s system. They’ve finally told DoD to convert to VistA, so that will speed things up a lot.

        The next part is to understand the Disability rating system was created in 1948. So the wounds they describe as eligible for compensation or disability payments don’t fit until the miracles that military medicine can do. A head wound in WWII would just kill the victim. Now, that same wound can be treated pretty darn effectively – just ask Rep Giffords, who’s life was saved by a former Navy Combat Surgeon. It’s like applying a warranty to a ’49 Cadillac to a 2011 Prius – there’s just stuff that doesn’t fit the checkboxes.

        Lastly, the system is by design hostile to the claimant. In order words, you have to PROVE your injured rather than have the VA accept the fact that you did indeed have your legs and one arm blown off (which is what happened to COL Tammy Duckworth, who had to show a VA staffer her arm and legs were indeed missing.) If the proof is NOT there in your medical or military records, it didn’t happen. This is why almost every GW1 Army vet below Brigade level is screwed:

        Now, the Veteran Benefit Administration (VBA) is the part that reviews claims and pays disability. (The VHA runs the care. It’s like the two parts of Kaiser.) Under the Adult leadership of Pres Obama and GEN Shinseki, is automating things as fast as they can, but they’re still undoing the damage done under Colorado Asshole Jim Nicolson. His brilliant idea was to hire private contractors to get thru the claims, but pay them a bonus for the number of claims processed rather than the quality.

        Which lead to the contractors tossing or shredding evidence of disability, and then denying the claims:

        My take? Changing the VA is like carving Mount Rushmore with an Eyedropper. The problem is that while care is a bazillion times better since the darkest part of the 90s (when some guy named Clinton started fixing it) it’s still dominated at senior levels by the Vietnam Generation. There needs to be a lot more of my Generation of vets, with Generation Kill at the front of the efforts at both the VBA and VHA to get this fixed.

        One thing I wish they would do TOMORROW is co-locate the two agencies in the same bldgs. Then the VBA folks would see the people they’re screwing with when they work on their claims!

        That a start?

        1. I can understand why you get fired up. Bad enough it happens, but to our boys? Christ…

          Thanks for the answer! I obviously read the comment and will go through the articles today. Interesting and heartbreaking.

        2. That was definitely my experience.

          What would it look like if the proof standards were …altered.

          Reversed – the VBA has to prove the vet isn’t eligible.  

          That seems a little extreme – though I suspect abuse or fraud would be no more common than it is now. Low.

          Is there another way?

          1. Considering there exists this tangled web of exceptions called “presumptive conditions of disability” it’s not that much of a stretch to finish the job and just assume everyone’s claim is valid.

            Why? The VHA is the one that does almost all of the exams. Why would the part of the system that gives care have any reason to defraud the part that pays for it? THEY see the injuries, why wouldn’t a medical provider be more right than an office that reviews piles of old records.

            Yes, there’s fraud. But it’s TINY. VAWatchdog estimates it to be slightly around 1%, maybe less. Some of that is stuff like underestimating worth in terms of co-pays, claiming they made Medicare B payments when they didn’t, etc.

            But I’d rather pay a vet  $100 more a month for his fake PTSD than deny a vet who is screwed up, but doesn’t have a sick call slip from when his vehicle was blown up by an IED.

            Best reason to just pay all VA claims? You could slash the VBA workforce, and turn it over to the VHA. And you’d put a massive stimulus payment into the economy:


            BTW, This is Prof Linda Blimes academic website:


            At the time, our own Rep Doug “AWOL” Lamborn dismissed her ideas as Lefty Frogwash, but she might get the last laugh if she’s confirmed as the head of the GAO….

            1. My respect for your devotion to this issue is immense.

              From a non-vet with lots of friends and family who are veterans…thanks.

              You are OK by me.   🙂

            2. Or could Shinseki or President Obama handle it?

              Does Shinseki need approval from congress to change the list of conditions which are ‘presumed’ caused by war-time service? (Could he add a conditions ‘sick’ that only applies to GW1 vets, for example?

              If it takes an act of congress, our boys may be SOL for a couple years…

  2. 630am.

    It is a chock full of fun morning.  Tom Tancredo who recently endorsed Hancock may also appear.

    Supreme Birther Jerome Corsti, the ultimate “swiftboater”..who now claims that Obama was born in Kenya has already appeared this am on birther boyles show.

        1. But, in WLJ’s defense this is a conundrum:  Do you go with the guy endorsed by Penry, or the guy endorsed by Tancredo and Boyles?  (And, why in the entire city of Denver can’t the Democrats field one candidate for this race?)

            1. In this situation, hell — actually in nearly any situation I can think of, anyone supported by Penry, Tancredo, or Boyles has to be something quite noticeably distant from being a Democrat.  (These three are all finely tuned and highly accurate bellweathers of the undesireable.)

              Likewise, anyone ever supported by Nixon, Limbaugh, or Cheney is also not a Democrat.

              Don’t act surprised, there are lots of known anti-Republican bellweathers too.  (All of whom we should pretty much respect and admire.)

          1. Not being a smartass at all – I promise.  I’m curious if it’s just the MMJ issues or something else.  Or if it’s just me honestly just misreading her and that she really doesn’t hate his guts as much as it seems.  Maybe there’s another issue – I’m just curious, but it’s no ill reflection on WLJ, whom I like and respect very much.

        2. The big issue for me was that he would not be clear on his MMJ stance.  I called him a number of times offered to help him with the MMJ crowd.  He toured our dispensary and then never took me up on the offer to help, just kept calling me for money and helping him get in front of the money people in the MMJ industry.  

          I invited him to KUSHCON and offered to help with PR around the event and do a fundraiser.  He wanted the fundraiser but was not interested in learning more and understanding more about the people he was asking me to get money from and what their concerns were going to be.

          He never responded to how upset i was over the police beating of Alex Landau, which was spurred by MJ being in the car.  I was feeling like Michael would not speak out about the controversial issues that were facing our city. He wanted to ride the don’t upset anyone or say anything about anything approach to winning office.  Even his commercials don’t address one thing about our city, just about his background, ok, so what.  Now what are you going to do with my city?

          At that point, i spoke with James Mejia, who actually took time to learn about the people we help and what the industry was about, the good and the bad.  At the end of the day, that is all i expect from a politician, learn enough to make informed decisions. James also addressed police brutality and the issues with small business, etc.

          Then all the silly stuff about Michael came out.  I am sick over the raises to city council and now I am confused about wanting to teach creationism, despite what all of you say, Michael has been clear about teaching creationism, he said it twice, once on film.

          So, now i am adamantly against Michael ever holding office, but would love to have him at our summer BBQ (I don’t think he will come, LOL).  I am not thrilled about Romer, but at least under Romer, my business has a fighting chance and they are both Dems.  So, I am holding my nose until the next time we can vote for a GREAT mayor.

          1. Mejia says he went to each candidate after the first round, seeking who to endorse.  Hancock wanted to know what JM could do to help get him elected, Romer wanted to know what he could adopt of JM’s policy positions to earn his endorsement.

    1. Politicians go on radio shows.

      BFF? Pfft. A little over-dramatic if you ask me. Sounds like someone is drinking the “pals around with terrorists” kool-aid.

      1. There is this thing called hyperbole.  It is used a lot to make a point..usually in informal writing like that found on , say, political blogs…

        This may all be new to you, since evidently you are a virgin polster.

        That is right, politicans go on radio shows when they want to reach the audience of that talk show…ie. “birthers” “global warming deniers”….etc.

        1. For explaining hyperbole to me. I don’t know what I’d do without you, kind sir.

          Now repeat, again, how Hancock and Boyles are BFF because Hancock goes on a radio show. It’s a talking point someone like Rush would REALLY love to use.

          So congratulations. You’re now on par with Rush Limbaugh. Hooray for you.

          I think it’s smart politicking to reach as many people as you can. Call me crazy. After all, I am just a “virgin polster” so clearly my opinion has no merit or virtue.

          Hyperbole wins the day again. Hooray for all of us, since you can never have too much shrill hyperbole.  

  3. they never went on any shows.  When Tina Fey portrayed Sarah Palin as expressing the hope that the lame stream media wouldn’t twist her words by quoting them verbatim on SNL, it was comedic satire and got a big laugh.  Guess Newt must have missed it or he wouldn’t have said pretty much the same thing in a serious interview on Fox (oxymoron?):

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says that anyone that uses direct quotes from his Sunday interview about Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to dismantle Medicare is lying.


    Both the real Palin and Gingrich seem to think that questions such as “What do you read/” or “What do you think of the Ryan plan for medicare?” are hostile, tricky, gotcha questions that would confuse anybody.  Understandable coming from Palin but isn’t Newt supposed to be some kind of genius?

    Wonder who will play Newt when they put this in the opening bit on SNL?

  4. To you and your collection of God’s Asshats, we were at DU this morning from 0915-0945, waiting for you. We wanted to see you exercise your Constitutional Right to display the depth of your ignorance, and you failed to show up.

    There were kids from a Catholic High School, some vets like me, older people of faith, and, of course, some of teh gayz. All of us united in our tolerance and patience, hoping we could drive you crazy with our well-behaved counter-protest, which would deny you the chance to sue DU, the City of Denver, the sky and a dog that trotted by.

    Apparently, a tornado popped up as you were driving in from the 19th Century in Kansas and prevented you from making it here. Kinda ironical, huh? Did you actually catch the divine hint, and decide to stay in your compound of crazy.

    (Just a side note on that – my Fundy Christian Aunt managed to drive down almost all of the same highway earlier today to make it to her granddaughter’s graduation in CoSprings. What’s your excuse?)

    So, in summary, next time you plan one of these “Crazy train” expeditions to Colorado, we’ll be waiting. We’ll meet you with tolerant, calm, counter-protest, and you will have JACK SHIT to show for your efforts.

    See you around!

    1. I was at the last supposed counter protest and they never showed. Didn’t bother even making a sign for this one. I’m pretty sure they now only exist in theory, or have been divinely barred from Colorado, or something. Asshats.

    2. Apparently, a tornado popped up as you were driving in from the 19th Century in Kansas and prevented you from making it here.

      they were worried that a farmhouse would land on them.  It’s happened to their type before.

  5. Support the Colorado’s Congressman with courage, Ed Perlmutter, in another public contact event this Saturday:

    When: Saturday, May 21 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM

    Where: Safeway – 11088 W Jewell Avenue Lakewood, CO 80232

    I’ll stop by for a few as I always do when he’s in Jeffco.

      1. I used to be in CD6, so Perlmutter was my pretend-congressman to help me feel a little better about having Tancredo and then Coffman. Now he’s my real congressman!

    1. Jeremy Meyer


      “Romer says Hick called to talk about campaign and didn’t tell him to take down ad about Hancock’s vote.”

      So now the question is why is Hickenlooper calling Romer “about campaign?”

            1. You don’t find it odd that the Governor called Romer today, and suddenly the ad is coming down?

              Shoot, you don’t find it odd that the Governor would call Romer for a social call in the middle of a campaign? Just to “see what’s going on”?

              I’m hardly a conspiracy theorist, but if it looks like a pig and smells like a pig, it ain’t a duck.

            2. Not every move in the campaign game deserves full coverage.

              But you never know. Tobias, you’re premature in your declaration. Pols might well run a front page story if there’s something unusual (e.g., there’s something to these reports that Hick got involved).

            3. Apparently some political cartoons in the free Denver weekly warranted front page news coverage — as long as it attacked the right guy.  

          1. could write a diary about this burning issue. I’m sure people would recommend it and then ColoradoPols or one of the FP editors would front page it and then we could enjoy yet another diary with a series of, “I know you are, but what am I comments.”

            Do it!

          2. What do we do???

            Tell you what, Tobias…every time you say something about Hancock like “Will this see the front page of Colorado Pols? Of course not,” we’ll make absolutely sure that you are correct. You coming on here to demand that we front-page a story will guarantee that it won’t happen.

            We’ve said the same thing in the past to other commenters who have pulled this same tired “strategy” to bully us into coverage. If you want to write a diary, or recommend a story (with an actual link), we’ll be happy to take a look. But if all you’re going to do is toss around baseless accusations, well, good luck with that.  

            1. a mature way to handle it.

              I like this site and enjoy reading, but the bullshit childishness is getting old. I have STILL yet to hear any reason why posting political cartoons is so very, very important. Why piling on and adding to the shrill dialog (if it can even be called dialog) is the priority.

              Good show. Top drawer.

              My bad on not reading the rules. I’ll be sure to post news that is previously approved by the ColoradoPolitbureau to make sure it calls into question the right candidate. Would hate to upset our overlords.

              Godspeed, everyone.  

          3. And see if anyone gives a shit enough about what you think to front-page it.

            It’s easy enough to criticize, but according to a click on your name, you have never written a single diary, let alone been passed over for front-page status.

            Put up or shut up.

              1. with the threats made specifically to this site by a certain newspaper chain.  Reading the rules would have helped with that lack of understanding.  There’s a difference between censorship and “fair use.”  Learn it.

                1. Found “Be excellent to each other… or else.”

                  I’m assuming there are rules posted somewhere, but in my three minutes of looking, I couldn’t find them.

                  “Read the rules! Read the rules!” Well, tell me where they are and I’ll gladly read the rules.

                  And no, obviously, I am not familiar with the threats made toward this site by the paper. You could always fill me in. Or just continue to be a douchebag.

                  I have no interest in bringing down the site, so maybe you should just direct me to the information about the Post, and where the rules are, and you won’t have to worry about it anymore, okay Francis?

                  K, great, thanks.

  6. Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse

    There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.

    A Brief History of Zombies

    We’ve all seen at least one movie about flesh-eating zombies taking over (my personal favorite is Resident EvilExternal Web Site Icon.), but where do zombies come from and why do they love eating brains so much? The word zombie comes from Haitian and New Orleans voodoo origins. Although its meaning has changed slightly over the years, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. Through ancient voodoo and folk-lore traditions, shows like the Walking Dead were born.

    Now, I can’t wait for ‘tads input on this. He’s already hooted about the unacceptability of the Feds trying to educate folks on the Interwebz, so I wonder what his take is on this. I’m assuming he’s finished all 4 Resident Evil games already, so he should be an expert on this subject as well….

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