Saturday, March 3, 2007

It's all about the whore ...

It's Saturday night and another chapter of my novel The Captains is up at The Practical Press.

Now that I've got the whoring out of the way, I wanted to say Mrs. F and I had a wonderful time with our pal Lurch from Main and Central this afternoon at one of our hangouts. I'm just sorry 3 hours went so quickly. We spoke of everything from blogging to love to dogs, and Gordon of course ... heh. Thanks for making the time to visit us, pal.


The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007

From the Committee On Oversight and Government Reform, Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), 110th Congress:

On March 1, 2007, Rep. Henry A. Waxman along with Reps. Platts, Clay, and Burton introduced H.R. 1255, the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007, to nullify a 2001 presidential executive order and restore public access to presidential records.

Overturning the Bush Executive Order. Under the Presidential Records Act, presidential records are supposed to be released to historians and the public 12 years after the end of a presidential administration. In November 2001, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13233 which overturned an executive order issued by President Reagan and gave current and former presidents and vice presidents broad authority to withhold presidential records or delay their release indefinitely. The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 would nullify the Bush executive order and establish procedures to ensure the timely release of presidential records.

There's more. Go read.

This is the equivalent of turning over rocks that were carefully piled by Bush to hide things. Support it.

Full Wolf Moon

According to my Old Farmer's Almanac:

March 3: total eclipse of the Moon. This eclipse will be visible only in eastern North America, so the times here are in Eastern Standard Time only. The Moon will enter the penumbra at 3:16 p.m. EST and will leave the penumbra at 9:25 p.m. EST.

You Easterners get the show, so quit gazing at yer navels and go outside at and after sunset and look up.

Us Westerners just get stuck with another beautiful moonlight night. Sigh.

Quote of the Day

"Son, in politics you've got to learn that overnight chicken shit can turn to chicken salad." --Lyndon B. Johnson

I would only add that sometimes it works the other way around.

R.

What Is Missing at CPAC?

Mike Stark at HuffPo

Everyone is here... Michelle Malkin. Ann Coulter. Newt Gingrich. Duncan Hunter. Mitt Romney. Jeff Gannon. Sam Brownback. Melanie Morgan. John O'Neill... Oh so many heroes of the right...

And let me tell you - they've really turned out impressive support. At a time when the conservative agenda polls in the thirties, one gets the impression that they are all here.

Something else these folks have done well is turn out the new generation of wingnuts. The average age of the attendee here has got to be below 30 - there are literally thousands of College Republicans moving about in Brownian style from exhibit to exhibit, conference to conference, speaker to speaker, ballroom to ballroom.

Exhibit hall is stuffed to the gills. Freedom Alliance. Blogger's row. Heritage Foundation. American Spectator. Clare Booth Luce Foundation... the Koch group... Regent University. Several candidates have booths. Oddly enough, even the ACLU has a booth (even if they are placed in the back corner furthest from Exhibit Hall's entrance).

Oh... but there's one notable - striking, even - absence.

There are no military recruiters here. No United States Marine Corps. No Army, no Navy, no Air Force or National Guard - hell, not even the Coast Guard is here. Thousands and thousands of College Republicans, but not a single recruiter in sight...

Why?

Well, I have a theory or two (Michelle Malkin doesn't agree with me, but more on that later).

Let's try this: CPAC didn't want to be embarrassed when pictures were released that showed recruiters standing around looking lonely. Similarly, recruiters know it's a better investment of their time to troll "the other malls" rather than to recruit these nice white college boys.

I think the recruiters have been told to pretty much stay away from the spawn of the ruling elite, or else they just don't bother to waste their time. The "nice white college boys" have "other priorities", such as learning how to rule and steal from the masses, not going off to this fraudulent war, however noble they tell others it is. There's plenty of peasants to bullshit into doing that. They probably wouldn't be worth a shit as soldiers anyway.

What the young Repuglicans don't realize is that they're missing a bet by not flocking to join up and go serve in their great cause in Iraq - what better bona fides for political success in later life could there possibly be than having two or three prosthetic limbs from an IED? Besides showing them as heroes who served, it would give them something in common with their subjects fellow citizens.

Oh, but why would they want or need that? They're getting the country handed to them on a platter by their parents anyway. Besides, they wouldn't want to miss any keggers.

"S" Storm

The Hill, 1 March '07

A House Judiciary subcommittee approved today the first in what is expected to be an avalanche of subpoenas to Bush administration officials. They will likely explore corruption and mismanagement allegations on everything from pre-war Iraq intelligence to the mishandling of the response to Hurricane Katrina.

The first round of subpoenas concern the recent controversial firings by the Bush administration of seven U.S. attorneys, some of whom were pursuing public corruption cases against Republican members of Congress.

Tuesday's hearing will consider a bill by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) that would reverse a new Patriot Act provision allowing the attorney general to appoint federal prosecutors without Senate confirmation through the duration of the Bush administration.

Democrats have come to the defense of several dismissed prosecutors, in particular Lam and Cummins of Arkansas. They have noted that Lam was leading the probe of ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.), while Cummins was removed to make room for a former aide to White House senior adviser Karl Rove. Other U.S. attorneys, including those in Nevada and Arizona, were acting on corruption charges against GOP lawmakers before their resignations were requested.

Democrats, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), have expressed outrage over the firings. She and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have demanded to see the attorneys' performance evaluations.

"So this Administration either originally hired incompetent attorneys in the first place, or hired competent U.S. Attorneys, but incompetently fired them. Which is it?" he asked. "Many Americans believe these U.S. Attorneys are not being fired because they failed to go after public corruption, but because they did and were successful."

This administration doesn't like success, particularly when it comes to investigations of itself.

Crank up them presses! Let the subpœnas fly!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Getting out ...

From SP at C & L:

...

Little by little, we're hearing stories that have managed to go unnoticed such as the 500th American amputee, and all the problems at Walter Reed Hospital. Spiegel Online brings light to yet another inconvenient truth. Our soldiers are finding ways to get out of this unjust war and some are choosing to go AWOL at the rate of more than 5 per day. [my em]

...


Almost 2000 soldiers have gotten out of the military this way last year alone.

The Dick's Non-Death Hits The Fan

There's a lot of brouhaha today over reactions to the Bagram bombing that missed The Dick, and to the wingnut reactions to those reactions. I'm lazy, so go see for yourself. Heh. From Cursor:

'Is "Howard Kurtz" a software program?' wonders Glenn Greenwald, after correctly predicting a column profiling how right wing bloggers exposed the "scandal" of anonymous commenters on a liberal blog lamenting that Cheney hadn't been killed by a bomb in Afghanistan.

Shorter: when anonymous liberal bloggers on anonymous little blogs lament the non-death of The Dick, the wingnuts think they should be killed for exercising free speech. However, when wingnuts, like Malkin, O'rally, et al, call for the deaths of their political opponents, that's patriotic. IOKIYAR.

Cheney Bars Press From Calling Him "Vice President"

Frameshop

On the Vice President's page of the White House web site they keep an archive of all speeches/interviews by the Vice President from February 15, 2001 up to the present day. Until yesterday, every one of those entries referred to the Vice President as the "Vice President." But not yesterday.

Suddenly, during his trip abroad, the Vice President decided that the press corp was forbidden from calling him "Vice President," and required that he be called by the mysterious name "Senior Administration Official."

This is so bizarre it almost defies description.

The opening section of the transcript is as follows:

That oughta set the hook! Go read. More:

Apparently, Cheney was not happy with the coverage he was getting from the press, so this was his way of dolling out punishment. Froomkin calls this approach Cheney's effort to "extort from reporters a ridiculous agreement," citing it as a sign of the contempt Cheney has for the press. Fromkin's article describes how gleefully the press tore Cheney's anonymity to pieces.

Once again, Dick Cheney believes that the problems American soldiers face in the Middle East and Central Asia can be solved by PR campaigns launched against American journalists and against the Democratic Party.

Iraq not going well? Attack the Democratic leadership.

Taliban on the rise in Afghanistan? Forbid journalists from calling you "Vice President."

Whole sections of the planet gone to hell in a hand basket because of Dick Cheney's policies and pig-headed stubbornness? Criticize the American public.

Yeah. That will fix things.

What might help "fix things" would be to refer to The Dick as "Inmate Cheney".

I think I've got 'inmates' on my brain today.

Reminder

I should have posted this yesterday, but I thought it started tonight:

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris on Soundstage on PBS. You can check your local listings at the link.

Colorado to Use Inmates to Fill Migrant Shortage

LATimes

Denver - Ever since passing what its Legislature promoted as the nation's toughest laws against illegal immigration last summer, Colorado has struggled with a labor shortage as migrants fled the state. This week, officials announced a novel solution: Use convicts as farmworkers.

Here's the 'money' line, so to speak:

The inmates will be watched by prison guards, who will be paid by the farms. The cost is subject to negotiation, but farmers say they expect to pay more for the inmate labor and its associated costs than for their traditional workers.

I'm sure that's just fine with the Department of Corrections. I think prison guards cost more than agricultural workers.

"If they can't get slaves from Mexico, they want them from the jails," said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, which favors restrictions on immigration.

Ricardo Martinez of the Denver immigrant rights group Padres Unidos asked: "Are we going to pull in inmates to work in the service industry too? You won't have enough inmates - unless you start importing them from Texas."

Import them from Texas? Oh, the horror!

If this deal catches on, look for an upsurge of arrests of qualified legal immigrant agricultural workers, and more prisons built in farming areas. Win-win!

There's another solution to the lack of agricultural workers: the way Bush is mishandling the economy, we could have another Great Depression and fill the fields with migratory 'fruit tramps' ridin' the rods (do trains still have rods?) and following the crops like in the 1930s. See Grapes of Wrath.

There's yet another solution, but it'll never fly: hire American kids to do it. Yeah, right. Little fuckers are too spoiled to ever do anything remotely resembling actual hard work where they might get tired and dirty, or that is 'beneath their dignity'. It would damn sure do 'em some good though, might build some dignity and character instead of the unwarranted 'self-esteem' they're told they should have just for being alive.

I think this points up the need for immigration reform in the form of a guest worker program. I think it's funny that this is the only thing Bush has gotten right, and his party wouldn't hear of it.

From my own experience, I have nothing against inmate labor. I've done it, liked it, clamored for the opportunity. Our Nevada County jail, the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility aka "Wayne's World", sends inmates out every day of the week to work in the community. As far as I know, there's no charge for this. It benefits the community because they get workers they couldn't otherwise afford, and it's good for the inmates because they get to get out of the jail during the day.

There is no supervision by Correctional Officers. There's no need for it. Only non-violent offenders are in the trusty section that provides the workers and they'd be idiots to screw up a relatively easy way to do their time. Besides, the trusty section has girls, ping-pong, and vending machines. Hint: the jail doesn't make change. Folks around here know to take a coupla rolls of quarters with them when they go to jail. Heh.

The best deal was to go work at the local food bank. Easy warehouse work, loading trucks mostly, and they cook a big lunch and provide tobacco and papers and plenty of smoke breaks. There's no smoking in jail, so this is huge to us smokers. The food is a lot better, too. Sometimes you get to ride on a truck to somewhere and participate in food distribution programs, which is mostly unloading trucks and setting up tables, but extends to carrying groceries to the car for little old ladies. You get to interact with the locals, too. I've seen inmates call their friends to come out and bring them, er, things of the kind they were probably in jail for in the first place. Nothing that the COs could smell on their breath.

I also worked at the county recycling center and the Elks club. All the outfits provide cigarettes and food for the inmates.

My most memorable outing was when I was on a working party that policed up a murder scene at the county services building. One of their clients got off his meds and went and shot the joint up and killed three people. Another broke her leg jumping out the window to get away. The cops had cut out all the sections of wall with bullet holes for evidence, but there were still some blood stains. We just dismantled the joint so they could rebuild it to be more secure, and also to physically change it so the employees wouldn't be reminded of the horror every day. It was a county office, so it had to be open for business pretty quick, and the builders were rebuilding it while we were still doing the teardown. The cops caught the guy right away, and since the inmates were all locals and many of them knew the victims, put him in the medical ward for his own protection. He's off the streets for good now.

That deal took three of us three days. The first night we worked pretty late and missed dinner, so the county guy bought us dinner at Denny's, 'to go' of course. It wasn't like we could go in and sit down in filthy jail clothes. That would not have done much for 'community relations'. Believe me, folks, after eatin' jail food, Denny's is good eats!

Since I quit drinkin' I'm not keeping up with the latest at Wayne's World. That's good, but the experience was enlightening. I've been in county jails three times, in two different counties, for a grand total of about forty days. I'm over it now. It won't kill you, in rural counties anyway, but it's nothing to look forward to and I don't recommend it as a destination resort.

Supporting the troops

Why do our GIs hate America and embolden the terrists:

WASHINGTON — Seventy-two percent of troops on the ground in Iraq think U.S. military forces should get out of the country within a year, according to a Zogby poll released Tuesday.

The survey of 944 troops, conducted in Iraq between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14, said that only 23 percent of servicemembers thought U.S. forces should stay “as long as they are needed.”

Of the 72 percent, 22 percent said troops should leave within the next six months, and 29 percent said they should withdraw “immediately.” Twenty-one percent said the U.S. military presence should end within a year; 5 percent weren’t sure.

But policy experts differ on exactly what those numbers mean.

...


That last line? Substitute 'propaganda' for 'policy'. I'll tell ya what the numbers mean. The numbers mean the troops are starting to get it. They're tired of being used as cannon fodder. We shouldn't even wait a year. Bring 'em home now and let the Iraqis do what they have to in order to pacify the place.

Great thanks to Maru for the link.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Costs of Bush's Folly

Just to keep my outrage level up (none of this Skippy the Bush Kangaroo outrage fatigue for me, no sir! ;-)), I visit costofwar.com from the National Priorities Project to see if I could put the $ involved into numbers that I can wrap my head around. As of the time I visited the site, the total cost of Bush's Folly was $404,636,964,425, that is more than 9 years gross income for Microsoft, for example. To put it in terms that most of us can relate to I came up with these figures at the Cost of War site:

  • we could have hired 7,012,407 additional public school teachers for one year.
  • or we could have provided health insurance for 242,297,671 children for one year.
  • or we could have built 3,643,378 additional housing units.
  • or we could have provided 19,615,924 students four-year scholarships at public universities.
  • or we could have paid for 53,594,362 children to attend a year of Head Start.
This puts the crimes of Bush & Co. in a light that is simple to understand. Too bad that the mainstream media sees fit to generally ignore it.

All of the above begs the following question. What, exactly, have we gotten in return? What makes giving up all of the potential worth it? If there is an answer other than, "nothing" to either of the above questions, I haven't come up with it yet.

R.

Special for Fixer

Stuff you can do with an old laptop:



I got a hunch that Fixer's "fun with old laptops" may include a loud BOOM! and a lot of altitude...

"Mr. Cheney, you and the President are the ones aiding the enemy"

Bluff Country Newspaper Group (MN)

For those of you who know me personally, you know I have been against the war in Iraq since the day we entered. Most of the time I keep my mouth shut about it, but enough is enough.

Our vice president is running off at the mouth again how Democrats are aiding the enemy and being unpatriotic by questioning the latest drivel coming out of his and President Bush's mouth - the value of the troop surge.

As a person too young to remember Vietnam, I had prayed that when we started down this misguided road that we would not end up in another unwinnable war.

Unfortunately, it seems that our government didn't learn anything from that conflict and thus we are repeating history:

o fighting in a country where we don't know the language;

o fighting for an ideal that is not embraced by the majority of the population with the influence and money to make peace happen;

o fighting an invisible enemy who is there one minute and gone the next into a house or neighborhood where he is protected and we are hated;

o fighting a culture that is as old as Christianity, that has been around before Jesus was born and that won't be changed in one year, 10 years or probably a 100 years.

I could go on but you get my point. I must say that society learned a lot from the Vietnam War. They learned that you could hate the war and the politics but love and support the soldiers who fight in it.

I respect every soldier who is out there doing his or her job, day after day, despite the hopelessness of his or her actions. I wish the soldiers were putting their lives on the line for something that really mattered.

Furthermore, lets talk about patriotism. Merriam-Webster defines it as "love for or devotion to one's country." That doesn't say anything about supporting one's president.

Our government should be ashamed of itself and make Halliburton repay the billions of dollars it has embezzled and misappropriated from the taxpayers and American government for projects never completed or mismanaged in Iraq.

Those funds should be turned over to the Veterans Administration to care for the thousands of new veterans already being failed by an overwhelmed and under-funded system.

How can this administration so willingly continue to put soldiers in harm's way and yet not pay for the very infrastructure that will be with them until the day they die?

Listening to some of the reports coming out of our major media outlets this weekend, made me realize our country should be ashamed at how we are letting these brave men and women down.

Shame on our government for allowing veterans at Walter Reed to lay in rat and mold infested facilities.

We have not even scratched the surface for the amount of money that will be needed to sustain these patriotic and deserving individuals for the balance of their lifetime.

Mr. Cheney, you are the one aiding the enemy, by stripping our economy, robbing our tax monies and disgracing our soldiers.

That young lady covered it pretty well, I think.

US commanders admit: we face a Vietnam-style collapse

Guardian UK

An elite team of officers advising the US commander, General David Petraeus, in Baghdad has concluded that they have six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.

For more on what a "hasty retreat" might look like, see Dunkirk and the Frozen Chosen.

"They know they are operating under a clock. They know they are going to hear a lot more talk in Washington about 'Plan B' by the autumn - meaning withdrawal. They know the next six-month period is their opportunity. And they say it's getting harder every day," he said.

US officials say they also have rising hopes of a breakthrough in Sunni-dominated Anbar province where tribal chiefs are increasingly hostile to al-Qaida and foreign fighters - and are looking to build bridges with moderate Shias.

But this week's US decision to join talks on Iraq with Iran and Syria, after previously refusing to do so, is nevertheless seen as an indication of the administration's growing alarm at the possibility of a historic strategic failure.

"Growing alarm", huh? Well, I'm glad something finally got the maladministration's attention. You only have to hit a mule in the head with a 2x4 a coupla times to do that, but then a mule is a lot smarter than Bush.

As I've said before, not only did Bush do the wrong thing by starting his war and occupation, he did the thing wrong out of the gate by letting Rumsfeld and Bremer be in charge. The Iraq misadventure was doomed from the start by a combination of idiocy and karma.

Thank you, Brit Press. I wonder if we'll see mention of this this in our own media.

How the U.S. is failing its Veterans



The Brain has posted over the past couple of years about the way our soldiers and veterans are treated by the government. Newsweek's cover story this week is about how their medical care, particularly after discharge for grievous wounds, is being bungled and mismanaged.

One reason to worry about a crush of new vets at the VA has to do with the proportion of wounded to dead Americans in Iraq. Though we tend to mark the grim timeline of the war by counting fatalities, what really distinguishes this conflict is how many soldiers don't die, but suffer appalling injuries. In Vietnam and Korea, about three Americans were wounded for every one who died. The ratio in WWII was nearly 2-1. In Iraq, 16 soldiers are wounded or get sick for every one who dies. The yawning ratio marks progress: better body armor and helmets are shielding more soldiers from fatal wounds. And advanced emergency care is keeping more of the wounded alive. The VA's Kussman says that soldiers who survive the first few minutes after an explosion have a 98 percent chance of surviving altogether. But that means an increased burden on the VA's health-care system.

The "increased burden" has led to delays in treatment that have caused Vets to commit suicide. Unconscionable and unacceptable.

There are quite a few of the Vets' personal stories in the article, some heartbreaking, some that totally piss you off, and some that are heroic.

Kenneth is a Marine master sergeant who'd been in the Corps for nearly 18 years. He was on his second tour in Iraq when a sniper bullet ricocheted off the metal hatch on his vehicle and hit him directly below the right eye, grazing the front of his brain and exiting near his left ear. Among other things, he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, which has become the signature wound of the Iraq war. Tonia had to fight the Marine Corps to keep him from being discharged, figuring he'd get better medical care if he remained in active service. But some of his treatment has been outsourced to the VA.

One of the tricks she learned early on was to demand photocopies of her husband's records—every exam, every X-ray, every diagnosis—and personally carry the file from appointment to appointment. "I don't know if there is a more formal protocol for transferring documents, but I know that what I brought ... was definitely put to use." When Sargent was transferred to the VA's lauded Polytrauma Center in Palo Alto, Calif., doctors there encouraged her to go home to Camp Pendleton near San Diego and treat his stay at the hospital as if it was a deployment. "After two weeks, they asked me how long I was planning to stay with my husband," she says. "They said it was his rehab, not mine. But I needed to learn how to care for him, and he suffered from extreme anxiety without me." She pushed back, staying in Palo Alto until he completed his care.

That Marine is damn lucky to have a wife like that.

And just why do you suppose the system is failing these troops so badly?

But veterans' support groups and even some former and current VA insiders believe there's a reluctance in the Bush administration to deal openly with the long-term costs of the war. (All told, Bilmes projects it could cost as much as $600 billion to care for GWOT veterans over the course of their lifetimes.) That reluctance, they say, trickles down to the VA, where top managers are politically appointed. Secretary Jim Nicholson, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who was chosen by Bush in 2005, tends to be the focus of this criticism.

The senior VA manager who did not want to be named criticizing superiors told NEWSWEEK: "He's a political appointee and he needs to respond to the White House's direction." Steve Robinson of Veterans for America levels the accusation more directly. "Why doesn't the VA have a projection of casualties for the wars? Because it would be a political bombshell for Nicholson to estimate so many casualties." The VA denies political considerations are involved in its budgeting or planning. Nicholson declined to be interviewed but Matt Burns, a spokesman for the VA, called Robinson's comments "nonsensical and inflammatory," adding: "The VA, in its budgeting process, carefully prepares for future costs so that we can continue to deliver the quality health care and myriad benefits veterans have earned."

Sounds like more of the politics, obfuscation, spin, and lies we've come to expect from this administration, all the while runnin' lip service on "the best care we can offer our veterans".

Shorter: Just more Bush criminal incompetence.

The article is quite long and well done, I think. Since I've saved you a trip to the newsstand and $4.95, please go read it.

It's the bare tip of the iceberg. The problem is going to be with us for the foreseeable future and beyond until enough people are made aware of it often enough that the collective conscience of the nation is disturbed enough to demand what's right for our Veterans. The sooner the better.

Summit

After a tour of our western offices this past summer, our dear friend Lurch of Main and Central will be visiting Alternate Brain World Headquarters this weekend. Well, it won't be a summit but we're having lunch on Saturday.

Another note, my trusty laptop, which I use more than the desktop PC in my office, looks like it's finally bitten the dust after 4 years of being dragged all over Europe, aboard ship, and all over the place here. The reason I mention this is my response to email might be a little slow over the next couple days as I figure whether it's more cost effective to fix or to just get another one.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's all in the fine print...

Outrage

Over in Morning Martini, Pissed-off Patricia, in relation to this post asked: "Are you outraged yet?" In the comments I started detailing all of the reasons why I'm outraged and became so pissed-off doing it that it evolved into a full length post. Here it is:

One of my earliest reactions to 9/11 was "How are they going to use this to their advantage?". So I have been outraged for at least 5+ years. I wasn't enamored of sending the military into Afghanistan, that was a job for covert operatives and still is. So I was little more outraged about that. Iraq outraged me without question. The photo-op seizure of Baghdad and toppling of Saddam's statue while the city was being looted upped the outrage even more. The sham that was "Mission Accomplished". The mismanagement of the peace from the gitgo. The losing of New Orleans. The 3,000 plus American lives. The 50,000 or so Iraqi civilian lives. The lack of protective armor for the Humvees. The lack of vests for the troops. The unreported military deaths because wounded that die outside of Iraq don't count in the total. The mortgage that BushCo is buying that my great-grandchildren's great-grandchildren will have trouble paying off. The erosion of our rights. The stolen elections. The tragedy that is Walter Reed army hospital. The "Do Nothing But Rubber Stamp Administration Requests" Congress. The Dems taking impeachment off the table. And so much more that it makes my head spin over and over again. Shit, yeah, I'm outraged and I will continue to be outraged until I see BushCo in shackles. And I will be outraged until I die that the American people let the 2nd election get close enough to steal.

R.

What'll they think of next?

Bierkatapult



The guy's a genius! He'll sell a million of 'em!

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Dems Trade Lieberman for Hagel
And a congressman to be named later.

Blair Announces Withdrawal of British Troops From Iraq
Congressman wants English muffins renamed "freedom muffins."

Report: Yellowstone Air Quality Improving
White House blames snowmobile restrictions.

Unnoticed Provision in Defense Budget Makes it Easier to Declare Martial Law
You'll be notified where to go and what you can take with you.

Much more.

Had a Blast at Bagram

The LATimes has the story of the bomb that went off a mile from The Dick at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan. That's the closest he's ever been to danger in his life. I hope he shit his pants.

They missed, dammit.

He sent the Taliban a 'Thank You' card.

I'd like to send them a card too. Does Hallmark make "Better Luck Next Time" ones?

Deputy SecDef Recommends End War Before '08 Elections

Al Kamen (WaPo)

The Democrats and other cut-and-runners are in disarray over their next move on Iraq. And they keep jabbering that the administration has no plan for the war other than the same old, same old.

Nonsense. The Pentagon, in a series of recent memos, is making the fight against terrorism synonymous with Iraq (although it has been pretty much confirmed that Saddam Hussein wasn't involved in the Sept. 11 attacks) and has issued a clear call for getting the job done by the end of next year.

In a Feb. 15 memo, England spotted a key fact that most everyone in this town has overlooked. "At noon on Jan. 20, 2009," he wrote, "many of the civilian Department of Defense (DOD) leadership positions will transition to a new Administration Team. This change, coupled with the normal rotation of military leadership, could disrupt many of the management process changes currently underway in the Department."

So "to ensure that warfighters and taxpayers receive maximum benefit from on-going initiatives," England suggested, "it would be highly desirable to complete current projects by the summer/fall of 2008."
(my em)

I don't think Bush's War, the major "current project", will end as long as he's in office, but if it ends prior to that to prevent "disruption of management process changes" at the Pentagon, I'm all for it. I'm not going to hold my breath.

On the other hand, maybe England's just seen the writing on the wall and figured out they'd better get any projects done before the elections because they're all gonna get kicked out on their asses afterwards, and rightly so.

There's for damn sure gonna be some "disruption of management process changes" under the next real President.

Supporting the Troops. Not.

From Navy Times:

"Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media."

"Soldiers say their sergeant major gathered troops at 6 p.m. Monday to tell them they must follow their chain of command when asking for help with their medical evaluation paperwork, or when they spot mold, mice or other problems in their quarters"

"The soldiers said they were also told their first sergeant has been relieved of duty, and that all of their platoon sergeants have been moved to other positions at Walter Reed."

A truly wonderful way of supporting the troops. Horrible conditions uncovered at a major medical facility? The Pentagon's response: lock up the folks that are paying the price for Bush's Folly and see to it that their words are filtered. A wonderful place thĂȘ U.S. is becoming under the current administration. Not.

A tip of my Jersey hat to Silver Owl (in the comments) for the link and to nitpicker for the link to the Navy Times article.

R.

Walter Reed patients told to keep quiet

Army Times

Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

"Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media," one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon also clamped down on media coverage of any and all Defense Department medical facilities, to include suspending planned projects by CNN and the Discovery Channel, saying in an e-mail to spokespeople: "It will be in most cases not appropriate to engage the media while this review takes place," referring to an investigation of the problems at Walter Reed.

What are they gonna do to soldiers who talk to the media? Give 'em a haircut and new legs and send 'em to Iraq?

A History Lesson for SecState

Go see Keith Olbermann go off on Condilieza Rice after her stupid remarks about Hitler, WWII, and the Marshall Plan, in his words "more in snark than anger".

Also at Raw Story.

One sentence

William Rivers Pitt describes the Bush maladministration in one long sentence.

...just because our phones are tapped and our homes are no longer protected from unreasonable searches, just because we torture at will, just because we detain forever and use habeas corpus like so much toilet paper, just because signing statements have dismantled the separation of powers one brick at a time, just because no page is safe in a Republican Congress, just because no bribe is too small in a Republican Congress, just because a Democratic resurgence in 2006 is only a tiny beginning and not any kind of an end, because these Bush boys have no intention of slowing down or backing off...

...just because our national reputation is ravaged and our future has been sold out from under us, just because Truman's wartime economic footing has morphed into a machine that Eisenhower would recognize in horror as the very thing he warned us about before he left, just because the whole system now requires us to manufacture wars if none are available because the system itself has been wired to feed the beast no matter the consequences, just because television tells you not to worry, look at these breasts or this shaved starlet's head, or this shiny thing, look here, shhh, be silent, be still, sleep...

...doesn't mean We The People are finished, because all of this is why "We The People" was written down in the first place, and though the day is late and the road is long and the chances for success are slim, We The People are here to stay, so strap in and look out, because we are just getting started, and the next sentence will be ours to write.

I hope 'the next sentence' is given by a judge and has words in it like 'gallows', 'firing squad', and 'penitentiary' just before the phrase '...return our democracy to us'.

Wishy-washy?



More here.

R.

Fixer who?

Sorry I've been a little light on my content over the last couple days. A few reasons:

1. Mrs. F has been in Charlotte for a week so I'm doing double duty.

2. Since I'm nearing the end of posting my novel The Captains at The Practical Press, I've been going over some of my old manuscripts, trying to find one suitable to follow.

I should be back to regular duty by the weekend.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Quote of the Day

From TRex on hardly-ever-right-wing blogs, via Lurch:

Wingnuts are like herpes sores. They might disappear for a while, but every moment you enjoy without them around brings you closer to the next painful, embarrassing, incapacitating outbreak.

His dissertation is pretty good. Go read.

Snow Job

No, not the White House Press Secretary this time!



Click to waaay embiggen!

I have shoveled these goddam berms out of my driveway for 26 years now, but this is the first time I've ever done three of these things in one day. As you can see, I only got rid of enough to get the car out. The yardstick, stuck down several inches into the snow, is for scale.

The berms are deposited legally in my driveway by the town. The law is cleverly written so they can "store" snow there. If you want to get out of your driveway, it's all yours. There are snow plow accessories available that prevent this, but they cost money and slow down the plowing operation. I don't blame the plow weenies (thanks, Fixer!). There aren't that many of them, and they have a lot of miles to cover. Most of them have been awake and on the job for three days now. All the snow in the pictures is since Sunday.

The berm is compacted snow deposited off the side of the blade of a snow plow or grader at pretty high speed. A homeowner-grade snowthrower won't touch it. You have to break it up with a shovel into pieces the snowthrower will throw. That hole in the berm, done 3 times, represents over 5 hours of hard work. Add in the fact that I also blew out my driveway three times, it's more like 8 hours. Me no like hard work!

Especially in a cold, windy snowstorm. I started the first clearing job at 7:30 Monday morning and completed the third at 1:30 Tuesday morning. If I had gotten up this A.M. to find a fourth one, I would have called up Fixer and had him send me a "DuPont Snowthrower".

I kept the clothes dryer going all day. When I got too wet and cold, I took a break, changed clothes, reloaded dryer, had coffee and a smoke until I thawed out, and back at it. I told Mrs. G that if I didn't show up for an inordinate length of time, to go look for the (hopefully!) tallest pile of ice and snow and hit it with an ax handle.

In the midst of all this, about 11:30 Sunday night, I had just cleared my driveway for the second time that day, and noticed a coupla SUVs in the middle of the street with their four-ways flashing. They had been there for some time. They were trying to get up the worst driveway in the neighborhood to spend a ski week at their absentee-owner friend's $700K second-home "cabin". Nobody had called the plow service that they were coming. They were trying to shovel access up, and I do mean 'up', a 150-foot driveway with a foot and a half of packed snow. Their 4-wheel-drives wouldn't make it more than 50 feet and then high-center. They'd spend their whole vacation doing that, so I felt sorry for them, and in my best neighborly fashion, I volunteered to try to do it with my little sneezer 8-really-old-and-tired horsepower snowthrower. Up four feet, back three feet, up four feet, back three feet. Finally got to the top, a real "Little Engine That Could" deal. It was a little easier going downhill, and I finally got them access. The guy was so dazzled he gave me $100, which I graciously accepted after much protest. Protest, yeah, right. I got to bed about 2AM. The plow came Monday morning, but they're bermed-in snowbound with another foot and a half today. Welcome to Truckee, folks.

I think you can tell what I've been up to for the last coupla days. Every bone, every muscle, in my 61-year-old body is howling at me. Thank God for Ibuprofen!

I gave up complaining about these berms years ago, but this was kind of a "perfect storm" of them. I just wanted to share. Oh, yeah, the Sun came out and it's a beautiful day. That makes it worth all the hassle.

Update:

Berm No. 4 arrived while I was taking a nap this afternoon. I noticed it at about a quarter to five. Since a big part of my reason for being is to provide Mrs. G with an accessible driveway, I turned to. Luckily for me it wasn't as big as the other ones. I was still standing there with my shovel (a trick I learned from highway workers) when she pulled in. Whew! Just in time, but it's embarrassing for me to have her actually catch me working!

I also got reminded of things I know during my snow clearing adventures:

1. Check the snowthrower gas tank before you get eighty feet from the garage in a snowstorm in the dark, and

2. Due to residual snow in the augur/discharge mechanism, don't squeeze the augur drive lever in the garage! Yeesh.

Surprise! (not) It's about oil

From Guardian Unlimited:

"Iraq poised to hand control of oil fields to foreign firms"
Anybody wanna guess to which countries "foreign" refers? Here's a little clue:

"Baghdad is under pressure from Britain and the US to pass an oil law which would hand long-term control of Iraq's energy assets to foreign multinationals, according to campaigners."
Wait a minnit! I thought this was about WMD. Or was it democracy for Iraq? No, wait, weren't there a dozen other reasons? No one ever mentioned oil. How could this be?

And how do the "independent" Iraqis feel about this?

"Iraqi trades unions have called for the country's oil reserves - the second-largest in the world - to be kept in public hands. "

Makes sense doesn't it. "Freely elected" government and all that. But wait:

"But a leaked draft of the oil law, seen by The Observer, would see the government sign away the right to exploit its untapped fields in so-called exploration contracts, which could then be extended for more than 30 years.

Foreign Office minister Kim Howells has admitted that the government has discussed the wording of the Iraqi law with Britain's oil giants."

More here. Prepare to read it, shake your head and think "I knew this all along."


R.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Brothers in Arms Again: Bush Faction Arming Al Qaeda to Thwart Iran

Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque, whose motto is "High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium". I like that.

Here's the upshot of Sy Hersh's latest piece in the New Yorker: George W. Bush is working with, paying, arming and training -- directly and by proxy -- violent terrorist groups in league with Osama bin Laden.

I have been writing here for years about the Bush Administration's openly declared intent to arm and fund violent militia groups all over the world, especially in "inaccessible" places where the US cannot operate openly. Hersh has confirmed this "strategy" several times in his reporting.

But as we've also noted many times, this political "philosophy" is by no means unique to the Bush Family faction. It is resolutely bipartisan, and deeply embedded in the mindset of the American Establishment. The Bushes are nothing but second-rate camp followers, empty shells and non-entities, originating nothing, ignorant and cynical in equal measure, their only unusual trait being how open they are in their scorn for the worthless rabble and the bullshit Constitution that the crypto-Commies like Madison and Jefferson foisted on the proper rulers of the country. Otherwise, they simply regurgitate the unprocessed prejudices, unexamined assumptions and vulgar ambitions of the clique that spawned them.

This comes as no surprise to any of us, I am sure, but Mr. Floyd says it well. I put nothing past the Bushes and their ilk in their quest for riches and power and fuck the rest of us.

Please go read the rest. Many links.

Talking ...

It's about the only thing the conservatives are good at. I talked about this yesterday, about the war supporters who were big on talk, short on action. Wolcott expands on Fox 'News' and their war cheerleading squad:

... Talking big is the only calisthenic exercise neoconservatives get apart from practicing their "Hail, Caesar!" salutes, but to hear them tell it they're the ones of trim purpose with vital essences coursing through their veins while the rest of us steep in our tepid, watery neo-Weimar malaise ...


These are the ones who should be the first against the wall when the revolution comes. Yes, I have my problems with the idiot, everyday folks who still support this war, but ignorance can be dealt with. It's the paid shills operating under cover of a 'news' organization. Basically those who have sold out the well-being of America for a price.

And an aside, we got about 2 1/2 inches of snow during the night. At 3:30 this morning, I was awakened by the dog licking my face. Have I mentioned the Cattle Dog loves snow? I couldn't get dressed fast enough. It was like "Dad, it snowed! Come on. Hurry, dad, let's go! It SNOWED!" Oy. Now I have to dig the car out.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Roots

Raw Story

In a revelation that will stun the nation, the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of America's most powerful black leaders, has unearthed a shattering family secret - his ancestors were slaves owned by relatives of the late South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond.

It is an ironic twist of fate that inexorably links one of the most vocal civil rights activists and an icon of Deep South segregation.

Keep digging. I got a hunch the serpent in the Garden of Eden was a Republican.

I have a friend who was one of very few Afro-Americans in the Nevada Highway Patrol. One day he was at the Washoe County Jail and noticed that one of the inmates had the same slightly unusual last name as his. He went to see the guy, who was white. In an explanation of how they might have ended up with the same name, my friend told the guy, "Maybe your great-grandfather owned mine".

Ball Blast

A comment about the mess at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Editor & Publisher:

I have a suggested solution: line up the executive branch from the prez on down and the members of congress and the senate along with the Miltary Officers with oversight responsibility, have them all drop their pants and have expert rifle(wo)men shoot off one testicle of each one in line. Have them treated in these facilities.

I think it would take a marksman with extremely good eyesight and a 10x scope to hit such a small target! A dinner plate at 500 yards presents a larger sight picture than these guys' huevos at three feet.

Sign up or shut up

NYT:

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon plans to send more than 14,000 National Guard troops back to Iraq next year, shortening their off-duty time to meet the demands of President George W. Bush's buildup, Defense Department officials said.

...


Now, at this point, when we can't get enough recruits, when we're going back on the promises made to our National Guard, when the White House won't call for a draft, it's time for all you able-bodied war supporters to do your duty and enlist.

And don't give me those tired equivocations where 'you support the police and fire departments, but you don't join up'. The facts are this. You've been cheerleading this war from the get go. You've been eager to have others go 'kill the ragheads' while you sit back in the comfort of your homes, enjoying your family, your freedom to say all sorts of stupid shit, and not really have to worry about the war until it comes time for you to run your mouth some more.

Well, we're out of 'other folks' to go fight this thing. We're scraping the bottom of the barrel by taking criminals and nut cases as it is. Contributing to the Rethug spin ain't gonna cut it anymore. Shit's bad and it's gonna get worse while you put another magnet on your car and tell everyone who will listen that 'we should just nuke the bastids'. If you want to do that so badly, join up and do your part because there's a buncha guys over there who want to do what you're doing right now. Sitting on your ass reading the Sunday paper or surfing the interwebs with your pants around your ankles.

The folks in the military did not sign up for this. They did not sign up to have their lives squandered in a war without end, in deployment after deployment. The Guard guys certainly didn't, volunteering to spend the spare time they have to help their communities, not act as regular Army troops for years on end. People, your fellow Americans, are dying over there for no good reason and you're cheering them on? No. Time to walk the walk or STFU.

Conscience ...

Nice to know not all the flag officers are neocons. This should give whatever Bush supporters that are left a bit of pause:

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

...

A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.

...

However, army chiefs fear an attack on Iran would backfire on American troops in Iraq and lead to more terrorist attacks, a rise in oil prices and the threat of a regional war.

...


For them to let this leak out means they are worried over what will be left of the military after the Chimp and Cheney get done with it. Nothing good can come from an attack on Iran. I hope the Dems, and the Rethugs who have some sort of conscience, realize what this means and do whatever it takes to get these idiots out of 1600.

Update:

And read the above with regard to this:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Despite the Bush administration's insistence it has no plans to go to war with Iran, a Pentagon panel has been created to plan a bombing attack that could be implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from President George W. Bush, The New Yorker magazine reported in its latest issue.

The special planning group was established within the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent months, according to an unidentified former U.S. intelligence official cited in the article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in the March 4 issue.

...


Can you say, 'Office of Special Plans' and 'White House Iraq Group'? I thought you could. Same old song and dance. Let's hope Congress gets it too.