Saturday, March 10, 2007
GUATEMALA CITY - Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.
"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday. [my em]
Tip o' the Brain to Nicole @ C&L.
It was India and Gord posted on it about a year ago.
And just a programming note: Since next week will see the conclusion of The Captains, the week after will see the beginning of The Fourth Estate, particularly relevant since the '08 Presidential Race started a year early. Set your VCR ... heh ...
Friday, March 9, 2007
As BuzzFlash says:
Feds Want to Gag D.C. Madam; We Want to See Who Her Famous Clients Were, C'mon, Just a Peek
More from The Gun:
[...] In their motion, a copy of which you'll find below, government lawyers claim that some discovery documents contain "personal information" about Palfrey's former johns and prostitutes that is "sensitive." [...]
I think that means who does what to whom, who wears what outfits, who likes what, what props are used, what scenarios are played out, and so forth. Hey, inquiring minds want to know!
[...] In connection with an asset forfeiture action, Palfrey has sought to depose political consultant Dick Morris, who she has identified as a former escort service client. [...]
Don't worry, Dick. IOKIYAR. I just wanta see some dish! We need some good laughs at the expense of the ruling elite. Seeing them turn red and duck for cover would be a good start.
Veterans face serious inequities in compensation for disabilities depending on where they live and whether they were on active duty or were members of the National Guard or the Reserve, an analysis by The New York Times has found.
Those factors determine whether some soldiers wait nearly twice as long to get benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs as others, and collect less money, according to agency figures.
"The V.A. is supposed to provide uniform and fair treatment to all," said Steve Robinson, the director of veteran affairs for Veterans for America. "Instead, the places and services giving the most are getting the least."
"It's Actuary Science 101," said Paul Sullivan, who until last March monitored data on returning veterans for the V.A. "When 5,000 new troops get deployed from California, you can logically expect a percent of them will show up at the V.A. in California in a year with predictable types of problems."
"It makes no sense to wait until the troop is already back home to start preparing for them," Mr. Sullivan said. "But that's what the V.A. does."
Many new veterans say they are often left waiting for months or years, wondering if they will be taken care of.
In 2004, a system was designed to track soldiers better, prepare for surges in demand and avoid backlogs. But the system was shelved by program officials under Secretary Jim Nicholson for financial and logistical reasons (my em), V.A. officials said Thursday at a hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
The V.A., which has said it has an alternate tracking system nearly operational, depends on paper files and lacks the ability to download Department of Defense records into its computers.
President Bush has appointed a commission to investigate problems at military and veterans hospitals.
Swell. Bush is too incompetent to throw a beer party in a brewery, and so are all the people he appoints.
For Mr. Curry, the reservist from Chicago who has fallen behind on his mortgage payments, his previous life as a $60,000-a-year postal worker is a fading memory. "It's just disheartening," he said. "You feel like giving up sometimes."
Please don't give up, Mr. Curry. It's exactly what this maladministration wants you to do. Don't let them off the hook that easily. They owe you and hundreds of thousands of Vets just like you. Pay they must, and pay they will, unless we let them get away with their malfeasance.
Last week, Bush himself was asked about the possibility of a Libby pardon were Libby to be convicted, and Bush indicated that he wouldn't answer such a question.
What the White House is going to do is wait and hope that the D.C. Court of Appeals, on which the infamous partisan Federal Judge David Sentelle sits, will save them from the issue of a pardon by overturning Libby's conviction on some technicality.
Sentelle has an interesting history in this area. He was one of the judges who overturned the Iran-Contra felony convictions of Oliver North and John Poindexter on a technicality.
We have written about Sentelle several times. Not only is he a right winger who believes that there is a liberal conspiracy to destroy America, he is the one that appointed Ken Starr as the Clinton Special Prosecutor after Jesse Helms and another Neo-Confederacy senator told him to. Sentelle is a partisan GOP judicial operative, who is there to save Republicans from legal jams that they get into.
He also does the ideological bidding of the White House. In the last two weeks, he has been part of a 2-1 majority on the D.C. Court of Appeals ruling on the side of the White House to suspend Habeas Corpus.
It is important to also remember that Poppy Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger so that he wouldn't "flip" and spill the beans on Daddy Bush in terms of his neck-deep involvement with Iran-Contra.
Pardons by Bushes to save their own necks are in the bloodline.
Bush will pardon Libby if he needs to, because Bush is already implicated in the Valerie Wilson outing - as we know from the Libby trial.
If Libby were to "flip" and spill the beans to Fitzgerald, Bush and Cheney would be forced to resign or face impeachment.
But Bush is going to wait it out and hope that the back bench of activist partisan right wing judges appointed during the Reagan, Bush and Bush administrations will save him the politically costly act of pardoning Libby.
If for some unexpected reason, Judge Sentelle doesn't get the job done – or Nino "the Fixer" Scalia fails if the Libby appeal reaches the Supreme Court – then Scooter knows Bush will do the deed and grant him the ultimate Bush get-out-of-jail card: a pardon.
Because if Libby talks, Bush and Cheney will likely face some hardcore jail time themselves.
Sing like a bird, Scooter!
And just as an aside, I think the real Fixer should sue the shit out of Scalia for impersonating him.
The bigger scandal, however, almost surely involves prosecutors still in office. The Gonzales Eight were fired because they wouldn't go along with the Bush administration's politicization of justice. But statistical evidence suggests that many other prosecutors decided to protect their jobs or further their careers by doing what the administration wanted them to do: harass Democrats while turning a blind eye to Republican malfeasance.
And let's not forget that Karl Rove's candidates have a history of benefiting from conveniently timed federal investigations. Last year Molly Ivins reminded her readers of a curious pattern during Mr. Rove's time in Texas: "In election years, there always seemed to be an F.B.I. investigation of some sitting Democrat either announced or leaked to the press. After the election was over, the allegations often vanished."
Fortunately, Mr. Rove's smear-and-fear tactics fell short last November. I say fortunately, because without Democrats in control of Congress, able to hold hearings and issue subpoenas, the prosecutor purge would probably have become yet another suppressed Bush-era scandal - a huge abuse of power that somehow never became front-page news.
Before the midterm election, I wrote that what the election was really about could be summed up in two words: subpoena power. Well, the Democrats now have that power, and the hearings on the prosecutor purge look like the shape of things to come.
In the months ahead, we'll hear a lot about what's really been going on these past six years. And I predict that we'll learn about abuses of power that would have made Richard Nixon green with envy.
Gee, ya think?
When I read stuff like this, and I do nearly every day, I'm damn glad the Democrats are finally in control, thank you again electorate. They've got the subpœna power that may yet turn these administration abuses into jail sentences.
I wish the process would move faster, but reality dictates it will take the time it takes. As long as it proceeds in the right direction I guess I'm happy.
"In 1965, Belafonte was on the original Selma march with Dr. King. Just before they reached Montgomery, St. Jude's Catholic Church offered its grounds to the thousands of marchers. Belafonte called in artists from around the country. Tony Bennett came, as did Pete Seeger (both were at Harry's birthday party), Sammy Davis Jr., Mike Nichols, the conductor Leonard Bernstein, Odetta and Joan Baez. In the rain, they built their stage in the mud with donated caskets from local mortuaries.
The stakes were incredibly high. People were shot and killed; people were beaten. Viola Liuzzo, a white Detroit homemaker, was fatally shot by Klansmen while driving marchers back to Selma. Weeks before, police shot a man named Jimmie Lee Jackson, who later died. Despite all that, Belafonte says that the stakes are higher today."
More here from Amy Goodman at AlterNet.
Happy Birthday, Harry. We need thousands more like you.
Requiring a politician to state specifically what religious tenets (s)he adheres to could provide oodles of fun. Can you imagine those creatures who have built a career pandering to the bible-thumping literalists trying to explain just why they believe in Jesus the carpenter as their personal savior yet refuse to live and legislate by that man’s teachings? I’m pretty sure the carpenter would disapprove of Mr Giuliani’s multiple marriages and serial adulteries. Ditto for Newt Gingrich, who also has a strange method of divorce negotiation that would probably find disapproval with Jesus. It’s quite likely he’d have something to say about Mr Bu$h’s faith-based government policies, since I think I remember something about rendering unto Caesar as separate from rendering unto G_d. And I’ll bet the Iraq thing would be frowned upon. There’s something about glass houses, stones, and first without sin, to mix citations. [em in orig]
Thursday, March 8, 2007
"There is something profoundly evil about a country encouraging young men
and women to go off and fight its wars and then shortchanging them on medical
care and other forms of assistance when they come back with wounds that will
haunt them forever." --Bob Herbert in today's N. Y. Times (behind the Times Select wall)
Americans are truly outraged about the Walter Reed story, but what message have they taken away this week? As this segment on NPR says this story is capable of completely derailing the Bush administration.
It is very important that the public understand what the Bush administration's role was in this failure of policy. As I wrote earlier, the rightwing machine is already out talking about how this is a big government (Democratic) problem. If they successfully paint this idea in the minds of the American public, they will once more skate responsiblity for their actions and be free to carry on as usual.
Today, one of the biggest stories on Google is how Bush is stepping in to fix the problem with no mention that he owns responsibility for this mess. Here is what the Christian Broadcasting News is reporting.
This story line has the effect of once more smearing "government" instead of emphasizing the difference between a Bush bureaucracy and what is possible when someone who cares about making things work for people rather than only their rich backers is in charge.
Just as Clinton's FEMA worked beautifully, so did the VA medical system. It is under Bush that things got so bad.
Besides starting an unnecessary war which greatly stressed the system, Bush and his ideologically corrupt minons refused to hear about the problems and focused their attention on diverting tax dollars to the rich. Former TPMMuckraker Justin Rood has uncovered the fact that the "complicated system" that exists today could have been made significantly better for a mere $1 Million (via TPMMuckraker).
As Krugman says, the problem we see with the treatment for the wounded soldiers is the same as what we saw with New Orleans. The Bush administration is ideologicially concerned first and foremost for funneling profits to their cronies. Everything else is secondary.
If you don't read any of the other links, read Krugman.
Indeed, according to Rood, Bush continues to place confidence in the very people who refused to change the systems that had been identified as problematic:
Yesterday, President Bush put VA Secretary Nicholson in charge of an interagency task force to determine what can be done to deliver benefits and health care now to thousands of wounded vets who have struggled to receive care.
The announcement came almost exactly two years after Nicholson had received the newly designed system, itself the result of an internal VA task force studying how to make sure wounded soldiers were "seamlessly" transitioned from military service to veteran status with the care and benefits they'd earned.
...Sullivan ... reacted with dismay at yesterday's announcement that Nicholson would be leading the new effort to make sure wounded veterans get the care and benefits they deserve.
"I don't think it's a good idea for the people responsible for the problem to be in charge of fixing it," he told ABC News.
This is the story we need to make sure the public takes away from this scandal. Otherwise, nothing can or will get fixed, despite the announcement of a new bipartisan commission to "fix" things. There must finally be some accountability for the Bush administration and their ideology that places greed over human needs.
The day must come.
Thomas Friedman has been subdued lately. I get the feeling that he's taken some of the criticism of his nutty metaphors (I'm only one of a great many people who've been on him about this) to heart and decided to chill out, which in a way is kind of a shame. He's still an arrogant, wrong-headed prick, but he's no longer a walking literary time bomb like he used to be. I often feel now, like I did on the day Red Auerbach died, that the world has lost one of its leading lights.
What we have to remember about America's half-baked propaganda machine is that, dumb as it is, it always keeps its eye on the ball. The war in Iraq is lost, everyone knows that, but there are future wars to think about. When a war goes wrong, the reason can never that the invasion was simply a bad, immoral decision, a hopelessly fucked-up idea that even a child could have seen through. No, we always have to make sure that the excuse for the next war is woven into the autopsy of the current military failure. That's why to this day we're still hearing about how Vietnam was lost because a) the media abandoned the war effort b) the peace movement undermined the national will and c) the public, and the Pentagon, misread the results of the Tet offensive, seeing defeat where there actually was a victory.
The notion that our problem in Iraq is a resource deficit is pure, unadulterated madness. Our enemies don't have airplanes or armor. They are fighting us with garage-door openers and fifty year-old artillery shells, sneaking around barefoot in the middle of the night around to plant roadside bombs. Anytime anyone dares oppose us in the daylight, we vaporize them practically from space using weapons that cost more than the annual budgets of most Arab countries to design. We outnumber the active combatants on the other side by at least five to one. This year, we will spend more on the military than the rest of the world combined -- more than six hundred billion dollars. And yet Tom Friedman thinks the problem in Iraq is that we ordinary Americans didn't tighten our belts enough to support the war effort.
Friedman should be hung upside down and have holes drilled in his skull for even suggesting this, of course. We're talking about one of the richest men in media, a guy who in recent years got still richer beating the drum for this war from his $9.3 million, 11,400 square-foot mansion in suburban Maryland. He is married to a shopping mall heiress worth nearly $3 billion; the Washingtonian says he is part of one of the 100 richest families in America. And yet he has the balls to turn around and tell us that the pointless, asinine war he cheerleaded for failed because we didn't sacrifice enough for it. Are you reaching for the railroad spike yet?
But trust me, the myth is going to be that you didn't cough up enough for the war. It's your fault we failed, not Tom Friedman's. So put all three of your hands in your pockets and dig out that change you're holding back. We'll need it for his next great idea.
Almost all vets have had pay issues at one time or another. Here's the way this latest one goes: the military takes its own sweet time figuring out they've overpaid a soldier for whatever reason, in most cases it's combat pay they give up when they get the shit blasted out of 'em and have to be evacuated to a hospital outside the combat zone. The military, ever slow to react, just keeps payin' 'em the danger bonus. Then when they finally figure it out, they go into high gear and take it back all at once by taking it out of his pay until it is paid back. Not a logical or compassionate amount like $20 or $50 or $100 a month, all his pay until his account is squared. It's punitive, as if the soldier was somehow scammin' 'em out of something.
This wasn't too big a deal in my day. Most of the guys were single, lived in the barracks, and ate in the chow hall. It was unpleasant to not have any money, but we got by. I made $212.50 a month at my loftiest rank, so it wasn't much money to begin with.
Today, an awful lot of, if not most, servicemen are married with families. They have to pay rent, buy food and clothes, make a car payment, all the usual stuff. It is not just "unpleasant", it's disastrous. They punish the soldier's family for their own bureaucratic turpitude.
The military is trying to fix this, but over 5000 soldiers (that they'll admit to) have been adversely affected aka screwed by DoD's selfishness and uncaring attitude.
Note to DoD Paymaster: it ain't your money, it's ours. Yeah, the soldiers didn't have the money coming and have to pay it back. Fine. It was your mistake, not theirs. Be a little more gentle and caring about how you go about it. Unlike you, these guys are real soldiers who got shot up in combat, not paper cuts behind a desk in Disbursing. Use some goddam common sense in applying the rule book.
There's only one thing worse than sacking an honest prosecutor. That's replacing an honest prosecutor with a criminal.
There was one big hoohah in Washington yesterday as House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers pulled down the pants on George Bush's firing of US Attorneys to expose a scheme to punish prosecutors who wouldn't bend to political pressure.
But the Committee missed a big one: Timothy Griffin, Karl Rove's assistant, the President's pick as US Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Griffin, according to BBC Television, was the hidden hand behind a scheme to wipe out the voting rights of 70,000 citizens prior to the 2004 election.
Key voters on Griffin's hit list: Black soldiers and homeless men and women. Nice guy, eh? Naughty or nice, however, is not the issue. Targeting voters where race is a factor is a felony crime under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Go read the details. Griffin oughta be in jail.
Griffin himself ducked our cameras, but his RNC team tried to sell us the notion that the caging sheets were, in fact, not illegal voter hit lists, but a roster of donors to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. Republican donors at homeless shelters?
Over the past weeks, Griffin has said he would step down if he had to face Congressional confirmation. However, the President appointed Griffin to the law enforcement post using an odd little provision of the USA Patriot Act that could allow Griffin to skip Congressional questioning altogether.
The major reason that this insidious little provision, inserted in the godawful Patriot Act by the White House, went through unchallenged is that the legislators who voted the act into law never read it before they voted on it. They fell all over themselves to get this thing signed into law so as not to appear "unpatriotic". Cheney, Rove, Bush reeled 'em in like a mackerel. The damage has to now be undone virtually line by line as these things come to light.
Note to Congress: If you want to sign for a loan to get your car fixed without reading it, fine, it's your money. When it comes to laws that affect the well-being of the rest of us, read the goddam thing first.
The lies promulgated by Mr. Libby led directly to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, the maiming of thousands more, and the creation of a sectarian civil war in that nation whose effects will be generational in impact.
Any federal conviction for lying and obstruction is nothing to sneeze at, but what we have here is the process story instead of the real deal. The actual crimes committed by Libby and his fellow administration members are broad, deep and fundamentally damaging to this nation, and the truth of these true crimes was not even scratched by this verdict.
Mr. Libby's lies helped get a lot of people killed, helped undermine our ability to defend ourselves against the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and helped midwife a war that cuts us all to the quick with every passing day. If that isn't treason, then treason simply does not exist as an actionable criminal act.
And he may not ever wind up doing any time at all. That is the living definition of "lucky." Anyone who thinks true justice prevailed with these convictions needs to take a deep knee-bend and reconsider the facts. Mr. Libby has been convicted for the smallest crimes he committed, while his fellow conspirators walk today in broad daylight, free as birds.
Libby got off easy. The best that can be said about this whole deal is that maybe, just maybe, a little light might have shined on the real criminals for a minute.
*I know it will take a lot of will power, they are such easy targets, but let's at least try.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
So, really, and, c'mon, why the fuck not just pardon Scooter Libby after yesterday's verdict saying that the once single most important person to the Vice President is a perjuring liar? Sure, sure, Harry Reid can say that the President must not pardon Libby, as can many other Democrats, citing things like an "accountability" moment and that it would be a "serious mistake," but, Christ almighty, in the realm of the mistakes you've already made, Bush administration, what have you got to lose? It's not like anyone would be surprised by it. [my em]
I mean, you wouldn't be surprised by Dick Cheney fucking boneless Iraqi children, would ya?
BOSTON (Reuters) - More than 30 Vermont towns passed resolutions on Tuesday seeking to impeach President Bush, while at least 16 towns in the tiny New England state called on Washington to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.
Good, decent folks up there with strong convictions. Let's hope the Congress listens to them.
But seriously folks, this guy makes a good point.
Here's the thing. If you're the Dems, the last thing in hell you want is for Ann Coulter to stop talking. When you're arguing with a complete moron, the best strategy is to hand him/her a microphone and stand aside. (Actually, this is the basic Miltonian principle behind America's notions of the value of free speech, so I can't take credit for inventing the idea.) If you're a Republican, it's a bit trickier. Ann was fun when you were passing her around at fundraiser afterparties like a bottle of cheap tequila. She deflowered a whole generation of College Republicans in a series of campus whistlestops, and she actually served a purpose when she was out on the circuit "energizing the base." But damn, now the crazy skank done gone and got noticed by the mainstream, and in a flash she went from everybody's party favor to the party's biggest liability.
Right now, America is looking at her like she's the loose cannon love spawn of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Katherine Harris, and every time she opens her mouth in public she costs you votes that recent polling results indicate you can't afford to lose.
Heh. Me'n Fixer have been called, nay, complimented, by TCF for being "loose cannon love spawn" too, but in the good way as the product of Frank Rich and Randi Rhodes.
That's why the GOP disinfo machine is in full rage right now. I mean, let's be honest. Not only is this not the worst thing Coulter has said in the last few years, I'm not sure it even makes her Greatest Hits double CD set. She's so damned nuts that you could stick her in a room full of Iranian holocaust deniers and they'd all start nervously edging toward the door.
Don't miss this one!
You ain't gonna believe this one! From The Pueblo Chieftain. Heck of a name for a newspaper, huh?
Colorado Springs, in response to Fountain Creek pollution lawsuits, admits it "may have" discharged untreated sewage, fecal coli bacteria and other dangerous substances from its sewage system.
The city admits that untreated sewage may cause illnesses, but "denies that a person would always or necessarily suffer imminent and substantial endangerment to their health upon contact with untreated sewage."
The lawsuits allege the city has violated the federal Clean Water Act because its sewage system has for several years repeatedly spilled raw sewage, excessive chlorine and nonpotable water into the creek.
Colorado Springs' filing says it "admits that the releases . . . may have contained untreated sewage, wastewater, nonpotable water, sludge, municipal waste, biological materials, storm water, fecal coli form bacteria and e.coli bacteria."
But it denies it is violating the act "and denies liability . . . as to any alleged past violation" of the act.
They're about one step away from claiming raw sewage is good for you!
I've used the phrase "he's drinking his bath water again" to explain stupid or irrational behavior. In Colorado Springs it appears they actually are.
Note to Ted Haggard and the U.S. Air
Politics TV brings you the final v-log from Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake and Marcy Wheeler (Empty Wheel) of The Next Hurrah.
I'm going to miss them both. They provided invaluable coverage of this trial. At the end, they talk about the impact of bloggers on the trial and credit all of us who blogged from the courthouse.
Also at the end they talk about the firing of the prosecutors and the future of the American judicial system.
Thank you, Jane and Marcy. You did a wonderful job and we're very proud of you. Take the rest of the day off.
[...] It was an ugly atmosphere, designed to make any gay man or woman in the room feel marginalized and despised. To put it simply, either conservatism is happy to be associated with that atmosphere, or it isn't. I think the response so far suggests that the conservative elites don't want to go there, but the base has already been there for a very long time. (That's why this affair is so revealing, because it is showing which elites want to pander to bigots, and which do not.)
Sullivan is starting to see the light.
One reader e-mailed me this week to suggest that if we really want to get to the bottom of this scandal, we should appoint an investigative commission made up of 10 mothers of wounded soldiers instead of the usual suspects who sit on blue-ribbon commissions and find no one responsible for problems.
Simple and brilliant. It'll never happen, because it would actually work.
As Matt Yglesias explains today, privatizing is not some sort of magical ritual that automatically results in goodness and light. Indeed, when it comes to government services it is just a plain old patronage machine that delivers to the favored politicians at the expense of the people:
Indeed, especially during this administration who's privatized half the military. We have mercenaries doing what troops should because we don't have enough troops. We're paying assholes 10 times what the troops were making doing the same jobs. We're making the big guys at Blackwater and DynCorp and others rich beyond their wildest dreams, all friends and contributors to Bush Inc. And who suffers?
The sick and injured GIs, the poor people of NOLA, and all the folks who fall through the cracks because keeping track of them and their needs would cut too far into the profit margin.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Ann Coulter has previously called for the assassination of President Clinton, Half the Supreme Court, and the New York Times editorial staff. Republicans love her. Then she called John Edwards a faggot. at their big meeting. All the Republicans laughed...until it hit the news. Now they are running away from their dear Ann as fast as their little keyboards will carry them. But there's a problem...
Ann Coulter IS the Republican party. Foul mouthed, hateful, bigotted, prejudiced, and willing to say anything and do anything in order to get her way, no matter how cruel.
Coulter has been the Conservative dream girl for years now. But they/she got caught and they will now toss her aside like a used condom.
Buh-buh, Ann! It's been real. Now you get to find out something that all little girls should know before they go down your chosen path. It's the answer to the question no Republicans ever think about until it's too late:
"Where do old prostitutes go when they're done?"
They go a block south of Hollywood Blvd. and sell it a lot cheaper 'cuz it stinks too much. Just a personal observation.
Perhaps now America will see Conservatism and its embodiment in the Republican party as the festering disease it really is now that the oozing sore which is the likes of Ann Coulter, Limbaugh, Dobson, O'Reilly, and countles others...Now that the oozing sore of Conservative punditry has broken through their skin of respectability, revealing conservatism for the lie it really is.
Nice idea, but too many people will have to admit too much about themselves, that they've been too wrong for too long. A bitter pill, but time to take it.
William Anderson, who made history in 1958 when he commanded the atomic submarine Nautilus under the polar ice cap to the North Pole and later served four terms as a U.S. congressman from Tennessee, has died. He was 85.
The Nautilus submerged under the Arctic ice pack off Point Barrow, Alaska, on Aug. 1. It crossed the North Pole at 11:15 p.m., Aug. 3, and ended its 1,830-mile journey under the polar ice pack when it emerged in the Greenland Sea on Aug. 5.
"Nautilus 90 North," Anderson's 1959 account of the submarine's historic voyage, which he wrote with Clay Blair Jr., became a bestseller.
I got that book as a present for my 14th birthday. I still have it.
As an aside, Nautilus developed a reactor coolant leak near Seattle. The crew scoured auto parts stores and rounded up every can of Bar's Leaks in the city, poured it in, and went under the ice. That took balls. Or normal sailor brains. They made history.
So long, Cap'n.
President Bush spoke to the American Legion today, claiming that "support of our veterans has been a high priority in my administration," and that one of his priorities is "making sure that our veterans have got good, decent, quality healthcare."
Lyin' sack o' shit. I'm not alone:
President Bush should save his rhetoric. In an interview with National Public Radio, even American Legion National Commander Paul Morin, a regular political ally of the White House, pointed out that Bush has consistently skimped on veterans funding. "We are not pleased with the budget for the military and for the VA hospitals for our veterans," Morin said. "I blame the President and Congress for insufficient funding of the VA health care system."
A look at the facts back up Morin's claims about Bush's short-changing of veterans:
Bush plans to cut veterans health care after 2008. "The Bush administration plans to cut funding for veterans' health care two years from now - even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system. ...Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly - by more than 10 percent in many years - White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter."
Bush raises health care costs for veterans. For the fifth year in a row, Bush's budget has attempted to raise health care costs on 1.3 million veterans, calling for "new enrollment fees and higher drug co-payments for some veterans."
Bush administration has claimed veterans benefits are "hurtful" to national security. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal noted the growing cost of veterans benefits due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon's response was to complain that it would "rather use [the funds] to help troops fighting today." "The amounts have gotten to the point where they are hurtful. They are taking away from the nation's ability to defend itself," says David Chu, the Pentagon's undersecretary for personnel and readiness.
I'm glad the Big Wheel of the AL has said this, but I'm not renewing my membership until they renounce Bush's criminal war.
Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has been found guilty on four of five counts in his perjury and obstruction of justice trial.
It's a good start on cleaning out the White House. One down, at least three to go.
Libby, 56, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, "He is virtually certain to go to prison if this conviction is upheld."
I'll believe it when I see it. Look for a Bush pardon about one minute prior to a real President's inauguration in 1/08.
UPDATE IV: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calls on President Bush to pledge not to pardon Libby:
I welcome the jury's verdict. It's about time someone in the Bush Administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics. Lewis Libby has been convicted of perjury, but his trial revealed deeper truths about Vice President Cheney's role in this sordid affair. Now President Bush must pledge not to pardon Libby for his criminal conduct.
I got a dollar says Bush won't pledge anything of the kind, and even if he does, he'll go back on it.
... While there has been lots of discussion about these two Democratic presidential candidates [Clinton, Obama] being in attendance there [Selma, AL], where were the Republican presidential candidates? ...
Yeah, what she said.
"Three major companies have requested their ads be pulled from AnnCoulter.com"
Several Republican presidential candidates quickly distanced themselves. As the New York Times reported, Rudy Giuliani called the remarks "completely inappropriate," a spokesman for John McCain said they were "wildly inappropriate," and an aide to Mitt Romney called the comments "offensive."
Conservative bloggers joined the fray. "Yeah, that's just what CPAC needs -- an association with homophobia. Nice work, Ann," wrote Ed Morrissey of the Captain's Quarters blog. And Michelle Malkin said Coulter had committed "the equivalent of a rhetorical fragging -- an intentionally tossed verbal grenade that exploded in her own fellow ideological soldiers' tent," and that children should not be "exposed to that garbage."
From KXMA, Dickinson, N.D.:
"Conservatism treats humans as they are, as moral creatures possessing rational minds and capable of discerning right from wrong. There comes a time when we must speak out in the defense of the conservative movement, and make a stand for political civility. This is one of those times."
From Ann herself, via DallasNews.com
Coulter, asked for a reaction to the Republican criticism, said in an e-mail message: "C'mon, it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards. That would be mean."
The woman is beyond disgusting. Maybe the progressive community should simply boycott her. Not react at all. Seems to me that would nullify a good bit of what she is after.
Still waiting for Bill Donohue's statement of outrage. . .R.
Monday, March 5, 2007
LIEBERMAN: "Your questions about General Kiley are very good questions, and I'm going to ask him. Because this, after all, is the guy that was in charge for a couple years."
IMUS: "Well, he's a lying skunk. He ought to be forced to resign today, Senator."
LIEBERMAN: "Of course, I don't have that exact authority."(LAUGHTER)
"But I will tell you that - I'm on the Armed Services Committee. The Armed Services Committee oversees the medical hospitals. And a group of us on the committee are going out there this afternoon. And I am going to ask some of the tough questions that you and a lot of others…"
IMUS: "See if they'll let you, Senator Joe Lieberman, walk around without being escorted by four or five of these generals who've known about this for years."
Yeah, those careerist bastards will make sure you get the spin the Army wants you to have:
"But, Senator, they're just little rats...and penicillin comes from mold...and these guys are such good soldiers they'd much rather be here than at home..."
There's so much shit hittin' the fan over this that I'm covered in plastic like at a Gallagher show. Good. It goes a Hell of a lot deeper than Bldg. 18.
Expanding on Fixer's post, I can't resist posting TRex's comment:
It's time for our side to claim some fucking scalps, and I can't think of a single nasty-ass bleach job I'd rather have hanging on my wall than hers.
Ya think she bleaches that too?
From Raw Story:
But two days afterwards, Democrats were bashing Coulter for hate speech and Republicans, including leading candidates who attending the same conference, rejected her language.
"It would be better, in my opinion, to not have a CPAC at all than to have one that presents conservatism as a hostile, people-hating ideology," said Amy Ridenour, whose National Center for Public Policy Research was one of the paying sponsors for CPAC.
"We conservatives have enough trouble overcoming the false things that are said about us without paying for a platform upon which we shoot ourselves annually in the foot," she wrote on her weblog Sunday.
Shit, you conservatives have enough trouble overcoming the true things that are said about you!
Military Targets Younger Recruits
Easier to train, generally less trouble.
Fall Fashions Unveiled
Women get peek at what they'll be wearing in October.
Wow! Nice domes!
Iraq: Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds Agree to Split Oil Evenly
Between Chevron, Exxon and BP
Pentagon Announces Plans to Make New H-Bombs
They're needed, says spokesman, to replace ones that are missing.
Yet even now it's not clear whether the public will be told the full story, which is that the horrors of Walter Reed's outpatient unit are no aberration*. For all its cries of "support the troops," the Bush administration has treated veterans' medical care the same way it treats everything else: nickel-and-diming the needy, protecting the incompetent and privatizing everything it can.
But as with FEMA, the Bush administration has done all it can to undermine that achievement. And the Walter Reed scandal is another Hurricane Katrina: the moment when the administration's misgovernment became obvious to everyone.
We know from Hurricane Katrina postmortems that one of the factors degrading FEMA's effectiveness was the Bush administration's relentless push to outsource and privatize disaster management, which demoralized government employees and drove away many of the agency's most experienced professionals. It appears that the same thing has been happening to veterans' care.
The redoubtable Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, points out that IAP Worldwide Services, a company run by two former Halliburton executives, received a large contract to run Walter Reed under suspicious circumstances: the Army reversed the results of an audit concluding that government employees could do the job more cheaply.
What comes next? Francis J. Harvey, who as far as I can tell was the first defense contractor appointed secretary of the Army, has been forced out. But the parallels between what happened at Walter Reed and what happened to New Orleans - not to mention parallels with the mother of all scandals, the failed reconstruction of Iraq - tell us that the roots of the scandal run far deeper than the actions of a few bad men.
I think the "roots of the scandal" will be traced to a morally bankrupt Repuglican ruling class. This Vets' care mess has been known about for years, but has only come to light to the point of something being done about it under Democrats. Get 'em, Hank.
No kidding. Go see WaPo:
'It Is Just Not Walter Reed'
Oliva is but one quaking voice in a vast outpouring of accounts filled with emotion and anger about the mistreatment of wounded outpatients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Stories of neglect and substandard care have flooded in from soldiers, their family members, veterans, doctors and nurses working inside the system. They describe depressing living conditions for outpatients at other military bases around the country, from Fort Lewis in Washington state to Fort Dix in New Jersey. They tell stories -- their own versions, not verified -- of callous responses to combat stress and a system ill equipped to handle another generation of psychologically scarred vets.
Hundreds of soldiers contacted The Washington Post through telephone calls and e-mails, many of them describing their bleak existence in Medhold.
From Fort Campbell in Kentucky: "There were yellow signs on the door stating our barracks had asbestos."
From Fort Bragg in North Carolina: "They are on my [expletive] like a diaper. . . . there are people getting chewed up everyday."
From Fort Dix in New Jersey: "Scare tactics are used against soldiers who will write sworn statement to assist fellow soldiers for their medical needs."
From Fort Irwin in California: "Most of us have had to sign waivers where we understand that the housing we were in failed to meet minimal government standards."
If you think you've got "outrage overload" now, wait 'til you read the whole piece. Your eyes will flash red and steam will come out your ears. Make sure your safety valves aren't tied down or your head's likely to explode.
I'm glad this is all coming out now, but four years is too goddam long.
But I really feel like we owe her a big thank-you. With one ill-considered fag joke, she has completely obviated the need for any further debate about the "Lack of Civility on the Left". The next time someone on either side gets all up in your grille for being a bomb-throwing liberal with no manners, just point at that bleach-blonde pile of sticks in the crusty black cocktail dress and say, "When she turns civil, I will. Until then, the goddamn gloves are off. You got a problem with the level of discourse, take it up with her. Now go away, kid, you're fuckin' bothering me."
Just pointing out the hypocrisy. I've done my share of explaining my language, and that of the staff, here. When I'm pissed, I swear. There's a difference between being angry at the system and using derogatory language to put down one group or the other. A difference the racist, hate-filled conservatives don't, or refuse to, get.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
From a high school auditorium near the birthplace of Elvis, Toyota was greeted like a hometown hero this week when it announced its eighth vehicle assembly plant in North America.
Students cheered as the automaker showed off a Highlander sport utility vehicle that will be built starting in 2010 at the $1.3 billion plant near Tupelo, Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour called Toyota Motor Corp. the "world's premiere auto manufacturer," and Sen. Trent Lott, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, promised "when you are in our constituency, we are warriors on your behalf."
Toyota could surpass General Motors Corp. as the world's No. 1 automaker next year, but the company has downplayed the significance, saying it's more concerned with its customers, maintaining quality and rolling out a lineup that includes the new Tundra full-sized pickup - built in San Antonio, Texas.
In U.S. sales released Thursday, the company had its best February ever, posting sales increases of more than 12 percent. Sales of its Prius hybrid grew 86.8 percent while Camry and Corolla sales showed hefty increases.
No, I didn't post this here at the Brain by mistake instead of at Fixer & Gordon. This story is as political as it gets.
Privately, Toyota officials acknowledge the potential pitfalls of growing rapidly in the U.S. during a period of job cuts and plant closings for GM, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group.
But some members of Congress and advocacy groups question if Toyota is unfairly benefiting at the expense of U.S. automakers, who face large health care and retiree costs that they say are exacerbated by Japan's currency practices. The weak yen puts domestics at a price disadvantage of several thousand dollars per vehicle, they argue.
Members of Congress who support domestic automakers concede they face major hurdles. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., noted that "you can't swing a dead cat in the parking lot (on Capitol Hill) without hitting a Toyota or Honda or a Mitsubishi. I don't believe it's a political problem."
The Camry, after all, remains the nation's top-selling passenger car. Rogers, who grew up in the rural outskirts of Detroit, said he remembered the days when "you did not consider buying a foreign car. Now I think the attitude of America has changed."
I think that 'attitude' started 'changing' in about 1970, but it takes Congress and the auto companies a little while to realize the bad smell is from the mackerel they're being slapped in the face with. Besides, I live in Californiastan. We're just a buncha Jap-shit-drivin' commies anyway.
There wouldn't be a problem at all if 'Detroit' could produce vehicles of the same quality as Toyota et al at a comparable price. They fell behind in this and it's bitin' 'em in the ass. They actually have some pretty good models, many inspired by foreign partners, but they've relied too heavily on gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups: make what sells, don't plan ahead.
There is precedent: The exact same thing happened to the British and American motorcycle industries in the late 1960s when the head-in-the-sand attitude maintained that the Japanese couldn't produce good motorcycles. It was true at first - they made up for really pretty bad designs with very attractive prices, but look at them now: excellent machines, many assembled in the U.S., at reasonable prices.
Granted, the U.S. auto companies offered good benefits to their now aging workforce, and that has driven their health care costs up to the range of $1500 per vehicle. The 'Bigs' are now basically health care providers who manufacture autos to pay for it. Foresight past the quarterly earnings reports could maybe have helped.
See also this LATimes article:
Japanese automakers once again claim all the No. 1 spots in Consumer Reports' annual survey.
When it rains, it pours...
"Switzerland's army marched into neighboring Liechtenstein this week. But easy-going Liechtenstein seemed to take it in stride.
"It has happened before," Liechtenstein government spokeswoman Gerlinde Manz-Christ told ABC News. "Nobody really realized it."
more at ABC News
Some critics have condemned the magnets as a cheap and superficial way to honour the armed forces and highlighted the irony of placing them on gas-guzzling vehicles that deepen the US's dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
You can buy a yellow 'support the troops' magnet for a penny and they have over a million in surplus. Good, people are waking up.