Saturday, November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer 1923-2007

Another one of the good guys has left us. He wasn't perfect, but then, who is? Please read this obit.

Many Vet charities are a ripoff

The Blotter (ABC News)

In the last two years, generous Americans answering appeals to help wounded and paralyzed veterans have given more than $464 million to charities that have been given an F in a new report card from a leading charity watchdog group.

Of the 27 military and veterans' charities reviewed by Borochoff's group, 13 were rated F, including the Amvets National Service Foundation, the Army Emergency Relief Fund, Freedom Alliance, the National Veterans Services Fund, the Military Order of the Purple Heart Services Foundation and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

But it has meant six-figure salaries and prosperous lifestyles for some of the people running the F-rated charities.

As the founder of a charity called Help Hospitalized Veterans, which distributes craft kits to veterans' hospitals, Roger Chapin of San Diego pays himself and his wife more than half a million dollars a year in salary.

But according to their analysis, the American Institute of Philanthropy says of the $70 million Help Hospitalized Veterans took in last year, only 31 percent went to the actual charitable cause. The rest was mainly overhead and fundraising costs, meaning a grade of F.

I have benefitted from craft kits. When I was at the VA Dom, I musta put together a hundred of them. I got into the leather kits - moccasins, wallets, checkbook covers, and so on and so on. They were a wonderful way to pass the time and everybody did some kind of craft kit. There were all kinds of them. The hospital had a room stacked floor to ceiling with them.

I got an appeal from that outfit, and knowing what craft kits mean to hospitalized Vets, I sent in the suggested donation, about twenty bucks, and was glad to do it. In many of the kits I did, there was a prepaid postcard with the donor's name and address which you were supposed to send back by way of thanks, which I did. Not all the kits had them.

What made me a little suspicious of this 'charity' was that I got one of those cards back almost immediately, like someone in their office sent it. After reading the above article, I think that was probably the case. Instant gratification so you'll feel like sending more. The VA has so many kits on hand, at least where I was, that it should have taken months, if not years, for that kit to filter down through the system.

I now get fancier and bulkier appeals from HHV. They seem to have a pretty good budget to try to mine my wallet. I haven't sent them any more money and the hole in my lip has healed up.

I think craft kits for hospitalized Vets is a good idea from my own experience, but there must be a better way to get the kits to them than by lining the pockets of some CEO.

A footnote:

Iraq War veteran Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told ABC News veterans deserve more.

"Veterans are not a place to make a buck. Veterans have served our country and have put their butts on the line, and they need these organizations to care for them when they come home," he said. "So if you're not serious about being in the business of helping veterans, go find something else to do."

And Rieckhoff encouraged all donors "to give but to think long and hard about it, and do a little research and find out who you're giving to so that you know your money's being used appropriately."

Hear, hear.

Kucinich writes to Conyers

After Downing Street

November 9, 2007
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Conyers

I am writing in support of H. Res. 799, the Articles of Impeachment which were referred to the committee relative to the Impeachment of the Vice President of the United States of America.

Recent reports indicate that the Vice President is attempting to shape the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran (my link - G) to conform to his misperceptions about the threat Iran actually poses. Much like his deceptive efforts in the lead up to the Iraq war, the Vice President appears to be manipulating intelligence to conform to his beliefs.

If the reports are true, they add additional weight to the case for impeachment. I believe impeachment remains the only tool Congress has to prevent a war in Iran. This information relates directly to the Article III charges in the resolution. I urge your timely consideration.

Sincerely,

/s/

Dennis J. Kucinich

Member of Congress

Yeah, what Denny said. Get hoppin', John.

Happy Birthday, Mom



Today is the 232d Birthday of the Marine Corps. Usually I write something, but this year I'm lazy, so here's a history of Marine Corps Birthday from Heritage Press International:

[Marine Corps Birthday: (excerpt from Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001 Marion F. Sturkey)

All U.S. Marines are gung-ho. But, few can match the vision and total commitment of the famous 13th Commandant, Gen. John A. Lejeune. In 1921 he issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921.

Gen. Lejeune's order summarized the history, mission, and tradition of the Corps. It further directed that the order be read to all Marines on 10 November of each year to honor the founding of the Marine Corps. Thereafter, 10 November became a unique day for U.S. Marines throughout the world.

Soon, some Marine commands began to not only honor the birthday, but celebrate it. In 1923 the Marine Barracks at Ft. Mifflin, Pennsylvania, staged a formal dance. The Marines at the Washington Navy Yard arranged a mock battle on the parade ground. At Quantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Marine baseball team played a Cuban team and won, 9 to 8.

The first "formal" Birthday Ball took place on Philadelphia in 1925. First class Marine Corps style, all the way! Guests included the Commandant, the Secretary of War (in 1925 the term "politically correct" didn't exist; it was Secretary of War, not Secretary of Defense), and a host of statesmen and elected officials. Prior to the Ball, Gen. Lejeune unveiled a memorial plaque at Tun Tavern. Then the entourage headed for the Benjamin Franklin Hotel and an evening of festivities and frolicking.

Over the years the annual Birthday Ball grew and grew, taking on a life of its own. In 1952 the Commandant, Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., formalized the cake-cutting ceremony and other traditional observances. For example, Marine Corps policy now mandates that the first piece of cake must be presented to the oldest U.S. Marine present. The second piece goes to the youngest Marine. Among the many such mandates is a solemn reading of the Commandant's birthday message to the Corps.

Like the U.S. Marine Corps itself, the annual Birthday Ball has evolved from simple origins to the polished and professional functions of today. Nonetheless, one thing remains constant, the tenth day of November! This unique holiday for warriors is a day of camaraderie, a day to honor Corps and Country. Throughout the world on 10 November, U.S. Marines celebrate the birth of their Corps -- the most loyal, most feared, most revered, and most professional fighting force the world has ever known.]

That last line was written by a true Marine, you can just tell!

Here's the Commandant's Birthday Message to the Corps:

[Since the birth of our Nation, our liberty has been purchased by valiant men and women of deep conviction, great courage, and bold action; the cost has often been in blood and tremendous sacrifice. As America's sentinels of freedom, United States Marines are counted among the finest legions in the chronicles of war. Since 1775, Marines have marched boldly to the sounds of the guns and have fought fiercely and honorably to defeat the scourge of tyranny and terror. We are Marines — that is what we do.

In the words of President John F. Kennedy: "In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger." Magnificent heroes fought in the wheat fields of Belleau Wood, in the snows of the Chosin, and on the streets of Hue City. Your generation bears this obligation now, and it is borne on mighty and capable shoulders. Just like the Marines at Belleau Wood — we are once again engaged in sustained operations ashore. Just like at Belleau Wood — the Marines have been given the toughest sector and have prevailed over a resilient and determined enemy — who has made us pay for our gains. Once again, as in any struggle, the road ahead is far from certain, but as Marines, we are not dissuaded by the challenges of war or the tough conditions of a warrior's life. Indeed, we don't just accept our destiny — we shape it.

On our 232nd birthday, to every Marine — those still in uniform and those who have served honorably in the past — be proud of who you are and what you do. Know that your citizenship dues have been paid in full; you are part of this Nation's elite warrior class. Cherish our families who offer marvelous support, abiding resolve, and steadfast patience. Remember those who have served and those who have fallen — their names are chiseled on the roll call of America's heroes. Those who have carried the battle colors of our Corps have forged our heritage, and today's generation of leathernecks chart our future. Carry the colors with pride; carry them with honor.

Happy birthday, Marines!]

You are invited to read my previous Birthday posts here, here, and here. Enjoy.

Semper Fidelis is the Corps motto. It means roughly "Keep the Faith, Baby". Good advice for us all during this period when America has been hijacked by the forces of darkness. It will pass.

Wolcott!

Via the lovely Avedon, a short but complete description:

... Anyone who advocates, supports, defends, rationalizes, or excuses torture has pus for brains and a case of scurvy for a conscience ...

Saturday whorage

As with every other Saturday, the next chapter of my novel Thirty Days at Zeta is up at The Practical Press.

Let us know what you're talking about in comments.

Friday, November 9, 2007

God May Forgive You

I'd like to dedicate this Iris Dement tune to George W. Bush.

I'll get the fat bastid this year ...

With the Stinger missile I bought myself on eBay. Watch out, Santa, the War on Christmas has begun.

Suddenly, Impeachment Hearings are Starting to Look Likely

Dave Lindorff with some good news for a change:

You wouldn't know it if you just watch TV news or read the corporate press, but this past Tuesday, something remarkable happened. Despite the pig-headed opposition of the Democratic Party's top congressional leadership, a majority of the House, including three Republicans, voted to send Dennis Kucinich's long sidelined Cheney impeachment bill (H Res 333) to the Judiciary Committee for hearings.

Stephen Cohen (D-TN), a member of the Judiciary Committee who is a co-sponsor of the Kucinich resolution, says he thinks that there will be an impeachment hearing in the committee.

The Democratic strategy for the 2008 election has been to do nothing overly confrontational, to pass no significant legislation, to collect lots of money from corporate interests, and to hope the Republican Party, saddled with an unpopular administration and an unpopular war, will implode.

The strategy, however, is proving to be a disaster, as public support for the Democratic do-nothing Congress has fallen even below the president's record low numbers. Just running against Republicans, Bush/Cheney, and the continuing war risks seeing Democrats go down to defeat in '08.

It is awareness of this looming electoral disaster that underlies the growing restiveness among rank-and-file Democrats in the House, all of whom have to face the voters in less than a year's time.

As recently as a month ago, it didn't look like impeachment was in the cards; Now it's starting to look like Cheney's going to be put in the dock.

It may not be long before we start to see bills of impeachment filed against President Bush too.

The corporate media enjoy making fun of Rep. Kucinich, a height-challenged but dedicated progressive who has made a career of standing tall for his views. If his bill ends up leading to impeachment hearings against Cheney, Kucinich will end up having the last laugh.

I think that's a metaphor. This is no laughing matter. I have no idea where this will lead, and I had no idea it would ever get even this far, not in my wildest dreams, but I'm sure glad it seems to be going forward.

Bush ♣ Liberty

I dictate that you click it


MoDo channels Bush in a Second Inaugural do-over speech in the wake of what's goin' on in Pakistan:

We are led, by recent events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the repression of liberty in other lands

Sometimes when the soul of a nation speaks, we must listen. But if that soul is housed in a bunch of trial lawyers wearing identical dark suits and calling my man Mushy a “dog,” I say, bring on the batons. Police tear-gassing lawyers is really just a foreign version of tort reform, which I support.

I don’t blame Mushy for dissolving that disloyal Supreme Court. When I needed to subvert the democratic process during the 2000 recount, my Supreme Court was totally supportive.

From now on, it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of tyrannical movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending democracy in our world so liberty can thrive.

Condi was very worried about Mushy suspending the Constitution, but Vice says Constitutions are for sissies. He doesn’t see anything wrong with Mushy’s press blackout. He thinks we can learn a few lessons from him.

Vice says if we had someone decisive like Mushy in Iraq instead of those floppy Iranian puppets we put in power, we’d be a lot better off.

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will ignore your oppression and excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will not stand with you.

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to mistrust them. Stop your journey of progress and justice, and America will not only walk at your side, we’ll give you billions of dollars and lots of big-ticket stuff, like F-16s — no strings attached. And we’ll take you at your word that you have no intention of using them against India.

In the long run, there is justice without freedom, and there can be human rights once the human rights activists have been thrown in the pokey.

Three years ago, I believed that the most important question history would ask us was: Did our generation advance the cause of freedom?

But now I am older and wiser. I know that the most important question history will ask us is: What’s a little martial law between friends?

I must now go and contemplate the life-size cardboard cutout of Ms. Dowd that I have stapled to my bathroom door...

Robertson ♥ Giuliani

The Rude One. I love that guy! But wait, I'm not,,,

Let's say, and why not, that you're a Rudy Giuliani supporter. There are certain delusions you have to subscribe to. You have to behave as if you are a hardcore PCP addict, snortin' and shootin' up that dust like it's camel piss and you're dyin' in the desert. Because you're so constantly fucked up, for you time stopped on September 11, 2001, and all around you are phantoms with beards and guns, evil dictators fellating nuke missiles that are Allah's strap-ons, and voices, oh, those fuckin' voices, in your head, saying, "Wreck shit, wreck it all." So, yeah, sure, you support Giuliani, who shares your hallucinations, who speaks in the same language, the demi-coherent grunts of the bloodthirsty addict, ready to lash out and take out everything to keep the phantoms distant, to keep the voices sated. And Israel, of course, making sure that Israel is safe because...well, you forgot why a long time ago - such is the fate of the heavy user - but you're sure someone you trust told you it was worth starting a regional, if not global, conflagration over.

Now let's say you are a Pat Robertson-supporting evangelical. You've lived your life according to what some rich guy on TV and in your local pulpit has told you the Bible means. You've repressed a good four-fifths of your sexual desires because you wanna make sure the correct orifices are in use. You've been told, at various times, that the greatest threats to America and you and your family are homosexuals, abortion providers, divorce, feminists, and more. And, even though it's made you completely nutzoid to agree to hate so much while Robertson smiles and tells you how God loves us all, you nod your head when Robertson says shit like, "Many of those people involved with Adolph Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals--the two things seem to go together" and "From a biblical standpoint, the rise of homosexuality is a sign that a society is in the last stages of decay." Hell, you've even given Robertson money from one of your two jobs to make sure that gays don't marry because you don't want a pissed-off Jesus asking you what the fuck you did to make sure the homos stayed single and closeted. Nobody wants that.

And, sure, fine, you agree with Robertson that Israel is important because of the rapture. And, sure, Islamofascists or whatever are a threat, but that's new. It's not in your DNA yet. No, all this time, you were a culture warrior, man, and you're all geared up and ready for a battle in '08 against that harridan Hillary.

It's time to precipitate an existential crisis among both groups. For, truly, by letting himself get teabagged by Robertson's saggy sack, Giuliani may secure the nomination, but he's lost the general election. Christ, back on February 28, 2000, on Larry King Live, Giuliani called Robertson one of the "extremists of the right."

And Robertson's support can be pushed away. Make both groups float, lost in the purgatory of political reality, forced to decide what's more important, their souls or the power. Sweet temptations. One might need to, oh, hell, pray to resolve this one.

Why the fuck not. It's the kind of savage self-compromise Democratic supporters have had to make for years.

Damn, he's good!

Update:

Andy Borowitz

Rev. Robertson said that he was “confident” that within weeks of his inauguration, Mr. Giuliani would usher in the “end days” that are a staple of Bible prophecy.

In praising Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Robertson had critical words for the current resident of the White House, President George W. Bush: “President Bush got us on the road to Armageddon, but it’s taking too darn long -- Rudy Giuliani will put us in the express lane.”

While the Giuliani camp initially welcomed the endorsement of the influential evangelist, the former New York mayor seemed less enthusiastic today about being identified as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

When asked by a reporter in Iowa about Mr. Robertson’s comments today, Mr. Giuliani replied, “9/11.”

Looks like JulieAnnie's skipping the noun and the verb and cuttin' to the chase. The soul of brevity.

Rage of Reason

Eugene Robinson

It's official: Bush Derangement Syndrome is now a full-blown epidemic. George W. Bush apparently has reduced more of his fellow citizens to frustrated, sputtering rage than any president since opinion polling began, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon.

Yes, I was angry with Nixon, but comparing how I felt about him to the way I feel about Bush is like comparing a water pistol to a fire hose.

That should be a pretty good indicator of where Bush will rank when historians get their hands on his shameful record -- in the cellar, alongside the only president who ever had to resign in disgrace.

Better yet, since there won't be many books in his presidential library, there'll be plenty of room for a diorama of Bush leaving office, using the original rail he was ridden out of town on, along with the actual tar and feathers he was wearing at the time.

It's considered racist, and rightly so, to display nooses, but I hope they can figure out a way to display the one that brings his insanity to an end.

The Enemy Within: Finding American Backs to Stab

A Tomgram on who's really to blame for the loss of Bush's War. Here's a hint: According to them what did it, twarn't them. An excellent 'must read'.

You know there's trouble ahead when Iraq, in its present state, is the good news story for Bush administration policy. [...]

Strangely, from Ethiopia to Pakistan, despite all the signs, all the predictions, the Bush administration, as far as we can tell, expected none of the above. How often can it be caught off guard by the consequences of its own decisions and actions? Eternally, it seems.

The world's finest military launches a highly coordinated shock-and-awe attack that shows enormous initial progress. There's talk of the victorious troops being home for Christmas. But the war unexpectedly drags on. As fighting persists into a third, and then a fourth year, voices are heard calling for negotiations, even "peace without victory." Dismissing such peaceniks and critics as defeatists, a conservative and expansionist regime -- led by a figurehead who often resorts to simplistic slogans and his Machiavellian sidekick who is considered the brains behind the throne -- calls for one last surge to victory. Unbeknownst to the people on the home front, however, this duo has already prepared a seductive and self-exculpatory myth in case the surge fails.

The United States in 2007? No, Wilhelmine Germany in 1917 and 1918, as its military dictators, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and his loyal second, General Erich Ludendorff, pushed Germany toward defeat and revolution in a relentless pursuit of victory in World War I. Having failed with their surge strategy on the Western Front in 1918, they nevertheless succeeded in deploying a stab-in-the-back myth, or Dolchsto├člegende, that shifted blame for defeat from themselves and Rightist politicians to Social Democrats and others allegedly responsible for losing the war by their failure to support the troops at home.

Wow. Déjà vu all over again!

Then again, perhaps that's not quite the case, even now. In The Empire Strikes Back, young Luke Skywalker asks Yoda, his wizened Jedi Master, whether the dark side of the Force is stronger than the good. No, Yoda replies, just "easier, quicker, more seductive" -- an accurate description of the dark power of the stab-in-the-back myth. Politicians sense its future power and alter their positions accordingly. For example, no leading presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, dares to be labeled "defeatist" by calling for a major withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2008. Exceptions like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, or even Bill Richardson only prove the rule -- with support in the low single-digits, they risk little in bucking the odds.

Back in 2002-2003, with an all-volunteer military, a new Blitzkrieg strategy, and believing God to be on their side, it appears Bush and Company initially assumed that broader calls for support and sacrifice were militarily unnecessary -- and unnecessarily perilous politically. Now, despite dramatic setbacks over the last four years, they still refuse to mobilize our national will. Their refusal reminds me of the tagline of those old Miller Lite beer commercials: Everything you always wanted in a war, and less -- as in less (or even no) sacrifices.

If no one is held accountable for failed policies, if, in fact, those closest to the failures are showered with honors -- as was, for instance, L. Paul Bremer III, who headed the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad for the President from May 2003 to June 2004 -- it becomes easier to shift blame to anyone (or everyone). Here, German precedents are again compelling. Because the German people were never told they were losing World War I, even as their Army was collapsing in July and August 1918, they were unprepared for the psychological blow of defeat -- and so, all-too-willing to accept the lie that the collapse was due to the enemy within.

Only time will tell. But consider yourself warned. If we lose Iraq, you're to blame.

Yeah, I know. Please pardon the fuck outta us for not being sufficiently in support of imperialstic wet dreams, insane ideologies, and incompetent sociopaths. It's all our fault.

*Shitless, shitless ...

Scared shitless. Warning! Al Qaeda is lurking in the mall, waiting to blow you up.

Listen to me. Al Qaeda doesn't have to do anything else. They've won. Consider the scorecard since 9/11:

1. The U.S. military is bogged down in wars there seems no escape from, though we're throwing trillions into the Sandbox.

2. Oil prices are through the roof (just paid $3.30/gal for regular gas in Mrs. F's car an hour ago), and the Afghani at the station is quite certain we'll hit $4.00/gal by Christmas.

3. The dollar is approaching worthlessness (the Canadian dollar is now worth more).

4. The 'American brand' is hopelessly tarnished around the world, most likely never to regain its former luster in my lifetime.

5. The American political apparatus has been stymied into a virtual stalemate.

6. The only thing the government can do is scare you over the 'terrorists' lurking under every rock, but even that isn't working anymore. They've cried wolf for so long, nobody even gives a shit.

On 12 September 2001, Osama bin Laden would have been fully justified declaring 'Mission Accomplished'. There's no need for him to do anything else here aside from an operation a few months before Election Day next year, just to assure The Party of Al Qaeda the Republicans win the Presidency for another 4 years. Hey, Osama knows he would never have been so successful were it not for the Chimp, Cheney, and their neocon morons minions. Why mess with success, right?


*Apologies to CSN&Y.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

They write themselves ...

Maru:

Bonus: the U.S. Commander-in-Chief tells Musharraf: "You can't be the president and the head of the miltary at the same time."


Blink.

Blink.

I'll take that in Euros, please...

7 Countries Considering Abandoning the US Dollar (and what it means)


It’s no secret that the dollar is on a downward spiral. Its value is dropping, and the Fed isn’t doing a whole lot to change that. As a result, a number of countries are considering a shift away from the dollar to preserve their assets. These are seven of the countries currently considering a move from the dollar, and how they’ll have an effect on its value and the US economy.

I'll bet you can name them without looking.

What does this all mean?

Countries are growing weary of losing money on the falling dollar. Many of them want to protect their financial interests, and a number of them want to end the US oversight that comes with using the dollar. Although it’s not clear how many of these countries will actually follow through on an abandonment of the dollar, it is clear that its status as a world currency is in trouble.

Obviously, an abandonment of the dollar is bad news for the currency. Simply put, as demand lessens, its value drops. Additionally, the revenue generated from the use of the dollar will be sorely missed if it’s lost. The dollar’s status as a cheaply-produced US export is a vital part of our economy. Losing this status could rock the financial lives of both Americans and the worldwide economy.

Georgie's daddy gave him our country to play with and he broke it bad. Get the pieces of it away from that brat before he eats them. I don't want the United States to end up as chimp shit.

Senate overrides Bush's water bill veto

CNN

The Senate on Thursday handed President Bush his first veto override -- authorizing $23 billion in new water projects.

Supporters said the projects authorized under the Water Resources Development Act are necessary to rebuild the Gulf Coast after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, restore the Everglades and Great Lakes fisheries and build flood-control projects nationwide.

"A quarter of the state probably wouldn't even exist if we didn't have flood control projects," Lott said. Nearly every president has had trouble with water resource programs, and Bush was "just trying to hold the line on spending."

Spending again, on projects that might actually help undo some of the damage that prick has done.

Go read about these projects. I think possibly the Everglades might fix itself after a little more global warming. It won't be much of a swamp, or a unique ecosystem, any more if it's at the bottom of the ocean.

Let's hope this first override opens the floodgates (Sorry, I couldn't help myself!) to many more. Bush has to be shown he's not really in charge.

Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans

Please read the full article in the NYTimes.

More than 400 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have turned up homeless, and the Veterans Affairs Department and aid groups say they are bracing for a new surge in homeless veterans in the years ahead.

Experts who work with veterans say it often takes several years after leaving military service for veterans' accumulating problems to push them into the streets. But some aid workers say the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans appear to be turning up sooner than the Vietnam veterans did.

"We're beginning to see, across the country, the first trickle of this generation of warriors in homeless shelters," said Phil Landis, chairman of Veterans Village of San Diego, a residence and counseling center. "But we anticipate that it's going to be a tsunami."

With more women serving in combat zones, the current wars are already resulting in a higher share of homeless women as well. They have an added risk factor: roughly 40 percent of the hundreds of homeless female veterans of recent wars have said they were sexually assaulted by American soldiers while in the military, officials said.

That last sentence relates to Fixer's post about how are GIs supposed to 'blow off steam' without booze and whores. I'm guessing they get the booze first, either by making it themselves or from Halliburton, and in the absence of hookers go after and commit crimes against female GIs, which crimes are largely covered up. Disgusting on both counts. Back to the main plot line...

Special traits of the current wars may contribute to homelessness, including high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and traumatic brain injury, which can cause unstable behavior and substance abuse, and the long and repeated tours of duty, which can make the reintegration into families and work all the harder.

On the street for a year, he finally checked in at a V.A. clinic in Maryland and has struggled with PTSD, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse. The V.A. has provided temporary housing as he starts a new job.

I stayed at a VA Domiciliary for four and a half months while I was getting some bad habits removed. I had the ability to pay, so it cost me $5 a day, payable after my stay. It's free to the indigent until they get clean and sober and get a job. By that I mean staying sober. Alcohol on your breath will have you on the street outside the facility, or in a civilian jail if you're deemed too drunk to care for yourself, in ten minutes, and you can come back and get your gear in three days' time. I saw this happen to guys who backslid off the program, or 'went out' as they say. Relapse is part of recovery, but not at the VA and I understand why. They can be readmitted at a later time.

The Domiciliary program is wonderful, but space is limited at the various facilities around the country that offer it. There are WWII Vets who need assisted living all the way to modern-day vets who are there to rehab themselves, to out-of-area Vets needing on-site residency while they're undergoing medical treatment. It's comprehensive - three good slops and a clean, comfortable flop, two men to a room where I was, recreation, counseling, virtually everything you need to live pretty good. I liked it there. If they'da let me have a dog, I'd be there yet. Just kiddin', Honey!

Due to the advanced age of WWII, Korean War, and lately Vietnam Vets, the VA is damn good at geriatrics. There was a nursing home adjacent to the Dom where I was, and it was full all the time. Vacancies occurred both from the folks getting well enough to go go home or from 'home-going' as the brothers call it. They had the decency to wheel the deceased out late at night. There were funerals several times a week at the post chapel with accompanying gunfire, which made some old combat vets hit the deck.

Just as an example, there was an old gent there whose favorite war story was about the time he damn near stepped off the front of USS New Orleans in the dark and the smoke after she got her bow blown off by Japanese naval gunfire off Guadalcanal. He was eighty years old, a snappy dresser in the Arizona style, and would go on any outing just to go for a ride. Nice old coot. He was at the Dom because his family had swindled him out of any money he might have had, and, oh yeah, because he had Alzheimer's and they couldn't be bothered. We used to see him occasionally wandering around not knowing where he was. We would gently steer him back to his room and he would be OK the next day and not remember a thing.

There was another fellow who had been on the Bataan Death March and spent WWII as a prisoner of war. He was very quiet, and spent his time looking in the potted plants for God knows what. He was a little 'out there', but a good guy. Rumor had it that he had a MOH, but I've not been able to verify it.

My Dom roommate, now my friend for life, was a Marine Vietnam Vet and later a firefighter, who got in some trouble, did some prison time, lost his wife and everything else, and ended up with a low-paying casino food-service job and a meth habit to the point where, job notwithstanding, he slept (when he slept) under the stars on the banks of the Colorado River. He's now a custodian at the same VA facility, a good-paying job and one not uncommon amongst former patients 'til they move onwards and upwards if they care to, lives off post, and is rebuilding his life.

Just as an aside, me'n my roomie used to go play Bingo a coupla nights a week at the post theater. That's a whole story by itself. The Vet we always sat with was a WWII Coastie who was staying temporarily at the nursing home. On Bingo nights, she told her friends that she had a date with two Marines!

The VA works, folks. They understand very well what they are doing and their 'customer' base whom they are doing it to for. The medical treatment is very good, if sometimes a little slow. A note here: if you have a Purple Heart (or a Medal Of Honor) you go to the head of the line.

The VA used to be only for Vets who had service-connected health problems. They damn near went out of business in the '90s. The WWII guys were starting to dwindle, so they opened it up to Vets without service-connected problems, and that's when I and probably millions of others were able to hook up with them for cheap medical care. That was also about the time the Korean War and Vietnam Vets started to get old enough to need care. The system got overwhelmed then, and it's getting overwhelmed again by Bush's Lie.

The VA knows what it's doing and cares deeply about Veterans. It needs to build and expand. It didn't anticipate what's happening now. We can say it should have, and indeed it should have, but it fell for the same Bush & Cheney bullshit a whole lotta the rest of us did. Now it's playing catch-up. With one little problem slowing down what should be a full court press expansion project.

The problem is George W. Bush. He'll fight his endless goddam criminal war with trillions in borrowed money that future generations can pay back to the Chinese, but when it comes to things that actually help people, like children or Veterans, well, he's gotta cut spending and fuck them. I could go on and on about that mean-spirited, petulant little prick, but I'd be repeating myself.

One more year. If it is the will of Allah. Then things can start to straighten out. It's going to be an awful long process. Bush has done a lot of damage to every segment of America and will do so until he's shown the door, which I hope is on a prison cell. In Webuttfukyugudistan.

I kinda went off on a tear here. Please go read the article and this related one. It's shameful.

A Very Blackwater Thanksgiving

Glenn W. Smith with a 'recommended read':

Profiteers are wrecking our health and destroying our security.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we should pay homage to the 17th Century Blackwater-like private security firms who made the very first Thanksgiving possible. That's the message from Serviam, a magazine committed to the unstinting defense of private profiteering in every realm of human endeavor. By the magazine's stuffed-turkey logic we should give thanks for all the profiteering and the accountability-killing privatizing that dominates what was once a public sphere. From health care to a mercenary army, profit is alpha and omega, while the moral fabric that holds us together is being ripped apart by pirates. Yes, even our health has been blackwatered. Thank-yous are hardly in order.

The Easter Bunny and be-buckled Puritans have nothing on the blackwater movement when it comes to fantasy, however. Inventing a need for themselves is something of a tradition among mercenary birds-of-prey who somehow get us to stay still while they, all beak and talon, swoop down on our treasuries, our health, and our morality. "Who will guard our diplomats in Iraq if the privateers don't?" they ask self-approvingly. There is a clue in that rhetorical and misleading question to the sorry state of the American health care system, which is entirely dominated by Blackwater-like, privateering insurance companies. "Who will provide health care if you hurt our profits?" insurance company executives and defenders ask. "Our armed forces," should answer the private security executives' question. "Uh, doctors and nurses," should be the answer to the insurance profiteers.

The blackwatering of health care - putting the power in the hands of unaccountable, non-medical, private interests - has taken a deadly toll on our health and lives. We have been so long in the blackwater that we forgot what it would be like to breathe the air of a health care system based on empathy and responsibility, a system that puts citizens' health above private profits.

It's not lost on Blackwater that it will make more money the more dangerous our lives become. That's the logic of the arms industry. War is their profit center. And it's not lost on an insurance industry that the increased fear, imagined and real, of ill health leads to higher premiums and more profits when it is allowed to make its money by denying health care to those who need it most.

The health insurance industry has no more incentive to keep us healthy than Blackwater has in helping us avoid wars.

And the stories they tell us to convince us otherwise have no more reality to them than the Easter Bunny.

At least the Easter Bunny is a cute fiction.

There is certainly nothing 'cute' or 'fictional' about what privatization is doing to us on both these fronts and others. Many lies are told, many laws are made and many others broken with impunity and immunity to get our money. It's Repug policy.

Besides the article ringing quite true, I think the interesting side concept here is that this may be the first time I've seen 'blackwater' used as a verb and an adjective, as in "I been blackwatered! Ooh it hurts!"

No doubt other parts of speech will follow.

Reality-challenged ...

I've said this for years. The Rethugs have no idea where reality ends and fiction begins.

...

You know, I write spy novels and some science fiction. The reason I bring this up is not to peddle books, but to make an observation. Bush & Co's actions sound like the plot of a fucking spy novel. It's as if they're taking literary license with the war, the way I would when I ask my audience to suspend their belief in the flow of time and the details. (If writers didn't, novels would be SO long and boring, and filled with minutiae, that no one would want to read them.) But wars don't proceed like novels do. The president is not an omnipotent being, like a writer, who can mold the world so the outcome is in his favor. War, and running a country, involves minutiae on a biblical scale and all the details have to be addressed BEFORE war is declared. It's as if Bush thinks the world works like a TV show or a pulp fiction novel.

...



Cal Thomas is a prime example (he has been for years) of a wingnut who watches far too much TV. Chet Scoville looks at the old twit's latest TV/Reality morph:

...

I mean, crap, if we're going to take 24 as proof of how the real world works, maybe we can extend the idea a bit further. Maybe we can use The X-Files as proof of extraterrestrial life. And hey, surely it's "not coincidental" that Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer says that the world used to be a demon dimension until humans kicked all the demons out (Giles is after all a scholar and should know what he's talking about). Or, I know, maybe CSI: Miami constitutes proof that forensics works best when you've got whopping big holes in your logic and you take off your sunglasses a lot. And maybe Animaniacs showed us that chickens can disguise themselves as action heroes, cats sing like Bernadette Peters, and minks are teh hawt. After all, why not? None of that is any less real than 24.


As I said about 2 years ago:

...

Running a country is NOT a fucking TV show, you idiots.

I hope so ...

Dr. Attaturk (Podiatrist to the Stars):

...

We're going to find out someday...perhaps while we're still alive, just what this Administration has done, and just what all the Republicans and too many Democrats have allowed them to get away with. It won't be pretty.

...


Before I die, I have to know what went down over the past 7 years; just exactly what hold the Bush/Cheney cabal had over our lawmakers to pull this off. And then I want to see the enablers in jail along with them. Unfortunately, the truth will come out in a century or so.

Boy, I Hate When That Happens...

I got this by e-mail from my old high school pal Barb:

[I have three dogs and I was buying a large bag of Meaty Bites at Big Wand standing in line at the check out.

The woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

On impulse, I told her that no, I was starting The Meaty Bites Diet again, although I probably shouldn't because I'd ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 20 kilos before I woke up in intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Meaty Bites and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry and that the food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again.

I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was by now enthralled with my story, particularly a guy who was behind her.

Horrified, she asked if I'd ended up in the hospital in that condition because I had been poisoned.

I told her no; it was because I'd been sitting in the street licking my balls and a car hit me.

I thought one guy was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard as he staggered out the door.

Stupid broad... why else would I buy dog food??]

'Cause ya got company comin'? Put toothpicks in the kibbles, they'll never know the difference...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Cannabis replacing opium poppies in Afghanistan

International Herald Tribune

KHWAJA GHOLAK, Afghanistan: Amid the multiplying frustrations of the fight against narcotics in Afghanistan, the northern province of Balkh has been hailed as a rare and glowing success.

Two years ago the province, which abuts Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, was covered with opium poppies - about 11,000 hectares of them, or 27,000 acres, nearly enough to blanket Manhattan twice. This year, after an intense anti-poppy campaign led by the governor, Balkh's farmers abandoned the crop. The province was declared poppy free, with 12 others, and the provincial government was promised a reward of millions of dollars in development aid.

But largely ignored in the celebration was the fact that many farmers in Balkh simply switched from opium poppies to another illegal crop: cannabis, the herb from which marijuana and hashish are derived.

That's a step in the right direction. Looks like Fixer's gonna make friends with a whole new buncha cab drivers. Heh.

Woman cited for cursing her toilet

The Times-Tribune (Scranton PA)

Dawn Herb, of 924 Luzerne St., is facing a disorderly conduct charge that was issued after she started swearing at her backed-up toilet near an open window last week.

If convicted, she could face a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.

“This is an extreme example of the government trying to intrude into a place they have no business being, your bathroom and your home,” said Mary Catherine Roper, an attorney with the ACLU. “You can prosecute somebody for bad language in Iran, this isn’t Iran.”

No, it's not Iran. I think the current role model under study is Pakistan, but I digress...

90 days for cussin' out a toilet? If they're listening at my house when Bush or Cheney or a neocon come on TV, I'll get fuckin' life!

If, on the other hand, they come into my bathroom when I'm takin' care of business, they deserve whatever they get.

Chuck's Senate

A Truthout Perspective:

This is a darker day still. In addition to personally making the decision that Michael Mukasey would be confirmed, Schumer now leads Congress by proxy to ratify torture as legal under US law, by virtue of its inaction. Game, set, match: Bush, Mukasey and Schumer.

One reason that Republicans can get away with whatever they like is that, in the end, they always stick together. Some call it lockstep, others call it goose step, but whatever you call it, they don't break ranks. Democrats do - regardless of the consequences. In this case, Mr. Schumer played the role of the powerbroker fatale. It was Schumer who assured the White House that, if nominated, Mukasey would be confirmed. So Schumer promised, and so he delivered.

Congress, the Democrats and the Nation be damned.

Yeah, the fix was in from the gate. I hope the unholy mess I blogged about yesterday gets some serious scrutiny, but it probably won't.

Update:

Rude One weighs in:

The saddest part about the Mukasey cave-in by Democrats was that it was so goddamned predictable. Democrats do their wittle dance o' outwage, stompin' their cute toddler feet on the ground, balling up their fists and declaring, "No way, no how," before finally shitting themselves and crying to be loved. The second some of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voiced concern about Michael Mukasey for his inability to say if waterboarding is torture, we knew the way it was gonna go down. It's just fuckin' depressing, innit?

In other words, once the rapist gets into the Catholic girl's school, he can just lock the doors, and the nuns and priests can do fuck-all while he unzips and wanders from room to room nailing the girls. Well, shit, at least the nuns can say a prayer that the girls aren't too horribly scarred by the ordeal. Schumer has consigned the Senate to bystander status, so he may as well give up now and at least have someone in there he can grab a beer with.

So Mukasey's gonna get the go-ahead, and, as with Alberto Gonzales, John Roberts, and others, personal and public assurances made by them will amount to so much bullshit clogging the hearing rooms. Between Harry Reid pulling back his party's senators from filibustering Mukasey to the coming cave on war funding, Democrats are making the big mistake of not taking down the bullies and thugs who are destroying this village. We thought we were electing the Seven Samurai or at least the Three Amigos. Instead, we got a handful of Barney Fifes.

'A handful of Barney Fifes'. Boy, there's a disturbing visual! Right on the money, too.

Rapture Rescue 911

Naomi Klein in The Nation:

I used to worry that the United States was in the grip of extremists who sincerely believed that the Apocalypse was coming and that they and their friends would be airlifted to heavenly safety. I have since reconsidered. The country is indeed in the grip of extremists who are determined to act out the biblical climax-the saving of the chosen and the burning of the masses - but without any divine intervention. Heaven can wait. Thanks to the booming business of privatized disaster services, we're getting the Rapture right here on earth.

During last year's hurricane season, Florida homeowners were offered similarly high-priced salvation by HelpJet, a travel agency launched with promises to turn "a hurricane evacuation into a jet-setter vacation." For an annual fee, a company concierge takes care of everything: transport to the air terminal, luxurious travel, bookings at five-star resorts. Most of all, HelpJet is an escape hatch from the kind of government failure on display during Katrina. "No standing in lines, no hassle with crowds, just a first class experience."

The same pay-to-be-saved logic governs this entire new sector of country club disaster management. There is, of course, another principle that could guide our collective responses in a disaster-prone world: the simple conviction that every life is of equal value.

For anyone out there who still believes in that wild idea, the time has urgently arrived to protect the principle.

Silly girl! Everyone knows that white christians with money's lives are much more valuable as Repuglican voters than poor folks of color's lives.

White money talks, black bullshit drowns, I guess.

House Passes Bills to Boost Vets Benefits

Army Times

With Veterans Day a week away, the House of Representatives passed four veteran-related bills on Monday - but the heavy work still remains to be done.

By voice vote and with little controversy, the House passed a veterans' credit protection bill and three veterans-related proclamations: one in support of Veterans Educate Today's Students Day, another in support of the National Veterans History Project and a third honoring Native American veterans.

By week's end, Congress expects to pass a bill that will include funding for veterans programs for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, with a chance that a small package of improvements in veterans benefits also may pass.

The veterans spending bill appears headed for an almost certain veto (my em) because it is part of a larger appropriations measure that President Bush has said he opposes. The benefits package that could pass this week includes improvements in disability benefits for some veterans with vision impairment and a modest expansion of burial benefits for state-run veterans' cemeteries.

The four bills now go to the Senate for consideration. The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee is trying to prepare a package, or possibly several packages, of veterans legislation that could be passed before lawmakers go home for the year.

On Friday, the Senate approved one such package - the bill that would expand disability benefits for some veterans with vision impairment in both eyes.

Also included in the bill are provisions to expand reimbursement to states that operate veterans' cemeteries and to pay to have private headstones include a medallion showing that the deceased is a veteran.

Each one of these bills helps Veterans in seemingly small ways. Unless you are one of the Veterans they help. Then it's a BIG way. Every little bit helps, and I applaud the House for doing this.

A trillion dollars of borrowed money to fight for a lie, and Bush will veto a few measures that help Vets because all of a sudden he has to get a grip on spending. He needs to get a grip all right, the petulant little punk. It's OK to waste billions on Halliburton and Blackwater and a useless missile shield system that benefits only the companies that make the junk, but he wants to 'cut spending' on the backs of Vets who need glasses or have credit problems because of repeated deployments. What an asshole.

At the top of the Army Times site there was a VFW ad that said something like, "Because of veterans, all wars come to an end". Speaking as a VFW Life Member, bullshit.

Wars only end when the last Veteran of that war dies. Until then, we owe them.

Just as an aside to illustrate that last sentence, last night I watched a film on PBS (KQED) called "Red White Black and Blue" about a coupla WWII Vets in their 80s who returned to Attu where they had fought. The guy they mainly profiled is a classic case of undiagnosed PTSD and what had been going on in his head all these years only started to sink in after his battlefield visit. It was heart-wrenching to watch and I couldn't take my eyes off it.

In the case of Iraq, they shouldn't have had to go in the first place. We really owe them and will until the end of this century.

A question ...

Before I head out.

Now that we are 'officially' entering the 2008 election season, I figured I'd ask. Do you think it is more likely than not Bush and Cheney will try something (staged terrorist attack, declaring martial law, suspending the elections) to hold onto power after January 2009?

The dregs ...

Now a qualifier. At 17, I enlisted in the Air Force by the order of a judge. He saw some potential in a punk kid standing before him in handcuffs, arrested the night before for stealing a car and joyriding the shit out of it. I thank Judge Corso (I'll never forget his name) for it.

That said, I have a problem with waivers for criminal behavior being more the norm than the exception.

WASHINGTON - Faced with higher recruiting goals, the Pentagon is quietly looking for ways to make it easier for people with minor criminal records to join the military, The Associated Press has learned.

...

Overall, about three in every 10 recruits must get a waiver, according to Pentagon statistics obtained by AP, and about two-thirds of those approved in recent years have been for criminal behavior. Some recruits must get more than one waiver to cover things ranging from any criminal record, to health problems such as asthma or flat feet, to low aptitude scores — and even for some tattoos.

...


While I'm sure a lot of kids will 'grow up', as I did, I can't help thinking this will become a problem the same way it was in Vietnam.

Foresight ...

Seems MSNBC should have realized this a couple years ago:

Riding a ratings wave from “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” a program that takes strong issue with the Bush administration, MSNBC is increasingly seeking to showcase its nighttime lineup as a welcome haven for viewers of a similar mind.

...


I don't know if I could sit through an hour of Rosie, but it's nice to see them rethinking their Fox-lite programming. How about giving David Shuster a show and flushing that idiot Carlson? How about Rachel Maddow replacing Scarborough?

I wondered when it would start ...

So now the wingnuts are accusing Hillary of murder. Taylor Marsh looks at the latest diarrhea from WorldNutDaily:

The general election is exactly one year away so people are picking their target and it's a blast to the past.

...

In a new book alleging a campaign of slander and intimidation orchestrated chiefly by Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Willey points a finger of suspicion at the former first couple for the death of her husband, who was believed to have killed himself.

...


And so it begins. This is one of my big worries if Hillary is nominated. All this crap will start again and I wonder if she'll be able to govern effectively under the same constant pressure her husband faced. If the Dems' performance over the last year is any indication, she'll receive no help from Congress, even a Dem-controlled one. They will be cowed whether there is a Rethug majority or not as we've seen from their legislative actions so far.

Royalties ...

Or, Fucking Their Own. As an author, royalties are a near and dear subject to me. The running joke here is that I do nothing without my 20%. That said, the right wing publishing house, Regnery, is screwing their writers out of theirs:

... The New York Times reports today that a group of conservative authors, including Swift Boat nutball Jerome Corsi, is suing right-wing darling Regnery Publishing ...

... "It suddenly occurred to us that Regnery is making collectively jillions of dollars off of us and paying us a pittance." He added: "Why is Regnery acting like a Marxist cartoon of a capitalist company?" ...


Not that I'd pay for one of their books but then a lot of people wouldn't be caught dead buying one of mine. Regardless of the subject matter or quality or motive, these writers put in their time and effort and should be compensated accordingly. Once again, we see the right wing has no qualms about screwing anyone, even their own.

Addendum: Though it is a nice bit of schadenfreude I'm enjoying seeing these clowns get their dose of Karma.

Great thanks to The Man from Philadelphia for the link.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Musharraf Adopts Bush-Cheney Doctrine of "Lawfare"

From Informed Comment: Global Affairs:

Opposing "judicial activism" is one of the rallying cries of the American right. Initially this was simply a cover for racism, as the most salient examples of "judicial activism" were Brown vs. Board of Education and other decisions by the Warren Supreme Court overturning American apartheid. Over time, however, the term began to cover a larger protest against attempts to extend the rule of law to the disadvantage of the powerful.

Not until the Bush administration, however, was this political code word integrated into the National Security Doctrine of the United States. Scott Horton of Harper's, writing on "Bush's War on the Rule of Law" describes how the attack on judicial activism entered national security doctrine through the concept of "lawfare":

This could serve as a cogent summary of the doctrine presented by President Musharraf. Unlike Bush, Musharraf at least had the decency to announce to the whole world that he was placing the constitution "in abeyance" and arrogating all power to his sole person. The Bush administration prefers to promulgate shadowy memoranda, signing statements, and Humpty-Dumpty like amendments to the meaning of common words. Since the courts are instruments of terrorists (and can even be used to demoralize the security forces!) counter-terrorism logically requires the abolition of the rule of law.

Gee, now I understand! As long as they don't come kill me in my bed...

'Logic' in some demented parallel universe maybe, like the one Bushworld is in.

Line in sand, feet of clay

From Raw Story:

Conyers files contempt report; says White House has one last chance

Yeah, like that's gonna work. I applaud Mr. Conyers, but this shit's like drawing a line in the sand and daring the WH to cross it, and when they cross it, instead of deckin' 'em, drawing another line, and so on and so on.

I'm finishing up a book called Miracle At Belleau Wood and I think the tactics that worked there are the only tactics that will work against this administration: fixed bayonets, guts and determination in the face of heavy fire, and damn the casualties.

Stick it Click it

Punk'd

This one's just for fun:

Suspected right-wing parody site has even pros buying in

Are these people serious?

Drawing on a bone-dry sense of humor and a committed crew of regular contributors, an apparent conservative parody blog is routinely duping even the savviest political observers into believing that its satirical take on fringe conservative politics is legit. Or not.

'It's sublime. Colbert-level.'

Go see.

Waterboardin' USA

Here's a lighthearted look at a serious subject by Harry Shearer. It still gets the point across that it ain't right, but it does kinda make me want to hop in a '48 Ford woodie and head for the beach...

A Closet Full Of Skeletons

I don't pretend to understand New York politics. I'll leave that to Fixer, but I know a lot more now than I did a few minutes ago. It's important now that JulieAnnie is threatening to make Noo Yawk corruption burst onto the national scene, even more pertinent to me because of his shenanigans here in California. Here's just the last coupla sentences in a very long and informative article in The Village Voice:

What few understand is that these bold and tawdry ties haven't been some incidental subplot to Rudy Giuliani's life. They are part of the main narrative, and, as Kerik proves, they provide a revealing look on the character and judgment that he would bring to the White House.

There's a whole Giuliani/Mukasey/Schumer/Political Patronage thing goin' on. The hell with his connections to THE mob, he's got his own mob, and he's the capo di tutti capi. I think the full name of his private company is Giuliani Partners - In Crime. Yeesh.

More on Minot nukes

Following up on last week's post, more by Dave Lindorff:

The Air Force and Pentagon have also declined to explain whether U.S. nuclear weapons in storage in U.S. bunkers have been provided with the same alarm and motion-detection sensors that the National Nuclear Security Agency helped to install on the nukes being stored on Russian bases.

Clearly if such devices are standard on U.S. nukes, as several Air Force active and retired personnel have assured me is the case, then there is no way those weapons could have been removed from the Minot bunker by "mistake" as claimed the Air Force's official report on the incident.

The Pentagon has also refused to state whether the missiles were fueled up or not.

If they had not been fueled, methinks the Air Force would have said so to lessen the import of this incident. If they were fueled up then why, since they were ostensibly slated for destruction?

Finally, there is another big question that has not even been asked. Supposedly the reason the B-52 was flying to Barksdale with 12 missiles is that they are part of a total of 400 of these things, all of which have been declared obsolete and slated for destruction. But if all those Advanced Cruise Missiles are obsolete, then there is simply no reason for having any of them fitted with nuclear warheads. If they're obsolete, none of them would be on standby status. No one at Minot would ever be mounting a nuke on a cruise missile. Note that the Air Force is not claiming that the initial mounting of six warheads onto six missiles was a "mistake." Only that nobody in the subsequent chain of events was alerted to the fact that the warheads had been mounted. But why would warheads have been mounted on obsolete weapons in the first place?

Meanwhile, I have no knowledge as to the accuracy of this, but one Air Force vet tells me that the Advanced Cruise Missiles that were nuclear armed and mounted on a launch pylon on the B-52 in question would have been electronically linked to the plane automatically (which has the capability to program and reprogram the targeting of the missiles), and that therefore the pilot of the plane would have instantly seen on his instrument console that he had nukes on board that flight. He also told me the idea that the pilot would only have checked out the missiles mounted on one wing -- by chance the wing that had the six missiles with dummy warheads -- instead of both pylons and all 12 missiles as required, which is the claim of the Air Force report, is ludicrous. As he notes, pilots on these aging Stratofortresses see the pre-flight check as a life-or-death matter. Anything wrong on these planes can mean loss of the plane and even loss of the lives of the entire crew and of people on the ground. That would include the secure mounting of the missile cargo.

I find it ludicrous in the extreme that a BUFF pilot wouldn't know exactly what his aircraft had on board, unless he had orders that he was specifically not to know.

There is another question, raised by an Air Force vet, which also bears investigation. The Air Force is claiming the B-52 was supposedly ferrying 12 unarmed cruise missiles to Barksdale for disassembly. But a B-52, an antique aircraft that requires a big crew, demands enormous amounts of sevicing and repair and wastes a prodigious amount of fuel, is a terribly inefficient way to ferry these weapons to a graveyard. It would be infinitely cheaper to truck the missile bodies overland, or to stack and ship them in cargo planes, and in fact it simply defies belief that the Air Force would be doing this with Stratofortresses.

The more you look at this story, the more obvious it is that the Air Force claim that this was all just a big "mistake" has to be a blatant coverup of the truth.

It's obviously a coverup, but of exactly what we don't know,

One postulate is that Cheney ordered this through some of his and Rumsfeld's old neocon bros in the Air Force as a way of wavin' his weenie at Iran. Very possible.

Here's one of my own ideas. File this one under "Wild Tinfoil Hattery".

Perhaps a top brass Air Fundie wanted to use the nukes to provoke Armageddon and hasten the End Times?

A few years ago, that thought would never have crossed my mind, but given the rabid Extreme Evangelical bent of the AF lately, it's not so unbelievable any more. The Generals in charge of B-52s are possibly the old SAC Cold War/Seven Days In May/Dr. Strangelove crowd, dangerous if they've gone off the deep end. What do you think?

Waterboarding ...

Watch it, dammit. This is what our government is doing in our names. And you wonder why the rest of the world hates us?

Quote of the Day

The great TRex:

... Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has done what Dick Cheney only dares to dream about in his most private, fevered, late night wank-fantasies; a complete and total suspension of civil liberties, the shredding of Pakistan’s Constitution, the imprisonment of opposition figures, and a total shut-down of all but government sponsored news on the television ...

How are they supposed to fight ...

My boss Harry (a Vietnam vet) always says "you can't fight a war without booze and whores," and that's his reasoning for why Iraq is such a mess. Don't know if I agree with his hypothesis but he's right about one thing. GIs need things with which to blow off steam. In Iraq, they don't have (legal) booze and I'm sure the 'business girls' are few and far between. Well, if a buncha Jesus freaks have their way, they won't even be able to take matters into their own hands ... so to speak:

WASHINGTON — Ten years after Congress banned sales of sexually explicit material on military bases, the Pentagon is under fire for continuing to sell adult fare, such as Penthouse and Playmates In Bed, that it doesn't consider explicit enough to pull from its stores.

Dozens of religious and anti-pornography groups have complained to Congress and Defense Secretary Robert Gates that a Pentagon board set up to review magazines and films is allowing sales of material that Congress intended to ban.

...


Know what? STFU, you sanctimonious assholes.

Great thanks to Oliver Willis for the link.

Special Comment:

[In case you missed it, the transcript of Olbermann's Special Comment last night (vid at the link). 'Nuff said. - F.]

Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on the meaning of the story of former U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin.

It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed:

The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.

All the petulancy, all the childish threats, all the blank-stare stupidity;

All the invocations of World War Three, all the sophistic questions about which terrorist attacks we wanted him not to stop, all the phony secrets; all the claims of executive privilege, all the stumbling tap-dancing of his nominees, all the verbal flatulence of his apologists…

All of it is now — after one revelation last week — transparently clear for what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the re-focusing of our entire nation, towards keeping this mock president, and this unstable vice president, and this departed wildly self-over-rating Attorney General — and the others — from potential prosecution for having approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the name of this country.

“Waterboarding is torture,” Daniel Levin was to write.

Daniel Levin was no theorist and no protestor.

He was no troublemaking politician.

He was no table-pounding commentator.

Daniel Levin was an astonishingly patriotic American, and a brave man.

Brave not just with words or with stances — even in a dark time when that kind of bravery can usually be scared — or bought — off.

Charged — as you heard in the story from ABC News last Friday — with assessing the relative legality of the various nightmares in the Pandora’s box that is the Orwell-worthy euphemism “Enhanced Interrogation,” Mr. Levin decided that the simplest, and the most honest, way to evaluate them… was to have them enacted upon himself.

Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be water-boarded.

Mr. Bush — ever done anything that personally courageous?

Perhaps when you’ve gone to Walter Reed and teared up over the maimed servicemen? And then gone back to the White House and determined that there would be more maimed servicemen?

Has it been that kind of personal courage, Mr. Bush, when you’ve spoken of American victims and the triumph of freedom and the sacrifice of your own popularity for the sake of our safety? And then permitted others to fire or discredit or destroy anybody who disagreed with you — whether they were your own Generals, or… Max Cleland, or… Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame… or Daniel Levin?

Daniel Levin should have a statue in his honor in Washington right now.

Instead, he was forced out as Acting Assistant Attorney General, nearly three years ago, because he had the guts to do what George Bush couldn’t do in a million years: actually put himself at risk for the sake of his country, for the sake of what is right.

And they water-boarded him and he wrote that even though he knew those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die — still, with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terror screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which is at the core of each of us — the entity who exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and name and family and love — he could not convince his being… that he wasn’t drowning.

Water-boarding, he said, is torture.

Legally, it is torture!

Practically, it is torture!

Ethically, it is torture!

And he wrote it down.

Wrote it down somewhere, where it could be contrasted with the words of this country’s 43rd President: “The United States of America does not torture.”

Made you into a liar, Mr. Bush.

Made you into, if anybody had the guts to pursue it, a criminal, Mr. Bush.

Water-boarding had already been used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed and a couple of other men none of us really care about — except, Sir, for the one detail you’d forgotten — that there are rules, and even if we just make up these rules, this country observes them anyway, because we’re Americans, sir, and we’re better than that.

We’re better than you.

And the man your Justice Department selected to decide whether or not water-boarding was torture, had decided, and not in some phony academic fashion, nor while wearing the Walter Mitty poseur attire of flight-suit and helmet.

He had put his money, Mr. Bush, where your mouth was.

So, your sleazy sycophantic henchman Mr. Gonzales had him append an asterisk suggesting his black-and-white answer wasn’t black-and-white, that there might have been a quasi-legal way of torturing people, maybe with an absolute time limit and a physician entitled to stop it, maybe, if your administration had ever bothered to set any rules or any guidelines…

And then when your people realized that even that was too dangerous, Daniel Levin was branded “too independent” and “someone who could (not) be counted on.”

In other words, Mr. Bush, somebody you couldn’t count on to lie for you.

So, Levin was fired.

Because if it ever got out what he’d concluded, and the lengths to which he went, to validate that conclusion, anybody who had sanctioned water-boarding, and who-knows-what-else… anybody — you yourself, sir — you would have been screwed.

And screwed you are.

It can’t be coincidence that the story of Daniel Levin should emerge from the black hole of this secret society of a presidency just at the conclusion of the unhappy saga of the newest Attorney General Nominee.

Another patriot somewhere, listened as Judge Mukasey mumbled like he’d never heard of water-boarding, and refuse to answer in words that which Daniel Levin answered on a water-board somewhere in Maryland or Virginia three years ago.

And this someone also heard George Bush say “The United States of America does not torture” and realized either he was lying or this wasn’t the United States of America any more, and either way, he needed to do something about it.

Not in the way Levin needed to do something about it, but in a brave way nonetheless.

We have United States Senators who need to do something about it, too.

Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee has seen this for what it is and said “enough.”

Senator Schumer has seen it, reportedly, as some kind of puzzle piece in the New York political patronage system and he has failed.

What Senator Feinstein has seen, to justify joining Schumer in rubber-stamping Mukasey, I cannot guess.

It is obvious that both those Senators should look to the meaning of the story of Daniel Levin and recant their support for Mukasey’s confirmation.

And they should look into their own committee’s history and recall that in 1973, their predecessors were able to wring even from Richard Nixon, a guarantee of a Special Prosecutor (ultimately a Special Prosecutor of Richard Nixon!), in exchange for their approval of his new Attorney General, Elliott Richardson.

If they could get that out of Nixon, you — before you confirm the President’s latest human echo tomorrow — you better be able to get a “yes” or a “no” out of Michael Mukasey.

Ideally, you should lock this government down financially until a special prosecutor is appointed — or fifty of them — but I’m not holding my breath. The “yes” or the “no” on water-boarding will have to suffice.

Because, remember if you can’t get it, or you won’t with the time between tonight and the next presidential election likely to be the longest year of our lives, you are leaving this country, and all of us, to the water-boards — symbolic and otherwise — of George W. Bush.

Ultimately, Mr. Bush, the real question isn’t who approved the water-boarding of this fiend Khalid Sheik Mohammed and two others.

It is: why were they water-boarded?

Study after study for generation after generation, sir, has confirmed that torture gets people to talk, torture gets people to plead, torture gets people to break, but torture does not get them to tell the truth.

Of course, Mr. Bush, this isn’t a problem if you don’t care if the terrorist plots they tell you about, are the truth or just something to stop the tormentors from drowning them.

If, say, a President simply needed a constant supply of terrorist threats to keep a country scared…

If, say, he needed phony plots to play hero during, and to boast about interrupting, and to use to distract people from the threat he didn’t interrupt…

If, say, he realized that even terrorized people still need good ghost stories before they will let a President pillage the Constitution…

Well, heck, Mr. Bush, who better to dream them up for you… than an actual terrorist?

He’ll tell you every thing he ever fantasized doing, in his most horrific of daydreams — his equivalent of the day you “flew” onto the deck of the Lincoln to explain you’d won in Iraq.

Now if that’s what this is all about — you tortured not because you’re so stupid you think torture produces confession — but you tortured because you’re smart enough to know it produces really authentic-sounding fiction — well, then you’re going to need all the lawyers you can find because that crime wouldn’t just mean impeachment, would it, sir?

That crime would mean George W. Bush is going to prison.

Thus the master tumblers turn, and the lock yields, and the hidden explanations can all be perceived, in their exact proportions, in their exact progressions.

Daniel Levin’s eminently practical, eminently logical, eminently patriotic way of testing the legality of waterboarding has to vanish — and him, with it.

Thus Alberto Gonzales has to use that brain that sounds like an old car trying to start on a freezing morning, to undo eight centuries of the forward march of law and government.

Thus Dick Cheney, has to ridiculously assert that confirming we do or do not use any particular interrogation technique, would somehow help the terrorists.

Thus Michael Mukasey, on the eve of the vote that will make him the high priest of the law of this land, cannot and must not answer a question, nor even hint that he has thought about a question, which merely concerns the theoretical definition of water-boarding as torture.

Because, Mr. Bush, in the seven years of your nightmare presidency, this whole string of events has been transformed from its beginning as the most neglectful protection ever, of the lives and safety of the American people into the most efficient and cynical exploitation of tragedy for political gain in this country’s history.

And, then, to the giddying prospect that you could do what the military fanatics did in Japan in the 1930’s and re-make a nation into a fascist state so efficient and so self-sustaining, that the fascism would be nearly invisible.

But at last this frightful plan is ending with an unexpected crash, the shocking reality that no matter how thoroughly you might try to extinguish them, Mr. Bush, how thoroughly you tried to brand disagreement as disloyalty, Mr. Bush, there are still people like Daniel Levin who believe in the United States of America as true freedom, where we are better, not because of schemes and wars, but because of dreams and morals.

And ultimately, sir, these men, these patriots, will defeat you and they will return this country to its righteous standards, and to its rightful owners, the people.

Good night, and good luck.

Monday, November 5, 2007

No Excuses!

Click it or else!

Quote of the Day

Maru:

... Why have all of Dimbulb McDumbass's bestest fwenz turned out to be either curs, crooks, or crazy? ...

We could use a 'Gunpowder Plot' right about now...


Where's Guy Fawkes when we need him?

All seriousness aside...

The Early Morning Jokes

To show how much he appreciates the help he's still getting from the Bush Administration, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf draped a banner outside his palace that says, MARTIAL LAW ACCOMPLISHED.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto would like to once again rule Pakistan. If she wants a place to hide in the interim where no one will ever find her, I'd suggest any one of Fred Thompson's campaign headquarters.

And finallly ... Dennis Kucinich is still dealing with fallout from the revelation that he once had an encounter with a UFO. In fact, he even cancelled a meet-and-greet with supporters at Area 51.

Apparently, some of Denny's new staffers have objected lately to being called 'probies'...

A Colossal Dominatrix

Ooh! Phooey, it's just Juan Cole writing about how the proper thing to do with the US embassy in Baghdad is to close it.

Bush is dragooning these career diplomats into dodging bombs and bullets, which is not their job. He is trying to create them as a shadow colonial administration of Iraq (my em), which is not their job. The US embassy in Beirut was closed during the Lebanese Civil War. There is still no US embassy in Tehran. Tehran is a hell of a lot safer than Baghdad. Keeping the US embassy in Baghdad open is a political and military decision on Bush's part, which flies in the face of precedent and good sense.

Those who want to see the Iraq War ended should join this campaign. The war won't be ended as long as Bush's Baghdad embassy, a behemoth unprecedented in size and scope, bestrides Iraq like a colossal dominatrix.

And here is how closing the embassy works for the anti-war movement and for the Democratic Party (and anti-war Republicans). The public just won't mind. If you cut off money to the troops, they will mind. Only a plurality of Americans wants all troops out now, immediately. And if the Dems embargoed the military budget, the hawks would run on the their having sent our boys off to duel "al-Qaeda" with "spitballs" (a la Zell Miller). But the Republican hawks, having spent decades tearing down the State Department, will be helpless before a measure that closes down the US embassy in Baghdad. It is quite delicious.

I suggest that step one in the process is to send in some building inspectors to declare it unfit fir human habitation and red tag it.

Bush Gives Musharraf Tips on Eliminating Democracy

Andy Borowitz

In what he described as "an emergency mission to help a key ally in the war on terror," President George W. Bush flew to Islamabad today to give General Pervez Musharraf tips on how to eliminate democracy.

Mr. Bush said he scheduled the trip just hours after General Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan and suspended elections "because when it comes to eliminating democracy, I thought my friend Pervez could benefit from my experience."

[...] "When you're getting rid of democracy, the last thing you want to do is tell people you're doing it."

Mr. Bush said that eliminating such things as privacy, freedom of speech and the constitution had to be done "very quietly and stealthy-like."

He also criticized the Pakistani dictator's firing of the chief justice of the Supreme Court: "Trust me, if you're going to get rid of elections, a Supreme Court could come in handy."

What Bush has done to Democracy here is probably reversible. I'm not so sure about Pakistan.

Update:

The preceding was sort of in a jocular vein. The following is not but it fits right in, from Juan Cole:

Musharraf appears to have concluded that the Supreme Court would rule against him, thus his coup-within-a-coup, which at last throws off the tattered facade of democratic institutions and reveals the naked military tyranny underneath. Pitifully, Musharraf explained that he had to make the coup in order to ensure the transition to democracy he says he began 8 years ago. Apparently the "transition" (i.e. Musharraf's dictatorship) will last for the rest of his life.

No wonder Bush is conferring closely with Musharraf! He wants to learn from an expert!

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Bush Pick for Attorney General Headed for Confirmation
Mukasey last piece in puzzle keeping Bush, Cheney from firing squad.

Supreme Court to Review Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Settlement
Expected to reverse lower court's decision, make wildlife pay for cleanup.

UK: Marijuana Use Drops After Penalties Reduced
Pot dealers call for harsher penalties.

Not that I care ...

But if it's true, all I can say is "you go, girl!" Hey, if it's good enough for the goose ...

Yes, the Dems have been sucking ...

But they are still a far better alternative to the Rethugs. Thankfully, most Americans are realizing it too:

...

Overwhelmingly, Democrats want a new direction, but so do three-quarters of independents and even half of Republicans. Sixty percent of all Americans said they feel strongly that such a change is needed after two terms of the Bush presidency.

...

The Democratic Party holds double-digit leads over the GOP as the party most trusted to handle the three most frequently cited issues for 2008: Iraq, health care and the economy. The Democratic advantages on immigration and taxes are narrower, and the parties are at rough parity on terrorism, once a major Republican strong point.

...


Thanks to our pal Skippy for the link.

Surprise, surprise ...

Yet another 'spiritual leader' succumbs to the temptation of the flesh:

Anyway, unfortunately, another member of the Moral Majority has proved himself to be an upstanding citizen and good Christian after being charged with three counts of using a child in sexual performance and one count of unlawful sexual activity for having allegedly sexually assaulted three boys he mentored at First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, FL ...


At this point, why anyone would trust their kids alone with any member of the clergy is beyond me.

And an addendum: As our dear friends MandT remind us, these clowns are not representative of gay men. These are perverts and predators.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

"...as they stumble blindly toward the finish line and history's harsh judgment"

Joe Galloway on 'Bush's War World III' (BWWIII). 'War World' is starting to make more sense to me than 'World War'.

What are they smoking at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? The very idea is dumb as a fencepost and best left to the biggest pied piper of what passes for neoconservative thought, Norman Podhoretz. Yet President Bush and his able assistant, Vice President Dick Cheney, are marching to that tune and humming along lustily.

There is no crisis here and no earthly reason to manufacture one on short notice, except for the fact that in less than 15 months, the Bush administration will pass ignominiously into history. Then a new chief executive can begin dealing with ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a national debt nearing $10 trillion, a terrorist threat to America only made stronger by eight years of Bush and Cheney, and a national economy trembling on the brink of recession.

As though that weren't a big enough mess to leave behind, these brilliant thinkers want to bequeath a third and far more dangerous war to whoever is unlucky enough to win the tussle of midgets (my em) that passes for a presidential contest.

There are two questions here: Why? And why now?

He go on to 'splain, oh indeed he do!

All of this argues against Bush and Cheney doing anything more than running their mouths and pretending to be relevant, studly and in charge as they stumble blindly toward the finish line and history's harsh judgment.

No one in their right mind would believe that attacking Iran now makes any sense. But that doesn't mean Bush and Cheney won't do it.

There were a lot of reasons why a pre-emptive strike into Iraq based on flimsy and bogus intelligence and far too few troops made no sense, yet they did it anyway, with trademark arrogance and ignorance.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I left that last line in there because it points up the fact, I think, that while Bush and The Dick are using fear to try to get support for their insanity, what we really need to fear is them. Not them personally, of course, they're punks, but what they could do.

Better to remove them before they can do this evil thing. Whether by impeachment or just their heads on a pike, mox nix.