Sunday, December 31, 2006

RIP Donald M. Murray

He was my favorite writer. Clear, honest, and deeply personal. I was always moved by his writing about his cold, emotionally barren childhood, and his deep and abiding pain over the loss of his 20-year-old daughter Lee:

The morning our 20-year-old daughter Lee took sick with her last illness, I was trying to write a letter of sympathy wondering what I could say, asking myself if it would make any difference.

Five days later I knew. It made a difference.

I discovered it was better to reach out than turn away, to say the wrong thing than say nothing.

But in living through Lee's loss and others I also discovered I had something to say to others who suffered the loss of someone they loved.

Pain is better than forgetting.

It is almost eighteen years but Lee is still with us. The pain is not so much lessened as it has become familiar, like the pain that continues in the leg that has been amputated. Her death is part of us.

I steel myself pretty well for the expected moments of pain. Her birthday in March, her deathday in August, Thanksgiving, Christmas, even, these days, listening to an Albinoni oboe concerto knowing it is not her practicing in the next room.

But there is no protection from the blindside hit. Lee waves from a passing car. She appears ahead of me on a street in Sienna, wearing a backpack, I rush to catch up with her but she turns a corner and is gone.

She stands in the shadows, just outside the living room. I hear her counsel when I have a problem and pay attention. At the concert I sit beside her in the center of the orchestra as she invited me to sit beside her during an orchestral rehearsal at the University of Massachusetts and we are again surrounded by music.

It is not all tears. We laugh at the same old jokes - and some new ones. Every submarine sandwich I eat, I share it with Lee. It was her favorite.

When I was dying in a heart attack, Lee stood - in the blue jumper she had made - waiting at the end of a brightly lit tunnel, smiling.

But, I often say in a letter of sympathy, people will want you to get over it, snap out of it, buck up, forget.

Of course we have to get on with life, to find salvation in routine that suddenly seems trivial, to fulfill our responsibilities to the living. But not to forget.

It would be the most terrible sadness if the memory of that person who has died were erased.

It is far better to remember, to mourn, to weep, to rage, than to allow the one who is gone to disappear.

In a way I welcome the pain. I hurt; I remember.

So, I say in my sympathy letter, they should learn to accept the pain, even in a way welcome it, by comparing it to the terror of forgetting.

And as an elder of the tribe who has experienced loss, I write for them to remember in their own way, to mourn in their own way, to do what would be appropriate for the person who has gone, and, more important, to do what needs to be done for the living.

I could sleep on the floor of the waiting room as I slept in battle. Minnie Mae could not sleep. No right, no wrong.

The night Lee died we went to a musical in which her sister was appearing in the chorus. Lee would have wanted that, no matter if others approved.

We - her immediate family - chose cremation because it was what we thought she would have wanted and it was, we discovered what each of us wanted for ourselves. We paid no attention to the relative who said, "I don't know how you could burn her up."

We did what we had to do.

We could not handle a formal funeral, bringing the family from afar, after her quick dying, so we had a private service at the grave side.

I wept - frequently - and Minnie Mae did not. No guilt, no public measuring of pain. I dream of Lee and Minnie Mae does not. That does not mean that one of us mourns more deeply than the other. No guilt. No keeping score.

We love in our own way; we grieve in our own way.

And in this terrible loss we have found strength. When we are tested by other events, we have a measure of our ability to survive.

And we were also reminded that life is fragile.

In my letters reaching out I tell others what Lee's passing taught us: to listen to each other and to ourselves, to live the gift of life with caring and celebration. Today. Right now.

Obituary, Boston Globe: Columnist Donald Murray dies at 82
Pulitzer winner penned Globe's 'Now and Then'

This Can't Be Good

BBC: Huge Arctic ice break discovered
Scientists have discovered that an enormous ice shelf broke off an island in the Canadian Arctic last year, in what could be sign of global warming.

It is said to be the largest break in 25 years, casting an ice floe with an area of 66 sq km (25 square miles).

It occurred in August 2005 but was only recently detected on satellite images.

The chunk of ice bigger than Manhattan could wreak havoc if it moves into oil drilling regions and shipping lanes next summer, scientists warned.

Chicago Sun-Times (AP): Huge arctic ice shelf breaks loose

Medicare Part (D)isaster: Insurance Companies Cashing In

Insurance companies got millions of seniors to sign up for Medicare Part (D)isaster coverage last year by making it cheap. Now that they've got 'em, they're going to fleece 'em. Democrats must reform this terrible, terrible bill.

Boston Globe: Insurer hits millions of seniors with drug cost hike
Premium will rise by 130% for Mass. plan

The more than two million senior citizens nationwide who signed up last year for Humana Inc.'s least expensive Medicare prescription drug plan face average premium increases of 60 percent -- and in seven states, increases of 466 percent -- starting tomorrow . The higher prices will affect about 50,000 seniors in Massachusetts, where premiums are going up by 130 percent, from $7.32 to $16.90 a month.

Medicare added the prescription drug benefit in 2006, and in most states dozens of drug plans with varying coverage are available through insurance companies. Healthcare advocates say Humana kept its prices low in 2006 to gain market share. The strategy may prove lucrative, they say, because many seniors spent considerable time researching and selecting their drug insurance and were unlikely to switch plans for 2007, despite increased premiums.


Under Part D, seniors who go without drug coverage will pay higher prices if they eventually decide to buy it. As a result, many seniors who did not need prescription drugs in 2006 signed up with Humana's low-cost plan simply to avoid having to pay more if they needed coverage in the future.

"Some of them took the plan even though they were only taking aspirin,"
said Nancy Roper , a volunteer for Action for Boston Community Development who counsels low-income seniors on drug plan choices. "Now, this jumps to $16.90 for 2007, and they're calling and asking is it worth it. It's a hardship."

Making Progress

What President Clusterfuck has wrought in Iraq.

Reporter Hannah Allam of McClatchy:

Even Mr. Milk is dead. The grocer we called by the name of his landmark shop in the upscale Mansour district was kidnapped and killed, along with his son, my colleagues said. The owner of a DVD shop where I once purchased a copy of "Napoleon Dynamite" also had been executed.

So many blindfolded, tortured corpses turn up that an Iraqi co-worker recently told me it was "a slow day" when 17 bodies were found. Typically, the figure is 40 or more. When the overflowing morgue at Yarmouk Hospital was bombed last month, one of our drivers wearily muttered, "How many times can they kill us?"

Even the toughest of my Iraqi colleagues hit their breaking points after experiencing the indignity of being forced from their homes, the trauma of a bomb outside a doorstep, the grief for a cousin killed by a mortar, the shame of staying silent while a neighbor's house was torched.

Update on Senator Tim Johnson

Not good, according to Bob Geiger. Two weeks is a long time to be on a ventilator.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

We Got Our Man

Donald Rumsfield meeting with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, 1983.

Veteran CIA asset Saddam Hussein was hung yesterday in Iraq. The murderer of hundreds of thousands was supported by the US throughout his career until the first Iraq War. Watch this excellent Flash movie by Eric Blumrich for a tour of the lowlights of US support of Hussein and the bloody results. (Link from Informed Comment.)

The trial of Saddam Hussein was a shameful kangaroo court from start to finish. His lawyers were muzzled or murdered; the result was pre-ordained, and announced to coincide with the US elections; he was convicted by an Iraqi court, but hung inside the US-controlled Green Zone in secret. As Steve Gilliard notes: "Weak governments kill their enemies."

Independent (uk): Robert Fisk: A dictator created then destroyed by America

Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.

Prof. Juan Cole, Informed Comment: For Whom the Bell Tolls:
Top Ten Ways the US Enabled Saddam Hussein

Riverbend, Baghdad Burning: End of Another Year...

You know your country is in trouble when:

1. The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
2. Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country.
3. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
4. The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
5. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.
6. Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
7. For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour.
8. Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.
9. People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.

A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Blogtopia* Roundup, Tuesday December 19th, 2006

We all need to know the difference between Shi'a and Sunni now. TRex at firedoglake gives the history of the two sects.

Many voices weighing in on the insanity of Bush's latest 'surge' proposal: ThinkProgress says he's trying to copy the 'success' of Vietnam; Digby digs up some of those 'we let the military make the decisions, not the politicians' lies from Commander Codpiece; Steve Gilliard sez, for the Joint Chiefs this is the Clark Clifford moment: will they go along with this catastrophic idea, or will they say no?

Confined Space on today in Workplace Safety History.

And a horrible story from the Sunday Times (uk) about the rise of militant Islam in Banda Aceh and other tsunami-ravaged parts of Indonesia: Tsunami survivors given the lash: Banda Aceh disaster donations help Islamic vigilante force impose punishments on women


Image from

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why Is Genarlow Wilson In Prison?

I saw this post on Seeing the Forest:

Ten Years In Prison For Oral Sex

The Georgia Supreme Court just upheld a sentence of Ten Years in Prison for 17-Year-Old Who Had Consensual Oral Sex with 15-Year-Old -- even though Georgia later changed the law to a misdemeanor. That's ten years with no possibility of parole, by the way.

And I thought, the kid is black. He's not white. No way would a white kid get 10 years for that. The judge (probably white) would look at the kid and see himself. Mandatory sentence? Throw out the verdict. Black kid, throw the book at him. So I googled his image. Oh yeah, he's black. Surprise, surprise.

The website where I found the picture asks: Why Is Genarlow Wilson In Prison?? And I say, it's out and out racism. I watched this happen all the time in my rare forays into the criminal justice system. Black kids always got harsher sentences than white kids. Sexism prevailed, too. White male judges hectored women seeking restraining orders. We've got a long way to go before justice is color and sex blind.

Guess the Political Party

Guess the political party of this hypocrite:

Carlisle (PA) Sentinal: Opposed gambling, but not for himself
Former Pa. lawmaker who opposed slots won big at casinos

First two guesses don't count.

Blogtopia* Roundup, Monday December 18th, 2006

Tagged shearwaters are tracked as the birds criss-cross the Pacific. (Tagging of Pacific Palagics)

Professor Juan Cole says Elliot Abrams, war-loving felon, must go.

Atrios points out another instance of mindless journamalism. Note to corporate media: Both sides of every story are not equal and do not deserve equal billing!

Americablog links to a New York Times article on the imprisonment of an American in Iraq and the depravity of our Iraq policy.

Digby on Guantanamo and the psychopath in charge of the innocents held there.

The photo, above, is taken from a Washington Post article on how technology is allowing science to learn even more about and understand the sea and its creatures: Technologies Changing Insight Into Seas

*yes, skippy coined that phrase!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

'The months of September, October and November were the warmest in central England since 1659. '

The Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland's southern Alps, Europe's longest glacier, shrank by 66 metres (72 yards) last year because of global warming

Global warming's effects are being seen all over the planet. Despite our ignorant government's efforts to deny the reality, we are all experiencing it. It was 54 degrees here in Central Massachusetts today, our 8th straight day of warm temperatures. This is the kind of weather we'd have in Hilton Head at Christmas, after leaving the chill of New England winter. My sister played tennis in shirt sleeves in DC today. Coach Mom's star magnolia tree is covered with buds; she has a neighbor with forsythia in bloom, in the Catskills. Sounds like spring, but it's December. It's supposed to be cold. This is very, very bad news for the earth and for us, the inhabitants.

Independent (uk): Climate change: So where has all the snow gone?
With trees bursting into bud and ski runs looking like spring meadows, the Alpine winter appears to have been cancelled

Standing on the Promenade de la Treille in Geneva's old town, [] is neatly marked with a plaque declaring it to be the city's "official" chestnut tree.

Every spring since 1818, a special city official has watched the tree (and two of its predecessors) to spot when it puts out its first bud, and solemnly record the date on a special noticeboard in the town hall. It usually falls some time in March, though it has at times crept forward into February. But this year, for the first time ever, the tree burst into bloom in late October - and is still sporting flowers and leaves. Winter appears, officially, to have been cancelled.


....the Alps abound with signs that climate change is already well under way. In the 15 years running up to the turn of the millennium, they lost nearly a quarter of the area taken up by glaciers. And more than another five per cent melted in the blistering summer of 2003 alone. Average snow levels are half what they were 40 years ago.

As the ice that glues them together has melted, huge masses of rock have started detaching themselves from mountains like the Eiger, and whole cliff faces have disintegrated. And the ever-canny Swiss banks have started refusing to lend to ski resorts less than 4,500ft up in the mountains.

But it is not just the Alps that are sweltering in this warmest of winters. Friday was the hottest winter day ever recorded in Moscow at 8.6 degrees centigrade [47.5 fahrenheit] - as opposed to the usual minus four degrees [24.8 fahrenheit] - and the temperature in the Russian capital is expected to climb even higher over the next few days.

Independent (uk): Do they know it's Christmas?
After the warmest summer on record, birds that should be in the tropics are still here, leaves are still on trees and insects that should be dead are feeding well. Is this proof of global warming?

It may be just over a week to go until Christmas but parts of the natural world are behaving as if it were still late summer. Many trees are hanging on stubbornly to their leaves, wild plants are in flower and dragonflies, bumblebees and even butterflies can still be seen in the garden. Swallows and house martins, which normally would be south of the Sahara by now, have been sighted all over Britain, from North-umberland to Norfolk.

Experts say the delayed winter of 2006, in what will be Britain's hottest recorded year, could be one of the starkest signals yet that global warming has potentially far-reaching impacts for the UK's wildlife.

This year, swaths of southern and central England have been virtually untroubled by frost even though winter is nearly a third of the way through and the solstice only days away.

The months of September, October and November were the warmest in central England since 1659.
The provisional UK-wide mean temperature in autumn was 11.3C, beating the previous record set in 2001 of 10.5C, in a temperature series that began in 1914. The UK Met Office predicts a 40 per cent chance that winter temperatures will be above average with only a one in four possibility they will be colder than normal. This unprecedented warmth has altered the behaviour of many plants and creatures.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Macaca Honored

S.R. Sidarth was named's Person of the Year.

Salon Person of the Year: S.R. Sidarth
The Virginia native and son of Indian immigrants changed history with a camcorder and introduced Sen. George Allen -- and the rest of us -- to the real America.

...[T]he real message of macaca may have been the kid behind the camera.

Jim Webb eked out a statewide victory on the basis of massive margins in the booming suburbs of northern Virginia. Macaca and all the missteps that followed helped convince voters in these affluent, well-educated and increasingly diverse zip codes outside Washington that they had grown tired of George Allen. But the same voters may also have recognized Sidarth, born and raised in northern Virginia, a straight-A student at a state college and a member of the local Hindu temple, as their neighbor. Allen was just a California transplant with dip and cowboy boots who had glommed on to the ancient racial quirks of his adopted home. Sidarth was the kid next door. He, not Allen, was the real Virginian. He was proof that every hour his native commonwealth drifts further from the orbit of the GOP's solid South and toward a day when Allen's act will be a tacky antique. Allen was the past, Sidarth is the wired, diverse future -- of Virginia, the political process and the country.

It's Hard to Laugh at These

Bob Geiger: The Saturday Cartoons

Gitmo: ‘A politically motivated farce’

Most of these prisoners are guilty of nothing.

An unconstitutional farce, as well.

AP, via MSNBC: Most Gitmo detainees freed after transfer
Four-fifths of ‘vicious killers’ released after return to home countries

The Pentagon called them "among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the Earth," sweeping them up after Sept. 11 and hauling them in chains to a U.S. military prison in southeastern Cuba.

Since then, hundreds of the men have been transferred from Guantanamo Bay to other countries, many of them for "continued detention."

And then set free.


our-fifths freed after transfer
But through interviews with justice and police officials, detainees and their families, and using reports from human rights groups and local media, The Associated Press was able to track 245 of those formerly held at Guantanamo. The investigation, which spanned 17 countries, found:

* Once the detainees arrived in other countries, 205 of the 245 were either freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention at Guantanamo. Forty either stand charged with crimes or continue to be detained.
* Only a tiny fraction of transferred detainees have been put on trial. The AP identified 14 trials, in which eight men were acquitted and six are awaiting verdicts. Two of the cases involving acquittals — one in Kuwait, one in Spain — initially resulted in convictions that were overturned on appeal.
* The Afghan government has freed every one of the more than 83 Afghans sent home. Lawmaker Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the head of Afghanistan's reconciliation commission, said many were innocent and wound up at Guantanamo because of tribal or personal rivalries.
* At least 67 of 70 repatriated Pakistanis are free after spending a year in Adiala Jail. A senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official said investigators determined that most had been "sold" for bounties to U.S. forces by Afghan warlords who invented links between the men and al-Qaida. "We consider them innocent," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
* All 29 detainees who were repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives were freed, some within hours after being sent home for "continued detention."

Some former detainees say they never intended to harm the United States and are bitter.

"I can't wash the three long years of pain, trouble and humiliation from my memory," said Badarzaman Badar, an Afghan who was freed in Pakistan. "It is like a cancer in my mind that makes me disturbed every time I think of those terrible days."

Overall, about 165 Guantanamo detainees have been transferred from Guantanamo for "continued detention," while about 200 were designated for immediate release. Some 420 detainees remain at the U.S. base in Cuba.

‘A politically motivated farce’
Clive Stafford Smith, a British-American attorney representing several detainees, said the AP's findings indicate that innocent men were jailed and that the term "continued detention" is part of "a politically motivated farce."

"The Bush administration wants to be able to say that these are dangerous terrorists who are going to be confined upon their release ... although there is no evidence against many of them," he said.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Diabetes Breakthrough?

Interesting article in the National Post (Canada) today about a study conducted at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children where diabetic mice were cured of diabetes after painkillers were injected into the pancreas.

National Post (Canada): Diabetes breakthrough
Toronto scientists cure disease in mice

Their conclusions upset conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes, the most serious form of the illness that typically first appears in childhood, was solely caused by auto-immune responses -- the body's immune system turning on itself.

They also conclude that there are far more similarities than previously thought between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and that nerves likely play a role in other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and Crohn's disease.

The "paradigm-changing" study opens "a novel, exciting door to address one of the diseases with large societal impact," said Dr. Christian Stohler, a leading U.S. pain specialist and dean of dentistry at the University of Maryland, who has reviewed the work.

"The treatment and diagnosis of neuropathic diseases is poised to take a dramatic leap forward because of the impressive research."

I saw this article on BlogsNow.

Kirsten Gillibrand, Revolutionary

NYTimes Editorial: Congress and the Benefits of Sunshine

At first, the innovation sounds simple enough: Representative-elect Kirsten Gillibrand has decided to post details of her work calendar on the Internet at the end of each day so constituents can tell what she is actually doing for their money.

In fact, it is a quiet touch of revolution. The level of transparency pledged by Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York — down to naming lobbyists and fund-raisers among those she might meet with — is simply unheard of in Congress. The secrecy that cloaks the dealings of lawmakers and deep-pocket special interests underpinned the corruption issue that Ms. Gillibrand invoked as voters turned Republicans from majority rule last month.

I saw this at DownWithTyranny!

The Burning Question

Other architects of disasters receiving Presidential Medal of Freedom from the Master of Disaster himself.

The burning question is, how long before Rummy gets his Presidential Medal of Freedom? Will it be at today's farewell ceremony to ol' Heckuva Job Donald?

WaPo: Rumsfeld Career Ending in Ignominy of Iraq

"I think his epitaph will be a dark one," said Justin Logan, a foreign policy analyst with the libertarian Cato Institute. "Rumsfeld's one-line epitaph will be, 'The man who was at the helm of the Defense Department and supported what was doomed to be a losing war effort that Americans will remember as a national tragedy'."

Say Goodnight, George

The Chimperor, quoted by ABC News yesterday:

“I must tell you, I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume,” he said.

Rising Hegemon heard a song:

The Liar Sleeps Tonight

YouTube, The Tokens: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

The Chimperor Has No Clothes

And you thought the elections would make a difference to the mad Chimp of Crawford? Mr. 'Elections Have Consequences'? No. The latest insanity, that we will change the course of a popular uprising in Iraq by inserting 20,000 or 40,000 troops (when we needed more than 400,000 to begin with, how is 140,000 + 40,000 going to change anything? Even if you count the 100,000 mercenaries contractors in Iraq, it's still woefully short.)

Go read Professor Juan Cole.

Let me explain why it won't work. It won't work because Iraqis are now politically and socially mobilized. This means that they have the social preconditions for effective political and paramilitary action (they are largely urban, literate, connected by media, etc.) And they are politically savvy and well-connected. They are well armed, gaining in military experience, and well financed through petroleum and antiquities smuggling and through cash infusions from supporters abroad. The Mahdi Army fighters can be defeated by the US military, as happened twice in 2004. But they cannot be made to disappear, as they were not in 2004. That is because they are an organic movement springing from the Shiite poor, and are the paramilitary arm of a large social movement with a national network and ideology.

Attempts to crush popular movements once they have mobilized have most often failed. []

Bush is the Napoleon of our age, trampling on whole peoples, a Jacobin Emperor mouthing the slogans of liberty and popular sovereignty while crushing and looting those he "liberated."
And Kagan and Kristol (playing Talleyrand 1798) and Emperor Bush are readying a further slaughter of our US troops, 24,000 of whom have been killed or wounded, and of innocent Iraqis, 600,000 of whom have been killed by criminal and political violence since spring of 2003.

And you thought a mere election would make a difference. No one had to elect the American Enterprise Institute. No one needs to crown the emperor, he can do it himself. Welcome to Year 1 of the Empire.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Two good reads, on the significance of facts and why ignoring them can jeopardize democracy's health:

TomDispatch: Schwartz and Engelhardt, War without End

Bushco's allergy to facts doomed the Iraq War, and the ISG's allergy to facts dooms it as well.

Glenn Greenwald, Unclaimed Territory: Media as adversary to the government

The proper role of the media, and why "the well-documented and much-discussed journalistic myth that "objectivity" requires mindless recitation of both sides's claims, and that it is improper and "biased" to take sides" is bullshit. There are certain identifiable facts, and if those are known conclusions can be drawn.

Tuesday Was a Rotten Anniversary

And I missed it. Tuesday marked the sixth anniversary of the most dishonest Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott: Bush v. Gore.

Lawyers, Guns and Money: A Rotten Anniversary

Today, I am sad to remind everyone, is the sixth anniversary of the grotesque and consequential Bush v. Gore decision, which was delivered in all its steaming feculence by five activist judges who substituted their own political fantasies for the rule of law and rendered a decision that flew in the face of tradition and popular will.

[]...every December 12, we ought to remember the names of the dishonest hacks who buggered the Constitution on behalf of George W. Bush.

And those five were:

Anthony Kennedy
Sandra Day O’Connor
William Rehnquist
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas

They gave us 9/11, the Iraq War, unconstitutional eavesdropping, shit (oh, sorry, e coli) in our vegetables, energy policy by oil comanies, and all the other crap we've been subjected to by the incompetent, corrupt, cronyist Bushco.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

'Three Simple Words'

Just go laugh, Or cry. Both are appropriate.

WorkingForChange, Tom Tomorrow: This Modern World: The year in review, Part I

'The Army, despite its $168 billion budget, is out of money '

Iraqis celebrate next to a burning [$225,000] U.S. Army Humvee after an attack near Fallujah []. Three Americans were wounded, witnesses said. (Akram Saleh/Reuters)

Stephen Pizzo, The Smirking Chimp: An Important Story You Didn't See

Here are just a few of the grim facts from Jaffe's exclusive:

* According to Maj. Gen Stephen Speakes, the Army was sent to war in Iraq $56 billion short of essential equipment.
* Army officials told the White House that it needs at least an additional $24 billion, not in the 2007 budget, just to pay its current bills.
* Cash shortfalls have forced the Army to lay off janitorial staff, close base swimming pools, and even stop mowing lawns on Army bases.
* But cuts have also hit soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army officials had to cut $3 billion for replacement of weapons in heavy use in Iraq, such as armored Humvees, two-way radios, remote control surveillance aircraft and trucks.
* National Guard units now lack 40% of their critical readiness gear because it's been sent to Iraq, and the Army lacks the funds to replace it.

This budget crunch comes at a time when running the US Army never cost more, Jaffe reported.

* To stem the flow of soldiers leaving the Army because of repeated deployments to Iraq the Army was forced to spend $773 million on “retention bonus' this year compared with just $85 million three years ago.
* The Army had to spend an additional $300 million on recruiting this year than in 2003.

* The quality of the Army's oft touted all volunteer force has slid with the Army's decision to accept more enlistees that scored in the lower third of aptitude tests.
* As a result the Army had to issue 8500 “moral waivers” this year compared with just 2260 ten years ago. (Moral waivers are issued for past criminal convictions, drug use and other proven legal/moral violations.)

How much of the Army's budget problems are due to poor budgeting and how much from private sector gouging? You decide.

Here are few more facts from Jaffe's report.

* The cost of equipping an infantry soldier tripled, from $7000 in 1999 to $24,000 today.
* The cost of Humvee's went from $32,000 in 2001 to a breathtaking $225,000 each today.
* The cost of training, feeding and housing Army recruits went from $75,000 per soldier in 2001 to $120,000 today. (The Army uses private contractors, largely Halliburton's Kellogg, Root & Brown, to provide most non-training services, such as food service and base maintenance.)

No Kidding

USAToady: Majority say history won't be kind to Bush

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, a 54% majority says Bush will be judged as a below-average or poor president, more than double the negative rating given any of his five most recent predecessors.

I Have A Mean Thought

I saw this headline and thought, another side effect of Viagra.

That was not nice of me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Decline and Fall of a Once Great American Newspaper


Did you hear that?

It was Katherine Graham rolling over in her grave.

The Washington Post today eulogized Augusto Pinochet. Favorably. Here's the unbelieveable torturing, murdering dictator-loving editorial, and blogtopian deconstructions of same:

WaPo: A Dictator's Double Standard
Augusto Pinochet tortured and murdered. His legacy is Latin America's most successful country.

Unclaimed Territory (Glenn Greenwald): The Washington Post's praise for Augusto Pinochet

MaxSpeak, You Listen: WHY I DON'T BELIEVE Hours Of Fun

The Hammer (or his pet nail) has figured out how to moderate comments on his new blog. And, surprise, surprise, he only lets comments that praise his mighty self appear.

But he hasn't figured out the little trick people play where they write a post so that the first letters of each line spell out something else entirely. I bolded them to make it easier to read.

In[c]redible! There are
Many bloggs out there, but i
Prefer those that consider
Each side of every
Argument. We need more
Champions like yourself
Here on the internet.
Be assured I will
Use this blog as my homepage!
Sure, some may object, but to
Hell with them!

December 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRBT-Lific

Good afternoon and welcome to the blogosphere! I
only I wish it could've been sooner...

Freepers like me have missed you, It's
unbelievable how things change out of the limelight, eh?
Congrats on finally launching your blog. Everyone in
Kansas loves you, even now that you've retired..

You should know by now that
our country needs more people like you. Your
undeniable courage and compassionate yet strong
republican moral are like a beacon
shining in the night.
everyone is glad to have you here, and we all
look forward to seeing you making many, many
frequent additions to this blog.

December 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTIBT

D. C. insiders are in fact completely
incapable of looking beyond their self-serving
elitist opinions and short-term outlooks.

I am overjoyed that you started this blog and
noticed others in here feel the same.

fter all, somebody needs to show them liberal haters!

Fighting against these liberal media scum
is the only way for us to save our freedoms. The
real Americans are with you Mr. Delay. And I pray
everyday for more decent, honest leaders like you.

December 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterUFIA

Considering the moral uprightness
of the Republican Party, I'm
really surprised that you haven't
received the vindication you deserve.
Under the circumstances, the best
position you can take is in a blog.
There, you can compete with anti-
American libertinism on a level
surface. If you should decide to
suffer again as an elected politician,
honor must hold Americans accountable
over the scandalous smear job.
Leave it alone until the Americans are
eager to have you back!

December 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHTML

I was alerted to these trojan comments by Blah3, who got it from CrazyMike at BartCopForum

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Quiz for Lawmakers

Next Hurrah: A Quiz for Lawmakers

I did OK; got 3 of 16 wrong (9, 10, 16), so give me an 81.

Silvestre Reyes (D-Tx), the new Chair of the Intelligence Commmittee, will probably have a hard time:

Democrats’ New Intelligence Chairman Needs a Crash Course on al Qaeda

And let's not even talk about Bush and his intelligence gap.

The Fighting First Family

YouTube video: The Fighting First Family


How the Bush family's recruitment-eligible generation is winning the war against Godless Islamunistofascism

video by Jesus' General

Red Squirrel

Saw one of these on my morning walk along the Wachusett Reservoir. I don't see them often in New England and at first I thought it was a chipmunk, but it had no stripes and that big red tail was the giveaway.

OLS Biden

The great ship foundering at sea, the OLS ('One Last Shot') Biden.

Atrios dug up several of Joe Biden's ridiculous foreign policy pronouncements over the last three desperate years. And you guessed it: We keep getting one last shot to get it right in Iraq. Kind of like a Friedman, but with even more wiggle room.

One Last Shot. Destined to become a drinking game if Biden enters the 2008 Democratic Presidential primaries. (And every shot will be One Last Shot.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pop Quiz

Who wrote, of Vietnam:

“It was a shameful thing to ask men to suffer and die, to persevere through god-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat, for a cause that the country wouldn’t support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believed could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make us pay.

“No other national endeavor requires as much unshakable resolve as war. If the nation and the government lack that resolve, it is criminal to expect men in the field to carry it alone.”

Answer in comments.

Tee Hee

Tom Delay started a blog! Then Tom Delay found out that blogs get comments. Tom Delay's blog got lots of very funny comments. And 75 minutes later, Tom Delay's blog was wiped of content.

Tom Delay deleted his blog, but a smart techie saved it: HERE.

I found the link at Crooks & Liars.

Call John Sweeney The Wahhhhhhhmbulance

'Cause it's time for this very disturbed man to go home.

Albany Times-Union: On the Hill, the sound of silence
John Sweeney, still reeling from re-election loss to Kirsten Gillibrand, fails to show for votes

WASHINGTON -- Since losing re-election last month, Rep. John Sweeney has played hooky in Congress, skipping votes, dodging reporters and avoiding his new make-shift office in a basement cubicle set up for lame ducks.

Sweeney's friends and colleagues Capitol Hill say the Republican from Clifton Park is still stunned about the outcome of the Nov. 7 election when he lost to Democratic challenger Kirsten Gillibrand.


Sessions [Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, a close friend of Sweeney's], asked why Sweeney was so angry and shocked about his loss, said: "John was disappointed that some frailties in his life were contributing issues to his defeat." He said Sweeney has been ill and his blood pressure had risen.

Sweeney believes he picked up "a bug" during congressional trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Sessions.

"A bug got into his system and lodged in his brain,"
Sessions said. "It caused unimaginable pain and stress."

Hat tip to Talking Points Memo.

RIP Jeane Kirkpatrick

When I read all the dainty fawning obituaries of Jeane Kirkpatrick in the corporate press, I hoped someone in the progressive blogosphere would write up the real story: Iran-contra, death squads in El Salvador, funding the 'rebels' in Afghanistan [read: bin Laden]. And here it is:

dailykos: The Real Obituary of Jeane Kirkpatrick

[A] legacy of bloodshed, death and destruction.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Five Years After 9/11

The Iraq Study Group reports that only six of the 1000 employees at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq speak fluent Arabic.

Another heckuva job by the Bushies.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Round-Up, December 8, 2006

An empty pushchair amid the wreckage in West London. Photo sent in by Ian Carter. (bbc)

Great interview with President Al Gore in GQ. I really hope he runs. Remember Al? Against the war from the get-go? Smartest guy in the room? If somebody's got to mop up the Chimperor's excesses, I nominate Al.

The BBC has an article on how we are polluting the oceans with plastic. I'm moving from a 'recycle everything' mindset to a 'don't buy plastic if you don't need to' one. I do get odd looks in the grocery store when I spill my veggies out onto the conveyor belt without plastic bags, but so what.

Global warming news: Tornado strikes London yesterday, injuring 6 people and damaging up to 150 homes. Could have something to do with all this warm weather.

Go read Krugman: At the official link, or here, or here. As a person who screamed at her TV from 9/12/01 on at the fawning media coverage of C+ Augustus, the biggest catastrophe in U.S. history, it's nice to hear someone praise our side in the corporate media.

Tom Friedman, billionaire, has run out of Friedmans. Now he says, set a date and get out. A little late, Tommy boy. Who cares. He was wrong from the start. Why should we listen to any of these fools?

Sunil Gulati putting coal in my stocking: Jurgen Klinsmann issued a statement yesterday saying he is withdrawing his name from consideration as USMNT coach, after six months of talks. And Bob Bradley has been named interim coach. A good round-up of the sports press take here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Only The New York Post

I saw this on TPMMuckraker.

Happy Birthday Larry Legend

Kodak Moment

It's Larry Bird's 50th birthday. He'll always be older than me!

Bill Fitch, Larry's first professional coach, gave him the name Kodak. He described Bird as running up and down the court, constantly taking photographs with his eyes. He was the star of the 1980s for me and most of Boston.

SI, November 9, 1981: Gifts That God Didn't Give
Larry Bird was blessed with his height, but lots of work made him the NBA's most complete player since Oscar Robertson

Bob Ryan, Boston Globe: A day to celebrate Bird's greatness

Boston Herald: Larry Bird turns 50 (photo gallery)

Boston Herald: A legend turns 50: Bird reflects on his milestone birthday

And, of course, there are the legendary taunts of opponents. From Wikipedia:

Bird's competitive nature is also shown through by his constant trash-talking on the court. Some notable examples:

* During one game on Christmas Day against the Indiana Pacers, before the game Bird told Chuck Person that he would give him a Christmas present. During the game, when Person was on the bench, Bird shot a three-pointer on the baseline right in front of Person. Immediately after the shot, Bird said to Person, "Merry fucking Christmas!", and the shot went in.

* During the three-point shooting contest on All-Star Weekend 1986, Bird told the competitors before the contest "I want all of you to know I am winning this thing. Who's playing for second (place)?" Bird indeed won the contest, and would also win in 1987 and 1988.

* In a game against the Seattle SuperSonics with the game all tied up, Bird told Supersonics forward Xavier McDaniel, who was guarding him, exactly where he would hit the game winning shot. After a timeout, Bird made two baseline cuts, then posted in the exact spot he had indicated to McDaniel, paused and turned and hit the shot in his face.

* On a night in 1984 versus Philadelphia where he was outscoring Julius Erving by a margin of 42–6, he continuously informed Erving of their tallies every chance he got, which resulted in first a shoving match, then swings taken by both players and culminated in a bench-clearing brawl.

Operation Ignore

The Iraq Study Group issued its report yesterday (I saw a caption of Bush holding the report on some blog yesterday with the caption "Iraq for Dummies").

It's not going to affect anything Bush does. Why?

Because, as Philip Slater says on HuffPo today, Bush is a lunatic:

One of the main reasons we should keep troops in Iraq, the neo-cons say, is that if we leave, it will de-stabilize the Middle East. This is hilarious, considering the fact that it was the Bush administration's boneheaded adventurism that has de-stabilized it already. Only a lunatic would think that bombing and invading a country, destroying its infrastructure, and firing its entire security force would bring stability to the region.

He's never leaving Iraq. All the studies in the world won't make him leave Iraq. Iraq is the next President's problem, and of course thousands of innocents will die for C+ Augustus to get his lunatic way.

A Day That WIll Live In Infamy

Today is the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. The New York Times has a special section all about it, including articles never before published because of war censors, about the salvage operation after the attacks.

America Before Pearl Harbor - Early Kodachrome Images on dailykos has a beautiful set of photographs of pre-Pearl Harbor, pre-WWII America.

WaPo: One Last Mission for Ship Sunk in Pearl Harbor Attack
Scientists in Md. Hope Arizona Stability Study Might Aid Others

For 65 years, the wreck of the USS Arizona has been leaking oil from its grave at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, staining the water, visitors often say, as if it were the ship's blood.

The leaks come from about 500,000 gallons of thick, bunker C fuel oil that remain trapped in the deteriorating hulk -- oil whose "catastrophic" release experts now think is inevitable.

The Naval Historical Center has an overview, with photographs.
National Geographic also has a Pearl Harbor page, including a searchable archive of survivor's stories.

One of the pilots who defended Pearl Harbor died just after Thanksgiving:
LATimes: Kenneth M. Taylor, 86; Army Air Forces pilot shot down enemy planes after Pearl Harbor attack

Ken Taylor: The Reluctant Hero
tells his story.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Footie News

The many faces of Jurgen Klinsmann

FoxSports reports that Jurgen Klinsmann is to be the next USMNT coach. Let's hope so!

via duNord, Eurosport reports that Real Madrid has made a bid for Gooch, Oguchi Onyewu, our massive defender currently toiling for Standard Liege in Belgium. Real Madrid! Teammate of Beckham, von Nistelrooy, and Raul! My god, he could be playing next to Roberto Carlos. Another report we hope is correct.

From Who Ate All The Pies (it's an English thing), video of current England soccer players in their youth. Look for the Michael Owen goal about 3/4 of the way along - he scores from the kickoff. Oh, and Robbie Savage with a cameo as Little Lord Fauntleroy.

Clint Dempsey (The Deuce) has reportedly been offered a deal by Fulham FC, but is going to have to appeal for a work permit, as he doesn't have sufficient appearances for the US National Team to automatically qualify.

Reading, home of Americans Bobby Convey and Marcus Hahnemann, are 6th in the table in the EPL. They did have the highest point total ever in the Championship last season, but their start is amazing.

Dear Santa,

I want one of these.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Inconvenient News

A New Zealand frigate sails past the Ross Ice Shelf in 1999. An iceberg warning has been issued for ships in the Southern Ocean after more than 100 were sighted just south of New Zealand.(AFP/File)

New Zealand Herald, via Common Dreams: Massive Ice Shelf 'May Collapse without Warning'

The Ross Ice Shelf, a massive piece of ice the size of France, could break off without warning causing a dramatic rise in sea levels, warn New Zealand scientists working in Antarctica.


Antarctica stores 70 per cent of the world's fresh water, with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet holding an estimated 30 million cubic kilometres.

In January, British Antarctic Survey researchers predicted that its collapse would make sea levels rise by at least 5m, with other estimates predicting a rise of up to 17m.

Farewell The Mustache

WaPo: John Bolton Resigns as U.S. Ambassador to U.N.

Why? Because Harry Reid announced he would keep the Senate in session with no more than one week off. Bush wasn't going to be able to sneak another recess appointment through. Go Harry!

This Is My Brother

Jose Padilla, fitted with blacked-out goggles, was videotaped by the government when he was allowed outside solitary confinement to see a dentist.

Am I my brother's keeper?

Cain's words have come to symbolize people's unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of their fellows — their “brothers” in the extended sense of the term.

The government's continued torture of Jose Padilla, AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, while he is held on trumped-up charges, is a national disgrace. He has been subjected to extreme sensory deprivation and is treated as though he were the fictional character Hannibal Lector. Lector is not only a fictional creature, in his fictional world, he's a convicted murderer. In the twisted Bushworld, innocent until proven guilty American citizen Padilla has been the subject of wild accusations by former Attorney General John Witchcroft in the court of public opinion. In actual court, he's charged with nothing more than vague and unsupported allegations of terrorist activity.

The Newsweek article reports that there is videotape of his interrogations. Like the pictures of Abu Ghraib, which when justice is finally served, these videotapes will be evidence in the trial of the people who tortured him.

Padilla is my brother. He's your brother, too. This could happen to any of us. The government decides you are a threat, and you are disappeared. This is the type of criminal behavior we associate with fascist dictatorships, not with the United States of America. We're not a beacon of freedom as long as we let atrocities like this occur without speaking up and dissenting from the government's abuse of its awesome power.

NYTimes: Video Is a Window Into a Terror Suspect’s Isolation

Glenn Greenwald: The ongoing national disgrace of lawless indefinite detentions

Digby: Breaking The Furniture

Newsweek: Courtroom Showdown
Accused terrorist Jose Padilla wants to describe how he was treated in a military brig. The government is trying to keep him quiet.

We Love Lists

TreeHugger's Green Gift Guide 2006

The list is still being compiled, so you can also check out the 2005 list. So far they have the 2006 lists for foodies and kids up.

Chambaware looks pretty cool.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What Do the Himalayas and the Catskills Have in Common?

Flooding, Sullivan County, New York, June 2006

Guardian (uk) (via RawStory):
Nepal's farmers on the front line of global climate change
Himalayan communities face catastrophic floods as weather patterns alter

Khetbari expects a small flood every decade or so, but what shocked the village was that the two largest have taken place in the last three years. According to Mr Tamang, a pattern is emerging. "The floods are coming more severely more frequently. Not only is the rainfall far heavier these days than anyone has ever experienced, it is also coming at different times of the year."

NYTimes, Nov. 28, 2005: Dam at a Catskill Reservoir Needs Emergency Repair, City Says (TimesSelect Wall)

The Schoharie Valley was hit with 100-year-floods in 1955, 1987 and again in 1996, when the Schoharie Reservoir reached its all-time high water level, more than six and a half feet over the top of the dam. A flood in April nearly matched that, and the area was hit with record rainfall in October.

''Seems like we've got 100-year floods coming every nine years now,'' said Fred Risse, a local farmer whose land lies in the flood plain of the Schoharie Creek. ''What happens when we get another?''

TimesHerald Record, June 30, 2006: Dealing with the aftermath

Along the Susquehanna in Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the deluge was severe. And here in northern Sullivan County the it was the worst anyone could recall. In fact, one early assessment suggested the Upper Delaware Valley had witnessed the kind of flooding thought to occur only two or three times a millennium.

"This was definitely a record flood," said Ward Freeman, assist director of the U.S. Geological Survey's Weather Science Center in Troy. "In the Delaware, the levels were the highest we've seen since we've been keeping track."

The agency has had gauges along the Delaware for 56 years.

At least one flood gauge posted at the mouth of the Callicoon Creek reported the Delaware had reached its 500-year flood stage.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Everything You Know Is Wrong

Times (uk): Pyramids were built with concrete rather than rocks, scientists claim

The Ancient Egyptians built their great Pyramids by pouring concrete into blocks high on the site rather than hauling up giant stones, according to a new Franco-American study.