"How long do you have to get hit in the head before you start asking who's hitting you in the head?"

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Of piety, porn, and passivity

A man I once respected has recently begun clogging the inboxes of friends and relatives with two distinct types of email: fervent calls to religious action (in hopes of restoring morality and decency to our country) or vile, misogynistic “jokes” (accompanied by often grotesquely photoshopped photos). He sees no hypocrisy in these almost-daily missives—and he’s not likely to, because those of us who receive the emails merely delete them and say nothing. Who wants to cause trouble? He’s really a nice guy once you get to know him, we say, probably just having some marital difficulties, and eventually he’ll simply stop sending them, right?

So—what does the story above have to do with the state of the union, you ask? Well, in my opinion, everything.

Our country is that man. These days, we are a sublimely pious and vicious nation. We profess to care deeply about the poor, the sick, and the helpless, even as the number of poor, sick, and helpless Americans grows at an obscene rate. We speak with exalted words while simultaneously vilifying the Other in ways old (subjugation of women and legalized homophobia) and new (justification of torture and endless, bloody war).

But our country is that man’s friends and relatives, too. We don’t say anything. Who wants to get fired, or vandalized, or put on the no-fly list, or worse? We’re a great country, really, the greatest, we say, it’s probably just a phase, and eventually it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

Monday, January 30, 2006

One nation, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for some


a. The condition of being free from restriction or control.

b. The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one's own choosing.

Liberty University:

a. An institution wherein one can learn to “make an impact in the field of law on abortion and gay rights, to get back to Americans' godly heritage.”

b. See “assault ministry.”


To date, the US Army has stop-lossed about 50,000 soldiers. Think about that for a moment: 50,000. 50,000 men and women forced to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan after their terms of enlistment have ended.

But even stop-loss measures aren’t enough to end current recruitment woes:

“The higher rates of promotion are part of efforts to fill new slots created by an Army reorganization and to compensate for officers who are resigning from the service, many after multiple rotations to Iraq.

[. . .]

“… rising attrition rates for officers could be an ominous sign of an eventual exodus from the service's leadership ranks.

“They say that with many officers in line for a third yearlong combat tour in Iraq, it is inevitable that a growing number would choose to leave the military to relieve strain on their family lives.

“The exodus will be among officers whose families say, ‘Look, there are 300 million people in this country; let somebody else take their turn.’ ”

And who better to “take their turn” but those who “support President Bush’s recently unveiled strategy for victory in Iraq”? After tomorrow’s big nationwide rally, I’ll bet that literally thousands of College Republicans will sign up to help “finish the job.” Hooray! Hang in there, GI Joe and Jane! Help is on the way!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Fellowship, aka The Family, aka the American Taliban: The Handmaid’s Tale meets Sleeper Cell

Truth really is stranger than fiction:

“The morning I attended, Charlene, the cook, scrambled up eggs with blue tortillas, Italian sausage, red pepper, and papaya. Three women from Potomac Point, an ‘Ivanwald for girls’ across the road from The Cedars, came to help serve. They wore red lipstick and long skirts (makeup and ‘feminine’ attire were required) and had, after several months of cleaning and serving in The Cedars while the brothers worked outside, become quite unimpressed by the high-powered clientele. ‘Girls don't sit in on the breakfasts,’ one of them told me, though she said that none of them minded because it was ‘just politics.’”

But wait—there’s more:

“[Brownback] is running for president because murder is always on his mind: the abortion of what he considers fetal citizens. He speaks often and admiringly of John Brown, the abolitionist who massacred five pro-slavery settlers just north of the farm where Brownback grew up. Brown wanted to free the slaves; Brownback wants to free fetuses. He loves each and every one of them. ‘Just . . . sacred,’ he says. In January, during the confirmation of Samuel Alito for a seat on the Supreme Court, Brownback compared Roe v. Wade to the now disgraced rulings that once upheld segregation.”

[. . .]

Brownback's wife, Mary, heiress to a Midwest newspaper fortune, married Sam during her final year of law school and boasts that she has never worked outside the home. ‘Basically,’ she says, ‘I live in the kitchen.’”

[. . .]

“One of the little-known strengths of the Christian right lies in its adoption of the ‘cell’ -- the building block historically used by small but determined groups to impose their will on the majority. Seventy years ago, an evangelist named Abraham Vereide founded a network of ‘God-led’ cells comprising senators and generals, corporate executives and preachers. Vereide believed that the cells -- God's chosen, appointed to power -- could construct a Kingdom of God on earth with Washington as its capital. They would do so ‘behind the scenes,’ lest they be accused of pride or a hunger for power, and ‘beyond the din of vox populi,’ which is to say, outside the bounds of democracy. To insiders, the cells were known as the Family, or the Fellowship. To most outsiders, they were not known at all.

“‘Communists use cells as their basic structure,’ declares a confidential Fellowship document titled ‘Thoughts on a Core Group.’ ‘The mafia operates like this, and the basic unit of the Marine Corps is the four-man squad. Hitler, Lenin and many others understood the power of a small group of people.’ Under Reagan, Fellowship cells quietly arranged meetings between administration officials and leaders of Salvadoran death squads, and helped funnel military support to Siad Barre, the brutal dictator of Somalia, who belonged to a prayer cell of American senators and generals.”

[. . .]

Brownback doesn't demand that everyone believe in his God -- only that they bow down before Him.”

Okay. . .at what point should I start FREAKING OUT?!?!?

Friday, January 27, 2006

What do you make of this exchange?

“Let's see, Richard.

Q Mr. President, you mentioned earlier that this is an election year. Republicans [sic] are expressing great confidence that they're going to be able to take --


Q The Democrats, I mean, they're expressing –”

The reporter hadn’t even finished his question, yet Bush pounced on the error. So. . .does he get the questions in advance, or does he truly think it odd that “Republicans are expressing great confidence” in an election year? Hmm…Wally O’Dell did resign from Diebold recently…

Filibuster, anyone?

Take action: Ask key senators to support the Alito filibuster by clicking here. Feel free to modify the text—I did, because I wasn't too crazy about the semicolon usage. But hey, that's just me...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Abramoff, Ney, and DeLay: Oh my!

Now this is a fascinating read.

And now take a look at this.

HA! It’s like Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (“I invented Post-Its”), except no one at the George Washington University School of Business and Public Management saw through the scam, fer chrissakes.

Hmm…which should I do first? Track down a transcript of that speech or pad the living shit out of my resume?

Oh, and if anyone from GWU is reading this, I am the current chairman and CEO of Dial-A-Mattress. No, really. “Leave off the last 'S'--that's for 'Suckers'!” Give me a call and we can discuss my stipend, okay?

Now it’s an emergency?

“The U.S. Army, under pressure to issue more protective gear to its soldiers in Iraq, has signed a $70 million emergency contract with a California company to rush ceramic body armor to the front lines.”

Better 3 years late than never, I guess...

Meanwhile, desperate parents have been buying body armor for their deploying children and the Pentagon has yet to reimburse them. And Soldiers for the Truth reports that soldiers who purchased “Dragon Skin” body armor are being told they may lose their death benefits if they wear it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Google This !

Ya gotta love Mark Morford:

"homemade nuke porn lollipop kiddie nipple bomb!!!"

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Onward, Southern Baptist Soldiers!

Missionary positions:

“A statement of conscience calling the war ‘an unjust and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq’ has been signed by 99 bishops and more than 5,000 members of the United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the land.

“President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are both Methodists, but leaders of the 11-million-member church say they have had no response from the White House.”

[. . .]

“The largest single U.S. Protestant body, however, the 18-million-strong Southern Baptist Convention, says Bush has ‘shown courage and leadership in his valiant opposition to terrorism’ and deserves the ‘deepest gratitude and respect.’"

Hoo-yah, Southern Baptists! Heck, I’ll bet that y’all routinely invite military recruiters to visit after church services, so all the 18- to 39-year-old men and women in your congregations can sign up for active duty. No? Well, maybe you should think about it, because I’ll bet quite a few soldiers on their second and third year-long deployments would like to come home and give y’all a chance to valiantly oppose terrorism fer a spell.

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Remember: What’s good for M&M Enterprises
is good for everybody…

From today’s NYT:

A new audit of American financial practices in Iraq has uncovered irregularities including millions of reconstruction dollars stuffed casually into footlockers and filing cabinets, an American soldier in the Philippines who gambled away cash belonging to Iraq, and three Iraqis who plunged to their deaths in a rebuilt hospital elevator that had been improperly certified as safe.”

[. . .]

“ ‘It does not surprise me at all,’ said a Defense Department official who worked in Hilla and other parts of the country, who spoke anonymously because he said he feared retribution from the Bush administration. He predicted that similar problems would turn up in the major southern city of Basra and elsewhere in the dangerous desert wasteland of Anbar province. ‘It's a disaster,’ the official said of problems with contracting in Anbar.

"No records were kept as money came and went from the main vault at the Hilla compound, and inside it was often stashed haphazardly in a filing cabinet.”

Okay. . . so there’s been some mismanagement: big deal! We really should follow the example set by our “CEO President” and “assume the best” here. After all, this is probably just a “perception problem” more than anything, “stirred up by the overheated media.” It wouldn’t be prudent to “overreact,” because doing so might “hurt the real economy” and “hamstring honest executives.” Right?

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Hmm: Insight, the magazine of the ultra-conservative Washington Times (owned by batshit-crazy Sun Myung Moon), uses the I word. I’d like to see an open debate; it will be interesting to see what some “strict-constructionist” conservatives have to say about repeated 4th Amendment violations…

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I’m easily confused, and I vote

From his Monday speech at KSU:

“First, I made the decision to do the following things because there's an enemy that still wants to harm the American people. What I'm talking about is the intercept of certain communications emanating between somebody inside the United States and outside the United States; and one of the numbers would be reasonably suspected to be an al Qaeda link or affiliate. In other words, we have ways to determine whether or not someone can be an al Qaeda affiliate or al Qaeda. And if they're making a phone call in the United States, it seems like to me we want to know why.”

But. . .wait a minute. . .if we “have ways to determine” who “they” are, and “they” are making phone calls “in the United States,” why don’t we just arrest them already?

“This is a -- I repeat to you, even though you hear words, ‘domestic spying,’ these are not phone calls within the United States. It's a phone call of an al Qaeda, known al Qaeda suspect, making a phone call into the United States.”

Oh. . .I guess I misunderstood. . .Sorry. Please disregard my first question. So the US government is not monitoring the outgoing international phone calls and emails of its citizens but only incoming phone calls from terrorists abroad? Well, that’s different! I wish you’d said so in the first place!

And thanks for clearing up my confusion over the term “domestic spying”: Now whenever I hear the objections of anti-American liberals, I’ll know that what they’re really complaining about is "incoming international phone calls from known terrorists spying." Poo on you, Michael Moore! Go back to France!


Monday, January 23, 2006

Halliburton tells our troops:

You bathe in and make coffee with the water you have, not the water you might want or wish to have…


The War on Poverty, Republican Style

Christopher Brauchli on George Bush’s America:

“In 2003 this column observed that in 2001, the IRS began increasing its audits of the working poor while reducing its audits of the wealthy. In 2002 one out of every 64 people claiming the [earned income tax] credit was audited whereas only one out of 120 persons with income of more than $100,000 was audited. Fifty-five percent of all audits conducted in 2001 were audits of the working poor. The amount the government was then losing because of the cheating poor was between $6.5 billion and $10 billion.

Although those amounts didn’t seem like much when contrasted with the $72 billion lost because of individual off-shore accounts (few of which were owned by the poor), $46 billion then being evaded by corporations and $30 billion evaded by partnership investors, there was, in fact, a significant difference. The poor are a drag on society whereas wealthy individuals and corporations are what make a George Bush kind of society run smoothly. When the wealthy cheat on taxes they take the money they save by cheating and reinvest it in our economy thus providing new employment opportunities for the poor. The poor, by contrast, use the money saved by cheating to buy food, clothing or pay rent which does no one but them any good.”


Sunday, January 22, 2006

More on Roe

Check out bushvchoice.com for a thought-provoking look at the current state of reproductive rights in the US.

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Some thoughts on the 33rd anniversary of Roe v Wade

I don’t usually quote bumper stickers, but in this case the expression “Against abortion? Don’t have one” provides an excellent summation of my pro-choice views. To me, choice is simply allowing a woman control over her reproductive life, giving her the freedom to decide when and if to bear children—what reasonable person would want it any other way? The very idea of forcing a woman to have a child against her will is appalling to me.

As such, I’ll not be baited into “pro-life” arguments based on religious beliefs. The United States government maintains (for the time being, anyway,) a wall of separation between church and state and protects me from the compulsion to observe, much less submit to, any religious doctrine that differs from my own.

And I’ll not argue with those who rely upon gruesome and provocative language when describing the abortion procedure. A rudimentary knowledge of anatomy and physiology makes clear the differences between a blastocyst, an embryo, a fetus, and a child.

Nor will I argue with those who employ what I call the “Beretta” claim (“don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”). In my opinion, this approach is sexist and hypocritical, and I will continue to think so until Viagra and Cialis are made as difficult to obtain as Plan B.

What I will do, however, is continue to sign petitions, call or write my representatives, and rally with like-minded women and men in order to keep abortion safe and legal.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Molly Ivins demands that
Democratic leaders grow a pair:

“What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?"
. . .

“Bush, Cheney and Co. will continue to play the patriotic bully card just as long as you let them. I've said it before: War brings out the patriotic bullies. In World War I, they went around kicking dachshunds on the grounds that dachshunds were ‘German dogs.’ They did not, however, go around kicking German shepherds. The MINUTE someone impugns your patriotism for opposing this war, turn on them like a snarling dog and explain what loving your country really means. That, or you could just piss on them elegantly, as Rep. John Murtha did. Or eviscerate them with wit (look up Mark Twain on the war in the Philippines). Or point out the latest in the endless ‘string of bad news.’

Do not sit there cowering and pretending the only way to win is as Republican-lite. If the Washington-based party can't get up and fight, we'll find someone who can.”

Read the whole thing; it’s good.

Land of the Free: Love It or Leave It

The NSA wiretapping story has refused to die, and this week saw the emergence of the Google story.

I wasn’t always such a cynic, but I doubt this subpoena has much to do with pornography; I think it is an attempt to facilitate data-mining of US citizens. If it really is about pornography, why is the issue such a priority all of a sudden? I mean, don’t we have much larger domestic issues to deal with right now?

And anyway, wouldn’t America’s absolute best collective “fuck you” to the theocratic asshole terrorists be to expand rather than limit our freedom? I mean, who cares if adults look at Internet porn?

Instead, we seem to be cultivating quite a few theocratic assholes of our own. I say screw them : They can go live in Saudi Arabia if they find the Internet so goddamned offensive.

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The Reign of the War on Terror

From yesterday’s White House press conference:

MR. McCLELLAN: And as I indicated, clearly, the al Qaeda leaders and the terrorists are on the run. They're under a lot of pressure. We do not negotiate with terrorists. We put them out of business” (Well…except for what’s-his-face, who continues to threaten the US because the president was “not that concerned about him.”). “The terrorists started this war, and the President made it clear that we will end it at a time and place of our choosing.”


Thursday, January 19, 2006

When life gives you lemons

As I noted in an earlier post, the US Army recently began accepting more applicants with low aptitude test scores. Well, today I read that the age limit for enlistment has been increased to 39, and now every time I close my eyes I see this:

On a more optimistic note, some folks in the know seem to think this is a swell idea. In fact, a local Army Recruiter in Guam actually said:

"This definitely is going to help in recruiting here because it's totally opened up a new market for us. Who knows, maybe we'll get some parents and kids enlisting at the same time."

See? If you look at it that way…


Compassionate Conservative Thursday

Who is the winner of olio’s first compassionate conservative contest? Why, it’s none other than Himself:

There are, of course, countless reasons to bestow this honor on our nation’s leader, but from the trove of his compassionate words and deeds I have chosen this gem of a statement he recently made to our wounded men and women in uniform:

As you can possibly see, I have an injury myself -- not here at the hospital, but in combat with a Cedar. I eventually won.”

“Combat with a Cedar”? Now that, my friends, is compassion.


More on Medicare

I’ve read through scores of official press releases and speeches concerning the new Medicare prescription drug benefit; all those I’ve seen so far read as gung-ho sales pitches containing plenty of sunny generalities and optimistic projections but little real information. To date, I’ve seen nothing to explain how things like this keep happening:

“…nearly two dozen states across the country have decided to cover the prescriptions of low-income beneficiaries as a public health emergency. Many people were being refused critical medications or were being charged as much as 80 times their usual co-payment.”

I wonder if some of these people have already had their food and housing assistance reduced, or if they even knew such a thing were possible. I didn’t know it was possible until I found these statements on medicare.gov*:

“If you apply and qualify for extra help paying for the new Medicare prescription drug coverage, you may see your food stamp benefits go down as you spend less on drugs. Using the new Medicare drug coverage means you will have more cash to spend on food that you used to spend on prescription drugs. The value of the extra help paying Medicare prescription drug costs will more than make up for any loss in food stamps. If you get the $10 minimum food stamp benefit, then your benefits may end.
. . .

If you apply and qualify for extra help paying for the new Medicare prescription drug coverage, you will not lose your housing assistance. However, your housing assistance may be reduced as you spend less on drugs. Using the new Medicare drug coverage means you will have more cash to spend on rent that you used to spend on prescription drugs. The value of the extra help paying Medicare prescription drug costs will more than make up for the lower housing assistance.”

Now, it could be argued that this information is available online and can be found with a little time and effort. While that is certainly true, those impacted by these changes are low-income individuals, and I’m not sure how many poor people have ready access to the “Internets.” In light of recent news reports such as the one excerpted above, these aspects of the Medicare drug benefit are potentially life-threatening, yet I’ve NEVER heard them televised. Have you?

*I’m not providing a direct link to this information because I want you to find it yourselves (preferably while imagining you’re old, sick, and poor).


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Today’s NY Times story about the “enriched uranium from Niger” cock-up drove me nuts. First we’re reminded that Bush has already admitted his mistake:

“The White House later acknowledged that the charge, which played a part in the decision to invade Iraq in the belief that Baghdad was reconstituting its nuclear program, relied on faulty intelligence and should not have been included in the speech.”

Then we’re reminded that it really wasn’t his fault, because:

“The White House is not an intelligence-gathering operation. The president based his remarks in the State of the Union address on the intelligence that was presented to him by the intelligence community and cleared by the intelligence community.’”

But what we're NOT reminded of is these guys:

“According to former Bush officials, all defence and intelligence sources, senior administration figures created a shadow agency of Pentagon analysts staffed mainly by ideological amateurs to compete with the CIA and its military counterpart, the Defence Intelligence Agency.

The agency, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was set up by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information and operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including Vice-President Dick Cheney.

The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight. But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war.”


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More on Murtha

I hope you read E.J. Dionne’s Op-Ed on the “unblushing hypocrisy of the right wing and the way it circulates . . . personal vilification to abort honest political debate.”

It’s a wonderful piece, and it reminded me of the shock and disgust I felt when I saw this:


I’ve been married for 26 years, and I can honestly say that the issue of gay marriage/civil unions has played no part in any of our relationship’s more vulnerable moments. Periodically, my husband and I have felt the strain of finding affordable-yet-adequate day care, lack of health care, stagnant wages, and rising energy and housing costs, though. So it was really good to see that David Englin had the courage to stand up and say this:

"So I would like to know, how exactly do civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar arrangements threaten my marriage?
So I would like to know, how exactly do civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar arrangements threaten my family?"

I’d like to know, too, because as far as I can tell, they don’t.


Monday, January 16, 2006

A tidbit from Al Gore's speech today:

“On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

The FBI privately called King the 'most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country' and vowed to 'take him off his pedestal.' The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide.

This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn the most intimate details of Dr. King's life, helped to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping.”

Raw Story has the transcript.


Where are all the orators? Where are all the statesmen? We need a Dr. King today:

“At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called ‘enemy,’ I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create hell for the poor.”


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sago Mine victims remembered

“‘We cannot know the purpose of this tragedy,’ said Gov. Joe Manchin, ‘but I pledge to you we will determine the cause.’"

Hey, Joe, here’s a hint:

“The number of infractions issued to the Sago Mine last year was ‘higher than would be normally issued to a mine that size,’ said Ray McKinney, administrator for the coal division of the MSHA. Since 2000, the incidence of injuries at Sago was also higher than average — more than twice the national rate, MSHA data show.

"Nine times in the past year, the mine was cited for failing to properly enact a 'mine ventilation plan,' according to MSHA records. The regulatory agency considered three of those violations ‘significant and substantial.’ Proper ventilation is one of the key safety measures to prevent fires and explosions…

"Seven times last year, MSHA cited the mine for failing to properly conduct a ‘pre-shift examination,’ the safety inspection mandated before each shift of workers is allowed to enter the mine. Monitoring methane gas is required during such an examination.”


Oh, crap:

“In Washington, U.S. intelligence sources said it was too early to know whether the strike had killed Zawahiri, 54, an Egyptian physician who is al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's top aide. ‘The outcome of this doesn't seem decided,’ said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Well, an immediate outcome certainly seems decided:

“Some 10,000 people rallied in Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city, chanting ‘Death to America’ and ‘Stop bombing against innocent people.’ Hundreds massed in the capital, Islamabad, and in Lahore, Multan and Peshawar burning U.S. flags and demanding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.”


Saturday, January 14, 2006

John makes a good point:

“Again, the Washington Post article makes clear that the issue as to whether George Bush, standing before the American people as a holier-than-thou spokesman for the war in Iraq, is truly fit to be such a spokesman, let alone the commander in chief of our brave men and women in uniform.”

So Murtha, a combat veteran, is a “liar and a coward?” Click here to access a searchable database of lies from the former Andover cheerleader and here for a recent example of his cowardice.


Friday, January 13, 2006

A bitter pill

“Since the drug benefit took effect on Jan. 1, tens of thousands of low-income people have been overcharged, and some have been turned away from pharmacies without getting their medications. In many cases, pharmacists say, they cannot identify the plan in which a person has been enrolled. The federal government is supposed to compute the subsidy available to each low-income beneficiary, but, in many cases, that information was not shared with insurers or pharmacists.”

Wow…That’s really weird, because Mark McClellan, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said quite clearly during “Medicare Rx, A National Conversation,”

“No matter how you pay for your prescription drugs, no matter how you get your Medicare today, no matter what your income, the new Medicare drug benefit can help you with the cost and with security when it comes to prescription drugs which are just an essential part of modern medicine today.”

Hmm…Is that final clause a disclaimer? Maybe these silly folks tried to get prescription drugs which are not an essential part of modern medicine today…

The NYT further reports that

“Under the new Medicare law, poor people are entitled to extra help, and Medicare officials have repeatedly assured them that their co-payments will not exceed $3 or $5 for a prescription. But many have been charged $50 to $100 or more.”

This finding is not so strange, because during that same “conversation,” Ms. Carla Obiol, Director of North Carolina's State Health Insurance Assistance Program, gave herself a little semantic wiggle room when she stated that

“The Medicare drug plans will probably provide you more significant savings than what you're currently paying with your co-payment and also give you better protection for higher drug costs.”

Stupid low-income beneficiaries! They obviously couldn’t parse if their lives depended on it…


“President Bush made his first trip here in three months on Thursday and declared that New Orleans was ‘a heck of a place to bring your family’ and that it had ‘some of the greatest food in the world and some wonderful fun.’

Mr. Bush spent his brief visit in a meeting with political and business leaders on the edge of the Garden District, the grand neighborhood largely untouched by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina, and saw little devastation. He did not go into the city's hardest-hit areas or to Jackson Square, where several hundred girls from the Academy of the Sacred Heart staged a protest demanding stronger levees.

Mr. Bush's motorcade did pass some abandoned neighborhoods as it traveled on Interstate 10 into the city.”

“From New Orleans, Mr. Bush traveled to Waveland and Bay St. Louis in Mississippi, where he viewed destruction along the Gulf Coast. He then headed for Palm Beach, Fla., for a closed-door $4 million fund-raiser for the Republican National Committee and Republican candidates at the home of Dwight Schar, a homebuilder and a co-owner of the Washington Redskins.”


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Lynndie England redux:

“Faced with repeated failures to meet its recruitment targets, the Army has had to lower its standards dramatically. First it relaxed restrictions against high-school drop-outs. Then it started letting in more applicants who score in the lowest third on the armed forces aptitude test—a group, known as Category IV recruits, who have been kept to exceedingly small numbers, as a matter of firm policy, for the past 20 years. (There is also a Category V—those who score in the lowest 10th percentile. They have always been ineligible for service in the armed forces and, presumably, always will be.)”


“… on Sept. 20, 2005, the Defense Department released DoD Instruction 1145.01, which allows 4 percent of each year's recruits to be Category IV applicants—up from the 2 percent limit that had been in place since the mid-1980s. Even so, in October, the Army had such a hard time filling its slots that the floodgates had to be opened; 12 percent of that month's active-duty recruits were Category IV. November was another disastrous month; Army officials won't even say how many Cat IV applicants they took in, except to acknowledge that the percentage was in ‘double digits.’”


Support the Troops No-Bid Contracts

Support our Troops:

“A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.”

“To help defeat roadside ambushes, the military in May 2005 contracted to buy 122 Cougars whose special V-shaped hull helps deflect roadside bombs, military officials said. But the Pentagon gave the job to a small company in South Carolina, Force Protection, that had never mass-produced vehicles. Company officials said a string of blunders had pushed the completion date to this June.

A dozen prototypes shipped to Iraq have been recalled from the field to replace a failing transmission. Steel was cut to the wrong size before the truck's design drawings were perfected. Several managers have left the company.

"It is what it is, and we're running as fast as we can to change it," Gordon McGilton, the company's chief executive, said in an interview at its plant in Ladson, S.C.

On July 5, two former employees brought a federal false-claims case that accuses Force Protection of falsifying records to cover up defective workmanship. They allege that the actions ‘compromise the immediate and long-term integrity of the vehicles and result in a deficient product,’ according to legal documents filed under seal in the United States District Court in Charleston and obtained by The Times.”

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