Saturday, April 07, 2007

Straight Talk for the Day

From "60 Minutes" via Talking Points Memo comes John McCain in an illustration of what Straight Talk is and isn't.

McCain acknowledges in a "60 Minutes" interview that his support for the "surge" in Iraq means that "I disagree with what the majority of the American people want." He also says that he regrets making what turned out to be entirely delusional comments about public safety in Baghdad.

But in McCain's telling, it's all just part of the fun of who he is and what he does. "Of course I am going to misspeak, and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future," the Arizona senator says in the interview. "I regret that when I divert attention to something I said from my message, but you know, that's just life. I'm happy, frankly, with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun."

Friday, April 06, 2007

Another Winner. Or Flip-Flopping Pandering Hypocrite

Guess we have to start dissing Mitt, just in case.... Then again, maybe he'll be this cycle's John Connally....
To hear Mitt Romney talk on the campaign trail, you might think the Republican presidential candidate had a gun rack in the back of his pickup truck.
"I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I've been a hunter pretty much all my life," he said this week in Keene, N.H., to a man sporting a National Rifle Association cap.
Yet the former Massachusetts governor's hunting experience is limited to two trips at the bookends of his 60 years: as a 15-year-old, when he hunted rabbits with his cousins on a ranch in Idaho, and last year, when he shot quail on a fenced game preserve in Georgia.
Last year's trip was an outing with major donors to the Republican Governors Association, which Romney headed at the time.
An aide said Wednesday that Romney was not trying to mislead anyone, although he confirmed Romney had been hunting only on those occasions in his life.

Our Leader Presents an American Tragedy

Blinded and disabled on the 54th day of the war in Iraq, Sam Ross returned home to a rousing parade that outdid anything this small, depressed Appalachian town had ever seen. “Sam’s parade put Dunbar on the map,” his grandfather said.

That was then.

Now Mr. Ross, 24, faces charges of attempted homicide, assault and arson in the burning of a family trailer in February. Nobody in the trailer was hurt, but Mr. Ross fought the assistant fire chief who reported to the scene, and later threatened a state trooper with his prosthetic leg, which was taken away from him, according to the police.

The police locked up Mr. Ross in the Fayette County prison. In his cell, he tried to hang himself with a sheet. After he was cut down, Mr. Ross was committed to a state psychiatric hospital, where, he said in a recent interview there, he is finally getting — and accepting — the help he needs, having spiraled downward in the years since the welcoming fanfare faded.


The story of Sam Ross has the makings of a ballad, with its heart-rending arc from hardscrabble childhood to decorated war hero to hardscrabble adulthood. His effort to create a future for himself by enlisting in the Army exploded in the desert during a munitions disposal operation in Baghdad. He was 20.


But that help was not enough to save Mr. Ross from the loneliness and despair that engulfed him. Overwhelmed by severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including routine nightmares of floating over Iraq that ended with a blinding boom, he “self-medicated” with alcohol and illegal drugs. He finally hit rock bottom when he landed in the state psychiatric hospital, where he is, sadly, thrilled to be.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

An Absolute and Complete Lie (Or Canard) that the Wingnuts Live By.....

"The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away." Ronald Reagan


The avoidance of logic for the glib quip should be obvious: Just maybe government actually attracts people disinterested in a career in business. And of course the conservative end of the business spectrum cannot survive but for lying and co-opting....

John McCain, Safe on the Streets of Bagdhad

Oh fearless, cosseted, unlikely Leader-to-be....


Love for Vets; Another Perspective?

A recent comment:
RoseCovered Glasses has left a new comment on your post "Our Leaders' Love for their Veterans; A Continuing...":

We need to be careful to differentiate between the Active Service Hospitals and the Veteran’s Administration. There are major differences.

I am currently a resident in a Veteran’s Home after having undergone treatment through the VA for PTSD and Depression, long overdue some 40 years after the Tet Offensive that cap stoned my military 2nd tour in Vietnam with a lifetime of illness.

My blog has attracted the stories of many veterans such as myself and other sufferers from PTSD who were victimized by elements of society other than the VA system of medical and mental treatment. I, for one, became trapped in the Military Industrial Complex for 36 years working on weapons systems that are saving lives today but with such high security clearances that I dared not get treated for fear of losing my career:

When my disorders became life threatening I was entered into the VA System for treatment in Minneapolis. It saved my life and I am now in complete recovery and functioning as a volunteer for SCORE, as well as authoring books and blogging the world.

When I was in the VA system I was amazed at how well it functioned and how state of the art it is for its massive mission. Below is a feature article from Time Magazine which does a good job of explaining why it is a class act:,9171,1376238,00.html

I had state of the art medical and mental care, met some of the most dedicated professionals I have ever seen and was cared for by a handful of very special nurses among the 60,000 + nursing population that make up that mammoth system. While I was resident at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis I observed many returnees from Iraq getting excellent care.

I do not say the VA system is perfect but it is certainly being run better on a $39B budget than the Pentagon is running on $494B.
We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read this happens please see:

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.
The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.
This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.
For more details see:

Love that Rudy!

Now it's my turn, as a New Yorker, to tell you the truth about "Rudy Giuliani." (The quotes refer to the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination, a man whose image bears little resemblance to our mayor from 1993 to 2001.) I knew Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani was a mayor of mine. And Rudy Giuliani was no "Rudy Giuliani."

"America's mayor," Oprah Winfrey gushed after 9/11. Giuliani, wrote Time as it declared him its 2001 Man of the Year, "arrived at the World Trade Center just after the second plane hit, watched human beings drop from the sky and--when the south tower imploded--nearly got trapped inside his makeshift command center near the site. Then he led a battered platoon of city officials, reporters and civilians north through the blizzard of ash and smoke, and a detective jimmied open the door to a firehouse so the mayor could revive his government there."

Here in New York, 16 million eyes rolled at a myth only an out-of-towner could love. After all, one of the most boneheaded and widely criticized decisions of his mayoralty led to his brush with death on 9/11--not to mention his need for an ad hoc office in a firehouse.

After the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, Giuliani moved to build a high-tech Emergency Operations Center to coordinate local, state and federal responses to future emergencies. Despite numerous warnings by Port Authority officials and journalists--New York Times columnist Bob Herbert derided it as a "skybox bunker"--he located it on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, across a narrow street from the Twin Towers. He went there on 9/11 but never got to use it; the 47-story building burned and collapsed at 5:20 pm.

As it turned out, the 7 WTC fire may have been caused by, and certainly was worsened by, the placement of 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel to be used for the EOC in case of a blackout. "Fire Department officials warned that [the tank]...posed a hazard and was not consistent with city fire codes," reported The New York Times. "The Fire Department repeatedly warned that a tank in that position could spread fumes throughout the building if it leaked, or, if it caught fire, could produce what one Fire Department memorandum called 'disaster.'"

Giuliani's 9/11 legacy isn't bravery--it's loudness. And stupidity.

The 343 members of the FDNY who died were the iconic heroes of the day. They too recall a less-than-Churchillian mayor. "If Rudolph Giuliani was running on anything but 9/11, I would not speak out," said Sally Regenhard, mother of a fallen firefighter. "If he ran on cleaning up Times Square, getting rid of squeegee men, lowering crime--that's indisputable."

Firefighters say Giuliani ignored over a decade of requests for up-to-date radios to replace defective "handie talkies" that had failed during previous fires, including during the 1993 WTC bombing. When FDNY officials ordered firefighters to pull out on 9/11, firefighters didn't hear the "mayday" alert. He sparked more anger by calling off the search for bodies, which were scooped up with debris and dumped into a garbage landfill on Staten Island.

"He has alienated pretty much everybody in the 8,000-member fire department--by and large, we all resent him," Fire Captain Captain Michael Gala told Salon.

Giuliani's early "quality of life" initiatives--running off the windshield washers from entrances to bridges and tunnels, cracking down on aggressive subway panhandlers--were popular. But the credit for cleaning up New York really goes to the economic boom of the late '90s. Millions of Wall Street and dot-com dollars poured into city tax collection accounts, reducing poverty and allowing the hiring of more cops and sanitation workers.

By the end of his term the mayor's relationship with New York had turned sour.

"Giuliani was a frustrated and not very popular mayor on September 10, 2001," Slate editor Jacob Weisberg wrote. "Today, most New Yorkers do see him as a hero, but also as a self-sabotaging, thin-skinned bully. To put it more bluntly, we know he's a bit of a dictator."

Like other dictators Giuliani thought his police could do no wrong. "Probably until the day I die, I will always give police officers the benefit of the doubt," he said after cops shot Amadou Diallo, an unarmed Bronx man, 41 times. "We also have a vicious form of anti-police bias which leads to entertaining every doubt possible against the police, and you know, police officers are human beings also." New York City settled his family's wrongful death lawsuit for $3 million.

"The police can't get an even break here," he complained after Patrick Dorismond, an unarmed security guard, was shot to death by an undercover policeman who had attempted to entrap him. (Dorismond's last words were his angry statement that he was a law-abiding citizen, not a drug deal.) In 2003 the city paid $2.25 million to the victim's family.

Most disturbing to Americans looking forward to the end of eight years of illegitimate rule by an unelected coup leader, Giuliani tried to exploit 9/11 to remain in power at least three extra months beyond the scheduled end of his term in January 2002. He even threatened to file a lawsuit to overturn the city's term limits law and run for reelection if the Democratic and Republican primary candidates refused to let him stay in power.

They called the wannabe dictator's bluff. So should we.

Our Leader's Respect for Law

This is an insult to all Americans. You know, what one should expect from leaders who hate America.
In a move that should disgust all and surprise nobody, the White House announced today that George W. Bush will recess-appoint Sam Fox, who gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat Liars to help finance their 2004 smear of John Kerry, to be the new U.S. Ambassador to Belgium.

The nomination was withdrawn last week, when it became clear to Bush that Fox, who was instrumental in derailing Kerry's presidential bid, did not have enough votes in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be confirmed.

Straight Talk Here!

Nagourney says McCain will use the extra time to try to get his groove back. How? The one-time leader on campaign-finance reform will be adopting the big-donor-centered fundraising system that Bush used. And the one-time critic of the Iraq war will continue to press his claim that the United States is making progress in Iraq -- "turning a corner," anyone? -- with a speech next week at the Virginia Military Institute.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Big Media Journalism: Another Failure

Last night, the Public Relations Department of ABC News sent around emails breathlessly touting an "exclusive report from ABC News' Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross" which, the PR email noted, would "air this evening on 'World News with Charles Gibson.'" The email included a link to this article on ABC News's blog, by Brian Ross and Christopher Isham, the entire substance of which was contained within the first three paragraphs:
Iran has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium in the last three months, adding some 1,000 centrifuges which are used to separate radioactive particles from the raw material.
The development means Iran could have enough material for a nuclear bomb by 2009, sources familiar with the dramatic upgrade tell ABC News.
The sources say the unexpected expansion is taking place at Iran's nuclear enrichment plant outside the city of Natanz, in a hardened facility 70 feet underground.
When I first read that report last night, I assumed it was some sort of preliminary or summary blog version of what the real report would be. The entire report was completely sketchy: attributed only to "sources familiar with the dramatic upgrade" -- nothing more specific -- and was unaccompanied by any corroborating information or any way to assess the veracity or credibility of the claims. It just seemed inconceivable that such an obviously significant claim would be emphatically advanced by ABC News with such skimpy information and using such shoddy methods.
Yet it is now the following day. The article has provoked the predictable reaction. And President Bush was asked about the report today during his press conference, where the questioner specifically stated that ABC News has reported that Iran may have a nuclear bomb by 2009 (transcript will be posted when available). That is now a claim that is being treated as credible, because it has the stamp of ABC News on it, and it has now been injected into the public debate over what to do about Iran.
But the report is worthless and a complete violation of basic journalistic standards. It provides no information whatsoever about the "sources" -- are they government sources, private individuals, intelligence operatives, Iranian, American or from some other nation, people with a discernible agenda or bias? The ABC News report provides no information whatsoever. What possible excuse is there for that? And why would a report attributed exclusively to a term so vague as to be impoverished of any meaning -- "sources" -- be the slightest bit credible or even worthy of publication?
Sean-Paul Kelley, who writes frequently (and insightfully) about Iran and recently returned from a long trip there, notes several reasons why the "substance" of the claim is so suspect. In a separate post, he notes that the whole claim about the Iranian nuclear progress seems to hinge on a huge condition which the article never suggests has been fulfilled. In fact, once you get past the first two sensationalistic paragraphs that throw around "2009" as the target date when the Evil Iranians are going to be able to create the Mushroom Clouds over our cities, it is actually difficult, if not impossible, even to discern what this ABC News report really is even claiming.
The lesson the media supposedly learned from their shameful participation in the pre-war Iraq deceit was that they would be far more scrupulous with the use of anonymous sources -- especially when it comes to claims that can be exploited to start new wars. As I noted previously, both The New York Times and Washington Post have promulgated guidelines for the use of anonymous sources, and this ABC News report violated several of the key safeguards (I was unable to find any ABC News policy on anonymous sources).
The Times policy, for instance, explains that they "have long observed the principle of identifying our sources by name and title or, when that is not possible, explaining why we consider them authoritative, why they are speaking to us and why they have demanded confidentiality." The Post policy explains:
We must strive to tell our readers as much as we can about why our unnamed sources deserve our confidence. Our obligation is to serve readers, not sources. This means avoiding attributions to "sources" or "informed sources." Instead we should try to give the reader something more, such as "sources familiar with the thinking of defense lawyers in the case," or "sources whose work brings them into contact with the county executive," or "sources on the governor's staff who disagree with his policy."
None of this is exotic or complex. It's all basic common sense for how to avoid publishing suspect stories that lack credibility. Thus, as one would expect, the ABC News article also violates multiple basic principles for responsible journalism which Dan Froomkin, of, has outlined at Harvard's Nieman Watchdog.
This ABC News article is almost like a stand-alone museum for the irresponsible journalistic practices that led us into Iraq and which have severely eroded the credibility of our national press. It is extremely inflammatory yet has no journalistic value because there is no way even to begin to assess its reliability. There have been some visible efforts by the national press as it reports on Iran to avoid the mistakes they made prior to the invasion of Iraq, but this ABC News report would stand out for journalistic recklessness even if we were back in the peak of the Government Worshipping Press Era of 2002. Those who want to argue that nothing has changed since then have been given a potent weapon by Ross and Isham.

UPDATE: From the President's Press Conference today:
Q: Back to Iran, sir. ABC has been reporting that Iran will be capable of building a nuclear bomb within two years. Have you seen evidence that Iran is accelerating its nuclear program?
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't seen the report that you just referred to. I do share concerns about Iranian intention to have a nuclear weapon. I firmly believe that if Iran were to have a nuclear weapon, it would be a seriously destablizing influence in the Middle East. . . .
So within less than 24 hours, a completely shoddy, unreliable and vague ABC News report translates into a straightforward statement at the President's Press Conference that "Iran will be capable of building a nuclear bomb within two years."

Another Contrite Wingnut

But it's too late, the harm's been done. Where were the principals when they were needed? Why, Mr. Principal was too busy being a party goosestepper.


Our Leader: Pride in his Exemplary Leadership

Really old news: he's such a dumb scumbag:
We thought there was just a little irony in George W. Bush's complaining this morning that Congress left for its spring break before getting him a final version of the "emergency" supplemental spending bill for Iraq.

It turns out we weren't the only ones.

Think Progress caught the following post-press-conference commentary from CNN's Elaine Quijano: "We should mention President Bush is heading to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, tomorrow to begin his own Easter weekend break."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Our Other Next Leader and the Safety of Bagdhad

I suppose it all depends on what a straight talker means by "safe". Maybe his definition is, you know, just different from ours....
McCain Strolls Through Baghdad Market, Accompanied By 100 Soldiers, 3 Blackhawks, 2 Apache Gunships

Sen. John McCain strolled briefly through an open-air market in Baghdad today in an effort to prove that Americans are “not getting the full picture” of what’s going on in Iraq.

NBC’s Nightly News provided further details about McCain’s one-hour guided tour. He was accompanied by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead.” Still photographs provided by the military to NBC News seemed to show McCain wearing a bulletproof vest during his visit. Watch it:

McCain recently claimed that there “are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today.” In a press conference after his Baghdad tour, McCain told a reporter that his visit to the market today was proof that you could indeed “walk freely” in some areas of Baghdad.

Our Leaders' Love for their Veterans; A Continuing Story

How the Pentagon Cheats Iraq Vets Out of Medical Care and Disability Pay
by Sherwood Ross | Apr 2 2007 - 1:23pm | permalink

Over the past six years, some 22,500 soldiers have been discharged on grounds of "personality disorder" -- a condition that can be alleged to have existed prior to their tour of duty -- thus absolving the Pentagon of its obligation to provide their medical care and pay their benefits.

A six-month investigation by reporter Joshua Kors for the April 9th "The Nation" magazine learned of "multiple cases" in which "soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits."

According to Kors, "The conditions of their discharge have infuriated many in the military community, including the injured soldiers and their families, veterans' rights groups, even military officials required to process these dismissals." They say the military is purposely misdiagnosing soldiers "to cheat them out of a lifetime of disability and medical benefits, thereby saving billions in expenses."

With an average disability payment of about $8,900 a year and a medical cost of about $5,000 per year over a 40-year period per soldier, separating 22,500 of them would save the Pentagon $8-billion in disability pay and $4.5-billion in medical care over their lifetimes, the article says.

Specialist Jon Town, of Findlay, Ohio, was separated on a "personality disorder" diagnosis even though in October, 2004, a 107-millimeter rocket struck two feet over his head as he stood in the doorway of his battalion's headquarters in Ramadi, Iraq. Town's ears were leaking blood from the blast and rocket shrapnel was removed from his neck. The blast caused substantial deafness, and he suffers from memory failure and depression as well. Inexplicably, doctors at Fort Carson, Colo., diagnosed Town with "personality disorder", depriving him of disability and medical benefits.

Russell Terry, founder of the Iraq War Veterans Organization pointed out that each soldier is screened psychologically when they join the military and asks, "if all these soldiers really did have a severe pre-existing condition, how did they get into the military in the first place?"

In the last six years, according to "The Nation," the Army alone has diagnosed and discharged more than 5,600 soldiers because of personality disorder, and their numbers continue to rise. Between January and November of last year, 1,086 soldiers were discharged on such grounds. One military official who was not identified told Kors, "It's like, suddenly everybody (on my base) has a personality disorder. They're saving a buck. And they're saving the VA money too. It's all about money."

In the case of veteran Town, he was told to give back the bulk of his $15,000 enlistment bonus and left Ft. Carson owing the government more than $3,000. According to the magazine, Fort Carson psychologist Mark Wexler assured Town he would receive disability benefits, VA medical care, and would get to keep his bonus. When he found out he was being discharged empty-handed, Town said, "It was a total shock. I felt like I'd been betrayed by the Army." When asked if doctors at Fort Carson were assuring patients set for a 5-13 pre-existing condition discharge they would receive benefits, Colonel Steven Knorr, Wexler's boss, replied, "I don't believe they're doing that."

Other veterans contacted by Kors, however, said military doctors tried to force the diagnosis upon them and turned a blind eye to physical ailments and post traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Army Specialist William Wooldridge said he struck and killed a young girl who was pushed in front of his ammunition truck in Iraq and has heard voices and suffered hallucinations ever since. He was discharged with "personality disorder" but 18 months later a review board in Memphis voided that 5-13 dismissal, stating his PTSD was so severe he was, in fact, "totally disabled."

Another veteran, Chris Mosier, of Des Moines, Iowa, put a note on the front door of his home saying the Iraqis were after him and then shot himself. His mother, Linda, said her son's problems began in Iraq when a truck in front of his was blown up by a roadside bomb and the men inside were burned alive. "He was there at the end to pick up the hands and arms," Ms. Mosier said. "They take a normal kid, he comes back messed up, then nobody was there for him when he came back. They discharged him so they didn't' have to treat him," she added.

Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, a Washington, D.C.-based soldiers' rights group, pointed out military doctors have been facing an overflow of wounded soldiers and a shortage of rooms, supplies and time to treat them. "By calling PTSD a personality disorder, they usher one soldier out quickly, freeing up space for the three or four who are waiting," he said.

A lawyer for Trial Defense Services, an Army unit to guide soldiers through their 5-13 discharge and who was not identified by name, told reporter Kors: "Right now, the Army is eating its own. What I want to see is these soldiers getting the right diagnosis, so they can get the right help, not be thrown to the wolves right away. That is what they're doing."

As for veteran Town -- whose case was brought by Robinson to the attention of Deputy Surgeon General Gale Pollock and others -- he says he is doing his best to keep his head in check and that his nightmares have diminished. "I have my good days and my bad days," he said. "It all depends on whether I wake up in Findlay or Iraq."

Everything Old is New Again; A Repeat of Afghanistan Ca. 1980s

We're -- excuse, Our GOP Leaders -- creating terrorists for -- obviously -- no good reason again....
"Experts ... believe the fighting in Iraq will produce future Qaeda leaders," the Times reports. Robert Richer, a former associate director of operations for the CIA, puts this fine point on the matter: "The jihadis returning from Iraq are far more capable than the mujahedeen who fought the Soviets ever were. They have been fighting the best military in the world, with the best technology and tactics."

Translation: We're fighting them in Iraq so that we can fight them again somewhere else.

Monday, April 02, 2007

It Happened Before So it's OK it's Happening Again?

Actually, the Screw-the-Vet is an old game. One could think from this column in the Wall Street Journal that since it happened before, well, then, it's okay that it's still happening now.

But that's classic conservative thinking: There's never a need to change the way anything is done.
World War I Veterans
Were Killed in Storm,
Victims of Neglect

They were troubled souls -- misfits, roughnecks and roustabouts, many of them psychologically damaged and alcoholic. They were World War I veterans who couldn't find their place in American society. In 1934, in the depths of the Depression, the federal government shipped hundreds of them to isolated work camps in Florida, out of sight and, thus, out of the newspapers.

But the government inadvertently had sentenced many of these men, who had survived artillery shells, sniper fire and poison gas, to death in the Florida Keys.

The story of how some 260 World War I veterans were killed by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 is also a sorry tale of bureaucratic arrogance and bumbling -- part of a long and continuing series of controversies surrounding the treatment of soldiers by Washington once their duty is done.

In this case, the chain of responsibility for what Ernest Hemingway described as "manslaughter" began in Franklin Roosevelt's White House and extended to the Florida statehouse, the National Weather Bureau and administrators of the three island work camps.

The veterans' jobs, as part of a government relief program, were to help build an overseas highway that would connect the Keys to the mainland. They were paid $1 a day, plus food and housing -- flimsy shacks and tents without plumbing or electricity. And they were a handful of trouble. On payday, many were accused of drinking too much, swearing in public, picking fights and then passing out. Time magazine called the work camps "playgrounds for derelicts."

But for most of the 600 veterans who ended up in Keys work camps, there was little choice. "The intense, prolonged strain of combat had permanently altered their perception of the world and their place in it," wrote Willie Drye in "Storm of the Century." Some had been camped out in Washington, D.C., as part of the so-called Bonus Army's protest over delayed payments, and were driven out in 1932. "They got through the war all right," Julius Stone, a director of Florida's Emergency Relief Administration, told Congress. "But peace was too much for them."

The weather bureau knew a storm was brewing on Aug. 31, but its crude instruments and poor communication made the predictions confusing. The government was supposed to have a plan for evacuating the vets, but it had never been tried and officials were reluctant to order an evacuation until they were sure the storm would hit the Keys.

No one knew who was in charge -- federal or state officials. The Florida East Coast Railway was supposed to have a train ready to evacuate the vets at a moment's notice, but it took 2½ hours to get one moving out of Miami. Before the train reached the vets, it was swept off the tracks by one of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history.

In the camps, the men's shelters were blown away, as were most other buildings. Those who survived the flying debris were washed into the ocean by a massive tidal surge. Many bodies were never recovered. More than 160 permanent residents of the Keys also were killed.

Within a week, the federal and state governments and the American Legion had launched separate investigations. The finger-pointing began. Many people wanted to fix the blame on the Weather Bureau for its vague forecasts. But why hadn't camp officials, who had been told by some longtime Keys residents that the men were in danger, ordered a train earlier? Why had the director of Florida's work camps taken a two-hour lunch on Labor Day, during which he couldn't be reached? Whose idea was it to put jerry-built camps in low-lying areas during hurricane season?

Harry Hopkins, director of the Works Progress Administration, immediately sent a team to the Keys. "Washington bureaucrats may be mixing a viscous vat of whitewash," commented a Miami newspaper. As one of the investigators, John J. Abt, later wrote, "We were on a political mission to defend the administration against charges of negligence. The investigation took all of a day."

The report, based on interviews with 16 people, ended: "To our mind the catastrophe must be characterized as 'an act of God' and was by its very nature beyond the power of man ... to permit the taking of adequate precautions."

Investigators from the American Legion came to a different conclusion. The vets died because of the "inefficiency, indifference and ignorance" of camp administrators, they said.

Congressional hearings in 1936, headed by John Rankin, a Democrat loyal to President Roosevelt, were a charade. Over a period of six weeks, only carefully selected testimony and facts were admitted to the record, all supporting the contention that everyone in charge of the veterans had been blindsided by nature. "It just happened, that is all," Aubrey Williams, an assistant to Mr. Hopkins, testified to Congress. "It would be a gross miscarriage of justice to say anybody had failed."

But the surviving veterans weren't so sure. One of them, Justus Schadt, told a Veterans Administration investigator, "We thought we were working for the government, and the government ain't going to let us be blown to pieces."

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Care for the Wounded

You believe this is all to it? Me neither.... From the mouths of pathological liars and their enablers....
Lapses in using a digital medical record system for tracking wounded soldiers have led to medical mistakes and delays in care, and have kept thousands of injured troops from getting benefits, according to former defense and military medical officials.

The Defense Department’s inability to get all hospitals to use the system has routinely forced thousands of wounded soldiers to endure long waits for treatment, the officials said, and exposed others to needless testing.

Today's Home-made Strip

Today's Chuckle


Rudy, Rudy, Rudy! Still Completely Principle-Free, Proving His Qualification to Succeed Our Leader!

He knew that his boy Kerik had serious ties to organized crime since 2000 and still nominated as police commissioner then pimped him for Secretary of Homeland Security.

Link (and kudos to the Times).

And here's more:
Will reporters and commentators get serious about cutting through the haze of 9/11 mythology that now shrouds Rudy's allegedly Churchillian leadership that day by asking tough questions about his actual performance, or will they cede him 9/11 on his own terms? And relatedly, will reporters and commentators cede Rudy the aura of foreign policy strength based solely on that performance, or will they get past the mythology and aggressively point out his lack of genuine foreign policy experience?

Today the Associated Press begins to answer that question with an effort to put a dent in Rudy's 9/11 halo:

Giuliani, the leader in polls of Republican voters for his party's nomination, has been faulted on two major issues:

-- His administration's failure to provide the World Trade Center's first responders with adequate radios, a long-standing complaint from relatives of the firefighters killed when the twin towers collapsed. The Sept. 11 Commission noted the firefighters at the World Trade Center were using the same ineffective radios employed by the first responders to the 1993 terrorist attack on the trade center...

-- A November 2001 decision to step up removal of the massive rubble pile at ground zero. The firefighters were angered when the then-mayor reduced their numbers among the group searching for remains of their lost "brothers," focusing instead on what they derided as a "scoop and dump" approach. Giuliani agreed to increase the number of firefighters at ground zero just days after ordering the cutback.

Meanwhile, The New York Times also highlights another troubling aspect of his record:

Rudolph W. Giuliani told a grand jury that his former chief investigator remembered having briefed him on some aspects of Bernard B. Kerik’s relationship with a company suspected of ties to organized crime before Mr. Kerik’s appointment as New York City police commissioner, according to court records...

Mr. Giuliani’s testimony amounts to a significantly new version of what information was probably before him in the summer of 2000 as he was debating Mr. Kerik’s appointment as the city’s top law enforcement officer. Mr. Giuliani had previously said that he had never been told of Mr. Kerik’s entanglement with the company before promoting him to the police job or later supporting his failed bid to be the nation’s homeland security secretary.

Finally, today's coverage of his remark yesterday that wife Judy Nathan would be welcome to hang out at cabinet meetings should he be elected President was not terribly kind, either.
Link. And a little more detail on the firefighters' love for Our Next Leader is here.

The Ever-Growing Disconnect and Resulting Irrelevancy of Big Media So-Called Journalism

Via Atrios:
And then we have this USA Today poll, taken over the weekend (exactly when Stengel and his colleagues were warning Democrats that Americans would be angry if they pursued Karl Rove):

14. Do you think Congress should -- or should not -- investigate the involvement of White House officials in this matter?

Yes, should - 72%; No, should not - 21%

15. If Congress investigates these dismissals, in your view, should President Bush and his aides -- [ROTATED: invoke "executive privilege" to protect the White House decision making process (or should they) drop the claim of executive privilege and answer all questions being investigated]?

Invoke executive privilege - 26%; Answer all questions - 68%

16. In this matter, do you think Congress should or should not issue subpoenas to force White House officials to testify under oath about this matter?

Yes, should - 68%; No, should not - 24%

Just compare those facts to the wild assertions made by Stengel and friends on MSNBC:

Mr. STENGEL: I am so uninterested in the Democrats wanting Karl Rove, because it is so bad for them. Because it shows business as usual, tit for tat, vengeance. That's not what voters want to see.

Ms. BORGER: Mm-hmm.

MATTHEWS: So instead of like an issue like the war where you can say it's bigger than all of us, its more important than politics, this is politics.

Mr. STENGEL: Yes, and it's much less. It's small bore politics.

O'DONNELL: The Democrats have to be very careful that they look like they're not the party of investigation rather than legislation in trying to change things.
And apropos Stengle:
Stengel's been taking a bit of a hammering ever since Glenn Greenwald banished him to the blogospheric dog house over a TV appearance in which he said that it would be "bad" for Democrats if they probed Karl Rove because voters don't want this to happen. Greenwald, and then Cox, quite rightly asked Stengel how he knew this. To which Stengel replied:

In reading your reaction to my comments on Chris Matthews, I realize that I've been caught out speaking as a citizen rather than as editor of Time. Lord knows, the Democrats going after Karl Rove is "interesting" in an objective way for Time and for journalists in general. It's hard to overstate Rove's role in this administration and it would certainly create yards of headlines and good copy if the Democrats manage to get some traction. But as a citizen, I think it's unfortunate and perhaps short-sighted for Democrats to be perceived as focusing on the past rather than the future. If people see the Democrats as obsessively concerned with settling scores, that's not good for the Democrats or the country. And I would make the exact same statement about the Republicans if they were in this situation.
But, again, Mr. Stengel, the question is, What basis is there for these assertions? As I understand it, Greenwald and Cox were asking for, you know, empirical information -- otherwise known as "evidence." This reply only compounds the question. Why is there any reason to assume that people will be predisposed to see Dems as "focusing on the past" or "obsessively concerned with settling scores" if they impose oversight on the GOP after voters handed them power while saying that government corruption was a key reason for their doing so?

As luck would have it, there is actual info out there about how the public is generally predisposed towards such matters. Here's a poll by Newsweek (the competition!) from after the election saying that solid majorities support investigations into various areas of potential wrongdoing. Meanwhile, here's a CNN poll from just before the election that found that 57% thought it would be "good for the country" if Congressional Dems probed the Bush administration. And here's a Gallup poll cited by Greenwald that found overwhelming public support for the more specific question of whether Congress should investigate the Attorney Purge.

Look, Stengel can say he's speaking as a "citizen," but this citizen is also the managing editor of one of the nation's top newsweeklies, and it's kinda off-putting to learn that someone with such journalistic influence either:

(a) knows what these polls say but is not letting them interfere with his view that the American public is predisposed to see Congressional oversight in such negative terms; or

(b) uninterested in consulting said evidence to learn what folks actually think about such matters before speaking for them with the authority of, yes, Time magazine's managing editor.
Link. And a complete (warranted) slice+dice is here.

And then there's this:
John Hockenberry is a long-time, well-known American journalist. He's won four Emmy awards and three Peabody awards. Now that, as he puts it, "mainstream media doesn't want John Hockenberry anymore," he's become a Distinguished Fellow at the MIT Media Lab, where he recently gave a talk which commented on some of his experiences covering the Iraq war while at NBC.

Here are some excerpts:

I was very happily employed at NBC. I wasn't like, running around, trying to stuff toilet paper into the plumbing and sabotage the place. [...] But I was interested, because we had a lot of meetings at NBC about, you know, if you're doing a story and the person you're doing the story about offers to buy you a drink, you've gotta say no. If you're doing a story and they send you, after they see the story, some napkin rings -- silver napkin rings that are monogrammed "Thank you, Jon, for the story," you've got not only to return those, you've got to report those to the standards people at NBC because there's a whole ethics and conflict-of-interest thing.

So at one of these ethics meetings -- I called them the return-the-napkin-ring kinds of meetings -- I raised my hand and said "You know, isn't it a problem that the contract that GE has with the Coalition Provisional Authority [...] to rebuild the power generation system in Iraq [is] about the size of the entire budget of NBC? Is that kind of like the napkin rings thing?" And the standards people said "Huh. That's interesting. No one's brought that up before." Now I'm not saying that I'm smart or that I'm advanced or that I'm ahead of my colleagues or maybe I had a lot of free time to think about this or maybe I'm some pinko-proto-lefty like Richard Nixon. I don't know! But the fact that it drew a complete blank among the NBC standards people was interesting to me.

[Now] in fact what happens in the networks -- and you can find this at ABC and other networks at well -- is that this [conflict with the profit motive] manifests itself [as journalists saying] "Well, we are better reporters because we deal with these kinds of conflicts all the time. And because we deal with those and we always decide in favor of the audience, it sort of exercises our journalistic muscle." And this is the line you get from all of the entities.

You may or may not be aware that there was a real strong full-court press to sell the media -- and I'm not pro- or against it at this particular point, but there was a process in place where individuals in the media got access to the individuals involved in the planning of the war. There were generals who came in, there were former secretaries of defense, Schwarzkopf spent a whole lot of time giving sort of off-the-record, quiet briefings. And the generals would sort of bring in a certain group of editors and reporters and I went to all of these briefings.

At one of them, Hockenberry explains, a well-known pollster told about a briefing he gave to all the senior officials at the White House about how the polling data from the Arab world showed that America's negatives were simply off-the-charts. Everyone was quiet. Condi asked a few technical questions and then finally Karl Rove spoke up. "Well, that's just until we start throwing our weight around over there," he said.

Hockenberry was stunned and thought they should do a piece on what this revealed into the mentality of the war's planners. But NBC News didn't think this was a very good idea. America wanted the war to happen; their job was just to wait and see how it turned out. "We're not particularly interested in the story," Hockenberry explains. "We're a process that's trying to maintain people in front of the set, so in a certain sense media at that point was doing its own kind of shock-and-awe that went right along with the war's shock-and-awe [because] the business is just to grab eyeballs."
Exactly. Except this crap isn't wanted by the audience, it repulses viewers.

Meanwhile, the Times can't figure out why newspaper revenues keep on a'dropping.

Here's a little silliness:
“It’s fundamental, what’s going on with newspapers,” he said. “The younger groups, the most desired demographics, are just not reading them. They aren’t listening to traditional radio either, but I tell radio broadcasters that they’re lucky not to be in newspapers.”
Well, young people never really read papers or listened to the news. Unless the expert is trying reference "younger" like "deep middle-age" and the reporter can't bother to get that minor ambiguity clarified.

But the Times gets closer way too deep into the piece (and then fails to elaborate):
Mirroring the slide in ad revenue is a long slow decline in circulation.

Newspaper circulation nationally reached its peak in 1984, when there were 1,600 morning and afternoon paid dailies with a circulation of 63 million. With the rise of cable television and, later, the Internet, newspaper circulation began to decline. Today there are 1,450 paid dailies with a circulation of 53 million. The losses have accelerated over the last two years.
(Emphasis added.)

You'd think the drop in circulation might be a relevant issue for the article. I do, but obviously the Times in the Pinch-Keller regims has a different opinion of what's relevant and newsworty.

And here's Judy Miller gladly demonstrating my point with an insight as rock-solid as her ersatz journalism (nee water-carrying):
"Had the press hung together," Miller said, and had more journalists protested the "pro-forma" confidentiality waivers issued by the White House, the damage done to the media during Fitzgerald's investigation into who leaked to reporters the identity CIA operative Valerie Plame would have been much less.

She of course has it exactly ass-backwards. There was no reason, since it was against the law. for the entire media to break the law to support her. And the reason there is no shield law is that it per se impossible to have one that excludes abetting a crime. And supporting Judy is no cause warranting martyrdom.

The Overlap with GOP Voters is 100%