Friday, October 26, 2007

Health Care a Waste of Time

Well said, Bush:
President Bush accused Democratic lawmakers on Friday of wasting time by passing legislation to expand children's health coverage, knowing that he would veto it again. At the same time, he criticized Congress for failing to approve spending bills to keep the government running.


The Worth of a Life

$12.5 K:

The embassy made a rare move on Wednesday to compensate surviving victims and the families of fatalities related to a Sept. 16 shooting incident involving Blackwater's private security guards, according to a report in the Washington Post by Sudarsan Raghavan.

But the money being offered -- just 12,500 in one case involving the death of a 10-year old boy named Ali -- is being greeted with disgust by many.

Ali's father, Mohammad Hafud Abdul Razaq, turned the embassy's offer down cold, telling the US Embassy's deputy chief of mission Patracia Butenis the amount was "far too little." What he wanted, according to the Post, was an admission of guilt from Blackwater itself.


Mind Your Faces!

Old men especially:
The Poughkeepsie Journal in New York reports that “Vice President Dick Cheney is coming to Dutchess County again to go hunting.” On Monday, Cheney is “expected to leave Poughkeepsie and head to the Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club.” No word on whether the Vice President will be drinking beforehand this time.


Another Non-Event Event

The Bush administration just can't help itself, can it? They all seem to be compulsive liars:

FEMA has truly learned the lessons of Katrina. Even its handling of the media has improved dramatically. For example, as the California wildfires raged Tuesday, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy administrator, had a 1 p.m. news briefing.

Reporters were given only 15 minutes' notice of the briefing, making it unlikely many could show up at FEMA's Southwest D.C. offices. They were given an 800 number to call in, though it was a "listen only" line, the notice said -- no questions. Parts of the briefing were carried live on Fox News, MSNBC and other outlets.


But something didn't seem right. The reporters were lobbing too many softballs. No one asked about trailers with formaldehyde for those made homeless by the fires. And the media seemed to be giving Johnson all day to wax on and on about FEMA's greatness.

Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters. We're told the questions were asked by Cindy Taylor, FEMA's deputy director of external affairs, and by "Mike" Widomski, the deputy director of public affairs. Director of External Affairs John "Pat" Philbin asked a question, and another came, we understand, from someone who sounds like press aide Ali Kirin.



Kinda takes ya back to the good ol' Cold War days, doesn't it?
The barely reported highlight of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Tehran for the Caspian Sea summit last week was a key face-to-face meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A high-level diplomatic source in Tehran tells Asia Times Online that essentially Putin and the Supreme Leader have agreed on a plan to nullify the George W Bush administration's relentless drive towards launching a preemptive attack, perhaps a tactical nuclear strike, against Iran. An American attack on Iran will be viewed by Moscow as an attack on Russia.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Oshkosh Report

All is well in the eastern bit of Wisconsin. Sitting out on my front porch, I can feel the fall chill and watch the neighborhood children riding their bicycles and tossing a football about. Meanwhile, the leaves of the trees range from green, through gold, to flaming orange, and the sky is madly blue.

Bucolic as all hell.

This past weekend was full of activity, as Friday night witnessed M and I going out to dinner with some of the English faculty (the kool kidz). Then, Saturday, we went leaf-peeping on the east side of the lake, stopping to have a grand meal at the Gravey Train in St. Cloud. That night, I was dragged off to a bonfire party by friends of mine from our corner bar.

The next day involved karaoke at said corner bar. I shall say no more about that.

But it also involved an extraordinary get together of us "new faculty" types at the apartment of an acquaintance of ours who is in religious studies and is a die-hard sci-fi geek (they incorporated a bat'leth into their wedding!). And I proceeded to get into a heated debate about the status of "creationism" with a senior anthropologist.

At any rate, a good weekend all around, and one which left me scrambling to grade a million papers this week. Which I did.

This weekend: Cider mills!


A Question of Priorities

The very definition of "war profiteering," I'd say:
Two former top executives of the leading supplier of body armor to the U.S. military were indicted today on charges of insider trading, fraud and tax evasion in a scheme that netted them nearly $200 million, federal prosecutors said.

David H. Brooks, 53, the former CEO of DHB Industries Inc., and Sandra Hatfield, 54, the former chief operating officer, were charged in a superseding indictment with manipulating DHB's financial records to increase earnings and profit margins, thereby inflating the price of DHB's stock.

This is blood money, pure and simple.



Yeah, right.
Anyone who still believes a single bloody word spoken by Rice or any other Bush lackey at this point is hopelessly and/or willfully stupid:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged on Wednesday that the United States mishandled the case of a Canadian engineer seized by U.S. officials and taken to Syria, where he and the Canadian government say he was tortured.

Rice, speaking at a U.S. congressional hearing, said the United States has told Canada "that we will try to do better in the future."

"We do not think that this case was handled as it should have been. We do absolutely not wish to transfer anyone to any place in which they might be tortured," she said.


Pure Science

Once more, the access of scientists to "objective truth" is revealed to be a narrative that must constantly be questioned:

A US Nobel Prize-winning scientist, whose controversial remarks on race triggered a firestorm, announced Thursday his retirement as chancellor and board member at a laboratory where he has worked for more than 40 years.

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory located outside of New York had already suspended 79-year-old researcher James Watson, who said in an interview with The Sunday Times that Africans were not as smart as white people.

Watson told the British weekly he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours -- whereas all the testing says not really."


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Poisoned Nation

Sure, it's just a hearing, but still: Good job, Waxman:

On October 23, the Committee will hold a hearing to examine the adverse health and environmental impacts experienced by the Navajo people in the aftermath of decades of uranium mining and milling conducted in and around the Navajo reservation in order to meet the federal government’s need for nuclear weapons material.

The hearing will also examine the extent to which the surface and groundwater contamination from the uranium mines and mills has been cleaned up, the clean-up that remains to be done, and the steps federal agencies must take in cooperation with the Navajo Nation in order to address the remaining health and environmental problems.


Senate Confronts Bush on Cuts

Good for them:
Senate Democrats on Tuesday reversed President Bush's cuts to education, health research and grants to local communities as they gird for Bush's first-ever veto of a regular appropriations bill.

By a 75-19 vote, the Senate gave bipartisan approval to a huge health and education spending bill that will likely be the first of the fiscal 2008 spending bills Democrats will ship to the White House to start a veto battle involving the budget for almost every domestic agency.

It promises to be a protracted battle, and Bush has a decided advantage, but Democrats have seized on the massive health and education measure as the best measure with which to challenge Bush and his GOP allies in Congress.

The measure totals over $600 billion and reverses a raft of cuts sought by Bush to health research, special education and funding for grants to community groups that help the poor, among others.


National Stupidity Week

Fortunately, I have seen no sign of this movement on my campus:

During the week of October 22-26, 2007, the nation will be rocked by the biggest conservative campus protest ever – Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a wake-up call for Americans on 200 university and college campuses.

The purpose of this protest is as simple as it is crucial: to confront the two Big Lies of the political left: that George Bush created the war on terror and that Global Warming is a greater danger to Americans than the terrorist threat. Nothing could be more politically incorrect than to point this out. But nothing could be more important for American students to hear. In the face of the greatest danger Americans have ever confronted, the academic left has mobilized to create sympathy for the enemy and to fight anyone who rallies Americans to defend themselves. According to the academic left, anyone who links Islamic radicalism to the war on terror is an "Islamophobe." According to the academic left, the Islamo-fascists hate us not because we are tolerant and free, but because we are "oppressors."

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is a national effort to oppose these lies and to rally American students to defend their country.



We don't want Turkey to kill Kurds, so we'll do it for 'em!

THE Bush Administration is considering air strikes, including cruise missiles, against the Kurdish rebel group PKK in northern Iraq.

The move would be an attempt to stave off a Turkish invasion of that country to fight the rebels.

UPDATE: So much for that:
Turkish aircraft and helicopter gunships today attacked Kurdish fighter positions along the mountainous border area with Iraq.

Several F-16 warplanes loaded with bombs took off from an air base in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir, local media reports said.

Earlier, Reuters reported that in the past few days war planes had flown as deep as 13 miles into Iraqi territory and some 300 ground troops advanced about six miles, killing 34 fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers party (PKK).


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Five More on Board

Support for DADT repeal grows:
Five more members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of a bill that would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell', the ban on gays serving openly in the military. That brings the number of so-sponsors of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act to 136.


The GOP Continues to Support Perverts

Giuliani's employing an accused child molester:

This morning on ABC's Good Morning America, Brian Ross reported on a priest who is a Giuliani employee and has been accused of molesting teenage boys.

A report from ABC News says, "Presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani hired a Catholic priest to work in his consulting firm months after the priest was accused of sexually molesting two former students and an altar boy and told by the church to stop performing his priestly duties."

"The priest, Monsignor Alan Placa, a longtime friend of Giuliani and the priest who officiated at his second wedding to Donna Hanover, continues to work at Giuliani Partners in New York, to the outrage of some of his accusers and victims' groups, which have begun to protest at Giuliani campaign events. "