Friday, May 30, 2014

Focus on the Record, Not the Man

Charlie Pierce can't get the words out fast enough:
Eric Shinseki resigned today as a result of the unfolding scandal within the Department of Veterans Affairs. This event became inevitable the moment that Shinseki sat down before the Veterans Affairs Committee of the United States Senate. It became clear almost immediately that Shinseki didn't have two votes in that room; Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal who, despite Shinseki's departure, shows no sign of getting this teeth out of this story any time soon, made it quite plain that he wasn't buying anything Shinseki was selling. And thus ends the honorable career of a soldier who was correct about the lies behind the greatest policy disaster of our times, about the essential criminality of the people who launched the invasion of Iraq, but whose primary failures as an administrator were his inability to oversee the people in his department who were directly trying to cope with the flood of casualties that resulted from all of those soldiers that most of official Washington told Eric Shinseki they would never need to create a democratic paradise in Iraq. Irony is the rail on which Shinseki now has been ridden out of town.
Charlie can't help himself--he remembers the neglect of the Vietnam generation. And, neglected they were. But how does that square with what you see above? The VA has tried to modernize itself and deal with the issues that it faces. The VA is a hundred times more available and interactive than ever. And yet, we know for certain that there will always be an institutional distrust and many will fall through the cracks. Shinseki failed to be the Secretary we needed when this transformation was carried out. It's too little too late.

Yes, Shinseki was correct about the need to deploy adequate numbers of troops to stabilize Iraq. But, guess what? Even he was wrong by a factor of more than ten. In order to "stabilize" Iraq after the end of the war, over 2 million fully equipped American soldiers wouldn't have been enough. (Iraq - 26 million people, 1 soldier for every ten civilians, etc = 2.6 million troops for stabilization force).

There is no question--Shinseki was a weak and ineffective leader. We are not quite two years removed from this debacle:
An investigation into two Veterans Affairs Department conferences have led to employees being put on administrative leave and a top official’s resignation as auditors found waste and mismanagement. The VA paid roughly $6.1 million for two conferences in 2011, but the planning was marred by leadership failures and ethical lapses, the department’s inspector general reported Oct. 1.
The investigation has led to the resignation of John Sepulveda, VA’s assistant secretary for human resources and administration (HR&A). He stepped down a day before the release of the report, which criticizes the department’s questionable spending at two Florida conferences.
The IG found that Sepulveda failed to provide proper guidance to senior executives in his organization related to the conferences. Further, his statement was contrary to his memo to the VA’s chief of staff, in which he wrote his office was controlling costs. According to several people, Sepulveda also had seen a video in whcih an actor parodied a famous scene from the movie "Patton," starring George C. Scott as Gen. George S. Patton. The video cost nearly $50,000 to make, and Sepulveda denies having seen it.
“His hands-off approach contributed to a lack of communications between HR&A senior executives resulting in confusion and a dysfunctional execution of roles and responsibilities,” the IG wrote in the report. Largely, “senior leadership accepted little responsibility for fiscal stewardship.”
When you have an inspector general who tells you that "senior leadership accepted little responsibility for fiscal stewardship," you know you have a problem. But did Shinseki carry out a VA-wide audit and go looking for more examples? Did he go beyond allowing an official to resign (he should have fired the person outright) and ensure that these practices weren't being carried out everywhere? No, because we now know that bonuses for administrators were still being paid out well into this calendar year. Despite overwhelming evidence that there was a culture of greed, incompetence, and poor fiscal stewardship, Shinseki left the people in place who ended up bringing him down.

Shinseki is also the man who, in June of 2001, decreed that everyone in the Army would wear a black beret on their head, eliminating the common sense use of the soft cap. This was one of the most selfish and stupid acts carried out by someone trying to change the Army uniform. A beret does not instill pride. A black beret on a soldier's head in a motor pool is the stupidest Goddamned thing imaginable.

Stop thinking that because Shinseki got one thing sort of right he was a saint. He failed to properly lead and administer the Department of Veteran's Affairs. He failed on the information technology front, allowing contractors to waste millions on systems that failed to deliver. He presided over a period of extreme stress in the VA but he also failed to ensure that there were people in place to honestly deal with and report back on that stress. Every single administrator that got a monetary bonus on his watch for running hospitals into the ground while Veterans died is his responsibility. He should have ensured that nobody got a bonus for hiding bad numbers. His lame attempt to carry out an audit of these facilities was too little way too late.

The man's record before taking off the uniform is irrelevant. His tenure wearing a blue suit was a disaster. Neither political party really cares about Veterans anyway. When this blows over, more will die and a grateful nation will refuse to raise taxes to care for the people dying on the waiting lists that are going to be a little more public but left to languish in the hands of whoever can finagle their way into another cushy job doing nothing on the VA's dime.

And That's Not the End of It

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan..."
Shinseki is gone:
In the end, even Eric Shinseki knew he had to go, President Barack Obama said Friday in announcing the resignation of his only Veterans Affairs secretary over a growing scandal involving sometimes deadly waits for care at VA hospitals.
Obama went before reporters shortly after meeting with Shinseki at the White House and said the retired Army general told him that "the VA needs new leadership" to address the widespread problems chronicled in new reports this week, adding that Shinseki "does not want to be a distraction" to fixing the situation.
"That was Ric's judgment on behalf of his fellow veterans, and I agree. We don't have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem," Obama said.
When the boss has to leave under a black cloud, it sends a clear message to the underlings--you're next. The reason why it makes sense for Shinseki to leave is because the greedy, incompetent administrators below him need to be washed out of the VA like the fleas and lice they are, clinging to their bonuses and their schemes to profit personally while failing America's burgeoning corps of Veterans.

That's why I called for him to quit or be fired--there's no other way to remove the terrible, terrible management below Shinseki's level at VA. Someone new, someone tough, and someone with a clear mandate to remove incompetence and fraud from the ranks has to be empowered to do so. Shinseki was not that man anymore.

I would think that many of those engaged in malfeasance would have the decency to retire or quit in the weeks ahead. Many of them won't. They will cling to their lifestyle and continue to do nothing to take care of Veterans. They will continue to ride out the clock. They should not collect any more bonuses, however, and every administrator paid a bonus over the last ten years who presided over a hospital with secret wait lists and things of that nature should be prosecuted for fraud. Their bonuses should be paid back and their retirement benefits should be irretrievably revoked.

The Department of Veteran's Affairs is about benefits, after all. I don't think anyone who screwed Veterans and got paid should be able to retire on a comfortable pension and with full health care. I think that they should be cast out into the real world where so many dying and sick and Veterans have lived since coming back from Vietnam and wherever else. They have had no safety net. They have seen the promises made to them turn into a blizzard of paperwork, crushed under the heels of people who don't care about them while making three figure salaries, getting eight weeks off a year, and being paid ridiculously inflated personal performance bonuses.

To them I would say, welcome to the reality you were charged with improving. Screw you. You're on your own.

This does not end with Shinseki. This ends when the frauds and the thieves who cost this man his job are scrambling to find someone to take care of them while they cope with the aftermath of their personal pity party. This ends when a former bigwig administrator from the Phoenix VA Hospital has to use Coinstar to pay for meds at a discount grocery store in the middle of nowhere.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hammering Away at Legacies

Dick Cheney's legacy took another beating at the hands of the people who have been trying to clean up the mess created by his old boss. This is why he has lashed out and called the President of the United States weak:
"Some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action or leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required," Obama added. "Tough talk draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans."
President Obama's abandonment of neoconservatism and nation-building means fewer contracts for the companies that saw huge profits under Bush-Cheney. Those people are angrily telling Cheney to say something and use what influence he has because they own the souls of neoconservatives and are demanding repayment for their loyalty. An entire way of life is about to come crashing down and the rush to diversify portfolios and invest in providing solar panels to drowned polar bear researchers has people climbing over one another, trying to get beachfront property in Ohio and bid on the contract to provide security for the next drone base in West Africa.

We finally have a President who only wants to start a handful of moderate-sized wars. We no longer have a President who wants to start larger wars that will break the military. It's a slight change, but it's a big enough change to frighten people used to wider profit margins.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Edward Snowden's Delusions of Adequacy

The fact that runs counter to everything that has been said about Edward Snowden is this one--he's not dead. No one has assassinated him. No one has shot him behind the ear. No one has given him poison. He's alive and flush with cash, somewhere in Mother Russia.

Secretary of State Kerry is absolutely right--Snowden should "man up" and face American justice. If his contention is that the American people need to know what their government is doing, his efforts should include making everything about the rule of law and not simply about the leaking and bragging he has done so far.

The problem is, Snowden knows that he likely stole military secrets and gave them to foreign governments in exchange for money, access, or security. He knows he successfully conned others into believing he actually cared about privacy because that is the veil he decided to hide behind. But his most recent interview betrays all of that--he was someone who wanted to BE SOMEONE rather than just do something. He has inflated his resume in order to improve his standing with his foreign handlers. That's what megalomaniacs prefer, especially on their Twitter feeds.

Clearly, there have been doubts as to his ability. Deception? Sure. He is very good at lying to people. Everything else? Not so much for this systems administrator gone rogue. It is quite common for people to travel under some kind of cover or with some measure of identity protection when they work for the United States government. That's not spying. That's force protection.

Snowden remains the greatest fraud of the decade so far.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shine That Turd

Someone has to try and prove that the evening news is still relevant. Sadly, it is not.
The vast majority of the viewers for these newscasts are AARP-eligible, although that's true for news in general. Right now Williams and Sawyer are battling for first place in the ratings category that both networks covet most, the 25- to 54-year-old demographic. ABC, long accustomed to second place behind NBC at 6:30 p.m., has won for four of the past six weeks.
The AARP crowd is the Fox News demographic, and it is often cited to show that "millions" are watching Fox News. Really? Then why are they running ads for people who have little if any disposable income?

When you are desperately trying to remind people that something is still relevant, you've already lost the game. In the 1980s, over 40 million people would regularly tune in and the advertising revenue was through the roof. The nightly news anchors were stars. The ones we have now are the also-rans and the leftovers. I mean, Scott Pelley? Really? How many Americans know instinctively who Pelley is and what job he holds and would give a damn if he walked off the set and told his bosses to shove it up their asses? You want to compare Pelley to Rather and Cronkite? Go ahead.

The audience has aged and shrunk to the point where there's no point for many advertisers to even contemplate running anything during this time slot.

In television, don't talk about numbers unless you know where the people who actually have money are and what they're watching.

Good God, son. Scott Pelley is the top of the food chain at CBS News? Seriously?

Too Incompetent For Words

Oh, my:

The White House accidentally revealed the name of the CIA's top intelligence official in Afghanistan to some 6,000 journalists.
The person was included on a list of people attending a military briefing for President Barack Obama during his surprise visit to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on Sunday.
It's common for such lists to be given to the media, but names of intelligence officials are rarely provided. In this case, the individual's name was listed next to the title, "Chief of Station."
Simply firing the person responsible would not solve the problem. This would indicate, at least to me, a fundamental inability to separate classified from unclassified material. Whoever transferred the information from one place to the other did so without understanding the need to segregate or separate the information needed to do their job. They took a shortcut of some kind, copying a list and then pasting it somewhere and then, without thinking about the implications. Someone within the Obama Administration has no idea what they're doing, in other words, and their work habits are sloppy.

All the spies know everyone else anyway, so this is not the end of the world. It's just sheer incompetence. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Joe Scarborough, Meet Ted Yoho

Dumbassery abounds:
Speaking at a town hall meeting earlier this month, Florida Republican congressman Ted Yoho promised that he would support possible birther legislation floated by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), telling the audience that after learning about a potential birther bill from Stockman while attending a Tea Party meeting, he called the congressman and agreed to back it.
Yoho also seemed to embrace the right-wing claim that Obamacare is “racist” because it taxes tanning beds, explaining that if he goes tanning then he will be “disenfranchised because I got taxed because of the color of my skin.”
I had a little fun with [John] Boehner and told him about the sun tanning tax. He goes, ‘I didn’t know it was in there,’ and I said, ‘Yes, it’s a ten percent tax.’ He goes, ‘Well, that’s not that big of a deal.’ I said, ‘It’s a racist tax.’ He goes, ‘You know what, it is.’ I had an Indian doctor in our office the other day, very dark skin, with two non-dark skin people, and I asked this to him, I said, ‘Have you ever been to a tanning booth?’ and he goes, ‘No, no need.’ So therefore it’s a racist tax and I thought I might need to get to a sun tanning booth so I can come out and say I’ve been disenfranchised because I got taxed because of the color of my skin. As crazy as that sounds, that’s what the left does right. By God, if it works for them, it’ll work for us [inaudible].
Seriously. The Brass Balls on these people...

J. D. Gordon is a Jackass of the Highest Order

What is this bullshit?
Here’s another secret the White House doesn’t want you to know about the VA. Al Qaeda detainees get better medical treatment than our veterans.
Say what?
Yes, it’s true. I know because I served as a Pentagon spokesman from 2005-2009 and visited Guantanamo Bay Naval Base over 30 times during those years.
Despite the fact that Al Qaeda terrorists carried out the Sept. 11 terror attacks, killing 3,000 people in America, the admitted co-conspirators and their roughly 150 fellow jihadists at Gitmo have approximately 100 doctors, nurses and health care personnel assigned to them.
Doctors and medical personnel are at their beck and call. Got a cold, a fever, a toothache, a tumor, chest or back pain, mental health issues, PTSD? No problem, come right on in. Military doctors are waiting to see you.
Guess who gave Gordon his job--the Bush Administration. Guess who was treating prisoners at Guantanamo Bay "better" than all the Veterans created by the insane foreign policy choices of the Bush Administration? Why, one and the same--the Bush Administration. They're the ones who set policy and filled the place with the innocent and the guilty alike. Did you forget who tortured many of those men being treated "better" than our Veterans? The Bush Administration tortured them, repeatedly, and how many of them died? How many of them ended up in black sites and then transferred into Guantanamo Bay, desperately needing basic medical care?

I mean, Jeebus. The brass balls on these people must click-click-click well into the night while they're spitballing and trying to come up with this stuff.

Guess who has tried, repeatedly, to close Guantanamo Bay? The Obama Administration. Guess whose Congress has blocked every attempt to shut it down? Oh, that would be the Republican one, which has had the gall to stick it to Veterans for years. Guess who has been trying to treat millions of Veterans while the Republican-controlled Congress shuts down the government and refuses to pass adequate funding bills? The Obama Administration, of course.

You don't get to break the American military and ruin several countries and then come back a half a decade later and hope people forgot everything you damaged, broke, and mismanaged because of your incompetence and stupidity. The mere fact that Gordon writes for Fox News speaks volumes to the impossibility of giving anyone who worked for the Bush Administration a decent job in the real world.

I'll say this for our Kenyan-born black Mooslim Prezuhdent--at least he figured out that killing them with drones in their beds was better than sending them to Gitmo in a diaper.

This is the perfect example of jackassery--any Bush Administration official who criticizes how we are caring for Veterans should shut the hell up and pray that the amnesia of the American people continues well into the future.

The Shocking Truth About James O'Keefe

James O'Keefe has, once again, failed to accomplish anything other than annoying some people who actually work for a living.

Tell me again how this smarmy, useless excuse for a human being still gets scads of press and attention while failing every single time he tries to carry out a cheap and incompetent selective editing assignment?

No fraud in the history of this country has ever had more attention than this clown. Conservative media, you own O'Keefe, and what's shocking is that he is still ringing the bell and they're still lapping up everything he does. It's as if him playing around with a rape kit and sex toys was just a mild, juvenile prank to these people.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Paul Ryan Was Against Community Organizers Before He Was For Them

In case anyone is wondering, Paul Ryan still wants to run for President:
On Tuesday, he waded into the conversation with veteran civil rights leader Robert Woodson Sr. by his side and explained that he “wanted to get out of the ivory tower, out of committee hearing rooms, and go out around the country and learn. Not talk, not lecture, but to learn.” The goal was not to make him a better politician but a better policy-maker. He wants to attack the root causes of poverty rather than simply ameliorate root symptoms.
Ron Christie is one of the most dishonest shills in America. His identification of Robert Woodson leaves out the fact that he is also a community organizer.

Yes, a community organizer. Paul Ryan's epiphany should come with a trigger warning for people who hate community organizers.

Barely one year ago, he hated them with a passion:
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said Tuesday that a "data hub" being compiled for Obamacare presents a danger to Americans.
"This thing gives me a tingle down my spine. It's just chilling," the Janesville Republican told conservative Milwaukee talk show host Charlie Sykes on WTMJ-AM (620).
"It's the biggest database ever collected on us, meaning people, the citizens of this country," Ryan claimed.Ryan said the data hub will merge databases from the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal and state agencies.
The hub will be used to determine eligibility for Obamacare subsidies, he said.
In a National Review column posted Monday, Ryan is quoted as saying "community organizers" working to implement Obamacare will have access to the data hub.
“Giving community organizers access to the Federal Data Hub is bad policy and potentially a danger to civil liberties,” he said. “But it’s one of the most underreported stories I’ve seen. If people only knew about this Data Hub program, it would touch off a huge public outcry.”
Now that's a flip flop. And it's funny how a history of being one kind of jackass and then pretending he never held an opinion in his life can come back to haunt him.

The Next Generation of Revolutionaries in Iran

You can't be young and Iranian and not engage the popular culture:
Apparently, dancing to a song about happiness in Iran can get you arrested.
Six Iranians are behind bars after they appeared in a fan video set to Pharrell Williams' "Happy," the American hit song that has sold millions of downloads worldwide.
Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia ordered the arrests of the three men and three women because they helped make an "obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace," the Iranian Student News Agency reported Wednesday.
The biggest American mistakes in Iran center around ignoring the importance of culture and tradition and then not understanding that the young people in Iran hate their own regime. But, a funny thing happens when the older generation dies off--there is a slow burn for revolution.

In the United States, the power of old white men is eroding steadily and they can't figure out how to have a reverse revolution and stop their decline. In Iran, the clerics are dying off and the revolutionaries of 1979 are getting on in age. Everything that we are doing to Iran should center around the isolation of the regime and the connection that their young people have to the popular culture (see Vaclav Havel).

The iPod and iPad should be freely distributed in Iran. Smuggle them in. Do whatever it takes to connect to this generation.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How is This Justice?

The British legal system may be civilized, but how does this work if you're Joss Stone?

These men were equipped and ready to murder her and steal from her. They had the means and the intent to find her, kill her, and take what they could and flee. This was premeditated and planned out. The only thing that has saved them is, ironically, their much-remarked haplessness.

I think letting them out of prison in a few years is a huge, huge mistake for the rule of law in any country.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Chinese Army is Trollin Y'all


Wang Dong?

That's racist, People's Liberation Army. You should know better.

John Fund is a Serial Liar

Have you had enough insanity already for one week? Well, get ready for more.

John Fund has decided to weigh in on the Veteran's Administration scandal, and he uses this opportunity to rail against single-payer health care as opposed to the stupidity of actually creating many more Veterans than can be taken care of or treated. He wants you to know that single payer is the devil and ignore the fact that the VA has struggled because of the inability of Congress to fund the government and that is has been cut by repeated Republican Party efforts to stop providing benefits to the American people.

I mean, full stop--these are the people who shut down the government. That's what they care about--destroying the infrastructure that would normally provide health care to Veterans. Their ideology trumps giving the VA the resources it needs. And now a resource-starved VA has been exposed as a den of bonus-giving thieves, which probably justifies the Republicans but, really--what we have needed for years is more oversight and accountability. Kind of hard to have that when we're holding our eighth round of hearings about Benghazi.

These are the people who have denied funding bills and improvements in the VA health care system. These are the people who have no problems starting wars and creating millions of Veterans and then abandoning them while wearing an American flag lapel pin.

John Fund is doing a cartwheel here. The VA has a problem, and that problem is entirely because we havea single payer health care system in America. What kind of nonsense is that? Well, it's the kind peddled by serial liars in order to keep people from getting access to health care.

You see, the problems with the VA are apparent to everyone--there are too many Veterans and the people who are charged with taking care of them are incompetent. The VA's problems have nothing to do with single payer health insurance because the VA is a benefit, not an option. It has to be provided to Veterans. Thus, it has to be rationed because we're not charging Veterans for their health care costs.

Eric Shinseki's incompetence is why he should be fired. He's a good man who has had a difficult job. But the problems with the VA's information architecture and the ballsy bonuses paid to far too many inept and corrupt administrators means that the system has to be flushed of flunkies and useless people. The hallways of the VA are actually full of them--I have seen them myself. If you don't believe me, go see for yourself. Oh, wait. You can't unless you have a special visitor pass and access to the facility. But, if you can get one, go see haplessness in action.

The intellectually honest argument is thus--there are too many Veterans and we need a more efficient system of taking care of them. The John Fund argument--driven by decades of stupidity and lies--is this:
The veterans’ hospital scandals now in the news in the United States show just how bad things can get when the pressure of patient demand and waiting lists affects bureaucratic behavior. As many as 40 veterans reportedly died at a Phoenix veterans’ facility because they couldn’t get the care they needed. VA administrators there and at other hospitals apparently covered it up by establishing secret waiting lists and falsifying reports.

No one is suggesting that such scandals are widespread in the general health-care system. But they should serve as a warning sign of what could happen as the pressure to ration, inherent in all government-managed health care, is applied to the general population.
Never mind how funny it is for a conservative who bemoans government spending to launch a rant about rationing health care, what Fund really has a problem with is the distant history of Barack Obama:
This is the record of many single-payer health-care systems, and both Obama and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, have said that establishing a single-payer system is their long-term goal. In 2003, Obama, then an Illinois state senator, toldan AFL-CIO conference: “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health-care program. . . . But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately.” Similarly, Majority Leader Reid told a PBS interview show in Nevada, in October 2013: “What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever.” When he was asked by a panelist whether he meant that ultimately the country would need a health-care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: “Yes, yes. Absolutely yes.”
There you have it--when he was the State Senator from Illinois, he was already scheming to destroy the Veteran's health care system. Except, of course, when he was opposing the Iraq War.

I mean, come on. WTF? If you don't want to have to pay all that money to take care of Veterans, stop starting wars and creating millions of them. If you're John Fund and if you supported the War in Iraq, you don't get to bemoan the costs of the VA because, as Colin Powell says, you went into Pottery Barn and shit the bed, son.

Fund has long been an unethical serial liar:
January 31, 2003 Friday
MATTHEWS: John Fund, do you know what turned him [Colin Powell] around from a man who is perceived by the public to be dovish to a man who is the hard line fellow, very much like his fellow Cabinet members, Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney?
JOHN FUND, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Complete frustration Chris. He basically decided that Saddam Hussein was never going to come clean, that the process was completely flawed.
You know the same people who believe that global warming is absolutely proven and they’re not going to listen to anything else are the same people who will accept absolutely no evidence that Saddam Hussein is hiding something and including weapons of mass destruction. Colin Powell basically finally threw up his hands and said we have to act because the alternative is to let Saddam Hussein win the game, set and match, and the world cannot be blackmailed that way. ‘
How can anybody read anything by this man and not wonder how it is that he still has any presence at all in the media, conservative or otherwise? How is it that he did not slink away in shame and go peddle apples on skid row after 2006?

John Fund. Wrong about everything and not afraid to lie about it some more.

Take the Money and Run

I think it would be fair to say that an accountability moment and a firm reality check has arrived for everyone who said that Obamacare is the devil that will soshalism this country into the hands of the Kraken.

When given the option to stand behind their principles and continue destroying the lives of people who need the health care provisions of the PPACA, Republicans governors are taking the money that's on the table and they're lying about it. Mike Pence of Indiana is lying when he denies folding in the face of a Medicare benefit that the people of Indiana desperately need. He should go into each and every election from now on wearing an Obama sticker on his nose so that people remember how he gave in to the commies and allowed the Hoosiers to horn in on those Federal dollars.

We heard this time and again--Obamacare will destroy America. That was absolute bullshit, of course. And you would think that future elections would hinge on that but they won't. Without a viable, working media to hold them accountable, the Mike Pences of the GOP will be claiming Obamacare was Romneycare all along and they'll claim it as their own.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

How Do You Sue Porsche?

How did this end up being a lawsuit?
The court documents filed by Kristine Rodas describe the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT that her husband was driving as a an "ultra-high-performance-super-sports car for the road," that goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 205 miles per hour.
The complaint argues that such a high-powered sports car should have a higher standard of crash protection, and that a mechanical malfunction forced Rodas to veer off the road.
Geragos also hired investigators to evaluate wreckage at the scene, who determined that Rodas was driving 55 mph before the vehicle went out of control. This contradicts the Los Angeles County coroner's report that car was speeding at more than 100 mph, and the investigations by the Los Angeles County Sherriff's Office and California Highway Patrol that focused on speed.
Porsche pointed to the discrepancy.
"As you know, the crash was subject of a very detailed investigation by the authorities, both the California Highway Patrol and the L.A. County Sheriff's Office," said Bernd Harling, Head of Public Relations for Porsche Cars North America. "The reports showed that driving at a high speed in a negligent manner caused the crash. Both concluded that there was no mechanical defect of the vehicle involved."
Bernd Harling must have gotten on the phone to Germany and said the equivalent of "get a load of this..."

Do you know how Mr. Walker and Mr. Rodas could have ended up not being killed? By not getting into a car and driving too fast. I mean, how hard is it to apply some common sense? How is it that there are lawyers even arguing about this--the car was widely known to be a "performance" car. Simply getting into that vehicle is a risk in and of itself.

These two men got into that car and it crashed. Attorney Mark Geragos found someone who said that the car was going 55 miles an hour--which is bullshit but what do you expect from a celebrity attorney who remembers that, in the 1970s, everyone drove 55 for like a minute and then went back to driving faster than that--and now there's a lawsuit.

There is no personal accountability in this case. A tragic accident that was the result of getting into the wrong kind of car and driving in the wrong area at high speeds killed these men. Turning a burned out car inside and out looking for a loose washer and finding "experts" to say whatever they are paid to say isn't going to accomplish anything.

Pinch Steps on a Rake

There's a reason why this story matters, and it really doesn't have anything to do with the fact that this is a media story or that these are wealthy, privileged media people who are whining and carrying on in public. This story matters because of how women are treated in the workplace when they ask for equal pay.

I mean, full stop.

This story resonates with the experiences of millions of American women. Jill Abramson found out she wasn't getting paid what her male colleagues and predecessors were getting paid. This went back years. Years of this kind of behavior, which is awful. And when she asserted her rights, they fired her. In violation of every common sense workplace ethic, they pulled the trigger on getting rid of her when they should have addressed the issue and made it right and apologized.

Which is going to be cheaper in the long run?

This whole thing about trying to cover up the fact that they fired her because she brought in a lawyer to talk about her compensation package is the legal nightmare behind the scenes--that's the inside baseball stuff that stood out to legal-minded folks. That's what set people on fire. That's what really drove home the idea that this could be applied to factory workers, retail workers, IT professionals, nurses--you name it. Forget the wealth and privilege of these media personalities--it could be a story unfolding in a company anywhere in America. Women just don't get paid what they're worth. We see it time and again.

And it's wrong. It's fundamentally the wrong thing to do to people.

What stood out to me was that you could write this story in a lot of places where women aren't paid as much as men for the same work--for work that is often better. There was a collective reaction to this story because so many women have experienced exactly what Abramson experienced--that sickening feeling of not being treated right because of only one thing--their gender.

In each and every part of America's work life, that has to stop. It should have stopped long ago. We passed Lily Ledbetter--legislation that addressed these issues--and it still goes on. We see stories about wage theft, and it made me think about what would solve something like this.

Pay women the same as men or lose your business. Steal wages from your employees and you lose your business. I'm not talking about shutting it down--I mean, you lose your property.

Your property is guaranteed to be protected by the law of the land and the infrastructure You Didn't Build that helped you create and run your business. If you don't pay people what they are worth and if you steal the wages of their work, you forfeit your right to enjoy the business you are in. You collect what you put into that business (minus what you cheated someone out of or stole) and you walk away with nothing else. You lose your business. It goes into public trust or receivership and is sold so that nobody loses their job. Whoever buys that business  has to keep everyone employed and has to pay them what is owed to them.

Try that and see if that brings pay up to an equal level and see if that stops wage theft.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Demonizing Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson had the audacity to ask to be treated equally at The New York Times.

It is 2014. Women are still being paid much, much less than men for equal work in far too many jobs and careers. Abramson was at the pinnacle of the American (world?) media establishment and she was still begging to be treated as an equal.

Instead, we're treated to the usual "bitchy, bossy woman" commentary that will render this story a footnote in the days ahead. By this weekend, will we have an actual conversation about workplace equality or will we assume that the wealthy and privileged Abramson will simply have to find work somewhere else?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stop Trying to Make Voter Fraud a Thing

There is no such thing as voter fraud:
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R), one of the nation’s most enthusiastic voter suppressors, released a report on Thursday outlining the results a two-year investigation into possible voter fraud, conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at his request. But while Schultz has frequently scared Iowa voters with allegations of thousands of possible non-citizens voting in the state and living people showing up at the polls to cast ballots in the name of dead voters, the investigation revealed found an infinitesimal number of illegal votes cast and zero cases of impersonation at the polls.
Since his election in 2010, Schultz has been a staunch advocate for a strict voter ID law in Iowa, though his efforts to require one have stalled in the Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate. Last year he told supporters that in order to get conservative policies on “abortion, gay marriage, a whole lot of social issues that we care deeply about,” they must “start caring about voter ID and election integrity as well.” Without voter ID, he told them, “you’ll never be able to make a difference in any other issue you care about. Never. Because they will cheat! They’ll cheat.”
It is the obligation of the media to explain why the Republican Party is obsessed with voter fraud. As a primer, let me explain why they don't want people to vote:

When a lot of people vote, they don't vote for Republicans.

This is especially true for anyone who is not old and white and watches Fox News, although, as we have seen, if they are a veteran or if they have a foreign-looking name, there's a good chance someone is going to make an ass of themselves challenging their right to vote.

Is the pursuit of voter fraud simple vote suppression? Absolutely. And it is as racist as hell. You'd think that the media would have a way to tell that story or a moral obligation to try. I'll bet if you tied up voter suppression and put it on a plane that disappeared one day, there'd be more attention paid to it. If it was a blonde, white female that had gone missing, you'd know more about it. Maybe--just maybe--voter suppression needs to have its ass kicked by its own sister-in-law. Then, and only then, will we see some exposure for this issue.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

That Went Well

Now that Donald Sterling has had a chance to tell his side of the story, everything is now perfectly fine and he will not face any more accusations of being insensitive about race issues in America:
In an exclusive interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sterling spoke publicly for the first time since a controversial audio recording of him sparked a firestorm and put his ownership of the Clippers in jeopardy.
He repeatedly apologized and denied accusations that he's racist, claiming he'd been "baited" into making what he called "terrible" remarks. But while he defended himself for much of the interview, he went on the offensive when Johnson's name came up.

Sterling, 80, slammed the former Los Angeles Lakers player's character and his battle with HIV, saying Johnson hasn't done anything to help others.

"What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about?" Sterling asked. "I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn't do anything."
As you can see, Sterling is getting great advice from the sycophants who tell him how wonderful he is all day long. This fantastic public relations advice probably costs him more money than most people make in a decade. My only hope is that Sterling will keep giving interviews so that everyone can see just how far this stellar disaster control advice will take him.

I mean, the kids are learning a lot from this man, aren't they? Sterling had days and days to think about what he said and that's what he said. You couldn't come up with anything else? 

I mean, oh, damn. That's what I said when I saw this story. Damn.

What else can you say? The man's insane.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Campaign Signs Don't Matter

This is what haplessness looks like.

The man you see in the still video image above has been caught on video stealing campaign signs:
Baltimore County police are investigating the destruction of campaign signs in Towson that belong to a state senator.
Officers were dispatched to the 8700 block of Loch Bend Drive on Saturday for a destruction of property call.
The caller, identified as the campaign treasurer for state Sen. James Brochin, told police three people were taking down four 8-foot by 4-foot "Brochin for Senate" signs from a commercial lawn at Loch Bend Drive and East Joppa Road. Brochin is a Democrat running for re-election in Baltimore County's 42nd District.
"It's straight out of middle school," Brochin said. "The fact that my opponent is taking my signs down while I'm doing this rather than getting out to voters and talking to voters is a problem. I'm disappointed. It's sad. It's desperate, but the thing I have always tried to do is go one-on-one to the voter and talk to the voter about public policy."
Unlucky in life, unlucky in crime, and famous for doing something stupid. What a shame.

The really sad part of all of this is that campaign signs are next to useless and don't influence voters or achieve much of anything at all. They may increase name recognition but only in cases where there are voters who are actually going to vote for the person whose name they see in their neighborhood the most.

Know anyone like that? Didn't think so.

Friday, May 9, 2014

In the Wilderness on Benghazi

Rich Lowry is doing his best to carry water for people who don't care about anything other than getting re-elected this fall. The results are tragically hypocritical.

Doesn't anyone get that Benghazi has become a joke on the national stage? As in, there is no scandal and they're overreaching? That no one seriously believes that the Republicans are going to be able to manufacture a scandal out of something that happened on September 11, 2012 and then use that to impeach the President?

I mean, talk about delusional:
The deniers evidently believe:
An administration should be able to make erroneous statements about a terror attack that killed a U.S. ambassador in the weeks before a presidential election and expect everyone to accept its good intentions afterward.
Does Lowry forget the years 2001-2009? And the entirety of the Bush Administration? Apparently so.
An administration should be able to withhold a bombshell White House email from congressional investigators and expect everyone to greet its long-delayed release with a yawn.
See the thing I just said and imagine Dick Cheney snarling at the idea that the White House should just let everyone see the E-mail any time they wish.
An administration should be able to send out its press secretary to abase himself with absurd denials of the obvious and expect everyone to consider its credibility solidly intact.
Wow. See above again and again. Then, imagine a Dana Perino press conference from said era.
No opposition party would ever accept these propositions, and of course Republicans (and a few intrepid reporters and organizations) haven’t. We presumably would never have learned of the email from White House national security official Ben Rhodes to then-ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice prior to her notorious Sunday show appearances if the Benghazi “obsessives” at Judicial Watch hadn’t zealously pursued records through a lawsuit.
The bombshell that wasn't did not ignite this scandal--a phony effort to make it relevant put it on the front pages. The difference of course being that Benghazi was proof that we don't have adequate troops in Africa and the ability to project force into unstable war zones on the African continent at a moment's notice. We don't have those things because America's vital interests are not threatened. The Iraq War was proof that you can lie to the American people, stubbornly refuse to change course, get thousands of Americans killed, and still enjoy the legitimacy of the mainstream media's inability to hold anyone accountable.

Rarely will you find a more unethical attempt to politicize American foreign policy. I don't recall any of Walter Mondale's extensive remarks on the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut being proof that the Reagan Administration was negligent, criminally incompetent and responsible for deaths of hundreds of Americans, but maybe I missed that.

No, I did not miss it:
In the debate with the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee, Mr. [George H. W.] Bush termed the bombing of the United States Embassy in Beirut ''a wanton terrorist action'' and said American troops had helped bring about a ''government of reconciliation.''
He added: ''For somebody to suggest, as our opponents have, that these men died in shame, they had better not tell the parents of those young marines.''
A total of 241 marines and other Americans died in the explosion at the marine barracks on Oct. 23, 1983.
Earlier, with Mrs. Ferraro seated behind him on the State Capital steps in Madison, Mr. Mondale said, ''Now we all make mistakes in campaigns but that one is unpardonable.Mr. Bush, we love this country as much as you do. And, Mr. Bush, we honor our men and women who die in the service of our country, and we grieve for their families as much as you do.
''Mr. Bush, apologize today for that remark,'' said Mr. Mondale to thunderous applause.
Later in Chicago, Mrs. Ferraro herself called on Mr. Bush to apologize, saying she was more concerned about receiving an apology for that statement than for an unflattering predebate description of her by Mr. Bush's press secretary. The aide, Peter Teeley, told The Wall Street Journal that she was ''too bitchy.''
In Minneapolis, Mr. Mondale said, ''I decided to spend the night to see if I would cool off, and I'm getting more angry every time. There's no excuse for this.
''He should be ashamed of himself,'' said Mr. Mondale. ''If Mr. Bush thinks as Vice President of the United States he can tell the American people that I either stated or implied that our marines in Lebanon lost their lives - lost as a result of shame, when he knows utterly and absolutely that's an appalling and atrocious misstatement of the facts and won't apologize, he ought to be ashamed of himself.
If that's not a history lesson about who prefers to politicize American foreign policy, what is? By the way, Michael Tomasky, who is always reliably great, misses this fact in his piece here. The Reagan Administration knew--knew--they were vulnerable when it came to foreign policy decisions regarding the use of military force (Grenada? Hello?) and that's why then-Vice President Bush went on the offensive with those remarks. He was actively trying to prevent the Democrats from making an issue out of what happened. Walter Mondale, bless his heart, never missed a chance to tell the truth and take the high road on the way to defeat.

There seems to be only one reality--if something bad happens when a Republican is in office, it's because Democrats were weak. If something happens when a Democrat is in office, we have to conclude that Democrats are pussies and we need to put the Daddy Party back in charge.

Scale is important. If a handful of Americans die when a Democrat is in charge, it's game on for scandal mongering. When hundreds or thousands die, it means we went to war with the army we had, not the one that would survive all of the roadside bombings we refused to acknowledge.

It stings these people that Obama's orders were responsible for killing Osama bin Laden. That absolutely drives them crazy, by the way. It destroys every narrative they cling to.

But, of course, we're just going to have to wait for Rich Lowry to turn on the Republicans once again:
In recent weeks, many conservatives have started to turn against the Iraq war, but few have gone so far as admit that perhaps the allegedly biased (liberal and anti-Bush) media may actually have been right about the conflict all along. But in his latest King Features column today, Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, takes that bold step.

He's certainly not changing his political stripes, as the following sentence reveals: "The mainstream media is biased, arrogant, prone to stultifying group-think and much more fallible than its exalted self-image allows it to admit." But then he adds: "It also, however, can be right, and this is most confounding to conservatives. In Iraq, the media’s biases happen to fit the circumstances."

Lowry explains: "Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right — that the initial invasion would be the easy part, that seeming turning points (the capture of Saddam, the elections, the killing of Zarqawi) were illusory, that the country was dissolving into a civil war.....Conservatives need to realize that something is not dubious just because it’s reported by the New York Times...."
He even tweaks Laura Bush for her hit at media coverage in Iraq last week, when she complained that “there are a lot of good things happening that aren’t covered.” Lowry asks: "What are those things, one wonders?"

There's more: "In their distrust of the mainstream media, their defensiveness over President Bush and the war, and their understandable urge to buck up the nation’s will, many conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it."
So, when all is said and done, it will be the media's fault unless it is impossible to prove that they were wrong. Then it will be the fault of whoever Rich Lowry wants it to be. We won't have any kind of accountability moment because shut up, that's why.

[...] the question of responsibility remains a searing issue in Washington, framed by two contradictory story lines.
One has it that the video, which was posted on YouTube, inspired spontaneous street protests that got out of hand. This version, based on early intelligence reports, was initially offered publicly by Susan E. Rice, who is now Mr. Obama’s national security adviser.
The other, favored by Republicans, holds that Mr. Stevens died in a carefully planned assault by Al Qaeda to mark the anniversary of its strike on the United States 11 years before. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of covering up evidence of Al Qaeda’s role to avoid undermining the president’s claim that the group has been decimated, in part because of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
The investigation by The Times shows that the reality in Benghazi was different, and murkier, than either of those story lines suggests. Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests. The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs.
Clap louder to make a scandal out of nothing.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Time to Go Already

Life and politics aren't fair. But when it's time to go, it's time to go:
The House Veterans Affairs Committee voted Thursday to subpoena Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in the wake of his department being accused of deadly delays in health care at some of its hospitals.
The Shinseki subpoena will cover e-mails that allegedly discussed the destruction of a secret list, first reported by CNN, of veterans waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital.
The panel agreed to issue the subpoena in a voice vote Thursday morning.
Shinseki told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that he would not resign over allegations that U.S. veterans died awaiting care at VA hospitals across the country, including in Phoenix.
America's veterans need a better and more effective advocate. Thank you for your service, Secretary Shinseki, but it's well past the time to resign and you should probably take most, if not all, of the people working for you out the door.

My guess is that the Obama Administration does not want to have to find a new VA secretary at this time and that there is already going to be quite the circus in the Congress over Benghazi. This is why they should have gotten rid of Shinseki a year ago. The Phoenix VA hospital is but one of the many failures of his tenure. The whole story of the VA's inability to deal with incompetence reads like a Stephen King novel.
Officials with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System have botched the handling of a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at nearly every turn. Five veterans are now dead from the pneumonialike disease. But instead of giving those who failed to prevent the outbreak pink slips, VA gave them glowing performance reviews and huge bonuses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 21 veterans were sickened between February 2011 and November 2012, but that didn’t stop VA Pittsburgh Director Terry Gerigk Wolf from receiving the highest possible score on a VA performance review covering the bulk of the outbreak period.
Shockingly, Wolf’s review makes no mention of the outbreak, and instead praises her for leading a “groundbreaking Civility Initiative” and helping improve her employees’ resume-writing skills.
Memories of the outbreak seem to have eluded VA officials again when they nominated Wolf’s boss, VA regional director Michael Moreland, for the Presidential Rank Award, America’s highest civil-service accolade. For Moreland, the honor included a whopping $62,895 bonus, which he formally accepted just three days after VA’s inspector general reported VA Pittsburgh’s response to the outbreak was plagued by persistent mismanagement.
Most people would find VA’s celebration of Wolf and Moreland in the aftermath of a deadly outbreak they were too incompetent to stop hard to believe. Yet the situation is routine at the department, where failing executives have been collecting massive bonuses for years...
So, bear in mind that a deadly level of incompetence has infected the VA for years. Nothing about what happened in Pittsburgh affected what was going on in Phoenix because of the rot within the system and the belief that there was never going to be a real accountability moment for the people who were deliberately killing veterans because they didn't hold a single ethical position about their needs and their value as human beings. When you let someone die because you're afraid of losing your job, you are the worst kind of public servant. You're more ghoul than anything at that point. I mean, I understand why people steal. I don't understand how people can continue to pick up a paycheck when what they are doing is actually killing other people. That's sick.

Here are a few more examples:
A VA executive in charge of the nearly 60 offices that process disability benefits compensation claims collected almost $60,000 in bonuses while overseeing a near seven-fold increase in backlogged claims.
A VA health official in New York pocketed nearly $26,000 in bonuses while presiding over chronic misuse of insulin pens that potentially exposed hundreds of veterans to blood-borne illnesses.
Two April VA inspector-general reports identified serious instances of mismanagement at the Atlanta VA Medical Center that led to the drug-overdose deaths of two patients and the suicide of another. True to form, VA doled out nearly $65,000 in performance bonuses to the medical-center director who presided over the negligence.
In early May, I spent the day at the Atlanta VAMC, along with several members of Georgia’s congressional delegation. Hospital officials told us that although they had identified specific employees whose actions had contributed to patient deaths, no one had been fired.
When I asked a roomful of Atlanta VAMC leaders if there were any other serious patient-care incidents Congress needed to know about, they said no, failing to reveal a previously unreported suicide the media would expose just four days later.
It's time to put an end to this farce. If the end result is the death of patients, there has to be accountability and there has to be effective change in the wake of what happened. When your organization is failing, paying out bonuses is not the answer.

Bears Are Environmentalists

They are not giving up their oil:
A worker at an oil sands plant in Canada was attacked and killed by a bear Wednesday.
The attack took place at a Suncor Energy base plant, 200 miles north of Edmonton.
"We are shocked by this very unusual incident and there are no words to express the tragedy of this situation," said Mark Little, a Suncor executive vice president.
Between 1900 and 2009, 63 people were killed in 59 incidents in Canada and the United States, according to a 2011 Journal of Wildlife Management report. The study concludes that as human populations and developments rise, so have bear attacks.
The bear in the Wednesday attack was put down.
While it is rare for people to die from a bear attack, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the environmental impact of absolutely destroying the land in order to extract fossil fuels is going to be thwarted at times by the inconvenient reality that there are bears trying to live where the oil is.

The bears are no different than the people who had to be displaced and the real tragedy is that there will be no introspection and no debate over whether it's a good idea to build the Keystone Pipeline or continue to wreck everything. The only thing that matters is cheap gas and looking the other way.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Doctor Bosworth, I Presume?

Somewhere out on the prairie, of which I am familiar, is a doctor who is fighting Obamacare. Her name is Dr. Annette Bosworth and she is your garden variety conservative Republican. She was kind enough to send me an E-mail, begging for money.

Here is what she had to say:
This is my first run for political office. I am a doctor, not a career politician, but I just couldn’t sit on the sidelines and watch what is happening to our great nation any longer.
I have always stood up for what I believe in. The first time I stood up to a bully I was 7 years old.
Today, the biggest bully I see is the federal government. I grew up on a working farm in Plankinton, South Dakota. I am a doctor who works with the elderly and the poor. The clinic I own is a small business. In every area of work and life, there is just too much government interference.
Being a doctor, I understand how unfair and harmful Obamacare really is -- and I have vowed to repeal every single word of it. I also pledge to cut taxes, defend the second amendment, and to protect the unborn.
If you're going to run for political office in the Dakotas, you pretty much have to be pro-life to the gills, so I understand her position on that issue. But, as a doctor who serves the poor and the elderly (who are often one and the same), why is Obamacare such an evil thing to her? The elderly are able to afford health care under Medicare, and Obamacare expands Medicare; if you're unable to find a job that pays enough or offers health care, you have a better chance of affording it under Obamacare in most places; that's not hyperbole--it's a fact that a medical doctor should understand.

But wait--it gets better. Why is Doctor Bosworth ignorant of the most important fact of all--they don't even HAVE Obamacare in South Dakota?
  • South Dakota: In an interview with the Associated Press on Oct. 25, 2013, Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) said he is leaning against expanding Medicaid. He said he will ask the Legislature to hold off on any Medicaid expansion plans until there is more evidence on how the ACA is working nationally.
Boggles the mind, doesn't it? Here she is, begging for money to fight something her constituents can't even get.

Wal-Mart is much, much more responsible for the plight of the people she claims to want to help. Wal-Mart offers them low-paying, stressful jobs that do not provide affordable, comprehensive medical coverage; in fact, working for Wal-Mart usually means getting your hours cut so that the company can deny you health care coverage. Just once I'd like to see a conservative Republican rail against these practices and vow to do something. If you want to get people off welfare, and reduce the amount of money that the government has to pay out in benefits, why wouldn't you attack a company that is actively screwing everyone?

Doctor Bosworth is absolutely suffering, and if she loses her practice, her only hope for affordable health care coverage is the Obamacare that people like her in her state--which is run by her political party--can't get:
In documents filed with the Senate Ethics Committee, Bosworth reported that at some point since the beginning of 2012, she had two mortgages worth $250,000 to $500,000. She also reported owning four homes in Hartford — but at least three of them entered foreclosure proceedings in Minnehaha County this year.
In addition, Bosworth reported having a business line of credit worth $500,000 to $1 million. She runs a medical clinic in southern Sioux Falls, though at least one employee has sued Bosworth alleging unpaid wages.
That business is worth less than $15,000, Bosworth said in her report, and produced no income.
Her only reported sources of income during the past year were three contracts — $11,500 with the state of South Dakota, $1,200 with Volunteers of America and $4,800 with the University of South Dakota School of Medicine.
Bosworth did not report any income by her husband, Chad Haber. Candidates must report sources from which their spouses earned at least $1,000.
Her only other assets were four checking accounts.
Why is she running from the facts of her own situation? Republicans in Congress have done nothing to help people like her--professionals who are struggling to run small businesses in states that are run almost entirely by Republicans. They have screwed their own citizens because they have an ideological problem with being decent and consistent. They'll lecture everyone all day long on what it means to be a Christian but when the rubber hits the road, screw you--I got mine becomes their watchword.

I mean, holy cow, lady. You're broke. I mean, broker than broke. You're a medical doctor and you can't even pay wages to your own employees, who, of course, can't get Obamacare to cover the fact that you can't pay them for their work. The end result of this is that your inability to pay them their wages means they will have to collect unemployment and welfare benefits--congratulations! And now you're going to bring your sterling business acumen and command of the issues to the United States Senate?

One of this country's problems is this--people like Dr. Annette Bosworth win too many elections. They flat-out tell people exactly how they're going to work against their economic interests and then they go out and win those elections going away.

Greed and Incompetence Killed Those Kids

I was wrong about what caused the South Korean Sewol ferry to sink:
The South Korean ferry disaster that killed more than 260 people last month was caused in part by excessive cargo and a failure to tie that cargo down properly, the joint police and prosecuting team investigating the disaster said Tuesday. 
It marked the first time South Korean investigators said what they believe led to the April 16 sinking of the ferry Sewol, which was carrying 467 passengers and crew -- including more than 300 high school students on a field trip -- when it capsized.
Through experience, I can tell you that the problem on the southern tip of South Korea is that there are numerous incidents where North Korean infiltration ships have run afoul of the coastline and of the commercial shipping that travels through that area. If the ferry was not so incompetently managed--as is evident from that hapless fool of an underwear-clad captain getting off the ship before several hundred teenagers drowned--and so greedily overloaded, then a North Korean infiltration ship scenario would have been more plausible.

The general consensus in South Korea is that this was their 9/11. That may be the case. But, really, it's something that happens again and again--incompetence and greed are to blame, not a terrorist or the dark hand of a sinister conspiracy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Benghazi This and Benghazi That

The spokesperson for the administration that used the tag line "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists" is daring meteorologists to perpetrate the right wing's delusional talking points about the attack on Benghazi.

The farce that is the conservative mind continues to scream Benghazi until it does, in fact, become the scandal it never was. How wonderful it will be when our working media buffoons decide to start laughing at their idea of what constitutes a scandal and do their jobs.

Welcome to the most ham-fisted scandal startup ever.

Another Forgotten Lesson

The gentleman depicted above is General Creighton Abrams. He was the general brought into Vietnam at the height of the war to replace General William Westmoreland.

Abrams walked into what was, at that point, a dispirited disaster and a sham of epic proportions. The delusional daily briefings from Westmoreland's staff were replaced by an attempt by Abrams to get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible. He conducted his briefings efficiently and asked only for clear, supportable evidence.

This was how he waged war. It was learned as a commander in World War II and it was relevant when he found himself fighting exactly the opposite kind of war in Veitnam. For as long as he could, he instructed his subordinates to give him facts instead of inflated body counts.
Week after week and month after month, Abrams sought to educate his commanders. 'Our people have got to realize what this war is about,' he stressed. 'It isn't that you lay around in your base camp waiting for somebody to sight a division marching down the road, and then you sally forth and take the division on. This war is a far more complex thing than that.' As Abrams told Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Earle Wheeler, it's the people — 'That's what both sides are struggling for.'
Abrams continued: 'On our side, instead of talking about offensives, we've got to put a lot of effort up there so that pacification continues to march and continues to consolidate. That's the nature of the beast! Instead of toying around about whether you ought to move another brigade of the 4th Division, something like that. That's not the real answer!
'This war, if you're really going to understand it and really get with it — he runs it, the enemy runs it, at about five or six levels,' said Abrams. 'The levels are his infrastructure, guerrilla structure, local force structure, main force structure, his political effort, his propaganda effort. In order to play in that game effectively, you've got to operate at all those levels yourself.'
Emphasizing the need to work against the entirety of the enemy system, Abrams told his commanders: 'What we've been doing is sort of on a treadmill. We have focused on these main units, and they're always getting ready to hit Saigon or Tay Ninh, whatever it is, Ban Me Thuot — and so we go after that and we're whacking them with B-52s, tacair and artillery, and dumping in on them and piling on and that sort of thing. And the history of that is that we go ahead and mash it all up, but then he sends a lot more guys down and builds it back up again and we mash it all up again and just — you know, cause a lot of casualties and so on. Now the way to put a stop to it, the way to get off the treadmill, is to go after this other part which always seems to survive….This is the way to run the war! Our war!'
Abrams taught by example and this changed the tenor and the tone of the briefings and brought brutally honest assessments to bear on the reality of what the U.S. military faced in Vietnam. 
At MACV they had a weekly meeting of senior staff, held Saturday mornings. Once a month senior commanders from the field would also attend. This they called a WIEU (pronounced “woo”), short for Weekly Intelligence Estimate Update. It was far more than the name implied. Abrams used the WIEU as a forum, a place to think out loud, to impress the force of his personality on his staff and subordinate commanders, to put the pressure on, to entertain, bond, encourage, buck up. He gave and drew strength in it. It was a theater, and he was the star player for an audience that was also the supporting cast. They loved it. Said one regular attendee, General Abrams’s “eruptions” were always the best part.
There was no political will in America to continue the war--not by a long shot. But the efforts of Abrams are largely unknown. For many, Vietnam ended with Tet. For Abrams, Tet was the beginning of the destruction of the Viet Cong as an effective fighting force and the gradual reduction of the infiltration lines. The illegal bombings of various countries was, in fact, a war crime. And yet, the bombings slowed the men and material being used to destabilize the South Vietnamese government.

Right at the moment where Abrams had reversed the tactical situation in Vietnam--and not the strategic one--the resources he needed to fight the war were withdrawn by the Nixon Administration. By 1972, Abrams had a situation where areas of South Vietnam that were impassable and held by the enemy were regularly traversed by Americans who enjoyed access to cleared, held, and pacified areas. He had completely turned the tide only to have his victory taken from him. Tactically, Vietnam was an American military success story under Abrams. Strategically, the war was never winnable.

Abrams taught the military two lessons. One, tell the goddamned truth about what's happening and deal with it. And, two, never go to war unless the American people are willing to go and fight (this gave us the National Guard in a form we know today). What's more, he was not a classic salesman and did not "sell" the reality of the turnaround that he was responsible for. He died before his version of events could be told to the public. But he did not die before those two lessons could be learned and taught, albeit inconsistently, to the U.S. Army. The institutional awareness of Vietnam has always been spotty, at best, but the Army especially is not short of academics and men of letters. Nor was it ever short of men who insisted on learning something after being kicked in the ass again and again and again.

Everything Abrams accomplished was forgotten in Afghanistan:
But the Joint Chiefs of Staff report stands out for two reasons: It makes clear that some senior officers recognize that a major military incursion can be disastrously undermined by an overriding, nonmilitary factor, namely an illicit national economy. And it acknowledges that the U.S. military itself bears much blame for Afghanistan’s enduring mess, due to its poor understanding of Afghan traditions, mismanagement of key reform efforts, and weak oversight of its local partners. The report displays “a critical awareness and candor often missing from official documents,” says Sopko, the special inspector general.
The war in Afghanistan never found an Abrams. Instead, we had a veritable clown car full of corporate board sitting generals who failed, utterly, to tell the truth about what was going on and to instill a policy of actually learning local customs before trying to root out the Taliban.

It's not enough to say that the counterinsurgency or "COIN" mentality and approach utterly failed in Afghanistan. It failed so bad that we still don't have a full accounting as to what we could possibly do to make things work in the favor of our interests. No, we're still deluded by our disbelief in truthful assessments to even begin to sort out what went wrong and why it went wrong. We are not being honest with ourselves--all of the American people failed to understand and stop the war when the military and the civilian leadership shit the bed and turned it into a rolling clusterfuck.