It isn’t news because they are terrorists, you fucking simpletons. Yesterday, my cat scratched himself then shit in a box. The media didn’t report that, either.
Archives for May 2007
A cautionary tale in the NY Times:
The rate of diagnosed clinical depression among retired National Football League players is strongly correlated with the number of concussions they sustained, according to a study to be published today.
The study was conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of Retired Athletes and based on a general health survey of 2,552 retired N.F.L. players. It corroborates other findings regarding brain trauma and later-life depression in other subsets of the general population, but runs counter to longtime assertions by the N.F.L. that concussions in football have no long-term effects.
As the most comprehensive study of football players to date, the paper will add to the escalating debate over the effects of and proper approach to football-related concussions.
As a diehard Steelers fan, the first thing I thought of when I read this was the sad, sad tale of Mike Webster, one of the greatest centers in the history of the game (if not the greatest). The author also reaffirmed that it is reasonable to hate Bill Belichick, the whiniest, most obnoxious piece of excrement in the NFL this side of Al Davis and Bill Romanowski:
In January, a neuropathologist claimed that repeated concussions likely contributed to the November suicide of the former Philadelphia Eagles player Andre Waters. Three weeks later, the former New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson not only revealed that his significant depression and cognitive decline had been linked by a neurologist to on-field concussions, but also claimed that his most damaging concussion had been sustained after his coach, Bill Belichick, coerced him into practicing against the advice of team doctors.
It is safe to say that I feel the same way about Belichick doing this to his players as my UGA graduate mother feels about one of footballs other greatest villains and serial abusers of players, Bear Bryant.
We are in deep trouble if the soliders are in league with the terrorists, which is what it seems:
Spc. David Williams, 22, of Boston, Mass., had two note cards in his pocket Wednesday afternoon as he waited for Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Williams serves in the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., the first of the five “surge” brigades to arrive in Iraq, and he was chosen to join the Independent from Connecticut for lunch at a U.S. field base in Baghdad.
The night before, 30 other soldiers crowded around him with questions for the senator.
He wrote them all down. At the top of his note card was the question he got from nearly every one of his fellow soldiers:
“When are we going to get out of here?”***
“We’re not making any progress,” Hedin said, as he recalled a comrade who was shot by a sniper last week. “It just seems like we drive around and wait to get shot at.”
But as he waited two chairs down from where Lieberman would sit, Hedin said he’d never voice his true feelings to the senator.
“I think I’d be a private if I did,” he joked. “It’s just more troops, more targets.”
In the past two months, the unit has lost two men. In May alone, at least 120 U.S. troops died in Iraq, the bloodiest month in 2007 and the highest number since the battles of Fallujah in 2004.
Spc. Kevin Krasco, 20, of Medford, Mass., and Spc. Kevin Adams, 20, of Moosup, Conn., chimed in with their dismay before turning the conversation to baseball.
“It’s like everything else in this war,” Adams said, referring to Baghdad. “It hasn’t changed.”***
As Lieberman walked out, he said that congressionally mandated withdrawal would be a “victory for al-Qaida and a victory for Iran.”
“They’re not Pollyannaish about this,” he said referring to the young soldiers he ate lunch with. “They know it’s not going to be solved in a day or a month.”
It isn’t clear whether Williams mentioned the last line on his note card, the one that had a star next to it.
“We don’t feel like we’re making any progress,” it said.
If you ask the soldiers, this is the most maddening thing- the visits from blowhards like Lieberman who come in, “listen” to the troops, and then go out and say whatever they planned to say, regardless what they have “learned” in their heavily guarded photo-op tours of the region. The problem for these soldiers is they just don’t understand that when they signed the contract for service, they pledged that they would die for their country. Lieberman and the other ‘stay the course’ fools just want to hold them to their word.
One of Sam Brownback’s speechwriters wrote an op-ed piece in the NY Times which serves as a message to several varying constituencies. The message is as follows:
To the flat earth religious right nuts:
“I would visit the the creationism museum, but it is probably best if I hold off until after I am elected.”
To middle America:
“Sure, I’m religious, but I am not crazy.”
To the scientific community:
“I will flat out make up anything in order to get elected, and when elected, Monica goodling clones will be appointed to NASA and the FDA.”
In a weird sort of progress, NASA administrator Michael Griffin* acknowledges that global warming is real. But being a Bush appointee it goes without saying that Griffin cannot possibly say something reasonable without slipping in the crazy somewhere.
In an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep that will air in Thursday’s edition of NPR News’ Morning Edition, Administrator Griffin explains: “I guess I would ask which human beings – where and when – are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.”
I mostly let the global warming issue go these days since, IMO anyway, the key thresholds have already come and gone so there is little point getting worked up about it now. Still, even a jaded cynic like me has to stop and stare at self-justifying stupidity like this. Griffin’s personal odyssey from doubt directly to despair reflects a too-convnient attitude that I see in rightwingers practically every day. One moment they deny anything to do with global warming, the next they think that puny little people like us could never hope to influence such a terribly huge problem. Or, this is a new one, it might even be morally wrong to fix the problem that we created. So many rightwingers seem to magically pass from denial directly to despair without getting anywhere near the idea that we should try to tackle the climate problem before it wrecks us. This transition from denial to inertia suits perfectly the Exxon-Mobil interests that fund America’s rightwing.
Giving Griffin the benefit of the doubt, here is an answer to his complaint. You don’t have to know each individual who will win and lose from changing climate to know that human civilization in aggregate grew in and depends on a several thousand year period of historic climate stability. Our global population has surged towards seven billion because food growers can plan their harvest five, ten and twenty years in the future. Water rights in marginal lands use regional averages that have held true for hundreds of years. Humans living near water (somewhere near 50% of the global population) count on the coastlines staying where they are next year and the year after that. The word civilization keeps growing in meaning as technology advances and far-flung regions grow entirely interdependent on one another for survival.
Hardly an exception from global interdependence, Americans may be the worse off than anybody. Think of how many products you have used that came entirely from inside America. Do you know where the raw materials were produced? Do you know where your shoes were assembled? The simple fact is that Americans could not possibly afford shoes, cars or coke for blast furnaces produced entirely in America. Our raw manufacturing sector is dead. We outsource both labor costs and evironmental degradation to poorer countries that make our stuff for us and then sell it back to us on the cheap. Coincidentally many of these same countries stand on the front lines with respect to climate. When components of the global system break down everything will start to crawl.
We need to find a solution for global change because every element of our current system is heavily mortgaged on stability. Naturally instead of either proposing to mitigate change with sensible carbon policies or suggesting a national Apollo Program to handle the disruption that change will cause we get despondent, inertia-bound leaders like Michael Griffin who must rationalize away his ideological allergy to dealing with problems that he can no longer deny.
(*) No idea whether he’s related to ousted US Attorney and vote purger Tim Griffin, although I suppose I would have heard about it by now.
I see that every large state except mine has moved its primary up to Feb. 5, National Primary Day. This whole idea of selecting a presidential nominee is so unfamiliar to our state that, assuming that confused Pennsylvanians even grasp the idea of voting on a day other than an early Tuesday in November, we might put out a butterfly ballot and nominate Kucinich. I say leave the crushing burden of choice to the suckers in New York, Florida, California and New Jersey.
Everybody talks about Rudy learning the lessons of 9/11, but few have seen fit to ask him what exactly those lessons are. Those who know Rudy Giuliani could tell you that the answer looks a lot like a brutal police state with zero barrier between public and private, led by a snazzily-dressed Italian with a thing for military aggression and personality cults. If that sounds familiar yes, we have seen this movie before.
Libertarians are freaking out, and they should.
I was scanning USA Today at the coffee shop, and I saw that a Duke alumnus purchased a full page ad for them. This is the only write-up I can find at google news:
A Duke alumnus purchased a full-page ad in today’s USA Today to support the Duke men’s lacrosse team.
Bob Pascal’s black-and-white ad reads “For a team very few people stood by, how about a standing ovation?” It then lists the lacrosse team’s accomplishments in the wake of a rape allegation against three players that caused Duke to cancel the last eight games of the 2006 season.
The charges against the three lacrosse players were dropped in April. All three players and former head coach Mike Pressler attended Monday’s national championship game, which the Blue Devils lost 12-11 to Johns Hopkins.
Pascal was an All-America halfback in 1955 for the Blue Devils’ football team, which won the Orange Bowl 34-7 over Nebraska. Pascal graduated in 1957.
It was not immediately clear if the ad ran nationally or regionally, but USA Today charges $106,400 for a black-and-white full-page advertisement that runs nationally, according to its website.
If you missed the Hopkins/Duke game Monday, you missed a good one. I sort of suspect that the Hopkins team got drunk at half time, but they pulled it out in the end.
Also while at the coffee shop, I heard, unfortunately, a song I have not heard in ages- Styx- Too Much Time on My Hands. Sadly, I knew every word. Which leads to the question:
Which is cheesier:
A.) Styx- Too Much Time on My Hands
B.) Foreigner- Jukebox Hero
Please explain to me how we are having this godawful stupid debate.
[P]sychologists and other specialists, commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board, make the case that more than five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has yet to create an elite corps of interrogators trained to glean secrets from terrorism suspects.
While billions are spent each year to upgrade satellites and other high-tech spy machinery, the experts say, interrogation methods — possibly the most important source of information on groups like Al Qaeda — are a hodgepodge that date from the 1950s, or are modeled on old Soviet practices.
Future generations can argue whether 9/11 made a subset of Americans so loopy that they lost the moral compass altogether, or the terror attacks just offered a golden chance to let those ugly impulses hang out in the open. Consistent with my conservation of craziness principle I will side with the idea that every country has levelheaded folks and complete fruitcakes, the unique culture and political structure of each nation determining which group generally occupies leadership positions. This line of reasoning always leads back to Bob Altmeyer’s work, so go read a few chapters if you haven’t done so already.
My Conservation of Craziness principle looks especially good when you consider how deeply we have fallen down the rabbit hole in such a short span of time. Our topmost leaders don’t mind cribbing interrogation policy from not one but both bugbears of the twentieth century. No GOP challenger can win today without supporting explicit torture of American captives with no binding limitations regarding who, when or how. At the most recent GOP debate the torture-stoked audience* only quieted down when John McCain suggested that torturing prisoners is wrong. To put it frankly, an entire class of America did not spontaneously go insane some time in the last six or seven years. The sick mentality exposed by this torture debate has percolated beneath the surface for as long as any country has existed. America was a great nation not because we lacked howling torture boosters but because people like that felt ashamed to express themselves in public.
But then some folks have proven immune to the deontological angle of the torture debate. Who cares if torture is morally wrong, they argue, or how deeply it degrades us as a nation as long as “enhanced interrogation techniques” (a phrase coined by the gestapo) gets results? It might make us safer. And don’t forget about those apocryphal ticking bombs! It’s a fair question that deserves an answer.
[I]n meetings with intelligence officials and in a 325-page initial report completed in December, the researchers have pressed a more practical critique: there is little evidence, they say, that harsh methods produce the best intelligence.
The idea that torture has little value for gathering intel should surprise exactly nobody. The Soviets honestly didn’t care that much about gathering reliable intelligence – they had enough informers on most city blocks for that. The techniques that they developed and we copied only existed break down prisoners until they confess to whatever bogus crime the state felt like charging them with that day. Needless to say prisoners in American custody have done exactly the same thing, and as a result we have wasted countless time and money chasing leads that proved meaningless.
So in the absence of either a deontological or a utilitarian justification, why exactly are we having this debata? Military and civilian interrogation experts almost universally opposed the rule. Military JAG officers had to be ordered out of detention centers to keep their objections from gumming the works. The only thing I can conclude is that some people, sadly in the most elevated positions of American government, just have some visceral attraction to the idea of torture. In that sense prisoner abuse is not that different from abstinence-only sex ed or tax cuts for the rich. It doesn’t matter whether it works or serves America’s interests, they just like it.
(*) Giuliani’s comment (“anything my interrogators can think of”) was chilling on its face, but especially so in light of Abner Louima. Giuliani knows full well what unrestrained officers can think of.
Surprise! Government documents released by Fitzgerald’s invstigation reveal that Valerie Plame was a covert agent at the time that the White House gleefully blew her cover.
Poppy Bush, 4/26/1999:
“I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors.”
On the subject of circle jerks, I could entertain myself for hours looking up the hair-singingly civil manner that countless conservative blogs attacked the idea that Valerie Plame was a covert agent. If one in twenty corrects their error you can color me shocked.
Some depressing financial news:
The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss — equal to $11,434 per household — is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.
“We’re on an unsustainable path and doing a great disservice to future generations,” says Chris Chocola, a former Republican member of Congress from Indiana and corporate chief executive who is pushing for more accurate federal accounting.
Modern accounting requires that corporations, state governments and local governments count expenses immediately when a transaction occurs, even if the payment will be made later.
The federal government does not follow the rule, so promises for Social Security and Medicare don’t show up when the government reports its financial condition.
Bottom line: Taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, a 2.3% increase from 2006. That amount is equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. By comparison, U.S. households owe an average of $112,043 for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and all other debt combined.
Makes the incompetence regarding the current budget deficit seem trivial. Recognizing that global warming is inevitable and we aren’t ever going to do anything about it, and understanding that a complete and total financial collapse of the US government in my lifetime is likely makes me want to just say to hell with it all. When I read news like this I just want to ignore it all, do whatever I want, much like one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs:
You imagine me sipping champagne from your boot
For a taste of your elegant pride
I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe
But at least I’m enjoying the ride, at least I’ll enjoy the ride.
Might as well enjoy the descent. Just pretend it is a roller coaster, and drink heavily.
It s time to move the goalposts again:
U.S. military leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President Bush laid out early this year in his announcement of a troop buildup will not be met this summer and are seeking ways to redefine success.
In September, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, is scheduled to present Congress with an assessment of progress in Iraq. Military officers in Baghdad and outside advisors working with Petraeus doubt that the three major goals set by U.S. officials for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki will be achieved by then.
Enactment of a new law to share Iraq’s oil revenue among Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions is the only goal they think might be achieved in time, and even that is considered a long shot. The two other key benchmarks are provincial elections and a deal to allow more Sunni Arabs into government jobs.
Bush’s policies have failed. The war is a failure and a disaster. It is time to cut our losses. Hell, it is well beyond time to cut our losses.
I am not going to talk too much about Cindy Sheehan’s latest meltdown- I am over her.
I felt she was nothing but a pathetic woman devastated by grief, and I felt she was used for a good long while by people who don’t really care about her, but found her position to be useful. Oddly enough, she and I somewhat agree on that point in the end. The real moral of this story is that you just can’t run around spewing nastiness at everyone and expect to make a lot of friends or retain a lot of influence. Who would have thunk it?
On the most important point, though, Cindy and I also agree- it is long past time for this war to end. Go home, Cindy, get a job, mend fences with your family and friends, and work to have a good, happy life.
Thia seeems to be another pointless law which will have more adverse effects than positive achievements:
Louisiana’s Supreme Court ruled that a man may be executed for raping an 8-year-old girl, and lawyers say his case may become the test for whether the nation’s highest court upholds the death penalty for someone who rapes a child.
Both sides say the sentence for Patrick Kennedy, 42, could expand a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held the death penalty for rape violated the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment. The high court said then that its ruling applied only to adult victims.
Attorney Jelpi Picou, director of the New Orleans-based Capital Appeals Project, said he will ask the Louisiana Supreme Court for a rehearing and, if rejected, will go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“As horrid as (rape) is and as harshly as we believe it should be condemned, death is inappropriate in this case,” Picou said.
Attention Lousiana rapists- better make sure your victim is dead and can not pick you out of a line-up. It isn’t like you have anything to lose.
For the first time since 2003, fewer than half in the country, 42 percent, said that life in Iraq now is better than it was under Saddam Hussein, the late dictator accused of murdering tens of thousands during a brutal regime.
At least the poll has some good news mixed in with the bad. In a sign of growing unity across the sectarian divide, virtually everybody in Iraq thinks it is OK to attack Americans.
Coming up next: rightwing bloggers explain why you should only listen to polls they like.