Pat Tillman Killed in Iraq

I’m a big football fan. I live for Sunday in the fall. A couple of years ago, Pat Tillman of the Arizona Cardinals gave up a big paycheck and the best of his playing days to join his brother in the Rangers – as in, US Army Rangers.

Today comes word that Tillman was killed in Iraq.

Man, that depresses me. Like all wars, this one took one of the best and the brightest.

Update, 10:30EDT: It’s now being reported that Tillman was killed in Afghanistan, not Iraq.

Friday, April 23rd, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


At the Risk of Being Repetitive…

When I look back at the past couple of months, it seems that much of the worst insurgent violence in Iraq takes place on Saturday and Sunday. It’s not because the insurgent population of Iraq has nothing better to do on the weekends (idle hands, devil’s playground, etc. etc.). It’s because the Islamic holy day of the week is Friday, not Sunday like in Christian culture. The Islamic weekend is Thursday and Friday.

So, when you read a headline like Shiite Cleric Threatens Suicide Attacks, and you read that the instigating sermon took place on Friday, now you know why you see insurgent reaction on Saturday or Sunday.

But of course, you already knew this, right?

Friday, April 23rd, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


Headlines from Around Bizarro World

Here’s a few stories that caught my interest this morning…

Pakistan ‘ends al-Qaeda search’

Homecoming for troops who caught Saddam

But, but, but…I thought we were “tightening the noose” along with our Numero Uno ally in the region? And where’s the “spring offensive” to catch Bin Laden that we heard so much about back in January? And remember the jingoistic Bush Admin chest-thumping about bringing in the special ops folks that accepted the handover of Saddam from the Kurds? Weren’t we supposedly sending those guys back to Afghanistan to yank OBL out of his cave? I’m confused. Anyway, welcome home, guys!

U.S. to Reinstate Some Sacked Iraq Officials

Chalabi Compares U.S. Policy on Baathists with Nazis

Iraqi forces ‘turn on coalition’

The new coalition-trained Iraqi police force is being infiltrated by insurgents, a US army general has said.

Maj Gen Martin Dempsey said about 10% of new officers were rebels and a further 40% had left their jobs – but the rest “stood tall and stood firm”. Further proof that we’re letting the inmates back into operational positions within the asylum. Jeepers, how in the hell can they spin this? After $150 billion dollars spent getting Saddam and his supporters out, now (at least the Baath Party supporters) are being welcomed back to the fold. After proper vetting, of course (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Speaking of vetting those Baath Party refugees, I hope whoever’s doing the background checks on them is perhaps a bit more aggressive about checking references than they were with checking out Iraqi police and military recruits.

All in all, just another day in journalistic paradise. You couldn’t make this shit up if you wanted to, and that’s what makes it all the more bizarre.

Bring ‘em on!

Friday, April 23rd, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

“Be the first one on your block

To have your boy come home in a box.


What’re we fightin’ for?”

That one’s easy, eh? We know who they’re fighting and dying for … Halliburton, Bechtel, Chevron, and the rest of U.S., Inc.; and also for their own flag-shrouded coffins, solemn funeral corteges, and silent graveyards.

More photos from the woman recently fired from her job for taking verboten photos: What the Propaganda Masters Don’t Want You to See

Addendum: Just nabbed this from a comment at Eschaton … a large collection of photos at The Memory Hole (some duplicates but also some not making the mainstream press yet)

Casualties from Iraq (FYI –I’m on broadband, and it was a pretty long download — image heavy)

Friday, April 23rd, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized


Hug a Tree Today

There are two days on the calendar that George Bush should consider laying low – Labor Day and Earth Day. Since it’s Earth Day today, I’m not going to belabor (pun intended) his job record. I’m incredulous enough about the Bush Administration’s environmental record.

Seems that Dubya was up in Maine today, touting his –cough cough– stewardship of the planet. He presented a wetlands preservation plan, which on the face of it is a good thing. We can chalk that up to his love of bass fishing, I guess. What’s not a good thing is that there’s no funding for the program. What is even curiouser is that early this month, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that the White House manipulated scientific information to minimize the threat of mercury exposure, in order to roll back some emission rules for coal fired power plants. So, I guess angler George isn’t interested in this tidbit from the NRDC:

In several cases, the edits toned down the link between power plants and elevated levels of methylmercury in fish, despite the fact that power plan pollution is the largest unregulated source of mercury air pollution. In fact, high mercury levels prompted fish safety warnings in more than 44 states over the past year.

Under the Clinton administration, the EPA recommended that mercury from power plants be strictly regulated under the Clean Air Act’s requirements for hazardous air pollutants. However, the Bush administration reversed course last December, much to the delight of coal and utility lobbyists. Recently, 10 state attorneys general and 45 U.S. senators spoke out against the EPA’s pollution plan, urging the agency to scrap its proposals and adopt more protective mercury requirements.This is but one example of why the Sierra Club released a statement today saying “Bush has done his best, in only three years, to break our national compact on environmental progress and turn the clock back — not years or decades, but a full century.”

At least Christie Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, had the good grace to give up her cozy EPA Administrator position after the third or fourth time that her boss backdoored her. As a GOP governor, Whitman always had a strong environmental record – but when she recognized how the Bush cabal was literally gutting environmental laws, regulations, and EPA enforcement, she quietly bailed out.

If you’d like a good year-by-year look at the Bush environmental record, check out the annotated listing provided by NRDC.

There are so many issues with which to slap around the Bush Administration. This is one of them that barely registers with most Americans. But on this day, when we supposedly celebrate our stewardship of the planet, we need to start by changing the stewardship of our government in November.

Now, go hug a tree.

Friday, April 23rd, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


Tami Silicio is my Kind of Hero

She recently took a picture in Kuwait that made it to the Seattle Times, with her permission.

Here are the comments of hers that made it into the Seattle Times:

“The way everyone salutes with such emotion and intensity and respect. The families would be proud to see their sons and daughters saluted like that,” says Tami Silicio, a contract employee from the Seattle area who works the night shift at the cargo terminal.

For U.S. troops, April has been the worst month of this war, with at least 94 service members killed by hostile fire.

“So far this month, almost every night we send them home,” Silicio said. “… It’s tough. Very tough.”Reverent for our war dead, and shaken up as well, Ms. Silicio is the kind of person I’d like taking care of my relatives were they to be coming home from Bush’s war in a box. That article is from yesterday, and here’s the URL for it:

Silicio article

Today we find that she has been fired. Here’s how it is playing in Australia in the headlines:

Sacked for Photo Americans Weren’t Meant to SeeAnd here’s the leading paragraphs from the Reuters story:

A U.S. contractor and her husband have been fired after her photograph of 20 flag-draped coffins of slain U.S. soldiers going home from Iraq was published in violation of military rules.

“I lost my job and they let my husband go as well,” Tami Silicio, who loaded U.S. military cargo at Kuwait International Airport for a U.S. company, told Reuters in an e-mail response to questions.

The Pentagon tightly restricts publication of photographs of coffins with the remains of U.S. soldiers and has forbidden journalists from taking pictures at Dover Air Force Base where the caskets of slain soldiers usually first stop on their return to the United States.

The military says the policy is in place to protect the privacy of families of those killed, but critics have said the rules are aimed at sanitizing the war for the public. I’m almost sickened beyond comment. There is so much wrong here that it is impossible to enumerate. Is it a wonder so many people support this war when we aren’t allowed to see the true cost in lives? Why would you fire someone so visibly moved by her work?

I’m sure there will be conservative spin, and the attack dogs of talk radio will personally attack this woman. Remember, there is no shame anymore. But if I were the relative of one of the fallen, I’d be up in arms about this little escapade.

Maybe this is how Bush creates jobs?

Thursday, April 22nd, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized


Rip Out a Piece of my Heart

This is surely a sign of the apocalypse. I expect to see it raining huge balls of flame, cats and dogs will be sleeping together, and yes, this portents well for the Cubbies to win the World Serious. (Shameless plug — SpinDentist will be teaching a themed literature course entitled Baseball and literature in the fall. It is noncredit community ed sorts of stuff, but should be fun as we examine Baseball, the American Dream, immigration and assimilation, the Jewish experience, and a whole lot more. Of course, you’d have to be in Central Florida to take advantage.)

I was in the car this morning and punched the button for the country station, because sometimes a ballad can do a soul good. What do I find? The most elevator-music, softest, silky and TOTALLY inappropriate voice doing a cover of “Piece of My Heart,” a song that can only be sung by Janis Joplin, with the exception of those of us who sing along at the tops of our lungs to the car radio when Janice comes on.

And baby deep down in your heart I guess you know that it ain’t right

More than that, this is heresy. That anyone could even conceive of a soft country remake of that song says worlds about the state of our culture. Rap remake? I could take that. But Janice is all about edge, and this version had all the edge of a balloon animal.

I can’t get the taste out of my mouth! And I’m at work all day. Folks, this is worse than death by Yanni. This is more perverse than Michael Jackson and adolescent monkeys in bed. This is my YOUTH they’re playing with!

I’ll bet it’s George Bush’s fault.

Thursday, April 22nd, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized


Random Thoughts

I’ve been away from the blog for a bit due to foreseen and unforeseen circumstances, but SD and Kate are carrying on quite nicely in my absence. That’s the good news, and I thank them for the support! The bad news is that I feel so out of the loop, when I finally get back on track in a couple of weeks, I fear nothing will have changed in America. I’ll still be writing about the same shit on a different day.

First observation…I missed the Bob Woodward interview on 60 Minutes this past Sunday, but I’ve kind of been following the fallout. While I freely admit I haven’t read the book yet (still working on Richard Clarke’s, which I’ll comment on later), some of the key points are stirring a hornet’s nest in the administration. Colin Powell was apparently sitting in the cheap seats when the decision was reached to make war on Saddam (no surprise to me). Your tax dollars, $700 million of them, were misappropriated from the Afghan conflict to support a clandestine runup to Iraq (I’m shocked, shocked…). Dubya apparently has a red phone to God (now that’s getting scary…). Then there’s the backroom deal with those wonderful folks from the House of Saud (whose country so generously contributed 15 of 19 hijackers on 9/11) to flood the pipeline with oil to drive down gas prices prior to the election. And as I type this, the administration is going full bore on the character assassination route of Woodward (again, I’m shocked). So, we’ve now got three books from insiders (plus the one from Watergate alum John Dean) who have clearly “left the reservation”, with more to come in the next few months. And I’ll be completely surprised if even as an aggregate, all the books, the warnings, and the insights into the mind and motivation of George W. Bush will make any difference at all to his core base of supporters.

Second observation…the train wreck that is the middle east is getting worse. The death toll in Iraq continues to mount, and it’s moving south. Folks in Fallujah won’t give up their guns, and it’s just a matter of time before that whole situation boils over again. One of our staunchest allies in the region (King Abdullah of Jordan) disses POTUS by cancelling a meeting. Egypt’s Mubarak is getting very antsy about Bush’s cowtow to Ariel Sharon. Terrorists have struck once again in Saudi. A Coalition Provisional Authority insider is questioning whether or not Iraq can ever be “democratized”. And the Bush administration is still humping hell-bent-for-leather to turn over the asylum to the inmates on June 30th.

Third observation…Nothing matters. Nothing. It’s the only way I can rationalize continued support for GWB in the polls. What we need is some good, illicit, pResidential fellatio to focus the electorate on the real issues. The only encouraging note I see is that even though the GOP has outspent the Kerry campaign in advertising by roughly 10:1 over the past two months, all Bush has done is tread water and limited the damage. While I continue to not be the biggest Kerry booster around, folks, he’s the only chance we’ve got. More and more, I really think he needs to make a bold choice for a running mate. There is also one Democratic stalwart that needs to start making some serious policy noise – Bill Clinton. Kerry needs to get Slick Willie front and center in the campaign, and then plug him into a high profile, cabinet-level slot in the Kerry Administration.

Fourth observation…In a few days, I’m heading out of the country for a week of R+R, so I anticipate being even further out of the loop. But I need the time away. I need to step back from the whole political situation in this country, get away from the blogs, papers, and TV, and recharge the batteries. There are times when the macro view of where our country is, and where I think it’s heading, moves me into tinfoil hat territory. Folks, I’m worried. The fundamental religious zealotry that’s completely overtaken both the domestic and foreign policy agendas of this country should scare the beejesus out of everyone – even the zealots. We’re unnecessarily hurrying Armageddon. And the guy with the red phone to God has the noocular button at his disposal.

Wednesday, April 21st, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


A Tale of Zero Tolerance at a Lutheran University

Can we talk?

Colleges and universities have long held that they act in loco parentis (in the stead of parents) as far as underage students living on campus are concerned. I don’t know about your college experience (if you had one), but something happened to my nineteen year-old niece over last weekend that has my blood boiling (you know, like Georgie Dubya Porgie’s blood got to a boil over eeeevil-dewars and terr-ists? … something like that, but angrier.) I got to thinking about my experience at the very same Lutheran university more than 30 years ago. The tale:

My sister, who is today marking six years since the accidental death of her twelve year-old son, called me last night. She said not only is this the Bad Month, but she got another “incoming” with a call from her ex about my niece, her daughter.

It seems there was a disturbance in her dorm on Saturday night one floor below hers. The university cops were called, and then the county cops. Apparently the powers that be and the cops were not satisfied with merely putting down the disturbance. The county cops then went door to door in the dorm through all the floors, knocking on doors.

As it so happened my niece and her roomate (and a couple friends earlier) were having a few beers in their room. Knock, knock, knock. My niece went to the door. The cops asked her if she was drinking. She said, “yes”. Oy. There is no drinking allowed in the dorm. She is nineteen. The cops brought out their handy breathalyzer. (seems she blew .02) The cops took my niece and her roommate out of the dorm — under arrest — handcuffed them, and took them to the county lockup.

Anyone who knows me knows what I said to my sister at this point in the story, and the decibel level at which I said it. I said: “HEY!!! The cops were chumming for a bust. No probable cause to knock on the door. Illegal, illegal, illegal!!! Nazis!!!! Fascists!!!!!” (mea culpa — for the Godwin’s law infraction)

Their friends gathered money and bailed them out. The RA at the dorm gave my niece a referral to the university law school for representation… the nerve, probably the same bozo who called in the county mounties. Fascist!

I told my sister to get my niece a decent attorney, and more shall be revealed. My niece was sitting on her bed in her dorm room. Had probably consumed two beers … quietly, no disturbance, no driving. But illustrious university has a “zero tolerance” policy about drugs and alcohol.

I remember puking on many curbs and lawns at illustrious university more than 30 years ago when every frat house had a kegger every weekend, and drunk frosh girls got raped every other week. Some of the illustrious university’s administrators are probably my age, alumni, who plyed frosh coeds with booze in order to get laid.

I’m so incensed I can think of little else. My sister has given me the nod to talk to my niece about the United Police State of America. The only good thing I can see to come of this is that it’s better she learn now how things really are.

An old Firesign Theatre skit had the lines: “Ask the cop on the corner … ask the cop that’s knocking at your front door… go ahead, ask him: Mr. Policeman, what makes America great?”

Just when I think the place where I was born can’t get any weirder, any more insane and dangerous, something like this happens. And so I can make a completed circle of this rant, here a link to a site on the madness of zero tolerance – their articles index.

End Zero Tolerance

Thanks for your “ears”.

Wednesday, April 21st, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized


“Psychologically Telling?”

I can imagine Chevy Chase reading this as part of his script way back wehn he did Weekend Update on the old, old Saturday Night Live. I caught the link at Buzzflash, and while it has surely been commented on and made fun of all over, I find it amusing.

A pressing issue of dinner-party etiquette is vexing Washington, according to a story now making the D.C. rounds: How should you react when your guest, in this case national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice, makes a poignant faux pas? At a recent dinner party hosted by New York Times D.C. bureau chief Philip Taubman and his wife, Times reporter Felicity Barringer, and attended by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Maureen Dowd, Steven Weisman, and Elisabeth Bumiller, Rice was reportedly overheard saying, “As I was telling my husb—†and then stopping herself abruptly, before saying, “As I was telling President Bush.†Jaws dropped, but a guest says the slip by the unmarried politician, who spends weekends with the president and his wife, seemed more psychologically telling than incriminating. Nobody thinks Bush and Rice are actually an item. A National Security Council spokesman laughed and said, “No comment.â€New York Metro

There are so many ways to approach this as far as humor goes. But all of them fail, ultimately, because each of them depicts this bright vibrant woman settling for or idolizing the Shrub.

I wanted to post this for fun, but it has made me a bit sad instead.

Gargle with a nice scotch. Don’t spit.

Tuesday, April 20th, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized
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