May 15, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. The Bush administration has yet another way to steal from America. The Associated Press reveals Defense contractors and insurance firms make millions off loose Iraq insurance rules.

    A poorly run Pentagon program for providing workman’s compensation for civilian employees in Iraq and Afghanistan has allowed defense contractors and insurance companies to gouge American taxpayers, a House oversight committee said Thursday.

    Insurance companies alone have pocketed $600 million in excessive profits over the past five years, says a staff report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but the Defense Department refuses to adjust its approach for managing the program…

    “What makes the situation even worse is the people this program is supposed to benefit – the injured employees working for contractors – have to fight the insurance companies to get their benefits,” committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said at a hearing Thursday. “Delays and denials in paying claims are the rule.”

    KBR Inc., one of the largest defense contractors in Iraq, paid the insurance giant AIG $284 million for medical and disability coverage under the Defense Base Act, a reference to the federal law mandating the insurance. Due to the way KBR’s contract is structured, this premium, along with an $8 million markup for KBR, gets billed to the taxpayer.

  2. Just in case you missed it, General David Petraeus is in charge of who gets promoted in the Army. The Washington Post reports Army’s next crop of generals forged in counterinsurgency. “An Army board headed by Gen. David H. Petraeus has selected several combat-tested counterinsurgency experts for promotion to the rank of brigadier general, sifting through more than 1,000 colonels to identify a handful of innovative leaders who will shape the future Army, according to current and former senior Army officers. The choices suggest that the unusual decision to put the top U.S. officer in Iraq in charge of the promotions board has generated new thinking on the qualities of a successful Army officer — and also deepened Petraeus’s imprint on the Army.”

Four at Four continues with stories about the impact of climate change and our American history crumbling away due to neglect.

Full-Blooded Americans

From an editorial by Kathleen Parker titled, appropriately enough, Getting Bubba:

“A full-blooded American.”

That’s how 24-year-old Josh Fry of West Virginia described his preference for John McCain over Barack Obama. His feelings aren’t racist, he explained. He would just be more comfortable with “someone who is a full-blooded American as president.”

Whether Fry was referring to McCain’s military service or Obama’s Kenyan father isn’t clear, but he may have hit upon something essential in this presidential race.

Full-bloodedness is an old coin that’s gaining currency in the new American realm. Meaning: Politics may no longer be so much about race and gender as about heritage, core values, and made-in-America. Just as we once and still have a cultural divide in this country, we now have a patriot divide.

Who “gets” America? And who doesn’t?

I’d like to be clever and snarky about this, but my blood is boiling just a bit too hot for that right now. So I will have to succumb to rant mode.  

Appeasing Republicans

Corporatist War Monger President George W. Bush, in a pathetically desperate attempt to use an International speech to smear his domestic Democratic opposition as appeasers, quoted a Republican Senator as an example of American appeasement of Hitler prior to World War II.

While delivering an address before the Israeli parliament commemorating the 60th anniversary of Israel, President Bush said that Sen. Barack Obama and Democrats favor a policy of appeasement toward terrorists. CNN reports that Bush was comparing Obama to “other U.S. leaders back in the run-up to World War II who appeased the Nazis.”

In his speech, Bush said, “As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

The Senator whom Bush quoted verbatim was Idaho Republican William Edgar Borah:

From 1924 to 1933 [Borah] was chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, and his major interest was in foreign policy…. An advocate of disarmament and the outlawing of war, he suggested the Washington Conference of 1921-22 and promoted the Kellogg-Briand Pact; in 1939 he fought revision of the Neutrality Act.

Of course Borah was far from the only ‘appeasing’ Republican. Indeed, prior to WWII, the Grand Old Party was home to many of the fiercest advocates of appeasement.

Love And Human Rights!

San Francisco Chronicle:

Gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry in California, the state Supreme Court said today in a historic ruling that could be repudiated by the voters in November.

In a 4-3 decision, the justices said the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the “fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship.” The ruling is likely to flood county courthouses with applications from couples newly eligible to marry when the decision takes effect in 30 days.

The ruling set off a celebration at San Francisco City Hall. As the decision came down, out-of-breath staff members ran into the mayor’s office where Gavin Newsom read the decision.

Los Angeles Times:

Today’s ruling by the Republican-dominated court affects more than 100,000 same-sex couples in the state, about a quarter of whom have children, according to U.S. census figures. It came after high courts in New York, Washington and New Jersey refused to extend marriage rights to gay couples. Before today, only Massachusetts’ top court has ruled in favor of permitting gays to wed.

Bigots will attempt to overturn this by constitutional amendment. Even Schwarzenegger, who has twice vetoed bills legalizing gay marriage, says he will fight an initiative to ban it.

The Bush Legacy Tour

Now here’s an Idea that Needs not only Support but a few more Buses!!

This just came in to my in-box, and I had to share!

McCain’s Murderers Row

A new contributing writer on THE ENVIRONMENTALIST, Cliff Schecter, the author of THE REAL McCAIN, has outlined, in his first post for us, the connections between three of McCain’s top staffers and their paid lobbying efforts for the Burmese Junta, Saudi Arabia, various African dictatorships; a veritable ‘Murderers Row’.

Here’s an excerpt:

A new website has been created by Campaign Money Watch to convince Senator McCain to fire three lobbyists working on his campaign that have ties to ruthless dictators. You may recall that over the past two days, two McCain aides have resigned because of their willingness to do public relations work for the Burmese Junta.

It turns out that they have friends in low places, however. I contacted David Donnelly, Director of Campaign Money Watch, for a comment, and what he had to say explains what his group is trying to accomplish:

“John McCain ought to immediately fire three lobbyists – Charlie Black, Tom Loeffler, and Peter Madaigan — whose lobbying for brutal dictators and foreign governments is every bit as bad as the two lobbyists who left his campaign over the weekend. Frankly, McCain’s campaign is turning out to be an effort of, by, and for these types of Washington influence peddlers. His credentials as a reformer are gone.”

Pretty strong words. Yet, if you read what these men have been up to, perhaps not strong enough…

Please visit THE ENVIRONMENTALIST for the details and pass this link on to everyone you know:  


From our editor:  “The media is ignoring McCain’s campaign ties to these rogue regimes.  We’re not.”  

McCain sez when he is President, Bin Laden is going down! Iraq War will be won!

Sky will be perennially blue!  

The ongoing cholesterol problem in the country (and with Cheetah’s) will be eradicated!  

Erectile dysfunction will be a thing of the past!  

Repbulicans will be compassionate conservatives!

Me thinks John McSame doth bluster with ego aforethought, just a bit much.

McCain, in a speech he will deliver today in Columbus, OH has some interesting predictions for what will happen in the first four years WHEN he is President of the United States of America.

Follow me down below, if you will.

The Special Love of JonniJoe.

First we had Bennifer, then Brangela, and now Maverick and Joementum are in the middle of a were-not-afraid-of-wrinkly-man-union-tour and… well… it’s got me thinking.

Who are  these guys?

Breaking: Bush Calls His Own Sec. of Defense a “Nazi Appeaser” regarding Iran

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was quoted just yesterday as saying of Iran, “We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage and then sit down and talk with them.”

In his speech, Bush said, “…some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along….

As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

(Of course he was trying to accuse Obama and the Dems, but you know our George! Go support this diary at Dkos! Action Diary: Call on your Senator to Censure Bush)

What’s this Moratorium doohicky, anyway? A primer

I’ve been writing in this space about the Iraq Moratorium for months now, and it’s coming around again tomorrow, Friday, May 16.

But it occurred to me that some may be asking themselves, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” So, back to the basics:  A simple Q-A, slightly modified from the website, about what this Moratorium thingy is trying to accomplish.

And quit calling me Alfie.

* * *

The Iraq Moratorium project grew out of the frustration the organizers share with so many Americans. Why does the war grind on when the people of this country have so clearly rejected it? Clearly voting didn’t do the job. In response to questions like these, the idea of the Iraq Moratorium took shape.

* I really hate this war and what it’s doing to my country, but I’ve never protested. I am not sure that I would be comfortable at a vigil or peace march.

If you do attend a vigil or other protest, you will probably be surprised at how many people very much like you are present. You’ll also find that being part of a group action can be inspiring and motivating.  But if that’s not your thing, or there’s nothing going on in your community, there are many other ways to take a stand as an individual. Wear a black armband or ribbon on Moratorium Day. Call or write your elected officials that day or send a letter to the editor of the local paper. Donate to a peace group.  Put a sign in your yard or window.

Whatever you do, you’ll be doing with lots of other people. And whatever you do, we hope you will fill out the easy report form on the Moratorium website, to let others know what you did.

* I’ve already done all this. What good will this do?

We know. So have we. That’s where the Moratorium idea came from. Imagine that even half the people who have stood up to end the war over the last five years were joined by even a tenth of all those who oppose the war privately – on the same day! It would be the biggest single outcry of protest in US history. And it will continue month after month until Washington listens and ends the war.  

Victims of China Quake: Children And Young Families

On Monday, Fu Guanyu dropped off her young son, Wang Zhilu, at his grandparents’ house so she could go to work. Minutes later, the earthquake hit.

She rushed back home and saw their apartment building in ruins. She says soldiers came right away to help, but they had no equipment.

Two days later, the heavy machinery is on the way. As an excavator clears a path, Fu and her husband Wei Wang search the debris, calling for their son.

After a long while, the workers stop. They have found bodies.


The NPR story concludes, tragically, with the rescue worker informing the parents that three bodies were found: the grandfather, holding his two year old grandson in his arms with his wife clutching his back.

Pony Party…d’oh…

A federal judge has turned back the Democratic National Committee’s attempt to mount a legal challenge against Sen. John McCain for his decision to withdraw from the presidential public financing system.

The reason is explained in the Washinton Post story

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