May 5, 2009 archive

So, The Dog Was Completely Wrong About Sen. Specter

Okay, there is nothing the Dog hates more than having to admit to being wrong (being a member of the First Church of the Fonz it is nearly against our religion!) but when you start to try to be in any fashion credible in commentary, even as a lowly poster on a community blog you have to be ready to walk back statements or arguments that are wrong.  

Four at Four

  1. McClatchy reports Pakistan advises Swat inhabitants to evacuate as Taliban takes Mingora. The Taliban has taken the Swat valley’s main town. “Up to now, Pakistan had pretended that a controversial peace accord with Taliban in Swat was still holding.”

    The CS Monitor asks what’s the Next Taliban conquest? A view from Pakistan’s frontline. Zeeshan Aslam, shopkeeper and local reporter in Haripur, Pakistan said:

    “We are already living in fear”… Additional security forces have come to this city of 100,000, he says, but too few. “The cordon is porous, and they [the Taliban] can easily come in.”

    Military spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas offers a different assessment: “There is absolutely no threat to the city of Haripur given the military operation, and all the out routes from Swat [are sealed].”

    But that’s not how the NY Times sees it. A Porous Pakistani border could hinder the U.S. in Afghanistan. “The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan barely exists for the Taliban, who are counting on the fact that American forces cannot reach them in their sanctuaries in Pakistan.”

    In addition, one Taliban strategist told the Times:

    “I know of the Petraeus experiment there,” he said. “But we know our Afghans. They will take the money from Petraeus, but they will not be on his side. There are so many people working with the Afghans and the Americans who are on their payroll, but they inform us, sell us weapons.”

    He acknowledged that the Americans would have far superior forces and power this year, but was confident that the Taliban could turn this advantage on its head. “The Americans cannot take control of the villages,” he said. “In order to expel us they will have to resort to aerial bombing, and then they will have more civilian casualties.”

    Meanwhile McClatchy also reports Pakistani army flattening villages as it battles Taliban. “The Pakistani army’s assault against Islamic militants in Buner, in northwest Pakistan, is flattening villages, killing civilians and sending thousands of farmers and villagers fleeing from their homes”.

    “We didn’t see any Taliban; they are up in the mountains, yet the army flattens our villages,” Zaroon Mohammad, 45, told McClatchy as he walked with about a dozen scrawny cattle and the male members of his family in the relative safety of Chinglai village in southern Buner. “Our house has been badly damaged. These cows are now our total possessions.”

    I think its pretty obvious that the U.S. has military trainers in Pakistan. Hearts and minds, people… hearts and minds.

    Don’t worry though, the U.S. military is warily encouraged over Pakistan. While Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is “gravely concerned” but noted the Pakistan military may finally be engaging the Taliban.

    “That’s where the patience and persistence piece must kick in, as far as I’m concerned, from our perspective.”

    The Washington Post seems to dispute Pakistani military cliams, because the newspaper reports the Taliban tightens its hold in Pakistan’s Swat Region and “continued resisting the military’s efforts to dislodge them from neighboring Buner”.

    The reason why the Pakistan military may appear to be on the offensive is “an action that could coincide with a crucial aid-seeking visit to Washington this week by President Asif Ali Zardari, whose government has been criticized by U.S. officials for capitulating to the insurgents.”

Four at Four continues with major FAIL for corn ethanol, UN wants to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza, wha?! Sen. Inhofe does something good, and Sec. LaHood’s describes himself as “window dressing”.

HONORING THE FALLEN: US Military KIA, Iraq & Afghanistan/Pakistan – April 2009

Iraq, Rapidly becoming the Forgotten War!!

There have been 4,603 coalition deaths — 4,286 Americans, 2 Australians, 1 Azerbaijani, 179 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, 1 Czech, 7 Danes, 2 Dutch, 2 Estonians, 1 Fijian, 5 Georgians, 1 Hungarian, 33 Italians, 1 Kazakh, 1 Korean, 3 Latvian, 22 Poles, 3 Romanians, 5 Salvadoran, 4 Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, 2 Thai and 18 Ukrainians — in the war in Iraq as of May 5 2009, according to a CNN count. { Graphical breakdown of casualties }. The list below is the names of the soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and Coast Guardsmen whose deaths have been reported by their country’s governments. The list also includes seven employees of the U.S. Defense Department. At least 31,230 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, according to the Pentagon. View casualties in the war in Afghanistan.

Stubborn defiant nasty optimism

The words in my title are the one’s Bruce Springsteen used to describe Pete Seeger at his 90th birthday party. And he added to that description the fact that Pete, with his benign grandfatherly appearance, remains a “stealth dagger through the heart of our country’s illusions about itself.”

KBR linked to “the vast majority” of fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan


April Stephenson, the director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), told the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan on Monday that Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) is connected to “the vast majority” of alleged fraud cases in the Iraq and Afghanistan combat zones.

Plus, the majority of the $13 billion in “questioned” and “unsupported” bills to the Pentagon were submitted by KBR, reports the Washington Post. “KBR’s work accounts for 43 percent of the Pentagon’s audited Iraq contracting dollars”.

“I don’t think we’re aware of a program, contract or contractor that has had this number of suspensions or referrals,” Stephenson said…

Stephenson also revealed that some $553 million in payments have been suspended or blocked because contract officials questioned them or said they were invalid.

Since 2004, 32 cases of alleged bribery, overbilling, or other fraud have been sent to the inspector general for possible legal action.

It is important.

Evil has always been with us. It always will be. The difference, the crucial difference between a good world and a bad one is the balance. And we are the balance keepers.

Bad men with too much power are the face of that evil. Just as good men with a balanced amount of power are the face of good.

It is our job to make sure we have plenty of the latter, and as few as possible of the former. It is our job to….in bad times, do all we can do to preserve that balance. And in good times to move that balance as much as we can to the good.

It is our job, because it is within our power to determine what kind of men we put in power. Just as it is our job to try to remove them if they go bad. That is the choice we face, and that is responsibility we have to the world that gave us life.

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people he doesn’t exist.”

If he, if evil, doesn’t exist, we don’t have to do anything but accept that we are powerless and go about our business. But it does, evil does, the Devil does, exist. We see it all around us, all the time.

But it tries to convince us that there is nothing we can do about it

American Workers Outsourcing Own Jobs Overseas

Real News Network – May 5, 2009

American workers outsourcing own jobs overseas

Report finds personal outsourcing is revolutionizing how Americans don’t do their work

Docudharma Times Tuesday May 5

Arlen Specter Which Political

Party Do You

Belong Too?

The Party Of What’s

Best For Arlen

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Supreme Court limits identity theft law

Dozens killed in ‘blood feud’ gun attack on Turkish wedding

First World War mass grave to be excavated

Pakistani Taliban seize control of key Swat Valley town

Maoist Prime Minister quits after army chief row

Iraq security at risk in crackdown on militias who fought al-Qaeda

Iran to hear US reporter appeal

South Koreans defend North Korean ship as pirates attack near Aden

Soldier pay threatens to undo Congo’s progress against rebels

A critical patient, an overwhelmed hospital and a tenacious newspaper

Murtha’s Nephew Got Defense Contracts

Millions in Work Came Without Competition

By Carol D. Leonnig and Alice Crites

Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The headquarters of Murtech, in a low-slung, bland building in a Glen Burnie business park, has its blinds drawn tight and few signs of life. On several days of visits, a handful of cars sit in the parking lot, and no trucks arrive at the 10 loading bays at the back of the building.

Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech’s most striking feature is its owner — Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of  Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department’s spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

Swine flu fears subside, but second wave looms

In previous outbreaks, new infections in fall and winter were most deadly

By JoNel Aleccia

Health writer

The rest of the world may be exhaling at the apparent easing of a potential swine flu pandemic, but some global experts are tempering their optimism with concerns about what one calls “the fall question.”

That’s the uncertainty over whether the current outbreak is only a preview of what’s to come, an echo of previous epidemics – including the 1918 flu – that saw mild first cases of infection in the spring followed by more severe second and third bouts in the fall and winter that brought widespread infection, illness and death.

“Right now, you have to wait and watch,” said Ann Marie Kimball, professor of epidemiology and an expert in emerging infectious disease at the University of Washington in Seattle.


Where Home Prices Crashed Early, Signs of a Rebound


Published: May 4, 2009

SACRAMENTO – Is this what a bottom looks like?

This city was among the first in the nation to fall victim to the real estate collapse. Now it seems to be in the earliest stages of a recovery, a hopeful sign for an economy mired in trouble and anxiety.

Investors and first-time buyers, the traditional harbingers of a housing rebound, are out in force here, competing for bargain-price foreclosures. With sales up 45 percent from last year, the vast backlog of inventory has diminished. Even prices, which have plummeted to levels not seen since the beginning of the decade, show evidence of stabilizing.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind XXX

Art Link



Some of us are here

to save the world

to advance the society

to repair the errors

in the structure

of human culture

to guide the course

of human interaction

with and in

this universe

But some are here

to be entertained

they think

by arguing

for pointless

personal gain

that quite frankly

advances nothing

Which are you?

Who are you?

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–January 4, 2007

Late Night Karaoke

Pet Shop Boys


Advice for Contacting Congress

This essay was inspired by an interesting exchange in the Dog’s Weekly Torture Action Letter. The Dog’s work is excellent and we should continue to support his efforts. However, there was a bit of a discussion about the best tactics for contacting your legislators. I want to chime in with some thoughts of my own.

I want to say that the Dog’s letters are excellent. Please keep those letters moving, whether you are using the these letters or composing your own. We can make a difference.

Instead, this essay is more of a general primer for contacting your member of Congress or Senator about any topic.  First a little about me. I am not bragging, just establishing credentials. I am a graduate student in American politics in Washington. I have several friends who are Capital Hill staffers and my professor for a class in the Legislative process works on the Hill. I have not personally worked at the Capital, but that is mostly because I cannot afford to do the requisite unpaid internship in order to get a regular job (and I am starting a much cooler job tomorrow anyway). Before that, I wrote for a newspaper and regularly communicated with state and federal legislators. I am in a position to comment on this.

This advice is centered on contacting federal legislators, but the same advice applies to contacting state officials.


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