Category: "culture/news"

Blunt in trouble

Matt BluntMissouri Governor Matt Blunt is in hot water over a former employee who says he was forced out for trying to get the administration to follow the law. Here's an overview of the scandal:

Eckersley: Hey boss, I don't think you're retaining emails as public records like you're supposed to.

Blunt: Guess, what. You're fired.

Eckersley: Hey reporters, the governor fired me for telling him he was breaking the law.

Reporters: WTF, Blunt?

Blunt: No, he never mentioned mentioned anything of the sort to me. And not all emails are state records.

Reporters: Uh, yeah they are. Have you read the Sunshine Law?

Blunt: Anyways, I fired him because he was working on an outside project on State time.

Eckersley: It was 2 hours of work over 9 months. And I had permission from my boss.

Blunt: Well, we really fired him because there were dirty emails in his inbox.

Reporters: Dude, that's called spam. You don't know anything about computers, do you?

Blunt: Scott Eckersley does drugs.

Eckersley: The hell I do. Hey, Matt, remember that email I sent your staff telling them to stop deleting emails because it's against the law?

Blunt: No such email exists.

Eckersley: I have a copy of it right here.

Blunt: I don't, because I delete my emails. Crap, uh, attention state bar association, I'd like to file a complaint against Scott Eckersley because he repeated his private advise to me in public.

Everyone: So, you're admitting that he discussed email retention with you?

Blunt: Oh, shit.

Skelton on readiness

Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and my congressman, spoke in Kansas City this week about the effect of the war in Iraq on our military readiness.

Why should any of us worry about a military readiness crisis? The lack of readiness of our Army forces that are not currently deployed is of great concern because we depend on those forces to be able to answer the nation’s call in the event of some unforeseen future conflict. Make no mistake, the American military remains a formidable force, even when stretched. But the way things are now, it would be difficult for those forces to respond in a timely manner. Readiness is our insurance policy for national security. ...

Clearly, the most urgent national security issue facing the United States today is the tremendous burden that the war in Iraq is currently placing on our military, in particular the Army and Marine Corps. We must ask whether our significant commitment of forces in Iraq serves our broader national security interests. In my estimation, the answer is no. We are not properly prepared to respond to numerous and readily conceivable security challenges outside of the Middle East. We are taking on a significant level of strategic risk, and it will be years before this problem can be fully solved.

Give 'em hell, Ike!

(via Fired Up Missouri)

Obama speech in Iowa

This speech is already being called a turning point in Barack Obama's campaign.
[youtube]tydfsfSQiYc[/youtube]

Paying more and dying sooner

Paying more and dying sooner - This brief article shows how little Giuliani knows about health care and then goes on to summarize a recent study comparing the health care of America and several countries with single-payer systems. I recommend reading this quick article and even looking at the study itself if you have time. Here are a few facts:

  1. The United States spends $6,697 per capita annually on health care, according to the survey—more than twice as much as any of the other countries surveyed.
  2. The United States ranks dead last in life expectancy, at 77.9 years, among the countries surveyed.
  3. Respondents in the United States were less likely than those in any of the other countries to say their health care system “works well”—and much more likely to see a need for “fundamental” change or a total overhaul.
  4. According to the survey, 80 percent of Americans have a regular doctor whom they usually see. That sounds pretty good, until you learn that 84 percent of Canadians, 88 percent of Australians, 89 percent of New Zealanders and Britons, 92 percent of Germans and 100 percent of Dutch respondents surveyed said they had regular doctors.

Why are we so afraid of "socialized medicine" when it's working for every other industrialized country in the world? And where do you think the extra $3000 per year per person that we spend ends up? At least some of that goes to insurance companies, which are required by law to maximize shareholder value. They're in business to make money, which mean paying for as little health care as possible. So, if you're afraid of public health care, then stop for a second and think about who is profiting from that fear. Apparently it's not us.

Barack Obama

The Presidential primaries are less than two months away and I am supporting Barack Obama. After nearly seven years of the George Bush administration and over four years of the war in Iraq, the country needs to see some serious change in our capital city. The Republican candidates are promising more of the same. There are several good candidates in the Democratic field, but Obama stands out on several issues. Here are a few of the reasons why I've decided to vote for him.

Iraq

Obama wasn't in the US Senate when they voted to allow Bush to invade Iraq, but he did go on record at that time opposing the war. He's the only leading candidate from either party with the judgement and foresight to have spoken out about the problems of invading Iraq from the beginning. He also has a clear and sensible plan for getting our combat troops out of Iraq and ending the war. He would leave troops to protect our embassy (relieving private contractors of the task) and fight terrorism, but we would no longer be the occupying power. This is not a fast or irresponsible withdrawal, but it would bring the war to a close by the end of next year.

Diplomacy

An Obama presidency would work together with our allies and use diplomacy with our enemies. He isn't promising to not use the military against Iran, but he is promising to talk to them.

Health

As much as I would like to see insurance companies removed from the picture and free health care for every American (like Canada and the UK have), I understand that a lot of people are afraid of that. Obama's plan isn't as bold as I would like, but he does promise to take on the insurance industry and make affordable health care available to more people. He says, "It's time to let the drug and insurance industries know that while they'll get a seat at the table, they don't get to buy every chair."

Energy

Obama is pledging to use both regulation and funding to move us toward energy independence. In the Senate he's been an outspoken proponent of increasing CAFE standards, which would require new cars to be more fuel efficient. While we're working toward breakthroughs in renewable energy, we need to be using less gasoline.

Lobbyists, corruption and open government

Too often, people in government are making decisions based on the interests of their financial supporters. We'll never have a just government when favors go to the highest bidder. Everyone talks about this problem, but I believe Obama has the best chance to actually change the culture of Washington. He may not be perfect in this area, but here's what I like:

  1. He was a leader in drafting reform legislation in the wake of the Abramoff scandal.
  2. He introduced legislation to open up the earmarking process, which would at least keep deals from being made in secret and slipped into a bill at the last minute.
  3. Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006
  4. He's new enough to Washington that maybe, just maybe, the lobbyists haven't systematically rotted his soul out.

Experience

Obama has held elected office for 10 years. That's longer than Hillary Clinton (6 years), John Edwards (6 years), Rudy Giuliani (8 years), Fred Thompson (9 years) or Mitt Romney (4 years). Prior to entering politics, he was a civil rights lawyer and a constitutional law professor.

You can learn more about Obama's views and plans on his campaign issues page. And you can watch his appearance on Meet the Press for free online.

Hillary and Blackwater

In an earlier post I mentioned that Romney has a connection to Blackwater. Well, so does Hillary. It's more indirect, but I thought it was only fair to mention it.

Spooky

Want a good scare? Watch this Bill Moyers report on Christians United for Israel. Famous pastors, congregants, congressmen and presidential hopefuls recently descended on DC to conduct a fiendish mixture of Christian revival and war-drum beating. John Hagee is on stage quoting scripture and calling for the US to preemptively invade Iran. Hagee is fairly certain that Iran is going to play a key role in the looming apocalypse This would be funny if there weren't so many people taking it seriously, including John McCain.

I don't know which is worse, saying that the world is going to end in a massive battle between the US and Iran, or saying that we should start another preemptive war.

It was only a few years ago that I saw some nut on TV saying that the war with Iraq would be the opening round of Armageddon. And only a few years before that, it was the Soviet Union. Even when I believed in God I thought this type of thinking was bullshit. Normally the apocalyptic worldview produces a mildly harmful fatalism ("We don't need to fix that problem, Jesus will come back soon"), but this talk of invading Iran is dangerous. CUFI says that God promised the land to Israel and there can't be a peace plan that involves Israel giving up land.

Anyone who thinks we should invade Iran has clearly not been watching the news in the last 5 years. Even if things in Iraq were going great, we don't have the people, money or political will to start another war. Not to mention the fact that preemptive war is immoral.

State blog

If you were a staff member in the US Department of State and you were tasked with naming the brand new department blog (welcome to 2001, by the way), what is the stupidest name you could get away with?

blogs.state.gov/

If you can think of a dumber name, I'd like to hear it.

(via Wonkette)

The evils of Socialism

Today George Bush exercised his veto power for the fourth time in his presidency to stop a bill that would provide heath care to around 6 million children. He said the bill was too expensive and it could be the beginning of a shift to Socialized Medicine [cue the spooky music].

Good for him. It's about time someone stood up against the evils of Big Government Socialism. I look forward to seeing what he can do to deal with this problem in other areas as well:

Education

America's children have been on the dole too long when it comes to education. It's time to cut the red tape. Bush should propose an initiative to cut all federal, state and local funding for schools. Private corporations can buy the school buildings and turn them into private schools. Rich people can send their kids to great schools, middle class students can have mediocre schools, and children whose parents can't afford private school tuition can find gainful employment at their local mine or factory.

Fire protection

Ever noticed how most fire engines are Red? Coincidence? Bush still has a year to privatize the nation's fire departments. There's no need to waste government money putting out every little fire that starts. Let people pay private firms and when a fire starts, the private FD can put out the blaze without going through any red tape (provided the homeowner has paid their fees). The poorest citizens won't have to worry about this change because they don't have homes to worry about.

Law enforcement

Right now we have socialized law enforcement. Police, judges and prison guards are all paid from the government treasury. This is a slippery slope toward Communism. What people need is choice. People should be free to maintain their own militia or bodyguards if they want protection from burglars and murderers. Once your bodyguard captures a bad guy, you can simply pay to have him placed in a nearby private prison. This could be a way for Walmart to produce more goods stateside. Those that can't afford their own protection or legal representation still have options. They can arm themselves, hide in a cave or move to a country with socialized police.

Road construction

Why do people feel entitled to roads? If Bush really wants to fight the dangers of Socialism, he'll move to privatize roads and highways. Every road will be a toll road and/or lined with billboards. But it's a small price to pay to know that we're doing it the capitalist way.

Military

Bush has already made great strides toward privatizing the military, but there's more work to be done. Sure, we have 20,000 to 100,000 armed contractors in Iraq now, but why not disband the entire Department of Defense and contract the whole thing out to Blackwater? A private company can do the job cheaper and won't be bound by international treaties and quaint conventions. Perhaps one of the possible successors to George Bush will be able to see this plan through. Mitt Romney has already brought a Blackwater vice chairman on board as his national security advisor.

Mr. President, there will be many more socialist bills crossing your desk between now and that sad day when someone else becomes the decider. I look forward to seeing you fight for our capitalist way of life.

36 Nations?

When I watched President Bush's Thursday night address, I expected to see him paint a rosy picture of the Iraq war. I expected to see him gloss over the difficulties and bend the truth as far as possible to avoid admitting that the war was a mistake. He did all of that, of course, but this time he went a step further and told a lie that is easy to debunk.

To the international community: The success of a free Iraq matters to every civilized nation. We thank the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq and the many others who are helping that young democracy.
(Whitehouse.gov)

Thirty-six nations!? Several sites have fact-checked this:

Talking Points Memo
FactCheck.org
The Washington Post
Wonkette
TPMmuckraker.com

The State Department puts the number at 25. The total number of non-US troops is around 11,000 and falling steadily.

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