Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
[Home] [Former Republican] [About the Authors] [RSS Feed] [Pointless Vanity]

"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Greetings and Musings

posted by Mike at 12/25/2004 01:54:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Hi, guys, Mike here. Since I appear to be the only one of the RS Team at a laptop this Christmas morning, I just wanted to wish any browsing bloggers who celebrate it a very merry Christmas. I hope this missive finds you well and happy, hopefully with loved ones.

Yesterday, with Jazz's permission, I did a little tinkering with the site's template. The most noticeable changes are that the blog column is about 65 pixels wider, the line spacing was tightened up from 1.6 to 1.3, the sidebar was futzed with a bit, and we got Jazz's photos up in the header. Minor changes included a tightening up of the extra whitespace that used to follow every entry (IE users will still see it, because MSIE's a piece of reindeer scat -- you should just learn to browse happy!), and a slight tweak with the location of the permalinks. I took a look at the site in Safari and Firefox on the Mac, and in MSIE and Mozilla on my folks' Windows machine. All looks well. If you see something wrong, please feel free to drop me a line.

I am not a very religious man, and although I was raised Presbyterian, I am currently in what could best be described as a 'questing' state. Nevertheless, I feel that on this day when they're celebrating Christ's birth, the neoconservatives in the Administration, including George W. Bush, probably need to reread something Christ told everyone. (It probably wouldn't hurt for Cheney to take a look at this and this, too.)

I suppose I'm letting my acrimony pull me a bit away from the Christmas spirit -- I'm casting a lot of stones here, and I'm certainly not without sin. It's just hard to think of all the soldiers deployed over in Iraq, and all the families here stateside who miss them terribly, and not be mad at the person who is causing this cumulatively massive amount of misery for what I feel, at least, is no good cause. (Because, I'm sorry, who was it that masterminded 2,996 murders, and why is it again that he's still free to make speeches?)

If you have a loved one in Iraq, please know that although they may not know your name or your loved one's name, a lot of people have you in their hearts this holiday and are wishing you and them peace and health, and for them, a very safe return. And if you no longer have someone over there, please know that people are thinking of you and wishing you peace and healing, too.

Merry Christmas, all.

Friday, December 24, 2004

A Christmas Scam

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/24/2004 10:39:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Thanks to a tip from MEJ's Bill in DC

Is the Christmas under attack outcry by elements of the Radical Religious Right just a fund raising ploy?
Those on the other side of these battles say the Christian groups are wildly exaggerating the threats from a phantom enemy for the purpose of mobilizing evangelicals to contribute funds (some groups are explicitly using the Christmas issue to raise money) or to become politically active.
But what about that dreaded enemy of Christians everywhere, the ACLU?
On the Christmas fight, the American Civil Liberties Union, the group most often cited as the enemy of traditionalists, says it has not filed a single case blocking Christmas displays this year and cites half a dozen instances over the past year in which it has fought on the side of more religious expression.
This is like the gay marriage issue or abortion, a way for Radical Christian groups to scare the flock, get more of their money and increase political clout.

(cross posted at MEJ because I'm lazy)

And We're Off

posted by Jazz at 12/24/2004 08:15:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Georg and I will be travelling to see relatives for the rest of today and most of tomorrow. Blogging should resume late on Christmas night or on Sunday morning for us. So, unless the rest of the team here feels like posting today, things may slow down here a bit over the next 48 hours or so.

Merry Christmas to anyone celebrating it from the petulant pundits at Running Scared, and happy holidays and a safe, healthy, prosperous new years to all of you. It's been a wild year, and I look forward to more of the same in the future.

Cheers.



Christmas in Jail?

posted by Jazz at 12/24/2004 08:14:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

In the Netherlands there is apparently an opportunity to make some extra new years cash by going to jail in place of somebody else. I think just shoveling snow might be better.

Rumsfeld in Iraq

posted by Jazz at 12/24/2004 08:05:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Yes, it was a nice gesture. But Joe Gandelman is a tad suspicious about the timing, given Rummy's current political woes.

Ooops

posted by Jazz at 12/24/2004 07:34:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

I intend to do a couple of more positive things this morning before getting on the road for chilly holiday travel. However, before doing that, I wanted to provide a link to one of the more salient Iraq bits I've seen recently. Courtesy of B@B. The money quote:

"This is a damned cold slap in the face, and not one of these soldiers should have been killed or injured...Iraq is heading for civil war and total chaos and the Jan. 30 election is like putting a Flintstones Band-Aid on a gushing femoral artery."

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Pre-Friday Cat Blogging

posted by Jazz at 12/23/2004 11:45:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Since I'll be on the road for a lot of tomorrow, some early cat blogging. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you pet bloggers and fans of pet blogging. Be sure to stop by the Modulator for the Friday Ark, and of course, the Carnival of Cats, which this week is back at it's original home, "This Blog is Full of Crap."

On to the feline material. It's always safe to hide under a blanket. That way the monster in the closet can never get you. Pepe shows off his homeland security skills for everyone. (Click on image for rediculously large picture.)





What is wrong with this picture?

posted by Mike at 12/23/2004 06:01:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

This has nothing to do with politics, and if you're easily offended, you shouldn't follow this link. However, if you're easily offended, my God, what are you doing reading Running Scared? :-)

What, pray tell, is wrong with this picture?

:-)

Frank Zappa, Nostradamus?

posted by Mike at 12/23/2004 04:53:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

iFilm is hosting Frank Zappa's March 1986 appearance on Crossfire. It's worth a download.

"When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion, and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view, and if that code happens to be very very right wing ... "

I stood up rather straight when I heard that line, I tell you. I wonder if Frank had met the son of the man who happened to be Vice President right about then?

Some Seasonal ummm... cheer? A roundup.

posted by Jazz at 12/23/2004 01:43:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Red wine and white winter. (Get a stiff drink before you read this. Courtesy of Tata.)

And second... The One True Tami gives us a holiday reminder that "torture is wrong... mmmkay?"

Next, looking back at 2004, NYC Babylon runs down all of the men she did..err.. I mean, dated over this year. In the words of the brilliant Eddy Izzard, "My! You must be very busy!"

Brainwise reminds us that heroin junkies celebrate Christmas too.

The People's Republic of Seabrook points out a possible gift for your girlfriend which you may not have thought of. Bigger boobs.

Turnspit Daily wants you to know that aetheists have to deal with Christmas too.

and last but not least...

Ken Layne brings you, "The angriest holiday elves."

That should give you plenty to read for a while. I'll be out for bit getting frozen.



Our Exit Strategy

posted by Jazz at 12/23/2004 01:12:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

For everyone who keeps saying that we don't have an exit strategy in Iraq, think again. Molly Ivins, in her usual inimitable way, has come up with the perfect scenario to achieve what I think many of us are hoping for. (i.e. get our troops out of Iraq NOW.)

"The best we can hope for from this election is that the Shiite slate endorsed by Ali al-Sistani wins. That would be the slate pledged to ask the United States to leave the minute it gets in. With any luck, they'll ask politely."

As with most of her columns, there's a lot of good reading in this one. One point that she makes very well is that all of the whining by neocons about how the press makes too much out of the "bad news" from Iraq while ignoring the good is pretty much the exact opposite of the reality.

"Rumsfeld's mistakes may constitute an impressive list, but is there any evidence that this war could ever have worked out well?

"So far we have not brought democracy to Iraq. We have brought blood, killing and death.

"Our so-called liberal media do a pathetically inadequate job of telling us about the war because, first, it is too dangerous to cover most of the country, and second, reporters who are critical of the endeavor are blacklisted by our military. The few American reporters who speak Arabic are sending hair-raising reports.

"For evidence that the whole enterprise needed to be rethought from the beginning, I cite the Los Angeles Times story from June about the iconic image of this war -- the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in the great square in Baghdad. It was actually a U.S. Army psy-ops stunt staged to look like a spontaneous action by Iraqis.

"'It was a Marine colonel -- not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images -- who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking,' wrote the Times.

"From then 'til this past election, when President Bush kept insisting that no more troops were necessary, we have been treated like mushrooms."


Well said, Molly. And I'd like to thank my not-so-secret Santa who sent me another of Molly's books from my Amazon wish list. :-)

Happy Holidays

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/23/2004 11:17:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Happy Holidays from Middle Earth Journal.

I am amused

posted by georg at 12/23/2004 11:05:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

At least I'm not the only one who thinks of him as Monkey Boy.

Doesn't he look like an intelligent chimpanzee all eager to please when he's being earnest? Sadly, giving him a banana just gets him excited. It doesn't make him go away.

Cocooning at the Highest Levels

posted by Jazz at 12/23/2004 09:53:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Betsy Newmark highlights a story today about how Lynne Cheney is actually an avid blog reader.

You think that blogging doesn't have an impact? Guess again. Hugh Hewitt notes that Lynne Cheney reads blogs. Think about the power of some non-connected people sitting in their offices and living rooms writing down their thoughts. And the Vice President's wife reads those thoughts. Regularly. Cool.
Cheney: "Oh I love Hugh Hewitt, I think he's terrific. I love Powerline. I read Instapundit, and, I don't know, does RealClearPolitics constitute a blog? I certainly looked at it a lot during the campaign. It was a wonderful source and remains a wonderful source of articles that are being written in many places."
Obviously, Betsy takes this as "a good thing" but it is worth noting that these quotes from the veep's wife are also somewhat revealing. Look at the list of blogs that she mentions. Not a single liberal or even moderate blog in the pack. This is the "cocooning" that we've spoken of so often here - the alarming tendency of people to exclusively avail themselves of media material that agrees with whatever opinions they have already formed, and to tune out the rest.

I'm guessing that if Ms. Cheney ever spent an hour reading Atrios or Daily KOS, she's either collapse into a sobbing hysterical heap, or have Dick send out the storm troopers to bring back the heads of a bunch of bloggers and comment writers.

Carnival of the Not Feeling So Terribly Liberated - Christmas Edition

posted by Jazz at 12/23/2004 09:21:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

A brief roundup of quotes and links from Iraqi bloggers. There is no substitute for getting information straight from the foxhole, so to speak.

Najma, who writes A Star From Mosul, tells us:
We didn't go to school because the bridges are all blocked now, and we think there's a curfew too..
Right now, they say at the news at Mosul TV:

"The bridges are closed, and who won't obey will be punished severely"

While at al-Jazeera, they said:

"The governor of Mosul announced closing all Mosul bridges and is threatening to kill anyone who'll approach to them".
Riverbend recently posted her Christmas wish list. All I can say is, when your wish list includes items like "running water" you really remind Americans of how much they have to be thankful for.
When Santa delivers please make sure he is wearing a bullet-proof vest and helmet. He should also politely ring the doorbell or knock, as a more subtle entry might bring him face to face with an AK-47. With the current fuel shortage, reindeer and a sleigh are highly practical- but Rudolph should be left behind as the flashing red nose might create a bomb scare (we're all a little jumpy lately).
Next, Rose of Diary from Baghdad, writes a very hopeful piece on "Christmas in Iraq." However, she also includes some "man on the street" insight into an argument she had with her father about the looming possibilities of a civil war.
also today, my father told me that he is afraid from a civil war, he said that those who are doing these things they know exactly what they are doing. I tried to tell him it�s impossible but he said no, they will succeed in making a civil war and then divide Iraq to peaces. I still don�t believe in this, The US will not allow this to happen because it will mean that they have failed in everything they fought for.
Moving on, Hammorabi makes a claim that I haven't seen in the newspapers yet.
The US forces kicked out the governor of Mosel today and they probably controlling the city themselves.
Abu Khaleel writes a long piece where he dreams about an ideal world.
In a better world, the American administration would apologize ... To the Iraqi people for all the unnecessary suffering and loss of innocent life, the looting, the destruction of the infrastructure of their country, for the terrorists they lured into their country, for the lawlessness and for putting the country on the road to total anarchy and ruin. The actual list is much longer, but one shouldn't be too greedy!
Kurdo gives the Kurdistan perspective on his doubts about the upcoming elections.
Elections are not some magic-sticks that could touch Iraq and make it as safe as heaven. I remember in 1992 before the Kurdistani general elections, we had this view of Kurdistan after the elections. A free, organised, democratic, western style country.

There was even some TV serieses called "After the Parliament". In these TV programmes, they used to show Kurdistan as a (arms-free), democratic, prosperous country. In the shows, a few people were saying "When is this going to happen"? The answer and the end of the show was "Dwaii Parlaman" "After electing the Parliament".

But, after the elections, Kurdistan turned into hell. A bloody civil war that continued for about 7 years devastated the country.
That's about all for this week. Let's hope they are all still alive and blogging after the holidays.

Quote of the Day

posted by Jazz at 12/23/2004 08:44:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

"Now that the election's over, our leaders think it's safe to experiment with a little candor."

- Maureen Dowd

Of Catastrophic Success

posted by Jazz at 12/23/2004 07:57:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

I ran across an exceptional piece by Robert Higgs, editor of The Independent Review, titled "The Iraq War - A Catastrophic Success." Rather than just poking fun at yet another of our Cheerless Leader's Bushisms, Higgs makes the point that the war in Iraq really is a success. It just depends on what criteria you use to judge it and who's doing the measuring.

[T]he term ?catastrophic success? does express the character of the war precisely. We need only bear in mind that the catastrophe afflicts one set of people, whereas the success accrues to an entirely different set. Moreover, to appreciate the war?s success, we must keep in the forefront of our thinking the instrumental rationality of its perpetrators. We must ask: Who bears the responsibility for launching and continuing the war? What are these individuals trying to achieve? And have they in fact achieved these objectives? Having answered these questions correctly, we shall be obliged to conclude that the war has been a huge success for those who brought it about, however disastrous it has been for many others, especially for the unfortunate people of Iraq.

Not satisfied with simple generalizations, Higgs goes on to name the people who have profited and exactly how they have prospered.

<>A short list of the war?s perpetrators must include the president and his close advisers; the neoconservative intriguers who stirred up and continue to stoke elite and popular opinion in support of the war; the members of Congress who abdicated their exclusive constitutional responsibility to declare war, authorized the president to take the nation to war if he pleased, and then financed the war by a series of enormous appropriations from the Treasury; and certain politically well-placed persons in the munitions industries and in interest groups that have chosen to support, sometimes for reasons based on religious beliefs, a war that they perceive as promoting Israel?s interests or as bringing about the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Each of these responsible parties has gained greatly from the war.

President Bush sought above all to be reelected. In his 2004 campaign, he made no apologies for the war; indeed, he sought to take credit for launching it and for waging it relentlessly since the invasion. Vice President Cheney also campaigned actively on the same basis. Bush and Cheney?s efforts have now yielded them the prize they sought.


There's a good bit more, and I assure you it will be worth your time to read the entire piece. Well written and it manages to capture a lot of things that I've been feeling while not being able to concisely put them into words.

You can subscribe to the institute's quarterly publication, should you wish, or sign up for their weekly e-mail newsletter, The Lighthouse.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Intel Dump

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/22/2004 02:22:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Phil Carter is a former military officer and is now a Lawyer. He has the Blog Intel Dump and gives us a very balanced analysis of military issues. He has been on top of the interrogation of prisoners at Gitmo and Iraq controversy. Today he has a post with links to all of his posts on the subject and I would suggest you check it out if you are interested in this topic. Intel Dump is a daily "must read" for me and I highly recommend it. That's a hint Jazz!!!!!

One of my kissmoose wishes

posted by georg at 12/22/2004 02:04:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

I wish to be wrong.

Sigh. Have a cup of hot chocho and go snuggle a loved one on the holiday.

Sad but kind of funny

posted by Jazz at 12/22/2004 01:41:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

I think the fact that Pravda is laughing at our democracy could either make me weep or laugh out loud. (Hat Tip: Brilliant at Breakfast.)

Safire Deconstructed

posted by Jazz at 12/22/2004 11:26:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

In one of his (hopefully) last columns, Will Safire makes an attempt at admitting he was wrong about Iraq. Unfortunately, that's just a salt lick tossed out to get you reading. The only things he admits to being incorrect about are pure technicalities, while he continues to chide opponents of the invasion and beat the Bush drum of preemptive war and nation building. Atrios has a few sharp words for him, but I think it needs a bit more kicking around.

"I now admit to having expected the war in Iraq to be won in a matter of months, not years. Saddam's plan to disperse his forces and conduct a murderous insurgency, abetted by his terrorist allies, was a surprise."

There you have it. If you are looking for more of an admission of being "wrong" you won't find it. He immediately goes on to invalidate any admission with his next graf.

This by no means suggests that President Bush's decision to overthrow a dangerous despotism was a mistake.

Ummm... yes it was.

On the contrary, it was and is the right war (against a genocidal maniac who was gaining strength)

Even though our investigations after the invasion showed that he was more of a powerless puppet than we ever imagined, who had no power to back up his bluster and spent most of his time locked in his room writing romance novels.

in the right place (the Middle East cradle of terror)

Terrorism has spread across the world, aided in large part by the hatred we fuel in the Muslim world.

for the right purpose (to get the Arab street out of the rut of hatred and onto a path to freedom).

Oh, yes. Nation building. Because that's worked so well for us in the past. You also apparently don't read your own paper. If you did you would have seen that the hot choice of a political party to take over Iraq next month is a coalition of folks who are backed by the fundamentalist Iranian theocratic fun bunch. Enjoy your democracy.

Next, he demands a pound of flesh from all of us nasty war critics.

In return for today's grudging concession of tactical misjudgment, however, I claim this expectation: When and if we discover hidden supplies of germ weapons in Iraq or Syria, and as future confessions reveal the extent of connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam, the legion of war critics will forthrightly admit their certitude was misplaced.

No. And here's why. First of all, I can just about guarantee you that someplace, buried deep in the sand, there will be some left over chemical or biological weapons. We know he had them because we sold most of them to him originally. They already found one shell with some chemical munitions in it. Of course, it dated back to the Iraq-Iran war and was covered in so much dust that, odds are, nobody in the Iraqi army even know they had it. The question is, at the time of the invasion, did Saddam have active stockpiles of WMD's and programs to build more which he was preparing to launch against the United States and our allies. The answer is still no. And if we manage to torture a confession out of one of his goons saying he met with an Al Qaeda representative in a coffee shop in Paris in 1993? No. That's still no reason to go to war. They had nothing to do with 9/11 no matter how desperately you and Cheney and Bush and the rest of them want to believe they did.

Here are criteria to measure success or failure in the battle for democracy in the region and the struggles for freedom around the world: First, will Iraq stay whole and its people free? The present answer is: We'll see.

We'll see? That's lovely. The Shiites with their Iranian backers are getting set to oppress a whole bunch of Sunni just as badly as they have been oppressed over the last decades. The Kurds are simply waiting for us to kill off their enemies for them, and laying back until they can build a viable state of their own. They are engaged in a bloody civil war right now. The bonus is that they have us to fight it for them.

Next, has America's huge military engagement in the Middle East helped produce progress toward democracy in Muslim countries where monarchs and dictators now rule? Signs are that the answer is yes.

Man, I'd dearly love to know what planet you live on and what color the sky is there. We must read different newspapers.

America's decision to stay the course after its overthrow of Saddam - a financial backer of suicide bombers and hero of Palestinian jihadists - has helped revivify the prospect of peace in the Holy Land after the death of Arafat. Our military activism emboldened Israel to risk withdrawal from Gaza, and should encourage Palestinians to elect a rational state maker next month.

Let me pick my jaw up off the floor. Is this wingnut really trying to give credit for the tenuous prospect of improvements in the Israeli - Palestine conflict to our overthrow of the government of Iraq? It was because Arafat croaked. End. Of. Story.

A final criterion: Is our confidence in the desire of 20 million literate Iraqis to live in relative liberty being reflected in the recent run of elections in the world?

Australians voted to remain our stalwart ally in Iraq.

Australia is tied by the bib to American money. But yes, the twenty or thirty guys they sent over have been a big help. Thanks.

Afghanistan's voters took their lives in their hands to blaze their trail to a democratic government.

Afghanistan's "voters" rubber stamped an American installed leader, and ar currently huddled inside of three major population centers while most of the country is ruled by opium producing warlords. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Americans voted decisively to endorse our hopes rather than our fears in Iraq.

Do you really call 51-49 "decisively", Will? And yet again, you should try reading your own paper. The majority of Americans this week proclaimed that the war was a mistake.

This was one of the lamest right wing hatchet jobs I've read in ages. Safire can't be gone too quickly because he really is past his prime.

Update to the Robert Loria Story

posted by Jazz at 12/22/2004 10:54:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

I added this in to the previous post, but I wanted to make sure the information got out there. A fund to benefit Mr. Loria and his family has been established. Should you wish to help, you can contact them or donate here:

Benefit Fund for Robert Loria
Bank of New York
440 Route 211 East
Middletown, NY 10940

Thanks again to Jill for finding that information and passing it along.

On the one hand, it's really good to see people coming together to help out someone in such circumstances. However, I can not quite suppress a feeling of anger that they would need to. We're sending these guys over to Iraq to fight - in many cases to die - and some of them are coming back with horrible injuries which will leave them disabled for the rest of their lives. When something like this happens, it would seem to the reasonable mind that you wouldn't need two senators, a member of the House, and a scolding from the media to avoid confiscating all of the guy's discharge pay, sending him a bill for thousands of dollars, and leaving him stranded in Texas without a ride home.

I can sympathize with is comments. "After everything I have done, it's almost like I am being abandoned, like, you did your job for us and now you are no use. That's how it feels."

I think I'd be a lot more bitter than that, personally.

Lost in the desert

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/22/2004 04:25:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara knew in 1968 that the Vietnam war was lost. We continued to send Americans there to die for 4 more years and thousands did. Some were my friends and relatives. In 2004 things continue to go down hill in Iraq. The president admitted today that Iraqization is going as well as Vietnimization went 35 years ago, not at all. By all accounts the Iraqi security forces were useless in the recent assault on Falluja. In the Washington Post today Thomas E. Ricks tells us that the Precision of Base Attack Worries Military Experts. It should because it was an inside job. One of the problems in Vietnam was the Americans never knew who the enemy was. It should not have been that hard because the reality is most of the Vietnamese were the enemy. The young boy who smiled at you during the day would try to shoot you at night. It is much the same in Iraq. Ricks tells us about yesterday's attack:
Several experts noted that insurgents appear to have acted on accurate intelligence. Kalev Sepp, a former Special Forces counterinsurgency expert who recently returned from Iraq, noted that the attack "was carried out in daylight against the largest facility on the base, at exactly the time when the largest number of soldiers would be present."

"This combination of evidence indicates a good probability that the attack was well-planned and professionally executed," Sepp said.
And like Vietnam the Americans can't trust anybody.
A byproduct of such a strike is that it tends to drive a wedge between U.S. personnel and the Iraqis who work on the base. "I think that this tells us first that our base facilities are totally infiltrated by insiders who are passing the word on when and where we are most vulnerable to attack," said retired Marine Col. Edward Badolato, a security expert.
Let's not let the politicians wait 4 more years to admit they made a grave mistake. It's time to get out NOW, the American presence is part of the problem and American soldiers can't be part of the solution, only targets.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Hitting Close to Home - I've had about enough

posted by Jazz at 12/21/2004 03:19:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

UPDATE: Big thanks to Jill for finding this information. If you wish to assist the soldier and his family from the story below, you can do so here:

Benefit Fund for Robert Loria
Bank of New York
440 Route 211 East
Middletown, NY 10940

**************************************

This comes to us courtesy of Red Hair Black Leather, and applies to a US soldier who lives only a few hours from me, and in fact very close to my Mom's house where I grew up. There is a registration process required for the original article, being a local paper, so in case you don't want to bother, I'll put in the entire text here. There is contact information below if you want to get involved. I don't even know what to say about it at this point, because I'm so angry, so I'll just let the damned story speak for itself.

He lost an arm in Iraq; the Army wants money
Spc. Robert Loria is stuck at Fort Hood, Texas

By Dianna Cahn
Times Herald-Record
dcahn@th-record.com




Middletown � He lost his arm serving his country in Iraq.

Now this wounded soldier is being discharged from his company in Fort Hood, Texas, without enough gas money to get home. In fact, the Army says 27-year-old Spc. Robert Loria owes it close to $2,000, and confiscated his last paycheck.

"There's people in my unit right now � one of my team leaders [who was] over in Iraq with me, is doing everything he can to help me .... but it's looking bleak," Loria said by telephone from Fort Hood yesterday. "It's coming up on Christmas and I have no way of getting home."

Loria's expected discharge yesterday came a day after the public got a rare view of disgruntled soldiers in Kuwait peppering Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with questions about their lack of adequate armor in Iraq.

Like many soldiers wounded in Iraq, Loria's injuries were caused by a roadside bombing. It happened in February when his team from the 588th Battalion's Bravo Company was going to help evacuate an area in Baqubah, a town 40 miles north of Baghdad. A bomb had just ripped off another soldier's arm. Loria's Humvee drove into an ambush.

When the second bomb exploded, it tore Loria's left hand and forearm off, split his femur in two and shot shrapnel through the left side of his body. Months later, he was still recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and just beginning to adjust to life without a hand, when he was released back to Fort Hood.

AFTER SEVERAL MORE MONTHS, the Army is releasing Loria. But "clearing Fort Hood," as the troops say, takes paperwork. Lots of it.

Loria thought he'd done it all, and was getting ready to collect $4,486 in final Army pay.

Then he was hit with another bomb. The Army had another tally � of money it says Loria owed to his government.

A Separation Pay Worksheet given to Loria showed the numbers: $2,408.33 for 10 months of family separation pay that the Army erroneously paid Loria after he'd returned stateside, as a patient at Walter Reed; $2,204.25 that Loria received for travel expenses from Fort Hood back to Walter Reed for a follow-up visit, after the travel paperwork submitted by Loria never reached the correct desk. And $310 for missing items on his returned equipment inventory list.

"There was stuff lost in transportation, others damaged in the accident," Loria said of the day he lost his hand. "When it went up the chain of command, the military denied coverage."

Including taxes, the amount Loria owed totaled $6,255.50. The last line on the worksheet subtracted that total from his final Army payout and found $1,768.81 "due us."

"It's nerve-racking," Loria said. "After everything I have done, it's almost like I am being abandoned, like, you did your job for us and now you are no use. That's how it feels."

AT HOME in Middletown, yesterday, Loria's wife, Christine, was beside herself.
"They want us to sacrifice more," she said, her voice quavering. "My husband has already sacrificed more than he should have to."

For weeks now, Christine has been telling her 3-year-old son, Jonathan, that Robbie, who is not his birth father, will be coming home any day now.

But the Army has delayed Loria's release at least five times already, she said, leaving a little boy confused and angry.

"Rob was supposed to be here on Saturday," she said. "Now [Jonathan] is mad at me. How do you explain something you yourself don't understand?"

Christine said the Department of Veterans Affairs has been helpful in giving Loria guidance about how to get his life back on track, offering vocation rehabilitation to "teach them to go back out in the world with the limitations they have."

But the Army brass has been unreceptive, she said.

The Lorias also contacted the offices of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Saugerties. Hinchey's office responded.

"There's enough to go on here to call the Army on it and see if it can get worked out," said Hinchey aide Dan Ahouse. "We are expressing to the Pentagon that based on what we see here, we don't see that Mr. Loria is being treated the way we think our veterans returning from Iraq should be treated."

Army officials at Fort Hood could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"I don't want this to happen to another family," Christine Loria said. "Him being blown up was supposed to be the worst thing, but it wasn't. That the military doesn't care was the worst."

The end of her rope

Christine Loria was at the end of her rope earlier this week when she called her wounded husband's commanders at Fort Hood, Texas, and gave them a piece of her mind.

The Army was discharging her husband, Robert, after he lost his arm and suffered other severe injuries in Iraq, without even gas money to drive his car home.

"I am up here and he's there. That's 1,800 miles away," she said. "I had to call his chain of command and scream at them."

Their reaction she said, was "very mature."

"If he feels that way, why is his wife talking for him? Why doesn't he come talk to us himself?" she remembers them asking her.

"Because on some level, he still respects you," she answered. "I don't have that problem."

Dianna Cahn

Who to call to help


Outraged about Army Spc. Robert Loria's plight? Speak your mind. Below are contact numbers for federal legislators and defense officials.

U.S. Senate: Hillary Clinton: 202-224-4451;

Charles Schumer: 212-486-4430 email

U.S. House of Representatives: Maurice Hinchey: 845-344-3211

Sue Kelly: 845-897-5200

Secretary of Defense: Donald Rumsfeld: 703-692-7100

Fort Hood: Major General James D. Thurman: 254-288-2255 or Fort Hood operator at 254-287-1110; Public Information Officer Jim Whitmeyer: 254-287-0103

UPDATE: I just spoke to Senator Clinton's office. The soldier has returned home and the Army has agreed to drop the "bill" that he owes to the government, at least according to Clinton's office. I will now give full credit to both Hillary and Maurice Hinchey for stepping in and taking action. The young man could still use a LOT of help in recovering from their financial perils after his long absence, loss of pay, and being out of work, but he no longer will be hounded by the DOD for the money he "owed" them.

UPDATE NUMBER 2: I just received the following brief from Josh Picker at Senator Clinton's office. It was released to the papers recently.

Specialist Robert Loria of Middletown lost his arm in Iraq, but instead of a farewell paycheck from the U.S. Army he got a bill for nearly $1,800.

On Friday a platoon of New York lawmakers came to his rescue.

Loria found himself stuck in Fort Hood Texas this week when Army officials claimed he owed them money for travel expenses to a hospital and lost equipment.

Several lawmakers - Rep. Maurice Hinchey and Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton - interceded on behalf of the 27-year-old veteran after his irate wife, Christine Loria, told the Times-Herald Record of Middletown about the problem.

Loria was wounded in February. But as he was about to leave the Army this month, officials told him he had been overpaid for his time as a patient at a military hospital in the Washington area, and claimed he still owed money for travel between the hospital and Fort Hood, and $310 for items not found in his returned equipment.

Instead of a check for nearly $4,500, Loria was told he had to pay nearly $1,800.

"Christmas is coming up, and we are severely overdrawn because of this," Christine said angrily.

"It turned out his getting wounded wasn't the worst thing this year to happen - this was," she said.

Clinton, Schumer, and Hinchey said Friday the Army has dropped the billing demands and will allow Loria to return home today or tomorrow on leave before he is discharged.

Clinton's office said late Friday that Army officials were now looking at cases of 19 other injured veterans who may have had payroll snafus similar to Loria.

"This man has already made such a sacrifice, and then they just put him through the wringer," said Schumer.

Clinton blamed the problem on someone in the bureaucracy being unwilling to help him with the paperwork that the Army insisted upon.

Hinchey charged the demands of the Iraq war have overstretched the military, which "sent people out to make sacrifices and then provided them with what essentially is personal abuse when they return home - abuse and dishonor."

The Democratic lawmakers said Loria should be able to start heading home to New York in a day or two, but his wife said she wants to make absolutely sure those bills won't be reinstated at some point.

"I just want him out of there. I'm relieved that I know he's coming home but I know how powerful the military is and I'm just so very, very nervous until he is actually home," she said.


A bit more on this.


Time for a new pair of rose colored glasses

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/21/2004 01:55:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Blast Kills more than 20 at U.S. Base in Iraq.
An attack at an American military base in Mosul today killed more than 20 people and wounded more than 60, among them American and Iraqi soldiers and American and foreign contractors, the military said today.

Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, who briefed reporters from Mosul, said the cause was an explosion at a dining facility but gave no further details on the means of the attack or of the casualty toll in terms of numbers of dead or wounded or their nationalities.
Support our troops, get them the hell out of there now.


Update
Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice has more and an analysis.

Powerline Admits to Forgery

posted by Jazz at 12/21/2004 01:37:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

An interesting article over at Powerline by "the big trunk." (Overcompensate much?) In any event, by now you are all doubtless overloaded with the stories about Rummy having those condolence letters to the families of soldiers slaughtered in their Iraq fiasco signed with an autopen. It didn't take more than a moment for anyone with an IQ above that of a glass of tap water to realize that this was a really deplorable thing to do, and you'd think that the Bushies would just stay quiet about it.

Not so! This "big trunk" decides to go to bat for the SecDef and explain that, hey... it's really not so bad. People fake signatures on important documents all the time!

I worked as an intern in the office of then-Senator Walter Mondale in the summer of 1969. Those of us who read his mail sorted it into the appropriate categories based on the salutation and subject matter of the correspondence.

All letters with a salutation to "Senator Mondale" were sorted by subject matter for appropriate response by a staffer (mostly choosing the right form letter) and signature by use of the office autopen. We ran the responses through the autopen machine where the "Walter F. Mondale" signature was applied over his typewritten name.


All letters with the salutation "Dear Fritz" (the nickname by which Mondale is addressed by friends) were designated "first-name" letters for special treatment with a less formal signature.
Above the typewritten name of "Walter F. Mondale" I signed those letters "Fritz"after being given a specimen of the original from which to work. There must be a few of those personal letters from Senator Mondale to constitutents
[sic] that I had the honor of signing on his behalf and that are now proudly framed and hanging on walls around Minnesota.

Yes indeed, Trunk. They must be *very* proud to find out now that the letter hanging on their wall, which wasn't one of the "mass mailings" signed by an autopen, but personally attended to by Mondale, was actually signed by a suck up intern lackey who learned how to forge Mondale's personal, "just for his friends" signature. And it's good to see Mondale had such class back then.

First of all, everyone knows that busy senators and other public officials receive far more mail than they could ever read, let alone answer. They have staff for that - at least in the case of routine business correspondence. When I get letters back from my reps, they are usually one of a number of form letters that deal with particular issues and they have a signature on the bottom, but I never for a moment thought that it was hand signed by my Senator or whoever.

Personalized letters to friends should be handled... well, personally. And the most important letters should really be "eyes only" if you follow me. If I received a letter back from one of my Senators that was clearly written as an individual response to a very specific situation I had asked about, and it was signed "Chuck" instead of the normal signature, then yes. I would think that the matter had been handled personally. When I then found out that some toady had forged it, I'd throw it in the trash.

And when it comes to writing letters to the families of the men and woman who have died in Bush's personal war? You can bet your arse that I would expect them to be hand prepared and signed by both Bush and Rummy for getting my kid killed. Finding out this news makes it a monumental slap in the face on top of their tragic loss. So yes, trunk... it IS a big freaking deal.

So... after your stint with Mondale, did you take up checking account forgeries? Mail fraud? Be a shame to let such talent lie fallow, eh?

Evel Cowneival

posted by Jazz at 12/21/2004 01:23:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Another time wasting product from your good friends at Dave Barry's Blog

Evil Cowneival

2005 Manhattan Project

posted by Jazz at 12/21/2004 08:14:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Put on your thinking caps because I have a bit of a challenge for you. Imagine for a moment that you have been put in charge of vast amounts of money and resources on a global scale with the purpose of improving the world and life for humanity in general. You are empowered to set up a modern day "Manhattan Project", where the absolute top minds in the required fields from all over the world will be lured by high salaries and fully funded modern research facilities. They will be given as long as they need. Funding will come, in large part, from the United States, but also from the IMF and other industrialized nations. No demand, within very generous reason, will be denied to these experts in their quest to succeed.

Now... what problem would you have them solve? It can be an invention, an innovation, a discovery, or however else you want to phrase it. And it doesn't necessarily have to be in one of the physical sciences. There are no limits on this. What one problem, need, etc. facing the world would you like to see such a project address to provide the greatest amount of improvement to the world... the greatest benefit to all.

Unlike in other discussions, I'm not asking for you to propose a solution. I don't expect some reader to write in and say, "Oh, yes... by the way, I've come up with a cure for male pattern baldness in my basement this week." You don't need to have a clue about how to fix it. Just select the problem, challenge or need that our world faces which you would solve with the ability to assemble a project on this scale. Feel free to mention just how such a solution would benefit the entire world. If your answer is too long for comments (or if Haloscan is broken yet again, or if you just don't want to post publicly) feel free to drop me an e-mail. If I get any interesting ones, I'll post them here at a later date.

Go for it. You rule the free world. What problem will you solve?

Shifting Gears

posted by Jazz at 12/21/2004 07:39:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

For all of my more conservative friends who chided, "Stop worrying... Bush isn't trying to overturn Roe vs. Wade", you can pat yourselves on the back.

Senate Republican leaders yesterday appointed two of Congress's most outspoken antiabortion members to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is bracing for potentially bruising hearings on nominations to the Supreme Court.

Consider that article alongside this piece by Robert "why am I still not in jail?" Novak.

A scenario for an unspecified day in 2005: One of President Bush's judicial nominations is brought to the Senate floor. Majority Leader Bill Frist makes a point of order that only a simple majority is needed for confirmation. The point is upheld by the presiding officer, Vice President Dick Cheney. Democratic Leader Harry Reid challenges the ruling. Frist moves to table Reid's motion, ending debate. The motion is tabled, and the Senate proceeds to confirm the judicial nominee -- all in about 10 minutes.

Welcome to the future. To steal a line from the excellent Sci-Fi movie I Robot, "Somehow, saying 'I told you so' just doesn't seem to do it."

To see some of the anti-choice bible thumpers pounding their chests in delight, check out Captain's Quarters and The Corner Kiddies.


Monday, December 20, 2004

The Great Right Wing Conspir.... Flip Flop?

posted by Jazz at 12/20/2004 09:08:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Sometimes you have to stand in stark awe of a partisan's ability to take both sides of a story for their own benefit. However, it takes a special skill, even if you are on par with Bill O'Reilly, to do so in less time than it takes to digest two meals.

It was only this morning, at 8:45 am to be precise, that Betsy Newmark posted a piece which blamed the UN for the slaughter in Rwanda. I took issue with that, but for the sake of argument, let's just say that she was right. Let's allow that it was the fault of the UN that the horrid genocide in Rwanda took place.

Next, at 6:52 pm the same day, this same blog tells us that perhaps, as postulated by a piece in the Times, it was actually Bill Clinton's fault.

Mr. Lake readily acknowledged other unattractive features of American [under Bill Clinton] policy: that the State Department prohibited use of the word "genocide" for months, that the Pentagon refused to jam Rwandan broadcasts that guided the killing and that there had been warnings well ahead of time, including one from the Central Intelligence Agency, that a catastrophic human disaster was in the making.

Fair enough. So perhaps instead of (or in addition to) it being the UN's fault, it was the fault of the United States under the leadership of Bill Clinton. Lack of action in the face of evil, as some wise men have said, is surely evil itself under another name.

Then, in this very same article, not twelve hours later, we are given a comparison to the current situation in Darfur. (Which we have written about here before.)

This is so terribly tragic and I'm afraid it is happening again in Darfur. It seems as if the world waits for the U.S. to do something and if we don't do anything then everyone sits back and allows innocents to be slaughtered.

So let me get this straight... if nothing is done to stop genocide under the watch of Bill Clinton, it is the fault of the United States. But if nothing is done in an equally (or more) horrific situation in Darfur under the watch of George W. Bush, then it is the fault of "the rest of the world" (i.e. the UN) for waiting for us to take action? We have, admittedly, finally buckled under and used the word (*gasp*) "genocide", but we've done nothing of substance to stop this. Check any paper online. It is still going on in horrific measure.

I'm sorry, but does anyone else smell the putrid stench of hypocrisy rising like a dead squirrel that has floated for three days, soaking in a sewage plant no longer subject to federal pollution restrictions?



Centrist Coallition Update

posted by Jazz at 12/20/2004 05:02:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

If you consider yourself a moderate, centrist, independent, etc. there is some market research being done at the Centerfield on this topic. Feel free to stop in and add your own comments for feedback. Severely lefty or righty readers need not bother clicking.

Hillary Update

posted by Jazz at 12/20/2004 01:31:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

I was reading this post over at Middle Earth Journal, which talks about a recent poll showing how Hillary would stack up in a presidential run against various GOP candidates. It had begun a conversation with Jill from Brilliant at Breakfast who suggested I should be reading more of Steve Gilliard's blog. (Steve is doing a lot of intensive digging on Rudy Guiliani's history which takes some of the shine off his apple.)

First to the numbers... it looks as if the public currently comes down seeing Hillary as a winner against Jeb Bush, George Pataki or Bill Frist. She comes in losing to Rudy or John McCain. Her support in her newly discovered "home" of New York has apparently shot up to sickening levels, with a 63% approval rating. I don't think that the GOP currently plans on even attempting to run a serious (read: invest money in) Senate election against her in '06 unless they can get a major, big gun to take her on. The only ones under discussion currently are Rudy, Pataki, or Colin Powell. Unfortunately, all three of them have as much as said that they don't want to put a dog into that fight. The fact is, a second Hillary Senate term may be unavoidable.

But on to the White House discussion. First of all, let me make myself clear. In '08, as usual, I'll be going with who I think the best candidate is for my personal beliefs and tastes... not which party they take the label of. I have no interest in Jeb Bush (YUCK) or Frist, nor any other neocon, theocon, or hawk that you might name. However, I will definitely take a moderate Republican who is conservative on economic issues and moderate/left on social issues. With Rudy in damage control mode, and Pataki just looking a bit too weak these days, that pretty much only leaves McCain among the ones under discussion. (So many other good candidates, like Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chaffee and Christie Whitman just don't seem interested.)

For the Democrats, well... again I'd settle for a moderate long before Ted Kennedy. But the fact is, if you guys put up Hillary I will vote for a bit more conservative Republican than I normally would first, and if it's somebody from the Bush/Jesus crowd, I'll vote for a third party candidate. There are any number of other good Democrats out there who I will work for and support before you give me somebody like Tom DeLay or any evangelical bible thumper. I couldn't even begin to form a list.

The people that I would most like to see run for the White House are apparently never going to even try, so I will be left with picking out the least bruised apples from the basket. But trust me... two people are definitely off the table and will never come up for consideration of my support - Hillary and anyone with a surname of "Bush." (or Delay)

Today's Right Wing Schadenfreude

posted by Jazz at 12/20/2004 01:15:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

As we commented upon previously, (on too many occasions to link) the neocons and hawks are still incredibly incensed over the UN being right about the WMD's and the idiocy of invading Iraq. So angry, in fact, that they are looking for any excuse to run down the UN and claim that it's pure evil, we don't need it any more, etc. Today's example finds Betsy Newmark citing an article from the WSJ's Opinion Journal (consider the source, please) claiming that the UN peacekeeping forces were somehow directly responsible for the slaughterhouse in Rwanda.

The UN has its own share of screwups like any organization, don't get me wrong. However, it's still the only truly global world body we have to meet across cultural lines. Some faces in their administration certainly need to change, but their overall mission, stature and reputation are still shining like fine silver compared to ours these days. Regardless, the "go it alone" Bush supporters (who don't like other countries sticking their "old European" noses into our business when we're overthrowing nations and torturing "terrorist sympathizers") will continue to take giggling delight in any bad news for the UN or any problems they run into. It's rather sad.

Rummy is no Jimmy Stewart, but...

posted by Jazz at 12/20/2004 11:40:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

It's a rare day that I miss Maureen Dowd's columns, but I missed yesterday's. In case anyone else did, she provides us with a perfect Christmas parody of Clarence the Angel talking to the Secretary of Defense and showing him what the world would have been like had he never been born.

The entire thing is too good in context to snip anything out here, so go read it. If you never bothered to get the free registration to the New York Times online, this one is a reason to do so.

"Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas ... "

posted by Mike at 12/20/2004 11:39:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

It's not political, but might give you a little Christmas cheer.

It's not just in the US

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/20/2004 10:16:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.


Santa Free Zone

Targeting Santa
Groups in Germany and Austria have launched campaigns protesting the commercialization of Christmas. The target of their ire is Santa, an American import who they say doesn't represent what the holiday is all about.
They say the made in USA Santa does not represent the original.
The image of Santa most known today -- fat, white bearded and in a red suit -- is indeed a creation of the Coca-Cola company, which was looking for a new figure to use in its advertising campaigns in the 1930s and 1940s.

A Swedish-American artist, Haddon Sundblom, created the jolly, benevolent character for Coke based on a previous figure created for Harper's Weekly in the 19th century by Thomas Nast, a German immigrant to the United States.

For the small but vocal anti-Santa movement, which has also gained momentum in Austria, Santa Claus is a poor reflection of the original St. Nicholas, who is believed to have been a fourth-century bishop in Myra, in present-day Turkey. He had a reputation for generosity and kindness, which gave rise to legends of miracles that he performed for the poor and unhappy.

"St. Nicholas was a man who helped the poor, saved people who were unjustly condemned, freed prisoners," Schade said. "You could say he was a forerunner of Amnesty International. Santa is much less than that -- just about giving gifts."
In Germany and Austria it seems to be a revolt against the consumer feeding frenzy rather than the religious wingnutery we see here in the US. An attempt to get back to the Yule season.

A carrot, a stick, and some angry mules

posted by Jazz at 12/20/2004 09:41:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

You're probably familiar with the concept of keeping the mule going by tying a carrot on a string to a stick and hanging it out in front of the beast. The problem is, sooner or later even the most loyal and willing mule will catch on to the trick. As with most Monday mornings, today Bob Herbert has a column up titled "War on the cheap" in the Times which gives an ugly but apt description of the effect which continual deployment extensions are having on the troops in Iraq.

Troops approaching the end of their tours in Iraq are frequently dealt the emotional body blow of unexpected orders blocking their departure for home. "I've never seen so many grown men cry," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former infantry platoon leader who founded Operation Truth, an advocacy group for soldiers and veterans.

"Soldiers will do whatever you ask them to do," said Mr. Rieckhoff. "But when you tell them the finish line is here, and then you keep moving it back every time they get five meters away from it, it starts to really wear on them. It affects morale."


The cost on the troops is far more than a few hurt feelings. Estimates have been given that we are already dealing with tens of thousands of troops dealing with psychological damage, on top of the thousands that are maimed. Since none of this is a secret, it's continuing to have an effect on recruitment.

[T]he chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James Helmly, told The Dallas Morning News that recruiting was in a "precipitous decline" that, if not reversed, could lead to renewed discussions about reinstatement of the draft. The Bush administration, which has asked so much of the armed forces, has established a pattern of dealing in bad faith with its men and women in uniform. The callousness of its treatment of the troops was, of course, never more clear than in Donald Rumsfeld's high-handed response to a soldier's question about the shortages of battle armor in Iraq.

This is all squarely on the shoulders of the planners, e.g. Rummy, and yet amazingly he is one of the only graduates of the first Bush II venture being asked to stay on for another semester. The issue of the draft is long past ripening for discussion. I understand that the Bush bobbleheads had a dire need to make fun of such suggestions during the election, since it could have cost our Glorious Misleader his office. But now that he's safely hoodwinked the country into four more years, it's time to face the prospect that a draft may be coming in the near future.

So... thanks again, Red Staters! Love ya!

The Weatherman Can Kiss my A**

posted by Jazz at 12/20/2004 05:25:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

I stepped out onto my porch this morning, and froze in my tracks. This might lead you to believe that I'd seen something startling, but you'd be wrong. I mean that I very nearly literally froze in my tracks. It's four below zero.

Weatherbug assures me, however, that this is not the bad news.

"Oh really," I thought to myself. "That sounds like some pretty bad news."

But no. The bad news is that the wind chill factor makes it feel like a brisk twenty below.

I need a quick trip to Arubacam.

For those of you having some problems with the new layout, we'll be making a few more changes this morning. Hang in there. And in the meanwhile, check out the new newsfeed in the right column from Feedroll. It gives constantly refreshing headlines from the New York Times Washington section. Pretty spiff, eh?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Bit of a new look

posted by Jazz at 12/19/2004 11:22:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

You should be seeing a slightly different look to the site. (If not, try hitting shift refresh.) Let me know if this breaks it for you entirely.

Rumsfeld Says He Will Sign Condolence Letters

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/19/2004 09:17:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

As a follow up to Mike's post below, Rumsfeld has agreed to sign condolence letters.
The Pentagon has acknowledged that Donald H. Rumsfeld did not sign condolence letters to the families of soldiers killed in Iraq, but it said that from now on the embattled defense secretary would stop the use of signing machines and would pick up the pen himself.

In a statement provided to Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper, Rumsfeld said: "I wrote and approved the now more than 1,000 letters sent to family members and next of kin of each of the servicemen and women killed in military action. While I have not individually signed each one, in the interest of ensuring expeditious contact with grieving family members, I have directed that in the future I sign each letter."
More bad news for Rummy and Bush letters questioned.
This is an unwelcome discovery for Rumsfeld, whose handling of the Iraq war has earned him complaints in recent days from several Republican senators. In particular, Rumsfeld drew criticism for his dismissive treatment of a question from an Iraq-bound soldier about the lack of protective equipment.

Stars and Stripes quoted families of the dead saying they were insulted that Rumsfeld did not sign the letters himself. They also said they were suspicious about the signature on similar letters they received from President Bush, but a White House spokesman said Bush does put pen to paper himself.
Are you red staters begining to see what arrogant slime you voted for?




Holiday Hogwash

posted by Jazz at 12/19/2004 04:53:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

The holiday season has brought out the usual list of suspects from both sides taking up some sort of holy war over Christmas. Neocons are up to their nostrils in righteous indignation that the godless commie liberals are trying to "take away Christmas" and a few uber-PC leftists are pushing for removing all mention of Christmas, as it might offend some non-Christians. I'd had more than my fill of this before it even began, so I was glad to see some common sense from James Wolcott on the subject.

This "fear of Christmas" is a phantom menace conjured every year so that certain crybaby Christians can adopt victim status and model a pained expression over the sad fact that not everyone around them isn't carrying on like the Cratchits. This thin-skinned grievance-collecting gives birth to all sorts of urban legends and rumors about big institutions being hostile to Christ's birthday, such as the one that swirled on WOR radio last week about how Macy's employees had been instructed not to say "Merry Christmas!" to shoppers. A fiction that was put to rest when the host hit Macy's website and saw its "Merry Christmas" greeting, and Macy's employees chimed in over the phones to say there was no such policy. To read conservative pundits, you'd think everybody was wishing each other Happy Kwanzaa! and averting their eyes from oh so gauche Nativity scenes. I've got news: Even here on the godless, liberal Upper West Side, people wish each other Merry Christmas without staggering three steps backward, thunderstruck and covered with chagrin.

This holy day that everyone is fighting over doesn't even have that much of a base in reality, so why not let everyone celebrate it (or not) as they please? The fact is that Christmas is an arbitrary date that was settled on by early PR men for the new religion so that it would line up with pagan holidays. (As was done with most celebrations.) It was easier to get people to join up with your religion if you could co-opt their existing celebrations.

Christmas was pasted over the top of Yule. (Which had a number of other names.) Whatever the label, they were all focused on the arrival of the winter solstice... the shortest day and longest night of the year. Remnants of these early Western European pagan festivals remain to this day. Surely you recall singing songs about "Yule tide carols" and "burning the Yule log." Do you recall anything about "Yule" in the bible? No... because it's not there. It was a bunch of people praying like hell that the sun would come back and endless night wouldn't swallow the land. Some of them tossed in human sacrifices to sweeten the deal. In any event, most good estimates which I've read indicate that Christ was probably born some time in the early spring.

At least with Christmas they managed to attach a new name that sounded Christian. The second most holy holiday of the year is probably Easter. Stop and think about your celebration of Easter throughout your life. Now ask yourself the following: do you remember the touching Bible story about how St. Easter tried to talk Jesus out of meeting the Romans at the Last Supper? How about the heartwarming tale of the young apostle who tried to bribe one of the guards with a rabbit and some eggs so they could get Christ down off the crucifix? No? You don't remember those? That's because they aren't there either.

Easter is a modernized spelling for the festival of Esther. (There are several spellings, but that one will do.) It was celebrated at the Vernal Equinox and welcomed the new planting season. And yes, as you probably guessed, she was another druidic era pagan goddess who controlled the regrowth of the spring and fertility. Her symbols were a rabbit and an egg. Christians came along and simply glued another holiday on top of theirs and taught them the story of the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Let's not get too carried away, shall we? It's religion, so just let everyone celebrate it as they see fit and attempt to have a good time and not blow their brains out over the holidays. (Remember: this is the number one suicide season of the whole year!)