Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gina Gershon Strips Down Sarah Palin from Gina Gershon

Gina Gershon Strips Down Sarah Palin from Gina Gershon
See more Gina Gershon videos at Funny or Die

Will Ferrell as Bush w/Jon Stewart from Will Ferrell, Adam "Ghost Panther" McKay, Jon_Stewart, and NOTMS

Will Ferrell as Bush w/Jon Stewart from Will Ferrell, Adam "Ghost Panther" McKay, Jon_Stewart, and NOTMS
See more Will Ferrell videos at Funny or Die

Ron Howard's Call To Action from Ron Howard and Henry Winkler

Ron Howard's Call To Action from Ron Howard and Henry Winkler
See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Guantanamo tribunals overseer under investigation

Reporting from Washington -- A Pentagon official overseeing the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals is the subject of two investigations into his conduct, including one wide-ranging ethics examination into whether he abused his power and improperly influenced the prosecutions of enemy combatants.

An internal Air Force investigation into the activities of Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann appears to be the more significant of the two probes because it was launched only after a preliminary inquiry found sufficient grounds to move forward, military officials said....

Top Salary in McCain Camp? Palin’s Makeup Stylist - The Caucus Blog -

Top Salary in McCain Camp? Palin’s Makeup Stylist - The Caucus Blog - NYTimes.comWho was the highest paid individual in Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign during the first half of October as it headed down the homestretch?

Not Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser; not Nicolle Wallace, his senior communications staffer. It was Amy Strozzi, Gov. Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night.

Ms. Strozzi, who was nominated for an Emmy award for her makeup work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance?”, was paid $22,800 for the first two weeks of October alone, according to the records. The campaign categorized Ms. Strozzi’s payment as “Personnel Svc/Equipment.”

In addition, Angela Lew, who is Ms. Palin’s traveling hair stylist, got $10,000 for “Communications Consulting” in the first half of October. Ms. Lew’s address listed in F.E.C. records traces to an Angela M. Lew in Thousands Oaks, Calif., which matches with a license issued by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. The board said Ms. Lew works at a salon called Hair Grove in Westlake Village, Calif.

W Magazine’s blog reported earlier this month that “the Guv has been traveling with a hairstylist named Angela, who usually works out of a salon called the Hair Grove,” and that she was directed to the salon by none other than Cindy McCain, whose own hair stylist, Piper, works at the Hair Grove as well. (Related: To Look Good, How Much Is Too Much?)

The campaign’s payment on Oct. 10 to Ms. Strozzi made her the single highest-paid individual in the campaign for that two week period. (There were more than two-dozen companies that got larger payments than Ms. Strozzi). She easily beat out Mr. Scheunemann, who received $12,500 in the first half of October, and Ms. Wallace, who got $12,000. Ms. Lew was the fourth highest paid person in the campaign during that span.

In September, Ms. Strozzi, who was first identified by the Washington Post this week as Ms. Palin’s makeup artist, was also paid $13,200 for “communications consulting.” But several individuals were paid more by the McCain campaign that month, including Mike DuHaime, the political director, who received $25,000 for “Gotv Consulting,” and Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s senior advisers, who got $13,224 in salary.

Ms. Lew collected $8,825 in September for what the campaign labeled in its report as “GOTV Consulting.”

There has been much attention this week, of course, on the $150,000 Republican National Committee spent outfitting Ms. Palin in September at high-end department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, as well as for makeup services.

The campaign finance reports filed on Thursday night, which showed the McCain campaign and the R.N.C. had about $84 million left in the bank on Oct. 15, did not immediately appear to show any similar payments in the first half of October.

[bth: quite an expenditure for a hockey mom.]
Crooks and Liars
The Existentialist Cowboy

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: Tribe on tribe - Pakistan

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: Tribe on tribe - Pakistan "The wounded men, and many others in the hospital, were supposed to be the backbone of a Pakistani government effort to take on the Taliban and its backers, Al Qaeda, with armies of traditional tribesmen working in consultation with the Pakistani military.

The tribal militias, known as lashkars, have quickly become a crucial tool of the Pakistani strategy in the tribal belt, where the army has been fighting the Taliban for more than two months. Their emergence is a sign not only of the tribesmen's rising frustration with the ruthlessness of the Taliban, but also of their traditional desire to run their own affairs and keep the Pakistani Army at bay, Pakistani officers and law enforcement officials say.

But even though some in Washington have pointed to the emergence of the lashkars as a hopeful parallel to the largely successful Sunni Awakening movement in Iraq, the tribesmen, armed with antiquated weaponry from the 1980s Afghan war, are facing better-equipped, highly motivated Taliban who have intimidated and crushed some of the militia.

Unlike in Anbar Province, one senior U.S. official said, where the Iraqi tribes "woke up to millions of dollars in government assistance and the support of the 3rd Infantry division," the support by the Pakistani Army and civilian government for the tribal militias has been "episodic" and so far "unsustained."" IHT


"Four things greater than all things are,

Women, and horses, and power and war."

R. Kipling


This will work.

The takfiris and the Taliban are irritants in Pakistani tribal territory just as they were in Anbar and Diyala. The lives of the tribesmen have a certain rhythm, a rhythm that has developed over hundred of years. They may well be fanatics of some sort within the larger Islamic galaxy of communities, but they are their own kind of fanatics. Their lives are ruled by their conception of Islam, their tribal customary law and their allegiances to family, clan and tribe. As in Iraq the Sunni takfiri jihadis seek to "reform" the lives of the tribesmen, to make them "pure" as they imagine the early community of the Muslims was "pure." Nobody wants to be made "pure" according to someone else's conception of "purity."

This is the great weakness of the international movement of the takfiri jihadis. They are vulnerable everywhere to armed rejection by those they wish to "save."

I have no specific knowledge of this but I would wager that the "episodic" nature of the support these tribesmen have received will be a lot more dependable soon.

This may bring on civil war in tribal territory? Quite possibly. pl
Main and Central

US: Afghan reporter's 20-year sentence 'disturbing'

he White House said Friday it was "disturbed" by a 20-year prison sentence against a young Afghan reporter for blasphemy, and reaffirmed US support for freedom of speech worldwide.

"We're obviously disturbed about it. We think that everyone should be able to express their views," said spokeswoman Dana Perino. "These reports are very disturbing."

A Kabul appeal court on Tuesday upheld the conviction of 24-year-old Perwiz Kambakhsh, who has spent a year in prison on charges of "insulting Islam", but reduced his sentence from the death penalty.

VOA News - Explosion Destroys Key Bridge in Georgia

VOA News - Explosion Destroys Key Bridge in GeorgiaAn explosion has destroyed a key bridge linking Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia with the rest of the country.

Georgian officials and Abkhazian authorities blamed each other for the blast. Residents of Abkhazia's Gali district had used the bridge to reach Georgia's Zugdidi region. Georgian authorities have called the explosion an effort by separatist and Russian officials to cut off Abkhazia and another breakaway Georgian region, South Ossetia, from the rest of the country.

Friday, October 24, 2008

M of A - Dennis Ross Prepares For War On Iran

M of A - Dennis Ross Prepares For War On Iran: "Yesterday"two former 'bipartisan' senators had an op-ed in the Washington Post calling on the new U.S. president to launch an outright attack on Iran after some sham negotiations:

[W]hile a diplomatic resolution is still possible, it can succeed only if we negotiate from a position of strength. This will require better coordination with our international partners and much stricter sanctions.
Both to increase our leverage over Iran and to prepare for a military strike, if one were required, the next president will need to begin building up military assets in the region from day one.

That op-ed is the based on a report (pdf) by an allegedly Bipartisan Policy Center.

Jonathan Schwarz summarizes the logic of the op-ed:

We're Going To Attack You If You Try To Get The Power To Stop Us From Attacking You.

Now that would be correct if Iran would really try to get the power to stop the U.S. from attacking, i.e. to acquire nuclear bombs. But the IAEA and the U.S. intelligence community say Iran is not even trying. The correct summery of the op-ed's logic is thereby:

We're Going To Attack You If We Assume You Try To Get The Power To Stop Us From Attacking You ...
Moon of Alabama

Saturday Night Live - Update Thursday: Bush Endorsement - Video -

Saturday Night Live - Update Thursday: Bush Endorsement - Video - ""

Commentary: Republicans summon ugly old ghosts

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 10/24/2008 | Commentary: Republicans summon ugly old ghosts: "This"is an autumn of great discontent as not just the United States, but the entire world trembles on the brink of an economic recession that may bring the kind of pain that's known only to the oldest among us.

With days to go before Election Day, the nation watches as a presidential candidate and his political party unravel, frantically dragging every ugly ghost out of the closet in an attempt not only to fool everyone, but also to scare everyone.

They appeal to the worst remnants of racism that cling like kudzu to a dying magnolia. Their robot phone dialers intrude on millions of uneasy citizens with messages of hate and fear and envy and greed.

They try to paper their opponent with guilt by association: He associated with a man who, decades before they ever met, belonged to a group of wild-eyed student revolutionaries.

They and their forces of darkness falsely claim that he's a Muslim at the same time they attack him for belonging to a Christian church whose black minister aimed angry sermons at white America.

They have presided for the last eight years over a stunning redistribution of wealth: They've turned Robin Hood upside down, taking from the poor and the middle class and giving to the very rich.

Yet they tar their opponent for daring to suggest that it's time to turn the tables and redirect some of that wealth to those who are jobless, homeless and hopeless, and to the millions of other hard-working Americans who are likely to join those growing ranks in the months and years to come.

They call him a socialist for embracing a principle that's rooted deeply in the teachings of the Christianity that they wear on their sleeves but cannot find room for in their hearts.

They promise to "correct the mistakes" of their own president, their own members of Congress, their own appointed overseers and regulators, if only we give them another chance.

They promise to punish the Wall Street tycoons and the big bankers who in their greed built this house of cards that's crashing down onto Main Street. Yes they will. Surely they will smite the robber barons who brushed a few crumbs from their groaning tables of riches into the laps of the very people who now vow to punish their benefactors of great wealth.

They say this even as the barons, fat with bonuses and commissions, pick over the carcass of a fallen economy, carving out another tasty morsel or two for themselves.

Is it any wonder that Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin and the Republican Party are sinking like the Titanic? Do they take us all for complete morons?

Granted, they may have reason to think that. After all, not only did we (with some help from the Supreme Court) elect George W. Bush our president, we also re-elected him to a second term. Fooled us twice, they think, so maybe the third time is charmed.

That, however, doesn't seem likely as a cold, hard winter looms this November. Not likely at all.

Here's a prediction for you, for them: McCain and Palin will go down to defeat by 15 to 20 points, and they'll take a heap of Republicans down with them.

The financial collapse and the painful fallout that's stalking the nation won't be righted overnight, however. Putting Barack Obama in the White House and giving the Democrats a veto-proof majority in Congress won't mean that happy days are here again.

Hard work, sacrifice and suffering lie ahead. It could take a decade or more to repair all the damage that Bush, Dick Cheney and all their henchmen in prison, out of prison and on their way to prison have done to our economy, our military, our standing in the world, our Constitution and to civil discourse, common decency and competent governance.

In the meantime, we Americans would do well to try to remember all those things that our grandmothers told us about how to get by in hard times.

How to get by on a lot less. How to grow a vegetable garden.

How to squeeze a nickel till the buffalo bellows.

How to appreciate the small joys of family and friends.

How to share what you have, no matter how little you have, with those who have nothing.

Someday we may be able to tell our grandchildren about the Election of '08 when we, the people, turned away from anger, hate and greed and once again embraced the better angels of our nature.

[bth: I wish I shared Joe's optimism on the vote spread. I think its going to be close in the popular but somewhat wider in the electoral college in favor of Obama. Also Joe Galloway's latest book with General Moore is very good and worth the purchase. Quite interesting to get the perspective of the vietnamese leaders they fought. Times change. His book strongly suggests as far as Vietnam is concerned, times have changed for the better. ... As to Iraq and Afghanistan, we may never be friends with the extreme elements of those countries, but with time and a little patience on all sides, we may not be permanent enemies either. Perhaps that is a valuable lesson we may yet learn from Vietnam.]

Beverly's final goodbye to Fortunato | NECN

Beverly's final goodbye to Fortunato | NECN

Beverly's final goodbye to Fortunato | NECN

Beverly's final goodbye to Fortunato | NECN

Fallen Beverly soldier remembered as a hero -- and a 'go-to guy' - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

Fallen Beverly soldier remembered as a hero -- and a 'go-to guy' - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe: "BEVERLY"– Deb Sacco never met Army Specialist Stephen R. Fortunato. But she knows what it is like to have a son serving in wartime. Her son, Robert, is a 19-year-old Army private currently in Iraq. So today she wore an Army sweatshirt, held a small American flag and stood, waiting with strangers on the sidewalk across from St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish.

All along Cabot Street, hundreds of townspeople -- parents, children, soldiers in green, police officers and firefighters in blue, veterans in navy caps – stood in rows, clutching American flags. When the beat of drums and the skirl of bagpipes filled the air, they watched as a white caisson, drawn by two chestnut horses, delivered Fortunato’s flag-draped coffin to his funeral. Some held their hands on their hearts; Sacco fought back tears.

“We’re all one family,” she said. “My son e-mailed me this morning and said they were all thinking of this family.”

Fortunato, 25, was the gunner in a Humvee on Oct. 14 in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb detonated, killing him; Specialist Cory J. Bertrand, 18, of Center, Texas; and Sargeant Preston R. Medley 23, of Baker, Fla, according to the Department of Defense. The three were 90 percent complete with their mission that day of providing security at polling stations, Brigadier General Todd T. Semonite told the funeral Mass. Fortunato was the first service member from Beverly to be killed in action since the Vietnam War.

The funeral procession today was a townwide tribute to Fortunato's service. Even those who never knew Fortunato and had no relatives in the military said they felt compelled to show their support. “I feel like any of the men and women that are over there, that we’re a part of them and they’re a part of us,” said Nancy Grimmer, holding an American flag.

Looking at the street filled with mourners, Sacco said, "We all have busy lives but when this happens, you realize what it's really all about."

A few paces away, Susan Gillis whose son, Scott, an Army sergeant, recently returned from Iraq, said Fortunato's funeral procession hit home. “You know what it’s like to be his mother," she said.

Sacco agreed.

"My worst nightmare is happening here today," she said.

Fortunato was the son of a prominent Beverly family, which includes a former mayor and school superintendent. A 2002 graduate of Beverly High School, he studied graphic arts at North Shore Community College before enlisting in the Army in 2005. His family has said he wanted to be in combat.

The Rev. David J. Barnes, pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea, opened his homily not by quoting Scripture, but by reading aloud the first phrases of the Declaration of Independence. He said Fortunato served and died to protect those unalienable rights.

“Steve’s sacrifice is also your sacrifice,” he told the mourners, because they had lost a beloved husband, brother and friend. “All of us who are here today might learn from his example.”

Semonite presented Fortunato’s family with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He said the commander and soldiers in Fortunato's unit considered him “the go-to guy” in their battalion. Last weekend, he said, the soldiers who had served alongside Fortunato and played video games with him stopped in Kunar Provice and held a ceremony to remember Fortunato.

“Steve was a hero,” Semonite said. “He wanted to be part of something bigger than himself."

Sacco said her son's unit in Iraq, touched by the death of a fellow service member from Massachusetts, had also honored Fortunato. “He said they knelt as a company and prayed together, heads bowed.”

Fortunato was proud of his service. He explained his decision to serve in an Aug. 30 blog entry that his mother, Elizabeth Crawford, later forwarded to the Globe.

“I am doing my part in fighting a very real enemy of the United States, i.e. Taliban, Al Qaida, and various other radical sects of Islam that have declared war on our way of life,” Fortunato wrote. He added: “I am a proud American. i believe that my country allows me to live my life more or less however i want to, and believe me, i have seen what the alternative of that looks like.”

Barnes recalled the touchstones of Fortunato’s life, from his baptism in the church on an October morning 25 years ago, to his death on a roadside in Afghanistan. “He did it for his comrades," Semonite said. "He did it for his country. He did it for his family."

McCain Completely Misrepresents U.S.-Iraq Basing Deal

The Washington Independent » McCain Completely Misrepresents U.S.-Iraq Basing Deal: "My"colleague Matt DeLong caught Sen. John McCain’s interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and passed along a quick discussion about the U.S.-Iraq basing deal that calls for a total withdrawal of all U.S. forces by Dec. 31, 2011. Long story short: Either McCain hasn’t read the latest text or he’s just making stuff up. (Transcript courtesy of the Mighty DeLong and his Amazing TiVo Device.)

Blitzer: The Bush administration seems to be close to what is called a “status of forces” agreement with the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It calls, in the draft agreement at least, for the complete withdrawal of combat forces from villages and cities by July 30 of 2009, and out of the country by December 30, 2011. If you’re elected president, would you, as commander-in-chief, honor this agreement if, in fact, it’s formalized?

McCain: With respect Wolf, and you know better, my friend. You know better. It’s condition-based. It’s conditions-based, and Ryan Crocker, our ambassador to Baghdad, said, “If you want to know what victory looks like, look at this agreement.”

You know better than that, Wolf. You know it’s condition-based, and that’s what the big fight was all about.

Actually, my friends, it’s McCain who should know better. I’ll have much more on this in a piece tomorrow morning, but if you read Article 25 of the Oct. 13 text — as I blogged yesterday — you’ll see it says that “The U.S. forces shall withdraw from Iraqi territories no later than December 31st, 2011″ and goes on to say “U.S. combat forces will withdraw from all cities, towns, and villages as soon as the Iraqi forces take over the full security responsibilities in them. The U.S. withdrawal from these areas shall take place no later than June 30th, 2009.”

The only possible claim to truth McCain has here is in subsection 4, which allows for a “review” for “one side asking the other to extend or reduce the time periods mentioned.” But changing the dates requires “both sides’ approval,” which is going to be difficult to obtain and easy for one side to obstruct. What the agreement definitely does not call for is “conditions” to determine the pace of withdrawal.

Sorry, my friend, but your position on the war is in tatters.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

John McCain Accidentally Left On Campaign Bus Overnight | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

John McCain Accidentally Left On Campaign Bus Overnight | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "
John McCain Accidentally Left On Campaign Bus Overnight"

Alternative Energy Suddenly Faces Headwinds -

Alternative Energy Suddenly Faces Headwinds - "HOUSTON"— For all the support that the presidential candidates are expressing for renewable energy, alternative energies like wind and solar are facing big new challenges because of the credit freeze and the plunge in oil and natural gas prices.

Shares of alternative energy companies have fallen even more sharply than the rest of the stock market in recent months. The struggles of financial institutions are raising fears that investment capital for big renewable energy projects is likely to get tighter.

Advocates are concerned that if the prices for oil and gas keep falling, the incentive for utilities and consumers to buy expensive renewable energy will shrink. That is what happened in the 1980s when a decade of advances for alternative energy collapsed amid falling prices for conventional fuels.

“Everyone is in shock about what the new world is going to be,” said V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology, a California advocacy group. “Surely, renewable energy projects and new technologies are at risk because of their capital intensity.”...

[bth: we need an oil import tax that sets a floor on imported energy prices. The tax funds should be used to plow money into renewable energy financing. If we don't do this, we will see the same disaster strike alternate energy companies that occurred in the mid to late 1980s.]

Pentagon includes body armor sought by Courtney

Journal Inquirer > Archives > Connecticut > Pentagon includes body armor sought by Courtney: "U.S."Rep. Joseph D. Courtney, D-2nd District, says he’s made good on a 2-year-old campaign promise to help get better body armor for the nation’s combat troops.

Pointing to the fiscal 2009 Department of Defense authorization signed into law last week, Courtney says the legislation included language from a bill he introduced this year to expand the authority of an independent Pentagon agency to test and evaluate body armor issued by all of the military services.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I was deeply alarmed about reports from families and, in some cases, by the troops themselves, who were concerned their were not getting the best body armor available,” the freshman lawmaker said.

“The men and women who proudly serve in our nation’s armed forces deserve nothing less than the best protection available,” he added.
Courtney in May 2007 led a bipartisan effort to ask the Government Accountability Office to conduct an independent reassessment of the various body armor systems employed by each military branch.

He cited news reports suggesting that privately sold flexible body armor some families were buying for their soldiers, called “Dragon Skin,” might be better than the “Interceptor” armor issued by the Army.

Courtney and the 39 other lawmakers who joined the effort said after the Army contended that Dragon Skin had failed extensive military testing that they wanted the two systems compared.

The GAO subsequently agreed to oversee new testing, and Courtney last spring visited Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where the Army is conducting its tests

A month after the congressional request to the GAO, Courtney said, he and three other lawmakers visited Iraq and Afghanistan and saw that the diplomats they met and the private contractors who accompanied them wore Dragon Skin — while the U.S. troops they encountered were equipped with Interceptor.

Courtney also said that he had voted against a supplemental Iraq war-spending bill in part because it had been stripped of provisions requiring better protection for troops there.

The testing issue also played a role in Courtney’s 2006 election campaign against former Rep. Robert R. Simmons, a Republican whom the Vernon Democrat narrowly defeated.

Courtney had been joined on the campaign trail by Gordon Mello, a former Somers first selectman and Marine veteran, who complained that his son had been sent to Iraq without full body armor.

[bth: well done Rep. Courtney.]

They came, they saw, then left the Afghan war without a single mission - News

They came, they saw, then left the Afghan war without a single mission - NewsGERMANY has admitted its Special Forces have spent three years in Afghanistan without doing a single mission, and are now going to be withdrawn.

More than 100 soldiers from the elite Kommando Spezialkrafte regiment, or KSK, are set to leave the war-torn country after their foreign minister revealed they had never left their bases on an operation.
But Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the foreign minister, admitted they had not been deployed "a single time" in the last three years, despite a desperate shortage of Special Forces units in the country.

Troops from Britain's Special Boat Service and the SAS work round the clock, across Afghanistan, alongside US navy Seals and Delta Force, to target terrorists, arrest drug lords and rescue hostages.

The KSK were part of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom, which spearheads the international hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Senior military officials last night blasted the KSK commanders for keeping the troops in camp. One western military official accused Germany of "sitting on the sidelines while the rest of the world fights".

He said: "It's just unbelievable to think there have been 100 highly-trained troops sitting doing nothing for three years, while everyone else has worked their socks off. It's no good sending troops if they don't do anything. They might as well have stayed at home."

Another source said: "It's ludicrous that they would be here and not contributing."...

Taliban Gunmen Kill Aid Worker For Spreading Christianity

Taliban Gunmen Kill Aid Worker For Spreading ChristianityKABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban assailants on a motorbike gunned down a Christian aid worker in Kabul on Monday and the militants said she was killed for spreading her religion _ a rare targeted killing of a Westerner in the nation's capital.

Gayle Williams, a 34-year-old dual British-South African national who helped handicapped Afghans, was shot to death as she was walking to work about 8 a.m., said Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary.

A spokesman for the militants said the Taliban ordered her killed because she was accused of proselytizing.

"This woman came to Afghanistan to teach Christianity to the people of Afghanistan," Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press. "Our (leaders) issued a decree to kill this woman."

Britain's secretary of state for international development called the killing a "callous and cowardly act" and said Williams was in Afghanistan to help ease poverty.

"To present her killing as a religious act is as despicable as it is absurd _ it was cold blooded murder," Douglas Alexander said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the aid group, SERVE _ Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises _ said it is a Christian organization but denied it was involved in proselytizing.

"It's not the case that they preach, not at all," said the spokeswoman, Rina van der Ende. "They are here to do NGO (aid) work."

Sheehan claims her campaign against Pelosi is being sabotaged

Sheehan claims her campaign against Pelosi is being sabotaged | PolitickerCA
Cindy Sheehan, the peace-activist-mom who lost a son in Iraq and who gained national prominence by protesting outside of President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, says she has been the victim of "dirty tricks" in her campaign to dislodge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in CA-08.

In her campaign blog earlier this week, Sheehan says that:

--Her hotel phone in Denver during the Democratic National Convention was "bugged."

--Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa personally intervened to stop her from speaking at a music festival.

--She was forced to file for a restraining order against a former volunteer who she says was sending threatening e-mails and who she now thinks was a "spy" for Nancy Pelosi.

--She was the victim of intentional vandalism when the tail lights of her RV were busted out.

--That one of her campaign interns was assaulted when she struggled against four men who walked into her office feigning that they wanted to register to vote but apparently intended to computer equipment instead.

--That she has been summoned to begin jury duty in San Francisco on the week of the Nov. 4 elections.

--That a recent round "robo calls" that she paid for began contacting voters at 10:30 p.m. on a recent weekend night instead of the early week night time slot she had scheduled.

Read Sheehan's entire blog entry here.



Monday, October 20, 2008

Rates of Amputation and Traumatic Brain Injury - A Time to Heal: Soldiers With Amputations Rebuild Lives at the Center for the Intrepid: "As"of February 2008, the Department of Defense reported 1,031 individuals who have suffered major limb amputations [while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan]," according to a report by the Congressional Research Service for the U.S. Congress.

"As of January 2008, the Department of Defense reported a total of 5,503 soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injuries," according to the report.

"These injuries may overlap, that is, a single soldier may experience both a TBI and an amputation," the report states. "Amputation and TBI statistics are provided to CRS by the Office of the Army Surgeon General."

[bth: incredible that the rate of traumatic brain injury is 5 times that of amputations] - A Time to Heal: Soldiers With Amputations Rebuild Lives at the Center for the Intrepid - A Time to Heal: Soldiers With Amputations Rebuild Lives at the Center for the Intrepid: "Army"Corporal Shane Parsons and Specialist Adrian Garcia are eagerly waiting for their new legs to arrive at the U.S. military's state-of-the-art rehabilitation center for wounded veterans in San Antonio.

Garcia, 20, and Parsons, 23, each lost both legs above the knee to explosive devices in Iraq. Garcia had been in Iraq for only 20 days when a rocket-propelled grenade ripped through the Humvee in which he was riding. "I knew something bad was happening," he says. "It was the most painful thing I ever felt."

Parsons was a month away from finishing his time in Iraq when his Humvee was demolished by a sophisticated roadside bomb. "[After the explosion] I was trying to put a tourniquet on my leg," he says. "You're supposed to take your boot off, and when I did, everything came with it."

Both men have been at Brooke Army Medical Center and The Center for the Intrepid, a rehabilitation center located on the same campus, for more than a year, Parsons almost two years now, recovering from their physical and psychological wounds. The circumstances of how Garcia and Parsons lost their legs are similar, but different factors have shaped their physical and mental rehabilitation.

Although the explosion that destroyed Garcia's legs would have been sufficient to cause post-traumatic stress disorder, he was not in Iraq long enough to have collected other disturbing memories of combat. He says he has not been diagnosed with the disorder. Parsons already had enough combat memories to trigger PTSD without the physical trauma of losing both legs. In addition, the blast wave from the explosion caused severe traumatic brain injury, from which he would also have to recover. Parsons has been diagnosed with PTSD.

As devastating as the loss of both legs would be for anyone, Parsons and Garcia had some advantages as they began rebuilding their lives. They were young, healthy, and in top physical shape when wounded. They also come from a military culture that demands discipline, hard work, and the setting and achieving of specific goals.

Most importantly, they have been emotionally and psychologically supported by a network of peers, family, and friends and a team of physical and occupational therapists, nurses, physicians, prosthetists, and other specialists required for their recovery.

Servicemembers with amputations are usually taken to either Brooke or Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where the military's first and larger rehab center for amputees is situated. Soldiers, Marines, or airmen can arrive at either hospital as early as three days after they are wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Jorge Torres, APRN, BC, is one of the first people to greet servicemembers with amputations when they arrive at Brooke Army Medical Center. Torres is a behavioral medicine clinical nurse specialist and the only RN who works at the Intrepid, as well as the hospital. He also is a retired Army major, which soldiers say makes it easier for them to talk to him about their experiences.

Parsons says when they first met, Torres told him, "You are still a soldier. You're still active Army. You can still fight for your country, but in a different way. He encourages me in ways I can't explain. He knows how to talk to soldiers."

Specialist Lawrence Guerro, 24, whose right leg was amputated in Iraq by a steering wheel during a roadside explosion, says his recovery would have been more difficult without Torres' support. "I think it would be hard to deal with the stress. I was angry about what happened to me. People didn't understand what I had been through; they didn't really get it."

But servicemembers with amputations are no more likely to develop PTSD than those who have no permanent physical disability, Torres says. Hal J. Wain, PhD, chief of the psychiatry consultation liaison service at Walter Reed, agrees. "Just because they have an amputation does not mean they will be more vulnerable to PTSD," he says.

PTSD arises from different aspects of the traumatic experience, not necessarily the event itself, Torres says. Other factors include how many amputations the soldier had, what body part was amputated, and what circumstances surrounded the injury.

In some ways, these soldiers receive more support than those who have no physical wounds but face emotional difficulties when they return from duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, Wain says. Physically disabled soldiers are supported by a network of healthcare providers over an extended period of time.

Physical therapist Matthew Parker says it is his challenge to get every soldier he cares for up and moving, and this requires meeting their emotional, mental, and spiritual needs, as well as physical needs. "I have moments when I have to step back and look at what they are going through and how much strength they show," he says.

The initial approach to treating severely wounded servicemembers is to help them quickly normalize their traumatic experiences by reinforcing that the sleeplessness, nightmares, hallucinations, and anger are normal reactions to traumatic events, say Wain and Torres.

They also need to have their innate resiliency reinforced by pointing out the sacrifices they made while serving their country, something not everyone can do, and explaining that they can still live normal lives and contribute to society.

Torres and Wain use a variety of treatment approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and individual and group therapy. Torres can prescribe psychotropic medications as necessary. Most commonly he prescribes medications for sleep, anxiety, and depression; but he doesn't force anyone to take them. He also helps servicemembers recognize when they are ready to stop taking pain medications.

One of the first things for which soldiers are assessed is whether they are getting enough sleep. A good night's rest can be elusive for soldiers. While in Iraq or Afghanistan, they remain hypervigilant, always anticipating mortar, IEDs, or other types of attacks that can come out of nowhere. Lowering that heightened sense of alertness can be difficult, Torres says.

Servicemembers also return with jet lag and are coping with pain from their wounds. Without adequate sleep, soldiers will not be able to maximize their rehabilitation. Wounded servicemembers also need emotional support from healthcare personnel, family, friends, and perhaps most importantly their peers — other military men and women who have similar amputations, Torres says. He connects new amputees with other soldiers who are further along in their rehabilitation and can provide peer support.

Part of treating a soldier includes treating the family as well, Wain says. The stress on the family can be overwhelming. Torres says he keeps the family informed and educated about their loved one's treatment and can refer them to therapy when needed, including child therapy.

Torres also runs a support group for family members at the Intrepid. Parsons' mother, Cindy, says she has not had time to attend the support groups. She and her son live in housing on the grounds of the medical center. As her son's primary caregiver, she has few hours in the day for herself. An RN, Cindy left her home and her job at Fostoria Community Hospital's ED in Ohio two years ago to help care for her son.

When she first saw her son after he was wounded Sept. 30, 2006, "the hardest part for me was looking at his limbs," she says. "I couldn't do it for several days, even though I've seen bad wounds. Finally I talked myself into dealing with it, and then I was ready to care for him."

Parsons' recovery from his wounds and physical rehabilitation have been slow and painstaking. Because of the TBI, he has had to relearn how to read and write. But he has been making progress, especially in the past six months. "If it weren't for my mom being here with me, I wouldn't be progressing as well as I am," he says.

Torres and the other members of the medical and rehabilitation team encourage servicemembers to set new goals for themselves. Parsons has reached out to the community as a spokesperson for different organizations. He also volunteers at an animal shelter in San Antonio. His goals are to work with organizations that help other wounded soldiers, continue playing with the sled hockey team, and attend college.

Guerro's recovery has been complicated by infection, constant pain, and abnormal bone growth in the tissues of his residual limb. His goals are to leave the Army, go to college, and find a job so he can support his wife and children.

Garcia plans on leaving the Army and going to college and eventually becoming a screenwriter. "My injuries help me see life, the good and bad," he says. "They have definitely helped me mature a lot. When I'm down, I see there's always someone worse off."

Garcia and Parsons are waiting for computerized prosthetic legs — the best that medicine and technology can offer. As double amputees, they know that even with the most advanced prosthetics, they will probably never be able to walk for long periods of time. But the C-legs, combined with what they have learned at the Intrepid, will help them regain their independence, return home, and reach their new goals.

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: Powell endorses Obama

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: Powell endorses Obama I watched this. I suppose that President Obama will find something for Colin Powell to do for the next few years, but that will be unfortunate.

Powell is someone who truly "blotted his copybook" as the Brits used to say. After a lifetime of service and achievement, Powell chose in the end to "drink the koolaid" that flowed in the bloodstream of the Bush/Cheney/neocon regime that has ruled the United States for the last eight years. He was Secretary of State at a time when his firm oppositon, and ultimately his resignation would have crippled the onrushing utopian crusade for Westernization in Iraq.

He did not choose to follow that path. Instead, he chose to believe the corrupted judgments of an intelligence community leadership that betrayed the country and the armed forces by producing nonsensical estimates designed to create support for war among an ignorant and bellicose public that hungered for revenge aganst an enemy they could not even define.

Today, when he was asked by Brokaw about his role as perhaps the greatest enabler of the Iraq War decision, he took shelter behind the collection of garbage that was served up in 2002-2003 by George Tenet and company as justification for war.

For Shame! For Shame!

He should hide himself and hope that someday men will remember the good of him and not the worst. pl

PS Contrary to Brokaw, on MTP, it does not appear that Powell commanded an infantry battalion in the 101st Division in VN. Comment?

Colin Powell

Informed Comment
While I applaud and welcome his endorsement of Obama, I would note that with Powell its always what's good for Powell. There is no risk now in his endorsement - the primaries are over, the convention is over and Obama leads in every poll and in the electoral college. I feel about Powell as I did a few years ago - where was the courage to take a stand and tell the truth when it mattered? I trusted Powell once. Once he mattered. Once.

Michael Yon - Online Magazine

Michael Yon - Online MagazineMichael has an excellent new piece on the people of Afghanistan. It is well worth reading. He continues to produce excellent unembedded and embedded articles.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Taliban kill around 30 people after stopping bus -

Taliban kill around 30 people after stopping bus - "Taliban"militants stopped a bus traveling on Afghanistan's main highway through a dangerous part of the country's south, seized about 50 people on board and killed around 30 of them, officials said Sunday.

A Taliban spokesman took responsibility for the attack but claimed to have killed 27 Afghan army soldiers. Afghan officials said no soldiers were aboard and all the victims were civilians.

Militants stopped the bus traveling in a two-bus convoy in a Taliban-controlled area about 40 miles west of Kandahar, said provincial police chief Matiullah Khan.

He said two buses had been traveling together, and the militants had tried to stop the first one but failed. He said the insurgents fired at the first bus, killing a child on board. ...

[bth: the Taliban are quite brave when it comes to executing civilians and unarmed people on a bus. Then when a bomb falls on their houses... their quick to cash in on their dead relatives. An amazing culture driven by fanatical religion and heroin.]

Attrition: Too Much Action

Attrition: Too Much Action: "October"17, 2008: The U.S. Air Force is going to spend an additional $3.5 million a year for the next five years, in an effort to keep its EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) force from fading away. Most of the money will go to larger reenlistment bonuses. But there are also additional special duty pay for those operating in a combat zone (from $150 to $375, according to rank). In the last six years, the reenlistment rate for these specialists has declined 30 percent. Mainly because air force EOD techs can get better paid, and safer, jobs in the civilian sector. Too many tours in a combat zone isn't good for family life either. It's not that air force EOD folks don't want to do the work, but what they joined for was to do air force EOD, not the army type stuff in Iraq and Afghanistan. Doing a tour with the army once or twice is interesting, but doing it again and again is bad for morale. Air force EOD is about dealing with aircraft bombs gone bad, or the occasional old buried bomb that gets discovered, and needs to be taken care of. All those roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan get on your nerves after a while.

The U.S. military, in general, is having a hard time keeping its EOD force (of about 5,000 technicians) up to strength. Part of the problem has been casualties. Since September 11, 2001, operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed 56 EOD techs, and put several hundred out of the business because of injuries. Many more have left the service when their time was up. But the biggest problem is getting experienced EOD techs to stay in uniform.

About a thousand new EOD techs are trained each year (after surviving a 30-35 percent failure rate in school). The Department of Defense has one EOD school, at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Each service has special EOD needs that they take care of themselves (navy techs, for example, have to sometimes work under water, so they also go to diving school.) The thousands of combat experienced EOD techs have left the military in the past five years has been a boon for municipalities and security firms looking for such people. The civilian jobs pay more, and are not as dangerous.

While the military expects many of the newly trained techs to get out after four years, they try real hard to hang on to the leaders (officers and senior NCOs) of EOD teams (who are also techs). They are offered bonuses that add up to, in some cases, over $25,000 a year. There are also several different bonuses paid to EOD techs operating in a combat zone. There, EOD teams (usually eight people) can average 3-4 calls a day, and lots of stress. You really work for the few hundred extra dollars a month (it varies by service, a sore point in the EOD community).

Because of new technology, the job is actually a lot less dangerous than in the past. The widespread use of special robots, which use a video camera and a mechanical arm to allow the EOD technician to examine, and even disarm, an IED (improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb) from a distance, is the most visible new technology. But there are also new electronic devices, which enable EOD techs to prevent wireless detonators on IEDs from going off. Details of many of the new EOD electronic tools are kept secret, since the enemy can develop countermeasures if they know too much about what EOD has in their tool kit. The EOD technicians have also found remote control toy trucks useful, for delivering explosives to an IED that could not be disarmed, and appears to still be under the control of enemy operators. The toy truck carries an explosive charge, and a wireless detonator, to destroy the IED. If the hidden enemy can see all this, and decides to set off the IED as the toy truck approaches, the EOD team has prevented the loss of a hundred thousand dollar robot, in exchange for a hundred dollar toy truck.

For two years, from late 2005 to late 2007, the use of IEDs skyrocketed. The U.S. Army EOD teams were overwhelmed, and this is when the air force and navy sent nearly half their EOD techs to help out. Still, the waiting time for an EOD team went from 20 minutes in early 2005, to several hours a year later. To help ease the strain on EOD, robots were handed out to combat and transportation units, with instructions on how to use the simpler methods of dealing with IEDs (aside from taking your troops around it, you can use the robot to look closely at the suspicious object, and if it is an IED, have the robot drop some explosives, move the droid away and blow the sucker up.)

Another solution was training local troops to handle EOD work. Training Iraqi EOD teams took time, even if they had already done that job in the old Iraqi army. Seems that the old Iraqi army EOD standards were quite a bit different, and more dangerous. So lots of retraining was needed. The Iraqi EOD specialists don't mind, because they get the American robots and some of the other gear, to use. This makes their work a lot safer, and they need all the help they can get. As more Iraqi troops take control of security in parts of central Iraq (where nearly all the IED activity has been), the Iraqis get hit with more IEDs. Indeed, the terrorists and anti-government forces often concentrated on the Iraqi army and police., hitting them with lots of IEDs, believing they would be easier targets than the Americans. Didn't turn out that way, as the Iraqi security forces spoke the language, and had an easier time spotting IEDs, or getting advance warning from local civilians.

Since the Surge Offensive of 2007, the enemy IED campaign has basically collapsed. There are still IEDs out there, but far fewer (as in over 80 percent fewer). Still, the U.S. Army wants to double the number of new EOD techs it sends through the Elgin school, for a while anyway, so as to give the weary EOD tech veterans of Iraq, 2005-7, some more rest. That would increase the annual U.S. output to 1,500 EOD technicians.

All the services have been encouraging more troops to volunteer for EOD school. To that end, all but the marines have waived, for the moment, the old requirement that you needed at least two years to active service (to make sure you had your basic military discipline habits down cold) before going to EOD school. Now, many EOD students are right out of basic. The attrition (in the school) is a little higher with these kids, but they do about the same as everyone else once they get through EOD school.

American EOD has been dramatically changed by the war on terror, and has become a much more high tech, and combat experienced, force. Never before has EOD been showered with so much money and resources to develop new equipment. They are making the most of it, because they know that, once Iraq and Afghanistan settle down, their budget will shrink dramatically.


Naval Open Source INTelligence

Pakistan spiraling into deeper turmoil and violence, U.S. intelligence report finds |

Pakistan spiraling into deeper turmoil and violence, U.S. intelligence report finds | "WASHINGTON"-- A growing al-Qaida-backed insurgency, combined with the Pakistani army's reluctance to launch an all-out crackdown, political infighting and energy and food shortages are plunging America's key ally in the war on terror deeper into turmoil and violence, says a soon-to-be completed U.S. intelligence assessment.

A U.S. official who participated in drafting the top secret National Intelligence Estimate said it portrays the situation in Pakistan as "very bad." Another official called the draft "very bleak," and said it describes Pakistan as being "on the edge."

The first official summarized the estimate's conclusions about the state of Pakistan as: "no money, no energy, no government." ...

Leading Index Probably Fell in September Worldwide: "The"U.S. economic outlook for the next two quarters dimmed in September and foreclosure-driven declines in property values aided sales of existing homes, economists said before reports this week.

The index of leading indicators fell 0.1 percent last month, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of a Conference Board report tomorrow. On Oct. 24, the National Association of Realtors may say that home resales rose 1 percent to an annual rate of 4.95 million.

While houses have become more affordable, the boost to sales from lower prices may be short lived as banks make mortgages more difficult to get and concern mounts that values will keep plunging. Add rising unemployment, and Americans are likely to spend less across the board, deepening the economic slump heading into 2009.

``Mortgage defaults and home prices need to stabilize,'' said Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. ``It will take time to slow the vicious cycle of declines in credit markets, housing and the economy.'' ....

The Conference Board's leading index, a gauge of the economy's direction over the next three to six months, has posted only two monthly gains this year. ...

The Realtors' existing home sales report may show sales improved in September after dropping 2.2 percent the previous month, when the median price declined 9.5 percent from August 2007.

Fewer Closings

A report earlier this month from the agents' group showed 7.4 percent more Americans signed contracts to purchase previously owned homes in August. Economists are anticipating that only a small percentage of those contracts actually closed last month as banks started to shut off credit on growing concern over defaults and foreclosures.

``Elevated inventories and stubborn long-term rates should contribute to a third consecutive month of price declines for existing homes,'' said Maxwell Clarke, chief U.S. economist at IDEAglobal in New York.

Resales have averaged a 4.94 million annual pace this year, compared with a total of 5.65 million in 2007.

The housing slump is showing no indication of abating. Building permits, a sign of future construction, dropped 8.3 percent in September, matching the lowest level since 1981, and single-family home starts fell to a 26-year low, the Commerce Department reported last week.

``The housing market continues to be a primary source of weakness in the real economy as well as in the financial markets, and we have seen marked slowdowns in consumer spending, business investment and the labor market,'' Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said in a speech last week. ``Credit markets will take some time to unfreeze.'' ...

Job Losses

U.S. companies have cut 760,000 jobs so far this year. The jobless rate in September held at a five-year high of 6.1 percent, the Labor Department said this month.

More firings, particular in the financial field, may be on the way... Worldwide Ship Rates Plunge as Credit Freeze Strands Cargo, Demand Slumps Worldwide: "Oct"15 (Bloomberg) -- Commodity shipping rates plunged to the lowest in more than five years as a lack of trade finance left cargoes stranded and the global economic slowdown limited raw material demand.

Traders are finding it harder to get letters of credit that guarantee payments for goods, shipping executives said. Together with a slowdown in trade, that has contributed to this year's 82 percent drop in shipping costs for grain, coal and other commodities. Rates are so low that Zodiac Maritime Agencies Ltd., the line managed by Israel's billionaire Ofer family, announced today it may idle 20 of its largest ships.

``Letters of credit and the credit lines for trade currently are frozen,'' Khalid Hashim, managing director of Precious Shipping Pcl, Thailand's second-largest shipping company, said in Singapore yesterday. ``Nothing is moving because the trader doesn't want to take the risk of putting cargo on the boat and finding that nobody can pay.''

The Baltic Dry Index fell 11 percent today to 1,615, the lowest since February 2003. Rates for larger ships of the type Zodiac intends to idle fell 17 percent today, taking this year's plunge to 85 percent, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange.

Banks are leery of financing commodities and shipping transactions. Rio Tinto Group, the world's second-largest aluminum producer, may delay the planned sale of $10 billion of assets and Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd. shelved its $2.6 billion purchase of Asarco LLC. Ship owners can't find cash to finance the construction of new ships.

Oil, Metals

Crude oil, industrial metals and grains have all slumped since reaching records in July on concern the worst financial crisis since the 1930s will cause a global recession. The Standard & Poor's Goldman Sachs Commodity Index has dropped 45 percent from its all-time high of 890.28 on July 3.

``Our customers are facing hard challenges,'' Isabella Loh, chief executive officer of Shell Marine Products, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said at a conference in Singapore today. ``The credit crunch has affected liquidity and is having an impact on shipyards with cancellations and postponed orders, and expansion may be on hold.''

Precious Shipping took as long as 15 months to secure financing for the 18 vessels it has on order, Hashim said. American Shipping Co. ASA can't get financing for two shuttle tankers that are part of its program to build 12 vessels. ...

[bth: behold the credit driven crash in foreign trade and commodity prices]
First Draft

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: "Serving the President"

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: "Serving the President": "Today"it was once again possible to hear both serving officers of the armed forces and the newspeople who cover them speak of their belief that military and naval officers "serve the president." This time the mention was in connection with the "discovery" that Petraeus and Odierno have decided (some time ago) that they will not vote in the national election. Odierno was taped saying that voting would be a bad idea because to do so would compromise his ability to "serve the president" whomever that might be.

It was actually a very old custom of the US Army that regular officers did not vote. My father did not vote until he retired from the Army. That custom has not been followed for a long time, but the reason that Odierno gave is not the reason that was contemplated in the past.

In days of old, it was understood that members of the armed forces served the constitution and through that instrument they served the federal union. That is quite different.

The principle is simple. The president is not sovereign. He is the instrument of the constitution as are the members of the armed forces. The president has no authority or right to order anyone in the armed forces to do anything that is unconstitutional or indeed illegal. If he does, then he need not be obeyed and such an order is proof in itself of a "high crime."

The present administration in Washington has done everything in its power to persuade that, in effect, the president IS sovereign. This is a lie and a pernicious doctrine that, if accepted, would make us all the servants of a king or perhaps a queen.

I have had old army friends argue to me that they DO think of the president as king and that they must think thusly because how else would they know whom to obey.

I think it must be said that such ideas are unworthy in those to whom the constitution and the people have entrusted so much. pl

[bth: the discussion on Col. Lang's article and blog is well worth reading in full]

Mike Barnicle: McCain at Sunset

Mike Barnicle: McCain at Sunset: "Now"with less than three weeks to the end, he comes to the country staggering toward defeat, his pride and honor certainly diminished by the incoherence of his campaign and the absurdity of the choice he agreed to when it came to picking someone who would share a national ticket charged with talking, coaxing, massaging the country through a tough and turbulent time. And as the clock winds toward the conclusion, America looks and listens to a different John McCain than the man who captured so many hearts when he first ran for president, only eight years ago.

That guy is MIA, missing in action, held captive by ideologues who dominate his strategy sessions and what is left of the Republican party. So John McCain sat there on the stage at Hofstra Wednesday night, looking and sounding like an angry old man, bitter at the lack of traction -- or belief -- in his candidacy, uncomfortable with what he has allowed himself to become: a cranky senior citizen seething with resentment over how his glory days are lost in the long shadow cast by youth and change.

It is a sad story: a proud and independent man permits a handful of advisers to take his hard-earned reputation and alter it to such an extent that the original is now hard to recognize, nearly invisible behind a curtain of cynical ads and the preposterous pronouncements of a woman whose candidacy is an insult to intelligence.

John McCain used to know that the country was larger than any crowd he could ever draw; that it was filled with ordinary people who live their lives in the middle of a political spectrum, too busy making ends meet, to be driven to extremes by the fevers and fears that consume so many of the talk-radio set. He used to be aware that in order to win, a candidate could not simply preach to the converted, snarl and run with a resentment aimed at the fringe, the mixed mobs of the curious and angry that turn out for Palin.

Now, with time running out, he has only a few days left to try and reclaim himself, to find the man he once was, the whole man who could charm a crowd with his version of the truth. He criss-crosses a country filling up with fear and debt, a land fighting two wars as it fights for a weekly paycheck, a nation where more people worry about General Motors than think about General Petraeus. Political campaigns, like much of life itself, often revolve around one universal issue: the absence of money.

So, when John McCain tosses out a name from yesterday, William Ayers, it means nothing to people who want only to be told about tomorrow. These are the people who vote, the people who have seen the distant dream of retirement crushed by the collapse of so many 401K's in -- what? -- less than a month. They have no time for spite or a candidate's smirk or snarl. They are consumed with concern for the value of their home, the stability of their job, the immediate future of their family.

Unfortunately for McCain, he did little to stop the thieves who took his honor and reputation and tossed it out like so many discarded items for a yard sale, figuring that Americans could once again -- one more time -- be fooled into voting their fears. But what they really did was take the one Republican who may have had a legitimate shot at surviving the disaster that has been the Bush administration and strip him of the basic appeal he once had for people looking for someone who could lead.

The dreary dialogue of the past few weeks has finally managed to make the man look his age, look old and tired and embarrassed to be defending Palin while awkwardly injecting the absurd -- Ayers -- into the national dialogue when nearly everyone is riveted on the obvious: the family budget.

Soon, the 'Straight Talk Express' will bank west and head for the Arizona desert and election eve. And John McCain will sit up front, staring out the window, exhausted, as the plane crosses the land he loves and the people -- millions of them -- he failed to connect with because while he was once indeed a prisoner of war, he has spent the last ten weeks letting himself become a prisoner of the past.

[bth: extraordinarily well written piece by Barnicle]

Army Rolls Out Unusually Effective New Bandages - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - Army Rolls Out Unusually Effective New Bandages - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News: "One"of the best tools at the Army's disposal for saving injured soldiers' lives might be an unusually effective bandage.

The Army announced this week it will be shipping to Iraq new gauze bandages that are billed as having an 80 percent greater survival rate in treating life-threatening wounds than the material being used now.

Quik-Clot has added a chemical agent to its 270,000 new bandages that speeds up the process of blood clotting, thus preventing the risk of fatal blood loss.

Some doctors say this new agent can cause too much clotting and could cause complications that lead to loss of limbs, but Army responds that it’s a question of just that — life over limb.

The new bandages are being tested now in Iraq and all of them should be there by the end of the year.

[bth: excellent]