October 2007 Archives

A well-informed citizenry

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Faith at KerryVision has a terrific post today -- raising a flag for action to preserve something which is critical to those who want to be part of a "A well-informed citizenry".

In 2003, FCC Chairman Michael Powell attempted to loosen media consolidation rules, but was halted by a federal court in a landmark decision. Now, current Chairman Kevin Martin is threatening the same, and he's meeting with bi-partisan opposition in the unlikely partnership of Senators Byron Dorgan and Trent Lott, along with legislators from both sides of the aisle.

What Martin is attempting is to allow media ownership of broadcast and newspapers by the same owner in the same market. And he's given the public five days notice to voice our opposition.

Go read the whole post, check out the video and follow your conscience as to actions required.

How long do vets wait?

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The Charlotte Observer published the results of their analysis of a couple internal VA reports on the timeliness of care being offered to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans on 10-21-2007. Here are some of the highlights of the article about their analysis which is detailed in an interactive feature on their site:

The analysis of 283,000 recent outpatient appointments showed that the VA scheduled 93 percent within 30 days, a key measure of the agency's ability to meet demand. That left 20,500 waiting longer.

At issue: Patients needing critical care accounted for 10.5 percent of total appointments scheduled, but 20 percent of those with longer waits.

The Observer's findings could signal that the VA is struggling to care for the neediest of the new veterans.

...Most VA hospitals, including all six in the Carolinas, showed lags in delivering outpatient care for serious problems, according to the newspaper's analysis. For example:

• Twenty-four percent of appointments nationwide for traumatic brain injury care exceeded the 30-day mark this summer.

• At the Salisbury VA hospital, 61 percent of appointments for the seriously wounded were scheduled more than 30 days out this summer, one of the worst records nationwide.

• At the Charleston VA in South Carolina, 13 of 14 patients slated to be seen for brain injury waited more than a month. At 93 percent, that was the worst record nationwide.

The Charlotte Observer's article also highlighted an investigative report (pdf) released on Sept, 10, 2007 by the VA's inspector general.

VA investigators said last month that the agency overstates how quickly it cares for veterans. The VA's investigative arm examined care wait times for veterans of all eras.

They said 75 percent of veterans were seen within the required 30 days, not the 95 percent the VA claims.

The part of the Charlotte Observer's report that will be of interest to those outside the Observer's readership area is the interactive graphic created from the reports. 20071025charlottevahosp.png
Click on image to go to interactive graphic
Click on the location of any VA hospital center in the nation and another page will open up with the stats for waits over 30 days, 90 days and 120 days for various categories of care provided by that center on a reporting day in mid-summer 2007. Click on the link near the top for the stats on a later 2007 date.

Per a follow-up report from the Observer, Sen. Patty Murray took note of their report and asked for additional explanations. Do let the Charlotte Observer know that you appreciate their investigative efforts.

It's important to encourage investigative reporting wherever we find it lest those who assign and approve the stories decide that no one is reading them and fail to assign or approve them anymore.

"The real story here is about preparedness"

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One of my favorite people in the DCP community posted a comment last night. This comes from someone with a Coastie background who was deeply involved in Katrina efforts right from day 1.

V said:

Ok so I'm pissed off, so I'm going to say something. I apologize in advance if it's a bit angry.

I've read way too many ignorant and uninformed posts on way too many blogs that are comparing the SoCal fire situation to NOLA & Katrina. Most of the comments run along the theme of "there must be some sort of government conspiracy going on because San Diego, with all its white, rich, important-electoral-state people has been so well taken care of in this emergency, whereas in New Orleans, with all of its brown, poor, nobody-gives-a-damn-state people, everything was a complete cluster and a bunch of people died."

Ok that's total crap. And it pisses me off to read it over and over from people who should know better.

Allow me to explain. Because there's one big huge overwhelming difference and it has nothing to do with the demographics of the population.

The Danger of Mike Huckabee

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Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report discussed a recent poll ranking the Republican candidates and the difference between what was reported in the poll and what the vote totals were on a straw poll taken at the Values Voters conference.

In short, it showed that Mike Huckabee has a very strong level of support, exceeding that for Romney and Giuliani by far, among the Christian right wing of the Republican party.

I can recall hearing Renee Montagne interview Mike Huckabee on NPR earlier this year and thinking, "If this man wins the Republican nomination, he's a real threat." Despite how far right his policies and positions are, he's a gifted communicator and he comes across as very personable and friendly and able to present those positions in a non-threatening manner. His interview with Robert Siegel also reflected that same approach.

It was this point in particular in the Siegel report that caught my attention.

A Baptist minister by training, Huckabee says that reclaiming a nation for Christ doesn't mean coercing people to be of a particular faith.

"It means that we would reflect what [Christ] reflected, and that is compassion and love," Huckabee says.

Riverbend: Bloggers without Borders

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Riverbend has a new blog post up talking about her adjustment to living in Damascus as a refugee from the violence in Baghdad.

Bloggers Without Borders...

Combine it with this post, Leaving Home..., about their decision to leave Baghdad and the wait once they had decided to go and it puts other things we worry about in perspective.

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village

Connecticut color

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What I was doing yesterday...






The limits of tyrants

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Looking for something else and ran across this quote that I posted some time ago.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

-- Frederick Douglass

It's still true.

10questions.com launches

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Yesterday the website techpresident launched their new project, 10questions.com, opening a new and unique venue in which every day citizens can participate in their democracy. They've gathered a number of co-sponsors including the NY Times, MSNBC and a broad selection of blogs. Check out their video introducing it below.

Starting today [10-17-2007], the sponsors of 10Questions are asking their millions of readers and the larger public to submit online video questions addressed to the candidates using a variety of platforms (YouTube, MySpace, Yahoo, and Blip.tv), tagging their video with the word "10Questions." The 10Questions site will then find and display those questions and enable the public to vote up or down on these submissions. At the end of four weeks, on November 14, we'll stop the voting and after a quick audit to check against ballot-stuffing, the top ten vote-getting questions will be submitted to all the major candidates.

The candidates will then have four weeks, from November 17 to December 15, to submit answers to be posted online. As those responses are posted, the public will be given the opportunity to vote again, up or down, on whether the candidates have answered the questions to their satisfaction. Users can vote on as many videos as they like, but they only get one vote per IP address. The process will end December 31.

They've already got some questions lined up including this one which TPM highlighted in their post about 10questions.com.

Go check out the other questions and make up your own.

Items of Interest

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-- Remember that incident where a plane flew with live warheads from ND to LA? Well, it looks like a few officers are going to get some heat over it.

-- I was chatting with a friend who pointed out this item with the comment: "we are soooo up a creek it's not even funny"

Biggest jobless claims rise since February
Increase of 28,000 in latest week was much bigger than expected

-- The Chicago Tribune's Swamp blog put up the transcript of Obama on the Tonight show with Jay Leno. He had some great lines. Hope someone comes up with some video of it.

Worse than a sin...

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Steve Benen highlighted the response of the AG candidate, Michael Mukasey, to Sen. Leahy's inquiries about his stand on the Bybee letter concerning torture and noted the lack of outcry from Republican leaders in comparison to their declarations when Sen. Durbin made the same point in much the same way a couple years ago.

TPM noted this and provided video as well.

TPMMuckraker reported:

The Bybee memo is "worse than a sin, it's a mistake," Mukasey said. He referenced the photographs taken by U.S. troops who liberated the Nazi concentration camps in 1945 to document the "barbarism" the U.S. opposed. "They didn't do that so we could duplicate what we oppose." Beyond legal restrictions barring torture clearly, torture is "antithetical to what this country stands for."

Dare I hope that we finally have an Attorney General nominee that really understands that torture is complete anathema to the Constitution and the founding concepts of our country?

A fresh perspective

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Sometimes someone gives you a new perspective on a news story with such impact that words are difficult to find to describe it adequately.

Dailykos diarist debel u has done just that.

Have a good read.

Freedom's Watch: Marketing War on Iran

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Troutfishing just raised an alarm on dailykos about the budget of the Freedom's Watch organization and its focus.

...$200 million dollars, the fund raising target of Freedom's Watch, is nothing to sneeze at given the fact that that pot of money will be dedicated to promoting one goal and one goal alone :

A US attack on Iran or, to put it blackly, more - and better ( or worse, depending on one's perspective ) - war in the Middle East.

Guess who is running the operation ?

Ari Fleischer, the man who helped sell the US invasion of Iraq.

Bill Berkowitz, one of my favorite journalists covering the religious-right, covers the genesis of Freedom's Watch for Media Transparency, in a piece entitled Freedom's Watch targeting Iran.

Who's polling what?

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Pollster.com has some interesting stuff up but what really caught my eye was this comment posted by digbydolben at October 17, 2007 4:30 PM.

I don't have a land line either, and I'm voting for Obama, as well. Another thing you're not considering: many of us voting for Obama are not doing so on account of ideology--his or ours. The Republican candidates are married to failing policies and many centrist Republicans like me know it, and are willing to cross party lines to vote for Obama because he's HONEST and NON-IDEOLOGICAL, and, instead, pragmatic and respectful of centrist conservative ideas like mine. Also, he's AGAINST THE WAR, and Clinton will continue "neo-conservative" foreign policies and the "unitary executive" style of leadership, and we know it.

Why does this spell a "sleeper" victory for Obama? Take a look at all the important early primaries. They're "open" primaries--ones in which Republicans like me can cross party lines and vote for Obama. In these polls, you're only paying attention to registered Democrats and Independents, rather than to libertarians and centrist Republicans like me. WE are the ones who are going to surprise you in Iowa, New Hamphshire and South Carolina. And, then, if Hillary takes the nomination away from Obama--the only Democrat who, with a chance of winning, promises real change, we will either stay home on election day or vote for Ron Paul, the likely Libertarian candidate. That woman is a neo-fascist, like Bush, and the libertarian-leaning Democrats and Republicans are no more going to vote for her than for one of the Republican war-mongers.

Items of Interest

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This dailykos diary was written by a former Army officer that I met at YearlyKos. He highlights a WaPo op-ed by 12 former Army captains who served in Iraq, and General Sanchez's withering summary of the Bush administration's approach to the Iraq war.

Army Offers Captains $35K; Captains Give Blistering Response

On October 11, just five days ago, the Washington Post reported that Defense Secretary Robert Gates had authorized the Army to offer bonuses of up to $35,000 to keep captains from leaving the service.

Today, on October 16--just five days later--12 former Army captains (all Iraq veterans) responded by advocating for a withdrawal from Iraq:

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.


America, it has been five years. It's time to make a choice.

Also linked to in the diary:

New York Times op-ed written in August 2007 by 7 soldiers, 2 of whom were killed the third week in September and a 3rd received a brain injury.

NYT article on Gen. Sanchez's speech criticizing Bush's administration of the war in Iraq

-- Andrew Sullivan posted a very interesting email from a reader about Obama and Gen-X conservatives.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2007 is the next archive.

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