Friday, May 23, 2008

Frantic Friday Boobie

Another busy Friday, another Boobie.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Next Step

Now that St. Sleazy has "repudiated" Pastor Hagee and returned his endorsement on the heels of Obama's Rev. Wright rejection, can we please reach a logical conclusion? Can we just get religion out of politics? Please?

A Short Century

The "Project for the New American Century", or "PNAC" appears to have come to an end:

Apparently for financial reasons, the new American century has prematurely ended.

In a symbolic act, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), run by Bill Kristol and other neocons, has lost its internet presence.

When accessing one now gets redirected to the webhosters 'account suspended' page.

It says:

Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.

The website was hosted by which is a subsidary of Hong Kong based PCCW Global.

PNAC is unable to pay for the new American century and the Chinese, after checking America's sinking FICO scores, are obviously not willing to finance it with further credit lines.

Signs of the times ...

A lot of us were called "conspiracy theorists" for citing PNAC as being behind shrub's debacle in Iraq, but it can hardly be called a "conspiracy" when the neo-cons published their plans to invade Iraq. That paper may have been among the most destructive delusions in human history, the idea that a militarily invasion would spread democracy and be greeted with "sweets and flowers." Unfortunately, these idiots were able to get into power and put their plans into action, and we'll be paying for their folly for a major chunk of the century.

PNAC owes the world a hell of a lot more than just their hosting costs.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Local Election Day

It's election day here in Flagstaff, with Mayor and 3 city council seats up for grabs. The election is held by mail, which is no where near as much fun. I really enjoyed working a polling place on local election days in the past. It was kinda fun to see who came out to vote as a way to take the community pulse. But vote by mail is cheaper and gets a higher turnout, even if it does take away an entertainment opportunity for me.

Most of the attention has gone to the Mayoral race, where a two term incumbent is facing an energetic newcomer. The incumbent, Joe Donaldson, has been exceedingly mediocre in his two terms. He hasn't really screwed anything up (which is an improvement on some previous Mayors), but he hasn't really accomplished much of anything either. A nice enough guy, but I'll be glad to see him replaced. His challenger, Sara Pressler-Hoefle (, is a candidate that I've supported enthusiastically. She's a dynamic progressive who offers a strong mix of energy and ideas. I've volunteered a fair chunk of time on her campaign, and I hope that it's a "victory" party tonight. The last local poll was too close to call, but I'm optimistic.

Our city council has been split for years between the "business/growth" faction and the "environment/quality of life" faction, and this election is unlikely to change that dynamic. Three seats are up for election. There are two really good progressive candidates, one really bad business candidate, one long time "rabble-rouser", and two "who?" candidates. Al White, a really good incumbent, looks like a shoe-in, so it's really a race for two seats. Very hard to predict between Karla Brewster (really good progressive), John McCulloch (rabble-rousing former council member with a high entertainment value), and Morgan Hagaman (law and order, more cops and more business conservative), as each has a strong local core constituency but low name recognition amongst the broader general public. As with most local elections, turnout will be the deciding factor.

My ballot went in weeks ago, as did Sweaterman's, and Zymurgian turned his in yesterday. I'm sure Gandhisxmas has voted, but I'm not sure when or for whom. Tonight I'll be watching the results from Sara's (hopefully) victory party with my usual mix of optimism and cynicism. If all politics is local, then this should be entertaining.

Added: We have a new Mayor. Sara won big.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another Casualty, Another Senseless Tragedy

It started out a fairly typical local crime story. There was a car-jacking at the Grand Canyon. Later it was learned that this was on the heels of an apparent failed suicide attempt by driving into the Canyon. Two days and a cross state police chase later two men were dead.
Then the human side of the tragedy came out. It was collateral damage from the war in Iraq. Former Marine Staff Sergeant Travis N. "T-Bo" Twiggs was one of the dead. Shaun Mullen at Kiko's House has the details:

Twiggs went AWOL from his job at a Marine Corps laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.
He and his beloved brother, Willard, 38, drove to the Grand Canyon, where their car was found hung up in a tree in what appeared to be a failed attempt to drive into the chasm.

The brothers then carjacked a vehicle. They ended up several hundred miles away at a southwestern Arizona border checkpoint on May 14 and took off when they were asked to pull into an inspection area. Eighty miles later, the car was sighted on the Tohono O'odham Native American reservation, its tires wrecked by spike strips.

As tribal police and Border Patrol agents closed in, Twiggs apparently fatally shot his brother and then killed himself.

His PTSD was diagnosed, but not effectively treated. He had even met with shrub on behalf of veterans:

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Last month, Marine Staff Sgt. Travis N. "T-Bo" Twiggs went to the White House with a group of Iraq war veterans called the Wounded Warriors Regiment and met the president.

Twiggs had been through four tours in Iraq, one in Afghanistan and months of therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in which he said he was on up to 12 different medications.

"He said, `Sir, I've served over there many times, and I would serve for you any time,' and he grabbed the president and gave him a big hug," said Kellee Twiggs, his widow.

Making the case even more tragic is that Sgt. Twiggs was trying to get treatment, but the system is inadequate.

"All this violent behavior, him killing his brother, that was not my husband. If the PTSD would have been handled in a correct manner, none of this would have happened," she said in a telephone interview from Stafford, Va.

Travis Twiggs, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1993 and held the combat action ribbon, wrote about his efforts to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder in the January issue of the Marine Corps Gazette.

The symptoms would disappear when he began each tour, he said, but came back stronger than ever when he came home.

He wrote that his life began to "spiral downward" after the tour in which two Marines from his platoon died.

"I cannot describe what a leader feels when he does not bring everyone home," he wrote. "To make matters even worse, I arrived at the welcome home site only to find that those two Marines' families were waiting to greet me as well. I remember thinking, 'Why are they here?'"

Weeks later, Twiggs "saw a physician's assistant who said that was the severest case of PTSD she'd seen in her life," his widow said.

He began receiving treatment, but the Marine wrote that he mixed his medications with alcohol and that his symptoms didn't go away until he started his final tour in Iraq.

When he came home, "All of my symptoms were back, and now I was in the process of destroying my family," he wrote. "My only regrets are how I let my command down after they had put so much trust in me and how I let my family down by pushing them away."

Kellee Twiggs said her husband was "very, very different, angry, agitated, isolated and so forth," upon his return. "He was just doing crazy things."

She said her husband was treated in the psychiatric ward of Bethesda Naval Medical Center and then sent to a Veterans Administration facility for four months.

Most recently, Travis Twiggs was assigned to the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory at Quantico, a job he said helped him "get my life back on track."

"Every day is a better day now," he wrote in the Marine Corps Gazette. "...Looking back, I don't believe anyone is to blame for my craziness, but I do think we can do better."

Twiggs urged others suffering from similar problems to seek help. "PTSD is not a weakness. It is a normal reaction to a very violent situation," he wrote.

Kellee Twiggs said she can't understand why her husband was not sent to a specialized PTSD clinic in New Jersey.

"They let him out. He was OK for a while and then it all started over again," she said.

This is only one of many tragedies resulting from shrub's Iraq disaster, but one that is growing rapidly. We have more soldiers coming home in need of treatment, but the system is woefully unprepared to meet their needs. Shaun ends his post with a call for volunteers:

If you are not in denial and have some time to spare, there are opportunities to help
returning and troubled veterans at your local VA hospital or military base, or through church and community organizations.

These opportunities include helping fill out paperwork, finding lost forms, acting as a driver for doctors' appointments, and just visiting and listening. Connecting with the right people can be a multi-layered process, so be patient. A good start is to ask for Volunteer Services.

While I support Shaun's call for public help, I strongly believe that it is the Federal Governments responsibility to provide proper treatment to those who've served. It's going to be expensive, but Congress needs to fund PTSD treatment at an unprecedented level. Shrub's misguided war is creating new victims every day. We, as a civilized society, need to help these people in order to prevent future tragedies.