Monday, December 15, 2008

Office Holiday Party From Hell

The holidays are stressful enough, even in the best economic times. This year, with the economy tanking in the third and fourth quarters, pink slips are just as likely to show up in your company distribution as a holiday card. With the down turn being so horrible in so many industries, we can probably be expecting to see a lot more stories like this:

A man has been charged with first-degree murder after a shooting at an office Christmas party in Vancouver Friday.

Police allege Eric Allen Kirkpatrick, 61, opened fire at the TallGrass Distribution Ltd Christmas party, killing Benjamin David Banky, 40.

Banky was the CEO of TallGrass Distribution Ltd., a natural health products company.

At least a dozen employees had been celebrating when the gunman, who had been recently laid off, entered the party and began firing a gun, according to Vancouver Police spokesperson Const. Tim Fanning.

Emphasis mine
CEOs and other "highly compensated" company officers, trying to glad-hand at the office or at parties while the average worker is wondering whether or not they'll be able to afford food for the holidays, much less gifts for their kids, are going to be natural targets for the least stable among us.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cannon Fodder

The actual term is archaic; it first described those front line soldiers, in the time of linear warfare, who marched straight into cannon fire during an attack. Unfortunately the phrase has never been given the time to truly fall into disuse. And BushCo. have done their best to make sure it didn't go out of style in their time.

That most dangerous and feared weapon of the insurgents in Iraq and now, more and more, Afghanistan is the IED - Improvised Explosive Device. Those soldiers caught in the blast of such a device - the ones not killed outright - are left with broken or missing limbs and faces and with permanent, debilitating brain injuries.

But BushCo. has repeatedly said - about many things - "we couldn't have known!" And, after all, you have to go to war with the military you have, right? But every time they've uttered those words, it's turned out to be a lie. This time is no different.

The Pentagon "was aware of the threat posed by mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) … and of the availability of mine resistant vehicles years before insurgent actions began in Iraq in 2003," says the 72-page report, which was reviewed by USA TODAY.


Marine Corps leaders "stopped processing" an urgent request in February 2005 for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles from combat commanders in Iraq's Anbar province after declaring that a more heavily armored version of existing Humvee vehicles was the "best available" option for protecting troops, the report says.
Why would Marine "leaders" stop processing such an urgent request from their comrades in the field? I've known lots of Marines and the only thing that would keep them from helping a fellow Marine is pressure from the top. Lots of pressure. Remember that BushCo. was still suffering under the delusion that they could prosecute two wars on the cheap and could "transform" the military into a lighter, more deployable force. I'm sure there was plenty of pressure to keep costs down and to keep materiel as light as possible. No matter the human cost.

Add this to the way-too-long list of stories you can tell your conservative friends who still believe the lie that Republicans "support the troops."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cluster Bomb Cluster F*ck

The U.S., once again, thumbs its nose at the international community (along with, surprise, Russia) by refusing to ratify or even attend talks on a treaty to prohibit the use of cluster bombs. To quote perhaps the most germaine line in the article:

But that kind of warfare has become obsolete, he (Ollie Pile, an operations manager with de-mining charity The Halo Trust) said, and cluster munitions have outlived their purpose.
As an ex-military officer, I remember planning for the use of these weapons; it was always against advancing massed infantry or armor or to take out an area target such as an airfield or munitions depot. At the time, I loved them because they did lots of damage with little risk to my troops. The problem is, that type of warfare is most likely extinct. And, like all man-made devices, there is a definite failure rate; leaving unexploded, but still quite live, munitions lying about for civilians to find...

I think it's time for us - with or without Russia - to join the rest of the civilized world and ban the use of these weapons. Perhaps President Obama will have different ideas on our place in the world in cases like these.

Monday, December 01, 2008

No One Could Have Predicted...

How many times did we hear that from BushCo. over the past eight years? Too many to count about too many things.

Here's another one to add to the list; seems that they were warned about the mortgage crisis and financial meltdown:

"Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories," California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job.
So they were warned, just like "Bin Laden determined to strike the U.S." and like Katrina storm damage warnings and like so many other disasters in waiting that BushCo. ignored.

So, what did they do?

Bowing to aggressive lobbying -- along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK -- regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way.
But of course there were consequences, right?

Many of the banks that fought to undermine the proposals by some regulators are now either out of business or accepting billions in federal aid to recover from a mortgage crisis they insisted would never come. Many executives remain in high-paying jobs, even after their assurances were proved false.
January 20 can't come fast enough.

Worst. President. Ever.