The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘activist wednesday

Good Thursday, Widdershins.  This will be a mercifully brief post again, as life continues to dehydrate my creative juices.

What’s a poor Congress to do?  The House has just barely assembled its latest panel to investigate Benghazi, and now we have the VA mess to investigate.  Calls for Richard Shinseki’s head are reverberating through our hallowed halls, and I’m certain that the House members will find a way to toast the retired general over an open fire while still finding time to probe the lifeless form of Benghazi once more for the road.

I feel rather sorry for General Shinseki.  He is from Japan, of Japanese parents, and a Boy Scout.  He graduated from West Point, served honorably from Vietnam forward, and is the highest ranking Asian-American officer in our history.  He has rankled his fair share of people during his years of service, not the least of which was SOD Donald Rumsfeld and his acolyte Paul Wolfowitz..  Shinseki was Army Chief of Staff at the time of the Iraq invasion, and calculated that he would require several hundred thousand soldiers for an occupation force.  The Department of Defense was horrified, and the General was pretty well shelved thereafter.   Despite the fact that Rumsfeld was a Navy pilot who never saw combat and Wolfowitz never saw any military service, they overruled a man with four decades of experience in military maneuvers.  Sadly, even I can figure out that it will take many more people to hold a position that it did to take it, as one loses the element of surprise.

After leaving the service, Shinseki held a number of executive positions until named to head up the VA in 2008.  Now, suddenly, someone has noticed that the VA is a complete mess, and somehow it’s all the General’s fault.  While I agree that there is always a degree of executive culpability, I fear that the wrath of the House may be mostly displacement.  The VA seemed to get along pretty well until the 1960’s, caring for WWII and Korean War veterans.  Then came Vietnam, and matters bogged down.  Because of field hospitals, soldiers were surviving wounds that would have previously been mortal, and the VA was never expanded to accommodate the increased numbers.   Further, the VA denied vehemently any connection between Vietnam service and Agent Orange effects and the whole problem of PTSD.  Things devolved slowly over the next four decades, with occasional infusions of patients from actions in Grenada, Desert Storm, and the like.    At no time do I recall any cash boluses or expansion of services to our veterans, and this is where we find ourselves today.

For the past decade, we have had grievously wounded soldiers returning from the Middle East.  Soldiers with missing limbs, soldiers with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, soldiers with nowhere to go.  Families are struggling to care for these unfortunate warriors with limited cash and even more limited training and/or follow-up.  It’s disgusting, at best, but none of this is really new.  The VA system has been bogged down for at least 40 years.

Consider Walter Reed Hospital.  The facility was built in 1909, and closed in 2011.  From 2007 forward there were ongoing horror stories about the pathetic conditions, and the previous commander was forced out.The Department of Defense had long been considering a merger with Bethesda Naval Hospital, but instead Bethesda was closed and Walter Reef moved in and expanded.   Now, Bethesda was a first class facility, and managed to handle its patient load with some reasonable degree of efficiency.  Granted, Navy casualties are uncommon, but the Marines are treated by the Navy, and the Corps has taken a beating during recent years.  I understand from a friend that any number of the buildings at Reed are as yet unopened, whether due to lack of staff or lack of funding I do not know.  I do know that the VA hospitals and clinics in Miami and Palm Beach are always advertising for staff, and I’m fairly certain that not much will go well until such time as more staff and space become available,  The current bottleneck is so bad that patients are waiting up to a year to enter the system.  While efficiency may be a contributing factor, time, space, and staffing are needed for efficient service.  I’m not surprised that people are dying while  they wait for care.  It happens every day in the civilian population as well.  This is the United States that we have, not the one that we want.

Let’s all get a grip – you get what you pay for.  If large volumes of well-directed cash do not  begin to flow through the VA system, things will never change.  If large numbers of medical professionals of all stripes do not begin to work in the system, it can’t get better.  I would strongly suggest that Congress cease redundant committee activities and allocate the funds to get this mess cleaned up sooner rather than later.  Perhaps they might consider some degree of student loan forgiveness for medical professionals who work in the VA system.  It will not improve on its own, and blaming the current head of the VA is not the answer.

This is an open thread.






I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.

Good Thursday, Widdershins. Bear with me today.  To paraphrase Prolix, life intruded yesterday and I’m tardily composing this morning,  Of course, nothing appears to be cooperating today, either, so coherence may be something of an issue here.

I was startled when the news of Jill Abramson’s termination was announced.  The New York Times unceremoniously dumped Ms. Abramson after nearly three years of service as editor.  She was the first woman to hold that position, and will be replaced by her deputy Dean Baquet, who will be the first African-American named to the post. Rumors abound.  I have read that there was general displeasure with her management style, and there are whispers of friction between the news section and the business portion of the NYT.

Other sources say that Jill discovered a rather large pay gap between herself and previous editors and went forward with the issue.  We do know that the paper has a mandatory retirement age of 65, and that she is 5 years away from that step.  We also know that her termination was immediate and far-reaching.  Previous editors were given editorial positions, and Jill was not.  The current Mr.  Salzburg, grandson to the author of the above referenced quotation, advised a roomful of reporters that he had issues with her management, and that’s all he was going to say.  Yeah, that’ll work.

Whatever the reasons were – or weren’t – this mess solidifies my theory that a strong woman appears to still rankle executive leadership.  A questioning male is just that, a female is snoopy.  A man of conviction is firm, a woman is pushy.  A man who knows his own worth is self-assured, a woman is grasping.  An ambitious man is warmly received, an ambitious woman is disloyal.  We get it Mr. Salzburg, we get it.  I suppose that we just expected more from the paper.

This is an open thread.

The DogFather

Hello Widdershins! I hope your fingers are warmed up and ready to do some signing, because we’ve got three, count ’em three, actions to take today.

First, here’s the latest on Fast Track, which we discussed a couple of weeks ago. Turns out that the Senate, led by Harry Reid, is rock-solid against it, but the House? Potentially wobbly.

“I’m against fast track,” Reid said, adding: “Everyone would be well advised just to not push this right now.” This is being widely seen as a sign the administration will have a tough time winning Congressional approval for the fast track bill, particularly from fellow Dems — and even that it may fail.

But liberal groups who oppose fast track authority – arguing, as some economists and labor officials have, that the trade deals will mean further job loss due to globalization and worsening inequality —  are not sanguine. They argue we should be watching the House of Representative, not just the Senate, for clues to the fate awaiting fast track. The bill is supported by many Republicans and business groups, which means it would likely pass the House.

Although Nancy Pelosi has moved from Majority to Minority Leader, a similarly strong stance from her would present a united Democratic front in the House. If Fast Track passed the House with minimal to no Democratic support, the bill would not acquire the Golden Snitch-Like burnish of “bi-partisanship” which is so dearly beloved by the denizens of DC.

Pelosi could kill any chances of Fast Track passing the Senate. Help her make that decision, won’t you? Sign DFA’s petition.

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Science is easy….even penguins can do it!

The long-awaited governmental report on the environmental impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline has come out…and unfortunately, while it admits that the pipeline will increase greenhouse gas emissions significantly, it also claims that this fact shouldn’t harm the environment. (Insert sound of head scratching here.)

The question is dual: Not just “WWOD?” (“What Will Obama Do?”), of course, but, WWJKD (“What will John Kerry Do?”). After all, the report came from the State Department, and last time I checked, Kerry was kinda in charge there. HuffPo columnist Dr. John Abraham explores this question in more depth:

I mention Secretary Kerry specifically because a year ago, he “made it clear … that he will play a pivotal role in deciding the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline if he is confirmed as secretary of state.” In addition, Secretary Kerry stated in March 2013 that “the science is screaming at us” to “take steps to prevent potential disaster” with regard to climate change. Just a few weeks ago, the New York Times reported that Secretary Kerry “has initiated a systematic, top-down push to create an agency-wide focus on global warming,” the goal being “to become the lead broker of a global climate treaty in 2015 that will commit the United States and other nations to historic reductions in fossil fuel pollution.”

Clearly, none of the goals Secretary Kerry has laid out are consistent with approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Yet right now there are numerous forces — both inside and outside the Obama Administration — pushing hard to approve this environmentally disastrous project, as the FEIS demonstrates. How else to explain the issuance of the FEIS despite the fact that Environmental Resource Management (ERM), the contractor that helped prepare the FEIS is closely tied to TransCanada, the pipeline’s builder, and despite the fact that the State Department’s own Inspector General has not yet released its report examining those ties?

Corruption and the Obama Administration? No no, couldn’t be. It’s not as though Obama were indebted to Big Oil and Gas, or anything! From the New York Times in August of 2012:

With energy an increasingly pivotal issue for the Obama White House, a review of Exelon’s relationship with the administration shows how familiarity has helped foster access at the upper reaches of government and how, in some cases, the outcome has been favorable for Exelon.

White House records show that Exelon executives were able to secure an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon’s competitors, but curb the high cost of compliance for Exelon and its industry allies.

In addition, Exelon, which provides power to more than 6.6 million customers in at least 16 states and the District of Columbia, was chosen as one of only six electric utilities nationwide for the maximum $200 million stimulus grant from the Energy Department. And when the Treasury Department granted loans for renewable energy projects, Exelon landed a commitment for up to $646 million allowing it, on extremely generous financial terms, to finance one of the world’s largest photovoltaic solar projects.

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State of the Union

Super-short post today, Widdershins. Did you watch the State of the Union? If so, what did you think?

Elaborate in comments. This is an open thread.

TPP Protesters Getting It Done

Widdershins, we haven’t talked too much about Obama and his corporatist ways lately. You can hardly blame us – we spotted him as a tool of the oligarchy/patriarchy about 7 years ago, and time has not altered his essential nature. One can only say “Obama is an unprincipled hack” so many times before it becomes really, really old.

What has changed since 2007? Some folks on the left have lost their blind puppy love for the President, and have organized around the principles they always claimed to espouse. They don’t like the latest Grand Randian Bargain Obama is trying to engineer and shove through Congress – not one little bit. (If only he would use his powers for good, instead of eeeevilll!) It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. and its essence appears to be:

Everything that exists can be claimed by a corporation and turned into a profit-making engine. This includes plants, animals, and other naturally occurring products – er, uh, living things. Oh, and we’d very much like to make our money without giving a crap about the environment as well. Mmmmkay, we all good with this, folks?

Well, clearly this is not something most non-corporate people would ever agree to. (I can even think of some corporations who would find it ooky.) This is why the TPP has been percolating like some cauldron concoction for the past four years, smoldering and bubbling under cover in hopes that the citizenry wouldn’t catch wind of its eye-of-newty odeur. But thanks to the efforts of various grass-roots organizations, the TPP is becoming more and more unpassable.

After four years of secret negotiations with more than 600 corporate advisers, the once seemingly invincible largest trade bill in history, covering 40% of the world’s economy , looks very much like it can be defeated.


The TPP is becoming politically toxic. Over the last year there has been a steady stream of emails and phone calls to Congress. Members have faced constituent meetings and protests where TPP is being raised. Some examples of protests: Los AngelesSeattle,Washington, DCSalt Lake City,MinneapolisUS Trade Rep OfficeVancouver,  LeesburgNew York City . . . we could go on. Americans have sent a clear message to members of Congress that they better not be associated with the TPP in an election year.

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If Chris Christie Were a Cat…

Widdershins, the latest conservative “golden boy” and alleged threat to Hillary in 2016, Governor Chris Christie, appears to be losing his luster. It’s amazing what you can find when you dig into a nasty, self-righteous, lazy and arrogant politico’s laundry basket.

Perhaps only those of us in the New York Metro area were privileged enough to see them, but after SuperStorm Sandy in 2012, Christie put out a bunch of ads about how New Jersey was “stronger than the storm.” They would have been a lot more moving if His Majesty and his family weren’t in them. Here’s one for your viewing pleasure.

Now, it turns out that poor taste may not have been the only flaw in these commercials.

The Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has opened a federal investigation into whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) improperly used Hurricane Sandy relief funds to produce commercials starring himself and his family ahead of his re-election campaign. Auditors will examine how the Christie administration used $25 million set aside for “a marketing campaign to promote the Jersey Shore and encourage tourism,” focusing on the bidding process awarding a $4.7 million contract to a politically connected firm that cast Christie and his family in the Sandy ads, while “a comparable firm proposed billing the state $2.5 million for similar work” but did not include Christie in the commercials.

When it rains, it pours, eh, Chris? But hey, the numbers are what they are….that extra $2.2 million to that politically connected firm might have helped buy Christie a place in the Governor’s seat. Call it the 9/11 effect; referencing that tragedy, and casting himself as its hero, certainly extended Rudy Giuliani’s career by an undeserved four years.

Lest you think this latest set of accusations is piling onto a guy who’s already at least half down for the count, objections were raised months ago – by both Republicans and Democrats. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this sentence actually is coming out of my keyboard: I agree with Rand Paul on this issue. (Don’t worry, it will never happen again.)

2. Conservatives questioned Christie’s staring role. In November, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Christie’s appearance in the television ads gave the recovery effort a “black eye.” “People running for office put their mug all over these ads while they were in the middle of a political campaign,” Paul said during a committee hearing. “In New Jersey, $25 million was spent on ads that included somebody running for political office. You think there might be a conflict of interest there? That’s a real problem and that’s why when people who are trying to do good and trying to use taxpayers’ money wisely, they’re offended to see our money spent on political ads. That’s just offensive.”

It’s very likely that Paul was just saying that because he doesn’t want to run against Christie in 2016. But nonetheless, sometimes  the truth comes from unlikely sources.

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Dec. 2019 Democratic Debate

When: Dec. 19th.

Where:The debate will happen at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.

Time:9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT

How to watch: The debate will air on, and

Moderators: Judy Woodruff, Amna Nawaz and Yamiche Alcindor from PBS NewsHour and Tim Alberta from Politico

Who’s in so far: (as of Nov. 26th – they have until Dec. 12th to qualify)

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Billionaire Tom Steyer

Only the best ppl Lev & Eyegor

Everyone ready for some impeachment hearings?

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Blog Archive

December 2019
« Nov    

Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
13 months to go.

Mueller Time!


Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

Need Reminders?

Never too early to shop for Christmas

“Look this way”

Manafort’s Jail Photo

Indeed who?

Trump spam

IOW Dumb = Happy?

Simply Put


Dems are coming for ya