Monthly Archives: May 2013

Memorial Day—Appreciation Isn’t Enough

This is a weekend of remembrance and appreciation for those who gave their lives for their country and in a very real way, us. But it’s not enough. Not when there are stories like being repeated far too often across the country.

Edward Passetto, a former Marine Corps sergeant from Lee, Mass., killed himself at Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, Mass.

Passetto, 28, heroically saved others from the smoldering ruins of a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2009, but later struggled with post-traumatic stress, his mother, Patricia Passetto, said in an interview Friday.

Passetto came home to western Massachusetts in 2011 after a medical discharge from the Marines. He was disturbed by his memories from the crash, his mother said. He applied for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs starting in 2011. In the weeks before his death, the VA informed him his claim would not processed until at least 2015, Patricia Passetto said.

The financially drained veteran wrote an open letter to President Obama in the days before his death, saying his two-year struggle for benefits made him “feel as if I am abandoned by my own country.” He was laid to rest near his father, an Army veteran, in Lee, Mass.

What? 3-4 YEARS to have a claim even considered? We won World War II in less time than the VA now takes to process claims? How is this even remotely possible?

And no, it’s not Obama. Don’t make this political. Screwing veterans is literally older than the republic itself.

This is on us, each and everyone us individually and collectively. The famous “We the People” we all like to talk about are responsible for this. Government isn’t some alien thing imposed from outer-space; it’s a tool we’ve created to do certain things. Ensuring that the tool is working correctly is our responsibility. And it’s about time we act like it. This tool is not working for veterans and in many ways, it never has. That needs to change.

Better men and women than us have tried and are trying to change this for years. They haven’t failed, they’ve simply laid the ground work for ultimate success. It’s time we take up the challenge and finish the job.

I don’t know why this has me so pissed right now but it does. I mean, I’ve seen news stories about the backlog and heard about it the American Legion convention last year. But suddenly this seems like a cause worth taking up.

I don’t know what if anything can be done about this. I want to talk to some people who know a lot more about these problems than I do. If there’s something that can be done, I’ll be back to you guys for help. My guess is it’s going to take a lot of people to get really angry about the way our veterans are being treated.

(L-R) SGT. EDWARD PASSETTO,  Staff Sgt. Damon Lewis and Master Sgt. Michael Snell

(L-R) SGT. EDWARD PASSETTO, Staff Sgt. Damon Lewis and Master Sgt. Michael Snell

Take a moment to remember Edward Passetto this weekend. When others needed help, he ran to them.

Passetto said he ran to the top of the berm and looked over to see a burning Russian MI-8 helicopter in total ruin.

“I saw a person off to my left, and I ran down there and found another man in a green flight suit. There were five crew members altogether. Three had fallen out the front of the Russian MI8.

“I was assisting the guy in the green flight suit, and he was really jacked up. His feet, you could tell, they were mangled and you could see rips in his flesh and blood.”

Being a Marine, Passetto jumped right into action, even though he only had the use of one arm.

“We knew we had to get them out of there, so I hooked him with one arm because my other arm was in a sling.

“I had a crushed nerve in my elbow, and all I could do is grip him under his armpit with my good arm and drag him back. After I got him out, I turned around and I saw another guy next to the helicopter on the ground in pretty much the same condition, but he wasn’t moving.”

With one arm, and running through a hailstorm of fire and flying metal scraps exploding off of the helicopter, Passetto ignored the danger to his own life.

“The fire was right next to him not even five feet away,” he said. “So we ran up to him and started dragging him back. I got him about 15 to 20 feet and then another guy who was helping pushed me off because he realized I had a messed-up arm, but I told him, ‘No-no-no, I got it. I’ll help you out.'”

“I got it. I’ll help you out”. It’s long overdue that we do the same.

5 Reasons I’m OK With The Rangers Losing To The Bruins

NUMBER 5: 

bostonstrong

It’s been a tough few weeks for Boston. That my favorite hockey team could give them a little civic joy makes me happy. I’m a giver.

NUMBER 4:

knicks

The NY Knicks got tossed out in the second round of the NBA playoffs. It just wouldn’t be fair for their corporate brothers to do better. Remember, both teams made deep runs in 94. And by “deep runs”, I mean the Rangers won the Stanley Cup and John Starks is still trying to make a basket.

NUMBER 3:

94 rangers

Sam Rosen said “this one will last a lifetime”. I don’t think he meant it as a curse but you can’t argue with Sam, so there it is.

NUMBER 2:

Damn it Henrik! Or Daniel, whichever the hell one you are...HIT SOMEONE!  And for God's sake stop DIVING Kesler. Schneider? Luongo? God I miss Lundqvist!

Damn it Henrik! Or Daniel, whichever the hell one you are…HIT SOMEONE! And for God’s sake stop DIVING Kesler. Schneider? Luongo? God I miss Lundqvist!

There’s an outside chance that this loss with lead to John Tortorella being fired by the Rangers. There’s an even smaller chance that he’ll be hired to coach the Vancouver Canucks. Do I want to see Torts coach a soft and defensively irresponsible team? Yes, yes I do. Very much so. Anything that makes it possible for the stars to align this way is ok with me.

THE NUMBER 1 REASON I’M OK WITH THE RANGERS LOSING TO THE BRUINS:

asterik

Whoever wins the Cup will have to know they did so in a year that didn’t have the full compliment of games and every one will point and laugh at them for as long as they live because this won’t really count so take your stinky “win” and choke on it!

One Conservative/GOP Outcome From Scandalpalooza Should Be Civil Service Reform

Among the many problems brought to light courtesy of Lois Lerner is that it is damn near impossible to fire a federal employee for misconduct.

Statistically speaking, the firing of a federal employee is a rare event. A Cato Institute study showed that in one year, just 1 in 5,000 non-defense, civilian federal employees was fired for cause. A widely cited analysis by USA Today found that in FY 2011, the federal government fired just 11,668 out of 2.1 million employees (excluding military and postal workers). That’s a “separation for cause” rate of 0.55 percent, roughly a fifth the rate in the private sector.

And the firing of employees who fit Lerner’s profile is rarer still. Lerner is very much a “white-collar” employee, and the same analysis found that blue-collar employees (such as food-service workers) were twice as likely to be fired. Lerner is a twelve-year vet at IRS, and before that was associate counsel at the Federal Elections Commission for many years. But fully 60 percent of federal employees fired were in their first two years on the job. Lerner has averaged $185,000 in salary from 2009 to 2012, but only 0.18 percent of federal employees making more than $100,000 were let go for cause. Most relevant of all, Lerner is a lawyer, and just 27 of the government’s 35,000 lawyers lost their jobs in 2011 — six fewer than left federal employment via the Big Sleep.

Civil Service reform and federal employee unions are two issues ripe for the picking. Government workers used to get greater job security in exchange for lower pay. Now they have the best of both worlds and it’s the public who gets the worst of all worlds…lousy service, petty tyrants who are unaccountable to anyone and we have the privilege of paying for it all.

According to the CBO, when it comes to pay, federal workers with the highest education and skill levels are the only cohort who make less than there private sector counterparts in total compensation.

private public compensation

The Republicans could increase pay for high-skilled workers by reducing compensation to private sector levels for low-skilled workers to private sector levels. It might help win some votes in Northern Virginia and at the least create a wedge for Democrats.

As far as reforming the civil service rules themselves, the GOP could have some fun by making FDR their spokesman in the cause.

Civil Service protections and collective bargaining for federal workers don’t prevent the politicization of the bureaucracy, they ensure that it’s near impossible to do anything about it.

The GOP is trying to find some populists issues to run on? Here you go guys. You’re welcome.

London Or Ramalah? The West’s Exercise In Cultural Suicide

What’s the connection? Oh, right.

   Ramalah 2000

  ramalahbloodyhands

      London 2013

londonbloodyhands

Review: Doctor Who Season Finale–“The Name Of The Doctor”.

The back half of this season of Doctor Who, everything after The Angels Take Manhattan (starting with The Snowmen Christmas special) has been awful.

Sure there were some nice moments, like the next to last episode–Neil Gaiman’s “Nightmare in Silver”– but even that was but a shadow of what it could have been. It needed more Ewok, in the form of Warwick Davies (who played Wickett in Return of the Jedi) as but on the whole…it’s been an awful run.

Last night was supposed to be the big payoff of the first 7 episodes of the Clara Oswald companion era. We’d learn who this “impossible girl” really was and how she fit into the Doctor’s life.

First of all, the set-up of an “impossible girl” is hard to buy in the Whoverse. The show is 50 years old and even if, like me, you’ve only paid attention to last incarnation of the series starting back in 2005, you know it’s impossible for anything to be truly impossible. The Doctor and his friends rebooted the entire universe from the big bang on for goodness sake. Now you want me to believe one girl is “impossible”? No sale.

In drama you want to continually raise the stakes and put ever great obstacles in your hero’s way. Clara is at best a curiosity, an adorable one to be sure (more about that in a moment) but it’s something you’d expect the Doctor to take in stride. Recall how David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor described his own existence, “Not impossible. Just… a bit unlikely”.

Or consider this exchange with Rory Williams, who was erased from history but shows up as a Roman soldier in The Pandorica Opens.

Rory: But I don’t understand. Why am I here?

The Doctor: Because you are. The Universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes—very rarely—impossible things just happen and we call them miracles. And that’s the theory. Nine hundred years, never seen one yet. But this would do me. Now get upstairs. She’s Amy and she’s surrounded by Romans. I’m not sure history could take it.

Yet somehow The Doctor is suddenly undone to the point of near madness because he ran into Clara at the Dalek Asylum and in Victorian England?

As I said, meh.

Which brings us to the big moment…Clara it turns out (there be spoilers beyond here)

Read the rest of this entry

An Open Letter To Speaker Boehner…Shut It Down

Speaker Boehner, 

The revelations about the corruption and abuses of power within in the Obama administration has shown one thing very clearly…Obama has not taken care that the laws of the United States be faithfully executed.

There will be calls from the right for impeachment proceedings but we all know that is not and should not be on the table.  Simple math shows that the President will not be impeached and convicted. In fact trying to do so is folly. He will become a martyr to the left and his ultimate acquittal will only vindicate his history of abuse.

What can be done however is a full stop, nothing passes, nothing moves from the House of Representatives until substantive progress is made on rooting out the malefactors who have turned the executive branch into a hyper-partisan, unaccountable, enforcement arm of the Democratic Party. Yes, elections have consequences and Democrats have every right to guide policies to their liking, they have no right to use the power of government to impede the legal political activities of opponents or do enforce laws in ways that give their political allies an advantage.

We’ve rightly heard over the last 3 plus years that the House alone is insufficient to move forward any entitlement reforms that could possibly pass. It is insufficient to repeal of ObamaCare. The House alone cannot do any of the things conservatives would like to see happen while the Democrats control the Senate and the White House.

What we’ve also been told however is that the House can stop new bad things from happen. Now is the time to exercise that power.

This is a partial list of what I think must be cleared up before the GOP passes any more legislation:

• Understand why an IRS official who her superiors knew was targeting conservative political groups received six-figure bonuses for her work and is now charged with heading the IRS implementation of ObamaCare.

• Ensure that the people who targeted the President’s opponents have been removed from the government?

• Protections must be put in place and demonstrated to be effective to ensure that the IRS is no longer engaged in partisan warfare against citizens who may not share this President’s poitical views.

• HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebeilius must be full investigated for her extra-legal fundraising activities from organizations and companies she is empowered to regulate under the Affordable Care Act.

• There must also be a full accounting of Sebelius’ prior violation of the Hatch Act, which appears to have gone unpunished.

• There must be a full investigation of the AP subpoena issue, including the actions of the Attorney General and the handing of his alleged recusal.

As I said, this is just a partial list of issues that must be addressed and corrective action taken before the House of Representatives does a damn thing.

Debt ceiling hike? No. Maybe in exchange for something concrete like Sebelius’ resignation or a delay in the implementation of ObamaCare until these investigations are complete and corrective actions are made.

Budget? Sure, as long as it doesn’t include any funding for ObamaCare and the IRS’ role in implementing it.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform? Hell no. At this point does anyone trust the IRS or Department of Homeland Security under this President to actual enforce any provisions other than giving the maximum number of illegal immigrants legal status as quickly as possible? Do you really think the IRS is going to disqualify illegals from legal status over unpaid back taxes?

Nothing moves Mr. Speaker. Nothing.

This will not be a political popular stand, at least at first. People will think it’s simply partisan gamesmanship. It will be up to Republicans to explain the stakes here and make the case for your actions.

In the past I’ve opposed government shutdowns because there has been no identifiable path to winning and because yes, when you know you can’t win, you have to live to fight another day. But if stopping this country from sliding into a 3rd world banana republic where the politically powerful can crush their opposition by using the power of government isn’t a hill worth fighting on what is? If the GOP won’t make this stand, what exactly is their purpose?

Shut it down Mr. Speaker. Shut it down.

How The State Department Got Involved In Editing The Benghazi Talking Points

Last night Allahpundit wondered why the State Department’s spokesperson, Victoria Neuland,  was involved in editing the now infamous Benghazi Talking Points.

I looped Robert Carruso in on the conversation because he actually has worked in these areas and as expected had good information on the process.

Fast forward to today and Yahoo! is in the process of digitizing the emails and organizing them as if they were in your inbox. It’s a brilliant idea and makes them very relevant to a big story. They are about 25% of the way through the emails but we get our first hint of how State got involved.

An email from Tommy Vietor (Then a member of Obama’s NSC staff) seems to be the first inclusion of State into the conversation (email on 9/14 at 6:21pm):

I know you’re trying to move these fast so here’s an initial round of edits. One small tweak in sentence 3 of bullet 1 for added clarity. Denis would also like to make sure the highlighted portions are full coordinated with the State Department in the event that they get inquiries.

It’s possible that “Denis” is White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, though that’s just a guess. It maybe someone else on the White House NSC staff.

Neuland’s first contribution to the list is to question why the CIA is pointing to Ansar al Sharia as being involved (9/14, Neuland email 7″39 pm).

I just had a convo with [CIA OPA] and I now understand that these are being prepared to give to Members of Congress to use with the media.

On that basis, I have serious concerns about ail the parts highlighted below, and arming members of Congress to start making assertions to the media that we ourselves are not making because we don’t want to prejudice the investigation.

In same vein, why do we want Hill to be fingering Ansar al Sharia, when we aren’t doing that ourselves until we have investigation results… and the penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either? Concerned…

Depending on the rest of the emails, as Robert notes, State does have intelligence resources but they do not appear to be the basis of State’s “contributions” to the process. State is simply making a political case to narrowing the talking points to provide some political shaping of the points.

The introduction of this political element was at the direction of the White House.

Reminder: The Romney Campaign Sucked

Stu Stevens is giving a talk somewhere about the campaign and NRO’s Katrina Trinko is live tweeting it.

This is an indictment of his and Romney’s incompetence.

asked why Romney didn’t fight back summer Bain stuff, Stu Stevens says they were trying to put Obama team on offense on welfare, china

First, I think she meant to type “put Obama team on DEFENSE” or that Romney wanted to go on offense on those issues. Either way the problem is the same.
Job 1 in any campaign is to define yourself and the other guy.
Romney had to know his money was a problem, hell it was a problem in the primary at some points. Of course Obama was going to hang him on it. To whistle passed that graveyard is gross incompetence.
Second, China? did they really that was going to be an issue that was going to win it for them? What fucking world were they living in?
Third, you have to be able to do 2 things at once in a campaign. Actually a hundred things at once. You want to attack on Welfare? Great! Do it in the context of pushing back on Bain while defining yourself. Talk about how he didn’t start our rich. About how he learned the value of work. Find some people who went from welfare to work at companies Bain started/saved. Talk about how Obama’s approach would hurt those types of people.
Yes, I know, I need to get over my disgust with Romney and his campaign. I will. As soon as they shut up and get out politics.

Hispanics Are “Natural Conservatives”, It’s Just That As A Group They Are More Liberal Than The Rest Of The US Population

Among Hispanics, there is somewhat less support for an activist government among the second generation than Hispanic immigrants, although a clear majority of both generations prefers a larger government with more services to a smaller one providing fewer services. But more of the second-generation Hispanics identify themselves as liberal on political issues than do first-generation Hispanics. Generational differences are pronounced on attitudes about social issues. Second-generation Hispanics and Asian Americans are more liberal than the first generation on attitudes about homosexuality and abortion. Compared with the general public, second-generation Asian Americans are more liberal on both issues. Second-generation Hispanics tend to be more accepting of homosexuality than the general public; their views on abortion are similar to those of the general public.

hispanicgovtsize

This is the point in the program where Team Amnesty tells you the GOP kick-ass messaging team will kick in and with a little outreach, someday we’ll turn all those liberals into card carrying conservatives. Yeah, about that. Seems the RNC’s director of Hispanic Outreach for Florida*, Pablo Pantoja, just became a Democrat. He was upset over the news of Jason Richwine’s Harvard Ph.D dissertation. No word yet on whether Pantoja was so shocked at the despicable comments of former NAACP Chairman and Obama supporter Julian Bond he immediately abandoned the racist Democrats.

And a friendly reminder for all.

*Thanks to Andy for pointing out Pantoja was the RNC’s Hispanic point person for Florida.

Stanley Cup Playoff Round 2 Predictions

First, let us take a moment to reflect on the greatness of my predictions from Round 1. Well, of my Eastern Conference predictions anyway.

Penguins in six.- Check

Senators in five.-Check

Bruins in seven-Check

Rangers in six- Che….stupid Rangers. My own damn team screws me from running the board. 

As for my Western Conference picks from Round 1, well, let’s just move on to Round 2

Penguins   VS.  Senators

The Senators did exactly what I thought they would against the Canadiens…beat the living crap out of them. The Senators are a big, nasty and abrasive team. The Penguins have more skilled players than anyone else in the league but they are also North-South players who come fast and hard.

In other words, this is going to be a mean, hard fought series that comes down to a battle of attrition.

I give the Penguins a big edge up front and a slight edge on defense (Bruce Orpik is back and still a mean son of a bitch). The Senators have a slight edge in goal as long as the Penguins play Vokun and a huge one if the Penguins decide to go the circus route and play Fleury.

Prediction: I want to say Senators but I have to look at the talent and go Penguins in 7.

Kings VS. Sharks

I didn’t have either team making it this far, in fact, pre-season I didn’t have the Sharks making the playoffs.

The Sharks are an enigma to me and I don’t think I’m alone, so I’ll focus on the Kings. After losing the first two games to the Blues, the Kings took 4 straight to advance. It’s all very reminiscent of last year’s run by the Kings. I think they found their grove and will make relatively short work of the Sharks.

Prediction: I want to say Kings in 4 but that seems rude so I’ll go Kings in 5.

backhawks VS. Red Wings

Original Six match-up? Yep

Two of the greatest logos in sports? Oh yeah

Last time they will meet in the playoff unless it’s for the Cup because of realignment? Sure, let’s throw that cherry on top of this

So clearly this is going to be a great series, right? Um, probably not.

The Blackhawks are the class of the Western Conference and the Wings are in a strange spot of rebuilding on the fly. They needed a big push to even make the playoffs and did an amazing job to get by a much better Ducks team in the first round.

It’s hard to think of the Wings as a Cinderella team but they kind of are. Alas, the clock is about to strike midnight and the Blackhawks aren’t Prince Charming.

The Hawks just have way too much of everything (except goaltending but it’s not like the Red Wings have a lot more). The thing is they don’t need Crawford or Emery to be Henrik Lundqvist, they just can’t suddenly turn into Marc-Andre Fleury.

Prediction: Like Fox Mulder I Want to Believe! I just don’t think the Wings have any more magic left in them. I’ll be generous and say Hawks in 6.

And last but certainly not least…..

bruins VS. Rangers

I correctly predicted the Bruins over the Leafs in 7 but I said if it went that long it meant that Boston wasn’t quite right. This is a team that should be better than it is. Granted, in the playoffs it’s not about style but results. Still, if you nee 7 games, 2 last minute goals and an OT winner to move on, you’re not exactly dominating.

The Rangers on the other hand went 7 games against the Capitals but they lost games 2 and 5 in Overtime before shutting out the Capitals in Games 6 and 7. Clearly the Rangers are a team that is finding it’s game  while the Bruins are still looking for it.

The Rangers got their swagger back with the trade deadline pick-up of Ryan Clowe. He’s been in and out of the lineup and if he can’t go, he’ll be missed against the big, aggressive Bruins. Still, the team has gotten its “jam” as Torts calls it back. Early in the Caps series they were losing the battles along the boards but they cleaned that up in their back to back shutouts. I worry about the streaky nature of the Rangers on faceoffs but they’got better as the series went on in that area too.

But as everyone predicted, the Rangers big trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets really paid big dividends…Derek Brassard had NINE points (2 goals/7 assists)  in games 3 through 7 against the Caps (after being held pointless in the first two games of the series), Derek Dorsett has been a big part of that jam the Blue Shirts were lacking (and he’s chipped in offensively), plus John Miller has been a more than serviceable number 5 defenseman.

Oh, perhaps you were thinking of that other trade between the Rangers and Blue Jackets? About that….

I can’t imagine that both Brad Richards AND Rick Nash will remain invisible for another whole series, so the Rangers offense should be…better (as low a hurdle as that is). Defensively, the Rangers are far superior to the Bruins as a whole unit. And in goal, the Rangers have the hottest player (in more ways than one, amiright ladies?) in the league.

Prediction: Close games but I’ve got the Rangers taking it 5. Yeah, that scares me but there it is.