Saturday, February 14, 2009

CONTEST: Name That Security Firm!

AP: Blackwater dumps tarnished brand name

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning its tarnished brand name as it tries to shake a reputation battered by oft-criticized work in Iraq, renaming its family of two dozen businesses under the name Xe.

The parent company's new name is pronounced like the letter "z." Blackwater Lodge & Training Center — the subsidiary that conducts much of the company's overseas operations and domestic training — has been renamed U.S. Training Center Inc., the company said Friday.

The decision comes as part of an ongoing rebranding effort that grew more urgent following a September 2007 shooting in Iraq that left at least a dozen civilians dead. Blackwater president Gary Jackson said in a memo to employees the new name reflects the change in company focus away from the business of providing private security.

I don't know. "Xe" just seems kind of flat and dull. I'm sure my Hellions can come up with a better name for the "tarnished" Blackwater.

How about:

Mercs R' Us
Pay N' Slay

Suggestions? Best one wins a paperback copy of SAFE AND SOUND.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

There's That Whole "Culture of Life" Again

Death Threats Mount Against Octuplet Mom

Los Angeles police say they will investigate death threats against octuplet mom Nadya Suleman.

Police Lt. John Romero says Thursday that officers are meeting with Suleman's publicist Mike Furtney about the flood of angry phone calls and e-mail messages.

Word that the 33-year-old single, unemployed mother is receiving public assistance to care for the 14 children she conceived through in vitro fertilization has stoked furor among many people.

Furtney says 500 new e-mails were received early Thursday.

Fortney says Suleman is living in an undisclosed location and spends time with all of her kids every day.

Look, I think the woman's an idiot. I think doing in vitro when you're single and unemployed is a really boneheaded move. But that's a far cry from threatening to kill the woman because she's on public assistance. And of course, killing her will do nothing to take the kids off the welfare rolls.

But it's good to see that there are some folks in the world who aren't assholes:

He says not all of the calls are angry. One family from the Midwest has invited Suleman and her brood to live on their farm.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kat is Korrect

Kat Richardson, author of Greywalker, Poltergeist, and Underground, tells us why we should Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

What I love most about it (other than the fact it was written by one of my favorite people) is that it's not just pep talk. Kat provides some cold hard facts n' figures to prove that there really is hope even in this publishing environment.

Thanks, Kat. That came at a good time. 

Monday, February 09, 2009

Illiteracy Is a Terrible Thing

From the letters colum of The Pilot:

It appears Dusty Rhoades must have been "in an absolute frenzy of pants-wetting fear" himself when he wrote his usual finger-pointing baloney for Feb. 1. How else can he explain why he uses the same lame expression twice in the first four paragraphs?

Before he writes his column and before the paper prints it, maybe you could look for some facts:

Ali al-Shihri was released from Gitmo in 2007. The FBI suspects he helped plan last year's deadly bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Yemen's capital.

Abdullah Salim Ali al-Ajmi was released from Gitmo, and he turned around and blew up a police station in Iraq in a suicide mission.

These are just two of over 30 former Gitmo inmates who have resumed their terrorist activities.

The Gitmo inmates' complaints of cold meals, hard plastic soccer balls and paperback Qurans fall on mostly deaf ears.

Except for pansies like the ACLU, the media and whiners like Rhoades seem determined to put these terrorists back out on the street, no matter who they may kill next.

Curtis Richie

Whispering Pines

See, now if Curtis had actually been able to, you know, READ THE COLUMN, he might have recognized that the whole point was that terror suspects being moved to U.S. Prisons would NOT be "back out on the street". But since Curtis apparently has the reading comprehension of a scallop, the whole thing just goes past him.

And since Curtis also apparently can't remember who was President when, it doesn't seem to occur to him that the people he complains about being released to wreak more havoc were released by......the Bush Administration. Which sort of undercuts the whole argument that detainees should be kept or released purely at the whim of the Executive.

But you know, I'm glad Curtis keeps trying to read the column, even though he's apparently too dumb to understand it. I hope he can find the remedial reading help he apparently so desperately needs.

One Down, One Up

Latest newspaper column:

I can't say I'm all broken up over the withdrawal of Tom Daschle as the nominee for secretary of health and human services. I confess when I heard he was the nominee, my first reaction was, "Eh. I'm not a fan." And that was before the tax issues ever came up in the press.

Of course I believe everyone should pay their taxes, since I bloody well have to. But anyone can make a mistake on those and end up paying later -- with, of course, penalties and interest.

Just ask Republican hero Joe the Plumber, who had some tax problems of his own, and look what happened to him. After his brief stint as a war correspondent in Gaza, he even got invited to Capitol Hill this past week to tell the Republicans why the stimulus package was a bad idea. Heck, some Republicans are still talking about running him for vice president on the Palin ticket!

My problem with Daschle was that he just wasn't the right guy for the job. One of the biggest jobs of the new HHS director is going to be guiding this country to some kind of real health insurance reform. And that's going to take somebody with more cojones and fewer ties to Big Medicine than Tom Daschle.

Once Daschle left Capitol Hill, he was far too cozy with the sort of health-care companies and other fatcats he was going to have to take on to get any real health-care reform in this country. Daschle has talked a good game about "single payer" health-care systems, but given his post-congressional career as a "policy adviser" for a law firm that represents big companies who'd have a lot to lose -- or to gain -- by how such a system would be set up, I find it hard to trust him.

I mean, come on. The guy takes hundreds of thousands in speaker's fees from health-care companies, and then is supposed to champion health-care reform for working people? Please.

While I do respect President Obama's desire for inclusiveness and bipartisanship, it sometimes seems as if he's overlooking the fact that some of the people he's trying to bring into the fold are part of the problem. That includes a guy like Daschle, who's so often in bed with the big health-care conglomerates that he keeps a toothbrush at their houses.

Elsewhere on the appointee front, I was rather surprised at the ease with which Eric Holder, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, was confirmed as attorney general.

The Republicans had made ominous noises about how they were going to give Holder a rough time. As we all know, there's nothing a wingnut loves more than a chance to dredge up Bill Clinton and blame him for all the trouble in the world, from Osama bin Laden to the current financial crisis to the heartbreak of psoriasis.

Since Holder didn't have the automatic pass that Hillary Clinton did by being a member of the Senate, it looked like he was going to be the senatorial whipping boy. And the pardon of "fugitive financier" Marc Rich was to be the instrument of flogging, since Holder had been the Deputy AG who vetted the pardon (badly, as it turns out).

But when push came to shove, Holder ate a little crow over the Rich pardon and was confirmed easily. All the Republican posturing and talking points about making Marc Rich a big issue turned out to be, in Shakespeare's words, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Maybe it's because not one but two special prosecutors a Republican Congress appointed to look into the matter failed to find any grounds to indict anyone. Maybe it's because e-mails uncovered during the course of the investigation revealed that the last donation to the Clinton Library (by Rich's ex-wife, not Rich) was provided a full year before Rich's lawyer suggested that she approach Clinton for a pardon, which made proving some kind of quid pro quo look a bit dicey.

Or maybe it was because of who that lawyer pushing for a Marc Rich pardon was: another right-wing hero named Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in his own pre-conviction, pre-sentence-commutation days.

Actually, I was sort of hoping they'd bring Rich up a lot more and that Holder would shoehorn Libby's name into at least every other sentence of his response. I'd even fantasized about a drinking game for the hearings, when every time you heard "Scooter" or "Libby" you'd have to take a drink. Alas, my dream of playing drinking games to C-Span will for the moment, remain in the realm of fantasy. (Yes, I really am that big of a nerd.)

So, Holder's in, Daschle's out. It'll be interesting to see what happens next.

Hey, I hear Howard Dean's between jobs right now.