Blackwater: Reckless Shootings

Top American mercenary corporation Blackwater is in hot water over their self reported recklessness (Sue Pleming, Reuters):

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. security contractor Blackwater has been involved in at least 195 shooting incidents in Iraq since 2005 and, in eight of 10 cases, their forces fired first, a leading U.S. lawmaker said on Monday.

And who watches the for profit watchmen?

Committee chair Rep. Henry Waxman, a vocal critic of the Iraq war, released details from Blackwater’s own reports of multiple incidents involving Iraqi casualties. The memorandum also slammed the State Department’s oversight of the company.

Not the State Department. A Democratic Representative with backbone.

Blackwater, which has been paid a little over $1 billion by the U.S. government since 2001, declined to comment on Waxman’s memorandum.

The State Department commented in usual Bush administration fashion: through damning actions (emphasis mine):

“It appears that the State Department’s primary response was to ask Blackwater to make monetary payments to put the ‘matter behind us’ rather than to insist upon accountability or to investigate Blackwater personnel for potential criminal liability,” said the memorandum.

Wow that sounds sketchy. Apparently Iraqi lives are worth 15,000 when murdered by Blackwater employees:

The State Department’s charge d’affaires recommended Blackwater make a “sizeable payment” and an “apology.” Waxman noted the State Department’s diplomatic security said that was too much and eventually Blackwater agreed on a $15,000 payment.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey declined to comment on specifics listed by Waxman but said the department was “scrupulous” in its oversight of all contractors.

I wonder how much money our citizens are worth? (Naomi Wolf, via pecunium, Majikthise)

Does Blackwater’s reputation for careless violence against civilians in Iraq, protected by legal indemnification, matter to us? Scahill reports at least one private contractor’s accounts of other contractors’ abrupt shooting in the direction of American civilians in the wake of Katrina: ‘After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped.’

Will any Blackwater employees be made to pay for their crimes? And will the US government continue paying these recklesly violent mercenaries for their services?


True Majority: Health Care for Kids


Late to work, and fortuitously so. I ran into True Majority‘s children’s health care display. (I wished I had my camera with me, instead my cell phone stood in. It is not an iphone, as you can see).

It was striking. Kids, organizers, reporters, and the curious all milling about. Two displays with the same bold statistic. Country after country displayed, alongside the estimated number of uninsured children. Britain: 0. Spain: 0. Canada: 0. And on and on until the United States: 9 million.

Its a damning statistic. And its not the only one. Americans strongly support universal health care, place that issue at the top of our domestic agenda, and we believe Democrats are the party that will stand and deliver (DarkSyde, DailyKos):

I can understand why conservatives are terrified of healthcare. It’s the tender Achilles heel of their failed ideology. It cuts across otherwise entrenched party lines and cracks open the most prized propaganda chestnuts of the right. And most important of all, it’s not just a political winner all the way around for Democrats, it’s a Republican massacre:

CBS — In the new poll, the public gives the Democrats a big edge over the Republicans on handling health care issues. Asked which party they believe will best improve the health care system, 62 percent said the Democrats, while just 19 percent said the Republicans.

NYT 2 March 2007 –A majority of Americans say the federal government should guarantee health insurance to every American, especially children, and are willing to pay higher taxes to do it, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. … access to affordable health care is at the top of the public’s domestic agenda, ranked far more important than immigration, cutting taxes or promoting traditional values.

August sums up how this will be perceived magnificently:

Democrats passed a bill funding one of the most popular social programs in our nation’s history. The Republican president vetoed it.

The name TrueMajority drives this point home quickly: This is where America stands.

True Majority Action Center: Children’s Health Care

Craig: The GOP’s Fake Threat

The Washington Post is reporting that the GOP is threatening to drag Craig through public hearings if he doesn’t resign:

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is a tough guy to run out of town.

Not that his Republican colleagues aren’t trying. Worried that the disgraced lawmaker intends to remain in the Senate indefinitely, they are threatening to notch up the public humiliation by seeking an open ethics hearing on the restroom scandal that enveloped Craig last month.

::cough:: bullshit ::cough::

The Republican’s worst fear is a prolonged period of public scrutiny on the Senator. He is a prime example of the hypocrisy of the social conservative movement.

This is nothing more than a pre-emptive strike in the event Democrats seek an ethics hearing:

The call for a public hearing is not unprecedented. In 1995, the Senate narrowly rejected holding an open forum to examine sexual misconduct allegations against Bob Packwood (R-Ore.). The Democrat who called for the open Packwood hearing? Barbara Boxer (Calif.), the current chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.

The Republicans really want Senator Craig to just go away. You can smell the sweat outside the beltway.