Fifteen hours and nine days

I don’t often (ever?) get personal here, but I’ll try to step back into the world a little and explain where I’ve been.

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The “new” death panel: raising the age of Medicare eligibility

At least for lower wage earners:

Andrew Sullivan: We know that average life expectancy went up less than 5 years overall in this period. But what’s somewhat stunning is how much of a disparity there is in these gains. The top half of earners gained more than 5 years of life at age 65. The bottom half of earners, though, gained less than a year. [...] If you raise the age of eligibility by two years, then you are taking away more years of Medicare than half the country gained in longer life. Moreover, we’ve already taken away these people’s Social Security. The Greenspan Commission in the early 1980s made it so that the retirement age is already 66. It’s scheduled to rise to 67. So those at the bottom half of the socioeconomic ladder have already lost more years of Social Security than they’ve gained in years of life expectancy at 65.


Memories of Andrew Breitbart 2009: what he tweeted upon hearing Ted Kennedy had passed away


Early this morning, news broke that Sen. Ted Kennedy had passed away after serving in the U.S. Senate for nearly 50 years. Soon after, conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart began a sustained assault on Kennedy’s memory, tweeting “Rest in Chappaquiddick.”

Over the course of the next three hours, Breitbart unapologetically attacked Kennedy, calling him a “villain,” “a big ass motherf@#$er,” a “duplicitous bastard” and a “prick.” “I’ll shut my mouth for Carter. That’s just politics. Kennedy was a special pile of human excrement,” wrote Breitbart in one tweet.

Fox “News” viewers’ comments on the death of Whitney Houston

Andrew Sullivan:

The untimely death of the great Whitney Houston cannot but provoke intense sadness. Fame can be like sunlight through a magnifying glass whose burning pain sometimes only drugs and then death seem to relieve. [...] And then you read one segment of Fox News viewers’ comments and you feel, like Charles Johnson, physically ill. 

Those commenters represent everything that lives underneath the modern Republican Party’s ‘big tent.’ And if you vote GOP, you’re going to have to acknowledge that you live there with them.

LEO down: Margaret Anderson: wife, mother, NPS ranger and tragic statistic

mothernaturenetwork:</p><br />
<p>Margaret Anderson: Wife, mother, ranger and tragic statisticOn Sunday, instead of being a wife, mother and NPS Ranger, Margaret Anderson became a statistic when she was shot and killed at Mount Rainier National Park. She was the first law enforcement officer, from all agencies, killed in the line of duty this year.</p><br />
<p>…<br /><br />
Her shooter was found dead Monday, his body partly submerged in Paradise Creek. He was wearing one tennis shoe, jeans and a T-shirt. An autopsy showed he drowned, with hypothermia contributing to his death….<br /><br />
In the first few hours of 2012, Mr. Barnes and a group of friends were playing “show and tell” with their guns when a fight broke out and Mr. Barnes and another individual are believed to have shot four people. Mr. Barnes then traveled to Mount Rainier to hide from authorities. </p><br />
<p>Benjamin Colton Barnes” /></a></div>
<p><a href=mothernaturenetwork:

Margaret Anderson: Wife, mother, ranger and tragic statistic
On Sunday, instead of being a wife, mother and NPS Ranger, Margaret Anderson became a statistic when she was shot and killed at Mount Rainier National Park. She was the first law enforcement officer, from all agencies, killed in the line of duty this year.

Her shooter was found dead Monday, his body partly submerged in Paradise Creek. He was wearing one tennis shoe, jeans and a T-shirt. An autopsy showed he drowned, with hypothermia contributing to his death….

In the first few hours of 2012, Mr. Barnes and a group of friends were playing “show and tell” with their guns when a fight broke out and Mr. Barnes and another individual are believed to have shot four people. Mr. Barnes then traveled to Mount Rainier to hide from authorities.

Benjamin Colton Barnes

On news of Gaddafi: “if Obama were a Republican, he’d be on Mount Rushmore by now.”

“To rid the world of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi within six months: if Obama were a Republican, he’d be on Mount Rushmore by now.”Andrew Sullivan 

The first rule of GOP Fight Club: never give credit to a Democrat.

NBC poll: 80% said it was the right decision to kill bin Laden

Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.” — President Obama

  • 80% of Americans said it was the right decision to kill the al Qaeda leader 
  • 11% said was the wrong decision, and
  • 9% were not sure.

It’s a little reassuring that 8 out of 10 people surveyed do not need their heads examined.

One killed in explosion at Aberdeen Proving Grounds “Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense” lab

Body of Contractor Killed in Aberdeen Proving Grounds Explosion will be flown back to his native India Monday. ATF is investigating. (Emphasis mine):

As the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives continues investigating the explosion at Aberdeen Proving Ground last Saturday that killed contractor Dr. Nanaj Bhamare, a friend of the worker has told Patch that Bhamare’s body will be flown back to India for burial.

[...] “They also requested our assistance due to the complexity of the explosives, fire scene,” [Clare A. Weber, a representative from the ATF field office in Baltimore] said of APG. “In addition to the explosion, then subsequent fire, the scene contained chem, bio-hazards as well as bloodborne pathogens, which ATF has better capabilities to handle.

The explosion and subsequent fire happened yesterday about 3:00 PM EST at a lab in the Edgewood area of the installation — specifically the Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense laboratory. No one else was injured. Bhamare was a subcontractor to Battelle under an Army contract, and had been working at APG for only a couple of months.

It makes you wonder.

RIP, of course

But John Cole said pretty much everything I was thinking when I heard Geraldine Ferraro had died.


Alex, the Lieutenant: Letter From Afghanistan

Wednesday – Letter From Afghanistan: Shaken to the Core
Posted By: Alex, the Lieutenant

[...] My radios are not working. It was explained to me once that an explosion sends out an electromagnetic shock wave that causes radios to reset. After a few seconds the voices of my platoon fill my ears. “Are you okay!?!” I key my mic and try to transmit out, but nobody can hear me. My gunner spins around in the turret waving a thumbs-up. Everyone gets the message.

We wheel my vehicle around and accelerate toward the wreckage. An arm on the ground here. A hand over there. Another small child, his skull crushed in. An old bearded man missing a leg and both arms, his head bent under him, the bones at the base of his neck exposed. Chunks of flesh. The acrid smell of explosives lingers. We pull up two vehicles. From every direction my Soldiers come running, sprinting despite the heavy load they carry. Olive-drab-green first-aid bags appear. …

The next 20 minutes seem unreal to me. We do everything we can. Some of the van’s occupants are dying. Some are too far gone. One middle-aged man has a broken jaw and blood is pouring from his mouth. He has no teeth. His eyes are shut and he keeps moaning while the right side of his body twitches. There is one teenage boy. He does the characteristic Afghan squat as he stares at the ground, face expressionless. The blood coming from his ears traces down his temples, drying on his high cheekbones. There is a deep blast crater in the ground. The loose sand is charred from the explosives.

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BP is burning sea turtles alive

Buzzfeed: Mike Ellis is a boat captain who’s been rescuing the endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles near Deepwater Horizon.

He’s got some pretty horrifying news to share: BP is burning turtles caught in the oil spill and turning away rescue workers who want to save them.

Watch Video ›


Death by fire in the gulf: Sea life incinerated alive in ‘burn boxes’

So-called burn boxes are torching oil from the water’s surface at the sacrifice of turtles, crabs, sea slugs and other sea life.

[Desdemona Despair]


PTSD and the Myth of WW II

When I posted Abandoned hospitals: Greystone Park State Hospital – Morris Plains, NJ yesterday, under the section “Some History” was this fact:

In just four years after Greystone opened, it was already accommodating around 800 patients in a facility designed for 600. …Patient numbers are believed to have peaked in 1953 with an impressive 7,674 people packed into spaces designed for significantly fewer. An explanation for this dramatic increase can be found in the fact that World War II had ended and left many soldiers requiring treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, which included procedures such as insulin shock therapy and electroconvulsive therapy.

With this being Memorial Day, I was thinking about the many sacrifices that have been made by our service men and women, including their mental health and well-being.

Then I found this excellent post from Progressive Historians:

PTSD and the Myth of WW II

Another myth of good wars versus bad wars is that only the combat veterans from Vietnam suffered lasting adjustment problems; the 1945 vet came home to enjoy prosperity, satisfied with a job well done, and with few qualms about the war…But some suffered an anguish that damaged their lives and that of their families. For some, the stress continues even today.-Michael C.C. Adams, The Best War Ever: America and World War II

When do we let go of the myth that only in “bad” wars do combat veterans suffer from mental wounds? When do we let go of the idea that only weak people are affected by the overwhelming mental stress of combat? Because that myth is killing America’s young veterans today, as witnessed by Ilona’s rec’d diary over at dKos.

But history suggests that the inherent justness of the war cause doesn’t cause or prevent PTSD; if it did, then the “Greatest Generation,” fighting in the Second World War,  would have had no problems, right? Yet they did. Below the fold is a look at how PSTD affected combat veterans in “the Best War Ever.”

Read the entire thing. It’s well worth your time.

Thank you

To honor the bravery and sacrifice of America’s service men and women and their families

A Memorial Day video tribute:


Richard Sullivan writes:

Sixty-five years ago my Dad shot this film along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, capturing [the] spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender.



Photos of Memorial Day 2009 from

Collected here are a handful of photographs for remembrance, acknowledging some of the men and women who have passed in conflicts from the U.S. Civil War through Iraq and Afghanistan today.


Soliders from the U.S. Army Old Guard place flags at grave stones at Arlington National Cemetery May 21, 2009 in Arlington, Virginia. It took 1,300 soldiers, sailors and Marines about three hours to place a flag at each of the more than 300,000 gravestones at Arlington ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


Visitors walk among white marble crosses at the American Cemetery, in Colleville sur Mer. Traces of World War II can still be found across this stretch of Normandy, on the beaches, in the museums and above all, in the cemeteries where President Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkzoy and some of the last veterans will commemorate the 65th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 landings in just a couple weeks. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)


Laura Youngblood, widow of U.S. Navy Petty Officer Travis L. Youngblood, touches his gravestone while visiting his grave in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery during the Memorial Day weekend in Arlington, Virginia, May 24, 2009. Youngblood died of wounds received in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in July of 2005 in Iraq. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)


Joe Landaker poses at his home in Big Bear City, Calif., with a portrait of his son, Jared, a Marine helicopter pilot who died on his last mission in Iraq. Landaker is among more than 300 volunteers who honor veterans buried in Riverside National Cemetery by reading their names leading up to Memorial Day each year. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)


Evelyn Shepherd of Colonial Beach touches the gravestone of her late husband, Korean and Vietnam wars veteran Clarence Shepherd, during her visit to Quantico National Cemetery in Triangle, Va., on Sunday May 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Aleks Dolzenko, News & Messenger)


Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, commanding general of the United States Army Accessions Command, presents an American flag to Heather Jackson the fiance of Army Staff Sgt. William D. Vile, 27, of Philadelphia, Pa., Thursday, May 21, 2009, during burial services at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. According to the Department of Defense, Vile died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using direct fire on May 1 near the village of Nishagam, in Konar Province, Afghanistan. Vile was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. Also holding an American flag at left is Donna Vile, Staff Sgt. Vile's mother. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

See the entire set of photos here:


President Barack Obama will deliver the Memorial Day address

at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery’s 11th Annual Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 31, 2010. A prelude to the official ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. The official ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m. All Memorial Day activities will be held at the main flag pole within the cemetery. This event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.

Memorial Day resources: Department of Veterans Affairs



RIP, Dennis Hopper

I posted this pic from Roger Ebert’s twitstream just a couple weeks ago!

RIP, Dennis Hopper.


WaPo: Dennis Hopper photos: 1936-2010