Friday, January 06, 2006

Who Is Number One?

On New Years Eve, I mentioned that I would have more to say about Bush’s domestic spying. I was referring to this post, though I admit that it took me awhile to get around to it (probably because I knew it would be a long one).

The more I see of how Bushco operates (and barring impeachment, we have three years left of this – as always, THANK YOU RED STATE VOTERS), the more I’m reminded of the landmark TV series “The Prisoner,” starring Patrick McGoohan (backgrounder here). It was for its time, and remains, a truly surreal, thought-provoking series that makes you question any sort of authority whatsoever and yourself as well a bit, as far as I was concerned. There’s a lot more that I could say about it, but instead, I’ll just link to Bruce Clark’s great fan club site called “Six Of One” if you want to learn more (I guess Dubya and Cheney reside in “The Green Dome” where No. 2 changed every week in the T.V. series, with Congress serving the usually pliant role of the late Angelo Muscat as the silent, diminutive butler).

Remember that Bush proclaimed himself as “the CEO president” when he was originally installed into the job by the Supreme Court (I must have been asleep in civics class the day they discussed that function of our government, because somehow I’m not sure that ever was intended by our founding fathers). As far as I’m concerned, Bush has truly made good on that promise. I mention that because “The Prisoner,” in my experience, perfectly captures all of the loathing, paranoia, and dread both of corporate America as a whole as well as the administration of George W. Bush (and as we’ve already seen, this administration is SO GRACIOUS when it comes to considering other points of view besides their own, aren’t they?).

To further examine this, we should consider The Patriot Act as a logical extension of this administration’s wish to intrude into as many areas of our lives as it possibly can, with the professed, Orwellian goal of somehow “making us free.” Yes, I know Bush supporters would counter that no terrorist attacks have occurred on our soil since 9/11 and Dubya’s “Big Brother” policies are the reason why, and of course I would immediately refute that.

My personal belief is that nothing has happened yet because the enemies who profess to hate us the most are tied up in Iraq and elsewhere in that area, and though they continue to have a presence in this country and elsewhere, they need coordination from overseas which is difficult for them right now (not discounting the possibility of something happening, just the immediate likelihood). Also, I will acknowledge that there is probably a hell of a lot of fine work going on right now by agents in the FBI and the CIA to prevent future attacks that we can’t know about now or maybe ever, but I don’t give Bush credit for that any more than I would give it to Clinton. Besides, as part of Dubya’s whole “fear and smear” show during the ’04 presidential campaign against John Kerry, he said that he could protect us and the other guy couldn’t, and Hurricane Katrina laid that lie bare for the entire world to see.

Now, as an extension of the Patriot Act (or maybe with the Patriot Act providing cover), we of course now have the revelations of Dubya’s domestic spying. This is in conflict with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; also, many others, including Atrios, have pointed out by now that Dubya has gone on record as stating that he would not conduct domestic spying without a court order, to wit (excerpted from this link):

…Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
Of course, we all know now that he was lying (which, as far as I’m concerned, is an impeachable offense all by itself), conducting his spying through the National Security Agency, which has much looser guidelines for its activity than the FBI or the CIA (there’s a reason why it’s commonly referred to as, “No Such Agency”). Dubya was simply trying to do something in as expedient a manner for him as possible, in concert with his belief of his imperial presidency, as opposed to a legally correct manner.

And now, as we must, we come to the response from Wingnuttia. Here is the latest bit of supposed wisdom from right-wing gurus Glenn Reynolds and Ann Althouse on this subject as noted by the Crooked Timber site (inevitable hat tip to Atrios).

As CT noted so well, it is plainly obvious (to CT, me, and a good many others, I would suspect), that the Plame leak compromised national security and violated a statute prohibiting such behavior (if not, why would Patrick Fitzgerald continue to investigate it?). Bush’s NSA spying was a comparable violation in a way; the revelation of that activity was not.

Also, Atrios and The Daily Kos have been challenging the right-wing trolls at their sites to step up and offer a valid explanation as to how Bush’s domestic spying actually makes us safer, and thus far, none have done it yet (not surprising).

Update 1/7: Glenn Greenwald (obligatory hat tip to Atrios) provides more evidence of "full-mooner" ignorance on this (I believe Hinderaker is the proprietor of Powerline, named "Blog Of The Year" by Time Magazine...I actually find that to be amusing).

In addition to the illegality of Bush’s activity, another problem is that skirting the law in this way hurts our ability to prosecute those who are truly a threat to this country (I referred to the whole circus with Jose Padilla previously, as well as the fact that we have neither caught nor prosecuted Osama bin Laden – assuming he is still alive – and have not obtained convictions for anyone else associated with the 9/11 attacks). If we were putting people away with Bush’s methods, then I would have given him something of the benefit of the doubt, to be honest (I also have a feeling that Gonzales and the DOJ aren’t doing a good job of sharing information overseas to apprehend these people, but I can’t prove that yet – it also concerns me that recent court rulings have not supported Bushco’s tactics). However, it is plain that we aren’t convicting anyone, which to me is a clear indicator that something is wrong.

But of course, Dubya remains unconvinced, claiming (as noted in USA Today on 12/20) that he, “wants Senators from New York or Los Angeles or Las Vegas to go home and explain why those cities are safer” (he was piqued, see, over the Senate filibuster of the Patriot Act, which ended up being extended for only one month). Of course, how coincidental is it that those senators just happen to be Democrats (discounting Repug John Ensign of Nevada)?

Well, I don’t know about Dubya, but apparently, Mike (“City Of Louisiana”) Chertoff doesn’t consider Las Vegas to be that high of a priority (go get 'em, Harry!).

OK, I think we’ve pretty much looked at the present status quo on this matter as much as we can. But what of the future?

I came across this article (more like a thesis, really) written by Richard Clarke for The Atlantic about a year ago (we know who Clarke is, of course….terrorism czar for four presidents, Dubya ignored him prior to 9/11, the only one who has shown any contrition for what happened, etc.). He theorizes a ten-year battle with terrorism, and I have a feeling that that is a conservative estimate.

It took me awhile to get through this, but the read was worth it. I think you will recognize some scenarios that he concocts here (such as the controversy over trying to weaken the Posse-Comitatus Act which we faced a few months ago).

Clarke’s detailed knowledge as shown here absolutely took my breath away. What does it say that an individual with this kind of analytical ability was pretty much driven from this administration with the right-wing echo chamber trying to discredit him every step of the way?

As far as I’m concerned, if Bush were REALLY trying to make us safer, he would operate within the limits of the law to let other countries know that we’re serious about working with them to fight this scourge. Or would doing that indicated that “the terrorists have already won”?

Just remember this adage from “The Prisoner,” and everything Dubya does makes sense:

“Questions are a burden to others, and answers are a burden to oneself.”

That describes the modus operandi of Bushco perfectly.

Be seeing you.

(By the way, as you can see, the turf battles over this are playing out at this moment - good for John Conyers for trying to get to the bottom of this garbage.)

(Also, this is the next logical step in our Orwellian nightmare.)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Freedom vs. Fear

I'll let you figure out which is which, though it's obvious to me.

This first column from James P. Pinkerton of Newsday was reprinted in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Liberty matters, but security matters more

Could 2005 be remembered as the year mass surveillance became normal, even popular?
I smell trouble right away with an idiotic supposition like that. Does Pinkerton think we're all lemmings just waiting to let the government decide when it feels it have the right to turn our lives upside down? Maybe he does (a curious attitude for a Repug, if in fact that's what he is.)

Revelations about the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping rocked the civil liberties establishment, but the country as a whole didn't seem upset. Instead, the American people, mindful of the possible danger we face, seem happy enough that Uncle Sam is taking steps to keep up with the new technology.
"The country as a whole didn't seem upset," huh? Do you have any clue at all as to what is going on in the lefty blogosphere over this? What constitutes "the country as a whole," by the way? Any state south of the Mason-Dixon line and west of the Mississippi River? And I guess everyone in these areas was too busy going deaf listening to music on their iPods (TM) too loudly to realize that they were getting sold down the river.

Ask yourself: Do you think it's a bad idea for the feds, as U.S. News & World Report mentioned, to monitor Islamic sites inside the United States for suspicious radiation leaks?
The phrase, "suspicious radiation leaks from Islamic sites," aside from being vague, has suddenly popped up all over the place throughout our corporate media over the last day or so as some kind of justification for Bush's illegal spying. Has anyone besides me noticed that?

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is up in arms - but are you? If you were to read in the paper that some FBI agent has gotten in trouble over pointing a Geiger counter at a mosque, would you be inclined to give the FBI agent the benefit of the doubt? I thought so.
More "divide and conquer" Repug sympathizer BS - what is it that they would expect to find exactly? Material to make bombs that could be detonated remotely and spew chemical agents all over the place? If that's what the danger is, then give us some clue. I know you can't tell us everything, but give us a hint at least. As taxpayers paying salaries of FBI agents, don't we deserve at least that much? Besides, I've read about the FBI conducting surveillance lately on all kinds of people who aren't doing anything illegal. And I love the way Pinkerton just casually blows off a group of people who could provide valuable assistance to us by telling them that their concerns don't matter.

The Dec. 28 issue of USA Today details government plans to deploy security agents at major airports to engage in "behavioral screening." That is, agents chat up passengers, looking for anything suspicious. It's a tactic that's worked in Israel for years, and it's being introduced here, starting with Boston's Logan Airport - the departure point, remember, for two of the 9/11 doomed flights.
Uh, yes, we remember. We'll never forget, actually. How much does Pinkerton think this will actually help? Maybe the Israelis do it - I'll give him the benefit of the doubt - but I'm sure they don't approach someone unless they have MUCH BETTER INTELLIGENCE ON THIS PERSON than we could ever have right now. Besides, it's not like we've ended up detaining people for no reason (see Padilla, Jose) by skirting the rules, right (profiling, in a word)?

Hey, give it a shot, but just don't expect it to be a panacea, OK? And DON'T abuse this tactic and drag in the wrong perp, as it were, and use our tax money in unnecessary litigation to correct your mistake.

But of course, the Massachusetts ACLU already has sued to oppose any such program. Whom do you think the overwhelming majority of Americans want to see prevail on this question? Yes, civil liberties matter, but the majority has rights, too, and if the majority puts a premium on the nation's safety, that view deserves respect.
OK, I'll go along with that. But how about some more details on the ACLU's suit? Oh, sorry...I forgot; that's a bad "liberal" group that just has to be wrong here, doesn't it?

Some say these government actions are taking us closer to 1984. But, in fact, the key year was 1651.
OK, I'm going to stop here for a minute because I sense another one of these "how barbaric we human beings are and aren't we lucky we've been civilized for so long and how lucky we are now to have Dubya who understands the enemy at this time and place" moments that the Repugs and their sympathizers love so much, as if all of the hard-earned success that this country has enjoyed prior to January 2001 was some kind of happy accident. They can't justify what Dubya does in a present-day context, so they feel they have to try and do so by revisiting the distant past. Un-freaking-believable!

That's when the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes published The Leviathan, a hugely influential political science tome that laid the intellectual groundwork for a strong central government. Hobbes wrote that in a state of nature, without benefit of law and law enforcement, life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." He believed in strong government, but he was no totalitarian. Instead, he was reacting to the Wars of Religion that had raged across Europe for the previous century and a half, in which Catholics and Protestants enthusiastically burned and butchered one another by the millions. His own country had just been wracked by a decade-long civil war.

Clearly, a powerful state was needed - a regime that, as he put it, would possess a monopoly of force within the society. Would people lose some of their freedoms? Sure they would, and among the freedoms lost was the freedom to hack to death the deviationist next door.
More "lizard brained, run for your lives because al Qaeda is spending every waking moment of its life trying to figure out how to kill us in our beds" garbage (yes, they're horrible and dangerous, but we fight them with strength, resolve, and common sense, not utter panic).

We like to think we have made progress in the four centuries since, especially here in the United States. But we're up against a basic reality: As populations grow denser, and as technology improves, there's a natural need for more regulation to keep people's elbows, and machines, from banging into each other.
So it's the fault of technology and overpopulation? Gee, maybe I'll just go dig out "Quest For Fire" from my musty VHS tape collection, sit around and watch it for a few days and de-evolve into a caveman (dreaming of a youthful Rae Dawn Chong) and pretend that the problem will go away, huh? That makes about as much sense as your last sentence.

That's why, for example, Wyoming is a more libertarian place than New York City.

Out West, where miles might separate people, you can pretty much do what you want. But, if millions are going to live close to one another, then lots of red tape is going to thread itself around each resident, governing not only obvious concerns such as weapons and pollution, but matters such as noise abatement and cigarette smoking.
So I guess I should buy a burnoose and move to Nebraska? Here I come, Hafez El Achim Kenny Bob Dupree! Git along, little doggies (praise Allah).

And now, in the name of homeland security, more regulating - spying, if you prefer - is coming.

Even so, someday, somewhere, a Big One is going to go off. And after that, all controversies about civil liberties - and, by the way, immigration - will look different in the eyes of the survivors. An updated Hobbesian paradigm of governance will emerge - unless, of course, it's an Orwellian paradigm instead.
I can't believe people actually get paid to write this crap. Where's Major Bowes' hook when you need it?

Now for some common sense (and a bit of inspiration) from Paul Campos.

Just Ignore Him

I have a message for every lefty blogger in the universe (regarding this).

Just ignore him (I just posted that at Brandoland a few minutes ago).

I'm serious.

Why anyone would fail to understand that the guy is a total, unredeemable whack job at this point is owing to nothing but completely invincible stupidity on the part of the people who actually take him seriously (and you know who I'm referring to, both the speaker and his audience). At this point, neither he nor the people who follow him can be reached, as far as I'm concerned. And it's not like this hasn't happened before.

We have many other battles to fight. Please save your energy for the ones that really matter.

Thank you. You may now return to your regular programming.

Update 1/6: OK, I've reconsidered. We can't just give this looney tune a pass, I know. It's just that, if we tried to catalogue every stupid thing he's ever said like this, we'd be too busy to do anything else.

The Hidden Answer

I read about this story yesterday on The Huffington Post, and it’s been running around in my head a lot over the last couple of days. It sounds like the cleric and the agnostic are too busy yelling at each other to try and understand the other’s point of view, so I’ll try to help.

The judge (Gaetano Mautone) told the cleric to prove that Christ exists. In terms of recognizing a person that many of us who are Christian have studied and read about for many years, that is impossible, and the judge is a shameless, publicity-seeking grandstander (and I’m being polite) for ignoring that fact. Along with (I suspect) many other Christians, I was taught, through movies, books, and other schooling, that He looked like H.B. Warner, Jeffrey Hunter, Max Von Sydow, Robert Powell, Willem Dafoe, or Jim Caviezel. Still others believe that Jesus had dark skin (not unlikely, actually, since he lived and taught in the area we now know as the Middle East), and I had an interesting discussion with a guy once who believed that, during his 40 days in the desert, He actually journeyed to Asia, since a lot of the Catholic teachings based on the New Testament have to do with internal behavior and creating “a revolution from within,” if you will, akin to Buddhism, as opposed to all of the drama of the Old Testament.

Since I don’t expect to ever encounter Him in this world (though I “know not the time and place,” as He taught), I expect to find him in signs, behaviors, and “little miracles,” if you will, such as:

- When a loved one emerges from a life-saving medical procedure with mind and body in tact

- Even when someone suffers an injury or disease, they manage to still retain enough of themselves to provide strength and comfort to others.

- When someone has interviewed for a job just as their unemployment is about to run out, and through hard work and diligence, they obtain that job.

- At a time when your car is broken down by the side of the road and you cannot call for help because your cell phone is dead, someone stops by, helps you change a tire with a friendly word or two, and refuses to take any money from you despite your strenuous objections.

- At a time of momentous, grievous sorrow, others stop by to provide strength and comfort, including people you never knew but somehow know of you and want to help.

- When a previously inexplicable mystery in life is somehow revealed to you and you realize that you’ve completed a step along your journey to what will (hopefully) be eternal peace

- When you speak the truth despite overwhelming or even slight difficulty

At times such as these, I believe that Our Lord reveals Himself to us. I sincerely hope that, one day, Judge Mautone comes to understand that.

Get Ready To "Go Deep"

So now it is official; Lynn Swann is going to run for governor of Pennsylvania.

Now for the next question; what makes him so special?

Yes, I know he’s one of the all-time great NFL wide receivers for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their Super Bowl teams. Yes, I know he’s established himself as a motivational speaker and sits on boards of directors for three companies and has also served as chairman on the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports.

(Actually, I didn’t know that, to be honest. I found it out from his slick-looking website which has a lot of nice-sounding boilerplate stuff on it, including “The Two-Minute Drill,” which is a combination questionnaire if you want to become a campaign volunteer and also an issues survey. I have to admit that that’s a cute idea, though the Repugs are nothing if not clever.)

However, the only thing I’ve heard from him that remotely resembles a policy position is something along the lines of Pennsylvania having problems because of government going back for 30 years or something like that (I’ll keep looking for a link). That is EXACTLY the sort of IDIOTIC CLAPTRAP that we DO NOT NEED TO HEAR! Also, from his website, he states the following:

(Swann’s) proposals would cost the state more than $2 billion in forgone revenue in the first years of (his) administration. He acknowledged that the cuts would force severe reductions in state spending in the short term, although he declined to specify where those cuts might fall. He contended that his proposals would spur economic growth resulting in higher revenues in years to come.

"Pennsylvania can't afford not to cut these taxes,'' Mr. Swann said.”In the first couple of years, our budget will be tight. It will require us to re-examine state government in order to make this historic investment in our economy, but it will pay off in the end."
(Where have we heard this before? Maybe from every other Repug who has ever existed for the last 30 or so years…)

This state has a lot of problems mainly due to idiotic provincialism from all of the guilty parties in state government (and by the way, $2 billion is a hell of a lot of revenue to lose in this state). That is made worse by the fact that these characters are continually returned to office by voters who don’t do their homework. I realize that I shouldn’t engage in generalities like that without evidence, but I could make this post exasperatingly long if I named everyone who falls into this category (both on the Dem and Repug sides). I also realize that this is probably true of most other states in this country.

The biggest problem is that we can’t afford for this status quo to continue. Partly because of high energy costs (and other reasons), we lose out on businesses who may want to set up operations here (as well as facing the distinct possibility of losing the ones we already have). Swann thus far has managed to charm the Repug-friendly business roundtable types, which I guess is a good start in addressing this issue, but in this state, there is a hell of a lot more to do in governing than that.

We need someone to bridge gaps and build partnerships. I definitely believe that Rendell has tried to do that, but there are two big problems, neither of which are his fault as far as I’m concerned: 1) He came from Philadelphia, which is an area hated by many in the state legislature along with Pittsburgh to a degree, and 2) The people he has to reach have NO REASON WHATSOEVER to go along with him.

Rendell is also truly caught in the middle, dealing with a Republican legislature and a Republican government in Washington. However, that’s the way the cards have been dealt, and he’s enough of a warrior to realize that and do the best he can.

I know the possibility exists that Swann could somehow possess leadership qualities, but so far he hasn’t shown me anything. Yes, I know the campaign hasn’t even really started yet, and other people I know have said I should take it easy on him and give him a chance to prove himself. Fair enough.

OK, then, Mr. Swann, I have some questions for you:

Can you discuss with account holders at the M&T Bank in Altoona the benefit of fixing student loan rates at 6.8 percent in the event that interest rates start sliding again at some point in a few years? (I should point out that fixing that rate was included in the Deficit Reduction Act passed by the U.S. Repug House last November; I know that legislation was enacted nationally, but it has local implications, and I’d like to know how Swann feels about that.)

Are you prepared to justify the fact, during a town meeting in Bensalem, Pa., that the PA legislature needs to act on any one of the three bills currently pending to raise the state minimum wage, especially since wage growth in this country is at its lowest rate in 40 years? (I GUARANTEE you that Swann will say that doing that would hurt small business, at which point I would challenge him to produce evidence in support of that claim.)

Here’s something else: Do you support the efforts of Gov. Rendell to bring casino gaming to this state for property tax relief? If not, what is your alternative plan?
I will be very interested to hear what you have to say about these and other matters affecting Pennsylvania beyond the feel-good rhetorical pabulum you have presented thus far.

If you, in fact, have no response, then you should reconsider your candidacy immediately and withdraw.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Do It For Those Who Serve

(and the rest of us also...)

I have a question for anyone who voted for Dubya still riding around with a “Support Our Troops” decal on your vehicle.

When the hell are you going to “get with the program” and join us?

Our service people have gotten the message by now (and they're also no longer allowed to get it out, and yes, I realize that they must be cautious, but somehow I think many of them know that). They know that they were sold a bill of goods to go over and fight an enemy that no longer had a nuclear capability (and by the way, if you don’t want to believe Risen, fine; try believing Hans Blix of the IAEA who said the same thing Risen said before Iraq War II began). And I don’t know about you, but without links to al Qaeda, nukes was the only threat I cared about from Hussein, which I and many others believed that he had at the time from Bushco’s lies.

Try to imagine losing a son or daughter as a result of this fraud. Try to imagine living your life with a permanent, disabling injury sustained in the carnage resulting from this debacle. Try to imagine recovering from post-traumatic stress.

Try to imagine living with the knowledge that the injury or death of a service member likely resulted (in a good many cases, anyway) from not being properly equipped before they were sent into battle.

Try to imagine the remains of a loved one flown back from overseas stuffed in the luggage compartment of a jumbo jet.

Given all of this, I think the best thing you can do to "support our troops" is to do your part to defend freedom here before you tell them to go defend it (or something that remotely approximates it) in Iraq.

Oh, but you still support Duyba for some reason?

Here are more reasons to wake up.

Bushco steals the presidential election in November 2000 and fights every effort by Al Gore for a single hand recount (yes, Gore screwed up by not requesting a recount of the whole state but that is trivial by comparison now). Yes, I also know that is “so pre-9/11” (which happened on Dubya’s watch), but guess what? It still matters (and don't get me started on '04 either).

Bushco ignores the dire warnings of Richard Clarke prior to the destruction of the World Trade Center, the attack on the Pentagon, and the PA plane crash.

Paul O'Neill, former Treasury Secretary who at least knows how to manage a corporation and not bleed it dry, questions Bushco and is promptly booted and ridiculed.

Scientific data is either ignored or manipulated to the point where it is unrecognizable from its original form (leading to, among other things, an increase in global warming which aided the devastation of Hurricane Katrina).

They concoct a case for war in Iraq based on lies that collapse in the face of truth like tissue paper in a stiff wind (generals such as Eric Shinseki play the Paul O'Neill role and get the same treatment). They also fail to protect our troops by failing to provide for them.

They foist the unbelievable lie on the American people that they actually support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage, knowing full well that such an amendment will NEVER PASS (and red state voters, in their everlasting stupidity, fall for the ruse and vote for Dubya so they can feel comfortable with their prejudices at the expense of everything else).

Bushco changes its rationale for war to try and prop up something that approximates Democracy to them in Iraq with this vote for a constitution that basically excludes the Sunnis and a vote for a congress that the Sunnis now allege was rigged, which of course gives them some cover for FINALLY drawing down our troops, which was long overdue (assuming they should have even been there to begin with).

In the process of trying to erode our civil liberties beyond all recognition, Bushco now says that the President and the NSA have the right to eavesdrop on our conversations and the FBI has the right to conduct surveillance on "unfriendly" domestic organizations. Of course, the simple fact which is eminently inconvenient for Dubya is that such activity is illegal (the FISA exists to provide guidelines for doing this, and it remains laughably easy to get a court order for such activity).

(By the way, this is only a partial list of Bushco's transgressions to date).

Am I the only one who sees a pattern in this behavior?

With all of this in mind, here is what should be our New Year's Resolution in this country:

Kill the snake by cutting off its head, and Impeach George W. Bush’s sorry ass right now!

Update: Want still another reason? Ask yourself if this delusional neophyte is making it any safer for our service people by creating this hideous precedent.

Whispering Down The Lane

Dear God, what a way to have to return to this.

Before I say another word, I wish to extend my deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of the victims of this disaster. They need our support at this time more than anything else.

That having been said, however, I should point out that I just saw West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin interviewed on MSNBC, and the reporter (I don’t think it was Kyra Phillips – I didn’t hang around long enough to find out) basically asked him why the families of the miners weren’t notified as to their status in as up-to-date a manner as possible, and Manchin gave this rambling answer which, as far as I’m concerned, communicated to me that there was so much confusion that he didn’t know. I think Manchin is a good, hard working man who, basically in this situation, was in completely over his head.

I think the main question is who knew what, and when, between the hours of 11:45 (when the East Coast papers had to go to print with the news that the miners were alive, which had been confirmed by Manchin) and 2:45, when the families were told that the miners were dead. Based on Manchin’s answer to MSNBC, I believe that he and his people weren’t controlling the flow of communication on this in any kind of professional manner.

(To digress briefly, let me point out that, though you KNOW how I feel about Bushco if you have any familiarity with this site at all, you probably also know that I have a grudging admiration for the way that they control the words and pictures of news events, seeing as how many of them have backgrounds in public and media relations. The problem is that they do this primarily for propaganda purposes. Manchin could have used some of them to manage the information related to this disaster.)

Also, anyone who has any familiarity with working in a hospital knows how important it is to have a disaster plan and a command and control center that truly manages everything. The friends and relatives in the church should NOT have found out the status of their loved ones from cell phone calls from inside the mine (and by the way, how dumb is it to be calling from a cell phone from two miles beneath the earth when an inadvertent electromagnetic charge of some kind could have sparked a wholly other disaster? How prudent is it to be using these communication devices in such tight quarters?). They should have found out EVERYTHING from the command and control center and no place else (actually, I don’t think those at the command and control center knew how to substantiate the information that they had and, apparently, just communicated everything – it’s hard to hold back when you have people pleading to know how their loved ones are doing, but that’s part of the job unfortunately). I think this had a lot to do with the miscommunication surrounding this tragedy.

We have quite a bit of experience in Pennsylvania with mining disasters, by the way. This link takes you to information on the Quecreek mine accident in 2002. One thing I remember the most about that is how excruciating it was to know that the men were trapped, but we really didn’t know anything for the duration of the three days (nothing could be confirmed, anyway). That was necessary, though. Now granted, there were very different circumstances involved here, the biggest of which being that, with Quecreek, the biggest threat was water seeping into the mine, as opposed to carbon monoxide with this latest tragedy. Also, some of the miners had been able to warn others to get out at Quecreek. I don’t know whether or not there was time for anyone to be warned in this tragedy – we may know if Randal McCloy is ever revived, depending on his condition.

Update 1 1/4: Bravo Arianna! I hadn't given much thought to the reckless reporting behind this awful event, though I certainly acknowledge that no one is trying to "make hay" over it either.

Update 2 1/4: CNN has more...

Update 1/5: Why am I not surprised?

Another thing I remember about Quecreek is what a good job Mark Schweiker did of making sure all information and announcements were either approved by him or issued by him directly. For a Republican, I have to admit that he really stood tall, and to be honest, I don’t know if Ed Rendell would have beaten him in the gubernatorial election later that year had he decided to run based on his Quecreek performance. Mike Fisher, the Republican candidate who was pretty much a token, still swept the middle of the state (not surprising, given the fact that it is heavily rural composed of a lot of people who would sooner shoot themselves than vote for a Democrat) in a closer outcome than anyone expected.

By the way, Itsez has a good take on this today, along with why we should all support "Hillary-care" as the Repugs so derisively called it years ago when she and Bill ran things (speaking of the New York senator, Atrios, quite rightly, finds it hilarious that the No. 1 boogeyman - boogeyperson? - as far as the jackbooted conservative knuckleheads in this country are concerned is pretty much skating right now because the Repugs can't find anyone to run against her).