Thursday Mashup Part One (6/10/10)

  • 1) I haven’t said anything to this point about the retirement of Helen Thomas from the White House press corps because I think there are more important matters out there for us to learn about. Yes, it was wrong for her to say that Israel should get the hell out of Palestine and go back to Germany and Poland, or whatever, but she did apologize right away after she spoke. However, since she is not a conservative and has a history of speaking out against Israel, our corporate media demanded swift retribution.

    What made me turn my attention to this matter was this recent column from Cal Thomas (hardly a relation), in particular the following…

    Helen Thomas’ real sin — in addition to the obvious — is that she exposed Washington journalists as having strong personal opinions about the subjects they cover.

    And with that in mind, I give you the following from C. Thomas about a certain former first lady and Democratic presidential candidate (here)…

    In his July 10 nationally syndicated column, Cal Thomas discussed a July 7 New York Times article that reported that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) “said she believed in the resurrection of Jesus, though she described herself as less sure of the doctrine that being a Christian is the only way to salvation.” Thomas asserted: “This is a politician speaking, not a person who believes in the central tenets of Christianity.”

    Talk about your “strong personal opinions”…

    And besides, the whole dustup over Helen Thomas is the tempest in the proverbial teapot when you consider the following from here, namely that…

    On May 31st Israeli commandos killed at least nine unarmed volunteers attempting to take humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

    According to eyewitness reports and forensic evidence, many of these aid volunteers were shot at close range, including a 19-year-old American citizen killed by four bullets to the head and one to the chest fired from 18 inches away.

    Israel immediately imprisoned eyewitnesses and hundreds of other aid participants, confiscated their cameras, laptops, and other possessions, and prevented them from speaking to the press for days. Among the incarcerated were decorated U.S. veterans and an 80-year-old former ambassador who had been deputy director of Reagan’s Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism.

    When they finally emerged and were able to tell their stories, many described horrific scenes of Israeli commandos shooting people in the head, of those tending the injured being shot in the stomach, of people bleeding to death while flotilla participants waved white flags and pled for help.

    They also described being beaten brutally by Israeli forces, again and again – including those on ships that, in the U.S. media’s judgment, experienced “no violence.” A 64-year-old piano tuner from California, Paul Larudee, described hundreds of Israeli commandos boarding his ship. When he refused to cooperate with them, soldiers then beat him numerous times both on board the ship and after he was imprisoned on land.

    And given all of this, the only thing a pompous windbag like Cal Thomas can find to complain about is a moment of frustration (carried to excess, I’ll admit) by a member of the profession to which he allegedly belongs as well.

  • 2) Also, this tells us that John C. Metzler, Jr., superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, has been fired along with his deputy, Thurman Higginbotham, by Army Secretary John McHugh (as Fix Noise tells us, Higginbotham had reportedly illegally hacked into the computer files of a former Arlington employee).

    The matter truly at issue here, however, has to do with at least one service member’s remains buried on top of another at Arlington, as noted here by Salon from last November…

    The top official at Arlington National Cemetery claims he was unaware of the most recently reported burial error at the cemetery, possibly, he says, because he was away at the time it occurred. Cemetery employee records, however, show Superintendent John Metzler present and working at Arlington when the cemetery discovered this most recently disclosed burial foul-up…

    Arlington officials also continue to struggle to locate key paperwork that must be completed when remains are moved. The paperwork would confirm that Air Force Master Sgt. Marion Grabe’s remains were moved and explain the circumstances surrounding that decision. The Army, which oversees Arlington, has been unable to locate any such documents.

    The still-missing burial paperwork adds to the mounting evidence suggesting that top Arlington officials may have disregarded cemetery rules in this case. The explanation from Metzler, meanwhile, raises serious questions about the conduct of top cemetery officials with respect to repeated burial mix-ups at Arlington. Cemetery officials have already established a pattern of incomplete, inconsistent or contradictory responses when asked by Salon to account for misplaced or misidentified remains at the cemetery.

    …over the course of many months, as Salon has investigated problems at Arlington, statements from cemetery officials have been wildly inconsistent and contradictory about this and other burial mix-ups. Some of the statements, most issued via cemetery or Army spokesmen, have appeared in previous Salon articles, but this full pattern has not been assembled until now.

    Among Salon’s earliest queries on the subject was this one, sent in writing to cemetery spokeswoman Kaitlin Horst last July 10: “Is (Deputy Superintendent Thurman) Higginbotham or (Superintendent John) Metzler aware of any information that suggests that in some cases, the person identified on a headstone may not, in fact, be the person buried underneath that headstone?” Salon asked. “For example, has the cemetery ever begun digging a grave, only to find that there is already someone there, though the grave is unmarked?”

    Horst responded via telephone some days later. “The answer to that is no,” she said. “To the best of our knowledge, we are not aware of any situation like that.”

    Ten days after submitting that question, Salon obtained proof that in 2003, the cemetery went to bury a service member in a grave only to find unmarked remains in that spot. The response from the cemetery was to cover up the unknown remains with dirt and grass and walk away. Cemetery officials then kept that secret for six years until Salon brought the case to the cemetery’s attention.

    There are no words that I can add that would truly communicate what an affront all of this is to the dignity of our men and women in the armed services. And I don’t mean to allege purposeful negligence here so much as I’m alleging managerial incompetence.

    Let’s just say that the terminations of Metzler (an appointee of Poppy Bush, for the record) and Higginbotham were both long overdue.

  • Update 6/11/10: Hat tip to Atrios for this (shame indeed)…

  • 3) Finally, I give you The Orange One, who said the following from here about the Congressional hearings into the devastation in the Gulf…

    “This is Congress at its best,” said (House Minority Leader John) Boehner at the beginning of a rant on the scores of House and Senate hearings on the oil spill.

    “Why don’t we get the oil stopped, figure out what the hell went wrong, and then have the hearings and get the damn law fixed,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference.

    Yep, as noted here, Boehner and his pals know a lot about trying to mess up congressional hearings, as they did last March 25th on the occasion of the energy bill sponsored by Dem Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts; a whole parade of global warming denialists held court while Congress continued (and continues) to struggle with passing legislation aimed at reversing the effects of climate change, which hastens the warming of the planet and the consequent spreading of sickness and disease among the very young, very old, and everyone else.

    Oh, and did you also know that, according to this, Boehner thinks that taxpayers should foot the bill for the BP cleanup in the Gulf?

    Maybe Boehner won’t think hearings into the Deepwater Horizon explosion and wreck and the subsequent cleanup are such a joke if gooey tar balls from oil and dispersant start washing up onto the shores of the Ohio River.

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