BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Monday

(God I used to hate Easter Sunday. The mass was, like, two hours long, yo. Cut into my "Three Stooges" time. Almost bled into "Kung Fu Theater.")

The headline on Drudge this morning? "READY TO FIGHT OVER THE CORPSE."

What a dick - there's a special place in Hell for that dude.

Two fantastic stories from the LA Times yesterday.

"An in depth interview with the creators of 'Two and a Half Men' and a piece on Jessica Alba's new home in the Hollywood Hills?"

No.

"DeLay's Own Tragic Crossroads * Family of the lawmaker involved in the Schiavo case decided in '88 to let his comatose father die."

Whoa.
The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family members keeping vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman — Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

More than 16 years ago, far from the political passions that have defined the Schiavo controversy, the DeLay family endured its own wrenching end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and oxygen equipment, was DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay.

Then, freshly reelected to a third term in the House, the 41-year-old DeLay waited, all but helpless, for the verdict of doctors.

Today, as House Majority Leader, DeLay has teamed with his Senate counterpart, Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), to champion political intervention in the Schiavo case. They pushed emergency legislation through Congress to shift the legal case from Florida state courts to the federal judiciary.

And DeLay is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube.

In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die.

"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew — we all knew — his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."

Doctors advised that he would "basically be a vegetable," said the congressman's aunt, JoAnne DeLay.

When his father's kidneys failed, the DeLay family decided against connecting him to a dialysis machine. "Extraordinary measures to prolong life were not initiated," said his medical report, citing "agreement with the family's wishes."

On Dec. 14, 1988, the DeLay patriarch "expired with his family in attendance."
Tra la la, la la la la, tra la la, la la la la.

But the bigger story - the one that should be THE story of the week - is this:

"Convoy Unprepared for Last, Fatal Run * A series of missteps sent a group of Americans into a gantlet of fiery slaughter in Iraq."

Not a group of soldiers; Americans. American contractors, and employees of...any guesses?

"Halliburton."

Yup.
The truckers came from ordinary American towns like this one. They were hauling jet fuel across one of the most dangerous roads in Iraq on a day when the insurgency was exploding. The trucks had no armor. The men had no weapons. Their military escorts didn't even know the route.

As they neared the end of their run, the 26-vehicle convoy trundled into a valley of fire. Insurgents on both sides of the road opened up. Bullets shredded cabs. Rocket-propelled grenades flipped tankers like toys. Thick black smoke blotted out the road.

Six truck drivers for Halliburton Co. were killed that day, and nine were injured. One trucker remains missing. Two U.S. soldiers escorting the convoy were killed, and one is missing. Of 43 men on the convoy, 25 were killed or injured.

It remains the deadliest incident involving American contractors in the war in Iraq.

Interviews with surviving drivers and families of the dead, and a U.S. Army report obtained by the Los Angeles Times, show that the U.S. military and Halliburton missed numerous warnings in sending the men on the ill-fated mission.
The truckers were hauling fuel to the Baghdad airport...FOR THE US MILITARY...along a 40 mile course that was chock-full of insurgents.
From the moment it left the gate, the convoy may have been doomed by a series of errors that escalated into disaster.

The documents and interviews show:

•  Military bungling and poor communications sent the men onto an active battlefield on a road that was supposed to be closed. A U.S. soldier who approved the route changed his mind minutes later and sent an e-mail advising that the road was closed. He accidentally sent the e-mail to himself, and it never reached the convoy.

•  Halliburton agreed to drive the route despite warnings from its own personnel. Another Halliburton convoy traveling the route was hit earlier the same day, losing several vehicles. The leader of that convoy told colleagues that he had e-mailed his superiors about the danger.

•  Neither the truckers nor their escorts had prepared for the mission. The destination was changed 15 minutes before the convoy headed out. None of them were familiar with the exact route.

•  The military did not follow its own recommendations. An order issued on the morning of the convoy's departure recommended a minimum ratio of one Army soldier to accompany every two Halliburton trucks. The April 9 convoy had six soldiers among 19 trucks.

•  Halliburton let its men drive unarmored military vehicles rather than their customary white civilian trucks, making the truckers appear as a military target.
Fucked up, yo.

Please read the full story .

I don't begrudge these dudes the right (or chance) to do this kind of work for Halliburton (dangerous but lucrative work), but come on: THE ARMY USED TO DO THIS STUFF - ARMED TO THE TEETH AND READY TO KICK ASS - AT A MUCH LOWER COST TO THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER.

A lot of these truck driving dudes went to Iraq to make money - more money than they'd make here - but got a lot more than they bragained for. So here's the simple question; why are so many unarmed "private contractors" driving around Iraq if it's still a war-zone?!

"That's not a simple question. That's a dumb question."

I know.

"Money, man. Hey, speaking of money, there's still time to invest in a bunch of defense related industries. Most of 'em, anyways. The ones that ain't under some sorta 'vestigation."

Grrr.

More later...

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