Monday, July 31, 2006

"Killing people is like squashing an ant"

A former US soldier accused of raping and murdering an Iraqi girl compared killing people in Iraq to "squashing an ant," in an interview with a reporter about a month before the attack.

Steven Green, 21, a former private with the 101st Airborne Division, is under arrest in Kentucky and could face the death penalty if convicted of the March 12 murders of the Iraqi girl and three of her relatives.

Writing in Sunday's editions of The Washington Post, Andrew Tilghman, a former correspondent for the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes, said he interviewed Green several times in February at his unit south of Baghdad.

"I came over here because I wanted to kill people," he quoted Green as saying. "The truth is, it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be.

"I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience," Green was quoted as saying. "And then I did it, and I was like, 'All right, whatever.'

"I shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing," Green was quoted as saying. "Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant.

"I mean, you kill somebody and it's like, 'All right, let's go get some pizza.'"

I don't think I can support a troop like Pfc. Green, nor for that matter any of the others who commit similar atrocities. I hold them less accountable than the liars who sent them to kill, though.

And as the world burns, Our Leader greets the American Idol finalists and keeps his T-ball season going.

Do you feel safer?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

More rumor-endo

Since this blog so rarely traffics in rumor and innuendo, it's time for me to catch up with some of the latest scuttlebutt associated with our National League affiliate.

ESPN's Steve Phillips said tonight that the Rangers have offered Hank Blalock to the Astros for Brad Lidge.

They ought to take that deal. But the two teams might be discussing various trades; Baseball Prospectus' Will Carroll says the Rangers have offered Brad Wilkerson and Rod Barajas for Lidge, Morgan Ensberg and Fernando Nieve, something that seems too lopsided for Texas. If the Astros took Blalock for Lidge, they could then send Ensberg to San Diego for Scott Linebrink, with either Linebrink or Chad Qualls or Dan Wheeler closing.

The Orioles and Astros have also discussed a Miguel Tejada deal that includes Roy Oswalt, according to both BP and the Baltimore Sun. Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett would complete the package and go to Baltimore.

I don't see how this makes the Astros better. Tejada is a huge offensive upgrade, but that doesn't make up for the loss of Roy O and the defensive downgrade. The Orioles may not be especially interested anyway, since they'd likely only have Oswalt through 2007. And Oswalt appears to have been taken off the table for now.

Next year the 'Stros gain many millions of dollars in the expiring contracts of Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettitte, money which they could use in pursuing free agents for 2007. I'd rather see them reload for next season rather than try to punch through something costly in order to try to capitalize on Clemens' final season (and possibly Pettitte's as well). That urgency alone suggests Tim Purpura may do something rash.

I hope he doesn't, but we'll know for sure by tomorrow's trading deadline.

The train don't come by here no more

That is, if the Republicans, led by Rick Perry, get their way. From the Houston Chronicle:

The venerable Texas State Railroad may run from here to Palestine, but it's about to get sidetracked in Austin.

The 110-year-old railroad is the most endangered of the 114 properties in the state parks system, which is going on the offensive for increased funding after more than a decade of tight budgets that have led to decaying facilities and reduced services. ...

"Best I can determine, we're either going to become a static display, or (local railroad boosters are) going to find a private operator," said Robert Crossman, the railroad's superintendent. "Nobody has come back to me and said, 'If funding greatly improves, y'all are going to continue to operate.' "Ellen Buchanan, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department regional director, said she's been told her agency will not keep operating the trains even if funding increases in the next legislative session. Crossman is hopeful money can be found to keep it rolling a bit beyond the planned Dec. 31 closure, but he isn't optimistic.

Most of the parks in Texas are in shambles:

More than half the state's parks, historical sites and other preserves have considered or enacted service limitations because of money problems. They include the slowed reconstruction of Sea Rim State Park after Hurricane Rita, and the Sunday-Tuesday closure of the Varner-Hogg State Historic Site in Brazoria County.

Penny-pinching for more than a decade also has affected quality, said Walt Dabney, the state's parks director.

"We're absolutely in the ditch," Dabney said.

Dabney fondly recalls working at the Inks Lake State Park near Burnet as an intern in the late 1960s. And then there's the recent memory of a visit to the rest rooms he once cleaned.

"They are absolutely amazing. Just worn out," Dabney said. "You can see the building is literally collapsing in on itself."

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

(Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris) Bell said that the railroad is just one of the state parks suffering to the brink of closure. Texas ranks 49th in state park funding, and per capita, Texans spend $1.20 on state parks annually, compared to the national average of $7.50.

Money problems have been mounting at state parks for years, forcing Texas Parks and Wildlife to cut park hours and staff and limit maintenance.

Bell said that the Battleship Texas is held together with "tape and Silly Putty," and that the elevator at the San Jacinto Monument no longer goes all the way to the top.

"Seriously, sometimes the punch line writes itself," he said.

More at the links.

Somervell County Salon has more of the Democratic candidates' whistlestop in Palestine yesterday, including photos, and will have video of the speakers posted later now; click here.

If you want to save our state parks, then you have no business voting for any Republican.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rick Perry's A.S.S.

Of course, some of his biggest supporters are huge asses, but this news isn't about them:

A bunch of Texans upset with the governor's support for a new business tax acted on their frustration by giving him campaign checks for 2 cents earlier this summer. Some sent in checks for 3 or 5 cents and a few mailed 1-cent checks.

The Perry campaign coded them as "ASS 06."

Political campaigns routinely code contribution checks to keep track of which event or mailing inspired them. Because the unsolicited protest checks were not tied to any specific event, "they were coded as 'A Small Supporter,' " Perry campaign spokesman Robert Black said Friday.

"In hindsight, it probably wasn't the best choice for an abbreviation," Black said.

Has any governor ever been deserving of greater ridicule than this one?

I say we kick Governor Good-MoFo'n-Hair out on his A.S.S in November. You conservatives have two other former Republicans on the ballot to vote for, so get to work and git 'er done, please.