Archive for March 6th, 2007
Of course, it’s the House, not the Senate, that impeaches, as we recall from the last impeachment:
According to a new report in Esquire magazine, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has suggested that Congress may consider the impeachment of President Bush before his term ends:
“The president says, ‘I don’t care.’ He’s not accountable anymore,” Hagel says, measuring his words by the syllable and his syllables almost by the letter. “He’s not accountable anymore, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends how this goes.”
The conversation beaches itself for a moment on that word — impeachment — spoken by a conservative Republican from a safe Senate seat in a reddish state. It’s barely even whispered among the serious set in Washington, and it rings like a gong in the middle of the sentence, even though it flowed quite naturally out of the conversation he was having about how everybody had abandoned their responsibility to the country, and now there was a war going bad because of it.
Hagel isn’t the only one frustrated. The desire for more accountability over Bush has led to increasing calls for impeachment from the Washington State legislature, the mayor of Salt Lake City, and town hall meetings in Vermont.
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) said pushing for impeachment would be counterproductive because it would break off efforts to recruit conservative support for changing the course of the war in Iraq. “We’re trying to get [conservatives] to vote against the war. They’re coming around. You don’t hear them singing the virtues of George Bush like they used to. But nothing will turn this into a partisan lockdown faster than impeachment.” Inslee added, “Ending the war is what’s important now.”
From ThinkProgress, which has the video. The third point is especially important, I think:
On his reaction:
I take no satisfaction in this. I think that the idea of a senior White House official being convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury is something that ought to sadden everybody who believes in public service. … I think we can take some satisfaction that the Constitution has been defended by the prosecution, by the system of justice and by the jury of peers that decided Mr. Libby’s guilt today.
On his wife Valerie Plame’s reaction:
Well, I think she wept when she heard the news. I was actually at a restaurant in Washington D.C. and she called me up and she just said, “Four out of five, guilty,” and she was very relieved. I think she will sleep well tonight knowing again that this part of this ordeal is behind us. But I would just say that whatever the last four or five years have been like for us, it has been mere inconvenience compared to what this administration has done to our service people and their families, in the prosecution of a war that was justified on misinformation and lies.
On the CIA holding up Plame’s book:
The CIA is taking a look at it and they have no particular objections to the contents. They are trying to claim that she did not work for them before 2002, or cannot acknowledge she worked for them before 2002, which is sort of an Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass. We may have to litigate that. This is not the USSR. This is America and she has a right to tell her story.
On the possibility of President Bush pardoning Libby:
I think there’s a lot of ethical questions involved. After all, Mr. Libby was an assistant to the president, and so I think there is an implicit — an explicit conflict of interest in the president exercising his pardon authority on behalf of someone who worked for him. I think it would be appropriate for the president and indeed the entire administration to recuse itself, allow the wheels of justice to turn as they must, and if there is going to be a pardon discussed it should be by a subsequent administration.
Context Popular diets, particularly those low in carbohydrates, have challenged current recommendations advising a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet for weight loss. Potential benefits and risks have not been tested adequately.
Objective To compare 4 weight-loss diets representing a spectrum of low to high carbohydrate intake for effects on weight loss and related metabolic variables.
Design, Setting, and Participants Twelve-month randomized trial conducted in the United States from February 2003 to October 2005 among 311 free-living, overweight/obese (body mass index, 27-40) nondiabetic, premenopausal women.
Intervention Participants were randomly assigned to follow the Atkins (n = 77), Zone (n = 79), LEARN (n = 79), or Ornish (n = 76) diets and received weekly instruction for 2 months, then an additional 10-month follow-up.
Main Outcome Measures Weight loss at 12 months was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included lipid profile (low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, and non–high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglyceride levels), percentage of body fat, waist-hip ratio, fasting insulin and glucose levels, and blood pressure. Outcomes were assessed at months 0, 2, 6, and 12. The Tukey studentized range test was used to adjust for multiple testing.
Results Weight loss was greater for women in the Atkins diet group compared with the other diet groups at 12 months, and mean 12-month weight loss was significantly different between the Atkins and Zone diets (P<.05). Mean 12-month weight loss was as follows: Atkins, –4.7 kg (95% confidence interval [CI], –6.3 to –3.1 kg), Zone, –1.6 kg (95% CI, –2.8 to –0.4 kg), LEARN, –2.6 kg (–3.8 to –1.3 kg), and Ornish, –2.2 kg (–3.6 to –0.8 kg). Weight loss was not statistically different among the Zone, LEARN, and Ornish groups. At 12 months, secondary outcomes for the Atkins group were comparable with or more favorable than the other diet groups.
Conclusions In this study, premenopausal overweight and obese women assigned to follow the Atkins diet, which had the lowest carbohydrate intake, lost more weight and experienced more favorable overall metabolic effects at 12 months than women assigned to follow the Zone, Ornish, or LEARN diets. While questions remain about long-term effects and mechanisms, a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diet may be considered a feasible alternative recommendation for weight loss.
Thanks to Alert Reader, this astounding story:
Our closest invertebrate relative, the humble sea squirt, can regenerate its entire body from just tiny blood vessel fragments, scientists now report.
The entire regeneration process, which in part resembles the early stages of embryonic development, can produce an adult sea squirt in as little as a week.
The finding could illuminate not only the evolutionary origins of regeneration in all organisms, but also subsequent changes to it during vertebrate evolution.
Vertebrates (animals with backbones) such as salamanders are capable of regenerating limbs or tails, and even humans are capable of regenerating portions of skin, lungs and livers.
“However, in general, the more complex the animal, the lower the regeneration abilities are, relatively,” biologist Ram Reshef at Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa explained. “No vertebrate could regenerate their whole bodies if you cut them in two.”
The ability to regenerate a whole body from a fragment is typically restricted to less complex invertebrates, such as sponges, worms and jellyfish. Nonetheless, Reshef and his colleagues, including biologist Yuval Rinkevich, chose to look at the sea squirt Botrylloides leachi [image], a more complex invertebrate, by carefully peeling off colonies from underneath stones in shallow waters along the Mediterranean coast of Israel.
The scientists found that “massive regeneration is not just confined to low complexity animals, but rather can take place in highly evolved animals,” Reshef told LiveScience.
How very weird. My post on the morning shave just vanished. And I know how you love to read it. It was a special shave, too: a shave of comparisons.
Yesterday the Rooney Style 3 Small Finest, today the Rooney Style 3 Small Super Silvertip. Yesterday Mitchell’s Wool Fat Soap, today Truefitt & Hill’s soap. Yesterday the HD Open Comb, today the regular HD.
I worked up a good lather right away with Super Silvertip, unlike the problems I experienced with the Finest. Acting decisively, as befits a LeisureGuy, I have already arranged a brush swap with another member of the ShaveMyFace forum, whence my trip to the UPS store to mail a little package. So, while the Style 2 Finest remains a favorite, the Style 3 Small Finest was just too stiff and dense for me.
The Truefitt & Hill lathered right up, and (like the Mitchell Wool Fat) gave a great shave. The two have a different fragrance, but both are excellent shaving soaps.
The HD regular had a different feel than the HD Open-Comb and, for whatever reason, I achieved a really wonderful shave this morning: exceptionally close and smooth, with no nicks, no cuts, no razor burn. Finished with the alum bar, which felt cool and refreshing without a sting, and then Pinaud’s Clubman.
Afterwards, I kept feeling my face in wonder. It’s so smooth.
Via Carpetbagger, I discover that Media Matters has already put up the list of baseless claims and lies that the Right will issue about the Libby trial and verdicts (guilty on 4 of 5 counts):
On March 6, a federal jury found former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby guilty on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to federal investigators. In the wake of this decision, conservatives and other media figures can be expected to revive and advance numerous myths and falsehoods regarding the CIA leak case that have circulated throughout the media since Libby’s indictment in October 2005.
In anticipation of this misinformation, Media Matters for America has listed those baseless and false claims likely to surface in the coming days and weeks:
- No underlying crime was committed. Since a federal grand jury indicted Libby in October 2005, numerous media figures have stated that the nature of the charges against him prove that special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald’s investigation of the CIA leak case found that no underlying crime had been committed. But this assertion ignores Fitzgerald’s explanation that Libby’s obstructions prevented him — and the grand jury — from determining whether the alleged leak violated federal law.
- There was no concerted White House effort to smear Wilson. In his October 2005 press conference announcing Libby’s indictment, Fitzgerald alleged that, in 2003, “multiple people in the White House” engaged in a “concerted action” to “discredit, punish, or seek revenge against” former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. In August 2006, it came to light that then-deputy secretary of State Richard Armitage was the original source for syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak‘s July 14, 2003, column exposing CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. Numerous conservative media figures subsequently claimed that this revelation disproved the notion of a “concerted” White House effort to smear Wilson. But to the contrary, David Corn — Washington editor of The Nation and co-author of Hubris (Crown, 2006) the book that revealed Armitage’s role in the leak — noted on his Nation weblog that Armitage “abetted a White House campaign under way to undermine Wilson” and that whether he deliberately leaked Plame’s identity, “the public role is without question: senior White House aides wanted to use Valerie Wilson’s CIA employment against her husband.”
- Libby was not responsible for the leak of Plame’s identity. Some in the media have suggested that because Libby did not discuss former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity with Novak — the first journalist to report she worked at the CIA — he is not technically responsible for the leak. But such claims ignore the fact that Libby discussed Plame’s CIA employment with then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller on several occasions prior to the publication of Novak’s column naming Plame as a CIA operative.
- Libby merely “left out some facts.” Some media outlets — such as The Washington Post — have suggested that FBI agent Deborah Bond testified at the trial that Libby simply “left out some facts” when he was interviewed by her in 2003. Specifically, the Post asserted that Bond said Libby “did not acknowledge disclosing the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame to reporters.” In fact, Bond testified that Libby actually denied having leaked Plame’s identity or having had any knowledge of her — this despite the fact that two reporters had already testified that he leaked Plame’s identity to them.
- Libby’s leak was an effort to set the record straight. Critics of the CIA leak case have repeatedly claimed that the indictment stems from an effort by Libby and Vice President Dick Cheney to rebut a purportedly inaccurate attack on the administration by Wilson. According to these critics, Wilson falsely accused Cheney of having sent him to Niger to investigate reports that Iraq had attempted to purchase yellowcake uranium from the African country. In fact, Wilson, in his July 6, 2003, New York Times op-ed, did not say he was sent by Cheney. Rather, Wilson wrote that it was “agency officials” from the CIA who “asked if I would travel to Niger” and “check out” a “particular intelligence report” that “Cheney’s office had questions about,” so that CIA officials “could provide a response to the vice president’s office.”
- There is no evidence that the Plame leak compromised national security. Some media figures critical of the CIA leak case have attempted to downplay its significance by claiming that no evidence exists that the public disclosure of Plame’s identity compromised national security. In fact, news reports have indicated that the CIA believed the damage caused by the leak “was serious enough to warrant an investigation” and that the subsequent disclosure of Plame’s CIA front company likely put other agents’ work at risk. Further, Fitzgerald stated that Plame’s identity had been protected by the CIA “not just for the officer, but for the nation’s security.” And in their recently published book, Hubris, Corn and Newsweek investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff reported that, at the time of the leak, Plame was the chief of operations for the CIA’s Joint Task Force on Iraq, which “mount[ed] espionage operations to gather information on the WMD programs Iraq might have.”
- Fitzgerald is a partisan prosecutor. Over the course of the CIA leak investigation and the Libby trial, conservative media figures have attempted to cast Fitzgerald as a “prosecutor run amok” who is engaging in “the criminalization of politics.” But Fitzgerald’s background and prosecutorial record undermine the suggestion that his pursuit of Libby was politically motivated. Indeed, Fitzgerald is a Bush administration political appointee who, as U.S. attorney, has investigated high-level public officials from both parties, including former Illinois Gov. George Ryan (R), Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (D), and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).
- Fitzgerald exceeded his mandate in investigating violations beyond the IIPA. The administration’s defenders also have accused Fitzgerald of exceeding his original mandate. Media figures have repeatedly asserted or implied that Fitzgerald was appointed to investigate possible violations of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), which prohibits the knowing disclosure of the identity of a covert intelligence officer. In fact, his mandate was far broader. The Department of Justice granted Fitzgerald “plenary” authority to investigate the “alleged unauthorized disclosure” of Plame’s identity.
- Plame’s employment with the CIA was widely known. This falsehood has taken at least two forms — that Plame’s employment with the CIA was known in the Washington cocktail party circuit and that her neighbors knew that she worked for the CIA. In fact, Fitzgerald stated in the indictment of Libby that Plame’s employment was classified and “was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community,” a finding he reiterated at a post-verdict press conference. Moreover, as Media Matters noted, contrary to The Washington Times‘ assertion that “numerous neighbors were aware that she worked for the agency,” none of the neighbors cited in The Times‘ own news reports or in other reports said that they knew before reading the Novak column that Plame worked at the CIA. Her acquaintances told reporters that they believed she worked as a private “consultant.”
Thanks to a reader in the Netherlands, an article on playing Go—in the Moscow Times, no less. But in English, thankfully.
The former federal prosecutor in Maryland said Monday that he was forced out in early 2005 because of political pressure stemming from public corruption investigations involving associates of the state’s governor, a Republican.
“There was direct pressure not to pursue these investigations,” said the former prosecutor, Thomas M. DiBiagio. “The practical impact was to intimidate my office and shut down the investigations.”
Mr. DiBiagio, a controversial figure who clashed with a number of Maryland politicians, had never publicly discussed the reasons behind his departure. But he agreed to an interview with The New York Times because he said he was concerned about what he saw as similarities with the recent firings of eight United States attorneys.
As in those cases, there are conflicting accounts of the circumstances that led to Mr. DiBiagio’s ouster. The Justice Department disputes his version.
His office had been looking into whether associates of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. had improperly funneled money from gambling interests to promote legalized slot machines in Maryland. Mr. DiBiagio said that several prominent Maryland Republicans had pressed him to back away from the inquiries and that one conversation had so troubled him that he reported it to an F.B.I. official as a threat.
But he said that the Justice Department had offered little support and that that made it “impossible for me to stay.”
Several current and former officials in the Baltimore office said Mr. DiBiagio voiced concerns in 2004 that the corruption inquiries were jeopardizing his career, a view that they shared.
and look what comes out. First this:
and then this:
This is why Congressional oversight is needed—and it shows how little was done in the GOP Congress.
As pointed out earlier, the blame for the many, many failures of the Bush Administration is not (simply) incompetence, but bad policies. A reader passes along this article:
Reports of substandard conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center have outraged the country. But that anger should not be directed only at the callous Army officials running the facility.
The full story behind the scandal involves a misguided program to “reinvent government” through outsourcing, a company that botched the delivery of ice to victims of Hurricane Katrina and a giant hedge fund led by a former member of President Bush’s cabinet. The private sector has indirectly had a hand in converting the once legendary Walter Reed into a symbol of the shameful treatment of people who have been maimed in the service of their country.
The dismal state of some facilities at Walter Reed cannot be directly attributed to poor performance by a contractor. After all, it has been only a few months since a politically connected firm called IAP Worldwide Services started taking over many of the management functions at the medical center.
Yet a battle over whether to outsource those functions has been going on since early 2000, when the Army commenced a cost-comparison study of support services at the medical center. Such studies—which were being promoted by the Clinton administration’s “reinventing government” initiative led by Vice President Al Gore—forced groups of federal workers to compete with potential contractors to figure out which could perform a given function more efficiently.
The process dragged on for several years, and finally it was determined that the bid by federal civilian employees at Walter Reed was the better one. However, that decision was overturned by the Army Audit Agency, which was upheld by the GAO on a technicality. This allowed IAP to get a five-year, $120 million contract.
Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has been gathering evidence that the prospect of outsourcing (and likely job cuts) had a detrimental effect on morale and efficiency at Walter Reed. That idea is not just theory. Last September, Walter Reed Garrison Commander Peter Garibaldi sent an internal memorandum to his superiors warning that substantial numbers of skilled workers were leaving because of the impending takeover by IAP.
Glenn Greenwald lays it out clearly:
The right-wing cult of contrived masculinity
In a very vivid way, this Ann Coulter moment is shining a light on the right-wing movement that is so bright that even national journalists would be able to recognize some important truths if they just looked even casually. Kirsten Powers was on Fox last night with Bill O’Reilly and Michelle Malkin and, as shocking as it is, Powers managed to ask the only question that matters with this whole episode, thereby forcing Malkin to make the critical concession, the one which right-wing pundits have been desperate to avoid:
KP: [Coulter] has said a lot of horrible things . . . . she’s done all these things. And I don’t understand why if this is the pre-eminent conservative movement place to be speaking, why she is chosen as a person to speak . . . BO: Why do you think they invited her, Michelle?
MM: She’s very popular among conservatives. And let me say this. I have been a long-time admirer of much of Ann’s work. She has done yeomen’s work for conservatism. But I think, lately, over the last couple of years, that there has been this penchant for hurling these kinds of bombs.
And there is a divided opinion among grass-roots conservatives about what she did. I was one of the people who condemned the raghead comment last year . . . . If going into 2008, that is what the Republican Party is trying to do and win back the Congress and take the Congress and win the White House, having her there is not going to be a help.
This is why — the only reason — Coulter’s remarks are so significant. And the significance lies not just in this specific outburst on Friday but in the whole array of hate-mongering, violence-inciting remarks over all these years. Its significance lies in the critical fact that Malkin expressly acknowledged: “She’s very popular among conservatives.” The focus of these stories should not be Coulter, but instead, should be the conservative movement in which Ann Coulter — precisely because of (not “despite”) her history of making such comments — is “very popular.” (Note, too, that Malkin urges that Coulter be shunned not because her conduct is so reprehesensible, but because her presence “is not going to be a help” win the 2008 election). While lazy journalists will ingest and repeat until their death the storyline that right-wing bloggers and the conservative movement have finally denounced Coulter once and for all, she was absolutely right when she said last night, sitting by her good friend Sean Hannity, that nothing will change as a result of these comments. As she correctly observed: “This is my 17th allegedly career-ending moment.”
There may be a handful of decent (though largely inconsequential) conservatives who genuinely want to disassociate the movement from her, but that is not going to happen, because it cannot. And Sean Hannity — whose fans, like Coulter’s, number in the millions, not the thousands like the anti-Coulter-bloggers — made that very clear as he defended her comments as obvious “humor,” claimed the comments were taken out of context, etc. etc. The real conservative leaders, the people to whom millions of conservatives actually listen — the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys and Ann Coulters and the CPAC itself — are going to continue exactly as they were, and Coulter is going to continue to play exactly the central role she has played in this movement.
Are there any journalists at all interested in figuring out why this is the case? If Coulter is such a blight on humanity, such a monument to indecency and all that is wretched in our political culture, what does it say about the political movement that has been running our country for the last six years (at least) that they embrace her so enthusiastically?
Coulter plays a vital and irreplaceable role in this movement. The reason I linked to that Bob Somerby post on Maureen Dowd yesterday is because he makes the critical point — one which Digby, among others, has been making for a long time, including in a great post last night — concerning how the right-wing movement conducts itself and the rhetorical tool they use not only to keep themselves in power, but more importantly, to keep their needy, confused, and scared base feeling strong and protected. As Digby put it:
The underlying premise of the modern conservative movement is that the entire Democratic party consists of a bunch of fags and dykes who are both too effeminate and too masculine to properly lead the nation. Coulter says it out loud. Dowd hints at it broadly. And the entire press corps giggles and swoons at this shallow, sophomoric concept like a bunch of junior high pom pom girls.
Coulter insisted last night that she did not intend the remark as an anti-gay slur — that she did not intend to suggest that John Edwards, husband and father, was gay — but instead only used the word as a “schoolyard taunt,” to call him a sissy. And that is true. Her aim was not to suggest that Edwards is actually gay, but simply to feminize him like they do with all male Democratic or liberal political leaders. For multiple reasons, nobody does that more effectively or audaciously than Coulter, which is why they need her so desperately and will never jettison her. How could they possibly shun her for engaging in tactics on which their entire movement depends? They cannot, which is why they are not and will not.
Because the mainstream media will not do its job. They report the doctored audiotape of Hillary Clinton’s speech with no information about context and how the tape was created. They know, but they won’t tell. They are contemptible.
Incredible. CNN’s Paula Zahn, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, and ABC News have all now covered the Hillary “drawl” story that Matt Drudge pushed yesterday. And guess how many of these shows shared with their viewers the simple context that would have revealed just how dishonest the Drudge story actually was? Exactly zero.
It’s almost as if these big news orgs are looking to Drudge as their de facto assignment editor. Channeling Mark Halperin, It’s almost as if their motto could be:
Matt Drudge Rules Our World — Because We Let Him.
As detailed here yesterday, Drudge and the winger shock troops were out in full force yesterday pushing an audiotape of Hillary adopting a southern drawl in Alabama, something which allegedly proved what a phony Hillary is. But a simple fact check quickly revealed that this audio plucked Hillary’s “drawl” quote out of context, making it look as if she’d adopted the language, hokey accent and down-home grammar as her own, when in fact she was quoting a hymn written by someone else.
This info was just way too much for the networks to handle, however. Here are CNN’s Paula Zahn and John Roberts, discussing on the drawl and showing a Hillary clip of her quoting the hymn without saying that that’s what she was doing:
ZAHN: Out in the open next: a pair of Yankees with Southern accents.(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don’t tell me I’m not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I don’t feel no ways tired.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: I come too far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Not only does running for president seem to change the voice we have become accustomed to. It might even change your clothes — coming up, even more proof it is a crazy campaign out there already….
ROBERTS: But — but, you see, Hillary, the knock on her is that she’s so scripted, that — that she’s pandering to her constituency. And, when she goes to a place like Selma, Alabama, and she effects a Southern accent, even if it was unintentional — maybe she just got caught up in the moment — it — it adds more fuel to this idea that everything that she does is plotted, and a lot that she does is pandering to a particular audience.
Of course, Hillary the “Yankee” spent many, many years in Arkansas. Remember? And note Roberts’ hapless floundering, too — his assertion that perhaps this was “unintentional” reveals very clearly that he only listened to the audio cherry-picked by Drudge, and never bothered to compare it to the whole speech. Matt Drudge Rules Our World — Because We Let Him.
MATTHEWS: Let me go – let me – Virginia, you didn`t get to hear Senator Clinton`s speech, so here`s a piece of Hillary Clinton speaking in Selma yesterday.(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, D-NEW YORK, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I want to begin by giving praise to the Almighty. “I don`t feel no ways tired.”
“I come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy.”
I could have listened all afternoon. That pulse and the chair of all the mayors in the country, Mayor Palmer from Trenton, New Jersey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Thank you much…
Later in the program, another guest tried to explain the context, but Matthews cut her off.
And finally, ABC News. During Good Morning America‘s coverage of the Dems’ visit to Alabama yesterday, correspondent Jake Tapper observed (via Nexis) that Hillary “adopted a curious southern drawl during her speech.” As Media Matters notes, Tapper later wrote on his blog both that Hillary lived for a long time in Arkansas and that in fact Hillary was quoting someone else. According to Nexis and Media Matters, neither of these facts was mentioned by Tapper on Good Morning America, which of course is seen by far more eyeballs than Tapper’s blog is.
Matt Drudge Rules Our World — Because We Let Him:
Jon Stewart sees White House buck-passing on responsibility for Walter Reed as the latest in a long line of failures to take responsibility: “I’m not picking my nose,” Stewart says. “My hand is picking my nose. Please direct all questions about nose picking to my hand.”
Watch the video at the link for quite a few examples of denying responsibility.
A friend and I occasionally play a game where we send each other excerpts of news articles or commentary to see how quickly the other can figure out the topic and context. We take out references that would give it away, but provide enough information to make it possible to guess. It’s pretty nerdy, obviously, but I read so much news that I usually know the answer after one or two emails, and it’s a quick, entertaining diversion.
You have a generation of young people here who are the products of an education system that didn’t educate, a judicial system of no consequences, and a culture of political corruption that has driven businesses away. What you have left is [...] an AK-47. They suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of the social contract, of how to deal with people and how to resolve conflicts without using a gun.
That’s easy, I thought. Iraq. A generation of young people oppressed by sanctions and war, struggling to survive in anarchy through corruption and violence. Perhaps written about Kurdistan or the south, both of which were denied basic opportunities by Saddam’s regime. Nope, my friend wrote back, adding another few lines.
[It] has long been plagued by drugs and violence, but many who returned hoped for a new start . . . for about six months [afterwards], crime had declined dramatically. [After that], however, with the rebuilding process still sluggish in many ways, a sharp upturn in violent crime has shaken confidence . . . a resurgent drug trade — in some ways more diverse, chaotic and violent than what existed before [...] — is largely responsible.
Ahh, drugs and violence, the twin terrors of a failed state. AK-47s plus drugs plus catastrophic event equals Afghanistan, right? The increased violence, slow recovery, resurgent drug trade; I thought I had it pegged. Wrong again, my friend wrote. Darfur? Chechnya? No. I was ready to get esoteric. Oaxaca? Dhaka?
He wrote back two awful, heartbreaking words: New Orleans.
I simply don’t know how we’ve let this happen to one of our cities. While my focus (on this blog and professionally) is largely foreign affairs, the ongoing tragedy in New Orleans seems to me as important as anything else we face today as a country, both for the city itself and for what it says about our priorities, our attention, and our commitments to our fellow Americans. I just wish it said something good.
So much for Bush and his promises.
Libby has been convicted on 4 of 5 counts. So he’s now a convicted felon. His lawyers, of course, will continue to ride the money train, asking for a new trial, asking for an appeal, etc., etc. And Bush, undoubtedly, will continue to refuse to answer any questions about the matter, which exposes the sleazy, illegal operation inside his presidency.
I think the United States Postal Service does a fantastic job, and I use them a lot. But The Wife had to stop at the UPS Store to get a fraudulent charge complaint on her Citibank VISA taken care of (and what a pain that is: they won’t take any action on refunding the charge until she jumps through all the hoops, including the notarized complaint—and Citibank, you’ll recall, recently lost data for 3.9 million customers, something they “deeply regret” (but not so much they don’t make you go buy a notary’s services, at $10.00, to cancel a fraudulent charge)—ironically enough, Citibank blames the data loss on UPS, which actually lost the parcel). The UPS store woman said, “Yeah, we’re getting a lot of these recently.” Makes you feel confident, no?
So, to resume: I wanted to send a 5 oz. package via First Class, insured for $200. She said, “Oh—with that insurance, UPS will probably be cheaper.” So she weighs, looks things up, and says, “Yes, UPS Ground will be cheaper.”
“Okay,” I say, pleased to save some money—although UPS ground to New York is likely to take a week to 10 days, and First Class Mail there is more like 3-4 days. Still—a penny saved, etc.
She fills out the forms, stamps the package, puts it ready to go, and says, “$10.83.”
WHAT??!! I know that First Class mail is less than that. But I pay, and as soon as I walk in the door at home, I go to USPS.com and calculate the postage for First Class Mail with $200 insurance: $4.94. So the UPS shipment was $4.94 for shipment and insurance, $5.89 for education.
From now on, it’s the PO for me.