Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 10th, 2007

Mark Mills is good

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I just finished his first novel, Amagansett, set out toward the end of Long Island in 1947. It’s several stories, served in slices, and is hard to put down. Recommended. (I got my copy from the library, which is likely to have it.)

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2007 at 7:31 pm

Posted in Books

Nice: those who said 6 months would be enough

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ThinkProgress has compiled a list of the pundits who said, when the surge began, that in 6 months we would know whether it succeeded or not. Read it and weep: these are the people who shape political discourse. God help us.

Note: Six months is also known as a “Friedman unit” (FU) because of the number of times Tom Friedman has said things such as “The next six months are critical” and “The next six months will tell the tale” and “In six months we’ll know,” etc. Over and over and over. Illumination is always six months away for old Tom.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2007 at 2:41 pm

Lead abatement against terrorism

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Kevin Drum writes:

Yesterday I got an email from a reader tying together my terrorism and lead abatement posts. “Maybe the terrorist threat would subside if only we would work to remove lead worldwide?” he joked.

Ha ha. But here’s Brad Plumer:

Another place where a massive lead-abatement really needs to happen is in the developing world. In Pakistan, some 80 percent of children have dangerous levels of lead in their bloodstream, which in turn affects childhood development and, presumably, intelligence.

“Affects childhood development,” of course, is a euphemism for “makes them dumb and violent.” Maybe not such a joke after all.

Brad also reports something else I didn’t know: namely that the Bush administration is apparently in favor of loosening lead regulations in the United States, a transparent bit of industry pandering that makes the Iraq war look like a sober and prescient piece of public policy. Here’s Mark Kleiman on that:

Lead was banned from gasoline during the 1980s. The job was done by the Reagan Administration. Vice President George H.W. Bush and his “regulatory reform” task force had proposed loosening lead limits, but a brilliant analysis spearheaded by my friend Joel Schwartz (then at the EPA, now at the Harvard School of Public Health) managed to turn the proposal around; even the folks at OMB couldn’t deny the data when they had their noses rubbed in them. Such deference to fact would be unthinkable today.

That’s the difference between old reactionary Republicans and contemporary reactionary Republicans. As a friend of mine at DoJ said to me in the summer of 2001, “I never thought I’d look back on the Reagan Administration as the good old days.”

Somebody please just make these people go away.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2007 at 2:17 pm

Interesting argument for national healthcare

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Labor market flexibility, which helps the economy. Read here.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2007 at 2:15 pm

Gonzales: dishonest Attorney General

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Everyone knows he’s dishonest. But his dishonesty is what Bush likes about him. Here’s the latest set of lies:

As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse,” Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.

Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.

The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI’s use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department’s inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.

More at the link, if you can stomach it.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2007 at 12:16 pm

US promises—and renegs

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We’re not admitting the Iraqi refugees we promised to admit. Incompetence? or lies?

Despite promising to admit 7,000 Iraqi refugees to the U.S. by the end of September, the Bush administration has allowed in just 133 over the past nine months.

As Iraqis continue to flee their country in record numbers, adding to what is already the largest refugee population in the world, U.S. efforts to accept them are moving at a snail’s pace. Officials predict that at most only 2,000, or less than 30%, of the 7,000 can be processed by Sept. 30.

The delays are due to enhanced security vetting by the Homeland Security Department, which is overseeing the program to take Iraqis referred by the United Nations for resettlement in the U.S., officials said Monday.

Iraqis are subject to more background checks than people from other countries and must undergo extensive individual interviews to qualify for admission due to fears that some seeking to enter the United States may be terrorists or other undesirables.

“While we want to meet our humanitarian obligations here, we also want to make sure we do so in such a way that our borders and the American people are protected,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. “It’s a big task.”

His comments followed the release last week of the department’s monthly report on refugee admissions that showed only 63 Iraqis had been admitted to the United States in June, up significantly from one each in April and May and eight in March, but still well below the number needed to catch up to meet the deadline.

An internal spreadsheet obtained by The Associated Press shows that between last October, when 2007 fiscal year began, and June 30 only 133 refugees from Iraqi had arrived here, compared to more than 4,000 from Somalia, nearly 3,500 from Iran, 1,600 from Burundi and 1,200 from Liberia. [All of whom, it must be pointed out, are from terrorist-prone countries and thus would also require these background checks that the Administration can't seem to manage for Iraqis. - LG]

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2007 at 12:14 pm

Six months into the Surge

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ThinkProgress:

Six months ago, on Jan. 10, President Bush announced his plan to send more than 20,000 more troops into Iraq. The Gavel has highlights of what has happened since that time:

590 U.S. soldiers have died and 3,575 have been wounded in Iraq since January 10, 2007. [icasualties.org, 1/10/07-7/9/07]

At least 13,463 civilians and members of the Iraqi Security Forces have died since January 2007, according to media reports. [icasualties.org]

According to an internal military assessment, the U.S. military’s plan to secure Baghdad against a rising insurgency is falling far short of its goal. Fewer than one-third of Baghdad’s neighborhoods are under the control of U.S. and Iraqi forces. [New York Times, 6/4/07]

No progress has been made on the political benchmarks the Iraqi government was supposed to have met already. Oil sharing legislation, the reversal of deBaathification, new election laws, scheduling of provincial elections, amending the constitution and efforts to disband the militias are all languishing either in parliament or in negotiations among the three parties. [Washington Post, 7/8/07]

UPDATE: The Washington Post reminds us that the administration “initially envisioned a troop increase lasting six to eight months,” but is now anticipating “keeping the extra troops in place until next spring and then beginning to pull them back, one brigade at a time.”

UPDATE II: Atrios has quotes by various pundits from one Friedman ago. 

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2007 at 12:06 pm

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