Later On

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

Archive for July 15th, 2007

The free market and cancer patients

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From the Booman Tribune:

How could that most cherished ideal of capitalism, the “free market” ever do anyone harm? It’s the magic bullet, after all, according to conservatives, the engine of all progress, the ultimate hope for mankind. If only big government would get out of its way and let the market work its wonders, the world would be a veritable paradise. Well, here’s how the “free market” works when the lives of cancer patients are at stake, and in particular the lives on non-Hodgin’s Lymphoma patients for which two miracle drugs exist which can save lives, if (and how big an if that is will be demonstrated shortly) those afflicted with this killer disease can get access to them (via the New York Times):

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Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2007 at 3:34 pm

John Dean on Bush Impeachment

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A regular reader points to this interesting article (and read also this comment on it):

President George Bush has issued an instruction to his former White House counsel Harriet Miers to defy the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoena. The Committee had sought to ask her about her role – and that of others in the White House – in firing a covey of United States Attorneys who were apparently not toeing the political line. Bush’s instruction sent a very clear signal: As I wrote earlier, and as has been clear from the outset, he is looking for a fight.

By not responding to the subpoena, the President and Ms. Miers all but invited the House Judiciary Committee and, in turn, the House of Representatives to vote to deem her in contempt of Congress. It was a defiant, in-your-face insult to Congress. No president would do this unless he was quite confident of the outcome. Clearly, Bush’s White House and Justice Department lawyers believe that the solidly conservative federal judiciary will grant them a favorable ruling, and that, in the process, they will greatly weaken congressional oversight powers, to the advantage of the White House.

In short, the Bush White House is not bluffing with this act of defiance. Rather, the White House truly wants to test, and attempt to expand, presidential power. Bush’s White House is ready, willing, and able to play hardball. Indeed, the White House may actually be trying to bait the House Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives into voting to deem Ms. Miers in contempt of Congress.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2007 at 3:16 pm

Lindsay Graham, fearful of truth

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I just watched a segment of a Sunday talk show with Jim Webb and Lindsay Graham, and the impression I got is that Lindsay Graham is frightened—he is fearful of what others might say, the facts they may point out, and he tries hard to talk over them and not allow them to speak. He is incredibly rude, but I think his rudeness is driven by the fear that the facts will emerge and thus his distance from those facts will be revealed.

Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2007 at 12:22 pm

Those foreign fighters in Iraq

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Not from Syria, most of them. Not from Iran. No, they’re from Saudi Arabia. Wonder why Bush and Rice have not commented on this, given the number of times Syria and Iran have been condemned. Here’s the story:

Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.

About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq’s Sunni Arab insurgency.

He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis.

The situation has left the U.S. military in the awkward position of battling an enemy whose top source of foreign fighters is a key ally that at best has not been able to prevent its citizens from undertaking bloody attacks in Iraq, and at worst shares complicity in sending extremists to commit attacks against U.S. forces, Iraqi civilians and the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.

The problem casts a spotlight on the tangled web of alliances and enmities that underlie the political relations between Muslim nations and the U.S.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2007 at 12:06 pm

Fred Hiatt, unconscionable Bush advocate

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The sad thing is that Fred Hiatt is the editorial page editor of the once great Washington Post. Glenn Greenwald shows how very far the editorial position of the Post has slipped. (Firefox users use IE Tab for best results at the link.)

Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2007 at 12:01 pm

When Libertarianism reigned

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A thoughtful Libertarian responded to an earlier post (on the findings of the effects of environmental lead on social violence), and I thought he might be willing to walk me through why he holds those beliefs and respond to what I see as the disconfirming evidence. (When you want to test a hypothesis, you look for disconfirming evidence. If you find none, the hypothesis becomes stronger—much stronger than by an accumulation of confirming evidence.)

Leaded gasoline, banned in the US thanks to the EPA, is still heavily used in the third world. No government action is taken to prohibit its use. Now that the evidence for its harm is well established, let’s watch the mechanism of the Free Market remove that source of environmental lead. [… sound of crickets …] Yes, the Free Market is not going to do it, and for sure the companies are not going to do it. Why doesn’t the Free Market work as Libertarianism would have it work? There’s a clear problem, and yet…

Another example: the Gilded Age—the US from the post-Civil War through the end of the 19th Century. No burdensome government regulations and agencies. And yet many problems, with the Free Market in full swing: close-to-poisonous patent medicines, rampant stock fraud, deadly workplaces, unsafe housing, rotten and adulterated food, self-appointed “doctors” and “dentists” engaged in practice, large companies crushing small competitors through predatory pricing in the competitors’ markets, and so on. A social history of the era is quite revealing.

And yet, despite all the problems and full operation of a Free Market, we don’t see the problems being solved through that mechanism. Why not? If Liberatrianism is correct, the solutions should have been coming fast and furious, then and in the third world today.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2007 at 8:51 am

Posted in Business, Government

Thermocules overwhelmed!

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This morning at 0300 hours I awoke to realize that the brave little band of thermocules in my blanket had met their Thermopylae, vanquished by the cold coastal fog outside my open bedroom window. (I’m a fresh-air sleeper.) I had been in a deep sleep and was groggy, but I managed to get up and find the well-hidden zipper on the thermocule-filled duvet and remove it from its plastic case. I shook it open—it’s large, a queen size—and spread it over the bed, then got back inside.

I woke hours later with that wonderful thermocule feeling: toasty warm but no sign of sweat. And Megs was nestled deep in the duvet, down between my knees, sound asleep. I think she likes it even better than the blanket.

I can’t now find the figures, but I read somewhere that the thermocule intensity, as it were, of the blanket is 500 and of the duvet/comforter is 3000. So the cold night air never had a chance once I got the duvet out.

Man, I love this stuff.

Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2007 at 8:26 am

Posted in Daily life

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