Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Prostate cancer testing: No change in survival rates?

This is a sobering article.

Seems very counterintuitive, but I know nothing about prostate cancer treatments. If there is really no treatment, then early detection of this disease is merely buying you more worry time. One of 34 men will die of this disease. In my high school class of 270, about 8 will die of this disease.

Mini blog of the day.

Just some stuff that caught my eye:

Lousiana towns ban drooping pants Wait until the plumbers union hears this.

Rep Young's pork cannot be returned (yet) Seems a little much. The public didn't comment on getting the pork in the first place. If the authorities want to give it back, let them.

Square watermelons. For a lot of money. In Japan (of course).

Why not just slice up the watermelon before putting it into the fridge?

Mixed signs in latest Census data

Household income up because more households are going to a two-income household (individual incomes are down).

Health insurance is being lost by those making $75 K & up, as a result of fewer employer-offered plans.

Overall poverty rate is down slightly, which is good news no matter what else we are seeing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another facet to the disaster...

Hilzoy, sitting in for Andrew Sullivan highlights yet another disastrous decision by The Decider in Iraq.

Americans don't mind so much the seat-of-your-pants decision-making, so long as you are getting them right. That is, when the political instincts are working, making decisions in this way would confirm the decision of the American people to trust the President, and his instincts.

But stories like this merely widen our horror.

Worst. President. Ever.

Why are Congress' approval numbers so low?

Glenn Greenwald puts to the lie that "Americans don't want Congress to do investigations"

This reflects something I've been repeating for some time.
The President has very low approval ratings because he's been godawful. Congress has very low approval ratings because they continue to pull their punches.

As much as I dislike the way the "progressives" have turned themselves into Republican-lite in their methods, they are exactly right (and were ahead of the curve) on their calls for Congressional investigations of this Administration, pulling out of Iraq, and in general rolling back the additional powers the President gained after 9/11.

Congress simply isn't doing the will of the people. And their numbers reflect the disappointment that many have with them over the point. Dems are squandering their advantage, and continuing to roll over for the President (such as the most recent expansion of his spying powers) will nail them to the wall.

Senator Craig and his visit to the men's room

I have to admit that I agree with TPM Reader LA

There seems to be a larger point missing from all the "rush to judgement" bloggers out there, who like nothing more than to wag their fingers in the faces of gay Republicans getting into trouble for sexual reasons. If Craig wasn't a Republican, wouldn't the not-so-"progressive" bloggers be talking more about the lack of a crime? Or perhaps excusing the whole thing as possibly being between consenting adults.

Sometimes the Left can be more hypocritical than anything on the Right.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Carpetbaggers vs whistleblowers: Which side to you think the Administration is on?

Whistleblowers getting screwed.

This is what happens when you have a government led by a group who dislike the idea of government, throwning money at carpetbaggers a half-a-world away.

The Paranoid President, with nothing to lose.

President co-opts the troops

Nothing entirely new here, except that the President, with nothing to lose, continues to push the envelope of what should and should not be political.

And he's laying the groundwork for blaming others for the mistakes he committed himself.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Congress reduced to an advisory capacity

Congress' role, it seems, is just "advisory."

This piece should be required reading of Democratic lawmakers. They really need to stop believing that the Administration is "bargaining," let alone in "good faith." The Administration is going to do what it wants, and laws don't matter.

How not to govern...

White House gets their hand slapped on their "friends only" policy yet, they still don't get it.

The overt politicalization of the White House seems obvious at this point, particularly when compared to many administrations in the past, of both parties. Somehow a group of people openly hostile to most of the ideas of government at the federal level, with unheard-of levels of cynicism (see Rove, Karl "THE Math"), threw away the deepest support an Administration will have for many years to come, because they didn't actually know what to do when they got everything they wanted.

Used to be that the Dems were the ones who shoot themselves in the foot (and this Congress seems on the verge of doing just that--by refusing to follow through on the main reason they were given the majority in the first place). But a lot of things got turned around with this Administration.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Rogue contractor" charges $900K to ship two 19 cent washers

South Carolina contractor billed $68,000 for parts, $20.5 million for shipping

Is the military now getting their parts on Ebay?

Wonder how these guys thought they would get away with it. It sounds like suddenly finding your $300 paycheck was credited as $30000 in your account, then going crazy with the money. It really is only a matter of time when you are talking about these kinds of numbers.

"Petraeus" Report

This LA Times story appears to get it both right and wrong:

According to the officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus is expected to propose the partial pullback in his September status report to Congress...

and, later,

Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

So we were led to believe that the General would be making a status report to Congress, not presenting a "Petraeus" Report written by the White House .

Add this to the long list of "stuff Bush misled us about."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jose Padilla and the soul of America

The circular reasoning of torture, all laid out with a pretty bow.

The Jose Padilla case is enough to make any American just vomit. The way this country has just eased its way into a torturing, fearful place in which the rule of law simply doesn't exist is the kind of thing we'll look back on in a decade or two and go "What the fuck??"

This could only have been pulled off by a group of people who simply have a misplaced sense of what government is all about, "led " by a man who insists, time and time again, that he "took an oath to protect the people of the United States" (hint to W: You didn't. Ironically, the only oath you took, which you've trashed, is to protect the Constitution). We've finally got some broad push-back on this point, after years of single stories about heroes such as William Kuebler.

I genuinely believe we ourselves will be judged by our reactions to this expansion of power, often used for petty (at best) or evil (at worst) purposes.

Who died first?

Order of wrestler Chris Benoit's killings important to determine proceeds of estate

One of those "who would have though it mattered?" stories.

Shell hits roadblock for new Arctic drilling

SF appeals court sides with environmental & Native groups

New passport rules snagging back child support

One of the few good things to come out of the new passport rules is that the State Department is now collecting millions of dollars in back child support . If a person is reported to owe more than $2500 in back support, they can't get a passport until they cough up the money.

Good news, from my perspective.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rudy and 9/11 hot air

The 5 lies of Rudy about 9/11

I think the writer can do without asides such as "so-called War on Terror" (though he probably doesn't know he's even saying it that way). But the hits are right on.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Storm Behind the Storm: Foreign Policy and the 2008 Election

Glenn Greenwald takes up the banner, brought to light by all the flapping over Obama's non-gaffes, about foreign policy scholars and their stranglehold over the foreign policy debates and how they are framed.

I'm not quite as ga-ga as Glenn over Samantha Power's memo as he is, but I believe it does represent the kind of new thinking that Obama brings to the table, which makes his candidacy very powerful.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall with his usual good analysis of the poltical jostling behind the scenes helps lay out some of what we might see in the coming months. For Clinton to be successful, she'll need to keep hammering at actual or potential weaknesses of Obama on foreign policy. Obama, on the other hand, seems to be on his game and just has to stay on it to keep playing to his own strengths.

Chickenhawks and Mitt Romney

The Romney thing well, the latest thing anyway, is getting bounced around the political echo chamber some more, mostly because Romney's explanation doesn't seem to clear it up very much.

I only post this because Hugh Hewitt ("He's so 2003") who never lets facts get into the way of a good beatin', claims this was a "lefty" thing and complains of Romney getting picked on.

Liz Mair, guest-blogging for Andrew Sullivan, points out through a more recent Mitt-ism that shooting yourself in the foot (or putting your foot in your mouth--pick your own podalic analogy) isn't really "getting picked on" but is more along the lines of "culling the herd."

AT&T Censors PL Lyrics Critical of Bush

AT&T Jams Pearl Jam

AT&T blames this incident on an overzealous "junior content monitor," but Eddie and co. are right on in their Response that the sponsor's censorship of their webcast has far broader implications than a one-time case of poor judgment.

This stuff scares me, and makes me wonder if we are heading towards the gov't I saw portrayed (albiet in Britain) in "V for Vendetta." I saw the Beastie Boys last night in Central Park, and the show was for a benefit for the environment. The performers stayed away from political commentary, but I'd like to think that if they had, it'd be heard, as it was intended. When corporations make decisions about what people need to hear, with $ signs the motivation, a few are more secure in their fiscal riches, but we're all poorer otherwise (how melodramatic!).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Partisanship...

Following-up on walk's post below about partisanship, I came across this piece by Anne-Marie Slaughter , which I've posted a draft of this post as a comment there. Many of the comments are what we've come to expect from "progressives" trying to out-do themselves in their condemnation of all things Republican.

Truth be told, Democrats don't win elections if they don't make efforts to appeal to people who vote Republican (for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of a lack of party discipline brought about because most people follow their ideology first, party second, while GOP voters are the opposite).

Many progressives are making the same arguments the Bush Administration makes in its dealings with North Korea, making a series of pre-conditions to negotiation. At this point, however, many Republicans are looking for cover, and running across a no-man's land in the middle. To meet halfway, Democrats already need to be there. Let's jetison this childish "they need to go halfway first" attitude. That isn't the attitude of leadership.

There are all sorts of things that Democrats and Republicans can agree upon, and partisanship of the sort advocated by many progressives (a sort of Cheneyism on the left) would involve salting the earth in the middle in retaliation for years of hardcore partisanship on the Right.

In the end, partisanship hurts the party, and the ability to move its agenda forward. It makes it more difficult for GOP members to support us. It buys into the hateful elections (thereby discouraging fresh candidates). It shrinks the tent of the party when we can be expanding it to include people who can contribute new and innovative ideas.

We need to stop thinking that every Republican is Dick Cheney or Rick Santorum and acting accordingly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Politics: Whine & Cheese

How Partisan Do Politics Have to be?

You know, I know that we have two divided political parties. I know our system is broken in that there are only really two parties. I know Nader says they are much more alike than different (I dunno if I agree), but I what I don't know, what I don't get, is why or how our political parties are so against each other. This "us" or "them" mentality, win at all costs, attain and remain in power seemingly is completely missing the picture of what is best for our country. Clearly, obviously, tenets of both parties make sense, but not when it's an "us against them philosophy." So, in this ironic editorial by Republican Senator Beohner, he complains that the Dems stole a close vote on immigration last week. It was close, and apparently the Dems did muck it up (admitting such, sorta), but c'mon, you wanna talk "stolen votes"... I mean (presidential) elections (that have much greater and negative consequences)?

I wanna know how the next leader of this country is going to work in a bi-partisan way, with members of the opposition party, for example, in his or her cabinet, meeting with members of both parties to avoid groupthink, etc. I want a leader (I personally, I think Obama gets this) who realizes and is not afraid to endorse potential policies and decisions advocated by "the other side." I am not naive to believe that our two national parties will stop the we/they thinking (thanks Carl, for making it even more extreme), but I think, hope, that there are some leaders out there who will try to rise above it. We need it.

A Living Buddhist? I'm sorry, but you'll need to apply for permission to be reincarnated...

At first, this story about China requiring applications for re-incarnation reads like a spoof. But I can see how China, led by its own bureacracy, is merely acting as a large group of bureaucrats would: Incorporate the unknown (religion) into the known (application and approval process) in order to further the political goals of the government.

Monday, August 06, 2007

CIA black sites

Someday we'll look back on reporting like this one, on CIA black sites as the beginning of the attempt by the media to redeem themselves from being mere cheerleaders and/or dupes from 2002 through 2006 or so.

Boy found floating in the Dead Sea after 6 hours

Boy floats in Dead Sea for 6 hours after father leaves him by accident

A very interesting story. But is the mention of the father's religion important to this story? I think not.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Where corrupt politicians go to hide...

Surpreme Court gives corrupt politicians a place to hide the evidence.

A better indication--early states only?

Obama & Edwards looking good in Iowa

The national polls that I've seen have Clinton up about 12% over Obama. But perhaps we should actually be looking at thos early states: Iowa, South Carolina & New Hampshire.

Iowa is virtually tied at the top. New Hampshire is also a virtual tie between Clinton & Obama. South Carolina has a slight lead for Obama, but take a look at the movement from July 2 through July 31 for ARG: Obama has moved from 21% to 33%, taking numbers away from both Clinton & Edwards.

Things are really looking good for Obama. Clinton has built up a very good machine, but I think the strategy was to get in early and large, and snuff out the competition early. That hasn't happened, and the mistake for Clinton is that she's front-loaded enough that if she has to go head-to-head against a surging Obama it's tough for her to make the case that she isn't Bush-lite in comparison.

Pro-surge AND pro-withdrawal?

It is expected that the September report on Iraq will indicate that the surge is working, regardless of what is actually happening on the ground. That's because Patreaus (despite being a very good soldier and general) is a lackey of the Administration.

One interesting twist was recently exhibited by Mitt Romney, who stated that "if the surge is working, let's get the hell out." Of course, a pro-surge and pro-withdrawal policy is something that only Romney might be able to pull off, but there is a perverse logic to it. Give the surgers what they want until the report, let them report their successes, then leverage those stated successes into a drawdown.

It is very similar to what we should be doing with nearly all government programs: The more succeessful you are at accomplishing your goals, the more we should close the books on you.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Inside the surge

Sometimes is it best to simply let the soldiers talk for the soldiers .

I, for one, am sick of people (all sides, but particularly the Administration and their lackeys) telling us what the troops think. I agree that the troops want to complete their mission and leave it as a success. But troops also want peace, and not to see their fellow soldiers thrown into a breach contrived into existence by the Administration and whooped on by Generation Chickenhawk.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Obama and the War on Terror

There's been some ink spilled over Obama's "dustup" with Clinton regarding pre-conditions to meeting with certain foreign leaders. A tempest in a teapot, it seems to me, and many of those writing about it really need to get outside more and wean themselves from their crack cocaine-like dependence upon commenting at-length on election "news" this early in the cycle.

Nevertheless, Obama seems to be fleshing out his foreign policy priorities, and his speech today put out a number of things it seems that the next Commander-in-Chief will have to deal with. The new direction regarding Pakistan (which mirrors what I've been saying for years) is exactly the right touch, IMO.

Andrew Sullivan, among others, seems to like it.

Not that it matters...

70% think Gonzo should be investigated

Bush will hold onto Fredo as long as he can. There is no other person that the Senate would confirm as AG that would take the bullets this man is taking for the President in particular and the Administration's policies in general.

I'm attending a "town meeting" next week with Arlen Spector. It'll be interesting what he has to say about all this.

Mayor Bloomberg's Commute

A Non-Typical Commute

When I read this article, I was a bit surprised, and disappointed. Let me set the context. I live and work in NYC, and have done so for 13 years. I live within walking distance of our mayor, and am very close to his unused mansion and across the street from one of our former mayor's -- Il Rudy's -- residences. I like mayor Mike very much, much more than Rudy. Bloomberg is smart, reasonable, pragmatic, and a superior leader-manager, and many of his policies are aligned to my way of thinking (lucky me!). I am literally worried about what will happen to NYC when he has to step down and someone else is elected. Our city needs a socially conscious business person like Bloomberg running it. Otherwise, we will have a fiscal mess.

Still, I have one little issue that has just surfaced. Mike has made it clear publicly how he is proud that he uses the subway to commute from the upper east side to City Hall. Even though we take the same line, I've never seen him, but I guess we commute at different times. In this instance, Mike is saying he practices what he preaches, using mass transit and avoiding polluting our air and streets with exhaust and congestion. However, I now find out that in order to avoid transferring from the local 6 train at 77th street (near his townhouse) to the express 4/5 trains at 59th street, he is chauffeured by a large Chevy suburban from his home to the 59th street station, so that he may get on the express train directly. This seems to defeat the purpose, taking a fat car to get to the subway (I know, the suburban vehicle is a police issued protection car, but that's not the point). Still, I'm pretty much okay with it, but not okay with publicity beforehand that he was proud to take the subway. Moreover, I'm particularly baffled by the quote from one of his aides responding to a reporter's question about the extent to which this semi-public subway Bloombergian commute typifies the average NYers subway commute. The answer was sorta: "What is a typical commute?" I tellya what it aint, it aint a ride, in a fat gas guzzling car to a subway. It's the transfer from the local to the express. No one does what Mike is doing here. So, I am perturbed that Mike and his staff did not tell it like it is from the get-go. It doesn't feel right.

Is this a big deal? No, not really, but just sticks in my craw because of the somewhat misleading impression we were given all along. "Spin." Even from one of my favorite politicians.

- walk