Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Lesson In Prior Restraint

A friend of mine who actually still reads the paper edition of the Bucks County (PA) Courier Times noticed this item on November 11th…

(Thumbs Down) To members of the House of Representatives who voted for the so-called "Affordable Health Care for America Act" - which, in reality, isn't affordable. The House-passed health care reform measure is now in the Senate where cost-containment must be the focus.

Voting in favor of the House bill were Bucks County Congressman Patrick Murphy, D-8, and Montgomery County Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, D-13.

Problem with the bill, which 39 party-bucking and reality-based Democrats refused to support, is that it does little to rein in the rising health care costs that pose a growing and potentially ruinous financial threat to middle class Americans and small businesses.

At first glance, the opposite appears to be true. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the measure would reduce federal deficits by more than $100 billion over a decade. But the House excluded $250 billion in estimated Medicare payments to health care providers over the same time span, the non-partisan CBO found.

The measure also doesn't address tort reform. In our view, reform that does not impose some sort of limits on malpractice suits would fail to address one of the chief culprits driving health care costs so high - defensive medicine.

We're not opposed to health care reform, just reform that won't reduce the back-breaking costs of health care. Let's hope the Senate will produce a measure worthy of being called reform.
In response, he wrote the following on or about the day that the “Thumbs Down” was published (and here is more information on the cost of health care reform legislation that the Courier Times chose to ignore, of course)…

Concerning the “Thumbs Down” segment of the Courier Times on November 13th, despite the paper’s reasoning, I’m at a loss to understand why those who voted for the Affordable Health Care for America Act somehow earned the wrath of this newspaper.

For starters, the paper chides the lawmakers for approving the nearly $250 billion in estimated Medicare payments to health care providers over the coming decade. But according to Jonathan Chait of The New Republic, these aren’t "Obamacare costs." “The money,” Chait tells us, “would be spent whether health reform happens or not.”

Chait also tells us that “more than a decade ago, Congress tried to control Medicare costs by restricting payments to doctors. But the reimbursement cut has proven unpopular. So every year, Congress appropriates more money to fill the hole and keep the doctors happy.”

The paper also criticizes the lawmakers for not including “tort reform” in the health care legislation. However, Anne Underwood of the New York Times reported last August that “according to the actuarial consulting firm Towers Perrin, medical malpractice tort costs were $30.4 billion in 2007, the last year for which data are available. We have a more than a $2 trillion health care system. That puts litigation costs and malpractice insurance at 1 to 1.5 percent of total medical costs. That’s a rounding error. Liability isn’t even the tail on the cost dog. It’s the hair on the end of the tail.”

And in the matter of the cost of the House health care bill, the Courier Times doesn’t note the impact of the public option. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote, “the bill does include a ‘medium-strength’ public option, in which the public plan would negotiate payment rates — defying the predictions of pundits who have repeatedly declared any kind of public-option plan dead. It also includes more generous subsidies than expected, making it easier for lower-income families to afford coverage. And according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, almost everyone — 96 percent of legal residents too young to receive Medicare — would get health insurance.”

Also, I believe it’s telling that the paper apparently didn’t even consider the impact of the bill on those without insurance, which was addressed in a column by Rep. Patrick Murphy only days before the “Thumbs Down” column. To refresh our memories, Murphy told us about a woman who lost her coverage when she lost her job and was denied when she sought coverage on her own because of a “pre-existing condition” known as pregnancy.

We also learned of a man whose wife was denied coverage because she took blood pressure medication, and another man who lost his coverage when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. To me, the need to right these wrongs far outweighs the $250 billion cost that would be paid out to doctors anyway regardless of which party ran Congress.

Also concerning cost, the New York Times recently quoted Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He pointed out that health care spending in countries such as France, Germany, Japan and Switzerland actually slowed; they had higher incomes and higher costs, but more government involvement and, according to Anderson, “can control their costs better than we can.”

And as long as we’re talking about numbers, let’s look at the most catastrophic of all. According to a Harvard medical study from September of this year, “the lack of coverage can be tied to about 45,000 deaths a year in the United States — a toll that is greater than the number of people who die each year from kidney disease.”

Health care reform, including a strong public option, is a need our country has failed to address for nearly 70 years. This has occurred primarily as a result of fear mongering and misinformation sponsored by business interests, primarily insurance and pharmaceutical companies, conservative activists, and sympathetic media outlets. And I don’t believe that the cost we have paid in ruined lives, inefficient outcomes and decreased global competitiveness from ever-more-burdensome obligations to companies small and large is one that we will ever be able to calculate.

It truly is unsustainable, and we allow such madness to continue at our peril.
Well, editorial page editor Guy Petroziello called him yesterday about the Guest Opinion prior to publication (three-to-four-week delays for publication of Guest Opinions isn’t unusual, by the way).

Petroziello criticized the fact that my friend dismissed the issue of the $250 billion reimbursement, and he also said he created a “straw man” argument on the matter of tort reform. Guy said that he emphasized “defense medicine” (multiple tests, redundant procedures, etc.) and my friend read into that to mean that Petroziello was talking about litigation costs instead.

Well, call me crazy, but when you hear the phrase “tort reform,” do YOU think of doctors ordering multiple “CYA” tests to insure themselves against a lawsuit? What I think of is the cost of a malpractice award.

So basically, the Guest Opinion isn’t going to be printed in its current form, unless my friend can rewrite it somehow to Petroziello’s liking, which he would do if somehow a day became 30 hours long, given all of the other holiday season stuff going on right now. But he really isn’t inclined to do that anyway because he thinks his point is valid, even if Petroziello doesn’t.

Of course, the paper has no problem printing wingnut nonsense about “death panels” or stuff about how Patrick Murphy supposedly isn’t a good Catholic because he supports choice, which, despite everything, is still the law of the land.

Memo to the Courier Times: one day your primarily wingnut audience will die out, and by then, it will be way too late to make a “left turn” in the hope of trying to keep yourselves financially above water. And you will only have yourselves to blame.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Stuff

Rachel Maddow presents the sound of John Ensign turning on one of the last friends he had in the Senate, and the allegorical story of China telling us that it's time to return "little butter stick" (don't worry - nothing to warn the kids about...yet)...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

...and RIP Eric Woolfson of the Alan Parsons Project (this is the only video I know of in which a dot matrix printer appears, and hopefully there are no others - and no, this isn't an out take from Monty Python's instructional flick "How Not To Be Seen").

Friday Mini-Mashup (12/4/09)

(And I also posted here.)

  • The Moonie Times tries to smear our chief executive again; hilarity ensues (here, with the headline telling us that convicted Jordanian embezzler Ahmed Chalabi, from whose fairy tales for the benefit of gullible Bushies the Iraq nightmare took shape, has “cozied up” to Obama).

    And what exactly has Hide The Chalabi done?

    …(Chalabi) has sent the U.S. leader "sincere congratulations" for winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
    Well, even though he’s a little late with his congrats here, I merely have four words I must say now in response:


  • This links to a petition from Daily Kos diarist wade norris, who, to his credit, is concerned that, with the acquisition of NBC/Universal by Comcast, the Philadelphia-headquartered cable behemoth will try to push Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow off the air.

    Well, Comcast Executive VP David Cohen said the following about that (here)…

    I mean, we’re totally committed — really really — to letting Keith Olbermann be Keith Olbermann, and we don’t have any problem with that. But in this world — we saw Jeff Immelt get dragged into something. Jeff Immelt was committed to letting Keith Olbermann be Keith Olbermann too, and all of a sudden, for a month, he’s a national story. So I think that’s going to be an adjustment for us. That’s going to be a challenge for us.
    I think the fact that MSNBC is projected to earn $365 million in revenue this year (here) will help Cohen and Comcast live with whatever inconveniences they may have to deal with as a result of the “butting heads” between K.O. and Bill Orally of Fix Noise.

    Also, I regret that I didn’t link to Marc Stier’s great post earlier on why the merger is a bad idea (never a good thing when two outfits of this size hook up), but I think what’s really driving this is Comcast’s insatiable appetite for on-demand programming and trying to implement some sort of new scheme to pay for web content. First, last and in between, this, typically, is all about the almighty buck.

    Though anything is possible, Comcast knows that MSNBC’s “left turn” (not total I know, hence the continued presence of “Uber Alles” Buchanan and Joe Scar) has been good business. They would be utter fools to mess with that.

  • Finally, though I utterly detest Joe (“He’s With Us On Everything But The War”) Lieberman as much as anyone, can someone explain to me how, despite his continual obstruction on health care, among other issues, he could still enjoy an approval rating of 49 percent here (with 50 the magic number of when it officially becomes extremely difficult to vote out an incumbent)?

    And can someone also explain to me how we can seriously claim to have a shot at knocking off Holy Joe when we can’t even effectively play defense on behalf of Chris Dodd (his accomplishments are noted here, and Dodd did the right thing again today here)?

    I defer to My Left Nutmeg on matters such as this, but it is a continual source of amazement to me (and I keep waiting for Dodd’s “come to Jesus” moment when he answers all of the nagging BS questions about his supposed preferred Countrywide mortgage and whatever other peccadilloes the Murdoch Street Journal has drummed up once and for all).

    I say this as someone who watched the eminently capable NJ governor (who didn’t play the political games with vigor, I’ll admit) Jon Corzine lose to prosecutorial appointee Chris Christie not long ago (can’t wait for the independents to turn on the new gov when he starts racking up deficits), and as someone who watched our local slate of Democratic candidates get swept by an admittedly-energized wingnut base.

    Anybody who’s still sitting on his or her hands about Dodd had better get off of them and realize what’s at stake here if he loses. And if that dreaded event happens, you can be sure that the other “independent” Senator from that state will have a good laugh.

    Seriously, we have work to do, people.

  • Update 12/11/09: All the more reason to support Dodd based on this (God, what hideous trolls in the comments from CNN; we'll have to "leave it there")...

    Thursday, December 03, 2009

    Thursday Stuff

    The Union Carbide Disaster in Bhopal happened 25 years ago today (intense stuff; no way to sanitize this, nor should I, really)...

    ...I'm not sure how I can follow that, but I'll try with this absurdity from U.S. House Repug Louie Gohmert of Texas (though this supposedly involves a matter of faith, Bishop Thomas Tobin could not be reached for comment, nor could Former Senator Man-On-Dog, who is still given column space in that pitiable waste of time that bears an ever-fading resemblance to a publication once called The Philadelphia Inquirer; and by the way, what the hell does the estate tax have to do with losing a family farm anyway?)...

    ..."Worst Persons" (former Bushie and Freedom's Crock warmonger Ari Fleischer criticizes the whole notion of a playoff for college bowl football teams - not quite a subject matter expert on this, I'll admit, and I wouldn't care except for the fact that Ari called the playoff "an Obama scheme"...sure it's not an "ACORN" scheme? Time to re-read your talking points from Frank Luntz, Ari; Gretchen Carlson of Fix Noise gushes with praise over Derek Jeter - I guess I should hate him because the Yanks are champs, but I don't - without noting a rather laughable conflict of interest; but Carlson, Steve Douchie and Brian Kilmeade try to claim that Jon Stewart is now a global warming denier - HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!)...

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ...and as long as I noted something about sports earlier, I guess I should stay with that and dedicate this little number... this guy (wonder if he'll "keep his putter covered" now?).

    Doomsy's Do-Gooders And Dregs (2009 - Pt. 1)

    Yep, it's the time for "year-end" lists once again (getting a jump on some people with this, I'll admit, partly because posting will get flakier through the month), and I'd better start getting this wrapup for 2009 together because I have a lot of stuff; like last year, it will probably take me up to New Years Eve to get to it all, so here goes (and I also posted, more or less, over here).

    (And by the way, unacknowledged hat tips are probably owed here to Eschaton, The Daily Kos, Think Progress, Huffington Post, Open Left, Democracy Arsenal, and a few other sites here - many thanks)...

    Whiner Of The Year Nominee (And Probable Winner)

    Yep, Hangin’ Judge J.R. returned for his bi-yearly ritual of bitching about his salary (here, funny when you consider how he screwed up administering the oath of office to Obama)…

    January Grinch Of The Year

    Brian Tierney of Philadelphia Newspapers tells Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to cut city payroll by 5 percent for a staff of 23,000 city employees (no particular suggestions on how to do that, of course; Tierney, the “bottom line” guy that he is, doesn’t realize that he’s trying to run government like a business, which, as we know, worked so well for and here)…

    Dregs Of The Year Nominees

    Incoming (as of January) Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein and outgoing chair “Jello Jay” Rockefeller for opposing Obama’s nomination of Leon Panetta to head the CIA, particularly given the fact that they both have a better record of supporting Bush nominees (here - I also see that DiFi dimed out Harry Reid on the "seating Obama replacement Roland Burris" thing, but to be honest, I think Reid “screwed the pooch” by refusing to seat Burris without knowing that Blago, warts and all, had the upper hand there – DiFi made up a bit on the Panetta thing, BTW, and Rockefeller has thus far stood tall on the public option in the seemingly-never-ending Senate health care reform grind)…

    The “You Knew This Was Inevitable” Citation

    In light of the financial stimulus packages requested for the financial services and auto industries, Think Progress tells us here that “Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis and Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt have asked Congress for a $5 billion bailout, arguing that their industry is also one of the ‘nation’s most important businesses’.” (here - insert your scatological snark here).

    The "No One - Except Everyone - Could Have Foreseen This Either" Citation Of The Year Nominee

    “Mississippi, Hotbed Of Abstinence Education, Now Boasts Highest Rate Of Teen Pregnancy” (here)...

    The "Prolonging The Agony That Would Eventually End, But Not Soon Enough" Citation

    Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao for this...

    The "Too Smart To Work In This Business" Citation

    To eventually terminated WaPo columnist (who was scooped up immediately by HuffPo) Dan Froomkin for this...

    From The “Paybacks From Mother Nature Are A Bitch” File

    Mike "Heckuva Job" Brown, formerly of FEMA, gets it for this...

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Rep. Milton Patterson, a Chicago Democrat, who cast the sole vote against impeaching embattled Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (final tally was 114-1…guess the “present” vote by fellow State Rep. Elga Jefferies was counted as one of the 114 – here).

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, who was indicted on charges that she accepted illegal gifts during her time as mayor and City Council president, including travel, fur coats and gift cards intended for the poor that she allegedly used instead for a holiday shopping spree (she was eventually convicted on one of four counts, noted here).

    Do Gooders Of The Year Nominees

    Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, for telling the Smithsonian to change the wording of a sign next to a portrait of President Bush that says his time in the White House was "marked by a series of catastrophic events" including the "the attacks on September 11, 2001, that led to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq" (here).

    And it should be noted that the director of the portrait gallery (Martin Sullivan) agreed with Sanders and said he’ll change the sign – a Do Gooder citation to him also.

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    IL Repug Rep Mark Kirk, who said here that it’s “time to take out the trash” In Gaza; as Brandon Friedman of VoteVets says, “People who throw around such cavalier remarks have never watched a civilian bleed to death on a battlefield after being cut down in the crossfire”...

    Do Gooder Of The Year Nominee

    Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, considering the reason for his retirement (here - he would reappear in an impartial role in the Philadelphia Eagles' fiasco with Michael Vick later)...

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Glenn Beck, for citing the fictional congressional testimony of “24” character Jack Bauer as a supposed defense for torture (I know, considering this is Beck, I have to “grade on a curve” here, but this is truly many other reasons, I know).

    Do Gooder Of The Year Nominee

    Dem Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island for this…

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Evan Thomas of Newsweek, who said here that torture “may work,” even though he said in 2006 that it didn’t (should have quit while he still made sense).

    Do Gooder Of The Year Nominee

    Pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, as noted here (he landed that US Air jet in the Hudson River, for the benefit of the five people on earth who don't know that...even though he is a true hero, he would end up squeezing those proverbial "15 minutes" to death)…

    Dregs Of The Year Nominees

    The criminals who vandalized the Arizona home of Eagles QB Donavan McNabb by burning messages into his front lawn in support of the Arizona Cardinals football team here (the Cards beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship far away that seems now - aside from the obvious stupidity and maliciousness of that act, the fact that the team moved from St. Louis and never even bothered to change either their nicknames or their uniform colors is ridiculous as far as I’m concerned; maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never seen too many cardinals…i.e., that species of bird…in a desert).

    Do Gooder Of The Year Nominee

    Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, who urged the U.S. to pursue former President George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld on charges that they authorized torture and other harsh interrogation techniques (here)...

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Merrill Lynch, for paying out $4 billion in bonuses from TARP funds (here)....

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Former Bushco speechwriter Marc Thiessen for this (haven’t checked on his military experience, but I’ll bet it’s zero).

    Do Gooder Of The Year Nominee

    Russ Feingold for this…

    Do Gooder Of The Year Nominee

    Yusef Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, for recording a cover of “The Day The World Gets ‘Round” by George Harrison for the children of Gaza (heard about this on ‘XPN in these parts...he would launch a tour after three decades later in the year)

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Repug U.S. House Rep Phil Gingrey of Georgia (surprised?) who apologized for his criticisms of Flush Limbore and Sean Inanity (here...I don’t know who’s worse, actually: Gingrey or the idiots who voted for him).

    Do Gooder Of The Year Nominee

    Cleveland drum major and firefighter John Coleman for this (what a ridiculous overreaction by the corps)…

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Dem Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota for saying here of the stimulus package that “very little (was) done to help the financial sector”; as Atrios quite rightly asked, “how many trillion do we have to give them??”

    The “And Windows Vista Really ‘Bites’ Too” Citation

    As noted here, Bill Gates “opened a jar containing mosquitoes during a talk Wednesday at the Technology Entertainment Design conference in Long Beach, California,” trying to drive home the threat of malaria.

    Do Gooder Of The Year Nominee

    Justice John E. Wallace Jr. of the New Jersey State Supreme Court, who ruled here that officials in Lawrence Township could not ban the display of a 10-foot inflatable rat on free speech grounds (the rat is a national symbol used by organized labor to signal a dispute).

    Dregs Of The Year (And Fashion Fascist) Nominee

    Former Bushco Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who complained to “Inside Edition” here about Obama not respecting some imaginary White House dress code by the new president’s taking his jacket off in the Oval Office, or something.

    Hmmm, let me think here; wasn’t Card the guy who, along with Abu Gonzales, traveled to John Ashcroft’s hospital room in an attempt to strongarm a desperately sick man into signing a statement that Bushco’s warrantless surveillance (illegal at the time of the visit) was OK?

    And wasn’t Card the guy who said here that Dubya would give John Kerry “the respect of more time” before conceding the presidential election in 2004 (as if that’s a decision for Card to even make or have a say about)?

    Yeah, he’s a swell guy, isn’t he? Based on this, though, just call him Andrew “Cheeseburger Boy” Card (heh heh).

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Repug U.S. House Rep “Mullah Pete” Sessions of Texas (of course), for saying (in essence) that the Repugs should adopt the tactics of the Taliban (here).

    Dregs of The Year Nominee

    Dem Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, for all the reasons Atrios notes here (I should compliment her for calling those Wall Street geniuses who very nearly wrecked our economy “idiots,” but the Eschaton post, noting this mythical “bipartisanship” McCaskill seems to be pursuing, explains why she ends up as a net negative on the stimulus bill before it was eventually signed into law)

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Collectively, to the Virginia state legislature for allowing bar patrons to enter with guns (real swift) AND defeating a measure by Dem Governor Tim Kaine to enforce background checks on anyone purchasing a gun at a weekend “sportsman’s show,” as the New York Times tells us here (trying to stem the flow of gun traffic from VA to Washington, D.C. – responsible for half of the guns used in crimes in our nation’s capital – and also for crimes in NYC, though I don’t know what the percentage is there…pathetic).

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who said that "this is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill," here.

    You know, I’m sorry, but at this point, anyone who advanced the idiotic “it’s a spending bill, not a stimulus bill” notion was a liar, a crook, or a stone-cold moron (or any combination of the three).

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Tennessee Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen, who, as a one-time potential candidate for Health and Human Services Secretary under Obama (with Daschle out - Kathleen Sebelius was eventually named and confirmed), said here that "advocacy groups don't matter nearly as much as the pharmaceutical groups, the hospitals, the doctors' groups…”

    What an asshat.

    Do Gooder Of The Year Nominee

    It's hard to give it to Snarlin' Arlen Specter, especially since I support Joe Sestak for the Senate in his place, but I have to for returning fire on Laura Ingraham over Specter's vote in support of the stimulus here (Update 12/7/09: and if it weren't for Joe Sestak, he probably wouldn't say this either, but give him credit for saying it just the same)

    More later...

    Wednesday, December 02, 2009

    Wednesday Stuff

    By the way, 55 years ago today, Joseph McCarthy was censured by the U.S. this clip, the references to "Zwicker" and "Stevens" have to do with his hearings into alleged Communists (they were always alleged) in the U.S. Army - also, the "Alger/Adlai" slip has to do with trying to link Democrat Adlai Stevenson to former FDR New Dealer Alger Hiss, who maintained his innocence until his death - Hiss was convicted of perjury, by the way, not espionage...interesting historical quirk to yours truly that Hiss outlived Nixon, with the latter beginning his political career on the back of the former...the reference to the "Democrat" candidate by McCarthy is boilerplate Repug garbage also, of course...and sadly, as we know, McCarthyism lives on)...

    ...oh, and yeah, there's that health care thing going on too, besides Afghanistan (and happy birthday to Harry Reid; here's my greeting - go to reconciliation on this, or prepare to lose your job)...

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ..."Worst Persons" (Planet Bachmann has another problem with math and percentages; Lou Dobbs has a problem with recognizing the leader of the free world, as reality slips further and further away; and Bill Orally pulls his own "Alger/Adlai" number, updated as "Osama/Obama," for I would guess the two millionth time)...

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ...and here's a video that has absolutely nothing to do with anything I've just said.

    An Obama-Rama Afghan Speech Wrap-Up

    I found a bunch of stuff out there that I just wanted to comment on regarding President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan last night (and I also posted here).

    First, Media Matters tells us here about the decidedly mixed reactions from the corporate media chattering class, which is unsurprising I know.

    All I would ask in response, though, is that, if things continue to go badly in Afghanistan now, the media at least extend to the Obama Administration the courtesy of concocting warm and fuzzy story lines despite what I’m sure will be tanking poll numbers (here are those for the Iraq surge; basically, do the same thing for Obama that they did for Former President Numbskull, as noted here).

    Also, it seems that there has been some “push-back” from former Bushie Don “The Defense Secretary We Had, Not The One We Wish We Had” Rumsfeld over whether or not he ignored the request of his generals for additional troops (here), which I think is particularly amusing (in a “gallows humor” kind of way, I’ll admit) considering this.

    Also, if you want the starkest proof you can imagine that the Afghan war was given short shrift in favor of Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Iraq Adventure, click here, scroll halfway down the page to the green “Calling for Backup” graphic on the left, and click on it to expand it.

    And not to be outdone among the “loyal opposition,” fellow Bushco alum Michael Gerson asks the following about Obama and the Iraq escalation here: “Can’t he just admit the surge worked?”

    Um, I would say “asked and answered” based on this (and of course, Gerson can’t resist critiquing the speech because he didn’t write it, chastising the parts that are “self-referential”…it’s called lending a touch of humanity to the most difficult decision faced by a commander in chief, you shill).

    Also, I give you former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm here, who criticized Obama because “out of 4,582 words (of the speech), not one of them was victory.”

    My, how clever.

    In response, I should note that Dubya’s speech announcing the surge (here) contained nearly 3,000 words, many sentences and paragraphs and did in fact mention victory – twice. And given the Gallup poll I noted above, I think it speaks volumes as to how out of touch he was given that he used the phrase “coming home” only once and “return home” not at all.

    Update 12/4/09: Too dumb for words - again (h/t Atrios)...

    And finally, though we all hope and pray for a good outcome despite the evidence to the contrary, I have to tell you that this is not a good sign.

    Tuesday, December 01, 2009

    Tuesday Stuff

    And to think, there was a time when this clueless meat sack actually contemplated running for the U.S. Senate from PA - "enemy camp," huh?...

    Update 12/4/09: My cat has more common sense than Tweety (here).

    ...and in response to the speech tonight, I sought out an antiwar song, and I thought this seemed to fit, even if some of the pics of "The King" are a bit incongruous here.

    Tuesday Mashup (12/1/09)

  • No honor among Repugs, I guess; this story tells us the following (about Maurice Clemmons, the alleged murderer of four police officers near Tacoma, Washington, among others)…

    Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has seen his promising presidential bid implode after it was revealed he pardoned a four-time cop-killer.

    The man most likely to benefit: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who comfortably fits into Huckabee's role as "dull white guy" and plausible alternative to Crazy Sarah Palin.

    So we shouldn't be surprised T-Paw was eager to talk about Huckabee's misfortunes.

    As noted by Polinaut, Pawlenty appeared on Laura Ingraham's show Monday. When he was asked about Huckabee, T-Paw drew a sharp line of distinction to let everybody know he never pardoned any cop-killers--or anybody else for that matter--when she pressed if he would have pulled a Huckabee.

    "No, on those facts, no I would not," T-Paw batted the softball. "And in Minnesota I don't think I've ever voted for clemency. We've given out pardons for things after everybody has served their term, but again usually for more minor offenses, but clemency certainly not or commutation of sentence certainly not."
    Well, as noted in the comments, apparently money laundering and drug-and-gun running are “minor offenses” to Governor Pawlenty Of Nothing; this tells us the following about Frank Vennes Jr., who apparently engaged in these activities, and who is, at the very least, a "T-Paw" acquaintance…

    This relationship is especially relevant in light of Pawlenty’s recent donation of nearly $86,000 from his defunct gubernatorial campaign fund to Minnesota Teen Challenge (MnTC), a controversial Christian chemical dependency program that was once closely affiliated with Vennes and allegedly lost millions on account of that affiliation.

    Like his Republican cohorts Norm Coleman and Michele Bachmann, Pawlenty’s connections to Vennes are intertwined in several ways: campaign contributions, a request for a presidential pardon for Vennes’ federal crimes, and now, MnTC, where Vennes and Pawlenty’s wife, Mary, served on the board of directors together.

    Vennes and his family have contributed thousands of dollars to Pawlenty’s gubernatorial campaigns. Kimberly Vennes (Frank’s wife), Gregory Vennes, Stephanie Vennes (Gregory’s wife), and Colby and Denley Vennes, who have shared an address with Frank and Kimberly, each donated $2,000 to the Pawlenty for Governor Committee in 2002. Frank, Kimberly, Gregory, Stephanie, Colby and Denley Vennes each contributed $250 to Pawlenty in 2004 and $2,000 apiece in 2006.

    Coincidentally, the same year the Vennes money started to flow into Pawlenty’s campaign coffers, Pawlenty’s name appeared in a request for a presidential pardon for Vennes sent by Senator-elect Norm Coleman.

    The roles of Pawlenty and Eibensteiner in seeking a (presidential) pardon for Vennes are unclear. A Freedom of Information Act request did not turn up pardon letters from either one, and Pawlenty’s office did not immediately respond to requests for an explanation.

    The pardon Coleman, Pawlenty and Eibensteiner sought was for Vennes’ conviction in 1987 on federal charges of money laundering, cocaine distribution and illegal firearms=2 0sale, to which he pleaded guilty and no contest.
    So technically, Pawlenty is right in that he didn’t actually pardon Vennes, but despite this “meaning of the word ‘is,’” nuance here, I would say that this connection with Pawlenty and fellow Repugs Coleman and Moon Unit Bachmann have made T-Paw’s “moral high ground” disappear rather quickly.

  • Also, I have a “two-fer” from The Weakly Standard; here is the first (with the wankerific Matthew Continetti opining in the second paragraph below the italics)…

    Despite the public jousting, significant action was occurring behind the scenes Monday evening as Reid, D-Nev., and Baucus huddled to plot strategy with top White House and Cabinet officials including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, along with former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, Obama's first pick for HHS secretary before his nomination was derailed.

    Even the most strident backers of health care reform are wondering what the secretary of the Interior is doing at these behind-the-scenes negotiations.
    Through one of the easiest Google searches of my life, I found the following story from The Denver Post…

    WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar returned to his old Senate haunt Wednesday in a unique role as White House fixer, tasked by President Barack Obama with helping to pass health care reform.

    The move pulls Salazar from his already heavy schedule as head of the Department of Interior, a sign of both the urgency of the health care reform debate for the administration and the calculation that the Colorado Democrat's strong ties with centrists could help move votes.

    "You don't send heavy hitters like this until the final stage, and only if you're feeling you can't get it any other way," said Julian Zelizer, an expert on Congress at Princeton University.

    Senate Democrats say that while the effort became more public on Wednesday, Salazar has been working for some time behind the scenes, through a series of consultations and discreet meetings with his former colleagues.

    He returns to his old chamber with the imprimatur of a Cabinet secretary and the advantage of a direct link to the president.
    And here is the second item, including the following (concerning renewing the SALT Treaty – a link to the Wikipedia article tells us that Dubya and our ol’ buddy Vlad Putin negotiated a comparatively weaker “SORT” Treaty in 2002 as opposed to renewing the SALT Treaty)…

    We need to be extraordinarily cautious negotiating this new treaty. We could inadvertently put ourselves in a dangerous position -- similar to the end of the Carter years -- where the Russians have a significant strategic advantage over the U.S. and NATO. President Reagan was smart about treaty negotiations. He bargained from a position of strength, he didn't sacrifice his most important bargaining chips (like European missile defense) before negotiations took place, and he would never consider weakening America's strategic security in exchange for photo ops and soaring speeches in Olso (sic).
    Oh, please (and check your geographic references next time, OK?).

    In response, the Wikipedia SALT article tells us the following…

    (SALT II) was a continuation of the progress made during the SALT I talks. SALT II was the first nuclear arms treaty which assumed real reductions in strategic forces to 2,250 of all categories of delivery vehicles on both sides. SALT II helped the U.S. to discourage the Soviets from arming their third generation ICBMs of SS-17, SS-19 and SS-18 types with many more (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads).

    (As part of the negotiations), the USSR could exclusively retain 308 of its so-called "heavy ICBM" launchers of the SS-18 type.

    An agreement to limit strategic launchers (such as 308 of the “heavy ICBM” type) was reached in Vienna on June 18, 1979, and was signed by Leonid Brezhnev and President of the United States Jimmy Carter. In response to the refusal of the U.S. Congress to ratify the treaty, a young member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, met with the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko, "educated him about American concerns and interests" and secured several changes that neither the U.S. Secretary of State nor President Jimmy Carter could obtain.

    Six months after the signing, the Soviet Union deployed troops to Afghanistan, and in September of the same year senators including Henry M. Jackson and Frank Church discovered the so-called "Soviet brigade" on Cuba[citation needed]. In light of these developments, the treaty was never formally ratified by the United States Senate. Its terms were, nonetheless, honored by both sides until 1986 when the Reagan Administration withdrew from SALT II after accusing the Soviets of violating the pact.
    So, as opposed to the Russians supposedly having “a significant strategic advantage,” it sounds like everybody observed SALT II even though the USSR invaded Afghanistan (why does that sound familiar, I wonder?), until The Sainted Ronnie R voided the deal years later (though he would sign the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987).

    I just wanted that on the record in response to yet another wingnut cheap shot against Jimmy Carter, who played a major role in developing the “Agreed Framework” in the ‘90s under which North Korea would have ultimately dismantled its current nuclear program (or that was the intent...they didn't manufacture plutonium anyway), though the agreement was scuttled in 2002 by Reagan’s “son” (with apologies to Ron Jr.).

  • Update 12/3/09: I forgot that I'd posted about this subject earlier here - oops.

  • And speaking of Afghanistan, the Murdoch Street Journal inflicted the following assault on informed discourse (here)…

    President Obama unveils his new Afghanistan strategy today, and in the nick of time Senator John Kerry has arrived with a report claiming that none of this would be necessary if former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had only deployed more troops eight years ago. Yes, he really said more troops.

    In a 43-page report issued yesterday by his Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Kerry says bin Laden and deputy Ayman Zawahiri were poised for capture at the Tora Bora cave complex in late 2001. But because of the "unwillingness" of Mr. Rumsfeld and his generals "to deploy the troops required to take advantage of solid intelligence and unique circumstances to kill or capture bin Laden," the al Qaeda leaders escaped.

    This in turn "paved the way for exactly what we had hoped to avoid—a protracted insurgency that has cost more lives than anyone estimates would have been lost in a full-blown assault on Tora Bora."

    The timing of the report's release suggests that Mr. Kerry intends this as political cover for Mr. Obama and Democrats, and some in the press corps have even taken it seriously. But coming from Mr. Kerry, of all people, this criticism is nothing short of astonishing.

    In 2001, readers may recall, the Washington establishment that included Mr. Kerry was fretting about the danger in Afghanistan from committing too many troops. The New York Times made the "quagmire" point explicitly in a famous page-one analysis, and Seymour Hersh fed the cliche at The New Yorker.
    So “the Washington establishment that included Mr. Kerry was fretting,” huh? What thorough sourcing!

    In response, this tells us the following…

    In the 2004 presidential campaign, Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry accuses the Bush administration of allowing bin Laden to escape Afghanistan in late 2001 by not sending enough US troops to contain him when he was trapped in the Tora Bora region. The New York Times publishes an op-ed by Gen. Tommy Franks, the former head of US Central Command. Franks writes, “On more than one occasion, Senator Kerry has referred to the fight at Tora Bora in Afghanistan during late 2001 as a missed opportunity for America. He claims that our forces had Osama bin Laden cornered and allowed him to escape. How did it happen? According to Mr. Kerry, we ‘outsourced’ the job to Afghan warlords. As commander of the allied forces in the Middle East, I was responsible for the operation at Tora Bora, and I can tell you that the senator’s understanding of events doesn’t square with reality.… We don’t know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001. Some intelligence sources said he was; others indicated he was in Pakistan at the time; still others suggested he was in Kashmir. Tora Bora was teeming with Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives, many of whom were killed or captured, but Mr. bin Laden was never within our grasp.” Franks is a vocal supporter of Bush’s reelection. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/19/2004] Shortly after Franks’ comments, four Knight Ridder reporters who had been at Tora Bora during the battle revisit the issue. They discover that “Franks and other top officials ignored warnings from their own and allied military and intelligence officers that the combination of precision bombing, special operations forces, and Afghan forces that had driven the Taliban from northern Afghanistan might not work in the heartland of the country’s dominant Pashtun tribe.” [KNIGHT RIDDER, 10/30/2004] Author Peter Bergen asserts, “There is plenty of evidence that bin Laden was at Tora Bora, and no evidence indicating that he was anywhere else at the time.” Bergen cites after-action US intelligence reports and interviews with US counterterrorism officials that express confidence bin Laden was at Tora Bora. He notes that bin Laden discussed his presence at the Tora Bora battle in a audio message released in 2003. [PETERBERGEN (.COM), 10/28/2004] In 2005, Gary Berntsen, who was in charge of an on-the-ground CIA team trying to find bin Laden (see September 26, 2001), will claim that he gave Franks definitive evidence that bin Laden was trapped in Tora Bora (see Late October-Early December 2001).
    Oh, and you can be sure that Dubya remembered the favor Franks did for him here…

    Also, this tells us that Kerry called for more troops in Afghanistan in 2007, as well as a change in mission to help reduce civilian casualties and a new policy to address the growing opium crisis. He also called for an Afghanistan Study Group. What was Bushco’s response?

    Cue the sound of crickets…

    And as a result, Dubya’s successor now will likely increase our troop presence in that country nearly four-fold from what the Bush-Cheney gang allocated for the war that actually mattered (or at least that will happen based on the news leaks of Obama’s speech tonight that are virtually everywhere; I’m all out of outrage at the moment, particularly since the whole awful matter has been decided – besides, Bob Herbert stated my sentiments more eloquently here today in the New York Times).
  • Monday, November 30, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    Hat tip to Daily Kos for this - looks like Sean Inanity was against hacking into personal Emails before he was for it...

    ...and Dem U.S. House Rep Maurice Hinchey of New York goes way beyond anything Alan Grayson has ever said or done with this; deep down, I have a feeling he's right, but I don't think we'll ever have any proof (another hat tip to The Daily Kos here)...

    ...and speaking of Afghanistan, that was the subject of K.O.'s Special Comment tonight prior to Obama's speech tomorrow (the matter-of-fact way that he basically tells us that Gen. Stanley McChrystal can't be trusted was kind of startling)...

    ...and as I heard K.O., I had this song running around in my head a bit (apropos partly because what would have been his 67th birthday occurred a few days ago).

    Monday Mashup Part 2 (11/30/09)

    (Part One is over here.)

  • The Hill reports the following (here)…

    The Senate Banking Committee’s top Republican on Monday said the government should require large firms to have the financial equivalent of “living wills.”

    Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he wants those firms to have formal plans in place for dealing with future economic crises to avoid the need for future government bailouts. He also wants the federal government to beef up the bankruptcy process.
    Shelby, who opposed the $700 billion Wall Street bailout last year, said at the Oxford Union that the government should create a “nimble resolution regime” akin to bankruptcy proceedings to deal with failing firms that threaten the financial industry as a whole.
    However, on health care reform, Shelby said the following (here)…

    I think a lot of the proponents of this health care plan want to get the government involved one way or the other, want to ration this care one way or the other, and a lot of people don't want to do that.

    But I can tell you we better be careful in what we legislate and how we legislate. The American people have already, I believe, began to speak on this issue, and I hope the Congress is going to listen. I hope the president is, too.

    I think a lot of the proposals that the president's talked about and some of the Democrats have talked about are in deep trouble. The American people are figuring it out. They're speaking now, and I believe Congress is beginning to listen.
    All boilerplate stuff, I know. Including this…

    I'm sure that there are conflicting views on everything, but let's be honest. When you start rationing health care and you start counseling people too far in their advanced ages, I think you're going to create problems, and you've created a lot of fear in this country.
    So basically, Shelby supports “living wills” for banks, but not for people.

    I just wanted to make sure we all understood that.

  • Also, the New York Times published an extended feature on the growing use of food stamps in this country yesterday, and the article tells us that the Bush gang “expanded” the program, which, as noted here, is technically true (under the acronym SNAP, signed into law in 2008 – so clever the Bushies were, for a time). However, the fact that an ever-growing number of people needed food stamps under Bushco to the point where the program had to be expanded speaks volumes to me about the economy under their watch).

    Besides, as noted here, the only reason Former President Clueless didn’t veto the bill that included the SNAP provision was because he knew Congress would override it if he did (Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History objected to $10 billion in what he thought was unnecessary spending while people were starving, see). And as noted here, the Repugs sought to extend existing welfare work requirements to food stamps and housing assistance “so that those who are not old, young or disabled are either working in the private sector or serving in their community,” so their generosity came with a price, to be sure.

    Also, the Repugs were big on privatization of government services, as we know, even though, as noted here from last month, that didn’t go so well in Texas (the “breeding ground for bad government,” as The Eternal Molly Ivins called it)…

    Eliminating the paper food stamp coupons - and the waste, fraud, and abuse that went along with them - was first proposed by Sharp in his 1991 "Breaking the Mold" performance review report to Gov. Ann Richards. The Legislature passed the reforms, Sharp lobbied Washington to get the necessary waivers, and then made sure Al Gore included a national version in his National Performance Review (1993). The electronic card has now been adopted by all 50 states, and virtually eliminated all of the fraud, waste and abuse associated with the old paper coupons (which were used as a second currency in the criminal underground).

    The whole point was to safeguard a successful program for feeding hungry kids by showing taxpayers that government was willing to be good stewards of their tax dollars. What a difference a decade makes.

    In 2003, Arlene Wohlgemuth and the Craddick-led Texas Legislature began (in the same bill that famously stripped hundreds of thousands of eligible kids of their CHIP benefits) a consolidation of all the state's health and human services agencies. Pushed by the state's new leadership, the so-called reforms had at their heart a privatization scheme that was going to make things like the food stamp program even more efficient. With George W. Bush in the White House, Texas had a willing ally to approve this privatization scheme.

    The goal, as always, was "to run government more like a business." Unfortunately, the business they had in mind was Enron. And now Texas is almost dead-last in the effectiveness of its food stamp system - just ahead of Guam.
    And proving that the rotten Bushco apple doesn’t fall far from the proverbial tree, we learn that Dubya acolyte Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana tried to privatize that state’s welfare services also (including food stamps), but eventually realized that those functions must be performed by state agencies.

    Why? Well, here is part of the answer…

    According to an earlier (Indianapolis) Star article, in January 2007, before IBM took over the program, the percentage of food stamp cases that was mishandled was 4.38%. By January 2009, the percentage had grown to 18.2%. Way to go, IBM! A 450% change in performance!! Unfortunately, it was in the wrong direction. :-(
    It’s good that food stamps are available to those in need in this country, whose stories we learn about in the Times report (actual reporting about actual people…color me shocked!).

    However, given current economic conditions, it’s bad that they’re even needed at all.

  • Finally, Little Tommy Friedman told us the following yesterday (about “the narrative” on the Arab “street” about how this country supposedly embodies all that is evil)...

    The Narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books — and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes — this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand “American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy” to keep Muslims down.

    Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving.

    Although most of the Muslims being killed today are being killed by jihadist suicide bombers in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia, you’d never know it from listening to their world. The dominant narrative there is that 9/11 was a kind of fraud: America’s unprovoked onslaught on Islam is the real story, and the Muslims are the real victims — of U.S. perfidy.

    Have no doubt: we punched a fist into the Arab/Muslim world after 9/11, partly to send a message of deterrence, but primarily to destroy two tyrannical regimes — the Taliban and the Baathists — and to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics. In the process, we did some stupid and bad things.
    Including here, of course.

    And in response, M. Shahid Alam, professor of economics at Northeastern University, tells us the following (in response to a Friedman column about the 2005 London bombings)…

    Mr. Friedman interprets every Muslim act of violence against the West (and that includes Israel) as the herald of a clash of civilizations. In his own words, when "Al-Qaeda-like bombings come to the London underground, that becomes a civilizational problem. Every Muslim living in a Western society suddenly becomes a suspect, a potential walking bomb."

    First, consider the inflammatory assertion about every Muslim in the West suddenly becoming "a potential walking bomb." If this were true, imagine the horror of Westerners at the thought of some 60 million potential walking bombs threatening their neighborhoods. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of Westerners did not start looking upon their Muslim neighbors as "walking bombs" after the terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid or London. Despite the high-pitched alarms raised in very high places, the overwhelming majority of Europeans and Americans knew better than Mr. Friedman.

    It appears that Mr. Friedman is propounding a new thesis on civilizational wars. 'The Muslim extremists,' he charges, 'are starting a civilizational war. It all begins when they bomb our cities, forcing us to treat all Muslims here as potential terrorists. This is going to pit us against them. And that is a civilizational problem.'

    The terrorist acts of a few Muslims are terrible tragedies: but do they have a history behind them? Is there a history of Western provocations in the Muslim world? Does the Western world at any point enter the historical chain of causation that now drives a few sane Muslims to acts of terrorism? The only history that Friedman will acknowledge is one of Western innocence. There is no blowback: hence, no Western responsibility, no Western guilt.
    Also, concerning a column Friedman wrote about the Mumbai attacks, blogger Sama Adnan tells us the following (here)…

    While admitting that Pakistani newspapers, intellectuals and feminists have spoken out against the attacks and have condemned their horrific nature, he still insists that more should have been done by everyday Pakistanis. He, finally, shrouds his hypocrisy in a mesh of thin veneer of concern for Pakistan and its civil society. What Thomas Friedman was doing, however, is raising the bar for Pakistanis, and in-a-not-so-veiled attempt, for Muslims in general in how loud they must condemn their own extremists until the western intelligentsia is satisfied. This is part of Thomas Friedman’s ongoing refrain of “Where are the Moderate Muslims?” and “Why don’t the Muslims of the World Speak Out?”

    Of course, Friedman forgets to mention that Muslims and their leaders from around the world roundly condemned the Mumbai terrorist attacks. From President Mubarak of Egypt to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, from the Council of British Muslims to the Austrian Muslim Society (Islamishe Glaubensgameinschaft), even Ahmedinejad of Iran piled on his condemnation of the attacks. Not a single Arab or Pakistani newspaper that I looked up omitted to write a heated rebuke of the attacks on November 29th before anyone knew which group was behind the attacks and before the editorial boards of the Washington Post and the New York Times even mentioned the issue.

    Perhaps what is most interesting is that Friedman gave no examples of other people who marched in outrage of their fringes committing terrorism. Did the Irish or the Basques march out in protest every time a bomb blew up in Belfast or Madrid? Did Israelis and American Jews come out in protest every time a new settlement was built in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank? Did Americans go out in mass protest when it was published that as many as a million Iraqis and perhaps many more have died since the invasion of Iraq by the “coalition of the willing?”

    Thomas Friedman, himself, never submitted an apology to his readers regarding how mistaken he was about the Iraq war. Of course, he subjected us to his racist analogies, although, there is no doubt that he didn’t realize the hubris and the arrogance underlying them.
    Yes, I will acknowledge that Friedman has a point in that we face a war of ideas against militant Islam, and we have to replace their terrible idea with our good one. But our punditocracy is fixated on this notion that that automatically gives us a right to invade countries we don’t like (having learned nothing from Iraq, of course), totally ignoring the fact that our presence in these areas of the world is the one disrupting influence that unites those who formerly were enemies against us (and I will even give Friedman a bit of credit for writing in the past that we shouldn’t lift a finger to support Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan).

    Still, the Times would truly do a service to its readership if it somehow found a way to confine Friedman’s sphere of pundit wankery to ecological matters (where, actually, he has been quite eloquent). If all else fails, then I would suggest some kind of a punitive measure to drive home the point (with his own newspaper hectoring him in a manner in which Friedman feels free to chastise those who don’t comport to his worldview).

    Yep, sounds good to me. Friedman writes about the Middle East, he gets suspended from publication.

    For six more months?

  • Update 12/2/09: Man, what Atrios sez here and then some; about 4,300 of our people dead, thousands injured, more of our military committing suicide now that at any other point in our history, to say nothing of other coalition force casualties and those traumatized, as well as innocent Iraqis and a refugee population that has reached 2 million, all so we could build a “context” in the Arab world?