Has Franklin Foer Lost His Mind?
Steve Pearlstein Says He Is a Fool

If I Had Infinite Hours in the Day: 20060104

If I had infinite hours in the day:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/ Kevin Drum writes: "HAPPY NEW YEAR!....It's not often that someone writes a column that is simultaneously as condescending, juvenile, obtuse, and soul cankered as this one in Slate. You'll think it was written by a native of Alpha Centauri trying to parody Ayn Rand, but you'll be wrong. It was written by Steven Landsburg." Shouldn't that be: "You'll think it was written by a native of Alpha Centauri trying to parody Ayn Rand, and you'll be right. It was written by Steven Landsburg"?

http://yglesias.tpmcafe.com/story/2006/1/3/11955/04222 Matthew Yglesias: "I would recommend this Newsweek-obtained slideshow the White House put together on Iraq/al-Qaida links. The very first slide is a welcome reminder of the contempt in which the analytic judgments of the intelligence community were held before the war. The quality of the 'evidence' on offer is also rather hilarious... such gems as '2002: [redacted] bin Laden viewed any entity that hated Americans or was willing to kill them as an ally" and "shared anti-U.S. goals and common bellicose rhetoric' by which standard we could have invaded Zimbabwe or Cuba or North Korea. The crux of the case turns once again on the alleged Atta meeting in Prague. Minor details... don't seem to have entered into their thinking... [details like] neither person was in Prague at the time..."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113629838156236463.html?mod=home_whats_news_us WSJ.com: 'A onetime chairman of College Republicans -- a close ally of such party luminaries as Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist -- Mr. Abramoff says he has information that could implicate 60 lawmakers. "The case is significant and the corruption scheme with Mr. Abramoff is very extensive," said Alice Fisher, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's criminal division, at a news conference.... Mr. Abramoff offered lawmakers and their aides gifts in exchange for helping his lobbying clients in Congress. Besides conspiring to bribe legislators this way, Mr. Abramoff pleaded guilty to bilking Indian tribes who were his lobbying clients, by arranging kickbacks from associates. The sums he and several associates collected from Indian tribes and other clients evidently were huge. For the period 2001-2004 alone, those fees topped $80 million, investigators say.... [T]hings provided included campaign donations, a lavish golf trip to Scotland, tickets to sporting events and other entertainments, and regular meals at a pricey Washington restaurant called Signatures that Mr. Abramoff once owned...'

http://mediamatters.org/items/200601040001 Media Matters: "Time 's Tumulty, Allen falsely reported Rep. Harman defended Bush's warrantless surveillance. Tumulty and Allen wrote: 'Some key Democrats even defend [Bush's warrantless surveillance]. Says California's Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee: "I believe the program is essential to U.S. national security and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities."' However, the article omitted a crucial caveat from Harman's press release: 'I have been briefed since 2003 on a highly classified NSA foreign collection program that targeted Al Qaeda. I believe the program is essential to US national security and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.... Like many Americans, I am deeply concerned by reports that this program in fact goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which I was briefed.' As Media Matters previously noted, Harman had expressed concerns about the surveillance program before her December 21 remarks.... Harman... signed a December 18 letter requesting that Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) 'take steps immediately to conduct hearings on the scope of Presidential power in the area of electronic surveillance.' The letter stated that the signatories 'believe that the President must have the best possible intelligence to protect the American people, but that intelligence must be produced in a manner consistent with our Constitution and our laws, and in a manner that reflects our values as a nation.'"

http://susiemadrak.com/2006/01/03/11/12/the-big-picture-2/ Pertinent commentary from Dwight Meredith: "Those who support the notion that a President in war time needs to be able to violate the law for an alleged higher purpose need to explain just how we will keep such power from being abused. So far, I have not seen any such suggestions being put forth... worrying about the use and abuse of unchecked power is completely appropriate, regardless of whether or not the current administration has abused the power.... Perhaps FISA is unduly restrictive. If so, let's pass a better law. If, instead, we just let the President break the law anytime he decides to do so, we should not be surprised when some President decides to use that power in ways we find abhorrent. At that point, it will be nearly impossible to fix... the issue... should be litigated to the Supreme Court as quickly as possible. If the court finds that no checks on executive power exist during war, we need to know that before we choose our next President..."

http://www.livejournal.com/users/jmhm/1534132.html Sisyphus Shrugged - Ralph, you magnificent piece of s---: "Public Citizen's Health Research Group, apparently representing some folks with ADHD who have been prescribed a drug called Cylert, which can in some cases cause liver damage, has succeeded in having the company which produces Cylert cease to do so. Which, you know, is very dramatic, except that Cylert is also used to ameliorate the symptoms of narcolepsy, which, as it happens, Teresa Nielsen-Hayden is trying with enormous grace to live with. She's going to suffer more, because the only medication that makes it possible for her to be a (very) productive citizen has now gone off the market. Mr. Nader will almost certainly not consider changing his position merely because it's hurting people (as those of us who survived the 2000 election have reason to remember), but as I understand it, contacting Eveline Honig, 914-741-5680; evelinevvh@optonline.net might help..."

http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/3quarksdaily/2006/01/monday_musing_i.html 3quarksdaily: Monday Musing: In the Peace Corps' Shadow: "Let me first quote our self-appointed Africa expert, Mr. Theroux, one last time: 'When Malawi's minister of education was accused of stealing millions of dollars from the education budget in 2000, and the Zambian president was charged with stealing from the treasury, and Nigeria squandered its oil wealth, what happened? The simplifiers of Africa's problems kept calling for debt relief and more aid. I got a dusty reception lecturing at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation when I pointed out the successes of responsible policies in Botswana, compared with the kleptomania of its neighbors. Donors enable embezzlement by turning a blind eye to bad governance, rigged elections and the deeper reasons these countries are failing.' Now here is Sachs again: 'In the past, the overwhelming prejudices against Africa have been grounded in overt racism. Today the ever repeated assertion is that corruption--or "poor governance"--is Africa's venal sin... virtually all poor countries have governance and corruption indicators that are below those of the high-income countries... good governance raises incomes, but also, and perhaps even more important, because higher income leads to improved governance.... At any given level of governance (as measured by standard indicators), African countries tend to grow less rapidly than similarly governed countries in other parts of the world... Something else is afoot... geographical and ecological factors.... Africa shows absolutely no tendency to be more or less corrupt than other countries at the same income level...." Theroux... should stick to... writing gossipy accounts of much better writers than himself, like, In Sir Vidia's Shadow, his book trashing his former mentor, V. S. Naipaul..."

http://badtux.blogspot.com/2006/01/sleeping-in-cars-in-seattle.html Badtux the Snarky Penguin: Sleeping in cars in Seattle: "These are the hidden homeless, those well off enough (have a job) to keep gas in their cars, but not able to afford an apartment on wages of $7 per hour or less.... So at night they drive around, find a place to park their car where hopefully nothing will happen to them, and go to sleep.... If you're a kid in Mandeville, or a guy working at a coffee shop in Seattle, why, you don't count in Bushevik America... heck, you don't even exist. After all, you've never attended any of George W. Bush's campaign fundraisers, so who are you, anyhow?!"