Friday, September 25, 2009

In The Year 2000

Speaking Of Babies

A little give-and-take between Dem. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Rep. Sen. John Kyle, who inadvertently reveals the depth of his Republicanness during Finance Committee debate over an effort to scratch maternity coverage from insurance requirements.

Friviality Friday

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rover, Fluffy and MRSA

Now, don't panic or anything. On the other hand, are you really going to wash every time you pet your dog or cat? Puleeze.
From the NYT:

In a study this summer in The American Journal of Infection Control, Elizabeth A. Scott and her colleagues at the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons College in Boston swabbed household surfaces like kitchen and bathtub drains, faucet handles, toilets, high chairs, trash cans and kitchen sponges at 35 randomly selected addresses to see what germs they would find. They found MRSA in nearly half of the homes they sampled.
When they tried to figure out what might make it more likely to have the bacteria at home, they ruled out many supposed risk factors, including working out at a gym, having children who attended day care, having a recent infection or recent antibiotic use, and even working in a health care facility.
The one variable that overwhelmingly predicted the presence of the germ was the presence of a cat. Cat owners were eight times more likely than others to have MRSA at home.
“There are a number of papers coming out now showing that pets pick up MRSA from us,” Dr. Scott said, “and that they shed it back into the environment again.”
Here's the don't panic part.
“In the grand scheme of things with MRSA, pets are a pretty minor thing,” he said. “But when you consider how many MRSA infections are occurring in North America at the moment, if they’re a minor component of a major disease, that’s still something we need to be aware of.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Few Words About Glenn Beck

From Salon via The Daily Howler.
I'm not gonna read it because I've already heard it.
And I'm not really as disturbed about him as Somerby.
Somewhere today I read that Beck has an audience of 2.2 million people a day. They're the crazy ones, and their numbers aren't all that alarming.
And besides, didn't Father Coughlin have a relatively large audience in his day?
On the other hand, ya gotta wonder how many extra issues Time sold of the Beck cover, and how many subscriptions that might translate into. Oy.
Okay, I'll worry. But I won't read it.

Kabuki, Ch. 499 and counting...

Okay, here's what they're saying over at TPM.
The White House is reaching out to progressives to allow a health reform bill with a triggered public option to pass in the Senate. A non-triggered bill will pass the House.
Then when it goes to conference, the bill that emerges will not have a trigger and will not allow for a filibuster, according to the rules.
So, what about Kent Conrad, I ask. They'll have 60 votes in the Senate if Conrad goes along, but he's making all sorts of noise right now. He's the co-op guy from North Dakota.
Of course, nobody says reconciliation is off the table either.
One commenter notes that the White House is just preparing for a variety of contingencies, which makes sense.

Erm, About That ACORN Bill Ch. II

Apparently some others have noticed its big flaw, too, including Greenwald, who does get attention.
How long before the New York Times does a story?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Love Epigraphs

piquant little quotes at the beginning of someone's writing. I used to use them a lot.
Phil Graham has a whole bunch to choose from.
Here's one:
"People don't change their minds. They die, and are replaced by people with different opinions."

- Arturo Albergati

And The Sooner The Better

The optimal ways to make money from the written word probably require different words written by different people….
From somebody named Phil Graham. He is talking about newspapers and publishing and movies and music, but not journalism. I'd like to know what he thinks about that. In the pure sense, that is.
Basically, he says we've never paid for content because we don't pay for information we don't need.

Forks At Twilight

The two-stoplight town on the Olympic Peninsula is prospering from its placement as the "Twilight" book series and movies' locale. Even the NYT has noticed.
A small Seattle-based outfitter, En Route to Adventure, offers a five-day Forks Adventures tour that covers key “Twilight” locations (206-619-5006; The cost is $1,200 a person. This year’s touring season has ended; the 2010 tour schedule is to be posted next month.
From the sounds of it, it's not as much fun as Twin Peaks, though. No cherry pie.

Sullivan On Afghanistan

Concise and to the point.
But no one has to sustain a war that is now twice as long as the Second World War if the results of the summer campaign, the exposure of deep corruption in Kabul and the use of Pakistan as a refuge make it a largely impossible endeavor.

Erm, About That ACORN bill

Some Kossacks have been mulling it over and today it seems some Florida Democrat got the same idea.
Seems there's some broad language that could snatch up some pretty big players.
Blackwater was the first one I thought of and, sure enough, so did others.
So as per the bill's text, I'm going to put into the Congressional record a list of organizations who have committed fraud against the government or employs anyone who has.
Now, I'm just one person, and I can't possibly find and list all of the organizations that fit this bill.  So I need your help.  Please nominate organizations and show me that they need to be in the record.  To help, send me the name of the organization and proof in the form of a link to evidence that this organization should be in the Congressional record.  I will also need your email address so I can follow-up with you if necessary.  The proof you send needs to be easily verifiable, as in credible media reports, legal documents, government data, or otherwise.
An example might work as follows.  Let's say that you were nominating 'Blackwater,' the controversial mercenary outfit which showed fraud in its contracts for Iraq in 2005.  You could include a link like this one.

Where Are The Terrorists?

Same place you are. Right now. Hi.
When a group has a haven, it will use it for such purposes as basic training of recruits. But the operations most important to future terrorist attacks do not need such a home, and few recruits are required for even very deadly terrorism. Consider: The preparations most important to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks took place not in training camps in Afghanistan but, rather, in apartments in Germany, hotel rooms in Spain and flight schools in the United States.

In the past couple of decades, international terrorist groups have thrived by exploiting globalization and information technology, which has lessened their dependence on physical havens.
By utilizing networks such as the Internet, terrorists' organizations have become more network-like, not beholden to any one headquarters. A significant jihadist terrorist threat to the United States persists, but that does not mean it will consist of attacks instigated and commanded from a South Asian haven, or that it will require a haven at all. Al-Qaeda's role in that threat is now less one of commander than of ideological lodestar, and for that role a haven is almost meaningless.

I Miss Republicans, Too

although I'm now not sure that they ever existed.
They were the grown-ups. They were the realists. Sure they were a bummer, maaaaan, but on the way to La Revolution you need somebody to remember where you parked the car.
Anyway, Judge Richard Posner has apparently stirred up a hornet's nest in his eulogy to conservatism, and the above link was from one of his commenters.

This East Fuckistan Thingie

I can't help but recall how many times someone new to the presidency with a long list of laudable domestic plans is diverted instead by the problems of maintaining this empire we've established. Enough to make you cry.
So, just in case you thought health care reform and carbon offset credits and financial and other regulatory reform were about it for Obama, there's this:
(You knew there was a leak this week, right?)
What are the alternatives? An intense, low-level war of attrition between NATO forces and the Taliban forever? Or a concerted effort by the US, Russia, Iran and China to essentially force India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmiri dispute, combined with massive amounts of direct aid to Pakistan, combined with a massive influx of intelligence assets into the region, combined with the bribing of willing and bribable Taliban commanders? Basically, instead of focusing on Afghan civillians, this strategy would make it as expensive as possible for a Taliban leader to decide not to ally with the United States.  In other words -- counterterrorism as counterinsurgency, and not the other way around.

As Washington synthesizes the new report and tries to gauge its effect on the administration, speculation naturally redounds to the source of the leaker. Various theories have been put forth; let's put aside Occam's razor and assume that McChrystal and his staff didn't just give the document to Woodward. Theory one:  Woodward traveled with Gen. Jim Jones recently, so Jones gave him the report. Probably not: the trip was in July, before the review was finished. Admiral Mike Mullen's staff, anxious about White House dithering, leaked the report with Mullen's blessing. Probably not: Mullen shares Jones's concerns about mission drift and is counseling caution. The  more probable communities of suspects: senior Pentagon civilian holdovers, lifers, who've cooperated with Woodward before and who have a stake in McChrystal's counterinsurgency doctrine; war planners at Centcom, or the large cadre of defense consultants with clearance.

This leak not, in other words, a shot in an ongoing conflict between the military and civilians. It's between those who are invested in the success of McChrystal's endeavor and those who harbor growing concerns about over-investing in a strategy that might not work.
My money's on Biden because why else was he picked.

Health Care In Canada

We aren't going to get anything like the Canadian system any time soon, but a Canadian reader over at The Dish shares his experience and worries about moving to the U.S. for his job.
Bottom line"
There was a long, hard political fight for universal health care in Canada. Man, was it worth it.

Quote O' Teh Day

 "My family is and always will be a decrepit bowl of dog urine compared to Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. That is how great Nityananda is." The Indian yogi died in 1961. "Wor ship Nityananda, not the Phillips family. Nityananda can protect you," said Tamerlane.
Tamerland Phillips commenting on his sister McKenzie's plan to reveal family secrets on Oprah today to advance her book sales.
I know, I know,  you never heard of either one of the children of former  Mamas and Papas  singer  John Phillips. Good quote though.

Green Birth Control

Linked from The Dish

Last week, the Optimum Population Trust published a paper it had commissioned from the London School of Economics estimating the effect on carbon emissions of providing birth control to women who want to use it, but currently lack access. It found that spending on birth control is six times as effective, as a means of reducing carbon emissions, as spending on renewable energy....Hopefully, since America is politically incapable of addressing this issue, someone else will be able to pick it up. The Europeans, perhaps. Or maybe the Chinese.
But worth reading the whole short piece from The Economist.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Time On Beck

Apples and oranges, but it feeds my bias.
In 1987 comedian David Brenner bombed in syndication with about 2.5 million viewers at midnight — which is roughly what Fox, the leading network for political talk shows, averages in prime time.
This from The Dish, but the chart is better. But again, Research 2000 is Daily Kos' pollster. Kos says they're neutral and report good as well as bad news for progressives. Still.
As for the Republican Party being a permanently regional voice, many have said it's true. Why then the credibility they're given by the media?
Cuz The Village is stupidly stuck in the time-warp that is Washington, D.C., and they're lazy, and they need blood on a daily basis. If all we had were stories critiquing the administration from a rational, factual perspective, people might actually turn off the tube or switch to HBO or something.

Warning: Process Story

The budget reconciliation route for health care reform in the Senate is not so simple. And then, of course, there's always unintended consequences.
But TPM's commenters so far are full-bore in favor of something lawmakers aren't likely to do, which seems to satisfy their underlying need to blame their own party for inevitable defeat. I get tired of them, too.
Perfect, meet good.