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«  March 2007  |   Main   |  May 2007  »

»  April 30, 2007


Why Wait?:

Ticking Clock

Hillary Clinton said during the debate last week that "if this president does not get us out of Iraq, when I am president, I will." Other Democrats have said something similar.

Why wait? If it's urgent enough that it would be the first item on the agenda for a new president, shouldn't they be doing everything -- and I mean up to and including impeachment -- to bring the war to an end? Or are they just mouthing the words?



Explosion, Fire, Melted Steel: I have no real hope of it, but I sincerely wish that the gasoline-fueled fire that melted the structural steel and led to the failure of the freeway interchange in San Francisco will similarly collapse the 9/11 conspiracy theorists who have been claiming that a fire in the World Trade Center could never have weakened the structure there.


»  April 29, 2007

What the...?  

Love Triangle: The love triangle, the most dangerous love shape.



David Reinhard: Weathervane In a Hurricane: Just two months ago, after Multnomah County prosecutors cut a deal with three Lincoln High School drug dealers, columnist David Reinhard bravely stood up for the prosecutors when people questioned the wisdom of letting them off scot-free and wondered if the lack of prosecution for their drug-dealing was related to economic status and political connections of the father of one of the students.

This month, Reinhard's all puffed out because a different Lincoln High School drug dealer was allowed to attend the prom by school officials because they stuck to the letter of administration policy and the crime wasn't school-related. "What kind of message did all this send? That drug dealing is not serious business?" says Reinhard, waving his arms in the air, in my imagination.

Funny, I was asking the same question when the prosecutors decided not to prosecute the other guys. Only I was thinking they should go to jail, not be barred from the prom. Harsh.



Pity the Rich: From the Oregonian, followed by a letter:

Suniya S. Luthar, a psychology and education professor at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, says her studies indicate drug and alcohol use is clearly higher among affluent kids, for reasons beyond having more money.

With wealth comes a different kind of pressure to achieve and fit in.

Luthar has spent a decade studying teenagers at both wealthy suburban middle and high schools and poorer, inner-city schools. She's found that boys in the wealthier environments tie popularity directly to heavy drinking and drug use.

Wealthier teens of both genders have significantly greater anxiety than their poorer counterparts, which turns them to drugs as self-medication. Girls from more affluent schools were three times more likely to report depression. Nearly half of seventh-graders in upscale neighborhoods were regularly left unsupervised after school.

"It's not an unmitigated blessing to be smart, to be well-educated, to be committed to doing your job well," Luthar said. "We're talking oftentimes about parents with extremely demanding, high-pressure careers who have to make difficult and painful decisions. And these kids do get busy with activities. Sometimes parents and families have to work hard to spend some calm time together."

The assumptions of researcher Suniya Luthar, quoted in the story on Lincoln High School's drug abuse problem are simply unbelievable.

"Wealthier teens" have more anxiety than poor teens? Sure, because poor teens are some sort of lesser species, right? They couldn't possible have the same types of feelings as rich kids. And what do poor kids have to worry about? Sure, they might not live in the nicest house (or apartment) or in the safest neighborhood, they might get picked on for having second-hand clothes, and even if they got into a decent college there might not be any way their parents could pay for it, but what's that to the "kind of pressure to achieve and fit in" that wealthy kids face?

Girls from "affluent schools" are more likely to "report depression"? Some people might think that would be because affluent schools had more counselors and better communication between faculty and students but the affluence probably doesn't exhibit itself that way.

And there's no possible way that a kid from a non-wealthy, non-affluent background could possibly be smart, well-educated, or committed to doing their job well. It seems inconceivable.

Apparently the wealthy have genetically diverged to become more refined in their emotions, even as children. I guess the rich really are different from the rest of us.



Prince Valiant Bucks: Really, in this day and age, when referring to a bunch of African males, is "young bucks" the first term you reach for?


»  April 28, 2007


1,500 Days: 28 April 2007 is the 1,500th day after the invasion of Iraq.


»  April 24, 2007


Two Names That Should Not Be In Close Proximity:

From the latimes.com home page this evening.


»  April 21, 2007

What the...?  

Strangest NetFlix Recommendation Ever:

Strangest NetFlix recommendation ever


What the...?  


Happy 60th birthday, Iggy Pop.

And thanks for the invitation to the show, Eric.


»  April 19, 2007


Piercing the Altercation: Eric Alterman's "Altercation" column at Media Matters has a letter of mine addressing a remark by regular contributor Charlie Pierce on the grounds for impeachment. Sometimes the arrow you shoot into the sky sticks.


»  April 18, 2007


No Peanut Butter, Sherlock: Rick Perlstein, the Pulitzer-winning author of the forthcoming Nixonland, is blogging at the new Campaign for America's Future site, where he has a post up about how conservative philosophy leads to things like food contamination.

In the post, he links to a news article about how the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter last year was traced back (by the manufacturers) to a leaky roof at a factory in Georgia that gave dormant bacteria in raw peanuts a growth medium.

That sounded kind of familiar. Where else had I heard about peanuts lately? Oh, yeah, Republican politicians talking about the supplemental appropriations bill Bush has promised to veto:

This legislative request was to be focused on the immediate needs of our troops on the ground and their military leaders, not pork projects like the $74 million for peanut storage costs.

“We’re talking about war and the safety of our troops, not peanut butter,” Morin said.



No Offense: C-Span's Steve Scully didn't want to cause any offense with his choice of entertainment for the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner so, according to the New York Times, he plucked impersonator Rich Little from Vegas obscurity after catching him on the David Letterman show.

Little's appearance on "Letterman" came at the start of the show's "Impressionist Week", which was preceded by a popular "Ventriloquist Week". Perhaps next year the dinner planners can have Dick Cheney and George Bush perform in that style and save themselves the cost of a flying in outside talent.


»  April 17, 2007


Half-Staff or Half-Assed Redux:

Yesterday, on the same day that a gunman killed and wounded dozens of victims at Virginia Tech, President George W. Bush issued a presidential proclamation that flags should be flown at half staff as a "mark of respect" for the victims.

As I pointed out in September 2005 in posts titled "Half-Staff or Half-Assed" and "Did the Proclamation Have to Be Requested, Too?", six days elapsed between the time Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and the proclamation honoring the dead in that disaster. This chart from the latter post links to a series of similar proclamations.

This is a compilation of presidential proclamations ordering flags to be flown at half-mast, from the White House's "Proclamations issued by President Bush":

Event Date
Proclamation Date
Elapsed Days
Death of Thousands in 9/11 Terrorist Attack
11 Sep 2001
12 Sep 2001
Death of Former Senate Majority Leader Michael Mansfield
05 Oct 2001
05 Oct 2001
Death of Former Supreme Court Justice Byron White
15 Apr 2002
17 Apr 2002
Death of the Columbia Shuttle Astronauts
01 Feb 2003
01 Feb 2003
Death of Senator Strom Thurmond
26 Jun 2003
30 Jun 2003
Death of Bob Hope
27 Jul 2003
28 Jul 2003
Death of President Ronald Reagan
05 Jun 2004
06 Jun 2004
Death of Hundreds of Thousands in Asian Tsunami
26 Dec 2004
01 Jan 2005
Death of Pope John Paul II
02 Apr 2005
02 Apr 2005
Death of Thousands in Hurricane Katrina
29 Aug 2005
04 Sep 2005
Death of Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist
03 Sep 2005
04 Sep 2005

* Apparently, no love for Strom.
** Technically, since the earthquake took place on Sunday morning in the Indian Ocean, the tsunami struck late Saturday (25 December 2005) Washington time. And it didn't strike US soil, although a number of Americans died in the disaster.
*** Katrina hit the coast on Monday morning, but since many of the victims in New Orleans may not have drowned or died from neglect for several days, the number of days elapsed would vary. Some people likely died from results of the storm as he signed the proclamation — and afterward.


»  April 15, 2007


The Other Victims of Don Imus: Who was it that beat the Rutgers team of "nappy-headed hos" to win the NCAA women's basketball championship?



Spitting On Troops, Ignoring the Wounded: In a New York Times article this morning on hearings held by the Shalala-Dole panel looking into the treatment of wounded soldiers, the pushback of blame from the upper echelon to the front line was in evidence.

One of the veterans speaking in front of the panel was former Army captain Marc Giammatteo, who is quoted as having observed "lack of caring or compassion in some of the work force" at Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent numerous surgeries for injuries caused by an rocket-propelled grenade.

"On several occasions," Mr. Giammatteo said, "I, and others I have spoken to, felt that we were being judged as if we chose our nation’s foreign policy and, as a result, received little if any assistance. Some individuals, most of whom are civilian workers and do not wear the uniform, judge the wounded unfairly and treat them similarly, adopting a 'Can’t help you, you’re on your own' attitude."
That said, it's entirely possible that some members of the staff of a large medical facility -- even one dedicated to treating military personnel -- might be the kinds of jerks who would callously ignore wounded veterans of Iraq. It's possible that Mr. Giammatteo and "others" felt that they weren't getting the attention they should have been getting and ascribed it to being blamed for foreign policy judgments by the civilian staff.

In a properly-run institution, however, complaints about those types of problems would have been investigated and addressed, if needed. If people in charge at Walter Reed had been paying attention to ensuring that the veterans at the medical center were satisfied that they were getting the best in care and treatment, not being ignored, forgotten, or left waiting in some rathole.

I don't know whether Mr. Giammatteo made any complaints of the above nature prior to the breaking of the scandal. I don't have any idea how he can ascribe motivations behind the lack of assistance he describes unless there are more specific points not covered in the article. But if he did complain and the complaints were of a valid nature -- i.e. he wasn't getting the types of assistance he deserved -- that is not simply an act of a malign "civilian worker," it is a failure of the Walter Reed administration in not overseeing the very services they're supposed to provide. It's a lack of supervisory authority.

In a way, I hope that Mr. Giammatteo's story is true. I'd rather believe that the staff at Walter Reed contained individuals who were thoughtless, bitter, or just bad hospital workers (there are definitely people who fall into those categories who go in to the care professions -- don't ask me why) than that he is the opening edge of a concerted attempt to push the blame for the Walter Reed scandal onto the "civilians" who didn't support the war in Iraq.


What the...?  

One Fish, Two Fish:

3 Fish Studios

My friends Annie and Eric have opened up 3 Fish Studios on 3rd Street in San Francisco. I'm glad to have played my little part in helping out.


»  April 5, 2007

What the...?  

Mexican Radio:

Happy birthday, Stan Ridgway.


»  April 1, 2007

What the...?  

smart forsix (years):

Barbara drives smartly

Five years and eleven months to the day after we first saw smart cars in Amsterdam; after waiting for a variety of failed attempts to bring them to the US market that finally bore some fruit last year; and waiting for a Portland-area dealership to carry them; Oswego Luxury was the first to actually get them in stock, and they've got a lotful. We stopped by on our way to Phillip Kerman's house, and sat in one for the first time. It it hadn't been for the torrential rain and the fact that Barbara couldn't fit her purse into the model in the showroom, we'd have taken them up on their offer to take it out for a spin, but we'll be back.