The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!!!

It isn't as though the (bad) news hasn't been pouring in the last couple of days, but I've been a bit busier than usual. Although I hate to do roundups of stories that news junkies will already find a bit stale, it is a nice way to catch up. Here goes...

Righties rush to the defense of poor, victimized woman!
Yes, it seems as though the right-win echo chamber is still in full effect. It didn't take long for the coast-to-coast meme to become "liberals want to put conservatives in gulags" after Ann Coulter-- best known for showing off her leathery, emaciated form in black minidresses and calling Democratic men 'faggots' in front of any operational television camera she encounters-- was politely asked by Elizabeth Edwards to talk about actual issues. My favorite take on the story came from Paul Waldman:

"I want to use the opportunity," Edwards said, "to ask her politely, stop the personal attacks." To this, Coulter responded, "Okay, the wife of a presidential candidate is calling in asking me to stop speaking." She then repeated this a number of times; when Edwards challenged her on her use of "the language of hate" (of which Coulter is one of America's foremost purveyors), Coulter said sarcastically, "Okay, I'll stop writing books."

What's notable here is the way Coulter sees personal attacks and the language of hate as the sum total of what she does. As she sees it, asking her not to attack people personally is not just tantamount to asking her not to write and speak, it is asking her not to write and speak.

Coulter certainly has her schtick down pat. In spite of the fact that Edwards said nothing of the sort, and tacitly admitting that catty, hit & run putdowns are her only bit, she knew just how to frame it for the goofy right-wing.

The Surge: Definitely starting within a few months.
Remember when the 'surge' began in January or so? Well, that wasn't actually the beginning. Remember a few weeks ago when it was announced that all the troops had reached Iraq? Still not the beginning. In fact, we're just starting the first phase now. And since we won't be able to measure success in terms of, say, a drop in the murder rate or the number of car bombs, it really wouldn't be fair of anyone to ask for evidence that it's working. At least, not for the foreseeable future. Thus sayeth Robert Kagan:

American military forces in Iraq are now entering the second phase of their kinetic operations even as political efforts continue on a separate but linked track. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus are in the midst of a multi-faceted program that will not proceed in a linear way and will not generate clear and consistent metrics in all of its phases. The early signs are positive in a number of respects, although difficulties and challenges clearly remain. But it is too soon to evaluate the outcome of an operation that is just moving into the first of several phases intended to produce significant positive change in the situation overall.

'Kinetic operations' does sound much more impressive than 'surge,' though, doesn't it? In other news from Iraq, car bombs in Baghdad have killed at least 3 dozen people, and about two dozen headless corpses were discovered on the outskirts of the city.

"I do not think that word means what you think it means."
White House counsel Fred fielding on why the executive branch keeps disregarding subpoenas:

The doctrine of executive privilege exists, at least in part, to protect such communications from compelled disclosure to Congress, especially where, as here, the president’s interests in maintaining confidentiality far outweigh Congress’s interests in obtaining deliberative White House communications.

Further, it remains unclear precisely how and why your committees are unable to fulfill your legislative and oversight interests without the unfettered requests you have made in your subpoenas.

Unfettered requests? You know, I see what he's trying to say with that, but it's still wrong. Oh, and in case you were wondering, this administration is going to further disgrace itself by using every underhanded trick in the book to conceal their crimes. Note to Fearless Leader: historically, that hasn't been a great way to burnish your legacy.

And speaking of subpoenas....
Dick Cheney. Although I haven't seen much tying him directly to the DOJ scandal, he's under the microscope for so many other illegal activities it's getting difficult to keep track. There's the epic west-coast fishicide that benefited his donors-- among other favors for contributors. Not that anything will ever be done about it, but his Halliburton stock options have increased in value almost 4000% thanks to their no-bid contracts in Iraq (sadly, I can't locate the link). And there's the whole issue of Cheney refusing to reveal anyone he's spoken with, met with, etc. Which ties in to the whole Faye-Dunaway-in-Chinatown ploy: "I'm executive! I'm legislative! I'm executive! I'm legislative!"

We know a hog farm in East Guangzhou....
I'm not hearing many complaints from American multinationals about the shitty products China is sending our way. The pet food ('thinned out' with tainted wheat gluten to maximize profitability) was just the tip of the iceberg. Toothpaste, beverages, poisonous fish, lead paint on toys, pigs force-fed up to 6 gallons of sewage to artificially boost their weight at slaughter time. Wow! All that and child labor, too! Thank you, Wal-Mart, GE and Nike!

But, rest assured, the imaginary free market is already prevailing! "Regulators in Beijing announced on Tuesday that they had closed 180 food-processing plants in the past six months for breaking food-safety laws." Wow! Uhhhh, what's that? Oh.... Oh. I see. "That sounds tough. But it's a small fraction of the 23,000 total violations the watchdog agency says it found. And that's a small fraction of the estimated 750,000 total food-processing facilities in China, where other problems may exist and inspections are few and far between." And yes, this has ramifications for the global environment as well. Without a doubt, American manufacturing companies with plants in China will realize that it's in their best interest to provide safe products-- even if it costs them a little more-- lest the invisible hand, in its infinite wisdom, knock them right out of the market. Or they can just spend a few million lobbying the GOP to pass a law exempting them from being held accountable for selling dangerous products. Yeah. That's definitely the way to go.