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Daily Archives: March 5, 2007
Cheney does have a blood clot, and is on blood thinners. He will need outpatient followup for months. Here’s the gist of Paul Krugman today (behind the NYTimes Select wall):
Yet even now it’s not clear whether the public will be told the full story, which is that the horrors of Walter Reed’s outpatient unit are no aberration. For all its cries of “support the troops,” the Bush administration has treated veterans’ medical care the same way it treats everything else: nickel-and-diming the needy, protecting the incompetent and privatizing everything it can.
What makes this a particular shame is that in the Clinton years, veterans’ health care — like the Federal Emergency Management Agency — became a shining example of how good leadership can revitalize a troubled government program. By the early years of this decade the Veterans Health Administration was, by many measures, providing the highest-quality health care in America. (It probably still is: Walter Reed is a military facility, not run by the V.H.A.)
But as with FEMA, the Bush administration has done all it can to undermine that achievement. And the Walter Reed scandal is another Hurricane Katrina: the moment when the administration’s misgovernment became obvious to everyone
We know from Hurricane Katrina postmortems that one of the factors degrading FEMA’s effectiveness was the Bush administration’s relentless push to outsource and privatize disaster management, which demoralized government employees and drove away many of the agency’s most experienced professionals. It appears that the same thing has been happening to veterans’ care.
Cheney did say “…throes…” but that was in 2005, regarding the Iraq insurgency.
But I must admit, I don’t know whether Cheney was offered outpatient care at Walter Reed, and, if he was, whether or not he accepted the offer.
I have had several issues with my iBook G4. At one point, the k key became very sensitive, requiring a replacement keyboard. But this latest problem was a stumper for a while. I am posting about it because I couldn’t find it mentioned anywhere else.
The screen would shut down when the book was moved or jarred, and the charger light ring would change color where it attached to the book. Often there would be deletions in text just before the screen shut down. That was the clue. Eventually the delete key wouldn’t function, and when it was hit, the screen would shut down.
Evidently there is some sort of short occurring below the delete key. I pried off the cover of the delete key and that solved the problem. Delete works, screen is stable.
I love the Mac but I wish Apple would pay more attention to this sort of quality issue.
how the Conservative Political Action Conference responded to Ann Coulter’s remarks about John Edwards.
Eliot Cohen is one of the most rabid of the neoconservatives, advocating US empire. On Friday, Condi Rice announced that he has been appointed Counselor of the State Department.
Glenn Greenwald at Salon:
In a 1998 essay in (fittingly enough) The New Republic, Cohen called for the U.S. to build up and modernize its military capabilities faster and more aggressively, and to “justify” that plan, he laid out his neoconservative vision of the role of the United States in the world:
Another way to put it is that the United States needs an imperial strategy. Defense planners could never admit it openly, of course, and most would feel uncomfortable with the idea, but that is, in fact, what the United States at the end of the twentieth century is–a global empire. Talk of “cooperative security” masks the reality that in any serious military confrontation, the central question is whom the United States asks to cooperate. . . . One cannot separate the so-called “soft power” of the United States–the global dominance of its culture, beginning with its language–from its military strength.
Rock fans around the world listen in English; so do fighter pilots. The same information technologies that make the Internet a decidedly American phenomenon provide the nervous systems of American military power. Free trade rests on common consent, to be sure, but would it exist absent America’s military dominance?
Even Cohen recognized what a profound departure from America’s founding principles it is to call for America to dominate the world as The Great Imperial Power:
The United States is today by far the most powerful state on the planet. If it chooses to remain so, citizen and soldier alike must brace themselves for the occasional imperial fiasco. More important, they will have to accept the uncomfortable notion that they are wielding military power in a way that is historically unusual for a country that has long viewed empires with proper republican suspicion. America’s strategic vision will thus have to peer inward, as well as out, if we are to play our new role in the world successfully.
These are the radical principles laid out unabashedly by the Bush State Department’s new Counselor, which are the same principles still driving the administration. We are in the middle of World War IV. We have numerous countries against whom we must wage war. The highest strategic priority is to change the government of Iran, with whom we can never negotiate. And the ultimate goal is to rule the world with our military force as the Supreme Imperial Power. That is the neoconservative vision at its core. And the untold damage it has wreaked on our country has not diminished their influence in any way in this administration. They are still in control, particularly in the area they care about most — the Middle East. And they have dealt with their greatest fear — war-avoidance with Iran prior to regime change — by installing one of their very own extremists to scrutinize and check the State Department.
Fair catch is a football term; it means “If you agree not to hit me I will agree to not try to advance the ball.”
Iran has certainly gotten the message that the US has both done a 180 degree turn in the Middle East, and is (apparently) ready to back it up militarily. To recapitulate briefly, Bush has given up yet another of his serial excuses for the Iraq war, the “spreading freedom” meme, in exchange for oil and security. Bush has now kowtowed to his pals, the authoritarian Sunni regimes, particularly Saudi Arabia, and to Israel, to suppress the Shiites in Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran. Exaggerated stories about explosive devices and infiltration of Iranian agents into Iraq have been planted by the US, and echoed in the Sunni press of the region.
Riyadh has accused Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias of sectarian killings of Sunni Iraqis.
President Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric has also been purposely misportrayed in the press, and conflated with false stories about nuclear weapons and exaggerations of Ahmadinejad’s power, to make it seem as though Iran might attempt a nuclear attack on Israel.
It turns out that Ahmadinejad never said what is being routinely attributed to him. Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at University of Michigan who reads Persian, explains that he actually stated (quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini): “The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).”
The US has used these excuses to justify an enormous naval and aerial buildup in the Gulf region.
The Iranians have gotten the message. They have responded with war games, demonstrations of their missiles and threats of massive asymmetrical attacks against US/allied interests in around the world. Obviously, however, Iran is no match for the firepower of the 5th Fleet. Furthermore, it has become increasingly clear that even the newly elected Democratic US Congress has no way of preventing “cowboy” Bush from doing whatever he wants (never mind that both the US military reserve and the American patience with Bush are both stretched perilously thin).
Moderating forces within Iran seem to have checked the inflammatory rhetoric of President. Most importantly Ahmadinejad himself made an unprecedented hasty trip to Saudi Arabia:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left on Saturday for his first official trip to Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally that is leading a diplomatic drive to curb Tehran’s growing influence in Lebanon and Iraq.
Tehran is also under pressure over what the West says are plans to build atomic bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear programme, a charge Iran denies. Riyadh shares U.S. suspicions.
Iranian state radio said talks between Ahmadinejad and Saudi officials, including King Abdullah, would cover “changes in the region and Islamic world, expanding mutual ties, the situation in the Middle East and Iran’s nuclear case”.
Today we learn the principal outcome/concession: to signal a “fair catch” on the most high profile issue in the region: Iran’s support for Hezbollah, which threatens Israel from Lebanon.
Lebanese Parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, on Monday lauded Iran’s role and cooperation in seeking a solution to Lebanon’s current crisis.
The speaker said that Iran’s role is in line with other attempts underway towards forging national unity in Lebanon and preventing any effort to cause religious unrests.
Expressing satisfaction over the outcome of the recent meeting between the heads of states of Iran and Saudi Arabia, he predicted that the result of their talks will be disclosed within 48 hours.
After the fruitful talks between the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Larijani and Saudi National Security Council Secretary Bandar Bin Sultan on the problems facing the world of Islam, including Lebanon’s crisis, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad conferred with the Saudi King Abdullah on the issue last Saturday (March 3).
Middle East developments, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran’s nuclear issue were high on the agenda of talks between the two heads of state.
At the meeting, Ahmadinejad underlined that Iran is prepared to help Lebanon in case it seeks assistance towards achieving national unity and safeguarding its independence.
The Iranian president declared at the meeting that Lebanon’s dignity and integrity of the Lebanese nation is what Iran is seeking, urging that attention should be paid to the demands of Lebanese people as well as the Iraqi nation.
Iran may also be backing down on its nuclear program,
Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been expected to announce last month that Iran had started installing 3,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges at a facility in the desert outside the central city of Natanz, where it has about 500 centrifuges above and below ground. But the announcement never materialized, an apparent step back that IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei appeared to confirm Monday.
“I do not believe that the number of centrifuges has increased, nor do I believe that (new) nuclear material has been introduced to the centrifuges at Natanz,” he said.
but the evidence on that is still quite uncertain. The clerical rulers have clearly stated their commitment to that issue. To relent on enrichment would be the equivalent of running up the white flag.
At any rate, they have decided to try what looks to be a major concession on the issue of alleged support for terrorism against Israel. This issue is very important to the Saudis, as well as to the Israelis, as it bears on the whole issue of a negotiated end to the Palestinian crisis. The Saudis long ago proposed a solution to that problem, and they have not given up on it.
While we do not yet know the details of the bargain, nor the US response, it is clear that Bush’s saber-rattling is having an effect.
[previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking on "countdown to attack on Iran" in the categories list in the far righthand column.]
Under pressure from state investigators, Best Buy is now confirming ….that its stores have a secret intranet site that has been used to block some consumers from getting cheaper prices advertised on BestBuy.com.
Company spokesman Justin Barber, who in early February denied the existence of the internal website that could be accessed only by employees, says his company is “cooperating fully” with the state attorney general’s investigation.
Barber insists that the company never intended to mislead customers.
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal ordered the investigation into Best Buy’s practices on Feb. 9 after my column disclosed the website and showed how employees at two Connecticut stores used it to deny customers a $150 discount on a computer advertised on BestBuy.com.
What is more troubling to me, and to some Best Buy customers, is that even when one informs a salesperson of the Internet price, customers have been shown the intranet site, which looks identical to the Internet site, but does not always show the lowest price.
……they threw in this interesting line: “Although we have an intra-store web site in place to support store operations (including products and pricing), we are reminding our employees how to access the external BestBuy.com web site to ensure customers are receiving the best possible product price.”
That last sentence seems to indicate that Best Buy, which is supposed to be staffed by tech-savvy employees, is putting the blame on memory lapses: that employees have somehow forgotten how to access BestBuy.com from the store.
After making sure the computer is turned on, employees should click twice on the Yahoo Internet icon and then type in BestBuy.com.
This is not the first time the giant electronic retailer has gotten into trouble misleading customers. …Attorneys general in New Jersey and Ohio have accused Best Buy of deceptive sales practices, repackaging used merchandise and selling it as new, and failing to pay rebates and refunds.
Of course, some customers wouldn’t notice…