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2009 II

The Big Zero

Illustration: ASG

Paul Krugman, The New York Times | Maybe we knew, at some unconscious, instinctive level, that it would be an era best forgotten. Whatever the reason, we got through the first decade of the new millennium without ever agreeing on what to call it. The aughts? The naughties? Whatever.

But from an economic point of view, I’d suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true | Updated | More >>

Related: New Slip in Housing Prices Undercuts Fragile Optimism | NYT 09.12.29

The Ooglay Truth | 09.12.31

Anti-terrorism needs a nanny state; The worst architect building of the decade; Consider the opposition prorogued; Bye-bye Blue Cross? AND: Modern conservatism, in a nutshell | Updated | More >>

Army History Finds Early Missteps in Afghanistan | 09.12.30

James Dao, The New York Times | The early and undermanned effort to use counterinsurgency is one of several examples of how American forces, hamstrung by inadequate resources, missed opportunities to stabilize Afghanistan during the early years of the war, according to the history, “A Different Kind of War.” | Updated | More >>

Related: China, Willing to Spend, Wins Trove of Afghan Copper | NYT 09.12.29

Who’s running the TSA? No one, thanks to Sen. Jim DeMint | 09.12.28

Margaret Talev, McClatchy Newspapers | An attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day would be all-consuming for the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration — if there were one. | Updated | More >>

Related: Capitol Hill’s Most Unhinged Republicans | MoJo 09.12.29

Kinda Funny: Good Riddance | 09.12.31

Paul Fell / artizans.com via CBC News

| Updated | More >>



CBC’s Smart Shift Web site: What’s the deal with IBM?

Cross-Promotion A screenshot from CBC’s Smart Shift Web site, sponsored by IBM. This story in the site’s "Case Studies" section, "A smart new travel companion," which has no byline, profiles IBM’s implementation of an iPhone application for Air Canada. The article, styled like a CBC news story, lists the features of the new application, and its subhead reads: "Success! The new app takes off."

CBC News’s new Web site, called Smart Shift: Conversations for Change is clearly labeled as “presented by IBM.” But what does the century-old US$109 billion business consulting firm get out of this partnership with Canada’s national public news source? And what do CBC.ca readers receive in the end? | Updated | More >>

The Fall of Greg Craig | 09.11.19

Massimo Calabresi and Michael Weisskopf, Time | Obama turned to Craig to roll back Bush-era policies in the war on terrorism. But by September, Craig had been sidelined by pragmatists. | Updated | More >>

Stephen Harper and the politics of suspicion | 09.11.19

Don Newman, CBC News | Parliament used to work because of majority governments but also because MPs made it function. That is not the case today. The fraying was not—it might surprise some I’m sure—the fault of the Bloc Québécois. Rather it came from the Reform party led by Preston Manning. | Updated | More >>

The Wisdom of Crowds | 09.11.23

Crowdsourcing was the New Coke; JavaScript’s sloooow in Firefox; Overrated minds on display; Sarah Palin’s real threat; AND: Wait, wait... | Updated | More >>



Too Many Chiefs

Sure, he’s a sellout. But Joe Lieberman is a product of an over-complicated American political system that makes voters just another special interest.

In one fell swoop, Joe Lieberman, once Democratic candidate for vice president, then neocon stoolie, and now so-called “moderate” independent senator from Connecticut, both put the Democratic health proposal’s essential public option in doubt and proved James Madison wrong.

What a sellout. After Lieberman announced he would join a Republican filibuster against any health reform bill that included a public insurance option, Norman Lear called him a backpfeifengesicht, or a person whose face should be slapped, "Because the smirking arrogance oozing from that face is all the assurance you need that whatever the man is thinking and doing cannot be good for you, your children, your friends, your children’s friends, or anyone else you care about." Stephen Colbert’s take-down was particularly hostile, noting that Lieberman changed face after 10 years of support for health reform despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of his constituents supported the public option:

Joe’s party is Connecticut for Lieberman, not Lieberman for Connecticut. Big difference. You see, Joe is a true independent: He’s independent of parties, he’s independent of voters. So I say stick to your principles Joe. And as soon as you can, let us know what those are.

Harsh and deserved. But this isn’t just Joe’s story. It’s Max’s, and Olympia’s, and Arlen’s and Kent’s—all senators who have both baffled analysts and stood in the way of progress on health care in one way or another for the simple, galling reason that they can. It’s the story of Founding Father Madison’s Federalist ideas gone wild, creating a government so complicated that politics has become the exclusive sport of the wily and the well-funded, the common good be damned. And since every sport has its losers, I might as well mention the also-rans: Accountability and you. | Updated | More >>

Munyaneza gets life for Rwandan war crimes | 09.10.29

CBC News | In an unprecedented decision, Justice André Denis wrote the sentence is severe because "the law considers the crimes committed by the accused to be the worst in existence." | Updated | More >>

Lawyers: Photos show Khadr “innocent” in death of US soldier | 09.10.29

Michelle Shephard, The Toronto Star | Classified photos show Toronto-born Omar Khadr lying buried and hurt in a trench during a firefight in Afghanistan that killed a U.S. commando. His lawyers say that proves he couldn’t have thrown the lethal grenade. | Updated | More >>

Ongoing Agony of the Banks | 09.10.29

The New York Times | If the federal government’s strategy to save the banks was meant to get them back into the business of lending to American consumers and businesses, it has not worked yet. | Updated | More >>

Today In The History of This Website... | 09.10.28

Today, on the once sorrowful Feast of The Blue Screen of Death,

did Andrew, once burdened with old files, decrepit javascript and non-validating markup, proclaim his Web site, saveandrewgarib.com, complete in archives, and valid in the eyes of W3C The Infallible, in both HTML and CSS, excepteth for some crap about oncontextmenu or something about which he giveth not a shit,

and he did rejoice,

in the year of Unix 39, the 28th Day of the Tober of Oct, 1256688000.

Ameneth.



Reverse Robin Hood

The Bailout Helps Fuel a New Era of Wall Street Wealth

The New York Stock Exchange, September 2008. The Wall Street Bailout was supposed to fix the credit markets and, in turn, the rest of the economy. But credit isn’t flowing and U.S. unemployment tops 10%—while the bank rebound. | Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency via NY Times

Graham Bowley, The New York Times | How can some banks be prospering so soon after a financial collapse, even as legions of people worry about losing their jobs and their homes?

It may come as a surprise that one of the most powerful forces driving the resurgence on Wall Street is not the banks but Washington. Many of the steps that policy makers took last year to stabilize the financial system—reducing interest rates to near zero, bolstering big banks with taxpayer money, guaranteeing billions of dollars of financial institutions’ debts—helped set the stage for this new era of Wall Street wealth. | Updated | More >>

Tories won’t update information and privacy laws | 09.10.15

Joan Bryden, The Toronto Star | OTTAWA—The Harper government has quietly nixed recommendations to expand and modernize Canada’s access-to-information and privacy laws. | Updated | More >>

Lobbyist Pushing to Represent Sudan | 09.10.10

Dan Eggen, The Washington Post | A prominent Democratic fundraiser and ally of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) is attempting to secure a lobbying contract with the pariah regime in Sudan, which has embarked on an aggressive effort to enlist U.S. support against allegations of genocide and war crimes. | Updated | More >>

Related: Obama drops plan to isolate Sudan leaders | NYT 09.10.16

Related: Pentagon convenes Sudanese war-crime cases | Miami Herald 09.10.19

Elephant, Now In Room | 09.10.19

Pulling the pulling-the-race-card card; Brow-beating Beyoncé; Self-promoting Tories won’t save the Liberals; Why we need government-run news; AND: FUDGE!!!!! | Updated | More >>

Photos: Summer’s Over | 09.10.01

Might as well just say it: It’s not coming back. <sniff> | More Photos >>



Stanley McChrystal’s Long War

A PERILOUS WALK Marines on patrol en route to Mian Poshteh. Minutes later, a bomb that was buried in the road exploded. | Peter van Agtmael / Magnum via NY Times

Dexter Filkins, The New York Times | The magnitude of the choice presented by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, and now facing President Obama, is difficult to overstate. For what McChrystal is proposing is not a temporary, Iraq-style surge — a rapid influx of American troops followed by a withdrawal. McChrystal’s plan is a blueprint for an extensive American commitment to build a modern state in Afghanistan, where one has never existed, and to bring order to a place famous for the empires it has exhausted. Even under the best of circumstances, this effort would most likely last many more years, cost hundreds of billions of dollars and entail the deaths of many more American women and men.

And that’s if it succeeds. | Updated | More >>

Opt Me Out of Public Option Purism | 09.10.08

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight | Some of the usual suspects are out this morning with criticism of Tom Carper’s compromise proposal to insert a robust public option into the Democrats’ health care bill, but allow states to opt out of it by legislative or popular action. But this compromise is leaps and bounds better than most of the others that have been floated. | Updated | More >>

Related: CNN To Disclose Castellanos’s Health Care Industry Ties | HuffPo 09.10.15

Cigarette firm destroyed studies, review finds | 09.10.14

CBC News | Imperial Tobacco Canada destroyed up to 60 early studies that linked cigarettes to addiction and carcinogens, according to a review published Wednesday in the online Canadian Medical Association Journal. | Updated | More >>

Succeeding Downwards | 09.10.14

Calvin Trillin, The New York Times | “The financial system nearly collapsed,” one man in a sparsely populated Midtown bar told me, “because smart guys had started working on Wall Street.” | Updated | More >>

On Sensitivity | 09.10.15

For those of you keeping score:

This is completely offensive.

This is banally offensive. (There is nothing banal about its high-concept creepiness.)

This is obnoxious.

And this? Hilarious.



Mr. Inside

Citigroup’s new hire has been in the middle of everything from the savings and loan disaster to Plamegate.

Liz Lynch / NY Times

Gretchen Morgenson and Andrew Martin, The New York Times | ALL of the nation’s major banks have a raft of Washington lobbyists, and with good reason. For people accustomed to dealing with numbers on Wall Street, the nation’s capital can seem impossibly complex.

Still, people inside and outside hobbled Citigroup say they were stunned when Richard D. Parsons, the bank’s chairman, enlisted the services last spring of Richard F. Hohlt, a longtime Washington insider with a history of aggressive advocacy for the banking industry.

Critics say that as a top lobbyist for the savings and loan industry in the 1980s, Mr. Hohlt blocked regulation of these institutions and played a pivotal role helping to prolong dubious industry practices that cost taxpayers $150 billion to clean up.

After that crisis passed, he faded from the public eye but continued advising clients, cementing his contacts in the news media and even surfacing as one among a handful of Washington insiders involved in the public outing of Valerie Wilson as a C.I.A. agent. | Updated | More >>

Student Loans are the New Indentured Servitude | 09.10.12

Mike Konczal, The Atlantic Monthly | How should we judge this young person profiled in the Wall Street Journal? Is taking on a large debt load to pay for college the post-Risk-Shift American Dream? Or is it a form of Living For Now, and being irresponsible and short-sited? Why should we think of her as irresponsible, instead of someone rationally going into debt peonage, like a 17th century indentured servant, in order to take a small shot at bettering oneself—the new middle class dream? | Updated | More >>

Falling Flat | 09.10.14

Wicked WICD; The Case of Al Gosling; Afghanistan’s blurred lines; AND: Why Jackie Robinson is not Clarence Thomas | Updated | More >>

Photo: The Shrinking View of an ‘Old Friend’ | 09.10.11

The distant volcano, Japan’s pre-eminent national symbol, has been increasingly blocked by Tokyo’s skyscrapers and smog. | Ko Sasaki, The New York Times

| Updated | More >>



Bank Buster

Can DC’s top bailout cop beat the finance lobby — and Larry Summers?

Illustration: Polly Becker; Source photo: Cliff Owen/Newscom via MoJo

David Corn, Mother Jones | BY HER OWN reckoning, Elizabeth Warren had two transformative experiences on the way to becoming official Washington’s most unconventional expert on the financial industry. Let’s start with the second. It was 2003, and Warren, an earnest-sounding and ever enthusiastic Harvard law professor who specializes in bankruptcy, was on the set of Dr. Phil. She had written a book with her daughter called The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers {{ampersand}} Fathers Are Going Broke, and she’d expected to sit next to the host and explain its key points. Instead, Dr. Phil was interviewing a stressed-out couple with serious medical and financial troubles. After they mentioned they had obtained a second mortgage to pay off their credit card debt, the lights went up on Warren, and Dr. Phil asked her if this had been a smart step. No, she declared, because now they could lose their home if they defaulted.

As soon as her turn was over, Warren found herself thinking, "You’ve been doing this work for 20 years now, and it is unlikely that any of it has had as direct an impact as these 45 seconds." She had reached millions, some of whom might actually pay attention to her advice. "So here you are, Miss Fancy-Pants Professor at Harvard. What do you plan to do now? Is it all about writing more academic articles, or is it about making a difference for the families you study? I made a decision right then: It was for the families, not the self-aggrandizement of scholarship."

Six years later, Warren is applying that people-first philosophy by simultaneously running the Congressional Oversight Panel, which monitors the $700 billion TARP bailout program on behalf of the taxpayers, and pushing for a new agency to protect consumers from predatory lenders. Now, as Congress seriously considers her proposal (and lobbyists maneuver to kill it), the question is: Can a middle-class populist in Ivy League garb change the world—or at least Big Finance? | Updated | More >>

The Most Hated Name in News | 09.10.01

Deborah Campbell, The Walrus | Can Al Jazeera English cure what ails North American journalism? | Updated | More >>

Related: CanWest empire crumbles | The Star 09.10.07

Activists challenge Olympic bylaw on free speech | 09.10.07

CBC News | Two anti-Olympic activists have launched a court challenge to Vancouver’s Olympic bylaw to defend their right to distribute material critical of the Games during and around the events. | Updated | More >>

Related: Olympics warns man about sharing Beijing photos | The Star 09.10.09

Squiggly Words To Catch Comment Spam | 09.10.10

The World Wide Web is less spammy because of you, genius mathematician Alan Turing. Here’s how. | Updated | More >>



The Muppets Take Ramallah

The "Shara’a Simsim" characters Karim (green) and Haneen during a performance at a Palestinian school in March. | Uriel Sinai / Getty / NY Times

Samantha M. Shapiro, The New York Times | Since the inception of “Sesame Street” in the United States 40 years ago, the nonprofit New York City-based organization that produces the show, which is now called Sesame Workshop, has created 25 international co-productions. Each country’s show has its own identity: a distinctive streetscape, live-action segments featuring local kids and a unique crew of Muppets. Bangladesh’s “Sisimpur” uses some traditional Bangladeshi puppets, and South Africa’s “Takalani Sesame” features Kami, an orphaned H.I.V.-positive Muppet. But in each co-production, at least in its early years, every detail—every character, every scene and every line of script—must be approved by executives in the Sesame Workshop office, near Lincoln Center. This requires a delicate balance: how to promote the “core values” of Sesame Street, like optimism and tolerance, while at the same time portraying a version of local life realistic enough that broadcasters will show it and parents will let their kids watch. The Palestinian territories have been, not surprisingly, a tough place to strike this balance, Sesame executives say, rivaled only by Kosovo. | Updated | More >>

Charitable Rendering | 09.10.08

Tom Coburn’s hedonistic fix for health care have nots; Outlawing exaggerated product claims will bring about a totalitarian state; My autobiography is faster than yours; Stalin and Jim Crow; AND: Wyatt Cenac on the video ho crash | Updated | More >>

The Bible, but More Paranoid | 09.10.05

Rachel Weiner, The Huffington Post | A group of right-wing activists is setting out to purge the Bible of liberal bias. | Updated | More >>

Work In Progress | 09.10.10

Please forgive the current state of this Web site as it continues its ongoing overhaul. Because the changes have been very substantial, I haven’t made posts public since May and have only begun re-posting them since certain upgrades went live on October 9.

Here are some of the new features of saveandrewgarib.com, and what changes are to come. | Updated | More >> 1



Dick Gephardt’s Spectacular Sellout

Caitlin Dover / The Nation

Sebastian Jones, The Nation | In March, months after the government gave an unprecedented $85 billion to AIG, the insurance giant released a list of counterparties, exposing some of the world’s top financial institutions as the real recipients of the bailout. First among its peers, Goldman Sachs got a whopping $12.9 billion, despite having claimed in September to be insulated from AIG’s troubles. Based on these revelations, Maryland Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, who had dogged the financial industry since the crisis began, told his staff to prepare a letter calling for an investigation.

Two Congressional staffers familiar with the matter told The Nation that a draft was circulated to House members on March 23. Within hours, Cummings’s office had received a phone call from a lobbying firm hired by Goldman Sachs, making an "insistent but polite" request for a meeting. Cummings, intending to send the letter regardless, granted the audience, and so it was that top Goldman executives like president Gary Cohn and CFO David Viniar arrived the next day. They brought someone else too, a big-name Democratic politician with serious populist credibility: Dick Gephardt.

While Gephardt spent most of his twenty-eight years in national Democratic politics quietly promoting and voting with establishment interests, he is best known for his friendship with labor and advocacy for universal healthcare during two presidential runs. In 2003 he harshly condemned corporate crime, which he said "ruined people’s lives for selfishness and greed," and launched his candidacy claiming, "Every proposal I’m making, every idea I’m advancing has a single, central purpose: to revive a failing economy and give working Americans the help and security they need." So why, six years later, was he on Capitol Hill representing one of the biggest players in the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression? And further, why was he recently working for Visa to kill credit card reform, helping Peabody Energy stymie climate change legislation and consulting for UnitedHealth Group alongside Tom Daschle to block meaningful healthcare reform? | Updated | More >>

What shall we do with the orphans? | 09.06.01

Lewis Hyde, The New York Times | Google’s books lawsuit spotlights copyrighted works whose creators are AWOL. Should copyright law be as Europeans had shaped inheritance—to serve powerful families—or as Americans would shape it so that something new under the sun —“the people”—might receive the legacy of all their forebears had created? | Updated | More >>

Partisan Blues | 09.10.03

Abolish the Canadian Senate or leave it alone—but sure as hell don’t make it worse; ‘Accountability’ is Glenn Beck’s middle name, or would be if he could spell it; AND: Bill Frist, reasonable? | Updated | More >>

Kinda Funny: What Did Hollywood’s Polanski Petition Actually Say? | 09.10.02

Stephen Metcalf, Slate | A petition has been circulated on behalf of Roman Polanski—henceforth, to my mind, "RoPo"—and signed by A-list movie directors. Here it is, briefly annotated. | Updated | More >>

Related: Hollywood’s Strange Morals | CBC News 09.10.01



Earth vs. Water

Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Scarce Water

The German developer Solar Millennium hopes land in the valley, above, can be home to solar plants. Public opinion, partly because of water issues, appears to be split. | Isaac Brekken / NY Times

Todd Woody, The New York Times | AMARGOSA VALLEY, Nev.—In a rural corner of Nevada reeling from the recession, a bit of salvation seemed to arrive last year. A German developer, Solar Millennium, announced plans to build two large solar farms here that would harness the sun to generate electricity, creating hundreds of jobs.

But then things got messy. The company revealed that its preferred method of cooling the power plants would consume 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, about 20 percent of this desert valley’s available water.

“When push comes to shove, water could become the real throttle on renewable energy,” said Michael E. Webber, an assistant professor at the University of Texas in Austin who studies the relationship between energy and water. | Updated | More >>

Real McCoy vs. Cheap-Ass Ploy | 09.09.30

After the DNA test, who’s the poseur now?; Obama’s voodoo politics; Eye candy on the Linux desktop: AND: Jedi Mind Tricks for Jesus | Updated | More >>

Acne, Pregnancy Among Disqualifying Conditions | 09.09.10

David S. Hilzenrath, The Washington Post | A proposal to make preexisting health conditions irrelevant in the sale of insurance policies could help not just the seriously ill but also people who might consider themselves healthy, documents released Friday by a California-based advocacy group illustrate. | Updated | More >>

Racial bias exists on police force, chief says | 09.09.30

Robyn Doolittle, The Toronto Star | Seven years ago, the Toronto police union fervently denied racial bias existed within its ranks and was prepared to sue those who claimed otherwise. Fast-forward to today and Chief Bill Blair acknowledges that racial profiling is a problem. | Updated | More >>

Official: Florida The Root of All Evil | 09.09.24

Wired Magazine | We’re gluttons for infographics, and a team at Kansas State just served up a feast: maps of sin created by plotting per-capita stats on things like theft (envy) and STDs (lust). Christian clergy, likely noting the Bible Belt’s status as Wrath Central, question the "science." Valid point—or maybe it’s just the pride talking. | Updated | More >>



The Prophet That Wasn’t

Is Ron Paul really the spirit behind the Tea Party protests? ALSO: Charging for software, and other horrible things; Different planets saw different Obama speeches; And the numbers still suck

Midwife of the rEVOLution Sure, Tea Partiers say they like the Texas congressman. But are the ’Baggers the spearhead for the Ron Paul Revolution? | Original images: Leah Tiscione and Obamunism.us

Dana Goldstein of The American Prospect and Tom Schaller of FiveThirtyEight both agree that Ron Paul is the spiritual leader of the Tea Party protesters, even if he doesn’t hold any temporal power in the movement:

Three-quarters of the way through 2009, it is fringy Ron Paul, more so than John McCain or any of his other primary opponents, whose ideology is setting the conservative agenda. Even without the direct influence of their titular leader, Paul’s campaign army is marching on, mobilized by intense opposition to health-care reform.

But I just don’t see it. Goldstein’s entire argument revolves, rather tacitly, around the fact that Tea Partiers recite line-and-verse the Gospel of Ron Paul—guns, individualism, the 10th Amendment, small government, "illegal" taxation, anti-immigration. But this rote pseudo-intellectualism is closely linked to Ron Paul only because of his relatively high-profile role in the last Republican primary contest, where Paul gave the voice of a very small but rather vocal group of anti-war, anti-drug enforcement, anti-Fed libertarians. I would be willing to bet that if Ron Paul never existed, the Tea Partiers would be saying much of the same thing and for much the same reason. | Updated | More >>

Wealthcare | 09.09.14

Jonathan Chait, The New Republic | Amid this cacophony of rage and dread, there has emerged one anxiety that is an actual idea, and not a mere slogan or factual misapprehension: That the United States is divided into two classes—the hard-working productive elite, and the indolent masses leeching off their labor by means of confiscatory taxes and transfer programs. It is the ideology of Ayn Rand. | Updated | More >>

Related: Tea Party Organizer Is Epitome Of Privilege | Bill Moyers Journal 09.09.18

Government denies liability in torture cases despite report | 09.09.18

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press | The federal government denies responsibility for the overseas imprisonment and torture of three Canadians, despite a commission of inquiry report that parcelled out blame to CSIS, the RCMP and Foreign Affairs. | Updated | More >>



How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?

Jason Lutes / NY Times

Paul Krugman, The New York Times | It’s hard to believe now, but not long ago economists were congratulating themselves over the success of their field. Those successes—or so they believed—were both theoretical and practical, leading to a golden era for the profession. On the theoretical side, they thought that they had resolved their internal disputes. And in the real world, economists believed they had things under control. In 2004, Ben Bernanke, a former Princeton professor who is now the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, celebrated the Great Moderation in economic performance over the previous two decades, which he attributed in part to improved economic policy making.

Last year, everything came apart. | Updated | More >>

Related: A year after financial crisis, the consumer economy is dead | McClatchy 09.09.08

What Torture Never Told Us | 09.09.05

Ali. H. Soufan, The New York Times | PUBLIC bravado aside, the defenders of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques are fast running out of classified documents to hide behind. The three that were released recently by the C.I.A.—the 2004 report by the inspector general and two memos from 2004 and 2005 on intelligence gained from detainees—fail to show that the techniques stopped even a single imminent threat of terrorism. | Updated | More >>

The Making of a Health-Care Whistle-Blower | 09.09.08

Kate Pickert, Time | Wendell Potter, the former head of corporate communications for health-insurance giant Cigna, turned against his old colleagues in June to testify before a congressional committee about what he viewed as the health-insurance industry’s "duplicitous" behavior in the current health-reform debate. In his testimony, Potter outlined specific techniques insurers employ to "dump the sick" and protect stock price at all costs. | Updated | More >>

Ideas: The Dead, The Undead, and The Darwin Award nominees | 09.09.10

Marxism’s pretend prescience; Did Sarah Palin get mugged by reality? AND: The New York Times on how to cover a Wikipedia slapboxing match. | Updated | More >>

Photo: From Scrap To Memorials | 09.09.06

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is stepping up its efforts to give away debris from the ruined World Trade Center. The pieces of steel are forming the heart of memorials around the country and beyond. The debris still awaiting a final destination is stored in an 80,000-square-foot hangar at Kennedy International Airport. | Michael Nagle / The New York Times | More Photos >>

| Updated | More >>



Roosevelt: The Great Divider

Kelly Blair / NY Times

Jean Edward Smith, The New York Times | PRESIDENT OBAMA’S apparent readiness to backtrack on the public insurance option in his health care package is not just a concession to his political opponents—this fixation on securing bipartisan support for health care reform suggests that the Democratic Party has forgotten how to govern and the White House has forgotten how to lead.

This was not true of Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Congresses that enacted the New Deal. With the exception of the Emergency Banking Act of 1933 (which gave the president authority to close the nation’s banks and which passed the House of Representatives unanimously), the principal legislative innovations of the 1930s were enacted over the vigorous opposition of a deeply entrenched minority. Majority rule, as Roosevelt saw it, did not require his opponents’ permission. | Updated | More >>

Related: Ike’s Other Warning | NYT 09.09.02

The making of a homegrown terrorist | 09.09.04

Isabel Teotonio, The Toronto Star | How Saad Khalid went from carefree child to radical teen to young adult who’s been handed a 14-year jail term in Toronto 18 plot | Updated | More >>

The Truth, And What The Other Guy Says | 09.09.04

Crazy people made us distrust government; David Brooks is crazy like a fox; Remember “last in, first out”? About that... AND: A threat to manipulation and distortion | Updated | More >>

Putting ‘fun’ in dysfunctional since 1967 | 09.08.29

Dave Feschuk and Michael Grange, The Toronto Star | During his time in Toronto, Craig Button saw more than just a lack of managerial fortitude and foresight. He saw a huge company and sporting institution that thought small. And he saw Ferguson constantly bowing to the pressure to come up with short-term solutions to long-term problems. | Updated | More >>



What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report

Protesters confront John Yoo, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, as he makes his way to a classroom. About 75 demonstrators called for the university to fire Yoo, a former Bush administration attorney, who wrote legal memos used to support harsh interrogation techniques that critics say constituted torture. | AP/Noah Berger

Glenn Greenwald, Salon | The release today of the 2004 CIA’s Inspector General Report (.pdf) underscores how unjust it would be to prosecute only low-level interrogators rather than the high-level officials who implemented the torture regime.

Before saying anything about the implications of this Report, I want to post some excerpts of what CIA interrogators did. Every American should be forced to read and learn this in order to know what was done in their names. | Updated | More >>

Going for Broke | 09.08.26

Robert Wright thinks there can be a ‘grand bargain’ on evolution. But there’s no such thing as a compromise in a culture war. | Updated | More >>

Mining the Web for Feelings, Not Facts | 09.08.24

Alex Wright, The New York Times | An emerging field known as sentiment analysis is taking shape around one of the computer world’s unexplored frontiers: translating the vagaries of human emotion into hard data. | Updated | More >>

Related: Scrapping Privacy To Save News | Forbes 09.08.25

Turning conventional wisdom on its beard | 09.08.26

Dr. Weil’s kooky diagnosis; Off the McCain-O-Meter, rocker; My software is better than yours; AND: Somewhere, Phife Dawg is sobbing to himself gently. | Updated | More >>



Stranded, abandoned, abroad

From Mexico to Nairobi, they wait in vain for help from ‘amateur-hour’ Canadian officials

Anab Issa holds a photo of her autistic son, Abdihakim Mohamed, at her home in Ottawa. Mohamed, 25, has been stuck in Kenya since 2006, when Canadian officials denied his identity and refused him a passport. | Christopher Pike / The Toronto Star

Linda Diebel, The Toronto Star | Anab Issa’s 25-year-old autistic son, Abdihakim Mohamed, is stuck halfway around the world in Nairobi, Kenya, stateless and without proper care, while she fights to prove he’s a Canadian citizen so she can bring him home.

Sound familiar? It’s yet another story of a lost Canadian, among scores abandoned by the federal government and dumped among the world’s stateless pariahs. | Updated | More >>

The Woman Behind Health Care Lies | 09.08.21

James Fallows, The Atlantic Monthly | I have been far too soft on Betsy McCaughey. Even when conferring on her the title of "most destructive effect on public discourse by a single person" for the 1990s. She is way less responsible and tethered to the world of "normal" facts and discourse than I had imagined. | Updated | More >>

Related: Obama calls out health care "lies" | WaPo 09.08.19

The Jerks Who Call The Shots | 09.08.22

Lockerbie’s most responsible asshole; Toronto, John Baird’s wascally wabbit; Bill Moyers on health care reform; AND: The Ice Cream Man Cometh | Updated | More >>

William Calley apologizes for My Lai massacre | 09.08.21

Dick McMichael, Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer | “There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai,” Calley told members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus on Wednesday. | Updated | More >>

Obama’s Trust Problem | 09.08.20

Paul Krugman, The New York Times | The fight over the public option involves real policy substance, but it’s also a proxy for broader questions about the president’s priorities and overall approach. | Updated | More >>



Treasures From an Underground Trove

National Geographic’s Treasures A photograph by Herbert G. Ponting of Capt. Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition ship Terra Nova is framed by an ice grotto in Antarctica circa 1911-1912. | Herbert G. Ponting/National Geographic Society and Steven Kasher Gallery via The Times. | More Photos >>

Randy Kennedy, The New York Times | For many years there has been a kind of secret museum of photography under the streets of northwest Washington — an immense, windowless, climate-controlled archive with roots reaching back more than a century.

And since the early 1980s just one man, William C. Bonner, has been the museum’s primary denizen, becoming intimately familiar with its holdings: more than 11 million images richly documenting the life of the 20th century, from Uganda to the Mississippi Delta to remote lamaseries near the Mongolian border. “People don’t realize how beautiful this collection is,” Mr. Bonner said, “and it’s a shame, in a way, that I’m the only one who’s seen many of these pictures.” | Updated | More >>

Torturer’s Shill | 09.08.20

Michael Ignatieff outright condemns torture in his book, “The Lesser Evil.” So why do the rest of his arguments sound like John Yoo? | Updated | More >>

What rebound? | 09.08.20

Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers | Delinquency and foreclosure rates for U.S. mortgages continued to rise in the second quarter, with loans to the most qualified borrowers going bust at an unnerving clip, especially in hard-hit states such as Florida and California. | Updated | More >>

Bob Novak, Valerie Plame, and Me | 09.08.18

Matthew Cooper, The Atlantic Monthly | There were things to admire about Robert Novak, who died today at 78, there was a lot in Novak not to like. It wasn’t his politics that was infuriating. It was his arch, cutting style that made him one of the journalists I wanted to avoid becoming. And it was his behavior in the CIA leak case that made me think still less of him. | Updated | More >>



Tax and Spend, or Face The Consequences

The future looks less egalitarian than the past, leaving us with no choice.

Unknown Source

Gregory Clark, The Washington Post | At some point, the Great Recession will end. Newsweek even says it’s already over. Whenever it happens, we will see that the downturn was but a minor blip in the long story of the economy.

In the next chapter, abundance beckons — for some. Advances in technology drive economic growth, and there is no sign that they are slackening. The American economy is likely to continue unabated on the upward path that began with the Industrial Revolution.

No, the economic problems of the future will not be about growth but about something more nettlesome: the ineluctable increase in the number of people with no marketable skills, and technology’s role not as the antidote to social conflict, but as its instigator.

The battle will be over how to get the economy’s winners to pay for an increasingly costly poor. | Updated | More >>

After The Ink Dries | 09.08.17

This Week in Unnecessary Censorship (no, not Jimmy Kimmel’s only funny bit); A little late for apologies—except there isn’t one; More arrogant Canadian analysis; AND: Cool like... what?! | Updated | More >>

In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition | 09.08.16

Rick Perlstein, The Washington Post | So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers — these are "either" the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? If you don’t understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can’t understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests. | Updated | More >>

Related Article: Town Halls by Invitation: A More Representative Option | NYT 09.08.15

Former Congressional Leader Departs Lobbying Firm | 09.08.14

David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times | WASHINGTON—Dick Armey, the former House Republican leader, has quit his job with the lobbying firm DLA Piper amid complaints from the firm’s drug company clients about his work opposing President Obama’s health care overhaul. | Updated | More >>



Interrogation Inc.

2 U.S. Architects of Harsh Tactics in 9/11’s Wake

Dr. Bruce Jessen (R inset) joined his Air Force colleague Dr. Jim Mitchell (L inset) to build a thriving business that made millions of dollars selling interrogation and training services to the C.I.A. | Chip Somodevilla / Getty via Time and ABC News via NYT (insets)

Scott Shane, The New York Times | WASHINGTON — Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were military retirees and psychologists, on the lookout for business opportunities. They found an excellent customer in the Central Intelligence Agency, where in 2002 they became the architects of the most important interrogation program in the history of American counterterrorism.

They had never carried out a real interrogation, only mock sessions in the military training they had overseen. They had no relevant scholarship; their Ph.D. dissertations were on high blood pressure and family therapy. They had no language skills and no expertise on Al Qaeda.

But they had psychology credentials and an intimate knowledge of a brutal treatment regimen used decades ago by Chinese Communists. For an administration eager to get tough on those who had killed 3,000 Americans, that was enough.

So “Doc Mitchell” and “Doc Jessen,” as they had been known in the Air Force, helped lead the United States into a wrenching conflict over torture, terror and values that seven years later has not run its course. | Updated | More >>

Related Article: On 11th Try, Man Convicted in ’91 Killing Gets Hearing | NYT 09.08.13

Why Canadians can’t talk about America | 09.08.15

Reading the Toronto Star, you might get the impression that Canadians know nothing about political reality in the United States.

Take this article in today’s Star, pretentiously titled "Why Americans can’t talk about health care." If I were doing one of my actual title gags, it would go something like this:

Stupid, Right-Wing Americans, Disagreeing, Are Going Nowhere On Health Care | Updated | More >>

Related Article: Thousands Line Up for Promise of Free Health Care | NYT 09.08.12

Whose fault is it? | 09.08.12

Allan Woods and Lesley Ciarula Taylor, The Toronto Star | Nothing in Canadian law stops the government from "picking and choosing" which Canadians it will help and who it will abandon, a former senior diplomat warns. | Updated | More >>

Can Running Actually Help Your Knees? | 09.08.11

Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times | Despite entrenched mythology to the contrary, runners don’t seem prone to degenerating knees. Instead, recent evidence suggests that running may actually help. | Updated | More >>



The beautiful face of a beastly regime

Model Chrystal Callahan is an unlikely TV star in Chechnya. How did a nice Toronto girl become the distracting face of a repressive regime?

Chrystal Callahan, who began presenting news on state-run TV within weeks of arriving in Chechnya, insists she feels safe in the war-weary republic. | Said Tsarnayev / Reuters via The Star

Allan Woods, The Toronto Star | Chrystal Callahan received a dignitary’s treatment the first time she arrived in Chechnya in 2007. She was there to film a documentary about the effects of war on a team of young Greco-Roman wrestlers and she ended up sharing coffee and ice cream with President Ramzan Kadyrov, a fearsome 30-year-old leader installed by the Kremlin months earlier.

When the Toronto native returned to the war-weary Russian republic this summer, the Chechen government made her a television star. Within weeks of her arrival, Callahan, a former model, was presenting the news on state-run Grozny TV.

But Callahan’s beautiful face is fronting for a beastly regime that has used force and fear to bring an uneasy calm to the republic after 15 years and two brutal wars against Islamic separatists. She insists she has complete journalistic freedom even if there are frequent mentions in every show of Kadyrov, a leader whose loyalty to Moscow has made him impervious to accusations of kidnap, torture, murder and a host of human rights abuses. | Updated | More >>

It doesn’t take Stephen Hawking to figure this one out | 09.08.10

Jay Bookman, Atlanta Journal Constitution | Anti-health care reform activists have gone full-blown lunatic on us. Take the editors at Investors Business Daily, who think physicist Stephen Hawking “wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K.” when he’s lived there his whole life. | Updated | More >>

Related Article: The Constitution Says Obama Can’t Be President. And Neither Could Reagan. | HuffPo 09.08.03

Oh, Article, Where Is Thy Point? | 09.08.11

Maybe it’s my contempt for the whole premise of the New York Times blog series ("Happy Days: The Pursuit Of What Matters in Troubled Times" sounds like an evangelical pamphlet from 1991), but I’ll give you the original title anyways, which gets at the piece’s true profundity:

People Should Be Happy Being Stung by Bees—and By LIFE

Photo: Donald Marshall | 09.08.10

The casket containing the remains of Mi’kmaq icon Donald Marshall Jr. is carried out of Saint Anthony Daniel Church in Sydney, N.S., today. He was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1971 and served 11 years in prison before being acquitted. | Paul Darrow / Reuters via The Star



The Rat Race of the Future

Cathy Hull / NY Times

G. Pascal Zachary’s great thought piece in the Times from March, 2007 (“Is the Key to Creativity in Your Pillbox, or in Your PC?)’ caught my eye this week because it got the right answer in its false dichotomy—whether pharmaceuticals or the Internet in some future form will better be able to boost people’s smarts—and because it gets at the core problem in the debate over the nature of intelligence: Where does it actually come from?

Zachary, a journalism professor at Stanford, said pills might do more harm than good for someone wanting to boost her brains:

The real risk of performance enhancers is the problem of diminishing returns. Knowledge workers, powered by biochemical enhancers, may realize only too late that a favored enhancer masks a flaw in their intellectual approach to a problem. The creativity shortcut could actually place a person in a delusional state in which weak ideas are mistaken for strong ones.

But it gets better. Although he doesn’t quite say it here, Zachary must have understood that human intelligence can’t be purely biological, as a brain bolus might imply, but something to do with how humans interact with each other—specifically, how they communally share and parse information. | Updated | More >>

Related Article: Students Pay Services To Obtain Internships | NY Times 09.08.08

Politkovskaya murder retrial opens | 09.08.06

AlJazeera | A Russian military court in Moscow has started a new trial into the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist and staunch critic of the Kremlin who was shot in 2006. A former police investigator is charged. | Updated | More >>

A Scrap of Decency | 09.08.04

Bharati Chaturvedi, The New York Times | Among those suffering from the global recession are millions of workers who are not even included in the official statistics: urban recyclers—the trash pickers, sorters, traders and reprocessors who do the vital job of extricating paper, cardboard and plastics from garbage heaps and prepare them for reuse. | Updated | More >>

Related Article: Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor? | NY Times 09.08.08

Related Article: Where Were The Environmentalists During Toronto’s Garbage Strike? | The Star 09.08.03

Broadcast TV faces a hard economic reality | 09.08.07

CBC News | Besides CanWest, CBS, NBC, ABC, CTV and the CBC have all been scrambling to deal with collapsing advertising revenue and dropping viewership, siphoned off by increasingly attractive internet offerings. | Updated | More >>



The Hip-Hopcalypse Is Nigh!

Jay-Z thinks AutoTune, the software made famous by people who can’t really sing but manage to sell music anyways, should be shot into the sun (to a beat by No ID). For once, I agree with Jay-Z, as he has successfully divined one of the sure signs that the End Times are near.

Hip-hop is, happily, alive for those who care to look. But it’s dead, oh so dead, for those who only want to make a buck. And though they should have seen it coming, shit-hoppers fiddled with their bling (there’s a word to put behind us when the decade is over) while Beat Street (and Wall Street) burned. Here are the Eight Signs of the Hip-Hopcalypse. | Updated | More >>

What’s Not to Like? | 09.07.31

Jonathan Alter, Newsweek | I’m with that woman who wrote the president complaining about "socialized medicine" and added: "Now keep your hands off my Medicare." That’s the spirit! | Updated | More >>

Related Article: Bill Kristol Has It Exactly Backwards on Medicare | Washington Monthly 09.07.28

Related Article: Experts Say Ad Slamming Canadian Health Care A Tall Tale | CBC News 09.07.31

The ink blots say “recovery” | 09.08.04

Is it just me, or are psychologists raging against Wikipedia stuck in 1938?; Green shoots my ass; AND: Is bandwagon economic nationalism giving you a headache, too, Thomas Walkom? | Updated | More >>



Doom & Groom

Why I Don’t Read Ross Douthat

Like his fellow Times conservative David Brooks, Ross Douthat is more interested in showing the world that he is thinking really hard than coming up with ideas that are worth a read. It’s like getting credit for showing your work, but still getting the answer absurdly wrong. Star for you!

But there’s a difference with Douthat: Down-low neocon street cred—with a fantastic beard. | Updated | More >>

Markets Can’t Cure Healthcare | 09.07.25

Paul Krugman, The New York Times | One of the most influential economic papers of the postwar era was Kenneth Arrow’s Uncertainty and the welfare economics of health care, which demonstrated—decisively, I and many others believe—that health care can’t be marketed like bread or TVs. | Updated | More >>

Craft Brewers Fight For Survival | 09.07.27

CBC News | Specialty beer makers tout their drink-making philosophy but, in weak financial times when drinkers prefer equally anemic brews, face an uphill battle in actually turning a profit. | Updated | More >>

Let’s Kill HAL Before We Invent Him | 09.07.25

From a rather silly article in the New York Times, featuring some leading scientists who worry that robots might take over and fuck things up, like, tomorrow:

Super-Smart Scientists, Finding Something They Don’t Understand, Cower



A Railway Out of Manhattan

Visitors on the Gansevoort Street end of the High Line, a park on an elevated railway on the West Side of Manhattan. | Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Diane Cardwell, The New York Times | The High Line is still under construction, with orange-vested workers busily adding last-minute touches. Yet the park, perched on an old elevated railway on the West Side of Manhattan, already seems like a permanent fixture, almost a small town in the air.

It has its own mobile skyline in the steady stream of heads (or, in the rain, umbrellas) bobbing above the trestle. It has its own economy, including the $15 High Line Picnic Baskets for sale at Friedman’s Lunch at the Chelsea Market (sandwich, cole slaw, pickle, chips, cookie, beverage). It has its own art scene, drawing students from Parsons sketching panoramas, and photographers armed with devices from cellphones to Leicas. It has its own neighborhoods and hot spots, shifting in feel throughout the day.

A little more than a month since its first stretch opened, the High Line is a hit, and not just with tourists but with New Yorkers who are openly relishing a place where they can reflect and relax enough to get a new perspective on Manhattan. | Updated | More >>

Ottawa is the bad guy in Abdelrazik’s cautionary tale | 09.07.24

Thomas Walkom, The Toronto Star | The most disturbing aspect of the Abousfian Abdelrazik case is the casually arbitrary way in which the federal government treats Canadian citizens. | Updated | More >>

Related Article: Abdelrazik describes details of interrogation in Sudan | The Toronto Star 09.07.23

President Obama, Professor Gates and the Cambridge Police | 09.07.23

Brent Staples, The New York Times | Successful African-Americans are often employed as weapons in the age-old campaign to discredit, and even demean, the disadvantaged. | Updated | More >>

Related Article: Henry Louis Gates: Déjà Vu All Over Again | The Times 09.07.24

Palin signs state sovereignty resolution | 09.07.21

Alex Koppelman, Salon | If Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin does decide to run for president in 2012, and then ends up winning, things are going to get mighty awkward once she’s in office. | Updated | More >>



Celebrating Cronkite while ignoring what he did

Glenn Greenwald, Salon | “The Vietcong did not win by a knockout [in the Tet Offensive], but neither did we. The referees of history may make it a draw. . . . We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. . . .

“For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. . . . To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past”Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News, February 27, 1968.

“I think there are a lot of critics who think that [in the run-up to the Iraq War] . . . . if we did not stand up and say this is bogus, and you’re a liar, and why are you doing this, that we didn’t do our job. I respectfully disagree. It’s not our role”David Gregory, MSNBC, May 28, 2008. | Updated | More >>

Spot.Us preps for expansion | 09.06.29

Zachary M. Seward, Nieman Journalism Lab | Spot.Us, the non-profit experiment in journalism funded by readers, plans to expand beyond San Francisco by the end of summer, founder David Cohn tells me in an interview. | Updated | More >>

From Anita Hill to Sonia Sotomayor | 09.07.18

Jill Abramson, The New York Times | Together, their experiences before the committee summarize a change in recent American politics. Professor Hill’s treatment by an all-male Judiciary panel presaged an outcry of “They just don’t get it!” and the election of many more women to the Congress. And the atmosphere of those earlier proceedings also insured a far tamer set of hearings this time, as neither Republicans nor Democrats have wanted to face the kind of damage inflicted by the partisan circus of 1991. | Updated | More >>

How To Destroy (Almost) Half the Planet for the Low, Low Price of Just 5% of Global GDP | 09.06.29

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight | Climate change will reduce global GDP by "only" 5 percent one hundred years hence, writes Jim Manzi. Let’s see how much of the world we can destroy before getting to 5% of global GDP. | Updated | More >>

Great Timing, Jerks | 09.07.13

The Canadian Press | Canadian coffee giant Tim Horton’s says it is opening 12 new locations in New York City, with three more planned for August. | Updated | More >>



Why is the Islamic world silent about the Uighurs?

Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Moisés Naím, Foreign Policy | Where are the fatwas? The angry marches in front of embassies, the indignant speeches? Where are al Qaeda’s videos? In short, what does China have that Denmark did not? China has been actively discriminating against Muslims, and recently a number of them have been killed in violent street riots.

In Denmark a newspaper printed cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and the Muslim world erupted in anger. Today that same Muslim world seems to be mute, deaf, and blind, and is oblivious to the violence and discrimination suffered by the Uighurs, a Muslim minority group, at the hands of the Chinese government. | Updated | More >>

Why We Must Ration Health Care | 09.07.15

Peter Singer, The New York Times | The way we regard rationing in health care seems to rest on a the assumption that it’s immoral to apply monetary considerations to saving lives—but is that stance tenable? | Updated | More >>

The Washington Post’s credibility problem | 09.07.13

Ralph Ranalli, Beat The Press | After reading Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander’s lengthy takeout on the paper’s pay-to-play dinners scandal, it was hard not to come away with the feeling that the Post now has as big an issue with credibility as it does with ethics. | Updated | More >>

Related Article: A Sponsorship Scandal at The Post | WaPo 09.07.12

Amazon Remotely Erases Orwell From Kindles | 09.07.17

Brad Stone, The New York Times | In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of “1984” and “Animal Farm” from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them. | Updated | More >>

Give Canadians the choice of Al Jazeera TV | 09.07.16

Haroon Siddiqui, The Toronto Star | The most vocal critics of human rights commissions often invoke freedom of speech. Yet they were strangely silent when Ottawa effectively blocked Al Jazeera Arabic TV’s entry into Canada in 2004. And they are mostly silent now about Al Jazeera English’s application before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. | Updated | More >>



Scorched Earth

Ignatieff’s embrace of the oil sands is both cynical and self-defeating.

Exploitation of Alberta’s oil sands is now a gamble worth billions. | Peter Essick / The National Geographic

Where to begin? According to The Toronto Star, Michael Ignatieff told a crowd of Calgary Liberals that Alberta was the "beating heart of the Canadian economy, the beating heart of the future of our country." (Never mind that Ontario is still a full third of the Canadian economy and has twice Alberta’s economic output without the luck of having one of the world’s largest energy stores.) For Ignatieff is now a huge fan of the "awe-inspiring" Alberta oil sands, defending them even after National Geographic published a damning story on the country-sized mess out West.

"No other country in the world would toss away such an advantage with a moratorium or a pause or a stoppage," the Liberal leader said to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, according to Star columnist Gillian Steward, in a not-so-subtle dig at his predecessor’s green plan.

That doesn’t sound like the conscientious, principled progressive intellectual some might make Ignatieff out to be. In fact, it sounds more like Rod "you don’t just give it away" Blagojevitch, or any number of tin-pot dictators sitting on valuable natural resources they’d leverage for Tolkien’s ring of power.

Ignatieff, in fact, sounded like a politician—but rather, like the craven, cynical image that a Harvard-bred human rights champion might have in his head when he thinks of a politician. For Michael Ignatieff, known all too well for pandering and gaffing in the same breath, is not a crafty, Machiavellian schemer who knows the means to his well-defined end. He’s no politician at all. Iggy just plays a cartoon version of one on TV. | Updated | More >>

Related Article: Canada dead last on green list | The Star 09.07.01

U.S. Wiretapping of Limited Value, Officials Report | 09.07.10

Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, The New York Times | While the Bush administration had defended its program of wiretapping without warrants as a vital tool that saved lives, a new government review released Friday said the program’s effectiveness in fighting terrorism was unclear. | Updated | More >>

Related Article: Cheney Is Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project | NYT 09.07.11




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