Friday, November 04, 2005

Insta-Hoglets 4th Nov.

When there's a lot going on, then I don't always get time to write about everything I want to. When the files get full, it's time for another bunch of punchposts with a dose of snark.

  • From Crooked Timber, Chris Bertram brings us the news that the Land of The Free is now the Land of The Incarcerated - seven million Americans are in prison (more than China has locked away!) - the highest per capita rate in the world.

  • Over at Economist's View , Prof Mark Thoma reminisces about his college days and compares tuition costs then and now. He wonders Given how tuition costs have risen since then, I often wonder how many people like me are now in dead end jobs at their tractor store, in jail, who knows where, all because they don't have the opportunity I had.

    This is why free (i.e. Federally funded) education "as far as you can go" should be a basic platform plank for any and all progressives. Its one of the few ways to turn poor folks into not poor folks. Not just the person helped, but so many their life then touches. Its not nanny-stateism, its investment that pays off tenfold and more.

  • Confirmation of something that everyone except the cheerleaders already knew - former Powell aide Col. Lawrence Wilkerson says Dick Cheney was responsible for directives that led to U.S. soldiers' abuse of prisoners.

    "There was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office through the secretary of defense, down to the commanders in the field," authorizing practices that led to the abuse of detainees, Wilkerson said.
    Wilkerson also called David Addington, then the vice president's lawyer and now his new chief of staff replacing Scooter Libby, "a staunch advocate of allowing the president in his capacity as commander in chief to deviate from the Geneva Conventions."

  • The Senate voted 51-48 yesterday to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - three Democrats (Akaka, Hawaii; Inouye, Hawaii; Landrieu, La.) actually voted to allow drilling. However, Canadian Business News reports that the U.S. oil industry is not likely to heed calls to spend profits on new refineries. That means the price would stay high and the new drilling would just increase stockpiles (and profits).

  • You expected Libby to plead not guilty, didn't you? I bet you also expected to see more cronies rush to help - and you were right. Libby's defense team includes trial lawyers Ted Wells and William Jeffress. Wells has a lot of experience in getting allegedly crooked politicos from both the Reagan and Clinton administrations off the hook. Jeffress is from the firm Baker Botts, where Bush family friend and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III is a senior partner. Former Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock also will assist Libby's defense team.

  • Would you be surprised to learn that most Army recruits come from poor areas, not the middle-class suburbia inhabited by the Pyjama-Brigade chickenhawks of rightwing blogging?

    Most military recruits in the United States come from areas in which household income is lower than the national median, a non-profit group says.

    Nearly two-thirds, 64 percent, of recruits to the military were from counties that have average incomes lower than the national median National Priorities Project said. The group looked at Department of Defense data for 2004.

    no, neither was I.

  • The State Department seems to think that prisoners held by the U.S. abroad are Prisoners of War as defined by the Geneva Convention.

    "There is no question that under the law of armed conflict, the United States has the authority to detain persons who have engaged in unlawful belligerence until the cessation of hostilities," said the October 21 report, which was recently published on the State Department's Web site (

    "Like other wars, when they start we do not know when they will end. Still, we may detain combatants until the end of the war," the report said.

    That means you cannot keep them in secret without revealing their names and locations, you have to allow access by humanitarian groups and you cannot torture them (or allow them to be tortured) for information. The last would be a war crime.

    Could someone tell Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld?
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