Tuesday, September 30, 2003

A shortage of cement

The NYT has a story about how states are cutting back on the cost of prisons by feeding the prisoners less food. That way you can fit more in a cell, too.

David Corn has a column on McClelland’s evasions on Plame-gate, which unless someone comes up with a name that isn’t crap is how I’ll be referring to the leaking to Robert Novak of the name of the wife of Amb. Joseph Wilson. (Later: the Post has Leakgate. We can do better.) Corn says “Pity McClellan. He has a tough task--to depict the president as caring about the leak even though he is doing nothing about it.” The lefties trying to use Plame-gate to damage Bush, like Corn, have their own difficulties. I haven’t checked his other columns on this subject (Corn was on this one early and often--I cited him on this subject July 22--my, it took the mainstream media a long time to catch up), but this column seems to make a point of not using Valerie Plame’s name, I guess to prove that he’s more patriotic than Novak (Later: Jim Lehrer did the same thing today). Corn and the bloggers who are all over this also have to pretend that they care about the damage to the career of a CIA officer--oh dear, she won’t be able to secretly meet with moles inside the governments of nations we’re trying to overthrow--and consider violation of the 1982 law to be akin to treason. Funny, I was opposed to that law in 1982 and I’ll bet Corn was too. Here’s some really overblown rhetoric from TomPaine.com: “The facts of this story are singularly grotesque. Taken at the top layer, you have a White House that appears perfectly willing to go after the family members of its critics. Valerie Plame's career is destroyed, period. The act itself displays a level of viciousness that is dangerous to the functioning of this, or any, democracy.” Me oh my. Look, by all means go after the Bushies for their vindictiveness and sneakiness and hypocrisy, make McClellan squirm, bring up the Shrub quote about people who release agents’ names being lower than the lowest of the really pretty darn low, attack Ashcroft’s ability to conduct a fair investigation (he already gave the White House a day’s head start to destroy evidence before issuing an order not to), and let’s find out if Rove really was fired by Bush the Elder for sliming Mosbacher to Robert Novak in 1992, but let’s not be quite so hypocritical.

Krugman’s column today (Tues.) does something in discussing the cronyism behind the contracts to rebuild Iraq that no one else has done: since the Bushies are comparing this to the Marshall Plan, Krugman talks about the special efforts Truman took to make sure there was no post-war profiteering.

Something I missed: when Paul Bremer was asked in Congress why he was asking for $400m. to build a 4,000-bed prison, he said that there was a shortage of cement in Iraq and it needed to be imported. A shortage of cement. They could mine his head and get all the cement they need.

With my memories of the Reagan administration thankfully fading somewhat, it’s hard to compare whether Ed Meese was more godawful an attorney general than Ashcroft is, but his reaction today to a question about the Patriot Act may give a clue: “Librarians are more interested in pushing pornography on kids than fighting terrorism!”

Sydney Schanberg (ya know, Sam Waterston in The Killing Fields) has read Wesley Clark’s forthcoming book, which says some interesting things about how badly the Bushies screwed up in their wars on terrorism, Afghanistan, etc. Sam, I mean Sydney, asks the question: so why didn’t you mention any of this before, Wes?

Just saw an ad for McClintock. It cites a poll to show that he is gaining momentum and has a chance of winning. When you spend your hard-earned (well ok, Indian casino) money trying to prove your viability rather than your competence, not to convince people but to convince people that other people are convinced, you don’t deserve to win. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a campaign ad citing favorable polls before. And, as usual, there’s an Onion piece that relates to this point.

Of course Arianna’s withdrawal in favor of Gray Davis is worse, and sillier, and I could say more but at this point it feels like a waste of words to use them on her. And we know how she hates waste.

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