28 January 2006

Day of Remembrance

Every five year old harbors some desire to be an astronaut, to travel in space. My desire bordered on obsession. Being buckled into my seatbelt was preparation for blast-off. My bedroom became the shuttle. We pretended to walk on the moon every afternoon during recess. I likely knew more about the Apollo and Gemini missions at five than I do now. Neil Armstrong was my hero.

So it was with rapt attention that I stared at the television that had been wheeled into my classroom twenty years ago this morning. Every child and every teacher knew the names of the astronauts, but we were there to cheer on one above all the others, Christa McAuliffe. She was a teacher, just an ordinary teacher, about to be thrust into space. She was born in Framingham, not far from where we sat. She taught in New Hampshire. A real, regular person, who looked and sounded like our mothers, would be going into space, the first civilian to do so. We sat and watched, wishing that she were our teacher and that we were going with her.

That day turned out not to be the celebration that had been anticipated, but a day of national mourning. 73 seconds after lift-off, the shuttle disintegrated and disappeared into a cloud of smoke. All the crew members died. I don't remember much about the rest of that day. Lunch was rather quiet and there wasn't much playing during recess.

My mother has the Time with a photograph of the disaster on its cover. It's still hard to look at. Most events like this, no matter how tragic, seem less so as time passes. The Challenger disaster, however, hits me in the same way now as it did that morning. I go back to being a five year old, unable to understand for a moment why the shuttle disappeared in that cloud of smoke, before the inevitable realization of what I had just watched.

"We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."
Forgive the sappiness.

27 January 2006

Ridiculous

Just when you thought that the Bush Administration, particularly the activities of its tentacles in the NSA and DoD, could get no worse and counter to democratic principles, this happens:
U.S. forces in Iraq, in two instances described in military documents, took custody of the wives of men believed to be insurgents in an apparent attempt to pressure the suspects into giving themselves up.

Both incidents occurred in 2004. In one, members of a shadowy military task force seized a mother who had three young children, still nursing the youngest, "in order to leverage" her husband's surrender, according to an account by a civilian Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence officer.

[...]

In the other case, a U.S. lieutenant colonel e-mailed, "What are you guys doing to try to get the husband — have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to come get his wife? … or something more sophisticated, I suspect, from the 'not necessarily the cool guys, but the guys with the cool stuff?"'

I don't know how much more international shame they can heap on our country before we break. (via Andrew Sullivan)

Unlucky

Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a single game of basketball earlier this week. Only one person had ever scored more in a single game, Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 100 points 44 years ago. Chamberlain's game took place in a small arena in Hershey, PA; Bryant's in Los Angeles. You might think to yourself, what are the odds that someone went to both games? Probably pretty small. But more likely than this story:
Stern, a vice chairman of a Los Angeles asset management firm, was an 18-year-old sophomore at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., in 1962 when he bought two tickets to see the then-Philadelphia Warriors play the New York Knicks in nearby Hershey. But when one of his professors scheduled a test for the next day, Stern gave the tickets away -- and thus failed to see Wilt Chamberlain score 100 points.

Now Stern is a Lakers season ticket-holder, meaning he had tickets to see Sunday's game against the Raptors. But Stern opted to attend a birthday party instead -- and thus failed to see Kobe's 81-point outburst.

"Two historic games, 44 years and 3,000 miles apart with one common thread -- stupid me," Stern told the Los Angeles Times.
I'm buying that guy tickets to Josh Beckett's first start and then telling him not to come. I predict a perfect game and 23 Ks.

Weekend Extravaganza

Billy: Back to school, back to school, to prove to Dad that I'm not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my shoes tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight.

This is my last weekend before I return to school and love Jesus full-time, which means I can only do this even more part-time. I'm still working on my Deus caritas est post, but for the most part, it's time for the inevitable slow-down.

That will not stop me, however, from bringing you happy Friday funstuffs. I suggest trying to enjoy this video of next Tuesday's State of the Union, and perusing what may be the greatest collection of photographs in the history of rock-and-roll. There you have it. Now go get drunk.

Even counting the work done by myDD and Swing State Project, this is the most comprehensive compiling of polling data I've seen since the 2004 election. Over at dkos, user dreaminonempty has a thorough look at Bush's approval ratings from November through January, complete with pretty maps. Even if the information as useless as I've been led to believe concerning past posts on polling data, it's still fun to pretend. So, go, and pretend away.

UPDATE:So, that was me putting my foot in my mouth a little bit there. The folks at myDD have just released the first numbers from their poll, and more should be coming. I can't believe I forgot about their tremendous effort. Not only did they compile data from other polls, they put their own in the field. Check it out.

UPDATE 2: I have been shamed. There are many polling outfits that bust their asses to discern public opinion and disseminate that important information to us. One such outfit, a tremendous resource, is 0 comments links to this post

Romney in the Globe

In an article in this morning's Globe, Gov. Mitt Romney describes how his Mormon faith will help him win the Republican nomintation for President in 2008. While I'm skeptical that it will help him, I don't think it will particularly hurt him either. That, however, is not the most interesting piece of the article.

When asked how he would have differed from President Bush in handling certain issues and events, there was this nugget:

''Going in [to Iraq], we wouldn't have rested our entire case on weapons of mass destruction, had we known that when we got there, we wouldn't be able to find them," Romney said of the US invasion of Iraq. ''We probably would have explained to the American people in great depth -- and the world community -- the broader set of reasons for the president's decision to enter Iraq."
Mitt Romney thinks that the Bush Administration knew there were no WMDs at the outset of the case for war with Iraq. Now, this is by no means a new idea for many liberals, progressives and, really, disinterested observers. But for a high-level Republican --- Romney is the head of the Republican Governor's Association --- to admit such a thing is something different altogether. This statement ought to be brought up to Romney again and again, in order to bring the focus back on the specious rationale of the war and --- failing that --- to destroy Romney's very slim chances for attatining the Republican nomination.

(I'm trying a new publishing software this morning, so this post may not be formatted correctly. If you have problems reading this, let me know in the comments.)

26 January 2006

Bill Arkin on the "Long War"

Now, I haven't read the Pentagon's Quadrennial Review. I don't plan to, either. The Washington Post's Bill Arkin has, however, and responds to the theory that we're in the early stages of what the document calls, ominously, "Long War." That's right, no longer War on Terror, but Long War. A twenty year military engagement confronting "extremist nextworks," according to Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Let's turn it over to Arkin:
Let me be clear that there are two reasons I reject the long war characterization: I think it is intellectually shallow to compare terrorists, "extremist networks," Islamic Jihadists, or radical Islam with our enemies during the Cold War or the Second World War, who could have indeed destroyed our societies. Intellectually shallow sounds like a pretty weak attack, but I mean to suggest that this administration has the wrong vision of both the severity of the threat terrorists present to our societies.

[...]

Terrorists can not destroy America. Every day we articulate a long war, every time we pretend we are fighting for our survival we not only confer greater power and importance to terrorists than they deserve but we also at the same time act as their main recruiting agent by suggesting that they have the slightest potential for success.

The Bush administration has been in panic mode since 9/11, and though it has tripped upon sometimes improved articulations of what it is doing to respond to the scourge of modern terrorism, it has both the wrong vision of the severity of the threat and it has shown itself, in four years of fighting, that no matter how much it articulates that the United States and the world must use all aspects of their power to thwart and defeat terrorism, the Bush administration is only comfortable with the military response, and it is only really happy with secret operations.
Not only is Long War a vague exercise against an amigious string of enemies against which victory could hardly be quantified, but its time-frame can only be acknowledged as arbitrary to the point of meaningless: does the expiration of the 20 years mean the total eradication of extremism from the face of the earth, or is it merely a tool to further rationalize the increasingly militaristic, secretive and mendacious executive branch? Arkin has his own theory:
This is bureaucratic sleight of hand to make the Iraq war seem as if it was somehow planned all along, a kind of losing Philippine campaign of the big long war where modern day MacArthur's can not only exclaim that they'll be back but that they are nimble enough to come back in the course of the same battle.

Here is another danger of staying fighting in Iraq: It provides the fuel to foolishly retool our military to fight the last war while stupidly allowing the administration to abuse the military institution by saddling it with the mission of solving all problems, even ones that are self-created.
Giblets has finally taken over the DoD.

25 January 2006

Maybe It Was Three-Card Monty

Tim Tagaris at the DNC Blog combines two of my favorite pastimes: gambling and systemic Republican corruption. Bob Ney(R-OH18) once went to a London casino with a convicted felon and a high-stakes gambler. He went back another time. On that trip, Ney said he turned his $100 into $34,000 after two winning hands. Tim has the odds:
I don't know how many three-card games of chance there are out there, but let's take a look at the two most popular.

1.) Baccarat:
In this game, you have the option to bet on the banker, in which a win gets you 95 cents on the dollar - yourself, which is an even money payout - or a "tie" which is an 8 to 1 windfall. Even the totally unlikely event that Ney stepped up and bet his entire roll two straight "ties" that would have yielded $800 and then $6,400 maximum. Impossible there.

2.) Let it Ride
In this game, its actually possible, but highly highly unlikely. At any rate, Ney would have had to find himself with either two straight flushes which he had a 40,000 to 1 chance of aquiring, or a combination of four of a kind or better on a maximum 100 bet, and then decided to wager the whole five-thousand dollrs in winnings in another wager, and then draw either a full-house, four of a kind, straight flush or royal flush. And because of the nature of the game (you have the option to pull back chips), in one of these instances, he was wagering at least $3,300 or 100% of his stack on a blind draw of 2 cards.

The absolute lowest probability of that happening in any combination, regardless of poor play, is 550 to 1 odds -- about the likelihood of his story being true.
Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.

Smell the booze.

Booze news from statehousenews.com:

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JAN. 25, 2006..Lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a legislative ban on any restaurant or bar in Massachusetts from offering its customers the use of an alcohol vaporizer machine, the device used mainly in Europe and marketed as the "ultimate party toy."
"This is about the epitome of irresponsible drinking," Known as Alcohol Without Liquid, or AWOL, the device attaches an oxygen generator to a handheld vaporizer and mixes hard liquor with the oxygen.
The vapor is inhaled through the nasal membrane, resulting in a quicker "high," said state Treasurer Timothy Cahill, who testified today in favor of the bill.


Do we really need to make something like this illegal? The short answer is...Yes. Yes, because you know you 17 year old cousin will get his grubby little hands on one. You know he'll try to vaporize gasoline or red bull or something else ridiculous, killing him and six of his pre-collegiate buddies. You know there will be weeks of needless, time consuming, outcry from parents flooding the media; and we will once again forget that there are still thousands of starving people in our own communities who need food a lot more than vaporizers. So, before your mom starts crying about your stupid cousin and his six dead friends, let this one slide through without too much b.s.. While were at it, let's slap anyone we know who inhales their booze rather than drinks it, for being a euro-trash pansy.

Wednesday Morning Dogma

I've spent the morning reading through the first papal encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love). I plan to have a long and thorough piece on it ready for Sunday, but I find it absolutely necessary to write a few things about it now, upon which I will expand in the later post.
First, I'll from quote Hans Kung, eminient Swiss theologian, in his response to Deus Caritas Est:
"As Catholics, we are happy that the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, isn't a manifesto of cultural pessimism or of restrictive sexual morality towards love, but to the contrary takes on central themes under the profile of theology and anthropology. ... Papa Ratzinger takes on with his inimicable theological style a richness of themes of Eros and Agape, of love and charity," and scatters "the delusions that they are different." "A good sign," said Kung, hoping that it is "received warmly, with respect."
The encyclical centers on reconciliation and the power that love of God and love of neighbor have not only on the Church but potentially on the world as a whole. Say what you will about God generally, and Catholicism specifically, but their teachings concerning social justice and charity are unparalleled. They are not suggestions, but rather commandments. Here's another piece from Rocco Palma's site, this time his own words (and I hope he doesn't mind my extensive use):
Before closing shop for the evening -- the 5am wake-up call will come quick, and with it a busy day -- there was a notable screed over at the world capital of continuous auto da fe:

[T]o liberals (even Church ones) it is UNEXPECTED and ASTONISHING that a conservative Pope has would ever speak of LOVE."


No, Benedict talking about love isn't unexpected at all. Popes are Catholic, and love is an integral part of what Catholics do -- well, at least, when they're actually living (as opposed to screaming) what they profess.

What would really be unexpected and astonishing is if the conservative base which has repeatedly repudiated Benedict since his election will actually shut up for a half an hour, let him speak, and get over themselves enough that they'll actually listen to what he's saying.
While Benedict is certainly too conservative for my liberal Protestant self, I must admit that he's been given a bad rap on both sides of the debate: conservative Catholics are calling him out for being too liberal while others (myself included) are deriding him for attempting to undo the monumental works of his predecessor. After Deus Caritas Est, though there remain certain concerns, it becomes clear that we must refrain from judgment on the whole of his papacy, especially as it concerns the Church's role in increasing justice and reducing suffering throughout across the globe.

cross-posted at Street Prophets

24 January 2006

The Definitive 2005 List

Via TBogg, Via his comments. 50 Most Loathesome People in America:
35. Michael Brown

Charges: Second fiddle to Bush’s Nero—except that while New Orleans sank, Michael Brown just fiddled with himself. A man of geological indolence, Brown makes lichens seem dynamic. Despite being woefully unqualified for his job as FEMA director, it was Brown’s lethal callousness that really astounded (and killed) so many Americans. When one of only two FEMA employees Brown had vouchsafed New Orleans wrote two days after Katrina that “the situation is past critical,” Brown responded, “Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?” When he finally arrived in Louisiana, Brown was preoccupied with demanding more time to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant, instead of sucking down an MRE and getting to work doing his incredibly important job, like a fucking man. Brown reacted to the most important moment in his life like an immature college student who realizes he’s fucking up the semester and stops going to class without telling anyone. No human being can possibly be this ineffective unless he simply doesn’t give a shit if people die.

Exhibit A: In subsequent communications, Brown asked, “Can I quit now? Can I come home?” and complained about trouble finding a dog sitter. With almost comical indifference to those actually suffering, he wrote: “I’m trapped now, please rescue me.”

Sentence: What else? Dehydrated, starved, and slowly baked to death on a Ninth Ward rooftop while repeatedly buzzed by news helicopters. Body secretly recovered and incinerated by Blackwater operatives as part of a Cheney-initiated campaign to keep casualty figures artificially low.



34. Scooter Libby

Charges: Known as “germ boy” within the administration for his obsession with creating panic over biological warfare in order to facilitate huge government vaccine purchases and alter markets to the benefit of big pharmaceutical industry stock holders like Rumsfeld, George Shultz and himself. Sound familiar? A high-level fall guy, responsible for leaking what was in the interest of profit, not leaking what wasn’t, and barking on cue to produce the noise of governance without the drawbacks of actual governance.


Exhibit A: “The Aspens turn in clusters,”or something.

Sentence: Raped by bear.



33. Johnny Damon


Charges: Any baseball player with highlights in his hair should be faced with the same penalty system applied to those using performance-enhancing steroids. It’s ruining the game. And if a ball player is going to grow a beard, it should be a Charlie Manson/Thurman Munson scraggle of bushy whiskers, not a neatly manicured and softly conditioned frame for your pretty face. The only thing that got Damon to step into line and quit hair-farming was a 52 million dollar check from the New York Yankees. Boston prayed for the multi-bladed Gillette that officially made him a Yankee to slip while gliding over his Adam’s apple and spill his lifeblood into the bathroom sink.

Exhibit A: Going from the Red Sox to the Yankees is like fucking the guy that murdered your husband.

Sentence: Killed by barrage of hurled D cell batteries when he takes the field at Fenway next season.

There are 47 more where that came from.

Why Deb Howell Isn't Important

I've not posted on the Washington Post's ombudsman Deborah Howell and her comments on Jack Abramoff and Democratic donations, because, frankly, it's damned irrelevant. Yes, she was incorrect when she wrote that Abramoff gave money to both parties. Yes, it was more than "inartfully worded" as Howie Kurtz said it was. Perhaps both had malicious intentions in their deviations from reality. Maybe they're both too proud of themselves and the institution for which they work to admit they were wrong. In the end, it doesn't amount to anything substantial.

What matters is that now the debate has been shifted from who exactly did Jack's companionship benefit to why are Democrats mean. Again, not true; but again, the truth. That's where the debate is right now, and it's because we --- as a blogosphere, not as a party --- shifted the debate from Jack Abramoff to Deborah Howell. Even if she is a shill for the Republican party, how is going after her more important than going after him?1 What we should have said was, so what?

I'll let DHinMI take it from here. This is point 4 out of 5 on what we need to stop doing:
Don't believe that you must prevail on every point. It would be very easy to say "sure, I don't know if Republican felon Jack Abramoff directed his clients to give to Democrats. But that's both easily explained, and ultimately irrelevant. The easy explanation is that his clients wanted to give to Democrats, and he was just providing cover for his real intent, which was to redirect a net increase of money to Republicans, and into his illegal schemes. And it's irrelevant because it wasn't Jack Abramoff's money, the tribes were his victims, and there's no evidence any of those donations were illegal or ethically tainted, or that the Democrats did or should have had any reason to think they were tainted donations." Instead, too many people wanted to show that Deborah Howell is wrong about every point. There's nothing wrong with conceding a small point in pursuit of the larger argument, especially when her small point can easily be dismissed as irrelevant.
Umm. Yup.

If we really want this story to gain traction, we need to make sure that Abramoff is the story. Once facts get out, this becomes quite clearly a Republican catastrophe. I'm not saying that we need to step aside and let the traditional media take of it, but we don't have to quibble with every problem. We lose sight of the big picture too often and by the time we're done bitching about it, the story's changed anyway.

Just keep saying this instead: "Republicans Duke Cunningham, Tom Delay, Bill Frist,,Bob Ney and Scooter Libby have all been indicted in the last 12 months, and more indictments are expected. No Democrat has been indicted, nor is any Democrat under investigation." Sure, it's not so catchy as, "Deb Howell sucks and she's bad at her job," but it's no less true and is exceedingly more important.

1Yes, I know we need to challenge the media and make sure they don't kowtow to the Republicans at every given opportunity. I'm not ignoring that, but we can't let our pursuit of the media become more important than our other goals. See: Daou, P.

Something Completely Different

The Red Sox, for the past few weeks, have been trying to acquire Covelli Loyce "Coco" Crisp from the Cleveland Indians for Guillermo Mota and, drumroll, Andy Marte. For the past few days, it's been rumored to be all over but the physicals. Well, hallelujiah, Mota failed his physical.

It's not that I don't think Crisp would play a fine centerfield for the Sox, nor hit adequately in the leadoff spot. All the stats indicate that he would be precisely that: fine and adequate. Marte has the potential to be an all-star and even an MVP. He's 21. He plays third. He hits for average and power. He has what those in the business call "plus skills." That means he's good now and he's likely to be great and might even be "wicked awesome" in the future. Crisp will be good, might even get to really good, but no one projects him to be great ... let alone wicked awesome.

And we have a centerfielder in our system, though way too young right now to contribute in Boston, who should shake out to be pretty damned good as well. His name is Jacob Ellsbury. He just graduated from college and most folks think he'll be ready in two years max; and when he is, his ceiling is as high as or higher than Crisp's. Why would we trade six years of cheap, potentially awesome 3B talent --- which is difficult to come by --- for two years of potentially really good CF, where you can find adequate for the price of a mediocre middle reliever (see: Jason Michaels)? The whole deal reeked of desparation. And granted we're a little desparate right now, but I thought we had moved beyond trading our future for pretty good players. Remember, the last time we had a great 3B in the minors we traded him for a pitcher named Larry Andersen.

You Cannot Be Serious

All apologies to John McEnroe, but for the love of God:
In June, 2002, Republican Sen. Michael DeWine of Ohio introduced legislation (S. 2659) which would have eliminated the exact barrier to FISA which Gen. Hayden yesterday said is what necessitated the Administration bypassing FISA.

[...]

[A]s of June, 2002 -- many months after the FISA bypass program was ordered -- the DoJ official who was responsible for overseeing the FISA warrant program was not aware (at least when he submitted this Statement) of any difficulties in obtaining warrants under the FISA "probable cause" standard, and for that reason, the Administration would not even support DeWine's amendment. If - as the Administration is now claiming - they had such significant difficulties obtaining the warrants they wanted for eavesdropping that they had to go outside of FISA, surely Baker - who was in charge of obtaining those warrants - would have been aware of them. And, if the Administration was really having the problems under FISA, they would have supported DeWine's Amendment. But they didn't.
And it turns out that White House Counsel was concerned that DeWine's amendment was actually unconstitutional as well, despite the fact that the DeWine proposal carried with it more restrictions than the current system the administration uses.

So, in 2002, James Baker ---not the James Baker --- rejected the notion that there was a need to relax the standard by which warrants were granted. In 2002, The White House Counsel's office rejected DeWine's amendment as likely unconstitutional. In 2002, Congress rejected the amendment out of hand. Yet, now we are told that the the DoJ, White House Counsel, Attorney General and Congress are all on board --- and have been --- with the vague and wide-reaching FISA warrantless wiretapping program that is being conducted?

You cannot be serious.

Ahem: I did not perform the due diligence on my reference to James Baker. The post now reads correctly on that front. I apologize for being a bed researcher for the second day in a row, not to mention the year's worth during thesis writing in 2002-03.

When Having More Homeless Is A Good Thing

It sounds rather counter-intuitive to say that Boston's nine percent rise in homelessness might be a good thing both for the city and its homeless. And, indeed, it would be a much better sign for our society had the numbers gone down. But the jump in the counted number is not necessarily a jump in actual people. Rather, those who would have evaded the system by living in cramped conditions bordering on unsafe are now participating the city's expanded care, such as increased access to shelters and transitional programs. It is not the best of circumstances, admittedly, but it is better than pretending that the additional 350-plus people aren't out there to begin with, or doing nothing to assist them in what is clearly a time of great need.

Last year, the State Legislature passed a bill that raised the assistance level to 130 percent of the federal poverty level, up from 100 percent. While in some places this might be too generous (though I'm not one so inclined), Massachusetts --- particularly Boston --- has an inflated housing market and dollars simply don't stretch as far here. For instance:
The average monthly wage for families who have jobs and are living in shelters is $1,200, said Stephanie Brown, executive director of Homes for Families. But the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Boston is $1,266.
This is a tough market to live in if you're making nearly twice that as a household. Given the above numbers, it is impossible to make it at that level. The situation is further compounded by the recent drop in federal housing subsidies (opting for the elusive-to-the-lower-class "ownership society") and state rental vouchers.

Mayor Menino, in what is not a particularly apt metaphor but one that does connect on a certain emotional level named homelessness "our Katrina." In many ways the systemic issues that preceded Katrina, such as underfunding, poor or non-existent planning, and governmental neglect, do ring true to the situation. And also, our Katrina is a tragedy, albeit one that we see peripherally every day rather than one that explodes into our conciousness in a single moment. The differences are more numerous than the similarities, yet, the similarities are important enough to bear mentioning.

Menino made the comparison in the first place because he suggests using the remnants of the 25 million dollars set aside in the Massachusetts budget for Katrina victims. Governor Romney's office was, as always, vague and non-committal, mentioning that "unspent money in the budget is routinely returned to the general fund for future expenditures."

It's no easy choice between helping those whose lives were shattered in an instant and those who have been living quiet lives of desperation. In the best of all worlds, we could help both. I'm tempted to think that Massachusetts money should help Massachusetts families, and that we could make a real dent in recovering from our Katrina with those funds; of course, I also don't know anyone personally affected by Hurricane Katrina. But it will take more than throwing money at the problem of homelessness to bring it to an end, or at least greatly reduce it. Restoring (or increasing) previous levels of rent subsidies and increasing continuing education and child care programs would be a good start, but such measures would be far from a complete solution.

23 January 2006

If You've Ever Wanted A Reason To Call Your Congressional Representative

This is it. The House version of the Patriot Act renewal includes this goody-bag for the unchecked executive:
(b)(1) Under the direction of the Director of the Secret Service, members of the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division are authorized to--

`(A) carry firearms;

`(B) make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony; and

`(C) perform such other functions and duties as are authorized by law.
YAY! Save me from terror, USSSUD! Yay! After all, as Pat Roberts said earlier, and I'm paraphrasing because I had an aneurysm while he said it: "For those of you who are worried about civil liberties, let me remind you that you can't use them if you're dead." Sometimes I wonder why we even bother with the charade anymore.

OOPS: Lest I be considered a thief, this was via TalkLeft.
DOUBLE OOPS: It's nothing new, visit the TalkLeft link above for explanation of why the "warrantless arrests" aren't big news, although given recent events, they might want to tighten the language. ... of course they don't.

Health Care 101, Syllabus and Questions

In the war between man and machine I'm armed with a chopstick. The computer ate another post this morning, but the problem has hopefully been solved. The previous post was about the health care debates that seem to be raging across the media this morning, both in newspapers and blogs. Rather than bloviate on a topic in which I have zero expertise, save to mention that I know my balky knees will at some point cost me $22,000, I will leave it to the raft of experts that have chimed in on the topic:

Beginning with Ezra Klein, who gives a comprehensive rundown of the potential effects of the national plan being offered by the White House

Moving closer to home with Charley on the MBTA and the dumbfounding proposal put out by the Massachusetts Health Care Committee

As I mentioned, I'm by no means an expert in this field, but it seems fairly obvious that the HSAs proposed by the White House and outlined by Ezra Klein could lead to a catastrophic rise in bankruptcies or defaults. He writes that
Currently, more than half of all bankruptcies are due to medical costs. Post-HSA's, expect that number to rocket upwards. Lucky thing, then, that the financial industry, along with a compliant Congress, just made it harder and costlier to declare bankruptcy.
I can only assume then that health care costs would rise in order to recoup the money lost in defaulting accounts, which would lead to more defaults, and so on.

At the same time, I certainly don't see the fairness or system-efficiency in the Massachusetts proposal either.
[Senate President] Trav[aligni] has admitted the possibility of a personal mandate; and unfortunately, [Speaker] DiMasi seems to be no longer insisting on the non-insuring employers' assessment.

Worse yet, one of the ways they're considering to raise money is increasing the surcharge on those who do provide insurance.
Such a move appears to be a blatant disincentive to those companies providing insurance by penalizing them and an incentive to those who contribute little or nothing to continue to put the onus of care on the state.

Neither of these proposals seem like solutions to what will only become a larger problem in this country as the boomer generation ages and Generation X continues having children. If there are any readers out there (which there might not be) who have any ideas or know where one might find more information on the subject, drop a line or a link in the comments. I'll gather the information and post the findings later this week. I'm especially interested in any program that would make my knee operation less-expensive whenever I decide to have it.