We can't even think of a word that rhymes ...


I did another BloggingHeads.tv thing yesterday with Mark Schmitt in which I call for the guillotining of all bloggers of whom I disapprove. It's here. I also have a new Think Again column, "No Substance, Please. We're Journalists," here.

I was struck by this story in Wired, called "The Invisible Enemy," in which Steve Silberman notes, "The Pentagon created the perfect machine for saving the lives of soldiers wounded in Iraq. But then GIs started getting sick. The culprit: a drug-resistant supergerm infecting the military's evacuation chain." I asked the Lt. Col. for his opinion, and he wrote back:

"It's a fascinating story, told well, but not news. I would say it's not even new to this war. During Vietnam there was a similar struggle with bugs that US physicians weren't used to either. (Though because we had critical care facilities in Japan, soldiers and Marines who were infected usually didn't make it out of there alive.) Same with the fighting in the South Pacific in WWII and North Africa in WWII. It's also a common phenomenon among the millions of Americans who travel every year. (Catching foreign infections and bringing them home.) About once a year there is an article in Scientific American or Discover about the civilian version of this, most of which is the same sort of bug (drug resistant) but pure made-in-America domestic. Hence that line about 90,000 civilian deaths a year due to infections caught in the hospital."

The Project on Defense Alternatives has just completed a compilation of Web links to full-text articles, reports, and background information on the U.S.-Iran confrontation, "Confronting Iran: Critical perspectives on the current crisis, its origins, and implications." The page provides links to 120 articles and sources in 13 categories that go well beyond daily news coverage to address broader strategic issues. It also addresses persistent failures in the "marketplace of ideas" and in media coverage. What has been most lacking in treatments of the crisis is historical perspective and strategic context. The "Confronting Iran" page can serve as a modest corrective.

(PDA also has recently launched a bimonthly review of selected reports on U.S. defense policy, which is available on their main page, here.)

And Boehlert explains: The MoDo blues. Maureen Dowd announced that Barack Obama was out of his element on the national stage: "testy," "irritated," and "conflicted." But as is her custom, Dowd fixated on personality and stagecraft, not substance, and provided no evidence to back up her unflattering claims. Read the full dissection of Dowd's column here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Ken
Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ

I don't know if you've been following the recent series in The Washington Post concerning the treatment of wounded (both physically and mentally) soldiers at Walter Reed, but I hope you and your readers check it out. In a nutshell, while the wounded get top-notch treatment in the hospital, once they are released, they are moved to other housing on or near Walter Reed where they, theoretically, get continuing treatment, physical therapy and assistance in transition back into civilian life. Sadly, they get none of the above. If these articles are to be believed, they get substandard living conditions, minimal supervision, days spent in a fog of prescription drugs and readily available alcohol, virtually none of the continuing physical and mental therapy they need, and an impenetrable bureaucracy staffed with uncaring social workers with no apparent interest or competence whose only apparent interest is in assisting the Army in minimizing their disability benefits. The end result is that the wounded often spend months there in a state of hopeless frustration and deteriorating physical and mental condition, eventually getting discharged with a fraction of the disability money they deserve.

Frankly, I found myself seething as I read this. It is bad enough that these men and women are forced to fight this war, but, to get wounded and return to this kind of treatment is ... well ... unconscionable is not a strong enough word. I think if this administration decided to spend 1% of the time and energy they now spend on falsely condemning people for failing to "support the troops" on correcting the conditions at Walter Reed, they could fix this problem in a matter of days. Shamefully and (based on their other deeds to date) not surprisingly, they simply don't care. As usual, their interest in individuals ... any individuals ... lasts only as long as those individuals are useful to them.

Name: Karl W
Hometown: Bloomfield, CT

Two notes about the vocabulary of our economy:

Why is "personal responsibility" only when that autoworker is $20K in debt to a corporation, and not when a corporation is in debt to that worker? Should I hold my breath waiting for MSM to address this?

Have you noticed the dumbing down of the term "poor" in the last quarter century? Ronald Reagan trucked with poor working folk in the era of the mythic welfare queen. Currently, though, if (after 5 years of economic expansion, stock market records, and the globalization glories of Steve Colbert's "dollar a dozen tube socks"), tough sh*t -- you're just too stupid to deserve to be middle class. The distinction between working poor and lazy poor no longer exists.

Name: Beth Harrison
Hometown: Arlington, VA

I sat and watched the Fox Fake News fake news show The Half Hour News Hour (or something like that) on Sunday, and I want to sue Fox to get that 30 minutes back. It was stunningly bad. And not in the "it's so bad it's good" way. At least on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Jon and Steve are playing a character (Steve more than Jon), but they are also trying to convey information. And the Fox Fake News fake news show "anchors" don't even bother using their real names. The two "bits" they did weren't believable because they used recognizable character actors, thereby destroying the illusion. At least Stewart and Colbert have the fortitude to have real people on their shows, discussing their work in an intelligent manner.

Name: Ben Miller
Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman,

I saw that John McCain said publicly that Donal[d] Rumsfeld was one of the worst Defense Secretaries in US history. Can someone ask Mr. McCain, Mr. Straightshooter, if he felt this way about Rumsfeld, why did he wait until Rumsfeld was out of office to say so? And more importantly, how could he have felt that Rumsfeld was one of the worst Defense Secretaries and still publicly supported President Bush for President in 2004, knowing that Iraq was the most important issue and that support for Bush was equal to support for Rumsfeld?

Name: Michaelm
Hometown: Rockville, MD

Dr. Alterman,

Sen. McCain just came out for the repeal of Roe v. Wade. I seem to remember McCain answering a question during the 2000 campaign concerning his reaction if his daughter were to want an abortion; he said that it would be her decision. This is of course the standard Republican position on abortion that it should be legal only in case of rape, incest and my family. His reply (much like Cheney's policy on gay couples raising children) shows him to be a good father, a sanctimonious hypocrite and a craven political animal.

Do you have any memory of this episode? I am sure that if a Democrat were to make such a revision in policy, charges of 'flip/flop' would ring out on the airwaves.

Name: Traven
Hometown: Seattle

A quick question. Why aren't the media/blogosphere pouncing on Brit Hume for the remarks he made about John Murtha? The guy is the chief anchor for a television news network. If some allegedly liberal anchor like Brian Williams or Dan Rather had uttered something akin to Hume's tirade about a Republican, there'd be caterwauling about their bias, lack of objectivity, and demands for their firing.

Eric notes: The smear is here.

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