Please don't let me find you, rascal, you


We had a Alternate Altercator crisis, today, but much like the Mets, down to a catcher they had to sign as the game was already beginning, we are managing to weather it and remain in first place (unlike some New York teams we could mention ...)

On Rove: Good night and bad luck (what he said...).

Huckabee the not-so-surprising victor: Altercation readers with good memories will recall that before Fred Thompson started getting into the race -- a phase that is apparently even longer than the time it takes to make it all the way through Remembrance of Things Past in 30-second intervals -- I made some noises that Mike Huckabee could win this thing. My reasoning, knowing nothing at all about the guy, was the fact that he came off as awfully likeable, even sensible, in conversation with Jon Stewart, and he was highly attractive to base Christianist voters. He went nowhere fast until Iowa, however, and when I asked John Fund why at some luncheon we both attended, he told me it was because Huckabee was unacceptable to the "No Taxes" faction of the conservative coalition and that MSM types and liberals did not understand the power of these people. I figured that was that, and perhaps it is, but look here: Garance is reporting from Iowa about these Fair Tax people who are actually making a big difference on behalf of Huckabee. So maybe Thompson will have some competition for the electability vote. (I have to admit, I also like Huckabee's answer to the "Why do you believe in creationism?" question, which was something like, "Why do you care what I believe about creationism? What's that got to do with being president?" Leaving aside that I obviously disagree regarding creationism, I wish more candidates would answer questions that have nothing to do with being president that way.)

Mickey the Broken Record:

... I think about how much more appealing the car would be if I didn't have to pay $1,000/vehicle in extra costs to finance the UAW's work rules, etc. (with the extra grand going to buy higher quality plastics or to lower the price). Toyotas don't have this problem -- I'm more confident the money I spend will efficiently go into the car I buy. ... 3:12 P.M. link

Hello, Mickster, if you want people to consider you intellectually honest, you might mention health care there, which is more expensive than the things you mention and covered in every single industrialized nation save this one. And Mickster, do you complain about the work rules and extra costs to finance BMWs and Mercedes? If so, I've not noticed ...

Speaking of health care, look at how stupidly we finance it:

One of the first major studies to quantify administrative costs in the United States was published in August 2003 in The New England Journal of Medicine by three Harvard researchers, Steffie Woolhandler, Terry Campbell and David U. Himmelstein. It concluded that such costs accounted for 31 percent of all health care expenditures in the United States.

More recently, in 2005, a study by the Lewin Group, a health care consulting firm commissioned to examine a proposal to provide universal health coverage in California, estimated that administrative costs consumed 20 percent of total health care expenditures nationwide.

And hey, look, we're #42! We're #42! USA! USA! USA!

Charles Krauthammer pretends that the pro-war New Republic upon whose masthead he appears and whose editor in chief is a proud member of the Scooter Libby Defense Team, is a captive "of the antiwar left," here. He does not mention his own decades-long association with it, anywhere in the column. I can't decide if he should be fired for dishonesty or stupidity, Just what does it take to lose a Washington Post column these days? To be fair, I guess if Novak's allowed to use it to out CIA agents, the bar's pretty high...

Quote of the Day: "Getting in and out of Pisa by air was another matter. If you can you should come and go by private jet." -- Marty Peretz.

Also, don't miss Glenn Greenwald's interview with pro-war, pro-surge, "Iraq war critic" Michael O'Hanlon, here, and this comment.

Also: Remember President Kerry? How strong is the Democratic field, really?

There is no peace process, says Henry Siegman.

"First you'll be rounding up your tired. Then your poor. Then your huddled masses." Here.

I'm not sure I want to live that long, but in case you do, my city kicks your city's posterior, again, alas.

From TomDispatch:

The Bush administration expected that, by the fall of August 2003, four-plus months after its invasion of Iraq, only perhaps 30,000 American troops would remain garrisoned on huge, "enduring" bases in that pacified country. In a sense, it's been a surge-a-thon ever since. By now, it's beyond time to call an Iraqi spade by its Vietnamese equivalent. Admittedly, a "surge" does sound more comforting, less aggressive, less long-lasting, and somehow less harmful than an "escalation," but the fact is that we are six months into the newest escalation of American power in Iraq. It has left us with all-time high numbers of troops there (162,000) -- as well as with undoubtedly more planes and firepower in and around that country than at any moment since the invasion of 2003. Naturally enough, other "all-time highs" of the grimmest sort follow.

With a "progress report" to Congress from General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker due sometime in September, here, from Tom Engelhardt, is a new TomDispatch "by the numbers" report -- almost all such numbers continue to "surge" -- on Iraq. Consider it an attempt to put the Iraqi quagmire-cum-nightmare -- two other classic American words from the Vietnam era -- in perspective.

Here, in a single place, you can find out the cost of deploying an American soldier to Iraq for a year ($390,000) and flying him/her home at year's end ($627.80); you can check out the soaring costs of a coffin or a 10-liter bottle of water in Baghdad (amid electricity blackouts and the drying up of the water-delivery system). You can find out how many American supply trucks are on the road in Iraq at any moment (3,000) and how many American planes are in Iraqi airspace at any time (100); how many attacks are taking place on American supply convoys guarded by "private-security contractors" (the number has nearly tripled in a year); how many Iraqi internal refugees are estimated to be women and children (70 percent); how many bullets U.S. troops are estimated to fire for each insurgent killed (250,000); how many Iraqi babies are now born underweight (11 percent, up from 3 percent before the invasion); the number of Iraqis held in American prisons in their own country (22,500, another surge in the "surge months"), and many other grimly striking, escalating numbers.

This piece -- and you'll find no other like it -- provides a portrait-by-the-numbers of the catastrophe the Bush administration has let loose in Iraq and continues to help to "surge." It would be hard to conclude from these numbers that any country could suffer such destruction, uprooting, death, loss, and deprivation, yet remain collectively sane.

No mail today: it wasn't so hot. OK, back to the chianti ...

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