Saturday, April 07, 2007

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

From our friends at EPI, here's our chart of the day. It compares the current economic expansion with past economic expansions.

Basically, everything sucks. GDP growth has been mediocre, employment growth has been terrible, and investment in equipment and software has been pitiful. And of course, we already know that median wages have been completely flat. The average worker has gained exactly nothing from five years of economic growth.

But guess what? One sector of the economy has gone like gangbusters: corporate profits. Even skyrocketing executive pay hasn't been enough to make a dent. Good times indeed.

If you're a corporation, that is. If you're not, then not so much. And if you think this is just a coincidence, you haven't been paying attention.


Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with Al Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report.


The U.S. Senate is a conservative place by design. Every two years the entire House of Representatives has to face the voters. However, a third of the senators that voted to authorize force against Iraq have, to this day, never had to face the voters. Their turn comes in 2008. Some, like John Edwards, will recant their vote . . . .

But 2007 is a different time. In 2007 the Senate needs to decide whether what the Bush administration has done to our nation is criminal. And I don't mean low crimes, like lying about furtive and rushed extramarital blow-jobs. I mean the biggest crimes that can be committed. Crimes that lose people their lives, that weaken the national defense, that dishonor our nation for posterity and in the eyes of the world . . . But the Senate hasn't fully learned the lesson. If they do not learn soon that this administration has dishonored themselves and our nation and must go, the Senate we elect in 2008 will look quite different from the one we have today. Rather than 49 Republicans senators, it may have fewer than 40.


For most Americans, the Iraq war is both distant and never ending. For Private Matthew Zeimer, it was neither. Shortly after midnight on Feb. 2, Zeimer had his first taste of combat as he scrambled to the roof of the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Outpost Grant in central Ramadi. Under cover of darkness, Sunni insurgents were attacking his new post from nearby buildings. Amid the smoke, noise and confusion, a blast suddenly ripped through the 3-ft. concrete wall shielding Zeimer and a fellow soldier, killing them both. Zeimer had been in Iraq for a week. He had been at his first combat post for two hours.


President Bush resorted to an old political trick this week, using recess appointments to evade Senate confirmation votes that he was sure to lose. All three are extraordinarily bad appointments — and three more reminders of how Mr. Bush’s claims of wanting to work with Congress’s Democratic leadership are just empty words.


Fifty-nine years ago this week — on April 3, 1948 — President Truman signed the legislation establishing the Marshall Plan, which contributed so much to the rebuilding of postwar Europe. Now, more than half a century later, the U.S. can’t even rebuild New Orleans.

It doesn’t seem able to build much of anything, really. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. infrastructure is in sad shape, and it would take more than a trillion and a half dollars over a five-year period to bring it back to a reasonably adequate condition.

If there’s a less sexy story floating around, I can’t find it. It certainly can’t compete with the Sanjaya Malakar saga, or with the claim by Keith Richards that he snorted his dad’s ashes with "a little bit of blow."


The plain truth is that the Clinton campaign has failed its first big test. The early ’07 goal was to blow Obama (and John Edwards) out of the water by demonstrating implacable money mastery. Instead, Obama in particular has served notice that the rookie is fully capable of slugging it out, over the long haul, with the Friends of Bill and the other well-wired inhabitants of Hillaryland. . . . The bottom line is that, at least for now, she has lost the right to be considered the preemptive Democratic favorite.


Despite the major record labels’ best efforts to kill it, the single, according to recent reports, is back. Sort of.

You’ll still have a hard time finding vinyl 45s or their modern counterpart, CD singles, in record stores. For that matter, you’ll have a tough time finding record stores. Today’s single is an individual track downloaded online from legal sites like iTunes or eMusic, or the multiple illegal sites that cater to less scrupulous music lovers. The album, or collection of songs — the de facto way to buy pop music for the last 40 years — is suddenly looking old-fashioned. And the record store itself is going the way of the shoehorn.


Nobody who reported the Anna Nicole Smith story or viewed it on TV need apologize. The Anna Nicole Smith death trip didn't catch fire on cable just because she was a bosomy, semifamous blonde who checked out at the age of 39. For 15 years, she had been gathering chunks of fame the same way a successful World of Warcraft player gathers gold, armor, and potions: again and again.


Barbara Walters of television’s 20/20 did a story on gender roles in Kabul, Afghanistan several years before the Afghan conflict. She noted that women customarily walked five paces behind their husbands.

She recently returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind their husbands. From Ms. Walter’s vantage point, despite the overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime, the women now seem to walk even further back behind their husbands and are happy to maintain the old custom.

Ms. Walters approached one of the Afghani women and asked, "Why do you now seem happy with the old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?"

The woman looked Ms. Walters straight in the eyes, and without hesitation, said, "Land Mines."


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