Monday, August 25, 2008

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

Working Americans, and that's most people, are experiencing the "big squeeze." In fact, they're trying to survive one of the most profound social and economic changes in our history. The middle class is disappearing, facing a decline in standards of living. So you'd hope that the Democrats in Denver and the Republicans in St. Paul would confront this crisis head on and not just serenade struggling families with a chorus of sympathetic but meaningless sound bites.

As wages stagnate, prices are soaring. Economists call this pain the "misery index." It's a combination of the unemployment and inflation rates, and it's what politicians have in mind when they ask, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Well, the misery index is the highest it's been since George Bush's father became president, seventeen years ago.

So, what do Mia Farrow and Erik Prince have in common? No, it's not a joke. The answer is nothing. Well, almost nothing. But according to ABC News, the aging starlet and the Blackwater founder breakfasted together in New York City last month. The subject of their discussion? Sending Blackwater operators to Darfur to train African Union soldiers and protect refugee camps. Farrow, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and chair of Dream for Darfur, is (like everyone else) frustrated by the inability of African peacekeepers to protect refugees from the Janjaweed and believes Blackwater just might have what it takes to do the job right. "Blackwater has a much better idea of what an effective peace-keeping mission would look like than western governments," Farrow said.

I ended up interviewing [Scott] Beauchamp a couple times -- once in person and over email a couple times -- and did a bunch of follow-up reporting. And I came to a much different conclusion than I started out suspecting: Scott Thomas Beauchamp did not lie and did not misrepresent his service. The New Republic's investigation did not uncover any such misrepresentation, and yet the magazine threw him under the bus to spare itself the controversy. Yet it was also true that TNR was the victim of cynical misportrayal from conservatives.

To a certain extent, Russia's rebirth was inevitable (it's got a ton of stuff and it's a highly literate population), and as we've seen in past history, its depressive phases are always followed by some manic episodes. Again, we've had years and years to work this one and we did little to prepare for this moment. . . . We didn't invite Russia properly into our 21st century, so, denied any acceptable ownership of its own 20th century history (better it be all buried, say I), it slipped back into its 19th (quelle surprise, mes ami!), and yeah, that makes our management of Russia's membership in the Core a lot more complicated. We denied them proper attention for a long time and now they're acting out to garner negative attention: "You don't let us decide some of your rules, then we'll simply decide on our own where we can!"

An obituary on Aug. 11 about the playwright and actor George Furth referred incorrectly to the character he played in the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." The character, Woodcock, a railway employee, is blown up by Butch Cassidy in one train robbery, but in a second robbery he is tricked into opening the rail car; he does not allow himself to be blown up twice.

Cartoon by Ben Sargent/Universal Press Syndicate

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