BELIEVABILITY. Folks may have vaguely noticed the sordid story of United Health Group CEO William McGuire trickling out over the past couple of days. In an age of obscene CEO pay, McGuire put every other executive to shame: At the end of 2005, his stock options were worth 1.8 billion dollars. Unfortunately, those options were backdated -- the dates were forged to begin at the lowest point for the stock, so the holdings would be worth more. And now everyone hates the guy. Eat your heart out, Shakespeare.
ONE-TWO PUNCH. See, not all political campaign staffers are the somber, well-bearded, and amber-lit sages that "The West Wing" folks threw out there for our entertainment during the Santos-Vinick campaign. (Well-bearded, of course, except for Donna Moss, Valkyrie Wonk Queen Of the Great Lakes.) Sometimes, they're just, well, dopes.
THE WAR OF STRATEGIC DEFERRALS.An interesting article by Warren Richey about whether the Supremes will "trim" the appalling Military Commissions Act. My guess, as Richey suggests, is that the Court will do pretty much nothing -- Justice Kennedy invited Congress to act, and it did.
YOU'RE OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM: YEAH, YOU. While I�m kvetching about regional politics, I may as well tell you I�m sick of the double standard that operates with respect to Democrats or liberals when it comes to the politics of opponent-framing. With impunity, sneering Republicans and conservatives can mock �northeastern liberals,� but duck and cover if you dare point the �out of touch� finger at southern conservatives. They are the real Americans, you see, and no amount of data will suffice to disprove the back-of-the-napkin Applebee�s analyses of the �Great Davids� (Broder and Brooks, that is).
AH, ELECTION SEASON. Anyone wonder who sent out this charmer?
The state attorney general's office is investigating a letter received by some Southern California Hispanics that says it is a crime for immigrants to vote and tells them they could be jailed or deported if they go to the polls next month.[...]
The letter, written in Spanish, tells recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."
HITCHENS CLIFFS NOTES. At his other site, Roboffers a conveniently succinct summary version of Christopher Hitchens's Slate piece on the "moral idiocy" of the Lancet study on Iraq. I don't pretend to have any inside knowledge, but it seems notable that Hitchens is the one discussing this new Lancet study for Slate and not the eminently more credible Fred Kaplan, who wrote skeptically of the 2004 Lancet study but perhaps has changed his mind since.
EXCEPTIONS PROVING RULES. With news that Republicans are pulling resources out of Ohio (and thereby imperiling incumbent Republican Senator Mike DeWine's re-election), the national buzz is that Republicans have retreated to a three-state "firewall" in Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia in defense of their Senate majority.
VERDICT: STILL HOPELESSLY ARBITRARY. The Canadian lawblogger Pithlordattempts to answer the (to me, completely unanswerable) question of how advocates of criminalizing abortion can justify excluding women who obtain abortions entirely from criminal sanctions:
PLUTONIUM. The fuel that the North Koreans used for their bomb was plutonium. This is utterly unsurprising; the parallel uranium program that North Korea had developed in the 1990s was never capable of producing much in the way of bomb material. This reinforces the conclusion that the key diplomatic moments came in 1994, when the North Koreans agreed to substantially scale back their nuclear ambitions in return for aid, and in 2002 when they gave up on this agreement.
SCENES FROM IRAQ. Open warfare raged between Shiite militias and Sunni gunmen north of Baghdad (right near the U.S.'s Camp Anaconda), while the president of the United States kindly put in a call to the democratically elected president of a free and liberated Iraq to assure him that rumors of an imminent forced removal from power have been greatly exaggerated.