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  • ARMY TO HALLIBURTON:...

    ARMY TO HALLIBURTON: NO MORE ONE-STOP SHOPPING. Halliburton is no longer to be the U.S. Army's favorite contractor son, according to Griff Witte of The Washington Post . The Army, he reports, is going to open up the logistics contract for reconstruction in Iraq to actual bidding. Halliburton, however, will be eligible to bid, despite its massive overbilling of the government (more than $1 billion in questionable costs according to the Government Accountablity Office and government audits) and its well-known failure to cough up certain deliverables. Usually missing amid the criticism of lax oversight of such contracts is the effect the Pentagon's new personnel system would have, if implemented, on whatever checks and balances remain in that arena. Currently battling a coalition of unions led by my former employer, the American Federation of Government Employees, the Pentagon has appealed the decision of a federal judge who put a stop to the so-called labor-relations plan that DoD...
  • HOTSOUP!!!!!!! Matt's...

    HOTSOUP!!!!!!! Matt 's already talked a bit about the new social networking site where you get to -- gasp! -- meet Carter Eskew , or a variety of other washed-up, establishment operatives, but I just want to point out Gawker's comment , which seems to get the venture just right. HOTSOUP.com: "[Because] what the Internet needs more than anything right now is a junior varsity version of The Huffington Post." --Ezra Klein
  • BOMBAY/MUMBAI: ENGLISH IS...

    BOMBAY/MUMBAI: ENGLISH IS ENGLISH. In light of the recent bombing in India , I've been looking into the whole Bombay versus Mumbai question a little. Here's the story : The city was founded by the Portuguese, who originally called it "Bom Bahia," which later degenerated to "Bombaim." The British took the territory over and started calling it by an Anglicized version of that name: "Bombay." At the same time, speakers of Marathi and Gujarati called it "Mumbai," while Hindi speakers called it "Bambai." Then, in 1995, the Shiv Sena party which controlled the local provincial government proclaimed that it would henceforth be "Mumbai" in all languages. I see no reason for Americans to follow this diktat . It's totally normal for places to have different names in different languages. Germany is "Deutschland" in German, "Germany" in English, and "Allemagne" in French. We use the German word for Prague, while Czechs call it "Praha." This "Mumbai" business just confuses people. There's a city;...
  • THE LIFE YOU...

    THE LIFE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN. There�s an interesting piece in The Wall Street Journal on the trend of millionaires giving their money away when they're young rather than when they're old. The piece focuses on medical charity -- grants to cancer foundations and disease research -- as do, I assume, the actual donations as well. That's because these gifts aren't charity in the traditional sense. They're investments, and their ultimate beneficiary is often the millionaire themselves. Cancer, for instance, is largely indiscriminate in its victims, as pleased to attack the rich as the poor. And while current medical technology can occasionally put up a good fight, just as often, it's useless before the assault. So pumping cash into research that could cure, detect, or mitigate certain forms of the disease, particularly those you're vulnerable to, is a deeply logical spending decision, one that may save or extend your life. That it'll do the same for many others is a wonderful, though...
  • BLOG POWER! ...

    BLOG POWER! Continuing his welcomed crusade to infuse blogospheric filibustering with actual data, Scott Winship has some additional information on the size and potential power of the Netroots. A few caveats, though: cross-comparisons of group numbers only work so long as the average member of each organization exerts an equal amount of influence. The reason interest groups matter, after all, is because they're pockets of frenetic activity in an otherwise apathetic landscape. So when comparing the size of the Netroots to, say, the size of the Sierra Club, it's not enough to merely look at how many claim membership, but what membership means, how much direct action it entails, and how sustainable that is. Indeed, my sense is that if you take into account the wider number of actions and tactics deployed by active Netroots participants, you'd return with an impression of strength that is disproportionate to its numbers. Some of that is attributable to the blogosphere's superior ability...
  • POLARIZATION WHY? Howard...

    POLARIZATION WHY? Howard Kurtz reports that "a group of political strategists who have spent years firing heavy artillery at each other came together at the Hay-Adams Hotel yesterday, put aside their weapons, decried the polarized state of debate in America and vowed a new approach to peaceful coexistence." My first instinct is to say that any Democrats (and, for that matter, Republicans) who have any of the strategists in question working for them ought to fire them all immediately. Obviously, there's absolutely no place for people who don't like partisanship running partisan political campaigns . It'd be like hiring a soccer coach who thinks the World Cup is boring -- whether or not he's right, you don't want him anywhere near your team. That said, it always strikes me as remarkable that nobody ever seems to wonder if there might be actual structural reasons for the rise in political polarization that can't be overcome through a website. When you think about it, after all,...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STEAL THIS COLUMN. Pierce on Coulter . --The Editors
  • HERE�S ONE DIFFERENCE....

    HERE�S ONE DIFFERENCE. I have quite a few thoughts about Noemie Emery �s piece in the current Weekly Standard arguing that Bush is Truman , today�s neocons are the heirs of HST, and so on. But let me start with this side note. I remember reading, either in Dean Acheson �s memoir or in James Chace �s biography of Acheson, the following anecdote. One night, the Trumans and the Achesons were having dinner. For some reason, Central Asia and the Caucasus came up. Truman suddenly launched into a long and very informed disquisition on the history and culture of this �stan and that one. Mrs. Acheson was blown out of her shoes. She asked how he knew so much, and Truman said words to the effect, �I just started reading about it one day in the library when I was young, and I was fascinated. So I read everything I could on the region.� The point here isn�t simply to bash Bush as an intellectually incurious dullard who would never in a million years have chosen to auto-didacticate himself -- as a...
  • The "Social Security and Medicare" Syndrome

    Many of the stories on the reduction in the 2006 budget deficit have correctly focused on the fact that the long-term deficit picture still looks pretty awful. However, they have badly misled readers about the reason for the deficit problem. The standard line is that "Social Security and Medicare" costs will explode as the baby boomers retire (e.g. this NYT piece ). This is incredibly misleading. Social Security costs will rise modestly -- the projected increase in SS measured as a share of GDP from 2005 to 2030 is less than the increase from 1960 to 1985. The real culprit in the story, as every serious reporter knows, is Medicare. And the reason that Medicare costs are projected to explode is that the U.S. health care system is broken. In other words, the deficit stories should be talking about how the exploding cost of the U.S. health care health system will devastate the budget and the economy. People should demand that the reporters get this simple point right and stop telling...
  • NYT MISSES THE...

    NYT MISSES THE POINT. Today's New York Times profile of Keith Olbermann as the great hope of MSNBC misses the most interesting aspect of his ascent. It focuses entirely on the humorous side of Olbermann's beef with Bill O'Reilly and the accusation that Olbermann is picking fights with O'Reilly to boost his ratings. The article never considers whether Olbermann may actually be going after O'Reilly's statements because Olbermann is legitimately offended by statements like this: [O'Reilly's] declaration last year (in jest, Mr. O�Reilly said) that a resolution passed in San Francisco to ban military recruitment in schools was so un-American that he was inviting Al Qaeda to blow up Coit Tower. Can you imagine how O'Reilly would react if a liberal pundit endorsed terrorist attacks on South Dakota for passing their draconian abortion ban? Nor does The Times even consider that Olbermann's increasing popularity is not merely a result of his provocative criticism of O'Reilly, but stems from the...

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