friday link clearance
It's been a pretty busy week, and I haven't been able to mention a number of links that have caught my eye.
Here's a great story in Salon.com (day pass required) that sums up the Bush Administration's efforts to shield the President -- and news viewers -- from the sight of protestors. Setting aside the obvious Constitutional questions, supporters of the President should be embarrassed and ashamed at obvious cowardice and insularity. I remember a time when we in the free United States mocked world leaders who used such shabby tactics; who'd have thought that the Bush crew was taking notes the whole time?
De Spectaculis has some great ruminations of what George H. W. Bush must be thinking of his son ("How can he stand to read the newspapers?").
Don't miss Neal Gabler's L.A. Times column describing George W. Bush's "Medieval Presidency."
Incuriosity seems characteristic of the entire Bush administration. More, it seems central to its very operation. The administration seems indifferent to data, impervious to competing viewpoints and ideas. Policy is not adjusted to facts; facts are adjusted to policy. The result is what may be the nation's first medieval presidency — one in which reality is ignored for the administration's own prevailing vision. And just as in medieval days, this willful ignorance can lead to terrible consequences.
Talking Points Memo has been charting the progress of the Bush Administration's so-called "Operation Push-Back."
Of course, I'd be remiss in mentioning that President Bush apparently told his staff to stop leaking information. The directive was promptly leaked to the press by an anonymous Administration source.
And speaking of leaks coolant leak has been discovered in a New Hampshire nuclear power plant. The leak is similar to one that caused a lengthy shutdown of an Ohio plant, which inspired me to write this rant. Although its existence is certainly not good news, the early detection of this leak is a hopeful sign. It may indicate that inspectors are keeping an eye out for this sort of problem. If the near-disaster in Ohio results in better safety through lessons learned, so much the better.
And this fascinating WaPo story indicates that a cost-benefit analysis by the White House finds that the benefits of environmental regulations exceed the costs.
The report, issued this month by the Office of Management and Budget, concludes that the health and social benefits of enforcing tough new clean-air regulations during the past decade were five to seven times greater in economic terms than were the costs of complying with the rules. The value of reductions in hospitalization and emergency room visits, premature deaths and lost workdays resulting from improved air quality were estimated between $120 billion and $193 billion from October 1992 to September 2002.
By comparison, industry, states and municipalities spent an estimated $23 billion to $26 billion to retrofit plants and facilities and make other changes to comply with new clean-air standards, which are designed to sharply reduce sulfur dioxide, fine-particle emissions and other health-threatening pollutants.
The report provides the most comprehensive federal study ever of the cost and benefits of regulatory decision-making. It has pleasantly surprised some environmentalists who doubted the Bush administration would champion the benefits of government regulations, and fueled arguments that the White House should continue pushing clean-air standards rather than trying to weaken some.
Hmm...with studies like this by his own administration, it's no wonder Bush takes a medieval view of science.
A woman was sentenced to jail, probation, and anger-management classes for a most horrific assault: When a four-year-old boy accidentally smeared her sleeve with ice cream, she chased him through the restaurant, screaming, cornered him, beat him and smeared hot French fries in his face. The 18-year-old was nine months pregnant at the time. As the parent of a four-year old, I can attest that messes happen, and I hope for the sake of her child that this woman learns to get a handle on the fact.
Remember that bear who invaded late-night host David Letterman's home? Well, he's baaaaaaack...
Speaking of bears, great googly moogly! A wildlife documenatrian and his companion were apparently mauled to death by a brown bear in Alaska's Katmai National Park and Preserve, the first such recorded fatalities. Evidently the filmmaker had been warned of the dange of his close encounters with bears. Perhaps levity is inappropriate at the news of this tragedy, but I couldn't help thinking about this guy...
Here's a great photo of the late Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly from Singin' in the Rain.
They never had classes like this when I was in college...
One female volunteer performed a kiss so erotic that an audience member jumped up with a freshly written sign that said "10."
...it was all extracirricular. (via FARK)
Guess what? Former Republican Party chairman Haley Barbour -- now running for governor of Mississippi -- has been hanging out with the Council of Conservative Citizens.
I haven't discussed the unfolding scandal of sexual assault at the Air Force Academy, but this Washington Post editorial pretty much sums things up.
The investigation found that the Air Force's top leadership failed for years to take adequate steps to rectify the problem; that an internal Air Force review sought to shield headquarters from criticism; and that changes designed to improve reporting of sexual assaults could actually deter women from coming forward.
The internal report found "no systemic acceptance of sexual assault at the academy" and no "institutional avoidance of responsibility." The Fowler panel, however, found that "the highest levels of leadership had information about serious problems at the academy, yet failed to take effective action." It just wasn't at the top of the Air Force agenda. Neither, it seems, is accepting responsibility now.
And speaking of sexual assault, the superb Dahlia Lithwick has an excellent article on why no means no. Here's a fan blog devoted to Ms. Lithwick's writings.
On a different note, here's a lengthy article on modern flirting from the Washington Post, via FARK.
Byzantium's Shores has several good posts today (as always), including this lengthy rumination on the Arthurian legend in films. I may not call it definitive, but personally I dig Excalibur.
Finally, here's a cool site that lets you make a roll-your-own mock tabloid front page (hat tip: BoingBoing).