Washington Whispers reports that “there are some 28,000 people receiving free rent and assistance” from the federal government.” The federal government, however, is unsure how much longer they will continue to give the assistance:
Housing Secretary Steve Preston, asked how long the feds are planning to pay, says: “That’s a great question, and that’s an important point of conversation right now.” At issue is the rental assistance aid that ends in February. Recipients are being advised on what federal programs they can apply to for further help. In the end, only 4,000 are expected to get aid.
A new study released today by the University of California, Los Angeles concludes that ethnic violence — not the Bush administration’s surge — was the primary factor in reducing violence in Iraq. As FP Passport notes, researchers used satellite imagery from the Pentagon to track “electricity use in Iraq before, during, and after the surge took place”:
“If the surge had truly ‘worked,’ we would expect to see a steady increase in night-light output over time,” says Thomas Gillespie, one of the co-authors, in a press release. “Instead, we found that the night-light signature diminished in only certain neighborhoods, and the pattern appears to be associated with ethno-sectarian violence and neighborhood ethnic cleansing.”
Last year, the Government Accountability Office also said that “there might be fewer attacks because you have ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, particularly in the Baghdad area.” Similarly, in April, CNN’s Michael Ware told ThinkProgress that if “anyone is telling you that the cleansing of Baghdad has not contributed to the fall in violence, then they either simply do not understand Baghdad or they are lying to you.” More here Iraq’s unresolved tensions.
In the Texas Observer today, Anthony Zurcher describes how “no one’s been rolling out the red carpet” for Bush administration officials as they return to Texas. “For every Karen Hughes who lands a highly paid consulting gig, there’s an Alberto Gonzales, who seems condemned to wander the Earth in search of gainful employment,” writes Zurcher. Former Bush pollster Matthew Dowd explains why the Bush association makes it difficult “to make a go of a political career“:
If any of Bush’s Texas crowd wants to make a go of a political career, however, they’re going to have to do it in spite of their ties to the administration and not because of them, at least in near term.
“Bush is an anchor,” Dowd said. “I don’t think you can take your experience in Washington working with the Bush administration and emphasize that on your resumé.”
After leaving the administration in disgrace, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales found it difficult to find a job. Gonzales has only been able to find work recently, providing assistance to a special master on a patent case.
On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approvedRep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) amendment to prevent insurance companies from rescinding coverage for sick Americans. In an attempt to regulate the individual insurance market — which is currently regulated by the states — the amendment protects “insured people seeking treatment for a serious illness from losing coverage because they accidentally fail to reveal a prior unrelated condition.”
Indeed, Barton’s amendment is an important step towards enacting consumer protections that shield individuals from industry abuses.
Just last month, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield agreed “to pay a total of $13 million in fines and to offer new health coverage to more than 2,200 Californians the companies dropped after they became ill.” More recently, Health Net Inc. reached a settlement with the California Department of Insurance, agreeing “to offer new coverage to 926 customers who were dropped from individual or family policies in the years since 2004.”
Across the country, 29 states and the District of Columbia have no state requirements “that insurers complete all medical underwriting and resolve all questions at the time of application” and 13 states do not require “insurers to notify policyholders in advance about what conditions will not be covered.”
But delaying action is no solution at all. Ignagni’s suggestion that families strained by denied claims wait longer for relief, in this economy, ignores the growing pains of the middle class and does nothing to reform a system that regularly places Americans into economic turmoil.
The Kicker reports that “the Associated Press retracted two government-issued photographs last night after a photographer in Texas alerted the agency that the photos in question appeared to be doctored.” The photos depicted two U.S. soldiers, Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson and Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin, who both died in Iraq on September 14. Between the two photos, only the name, rank, and face of each soldier changes:
Bob Owen of the San Antonio Express-News, who first discovered the photos had been digitally altered, commented, “I’d like to think that the media holds itself pretty accountable and we try really hard to keep high standards. … Obviously the army, and the government, doesn’t see anything wrong with that [photo altering] at all.”
Here’s a cool chart showing what proportion of a given city’s population use transit versus the city’s population density in terms of thousands of people per square mile:
DC is an interesting outlier and shows, I think, that appropriate policies could make a lot of cities more transit friendly without any dramatic increase in density. One also wonders from New York’s status whether density above a certain level starts to decrease transit use because people walk more.
Surrogates for Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign rarely shy away from the chance to put out their talking points, regularly flacking on cable news programs. However, there is at least one cable news show they are avoiding: MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.
Discussing the lack of impact Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) inclusion on the McCain ticket has had with women voters (according to the latest CBS-New York Times poll), Maddow last night noted that McCain surrogates have repeatedly declined invitations to appear on the show:
MADDOW: Might it be that women care less about a candidate’s gender and more about a candidate’s position on the issues, like reproductive health, equal pay for equal work?
One note – we hope to have someone from the McCain campaign or another Republican guest on the show tonight to talk about this issue as we have contacted them about other issues on other nights. But no matter the topics, thus far at least, they have repeatedly said no one is available.
A long list then ran on the screen of McCain surrogates who have turned Maddow down, including senior campaign advisers Carly Fiorina, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Meg Whitman, Ed O’Callaghan and others. Watch it:
The McCain campaign has entered into an increasingly combative relationship with the press, demanding that reporters show Palin “deference.” The freewheeling sessions aboard the so-called “Straight Talk Express” have been ditched in favor of a more scripted and disciplined message. The campaign has even attacked the media for scrutinizing Palin, and McCain himself recently canceled an interview with Larry King because a CNN reporter had roughed up campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds.
As Maddow noted, “[N]o matter the topic,” if an issue makes the campaign uncomfortable, it will probably just avoid it.
A Yemeni source (who asked not to be identified because of political sensitivities) said the Yemeni government has been concerned about returning Iraq fighters for some time, and that that was one reason [Yemeni President Ali Abdullah] Salah’s government chose last year to release Jamal al-Badawi, the militant indicted in the United States for his role in the Cole bombing.[...]
The Yemeni source said Badawi’s [release] had a logic related to Iraq. The Yemeni fighters returning from Iraq were coming back having learned new and sophisticated techniques to avoid detection by security forces. They avoided use of cell phones and e-mail. The Yemenis hoped to follow Badawi in hopes that his status as a Cole bomber would lead them to other fighters returning from Iraq, the source said.
Following on what I wrote yesterday, the fact that our relationships with Middle Eastern governments like Yemen’s have been severely complicated — and various Al Qaeda affiliates inspired and empowered — by the Iraq war must be included in any tally of the wars costs.
Now go read Charles Krauthammer’s latest war prayer, in which Krauthammer suggests that “Bush is much like Truman, who developed the sinews of war for a new era”:
What the president did note with some pride, however, is that beyond preventing a second attack, he is bequeathing to his successor the kinds of powers and institutions the next president will need to prevent further attack and successfully prosecute the long war…
Truman left office disparaged and highly out of favor. History has revised that verdict. I have little doubt that Bush will be the subject of a similar reconsideration
Even granting that the Truman argument is, as Yglesias notes, “comforting to all unpopular presidents,” it seems that an obvious way of interpreting Krauthammer’s bust-polishing is that George W. Bush’s presidency has successfully preserved and expanded the various powers and prerogatives that the next president will need to deal with the the disastrous consequences of George W. Bush’s presidency.
I’d be more interested in turning this issue around. There’s a swathe of the population for whom, even if you think McCain would be a better president, you’d still guess that socializing with an ornery old man would be unpleasant. Given that, what would be the best possible McCain-related social scenario. I’m thinking that watching a football game’s not a bad choice. One of the best things about football is its broad demographic appeal — black and white, young and old, etc.
In her interview with ABC News last week, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin asserted that Alaska “produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy.” After FactCheck.org pointed out that Alaska is actually responsible for only 3.5 percent of the country’s domestic energy production, Palin began re-phrasing her claim. But in an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday McCain continued to repeat the debunked claim:
HANNITY: By the way, senator, she, she’s very convinced she can convince you into drilling in ANWR.
MCCAIN: Hahahaha, you know, that’s what happens when you throw two mavericks together. So, I’d, listen, I, she, you know, we talk about experience. What’s one of the major, if not the major challenge to America? Energy independence. Who knows more about energy than the governor of the state that provides 20% of America’s energy requirements?