Donald Rumsfeld: the greatest disaster in the history of Defense Secretaries

Okay, so I'm not going to make the full case here, as my title might suggest, but after a conversation with a friend tonight, I realized I needed to comment on the latest revelation about Rumsfeld's breathtaking shortsightedness and idiocy.   In a nutshell:

Months before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld forbade military strategists from developing plans for
securing a post-war Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army
Transportation Corps said Thursday.

In fact, said Brig. Gen.
Mark Scheid, Rumsfeld said “he would fire the next person” who talked
about the need for a post-war plan.

That's right, Mr. “stuff happens” not only did not want to prepare any contingency plans, as has long been widely reported, but went so far as to threaten those who wanted to prepare for the immediate aftermath of the invasion.  Again, I can think of no other word but breathtaking for the hubris and just plain stupidity from this man.  And, among the many things I think President Bush is most culpable for is allowing people like Rumsfeld to stay in office.  If accountability means anything at all (which it clearly does not to Bush), Rumsfeld would have been gone a long time ago. 

More dinosaurs on the way

As this NYT headline puts it: “Many more dinosaurs still to be found.”  Okay, maybe not all that blogworthy news, but I could not resist, because just yesterday David (my 6 year-old) presciently asked me if there were any more dinosaurs that “the scientists” did not know about out (David always wants to know about “the scientists”).  I explained that there surely had to be and just a few hours later discovered the specifics in the newspaper.  So, in case you are curious, scientists estimate we have only discovered about 28% of the dinosaur genera out there:

The last few decades have been a golden era of dinosaur hunting.
Thanks in part to discoveries of fossil beds in Asia and South America,
paleontologists have nearly doubled the number of known dinosaur
genera. (Scientists generally keep count by genus, rather than species,
because 90 percent of dinosaur genera include just one species.)

Still, as of last spring, only 527 genera had been described. So that
raises the question: how many dinosaurs are yet to be found?

Steven C. Wang of Swarthmore College and Peter Dodson of the University of Pennsylvania
have come up with a new estimate. Using a statistical method that
incorporates data on dinosaur discoveries, they say there are 1,850
genera. That means that 28 percent have been found.

David is always asking me when we're going to find some dinosaur fossils (we do have some 20,000 year old fossilized shark teeth).  Cary, NC is not exactly a hotbed, but there's clearly many more out there to be found.


Voter ID

Apparently, conservatives are making a nationwide effort to require a photo ID in order to vote.  Sounds fair enough, right?  They are just concerned with preventing election fraud, etc.  Sure.  As it so happens, those legitimate voters without photo ID are disproportionately Democratic.  Surely, then Republicans would also want some way to find a way to ensure the identity of absentee voters– right?  Well, actually, absentee voters are disproporationately Rebublican, so this is not a concern of theirs.  Preventing electoral fraud is, of course, a legitimate political goal, disenfranchising disproportionately poor and elderly voters is not. 
Some key points from the LA Times article:

The legal battle reflects a deep partisan divide, with Republicans
arguing that the new requirements are needed to prevent voting fraud
and boost confidence in election results, and Democrats charging that
they disenfranchise seniors, minorities, students and others who tend
to vote Democratic.

Across the country, the strategy on each side is being engineered by
national groups that say they are nonpartisan but that are
ideologically aligned with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Certainly there's a long history of electoral fraud in this country, but as Kevin Drum points out, there's not actually any evidence for much current fraudulent impersonation that these laws are supposedly eliminating. 

Requiring an ID does seem reasonable, but the simple truth is that any obstacle or barrier that makes it harder to vote leads to less people voting.  As someone who has moved around a lot, I love the moter voter law that lets you register at the DMV.  Of course George H.W. Bush originally vetoed this law for fear that those additional people registering and voting would be Democrats (Clinton rememedied this once taking office).  (It also turns out the law benefitted neither party).   I would argue that we must address legitimate concerns, but in a democracy the more of the public that is voting (yes, even misinformed Repubicans who still think Saddam had WMD) the better. 

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