Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Crazy Day: Gary Ackerman, a Red Torch, and Accountability

(This is the first of a new style of blog post I plan to do occasionally. We all mine through dozens of news sources to find the most interesting stories on a given day, but I figure I might as well present the stories I've been struck by every so often and offer some of my own commentary on the day's news. Enjoy!)

1) Something's missing!

That would be your tax dollars. Read the Government Accountability Office report released today on spending abuses by government officials regarding charges to "government-wide purchase cards." Read it HERE.

Notable: "We also found that agencies could not provide evidence showing that they had possession of, or could otherwise account for, 458 or 1,058 accountable and pilferable items. The missing items were valued at over $1.8 million, out of over $2.7 million tested" and "a cardholder at the Department of Agriculture fraudulently paid over $642,000 to a live-in boyfriend....for personal expenditures such as gambling...." See, GAO Report, March 2008, "Results in Brief," pp.5-8.

2) The Olympic torch is getting pushed around the globe while China plays dumb/oppressive

Things are so bad I don't think I'd even be able to bear watching the torch pass by if it were in Boston. I saw the torch run by on a winter night in Boston in 2006 before it jetted over to Turino and I remember how awe-inspiring the moment was. Now the torch's light is exposing the atrocities of the Chinese government not just in Tibet, but in Burma, Sudan, and in China against the nation's own population.

Notable: (from CNN) Liu Jingmin, vice president of the Beijing organizing committee, said the Olympic torch has been "warmly welcomed by the local people" in each city.

3) Petraeus goes to Washington...

...and we all focus on how Obama, Clinton, and McCain looked or didn't look "presidential" during Senate hearings yesterday.
There's nothing wrong with Senators running for President, but when important business—with expenditures in the trillions, deaths in the thousands, and shock-waves around the world—turns into a presidential job interview as the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing did yesterday, nobody wins.

Notable: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, under an impressive Chairman Howard Berman, held a very civil discussion with Petraeus and Crocker this afternoon. Though the House is the House and comes with its fair share of interesting characters arguing for or against every side of the Iraq situation in a different way, Representative Gary Ackerman of New York stood out today in his moving and direct outlook on the war. Ackerman spoke of the "redo" that Congress has given to Petraeus and the Pentagon to fix the situation in Iraq, a redo that the families of over 4,000 dead American soldiers will never have. Bravo.

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