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What Things Cost

A while back I had a medical test that cost $400. It wasn't covered by insurance, though that's a technicality since I forget to file the insurance claims anyway. But the point is, it was $400 out of pocket. I wish I could have gotten the scan for $300 at Discount Scanner, but that's not how medicine works. Instead, you do what your doctor says. The doctor said get this scan because it's a way of making sure I'm not a ticking time bomb. No one wants to detonate, right? So you pay whatever they charge.

Complicating matters is that I didn't actually understand what they were scanning for, only that they were looking at my chest and seeing if there was anything in there. The health care "consumer" is constrained not only by a lack of choice, but by a profusion of ignorance. We don't understand this stuff.

So they looked in my chest. Later, I called my doctor for the results.

"You're clear," he said. "The scan turned up nothing."

And of course I said, "You mean I spent all that money for no good reason???"

Or I thought that. Because my feeling is that if they're going to charge gobs of money for a scan they really have an obligation to turn up something bad. For $400 they should at least have found some kind of cyst.

The bigger issue is that we don't know where they come up with their pricing. Why did this scan cost $400 and not, say, $100? The scan took five seconds, max. It seemed about as complicated as making a Xerox. It was utterly painless and non-invasive. For $400 they really ought to draw blood or elicit some kind of scream, don't you think? I didn't even have to be brave.

In other realms of our lives we understand what things cost and why. For example, at Starbucks you can buy a banana for 90 cents. Implicitly, we know that about 2 cents goes to the banana farmer, 4 cents goes to the middleman who sells the banana on behalf of the farmer, 10 cents goes to the export company, about 15 cents goes to the factory where they attach the peel to the banana, 5 cents goes to the people who spray the banana with yellow dye, 10 cents goes to distributor and the rest goes to Starbucks at pure profit. And so, even though 90 cents may seem a little high for a banana, we can grasp the embedded profit-taking and assure ourselves that if we really don't like paying that much, we could go to the snack vendor on the corner and get an equally good banana for about 50 cents.

That's what health care needs: More bananas, fewer incomprehensible and weirdly expensive scans.

--

Don't tell anyone, but online journalism doesn't pay. No money in it for anyone. No ads. Or, not enough. See this piece by a young J-school grad.

Via Romenesko, here's more from CJR on the Ian Shapira/Gawker story. And here.

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 4, 2009; 8:41 AM ET
 
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Next: Clinton to the Rescue!

Comments

You need to open up a banana scan, Joel.

Okay, so that raises images of the old joke, "is that...."

But I'm sure you'll find a reason why scanning people with bananas is worth 300 bucks.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Dr G has always wanted to open up a stand that gives away free corn on the cob, but charges $5 for a string of dental floss.

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget the wise words of George Bluth, "There's money in that banana stand!"

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"They" looked in JA's chest... Felines? Canine?

Because of course, on the one hand you've got a cat scan, and on the other a lab test.

...

I do beg your pardon, my fingers have a mind of their own.

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Lunch at SD's; here is his weather forecast from the last kit:

There's just about enough blue in the sky to cut the fabric for a pair of pants for baby Cheeses....

I am bringing my miracle tomatoes to keep with the theme: came as a freebie in my mulch/compost delivery. Lovely little miniature romas.... SD, the secret stash of a dozen are for you to hide and eat at midnight.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | August 4, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

re: Online journalism - I'd go back to my point of a couple of days back. Gawker is what, a dozen people communicating by e-mail? I'll bet they don't have any money to speak of. But the ISPs are getting paid by Gawker, the WashPost, and you & me. They've got a few bucks, and both they and the courts rolled over like cheap crack houris being offered a baggie and a hundred dollar bill when the music industry demanded a cut of the free music distribution business, and helped build itunes into an industry titan along the way.

The Washington Post, of all places, ought to know this: Follow the money.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 4, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

A while back (not today) my doctor gave me the standard, very common invasive procedure for men. I then reported to him that I needed feedback. He questioned my meaning. I said, I don't go through that without a report of your findings: comparisons to normal, overall impression, good health or bad. Because that was the point, wasn't it? So he complied, a very brief synopsis was all I asked and I got it. I felt better then. (and normal was the report)

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 4, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

What did he think you wanted him to say, Jumper? "That was great!" ??

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Mopping up iced T.

Posted by: -dbG- | August 4, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

Here's another thought - many people are afraid of what they don't understand.

Health Care. Online Journalism.
Finanical Systems. Government.
The Future.
The Past.
Action.
Inaction.
Life.
Death.
Love.
God.

The I think the only constant in the universe is change - and we can either manage it, or let it manage us.

No matter what we do, we're human - and therfore *anything* we do will be a mistake, won't it?

So let's try to make the best possible mistakes we can, as soon as is feasible.
Easier to start cleaing up the mess that way.

Oh, and sometimes, a banana is just a banana.

My health insurance isn't great, but isn't horrible. It is a lot of work on my part to get it to do what I need it to - and sometimes it doesn't do it very well, but it does do *something* to improve matters. Usually, anyway. I'd stick with mine if i had a choice, simply because I know how to operate it. Can we make Health Care better for more people -- I think so, but some things may be worse for many of us, too.

Change is coming, let's make the best of it.

Have a banana.

bc


Posted by: -bc- | August 4, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I imagine that when I get to a certain age/state of poor health, my feelings on the matter might change, but right now, I'm of the mind that, absent reasonable odds that a test might find something serious, I'll just go ahead and skip it.

After a night which involved consumption of a few tasty beverages, I got home, used the bathroom, and woke up to find myself wedged in between the tub and the toilet, with a headache. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep standing up, but my wife was convinced that I needed some neurological testing. She won the argument, and I took time off work to see a doctor and have an EKG and EEG performed. 4 hours of my day, who knows how much cost to my insurer, and for what? "Well, tomsing, you appear to be in perfect health."

Where's the value in that?

I'm all for modern medicine and all, but I figure I'd like to retire around 65, and I'd rather not spend a lot of time bored. Once I get past 80 or so, I figure I'll be too frail to do much more skiing or white water rafting. Rather than getting a prescription for every medication in the pharmacy and spending an extra 15 years playing bridge, I'd rather just move on. But again, that's the 29 year old me talking.

Posted by: tomsing | August 4, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

TBG, maybe the doctor thought Jumper wanted to hear how manly he felt.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Maybe what they found was so bad and would have been so expensive the doc didn't want to hear JA grumble so he just told him it was nothing.

Posted by: Southwester | August 4, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Five years ago I had a pain in my hip which eventually led to multiple scans and grams and whatnot all leading to the conclusion that one of my lumbar disks was herniated and surgery was called for. Along the way my neurosurgeon referred me to a colleague for an electromyograph. This is a procedure to test nervous activity and muscular response. The tester inserts pins in various locations and then runs electrical current between them to test your response. In Bond films they cackle insanely when they do things like this, but in my case they just passively watched and recorded as I jerked. IIRC the charge for this was in the $1,000 range. When we got the results and I discussed them with my surgeon he revealed that he would not have altered his plan of treatment as a result of this test no matter what the EMG showed. I was dumbfounded and asked him why in the hell we did it if the results were irrelevant. i never got a satisfactory answer. I suspect that it was a CYA procedure, but have no way of knowing.

I generally don't object too much to diagnostic procedures after my first colonoscopy turned up a couple of polyps (I was awake and got to watch them get zapped!) because I figure I'm paying for reassurance, but I'm not too keen on paying to reassure the docs as well.

Posted by: kguy1 | August 4, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Ah, yes, today is the day I stop defending the financial services industry and begin planning to defend the medical one.

They met my counter and raised it 50%. As soon as I sign, I resign. :-)

Thanks for all the mojo and advice. Could not have done it without you! (Running around in circles yelling BOODLE! BOODLE! BOODLE!)

Posted by: -dbG- | August 4, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm so HAPPY! Snoopy dances for everyone!

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, could you fax a copy of that vulcan mind-meld manual to me? I'm in the same position as SW only my colleagues are saying they won't take on anything extra.

Posted by: -dbG- | August 4, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Yay dbG!!!!!!

Posted by: Moose13 | August 4, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

YAYYYYYYYYYYY dbG!!! *turning on the Bunker's alert siren, if only for a moment*

And hey, just come to the BPH on the 6th (RIGHT, everyone???) and SW can teach ya the melding stuff...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

You might need the vulcan death grip instead, dbg.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Yay, dbG! Way to negotiate!

Posted by: seasea1 | August 4, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Joel, you may want to consider finding a new primary care provider. Mine will "tweak" codes and question to make tests fall under my insurance so I don't have to pay gobs of money. I've heard other doctors will do this as well, if they honestly care about their patients. At the very least, you need better insurance...but if the blogging doesn't pay very well, a lack of good insurance is a given.

Also, the cost of test you took went to the technology that was used. Medicine in this country is partially more expensive because of the expensive techonology that every major hospital "needs" to have. The other part of the expense comes from chronic disease and insurance fraud. Find a way to fix those problems, and you're next test will be cheaper!

It may also do you good to ask your doctor why you're getting certain tests. It's up to you to educate yourself in these matters.

Posted by: akchild | August 4, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Bob, check the last kit for my answer to your comment concerning my comment.

Good kit, JA. Now take that a bit further, and envision the folks without the four hundred. No scan. And thoughts of doom and disease night and day, so much so, the stress will put something there. And still no scan. *sigh* I think what is needed is a bit more oversight. Doctors get carried away sometimes with tests and procedures. Of course, with folks like me that don't have insurance, no chance of that. Until you give the car salesman your information, he thinks he got a sale. Same thing at the doctor's office.

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 4, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. I had painful hips for several years. Walking was not pleasant. Lots of anti-inflammatory medication. No scans, no early planning for hip replacement. The problem went away. Luck, I suppose.

Harvest of the second fruit from a young Brogdon avocado tree is scheduled for tomorrow morning. It's almost all purple today. Think of a larger Hass avocado with smooth, delicate skin.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 4, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Bananas are as bad for you as mother's milk, which is why we have infant formula less you starve your babies and in the process lose your girly shape. So drop that banana and get yourself some real food before you starve, like Maryland crab cakes made from crab that only saw the Maryland shoreline when it was being unloaded from a overseas ship. You could also get an "Angus steak" if you understand what that means. And don't get me started on mother's apple pie when you can get a better pie from McDonalds. Just stay away from those things that grow naturally. You'll just make yourself sick!

Posted by: Fate1 | August 4, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

dbg

I am so happy for you. You got so much more than you imagined. I can't run around the room today, but perhaps another time.

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 4, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Yay, dbG! It's a happy day indeed! I'd love to be a fly on the wall when you tender your resignation to the bosses.

Posted by: slyness | August 4, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

@dbG: Congrats! Maybe it's becoming contagious.

Posted by: Southwester | August 4, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Scans are CYAs for doctors afraid of getting sued for missing something. I have an idea for bringing the cost down. Yesterday, I was in a supermarket pharmacy picking up a prescription. The woman in front of me, who was pricing a generic drug, upon learning the generic cost over $50, huffily announced "I'm going to Wal-Mart"! Wal-Mart should get into the medical testing business. "GOOD MORNING, WAL-MART SHOPPERS. TODAY WE ARE OFFERING 20 PERCENT OFF CT SCANS ON AISLE 3".

Posted by: dataflunky | August 4, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Ont-fray age-pay lert-ay.

Congrats, dbG.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Woo-hoo to dbG!

See you all (or some of you) at Thursday's BPH.

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Mudge -- did you get my reply and the attachment? And listen to it if you did?

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I'd go to Wal-Mart for prescriptions. Proctology exams not so much.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Nope, ftb. When did you send it?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

ftb, if CRT appears in my e-mail address, remove it. That might be the problem.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Hey, you two... get a room!

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm stuck here until 4:30. Maybe then...

Is it just me, or does "Nelly Furtado" sound like something you'd order at Taco Bell?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Intelligence pays and when you have intelligence that is profitable you have more profit and more national security. You then avoid another 911 and we make money for more security. Compare that with the current let's make a losing deal strategy and AIG or GM or Bank ABC. If you lose a million, they will make you a good fella in their little thing. You can be a Puffington Host. Dopes searching for dopes and CA is up in smoke. Hearts for sale, they're going cheap.

Posted by: Dermitt | August 4, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Yahooooo dbG!!!! Way to go! Yes ,please be sure to tell us everything that 'they' say and do when you resign. I love to see arrogance glassbowls get theirs!

Posted by: badsneakers | August 4, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

dbG, your news just made my day, haven't fully backboodled as I wanted to post this, congratulations. Big bouquet of virtual flowers on the way to you.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 4, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Just sent it again, Mudge, CRT-less.

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I want to be a Puffington Host!

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Thank you all! *blush* Can't make it to the BPH, sadly, but will see if we can do something on the week I take off.

There's a big reorganization meeting here tomorrow and several people have suggested I announce it there. :-) Probably a little chaotic even for me.

In related news, a colleague got similar news today but has not shared it with them yet either.

Posted by: -dbG- | August 4, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxiYBcJi8y4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dv68UJLxpb0

Posted by: seasea1 | August 4, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

My favorite Nelly Fertado song - Try

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thhSkqVis7Q&feature=channel

Posted by: dmd3 | August 4, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Still not here at 2:44, ftb. Was the attachment really large?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I haven't the faintest idea, Mudge. It's an "mp3" file, and only runs for a few minutes. Funny as you know what, tho.

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how to check the size of the file on my Mac. Any ideas from the Boodle?

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

ftb... go to the desktop and hit Command-N to open a new Finder window. Navigate to the mp3 file you're sending mudge and select it by clicking on it once.

If the size doesn't show in the window, hit Command-I while the file is selected to Get Info.

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

The thing about a lot of medical care is that although the incremental costs might be negligible, the capital costs are often huge. That is, although a medical provider might not need to pay much additional to run that quick scan or to have a doctor look at it for a few moments, the provider still needs to generate revenue to pay for the original purchase of the machine and the education of that doctor.

And given that our medical system, with some moral justification, always strives for the latest and greatest gadgetry and the most highly trained specialists, this creates a never ending cycle. As soon as equipment is paid off there is a perception that new and even better equipment must be purchased. And as medical science advances an increasing number of specialists, who, by virtue of their exclusive expertise demand a premium, is an inevitable side effect.

As long as people demand the latest and best technology as interpreted by the most highly trained specialists, this cycle will continue until medical science hits some kind of plateau. Yet, I don't see society really accepting any such plateau because the perceived benefits diminishing returns are measured in human longevity and reduced disease. It's hard to say "this level of medicine is good enough."

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 4, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Yay!!! for dbG!!!

How are you doing at restraining yourself from doing a big ol' Snoopy dance on the boss' desk?

Posted by: Raysmom | August 4, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, TBG -- I've done it. The file is about 180K on disk (183,112 bytes). Is that thought to be too large? I've sent it to others without any problems at all. But, oh yeah -- Mudge is with the gummint. THAT might be the problem, eh?

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

RD... it's like those studies that show that statistically, mammograms don't make women live longer.

But tell that to the woman whose breast cancer was detected early through a mammogram.

Or to the family of the woman who didn't get one.

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Well, that *may* be the problem...but I doubt it. You oughta see the stuff some friends send me. So I don't think that's it. And 180k is basically nothing-- that's a mini, mini file. Here we have a 10meg limit, I believe.

Is there just a URL you can send, without the actual mpeg? Also, just send me a test e-mail without any attachment.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

RD, in a previous position the issue of the number of high priced tests was an issue, I remember seeing the ratio of tests done to positive results - it is low - but to those helped by the diagnosis it is hard to justify.

Are there unnecessary tests - yes, but as was often explained to me the test are often to rule out conditions as much as to confirm.

Since dmdspouse is now employed in the field of testing I guess I am somewhat biased - as was I previously.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 4, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

My point isn't to question expensive tests, but to point out that the economics of medicine is less like a banana and more like a cappuccino. The cost of a cappuccino is composed of a few pennies for the actual coffee, and a whole lot to pay off that real expensive cappuccino machine and the person who knows how to use it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 4, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Yikes. Bill Clinton has apparently succeeded in getting those two girls sprung from Johnny Sick's Re-education Center for Wayward Women

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Mudge -- there's no URL (there might have been at one time, but it's been years since I got this file to begin with). I'll send you an otherwise "empty" email ('cept for a sentence or two from me).

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Yay, Bill! I'll be relieved when the women are actually here. Now to get the wayward hikers out of Iran...sheesh.

Posted by: seasea1 | August 4, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I sent you an attachment-less email, Mudge.

Great about the two women in N. Korea. I'll exhale when we can see them really, really outta there and over here (or at least somewhere else safe).

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm reading Aristotle in translation. He says "the characteristic measure of the language is iambic."

TBG and all others proud of their Greekness...

Does Greek have iambic meter?

I know meter in Classical Greek was based on long and short syllables, but that's it.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, and I hope he got an apology for insulting his wife, but I'm not sure that's happening.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Who insulted whose wife?

Posted by: bobsewell | August 4, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what the conservative bloviators will find to b1tch about with that bit of good news.

Posted by: Raysmom | August 4, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, what I sent you bounced back to me, but I noticed the error of my ways, fixed it and sent it back (but with a different message and subject line).

*sigh*

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Test e-mail arrived here at 4:04, ftb.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

John Bolten (on?) already has an opinion piece saying how bad this is...I suppose he wrote it before it was successful...The North Koreans criticized the Sec of State last week. Not really sure why, I didn't pay much attention.

Posted by: seasea1 | August 4, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Ah, got it. Well, Hillary Clinton is only one of many, many folks the North Koreans have insulted, and they are in a very long line of folks who have said unkind things about Hillary Clinton.

Secretaries of State have thick skins as a professional requirement. I imagine she can handle it. As for Bill, he's a live & let live, forgive & forget kinda guy. I always liked that about him.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 4, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

John Bolton already bloviated this morning it was a lousy idea for Clinton to go there, Raysmom. Sends a bad message to negotiate with terra-ists, doncha know. (Better just to capture 'em and waterboard 'em.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh, Cappaccino analogy now that I understand :-)

Big thunderstorms on there way through my area soon, some purple blotches showing up on the radar - not sure if they will hit where I live though.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 4, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

seasea - I was wondering about that. I'm not sure it would have affected his opinion either way. It's the attempt that he thinks is harmful.

I think the world can stand a little placation every now & then without too much harm.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 4, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he traded the two journalists for Monica Lewinsky and a playa to be named later, and a first-round draft choice.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Er, talk to Churchill on that, Bob S.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Somehow, I don't think that there exists in the world a regime large or small that doubts U.S. willingness to commit acts of extraordinary violence if we feel the need. I think we can afford to be gentle without running the risk of seeming too terribly weak.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 4, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Hi, guys. I've only been able to drop in and out occasionally. Techy stuff - Am I the only one who's been having grief with screen lock-ups when I open washingtonpost.com? Been happening with greater and greater frequency lately. Haven't seemed to have the problem with other web sites.

Re: The N. Koreans and the wingnuts: They will twist any arguement, any actions by the current administration into a bad, un-American action. Instead of praising whatever actions occured to get those two out of jail, they'll spin it as sucking up the Kim Jong Il, giving them some legitimacy, etc., etc. Same sort of thing going on with health care, the economy, "birthing", or whatever. No credit can be given, else what reason would they then have to stand on their soap box?

Posted by: ebtnut | August 4, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Senate Republicans to Allow Vote on 'Clunkers' Program

By Dana Hedgpeth, Perry Bacon and Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 4:11 PM

Senate Republicans Tuesday said they would allow a vote on the so-called "Cash for Clunkers" program, likely clearing a way for the popular program to get $2 billion in additional funding.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday "there will be will be a vote," on the program, and his aides said such a vote will likely take place Thursday or Friday. Without Republicans putting up any procedural blocks in the Senate, the program is likely to approved, as nearly all the chamber's Democrats and four Republicans voted for the original clunker legislation in June.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, there's a chance I might be able to get to the BPH. Still at M&S on K, right?

Posted by: ebtnut | August 4, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I guess Al Gore wouldn't have been sufficiently impressive for the North Koreans.

I'm surprised Kim Jong Il showed up and allowed himself to be photographed. I though he'd hide behind a curtain, or arras, or whatever.

Testing can be extraordinarily cost-efficient when it replaces exploratory surgery and such.

Meanwhile, in the yard, the native beach heliotropes and beach sunflowers continue to be insect magnets, unlike the non-native greenery. The heliotropes seem to support a whole village of little waspy-looking things, active around the plants all day.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 4, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I suspect Clinton's lightning-fast success will dampen or stop a lot of GOP whining in its tracks. Oh, they'll carp about whatever it was he had to promise KJI, but it won't matter. It's all Film at 11: Girls In Jeopardy Rescued.

Reagan/Ollie North gave the *&^%$# Iranians 1,000 TOW missiles to get the 52 hostages back, but of course that was different, on the rock-bound principle that it's OK if Republicans do something (such as negotiate in secret with hostage-taking terror countries during a presidential campaign), but NOT OK if Democrats do it in the open and not during a campaign.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

The US wingnuts and North Koreans should issue a joint declaration of the peoples' triumph over the corrupt and venal American government.

Wonder if Bill Clinton was offered a tour of the "Pueblo"?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 4, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

King John the second craves attention. Never fails to launch somemething up in the air around July 4th. Getting the visit of one of the biggerest celebrity boost his ego in a big way. I don't think he had the intention of showing the inside work of a NK internment camp to 2 American journalists either.

It's dark as heck, there is a low grumbling in the west and the wind is going in every direction. How bad are we going to get whipped this time?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, Shriek. I had asparagus for lunch.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Har Har. Did you just ripped your pants?
The Very Large puppy is under the table, making sure the Sky won't fall on its thick, solid, emtty head.

Craaaacccck.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

It's a d@mn good thing I wasn't drinking something just now!

*wiping eyes from laughing*

Mudge did MUCH better than I would have -- I was going to say that it was my stomach rumbling, but I'm in the east and not the west.

*beaucoup deep bows to Mudge* Oh, wait, now I can't get up again. D@mn back, d@mn knees. . . .

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Day two of training my replacement, and while we both know at this point he has no hope of learning everything, he's definitely quick on the ball. I've actually learned that they're replacing me with this guy for a lot of what I do, but three other people will pick up most of the rest, leaving only the fun little surprises months down the line when they realize no one knows how to do something.

Posted by: Southwester | August 4, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

It's a bad one all right. The VLP is on my feet, under the table.

The Fungi, who came back from work dripping wet, was laughing at drenched people handing out sodden prescriptions. From walking across the parking lot of the public health clinic to the pharmacy.

Kapow. More grumbling from the south now.

http://www.meteomedia.com/weather/maps/on_s/caon0512

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

@shriek: what kind of dog is the VLP? I'm just trying to paint a mental picture.

Posted by: Southwester | August 4, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

We are just started to get hit with our storm SD, so colourful!

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/weather/maps/on_s/caon0100

Posted by: dmd3 | August 4, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

A smallish Dogue de Bordeaux. 24" at the withers, 125lbs, with a big head equipped lots of teeth. Looks small from a distance because of the mediocre height but huge from up close because of the size of the front end. Drools like a pro, loves the sun, his people, food, his buddy the Ancient Giant Black Lab. Scares the living daylights out of other dogs when he does the "snarling lunge". Has recently developed a hatred for squirrels. Scared of nothing but spooks easily. He's also got 5 to 7 gray cells randomly synapsing in its thick, concrete-lined skull.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

There you go.
http://picasaweb.google.ca/ShriekingDenizen/ThePuppy#5151339821599745122

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

More recently:
http://picasaweb.google.ca/ShriekingDenizen/PrintempsSpring09#5344388338951232914

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

OMG! And I thought that Westies were cute!

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 4, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

@shriek: I've met one before who was very fond of the Gigantic Dog (a two year old Great Pyrenees). Now I've got a good image. Hope it lets up for you soon.

Posted by: Southwester | August 4, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Cute? Maggie, that dog looks like me the time I had food poisoning.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | August 4, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I bet the Great Pyrénées leaves you a bichon frisé of hair on the floor every day. The AGBL sheds a Schipperke a day and each weekend we pluck an additional Schippie from him as well. The VLP sheds about a chipmunk a day, in season.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I'd put a GP up against a Bernese in the shedding Olympics. The odds would be fairly even, and it would be an exciting contest.

Posted by: Yoki | August 4, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Except, don't Pyrs have a peculiar smell? I've seen a few Pyr/lab crosses lately, not sure what they'd be like.

Yoki, the question would be whose vacuum cleaner could handle them. An interesting thing for Consumer Reports to compare.

Posted by: -dbG- | August 4, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

The Dyson Animal (and I've killed every other major make with dog hair, so I am my own Consumer report). It is the purple one. You know, the really really expensive one. Amazing.

Posted by: Yoki | August 4, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, Shriek! I was a bit unprepared for that! Clever partial underbite, though. Imagine his being afraid of thunderstorms! All he'd have to do is bark and the entire weather pattern would change. . . .

So, Mudgekins, didja finally get what I sent you?

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

That would make riveting TV Yoki.

I'd pick a vacuum with cheap bags. One day the kids will learned that their inheritance was spent on paperback books and expensive bags for the fine Italian vacuum.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Dare I post this parody of the Milbank/Cizilla video that demeans Hillary Clinton? It's from Slate so it must be okay with TWP.

http://www.americablog.com/2009/08/two-dudes-and-webcam-new-washington.html

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 4, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

SCC learn

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Raysmom!

A big meeting broke up and as my boss and other participants started trailing in, a friend pushed me out the other door and told me to leave for the day. I just looked too happy--they'd know something was up. I had 2 meetings today and sat in both gleefully thinking, "Last time on this project!"

My new job (MY NEW JOB!) starts on 08/31. I'll give 2 weeks' notice on Monday, take a week of vacation and change my phone number so they can't call me in the middle of the night.

One of my references who has left only 1 job having another in hand claims tomorrow's reorganization meeting will be the only chance I ever get to stand up in the middle of a meeting and loudly say, "H311 if I'm putting up with this cr@p. I quit!" Tempting. Very tempting.

Posted by: -dbG- | August 4, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, could you fax me that Dyson once in a while?

I promise to use it only for dogs who don't shed more than 18 hours a day.

Posted by: -dbG- | August 4, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

My kids *already* know that their inheritance ($50 in Canadian Tire Money and a good saute pan) has been spent on dog rescue and their education. They have no expectations whatever.

Posted by: Yoki | August 4, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the Gigantic Dog leaves gigantic wads of fluff all over the place and a thick layer of hair on all furniture, clothes, surfaces, food, etc. But he's such a cutie! I haven't any pics of him that are accessible right now, but this is his brother, who's almost his twin, only two years older: http://thornhillpyrs.com/jason.html

Posted by: Southwester | August 4, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

I keep their hopes up, to make them behaving nicely to their drooling, incontinent parents.
On the other hand they know we both work for the gunmint so their expectations have to be very, very modest.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

@Southwester: beautiful!

Posted by: Yoki | August 4, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

*Snort*

True story. My children, when they were very wee indeed, witnessed my grandmother die at my mother's house, surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Some months later #1 came to me (aged about 5, IIRC) and said, "Mummy, when you get old, I will bring my car to your house every week and take you to get your groceries and to the library. And when you get really really old and really really sick.... call #2."

I have long-term care insurance, and expect to use every penny on a Home.

Posted by: Yoki | August 4, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, priceless.

SW, gorgeous.

Off to bed. Thank you all.

Posted by: -dbG- | August 4, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Dog picture party?
And no one sent me an invite?
Too bad. I'm crashing!

Costume party time:

http://wilbrodog.blogspot.com/2006/10/return-of-black-cat.html

The rest of my glam shots, including cameos with kitty, ducks, elephants...

http://wilbrodog.blogspot.com/search/label/Wilbrodog

What can I say? I'm born for the cameras, lights, action!

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, do you call the AGBL "Two Sheds," then?

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Now, you know that none of those is the picture of Wilbrodog we want to see.

Scotty?

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Not to be left out - dmddog.

It is quite possible TBG and Dr. G are still removing fur from their clothing from their visit with us - we have a good five minutes from vacuuming to having dog fur clumps lying around.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 4, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, the AGBL turned 13 years old last week. So we call his name. Then repeat it loudly. Then repeat again with hand gesture. We can't get fancy at this point. He is almost blind and he is turning deaf, but he is still in a pretty good disposition. He enjoys his life still.

The old Lab is afraid of the vacuum. So he flees in haste toward the vacuumed area, followed by a cloud of hair when the vacuuming person (a.k.a. Mrs D) reaches the area where he his. We do not even have the 5 minutes reprieve.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog is a cutie.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Shriek, I just had to throw a Monty Python reference in there...

TBG, what could you POSSIBLY mean??? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

But I'm not even in that picture, TBG.

I continue to deny any nose-to-crotch-ramming took place whatsoever.

It's just Scotty's reaction to warm drool in his lap by an unknown party.

(I vote for BC myself).


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Don't blame it on me. My motto is Always Dry/Toujours Sec.

The VLP.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

From our standard.

"The Bernese Mountain Dog is a dry-mouthed dog with moderately developed flews."

Except at dinner time.

Posted by: Yoki | August 4, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh, the crazy internet. I bet "Wilbrodog" is just his nom de blog, and he's really named Prince or Boots or something.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 4, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Thou hast out'd me, sir.
I be Sir Hamlet Woofley,
The Prince of Mukluks.

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I'm not accountable for that drool in Scottynuke's lap. We're just good friends. And as far as the nose-to-crotch ramming thing, I mean, Scottynuke *did* hurt his back not too long ago...

Cosider that it *could* have been self-inflicted.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | August 4, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Deniability
Is a hard game to play those days
When you're furry, sigh...

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the laugh, bc.

True story. My Bro had a follow up after prostate surgery, and for whatever reason, the protocol included one of *those*exams. During the latter, my bro turns to the MD and says: "I guess this means were going to lunch?"

Posted by: -jack- | August 5, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghOqudYGhnk

Posted by: Yoki | August 5, 2009 1:32 AM | Report abuse

can't keep up with boodle, especially in the middle of the week.
glad i stopped by tonight, though, so that i can say yay, dbg, you go girl!

*throwing confetti, blowing party horn*

Posted by: LALurker | August 5, 2009 2:19 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Another quiet evening. There's eggs Benedict in the Ready Room, tho' it's been a couple weeks since I had me one of them thar slyness ham biscuits.

*************
Today in Nautical and Aviation History

Aug. 5, 1498: Columbus becomes the first European indisputably known to have set foot on the mainland of the New World, at Ensenada Yacua, Venezuela, during his third voyage.
1864: Union Adm. David Farragut utters what is probably the third-most-famous quotation in U.S. Navy history, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” as his fleet enters Mobile Bay, Ala., and defeats Confederate Adm. Franklin Buchanan despite the mines (then known as “torpedoes,” hence the quote) that sank Farragut’s flagship, USS Tecumseh. There is some evidence to indicate the battle cry was uttered not by Farragut but by his executive officer.
**********

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | August 5, 2009 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all!. Yum, eggs Benedict. Mudge, you're spoiling us. Ham biscuits tomorrow, for sure.

I'm still smiling over dbG's news.

Bible study and meeting of the women of the church today. That makes four meetings in three days for me. I am a glutton for punishment; it's a good thing a couple of projects are coming to an end shortly.

Posted by: slyness | August 5, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

If this is Budapest why ain't I hungry (groan)
The sun is shining on danube this morn (groan again)
If this is real, I must be dreaming
Can't wait to tell the folks back home
Can't wait to tell the folks back home...

Posted by: DNA_Girl | August 5, 2009 7:08 AM | Report abuse

And yay dbG. Off to perambulate the twinned cities now.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | August 5, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' all...

People are funny. The office fax often gets "unusual" offerings from this or that person who thinks we could help with their particular issue, but this morning was a dooooooooozie:

A person complaining of ID theft faxed copies of notes sent to various police agencies, along with clearly legible copies of utility bills, auto liens, etc.

WITH ALL THE PERSONAL INFORMATION VISIBLE!!!

*semi-permanently-raised-unibrow-as-the-shredder-hums-away Grover waves* :-O

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 5, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

And this is interesting...

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/cnn-calls-on-cable-operators-to-block-anti-cnn-advertisement/?hp

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 5, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. A sunny morning after a thunderous night.
A supplement to the Nautical segment: "The Russians are coming back!"
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/05/world/05patrol.html?_r=1&hpw

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 5, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Good news on the job.

If a recession is when your neighbor loses a job and a depression is when you lose your job, is a recovery when a friend (even if imaginary) gets a job?

Posted by: yellojkt | August 5, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Wow -- very emotional reunion of two journalists with their families at airport hangar. The Mom hugging the little girl is a weeper moment. All played out for the cameras. Here comes Clinton...BIG hug from Al.

Posted by: joelache | August 5, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Hard to believe that John Bolton could be AGAINST the Clinton trip to North Korea after seeing what just unfolded.

[Curious that Clinton didn't make any comments -- Laura Ling and Al Gore were the only ones who spoke.]

Posted by: joelache | August 5, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

That was a very moving homecoming. Kudos to Clinton, Gore, the State Department and President Obama for finding a way to make this happen. Now we wait to see what the right wing nutcases will start spewing. Will they elaborate on Bolton’s take or come up with some other off the wall stuff.

I nearly forgot that I was scheduled to have the furnace cleaned this morning, delaying my trip to the unemployment office. It’s so hot and humid here that I think this is a good day to go sit in an airconditioned place and read a book while waiting.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 5, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Standard protocol for photo-ops with North Koreans is to subtly extend your middle finger so that the viewer can see that you are being forced to talk against your will.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 5, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

:-), yello (re: recovery)

I'm wondering if they'll hire a replacement. In that case, it would be like when you adopt a dog from a shelter. That dog has a new home and now there's room for another dog in the shelter, so you might actually be saving 2.

Posted by: -dbG- | August 5, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@dbG: It sort of depends if you're also replacing someone. If it's a newly created job one is moving to, then it's two. Otherwise, we're all just switching chairs.

Posted by: Southwester | August 5, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

@Sou'wester: May I have my chair back, please?

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 5, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I was watching some of that disembarking and family reunion.

When I wrote about returing from 1994 I wasn't thinking about seeing Bill Clinton and Al Gore standing behind some Americans just released from imprisonment in North Korea (much less discussion of North Korean nuclear weapons programs), but here we are.

Talk about a time warp.

Interestingly, I used to fuss about the GW Bush Administration wanting to take the country back to 1950, but all of a sudden I'm starting to have flashbacks to the Roaring Ninetys. Time to break out the flannel shirts, I suppose.

On a final note, I thought Bolton's piece was a remarkable miscalculation of logic versus emotion. Bill Clinton is certainly emotional but he's a very smart man - is anyone going to give him a hard time when they see pictures of those women reunited with their families? Throw in some adorable little children, and poof - Bolton's arguments melt away in a sea of joyful tears and hugs.

Orchestrated to some degree - of course - but hey, this country can use all the happy endings it can get right now.

bc

PS. I see S'nuke and Mudge snickering in the back of the room -- and I'm just going to ignore it.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | August 5, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

@S'nuke: If you're sure you want it. It's logged a lot of hours over the years.

Posted by: Southwester | August 5, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I was clearly *coughing* bc, I mean really...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 5, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I have learned that the right wing bloviators have found a way to disparage Cash for Clunkers. According to them it 1) dramatically cuts the number of cars donated to charity and 2) adversely impacts the market for used car parts. Sheesh! These guys just can't quit p!ssing in the punchbowl, can they?

Posted by: Raysmom | August 5, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Frog in my throat, Pollen, maybe.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 5, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

@Sou'wester: You mean you didn't just roll my chair out of my cubicle? Then who WAS that yellow-rain-slickered man???

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 5, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I think the image of Clinton and Kim will endure longer than anything else from this, primarily because it's such a great photograph. That's the one the kids will see in history textbooks decades from now (or should I say history e-books?). As nice as it is to see the two reporters home safe and sound with their families around them, I keep thinking about that excellent picture, how Bill is trying to look both respectful and disgusted at the same time, and KJI looks on the verge of confused.

Posted by: Southwester | August 5, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

@S'nuke: Might have been my cousin Eastbynor'easter. He's got warrants against him in six states for serial office furniture theft.

Posted by: Southwester | August 5, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

SW, do you think the Clinton/Ill pictures won't end up on the same wall with the Nixon/Elvis pic, or the ones with Carter, Begin and Sadat?

bc

Posted by: -bc- | August 5, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

It does the heart good to see those two young women returned. This behavior reminds me a bit of how Saddam Hussein used to release hostages to non-government individuals like Jesse Jackson. I wonder if Kim Jong Il figured this was a way to get out of a difficult situation without explicitly ceding to the US government.

Of course, the only truly important thing is that these women are home.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 5, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Another benefit of Slick Willy's most excellent adventure in NK is the data that will be downloaded from the improved Bones McCoy medical scanner he was carrying in his baggage. Who else could approach the Dear Leader that close?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 5, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

@Sou'wester: Does he have a long moustache and beard and wear a pair of six-shooters? I thought it might have been Arte Johnson, but...

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 5, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

@bc: I think it becomes an iconic image like those. I figure Clinton Meets Kim will be the more memorable part of this story over time, even if the return of the journalists is bigger right now, and part of the reason is it has such a great photo to document it.

Posted by: Southwester | August 5, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad they're back safe too...but now everything overshadows the fact that they should never have been trying to sneak into NK in the first place (just exactly how dumb was that????), and ditto the three who got caught trying to sneak into Iran.

Generally speaking, "reporters" (real ones, anyway) tend to cross into countries legally, usually fly in, and present their passports at the border to customs. They don't go wandering around on the loose, and if they are so freaking dumb they get confused about where the border might be, then they are pretty freaking lousy journalists. I have about the same feeling for them as I have for idiots who go out into the ocean in small boats without proper gear, idiots who go hiking in mountains when blizzards come up, idiots who got kayaking on the Potomac when the river's way too wild, etc. What they all have in common is they force the taxpayer to launch expensive search-and-rescue missions that potentially endanger the searchers and in any event cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. What did it cost to have Clinton fly to NK? I'm glad he went and I'm glad he succeeded. Now I hope Obama sends the bill to the two girls (and Al Gore).

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 5, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

@S'nuke: The beard sounds new (but he might be in disguise). He does have an impressive handlebar mustache. Also, Eastbynortheaster's revolvers have pearl handles (he's from New Orleans, originally).

Posted by: Southwester | August 5, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

@mudge: Do we actually know that they DID enter NK? I remember that there was some dispute about it, that they claimed to be actually be very close to but not quite in North Korean territory. I quite agree with your opinion in general, but if it's possible they were snatched up because the border guards got itchy and crossed into China, in this case it may not be fair criticism.

Posted by: Southwester | August 5, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

@Sou'wester: Funny, I thought I heard something about Yosemite...

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 5, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, from what I understand, the mission was privately funded, so Obama doesn't need to send a bill to, um, Bill.

I also sent you AGAIN (*sigh*) the file I've been trying to send you for millennia now. . . .

And there we have it. . . .

Toodley Boodley

Posted by: -ftb- | August 5, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I don't give a hoot if they were merely "near" the border, or across it. If the actual border is not clearly marked, then one is an idiot for getting too close to it and not knowing where it might be. If jumpy NK guards are close enough they can grab you, then you are too damn close to them in the first place, and don't know what you're doing. Assuming you're correct, so just what the hell were they doing being "close" to the border? And doncha think if that were really the case, the Chinese would be a bit pissed at NK? How often do jumpy NK guards jump into China and snatch other Asian women? How do jumpy border guards distinguish between lost American women of Asian descent versus lost Chinese woman strolling too close to the border? No, I don't think so. It makes no sense whatsoever that some NK borders "just happened" to snatch a couple of Asian women who "just happened" to be Laura and Euna, two well-connected Americans.

Whether the mission was privately funded or publicly funded is only a small part of the overall cost. How many billable hours have State Dept. personnel spent working on this? So they not only wasted taxpayer money, they also wasted private money. Small difference.

Still haven't got that e-mail, ftb. Wanna try sending it to TBG and have her forward it to me?

I tried to send something to some Boodlers a little while ago, and it hung up. Don't know why.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 5, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge, I'm also seeing conflicting info about whether the Iran hikers were "on assignment," but the fact that a "former" editor was waiting to hear from the Swiss Embassy, well... *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 5, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Hi! New kit.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 5, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

@mudge: A good point, though I'm sure they didn't look like average "Asian Women" since they were shooting video and had a bunch of equipment. While it's fair to say it's imprudent to stray that close to (let alone across) the border of a country like North Korea, I think it is a little different than kayaking through Great Falls. In this case, they were producing a story on NK, a country that does everything it can to quash freedom of the press. Again, I don't disagree that the risk to benefit ratio here hurts any defense of their actions, but I think they go at least a few rungs up on the ladder from thrill-seekers.

Posted by: Southwester | August 5, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

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