Saturday, September 24, 2005

Open Thread

The thread 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!

Open Thread

The thread 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!

Open Thread

What's in a name? That which we call a thread by any other name would smell as sweet.

Open Thread

A thread! a thread! my kingdom for a thread!

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!


This doesn't sound very good. And by not "very good" I mean really really funny:

WASHINGTON Sep 24, 2005 — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was updated several times about his investments in blind trusts during 2002, the last time two weeks before he publicly denied any knowledge of what was in the accounts, documents show.


Frist, asked in a television interview in January 2003 whether he should sell his HCA stock, responded: "Well, I think really for our viewers it should be understood that I put this into a blind trust. So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock"

Frist, referring to his trust and those of his family, also said in the interview, "I have no control. It is illegal right now for me to know what the composition of those trusts are. So I have no idea."

Documents filed with the Senate showed that just two weeks before those comments, the trustee of the senator's trust, M. Kirk Scobey Jr., wrote to Frist that HCA stock was contributed to the trust. It was valued at $15,000 and $50,000.


On May 16, 2002, Scobey advised Frist that four investments were contributed to a Frist blind trust, including HCA stock valued at $500,000 to $1 million. A second letter the same day mentions the same four investments going into a different trust, but with different valuations, including HCA stock valued at $250,000 to $500,000

Whether or not he's actually done anything illegal, Bill Frist can and should now be referred to in the press as "Senator Bill Frist, documented liar."

Image is Everything

I don't know what's more stunning - that this story is true or that a White House source admitted it.

Paradigm Shift

Steve Soto gives us the latest developing Bush narrative. One thing is missing - how easy life has been with a deferential press.

Open Thread

To mourn a thread that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on.

Open Thread

All the world 's a thread, and all the men and women merely players.

Open Thread

A thread! a thread! my kingdom for a thread!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

Open Thread

What's in a name? That which we call a thread by any other name would smell as sweet.

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Friday Cat Blogging

Out The Cardinals

Steve Clemons is right.

The Stupidest Man in America

Quite possibly it's Chris Crain.

Shorter Washington Post Editorial Board

Why would we want to waste our beautiful minds by watching the news or reading newspapers?


Here are some events in NYC you may wish to attend this weekend. Not sure if I'll be at the Friday one but I'll be there Saturday. Also, I'll be doing a panel thingy 4-5:30 at the Tank on Saturday.


The crony incompetence of the Bush administration.

We begin this story with a compoany, Landstar Express America, which has a $100 million conract for disaster transportation.

Though it was well-known that New Orleans, much of it below sea level, would flood in a major hurricane, Landstar, the Jacksonville company that held a federal contract that at the time was worth up to $100 million annually for disaster transportation,...

Were they quick to respond? Sadly, No!

...did not ask its subcontractor, Carey Limousine, to order buses until the early hours of Aug. 30, roughly 18 hours after the storm hit, according to Sally Snead, a Carey senior vice president who headed the bus roundup.

What happened next? Did Landstar finally pull out its disaster transportation plan which, presumably, the $100 million contract should've encouraged them to produce? Sadly, No! They did what any company hired to do that job would do - they desperately started hunting for help on the internet!

Landstar inquired about the availability of buses on Sunday, Aug. 28, and earlier Monday, but placed no orders, Snead said.

She said Landstar turned to her company for buses Sunday after learning from Carey's Internet site that it had a meetings and events division that touted its ability to move large groups of people. "They really found us on the Web site," Snead said.

Could anything else have been done? Sadly, yes!

Peter Pantuso of the American Bus Association said he spent much of the day on Wednesday, Aug. 31, trying to find someone at the Federal Emergency Management Agency who could tell him how many buses were needed for an evacuation, where they should be sent and who was overseeing the effort.

"We never talked directly to FEMA or got a call back from them," Pantuso said.

Pantuso, whose members include some of the nation's largest motor coach companies, including Greyhound and Coach USA, eventually learned that the job of extracting tens of thousands of residents from flooded New Orleans wasn't being handled by FEMA at all.


The day the hurricane made landfall, Victor Parra, president of the United Motorcoach Association, called FEMA's Washington office "to let them know our members could help out."

Parra said FEMA responded the next day, referring him to an agency Web page labeled "Doing Business with FEMA" but containing no information on the hurricane relief effort.

On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Pantuso of the American Bus Association cut short a vacation thinking his members surely would be needed in evacuation efforts.

Does this story have a happy ending, in which the Karmic balance of the universe is restored? Sadly, No!

In a regulatory filing last week, Landstar Express said it has received government orders worth at least $125 million for Katrina-related work. It's not known how much of that total pertains to the bus evacuation.

Landstar Express is a subsidiary of Landstar System, a $2 billion company whose board chairman, Jeff Crowe, also was chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the nation's premier business lobbies, from June 2003 until May 2004.

Whatever happens likely will be good for Landstar's bottom line.

Landstar's regulatory filing also said that because of Hurricane Katrina, the maximum annual value of its government contract for disaster relief services has been increased to $400 million.

Joss Give Atrios No Love?

So sad. No respect.



HCA gets subpoena to produce documents (HCA) By Michael Baron
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- HCA Inc. (HCA) said Friday it has received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York. The Nashville, Tenn., hospital operator said the subpoena calls for the production of documents, and HCA believes it relates to the sale of HCA stock by Sen. William H. Frist. It plans to cooperate fully with the subpoena. The stock closed Thursday at $45.90, down 3.2%.


There's been a lot of negative coverage of TSA airport screeners who didn't show up to work yesterday. But, presumably, plenty of them were living in mandatory evacuation areas - were they really supposed to stay on the job until noon today? Then what? Were the airlines going to fly them out on the last planes? Did anyone suggest that idea?

I understand the idea that certain public safety workers may have an obligation to stay on the job in emergency situations, but I really think it's a bit much to expect it of airport screeners.


Buried deep in the secret "Operation Offset" plan was the cruelest cut of all:

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

Open Thread

Cry "Thread," and let slip the dogs of war.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Oy, Reporters


The FEC, in its initial rules, had exempted the Internet.

Bloggers told the Committee on House Administration that regulations encompassing the Internet, even ones just on advertising, would have a chilling effect on free speech. The FEC vice chairman also questioned the necessity of any rules.

I don't remember either of us saying anything of the sort. But, for the record, my opinion is that any regulations which place disclosure requirements onto bloggers which are not required of any other members of the media or which in any way open up bloggers to FEC scrutiny that other media are not subject to and which therefore the possibility of getting dragged into a complaints process would have a major chilling effect.

Commissioner Weintraub discussed how it seemed that the FEC would rule that paid political ads, such as anything run through blogads, would have to be disclosed by campaigns in the same way that other media advertising does, but that wouldn't put any disclosure requirements on the bloggers themselves. I don't see how that in and of itself would be a problem, unless the rules were written in a way which had unintended consequences.


Methinks the good Doctor could be in a wee spot of trouble:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- When Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist asked a trustee to sell all his stock in his family's hospital corporation, a large-scale sell-off by HCA Inc. insiders was under way.

Shares of the Nashville, Tenn.-based hospital company were near a 52-week peak in June when Frist and HCA insiders were selling off their shares -- just about a month before the price dropped.


Under Senate ethics rules, senators can directly order the sale of any asset known to have been in the trust before the metaphorical curtain was drawn. The senator also can communicate in writing matters of concern, including ''an interest in maximizing income or long-term capital gain.''

That is not how blind trusts normally work, said David Becker, who was general counsel at the SEC from 2000 to 2002. To avoid potential insider-trading conflicts, the beneficiary usually has no knowledge or participation in investment decisions.

If Frist was allowed to ask for stock to be sold, ''the question here is, How blind is blind?'' Becker said.


People stuck:

HOUSTON Sep 22, 2005 — Wilma Skinner would like to scream at the officials of this city. If only someone would pick up their phone.

"I done called for a shelter, I done called for help. There ain't none. No one answers," she said, standing in blistering heat outside a check-cashing store that had just run out of its main commodity. "Everyone just says, 'Get out, get out.' I've got no way of getting out. And now I've got no money."

With Hurricane Rita breathing down Houston's neck, those with cars were stuck in gridlock trying to get out. Those like Skinner poor, and with a broken-down car were simply stuck, and fuming at being abandoned, they say.

"All the banks are closed and I just got off work," said Thomas Visor, holding his sweaty paycheck as he, too, tried to get inside the store, where more than 100 people, all of them black or Hispanic, fretted in line. "This is crazy. How are you supposed to evacuate a hurricane if you don't have money? Answer me that?"

Stay Safe, Texas

Let's hope those stuck in traffic manage to get to safety.

Open Thread

Cry "Thread," and let slip the dogs of war.

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

The Clenis to Destroy Texas

Conservatives were right all along.

Day in DC

Anyway, I was testifying to the Committee on House Administration, headed by Bob Ney, on regulating internet speech. Was a fairly last minute thing and I didn't have much of a chance to prepare a decent opening statement, but hopefully the basic points were there. Current and former FEC commissioners (saw the former panel, not the latteR) were testifying, along with Red State's Mike Krempasky and me. They put some space between us so we didn't kill each other.

Basically where we are is that the FEC is at the tail-end of a rulemaking process, which I testified for previously, regarding regulating political speech on the internet which they were forced to do by a judge. It's unclear, however, why they have yet to actually issue their ruling. It's possible they're dragging their feet either because they want and/or expect congress to intervene in some fashion nullifying anything they do, or because they're waiting for a ruling on the standing of those who filed the lawsuit which led to them being forced to do something (they didn't appeal the ruling itself, but if it's determined that there's a issue with the standing the ruling could be chucked out anyway).

The committee was exploring the issue generally, and in particular a Reid proposal in the Senate to essentially make the court case moot by changing the law. Not many members were present, and those who were clearly sided with a very hands off approach, however that's achieved.

If Congress gets involved there's always the possibility that they'll stick a bunch of other campaign finance related stuff in with it and I have no desire to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Judging from the testimony of the FEC commisioners who were there I'm much more optimistic than I was back during the summer when I testified. They seem to "get it" much more than they did before, and even a worst case scenario from the FEC would probably be nothing to get upset about. The only real concern I currently have is with unintended consequences - certainly it seems the FEC has the right idea, but the question is whether they understand the technology/issues well enough that they can craft rules which won't open the door to a bunch of problematic stuff.

Overall, I'm not too worried about this issue at the moment. One way or another I predict a decent outcome for the whole process.

Millions, Billions, What's the Difference

Oh man these people are incompetent.

Deja Vu All Over Again

People unable to get out of Houston.

"No Power"

In conservative world, one of the top 3 most powerful people in Congress has "no power" while some academic no one has ever heard of controls the Democratic party.

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!

Open Thread

All the world 's a thread, and all the men and women merely players.

Travel Day

Have to pay a little visit to Congress.

Visit the many fine blogs to your left.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

Open Thread

A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the thread and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Open Thread

To mourn a thread that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on.


Let's hope the Jet Blue airplane with landing gear issues makes it safely to the ground. As the MSNBC talker just pointed out, Jet Blue passengers have seatback monitors with DirectTV, and thus have the ability to watch live coverage [assuming it wasn't turned off] of their troubles...


It's sorta cute when the the right wingers start spinning their wheels over something not entirely awful. But they obviously haven't been paying much attention to what happens when a reporter gingerly questions these people on their pork. I saw Chuck Grassley on CNBC looking like he swallowed a giant slug when the host gingerly asked him about his indoor rainforest. It was actually yet another reminder about how little the Republicans have been challenged on any issue over the past few years - Grassley looked shocked that anyone would dare question him over such a thing.

The real test is what happens when they realize that the Republicans, who do indeed control the government, aren't going to give up a damn bit of their hard-earned pork. I'm sure the Clenis will make an appearance, somehow.

To put it another way, would YOU have the guts to get between Dennis Hastert and a bacon sandwich?

I thought not.

"Has he been indicted yet?"

Video of Cafferty.

Worshipping the Weather

There are certainly a large number of people who currently have a genuine interest in finding out where and when Rita will hit, but nonetheless there's something a bit creepy about the number of people in this country who are truly obsessed with tracking the weather...

Open Thread

The thread 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!


The number of deep connections between prominent Republican players and individuals and groups who have since been connected with terrorism-related activities is one of the underexplored and underdiscussed topics of the last few years.


Or, how to pick a story straight out of your ass while pretending you did some work for it!

Say Anything

Mistah Kurtz, on Limbaugh, Nov. 2002:

Has the senator [Daschle] listened to Rush lately? Sure, he aggressively pokes fun at
Democrats and lionizes Republicans, but mainly about policy.

I suppose broadly speaking Kurtz was correct, if by "policy" he means such things as Senator Clinton's apparent "policy" of murdering anyone who gets in her way.

Open Thread

A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the thread and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Seemingly Many Seem to Many

The NYT article on women in elite colleges just wanting to chuck it all for a rich man and babies was poblematic for a variety of reasons, but Jack Shafer hits on its most basic problem -- it was, without any genuine evidence, claiming to have unearthed a trend.

Such a trend may exist, but many bloggers seem to increasingly be under the impression that the article was crap journalism.

Got Your Back, Rep. Slaughter

I don't oppose primary challengers on principle, and when it comes to either open seats or races against incumbent Republicans my tendency is to stay out of them (though that's certainly a "rule" I might break at some point). But, Rep. Slaughter is one of "ours" and as she's been out there fighting the good fight rather than spending the time to raise mountains of cash as many incumbents do.

She's been a great supporter of issues important to the netroots, and she deserves our support in the primary and the general election if need be.

Rep. Slaughter has now been added to the Eschaton approved candidate list.


I'm so old I remember when there actually were moderate Republicans who stuck with a principle or two.

Stock Tips

If you're so inclined, call the good Senator's office and find out if he has any other stock tips he'd like to share.

Washington, D.C.:
Office of Senator Bill Frist
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-228-1264 (fax)

Office of Senator Bill Frist
28 White Bridge Road
Suite 211
Nashville, TN 37205
615-352-9985 (fax)


Sounds like an SEC investigation is in order:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family's hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent.

Frist held an undisclosed amount of stock in Hospital Corporation of America, based in Nashville, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain. On June 13, he instructed the trustee managing the assets to sell his HCA shares and those of his wife and children, said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Frist.

Frist's shares were sold by July 1 and those of his wife and children by July 8, Call said. The trustee decided when to sell the shares, and the Tennessee Republican had no control over the exact time they were sold, she said.


Republicans. They've even given it a military sounding name. Only a bunch of chickenhawks could do that:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 - Conservative House Republicans plan to recommend on Wednesday more than $500 billion in savings over 10 years to compensate for the costs of Hurricane Katrina as lawmakers continue to struggle to develop a consensus on the fiscal approach to the disaster.

At the top of a partial list of the potential cuts being circulated on Tuesday were previously suggested ideas like delaying the start of the new Medicare prescription drug coverage for one year to save $31 billion and eliminating $25 billion in projects from the newly enacted transportation measure.

The list also proposed eliminating the Moon-Mars initiative that NASA announced on Monday, for $44 billion in savings; ending support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $4 billion; cutting taxpayer payments for the national political conventions and the presidential election campaign fund, $600 million; and charging federal employees for parking, $1.54 billion.

"What House conservatives will demonstrate through Operation Offset is that there is more than enough room in the federal budget to provide for the needs of the families affected by Katrina without raising taxes," said a House Republican aide who is working with lawmakers on the proposals and who insisted on anonymity because the package would not be made public until Wednesday.

The suggestions are certain to draw serious opposition from other lawmakers who consider those programs essential, illustrating the difficulty faced by the majority Republicans in finding acceptable ways to offset the hurricane costs.

Before the list was made public, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, declared that delaying the Medicare plan was a nonstarter. Mr. DeLay also expressed skepticism that most lawmakers would want to revisit the transportation bill, saying he would be reluctant to sacrifice the projects that he won for his district in the Houston area.

"My earmarks are pretty important to building an economy in that region," Mr. DeLay said of the local projects he backed in the bill. A watchdog group said those items totaled more than $114 million.

They'll probably have some success pulling out the few bits of pork which go to Democratic districts. Oh, and I bet Jim Gerlach's train money will get pulled (along with any other public transit money they can get their hands on). I'm personally happy to kill the Medicare drug bill, but as a matter of pure politics I wouldn't mind Democrats running on a "Republican stole your Medicare drug plan" platform next year.

Presidential election campaign fund?

As for Nasa.... Mars, bitches, MARS!


I see threadbot went a bit nuts last night. Blogger's being weird, generally...

Open Thread

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your thread; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

Open Thread

A thread! a thread! my kingdom for a thread!

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Open Thread

The thread 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!


I'd never seen a picture before. Explains a lot.

And, apparently, the Times and my local papers are going to pursue greatness by firing people.

Is Philadelphia the only city where the "tabloid" paper is a far superior product to the "respectable" broadsheet?

Shame they're both owned by the same company.

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Cat Fight

Tom Coburn (R-Blastocystia) says that DeLay told him that the Washington Times made up quotes.

From the transcript:

DOBBS: Wait a minute. Senator, you can't say that. Congressman Tom DeLay says that this is the most efficient government he can imagine, that there's no fat in this government.

COBURN: Well, I talked with him today about that quote and that was not his quote. And you know ...

DOBBS: Whose was it? Whose was it, Senator?

COBURN: I'm worried -- I'm very -- well, I think -- it might have been manufactured. I'm not sure. The fact is, is we -- I know of $100 billion in cuts that we could make tomorrow that nobody would feel. Nobody would feel. And ...

Judy Judy Judy

The latest from Arianna.

Rosemary's Baby


Open Thread

Cry "Thread," and let slip the dogs of war.

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Key West

There was a mandatory evacuation order. Only half the people left. Discuss.


Jeb Bush has an invisible friend.

Ney - big liar?


If Not Diplomacy, Then What?

Yglesias is the only one beating this drum with any consistency, but it's an important drum to beat. The conservative foreign policy weenies when confronted by a state they don't like or state actions they disapprove of only have one answer - regime change. The first question is, of course, how do they plan to achieve that? The second question is, then what? It's as if the entire conservative foreign policy establishment has been replaced by the underpants gnomes.

Phase one: Announce policy of regime change
Phase two: ???
Phase three: Peeance and freeance!

Once upon a time phase two was invasion, but that's off the table now.

No Respect

Passed over again.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Um, American Press Want to Touch This?

First the Independent and now the Guardian:

Iraqi authorities are preparing an arrest warrant for the country's former defence minister in connection with a massive fraud case involving the "disappearance" of more than $1bn from ministry coffers.
Judge Raid al-Radhi, who is head of Iraq's commission on public integrity, said yesterday that he had given Iraq's central criminal court a dossier of evidence against Hazim Shaalan, who was minister of defence under the former government of Ayed Allawi.

"What Shaalan and his ministry were responsible for is possibly the largest robbery in the world. Our estimates begin at $1.3bn [£720m] and go up to $2.3bn," Judge Radhi, who is Iraq's senior anti-corruption official, told Reuters.

The "robbery" is believed to include the signing of multimillion-dollar deals with companies to supply equipment that was sometimes inappropriate for the new army or was years out of date. It is also alleged that the ministry paid huge premiums for some military hardware.

Monday, September 19, 2005


I haven't addressed this yet because various fuzzy versions have been floating around, but the basic storyline seems to have solidified:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A British armored vehicle escorted by a tank crashed into a detention center Monday in Basra and rescued two undercover troops held by police, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official told CNN.


In a statement released in London, Reid did not say why the two had been taken into custody. But the Iraqi official, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, said their arrests stemmed from an incident earlier in the day.

The official said two unknown gunmen in full Arabic dress began firing on civilians in central Basra, wounding several, including a traffic police officer. There were no fatalities, the official said.

The two gunmen fled the scene but were captured and taken in for questioning, admitting they were British marines carrying out a "special security task," the official said.

His Noodly Appendage

The prophet speaks.

Don't Talk About the War

The anti-war position has always been very underrepresented in our media. That is, in part, due to the positions of many of the people in power, but not only. MSNBC couldn't even keep one hour of anti-war programming on per day (Donahue) before the war because of concerns about military contracts for its parent company how they would be seen.

Before the war, a majority of the people opposed it. It depended on how the question was asked, of course - a majority didn't oppose any war in Iraq, but a majority did oppose the war we were given (no UN support, etc...).

And, now, 59% of the public thinks going to war was a mistake. Still, that opinion is about as represented in the media as was the 60+ percent who approved of Bill Clinton during the impeachment follies.

Strange how these things work.

Almost Like New Year's Eve in Times Square

Good for them.


What drives me nuts about pet projects such as the bridges to nowhere in Alaska isn't that they happen, it's that so many of them are mindbogglingly stupid. Funneling money to favorite projects is inevitably going to be a part of government, but if you could scam $464 million for mostly useless Alaskan projects couldn't you think of anything even marginally more useful than two bridges for 83 people?

Reconstruct This

So, the guy who oversees federal contracts gets arrested. Turns out he's a good buddy of Jack "Love Me Some Tom DeLay" Abramoff. As he was on the job through last week he must've had a hand in setting the Katrina procurement procedures, including allowing people to go ahead and charge up to $250,000 at a time on their credit cards. He's also, well, another hack with no experience in his field.

Mr. Safavian's wife? Oh, that's Jennifer Safavian. Her job? Chief counsel on oversight and investigations on the House Government Reform Committee.

Their latest job? Heading up the sham Katrina investigation...

Here's fairly recent article on Safavian which someone should start poking through. Note the headline on the Bush Administration Post Article.

On Cursing



Silly conservatives.


Somebody has a wee problem. Maybe more than one somebody?


Limbaugh, Friday:

Thankfully, Mr. Fineman has a friend who has clued him in and now he's written a breathless piece. "In other words, it's the Beltway versus the Blogosphere," writes Mr. Fineman. "What’s interesting is that Rosenberg is himself a Beltway creature, a preternaturally self-assured young insider with a cherubic face and a cold smile. He heads a group called the New Democratic Network and ran his own campaign for DNC chair. But the names he utters with reverence are net-based: organizers such as Eli Pariser and bloggers such as Daily Kos and Atrios. Rosenberg rejects that notion that the bloggers represent a new 'Internet Left.' It’s not an ideological rift, he says, but a 'narrative' of independence versus capitulation: too many Democrats here are too yielding to George W. Bush on the war in Iraq, on tax policy, you name it. 'What the blogs have developed is a narrative,' he told me the other day, 'and the narrative is that the official Washington party has become like Vichy France.' But even though Kerry eventually outlasted the Rebs, and even though Dean (for some weird reason) decided to become chair of the Democratic National Committee, the civil war didn’t end. It just went underground. The first sign of its re-emergence was Cindy Sheehan."


So what Mr. Fineman is saying here is the Democratic Party must become what the fringe kooks of the Democrat blogs, like Daily Kos and Atrios are. They're in the process of it already happening. How can this not be seen by people? There will be no patience for moderate Democrats. They're not going to be tolerated. The new face of the party must be a Cindy Sheehan type. And the Democrats better start listening, the story says, to people like all these other people who think that Bush has to be gotten rid of. The thing is, nobody reads these blogs, folks. Nobody reads them. That's the great thing. Other bloggers read it and that's it.

Another Pony for Holden

Though, uh, it's the world's smallest pony! So small you can't even see it!

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's vow to rebuild the Gulf Coast did little to help his standing with the public, only 40 percent of whom now approve of his performance in office, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

Just 41 percent of the 818 adults polled between Friday and Monday said they approved of Bush's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while 57 percent disapproved.

And support for his management of the war in Iraq has dropped to 32 percent, with 67 percent telling pollsters they disapproved of how Bush is prosecuting the conflict.

The survey had a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Fifty-nine percent said they considered the 2003 invasion of Iraq a mistake, 63 percent said they wanted to see some or all U.S. troops withdrawn from that country and 54 percent told pollsters they favor cutting spending on the war to pay for disaster relief.


His personal qualities hit fresh lows: Only 49 percent called him a strong and decisive leader, down from 54 percent in July and 51 percent in August. Just 42 percent said he cares about people like themselves, and 47 percent called him honest and trustworthy.

By contrast, 51 percent did not consider him strong and decisive, 50 percent would not call him honest and 56 percent said he didn't care about people like them.

Treasury Secretary Card?

FSM help us. All the people who told us during the transition to the Bush administration that now the "grownups would be in charge" should be forced to spend a few days swimming through the muck in New Orleans. There were plenty of grownups in the Clinton administration, and while none of them were perfect almost all of them were competent and qualified.

Hooker-obsessed Ashcroft?
Porn-obsessed Gonzales?
On Vacation Cheney?

Grownups? oy.


I enjoy Kunstler's writing, even though there are some nontrivial areas where I disagree with him. In his latest entry he raises some good questions and really lays down his predictions. Will his semi-apocalyptic prediction for the near future come true? Stay tuned and find out. I know I'm not looking forward to my winter heating bill.

What we will leave behind is the certainty that we have made the right choices. Was it a good thing to buy a 3,600 square foot house 32 miles outside Minneapolis with an interest-only adjustable rate mortgage -- with natural gas for home heating running at $12 a unit and gasoline over $3 a gallon? Was it the right choice to run three credit cards up to their $5000 limit? Was I chump to think my pension from Acme Airlines would really be there for me? Do I really owe the Middletown Hospital $17,678 for a gall bladder operation that took forty-five minutes? And why did they charge me $238 for a plastic catheter?

All kinds of assumptions about the okay-ness of our recent collective behavior are headed out the window. This naturally beats a straight path to politics, since that is the theater in which our collective choices are dramatized. It really won't take another jolting event like a major hurricane or a terror incident or an H4N5 flu outbreak to take things over the edge -- though it is very likely that something else will happen. George W. Bush, and the party he represents, are headed into full Hooverization mode. After Katrina, nobody will take claims of governmental competence seriously.

The new assumption will be that when shit happens you are on your own. In this remarkable three weeks since New Orleans was shredded, no Democrat has stepped into the vacuum of leadership, either, with a different vision of what we might do now, and who we might become. This is the kind of medium that political maniacs spawn in. Something is out there right now, feeding on the astonishment and grievance of a whipsawed middle class, and it will have a lot more nourishment in the months ahead.

Bring on the Primary Challengers

I don't have any idea why any unions could consider supporting Republicans, but I'm certainly open to them helping to fund primary challengers to wayward Democrats. More generally, it's something the "Left," broadly defined, should be willing to do. While no incumbent wants to have a serious primary challenge, I'm almost never convinced by arguments that they actually hurt the prospect of the party retaining the seat. The legitimate threat (and occasional reality) of a genuine primary opponent would certainly do a lot improve the voting records of some in Congress.


Another Republican who just lies all the time.


The plan for '06.

Mistah Kurtz

The always reliable Kurtz joins in with those who think that decades of bamboozling people like him makes you a well-qualified person to oversee a massive reconstruction effort.

While We're on the Note

Maybe they missed the memo and thought International Talk Like a Pirate Day was actually International Talk Like a Fucking Moron Day, but what else is there to say about this statement:

The press and the Democrats are still demonizing Karl Rove's involvement in anything and everything, expressing shock and horror that a deputy White House chief of staff with wide-ranging applicable experience is helping to oversee the Katrina response.

What applicable experience does Rove have for overseeing a $200 billion reconstruction project? About as much experience as the Note has with the reality beyond their own asses, apparently. Note to the Note: Overseeing a massive political operation is not, in fact, they same thing as overseeing a massive reconstruction project. One involves much the same as your column does - an attempt to get people to believe in bullshit. The other involves actually getting something done.


Most of the time I allow myself to pretend that the people who write The Note are just typical members of the Beltway press with their heads lodged firmly up their own asses. But today they write something which makes it impossible to not realize that they are deliberately full of shit. Alterman writes:
The Note insults our intelligence with the pretense that the conservative Washington Post editorial page is not conservative, writing, "Pigs flew on Sunday, when the Washington Post endorsed Roberts for Chief." Remember, they are the guys who told us what a great response the federal government had made to Katrina.

Even without getting into a deeper debate about the political slant of the Post, this is ridiculous. Their first editorial, after his original nomination to the Court, was mostly positive, and demanded the Demcorats and liberal groups give him a "dignified confirmation process." They complained about Democratic treatment of Roberts in 2001. They regularly complained about Democratic obstructionism and repeatedly told Democrats not to use the tactics that Republicans used for years.

Miguel Estrada? Supported by the Post
Priscilla Owen? Supported by the Post
Michael McConnell? Supported by the Post.

The only nominee they opposed, I believe, was Pryror, and even as they were opposing him they would deride the Democrats for doing the same.

Whatever else the Post is, the idea that anyone working in the Washington press would've imagined for an instant that, barring some unforseen revelation, the Post would've opposed Roberts is ridiculous. The people writing for the Note are not that stupid, whatever their flaws, so there's only one thing left to conclude: they enjoy doing their part to continue to perpetuate the notion that the beltway media, of which the Washington Post sits on top, is liberal.


Miserable Failure


What do we have here?

This looks interesting...[well, just C&P the link maybe that'll not destroy the server]

...PZ Myers has more info.

Open Thread

These threads are razors to my wounded heart.

Power Tools

Back before Power Line became "blog of the year" I had sort of put them on par with Adam Yoshida or Misha, essentially ignorant d-list 20somethingnutters not even qualified to be a local AM radio Limbaugh knockoff, who in another time would've been ranting away on streetcorners with their placards of doom.

So, it was fascinating to see them get all the attention, and subsequent traffic, for the Dan Rather situation - attention they got because they, being as it turned out middle-aged professionals - were more "respectable" than the Freepers or the Little Green Snotballs.

They're still nuts.


Peter Daou has a pretty good analysis of blogging (much more interesting than that description makes it sound).

A Free and Independent Media

How it's done:

Another Win for 'Friends & Allies'
When John G. Roberts is approved as chief justice of the United States, as expected, he can thank President Bush 's "Friends & Allies" program, which went to work on him immediately after he was nominated. The project, started by the Republican National Committee in the 2004 re-election campaign, is simple and effective: Give opinion makers, media friends, and even cocktail party hosts insider info on the topic of the day. How? Through E-mailed talking points, called D.C. Talkers, and conference calls. For Roberts, it worked this way: A daily conference call to about 80 pundits, GOP-leaning radio and TV hosts, and newsmakers was made around 9 a.m. On the other end were the main Roberts gunslingers like Steve Schmidt at the White House and Ken Mehlman and Brian Jones at the RNC. D.C. Talkers would then be distributed to an even larger list filled with positive info about Roberts and lines of attack on his critics. "The idea," said one of those involved, "is to feed them information and have them invested in us." It has even created addicts, he added. "Now they come to us before going on TV."

...Kurtz, yesterday: (tip thanks to P O'Neill):

KURTZ: The politicians don't talk about it very much. But does that let journalists off the hook? Since when do we take our talking points from the political class?

I know this depends on the definition of "reporter," but that distinction has been totally destroyed. Kurtz's "we" includes, presumably, the people who are guests on his show - Clarence Page (columnist), Newsweek contributing editor Ellis Cose, and talk show host Blanquita Cullum.

Wanker of the Day

Michelle Malkin.

The problem with Malkin isn't that she writes and publishes her obscenity of a book. The problem is that despite the fact that she has neither the intellectual capacity nor intellectual honesty to be an actual scholar, she gets treated as one by our mainstream media. At worst, she's given the red carpet to spew her nonsense unchallenged all over the airwaves. At "best" she's paired with actual historians who know what they're talking about which, though sadly necessary, is like CSPAN's recent desire to pair a broadcast of Deborah Lipstadt with one of David Irving (no, I'm not calling Malkin a Nazi, just a venemous crackpot).

Thank you, media, for blurring the lines between experts and non-experts, journalists and hacks, geniuses and fools.

Times Select Survivor

If the New York Times really believes its columnists primary purpose is to make them money rather than influencing the world, they should follow it through to the logical extension. They need to know which columnists are actually making money for them, which ones people are actually willing to pay for, and jettison the worst revenue earners.

To accomplish this they should allow people to purchase, for a modest fee, an annual subscription to one columnist or to a subset of their columnists. The one who takes in the least revenue should be, every 6 months, rotated off the island. That's capitalism, baby.

Times Select

Well, that's just an awful idea with rather bad execution. They were at least smart enough to give some access to existing print subscribers. There's been much talk about how the Wall Street Journal has actually been able to make money from subscriptions, though I have a hard time believing the Times can duplicate that by selling its opinion pages. According to Michael Wolff, however, while the Journal's internet operations have made money, it's actually hurt their print advertising quite a bit. By putting its internet operations behind the wall the Journal has made itself much less culturally relevant. Why pay for print advertising in the journal when it isn't really part of the buzz anymore?

You can get your dose of Krugman here.

Open Thread

A thread! a thread! my kingdom for a thread!

Open Thread

Cry "Thread," and let slip the dogs of war.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Worth a look, oh 4th estate:

One billion dollars has been plundered from Iraq's defence ministry in one of the largest thefts in history, The Independent can reveal, leaving the country's army to fight a savage insurgency with museum-piece weapons.

The money, intended to train and equip an Iraqi army capable of bringing security to a country shattered by the US-led invasion and prolonged rebellion, was instead siphoned abroad in cash and has disappeared.

"It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history," Ali Allawi, Iraq's Finance Minister, told The Independent.

"Huge amounts of money have disappeared. In return we got nothing but scraps of metal."


Most of the money was supposedly spent buying arms from Poland and Pakistan. The contracts were peculiar in four ways. According to Mr Allawi, they were awarded without bidding, and were signed with a Baghdad-based company, and not directly with the foreign supplier. The money was paid up front, and, surprisingly for Iraq, it was paid at great speed out of the ministry's account with the Central Bank. Military equipment purchased in Poland included 28-year-old Soviet-made helicopters. The manufacturers said they should have been scrapped after 25 years of service. Armoured cars purchased by Iraq turned out to be so poorly made that even a bullet from an elderly AK-47 machine-gun could penetrate their armour. A shipment of the latest MP5 American machine-guns, at a cost of $3,500 (£1,900) each, consisted in reality of Egyptian copies worth only $200 a gun. Other armoured cars leaked so much oil that they had to be abandoned. A deal was struck to buy 7.62mm machine-gun bullets for 16 cents each, although they should have cost between 4 and 6 cents.

Look over there! Someone's looting a bottle of water!

Open Thread

To mourn a thread that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on.

Open Thread

These threads are razors to my wounded heart.

Open Thread

All the world 's a thread, and all the men and women merely players.

What's a Minority Party to Do?

According to the Washington Post Editorial Board, the minority party should simply serve to provide a rubber stamp and political cover to the party and power and its supporters in the Washington media (such as, the Washington Post editorial board).

Now not only must the Democrats not go to any lengths to try to stop the appointment of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, they should, in fact, express their delight and approval for the guy by voting for him.

They write:

We hope Judge Roberts will similarly be approved by a large bipartisan vote.


For this reason, broad opposition by Democrats to Judge Roberts would send the message that there is no conservative capable of winning their support. While every senator must vote his or her conscience on the nomination, the danger of such a message is considerable. In the short term, Mr. Bush could conclude there is nothing to be gained from considering the concerns of the opposition party in choosing his next nominee. In the longer term, Republicans might feel scant cause to back the next high-quality Democratic nominee, as they largely did with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Leaving aside the Post's premise, which is that Roberts is the "best" justice, from a liberal perspective, that Democrats could hope for, I find nothing wrong with he notion that there's "no conservative capable of winning their support." As the minority party, there's basically one way for Democrats to express their objection to such a nominee for the record, and that's to vote against him. Doing so simply puts on the record that they don't support his nomination, they don't want him as Supreme Court justice, and if it were really up to them someone else would have the job.

If Bush had genuinely worked with Democrats, as Clinton did with Republicans, in choosing a nominee (Orrin Hatch brags that he gave Ginsburg's name to Clinton), then such reciprocation might be warranted. But none of that actually happened.

If the Democrats unanimously vote against Roberts it will not prevent him from become Cheif Justice. All it will do is send the message that they disapprove of the choice, and it's a choice they should certainly disapprove of.

Let us hope that the Democrats begin to understand that the worst set of advisers they have are the Beltway media who have their own interests at heart.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

It's certainly not the case that generic party ballot polls 14 months away from an election offer much predictive value, but they nonetheless show that the political winds are for the moment certainly trending way from the Republicans. It is nice to see that Democrats are maintaining the 20something vote.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Zakaria R’lyeh wagn’nagl fhtagn

Fareed Zakaria is shrill.




One of the more amusing things in the last few years has been the shrieks and yowls about "anti-Americanism" in parts of the European press or elsewhere. There is of course a genuine anti-American mindset, the kind which causes people to fly planes into buildings, which is of genuine concern. But, look people, we're the biggest guy on the block living in the biggest mansion. I truly worry about the collective psyche of our nation where harsh coverage of our country in the European press, deserved and fair or not, is worth even noting, especially when our press coverage of most of Europe oscillates between cluelessness and contempt.

What kind of weird sensitivity has affected us so much that anyone actually gives a shit what those in the peanut gallery are saying about us. Such delicate flowers.

Another Opportunity for the 101st Fighting Keyboarders

Since they won't sacrifice their lives, how about their treasure?

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - From the Indian Ocean tsunami to the church around the corner, Americans have shown time and again they are willing to open their pocketbooks for charity, for a total of about $250 billion last year alone.

But now, amid pleas for aid after Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration has launched an unusual effort to raise charitable contributions for another cause: the government's attempt to rebuild Iraq.

Although more than $30 billion in taxpayer funds have been appropriated for Iraqi reconstruction, the administration earlier this month launched an Internet-based fundraising effort that it says is aimed at giving Americans "a further stake in building a free and prosperous Iraq."

Contributors have no way of knowing who's getting the money or precisely where it's headed, because the government says it must keep the details secret for security reasons.


The effort is just the newest twist in the administration's struggle to rebuild Iraq. Andrew Natsios, head of USAID, first predicted it would cost taxpayers no more than $1.7 billion. The tab has since risen to more than $30 billion, with congressional Republicans and Democrats sharply critical of the high cost and slow pace of progress.

Intellectual Lightweight

One wonders if John Tierney is as stupid as he imagines his readers are. As Roger Ailes notes, it's becoming apparent that Tierney's entire schtick, when he isn't obessing about gender differences, is pointing to a private company that did something good and using that as "proof" that it means "market good" and "government bad." It's a silly exercise, as its opposite would be as well. I haven't yet seen any liberal argue that the several airline bankruptcies are proof that the federal government needs to nationalize the entire means of production, but that would essentially be the mirror image argument of what Tierney's doing.

The Big Money

The astounding ignorance of the conservatarian crowd never ceases to impress.

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!

Open Thread

These threads are razors to my wounded heart.