Saturday, November 12, 2005

Open Thread

Now the threads I've sang don't add much weight to the story in my head so I'm thinking I should go and write a punch line.

Stopped Clock

A completely reasonable and important editorial by Newt Gingrich.

It is long past time to convene a panel on doctor ethics.

"I Was Wrong"

It'll be interesting to see if any major candidate for president, from either party, will still think Iraq was a good idea. Edwards:

I was wrong.

Almost three years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and what many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.

Open Thread

I asked my love to give me shelter And all she offered me were threads.

Four Paragraphs

The Knight Ridder coverage of Bush's speech begins with basic he-said she-said coverage we've come to know and hate but if you read down far enough you get:

Before the war, the President and his aides contended Hussein was concealing nuclear, biological and chemical warfare programs in violation of a U.N. ban. None have ever been found.

Hussein, they said, was in league with al-Qaeda and had to be toppled before he could give banned weapons to terrorists.

The administration relied in part on a seriously flawed, hastily written October 2002 U.S. intelligence assessment, which concluded that Hussein was hiding an illegal nuclear-weapons program and stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons.

But the administration's assertions about Iraq's ties to al-Qaeda were not supported by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Ratings Slump


Bush might want look back to successful predecessors for pointers. Other presidents have recovered from ratings slumps like the one Bush is in right now: Dwight Eisenhower came back after the Sherman Adams scandal; Ronald Reagan rebounded after Iran-Contra; Bill Clinton triumphed after Monica Lewinsky.

But Clinton never had a serious ratings slump because of the Lewinsky scandal. According to Gallup his lowest post-Monica revelation job approval rating was a shocking 57%.

Monica was a scandal for the media, not the country. It's time they came to understand that.

Poor Bill

Condones blowing up an American city and people actually get peeved. Shocking:

Not everybody took Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's on-air comments this week about terrorists bombing Coit Tower as the hyperbole that fills the talk-radio ether. One of the ticked off was San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, who Friday called for O'Reilly to be fired.

"For an anchor on a major station, Fox News, to be saying those kinds of things, it's just not OK," Daly said Friday. "It was just over the top."

Agreeing with Daly was San Francisco firefighters union president John Hanley, and not just because the hose-shaped tower is a tribute to firefighters.

"Who is this guy, O'Reilly?" said Hanley, who identified himself as both a third-generation San Franciscan and military veteran. "I've got guys fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm a veteran myself. What's he talking about?"

Scratch a Conservatarian


Open Thread

your eyes.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bushies - Big Liars

Kudos to Pincus and Milbank. Not quite as strong as they should be, but the basic points are there:

But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, briefing reporters Thursday, countered "the notion that somehow this administration manipulated the intelligence." He said that "those people who have looked at that issue, some committees on the Hill in Congress, and also the Silberman-Robb Commission, have concluded it did not happen."

But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry."

Bush, in Pennsylvania yesterday, was more precise, but he still implied that it had been proved that the administration did not manipulate intelligence, saying that those who suggest the administration "manipulated the intelligence" are "fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments."

In the same speech, Bush asserted that "more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power." Giving a preview of Bush's speech, Hadley had said that "we all looked at the same intelligence."

But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President's Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also, the National Intelligence Estimate summarizing the intelligence community's views about the threat from Iraq was given to Congress just days before the vote to authorize the use of force in that country.

In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE. And even the doubts expressed in the NIE could not be used publicly by members of Congress because the classified information had not been cleared for release. For example, the NIE view that Hussein would not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States or turn them over to terrorists unless backed into a corner was cleared for public use only a day before the Senate vote.

Open Thread

As I see a new thread in me, I can also show if you and you may follow.

O'Reilly Condones Bombing San Francisco

Why does O'Reilly want the terrorists to win?

Happy Birthday Senator Boxer

I'm sure she'd appreciate it if you celebrated by purchasing her new novel.


We all joke about Bush giving the same speech over and over, but he really is giving almost the identical speech over and over.

Conflict of Interest

Gotta love the Right.


The Talent Show reminds us:

"As the President made clear earlier this week, ``Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable.'' It means ``America speaks with one voice.''

Let me be clear, the vote I will give to the President is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies.

In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days--to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.

If we do wind up going to war with Iraq, it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent--and I emphasize ``imminent''--threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs."

I thought at the time and think now that anyone who truly believed that resolution didn't make war inevitabile was foolish, but it doesn't change the fact that at the time Bush was arguing he needed the resolution in order to force a tough inspection regime. Which happened. Until he told them to get out and started bombing so he could go and find the weapons which weren't there.

They lied then and Bush lied again today. It's hideous.


I think that the recently statements of Stephen Hadley are really all we need to put the final nail in the coffin of the Bush adminsitration's credibility on anything. These people are just quite literally loathsome.

Hadley argues that Democrats had the same intelligence because "parts of" the NIE "had been made public."

Right, and the parts of the NIE which weren't made public were the parts which suggested that the parts which were made public were full of shit.

Any talking head who overlooks this fact to try to claim that "democrats had the same intelligence as Republicans" is just completely full of shit. They only the had the bits that made their case, not the bits which took away from it.

And people question my patriotism?

Nice Polite Republicans

NPR dutifully reads Ken Mehlman's script.

Ah, The Modern Libertarians

Cute, really.


I can't believe CNN, upon announcing the death of one of Saddam's henchmen, returned to the old fun of showing which "card" (King of Spades, in case you cared) he was.

Of all of the cues our media took from the Bush administration that was one of the more embarrassingly stupid ones.

Rewriting History

Bush today:

``It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how the war began,'' Bush said in a Veterans Day speech today to military families at Tobyhanna Army Depot near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. ``More than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate who had access to the same intelligence voted to remove Saddam Hussein from power,'' the president said.

Bush, 10/1/2002:

Of course, I haven't made up my mind we're going to war with Iraq.

Bush, two days after the Iraq War Resolution:

But I am very firm in my desire to make sure that Saddam is disarmed. Hopefully, we can do this peacefully. The use of the military is my last choice, is my last desire.

McClellan, 11/2/2002:
This is about disarmament and this is a final opportunity for Saddam Hussein to disarm. If he chooses not to do so peacefully, then the United States is prepared to act, with our friends, to do so by force. And we will do so forcefully and swiftly and decisively, as the President has outlined. But the President continues to seek a peaceful resolution. War is a last resort.

Bush, 11/7/2002:

But some people won't like it if he ends with a nuclear weapon and uses it. We have an obligation to lead. And I intend to assume that obligation to make the world more peaceful.

Terry, listen, there's risk in all action we take. But the risk of inaction is not a choice, as far as I'm concerned. The inaction creates more risk than doing our duty to make the world more peaceful. And obviously, I weighed all the consequences about all the differences. Hopefully, we can do this peacefully -- don't get me wrong. And if the world were to collectively come together to do so, and to put pressure on Saddam Hussein and convince him to disarm, there's a chance he may decide to do that.

And war is not my first choice, don't -- it's my last choice. But nevertheless, it is a -- it is an option in order to make the world a more peaceful place.

The IWR gave him the authority. It was not a vote to "remove Saddam Hussein from power" as Bush made clear at the time.

We Write Letters

From Adam Bonin, Markos Moulitsas, and Yours Truly:

We would rather not be engaging in a tit-for-tat with Reps. Shays and Meehan following their latest response to the joint letter circulated by Markos Moulitsas and Mike Krempasky yesterday. Our preference has always been to work together with those representatives and outside groups sincerely interested in balancing the desire to stem corruption with the need to protect political activity online, and I will continue to speak with anyone interested in alternatives to H.R. 4194 as it is presently constructed.

But that letter demands a response, and it does because of what it reveals. For all their strutting about the "great virtue" of discourse on the Internet, Reps. Shays and Meehan repeatedly attack our letter for "circulating on the Internet" as though the medium alone somehow detracted from the truth of its message, almost as if we had posted it in a bathroom stall rather than faxing it to all 435 Members' offices before posting online.

More to the point, one needs to read the silences of that letter to understand what Rep. Shays and Meehan really mean. They speak of protecting "any communication by an individual made on that individual's website," but say nothing about the overwhelming majority of internet activity, which takes place on other peoples' sites. Of course, the beauty of the Internet is not that it allows every citizen her own podium, but that it creates an infinite array of configurable conference rooms for citizens to meet together and discuss issues of mutual concern. Who owns a site? An IM chat room? Do Reps. Shays and Meehan intend to protect these activities through H.R. 4194?

Reps. Shays and Meehan speak of the media exemption, flagging it as a question, but offer no answers as to how they believe the protections afforded to magazines, newspapers and talk radio shows should be applied to the Internet. This is a question of great importance whose resolution could dispatch most of our concerns, yet on this key concern they offer nothing.

Thankfully, the FEC itself has spoken to this issue yesterday, agreeing in a draft opinion with our long-stated view that an incorporated website that offers news, editorial and commentary on the Internet which also "intends to endorse, expressly advocate, and urge readers to donate funds to the election of Democratic candidates for federal, state and local office" is entitled to this same strong protection as The New Republic, Fox News Channel and Rush Limbaugh. This FEC opinion affirms our belief that as long as a website is not owned or controlled by a candidate, party or PAC, it ought to be free to be as biased and partisan as it wants. See Draft Advisory Opinion 2005-16 (FiredUp America).

Would Reps. Shays and Meehan agree to codify the view of the Federal Election Commission? Do they object? (Their allies in the pro-regulation community strongly objected to such equal treatment.)

We simply don't know. We also don't know how their bill possibly protects incorporated wikis and podcasters, if the legislation specifically exempts only those incorporated individuals who operate a "web log".

Moreover, they proclaim that group websites are covered by an "already clear definition" of political committee behavior, but nothing could be further from the truth. As former FEC staffer Allison Hayward notes:

There is no "clear definition" of political committee. There is a statutory definition (a group with contributions or expenditures of $1,000 a year, basically) and a contradictory collection of cases interpreting whether there also must be a "major purpose" to "influence elections." What's "major"? What's "influence"? Any "elections" or just federal ones? Depending upon who you ask (Ed Foley, Scott Thomas, or Brad Smith) and what day it is, the answers will be different."

Let me close off by reiterating something that we've said before: many of us do not oppose closing the "soft money loophole" which Reps. Shays and Meehan have flagged. If a bill is presented which extends the soft money rules to the Internet, but also allows for robust protection of citizen activity on the Internet, many of us will support it.

H.R. 4194, in its present form, is not such a bill. Unless it is satisfactorily amended, it must be opposed.

Shorter Bush Administration

You fucked up - you trusted us!

We Are All Jordanians

Or not.

Eschaton Dating Service

If there are any young straight female readers in the central Pennsylvania area, Amanda has found quite a catch for you.

Wanker of the Day


The crime here isn't just laziness. It's tackiness and gall. Did Brooks bother to notice that the rappers whose songs he cites in his piece about "the future of Islam" aren't Muslim at all, but two black Frenchmen and one black Belgian? There's a word for this kind of stuff. "Mr. R," I suspect, would call it teubé.

The War On Christmas Continues

O'Reilly gets sillier and sillier.

Here at Eschaton we're pro Christmas, or whatever your favorite wintery holiday is. Amazon's having a lovely sale on TV show boxed sets for some early holiday shopping.

Bring on the Nasty

I'm guessing Bush's 4 hundred billionth Iraq speech, today, is gonna be nasty.

DeLay - Idiot

Wow. Sounds like he really screwed up:

The last-minute negotiations between the lawyers and Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle were arranged after DeLay made what Earle considered a seriously damaging admission about his fundraising activities during an Aug. 17 meeting with the prosecutor in Austin.

At that session, DeLay acknowledged that in 2002 he was informed about and expressed his support for transfers of $190,000 in mostly corporate funds from his Texas political action committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee in Washington and then back to Texas, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named.

Those transfers are at the heart of the prosecutor's investigation of the alleged use of corporate funds in the 2002 Texas elections, in violation of state law. In the prosecutor's view, DeLay's admission put him in the middle of a conspiracy not only to violate that law but also to launder money.

As disclosed by sources involved with the case, the new details present a more complete picture of the sequence of events leading to the indictment of DeLay at the end of September. They reveal the unusual lengths to which DeLay and his lawyers were willing to go to avoid charges that would force him to leave his powerful post -- and how it was DeLay's own words that ultimately got him in trouble with the prosecutor.

Little Ricky the Big Hypocrite

Who would have thought?

Open Thread

How can the thread with its arms all around me?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Alito: I Lied and I'm Proud of It

As I wrote before I at first didn't think the Vanguard thing was a big deal. But, it's become a major window into this guy's character. Basically, he's an I'm gonna do what I want and fuck you if you think otherwise kind of guy. Pretty sad if the Senate endorses his particular view of what making under oath promises to them means.

Campus Progress Chats with the Shrill One


Open Thread

More in the mind than the body this feeling, a sense at the end Of a circular thread.

Would the Wealthy Medicaid Recipients Please Stand Up?

David Dreier wants to talk to you.

How Free is Trade?

Given all the obsession with free trade agreements over the years one would imagine that trade with our favorite allies would be pretty damn free, absent tariffs, or at least a farely straightforward easy to follow system.


It's true the average tariff rate is fairly low (5% or so), but the the system is quite complex.

Water Carrier Ed Henry

On CNN Ed Henry just said regarding Alito's little Vanguard problem that according to Alito he voluntarily recused himself once he became aware of the situation.

Well, I suppose it depends on the meaning of "voluntary recusal."

He withdrew from the case after a complaint was filed by Shantee Maharaj, a Massachusetts woman who wanted Vanguard to give her the assets of her late husband's mutual funds.

Nonetheless, he wrote a letter to the chief circuit judge in 2003 complaining about the effort to remove him from the case. ''I do not believe that I am required to disqualify myself based on my ownership of the mutual fund shares," he wrote.

He wasn't exactly rushing for the door.


Edwards off the bus.

In an interview after the UNC speech, Edwards finally utters the words he'd assiduously avoided during the last campaign: "I voted for the resolution," he says. "It was a mistake."

Budget Pulled From House Floor

Republicans can't pass it...

Single Payer

This is a very odd statement:

He does nail market-oriented views on the issue of risk; we don't have a good explanation of why private insurance markets do not function better. But since single-payer national health insurance violates every economic law known to mankind, I am again unsure how I could leap on the Democratic bandwagon.

Even leaving aside the empirical evidence, including our very own Medicare program, which demonstrates that single payer systems and variants work quite well, I think we understand quite well why private insurance markets don't work very well.

Adverse selection is enough for there to be complete market failure in an insurance market. The legal/institutional framework which gives us group health plans offset the market-destroying impacts of adverse selection for a time, but the proliferation of choice for employees has brought it back. Simple version: only the sick buy the "best" insurance, making the best insurance more expensive, etc...

I do think it's wrong to entirely think about health insurance strictly within the context of typical insurance markets. Most people really just have a "health care services delivery package" that they've bought with some catastrophic insurance tacked onto it.

But, either way, one can think of quite a few reasons why the markets for health care and health insurance aren't like "other markets," that is where the basic assumptions necessary for well functioning markets aren't satisfied. Adverse selection, imperfect information, lack of price transparency, etc...

Internet Speech

Ditto Markos and Mike.

Senator Boss

Not such a bad idea.

Rules are for Other People

Alito seems to have a bad case of white guy entitlement syndrome.


At the end of a sensible enough post Kevin Drum writes:

The point isn't that trade is bad per se, the point is that politicians frequently make promises to help out those who are hurt by trade agreements, but then quickly lose interest in those promises once the agreement passes. That inevitably produces public opposition to future trade agreements, and in the end this hurts everyone. That's something worth paying attention to.

But "public opposition to future trade agreement" doesn't hurt "everyone." There are lots of people that have perfectly good reasons to oppose trade agreements. They're the people "who are hurt by trade agreements."

I'm roughly a "free trader" in the sense that removing the blunt protectionism of tariffs and quotas is broadly a worthy if not especially important goal at this point in time, though I'm certainly not in support of a lot of the things which have been thrown under the umbrella of "free trade." But the important point that needs to be made clearly is that even the simple textbook free trade agreement which removes tariffs and quotas is going to negatively impact a significant number of people. Those people are not naive Luddites to be dismissed by the Moustache of Understanding but people who rationally understand that free trade policies are going to hurt their incomes.


James Galbraith is providing a useful antidote to some of the less interesting discussion over at TPMCafe's econ week. I think one simple point that emerges from his post is that people spend a hell of a lot of time obsesssing about tweaking the tax code for greater economic efficiency and/or to help lower income people. The point is not that these are always necessarily bad ideas, but in terms of impact they're just drops in the bucket compared to some other relatively straightforward ideas. We spend a lot of time talking about trade and tax code tweaks when there are some big, easy, and dare I say it, popular, ideas just sitting there being largely ignored.

Some of those ideas are probably even supported by Sperling and Furman and others. But they tend not to get as much attention and discussion as exciting things like "flat tax incentive."

Refundable tax credits are great. Universal 401K? great. But compared to universal health care, increasing the minimum wage, greater worker/union rights, they're not that important and certainly not election winners.

There's a strange tendency in Left Wonkistan to obsess about policies which are "good for people whether they know it or not!" instead of obsessing about policies which people understand are good for them, or at the very least policies which have benefits which people can understand whether or not they support them.

Stupid Republican Tricks


Sting Like a Bee


Bush, who appeared almost playful, fastened the heavy medal around Muhammad Ali's neck and whispered something in the heavyweight champion's ear. Then, as if to say "bring it on," the president put up his dukes in a mock challenge. Ali, 63, who has Parkinson's disease and moves slowly, looked the president in the eye -- and, finger to head, did the "crazy" twirl for a couple of seconds.

The room of about 200, including Cabinet secretaries, tittered with laughter. Ali, who was then escorted back to his chair, made the twirl again while sitting down. And the president looked visibly taken aback, laughing nervously.

"Clearly, the president said a statement to Muhammad that he found humorous and his response was the 'crazy sign,' at which the president laughed," said Craig Bankey, a spokesman for Ali. The Presidential Medal of Honor is the polite, distinguished and altogether restrained grand dame to the Academy Awards, Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, et al. It's no popularity contest -- no million-dollar Oscar campaigns to wage, no Nielsen ratings to measure, no SoundScan or iTunes to track album sales and online downloads. Simply, elegantly, it is a way of saying that, yes, kind sir and gentle lady, you've made an indelible mark. Thank you.

There's a video link at the WaPo, though I haven't watched it yet and don't know if it includes this moment.

(thanks to reader p)

(pic thanks to holden)

GDP Fetishists

It's always been weird to me how many smart economists (much smarter than me usually) become members of the Cult of the GDP. I think it has to do in part with a desire to be as scientific as possible and therefore avoiding messy things like value judgments. However too often people fall into the trap of making a value judgment without realizing it.

There's no objective way to judge a policy based on its impact on the income distribution, and even if you're willing to apply some subjective criteria, coming up with consistent rankable metrics of outcomes based on those outcomes is problematic for a variety of reasons.

But that's no excuse for turning off our brains and deciding that the policy which leads to the highest level/increase in per capita GDP is strictly preferred to all other policies no matter what the outcome.

Is a policy which makes 1% of the population better off but 99% worse off a better one strictly because it raises the average? What about 20/80? What about 50/50, when it's the less well off people being made worse off and the more well off people being made better off? People can certainly have different opinions about these things, but what people shouldn't do is think that by focusing solely on real per capita GDP they're not making a subjective judgment. A policy change which impacts GDP also is likely to have an impact on the income distribution and just because you manage to avoid the latter issue doesn't mean that the issue isn't there. All you're doing is saying "GDP trumps all other considerations." If that's what you believe, fine, but it's a rather odd thing to believe.


This is interesting. Lott set off a minor firestorm because he was confused:

Lott appeared to tell the reporters that the source on the secret prisons in Eastern Europe came from a Senate Republican who had been at the Nov. 1 luncheon. CNN reported Lott’s remarks citing a fellow Senator as the leak on the Nov. 2 story, as did at other news organizations, including Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly.

But it was clearly impossible for a Senator to have been the initial source, since that meeting broke up after 2 p.m. and the secret-prison story — a more than 2,800-word opus which included sources in intelligence communities around the globe — was filed and slapped down in the next day’s paper.

Instead, Lott was really complaining about a different Post story, one that ran Monday, that focused on Cheney’s role in trying to defeat an anti-torture amendment sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Initially on Wednesday, Lott blamed CNN for misreporting or misunderstanding his comments Tuesday. Told that several other reporters heard the same thing, Lott said it’s possible that they also misunderstood him or that he was answering a question about the Nov. 7 story and the reporters thought he was talking about the Nov. 2 story.

“Two separate issues, they got tangled up,” Lott explained.

8th Grade Lunch Room

What a truly silly person.

This part tells us all we ever needed to know.

Adam Clymer, retired political correspondent for the Times, recalls an episode during the 1988 presidential campaign, when Miller was deputy Washington bureau chief.

Then the political editor based in New York, Clymer was awakened just after midnight one morning by a call from Miller, he says. She was demanding that a story about Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis be pulled from the paper.

The story was too soft, she complained -- and said Lee Atwater, the political strategist for Vice President George H.W. Bush, believed it was soft as well. Clymer said he was stunned to realize that Atwater apparently had either seen the story or been told about it before publication. He and Miller argued, he recalls, and he ultimately hung up on her, twice.

When she was the deputy Washington bureau chief she was taking stories about the Democratic candidate and showing them to the opposition before they were published.

I'm sure a blogger ethics panel could resolve this one somehow.

Jesse Malkin, Unhinged!

Shocking stuff.

Open Thread

On the darkest night so painful do you hunger for thread midst the torture of being one?

The Chick Vote

It's important. People tend to focus on the marginal chick vote on the issue of the week ("security moms!") but it makes a lot more sense to focus on bringing this rather large segment of the population into the party full time.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I suppose I should've put on my economist hat and jumped into this debate about trade. It's going on at tpmcafe and over at Max's place we have some people who weren't invited to the party but who are joining in anyway.

But, just to add my two cents I think it's quite important in understanding this debate to understand that it was news to Kevin Drum the classic trade theory predicts that the opening of an economy to free trade will lead to some factor of production receiving less compensation in absolute terms. It's a testament to how much power the moustache of understanding and other such folks have had on this debate that it's now received wisdom by the lay wonkerati that free trade doesn't have losers. As Josh Bivens points out, we did actually understand this in the early 90s. It's why it was understood (if not necessarily implemented as much as it should have been) that any free trade agreements should be accompanied by, at the very least, some sort of compensation and retraining for those in the losing sectors.

Now we're in this world where people just scream "free trade good!" Well, it isn't good for everyone. There are winners and losers, and all basic trade theory says is that enough extra income is created so that the winners could, in theory, more than compensate the losers for what they lost. But that's "class warfare" and "socialist redistribution" so we don't do that.

It's completely in the self-interest of a nontrivial part of the population to oppose basic free trade legislation. Economists are often loathe to embrace a particular social welfare function, but too many fall prey to embracing GDP as somehow being a metric which is value neutral. In fact all it does is obscure all the things about which we could make a value judgment. A useful measure of something, but certainly not a value-free measure of the nation's economic wellbeing. The income distribution is still there, even if we close our eyes and pretend it isn't.


Yet again:

The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence told Senate leaders yesterday that Congress should hold off on a probe of the disclosure of classified information on secret prisons to The Washington Post until the Justice Department completes its own inquiry.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said he will "respectfully" request that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) back off a strongly worded request that a bicameral investigation into the disclosure be convened immediately. Frist spokeswoman Amy Call said the majority leader had not decided how to respond. "He always takes what his chairmen say into consideration," she said.


From the Nelson Report:

Hummm....sounds like a pretty solid case for an impeachment proceeding, were there anything resembling either a sense or shame, or national ethics, in the Leadership of the House of Representatives and Senate. Something to be argued out in the 2006 Congressional campaigns?

Bush Time for Bongo


WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 - The lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of a West African nation to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees to a Maryland company now under federal scrutiny, according to newly disclosed documents.

The African leader, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Mr. Abramoff made the offer. There has been no evidence in the public record that Mr. Abramoff had any role in organizing the meeting or that he received any money or had a signed contract with Gabon.

White House and State Department officials described Mr. Bush's meeting with President Bongo, whose government is regularly accused by the United States of human rights abuses, as routine. The officials said they knew of no involvement by Mr. Abramoff in the arrangements. Officials at Gabon's embassy in Washington did not respond to written questions.

57% - Bush Lied Deliberately


Indeed, Iraq — which has emerged as the public’s top priority in the poll — has become a particularly thorny issue for Bush. Fifty-seven percent believe he deliberately misled people to make the case for war, compared with 35 percent who say he gave the most accurate information he had. In addition, 58 percent are less confident the war will come to a successful conclusion, and 57 percent say the United States should reduce the number of U.S. troops there.

Open Thread

Threads to the left of you threads to the right speak when you are spoken to don't pretend you're right.

"An Effective and Versatile Munition"

Army brags about using white phosphorus rounds as a weapon.

Not McCain?

While he is the obvious guess as I said I never really thought it would be him. Laura Rozen says it was probably one of the 9 pro-torture senators.

Which one of these would you describe as up and coming?

Wayne Allard - Colorado

Kit Bond - Missouri

Tom Coburn - Oklahoma

Thad Cochran - Mississippi

John Cornyn - Texas

James Inhofe - Oklahoma

Pat Roberts - Kansas

Jeff Sessions - Alabama

Ted Stevens - Alaska

Connerly's France

Just to add on a bit to what Juan Cole wrote to reiterate a couple of things. France's approach to multiculturalism and race is essentially that of Ward Connerly you simply make it officially not exist. A couple years back Connerly pushed for a ballot measure in California which would've made it illegal for the state government, in most cases, to make any racial classifications by race. While I'm not entirely unsymapthetic to the notion that such classification systems are problematic for various reasons, the alternative is simply having no information at all about race.

This is France's system. This is the conservative approach to race and society. This is what they've spent the last week mocking.

They're such idiots.


Michael Crowley speculates that McCain was a source for the WaPo's story. That's a rather obvious guess, if a senator was involved. However it looks like "Mr. Straight Talk" has a wee problem telling the truth. According to Newsweek (a story probably told by McCain himself) McCain was at the lunch where Cheney got all weepy and begged them to let them keep torturing people and then told them about the secret prisons. If that's so, then why did Mr. Straight Talk lie to poor Soledad O'Brien yesterday morning?

S. O'BRIEN: There was a report last week in the "Washington Post" that talked about these secret prisons in Europe.


S. O'BRIEN: Are you aware of these prisons?


S. O'BRIEN: Not at all?

MCCAIN: I did not know anything about it.

S. O'BRIEN: Which means what, then? I mean if other senators -- are you going to start hearings on this? Obviously you would like to be aware, yes?

MCCAIN: Well, I think the Intelligence Committee chairman and ranking member were told -- at least that's the media reports that I have -- but I think the American people ought to know if we're doing that kind of thing.

Bye Judy

Good luck in your new career at Pajama Media (joke).

The New York Times and Judith Miller, a veteran reporter for the paper, reached an agreement today that ends her 28-year career at the newspaper and caps more than two weeks of negotiations over the conclusion of a tumultuous episode.


Lawyers for Ms. Miller and the paper negotiated a severance package whose details they would not disclose. Under the agreement, Ms. Miller will retire from the newspaper, and The Times will print a letter she wrote to the editor explaining her position. Ms. Miller originally demanded that she be able to write an essay for the paper's Op-Ed page refuting the allegations against her, the lawyers said. The Times refused that demand - Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, said, "We don't use the Op-Ed page for back and forth between one part of the paper and another" - but agreed to let her to write the letter.

(thanks to reader p)


Juan Cole is worth reading.

Crazy Ideas

Dean Baker has some crazy ideas. My favorite is his crazy idea that we should believe the president's Social Security commission when they told us that the government could administer a 401K program at 1/5 the cost of private plans and costlessly provide annuities. If this is true then it's absolutely imperative that the government nationalize the administration of these programs immediately.

Casey, Pennacchio, and Sandals

I stay away from primaries, but the treatment by the press of the two Pennsylvania candidates not named Casey has been inexcusable. Whatever one thinks of the chances of Sandals and Pennacchio, those chances in part depend on the press acknowledging their existence. Both Sandals and Pennacchio are running active campaigns, and while I'm less familiar with what Sandals is doing I know Pennacchio is probably doing a hell of a lot more campaigning than is Bob Casey, Jr.

Open Thread

On the darkest night so painful do you hunger for thread midst the torture of being one?

Out of Touch Media

Who knew that the public was so sensible?


Will Bunch says it's time for Bill Keller to go.

That's Accurate

White House trying to rewrite history.

So Many Wankers

Student threatening to sue Prof. B: wanker.

Professor who contacted student's adviser over stuff on the internets: wanker.

...more links here, hopefully some will work.

Blair Loses Terrorism Law Vote


Judy Judy Judy

What Ailes says:

Miller's desperate bid for sympathy by claiming that Keller accused her of sleeping with Scooter won't work. That's about the only fuck-up Keller isn't guilty of.


JD Hayworth runs away!

Tacos With Mike Ledeen

Never underestimate the ability of wingnuts to just make shit up.

Open Thread

Always on the thread of what could be the greatest moment in this life.


Karen Hughes, CNN, the day of the 2003 SOTU speech:

KAREN HUGHES, SENIOR BUSH ADVISER: He'll talk about that, and talk about that in the aftermath of September 11. Given Saddam's history, given the type of dictator, we know that he is, given his aggressions in the past, and given the fact that he's got ongoing links with al Qaeda, that the president does not feel it's in the security interest of the United States to allow Saddam to continue to defy the world and to continue to have those dangerous weapons.

America: Pro-Torture

Fuck yeah!

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 - A classified report issued last year by the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general warned that interrogation procedures approved by the C.I.A. after the Sept. 11 attacks might violate some provisions of the international Convention Against Torture, current and former intelligence officials say.

The previously undisclosed findings from the report, which was completed in the spring of 2004, reflected deep unease within the C.I.A. about the interrogation procedures, the officials said. A list of 10 techniques authorized early in 2002 for use against terror suspects included one known as waterboarding, and went well beyond those authorized by the military for use on prisoners of war.

I'm no John McCain fan but all politicians should take a look at how he handled the ridiculous "I've been watching too many episodes of 24" scenario yesterday morning:

S. O'BRIEN: Aren't there examples, though -- where are examples, maybe, where torture is the only option left?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, torture doesn't work, as we have proved. Second of all, if there was a one in a million situation where that would happen, then the president would take responsibility for it.

That's exactly right. If extraordinary circumstances ever arose nothing would stop the president from doing what is necessary. The power of pardon is absolute, and no president is going to be impeached for stopping someone from blowing up New York.

Somebody Up There Likes Me

For purely petty reasons, the results I cared most about yesterday were the California ballot measures.

Arnold, denied!

Open Thread

Leaving all the changes far from far behind. we relieve the tension only to find out the thread's name.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Bye bye Intelligent Designers. Look like we got 8 out of 8.

...other link here.

(thanks to Arthur Silber)


Seems like just 5 seconds ago I saw this...

and this:

and this:


Frist signed after all:

But a little bit of a hang-up just in the last hour here, Senate Majority Leader Frist telling reporters he has not officially signed a letter that he and Hastert had drafted earlier today to the intelligence committee chairs to officially launch this investigation. What's the hang-up? Well, a little controversy has been brewing this afternoon.


HENRY: Good evening, Lou, again. That's right, Now Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in the last half hour now has actually signed this letter, officially launching the congressional investigation. It is a letter basically from Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to the House and Senate intelligence committee chairman, saying they want a bicameral -- it means basically both chambers -- investigating whether or not classified information made it into this "Washington Post" report last week about secret prisons holding terror suspects.

Corzine Wins

Congrats, Senator Governor-elect. Maybe I should see if that cell phone # he gave me once still works...


Seems like just a year ago I heard this:

St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly broke Democratic Party ranks on Sunday to announce his support for President Bush's re-election.

"George Bush and I do not agree on a lot of issues," Kelly said in a statement. "But in turbulent times, what the American people need more than anything is continuity of government, even with some imperfect policies."

Kelly, who said he's remaining a Democrat, said the economy is going in the right direction. "There's no reason to believe a change of course will produce better or quicker results," he said.

And the mayor said the United States will bring the troops home from Iraq a lot sooner if "we don't try to bring in a whole new leadership team to run the show. We must stay the course."

See-yuh, wouldn't want to bee-yuh:

St. Paul voters held what amounted to a referendum on the White House as they picked a mayor Tuesday, with Democratic incumbent Randy Kelly haunted by his 2004 endorsement of President Bush.

With 74 percent of the city's 104 precints reporting, the Star Tribune is calling the race for former City Council member Chris Coleman. Coleman had more than twice as many votes as the mayor 29,373-13,061. Ahead of the election, three independent polls showed voters were primed to fire Kelly, and most cited his support for Bush as the reason.

"It may sound silly, but Kelly was for Bush and I'm not,'' said retiree Audrey Guith after casting her vote for Coleman.

Among the People

Was in DC today and on my way back it was cool to see Senator Boxer at the bookstore in Union Station signing copies of her new book. The neat thing was that nowhere (that I could see) was the word senator to be found. Just author Barbara Boxer.


Ah, seems like it was just yesterday I heard...

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thanks for the kind introduction, "Governor." (Applause.)

Singing Fat Lady

I've seen too many races called before their time, but general consensus seems to be that Kaine wins VA (AP has called it).

Corzine presumably wins too, but I haven't seen it called yet.

Election Thread is your one stop shop.



Senate Majority Leader Frist telling reporters he has not officially signed the letter that he and Hastert drafted earlier today...

McCain on CNN This Morning

S. O'BRIEN: There was a report last week in the "Washington Post" that talked about these secret prisons in Europe.


S. O'BRIEN: Are you aware of these prisons?


S. O'BRIEN: Not at all?

MCCAIN: I did not know anything about it.

S. O'BRIEN: Which means what, then? I mean if other senators -- are you going to start hearings on this? Obviously you would like to be aware, yes?

MCCAIN: Well, I think the Intelligence Committee chairman and ranking member were told -- at least that's the media reports that I have -- but I think the American people ought to know if we're doing that kind of thing.

Comedy Gold

Sometimes I love Republicans:

Too funny. Hastert and Frist make a big show of calling for an investigation into a leak allegedly affecting national security -- the locations of secret "black site" torture prisons. And then -- BOOM!!! Lott just said, Tuesday afternoon, that he thinks it was a GOP Senator who leaked the info to the Washington Post last week. He says the details had been discussed at a GOP Senators-only meeting last week, and that many of those details made it into the WaPo story.

Money quote from Lott; "We can not remain silent. We have met the enemy, and it is us."

All just reported on CNN. We are, folks, witnessing the full-on implosion of the national Republican Party. And not a second too soon.

CNN now. Ed Henry:

Trent Lott stunned reporters by declaring that this subject was actualy discussed at a Senate Republican luncheon, Republican senators only, last tuesday the day before the story ran in the Washington Post. Lott noted that Vice President Cheney was also in the room for that discussion and Lott said point blank "a lot of it came out of that room last tuesday, pointing to the room where the lunch was held in the capitol." He added of senators "we can't keep our mouths shut." He added about the vice president, "He was up here last wek and talked up here in that room right there in a roomful of nothing but senators and every word that was said in there went right to the newspaper." He said he believes when all is said and done it may wind up as an ethics investigation of a Republican senator, maybe a Republican staffer as well. Senator Frist's office not commenting on this development. The Washington Post not commenting either.

This morning on CNN, John McCain said he'd never heard of the "black sites" before the Post story. Oddly, the transcript isn't up yet.

Y Kant Byron Read?

Yes, Byron, cutting and pasting chunks from RNC press releases and passing it off as "journalism" is plagiarism (as is stealing from the Associated Press). Using blogs as a research tool and then using the information discovered in them quite possibly isn't, depending on the specifics.

It was certainly sloppy of the Brown campaign, but politicians take from research done all over the place all the time. Talking points are issued and reissued (and repeated). If Brown had given a speech just repeating everything in the post I'd see it somewhat differently, but passing on a bit of oppo research or set of talking points is pretty much standard stuff.

Open Thread

Thread comes to you and you follow - lose one on to the Heart of the Sunrise.


But, admittedly, clever. It presents the press with an opportunity, if they take it, to confront some serious issues. However my guess is that they'll let the Republicans, who they've been sucking up to for as long as I can remember, destroy them.

Somewhat related, Schanberg has some good discussion.

Hide the Chalabi

Think Progress details Chalabi's misdeeds, something the rest of the media is determined to ignore.

Steal This Post

What Nathan Newman said. Genuine plagiarism in this context is lifting out paragraphs of unique prose, not culling some information from a blog post.

I now reserve the right to yell plagiarist every time some set of written talking points comes out of a hack's mouth.

Politicians are free to steal in whole or in part everything written here if they so chose, including the liberal use of the word "wanker."

Tax Crude

That's a very good idea, and also presumably easier to sell to the public. It's a blunter tax, but I don't worry about that so much. I imagine different uses of oil have different environmental impacts, so ideally you'd want to design the perfect tax for each one. But in practice that's not going to happen anyway so taxing crude oil directly sounds fine.

Open Thread

No thread can take your place, you know what I mean. We have the same intrigue as a court of kings.


You'd think they'd be a bit peeved that the guy who fed them all the bogus intelligence about saddam's weapons programs was wrong about everything.

Oh well, no harm no foul.

Open Thread

Lost in trance of dances as thread takes another turn. As is my want, I only reach to look in

Monday, November 07, 2005

Big Time teh Suck

The truth is it's not entirely clear where Dick Cheney's reputation for competence came from. I expect it came from being white, sounding serious, and talking the right talk. James Carroll outlines the long hideous career of the truly anti-American Veep.

...digby has more.

Judy Judy Judy

This is one of the more thoughtful columns, from the perspective of a reporter, that I've read.

Open Thread

Onward through the thread, onward through the night of my life.

Open Thread

Leaving all the changes far from far behind. we relieve the tension only to find out the thread's name.

Mission Accomplished

Good news! It'll only take one more year to secure Baghdad.

The ambassador argues that U.S. policy is finally on track. "We do have the beginning of adjustments that I think puts us on the right path," he told Gwen Ifill of PBS in one of his few on-the-record interviews. In addition to his own diplomacy, which has persuaded Sunni parties to compete in upcoming elections and Shiite and Kurdish parties to agree to post-election negotiations, there is, at last, a concerted counterinsurgency campaign underway, aimed at clearing areas of militants and then holding them. Khalilzad believes Baghdad should now be systematically secured, starting with the airport and then moving into the city. But the process will be slow and hard: Just pacifying the capital could take a year.


Republicans up to their usual tricks.

Open Thread

Distant as the distant thunder Where equal threads will rent asunder.

Wishing Doesn't Make it So

Poor BoBo, pulling things right out of his ass.

Words Speak Louder Than Actions

Bush says "We do not torture."

Maybe someone should ask him why he hasn't bothered to tell Dick Cheney?


One of the stupidest hypotheticals campaign finance reform obsessives raise is the prospect of large companies like Halliburton starting a blog using it to influence federal elections. Of course, you don't need to be a large company to start a blog - anyone can start one! If Halliburton really wanted to throw its weight around like that, it has the power to do what I do not but General Electric does - buy a television network and load it up with useful idiots like Tim Russert and Chris Matthews. Certain election related FCC regulations cover NBC broadcast, but not the cable outlets, and they're basically entirely exempt from FEC regulations.

Jerry Kilgore Targeting Illegal Voters

Sadly, the wanker prize is already taken, but this idiocy must be addressed. Cornerite:

RE: VA RACE [Jim Boulet Jr.]
Virginia viewers of the post-Redskins-Eagles ESPN Sportscenter were graced with a political ad entirely in Spanish, a Service Employees International Union endorsement of Democrat Tim Kaine in tomorrow's Virginia governor's race.
In a joint campaign appearance with Kaine, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson pronounced that "the multiethnic component of Northern Virginia is going to be critical" on Election Day. Kaine's approach to winning that vote is to oppose local enforcement of immigration laws.

Given that learning English is required for U.S. citizenship and only U.S. citizens are supposed to vote, the SEIU is targeting who exactly with this Spanish-only strategy?

Learning English is not required for U.S. citizenship. In fact, most people become citizens before they can speak English. Stunning, I know, but they weren't smart enough to learn to speak before they were born. Many of our fine citizens live in Puerto Rico (population 4 million), where they generally grow up speaking Spanish, and Spanish is one of the official languages of the fine state of New Mexico, having a significant native Spanish speaking population.

And, yes, one needs to obtain some English proficiency to become naturalized but proficiency doesn't mean fluency.

And, finally, Jerry Kilgore is targeting who exactly with the Spanish language version of his website? Many Repulican candidates and of course the RNC itself regularly run Spanish language ads.

Wankers of the Day

Shays, Meehan, and a bunch of other clueless people.

BoBo's World

Logan, OH edition:

LOGAN, Ohio - One suspect was arrested and three others are being sought after a bottle exploded in what was described as a traveling methamphetamine lab in a Wal-Mart parking lot in this southeast Ohio town.

The suspects fled from the Chevrolet van coughing and rubbing their eyes following the explosion Saturday afternoon. One was caught running down state Route 664 and the others got away.


Zakaria has a good column about the torture administration. Near the end he writes:

America washes its dirty linen in public. When scandals such as this one hit, they do sully America's image in the world. But what usually also gets broadcast around the world is the vivid reality that the United States forces accountability and punishes wrongdoing, even at the highest levels.

This is exactly right. If instead of blaming the media for bringing attention to the issues or pretending torture didn't happen even as they were justifying and advocating torture there had been some accountability for the people involved the message sent to the world would've been very different. And, yes, I'm realistic and I know that true accountability - the resignations of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney - wasn't going to happen. But, imagine if Rumsfeld had resigned over this. Message sent: America good, torture bad.

But, instead we're treated to the spectacle of Big Time running around all the congressional offices begging his minions to let him keep putting the testicle clamps on. Nice.

Blog Future

South Dakota, New Jersey, and Arkansas all point to what future blogs can play in campaigns, for better or for worse. As I've written repeatedly, the impact of blogs in this way depend almost entirely on whether or not the media is amplifying whatever is on them. As we've seen to a great degree the media is willing to pay attention to "rumors on the internets" and has been before blogging was around.

It's also important to note that smart and ethical campaigns can also use blogs in ways other than trying to put bullshit out there.


Bush in Panama:

People around here know how to play baseball.

Continuing to speak as if the audience were 5 year olds. The Great White Father act works a bit better when Great White Father doesn't sound like an idiot.

Public Service Announcement

Get your emergency contraception here.

(via salon)

Fringe Crackpot


Bring it On

I think the Libby trial could be a hell of a lot of fun.

Open Thread

your eyes.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Is Anyone Happy With Their Health Insurance?

The Shrill One talks about our shitty health care system.

I'm curious. Is there anyone who has had at least a moderately seriously health event been happy with their health insurance?

About Time

Congrats to Princess Oolius and the future Mrs. Princess Oolius!

I Always Liked Ms. Aniston


6. The state of the world. How about that indictment?! And why did it take so long to respond to the crisis in New Orleans? Everything is imploding. It all seems to lead back to our dear president.

The Majority of Americans are in "Michael Moore Territory"

Oddly, a majority of Americans are not former Christian Coalition/Hudson Institute/McCain staffers.

Thank Jeebus a majority of Americans are right a bit more often than that.

Sunday Night

Damn iggles.

Open Thread

Threads to the left of you threads to the right speak when you are spoken to don't pretend you're right.

Birthright Citizenship

The latest great idea from the anti-immigrant crusaders, not granting citizenship to people born in this country to people who are here illegally, is a presposterously bad idea. The lack of birthright citizenship, or in the case of France a somewhat weaker version of it, is part of why the native/immigrant relationships are so screwed up in parts of Europe. Of course, this country has its own reasons for screwed up immigrant/native relationships but we don't need to import a whole bunch of new ones.

I guess that pesky 14th amendment still drives them crazy:

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

Open Thread

There's a thread and the thread is now and it's right for me.

I Missed That Class in Medical School

Actually I never went to medical school but perhaps someone who did can tell me when they learn to apply their dark arts in this fashion:

SEN. COBURN on Roberts: I've tried to use my medical skills of observation of body language to ascertain your uncomfortableness and ill at ease with questions and responses. I will tell you that I am very pleased both in my observational capabilities as a physician to know that your answers have been honest and forthright as I watch the rest of your body respond to the stress that you're under.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe as a physician you can tell whether a candidate for the Supreme Court is telling the truth?

SEN. COBURN: Mm-hm, I certainly have.

MR. RUSSERT: Has any--have you ever detected someone lying?

SEN. COBURN: Uh-huh, lots of times.


Republicans up to their usual tricks.


I bounce back and forth between amusement and disgust at the right wing's bizarre and uninformed reaction to the events in Paris. Without getting into the of course important subtleties, think "60s race riots" as your comparison point, not "al Qaeda terrorists."

France treats its immigrant populations (which include, of course, 2nd and 3rd generation "immigrants") like shit. This isn't a "clash of cultures" it's rebellion by a repressed and marginalized underclass.


Tim Russert just pulled a Ted Kennedy quote from 1967 as a gotcha exercise.

Join me in travelling back in time to 1967 to imagine the kinds of things that Russert was saying then, when he was 17 years old.

Shorter Right Wingers

Interesting (nauseating) exchange over at Kevin Drum's place in the comments. The right wing view seems to be something like:

We don't torture anyone so stop saying that but the not torturing that we do is vital for national security.

or something.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

John Aravosis will be on Reliable Sources sometime after 10:30 on CNN, apparently to give a good cockpunching to one of the Powerliners.

Open Thread

More in the mind than the body this feeling, a sense at the end Of a circular thread.