Saturday, March 04, 2006

He is Small and Not So Smart

There is probably no bigger wanker than Joe Klein.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Fresh Thread

Try not to shoot anybody in the face.

State Populations

After reading this article about Vermont's population issues I was curious to see what the population projections were for the various states. This excel file provides Census's Bureaus current projections. A few things struck me as odd. Will Idaho really be the 6th fastest growing state, increasing its population by about 50%? I also can't imagine DC losing a quarter of its population.

Get Your Gogol

The greatest live band in the history of the universe is on tour again.

Golden Boy

During the early-mid 90s there probably wasn't any political figure who got more media fluffing than Ralph Reed. The universe probably does not like me this much, but dare to dream.

Unconfirmed Rumors

Harmless and fun!

Messiah Revisited

I updated this Blair post because I had a bit of early morning reading comprehension problem.


Francine Busby gave the Democrats' radio address today. She's running in a special election for the Dukestir's seat. If you're in or near CA-50 (roughly the northern bits of San Diego county) you can find what you can to do help out here.

Or you can throw a couple Hamiltons down here.


Cheater and a hypocrite. From Firedoglake.

Frist then:

The [Intelligence] Committee’s nonpartisan tradition has been carefully cultivated over the years by its members. The tradition is part and parcel of the Committee’s rules, which extend prerogatives to the Minority that are not found in other committee rule books.

For a quarter century, there has been a consensus in the Senate that the Committee’s nonpartisan tradition must be carefully safeguarded. Nothing less is acceptable, given the dangerous and sensitive nature of the subject matter for which it has oversight responsibility

Frist now:

The Committee was established and structured to reflect the Senate’s desire for bipartisanship, and to the maximum extent possible, nonpartisan oversight of our nation’s intelligence activities. If attempts to use the committee’s charter for political purposes exist, we may have to simply acknowledge that nonpartisan oversight, while a worthy aspiration, is simply not possible. If we are unable to reach agreement, I believe we must consider other options to improve the Committee’s oversight capabilities, to include restructuring the Committee so that it is organized and operated like most Senate Committees.

Rehabbing Brownie

I think it's very simple. There have been a parade of former Bushies who, long after they have an ability to make a difference, tepidly criticize the administration to the applause of "sensible" liberals everywhere. Not one of them came forward when it mattered. Brownie could've gotten on TV and said "I'm trying to help the people of New Orleans and all President Bush wants to do is schedule a photo op." He didn't. Not one of these people have had the courage to do the right thing when it mattered.


I understand that religious people can look to their God and their religion for guidance in their lives, and believe that their decisions are in fact informed by both, but that's something entirely different from believing that their decisions are in fact, by definition, God's Will Made Manifest. Such people are dangerous luantics with Messiah complexes and are unfit to be anywhere near the levers of power.

Details emerged Friday of Blair's interview on an ITV1 television talk show where he said God and history would judge his action in joining the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

"That decision has to be taken and has to be lived with, and in the end there is a judgment that -- well, I think if you have faith about these things then you realise that judgment is made by other people," Blair said in the interview with host Michael Parkinson which will air Saturday night.

Pressed to clarify what he meant, Blair, a devout Christian, replied: "If you believe in God, it's made by God as well."

Blair's role in publc life should be limited to ranting away on a stool at Speakers' Corner if this he how he views himself.

UPDATE: This post is totally unwarranted. Blair's a wanker but I had a wee bit of a reading comprehension when I read this earlier. Blair's comments were in the spirit of "I'll do whatever I want and then let God sort its rightness out" and not as I first read meaning "I'm god's right hand man." I had read the bit about God's judgment as being the judgment to go to war, and not judgment of Blair's decision to do so.

Health Care

Krugman and Wells have a good NYRB on health care on what to do about it. It's long so there isn't that much point in excerpting much overall, but I thought this was a nice clear explanation of the problem of adverse selection in insurance markets:

Here's how it works: imagine an insurer who offered policies to anyone, with the annual premium set to cover the average person's health care expenses, plus the administrative costs of running the insurance company. Who would sign up? The answer, unfortunately, is that the insurer's customers wouldn't be a representative sample of the population. Healthy people, with little reason to expect high medical bills, would probably shun policies priced to reflect the average person's health costs. On the other hand, unhealthy people would find the policies very attractive.

You can see where this is going. The insurance company would quickly find that because its clientele was tilted toward those with high medical costs, its actual costs per customer were much higher than those of the average member of the population. So it would have to raise premiums to cover those higher costs. However, this would disproportionately drive off its healthier customers, leaving it with an even less healthy customer base, requiring a further rise in premiums, and so on.


The cowardly Frist is planning to do the only thing Republicans know how to do well - cheat.

Real Rape

These people are fucked up.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Shorter John Tierney

Please overlook the fact that journalists at prominent papers have union contracts and the protections that go with them.

Wanker of the Day

Already, at 12:06 AM!

Dan Gerstein.

Friday, March 03, 2006


More on O'Reilly. C&L should have video of Olbermann ripping into him soon.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Fox Security

O'Reilly imagines he has his own private police force.

O'REILLY: Orlando, Florida, Mike, go.

CALLER: Hey Bill, I appreciate you taking my call.


CALLER: I like to listen to you during the day, I think Keith Olbermann's show --

O'REILLY: There ya go, Mike is -- he's a gone guy. You know, we have his -- we have your phone numbers, by the way. So, if you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to Fox security, and you'll be getting a little visit.

HILL: Maybe Mike is from the mothership.

O'REILLY: No, Maybe Mike is going to get into big trouble, because we're not going to play around. When you call us, ladies and gentleman, just so you know, we do have your phone number, and if you say anything untoward, obscene, or anything like that, Fox security then will contact your local authorities, and you will be held accountable. Fair?

HILL: That's fair.

O'REILLY: So, just -- all you guys who do this kind of a thing, you know, I know some shock jocks. Whatever. You will be held accountable. Believe it.

This Sounds Promising


The U.S. Air Force has begun moving heavily armed AC-130 airplanes - the lethal "flying gunships" of the Vietnam War - to a base in Iraq as commanders search for new tools to counter the Iraqi resistance, The Associated Press has learned.

An AP reporter saw the first of the turboprop-driven aircraft after it landed at the airfield this week. Four are expected.

The Iraq-based special forces command controlling the AC-130s, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, said it would have no comment on the deployment. But the plan's general outline was confirmed by other Air Force officers, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject.


The New York Times is having problems.

Musharraf of Arabia


I believe that a prosperous, democratic Pakistan will be a steadfast partner for America, a peaceful neighbor for India, and a force for freedom and moderation in the Arab world.


I look forward to the full data, but hopefully this will help kill of the "blog readers are young" zombie. I would be quite happy if they were, but they just aren't. It's a silly mischaracterization, along with "bloggers are geeks because they use computers." I'm sure plenty of us are geeks, but it has little to do with the fact that we stumbled upon free easy to use tools requiring little actual geek knowledge in order to rant away on the internets.

Personal Courage

How low can we set the bar.


Even worse than I thought.


This is pretty amazing.


The Editors:

So please don’t write a big long post pointing out times in the past when you said torture is bad, because that doesn’t cut it. All it is going to do is make me feel very, very sleepy, and so I’m going to have to have another cup of coffee, and if I have another cup of coffee before I get some food in my stomach … well, it’s not going to be a pretty picture for anyone involved. What is really going to put me in my place is if someone - say, for example, you - actually decides that the Bush policy of extralegal, unaccountable torture is worth getting upset about, perhaps even more deserving of disapprobation than Ward Churchill getting tenure, Al Gore’s views on visa policy, Michael Moore’s waistline, or whatever else the leading lights of today’s denatured conservatism think everyone should be gnashing their teeth about this week. (Or last week.) Because right now, America tortures people. You live in a country where the President has declared an effectively permanent state of war, and can, and does, as a matter of policy, and on a global scale, engage in torture. Morally, practically, spiritually, profoundly: this is wrong. It is worth being upset about. It is worth overlooking the use of literary devices you don’t agree with. It is worth forgiving minor policy disagreements. It is even worth telling people you otherwise agree with that, when they defend, excuse, or minimize the situation, they are wrong - morally, practically, spiritually, profoundly, even - and they, through deed or inaction, disgrace America. Because they do. And if you did it, you’d probably be more polite than me. And they might even listen. And then, eventually, this might change. And then I’d be completely busted, and I’d have to start berating you about, I don’t know, marginal tax rates, and uh, workplace harrassment lawsuits, and all those other things I’m told I care so deeply about, instead of about the corruption of the soul of my country. Please let me live with that shame instead.

Kerry's Email List

One question floating around out there is how much "power" does Kerry's massive email list have.

According to an email I just got sent to the list he sent out a fundraising email for 3 Vets running for Congress and raised over $250,000 in 48 hours.

Time Warp

The advantage of troll poop is that most of the time they're just cutting and pasting something they've seen on some right wing blog. Here we have Roger L. Simon chastizing Robert Byrd for not counting his involvement with the Klan as one of the regrets of his Senate career, even though that was, you know, not something which happened during his Senate career.


Nothing Worse Than Agreeing With the Derb

Who's smacking his fellow Cornerites around.

One of the more fascinating revelations I had was when I realized that many war supporters thought things were going well simply because there was evidence that people were living "normal lives" in Iraq, as if not living a normal life was an option. Cowering under a bed for 3 years is not, in fact, an option, even though it appears to be what much of the cheeto crowd have done themselves since 9/11. People need to work to earn money to feed themselves and their families, all of which requires attempting to live as much as possible a "normal life."

What They Want


Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state's official "majority" religion.

House Concurrent Resolution 13 has is pending in the state legislature.


The resolution would recognize "a Christian god," and it would not protect minority religions, but "protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs.

The resolution also recognizes that, "a greater power exists," and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, "justified recognition."

Wanker of the Day

John Dickerson, who makes very clear what's obvious with our presidential courtiers.

The Homo Movie

I saw this CNN piece yesterday and I was floored:


This is a year when smaller, more independent films are being recognized in a big way, films with controversial theme, political themes, gay or transgender themes, but outside of Hollywood are the Oscars and the films that are honoring. Are they relevant to middle America? Well, I took a trip to Kansas to find out.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Far from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood lies Lebanon, Kansas, population 250 people, median age 52. A place where three houses recently sold for a grand total of $11,000 on eBay.

Many have asked the question, is Hollywood out of touch with middle America? What better place to find out than the middle of America. This is the geographic center of the continental United States in Lebanon, Kansas.

RANDY MAUS, LEBANON RESIDENT: Out here, at least in rural America where you could say it's the Bible belt, we're still looking for movies that have creative substance and a storyline.

ANDERSON: Randy Maus is a Lebanon transplant from the Boston area. He, along with other Lebanon residence, including the ladies in the Methodist Church bell choir, aren't exactly thrilled with the films the Oscars are honoring.

Has anybody seen "Brokeback Mountain?"


ANDERSON: Anybody want to see it?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just not interested in all the sex and skin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just not my style of life.

ANDERSON: What kind of movies do you want Hollywood to make?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about "The Sound of Music" and some of those?

LADIES: Right. Right.

ANDERSON: We stopped by the Lebanon hotspot, Ladow's Market, where one local told us Hollywood just can't relate to a farming way of life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've never been back in here to know what it's like to actually have to make a living doing this.

ANDERSON: The closest theater is 12 miles away in Smith Center, Kansas. One movie theater, one film shown per week, and none of the movies nominated for best picture have played here.

MIKE HUGHES, CENTER THEATER: We have a large senior citizen base, so we gear a lot of our movies towards that and our children's pictures do real well.

ANDERSON: So say you put "Brokeback Mountain" on the screen?

HUGHES: I feel it would not play very well. It wouldn't be profitable for us.

ANDERSON: Dave Karger, a senior writer for "Entertainment Weekly," says profits aren't the driving force behind the Academy Awards.

DAVE KARGER, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": They're about recognizing the five best movies of the year, not the five most profitable movies of the year.

ANDERSON: Here in the middle of America, in Lebanon, the Oscars are as far from their minds as they seem to be from the minds of those in Hollywood.


ANDERSON: And in addition to "Brokeback Mountain," many of the residents hadn't even heard of the other best picture nominees, "Capote," "Crash," "Munich," "Good Night and Good Luck," and if they had, many of them weren't interested in seeing them. You can bet millions of people will be watching the Oscars, but most likely the viewer numbers will be very, very low in Lebanon, Kansas.

LIN: But "Big Momma" was plague at the theater, and I don't think that one's nominated is it, Brooke?

ANDERSON: "Big Momma's House 2," no it is not nominated this year. I think "Pink Panther" is on its way to that theater as well.

LIN: Excellent. All right, we all are for the arts. Thanks, Brooke.


The evidence suggests Fred, Robert, and Lawrence are unrelated.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Age Appropriate Books

Inspired in part by comments in the thead below, your late night thread involves discussing novels which should be read at a particular age. I'm especially curious if there are any novels which should be read when you are actually older - 40+. I can come up with plenty which are best read in middle/late adolescence and early adulthood.

Your Liberal Media


A classified document that an Islamic charity says is evidence of illegal government eavesdropping on its phone calls and e-mails was provided in 2004 to a Washington Post reporter, who returned it when the FBI demanded it back a few months later.

According to a source familiar with the case, the document indicated that the National Security Agency intercepted telephone conversations in the spring of 2004 between a director of the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and lawyers for the foundation in the District.


At the same time, an attorney for al-Haramain, Wendell Belew, provided a copy of the document to Post reporter David B. Ottaway. Ottaway was researching Islamic groups and individuals who had been designated terrorists by the U.S. government and were attempting to prove their innocence.

In November 2004, FBI agents approached Belew, and soon thereafter Ottaway, saying that the government had mistakenly released the document. They demanded all copies back and warned that anyone who revealed its contents could be prosecuted.

Ottaway declined to discuss the contents of the document other than to confirm it appeared to be a summary of one or more conversations intercepted by the government.

"The FBI said that . . . it contained highly sensitive national security information," Ottaway said yesterday in a statement. "I returned it after consulting with Washington Post editors and lawyers, and concluding that it was not relevant to what I was working on at the time."


The suit contends that the government's interception of conversations between al-Haramain officer Suliman al-Buthe in Saudi Arabia and lawyers Belew and Asim Ghafoor in Washington violated the Fourth Amendment, attorney-client privilege and the federal law that requires a court warrant to tap certain domestic phone conversations.

Things unknown are unknown only to us it seems... I'm sure Joe Klein will be around to explain why government spying on the conversations between American lawyers and their clients without a court order* is A-OK.

*If this indeed turns out to be the case. It may not, in this case, but certainly the Bush administration has asserted its authority to do so.


It probably seems like a small thing, but I'd like to hear some of the Pain Caucus type Kausian Democrats speak up about the potential killing of the collection of the SIPP data. While it's certainly the case that results matter, not simply programs, as such people liked to tell us you can't actually measure results without data.

JPod Love

Once upon a time I had the weird experience of hearing JPod saying almost nice things about me on NPR. I figure I've owed him the return favor, so here's a shout out to JPod.

On Travel

Travel just isn't compatible with blogging. I know it often appears that I just throw out a few one liners and head out for cocktails, but in truth it takes a lot of time doing this blog the way I normally do it. Even aside from having to churn through numerous emails when I'm out for most of the day it takes an immense amount of time to catch up. I say the type of blogging I do involves staying 5 minutes ahead of the news cycle, and 8 hours is like 3 months in blogging time...

2 out of 3 American Say Time to Get Out

An opinion almost entirely missing from the pundit class.

Even Stupider and Uglier

Nobody likes him at all.

I think this deserves a pony re-run.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Worst Preznit Ever

And he's stupid and he's ugly and nobody likes him.

Killing a Story

The mainstream media completely ignores the key point of the Katrina video.

Darwin's Nemesis

Ricky is such an idiot.

Travel Day

Light posting for a bit.

Try not to shoot anybody in the face.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


Was just listening to Vanni Cappelli on Radio Times discussing the situation in Afghanistan. He summed up the situation there rather succintly: Karzi is the Mayor of Kabul, the national government isn't legitimate because it doesn't have a monopoly on legitimate use of violence, and the people tolerated the American invasion because they understood the situation and didn't much love the Taliban, but the implicit contract was that the Americans would rebuild the country after showing it up but they didn't.

Fighting a Signifier

Sifu Tweety:

Here’s my little translator’s key to this emerging talking point: Republicans attach incredible importance to media criticism of the war, because they genuinely believe that the war is won and lost IN THE MEDIA. The American media, that is. Their partisan selves are so thoroughly embedded in the culture-jamming electioneering of the Rovist personality cult the GOP has become that they genuinely don’t recognize the difference between actually achieving peace and a non-doomed secular democracy in Iraq, and just being able to plausibly claim that peace on American TV.

Anne Dicker for PA State Rep

For local folks in the right neighborhood I'd recommend supporting Anne Dicker for PA State House. She's running in the primary in the 175th District for an open seat. Philadelphia people are likely aware of Anne's involvement in Philly for Dean/Philly for Change. If you wish, you can help by contributing, signing/getting signatures/volunteering/etc...

Patron Saint of the Ethically Challenged

Donate to his charity, get an earmark.

The largest known giver to a controversial charity founded by U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum made its $25,000 donation as the senator was working to win as much as $8.5 million in federal aid for the donor's project in Delaware County.
Federal tax records show that Preferred Real Estate Inc., the developer of the Wharf at Rivertown project in Chester, wrote the check to Santorum's Operation Good Neighbor Foundation in 2002.
On his campaign Web site, Santorum boasts of winning $8.5 million in federal aid for the riverfront redevelopment of an abandoned Peco Energy plant - an effort that culminated in the earmarking of $6 million in highway money last year.
But good-government experts were troubled by the appearance of a developer giving money to the senator's charity at the same time it was lobbying for federal dollars. Unlike a campaign contribution, checks to a charity can be written by a corporation and are not subject to any limit.

Remember that on the payroll of Santorum's charity is the treasurer of his leadership PAC, his finance director, and one of his fundraisers.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Bert is Evil

Not sure why I just remembered this, but an odd moment of levity after 9/11 was when Bert showed up in pro-Taliban/Bin Laden demonstration posters. A walk down memory lane.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I Have No Idea

Are Lawrence, Fred, and Robert Kaplan related?

Daily Ciro

Ciro's got some more allies.

Local Notes

Saw Pig Iron Theater's Mission to Mercury this evening. Pig Iron's always a lot of fun, blending theater, dance, vaudeville, music, song, puppetry, whatever in inventive fashions to create an interesting work. Essentially they put everything in the toolbox in front of them and pull out whatever might work. Their pieces don't always add up to more than the sum of their parts, but they're usually at the very least worth seeing for their unique creativity. And at their best it's all a bit magical.

As for Mission to Mercury, if an evening of bizarrely arranged Queen songs sounds like your cup of tea, then try to a grab a seat for one of the few remaining performances.

Fully Prepared

Worst. Preznit. Ever.

A New Blog

This one is actually brilliant.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Dear Windows Users

Don't care much, either. You're on your own.

Other things I don't much care about:

Your pet cause. Whatever it is, I don't care about it, or at least I certainly don't care about it as much as you do. It's your pet cause after all! That's sort of how these things work.

Your hatred of television. No one should watch it, it's all bad, utter waste of time which could be spent doing amazingly inspiring and productive things, and you have not turned one on fir 35 years which makes you an expert. Got it.

Your new blog that you started yesterday. Hey, it might turn out brilliantly. Or not. You'll likely tire of it in about a week. Or not. Feel free, however, to send me a note about something you've written for that new blog. Might be brilliant! The blog on the whole, probably not so much yet.

Your hatred of musical genre [fill in the blank]. Yes we know that [...] is the the most awful music ever and only fools and idiots without any taste listen to that crap. You of course do not listen to any of it ever which makes you an expert on genre [...].

Probably lots of other things I don't care much about, but that should drive away a few more readers.

Only on Fox


Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Dear Mac Users

I don't care.


Does Laura have to call him Mr. President too:

BUSH: You know, it's interesting, you said that one of the things that we love doing is to invite our buddies up from Texas. And I think about the time we had Jones, Procter and Selee . These are guys we grew up with in Midland, Texas. They are down to earth, you know, they have no agenda, except being with their friends Laura and George.

VARGAS: They call you George?

BUSH: No, they call me Mr. President.

VARGAS: I was going to say…

BUSH: They probably don't want to call me Mr. President, but they do call me Mr. President. And we sit up there in the White House. First of all, it's a great joy to see their joy about being here. It's a fantastic experience for people to be able to come here.

(thanks to reader d)


Yglesias writes:

To pivot away from the narrow security concern, the other thing we have here is a reminder of the elephant in the room when it comes to Version 3.0 of the Bush Doctrine -- America's strategy for the Middle East is centered on transforming its states into liberal democracies, but our main local partners in this effort are . . . sharia-enforcing hereditary monarchs. Nobody seems to talk about it anymore, but this is obviously dumb. I used to think it reflected insincerity on Bush's part, but insincerity implies that there's some coherent "real" policy that's being implemented behind the make-believe one.

After years of watching, I just don't see what that could be. Instead, I think it's genuine incoherence. But one way or another it's a big deal. And it's an incoherence that goes beyond Bush. The bulk of American elite opinion has switched over to the Bush view that we need to democratize the Middle East, but as we've been seeing in the port controversy the bulk of American elite opinion, like Bush himself, thinks the Arabian peninsula's monarchical elites are wonderful people who we should be supporting to the end. You can't do both. Maybe someday I'll get invited to Davos and learn what's so impressively awesome about Emir so-and-so (fun parties, according to Syriana), but until then I think the American public's gut instinct that these are not, generally speaking, the folks you want to rely on reflects a certain wisdom.

And has a good column on the subject here.


Been sort of following this and I know enough to put the pieces together. Former Clinton HHS Secretary Donna Shalala is the president of the University of Miami. The janitors there just walked off the job demanding higher pay. Shalala, who recently claimed "spent much of her public career as an advocate for the poor" isn't doing much to advocate for these poor, who earn about $6.50/hr without benefits.

More from the Miami Herald:

Zoila Garcia has the toughest job at the University of Miami.
From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., five nights a week, she washes windows, cleans desks and picks up the potato chip bags and used condoms that students leave behind in the library.
''Ay mamita! And when they decide to draw on those tables, it's scrub scrub scrub,'' Garcia said.
When she returns to her mobile home off Southwest Eighth Street just after dawn, she takes the pills she gets through a Jackson clinic. Some are for high blood pressure. One is for the pain in her arms.
For now, there's nothing to be done about a blood clot that formed on her calf and blackened the leg from knee to ankle. She needs an operation. But when the doctor told her it would cost $4,000, she laughed. ``Where do you get that kind of money?''
Garcia, who makes $6.70 an hour, has no health insurance.
Sunday, janitors voted to strike for better pay and insurance from the company that hires them to clean at UM. They began walking out overnight.

Two weeks ago, The New York Times Magazine printed an interview with Shalala, who was photographed amid the splendor of her 9,000-square-foot presidential residence, where she lives with her dog, Sweetie.
In the interview, Shalala describes, among other things: ''Her perfect day'' (which begins with someone giving the university a $10 million donation and ends with her playing three sets of tennis), ''What she drives'' (a Lexus hybrid SUV), ''Favorite vacation spot'' (the kingdom of Bhutan) ''Her best recent purchase'' (a 1790 French country cabinet) and ''Possession that best defines her'' (a personal drawing by Susan Kapilow).

You can call her at (305) 284-5155 and request she be an advocate for the poor since she has the power to do so.


Apparently Nancy Grace has been feeling the bullshit at us. So much for the most trusted name in news.

(tip from guy)

Wanker of the Day

Brit Hume.

Take the Survey

Advertisers appreciate information. It's also nice to be able to remind people that blog readers aren't all 13 year olds which is how the media likes to portray you.

So, please take survey if you can. For #23 put in "Eschaton" if you so desire, and not "atrios" or something else so as to make their lives easier...


One of the internalized media myths of the Clinton years was that while he had high job approval ratings during Monica Madness he had very low favorability ratings. I've seen even good liberals talk about Clinton's favorability ratings having beein consistently in the low 30s.

It's just not true. Clinton's favorability ratings were indeed lower than his job approval ratings, not surprising given that he cheated on his wife, but that's mostly because his job approval ratings were so high. It was a media talking point that people hated that nasty Clenis, but it really just wasn't supported by the numbers. Bush's personal favorability has for some time been in roughly the same range as Clinton's, or even lower, depending on the poll and precise time period.

Tweety Eats a Turd on the Today Show

Interesting. Notice how it's framed, though. "Can Bush Rebound?"


I've been surprised that this has gotten almost no coverage outside of the New York press. The aches and pains of every governor isn't national news, but Pataki's been somewhat of a national figure.

Gov. George E. Pataki's ruptured appendix left him more seriously ill than his staff and doctors previously acknowledged, a team of surgeons revealed in a news conference yesterday.

The surgeons, who have been treating the governor at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital in Manhattan for the last week, said for the first time that he had suffered peritonitis and abdominal abscesses — both potentially life-threatening conditions — and fever. They would not predict when he might be able to leave the hospital, but said that it could be as long as two more weeks.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Friedman Finds a Pony!

Whatever the merits of a gas tax, if I were running for Congress I would get down on my knees and pray every night that my opponent proposed or voted to add a buck fifty to the price of a gallon of gas.

My gut told me this was the case, but it's great to see it confirmed by the latest New York Times/CBS News poll: Americans not only know that our oil addiction is really bad for us, but they would be willing to accept a gasoline tax if some leader would just frame the stakes for the country the right way.

I am sure one reason President Bush suddenly chose to build his State of the Union address around ending our oil addiction and moving toward a renewable-energy future was because his private polling told him the same thing. But Mr. Bush simply occupied this ground rhetorically — before Democrats could get there — without actually offering a real solution.

The only real solution is raising our gasoline tax, which is a paltry 18.4 cents a gallon and has not been increased since 1993. Only by bringing the total price of gasoline into the $3.50-to-$4-per-gallon range — and keeping it there — will large numbers of Americans demand plug-in hybrid cars that run on biofuels like ethanol. When large numbers of Americans do that, U.S. automakers will move quickly down the innovation curve.

No matter how "some leader" frames the gas tax issue, that leader's opponent will frame his way right out of office. It'd be much more politically possible to raise CAFE standards, subsidize high MPG cars, tax manufacturers for low MPG cars or at least remove the subsidies, etc...


For a press corps so enamored with itself over what Booby and Bernstein did over 3 decade ago they seem to not be aware that just about all of the "evils" of the Nixon administration have in fact been repeated by the Bush administration.

Feb. 28 - KGO - Did the California National Guard engage in domestic spying? The legislature is investigating, but one lawmaker has already decided what happened and is offering legislation to prevent such spying.

They call themselves the Peninsula chapter of the Raging Grannies, an anti-war group the California National Guard, at one time, seemed interested in.

Gail Sredanovic, Raging Grannies: "It seems that they're using our intelligence energy and funds to spy on peaceful Americans, rather than do things that would really protect us from the threat of terrorism."

Now one state senator wants to ban the National Guard from being able to spy on Californians without permission.

St. Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Garden Grove: "What I simply ask is that before the National Guard goes into activities that are previously unauthorized, they simply seek the appropriate authorization."

It was a Mother's Day rally against the Iraq war at the State Capitol that sparked the proposed ban on domestic spying. The Guard has said its two-person surveillance team was used to monitor news reports of the protest, not to spy. Amid pressure, that unit was disbanded months later and today, a Guard spokesman said the state ban is not necessary.

Col. David Baldwin, California National Guard: "I know the senator has interest in ensuring that no surveillance could be conducted in the future. We stand by the fact that we follow federal law."

The Guard has always been coy about whether it, in fact, spied on Californians.

A hard drive with key information was mysteriously erased. And the boxes and boxes of Guard documents subpoenaed have large sections blacked out because of confidentiality concerns.

Senator Dunn says one file shows at least ten other states engage in domestic spying.

Joe Dunn's a good guy, hopefully a national office slot opens up for him at some point. Helped out at a BBQ for local labor at his house when I lived out there.

Republicans Heart Joe

Feel the Joementum!

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


Tweety looked like he ate a turd when Newsweek's Richard Wolffe pointed out that in the latest CBS poll Bush's favorability rating is only 29% - even lower than his job approval rating of 34.

Tweety after Wolffe said "People don't think he's a nice guy anymore."

Wait a minute. You just jumped there. Are you sure of that last part. They don't like him anymore? Where do you find that in the numbers?

What was it Tweety said recently?

Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs.

With Consultants Like These

Who the hell thinks it's a good idea to pay these people.

Republican Spyware


What Does John Fund Know?

The thing about declassifying information is that when it's declassified it's, you know, declassified for everyone. There's no "just tell John Fund and nobody else" provision. So, if John Fund is sitting in on "security briefings" hearing things which he's not allowed to tell people then we should perhaps figure out what's going on here. I understand that journalists are told things "on background" at times so this may not be classified information, but Democratic members of Congress especially might want to find out if John Fund gets to know things they don't.

Other Ideas for Discouraging Commuting

Short term, at least, it's true that you're only going to have a lot of luck changing behavior with respect to car usage whene people do have other realistic options. I'm not sure how an urban gas tax makes any sense, as it just seems to punish people who have mostly already reduced their relative car use.

But, there are things which can be done. One is to reduce the subsidization of parking, whether by reducing below market municipal lots or ending the subsidization of employee parking. When companies provide free parking for employees they're giving them something of value which is both free from the perspective of the employee and tax deductible from the perspective of the company. You can improve the incentives a bit by handing every employee the equivalent of the implicit rent on that real estate every month and letting them use that money to either "rent" a parking space or they can pocket it or use it to by a train pass or whatever.

You can do what London has done and have a daily driving fee in the central city. That has actually reduced traffic quite a bit there.

Longer term, aside from improving CAFE standards the real way to reduce gasoline usage is to increase proportion of households for which "one car per driving-age member" is not effectively a requirement.

It'll be interesting to see what happens to Los Angeles. It's really a special case for a variety of reasons, and it actually wouldn't take all that much to reduce the car dependency (though not necessarily the car usage) of a hefty chunk of the population.

The Stupids

One thing that puzzles me about journalists is how clueless they often seem to be about their own profession. Anyone who has spent 5 seconds thinking about these things knows that there is one definition of "journalist," there are simply different models of journalism. We can argue about what should be the predominant model of journalism in our most prominent media oulets.

There's opinion journalism, activist journalism, idelogical journalism, etc. None of these things are intrinsically bad, as long as they're factually and logically sound.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Your Liberal Media

Concern for national security is a right wing value.

I Don't Hate You Ezra

Continuing the gas tax conversation, I think Ezra's basically right. If you put off the table having the gas tax actually raise money AND having it be large enough to actually impact behavior then there's really no point to raising the tax. It's hideously regressive tax which will really hurt the wrong people and I'm pretty sure you'd have to get the total price of gas up to $6 or more before you're really impacting behavior.

So, let's get rid of that stick and consider the carrot. The reason demand for gasoline is so inelastic is that people just don't have other options. If there were other modes of travel for them to switch to that'd be one thing but there just aren't. The real key to affecting gasoline reliance is to reduce automobile reliance. And that involves making different land use choices, increasing the quality of public transit, etc. For significant numbers of people public transit is Just Not An Option either for commuting or for day to day life. And, given the current patterns of suburban development it's very difficult to think about grafting a mass transit system onto it.

The thing is that in much of the country sensible land use violates against zoning codes. I'm sympathetic to the view that lots of people love them their suburbs and you can pry them from their cold dead hands, but that doesn't mean suburban development can't be tweaked a bit to improve things, to provide other options for the people who want them.

Trying To Save Their Souls Tonight

Everybody's fault but theirs.

Gas Tax

Sadly there was a missed opportunity when gas was selling for a buck a gallon a few years ago. At current prices no politician is going to get away with raising it, even with promises of offsetting cuts. In fantasy world where responsible politicians did sensible things in a bipartisan fashion for the good of the country maybe it could happen. And then I'd get a pony!

Wanker of the Day

John Tierney.

Ned Speaks

1000th donation to him via Act Blue.

Boycotting Israel

Such things used to be important.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Who knew Richard Cohen was such a fan of unelected hereditary oligarchies who, among other badnesses, refuse to recognize the state of Israel.

The simplest and most obvious lesson I've learned in the past few years is that the American press has an incredible bias in favor of whatever our foreign policy happens to be that day. Whoever the government deems as "friends" are the good guys and whoever they deem as "enemies" are the bad guys. The form of government, freedoms, human rights abuses, suffrage, etc... are entirely irrelevant.

There are plenty of good reasons to be concerned about the UAE port deal. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the failure of the Bush administration to follow the law and conduct the appropriate investigation.

It's not racist to object to us cozying up with truly shitty governments. I imagine the people of the UAE might be fine people. But the people who run the country are just a bunch of shitty human rights abusing suffrage opposing terrorist hanging out with assholes. The relevant question is whether these people should be running significant port operations.

Thank You

Andrew Sullivan 12/14/2003:

You're welcome. And as I read this and other Iraqi blogs written by people who lived under a kind of terror that we in the West have no way to understand or truly empathize with, I feel a lump in my throat. I am so proud of the country I was born in and the country I have made my home. I have never been prouder to be an Anglo-American, to have done in our time what so many before us have done - to broaden the possibilities of liberty, to bring hope, to restrain the violent men and evil ideologies that are each generation's responsibility. The men and women in our armed forces did the hardest work. They deserve our immeasurable thanks. But we all played our part. By facing down the evil, the cowardly and the simply misguided, we have done a great good.


The President's directions seem to have been limited to such slogans as "we're not going to fail" and "pace yourself, Jerry." In Bremer's account, the President was seriously interested in one issue: whether the leaders of the government that followed the CPA would publicly thank the United States. But there is no evidence that he cared about the specific questions that counted: Would the new prime minister have a broad base of support? Would he be able to bridge Iraq's ethnic divisions? What political values should he have? Instead, Bush had only one demand: "It's important to have someone who's willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq." According to Bremer, he came back to this single point three times in the same meeting. Similarly, Ghazi al-Yawar, an obscure Sunni Arab businessman, became Bush's candidate for president of Iraq's interim government because, as Bremer reports, Bush had "been favorably impressed with his open thanks to the Coalition."

(sullivan tip thinks to Eli)

Foer In Beinart Out

Despite his recent tendency to take potshots at me (perhaps it was part of the job audition) Foer is certainly an improvement over Beinart. Return to longer form writing? Um, how about, you know, enlisting?



BAGHDAD, Feb. 27 -- Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.

Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

More Poll Fun

CBS (pdf):

Yes No
The results of the war 29% 63
Removing Saddam Hussein 41% 53


Now 1/2006 5/2004 5/2003
Well 36% 45% 37% 72%
Badly 62 54 60 24


And, finally, America wakes up:

Now 1/2006 10/2005 2/2005
Approve 43% 52% 47% 61%
Disapprove 50 43 46 33

Nelson vs. Cruella

Went to a small fundraiser for Bill Nelson (D-Fl) at the Law Offices of Kohn, Swift, & Graf., PC this evening.

It was actually quite interesting. Nelson's not one who does of a lot of national media, and the few times I did see him I wasn't quite sure what to think. He's been in the Senate since 2001 is running against Cruella Harris since Rove failed to push her out of the race. Early polls look good for Nelson, but there's plenty of time for Harris to gain some ground. If that happens justice requires doing everything we can from preventing Senator Harris from becoming a reality.

Nelson spoke directly and without condescension to the small audience, which was refreshing. It struck while listening to him that we currently have two main types of Democratic senators. First we have the national Senators. These are people who for the most part have safe seats and don't worry too much about getting re-elected. What they do worry about is pleasing the people who can help raise their stock price nationally, the Beltway Media constituency. In other words, they're the ones who focus on kissing Tim Russert's ass.

Then we have people Nelson who don't play in the national media much but who are intimately aware of the politics of their state. It's easy to forget that these people didn't get to where they are by being idiots, and Nelson has a firm grasp of the issues he discussed as well as the political situation in Florida.

The problem is that neither type of Senator is concerned enough with the national Democratic message. Biden's looking out for Biden, Lieberman's looking out for Lieberman, the state-focused Dems are looking out for their seats. We don't have enough of the third type - the safe seat Democrat who is concerned with helping bring the party along with him/her.

Someone like Nelson has to be focused on local politics. We need more safe seat senators to be focused on the good of the party instead of on getting backslapped by Russert and the gang.

Holden Gets a Pony


(CBS) The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Murtha on CNN


Radio Problems

LA Wingnut radio is in trouble. It's important to note that the Limbaugh station can be heard across half the dial in every valley and canyon in Southern California, while the Air America station can barely be heard.

Wanker of the Day

Carol Darr.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

The Note

Move over Fox News and Powerline, there's no way you can out-hack and out-whore ABC's the Note.

Your Liberal Media

Adversarial journalism, 2006 style.

Crunchy Cons

Good for hours of fun if you're so inclined.

Seder in for Franken

Sam Seder's hosting the Franken show all week. ReddHedd will be on later.

Even More Lamont Mania

This guy gets it.

8th Grade Math

10/10 despite doing it rather quickly, which someone with a Ph.D in economics should be able to manage.

It's also the bare minimum level of math that someone with politics/policy column in the Washington Post should be able to handle. I am curious how Richard Cohen would do on such a quiz. I'm curious if his math skills are really that limited or if his "pride in ignorance" was an exaggeration.


From a DSCC press release:

On Saturday, Bill Frist flip-flopped and said that he is now backing the Bush Administration’s controversial Dubai port deal. Democrats said that Frist’s newfound confidence in the port deal follows his pattern of backing down almost immediately on the rare occasion that he actually confronts the White House on an issue.

“Bill Frist was taken to the White House woodshed last week,” DSCC spokesman Phil Singer said. “On the handful of occasions that Frist has shown some backbone and stood up to the White House on an issue, he has backed down and flip-flopped. It’s tough to tell who has more influence with Frist: the Bush White House or the special interests that get him to pass their agenda – although there’s not much of a difference between those two things.”

After saying that he was against the Dubai port deal, Frist told a GOP gathering on Saturday that he now has no problem with Bush’s decision to turn control of American ports over to a foreign country. “We're behind the president 100 percent. We believe the decision in all likelihood is absolutely the right one,” Frist said. Frist’s comments followed his threat to pass legislation to stop the deal last week. [Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/26/06; Frist Release, 2/21/06; CNN, 2/21/06]

Lamont Mania

I've been amazed at the degree to which Ned Lamont has managed to get the press to pay attention to him.

If you're in CT you can check out Lamont at a variety of events.

Every time you support Ned Lamont, the baby Peter Beinart cries.

The War on Birth Control

Nervous pro-choicers always imagine that there's some common ground to be found with pro-life voters. I imagine there is some common ground to be found with voters, but there isn't any common ground to be found with the pro-life movement. It isn't just about abortion, it's about birth control and sex and control.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Octavia Butler, RIP


Best Picture

I've seen 4 out of 5 of the Best Picture nominees - Munich the exception - and to me "Good Night and Good Luck" is the superior film.


Is evil.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The End of Bushism

It isn't quite here yet, but at some point fairly soon Republicans will en masse make it clear that their opinion of Bush is only half a notch above their opinion of Nixon. The missing history - and context - in this is that in 2000 John McCain was the neoconservative poster boy. The Weekly Standard Gang was his posse. The owner of the Free Republic at one point purged all of the Bush supporters as he too was a McCainiac. The Bushies then fled to

Their foreign policy is Bush's post 9/11 foreign policy. McCain may be more competent than Bush - I have no idea - but a McCain presidency probably would've brought us to Iraq sooner, not later.

Once upon a time we all imagined that McCain's presidential aspirations were doomed by age, or illness, or by his unpopularity with the True Believers. I still think it's the case that a decently funded skillfull primary campaign will easily destroy him, but only if such a campaign exists. The Powers That Be may decide he's their only hope and if so they'll line up.

Right now Democrats are lining up to have their pictures taken with McCain instead of understanding that he'd be an even more dangerous president than Bush. They need to start understanding what is at stake.


While I'm passing out reviews of things, the recent CD that both Mrs. Atrios and I have liked is First Light's Freeze by Castanets. The description is pretty much gibberish:

With First Light's Freeze, Castanets return with a dark mutant-country sound infused with strands of free-jazz, new wave and a late-seventies Nashville big-radio strut hijacked by post-punk unravelers. The result is a beautiful mix of somber reflection, destination-unknown travelogue, and subversive anti-war boogie. Castanets' unrelenting creative pioneering delightfully befuddles, as they simultaneously flirt and dismantle "New Americana" venture capitalism.

And I have no idea what any of that means, but I'd be pretty hard pressed to come up with any description of what the CD is like. It doesn't really fit neatly into any genre description, but it also isn't the case that its difference is it's charm. It's just kinda cool.

Meet the Republicans

Arianna's take on Tim Russert's Republican orgy.


And now we see what they've been hoping for all along.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


Reed Hundt talks about what should be done on Iraq. Such discussions are fine as think pieces but they ignore the basic reality: George Bush is president, Republicans in congress have abdicated their power and are merely presidential sycophants and no "responsible Republicans" are going to come forward to save us, George Bush admits no mistakes and thus cannot change course, Donald Rumsfeld is still Secretary of Defense, the Democrats are still frightened of the war as a political issue.

So, we stay the course!

My First President

You just can't make this stuff up.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


Hamell on Trial put on a great show last night. I learned that the song "Coulter's Snatch" (warning, rude, obviously) was directly inspired by George Lakoff's "Don't Think of An Elephant." I hope Lakoff's proud of that.

What's weird is how it's actually weird when a performer is unapologetically "fuck the administration." If I'd gone to a show in 1997 and the performer said the equivalent of "Fuck Bill Clinton" I wouldn't have thought anything of it. It wouldn't have offended me. It wouldn't have occurred to me to have my political sensibilities offended. Rock music has always been, in part, anti-authority, as has comedy, and in 1997 Bill Clinton was indeed The Man and saying "fuck The Man" is an American tradition. Yet, for some reason it's "controversial" now.

On a related note the drift in shock jock style talk radio has been really striking. It used to also be pretty anti-authority without any sharp political leanings, and now it's much more pro-authority mock the helpless.

Republicans Meet the Press

I know I mentioned it before, but now I'm seeing it in all of its glory. What could possibly justify Meet the Press's decision to have 3 Republicans on and no opposition?

Uh, Inky Editorial Board?

Perhaps it's time to hand over your writing duties to somebody who actually understands the facts and issues. And please God, I beg you, never ever try to be funny again. Ever.

Susie has more.

Not a Serious Effort

Goddamn conservatives.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


It's all about the scary vaginas.

"We find an organization that is deeply troubled by bad management, by sex and corruption and by a growing lack of confidence in its ability to carry out missions that are given to them," Bolton told an audience at a Columbia Law School symposium held by the Federalist Society, a conservative law organization.

The Left's Foreign Policy Guru

The problem isn't that Rush Limbaugh thinks it is true, the problem is that it's what official Washington thinks.