Saturday, February 17, 2007

Late Night

M. Ward - Right in the Head.

Saturday Night


McCain: Didn't Save It

From a biography:

The following night, McCain's last in Rio, the designer who brought them together had scheduled a farewell party for McCain. He and Elena planned to go to dinner first. He arrived at her apartment about eight, knocked on the door, and readied himself to be greeted by the Aunt or one of the servants. No one answered is knock. He tried the door, found it unlocked, and let himself in.

"I'll be right out," Elena called from the bedroom.

McCain wandered onto the terrace. The moon was glinting off the bay. A bottle of champagne was chilling in a bucket of ice. When Elena joined him a few minutes later, she was not, McCain would later say, dressed for dinner.

The next morning McCain raced to the airport to catch his plane. Elena did not go with him. He never saw her again.

(ht reader d)

Don't Talk About the War

Well, that's basically the Republican take in the Senate. shhhhhh. Don't speak of it!

Otherwise, some guy named Ntoddler has the right idea. Every Democrat (in the Senate, all but 2 in the House) and 7 Republicans voted for this. A majority of both Houses effectively voted for the measure, and for once the press seemed to understand that this wasn't just a typical procedural vote and reported on it fairly well.

It's the Republican war, and they refused to talk about it.

Fresh Thread

Who broke the intertubes?

Militarist Geek Porn Design

Since Saint "Keep Your Penis In Your Pants" McCain has already taken Star Wars, it's incumbent upon some other candidate go for that other favorite of the couch potato warriors, The Lord of the Rings.

My money's on Newt. He might have to tone down the new agey stuff a bit, but he can style himself as a noble warrior riding the Republican war elephant to Mordor, I mean Baghdad.

Sex Metaphors

I really do not understand how these people think about sex. Throwing a rock through a window? WTF?

Great Moments in Cable News

The Beard:

BLITZER: Is this the situation like gays in the military, where there are close quarters -- the locker rooms in the NBA, these guys are all together. Is that an issue that is worrisome because of this -- this -- all of a sudden it's come up because of Tim Hardaway?

Saving It!

Straight-talking maverick John McCain supports abstinence only education.

I know it will never happen, because it would cause David Broder to faint, but any politician or public figure should be asked if they, in fact, saved themselves for marriage, and whether they were abstinent between their multiple marriages.

Because They Don't Really Give a Shit

One does wonder why the 101st Fighting Keyboarders aren't more upset by the fact that George Bush has fucked up their pet war. I don't line up with the "incompetence dodgers" but that doesn't mean that there wasn't immense amount of incompetence. What the consequence of slightly less incompetence would have been I do not know, but it would have at least smelled a bit nicer.

This was their mission, their grandiose cause, their Battle Between Good and Evil. And George Bush fucked it up. Why aren't they pissed off?

Oh, looks like I already answered the question.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Another week, another atrocity. Tomorrow's lineup:

"Meet the Press" Guest: White House press secretary Tony Snow.

• "This Week" Guests: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann Romney; actor Michael Douglas.

• "Face the Nation" Guests: Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

• "CNN Late Edition" . Guests: White House press secretary Tony Snow; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; magician Penn Jillette; former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele; and Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League.

• "Fox News Sunday" . Guests: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Late Night

Rock on.

What's your's your hat

From Tbogg...again

Thanks to Atrios for letting me hang out at his place, sleep on his couch, and rummage through his medicine cabinet (he has enough Vicodin in there to subdue a Limbaugh for, like, a week. No. Really.). My place is livable again if not perfect, but at least the basset pictures have been rehung.

And just to let Atrios know - I'm keeping the key. And the little shampoo bottles...

Image courtesy of Coeruleus

Third QOTD

"I’m skeptical of anything that has Bill of Rights tacked on to it.”
-Michelle Malkin, 2/16/07.

Second QOTD

"Some people find pedophilia to be very spiritual."

-Congressman Don Young (R-AK), 2/16/07

So you like gladiator movies?

TBogg again...

Victor Davis Erectus Dysfunctionus Hanson is hard at work on a novel and he bestows upon us mortals a sneak peek:
Then Melon for the first time noticed that the old sophist Alkidamas of all people, the wine-soaked has-been of the symposia, not the Boiotarchs or once again Pelopidas, was approaching the bema. He was already raising both arms to calm the crowd as if he owned it.

“I take this thunder as a voice vote that we are to march under your General Epaminondas in the morning. Pelopidas as his habit will be in charge of the muster. Look out in the plain below—the army is nearly ready and only awaits our nod. Let the Boiotarchs sort out the details. Though the five who had doubts have already ceded their command over to our two leaders. We have no need of the yes-and-no folk, and those who wear the double-pointed shoes. I have nothing to add to the promises of Epaminondas—other than this.”

And here windy Alkidamas himself also grew quiet—not quite sure what he would say next. But speak he did, possessed as he was by some other voice he would say later, out of the mouth of Pythagoras himself. He turned to the loud hoplites in the crowd. And now he shook his finger at them as his voice went into a near whisper and oddly calm.

“No man born knows who is by nature a slave, this curse that so often makes the strong and wise unfree and the weak and dull their master. Beware of those who say the Messenians know nothing of letters as if they were man-footed beasts of dim wits and animal grunts. They are unfree because they live next to the Spartans, as we the Boiotians, and Kallistratos and his fancy Athenians might well have been as well—had our borders butted such a race of granite as those who wear the red capes. Oh yes, the Messenians will be free. But their rebirth will be thanks only to the black spears of the Boiotians. In the year to come, they will have their free city of MessenĂª—for nature has made no man a slave.”

With that final reminder to the hoplites, the strong arms of the phalanx, Alkidamas stepped down and abandoned the politics of Boiotia for good, for this man of action now had business himself in the Peloponnese.
This is just a few damn dirty apes and an oiled-up Charlton Heston away from a three picture deal.

Creepy Bush

I was watching this with the volume down earlier and I thought there was something really creepy about his body language which isn't quite as noticeable with the volume on. So, here's muted creepy Bush for you, at least as soon as Youtube finishes processing it.

...ehh, I think Youtube choked on it. Open thread....ok, it's there now.

Lies and the Lying Liars

K. Lo's boyfriend edition.

We Are Truly Ruled By Morons

I'm starting to rethink this whole Democracy thing (joke, trolls).

I really don't know what the Republicans are going to do. They think all these little rhetorical games are going to work on the wider public but they just aren't anymore. People hate Bush and hate the war and nothing is going to change that. In November 2008 Republicans are going to be completely slaughtered in the election because they can't quit George Bush.

It's weird.

Imperial Stormtrooper Chic

McCain's new campaign site is awesome.

My World

Kos points out the bad news for Republicans, while I learn that a gay person has more chance of becoming president than I do.

If Only

Our major news outlets were as enlightened as the NBA.

Worst. President. Ever.

USA Today founder Al Neuarth:

A year ago I criticized Hillary Clinton for saying "this (Bush) administration will go down in history as one of the worst."

"She's wrong," I wrote. Then I rated these five presidents, in this order, as the worst: Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan, Ulysses Grant, Hoover and Richard Nixon. "It's very unlikely Bush can crack that list," I added.

I was wrong. This is my mea culpa. Not only has Bush cracked that list, but he is planted firmly at the top.

(via e&p)


"I hate freedom. And America."
-Congressman Don Young (R-AK), 2/16/07

Children of a lesser blog

...with special guest poster TBogg

The good people at Blogger have seen fit to treat my blog like Jonah treats the last donut in the box and now the last three weeks have vanished and (temporarily I hope) so has my ability to post. Atrios has graciously invited to me to post here for the duration after much whining and some surprisingly effective threats on my part. So think of me as Eschaton Media in San Diego, just like they do at PJM but without the stupid and the Must Credit Michael Ledeen exclusives. It is my hope to display just enough anti-Episcopalian bigotry here so that Atrios will never land that Assistant Trainee Blogmaster Field Coordinator and Runs Out For Sandwiches job with the Kucinich campaign.


Thanks to a link from the lovely and talented Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged, we see that the not-so-lovely and she-wishes-she-were-talented Michelle Malkin, in her interview with Howard Kurtz, might have inflated her dazzle the minds of men superpowers (except in Howie's case) when it came to her husband. From Kurtz:
It was at Oberlin College that she began working on an alternative newspaper founded by Jesse Malkin, her future husband. When they co-authored an article questioning the value of affirmative action -- and outraged students dumped bundles of papers in the trash -- "it was an awakening" for Michelle, says Jesse. She soon converted him from a Michael Dukakis supporter to the conservative side.
How things have changed:
Toward the end of her Oberlin career she signed on with an independent campus newspaper that was being started by a Jewish student named Jesse Malkin. Malkin would later become Maglalang's husband. He also had an immediate and lasting impact on Michelle's political views. Jesse Malkin had attended Berkeley High on Martin Luther King Boulevard in the town his future wife would later label “The People's Republic of Berkeley”. In addition to being a top student, Malkin was a distance runner who captained Oberlin's cross-country team. That combination, as well as his strong political views, helped him win a Rhodes scholarship to study for a year at Oxford University in England.

By the time Jesse Malkin started the newspaper, his conservative leanings had been well enough established for him to receive funding from an organization calling itself the Collegiate Network. The Network had formed in 1980 as a union of college newspapers funded by a neo-conservative group called the Institute for Educational Affairs (IEA). IEA had been founded in 1978 by Irving Kristol and William Simon, a leader of the modern neo-conservative movement. As Nixon's Treasury Secretary, Simon had shaped the administration's tax policy.

IEA was dedicated to “seek out promising Ph.D. candidates and undergraduate leaders, help them establish themselves through grants and fellowships and then help them get jobs with activist organizations, research projects, student publications, federal agencies or leading periodicals.” It was, in essence, an affirmative action program to help restore right wing influence on college campuses.
So Jesse's conversion was more the result of a check slipped under the door to his dorm room than it was a meaningful stayed-up-all-night-and-talked-I-mean-really-talked conversion supplemented with coquettish glances and a demonstration of the ability to tie a cherry stem into a knot using just the tongue and teeth.

By Jesse, I mean. That guy can flutter his dreamy eyelashes like no other...

Uh, Broder?

Lead q+a from today's chat:

Charlotte, N.C.: Do you think Bush ever can recover his public standing? Iraq's not going away, and the only presidents who were ever this unpopular this late in their terms -- and for so long -- were Truman during Korea and Carter during 1979-80. Not good models for winning the people over. And remember that the people stood by Bill Clinton during Lewinsky, even if Washington didn't.

David S. Broder: Hello to everyone. Yes, I thiink it is possible for President Bush to recover some of his political standing. In a column today, I argue that he is poised to do so. If you want to talk historical precdents, remember to include President Eisenhower who was ruined in the sixth year by ZIran-contra and recovered fully by the end of his term. The real challenge to Bush is Iraq, and I see little ground for optimism there.


And, ok, we'll forgive the "typo" and understand that he meant Reagan, but even this isn't exactly true. Yes Reagan "recovered fully by the end of his term," but his poll numbers didn't really go back up until after the 1988 election. There was nostalgia for the Gipper once he was poised to leave office, but not until then.

It's also important to point out that even at his lowest, Reagan was much more popular than Bush is now. In his "ruined" period his poll numbers were in the high 40s consistently. He wasn't the super popular president that the media often portrays him as, but he was super popular relative to Bush.

(ht reader d)

Where's the Accountability?


It seems almost inconceivable: The White House actually invites the press corps to hold it accountable -- but when the time comes, and a key benchmark is missed, the press is silent.

And yet that's exactly what has happened.

Back in January, when President Bush announced that in spite of the public opinion against the war in Iraq he was going to send in more troops, he repeatedly insisted that what was different this time was that the Iraqis were finally serious about stepping up.

Responding to reporters who were skeptical -- after all, they'd heard this many times before -- White House officials urged them to judge for themselves whether that would happen

"You're going to have to -- you're going to have some opportunities to judge very quickly," one senior administration official said at an official background briefing on January 10, a few hours before Bush's prime-time announcement.

"The Iraqis are going to have three brigades within Baghdad within a little more than a month. They have committed to trying to get one brigade in, I think, by the first of February, and two more by the 15th," the official said.

"So people are going to be able to see pretty quickly that the Iraqis are or are not stepping up. And that provides the ability to judge."

I'm no military expert, and as I indicated on the Nieman Watchdog Blog on Wednesday and in yesterday's column, it isn't entirely clear to me whether the Iraqis are living up to their word.

And President Bush yesterday insisted that everything's going according to plan: "Our new commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is now on the ground in Baghdad," Bush told the American Enterprise Institute. "He says the Iraqi government is following through on its commitment to deploy three additional army brigades in the capital."

But at a Pentagon press conference yesterday, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace acknowledged that only two of those three Iraqi brigades are there: "You've got two of the Iraqi brigades in -- that were going to plussed up in Baghdad in Baghdad now. The third one is moving this month," Pace said.

Other press reports suggest that even those two brigades are not anywhere near full strength.


The universe is making The Editors endure much torment.

"Manufacturing Capability"

One of the infinite absurdities surrounding the recent "SCARY WEAPONS FROM IRAN" was assertions like this one from Tony Snow:

You cannot deny that these weapons exist. You cannot deny that there is presently no manufacturing capability within Iraq able to produce those kinds of weapons.

It wasn't long ago that Iraq was an existential threat to the United States, and now they can't even manage to produce relatively simple weapons.

Except, of course, they can.

God Gap


Exit Poll Results – The "God Gap" Widens

In recent years, some have asked whether the Democratic Party has a serious "God problem" – an inability to appeal to evangelicals and other highly religious Americans. But the results of this year's election raise the parallel question of whether the Republican Party can appeal to non-Christians and less religious voters. Exit polls find that the Democrats' gains were concentrated among non-Christians and secular voters, indicating an even larger political divide between highly religious voters and the rest of American society.

The GOP held on to voters who attend religious services more than once a week, 60% of whom voted Republican compared with 61% in 2002. A majority (53%) of those who attend church at least once a week also supported Republicans. But less frequent churchgoers were much more supportive of Democrats than they were four years ago. Among those who attend church a few times a year, for instance, 60% voted Democratic, compared with 50% in 2002. And among those who never go to church, 67% voted Democratic; four years ago, only 55% did so. As a result, the gap in Democratic support between those who attend church more than once a week and those who never attend church has grown from 18 percentage points in 2002 to 29 points today.


Though white evangelical voters have been the bedrock of the GOP throughout this decade, many wondered in the days leading up to the election if the party's troubles this year would hurt their prospects with this key voter group. But the GOP actually did very well among white evangelicals in 2006: 72% voted Republican in races for the U.S. House nationwide, and they gave strong support -- about two-thirds or more -- to Republican Senate candidates in several key states, including Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri and Virginia. These levels of support are comparable to those registered by evangelicals in 2004, when approximately 75% voted for Republican congressional candidates.


Most Americans (60%) – including majorities of white mainline Protestants (56%), black Protestants (84%), white Catholics (60%) and seculars (72%) -- say they are happy that the Democrats won the election. Only among white evangelicals did as many express unhappiness as happiness with the Democrats' victory (41% each).

Similarly, by a 50%-21% margin, Americans say they approve of Democratic congressional leaders' policies and plans for the future. Nearly half of white mainline Protestants (48%) and majorities of black Protestants, white Catholics and seculars express approval of the Democratic agenda. White evangelicals express much lower approval for the Democrats' plans, but nearly as many evangelicals express approval (32%) as disapproval (37%). And majorities of all religious groups, including 57% of evangelicals, expect the Democrats to be successful in getting their programs passed into law.

Immediately post-election there were stories out with somewhat different exit poll numbers. I don't know what accounts for this.

More Howie

Howie writes:

As a college student, she was so naive that when a married Republican congressman invited her to live in his home during her internship with then-Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), she thought it was a generous offer until her parents straightened her out.

That's not quite how Malkin described it:

Several weeks preceding my arrival in Washington, I got a call from an East Coast congressman. My college had sent out notices requesting help for interns in need of temporary housing. The congressman offered me a room in his Capitol Hill residence -- for free. He was married and had a family, but lived alone in D.C. while Congress was in session. How generous, I thought. And how exciting. Here was a big-time public official calling me, inviting me to live with him for a month. I bragged about it to friends. I couldn't wait to move in. My parents responded to the idea with alarm and suspicion. I still remember the stiff, clear warnings they gave me over the phone: You can't stay there by yourself with that man. You don't even know who he is. We don't care if he's a congressman. We don't care if he's the president. You're too young. This isn't right. Naive and stubborn, I resented their opposition. Why were they treating me like a child? Why did they want to ruin my Capitol adventure before it had even begun? Yes, the congressman's offer was a little strange. A little voice in my head echoed everything my mom and dad had said. But I wanted a taste of the glamorous, inside-the-Beltway life. Only a prudish fool would turn down this innocent arrangement. A few days after the congressman had extended his offer, I still had not made up my mind. Then I received a call in my dorm room that sealed my fate. It was the congressman's wife. In a brief and bizarre conversation, she started pouring her heart out about the difficulties she was having with her husband. She asked me not to come. She cautioned me that it wouldn't turn out the way I thought it would. Yikes. I was just looking for a place to stay -- not a real-life role in the D.C. version of "Days of Our Lives." Freaked out, I immediately turned down the invitation, thanked my parents for their good sense, and ended up staying with relatives in a Maryland suburb.

It's sweeter to say she listened to her parents, but she didn't until the Congressman's wife pulled a freaker on the phone with her.

The Correct Word is "Asshole"

Run away as fast as you can.

Ho Ho Ho

Howie Kurtz says "The liberal blogger Atrios (Duncan Black) called Malkin a racist over her views on immigration and said anyone who promotes her site 'may as well be promoting the Klan."

I doubt I've ever called Malkin a racist over her views on immigration, unless she was appealing to or invoking racism when addressing the subject. People can have a tremendous range of views on the subject of immigration without racism having anything do with it.

I call Malkin a racist because of her support for the mass arrest and detention of people, including large numbers of American citizens, based solely on their race/ethnic background, and for her association with White Nationalist promoting site

Here's the Klan post for all to see:

Judging from all the link cooties I've been sensing, the entire right wing of the blogosphere has leapt to the defense of the racist Michelle Malkin. Fascinating. There's rarely a bigot they won't defend. Here's a reminder for them all:

Just so we all understand, in the year 2004 Michelle published a book justifying an act that Ronald Reagan apologized for - the mass arrest of Japanese immigrants and Japanese-American citizens of America based on nothing other than their ethnic background. Anyone who links to her or promotes her in anyway may as well be promoting the Klan or That includes you Chris Matthews.

The publication of that book, which she did to appeal to the Little Green Snotball brigade, will be a stain on her soul for all eternity. I intend to remind the world of it at every opportunity.

"Enfant Terrible"

Sadly, I think I'm past the age where I could earn such a title.

In any case, Marty Peretz is a terrible bigot. Everyone who works for him works for a terrible bigot. It's really that simple.

Call Don Young

Call Don Young's office. First, ask him which of his colleagues he thinks should arrested and hanged.

Second, share with his office some of your favorite fake Lincoln quotes.

Third, ask his office why he enjoys manufacturing fake quotes from dead presidents to call for the hanging of his colleagues.

2111 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-5765 - Phone

Morning Thread

Camille Paglia's back and Joan Walsh has a case of the stupids again. I feel like I'm in a time warp.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Late Night


Dean Broder says the Bush Bounce is coming!!!!!!!!! AWESUM!!!!

It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don't be astonished if that is the case.

The guys at The Note will be thrilled.

Daily Show

I'm about the 3 millionth person to make this point, but the idea that the Daily Show is a "liberal" show in the sense that conservatives mean it is ridiculous. It has a certain liberal sensibility in that it tends to skewer the self-important and powerful, and not the weak and powerless, but there are plenty of liberals and Democrats who ar self-important and powerful and who are worthy targets. Even in the recent time period when the Republicans, you know, ran everything, Jon Stewart found plenty of time to make fun of Democrats. And, yes, he even makes Hillary Clinton jokes.

The same goes for people like Keith Olbermann and Dan Froomkin, who would be quite comfortable doing their jobs and directing their critical focus on the people in charge if those people happened to be Democrats. And, honestly, if those are the biggest fattest liberals the Right can offer up to make their "liberal media" case then they've got nothing.

Soul and Conscience

On the escalation:

Those who say they attend religious services weekly were more supportive of the administration's move to increase U.S. troops levels in Iraq. But a majority still opposed that idea.

Attend church weekly: 46% favor troop increase, 53% oppose.
Nearly weekly/monthly: 35% favor, 62% oppose.
Seldom/never: 34% favor, 63% oppose.

Those who say they attend religious services weekly were the least likely to support the idea of Congress setting a timetable to bring U.S. forces home by the end of next year. But a majority still supported the proposal.

Attend church weekly: 56% support, 41% oppose.
Nearly weekly/monthly: 68% support, 31% oppose
Seldom/never: 65% support, 33% oppose

Lies and the Lying Liars

Pathetic hack edition.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.

We Are Ruled By Morons


"Don Young is the third stupidest fucking guy on the face of the planet." -A. Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

Who's Advising St. John?

Global Warming is one of those "fuck you liberals!" issues for conservatives. The merits of the issue are utterly unimportant to them, they just know that it pisses of liberals and Al Gore and treehuggers to believe it doesn't exist.

Acknowledging the existence of global warming is worse than supporting gay marriage, practically. I don't think Saint McCain wants to win this one.


They'll say anything for Saint McCain.


The stupid! It burns!

Jeff Goldstein, Artist's Conception


Reid says up or down vote on what the House is going to pass.

Can't Be True

Ed Henry today:

HENRY: Some new information coming from my colleague Barbara Starr at the Pentagon that General Peter Pace is expected to have a media availability later today. All eyes will be on that to see exactly how he puts this given this confusion over the last couple of days.

Other information we have gotten is that apparently this anonymous intelligence briefer went a little too far in saying that the highest levels of the Iranian government were behind this. But that begs the question why the administration has taken so long to clarify those comments, Soledad.

O’BRIEN: And that’s a big going too far. I mean, that’s a critical piece of information.

HENRY: Especially given what happened in the run-up to the Iraq war. The administration knows full well about the credibility questions. And you would think in this case they would want to make sure they have all their ducks in a row.

O’BRIEN: One would think. Ed Henry for us, thanks.

But Barbara Starr told me yesterday:

The bottom line, Heidi, is the US certainly does have intelligence tying these Iranian weapons shipments to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah ali Khamenei.


Look, regarding this "all options are on the table" stuff, it's only a phrase to use if you're making a threat. All options are always theoretically on the table. The only reason to state that war is on the table is because you feel it's advantageous to make a threat.

We don't hear leaders saying, "we hope to come to a trade agreement with El Salvador, but until we do all options are on the table," because we're not trying to threaten them with war. This week, at least.

If Bush is interested in war then the impact of a bunch of presidential candidates throwing out threats of war is to validate that view.


Lizard Breath:

This discussion has bothered me for a while, and I think I've just figured out what my issue is with it. (I am now going to address a bad argument that I haven't seen anyone explictly make, I just suspect that it is hanging in the air in an inchoate fashion on this issue. I may be totally off base in thinking that it's what's really going on.) There are social/political advantages to being a Christian in the US -- it's the normal, ordinary thing to be, and it means you're a traditional, decent person with family values. I think this kind of sucks. I'd like to live in a society without pressure to conform religiously, and so I'm all hardline about the separation of church and state because I don't want any additional pressure to conform religiously to come from the government.

The sense I get from the way the issue of whether Mormons are Christian gets raised is that there's a feeling that it's unjust to exclude Mormons from the privileged position of being normal decent Christian folk on narrow doctrinal grounds. And this kind of burns me: anyone who's annoyed that they aren't regarded as entitled to the privilege extended to Christians in our society should be arguing that no one should get that privilege, not trying to pass as a member of the privileged category so that they can then piss out of the tent on the atheists and Wiccans.

If Mormons call themselves Christians then I'm happy to refer to them as Christians. But as LB says, the real issue isn't whether they're Christian, it's whether they're "normal," that is, falling under the umbrella of the dominant faith tradition of the country, or "weird."

Keeping with my "people disagree about stuff" theme, I'm sure that there are those who think there are things about Mormonism which are at odds with what they consider to be Christianity. This is true about other denominations as well:

But FRC board member Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has made several public anti-Catholic statements. During a March 22, 2000, appearance on CNN's Larry King Live, for example, Mohler asserted, "As an evangelical, I believe the Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel. I believe the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office."

Continuing on his anti-Catholic theme, Mohler wrote in a September 16, 2006, entry on his personal blog, "[T]he office [the pope] holds is an unbiblical institution based in a monarchial ministry that is incompatible with the New Testament's vision of the church. Furthermore, he claims also to be a head of state -- a situation that adds untold layers of additional confusion."

Christians disagree about what Christianity is all about, what it means, how to practice it, what institutions are appropriate manifestations of that religion, etc. Some people have very rigid views, others are more flexible, but most people presumably have a basic framework of "what Christianity is" which is at odds with other peoples' framework. Every now and then well-meaning people send me theological notes, arguing that what some religious leader said is theologically unsound or whatever. I can't referee those discussions. The point is that there is tremendous disagreement within the "faith based community" about just what it's all about. Let's stop pretending we all get along, because we don't.

Fresh Thread

What I Believe

Since NPR hasn't invited me on yet.

I have no idea how accurate my memories of my childhood are, but my memory is that I grew up in a household with basically zero discussion of religion and no exposure to organized religion. My first memory of entering any kind of house of worship was to attend a cousin's bar mitzvah when I was around 8 or 9 or so, and after that attending church or religious youth group stuff with a couple of girls I was interested in as a teen. At my first exposure to communion I had no idea what it was or what I was supposed to do. I was probably 15 or so. A few weddings and funerals as an adult.

My first memory of being confronted with the concept of God was when I had religious neighbors. I was probably about 4. I didn't understand the concept. I never had much interest in religion-as-religion, religious texts as myth or basis for philosophy, or religious texts as literature. Just really never interested me. By about 8 or 9 I was conscious of my identity as an agnostic/atheist. I don't think this came from my parents at all. I don't remember them being against religion, there just wasn't any talk of religion in my house. It really just didn't come up.

I started dropping the "under God" when I would say the pledge of allegiance. On a class trip in 5th grade a teacher (public school) asked me to say grace before the meal. I don't remember if I refused or not, but it was really troubling. Not only was I nonbeliever, I had no idea what the I was supposed to say. There was an assumption there not only of shared religious people, but of shared cultural experience and practice. The same teacher liked to have us sing hymns, and emphasized explicitly religious songs during the Christmas season. I don't have a problem with either of those, really, but the point is he had an agenda.

Despite all of that, I find it really puzzling when people accuse me of being hostile to religion. I'm hostile to the notion that religion should occupy such a privileged place in our discourse. I'm hostile to plenty of beliefs which are associated with religion in this country, and I'm certainly hostile to plenty of self-styled religious leaders. But religious belief and practice doesn't bother me at all.

I'm puzzled why some religious people seem to get upset by more outspoken atheists. I can turn on the teevee and be threatened with damnation and hellfire. Who cares if Sam Harris thinks you're stupid? If atheists want to engage in their own brand of proselytizing, good for them. I'm not especially interested in it, but what's wrong with it? There are Christian missionaries all over the world.

Having said all of that, I'm sure my general worldview rests on believing things I cannot know, which is in some ways no different than many religious beliefs. I believe there are probably limits to what scientific inquiry will tell us - that The Existential Big Questions will probably never be answered - which of course leaves the door open to all kinds of possibilities. Happy to be wrong about that, though.

Wanker of the Day

Ken Baer.

Keith Gets a Raise

And Fox makes unfunny show.

Aside from racism,
violence, and general "kicking the puppy" humor, conservative political humor these days involves referencing an alternative reality that they've created. They don't need jokes, they just need to point to the fantasy world they've created ("Nancy Pelosi's big plane! ahahahahaah!") so they can have a shared chuckle about it. There's no wit needed, just an invocation of pre-existing laugh lines based on their manufactured reality.

Where's the Argument?

Kleiman says I'm wrong, but Kleimain-like, doesn't actually explain why I'm wrong, and compares me to Bill Donohue. Argument by assertion is not an argument.

Atrios is right: Bill Donohue has a nasty trick of misinterpreting other people's words in order to be able to take offense at them. But Donohue only does it to his political enemies. Why does Atrios want to do it to allies instead?

I'd love it if fervently religious folks decided to try to be "the soul and conscience of the Democratic Party," for example by insisting that the party stand foursquare against torture, or, as Mara Vanderslice suggests, that we need to be fervent rather than lukewarm in insisting on economic justice. And of course if you want to appeal to fervently religious folks, casting them in a role they'd like to occupy is a good way to do it.

I see no reason religious people are uniquely qualified to be against torture, or to convince those in the Democratic party to stand against it. It's, again, assuming that religious people have strong sense of morality that magically matches Kleiman's, and/or that they have a higher level of moral authority to persuade others.

I'd love it if religious people all over the country suddenly embraced my policy agenda and persuaded others to do so. But it's absurd and patronizing to assume they will, and it's insulting to both them and me to suggest that they'll arrive there through some deeper sense of morality.

Torture was on the agenda in 2004. Religious voters sided with the Torturer-in-Chief.

Happy for religious voters to vote for Democrats. No idea why their presence in the party enhances its moral stature, or helps to ensure they do the right thing.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fresh Thread


Conscience and Soul

Reading through the interview with Vanderslice, who is one of the religious left political consultants, there's plenty I agree with. I do agree that Democrats should reach out to religious voters and it's something they've been bad at doing, though they've been pretty bad at direct outreach to all voters it seems (hopefully getting better). I also agree that Democrats should more clearly stand up for - and make clear they stand up for - all those things they're supposed to. Still, when I come across language like this I think I'm entitled to get my hackles up a little bit:

I've never been more on fire for the work that I'm doing. I hope that I'll find a way to continue to pioneer this path for the Democrats. I'd love to be involved in continuing to build up the voices of faith in the party and providing the training and infrastructure on the ground to state parties, to future candidates, to reach out to these constituencies, because I just believe that the religious community can be the conscience and the soul of the Democratic Party, and the more we bring that back in, I believe, the stronger our party will be, the better we'll be able to represent our positive vision for the future, and I think it'll help us start winning elections again. So I'm very excited to continue this work.

So, "the religious community can be the conscience and the soul of the Democratic party." Presumably, and if I'm misunderstanding correct me, she's suggesting that basic moral grounding must come from the religious community. Now, this is part and parcel with the basic messages people like me get regularly from people all over the spectrum, that atheists and agnostics lack a conscience and a sense of values, and these things only come from religion and the religious.

I'd never write that "the atheist community can be the conscience and the soul of the Democratic party," though I imagine if I did Bill Donohue would send out a press release. It'd be a highly exclusionary statement, and it would suggest an inherent moral superiority of the godless over the faithful.

Faith and Politicians

Over at Street Prophets a commenter says, regarding what I wrote earlier about consultants:

Sounds like total crap to me. The people on the left that I've heard advise others on faith go out of their way to stress just the opposite. That's a large part of why people like Atrios jump all over folks like Mara Vanderslice whenever they can.

Seems like a couple of bloggers with the Edwards campaign should have been listening more closely.

Aside from referring to the time Bill Donohue jumped all over her, the only time I referenced Vanderslice was in this post. But, in any case, here's a long interview with her so you can be the judge yourself. Different people will take away different things, I imagine.

Here's more conservative love for the religious left.

Uh, Media?

We've been here before. Apparently they're incapable of learning:

A reporter friend told me recently that the administration is saying on background that the really slam-dunk evidence they're not yet able to release. But as I told this person, after the experience of 2002 and 2003, mere self-respect prevents me from putting any credence whatsoever in such claims.

If they had the evidence we'd be seeing it. But without any solid evidence, the president still wants to fool the American public into believing these bogus claims.

After the Iran war, we'll probably be walked back and shown that President Bush never really said that the Qods force was giving these weapons to the people using them against US troops. He didn't fib. We just didn't listen closely enough. He was just saying that the Qods folks gave them to someone. But he wasn't saying who. So before all our soldiers die and before the president makes yet a million more screw ups for which we'll pay for decades into the future, let's look closely at what he's actually saying.

The Gavel

Pelosi's office starts a blog.



The Key Word Is Conservative

Following up on the post below, as many people suggested, if you're a liberal the press will pick apart your religion because it's somehow "weird." We all know religious means anti-abortion and at the very least not too happy with gay people. If you're Howard Dean or Barack Obama or John Kerry then they'll do anything to suggest that somehow your religion is illegitimate or un-Christian. It doesn't help that there are a bunch of "religious left" consultants running around telling Democrats how they're supposed to talk about religion, as if there's only one "right" way to do it. From a purely cynical political marketing perspective maybe they're right at times, but it sure does suggest a rather narrow view of what's acceptable in this country.

Besides, when Democrats do talk about religion the high poobahs of punditry just ignore them.

The Al Franken Decade

Franken's in.

Doomed. Wrecked. Ruined.

Schaller argues that Bush has pretty much destroyed everything the Republicans have spent the last few decades building. I think it might take a little bit longer for the damage to be lasting, but it looks like that little bit longer will continue to happen. None of the Republican presidential candidates are really breaking from Bush. The Republicans in Congress aren't either. It's actually weird. There's this sense that at any moment the damn will burst and they'll all be fighting over who hates Bush the most, but it hasn't happened yet.

Mine Are Sacred, Yours Are Silly

Frankly, I think Mitt can survive the Mormon issue as long as our media continues its tradition of not actually scrutinizing religious beliefs. Meaningless identification with a religion (church attendance optional), sprinkled with a few religious phrases and a nod to some conservative social causes makes you "religious" in our public discourse and otherwise the details are happily ignored. While there are big differences of believe and tradition within mainstream Christianity, cosmetically there are enough surface commonalities that people can easily ignore these differences. Mormonism is different enough and has some beliefs and traditions which will likely seem goofy to nonbelievers. But there's no reason for the media to delve deeply into what it means to be a Mormon, as they never delve deeply into what it means to be a Methodist or an Episcopalian, and as long as they don't Mitt'll be mostly fine.

His complete lack of consistency is another issue.

Tending Sheep and Herding Goats

We are ruled by morons.


As Nitpicker explains, there's reason for Starr's confusion, but no reason for her uncritical parroting of whatever she's told.

Just Kill Me

More from Starr:

Well, Tony, this is going to sound all pretty confusing because it's a mix of politics, domestic, and politics, international. What the US military is really saying is they have evidence that Iran is shipping weapons into Iraq. That does not appear to be in dispute. The question is - who is responsible for it? At a background briefing, over the weekend in Baghdad, a top US official - at that briefing at least he was a top official - said that there was evidence tying all of this to the highest levels of the Iranian government. That set off a firestorm when General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said hang on, I don't know that, he said he did not know that it was at the orders of the highest levels of the Iranian government. One can only assume that the president will stand behind his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What appears to be going on here at the end of the day is, yes, that there is evidence that it is tied to the Iranian government, but the US doesn't really want to talk about it. According to sources we have spoken to today, they do feel they have evidence but they do want to ratchet down the tensions with Iran and the new message point is - we're only here to talk about protecting our troops from Iranian weapons. We're not here to point the figure out blank, and we would like Iran to take care of the problem.

Did the last 4 years not happen? Did these reporters not live through it? Did we not have a big discussion about how journalists should stop relying on the statements of administration officials and start asking for a little actual evidence?

Who Are The Extremists?

Really. Something is rotten in our discourse right now.

More Starr

Is there a functioning brain in there anywhere?

It's a little hard to see how General Caldwell came up with "hype" per se, because it was a background military briefer over the weekend who indeed said that these shipments were tied to the highest levels of the Iranian government. Gen. Caldwell acknowledged that statement had been made, but what he tried to emphasize clearly was the message point of the day which was that no one is trying to attack the Iranian government. All of this is about force protection for US troops that are being killed by all of these weapons. We will see what President Bush has to say about all of this in a little while, but one can only expect, Tony, that he will agree with his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

...Think Progress notes that Barbara Starr, ace reporter, is claiming things which even Tony Snow doesn't claim.

But You'd Be Wrong

One would think that calling for the hanging of members of Congress would at least cause an eyebrow to arch.

In Which I Go Insane

CNN's Barbara Starr just now:

The news media pretty accurately reported what was said over the weekend at a background briefing that the US military organized. They would not go on camera, they would not allow their names to be identified. They would not even allow the news media to record this news briefing. They only passed out these pictures that you see on our air now. So there's been a very significant struggle to try and get this information out accurately.

The bottom line, Heidi, is the US certainly does have intelligence tying these Iranian weapons shipments to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah ali Khamenei. It's not something that the Bush White House wants to talk about in public too much because they really do not want to ratchet up tensions with Iran, the facts aside.

Wanker of the Day

Frank Gaffney.

Pundits and Pony Plans

Joe Klein writes that he likes Pat Murphy's speech, but:

I don't entirely agree with Murphy. I'm for withdrawal, starting soon, but not on a fixed timeline. The situation is just too fluid and we shouldn't be giving time parameters to the enemy. But that's a minor detail.

If we had a president who was competent and actually wanted to bring troops home, this position would be fine. But we don't. George Bush is president, and he is incompetent, and the people he surrounds himself with are, for the most part, incompetent. More than that, he has decided that leaving Iraq is equivalent to surrendering to "the enemy," whoever the hell that is (there's an insurgency and a few different civil wars and another one probably on the way). So the choice isn't between Pundit Pony Plan and George Bush's Plan, the choice is between forcing George Bush to leave any way you can or continuing to let George Bush fuck things up.

We don't all get to micromanage the Iraq war - not me, not Joe Klein, not Nancy Pelosi. The choices are, basically, staying or leaving. Maybe Pony Plan X is superior to that option, but Pony Plan X generally involves wishing that competent people who wanted to leave Iraq were going to do that in a sensible way. That just isn't really an option.

Morning Thread

I'm going to delete all of your accounts in 5 minutes.


Don't shoot anybody in the face.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Late Night

Gogol Bordello does Manu Chao.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.


Patrick Murphy's remarks today. You can help keep him in Congress.

Congressman Patrick Murphy's Remarks, AS DELIVERED:

Thank you Mr. Speaker and thank you Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it.

I take the floor today not as a Democrat or Republican, but as an Iraq war veteran who was a Captain with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad.

I speak with a heavy heart for my fellow paratrooper Specialist Chad Keith, Specialist James Lambert and 17 other brave men who I served with who never made it home.

I rise to give voice to hundreds of thousands of patriotic Pennsylvanians and veterans across the globe who are deeply troubled by the President's call to escalate the number of American troops in Iraq.

I served in Baghdad from June of 2003 to January of 2004. Walking in my own combat boots, I saw first hand this Administration's failed policy in Iraq.

I led convoys up and down "Ambush Alley" in a Humvee without doors - convoys that Americans still run today because too many Iraqis are still sitting on the sidelines.

I served in al-Rashid, Baghdad which, like Philadelphia, is home to 1.5 million people. While there are 7,000 Philadelphia police officers serving like my father in Philadelphia, protecting its citizens, there were only 3,500 of us in al-Rashid, Baghdad.

Mr. Speaker, the time for more troops was four years ago. But this President ignored military experts like General Shinseki & General Zinni, who in 2003, called for several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq.

Now Mr. Speaker, our President again is ignoring military leaders. Patriots like General Colin Powell, like General Abizaid, and members of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group who oppose this escalation

But most importantly, Mr. Speaker, Congresses in the past did not stand up to the President and his policies. But today I stand with my other military veterans some who were just elected - like Sergeant Major Tim Walz, Admiral Joe Sestak, and Commander Chris Carney. We stand together to tell this Administration that we are against this escalation and that Congress will no longer give the President a blank check.

Mr. Speaker, close to my heart is a small park on the corner of 24th and Aspen Streets in Philadelphia. This is the Patrick Ward Memorial Park.

Patrick Ward was a door gunner in the U.S. Army during Vietnam. He was killed serving the country that he loved. He was the type of guy that neighborhoods devote street corners to and parents name their children after - including my parents, Marge and Jack Murphy.

Mr. Speaker, I ask you - how many more street-corner memorials are we going to have for this war?

This is what the President's proposal does - it sends more of our best and bravest to die refereeing a civil war.

Just a month ago Sgt. Jae Moon from my district in Levittown, Bucks County was killed in Iraq.

You know, a few blocks away from this great chamber, when you walk in the snow, is the Vietnam Memorial, where half of the soldiers listed on that wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work.

It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion.

That's why Mr. Speaker, sending more troops into civil war is the wrong strategy. We need to win the War on Terror and reasonable people may disagree on what to do, but most will agree that it is immoral to send young Americans to fight and die in a conflict without a real strategy for success.

The President's current course is not resolute, it is reckless.

That is why I will vote to send a message to our President that staying the course is no longer an option.

Mr. Speaker, its time for a new direction in Iraq. From my time serving with the 82d Airborne Division in Iraq, it became clear that in order to succeed there, we must tell the Iraqis that we will not be there forever. Yet, three years now since I have been home, it's still Americans leading convoys up and down Ambush Alley and securing Iraqi street corners.

We must make Iraqis stand up for Iraq - and set a timeline to start bringing our heroes home.

That's why I am proud to be an original cosponsor - with Senator Barack Obama and fellow paratrooper, Congressman Mike Thompson - of the Iraq De-Escalation Act - a moderate and responsible plan to start brining our troops home, mandating a surge in diplomacy, and refocusing our efforts on the War on Terror in Afghanistan.

Mr. Speaker, our country needs a real plan to get our troops out of Iraq, to protect our homeland and secure and refocus our efforts on capturing and killing Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

There are over 130,000 American servicemen and women serving bravely in Iraq. Unfortunately, thousands more are on the way.

Mr. Speaker, an open-ended strategy that ends in more faceless road-side bombs in Baghdad and more street-corner memorials in America, is not one that I will support.

I yield back the remainder of my time.


Jerry Nadler's remarks:

Madame Speaker, I rise to support this resolution and to call upon my colleagues to make a commitment to protect our troops and to bring them home as quickly and safely as possible.

The Iraq War is President Bush's war. The President deceived the American people and Members of Congress when he made the case for war. Every reason we were given for invading Iraq was false. Weapons of Mass Destruction? Not there. Saddam Hussein working hand-in-glove with Al Qaeda? Not true. And the more information that leaks out, the more apparent it becomes that these were not mistakes, but deliberate lies.

I ask you: if the President had gone to the American people and said we must invade a country that poses no imminent threat to us, and sacrifice thousands of lives in order to create a democratic government in Iraq, would we have assented? I think not.

And as the President now says to us that we should continue indefinitely to expend American blood and treasure to support one side in a sectarian civil war, should Congress continue to consent? I think not.

We need to say "Enough already!" Enough with the lies, and the deceit and the evasions! Enough with the useless bloodshed. We must protect our troops and ensure their safety while they are in Iraq. But we must not send more troops there to intervene in a civil war whose outcome we cannot determine. And we should set a swift timetable to withdraw our troops from Iraq, and let the contending Iraqi factions know that we will not continue to expend American blood and treasure to referee their civil war. Only if faced with the reality of imminent withdrawal of American troops might the Iraqis strike a deal with each other, and end the civil war.

We know that the Administration has botched the handling of this war; they stood by as Baghdad was looted, they failed to guard ammunition depots, they disbanded the Iraqi army, they crippled the government by firing all the competent civil servants in the name of de-Baathification. And they wasted countless billions of dollars on private contractors and on G-d only-knows-what, with no accounting.

And all this while they continue to deny resources to the real war on the terrorists. They let Osama bin Laden escape. They allowed the Taliban to recover and reconquer. They allow our ports to remain unprotected from uninspected shipping containers. And they let loose nuclear materials remain unaccounted for, waiting to be smuggled to Al Qaeda to be made into nuclear weapons.

And why does the President want more troops in Iraq? To expand our role from fighting Sunni insurgents to fighting the Shiite militias too. Of course, when we attack the Shiite militias, they will respond by shifting their targets from Sunnis to American troops. American casualties will skyrocket, and we will be fighting two insurgencies instead of one.

I believe the President has no real plan other than not to "lose Iraq" on his watch, and to hand over the whole mess to his successor two years from now. He will ignore anything Congress does that doesn't have the force of law.

That is why this resolution must be only the first step.

In the Supplemental Budget we will consider next month, we should exercise the only real power we have - the Congressional power of the purse. We will not cut off the funds, and leave our troops defenseless before the enemy, as the demagogues would imply, but we should limit the use of the funds we provide to protecting the troops while they are in Iraq and to withdrawing them on a timetable mandated in the law. We should provide funds to rebuild the army and to raise our readiness levels, for diplomatic conferences in case there is any possibility of negotiating an end to the Iraqi civil war, and for economic reconstruction assistance, but above all, we must use the power of the purse to mandate a timetable to withdraw our troops from Iraq.

We must use the power the people have entrusted to us. The best way to protect our troops is to withdraw them from the middle of a civil war they cannot win, and that is not our fight.

I know that, if we withdraw the troops, the civil war may continue and could get worse. But this is probably inevitable, no matter how long our troops remain. And if the Iraqis must fight a civil war, I would rather they fight it without 20,000 more Americans dying.

Yes, the blindness of the Administration is largely to blame for starting the civil war in Iraq, but we cannot end it. Only the Iraqis can settle their civil war. We can only make it worse, and waste our blood and treasure pointlessly.

So let us pass this resolution, and then let us lead this country out of the morass in Iraq, so that we can devote our resources to protecting ourselves from the terrorists and to improving the lives of our people.

Watch Out, K. Lo!

Roger Simon's after your man...

But Romney is so polished and looks so much like a president would look if television picked our presidents (and it does) that sometimes you have to ask yourself if you are watching the real deal or a careful construction.

Romney has chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest. On the morning that he announced for president, I bumped into him in the lounge of the Marriott and up close he is almost overpowering. He radiates vigor.

The Tears of John Boehner


Anyone, place your bets. How many Republicans will vote for the House resolution? Winner gets a free subscription to Eschaton, and a lifetime supply of conservative horseshit.

DoughBob LoadPants

You will all remember where you were on this historic day.

...effing hell, would everyone put their goddamn sites back on blogger so I can link to them without making them crash.


I'd like to see a poll of the experts who participate in our public discourse on a regular basis, the ones who influence the "mob."

Faith In Government

Yglesias has more one everyone's favorite libertarian.

Instapundit Calls for Death Squads

Still, he's a reasonable guy. The kind of guy Howie Kurtz likes to have around, especially since he doesn't use bad language.

"Stupid -- But Kind of Entertaining"

Chris Wallace sums up the state of the media.

Fresh Thread


Wankers of the Day



Dusty Foggo's gonna be indicted.

If Foggo is indicted, it will represent a dark day for the CIA and is expected to lead to a full congressional investigation of how secret CIA contracts are awarded.

Foggo was promoted from a field logistics position to the powerful No. 3 position by Porter Goss when Goss took over the CIA. Goss resigned shortly after ABC News reported that Foggo was under criminal investigation, although officials say none of the allegations involve Goss.

At the time, officials close to Goss dismissed the investigation of Foggo "as existing only in the blogosphere" and tried to discourage ABC News from reporting the story.

We would've gotten away with it too if it wasn't for you meddling bloggers!

Feel the Love

Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.


I'll channel Stoller here for a minute, but my post yesterday about what Howard Dean was up to in early 2003 was meant to have two implications. First, that it's incredibly earlier for this much coverage of the Democratic primary. Back in May of 2003 there was no sense that the primary campaigns were unfolding. The narrative of the campaigns did not dominate television news and political coverage generally. And it's only February.

Second, it's sort of weird that no one seems to have learned the lesson that there is a way to tap into the world of small donors and create a campaign that way. This isn't limited to presidential campaigns either, frankly.

I'm not saying that people can just abandon those tasty $2300 checks, just that they can reduce reliance on them and the time it takes to collect them if they get creative about reaching out to the masses. I've been to a couple big ticket elite fundraisers, and they're really kind of awful. A lot of rich people have a major sense of entitlement, and tend think they're geniuses, so candidates really have to pander to them.

Anyway, it just seems like there's an initiative failure here.


63% want out by the end of next year, and want Congress to pass legislation to make it so.

Is this majority view represented by any of the teevee talking heads? Any of them?

Support the Troops

There's been a rather sharp increase in the number of vets with long term injuries. So, what to do? Cut the VA budget obviously.

WASHINGTON -- Iraq War veteran Christopher Carbone said he wouldn't mind a decrease in his medical benefits if it meant that additional federal dollars would be used for armored Humvees on the battlefield.

But Carbone, a survivor of an improvised explosive device attack in Iraq in October 2005, couldn't help being a little jarred when he learned the Bush administration planned to cut funding for veterans' health care by 2 percent in 2009 in order to balance the federal budget by 2012.

Morning Thread

Rock on.

Late Night

rock on.

Monday, February 12, 2007

"When My Time Comes Don't Remember Me"

Jon Stewart to the media. Agreed.

Sons of Cain

New tune from Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. Free .mp3 for you all. Don't tell me I never give you anything.

The new CD, Living with the Living, will be out March 20.

Here's Me and Mia from his previous CD Shake the Sheets.

Novak Memories


Primary Perspective

On May 4, 2003, Howard Dean held a $50/head fundraiser in Philadelphia.

McCain Hearts Creationists

Is this the maverick or the straight talker? I get so confused.


At his new home, Glenn Greenwald takes a look at the arrogant stenographer known as Michael Gordon.

I'll just add a few excerpts from 1/8/07 Charlie Rose appearance.

MICHAEL GORDON: Some do and some don`t. I mean, General Petraeus, who is going to take command of this mission, appears to be very committed to it and seems to be convinced that a surge, if you want to use that term, on that order, of five brigade combat teams, is what`s required. Obviously, General Casey, who is the commander that General Petraeus is replacing, had a different perspective on the matter.

I`ve seen all these studies, all these studies about the ratio of troops to population. By the way, all these things were made known to the White House prior to the invasion of Iraq. There`s no -- it`s just a mathematical formula, it was done by the Rand Corporation. It was done by a young military aide on the staff of the National Security Council and briefed to Steve Hadley, as a matter of fact. And the White House didn`t pay any attention to them at the time.

But those are formulas for stabilizing and controlling and dominating, really, an entire country and population. The reality is, we don`t have those kinds of numbers. They can marshal maybe 20,000 troops or so. And the theory seems to be that by concentrating these forces in the key area of the country, along with Iraqi forces, this will make a difference. And recall, the Iraqis are supposed to make a contribution too. They`re supposed to provide a minimum of three brigades, long promised, but they`re supposed to provide them under this plan. And they`re going to be largely Kurdish. I don`t know exactly how that is going to work out, but that`s what they`re going to be, and the hope is that they would also make an important contribution, as their forces are better trained and come online.

So this is not intended to be primarily an American show. And in fact, the Iraqi government wants us to hand over to them before the end of the year so that they can exert sovereignty over the capital. So a large part of this is going to depend not only on American forces, but on the quality and dedication of the Iraqi forces they`re partnered with.]

MICHAEL GORDON: I think victory has been redefined over the past few years. It used to be, we defeat the insurgency. Well, initially it was, we come in and out of Iraq and leave behind a stable government with minimal effort. Then it became we defeat the insurgency.

I think the White House has reshaped that formulation over the past six months. It now talks about leaving a stable government behind, one that is responsive to our interests and that can help us fight terrorists, et cetera, et cetera.

I think, just as a purely personal view, I`ve just noticed for the past year the gap between the rhetoric of having a so-called strategy for victory, and then the reality of what`s going on in Iraq. And I`ve always felt that people in Washington were talking about a strategy for victory, but we actually never marshaled the resources and didn`t work effectively enough in Iraq to accomplish this.

So I think, you know, as a purely personal view, I think it`s worth it one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view is we`ve never really tried to win. We`ve simply been managing our way to defeat. And I think that if it`s done right, I think that there is the chance to accomplish something. But it depends critically on the good will and competence of the Iraqis. If that doesn`t work, we`ll have to go to plan C, which will be a different political formula for what Iraq should look like.

Potty Mouth Armitage

I am shocked to learn that the wise old men of Washington use bad language.

David Broder doesn't like foul-mouthed bloggers.

But he does like foul-mouthed Richard Armitage.

Today's puzzler: Would David Broder still like Richard Armitage if he started a blog?


(via tpmmuckraker which has broken links)

Do Republican Candidates For President Exist?

Yes, yes, strange complaint from me, but while we're being given the full soap opera high school coverage of Democratic candidates, it seems that the Republican candidates are being largely ignored.

Hey, Some Senators Who Like America

Good for them.

Fresh Thread


Go Ahead

I don't think he will switch, but my understanding of the organization rules for this Senate is that there is no door open for a party-switching Lieberman to really affect the situation there. I'd like a reporter to confirm this (hey, maybe Klein himself!), but from what I understand the committee composition (and leadership) and staff would all remain the same, though in theory there could be a new majority leader.

In early 2001 the Dems had the power to force through rules anticipating a potential party switch and demanding equal committee representation because they retained majority control of the Senate until Darth Cheney took office. No such thing was put in place this time, as far as I know.

If all this is true, then there's really no benefit to either Lieberman or the Republicans for him to switch parties, and with the Senate election calendar generally favoring Democrats in '08 he'd likely just be dooming himself to the minority long term.

...oops, Josh has link problems. Top item right now.


In this edition, Joe Klein correctly calls bullshit on the administration.

Novakula Takes the Stand

Liveblogging at Firedoglake.


Anyone want to work to help end the war?


Currently #2 at Amazon.

The Dixie Chick affair was truly a low point in our country, a nation and media gone mad.

...just so we remember, the entire thing was a reaction to this line:

Just so you know, we're ashamed the President is from Texas.

That's it.




The prince of darkness will likely testify in the Libby trial, apparently.

Here's a flashback to CNN's Best Moment Evah.

"Widely Known"

Whether or not Libby is helped by this I don't know, but the fact is that the public deserves a real explanation for Andrea Mitchell's little everybody knew statement. I bet the explanation is a simple one. She was chatting to some right wingers - Bush administration officials or others - who told her, as it was all the rage to say then, that "everybody knows that, Andrea." So she parroted it.

Slightly Insane



Over there:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Three explosions ripped through central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 90 people, amid memorials marking last year's attack on a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra, police said.

More than 190 people were wounded in the bombings, sandwiched around a brief commemoration on the anniversary of the attack on Al-Askariya Mosque, also known as the Golden Mosque.


They changed that at least, but wtf is going on at Salon?

Morning Thread

Rock on.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


short version:

Failing Upwards

The way of official Washington.

Fresh Thread

Out for a bit. Listen to some Brahms while I'm gone, though it isn't Brahms' Third Racket.

Where We Are

A mainstream news outlet basically says that the Bush administration will do whatever to provoke a war with Iran and this is seen as a perfectly normal and acceptable thing to do.


It must be nice to be High Poobah Simon and be able to go on the teevee and just make things up.

You can leave a comment for him at the end of this article.

...oddly, Simon sounded very different a couple of years ago.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.

Phone Allergy

Like Amanda, I absolutely loathe the phone. Shudder when it rings. There are very very few people I can have an actual decent conversation with on the phone, and with everyone else I'm just dying to get off it as soon as possible.

More Like This

Obama to mini-poodle:

"If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home," [Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs] said. "It's easy to talk tough when it's not your country or your troops making the sacrifices."

Wanker of the Day

Paul Gigot.

Cokie Roberts Flashback

While hunting for something I stumbled upon this column she wrote with her husband in 1997. Excerpt:

"The Internet is the best thing in my lifetime for grassroots organizing,"
exults the Project's director, Jamie Love. He's managed to use the system
to influence various government agencies, and to educate the public. Love
argues that this type of organization and communication cuts through the
special interest politics that he believes rules Washington. "I think
there's a general sense that people who can hire a guy and game the system
have a leg up," says Love.

Somewhere between 250,000 to 350,000 people check into the site dealing
with congressional activities every day. And then many of these people
get in touch with their representatives, by e-mail, of course.

They also get in touch with each other on public policy issues. According
to Love, it's like an electronic town meeting. That analogy makes our
blood run cold. Remember, that was Ross Perot's big idea. Let's just all
get together, via computer, and let the politicians know what we want, so
then they will do it! No more pandering to the big contributors, no more
deals between members, just the voice of the people will be heard!

We hear that and shudder. To us it sounds like no more deliberation, no
more consideration of an issue over a long period of time, no more
balancing of regional and ethnic interests, no more protection of minority

The Founders were clear in their advocacy of representative democracy as
opposed to direct democracy. In The Federalist, James Madison asserted
that "the public voice pronounced by the representatives of the people
will be more consonant to the public good than if announced by the people
themselves convened for that purpose."

First, We Fire All...

I think it's pretty clear to most of us that the primary reason Edwards as much traction as he is getting is because of 3 little words.

Feb. 19, 2007 issue - In the fall of 2005, John Edwards sat down with a pad and pen and scrawled out three simple words: "I was wrong." It was nearly three years after he'd joined a Senate majority in voting to authorize war in Iraq. After an unsuccessful run as John Kerry's vice presidential candidate in the 2004 election, Edwards had returned home to North Carolina and watched as the war descended into chaos. Increasingly filled with regret, he concluded that the three-word confession would be the right way to start a Washington Post op-ed admitting his vote was a mistake.

But when a draft came back from his aides in Washington, Edwards's admission was gone. Determined, the senator reinserted the sentence. Again a draft came back from Washington; again the sentence had been taken out. "We went back and forth, back and forth," Edwards tells NEWSWEEK. "They didn't want me to say it. They were saying I should stress that I'd been misled." The opening sentence remained. "That was the single most important thing for me to say," Edwards recalls. "I had to show how I really feel."

Four More Wars


Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities:

ABC's "This Week" — Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; actor Sean Penn.

CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

CNN's "Late Edition" — Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, former U.S. commander in Afghanistan; Qubad Talabany, representative to the U.S. of the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government; Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and John Cornyn, R-Texas; Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic National Committee chairman; retired Army Col. Patrick Lang; Ray Takeyh, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"Fox News Sunday" — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.


May the force be with you.