Saturday, July 28, 2007

Whoever the Hell They Wanted To Without Warrants

Look, all the parsing of statements is a waste of time. They were eavesdropping on whoever they wanted to without any warrants or oversight. Whether or not "whoever they wanted to" included, say, the John Kerry campaign or Markos Moulitsas is still an open question. They obviously claimed the power to do so, it just isn't clear if they did it.

Josh sez...

...there's still something creepy we haven't heard yet about that spy program.

Not Atrios

PS. Jim Henley is worse than Stalin.

Keep Listening To Karl

And keep losing. Novakula:

Karl Rove, President Bush's political lieutenant, told a closed-door meeting of 2008 Republican House candidates and their aides Tuesday that it was less the war in Iraq than corruption in Congress that caused their party's defeat in the 2006 elections.

Rove's clear advice to the candidates is to distance themselves from the culture of Washington. Specifically, Republican candidates are urged to make clear they have no connection with disgraced congressmen such as Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley.
In effect, Rove was rebutting the complaint inside the party that George W. Bush is responsible for Republican miseries by invading Iraq.

Stuff I'm No Longer Impressed By

Fancy titles and positions.

Another Advantage of a Democratic Administration

Some discussion below about the merits of Secretary of State Joe Biden. Without engaging that question specifically, I do think one additional (not the most important, to be sure, but nontrivial) advantage of having a Democratic presidency is that some people like Joe Biden are put into the Cabinet, freeing their Lifetime Senate Seat up for some new blood.

Biden's been in the Senate for 34 years.

Smoking Forest

A commenter at Swampland dug this one up from Council of Foreign Relations President (now Emeritus) Leslie Gelb, as conveyed by Joe Klein.

Even the business community, usually a fairly tough-minded precinct, seems jelly-kneed at the prospect. "I have never seen such unanimity on any foreign policy issue," says Leslie H. Gelb, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who made a speaking tour of mostly business audiences in the Midwest and on the West Coast in December. "They want a smoking gun. It doesn't make a difference when I point out that we have a smoking forest, that it's clear Saddam has these weapons and doesn't want to disarm."

As Leslie Gelb is one of the most serious people of all in Washington, the fact that we know beyond all doubt that his laughably false assertion was indeed laughably false hasn't really diminished his ranking very much. Long after going around the country selling this disastrous war to "jelly-kneed" business audiences he's hanging around with the also very serious Joe Biden peddling even grander and more exciting ideas for Iraq, a three state solution which Gelb has been pushing as far back as November 2003.

Now one might think that after selling one disastrously bad idea that all of our very serious newspapers might consider that perhaps they weren't actually obligated to publish his op-eds, or calling him for quotes, but one would wrong as our pal Leslie seems to have no trouble getting his stuff placed.

Gelb, unsurprisingly, gets described as a "centrist," a label reserved for the most serious people, such as Senator Joe Lieberman.

I'm actually not trying to pick on Gelb who, in the pantheon of Very Serious People of Washington, seems to be generally a lot more intelligent and sane than most.

Very Serious People

Unlike Obama, all of the Republican know-nothings are very serious indeed.

Nothing to do With Partisanship

That's the real issue. Partisans are people who disagree with the Very Wise People of Washington who float above the muck doing The Business of the People selflessly and without regard for petty worldly concerns. It is wrong to criticize these people or undermine them in any way, for the fate of the Republic requires that we praise their wisdom and reminisce proudly about their moderate liberal death squads. They are the people who run the country, and we should let them do this without fear of criticism or accountability.

Or, shorter Anne-Marie Slaughter:

Shut the fuck up you damn dirty hippies.

Fresh Thread

The Iraq Study Group ate my baby.

...and Matthew Yglesias demonstrates his unseriousness.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Last Chance

One F.U. and a day or two ago Mitch McConnell had this to say:

I think everybody knows what the consequences are. The president doesn't have a stronger supporter in the Senate than the person you're looking at, but I repeat, this is the last chance for the Iraqis to step up and demonstrate this government can function," he said. "The message to the Iraqi government could not be more clear."

and now?

One Last Shot

One F.U. ago on Meet the Press, Ken "what the hell is he still doing on my teevee" Pollack had this to say:

MR. POLLACK: Well, the basic point that we’re trying to make is that the president wants this one last shot, it’s obviously very late in the game, there is no guarantee that it’s going to work out. I think that even the administration would say that the likelihood of it working is probably less than 50-50. If it fails, we are going to find Iraq even worse than it is today. It will probably slide into a Bosnia or Lebanon-like all-out civil war. That’s going to be disastrous not just for Iraq and the Iraqi people, but potentially for other countries around it, perhaps even for the entire region.

In Defense of Slaughter

I don't actually agree with Jim that it's the "dumbest thing ever written by anyone in any venue." Certainly we'd have to comb through the vast archives of the Gregg Easterbrook library before coming to such a conclusion.

Not So Stupid

I have no idea if Hillary Clinton believed that a vote for the AUMF wasn't one more step on the path to inevitable war, but it's wrong to suggest that, you know, most people thought that war wasn't inevitable.

They weren't marketing a tough inspections regime, they were marketing a war. That was obvious to most sentient beings at the time.

Wanker of the Day

Anne-Marie Slaughter.

I have no idea what the bit she quotes from me has anything to do with partisanship. Apparently the riff-raff aren't even supposed to have opinions about political candidates, because that would be partisan. What's Althouse feeding all these people?

Morning Thread

Let's hope Lynne Cheney doesn't invade anyone while Dick is incapacitated.

- Attaturk

Friday, July 27, 2007


I learn something new every day.

Not Atrios

Fool Them Several Times

And finally they show the capacity to learn:

New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a powerful member of the Democratic leadership, said Friday the Senate should not confirm another U.S. Supreme Court nominee under President Bush “except in extraordinary circumstances.”

“We should reverse the presumption of confirmation,” Schumer told the American Constitution Society convention in Washington. “The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts, or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito.”

Schumer’s assertion comes as Democrats and liberal advocacy groups are increasingly complaining that the Supreme Court with Bush’s nominees – Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito – has moved quicker than expected to overturn legal precedents.

Senators were too quick to accept the nominees’ word that they would respect legal precedents, and “too easily impressed with the charm of Roberts and the erudition of Alito,” Schumer said.

Friday Night Fun

Insert Youtube video of choice here.

Friday Already?

Time does fly.

...this is a good idea.

Fresh Thread


BobDole Says BobDole Thinks McCain is Done

That's gotta hurt.

Bob Dole says his preferred presidential candidate, Arizona Senator John McCain, is fading and that his support is likely to be ``picked up'' by Fred Thompson, who is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination in September.

``My heart has always been with my good friend John McCain,'' said Dole, former Senate majority leader and Republican presidential nominee. ``But it's just not happening, the buzz is gone,'' he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television's ``Political Capital with Al Hunt,'' scheduled to air today.

Can't Face The YouTube

Josh is being snarky with this line:

But if they can't face Youtube how can they defeat the terrorists?

but it's important to remember who uttered a similar line. Russert:

It’s a TV show. If you can’t handle TV questions, how are you going to stand up to Iran, and North Korea, and the rest of the world?

Will Russert express similar sentiments about the Republican fear of people in ur internetz?


Big Media Matt goes wrong here. Sports coverage is/would be a critical element in any quality local news organization. Sure the basic stuff like scores and standings don't need duplication, but sports is a local story. More than that, sports teams are key elements of any city's core identity and coverage of them is precisely the kind of thing which can help create interesting and compelling news for people.

Quality local coverage can stand out by helping to provide a unifying narrative about a place. Merge some aspects of tabloid style with quality reporting.

The Kids Aren't So Bad

New Democracy Corps survey of young adults.

They don't like Bush or Republicans very much. They're also more worried about their wallets (economy) than Iraq. I'm not too surprised by that. My highly scientific polling method of listening to people chat at coffee shops suggests that there's a high degree of economic anxiety/sense of lack of opportunity. I'm of course joking about my unreliable survey methods, but I still feel like there's something odd in the air.

68% want more awesomer bigger government to give them stuff.

Which One?

Nancy Boyda:

And finally, I would just like to share a story. When I was speaking back at home with one of a very right wing conservative talk show hosts and after, thank God, after we were off the air, I said something that I assumed he would agree with and I just said ‘you know, I’m really worried about these guys and gals, but mainly guys, that have gone, that they’ve been redeployed now three and four times’ — he came back to me and said ‘you know what, they should have thought about that before they enlisted, before they signed up.’ He said ‘it’s their fault.’


Perhaps they should spend a bit less time churning out articles with titles like "In Defense of Ann Coulter."


Number of times the term "Clinton fatigue" appeared, according to a Nexis search, in major papers during July of 1999: 27.

Clinton Gallup poll approval rating in July of 1999: 64

Number of times the term "Bush fatigue" has appeared, so far, in July of 2007: 1, courtesy of Byron York's hair.

Bush Gallup poll approval rating in July of 2007: 31.

Where The Masses Have No Voice

Novak heaven.

Novak memories...

Carefully Civilized

Reading things like this it's hard to not conclude that Michael Gerson is deeply disturbed. Get help, dude, or at least stop parading your mental issues in front of the general public.

Thought for the Day

Howie Kurtz will cover literally every conservative blog inspired media controversy.

I wonder why that is.

Boy Band Eroticism

This has been another edition of what Digby said.

Oh, yeah?

What can you say to these people?

Not Atrios

Even More Thread


Thursday, July 26, 2007


Rock on.


Falafel Boy is all class.

And a member of our very serious news media, we must remember.

Troops Behaving Badly

Generally I haven't made much issue about bad troop behavior in Iraq, aside from the obvious systematic stuff like Abu Ghraib. While I don't think all bad behavior is excusable, I'm also just not very inclined to pass judgment on how these people are dealing with the horrific situation in which they've been placed.


Since it happened lots of people have suggested that Pat Tillman was deliberately killed by his fellow troops. Until now I'd never really seen any evidence to suggest that was true. Not saying that the evidence is definitive, but it's certainly plausible.


Math Haloscan is hard.


Evening Thread

Friends don't let friends act like Jonah Goldberg.

I'm In The Internets!

I was Googling for something amd I came across a raging spring '05 discussion across many blogs about how sucky this blog is.

Good times.

Speaking of Serious

David Gregory on Tweety's weekend show:

Mr. GREGORY: I think Hillary Clinton--her sister soldier [sic] moment is going to
be telling the left that they have to sort of move beyond their hatred over
Iraq, for Bush, and think about how they're going to engage the war on terror
in a very serious and tough way.

I'm not quite sure how David Gregory imagines The Left is supposed to be engaging with the war on terror. Maybe I'll buy it a lovely diamond ring. But, clearly, those people who oppose Bush's little war and think that getting out of Iraq is a good idea are very unserious indeed.

Bedtime for Gonzo?

CNN banner:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' testimony into a meeting with his sick predecessor is apparently contradicted by FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Everyone Loves Rumors

And since no one is actually named it's harmless enough to pass this one along...


I hope people are in place for the Larry Kudlow suicide watch.

Opinion and Fact

Glenn has another round with Joe Klein, and gets at something which has long annoyed me about Klein's writing which is that he regularly writes as if his opinions are facts. I don't know if this is simply arrogance, or if he's unable to distinguish between the two, but I think it's a lot of the reason many of us find him so annoying.

Making Local Journalism Sexy

The other part is, I think, that most journalists don't go into the business so they can spend the rest of their lives covering city council hearings and other "unimportant" stuff. The local beat is a stepping stone to the sexier national beat, and the decline of opportunities in national journalism is rightly seen as a bit of a career downer.

But what's missing is quality local journalism. That's what smaller papers should be focused on, and they should be trying to do it in a way which makes them not just relevant but indispensable for people.


Just in case anyone had illusions he might have a reasonable moment.

I think Senator Schumer has made a practice of politicizing this matter...

after saying he didn't support calls for a special prosecutor.

Time For Another Blogger Ethics Panel

A shocking lack of ethics.


US Embassy in Iraq built, in part, by forced labor.
Mr. Chairman, when the airplane took off and the captain announced that we were heading to Baghdad, all you-know-what broke out on the airplane. The men started shouting, it wasn’t until the security guy working for First Kuwaiti waved an MP5 in the air that the men settled down. They realized that they had no other choice but to go to Baghdad. Let me spell it out clearly: I believe these men were kidnapped by First Kuwaiti to work at the US Embassy… I’ve read the State Department Inspector General’s report on the construction of the embassy. Mr. Chairman, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. This is a cover-up and I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to set the record straight.

The Company They Keep

These people are also very serious.


Terrorist supporting hate site banned John Aravosis.


Every now and then you'll see a self-styled reporter disparage those who don't "do reporting." Inevitably the kind of reporting they're talking about is calling people up on the phone and getting information from them. I find this definition of reporting to be truly odd.

What Kind of Weird Shit is This?

The latest dispatch from Unity08:

Dear Duncan,

Come meet us!

Join Unity08 leadership in studying cultural opinions at a series of unique research sessions. These sessions will use a divergent approach that lasts three hours, so all participants will need to confirm they can meet the following six criteria:

I agree to participate as a volunteer;
I confirm I will be able to stay for the full three hours and not leave the session early;
I have not, nor has anyone in my household or immediate family, worked in advertising or market research;
My mother was born in the United States;
I was born in the United States and lived in the US until at least the age of 15; and,
Both my mother and I spoke in American English when I was growing up.

Unity08 is holding these sessions at three locations around the country:

August 1st and 2nd in Washington D.C.
August 8th and 9th in New York City NY
August 23rd and 24th in San Diego CA
If you meet all six criteria please secure your seat by writing "I meet all six criteria" in the subject line of your email. Send your email to us at the below location for any of the above dates you can attend:

As this research is unique and attendance limited we will provide details, times and places only to those we confirm for each location on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Unity08 leadership and I look forward to meeting all members who can make it.


Doug Bailey
P.S.: Feel free to invite your non-Unity08 friends to RSVP as well. This is a study of our politics, leadership and government, and it's larger than any one campaign!

Game On

Senate Dems are going to ask DOJ Inspector General to appoint special counsel to investigate Abu G.

Colbert on Kos

Funny. Suggests Burning Down Capitol

Truly a terrorist supporting hate site.

Wanker of the Day

Fred Hiatt.

Five Months

Had this in the wrong spot on my calendar, so I'm 9 days late on this. Here's what the very serious Richard Shelby had to say on February 17:

SHELBY: Not all of us are happy with policy. But the president is the president, and we've got a new general there and we ought to give him a chance to succeed. We will know in four or five months.

SANCHEZ: So you're saying you're willing to go back in four or five months and have a hands up, hands down debate or actual vote on whether we need a surge in Iraq or not, but you're not willing to do that right now?

SHELBY: Not ready to do that right now. But six months from now we either will be stabilizing the Baghdad area or we will have deeper problems. The president will know it. The troops will know it. And the Republicans will know it.

Almost needless to say Shelby voted no on the recent cloture vote. Maybe next month.

Clear Case of Perjury

I'm so old I remember when the Attorney General committing perjury might be such big news that CNN would address it.

...ok, apparently they covered it before I woke up. Advantage CNN!

They Write Letters

Harry Reid writes to the Washington Post:

On reading the July 21 editorial "The Phony Debate," it became clear why The Post's editorial writers have been such eager cheerleaders for the Bush administration's flawed Iraq policies -- the two share the same disregard for the facts en route to drawing dubious conclusions.

The editorial was an inaccurate commentary on the nature of the Senate debate, the reality in Iraq and the president's stubborn adherence to failed policies.

Your editorial wrongly asserted that "a large majority of senators from both parties favor a shift in the U.S. mission." While a majority of the Senate voted again last week for a plan that would keep U.S. forces in Iraq for counterterrorism and troop protection and launch a diplomatic effort to help stabilize the region, Democrats were joined by only a handful of courageous Republicans -- far from a majority of Republicans and not enough to break the Republican leadership's filibuster. And if the president truly supports changing course, as your editorial implied, he needs to do much more than tell us "it's a position I'd like to see us in" -- he must drop his irresponsible veto threats and tell Republican leaders to stop blocking votes on proposals to carry out this change.

Finally, it was disingenuous to assert that Democrats are using Iraq to stir voters' passions; the American people are sufficiently disappointed on their own. Three-quarters of Americans recognize that the war is going badly, three out of five support further funding only if it includes a timetable for transitioning the mission, and nearly all expect their president to work with Congress to do something to change course.


U.S. Senator (D-Nev.)


The writer is Senate majority leader.


Keith Olbermann talks to Shuster and Leahy.

And has Fredo lost Fred Hiatt? Oh, my! (Via SM.)

Not Atrios

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Please, Take My Kidney

Okay, for the first time I'm posting what I acknowledge to be a genuinely whiny post.

I don't post much about my personal life, but there are times when I like to remind people that I have one, that I can't actually be here 16 hours a day. Sometimes I have other obligations.

And, yes, every now and then I get annoyed when people don't take the hint.

More Thread

Engaged with family stuff.



Documents show that eight congressional leaders were briefed about the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program on the eve of its expiration in 2004, contradicting sworn Senate testimony this week by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales...

At a heated Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Gonzales repeatedly testified that the issue at hand was not about the terrorist surveillance program, which allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on suspects in the United States without receiving court approval.

Instead, Gonzales said, the emergency meetings on March 10, 2004, focused on an intelligence program that he would not describe.

Fresh Thread




Look, one thing I'm very confident about is my judgment in foreign policy is, I believe, better than anyone else in this race, Republican or Democrat.

"And I don't base that simply on the fact that I was right on the war in Iraq. But if you look at how I approached the problem. What I was drawing on was a set of experiences that come from a life of living overseas, having family overseas, being able to see the world through the eyes of people outside our borders.

"The notion that somehow from Washington you get this vast foreign policy experience is illusory.

I'm not saying Obama's judgment about his judgment is necessarily correct, just that the very serious foreign policy people in Washington keep, you know, getting it wrong. The foreign policy establishment has its own arbitrary parameters of debate which it imposes on political candidates, a sort of legacy of decades of debates piled on other debates, which often have little relationship to reality. It tries to impose those rules onto candidates, declaring this or that a "foreign policy gaffe," even though it's often only a gaffe to the very serious people who brought us George Bush's excellent Iraqi adventure.


Of course the principle they were defending was their own power. Why they fail to do so now is truly bizarre.

One quibble, however. In 1983 Reagan wasn't very popular. He hit 35 in a Gallup poll in January, and in May (I think) when the contempt citation was issued he was in the low 40s.


Your #1 source for deep dishonest thoughts from indicted Tom DeLay.


Over there.

BAGHDAD - A car bomb exploded in Baghdad's Mansour district near a group of soccer fans celebrating Iraq's Asian Cup defeat of South Korea, killing 10 people and wounding 61, police said.

BAGHDAD - A suicide car bomber attacked an army checkpoint in eastern Baghdad's Ghadeer district, killing 16 people and wounding 57, many of them soccer fans, police said. The dead also included two soldiers.

Who Cares?

Not our elite pundit class.

Is anyone in the Beltway interested in what they were doing during this time? It is not news that there were "other intelligence activities" besides the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" that were illegal and extreme. We have known that for a-year-and-a-half based on how they have parsed their answers. And we knew it inescapably once James Comey said that he was going to quit once he realized what they were doing and how illegal it was.

Our Beltway political class just has chosen not to demand to know what was done, notwithstanding its blatant illegality. How can we just allow these government activities -- of plainly illegal government spying on us during 2001-2004 -- to remain concealed?

Joe Klein summed up their attitude quite well:

People like me who favor this program don't yet know enough about it yet. Those opposed to it know even less -- and certainly less than I do.

Put your trust in Dear Leader and his court of sycophants.

Quality Optimism

That's some really awesome "good news."

The Federalism Dodge

Oddly it's an extension of the Unity '08 High Broderism "can't we all get along" stuff. For some reason people in and covering national politics seem to hate the fact that politics actually involves genuine disagreement, and it'd be so much fun if we just got rid off all that stuff we disagreed about. So they want to punt it to the states. Problem over!

Up is Down

Just over email:

TIME’s Jay Newton-Small reports from New Hampshire about how Sen. Barack Obama’s popularity might actually be hurting his chances:


Christy's covering the hearing.

And happy birthday to Jane.

What to do About Abu G?

Obviously the Democrats have to do something. I'd like it if some Republicans thought that having their congressional powers mocked and laughed at was an area of concern, too, but those people who spent their time holding their breaths waiting for Republicans to do the right thing have long since died of asphyxiation.

Home Price Depreciation

Your housing market doom and gloom story of the day.


New York Drinking Liberally makes the Daily Show. Odd how frequently people I know appear on the teevee, if briefly, these days.

Drunk Rich People

If I were Lindsay Lohan, I would hire a driver.

Hopefully that's all the Lohan related commentary you'll find here.

Tweety Finds A Nut

Violates High Broderism! His cool kids club membership will be taken away.


I actually agree with Lord Shafer about this. It's an abused word which allows reporters to turn nonstories into stories frequently. I wouldn't say the word should never be used, but the bar should be pretty high.

Morning Thread

Have you sent your Nancygram today?

--Molly I.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Sorry, Fox, he's one of yours and you can keep him.

Late Night

Rock on.

I Want Some Love

How can I get Falafel Boy to compare me to Nazis, the Klan, Mussolini, and Al Capone?

Talk Talk

I hate wading into the primaries too much, but I think Yglesias has a good point here. In addition Senator Clinton had a rather stirring defense of direct talks recently.

The Administration announces it will propose timetables or benchmarks and the Iraqi Prime Minister denounces them. President Bush says we are adjusting tactics but Secretary Rumsfeld insists we are staying the course. The Administration tells Iran and Syria they're responsible for helping keep the peace but won't talk with them about how to do it. We continue to deny evident reality, proceeding with few or no allies and precious little direct communication with people who matter. No wonder the American people think that we are adrift.


We have to keep all options on the table, including being ready to talk directly to Iranians should the right opportunity present itself. Direct talks, if they do nothing else, lets you assess who's making the decisions -- what their stated and unstated goals might be. And willingness to talk sends two very important messages. First, to the Iranian people, that our quarrel is with their leaders, not with them; and second, to the international community, that we are pursuing every available peaceful avenue to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.


But I have thought for a long time we made a mistake not talking directly to North Korea. North Korea's neighbors have long supported direct U.S. --North Korea talks on security matters. In the past, such engagements have prevented the development of plutonium bombs and the testing of long-range missiles. Kim Jong Il needs to hear a single, unified message: choose between nuclear weapons and aid from South Korea, China, and the international community. You cannot have both. Right now, we seem to be relying too much for my taste on China's good will to restrain North Korea. But at the end of the day, Pyongyang will have to hear this message directly from us.

This is just bringing us back into the stupid parameters of debate established by the Bush administration. I don't want the country to stay in that very stupid place. We need leaders who are willing to get us out of that spider hole of stupidity.

I'm not claiming there's a direct contradiction here. In the latest round Clinton's talking about presidential meetings, instead of just standard diplomacy. But these distinctions are rather unimportant. Either in general terms it's important to reach out to the leaders of countries we have disagreements with or it isn't.

Mall of America

Please kill me.

This month, Bachmann traveled to Iraq, and despite more GOP defections from Bush's base of support, she returned as firm as ever in her conviction that the war is justified. Al-Qaida, she said, "doesn't show any signs of letting up." The congressional delegation met with Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces.

What was the palace like?

"It's absolutely huge," she said. "I turned to my colleagues and said there's a commonality with the Mall of America, in that it's on that proportion. There's marble everywhere. The other thing I remarked about was there is water everywhere. He had man-made lakes all around his personal palace -- one for fishing, one for boating."


Andrew Cohen:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales deserves to be fired for his testimony Tuesday alone; for morphing into Jon Lovitz's famous "pathological liar" character (or maybe just one of the Marx Brothers) as he tried to dodge and duck responsibility before the Senate Judiciary Committee not just for his shameful leadership at Justice but also his shameless role in visiting an ailing John Ashcroft in the hospital to try to strong-arm him into renewing the warrantless surviellance program. Can anyone out there remember a worse, less-inspiring, less confidence-inducing performance on Capitol Hill? I cannot.

No reasonable person watching Gonzales' tragically comedic performance Tuesday's on Capitol Hill-- especially his miserable exchange with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in late morning-- can any longer defend his appalling lack of competence, courage and credibility. And no one who hears him say that he is what's best for the Department right now should forget that on the eve of his testimony (and a few days after he urged his subordinates to work diligently to regain their morale) the nation's top law enforcement official reportedly left work early to go for a bike ride Monday afternoon-- at about 3:50 p.m.

I am running out of words to describe how inept this public servant is and how awful is the message our government sends to the nation and to the world by allowing him to continue to represent us.

Keep Talking

While I don't think dishonest hackery should have any place in the NYT or any other supposedly respectable paper, I actually hope conservatives and Republicans keep trying to explain to the great masses that the econonomy is AWESUM!!!!! People are under the impression it's really not awesome. Such impressions are not formed by taking a look at facts and figures - even dishonest Brooksian ones - but by personal direct experience, that of friends, family and neighbors, and probably overall by anxiety about the future. Telling them that everything is wonderful isn't going to convince them, it's just going to piss them off.


The audience for this kind of thing aren't Democratic primary voters who aren't necessarily enamored by hawkishness, but the previously mentioned mainstream media who define hawkishness as seriousness. They'll launder the message so that Obama is painted as naive and wimpy.

I'm sure it'll all be explained by James Carville on the Situation Room.


I'm sure that Berkeley is very proud of their man.

Impeach Gonzales


J.D. Roberts

Holy crap.

...since it wasn't clear, the interviewer is a larval version of CNN's John Roberts.


When one reads Drudgico, one gets the sense that the Republicans still control Congress, Democratic sources either do not exist or are irrelevant, George Bush is still popular, there's a pony epidemic in Iraq, etc...

Fed to Him

I doubt BoBo Brooksy is actually capable of coming up with this kind of detailed mendacity all by himself.


Here's Feingold on CNN yesterday.

Speaking of Gullible Idiots

I'm not exactly sure why there needs to be several programs to spy on us without warrants, but apparently there are!

Which reminds me of the the ultimate Joe Klein moment, his bizarre pseudo-defense of all of this.

"[I will] have a lot more to say on this (NSA) issue next week -- but first I have to learn more about it."


"The notion of calling it wiretapping is questionable, I think, although I'm still not entirely sure."


"People like me who favor this program don't yet know enough about it yet. Those opposed to it know even less -- and certainly less than I do."

The Trouble With Our Discourse

I'd say that roughly speaking there are 4 kinds of people in this country when it comes to politics and current events (of course these are broad brush categories). There are the people who really don't pay any attention at all, and whose only real knowledge comes from passive absorption of random things that they happen to hear. There are the people who get all of their information from Limbaugh and the rest of the conservative media. There are the people who imagine that they're paying attention, and think that by listening to NPR and reading gullible idiots like Joe Klein they're "very informed." And then there are the readers of this blog who know what's really going on (joke).

It's the third category of people I worry most about how to reach. They're the ones who absorb and regurgitate Maureen Dowd's latest bon mot, or the latest bit of Washington "conventional wisdom," and think they're really on top of things. They aren't necessarily stupid people, they just haven't come to terms with the fact that the mainstream media is something to be treated with great skepticism.

Wanker of the Day

John Bambenek.

...and, in case Adam doesn't make it clear, we've been through this. I (and others) testified to the FEC. I learned more than I ever wanted to about campaign finance law and FEC regulations and rulings. I learned to have a healthy distrust of most of the "reformer" groups. I also learned to have a bit of faith in the process, as ultimately the FEC commissioners went from not understanding the issue and potentially issuing a very horrible ruling to understanding it and issuing a very good ruling.

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Yglesias asks of that guy formerly from the Note:

Doesn't "presidential" in this context, like "serious," just mean "relatively right-wing" rather than "reflective"?


This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.


Over there.

A suicide bomb killed 26 people and wounded 70 in a crowded market south of Baghdad today, police said.

The attack took place close to a maternity hospital in the Shia town of Hilla, about 60 miles from the Iraqi capital.

The explosion destroyed 14 shops and set more than a dozen cars ablaze.

Having spent the last few years reading all of the elaborate and wonderful grand theories and strategies by the "liberal hawks" used to justify their own thinking and still suggest the dirty hippies were wrong even though they were right, I think I've finally come up with the Dirty Fucking Hippie Unified Theory of Foreign Policy.

Don't be so fucking stupid.

Lucy's Football

And on and on.

BAGHDAD - A revised U.S. military plan envisions establishing security at the local level in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq by summer 2008, leading one year later to security conditions nationwide that Iraqi forces are capable of sustaining, U.S. officials said Tuesday.


Watching John Roberts on CNN trying to yuk it up over those wacky YouTube questions. Is there something about becoming a television journalist that requires any actual sense of humor to be siphoned out of your brain?

...adding, I have this memory of Bill Hemmer, back when he was still on CNN, looking like he'd found Jesus after watching a Jib Jab video and intoning "Jib Jab is brilliant..."



Not Atrios

Early AM

This Phila post is pretty fucking funny, if a bit recherche.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Talk Clock

I appreciate that polls/fundraising are going to impact which candidates generally get the most coverage, but I also think that there's no reason for such things to be reinforced by time given to candidates during debates. At least this early it seems like a good time for the media to highlight "lesser" candidates. Perhaps later they can be weeded out based on some objective criteria.

Fresh Thread

Mike Gravel is Chris Dodd's father.


More Thread

Strong and springy.

Debate Thread


Out for the evening.

Fresh Thread



Feingold totally laying into the Republicans on CNN. Video here later, assuming someone else doesn't get to it first.

Objectively Pro-Corpse Desecration

Your modern conservative moment.

Pathetic Bunch of Pygmies

Run, Newt, Run!

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Dismissing the GOP presidential field as a "pathetic" bunch of "pygmies," Newt Gingrich hinted Monday he might step in to beat Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.


Gingrich mocked Republican presidential candidates for subjecting themselves to a May debate hosted by Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball."

"You're watching an utterly irrelevant, shallow television celebrity dominate everybody who claimed they want to lead the most powerful nation in the world," he said.

The Months Ahead Are Critical

One F.U. Three months ago today Ambasasdor Crocker had the following to say:

"I think the Baghdad security plan ... can buy time, but what it does is buy time for what it ultimately has to be -- a set of political understandings among Iraqis. So I think these months ahead are going to be critical," Crocker said.

Next Few Months

Six months ago today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had the following to say:

I think we do agree this is the last chance for the Iraqis to get it right. But we ought to give one of our finest, if not our very finest, general a chance to see if he can succeed in the next few months.

Perhaps A Last Chance

One F.U. ago today, the very serious and bipartisan and independent Last Honest Man from Connecticut:

The Senate should "step back for a moment and give you [Gen. Petraeus] a chance…. Perhaps a last chance, to succeeed in Iraq," Lieberman said. "If God forbid, you are unable to succeed, then there will be plenty of time for the resolutions of disapproval or the other alternatives that have been contemplated."

Be Careful Greg

The bunny boiler is coming!

More God

Actually THIS is probably what the crazy freaky voter was talking about, as he said he thought it was reported by the Beeb.

Pakistani leaders say President Bush said God told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. That is Palestinian leaders' remarks attributed to Mr. Bush are in a BBC documentary. The White House dismisses it as absurd.

(ht moe and pony boy)

Crazy Freaky Voters

One of those crazy stupid wacky voters was just on CNN and he informed Kyra Phillips that Bush claimed that God told him to attack Iraq. Kyra thought this was some sort of crazy freak stupid uninformed voter conspiracy theory. True or not, it was reported in Haaretz.

Abbas said that at Aqaba, Bush promised to speak with Sharon about the siege on Arafat. He said nobody can speak to or pressure Sharon except the Americans.

According to Abbas, immediately thereafter Bush said: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

And in the WaPo:

Imagine our surprise Wednesday to read in the Israeli paper Haaretz (online), that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abu Mazen, meeting recently with militants to enlist their support for a truce with Israel, said that, when they met in Aqaba, President Bush had told him this: " God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam [ Hussein], which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

So who needs to find WMD or a link with al Qaeda when the orders come from The Highest Authority?

Two calls to the White House for clarification went unreturned, but colleague Glenn Kessler did some digging. The Haaretz reporter, Arnon Regular, read what the paper said were minutes of the Palestinians' meeting to Kessler and another colleague, who is an Arabic speaker.

The Arabic-speaking colleague's translation, was this: "God inspired me to hit al Qaeda, and so I hit it. And I had the inspiration to hit Saddam, and so I hit him. Now I am determined to solve the Middle East problem if you help. Otherwise the elections will come and I will be wrapped up with them."

Voters Are Stupid And Crazy And Sucky

The contempt that the media is heaping on the "YouTube debate" - even from its sponsor, CNN - is truly bizarre. Paraphrased from what I just heard on NPR is typical:

2 minutes of ridiculous sounding questions.

"The YouTube debate has become a magnet for freaks, conspiracy theorists, and self-promoters....

...full disclosure, most of the questions were serious and I had to wade through hundreds of questions to find the wacky ones..."

I don't really think there's anything especially awesome about the idea, but the desire to paint anyone who gives a shit about politics as some sort of "freak" is disturbing.


Over the next couple of weeks there will be a grand effort by the wingosphere/conservative pundits/Falafel boy/their mainstream media enablers/etc... to try to undermine Yearly Kos and to marginalize anyone who attends.

Screw Public Pressure

It is always a bit weird how companies and even politicians react to public pressure in the modern age, especially when a bit of fervor can be easily whipped up over just about anything. I'm not suggesting that no one should ever respond to public pressure. If an outcry exists it provides an opportunity to rethink a decision, and maybe that decision was made incorrectly. But if a bunch of people email you because Bill O'Reilly told them to there's no reason to think that this in any way matters as a business issue.

The political version is similar. I do think politicians should listen to what their constituents and to a lesser extent what other people calling them are saying, but there's little reason to do so if you're a Democrat and they're calling because wingnut radio told them to. These people aren't ever going to vote for you.

Customer Service

While there are certainly plenty of individual SEPTA workers who are excellent with the public, overall the agency is pretty clueless about making it easy to ride the system. A big barrier to people riding public transportation is simply ignorance. Boarding a crowded bus can be stressful if you don't know what's expected of you. Ticket machines for the rail system have disappeared. One has to consult a horoscope chart to know when subway employees will or won't actually sell tokens to you, and existing token machines don't like "new" (now years old) US currency. Day and weekly passes should be easily available everywhere. Etc...


Broder's boy bounces all the way to 25% in latest ARG poll.

Good Job, Democrats

We tried to warn you.

Lately, though, Lieberman has taken his alliance with GOP leaders up a notch. During the abortive debate on the defense authorization bill, he attended daily tactical sessions to help them plan their strategy for combatting anti-war amendments and their rhetorical points for use against the Democrats. And in a fitting symbolic twist, some of those meetings convened just down the hall from the office of Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who essentially owes his 51-seat majority to Lieberman’s continued caucusing with the Democrats.


The mind of our president.


Over there.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 17 people were killed and dozens more wounded by a wave of car bombings in central Baghdad on Monday, most of them in a predominantly Shi'ite district, police and witnesses said.

Holy Crap

David Broder writes a column which basically praises some Democrats, insults the Bush administration, and doesn't include any "pox on both their houses" stuff.

Miracles do happen.

...okay there's that swipe at Gore about something I've never heard before, but, ok, close enough.


Rock on.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Simple Answers to Simple Questions


That said, is Hayes more insane or less insane than Tim Russert[?]

Less. This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

There's Something About Foers

Managed to finish another book without the word Potter in the title, Everything is Illuminated. Bah. First half or so was good, but I liked the second half a lot better the first time I read it... when it was called One Hundred Years of Solitude (though, admittedly, I didn't like that much either).

Then I watched the movie. Oy. Only Liev Schreiber could make Eugene Hutz boring.

Sunday Roof Deck Blogging

The view to the West.

Culinary advice: duck breasts+grill=FIRE

Evening Thread


Joe Biden Discovers the Intertubes

I think this is the first time I've gotten a press release from the Biden campaign, advertising his intertubes appearance. He goes at Rudy!

Working against Joementum II: Staying Alive is the fact that he's hired former Lieberman worker Marion Steinfels. Working in his favor is the fact that Lieberman fired her.


I think an important if generally ignored point is that not only were war supporters shouting down war opponents over the years, they also did everything they could to shout down people who were suggesting even tepidly that maybe Dear Leader and his Merry Gang of Incompetents were fucking the whole thing up. While I don't have much respect for the "incompetence dodgers" on the question of whether the Great and Glorious Invasion of Iraq was a good idea, it is true that the whole adventure was handled about as incompetently as it could have been by the Bush gang. More than that, this was pretty apparent from the beginning. The pro-war gang will, for the most part, never rethink their support for their pet war, but I'd hope at least a few of them might consider that their blind support for these idiots helped ensure that their pet war, their central mission, was a colossal fuckup.

Oh, and lots of people died too. Mustn't forget that.

Quality Snark


If all this had gone well, Gerson could have left his government job and become a pillar of the Washington Establishment. Since it turned out to be a tremendous failure, instead he got a Council on Foreign Relations fellowship and a Washington Post column.

The Philosopher's Stone

No Harry Potter yet for this household, though presumably it's flying somewhere over the Atlantic right now. Before I bought the first couple books years ago, I had read that the American versions have had their English spellings Americanized, some English wording "translated," and some regional English, especially Hagrid's, significantly toned down to make it more understandable to an American audience it seemed preferable to get the original UK editions.

Wanker of the Day

David Gregory.

...Kick it.

And Me

Yah, it's this kind of thing which makes me not get too excited about Richardsonmania.



The fact that Ambinder -- first with ABC News' atrocious "The American Pravda", now with the Atlantic Monthly -- takes for granted the use of trivia by reporters in order to pursue personal vednettas is instructive in an extremely depressing way.

We all remember what the press did to mark the end of the Dean campaign - wore T-Shirts which had "Establishment Media" on the front and "We Have the Power/ Dean Press Corps 2004" on the back.

Note that the problem isn't that journalists behave this way, the problem is that they behave this way while pretending to operate under some Magical Mystery Code of Journalistic Integritude. As in:

Step 1: Assume we have ethics and norms of behavior.

Step 2: Do any goddamn thing we want because, by assumption, we have integritude.'s the reporting for the Dean story.


WATB Billy Kristol, age 11, is crying.

Al Gore's Scam

Their inability to distiguish between fact and fiction, between Jack Bauer the character and Kiefer Sutherland the actor, is frigthening.

Though we already knew about this general problem.

DIETL: No, I have a problem because things have changed, Hassan. We have to -- lookit: a bunch of Irish guys are not going to get on a plane now and blow themselves up or put themselves into buildings.

The fact of the matter is -- I mean, you don't watch 24 on Fox TV? They're out there. They're out there. There are cells out there. We have to protect ourselves against it, as Americans, and you know something, if you're on a plane with me, Hassan, and you're sitting next to me, you'll be looked at a little careful -- more carefully than me. That's the facts of life. That's what we're living with today. I'm sorry to say, 9-11 changed our whole life.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week" — Pre-empted by coverage of the British Open golf tournament.
CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.
NBC's "Meet the Press" — National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.
CNN's "Late Edition" — White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend; Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri; Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; David Bonior, John Edwards' campaign manager; and Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., Barack Obama supporter.
"Fox News Sunday" — Townsend; Sens. Kit Bond, R-Mo., and Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; British entrepreneur Richard Branson.


Rock on.