Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thread again

Music.

Signed,
Not Atrios

Alhurra

Worthy of disclosure, or at least a blogger ethics panel.

If true, double plus extra bonus points to both the New York Times and the Washington Post for being happy conduits for paid propaganda.

Serious!

Fresh Thread

Why oh why did Eddie not do more of this.

Nunnmania!

Not sure if it's sweeping America, but it's sweeping through my undisclosed location like a big sweepy broom type thing!

If Only

Tim Robbins lives in a parallel universe where there's actual accountability for pundits and "experts" who make catastrophically bad decisions which end up killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Wanker of the Day

Inevitably... Michael O'Hanlon.

SNAFU

As we round the corner (towards the light!), and head towards the beginning of the 6th year of the great and glorious war in Iraq, it's probably a good idea to remind ourselves that for students entering college this Fall, the war begin in Spring of their 8th grade year. For those entering their freshmen year next year, the war will have been going on since they were in 7th grade.

For a growing chunk of the population, war has been a normal state of affairs during their formative years.

Men of Distinction

The 10 WORST U.S. Prosecutors 2007

Signed,
Not Atrios

Darcy Needs Turkee

Watch some goofy bloggers.




Open your wallet.

Time For Another Blogger Ethics Panel

But, either way, time for Maliki to be planning for retirement.

Overnight Threading

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thread

Democracy is on the march.

Signed,
Not Atrios

Stop Whining

It's infuriating, though not surprising, that the TNR gang has suddenly discovered that their right wing pals and occasional sparring partners don't always play fair. Pass the smelling salts!

As I've explained to many people over the years: it isn't simply a game to them.


I don't know why this isn't obvious.

Evening Thread

Rock on.



Artist's website


Buy the CD:

I Love Concern Trolls

Commenter Regault at Ezra's place:

Darcy Burner is probably the biggest example of the netroots misstepping in local politics ever. Half the district is in Pierce County, and yet the netroots keep pushing a candidate who's only lived in the state for seven years and has absolutely nothing on her political resume.

If you're gonna try and push a candidate, try and learn the area's voting habits first.



...adding, I never like to be heavyhanded with fundraising, but it's long been my fantasy that the "netroots" could, when they wanted to, pull in a cool $100K over a couple of days for a candidate. Obviously that isn't a "do it every weekend" kind of thing, but something which could, at times, be done.

Burner got 48.54% of the vote in 2006. You be the judge of the area's voting habits.

Approve, give some money.


Don't approve, don't bother.

Castro

Jeebus, Drudge, Castro death rumors "fill Miami" about every week, if not every morning.

The Problem

Big Media Matt explains it well:

This provides, I think, an opportunity to get a little more specific about blogger critiques of Very Serious People and clerisies and so forth. The crux of the matter is that we have here in Washington, DC a certain number of institutions working in the national security sphere that are essentially crackpot operations -- AEI, The Weekly Standard, the Project for a New American Century, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies come to mind. Now one can argue 'till the cows come home whether or not it should have been clear in August 2002 that these were crackpot operations, but over the past five years they've demonstrated themselves to indubitably be crackpot institutions.

Meanwhile, a couple of ticks over to the left you have a series of basically establishmentarian organizations and individuals that, instead of doing what establishmentarian organizations are supposed to do and marginalize these crackpots, are mainstreaming them. The Saban Center at Brookings, CNN, and the opinion pages of The Washington Post are probably the biggest offenders here, but the rot has spread and to some extent afflicted other organizations as well. It's a problem. It's by no means something every single CFR member or center-left think tanker has contributed to, but too many have contributed to it, and until very recently too many others have done little to try to seize the mantle of authority from the people who keep mainstreaming crackpots whose theories have been tested and failed, over and over again, at a cost of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.




It's also a media problem, but that's a problem for just about everyone left of center. But it isn't just a media problem.

The Cost of the Lost Year

As Froomkin points out, we've spent the year running in place at tremendous cost of lives and treasure.

A new national intelligence estimate concludes that President Bush's troop surge shows no signs of accomplishing its goal of encouraging political reconciliation in Iraq.

An influential Republican senator and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff now favor a troop withdrawal. (Sen. John Warner wants Bush to demonstrate that the commitment in Iraq is not open-ended; Marine Gen. Peter Pace argues that the military simply can't keep this up.)

These and other developments take us back in some ways to December 2006. It was then, in the wake of the November election and the report of the Iraq Study Group, that the debate in Washington finally appeared to be shifting away from how to achieve victory and toward how to cut our losses.

Instead, Bush ignored public sentiment, overruled his military commanders and opted for escalation.

And now it appears that the only thing the surge has bought him is time -- nine months or maybe a year, during which he was able to postpone the inevitable.

What has that year cost America -- and Iraq? For starters, a year in Iraq translates to over 1,000 more dead American soldiers; over $100 billion more in direct appropriations; over 15,000 more dead Iraqi civilians; and countless grievous wounds and shattered families both here and there.

Strategery

Bush: "Eddie, now that Karl's goin' you got any ideas?"

Gillespie: "I suggest we keep lying our asses off, Mr. President!"

Bush: "Oh, I like that plan. hehehehe"

Afternoon Thread

Enjoy.

Making Good Progress

Consider the fun if the headline in the Seattle Times on Monday is "Burner Raises $100K On Bush Visit to Rival Reichert."

Only $94K to go.


$1000/head for the Bush/Reichert love-in, and $10K for the VIP treatment.

F.U. Too

Bill Kristol says we gotta give it... another Friedman.

Why Have You Forsaken Us?

Shouldn't some enterprising reporter ask if Norm Coleman thinks George Bush is still a prayer-enabled God-approved leader?

Boost

No, it doesn't actually make any sense, and while it never made any sense there perhaps was a time when it would have been true. Not anymore.


Throw in some change for better Democrats.

More and Better Democrats

Here's Darcy Burner on the FISA collapse.




Here's Joe Wilson introducing the upcoming Monday virtual town hall with Burner.




You can go here for info about how to send your question, etc.

Most importantly, the worst president in history, George Bush, is heading to Washington to to a fundraiser for her idiot opponent, Dave Reichert.

Here's Dave being an idiot.



It'd be nice to send a message that Bush is poison, and that bringing him to town is only going to ensure that the Democrat is going to raise lots of money, too.

The goal is to raise $100K online over the next few days. That really shouldn't be that hard, as I think it would just require that every Kossack throw in a quarter. But you can help too.

Throw in some change for better Democrats.

Listening to the Generals

Of course, once again he won't.

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, potentially creating a rift with top White House officials and other military commanders over the course of the war.

Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military. This assessment could collide with one being prepared by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, calling for the U.S. to maintain higher troop levels for 2008 and beyond.

Petraeus is expected to support a White House view that the absence of widespread political progress in Iraq requires several more months of the U.S. troop buildup before force levels are decreased to their pre-buildup numbers sometime next year.

Pace's recommendations reflect the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who initially expressed private skepticism about the strategy ordered by Bush and directed by Petraeus, before publicly backing it.

Brookings Iraq Index

We must remember that "Michael O'Hanlon spearheads the Iraq Index project at Brookings."

And Another Friedman Gone

Michael O'Hanlon, one F.U. ago:

ROBERTS: So it's time to change the mission, says Biden. His proposal would limit the U.S. role to counter terrorism and training Iraqi forces and remove all combat forces not necessary for that task by March of 2008. Battling the insurgency and sectarian violence would become an Iraqi responsibility. The proposal roughly follows the recommendations of the Iraq study group and carefully stays away from the politically poisonous issue of dialing back the war by cutting off funding for the troops. But even some fierce critics of the war feel it's far too early, that the troop increase should at least be given a chance.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It seems to me the logical thing is to wait four to six months and use that four to six months to evaluate the surge and then to develop some Plan B proposals.


Serious!

Even then, war supporting surge supporting O'Hanlon was a "fierce critic."

And the Plot Unfolds

On time:

BAGHDAD, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Three secularist ministers who were already boycotting meetings of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet will formally quit the government, their bloc said on Friday.

The move by the secularist group of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi deals a further blow to Maliki's efforts to rebuild a national unity coalition, which has been crumbling since the main Sunni Arab group and others walked out.


Suck On This

The significance of Friedman's "Suck On This" isn't simply his buffoonery and that of our entire media discourse. I don't imagine that Charlie Rose is playing on every teevee in Iraq, but even the liberal Tom Friedman was channeling what was a pretty common sentiment at the time, and one which he had expressed in one way or another in even the liberal New York Times. In Little Tommy's flat world, such sentiments cross borders and can be picked up by people in other countries. Amazing, I know. And, so, Iraqis and other people in Middle East can jump to the shocking conclusion (one might call it a "conspiracy theory!") that maybe we didn't go to Iraq to topple Saddam, or for our security, or weapons of mass destruction, or for humanitarian reasons. We went to Iraq, as the very serious Tom Friedman put it, to go door to door and bust the heads of some Iraqis because a bunch of Saudis had flown planes into buildings about 18 months before that. Now if this cunning plan doesn't make much sense to you, or at the very least you perceive that it might contain the seeds of its own undoing, it's because you lack the Mustache of Understanding which gives you the insights necessary to spend a full hour with Charlie Rose or write two columns a week for the very serious New York Times.


For those of us who were alive during the glorious 2002 summer of war, this was essentially the conservative blogosphere's reason for going to war, before we all got distracted trying to chase down and refute the reams of bullshit coming out of the White House about weapons and al Qaeda connections and blah blah blah. I believe Steven de Beste wrote a 3 million word essay, linked to and praised by everyone, which could've been shortened to "We need to tell them to suck on this."

No one could have predicted that this was a bad idea! No one could have predicted that arming multiple sides in sectarian conflict could have negative consequences! No one could have predicted that a government hiding in the US controlled green zone might lack legitimacy!

Though, truly, no one could have predicted that the president would find solace in historical parallels to Vietnam.

Take Your Damn Ball And Go Home

And bring Dick with you. Josh:

His entire legacy as president is bound up in Iraq. Which is another way of saying that his legacy is pretty clearly an irrecoverable shambles. That is why, as the folly of the enterprise becomes more clear, he must continually puff it up into more and more melodramatic and world-historical dimensions. A century long ideological struggle and the like. For the president a one in a thousand shot at some better outcome is well worth it, no matter what the cost. Because at least that's a one in a thousand shot at not ending his presidency with the crushing verdict history now has in store. It's also worth just letting things keep on going as they are forever because, like Micawber, something better might turn up. Going double or nothing by expanding the war into Iran might be worth it too for the same reason. For him, how can it get worse?

And when you boil all this down what it comes down to is that the president now has very different interests than the country he purports to lead.


Still, it's always great fun to have a beer with an incompetent narcissist!

But it isn't just the president. It's also all of the Very Serious People who have no trouble doubling down on their bets again and again. They're playing with other peoples' money and other peoples' lives, and why not wait another Friedman or two to see if that lottery ticket hits.

It's been going on for years now, and the cowards who rule us won't make it stop.

Suck on this, Americans!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Surge

More good news about The Surge.
The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has soared since the American troop increase began in February, according to data from two humanitarian groups, accelerating the partition of the country into sectarian enclaves.

Despite some evidence that the troop buildup has improved security in certain areas, sectarian violence continues and American-led operations have brought new fighting, driving fearful Iraqis from their homes at much higher rates than before the tens of thousands of additional troops arrived, the studies show.
The absolute nicest adjective I can come up with for the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate is "feckless." And that's only because I did well on the SATs.

Can we learn the lesson about administration spin about the Iraq war? At long last? Please?

Mercs

How many well-armed "contractors" are there in Iraq, anyway? Dan does the math and concludes, "a shitload."

Undisclosed Location Blogging

Pimientos de padrĂ³n.

John Galt Corporation

Yes, I had to click through to make sure it wasn't a joke.

It isn't.

Will There Be Any Republicans Left In Congress?

We won't have Rick Renzi to kick around.

Wankers of the Day

His Irrelevancy Joe Lieberman and his Irrelevancy's flunkie the Bullshit Moose.

Warner

"Bravely and politely" asks Bush to start thinking about withdrawing some troops for Christmas. He then washed his blood-soaked hands in David Broder's loving tears.

The Clerisy is Awesome

Because with members like that, how could it not be?

Today's Moment of Zen



Serious!


...this is from May 30, 2003, about 2.5 months after the war started.

Things Will Remain Bad Over the Next 1-2 Friedmans

If only we'd found a Third Force.

Out

51% of Iowa Republicans want "a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months."

In David Broder's world, these are the realest of the real Americans, the heartiest the heartland has to offer.

Why does nobody care what they think?

Can't Pay Won't Negotiate

People who got loans through Countrywide are unlikely to be able to renegotiate their loans in any way because Countrywide promised investors that if they ever did so they'd buy back the loans, something they probably can't afford to do now.

Very Serious People

Such buffoonery. Is there some sort of cloning vat where these people are created? Or maybe some sort of decades old Manchurian Wanker program?

Assface

Ladies and gentlemen, the world's greatest deliberative body. Whatever the hell that means.

Do We Still Have Whiskey and Sexy?

So, will Maliki resign to spend more time with his family or will he meet some other fate...

The Quiet American

Just in case you haven't read the Quiet American, you can discover the true horror of citing Alden Pyle as a kind of role model.




As the director of the ok but not great movie said, "Bush is the ultimate Alden Pyle."

I'm not quite sure if I agree with that, but it wasn't meant to be a compliment.

Actual Alden Pyle

Much like with teevee pundits, I have to conclude that one problem with very serious people is that they're very seriously stupid.

The Absurd State of Discourse

As far as I can tell, this is the conventional wisdom of the Iraq debate right now (leaving aside what is true):

1) The surge is "working," and by that we mean that increased military presence has reduced the level of violence in the areas where there is an increased military presence.

2) The surge did not succeed in achieving its actual stated goal of any sort of political success.

3) The surge will start to wind down soon no matter what because the army is incapable of sustaining it.

...

4) Profit!

Not God

There are limits to the powers of Bernanke, and even those levers of power available to him have other consequences if used. I have no idea how all of this will play out, but one shouldn't base one's optimism on the limited powers of mere mortals...

...and we have:

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. banks and thrifts suffered the biggest increase in late loan payments in 17 years as more homeowners fell behind on mortgages, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said.

Loans more than 90 days past due rose 10.6 percent to $66.9 billion in the period ending June 30, the largest quarterly increase since 1990, the FDIC said in its Quarterly Banking Profile released today.

``The bottom line for banks is that the credit environment continues to be more challenging now than it has been in recent years,'' FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said during a news briefing at the agency's Washington headquarters.

Not A Luxury Item

I'm sure it's the case that plenty of people are unwilling to massively alter their lifestyles in order to try to improve their credit situation, but this is stupid:

But industry reps acknowledged it's harder, though not impossible, to help with subprime loans packaged on the secondary market and sold to global investors.

Nonprofit loan counselors were skeptical about the workout claims.

"We don't see them (lenders) coming to the table ... a significant amount of the time," said Martha Lucey, president and chief executive officer of Fresno-based By Design Financial Solutions.

Lenders told lawmakers they're also monitoring borrowers' credit scores for signs of future trouble. They said many scores are falling as borrowers take on more credit card debt.

Often, said Ed Delgado, a senior vice president at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, troubled borrowers are reluctant to give up cell phones and satellite TV to work out financial solutions.

"Some of this behavior does fall on the consumer," he told the committee.



Cell phones really aren't a luxury item. Increasingly they're a staple item, something people are expected to have to be functioning members of a certain segment of society.

Overnight

All aboard.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bush Administration Democracy Promotion

Via Digby, NSA head Michael McConnell explains why living in a democracy can sometimes be such a bummer.
Q. So you're saying that the reporting and the debate in Congress means that some Americans are going to die?

A. That's what I mean. Because we have made it so public.
Gosh, I can't figure why that global democracy agenda hasn't worked out so well, with minds of this caliber behind it. Weird.

Rogered

Because I haven't yet posted about Roger Stone, here's a flashback.

Alden Pyle

Please kill me.

Interests

Whether "vital interests" or "national interests" or whatever, it is true that such things should be defined. Do such things include telephone monopolies? Vital pineapple resources? Mineral and oil rights on lands we don't own? "Intellectual property rights" enforcement?

Get people talking and one discovers that potential off shore oil drilling areas outside of Cuba and natural gas deposits in Bolivia are apparently part of our national interest. Or vital interest. Or whatever.

Hey, I might even be persuaded if the return on taxpayer investment wasn't so obviously shitty... for the taxpayers at least. Sending out the libertarian bat signal!

Doddmania

Indeed:

Despite the exemplary performance of our troops, we are coming off the bloodiest summer of this misguided war and it should be clear that there can be no military solution in Iraq.

It is useless to argue the merits of a specific tactic when the strategy itself is failed.

In fact, debating over military tactics when there is no military solution only undermines efforts by those of us who believe that we must change course in Iraq now and begin to immediately redeploy US combat forces so that Iraqi leaders will have the impetus to find a political accord.


The apparent response
of most Congressional Democrats is all so predictable and depressing.

I've never really thought that Democrats could really end this war (obviously the definition of "could" has broad meaning here), but I hoped they'd at least put themselves on the right side of history. And sanity.

Ah well.

Wanker of the Day

Ari "Bari Bo Bari" Fleischer.

I'VE GOT BLISTERS ON ME FINGERS

Well, not, not really. Just was away from the internets for a bit longer than expected today.

Evening Thread

Because this day has been too damn long already.

--Molly I.

Madness,

Madness.

Great Moments in Modern Punditry

David Ignatius, June 2006.

A key part of the Bush administration's strategy is to involve Maliki's government in discussions about withdrawal of U.S. troops. Gen. Casey briefed the Pentagon last week on his hopes to cut the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq by more than half by the end of 2007, according to a story in Sunday's New York Times. Casey will soon meet with Maliki to form the joint U.S.-Iraqi committee that can oversee the buildup of Iraqi security forces and the corresponding drawdown of U.S. troops.

"When we establish that committee," Khalilzad explained, "the subject will be the withdrawal of U.S. forces, and the conditions related to a road map for an ultimate withdrawal of U.S. troops." He stressed, however, that there was no automatic timetable for withdrawal and that he expected Maliki "will be on the cautious side."


Well, that didn't happen.

A bit later (August 2006), in a piece entitled "Iraq: Still Worth Some Waiting."

I don't feel quite so optimistic, but I think Abizaid is right in urging a sensible, deliberate policy to reduce the American presence -- as opposed to a pell-mell rush for the exit. The situation in Iraq is difficult, but the sense of panic in the Washington debate just doesn't match the situation here. It's bad, but it's not hurtling out of control.

Americans should be worried about Iraq but not so much that they take rash actions that would end up hurting American interests in the Middle East at a delicate time. We'll be out of Iraq, one way or another, over the next few years. Rushing the process because of American impatience would make a bad situation even worse.


December ("Baker-Hamilton does its job"):

The Iraq Study Group's report achieved the goal of any blue-ribbon commission: It stated the obvious, emphatically.

"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating." Of various proposals for fixing Iraq, "all have flaws." A "precipitate" withdrawal would be a mistake, but so would a big increase in U.S. troops. America should set "milestones" for the Iraqi government to control all provinces by next September. The U.S. military should shift to a training and advising mission so that most American troops can leave by early 2008. But there is no "magic formula," and even if this approach fails, the United States "should not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq."

A cynic might argue that this laundry list is precisely what the Bush administration was moving toward in its own internal review of policy. But I think that's the point about the bipartisan commission headed by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and ex-representative Lee H. Hamilton. They have stamped an interwoven "D" and "R" on recommendations that seem so familiar you wonder why they haven't been official policy all along. (Some of them have been, though you wouldn't have known it from President Bush's bluff and bluster.)


More recently, July 2007:
Extricating the United States safely from Iraq will be difficult under the best of circumstances. But it will be impossible if the necessary bargaining takes place against a backdrop of continual congressional demands for a faster withdrawal. In that situation, the Qomis and Sadrs will take the admonitions from Crocker and Petraeus as just so much hot air -- and a bad situation will get even worse. Why should they listen to us today if we will be gone tomorrow?




You get the idea...

Bash the Troops, Praise the President

Ellen Tauscher finds a nut:

I don't know of anybody who isn't desperately supportive of the military," she said. "People want to say positive things. But it's difficult to say positive things in this environment and not have some snarky apologist for the White House turn it into some clipped phraseology that looks like support for the president's policies.


This is only half of the equation, however. Any criticism of the president's policies is instantly redirected at "the troops." If you praise the military, you're actually praising Bush! If you bash Bush, you're actually bashing the military!

It's quite sick, it's been going on for a long time, and all decent people should find it revolting.

Bloggered

Hey, we're back.

Truth in Lending Act

About to lose your home? You may be able to tell your lender to piss off for a bit. You'll still owe them money, but they'll have to just get in line.

No One Has the Right

Maliki's right, but we also have the right to, you know, not be spending billions per week in his country.

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer 4 minutes ago

DAMASCUS, Syria - Iraq‘s prime minister lashed out at American criticism, saying Wednesday that no one has a right to put timetables on his elected government.

"No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people," he said at a news conference in Damascus at the end of a three-day visit to Syria.


Why are we in Iraq again?

Resolute Men Who Have The Will

It seems to be something which has infected our political class generally, the idea that if only you get the right guy in charge ponies can appear. That isn't to say there's no value in good leadership, just that focusing on one guy as your problem-solver or obstacle to solving problems is a way of absolving everyone else of responsibility.

Too lazy to hunt it down, but awhile back I predicted that there was an X% chance September's new FU would be rebooted with Maliki being replaced. We must give the new prime minister a chance to succeed, blah blah. With any luck it'll be Iyad Allawi! Yay! I think X was a fairly low number, though now I'd certainly put the chance of it happening on the higher side.

Meanwhile

Over there:

BAGHDAD, Aug 22 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber rammed a fuel tanker into a police station in the northern Iraqi oil city of Baiji on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people and wounding 40, police said.

...

The police directorate had just moved into a new headquarters in the past few days, after an identical attack on their original station in June killed 27 people, including 13 policemen.

QOTD

Editors:

It’s very hard to read the evidence any other way: the geniuses have managed to triangulate themselves into a position where nobody likes them. Masterfully done.

Meanwhile

Over there.
BAGHDAD (AP) -- A helicopter crashed in northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing all 14 U.S. soldiers aboard, the military said.

The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was carrying four crew members and 10 passengers when it went down during a nighttime operation, according to a statement.

The military said initial indications showed the aircraft experienced a mechanical problem and there were no indications of hostile fire, but the cause was still under investigation.

Stupid Lawsuit Tricks

The Panda's Thumb discusses a suit filed against PZ Myers. The suit was apparently filed by someone who is convinced Stephen J Gould was only pretending when he said he thought evolution might just have something going for it.

Perhaps he will retain as counsel an Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Better Thread Than Dead

No frivolous comments, please.

Liars for Christ

I have no idea if lying is acceptable in his religion. I don't even care. But everyone else can judge on their own terms.

Fixing the Internets

A vision of what will never be.


Oh jeez, damn hamsters, just go to Sadly, No.

Fresh Thread

I got nothin'. I blame steve simels.

Why Is Michael O'Hanlon On My Radio?

Our absurd discourse, now with extra marshmallows.

Operation Silent Thunder

Rob Riggle goes to Iraq.



Light humor aside, I'm struck by just how little footage from Iraq we get here on the teevee, and I don't just mean the blood and carnage footage. Just any footage. Schools! Happy smiling troops! Whatever. There's almost none.

Faith Wars

More like this!

I think it's refreshingly honest for Bobby Jindal to come right out and express his view that non-Catholics have "utterly depraved minds."

This is the kind of religion-in-politics I can get behind.

Fresh Thread

Enjoy

Wanker of the Day

Matt Bai.

Bankruptcy and Foreclosures

I'm not sure how much the change in the bankruptcy law has contributed to housing foreclosures, but it's certainly a question which should be examined. The high hurdles put in place to declare bankruptcy at all, let alone the more forgiving Chapter 7 version, have foreclosed (ha ha) it as an option for plenty of people. I imagine general lax lending standards have been the cause of bulk of mortgage problems for people, but it's easy to imagine that the inability to declare bankruptcy under favorable terms has been a factor for a nontrivial segment of the population.

All Powerful Bloggers

We aren't that powerful, of course, and frankly we're generally easily ignored. My scalp collection is fairly small, in fact, and my opportunities to, say, testify to Congress have thus far been limited to a bit of time with my BFF Bob Ney (R-Federal Correctional Institute, Morgantown) on a subject nothing to do with who and when we should be bombing people.

But for some reason we get under their skins. Weird.


...adding, I'm not really sure why Yglesias imagines himself to be to the right of Greenwald. Despite reading his blog all the time and meeting him in person a few times I actually have little idea what Glenn's politics are, aside from basic constitutional concerns about civil liberties and tendency to disapprove of presidential lawbreaking. And even his constitutional concerns seem to be just that - less a positive case for a set of policies or laws and more a basic concern that the constitution as written and generally understood is followed. That's not to say he has no political beliefs, just that his tendency to highlight the absurd parameters of our mainstream discourse on a variety of subjects doesn't actually usually signal where he personally stands on a lot of these issues.

Scalping Ken Calvert

Most of the predictions in my little FU calendar are Iraq-related, but I thought this one from Red State's Eric "Son of Eric" Erickson was soooo cute I had to save it. Back when they were having temper tantrums about the immigration bill they were desperately trying to prove they were relevant, independent, and powerful instead of just cogs in the machine. I think 3 months ago, though I can't find a post date, he wrote:


When I declared war on Ken Calvert I made two points. First, his appointment is a sign the House GOP Leadership does not get it and they need to get it to win back the House. Second, unless we scalp a Republican, the GOP Leadership will not take us seriously.

...


So when you are calling Capitol Hill to complain about immigration, remember how seriously Republican leaders treat you.

And then think how much more seriously they treat you after we've scalped Ken Calvert.


I believe Calvert still has his scalp.

And Speaking of Foreclosures

We have a lot of them.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Foreclosure filings rose 9 percent from June to July and surged 93 percent over the same period last year, with Nevada, Georgia and Michigan accounting for the highest foreclosure rates nationwide, a research firm said Tuesday.

The filings include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. The figures are the latest measure of the ailing housing market, which has seen defaults and foreclosures soar as financially strapped borrowers have failed to make payments or find buyers.

In all, 179,599 foreclosure filings were reported during July, up from 92,845 in the year-ago month, according to Irvine-based RealtyTrac Inc.

A total of 164,644 foreclosure filings were reported in June.

Foreclosures

I'm not sure if Dean Baker's idea is a good one (it certainly might be), but he's at least thinking along the right lines. We've got a situation where lots of people are losing their homes and especially given the fact that their mortgages have been packaged together and repurchased so there's no one for them to negotiate with, there really just aren't mechanisms in place to help them try to keep their homes.

Months ago I suggested Dems get in front of this stuff. Given the glacial pace of our vacationing Congress, except when Bush demands FISA law changes, the likelihood of presidential veto of anything sensible, and the likely shitty execution by the executive branch even if something sensible does get passed, one can't be optimistic that there will be anything done in a timely fashion.

More importantly, it shouldn't take "emergencies" for such things to happen. Anything which is good policy in situation like this is likely to be good policy all of the time. The fact that more people are finding themselves in trouble, or that this nebulous abstract called "the economy" might be having wider problems, doesn't so much call for new policies as force us to think about policies we should have had all along.

I'm not optimistic. Lots of Democrats thought the Bankruptcy Bill was a heavenly slice of awesomeness. There's an allergy to anything which reeks of "social safety net" in our political class, even for things which are common sense.

George Bush Doesn't Care About Sick Kids

George Bush apparently doesn't like it when kids get needed health care.

So much so that not only will he veto congressional efforts to give medical care to more kids, he'll make it even harder for them to get it under existing law.

Hindsight

When everyone and their sister thought the WTC was a stupid place for a command center, when it had already been a terrorist target, when experts recommended other more sane locations... I do not think it makes any sense to refer to such things as "hindsight."

The fact that some people failed to have "foresight" does not mean that those who did were only correct in "hindsight."

I could be talking about another salient and important issue as well.

EZ Pass

Please make the Quiet Americans stop.

Plus, The Old and Sick Are Very Delicious

Roy greets joyfully the emissions of the wonderful new full-time paid blogger for Teh Atlantic.
Moreover, as a class, the old and sick have some culpability in their ill health. They didn't eat right or excercise; they smoked; they didn't go to the doctor as often as they ought; they drank to much, or took drugs, or sped, or engaged in dangerous sports. Again, in individual cases this will not be true; but as a class, the old and sick bear some of the responsibility for their own ill health, while younger, healthier people have almost no causal role in the ill-health of others.

Perhaps they deserve it by virtue of suffering? But again, most of them are suffering because they have gotten old, often in high style...


And the Atlantic also features Andy Sullivan!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Put food on your family

Or read some blogs.

Signed,
Not Atrios

Evening Thread

enjoy.

I'm Quiet Too

Admittedly, I suppose I'm a part of the problem. I didn't link to the op-ed in question referenced in the post below. I actually wrote a long post which I didn't publish about why. Short version is that while I truly think those on the ground in Iraq should have their voices amplified, I've never personally been comfortable making judgments about which of those voices should be amplified. They aren't my proxy warriors. I have no idea if they're representative and have no ability to make that determination.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons to conclude that Kenneth Pollack doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about and he's STILL on my goddamn teevee so I'm not quite sure what do to about this.

Cougars

One wishes Mark Penn would stick to what he apparently does best - inventing new porn genres, or at least new terms for old porn genres.

Silence

This is the kind of thing I wish very serious media insiders would address sometimes. I know that not all paid up members of the Gang of 500 really have a say or even deep understanding about why things play out as they do. But, hey, Joe Klein liked it. Maybe he could offer up his opinion on why it gets ignored?

As I think people often miss, there's the "news" and then there's the "talking about the news." The latter is how most people ultimately get their information, how conventional wisdom and subsequent coverage is generated, etc. No matter what the circulation of the New York Times, if an op-ed lands on its pages and Wolf Blitzer doesn't hear about it one cannot conclude that it made a sound.

Does The Word Limit Expand After Labor Day?

This really is absurd. And as I've said repeatedly, racial and gender diversity issues are important topics in blogland and elsewhere, but conversations based on false premises are not helpful.

Not Allowed

Is there a more absurd figure than Arlen Specter?

Realignment

Matt says something rather obvious which other people have said in one way or another before, but it's a basic fact which seems to not be grasped by David Broder's Washington.

And, frankly, the fact that the two parties broadly reflect distinct ideologies is good thing, not a bad thing, even if it makes it harder for David Broder to figure out which dinner parties to go to. The weird New Deal coalition was, well, rather weird, and I don't see why one should be sad that the Democratic party no longer contains a bunch of Dixiecrats.

Certainly it's touching when politicians find common ground on unlikely issues, but it isn't especially important. Politics isn't about getting along, it's about getting things done.

I Wouldn't Mind Being a Senator

And I'm sure that if one of our senators in PA has an untimely death that I'll be approximately 20,000th in line for an appointment to the job by Ed Rendell.

But I certainly wouldn't want to run for senator. That would be, as someone regularly says, hard work. Campaigning is hard work, even for relatively lowly jobs, and it exposes you and yours to all kinds of scrutiny. Constantly.

Running for president is also hard work, which is why all these fake potential candidates rarely come through. I'm also starting to doubt that Fred Thompson will actually make an honest run for the job. Whether gucci loafer Fred* is riding around in a golf cart because he's lazy, or (as is quite possible) because his illness doesn't exactly make him feel like a million bucks all the time, I do not know. Either way, running for preznit is hard work.

*And, no, I don't give a shit what kind of shoes he or any of the other candidates wear. By the rules of the game this seems like some sort of Grand Political Error. I think unless he buys his shoes at Wal-Mart he's not a real American. Or something. But, as far as I'm concerned, he can wear diamond crusted moon boots.

Nunnmania!

Yes, that's going to be sweeping the nation soon.

Only Unity08, a crack team of Washington insiders, can save us from Washington insiderism by finding the people who pretty much define "Washington insiders" and getting them to run for president.

Why they fail to take my Sharpton/Tancredo ticket seriously I do not know. Perhaps they'd be happier with Tancredo/Sharpton?

Fresh Thread

Be excellent to each other.

THE BLOGS THEY STEAL MY PRECIOUS

While it used to annoy me a bit, at this point I just find it funny when know-nothing journamalists spout off about the blogs. Don't like them, don't read them, what do I care.

It seems our friend Skube has a history of this kind of thing.

It's all rather weird. I mean, I laugh and point too when the Pajamas Media gang claims they're "reporting" or whatever when their reporting involves... linking up to a bunch of reports they find in the evil emm ess emm, but that's because they're silly buffoons. I really don't understand this elitism which suggests that "amateurs" can't possibly find away to attract an audience with some form of compelling content, whether it's good writing, timely commentary, skilled news aggregation, pony pictures, some combination, whatever. And who cares if they do? It's all so absurd.

Little-Girl Crush on Strongmen

Creepy for so many reasons.

And a Child Is No Longer With His Mother

You know, there are aspects of the immigration issue where I think well-intentioned people can have wide disagreement on, but I just can't think of any good reason to support the deportation of the parents of American citizens.

Wanker of the Day

Benjamin Wittes.

Benefit of the Doubt

You know, everyone's already taken a whack at this, but let me be generous and say I'm willing to give Michael Skube the benefit of the doubt about whether or not he's had multiple child rape convictions.

New thread

At some point I have to write something about why this stuff makes me crazy.

Signed,
Not Atrios

Meanwhile

Over there.

The governor, Mohammed Ali al-Hasani, was killed when the bomb exploded next to his convoy as it drove through the provincial capital, Samawa, police say.

Several bodyguards were also injured in the explosion, which happened at 0800 local time (0400 GMT).

Mr Hasani belonged to the largest Shia party in Iraq, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC).

He is the second Shia governor killed this month.


Iraq has 18 provinces.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Blogs Suck

Indeed. But it's not like the alternatives are covering themselves in glory either.

Thread

Thread thread thread.

Evening Thread

Rock on.

Undisclosed Location Blogging

They have ponies here!

Operation Yellow Elephant

As we all probably remember, the leading lights of the Bush sycophantsphere spent years arguing that enough troops were sent to Iraq, and then turned on a dime and argued that the surge was The Last Best Hope For Mankind.

Now the surge is being time limited by troop constraints. Will we see, finally, a patriotic call to arms? Won't one young member of the conservative blogosphere step forward? Ben Domenech, how about you?

I'm guessing no.

Fresh Thread

Enjoy.

Not the First Time

Hannity's Giuiliani fundraiser isn't the first. He also did so for Rick Santorum.


Aside from the contrast with the degree to which nonexistent blogger ethics issues are highlighted, I really don't think this is a problem as long as it's disclosed with some regularity. If Hannity wants to present himself as a "Giuliani supporter" on his show that's fine with me. It's better that he presents himself as such instead of pretending he doesn't have a favored candidate when he actually does.

Having Established That Karl Rove is a Liar

Will members of our media now think that maybe he isn't an appropriate person to use as a source?

There Aren't

Of course there are smart people, those we could call "experts," in any field and yes of course they're generally happier and more interested in talking to each other than to the rabble. But AEI and EPI aren't two parts of an "economic policy clerisy." While there is a community of environmental scientists in academia, there is no Washington-based organization or set of institutions devoted to ensuring that there is some finite set of bipartisan actors who set the parameters of respectable debate. There's just no close equivalent to the "foreign policy community" and the unique role they play in the military, government, and the media, in any other area.



Still Dan Drezner is very serious and we should be listening to him. He's been right about so many things, and he's got the number of that patchouli stinking Greenwald.

Not Worth It

As I've suggested before, there's little value in expending any effort supporting a Democratic leadership this incompetent. I'm not the most negative of the dirty hippie bloggers, but we all have our lines. Not that my mighty blog is all powerful in the grand scheme of things, but there are more important thing to focus on at the moment. Happy to readjust my views when given a reason to do so.

Please Make It Stop

The greatest thing about Rove leaving is that hopefully, finally, we'll stop with the quintuple reverse judo inverse mindfuck attempts to understand every move by the Republicans and the Bush administration. Sometimes they just have no idea what they're doing.


Remember "The Math?"

Residual Forces

No debate here in undisclosed location, though if I were a dedicated blogger I'd read through transcript part the first which just arrived in my inbox. But my problem with the "residual forces" idea is that it just seems to be one of these "split the baby" ideas to demonstrate seriousness and fealty to bipartisan compromise. It doesn't actually appear to have any genuine strategic rationale, it puts the lives of troops at risk, it maintains genuine perception of the US as an occupying force welcomed by a puppet government, etc.

I have yet to see a rationale for such a thing other than "they should be there just in case."

It Isn't Always Sunny in Undisclosed Locations

Strange. But here's a sunny picture.

The Clerisy, the Laity, and the Rabble

The point is that casual readers and consumers of news shouldn't have to do a lot of homework to determine who is an expert and who is an "expert." When elite media institutions and, yes, elite institutions in the "foreign policy community," grant these people impressive titles, prominent real estate, and unchallenged respect, most people are going to assume these people should be given, at the very least, a respectful listen.

Aside from flaws in the elite consensus of the foreign policy community, another aspect to this is that the more someone is a genuine "expert," the more likely they are to see all important public discussion as a conversation between elites.


...and we need more like this. When Very Serious Members of the Very Serious Foreign Policy Community are hacks, instead of lashing out at critics of those hacks and the people who enable them, perhaps it's time to criticize the hacks. Even if that would be very ungentlemanly.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

NBC’s “Meet the Press,” — Guests: Karl Rove, White House deputy chief of staff.

•“Fox News Sunday,” Guests: Karl Rove, White House deputy chief of staff.

•ABC’s “This Week,” Guests: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, former senator Mike Gravel of Alaska, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

•CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Guests: Karl Rove, White House deputy chief of staff; Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

•CNN’s “Late Edition,” 10 a.m. — Guests: Sen. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat; Sen. Kit Bond, Missouri Republican; Stephen Moore, former president, Club for Growth; Mahmoud Othman, Kurdish Iraqi parliament member.


It's Karl Rove's world, we just live in it.