Saturday, September 15, 2007


Very solid representation of Atriots at the "peace protester" (from an actual Freeper sign) march in DC. Some of these Atriots are still manning the barricades at the, uh, Irish pub. Such dedication...

Evening Thread



Olympia Snowe, CBS 7/22/07:

MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator, as a practical politician and who is one who is very good at knowing exactly where the Senate is at any given moment, do you see any chance that anything is going to happen in the Senate on Iraq before the fall?

SEN. SNOWE: Well, you know, I hope that there is a chance; probably less likely, because I know that many senators are looking toward September. But frankly, maybe we ought to be using the time ahead of us to bring up the Department of Defense authorization, you know, reconsider these initiatives so that we can move forward. Every time we have a discussion, move the debate and have votes will bring us closer towards a consensus on this issue. That's the way our position is going to evolve. It's very difficult to get, you know, up and down positions in the United States Senate. But what we have to avoid is the scorched-earth approach to legislating it. That would be a great disservice to the American people. So I would hope that the Senate could come together on this question, look at the various issues.

In addition to that, the president needs to understand that September 15th is going to be a serious deadline for change in our mission in Iraq. Frankly, I think the leaders, both the houses and both branches, should sit down and begin to negotiate a resolution and a compromise in anticipation to General Petraeus' report on September 15th.

MR. SCHIEFFER: After that report comes out, Senator, if there is not a change in U.S. policy, do you believe that the White House can hold the support it now has among Senate Republicans? Or will that support begin to come apart?

SEN. SNOWE: Frankly, I don't think you'll have the support just knowing of the conversations and the positions of various Republicans on many of the initiatives that have been forward. I think it underscores that a critical mass is evolving with respect to our strategy in Iraq. If you look where we are today, I mean, it's been eight months since the election where the American repudiated to stay the course in Iraq, rejected the open-ended, unconditional commitment by the president in Iraq. And here we are eight months later. Who would have ever believed that we would be now committing additional troops of more than 30,000, and the Iraqi government has yet to achieve one political benchmark to reconcile their country. And more outrageously, that they plan to take the month of August off while our men and women are dying in the field. So we're making the military sacrifice, our brave men and women, and yet they are unable to make a political sacrifice to achieve what only they can achieve in the end and that is to reconcile their country and to take charge of their own destiny.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Already we're beginning to hear American senior officers in Iraq say well, we may not be able to tell by September if all this is working. Will the Senate buy that?

SEN. SNOWE: I don't believe so. And in particular because what is pivotal and central to the success of Iraq is the political accomplishment by the Iraqi government. And there is nothing to demonstrate at this time that would warrant our confidence that they're going to implement the political benchmarks that they themselves established almost a year ago. And all the deadlines have come and gone, and nothing has happened. And as General Petraeus said, 80 percent of the counterinsurgency plan is political. In other words, in the final analysis, there's no military plan, no military solution that can substitute for the political will that's absolutely essential to uniting that country. And it's really up to the political leaders. And so keep moving the bar for our military commitment, our military sacrifice and our military participation without elevating the bar for the Iraqi government to make those political decisions is unacceptable.



That's the history of our country for the last six years at least. The Fred Kagans and his dad and his brother and his wife and his best friend Bill Kristol sit back casually demanding more wars, demanding that our troops be denied any relief, demanding that the President call for other families to volunteer to fight in their wars -- all "as an intellectual or emotional exercise," as Webb put it.

That's all revolting enough. But to then watch Fred Kagan sit around opposing Senator Webb's attempts to relieve some of the strain on our troops -- all because it would require too much paperwork to figure out and because they haven't yet won Fred Kagan's war and thus deserve no breaks -- is almost too much to bear. But it is worth forcing oneself to observe it, as unpleasant as it might be, because within this ugly dynamic lies much of the explanation for what has happened to our country since the 9/11 attack, and the personality type that continues to drive it today.

The Day Of The Marches

It will be interesting to watch the media coverage of the anti-war march in Washington, D.C.. Will equal column inches or soundbites be given to the pro-war counter-rallies, even if they are much fewer in numbers? And would this particular neutrality principle apply in reverse?

Damn! So much for 2008 being the Democrats' year

No one will be able to stop the Alan Keyes' Experience:

On Friday, Sept. 14, Alan Keyes filed a Statement of Candidacy...with the Federal Election Commission--thus officially announcing as a Republican candidate for President of the United States.

Let me be the first to call for a Keyes/Lieberman ticket.

Saturday Thread

Out for awhile. If anyone wants to jump in, feel free.

Waiting Until September

Gordon Smith, last May:

Sen. Gordon Smith (news, bio, voting record) of Oregon, one of two Senate Republicans to oppose the latest spending bill for the conflict, said the war "is a problem because it's defining our party to the American people, and the American people have lost faith in this cause."

"Many Republican colleagues are simply waiting until September," he said, citing the deadline Bush gave to Army Gen. David Petraeus for a progress report on the war. Unless there is a dramatic turnabout by then, Smith said, the party's near-unanimity is almost certain to fracture.


I want everyone to read Jane Smiley's review of The Shock Doctrine.

Not Atrios

Rock Out

This is actually a pretty exceptional performance, which one doesn't always find on the youtubes.

Late Night

Rock on.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Media Matters

I usually link to these on Saturday mornings, but have a gander now.

More Thread

Silly season getting sillier.



They Sank His Aircraft Carrier

I suppose we should applaud the tiny ability to perhaps admit error, but it still just shows he thinks this is a board game or something.

He admitted to being out-smarted by the enemy at several stages of the Iraq war[.]

Oh My

Hulk may be about to smash Ted.


Over there: (.pdf)

Task Force Lightning Soldiers attacked
Multi-National Division – North PAO
TIKRIT, Iraq – Four Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed in Diyala Province Friday,
when an explosion occurred near their vehicle.
The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin
and release by the Department of Defense.

See Ya

I dunno, if I were the Republicans I'd tell Shays to pound sand.

WASHINGTON - Rep. Christopher Shays said today he will not seek another congressional term unless House Republican leaders support his bid for the job of top GOP member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He is meeting with leaders and other key members now.

If they do not give him significant backing "I'm absolutely not going to run," said Shays, who said he is giving no one any deadlines.

Even if he runs and wins, and somehow gets denied the top Republican spot anyway in 2009, "I will resign," Shays said.

Blah Blah Blah

Aside from the stupid, why is that conservative bloggers are perpetually writing some version of "what conservatism means..." or "what conservatives think..."

God it's boring.

Humiliation and Self-Destruction

Sorry, asshole, that isn't actually enough of a punishment.

Michael Flory, 33, of Jackson, Mich., told a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge that his humiliation and self-destruction should be pun ishment enough for his guilty plea to a sexual- battery charge.

Judge Peter Corrigan couldn't have disagreed more.

Corrigan sentenced Flory, the longtime head of the Michigan Federation of Young Republicans, to five years in prison. That's the maximum term for the offense.


During the hearing, Flory referred to himself pitiably over and over. He lamented that his "stupid choices" destroyed him politically, ended his law career and devastated his family. His status as a registered sexually oriented offender would forever bar him from his son's scholastic athletic events, he told Corrigan.

He apologized to the victim and blamed his behavior on his "choice to drink to excess" and "have sexual relations" with her. He said his intention now is "to get my life back on track in as short a period as possible."

What he called sexual relations, the victim called rape. (The state dropped rape and kidnapping counts in the plea deal.)

The woman, a Detroit college student, said she drank herself sick at a Warehouse District bar on July 8, 2006, during the National Federation of Young Republicans' convention. Flory, who led her state's delegation, offered to take her back to her room. There, she said, he forced her into sexual "atrocities" and called her degrading names.

The woman and Assistant County Prosecutor Carol Skutnik said Flory and his friends later executed a campaign of Internet postings and whispers within the state GOP, accusing the victim of loose morals and character assassination.

America's Media Critic

Howie Kurtz:

KURTZ: I think the argument that I've heard Olbermann make in the past about Fox News -- it's not an argument that I embrace -- is that, because it poses as a news organization and puts out dangerous misinformation --

BECK: But that's what he's doing!

KURTZ: -- and is -- is a cheerleader for the Bush administration, that it's misinforming our society. But you know what?

BECK: Howard --

KURTZ: They're entitled to do that.

Grand Unified Wingnuttery

And the pieces fall together.

Catapulting the Propaganda


All networks shared the same pool video of Bush from the Oval Office. Perhaps in an effort to make its coverage look distinctive, CNN pulled a very questionable stunt during the speech. Bush made reference to a brave soldier, Brandon Stout, who died while serving in Iraq, and CNN, having received a copy of the text in advance, obligingly inserted a photo of Stout into the picture, moving Bush slightly to the left, as it were.

But it's not the job of news organizations to help politicians, even presidents, embellish their speeches or assist them in making a point. If any other network did the same thing, it was a mistake. The president gets to command television time pretty much at his discretion; the networks don't have to give him anything but the space.

Alternate Universe

Last May, Little Ricky Lowry, he of "We're Winning" fame, failed to appreciate the ability of people like him to pretend things are not as they are.

Iraq--the Coming GOP Collapse? [Rich Lowry]

Was talking to an influential Republican strategist who thinks if Iraq looks the way it does now in September, Bush will lose about 25 Senate Republicans on a bill with some sort of timetable for withdrawal.

Needless to say, that won't happen. The only question is whether Democrats follow moronic calls to pass a bipartisan bill which does absolutely nothing except provide cover to those "25 Senate Republicans" or not.

Wanker of the Day

Fred Hiatt.

Iraq Wars IV: A New Hope


WASHINGTON — Eight months after President Bush made public a plan he hailed as the "New Way Forward" in Iraq, he's announced a new plan, this one called "Return on Success."

The new plan was reminiscent of last year's "Operation Together Forward," which called for U.S. troops to secure neighborhoods in Baghdad and hand them over to Iraqi security forces. It bore similarities to an even older plan commonly articulated with the catchphrase "as they stand up, we'll stand down."


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oh My

Oh My:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The former head of an oil field service company admitted Thursday in court that he bribed three Alaska legislators, including the son of a U.S. senator who is the target of a federal investigation.

Former VECO Corp. CEO Bill Allen, 70, testified Thursday in the federal corruption trial of former state House Speaker Pete Kott. Allen and a former company vice president, Rick Smith, have pleaded guilty to bribing lawmakers, and await sentencing.

Allen said he bribed Kott, former state Senate President Ben Stevens and former Rep. Vic Kohring, but he did not elaborate during 15 minutes of testimony.


Medium John's response.

Late Night Thread


No speech for me, have some flank steak to attend to.

Here's a video.

The Korea Model

Remind me again how many US troops die in South Korea every year?

I'm pretty sure this war has been rhetorically modeled after every conflict we've been involved in, except perhaps the War of 1812.



Washington, D.C. – In anticipation of President Bush’s primetime speech this evening on the Iraq war, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn today released the following statement:

“I was appalled to hear Minority Leader Boehner's statement yesterday that the loss of American blood is a ‘small price’ to pay in Iraq. The loss of American blood is never a small price. This war has stretched our military thin, and in order to be prepared for a new or unexpected conflict we must responsibly redeploy our troops. It’s time to refocus our efforts on fighting those responsible for 9/11—al Qaeda—restoring our military to peak readiness, and to protecting Americans from terrorism.

“After four and a half years, $565 billion, 3,759 U.S. troops killed, more than 27,770 U.S. troops wounded, and no exit strategy, I hope to hear the President tonight offer a plan for redeployment and a true New Direction for Iraq, rather than continued commitment to a failed policy in Iraq.

“I also think it’s important to put some perspective on the President’s speech this evening. As he prepares to ask the American people, our men and women in uniform and our military families for continued sacrifice and commitment to his war in Iraq, I think we should keep in mind his promises and declarations throughout the four and a half years of this war.

“The President started us on this rollercoaster in May 2003, when he declared the mission accomplished and the end of major combat operations. Fifty three months later, the combat rages on, with American soldiers stuck in the middle of a civil war.

“In April 2004, he promised we would stay the course and ‘complete the job’—a job that apparently wasn’t accomplished.

“In May 2005, Vice President Cheney infamously declared that the insurgency was in its ‘last throws.’ Seven months later, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld took a dramatically different view, reporting that the insurgency was gaining strength. Twenty eight months after the Vice President’s remarks, the insurgency continues to surge.

“In June 2005, the president assured us that as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.

“And in January of this year, when the President announced his surge plan, he said he was firm with Iraqi leaders that our commitment wasn’t open ended. He said, ‘If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people.’

“Here we are, nine months after the surge plan, and the Iraqi government has not delivered on its end of the deal.

“The Iraqi government has failed to deliver on 15 of 18 benchmarks outlined by the Bush Administration. While our military has made progress in giving the Iraqi government some breathing room to make political progress, the commitment and sacrifice made by our brave military has not been matched by the Iraqi government. The line has been blurred between assistance and dependence, and its time to match our deeds with our words.”

Permanent Force

Been in and out, but apparently Bush is going to make IRAQ 4EVAH! his official policy tonight?

Ah, the pundits... always wrong.


As Kos says, the AP didn't quite reflect Obama's remarks all that well. The story is updated here.

The General Needs Help

He's given you lots of free ice cream over the years, and he can't continue to do that without a computer.

We Suck


Wanker of the Day

Inevitably... Michael O'Hanlon.



"Moving us in 10 months to where we were 10 months ago is not progress. It is the very definition of status quo.

"Not only is the President not offering us anything new; he's insulting our intelligence.

"Despite the fact that his top General is unable to say that the war is making us safer, all the President offers today is quite literally more of the same. More loss of life, more strain on our military readiness, and more degradation of our national security and our standing in the world. It is time for Congress to say 'no more.'

"What was clear to me before, and what should be abundantly clear to my colleagues after today, is that this President is not going to change course unless we force him to. There is only one way to do that - we must set a clear, hard and fast deadline for redeployment and, in order to enforce it, that deadline must be tied to funding."

Much better than this:

Obama, on the second day of a trip to Iowa, conceded that Democrats who control Congress lack the votes to cut off funding for the war or even to tie continued funding to a timetable for withdrawing troops.

The Illinois senator said the most likely scenario would be to grant troops more time at home between deployments, a politically popular step that's difficult to oppose and one that would have a practical impact.

"You have to at least give people a one-year break for every year served in Iraq," Obama said. "At least that would put a ceiling on how many troops could be sent there at any given time."

Withdrawing troops is also politically popular.

Even More Transport

Barcelona has a recently new program called Bicing, which is a bike sharing program. Bike stations are placed strategically throughout the city, and subway stops usually have signs pointing to them. Members have a card which they swipe, they're told which bike to grab, and off they go. It isn't necessary to return the bikes to where you got them; they can be dropped off at any bicing station. The first half hour is free, and after that there's a bit of a surcharge. When the program began they set the annual membership fee at some absurd low figure like 7 Euros, causing most of the city to sign up. That's now been increased to 24 Euros.

It's apparently become quite popular with seniors, who use them for leisurely afternoon bike rides.

While We're Talking Transport

Philly Car Share now claims 25,000 members, and has lowered midweek rates on Priuses to $2.90/hour, $29/day.

Miserable Failure

As E&P reminds us, in January Bush promised that the surge, which has caused life disruption, misery, maiming, and death for many US troops, would achieve a bunch of stuff. None of that stuff actually happened.

The Psychology of Politicians

At some point not all that long ago I was chatting with a member of Congress who was a bit peeved because bloggers were hostile to the member during the campaign. I was surprised by this, because while lefty bloggers certainly can be hostile to Democratic politicians, I didn't remember that they had been hostile to this one. I said as much, and the member backed off and said that the discontent existed because the campaign had gotten relatively little attention from bloggers, which was true. The conversation finished with a quote something like, "Well you know, politicians. We just want to be liked."

I was taken aback by that because it wasn't really something that had ever occurred to me before. Sure we all want to be liked, but it hadn't really occurred to me that this was a key motivator of politicians. I doubt it is for all, but I suppose it is for some.

It explains, in part at least, the desire to be patted on the head by David Broder or to suck up to GOP Daddies.

Catapulting the Propaganda

Will Bunch ponders the case of Alexis Debat.

Laura Rozen has more.

One would hope that ABC would be less concerned about getting a bigger black eye and more concerned with finding out the truth. They may actually have a big story here.

ABC's been a reliable outlet for "EEK IRAN" stories.


The state of medium distance passenger rail in this country is, of course, absurd, especially given the awfulness of the airport experience these days. While I lack any knowledge of the complexities of assembling the appropriate right of ways, there quite a few obvious places for high speed rail: Florida, Texas, California, various routes into Chicago, etc.

The Madrid-Barcelona line will open soon, and promises 2.5 hours for the 375 mile journey, city center to city center.

MoDo Collins

While I was never much of a fan, it's been a bit weird to see Gail Collins increasingly doing her best to imitate Maureen Dowd in her columns. What is it about these people that at some point they can only see politicians and politicians as how they relate to their aesthetic and lifestyle comfort zones.

I'm no Fred Thompson fan, but it's really just time to push back against the fact that campaign discussion has been transformed almost entirely into catty amateur theater criticism.

Happy Housing News of the Day


Home prices fell in most Southern California neighborhoods and the number of sales tumbled to a 15-year low for August -- driven down by tougher lending standards, mounting foreclosures and skittish buyers.

Sales for the month plunged 36% from a year earlier. What's more, 71% of the Southland's ZIP Codes showed price declines, according to figures released Wednesday by DataQuick Information Systems. The survey excluded areas with 14 or fewer sales.


Nearly 9% of the homes sold last month were foreclosure properties, DataQuick reported, up from 2.2% a year earlier.

Most communities are seeing price declines, and the downtrend is strongest in outlying suburban areas such as in Riverside County, where affordable homes attracted droves of first-time buyers -- many of whom could not qualify for traditional fixed-rated mortgages.

Morning Thread


"In 2007, the increase in health insurance premiums was about twice the rate of inflation and not quite twice the increase in workers' pay," Kaiser vice-president Gary Claxton said in a webcast.

--Molly I.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Colbert on Bykofsky

Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky wrote an editorial last month wrote a column entitled, "To save America, we need another 9/11." He even suggested some targets for Al Qaeda, like the Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Rushmore, and Chicago's Wrigley Field.

Do not be so humble Mr. Bykofsky. You are clearly enough of a patriot that your house belongs on that list.

For the 500th Time

All that progress fades away:

BAGHDAD, Sept. 12 — A carefully constructed compromise on a draft law governing Iraq’s rich oil fields, agreed to in February after months of arduous talks among Iraqi political groups, appears to have collapsed. The apparent breakdown comes just as Congress and the White House are struggling to find evidence that there is progress toward reconciliation and a functioning government here.

Senior Iraqi negotiators met in Baghdad on Wednesday in an attempt to salvage the original compromise, two participants said. But the meeting came against the backdrop of a public series of increasingly strident disagreements over the draft law that had broken out in recent days between Hussain al-Shahristani, the Iraqi oil minister, and officials of the provincial government in the Kurdish north, where some of the nation’s largest fields are located.


DNI McConnell cops to lying.

Fresh Thread

Critical Six Months

John McCain today:

"You have to show success on the ground. … I think the next six months are going to be critical. We are going to have to show enough success or we will be forced out."

John McCain, 12/2005:

[W]e will probably see significant progress in the next six months to a year.

John McCain, August 2003:

We do not have time to spare. If we do not meaningfully improve security and services in Iraq over the next few months, it may be too late. We will risk an irreversible loss of Iraqi confidence and reinforce the efforts of extremists who seek our defeat and threaten Iraq's democratic future.

John McCain, September 2003:

The next three-to-six months will be critical.

John McCain, November 2006:

We're either going to lose this thing or win this thing in the next several months.


Small Price

Boehner thinks 3774 dead US troops and counting is a "small price."

Obviously he hasn't paid any price, except to the local tanning salon, but others have.

An Explanation For Something

This is an explanation for something: the fact that the average age of newspaper subscribers creeps up about one year per year.

There's one explanation for MM's results which has nothing to do with a nefarious conservative cabal running the newspaper industry.

Demographically, newspaper readers tend to be older than non-newspaper readers. An older audience is likely to be more conservative. Newspapers are generally in business to be profitable. That means, more often than not, providing consumers with products that reflect their tastes. Thus, more conservative syndicated columnists than not.

But, hey, if you want to hasten the extinction of your business model be my guest.

Arming Local Nationals

Did the straight shooter fib?



"I was disappointed that Senator Obama's thoughts on Iraq today didn't include a firm, enforceable deadline for redeployment, and dismayed that neither he nor Senator Clinton will give an unequivocal answer on whether they would support a measure if it didn't have such an enforceable deadline.

"It is clear to me - especially after yesterday's testimony - that half-measures aren't going to stop this President or end our involvement in this civil war. I thought it was clear to Senators Obama and Clinton as well after they finally came around to supporting the Feingold-Reid measure and voting against a blank-check supplemental spending bill this spring. If 'enough was enough' then, why isn't it after the bloodiest summer of the war?

"Senator Obama has a gift for soaring rhetoric, but, on this critical issue, we need to know the substance of his position with specificity. Without tying a date certain to funding how does he plan to enforce his call for an immediate redeployment?

I Don't Miss Irvine

Your liberal academy at work.

About a week ago, Erwin Chemerinsky, the well-known constitutional law scholar at Duke, signed a contract to be the inaugural Dean of the new law school at the University of California at Irvine.

Yesterday, the Chancellor of the University of Cailfornia at Irvine flew to Durham and fired Chemerinsky, saying that he had not been aware of how Chemerinsky's political views would make him a target for criticism from conservatives.

No Truth, No Consequences

KO last night:

I think a couple seconds at the end are clipped.

Stop a Bad Bill

Chris Dodd wants to.

I wish I understand what goes on in the Senate a bit more. Ultimately what we'll probably get is a very bad bill supported by Republicans and enough Democrats to prevent a filibuster from happening.

Lazy Socialists

The bias in reporting on economic issues comes into sharp focus when our great media starts reporting on the economies of those nasty socialist European countries.


Democracy Corps (.pdf). Summary:

Three new surveys released immediately prior to the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the progress reports of Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker show that the country's political environment remains essentially unchanged - bad news for the White House and congressional Republicans. Most important to the current moment, attitudes on Iraq are unmoved and voters indicate little receptivity to reports of progress from Petraeus and the Bush administration.

Always ahead of the pundits and politicians. But the people must be ignored as Shailagh Murray told us:

Washington, D.C.: I am somewhat surprised at the debate about the surge. In October, The Post's own polling showed that 19% of voters favored an immediate withdrawal. Yesterday, CNN reported that more than 50% want an immediate or by year's end withdrawal. Still, the politicians debate more or less, not sooner or later. Why won't the politicians follow the polls when it comes to leaving Iraq?

Shailagh Murray: Would you want a department store manager or orthodontist running the Pentagon? I don't think so. The reason that many politicians are squeamish about hard and fast goals of any kind in Iraq is that there is no simple response or solution -- it would have emerged by now. A withdrawal by year's end carries enormous, very serious implications.

And staying has no implications at all!

Wanker of the Day

Will Marshall.

Obama Speech

Advance excerpts:

“Conventional thinking in Washington lined up for war. The pundits judged the political winds to be blowing in the direction of the President. Despite – or perhaps because of how much experience they had in Washington, too many politicians feared looking weak and failed to ask hard questions. Too many took the President at his word instead of reading the intelligence for themselves. Congress gave the President the authority to go to war. Our only opportunity to stop the war was lost.”
“There is something unreal about the debate that’s taking place in Washington… The bar for success is so low that it is almost buried in the sand. The American people have had enough of the shifting spin. We’ve had enough of extended deadlines for benchmarks that go unmet. We’ve had enough of mounting costs in Iraq and missed opportunities around the world. We’ve had enough of a war that should never have been authorized and should never have been waged.”

"I opposed this war from the beginning. I opposed the war in 2002. I opposed it in 2003. I opposed it in 2004. I opposed it in 2005. I opposed it in 2006. I introduced a plan in January to remove all of our combat brigades by next March. And I am here to say that we have to begin to end this war now.”

The Cost of Staying

LA Times, which seems to have gotten much more shrill lately:

This is the essence of the two-day report to Congress by Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The general and the ambassador freely admitted that the situation in Iraq is frustrating, that U.S. military might cannot force Iraqis into the political reconciliation that is the only basis for real stability, and that it's impossible to predict when Iraqis will be able to run their country themselves. Nevertheless, they argued, the consequences of U.S. troops departing could be so horrific -- Iraq turning into an Al Qaeda haven plagued by ethnic cleansing and preyed upon by Iran -- that the only prudent course is to keep at least 130,000 soldiers in Iraq at least until July.

President Bush is expected to accept this recommendation in a speech Thursday. Despite Democratic protests, it's unlikely that this toothless Congress will stop him from continuing the de facto occupation of Iraq for the remainder of his term. We fear this is a grave mistake that will compound the colossal error of invading Iraq in the first place -- although we fervently hope that Petraeus, Crocker and the courageous people they lead will somehow manage to prove us wrong.

The president will ask the nation to pay for the next 11 months in Iraq with billions of dollars and hundreds of lives. We think this sacrifice will be in vain, because only Iraqis can heal their national wounds. And so we ask instead: What else could the United States do with a guesstimated $100 billion to reduce the strength and the appeal of Islamist terrorist groups worldwide?

The Trouble With Health Care

The real trouble with the medical system in this country, aside from all of the people who are uninsured and therefore unlikely to be consuming too much of that fun and exciting health care, is the fact that 30%+ of health care expenditures in this country are spent on administrative costs.

Doing a little trick we like to call "multiplication," when you add in the fact that 16% are GDP is spent on health care we learn that close to 5% of our GDP is spent on people pushing little bits of paper back and forth between doctors and insurance companies.

Combatting the Big Megaphone

On CNN, Dana Bash just said something to the effect that Democrats have a tough job ahead of them to combat the "big megaphone" that Bush has (his Thursday speech). People hate George Bush and hate this war. 6 weeks of media-led propaganda about how Petraeus was somehow going to change the debate hasn't moved public opinion at all. A prime time speech by a hated president with negative charisma and speaking skills isn't going to move public opinion.

But you can see how much media coverage influences the "who's up, who's down" CW thinking in Washington. Petraeus is up! Democrats are down! Who cares what the voters actually think, we've got a David Broder column to read...


In George Bush's war.

NEW YORK The Op-Ed by seven active duty U.S. soldiers in Iraq questioning the war drew international attention just three weeks ago. Now two of the seven are dead.

Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance Gray died Monday in a vehicle accident in western Baghdad, two of seven U.S. troops killed in the incident which was reported just as Gen. David Petraeus was about to report to Congress on progress in the "surge." The names have just been released.

Sen. Joseph Biden had raised the message of the Op-Ed in questioning Gen. Petraeus yesterday.

Morning Thread

For our dial-up brethren and cistern.

--Molly I.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Late Night At The Movies

Because occasionally I need to prove that, for better or for worse, this movie was made and marketed to mass audiences in 1981.

The Worst Person In The World

His Irrelevancy, Joe Lieberman.

Fresh Thread


Wanker of the Day

Little Ricky Lowry.

My Theory

There are probably lots of contributing factors for all of the syndicated conservative columnists, but my basic theory is that it was a response to all of the "liberal media" pressure put out by the right. At some point there may have even been a little bit of truth to it. My guess is journalists of a certain generation were kinda-sorta-liberal, and these were the people who wrote columns for local papers after putting in their time on the beat. Most of them weren't all that liberal, and saw themselves as "journalists" more than "pundits" even if they were now writing columns. The point being is that maybe they were a bit liberal leaning, but they didn't see themselves in any way as connected up with a "liberal movement." But, due to right wing pressure they needed to be balanced by the stable of movement conservatives we now find ourselves with.

Of course a simpler reason is that plenty of editors and publishers aren't actually liberal and really like their Ann Coulter columns. Crazy, but amazingly true.

Black and White and Re(a)d All Over

Your liberal media... still not liberal.

I'm Shocked

President is going to announce 30,000 troops to be withdrawn by next summer! Surge on, surge off!

I don't know what he's thinking giving the enemy a timetable, but there it is.

And we'll be right back to where we were on Iraq Study Group day.



Shockingly, Katie Couric's much publicized trip to Iraq, filled with lots of chirpy happy talking points, didn't get good ratings.

Maybe people hate this goddamn war? They keep telling that to pollsters, after all.


If K.O. is so awesome, why don't they add complementary programming?

Fresh Thread


The Greatest Man in the Universe

Or perhaps not.

But he's very serious!


Obviously it was incredibly naive to think that this crew would, after 9/11, come anywhere close to doing the right thing. But what I certainly wasn't capable of predicting at the time was how a horrific event perpetuated by extremist religious fundamentalists could somehow be converted into a sustained attack on... liberals. What I didn't understand then was the basic conservative worldview that if it's good it's conservative and if it's bad it's liberal.

Philadelphia's shame, Little Mikey Smerconish, is pining away again for those great grand days when we all held hands and got along after 9/11, when there was no political disagreement. Of course there was tremendous political disagreement and incredible hostility to people like me who watched in horror as our media decided that in this bold new era their responsibility was to be as sycophantic as possible. But little Mikey was on the winning team then, and now he's blaming that little bad feeling inside on awful nasty political divisiveness instead of the muffled shrieks of his vestigial conscience.

The political blogosphere grew in the aftermath of 9/11, and quickly bored of the not exciting enough war in Afghanistan, self-styled "war bloggers" quickly turned on the enemy at home. It's useful to remember, in this imagined time of national unity, just how quickly the Right claimed the tragedy as their own and used it as a cudgel to beat their fellow citizens with. It only took Andy Sullivan 5 days to publish this in the Times of London:

The middle part of the country - the great red zone that voted for Bush - is clearly ready for war. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead - and may well mount a fifth column.

The fact that New York City is generally considered to be one of the enclaves of the "decadent Left" wasn't enough to dissuade him from putting those words into print.

What's It All About Then?

Troops were going to come home anyway, and whatever positive developments exist had nothing to do with the surge.

It's only because of the investment of the Washington Establishment in their own respectability that we're subjected to this elaborate tango in which most people pretend that this has to do with anything other than ensuring George Bush leaves office with his pet war still going.

There Was a Moment

A brief one, perhaps, when after 9/11 it seemed like the country might take the correct path.

Oh well.

Aesthetics and Class

I know little of the scientific literature and am therefore not qualified to offer serious commentary on it, but I've long been rather horrified at the extent to which body weight has been transformed from an aesthetic issue into a moral one by the apparently somewhat dubious link to health outcomes.


Nobody could predict this might end badly:

COOPER: And are these -- these tribal groups willing to work with the central government in Baghdad, the Sunni -- the Shia- dominated government, and vice versa? Is -- is the government of al- Maliki willing to work with -- with these Sunni tribes?

WARE: The answer is no on both counts, Anderson.

These guys made it very clear to us on this day and on other days when I have contact with other groups, they are opposed to the Maliki government and any government that they believe is beholden to Iranian influence, a belief shared by many within the U.S. mission. So, these are anti-government forces that America is supporting against the government it created. And, certainly, within the Iraqi government, they believe that this is America building Sunni militias to act as a counterbalance to their influence.


Lots of people get killed here, but usually not like this:

A 20-year-old man was found stabbed to death in his South Philadelphia apartment yesterday afternoon.

Anthony DiMatteo was sliced numerous times with a sword after he argued and tussled with two young men he apparently knew, said Homicide Sgt. Tim Cooney.


Clinton, last May:

Clinton won her loudest applause with her promise to end the war in Iraq.

In the AP interview, she defended her vote against an Iraq war funding bill, saying she believes that President Bush will begin withdrawing troops from Iraq soon and she doesn't want to back his strategy any longer.

Clinton said she came to the conclusion while watching the president's Rose Garden news conference last week in which he referred to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group report.

"He talked about it favorably for the first time I've ever heard him talk about it," Clinton said. "That was to me a big signal that starting in the fall and toward the end of the year we're going to start seeing troops withdrawn from Iraq.

"My argument is, why wait?"

Just So I Know

Would some of our trolls please give me the list of pre-approved Rudy Giuliani Day activities, subjects for blog posts, etc... so I know how I'm supposed to conduct myself.


One wonders if MSNBC will ever get rid of its dead weight and consider adding some programming which complements Olbermann.

Doesn't Anyone Remember Anthrax?

What I just learned from CNN:

6 years after 9/11 there have been no terror attacks here in the United States.

I've long been fascinated by the erasure of the anthrax attacks - which, in their own way, freaked out the country more than 9/11 did* - from our collective memory.

*People object when I suggest this, but while the 9/11 attacks were of course The Big Ones, anthrax was this creepy shit which was KILLING US THROUGH THE MAIL. While most people didn't expect a plane to fly into their building, the anthrax attacks created a heightened sense of OMIGOD THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ME. 9/11 was terrible, but the anthrax attacks were terrifying to people.


One of the amusing things about spending some time in Old Yurp is being able to compare the reality of it to the right wing blogger fantasy of this 3rd world country which is 2/3 of the way to being reintegrated into the caliphate.


There are lots of things you can do today.

You can tell them you really, really, really don't want to see a strike on Iran.

You can tell them that everybody knows that our presence in Iraq is the problem in Iraq.

You can ask them to do the simple exercise of remembering the last time they fed paper money into a change machine and it was rejected - did they then throw away the bill? Do they think we should trust a machine to count our votes?

You can tell them that you don't want machines owned by far-right Republicans counting our votes, or a media owned by conservatives to report on our politics, our issues, our candidates.

You can tell your Senators and Congressmen that Terwilliger, Olson, and Silberman are political hacks who are absolutely unacceptable choices for Attorney General.

You can even ask them how George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney allowed a successful attack on America on 9/11, and why nothing has been done about it.

You can tell them you don't want to vote for people who allow these things to happen.




Not Atrios

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ha Ha

After getting Bill O to sign his cast, Colbert tells him that he's donating the money from selling it to the non-profit "Daily Kos."

Because It Never Gets Old



The obvious objection to the various partition ideas is that they don't actually solve any problems or relieve the underlying source of conflict. Another one is that the Iraqis don't want it.

It's quite possible some sort of partition might be the end result in Iraq, but I have no idea why it's supposed to happen with the US military waving their guns around as it does.

The Chatter

To add on to the post below, it's remarkable and distressing that while the right wing noise machine hasn't managed to move public opinion on Iraq at all, it's been quite successful at moving the elite discourse and perhaps the opinions of lawmakers.


The entire Iraq war debate is now just a Washington insider game. The country has decided.

Just 36 per cent in the AP poll said the troop increase has helped stabilise Iraq, only slightly more than the 32 per cent who said they thought it would in February as the build-up began. Voicing that view were almost two-thirds of Republicans, about one in seven Democrats and about a third of independents.

In addition, 59 per cent said they believe history will judge the Iraq war as a failure, including 28 per cent who said it would be viewed as a complete failure.

Asked if the United States made a mistake going to war in Iraq in 2003, 57 per cent said yes, about the same number who said so in April.

But Does He Smell Like Aqua Velva?

Chris Matthews to the Great Orange Satan:

You are Archimedes, sir.

(something about Markos being a lever, or something, I think it made sense)

Stop Them

Glenn Greenwald makes a video.

Sign the petition.

Evening Thread


Threading the Needle

This has been said a million times in a million different ways, but the whole point of this exercise is to ensure that Bush's war continues until it's time for him to cut brush permanently. The surge can't have worked because then it could start ending, and the surge can't be not working because then it would a tragic waste of lives and money, so the surge is working just a little bit.. but might work a little bit more soon!

If I were a Democrat running for president I wouldn't be looking forward to inheriting this mess and would be working to end it sooner, not later.

Just sayin'.

What Exactly is the Job

I had know idea it was doing this.

Fresh Thread


No One Would Have Predicted

That Anbar would be so awesome 6 months ago, except Petraeus himself.

The farce that is our discourse. But he's serious!!!

Sadly, Not Kidding

Can we start getting the views of the 2012 presidential candidates on the Iraq occupation a couple of years early?

It'll be the central issue in that campaign, too.


Over there.

BAGHDAD - Nine American soldiers died in Iraq on Monday — all but one killed in vehicle accidents in and around Baghdad, the military said.

The deadliest of the vehicle accidents, in western Baghdad, killed seven Multi-National Division — Baghdad soldiers and wounded 11, and left two detainees dead and a third injured. The cause of the accident was under investigation, the military said.


It really will be fascinating to see how this plays out.

Sept. 10, 2007 issue - Walking through the gated community of Black Mountain Vista on a hill in Henderson, Nev., Thomas Blanchard offers a guided tour of real-estate woe. A row of stucco duplexes that recently sold for as much as $500,000 sit empty. "That's a repo," the real-estate agent says as he stands in front of 678 Solitude Point Avenue. Then he points to the adjacent houses, where yellow patches blot the spartan lawns and phone books lie on front porches, their covers bleached from weeks under the desert sun. "No. 680, repo; 684, repo. Those two at the end, repo."
Story continues below ↓advertisement

Three years ago, this Las Vegas suburb was teeming with modern-day prospectors armed with low-interest mortgages, all hoping to strike it rich in real estate. Now, what started with the subprime-mortgage mess and subsequent credit crunch are turning communities like Black Mountain Vista into luxury ghost towns. Buyers who got in over their heads are being forced to abandon their homes, leaving behind empty McMansions on the California coast and see-through condominium towers on Miami Beach. Real estate is turning into a money pit, sapping the fortunes of home buyers, hedge-fund managers and house painters alike. The really bad news? This is only the beginning.

Kicking the Can

Doggett gets it.

“When the surge was announced, the White House said, ‘wait til the summer.’ And as the summer approached, the White House said, ‘wait til September.’ Well, now that this much overrated September is here, they cry, ‘wait til next year.’ The only real mystery about President Bush’s September decision has been what new excuse he would offer to justify staying the same old deadly course. And as the American people have seen through the duplicity of each and other excuse, the President has returned to his original ploy: 9/11. Coincidentally, just as we receive this report on the anniversary of 9/11. He claims that, quote, ‘the same folks that are bombing in Iraq are the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th.’ That is false and he knows it’s false.”

What's really amazing is just how much all of our Very Serious Washington Media Elite actually bought into the September crap. \

I Turn On The Teevee

Finally broke down and turned on CNN. It's still depressing.

...I've just learned the key question is whether "any of the troops will be home by Christmas."

Very Silly People Make a Video

Meanwhile, despite polls and reality, the non-internets media debate is almost entirely between people who think the surge and Petraeus are really awesome, and those who think the surge and Petraeus are really really awesome.

One would think the views of Admiral Fallon, who is Petraeus's superior, would get more attention. But apparently he's very silly too.

The Need for GOP Daddies

I don't understand this either.

Scary Bin Laden Videos


Wanker of the Day

His Irrelevancy, Joe Lieberman.

Every FU or so Joe tells us that the old strategy sucked but the new one is awesome so SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP. Perhaps if he'd listened to critics at the time his pet war would've worked out a bit better.

Still, he is one of the most serious senators we have.

1, 2, 3...

What are we...

About 70% of Iraqis believe security has deteriorated in the area covered by the US military "surge" of the past six months, an opinion poll suggests.

The survey by the BBC, ABC News and NHK of more than 2,000 people across Iraq also suggests that nearly 60% see attacks on US-led forces as justified.

This rises to 93% among Sunni Muslims compared to 50% for Shia.



BAGHDAD — When President Bush announced in January what the White House called a “New Way Forward” in Iraq, he said that Iraqi and American troops would improve security while the Iraqi government improved services. Responsibility for security in most of Iraq would be turned over to Iraqi security forces by November.

With better security would come the breathing room needed for political reconciliation, Bush said.

With less than a week to go before the White House delivers a congressionally mandated report on that plan, none of this has happened. (my emphasis)


According to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, 984 people were killed across Iraq in February, and 1,011 died in violence in August. No July numbers were released because the ministry said the numbers weren't clear.

But an official in the ministry who spoke anonymously because he wasn't authorized to release numbers said those numbers were heavily manipulated.

The official said 1,980 Iraqis had been killed in July and that violent deaths soared in August, to 2,890.

Local Boy

The Inqy profiles Patrick Murphy. This jumped out:

Some fellow Democrats resent the attention he has gotten and wonder if he has been too opportunistic. No congressman or staff member would speak for the record, but their private views reflect animosity at Murphy's rise.

These people are absurd.


Could be fun!:

Sept. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Banks and companies need to refinance almost $140 billion of commercial paper in Europe by the end of next week and may push up yield premiums on corporate bonds, according to Deutsche Bank AG, Germany's biggest bank.

``This could be a pivotal seven to 10 days,'' Jim Reid, a credit strategist at Deutsche Bank in London, wrote in a note to investors today. ``This will inevitably lead to wider corporate spreads, especially in high yield.''

I see in the comments...

... that people are really upset and want to do something.

We all do. I still think sending postcards to your reps, and phoning them, is important. Visit their office if you possibly can. Throw town hall meetings if that can be arranged, too.

I see people calling for general strikes on 9/11 or on October 17th.

I don't know how big a demo you'd need to make people pay attention. I've often thought it would be most effective to demonstrate outside the buildings of the major broadcasters rather than at government buildings.

My ideal demo would be a massively-huge funeral-type event, everyone dressed somberly, everyone silent, just holding up a simple sign saying something like, "No more."

Not Atrios

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Petraeus Says F.U.


WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 — The top American commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, has recommended that decisions on the contentious issue of reducing the main body of the American troops in Iraq be put off for six months, American officials said Sunday.

More Thread

I think I need to go to bed now.


Apparently there's a Dem debate on Univision. Too busy sorting my life out to watch, but here's a thread for it...

Who Pays the Piper

Packer and Dodge aren't paying any cost. That's the point.

Other people, however, are paying a rather big price.

The Only Report That Matters

Just as an addendum to Glenn's post, we have Lois Romano of the WaPo:

Rockville, Md.: Did Couric's visit to Iraq for CBS Evening News made any impact on our views? I thought it much better than I expected. No "Dan Rather in the foxhole" that I expected. What do they say on the Hill? Iraq Tour of Duty Holds Surprises, 'No Heroics' for CBS's Katie Couric (Post, Sept. 4)

Lois Romano: I think the only report that matters now on the Hill right is the greatly anticipated report by General Petraeus--which will give assessment of the conflict. What Katie saw will have little impact on the process.


Anonymous:" I think the only report that matters now on the Hill right is the greatly anticipated report by General Petraeus -- which will give assessment of the conflict." Why do you think that is the case? It strikes me the other two reports released this week are exponentially more reliable and informative, so why is Petraeus's "the only report that matters"?

Lois Romano: Because it the report that the politicians will latch onto and the media will emphasize. I don't mean to suggest the other reports are not important- I think everything will be considered as a whole. But the Petraeus report will likely create the most fanfare.

And Shailagh "The Devil" Murray giving a fascinating definition of "precipitous withdrawal."

Wilmington, N.C.: Ms. Murray, Aug. 31: "Petraeus is expected to report to Congress next month that there are some signs of progress in Iraq and that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal could be disastrous." That would be your voice, no? I'd like to know: What makes a withdrawal plan precipitous? Who establishes those standards? Who are the proponents of "precipitous" withdrawal?

Shailagh Murray: Precipitous in this case would be more quickly than military leaders believe is sensible, based on their mission and the situation on the ground. Believe it or not, a lot of Democrats are concerned about withdrawing too many troops too quickly. You can be against the war, but also against mucking it up.

Travel Over

The cats are still alive and I have a tremendous amount of mail.

Normal blogging will resume shortly...

Open Thread

I guess Randy Moss isn't washed up yet.

Tap, Tap, Tap...

Between toe-tapping and wiretapping, I'm amazed the Republicans get anything done.

--Molly I.

Behold the wisdom of Li'l Tommy Friedman

January 22, 2003:

This is something liberals should care about -- because liberating the captive peoples of the Mideast is a virtue in itself and because in today's globalized world, if you don't visit a bad neighborhood, it will visit you.

...Isn't Yakov Smirnov still doing this routine in Branson?

And today:

One of the most troubling lessons of the Iraq invasion is just how empty the Arab dictatorships are. Once you break the palace, by ousting the dictator, the elevator goes straight to the mosque. There is nothing in between — no civil society, no real labor unions, no real human rights groups, no real parliaments or press. So it is not surprising to see the sort of clerical leadership that has emerged in both the Sunni and Shiite areas of Iraq.

I keep looking at the 2003 column for this obvious wisdom even to those of us allegedly living in the "Pre-9/11" world -- but it seems to be missing.

Funny that Tommy and his great wisdom.

Perhaps Tommy could invite all residents of inner Washington, D.C. to visit the Friedman estate, it's big enough to hold you all and I'm guessing Tommy hasn't visited them lately.

We Love Steve

We love Steve Simels. This is his favorite song.