Saturday, September 22, 2007

Silly Sully

After all these years, he still has no clue about US politics.

hint to sully: the body politic does not reside in your belly button.

Late Night

Rock on.


Speaking of Yurp

I always thought this post by the ole perfesser was a classic.

It sounds like Enron, only with tax money. And, naturally, with less moral outrage.

He's discussing the fact that Yurp "is on the brink of collapse." In 2002.

Fantasy Europe

Without getting into the specifics of this post, it is incredibly striking in general just how insane/ignorant/whatever your typical wingnut sounds when they talk about some continent called Yurp which doesn't actually exist.

Though, on reflection, I'm not sure how different that is from anything else.

1.5 Million

Maybe I can convince Arlen Specter to sponsor an amendment condemning me.

What Would I Do Without David Brooks?

Without him there just wouldn't be enough totally fucking wrong in my life. MTP, 7/8:

MR. BROOKS: Privately it’s collapsed already. The question is whether they talk about it publicly. And so what the White House is trying to do is head all that off at the pass.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

MR. BROOKS: I think by September they’re going to have a new plan, and that plan will probably involve getting out of Baghdad, withdrawing to some of the bases, reducing U.S. casualties, we’re trying to tamp down on al-Qaeda. So I think the White House will change the dynamic by September.

The Devil

The smell of sulfur infuses our political discourse.

Sane Republicans

I do not think they exist. Sully, last May:

Yes, we should keep our eyes on the ball this summer. But September is a sane and sensible moment for national cloture on the matter. And the sane Republicans - the ones who still have brains between their antennae - will have to make the call.

Ooops, Wrong Again

And I was right again. Advantage me! Andrea Mitchell on The Tweety Show last May:

Ms. MITCHELL: And you have the election calendar here, as well, which is
another part of the timetable. But basically, there is no belief in the
region that Maliki, that his government can sustain this. You can't sustain
it militarily and you can't sustain it politically here at home. So the basic
calculation by Republican and Democratic senators is, when General Petraeus
briefs in September, if this thing has not turned a corner, you're going to
start to see withdrawal.

The Big Money

For some reason it's off limits in our political discourse to mention this, but the $200 billion Bush wants for Iraq could buy a lot of that health insurance for kids he's going to veto.

Blogger Ethics Panel

It almost goes without saying that the creepy collusion between our elite media and the Bush administration is... creepy as hell.


Afternoon Thread


We're All Lefties Now


CBS News Poll. Sept. 14-16, 2007. N=706 adults nationwide. MoE ± 4.


"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation with Iraq?"


Approve Disapprove Unsure

% % %


25 70 5


"Do you approve or disapprove of the way Democrats in Congress are handling the situation with Iraq?"


Approve Disapprove Unsure

% % %


31 57 12



"Looking back, do you think the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, or should the U.S. have stayed out?"


Right Thing Stayed Out Unsure

% % %


39 53 8


"From what you know about the U.S. involvement in Iraq, how much longer would you be willing to have large numbers of U.S. troops remain in Iraq: less than a year, one to two years, two to five years or longer than five years?"


Less Than
A Year
One to Two
Two to Five
Longer Than
Five Years

% % % % %


49 23 12 5 11



"From what you have seen or heard about the situation in Iraq, what should the United States do now? Should the U.S. increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, keep the same number of U.S. troops in Iraq as there are now, decrease the number of troops in Iraq, or remove all its troops from Iraq?"


Increase Same Number Decrease Remove All Unsure

% % % % %


6 21 39 29 5


"President Bush has proposed reducing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to pre-surge levels by the summer of 2008. Do you think by next summer he should remove more troops than that, remove fewer troops than that, or is that the right amount to remove?"


Remove All
Now (vol.)
Depends (vol.)/

% % % % %


47 7 29 3 14

And still NPR talks about how "The Left" wants out.

Tin-Pot Dictatorships


The idea of granting blanket retroactive amnesty for private companies and high government officials who repeatedly broke the law in how they spied on Americans is the stuff of tin-pot third-world dictatorships. It is so corrupt and reprehensible that it ought to be beyond the ken of what could even be considered. But with an indescribably (and increasingly) accommodating Democratic Congress, along with Democratic power brokers like Gorelick working in tandem with telecoms and their Republican lobbyists to bring about such legislation, its passage -- as both the NYT and Newsweek are reporting -- is close to guaranteed. The MoveOn ad was terrible.


The local Inquirer/Daily News portal site has long been a complete mess. At first glance, the redesign appears to be at least somewhat better.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Morning Thread


--Molly I.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Later Night

Credit Where Credit's Due

Didn't know Nancy's son had it in him.

Wanker of the Day

Jonathan Weisman.

Late Night

Rock on.

Your Liberal Media

Abu Ghraib/CBS Profiles in Courage edition.

Friday Cat Blogging

LolCat caption contest edition.

Oh My

Oh My.

Fresh Thread



Holy crap.

O"REILLY: Now, how do we get to this point? Black people in this country understand that they've had a very, very tough go of it, and some of them can get past that, and some of them cannot. I don't think there's a black American who hasn't had a personal insult that they've had to deal with because of the color of their skin. I don't think there's one in the country. So you've got to accept that as being the truth. People deal with that stuff in a variety of ways. Some get bitter. Some say, [unintelligible] "You call me that, I'm gonna be more successful." OK, it depends on the personality.

So it's there. It's there, and I think it's getting better. I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They're getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They're just trying to figure it out: "Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it."

You know, I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy. And he comes on The Factor a lot, and then I treated him to dinner, because he's made himself available to us, and I felt that I wanted to take him up there. And we went to Sylvia's, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful. They all watch The Factor. You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was like a big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice.

And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same, and that's really what this society's all about now here in the U.S.A. There's no difference. There's no difference. There may be a cultural entertainment -- people may gravitate toward different cultural entertainment, but you go down to Little Italy, and you're gonna have that. It has nothing to do with the color of anybody's skin.


O'REILLY: That's right. That's right. There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "M-Fer, I want more iced tea."

WILLIAMS: Please --

O'REILLY: You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all.

The Magical Month of September

As we may have noticed, John Warner couldn't even bring himself to vote for the Webb amendment. Still, where would we be with David Broder's powers of prescient prognostication? How would those of us outside the Village have any idea what was going on? Broder, last May:

These senators are centrists -- the kind who can exert leverage on their colleagues. But the man who can do the most to catalyze the shift among Republicans is Sen. John Warner of Virginia, the widely respected former chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Colleagues say that Warner is torn between his loyalty to the president and his deep anxiety about events in Iraq. And as a former Navy secretary, he has an acute awareness of the price America's fighting men and women are paying for the policy mistakes there.

If Warner shifts, many other Republican senators will move with him, and the policy will change. I think that time is coming soon.

Or the insight of Frank Rich:

As General Odom says, the endgame will start "when a senior senator from the president's party says no," much as William Fulbright did to L.B.J. during Vietnam. That's why in Washington this fall, eyes will turn once again to John Warner, the senior Republican with the clout to give political cover to other members of his party who want to leave Iraq before they're forced to evacuate Congress. In September, it will be nearly a year since Mr. Warner said that Iraq was "drifting sideways" and that action would have to be taken "if this level of violence is not under control and this government able to function."

Mr. Warner has also signaled his regret that he was not more outspoken during Vietnam. "We kept surging in those years," he told The Washington Post in January, as the Iraq surge began. "It didn't work." Surely he must recognize that his moment for speaking out about this war is overdue. Without him, the Democrats don't have the votes to force the president's hand. With him, it's a slam dunk. The best way to honor the sixth anniversary of 9/11 will be to at last disarm a president who continues to squander countless lives in the names of those voiceless American dead.

Or Joe Klein:

John Warner will be the key to what happens next. He's on the record as saying he thinks it's not a good idea for American troops to be stuck in the middle of a civil war in Baghdad. And yet he's voted with Bush most every step on the way. And he's up for reelection in 2008...but he may not be running. My guess is--and perhaps I'm being optimistic--Warner's deadline is September.

Or David Ignatius:

President Bush said publicly last Thursday what his top aides have been discussing privately for weeks. He talked about a transition to "a different configuration" in Iraq after the surge of U.S. troops is completed this summer. When pressed on whether he was talking about a post-surge Plan B, Bush answered: "Actually, I would call that a plan recommended by Baker-Hamilton, so that would be a Plan B-H."

Let's make sure we've got that right: This would be the same Baker-Hamilton plan whose authors were lampooned by the conservative New York Post in December as "surrender monkeys"? The same Baker-Hamilton report that seemed to be all but buried by Bush's January embrace of a surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Iraq?

Yes, that same Baker-Hamilton plan now seems to be official White House policy. Administration officials insist that the president supported it all along, though you could have fooled me. Now it's back -- six months later than it should have been, with six extra months of political poison to corrode its bipartisan spirit. But better late than never.


What drove the White House discussion of post-surge strategy was a sense that the political timeline in Washington was out of sync with the military one in Baghdad. The U.S. clock needed to be slowed down, while the one in Iraq needed to be speeded up. The best way to synchronize clocks, officials concluded, was a less ambitious but more sustainable policy -- one that emphasized the training of the Iraqi army, U.S. Special Forces missions against al-Qaeda, a diplomatic opening to Iran and a reduction in U.S. troops. The shorthand name for this policy was Baker-Hamilton.

More Happy Housing News

Baghdad edition.

BAGHDAD -- Esad Ismael broke the most important promise he ever made.

As his father lay on his deathbed two years ago, Ismael, 43, vowed never to sell his family's home. His father and grandfather had spent all their savings to build the sprawling two-story house in Baghdad's wealthy Mansour district 70 years ago. Family memories were tucked between every tile on the floor.

But Ismael, a Sunni clothing merchant, was living in an area that was falling under the control of the Mahdi Army, Iraq's largest Shiite militia. Mindful of his promise to his dying father, he refused to move even after he began finding death threats pasted to his front door. After his brother was murdered, he gave up.

"It's bad that I sold our home, but what is worse is that I sold it for only 145 million dinars," Ismael said, naming a price equivalent to about $118,000 -- less than half the house's appraised value in late 2003. "It's an insult to my father to sell it so low. But what choice did I have? They would have killed us."

I guess this is that "soft partition" I keep hearing about in action.


The relatively static nature of the polling in the presidential primary has had the benefit of making it less likely that I get sucked into writing much about it. Still one wonders if anyone's ever gonna make a move?

Sorta quiet, really.

In A Matter of Weeks!

These tend to get lost over the weekend, so I'll put it up now. On Sunday it'll be 3 weeks since David Broder's favorite senator, Lindsey Graham, said this:

In a matter of weeks, we're going to have a major breakthrough in Baghdad on items of political reconciliation -- the benchmarks -- because the Iraqi people are putting pressure on their politicians.

In his defense it's a completely arbitrary length of time. He may have meant "5 million weeks."

No More Lieberdems

Obviously if the choice is between Dem/Rep control of the Senate or a filibuster-proof/non-filibuster proof majority I'd prefer Kerrey to enter the Nebraska race. But as those thresholds are unlikely to be critical, I hope he does, indeed, stay out of the race.

New York's lovely, Bob!

(ht pony boy)



The only showdown that mattered happened months ago. Democrats passed a war appropriation that funded the phased withdrawal of troops. Bush vetoed that appropriation and said he would only sign an appropriation that funded open-ended war. Bush sought to portray a congressional refusal to appropriate money for an open-ended military involvement in Iraq as some kind of plot to leave the troops starving and without bullets in Iraq. The press largely bought into this frame, which was re-enforced by the fact that many leading Democrats immediately decided to buy into as well. The party then decided not to try to fight to reframe the issue but, instead, to accept it. Given that framing of the question, the only thing to do was surrender and give Bush his money. And given that precedent, the only thing to do is to keep on surrendering any time Bush rhetorically holds the troops' well-being hostage to his preference for perpetual war.

That was a blunder -- a decision that condemned hundreds of Americans to die in Iraq -- and one that appears to have resulted from a total failure of the leadership to do any advance planning about their legislative tactics. All of September 2007 has been a meaningless sideshow. People find it comforting, I guess, to try to convince themselves that MoveOn is the reason our troops will be engaged in at least 18 more months of futile combat in Iraq, but it's just not true -- legislative defeat in September was inevitable, and the war is still very unpopular and still a very promising issue for 2008.

Indeed. All of this was utterly predictable last Spring, and blindingly obvious by August. If people want to pretend that fake media controversies which didn't move public opinion in the slightest are the reason that they're failing to do the jobs they were elected to do they're welcome to do that, but they just reveal themselves to be petty childish mediocrities with fragile egos who don't want to take responsibility for their own failures.

Congrats, losers!


Levin-Reed bill was, of course, a toothless "compromise" bill, and even that couldn't get support.

Tracy Flick Wannabees

One of the sad consequences of paying so much attention to politics is that one starts to get rather disturbed by what ridiculous little people many of Our Great Leaders are. It isn't that I had automatic respect for anyone with the word "Senator" in front of their name and I certainly knew that plenty of them were bad in a variety of ways. But I guess it'd never really internalized that idea that so many of them were just petty mediocrities and silly childish people with fragile egos.



Moderates’ Hope for Compromise on Iraq Fading as Reid Takes Hard Line

Reid bad, won't compromise. Of course what really has happened is that the Democrats, including Reid, wanted to find some sort of compromise bill to get "moderate Republicans" on board, but then they realized that moderate Republicans won't actually get on board with anything that could actually achieve anything in Iraq, and even if they did they don't exist in sufficient numbers (60 total or 67 depending on how you want to look at it) for an actual compromise to pass.

The Coverage Of Obstruction

I certainly agree that obstructionism in and of itself isn't really something politicians should fear, but of course one has to look at how the press covers these things. Peoples' perceptions of whether "Democrats failed" or "Republicans obstructed" depend on large part on whether the press reports that "Democrats failed" or that "Republicans obstructed."

Though, of course, not all of the blame is with the press. The Democrats aren't pushing this narrative aggressively. It is unclear to me why exactly that is. But I'm just an idiot with a cable modem and they're members of the Greatest Deliberative Body in the World so maybe I should just be quiet.


One tries to figure out explanations for these things. It's hard. At different times I'd probably have different theories. Now I'll lean on the fact that one is a Village dweller of good standing and one isn't. I have no idea if it's true. But, yes, certainly my weighting of the criminal investigation of a sitting senator and the criminal investigation of some guy with no political power differs from that of the editors of the Post.


Did we find the WMD?



Thursday, September 20, 2007

Will There Still Be Beer?

I lived briefly in Brussels and have spent a bit of time in Spain. In neither country did I spend enough time to be able to claim any deep insight about the various regional-ethnic independence movements, but what I did gain some insight about was the fact that the concepts of nationalism and regional identity vary greatly. Leaving any issues of justice or rightness aside, when I spoke to Belgians about the regional-ethnic divides or people (supportive and hostile) about desires for regional autonomy in Spain what I realized is that while we all talk about these issues to some degree, the concepts and underlying motivations aren't as common as we imagine.

I think this is the first US paper I've seen (not necessarily the first one that's done it) which has paid much attention to the current political crisis in Belgium.

Denounce This

Hopefully Senate will spend next week passing resolutions to condemn the National Review.

Then they can get to work on Keith Olbermann.

Evening Thread


Oh My

CNN sez:
AP: FBI taped calls by Sen. Ted Stevens in Fraud Probe.

Now maybe someone will report that someone's admitted in open court that they bribed him.

...and here it is:

The FBI, working with an Alaska oil contractor, secretly taped telephone calls with Sen. Ted Stevens as part of a public corruption sting, according to people close to the investigation.

The secret recordings suggest the Justice Department was eyeing Stevens long before June, when the Republican senator first publicly acknowledged he was under scrutiny. At that time, it appeared Stevens was a new focus in a case that had already ensnared several state lawmakers.

The recorded calls between Stevens and businessman Bill Allen were confirmed by two people close to the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way. They declined to say how many calls were recorded or what was said.

And They'd Better Hurry

Helicopter Ben says the hurricane is coming.

Losses from sub-prime mortgages have far exceeded "even the most pessimistic estimates", US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has said.

His comments to a US finance committee come two days after the Fed cut base interest rates to 4.75% from 5.25%.

Good Bill

Congressman Brad Miller along with various cosponsors has introduced "The Emergency Home Ownership and Mortgage Equity Protection Act of 2007."

Key provisions:

  • Allows bankruptcy judges to modify terms of primary residence mortgages, something already allowed for investment properties and vacation homes.
  • Extends window over which debts must be paid under Ch. 13 Bankruptcy past the current 3-5 years for primary residences, something already allowed for farms.
  • Cancels the ridiculous requirement that those who seek bankruptcy protection must first obtain credit counseling. This is generally a stupid and pointless hurdle, and especially so if one is facing a rather fast foreclosure process.

The first one is the key thing, and will potentially allow bankruptcy judges to redo absurd loan terms and help people stay in their homes.

Teevee on the Computer

I've only made it about half way through the first season, but so far Friday Night Lights has been quite a good show for those of you looking for such a thing. Watch it so they don't cancel it.

For those who did watch it, Big Media Matt informs us that you can watch the 2nd season premier online.

Fresh Thread

Go back to sleep.


100 people have a monopoly on political discourse in this country, apparently.

One Last Effort

Barry McCaffrey:

We will know by the end of the summer if Petraeus' strategy is going to prompt an adequate political response from the Iraqis. Only through the success of reconciliation talks can the bitter civil strife be moderated. We are running out of time.

The American people have walked away from support of this war. The Army is beginning to show signs of great strain. Many units are now on their third combat tour, and the tours are being routinely extended. Recruiting standards are being lowered. Our equipment is shot. By the beginning of the coming year, we will be forced to downsize our deployment to Iraq or the Army will begin to unravel.

The United States is now at a crossroads. We are in a position of strategic peril. We need to support the U.S. leadership team in Iraq for this one last effort to succeed.

About Fall

Those Republicans sure are demanding results:

“Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott says President Bush's new strategy in Iraq has until about fall before GOP members will need to see results. Lott's comment Monday put a fine point on what Senate Republican stalwarts have been discussing quietly for weeks. It also echoed remarks made this weekend by House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, indicating the GOP's limited patience on the war. ‘I do think this fall we have to see some significant changes on the ground, in Baghdad and other surrounding areas,’ Lott, R-Miss., told reporters.” (AP, 5/8/07)

Hey, The Truce is Over

Lieberman, last March:

Gen. Petraeus says he will be able to see whether progress is occurring by the end of the summer, so let us declare a truce in the Washington political war over Iraq until then.

Hold Him to Those Words

Little Tommy, almost exactly a Friedman ago:

As for General Petraeus, I have no idea whether his military strategy is right, but at least he has one -- and he has stated that by ''late summer'' we should know if it's working. As General Petraeus told the BBC last week, ''I have an obligation to the young men and women in uniform out here, that if I think it's not going to happen, to tell them that it's not going to happen, and there needs to be a change.''

We need to root for General Petraeus to succeed, and hold him to those words if he doesn't -- not only for the sake of the soldiers on the ground, but also so that Mr. Bush is not allowed to drag the war out until the end of his term, and then leave it for his successor to unwind.

Dude, Where's My Troop Withdrawal?

It was supposed to come with all that success.

TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq, Jan. 19 — Gen. George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, said today that the additional troops being sent to Iraq could begin to be withdrawn by late summer if security conditions improve in Baghdad.

“I believe the projections are late summer,” General Casey said, adding, “I think it’s probably going to be late summer before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods.”

Conditions Need to Improve By Fall

Those moderate Republicans, really putting down their marker. Last May:

WASHINGTON, May 9 — Moderate Republicans gave President Bush a blunt warning on his Iraq policy at a private White House meeting this week, telling the president that conditions needed to improve markedly by fall or more Republicans would desert him on the war.

The White House session demonstrated the grave unease many Republicans are feeling about the war, even as they continue to stand with the president against Democratic efforts to force a withdrawal of forces through a spending measure that has been a flash point for weeks.

Senator Collins, March 28


"My vote against this rapid withdrawal does not mean that I support an open-ended commitment of U.S. troops to Iraq," Collins said in a statement issued after the vote.

If Bush's strategy in Iraq does not show "significant results" by fall, "then Congress should consider all options including a redefinition of our mission and a gradual but significant withdrawal of our troops next year."

Fall begins on Monday Sunday. Still a bit of time left for that progress.

Ah, September

The magical month. Feingold-Reid got 28 votes.

Last May it got 29 votes.

Feeling the Doddmania


"It is a sad day in the Senate when we spend hours debating an ad while our young people are dying in Iraq. Now that the Senate has twice voted on this ad, it is time to move on and vote to end the war." - Chris Dodd


San Diego mayor decides that maybe his daughter should be allowed to get married.

20 Month Supply

I'd linked to this article before but I hadn't read all the way through it. Things suck in Orlando.

It would take 9.6 months to sell off all the existing homes on the market, the longest amount of time in at least eight years, according to the Chicago-based realtors group.

Listings in the Orlando, Florida, area show 26,300 homes for sale, a 20-month supply, said Gary Balanoff, a real estate broker with ReMax Select in Oviedo, Florida.

Appropos of Nothing

We Are Ruled By Children

And not especially bright ones.

It is very sad.


A Small Price.


Saddam may have killed "them," but Dick Cheney wanted the actual Mandela locked up for being a terrorist.

When Rep. Dick Cheney voted against a 1986 resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela and recognition of the African National Congress, Americans did know this man had been waiting decades for his freedom. In a larger sense, so had all black South Africans. The tenets of American democracy -- one man, one vote -- were denied to the majority of citizens, along with the most basic economic and educational needs.

Yet Republican vice presidential candidate Cheney still defends his vote, saying on ABC's ``This Week'' that ``the ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization. . . . I don't have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.'' What, then, does this tell us about what information Cheney considers before he takes a decision? And what the long-term consequences are likely to be, and on whom?

By no means were Mandela or the ANC universally viewed as ``terrorists,'' evidenced by the fact that the vote on the resolution was 245-177 in favor, but still shy of the two-thirds needed to override President Ronald Reagan's veto.


The Washington press hates any base of power that doesn't operate within its ecosystem. This isn't just limited to bloggers, but really any organization that doesn't dance the beltway tango.

Krugman Blogging

On the press:

But here’s the thing: new polls by CBS and Gallup show that the Petraeus testimony had basically no effect on public opinion: Americans continue to hate the war, and want out. The whole story about how the hearing had changed everything was a pure figment of the inside-the-Beltway imagination.

What I found striking about the whole thing was the contempt the pundit consensus showed for the public – it was, more or less, “Oh, people just can’t resist a man in uniform.” But it turns out that they can; it’s the punditocracy that can’t.

The bizarre thing is how regularly "the press" (meaning: the elite beltway chatterers) projects their own bizarre fetishes onto some mythical heartland voter they've never even met. This is related to their tendency to pretend they have no control over what is or isn't seen as news, as if they're just passive vessels for The News.

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 On It Goes

Iraq 4ever:

WASHINGTON (AP) - In another sign of U.S. struggles in Iraq, the target date for putting Iraqi authorities in charge of security in all 18 provinces has slipped yet again, to at least July.

The delay, noted in a Pentagon report to Congress on progress and problems in Iraq, highlights the difficulties in developing Iraqi police forces and the slow pace of economic and political progress in some areas.

It is the second time this year the target date for completing what is known as ``Provincial Iraqi Control'' has been pushed back. The Pentagon report submitted to Congress on Monday hinted at the possibility of further delays.

On FU ago Mitch McConnell said this:

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Four years into the Iraq war, all sides in the bitter debate agree that President Bush’s “troop surge” plan represents the final drop of American patience for the war. If Iraqis fail to control the violence, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “The American taxpayer has a reasonable expectation that we will bring our people home.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has steadfastly supported the mission, said Republicans’ patience is nearly exhausted, too.

“This is the last chance for the Iraqis,” the Kentucky Republican said in an interview with The Examiner. “The last chance for them to step up and demonstrate that they can do their part to save their country.”

It’s a rare point of agreement between the Democrats who long ago turned adamantly against the war and the Republicans who say they remain opposed to withdrawing troops before the job is done.

And now?


There are moments watching cable news when I have this odd feeling of disconnect, as if it's describing a world I don't inhabit. There's a bit of time shift, as if it's lagging our universe by about a decade or so. And, no, I don't just mean OJ.

It's odd.


Euro climbs above $1.40.


Morning Thread


--Molly I.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Late Night



It's always amusing when the right starts tripping over its competing storylines.

Are There Any Republicans Left?

And another one down...

Welcome to September

Everything sure did change, with that Webb amendment getting the same number of votes it got last July.

Mitchy Poo

One day short of six months ago Senator Mitch McConnell had this to say:

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Four years into the Iraq war, all sides in the bitter debate agree that President Bush’s “troop surge” plan represents the final drop of American patience for the war. If Iraqis fail to control the violence, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “The American taxpayer has a reasonable expectation that we will bring our people home.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has steadfastly supported the mission, said Republicans’ patience is nearly exhausted, too.

“This is the last chance for the Iraqis,” the Kentucky Republican said in an interview with The Examiner. “The last chance for them to step up and demonstrate that they can do their part to save their country.”

It’s a rare point of agreement between the Democrats who long ago turned adamantly against the war and the Republicans who say they remain opposed to withdrawing troops before the job is done.

Presumably in the coming days he'll keep voting for another chance.

The Good News


AMMAN -(Dow Jones)- Unknown attackers have blown up part of an Iraqi pipeline that pumps crude oil from Kirkuk oil fields to the Turkish export terminal, Ceyhan, a senior Iraqi oil official and a shipping agent said Wednesday.

"The pipeline was attacked and damaged Tuesday," the official told Dow Jones Newswires by telephone from Baghdad.

The attack took place in the section of the pipeline connecting the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to the Baiji, home to Iraq's largest oil refinery. Iraq usually pumps Kirkuk crude oil to the refinery, 250 kilometers north of Baghdad, which takes what it needs before it pumps the rest to Ceyhan.

The official said the pipeline blast was "catastrophic" as it caused huge quantities of crude oil to spill into the Tigris River.

Afternoon Thread


Learning Lessons

As someone (forget who) once said, any plan which relies on self-described moderate Republicans doing the right thing is doomed to failure. Hopefully after the 57th kick in the head, our Democratic leaders might learn this lesson.

The Very Serious John Warner

Is apparently frightened of George Bush. What a humiliating path to retirement.

Foreclosure Crisis

This is a couple of days old, but I missed it. Brad Miller has a good rundown on what hopefully might happen in Congress to hopefully ameliorate the foreclosure crisis somewhat.

43 Senators Hate America

Not too surprising.

Wankers of the Day

Pool Boy and Harris.


Some happy housing news.

Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- As many as half of the 450,000 subprime borrowers whose mortgage payments increase in the next three months may lose their homes because they can't sell, refinance or qualify for help from the U.S. government.

``Short of the cavalry riding in over the hill, a lot of these people are just stuck,'' said Christopher Cagan, director of research and analytics at Santa Ana, California-based First American CoreLogic, the risk management unit of the biggest U.S. title insurer.

The number of borrowers whose mortgage payments jump in the next three months will be the second-highest ever for a quarter, according to Credit Suisse Group, Switzerland's second-biggest bank. Twenty-seven percent have already missed a payment, said First American LoanPerformance, which owns the largest database of U.S. mortgages. That makes them ineligible for the Federal Housing Administration bailout proposed last month by President George W. Bush.

As this chart of ARM resets shows, the worst is yet to come in the subprime world.

And on the construction side:

Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Builders in the U.S. began work on the fewest homes in 12 years in August, raising the risk the real-estate recession will spread to other parts of the economy.

The 2.6 percent decline to a lower-than-forecast annual rate of 1.331 million followed July's 1.367 million, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Building permits dropped 5.9 percent to a 1.307 million pace, also the lowest since 1995.


I know reruns have been a teevee staple for decades, but can I humbly suggest that no one really gives a shit about OJ anymore.

One can draw a straight line from OJ to the Clinton impeachment to the war on Gore to President George Bush to the Politico.

It's all the same.

Habeas & Webb


Please take some time this morning to make some calls — in support of the restoration of habeas rights and in support of the Webb Amendment (or the Dwell Time Amendment, as it is also called) as well. As Maha says, just do it. It’s crunch time, and your call can really make a difference today!

You can call toll free here (H/T to Katymine):

1 (800) 828 - 0498
1 (800) 459 - 1887
1 (800) 614 - 2803
1 (866) 340 - 9281
1 (866) 338 - 1015
1 (877) 851 - 6437

Every single Senator needs a call today, regardless of whether they are on the target lists. Here are some Senators that I’m hearing could use some extra persuasion before the vote today on habeas:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) – 202-224-4041
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) – 202-224-6551
Sen. John Warner (R-VA) – 202-224-2023
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) – 202-224-4224
Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) – 202-224-4814
Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) – 202-224-2752
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) – 202-224-2523
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) – 202-224-5344
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) – 202-224-5641
Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) – 202-224-3353
Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) – 202-224-2841
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) – 202-224-5824
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) – 202-224-3753
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) – 202-224-4944
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) – 202-224-5623
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) – 202-224-4843
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) – 202-224-5852
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) – 202-224-2353
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) – 202-224-4822

All of the above have been designated as on the fence, potentially wobbly, or not taking a position as yet on the habeas amendment, and need an extra nudge, please.

The following need a nudge on the Webb Amendment:

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
DC: 202-224-6665
Anchorage: 907-271-3735

George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
DC: (202) 224-3353
Cleveland: (216) 522-7095

Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina)
DC: 202-224-6342
Raleigh: 866-420-6083

John Warner (R-Virginia)
DC: (202) 224-2023
Roanoke: (540) 857-2676

Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
DC: 202-224-2541
Louisville: 502-82-6304

Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania)
DC: 202-224-4254
Harrisburg: (717) 782-3951


Broder's comeback kid bounces all the way to new low.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress registered record-low approval ratings in a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday, and a new monthly index measuring the mood of Americans dipped slightly on deepening worries about the economy.

Only 29 percent of Americans gave Bush a positive grade for his job performance, below his worst Zogby poll mark of 30 percent in March. A paltry 11 percent rated Congress positively, beating the previous low of 14 percent in July.



Thus, the very idea that the Bush White House would be able to force enactment of FISA legislation once Democrats controlled the Congress would have seemed unfathomable, at least to many people. But after watching the Democrats meekly sit by and allow abolition of habeas corpus and then, when in control of Congress, grant the President vast new surveillance powers without receiving anything in exchange, it is inescapably clear that there are no limits on the willingness of Congressional Democrats to enable the President's worst excesses. If this NYT story is accurate and they really do intend to provide this retroactive immunity, their joint responsibility for most of the excesses of the Bush administration will be virtually complete.


Don't Dare Question The General

Joe Klein told me that Petraeus was honorable, so I know this can't be true either.

Sept. 14, 2007 - In endorsing Gen. David Petraeus's recommendations on Iraq, President George W. Bush said Thursday night that at least 21,500 U.S. combat forces, plus support troops, could leave Iraq and come home by next July. Curiously, the first military unit designated by Petraeus to return is the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif., north of San Diego.

But the 13th MEU, a support unit that has been in Iraq on its current tour for about three months, was already scheduled to return home from Iraq on Nov. 17. Their new date of arrival under the drawdown plan? Still Nov. 17. Other Marine units have been in Iraq as much as three times longer than the 13th MEU, and some active-duty Army soldiers are serving 15-month tours, the longest of the war. Relatives of the 2,000-member 13th MEU, most of whom have known for more than a month that the unit was coming home, are collectively a bit confused by the inclusion of the 13th MEU in the announcement of troop cuts, and some are even angry.

“I think General Petraeus is using normal circumstances and turning them into some kind of big deal,” says Melissa Hurt, 24, wife of a 13th MEU Sgt. Andy Hurt, 24. Originally from Minnesota, the couple has been married for four years and they have a 9-month-old son. “I don’t understand how this can be called a troop reduction since Andy was already scheduled to come home in November and was not scheduled to return to Iraq. There are guys who’ve been in Iraq for more than a year. They should bring them home first. I know my husband agrees with me.”

Wendy Foulis, whose husband, Gunnery Sgt. Gerald Foulis, is a member of the 13th MEU but was with other units previously and is completing his third tour in Iraq, says she has “absolutely no idea” why the general singled out her husband’s unit. “It’s the general’s decision, I won’t presume anything, but we’ve known our guys were coming home for more than a month,” she says. “This wasn’t a surprise. But since they were part of the surge, and since this unit is not designed for the type of work they did in Iraq, I guess it has something to do with that.”

This Can't Be True


NEW YORK Gen. David Petraeus' report to Congress and President Bush's nationally televised address have had little impact on Americans' distaste for the Iraq war and their desire to withdraw U.S. troops, polls show.

Fifty-four percent still favor bringing the troops home as soon as possible, a measurement that has not changed in months, according to a poll released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. And despite slight improvements in peoples' views of military progress, more said the U.S. will likely fail in Iraq than succeed by 47 percent to 42 percent, about the same margin as in July.

Nearly half, or 49 percent, said Bush should remove more troops than he announced he would last week, when he said he would withdraw some forces but leave at least 130,000 in Iraq at least until next summer. Thirty-eight percent said Bush's plan goes far enough.

Overall, two out of three said their views on the war had not been changed by presentations last week by Bush and Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

But the liberal New York Times told me:

In a September 15 article, The New York Times asserted that "[t]here were signs on [September 14] that [President] Bush's address might have succeeded in shifting some sentiment."

Oh, wait, the shifting sentiment they were talking about was at the... Washington Post editorial board.

Just kill me.

Morning Thread

...with fingers crossed for sittenpretty.

--Molly I.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Late Night

Rock on.

Wanker of the Day

John Warner.

Webb Amendment

The man explains.

People to call tomorrow.

Here's the target list. Please call and ask these senators to support Jim Webb's pro-troop amendment:

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
DC: 202-224-6665
Anchorage: 907-271-3735

George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
DC: (202) 224-3353
Cleveland: (216) 522-7095

Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina)
DC: 202-224-6342
Raleigh: 866-420-6083

John Warner (R-Virginia)
DC: (202) 224-2023
Roanoke: (540) 857-2676

Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
DC: 202-224-2541
Louisville: 502-82-6304

Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania)
DC: 202-224-4254
Harrisburg: (717) 782-3951

Bonus - Ask Harry Reid to "don't let Republicans obstruct - make them stand and filibuster":

Harry Reid
DC: 202-224-3542
Las Vegas: 702-388-5020

UPDATE: Sure enough, Saint John Warner the Bipartisan Dreamboat is considering changing his vote because Bush promised him that a few thousand troops are coming home next year.


Bill Schneider provides a bit:

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, we now have the answer from two polls that were just released.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Two high-profile media events about Iraq last week. The top U.S. commander testified before Congress. The president delivered a prime time speech.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Iraq, an ally of United States is fighting for its survival.

SCHNEIDER: What impact did they have? Very little according to two polls taken at the end of the week. Before the Petraeus testimony and the president's speech, 26 percent of Americans polled by CBS News approved of the president's handling of Iraq; after the speech, 25. Before the testimony and the speech, 41 percent of Americans believed the United States did the right thing to take military action in Iraq. After the speech, 39 percent said it was the right thing. President Bush spoke about a return on success, drawing on General Petraeus assessment.

PRES. BUSH: His belief we're succeeding, his belief we will succeed, and I ask the United States Congress to support the troop levels and the strategies I have embraced.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats were skeptical. SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have now set the bar so low that modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation to the point where now we just have the levels of intolerable violence that existed in June of 2006 is considered success. And it's not.

SCHNEIDER: Does the public believe the U.S. troop buildup is making this situation in Iraq better? Before last week, 35 percent of Americans said yes in the CBS News poll. At the end of the week, 31 percent said yes. The Pew poll found that most Americans want the U.S. to bring its troops home as soon as possible, same as in July.


SCHNEIDER: President Bush's overall job approval hardly changed. Thirty percent before the speech in the CBS poll, 29 after. But the president's rating did jump 15 points among Republicans. Bottom line, nothing much changed. The public still wants out of Iraq, but the president's Republican base remains loyal. Wolf?

BLITZER: Bill Schneider reporting for us. Thanks, Bill, very much.

Evening Thread


The Media Mess


CNN's Bill Schneider seems to be the only person in the mainstream media who is capable of reading the polls and understanding what's going on with this war (transcript in a bit).


Looks like somebody realized that a bullshit "compromise" which wouldn't accomplish anything except provide cover for cowardly Republicans and wouldn't attract many votes in the first place was a rather pointless exercise.

After weeks of suggesting Democrats would temper their approach to Iraq legislation in a bid to attract more Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared abruptly Tuesday that he had no plans to do so.

The Democratic leader said he will call for a vote this month on several anti-war proposals, including one by Sen. Carl Levin that would insist President Bush end U.S. combat next summer. The proposals would be mandatory and not leave Bush wiggle room, said Reid, D-Nev.

"There (are) no goals. It's all definite timelines," he told reporters of the planned legislation.

When asked why Democrats won't soften the deadline, the majority leader said he doesn't have confidence Republicans are willing to challenge Bush on the war.

"I think they've decided definitely they want this to be the Senate Republicans' war, not just Bush's. They're jealous," he said with a smile.

Padded Cell

While some people were driven insane by 9/11, many in our elite press went around the bend when the president got a blow job. Richard Cohen is one of them. I must say that his column today brings to mind scandals from his past.


Here’s one story out of the Washington Post’s New York bureau that won’t make it into the paper: It’s about columnist Richard Cohen and why he’s just moved his office from the twelfth floor of the paper’s New York bureau to the twenty-second floor of the Newsweek building. The New York-bureau chief, Blaine Harden, passed along to management a complaint against Cohen made by Devon Spurgeon, a 23-year-old female special correspondent in the bureau. One Post insider says Harden and others in the bureau witnessed several instances in which Cohen made inappropriately sexual remarks to the young assistant. Management took the situation seriously enough to fly to New York to talk with Cohen on April 3, the insider continues, while Spurgeon was asked to take a paid leave of absence during the negotiations. Eventually, management decided that Cohen’s office would be moved. Cohen vehemently denies the charges. “There was, for want of a better term, a personality conflict,” he explains. “It didn’t involve sexual harassment -- it didn’t involve sex, it didn’t involve harassment -- and no disciplinary action was taken.” Neither a Washington Post spokeswoman nor deputy managing editor Milton Coleman would comment on personnel matters, and neither Harden, Spurgeon, nor managing editor Robert Kaiser returned calls.


Staff members said Ms. Spurgeon and Mr. Cohen clashed soon after his arrival in New York. Ms. Spurgeon's post was quasi-clerical; she was given spot news assignments but was also expected to monitor the office fax machine and telephones. She made no secret of her journalistic ambitions, fellow staff members said, to the occasional detriment of her lesser duties. This, they said, seemed to annoy Mr. Cohen enough that he upbraided her from time to time, making reference to his connections to Post higher-ups in Washington in a way that Ms. Spurgeon read as an implicit threat to her job security.

Despite his displeasure with Ms. Spurgeon's job performance, Mr. Cohen seems to have sought out her opinion on matters relevant to his column. After reading a Lewinsky-related article that referred to oral sex as "casual sex," Mr. Cohen engaged Ms. Spurgeon in a discussion on the subject that other staff members found offensive. Staff members said that Mr. Cohen sometimes used foul language in the office and that he remarked on Ms. Spurgeon's appearance, telling her she "looked good in black," according to a Post staff member. On another occasion, the staff member said, Mr. Cohen asked Ms. Spurgeon to "stand up and turn around."

Mr. Cohen has denied to friends that he made that last comment and said that the other comments on Ms. Spurgeon's appearance were made innocently. Speaking to Off the Record, Mr. Cohen would only say, "It was a personality dispute at an office, but it had nothing to do with sexual harassment as the term applies today."

Mr. Cohen's defenders said discussions of oral sex are unavoidable in newsrooms these days because of the allegations swirling around President Clinton. And they add that while Mr. Cohen may cuss heartily, he does so only in the tradition of his trade. "Anyone who has worked in a newsroom knows these are not sedate places," said Mr. Auletta. "There is a wise-guy element of journalism that doesn't get into what we write, but we bluster.… That's the way journalists talk."

Tensions between Mr. Cohen and Ms. Spurgeon escalated in late March, eventually culminating in a peculiar circumstance: For three weeks, the 57-year-old columnist gave his 23-year-old colleague the silent treatment. Staff members in the New York bureau expressed their concern to bureau chief Blaine Harden, who in turn contacted assistant managing editor Karen DeYoung in Washington. Ms. DeYoung took the matter to Mr. Downie, who went into crisis mode.


While Ms. Spurgeon awaited word of her fate, Post sources said, Mr. Cohen's friends mounted a defense of their colleague, using a familiar tactic-they trashed the young reporter. Because she had cried on occasion in the office, Ms. Spurgeon was depicted as unstable by critics in calls to Post management. Ms. Spurgeon's sympathizers said she was upset about her mother, who is stricken with cancer, and they called the comments a cheap shot. An item in The Washington Times reported that Mr. Cohen's friend Sally Quinn was behind the campaign to discredit Ms. Spurgeon, a charge Ms. Quinn vehemently denied. "I never made a single phone call to people at the Post on behalf of Dick," Ms. Quinn said. "I've stayed out of it because I don't think my involvement would help anybody."


Devon Spurgeon is a 23-year-old reporter with movie-star looks and a nose for news.

Richard Cohen is an aging columnist who calls Ben Bradlee, Sally Quinn, and Bob Woodward his best buddies.

Cohen’s crude conversations poisoned his working relationship with the young reporter in the Post’s New York bureau. It also put the Post’s handling of sexual-harassment complaints on public display.

And after pushing reporters to go after Bill Clinton for hiding behind his lawyers in the Monica Lewinsky affair, executive editor Len Downie consulted with Post general counsel Mary Ann Werner and now offers only “on comment” through aides.


Cohen moved from Washington to the New York bureau last year. By all accounts, Cohen expected Spurgeon to cater to his office needs — and get his dry cleaning. She wanted to report stories.

“It’s not that she didn’t like him,” says one bureau reporter, “it’s just that she didn’t have time for him.”

But Cohen had time to engage Spurgeon in conversations that made her feel uncomfortable and threatened. She took her concerns to the other reporters, who agreed that Cohen had crossed a line. Around April 1, they asked bureau chief Harden to file an official report with Downie.

“This is not a ‘he said, she said,’” according to one reporter. “It’s ‘they said.’”

The Post dispatched deputy managing editor Milton Coleman to New York on April 3 and 6. He rented a room in the Essex Hotel and interviewed Cohen, Harden, and reporters Bob O’Harrow, Dale Russakoff, and Sharon Walsh. Cohen hired an attorney. Spurgeon went it alone.

Among the allegations reported to Coleman: Cohen asked Spurgeon to come into his office and close the door, then queried her about her generation’s view of oral sex. Also at issue: a conversation where Cohen said it’s too bad Bill Clinton is the only one who can grope in his office and get away with it. He also is said to have intimidated her with references to his connections with top Post editors, such as Tom Wilkinson, who can hire and fire.

No one said Cohen touched her or hit on her. Still, when Coleman asked the reporters if they considered Cohen’s comments sexual harassment, three said yes.


I'm not quite as annoyed as John, but I agree with the basic sentiment. There has been a tremendous increase in the number of groups/politicians/products/movies/books/issues/events that I'm pitched to mention or write about. Simply processing them all would be too time consuming so increasingly I just tune them out completely.


Helicopter Ben drops rate by half a point.


Call your senators.

Happy Fun Mortgage News


Bankrupt American Home Mortgage is attempting to seize as much as $27 million that former employees set aside from paychecks for retirement, according to an attorney representing them.

Employees say Melville, N.Y.-based American Home Mortgage Investment wants to release retirement money from a trust fund to pay off large creditors.

The attorney for a group of former employees alleged American Home or its trustee for the retirement plan "may have acted inappropriately with regard to withholding distributions or encouraging contributions."

Bribing a US Senator

As David Kurtz suggests, the media silence about someone admitting in open court that they bribed a US senator has been rather deafening.

"Fat," "Black," "Lazy," "Ass"

No one could have predicted that after her coronation, Rachel Paulose might be a bit of an asshole.

Happy Housing News of the Day

Congress really needs to do something.

NEW YORK ( -- Late summer brought no relief from soaring foreclosures. The number of homes in some stage of default jumped 36 percent month-over-month in August, according to a regular monthly survey.

Delinquencies and defaults more than doubled year over year to 243,947, according to August figures released Tuesday by RealtyTrac, a marketer of foreclosed properties. RealtyTrac's forecast is for total foreclosure filings to exceed 2 million this year.

"The jump in foreclosure filings this month might be the beginning of the next wave of increased foreclosure activity, as a large number of subprime adjustable rate loans are beginning to reset now," James Saccacio, chief executive of RealtyTrac, said in a statement.

Even the Liberal Brookings

Brookings is a liberal think tank. It doesn't matter how many former Bushies they hire, its label in our media industrial complex is liberal. Intellectual pretensions aside, none of these things are pure "idea factories." They exist to disseminate those ideas, and use their reputations and their position in our discourse to do just that, and do so quite aggressively. The fact that they may have a wider range of perspectives than some conservative think tanks doesn't change that fact. The fact that lots of conservative ideas on foreign policy get transmitted from "even the liberal Brookings" gives them even more power, and the actual liberals within, if they exist, should work to counteract that.

The Story

Greenwald sums it up nicely:

In their world, the Republicans are always ascendent, Bush is always the Strong Leader, Democrats are always the sorry losers captive to their destructive Leftist extremists, and Americans are aching to support the War. They have been predicting endlessly that, any day now, all of this will be true again.

They actually thought that a newspaper ad was going to transform deeply entrenched views about the Republicans and the War because their friends Ed Gillispie and Tony Snow and Sean Hannity told them it would. The Rise of Petraeus the Good and the unmasking of the Evil MoveOn Left was going to change everything, back to its rightful place. It changed nothing, including the media itself, which will seize on some other event a few weeks from now to declare yet again the latest surging comeback for the President, the war and the right-wing faction which has followed him.

Along those lines, the devil provides: provided Republicans a life raft when it ran a full-page newspaper advertisement Monday taunting Petraeus as "General Betray Us." Ever since, Republicans have spent far more time condemning the ad than defending the war.


Someone is getting ready.

Not Atrios

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Have No Idea If The Devil Wears Prada

But she does write for the Washington Post.

Rolla, Mo.: Is Sen. Webb's approach one way to get around the issue of ending the war through direct funding cuts? I ask because the Dems are in a fix, the American public wants the war to end, but they are against the seemingly only option the Dems have, cutting funding.

Shailagh Murray: Democrats, and not a few Republicans, believe Webb's approach is an effective way to limit the U.S. role in Iraq, in a way that benefits American troops, rather than potentially harms them through a funding cutoff. In particular, it directly addresses a big area of concern for Republicans from large military states, namely the war's toll on troops and their families.


Princeton, N.J.: Why can't people understand that a single-payer health care system is simply much more efficient than what we have? Forget the immorality of the uninsured, forget the competitive disadvantage of our business community -- other countries get much better health care at much lower cost. The evidence is overwhelming. We can't afford our current mess. We need Medicare for all. Is this a failure of democracy?

Shailagh Murray: Back in another century, I covered health care policy for the Wall Street Journal, and I couldn't believe the complexities. You have huge corporate, political and labor interests, all with their own perfect solutions. Another thing I realized was that none of the other models out there, i.e. in Western Europe, are perfect fits for the U.S., which is much bigger and more diverse, both socially and economically.

That said, if a Democrat wins next year, it will be interesting to see him/her attempt to deliver on some very big promises now on the table (at least from Edwards, Clinton and Obama)

Washington: To the best of your knowledge, have any of the candidates addressed how to solve the supply side issue of health care, specifically how we are going to find doctors to care for the 40 million-plus that (presumably) will have some kind of health insurance in the future? I see lots of rhetoric about making sure that everybody has insurance, but nothing about how to find doctors for everyone. Most of my own MDs rarely or never accept on new patients -- who's going to take care of the newly insured? This seems to be a big unknown.

Shailagh Murray: This goes to my last point. It's not just about insurance coverage. I know all you liberals and trial lawyers out there groan when a Republican says "tort reform," but this is exactly why the GOP-led Congress tried so many times to change medical malpractice laws -- and why many states already have.