Saturday, March 29, 2008

Evening Thread

While some people are being entertained, we have to play with ourselves.

Deep Thought

Good thing we stayed in Iraq to prevent that civil war from happening.


Sinfonian live blogged it all.


Spork's photo

UPDATE: Will Bunch has a good conference rundown up, more coming. His commenters are also providing valuable insight: "Liberal bloggers are little Sally boys, who cry everytime Barbara Steisand sings..." Oh yes. Though Babs is no Glenn Danzig, I tell you what...


Having a great time. Wish you were here.

--Molly I.

Nouri al-Bush

"Peoples" are conventioning so...

Nobody anticipating goes across cultures:

It appears that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's ultimatum to Shiite Muslim militiamen to surrender to the Iraqi government might not be working precisely as he had intended.

When nobody had turned up by Friday, Maliki gave members of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army militia 10 more days to turn in their weapons and renounce violence.

Instead, about 40 members of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi army and National Police offered to surrender their AK-47s and other weapons this morning to Sadr's representatives in the cleric's east Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City.


Joe Galloway:

Shame on them, and shame on us, for such callous indifference to the service, sacrifice and suffering of the families of the dead, wounded and injured troops who've given so much for so little in return.

Vice President Cheney again stuck both feet in his mouth by saying and then repeating that we should remember that our military is composed entirely of volunteers; that our troops all volunteered for this duty, this burden, this sacrifice.

What's your point, Mr. Vice President? That because they volunteered to serve our country in uniform it’s okay to squander their lives in a war of choice, your choice and your president’s, and that it somehow matters less than if they'd been dragooned into service by press gangs or a draft like the one you dodged with five deferments during the Vietnam War because, you said, you had “better things to do”?


Friday, March 28, 2008

Late Night

NToddler is such a loser.

Is there some deal happening or something?

Once again, apparently I didn't get a memo.

City and Suburb And Everywhere Else

I agree that it'd be good to have someone with some clue about urban issues, and not just for the sake of cities. A lot of city stuff is really everywhere stuff but it just becomes acutely obvious in densely populated urban areas, while elsewhere development just seems like a force of nature that rolls on through. In the city it's easier to grasp how policy matters, though of course it matters everywhere.

Silly Media Matters

I know I shouldn't disagree with the mothership, but they're operating under this delusion that money spent on war should actually count or something.

If It's Friday...

There must be some scandal.

WASHINGTON - The White House says a presidential aide has resigned after engaging in improprities using USAID grant money.

Wonder what this is about.


His previous employer was the Center for a Free Cuba, which describes itself as an independent, nonpartisan institution dedicated to promoting human rights and a transition to democracy and the rule of law in Cuba.

"Mr. Sixto allegedly had a conflict of interest with the use of U.S. AID funds by his former employer," Stanzel said. He said he did not know how much money was involved or the particulars of the allegations.

Fresh Thread. Improved!

Bad Traffic

Drive in early to Eschacon.

Tonight the roads around the South Philadelphia sports complex are likely to get jammed with fans heading to three games simultaneously.

The arenas are way south of center city, but there could be a lot of traffic on the major highways/bridges leading into the city.

Blaming Iraqis

Sadly, it isn't just Rice who does this. Plenty of Democrats do too. Certainly I wish Iraqis were less inclined to kill each other, but when people who don't really believe in the institutions of modern democracies invade another country without any plan for establishing those institutions we shouldn't be too surprised when the ponies don't appear.

Forcing the Conversation

This is good.

More than three dozen Democratic congressional candidates banded together yesterday to promise that, if elected, they will push for legislation calling for an immediate drawdown of troops in Iraq that would leave only a security force in place to guard the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Democrats will only win on national security when people know where they stand. The message that low information voters need to hear is that Democrats want to get out of Iraq, and Huggy Bear and the Republicans want to stay there forever.

Deep Thought

Given its target audience, it's appropriate that Mark Halperin's "The Page" is written in crayon.

Eschacon '08: The Final Conflict

For those who don't want to drink with a bunch of DFHs, or sit around all day Saturday listening to said DFHs babble on about stuff, you can still just show up Saturday night for some great entertainment. Whiskey Ina, Filkertom, The Rude Pundit, and Hamell on Trial will be there to entertain you. I saw The Rude Pundit's show a few years ago, and it was really good, and Hamell on Trial is also awesome (with apologies to the first two who I haven't seen).

Here's Hamell.

Extra Innings

And on and on.

Iraq's government has extended by 10 days a deadline for Shia militiamen fighting troops in the southern city of Basra to hand over their weapons.

More than 130 people have been killed and 350 injured since a clampdown on militias began in Basra on Tuesday.

US-led forces joined the battle for the first time overnight, bombing Shia positions, the UK military said.

Iraq's parliament is set for emergency talks on the crisis, which has also brought a three-day curfew in Baghdad.

A statement from Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's office read: "All those who have heavy and intermediate weapons are to deliver them to security sites and they will be rewarded financially. This will start from March 28 to April 8."


Broder's boy bounces all the way to 28%.

(ht pony boy)



I bet it never would have even occurred to you that John McCain might just be the candidate who is going to get us out of Iraq "swiftly." You clearly lack Andrew Sullivan's amazing insight. This is exactly why you'll never be invited onto Bill Maher to fondle your ass on national television.

Sullivan, Feb. 12:

However we withdraw from Iraq - and McCain wants us to withdraw as much as Obama - al Qaeda will say it's a victory for them.

Sullivan, March 7.

And Clinton will swiftly realize that the most potent antidote to conservative criticism of her at home will be buttressing her military image, working the Thatcher thing, constructing an Iron Lady persona that will both appeal to her white ethnic base and keep the Republicans at bay. She will no more withdraw troops from Iraq than John McCain will.

Choosing Sides In A Civil War

While it isn't exactly entirely a new thing, it's a bit more stark now.

Both sides in this struggle are essentially militias. Both sides have ties to Iran. And as for protecting "the Iraqi people," the side backed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (and by U.S. air power) has, ironically, less support—at least in many Shiite areas, including Basra—than the side that he (and we) are attacking.

Overnight Thread

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Deep Thought

Aren't a lot of superdelegates DCCC members?

Positive Moment

You get the sense that Bush and Cheney told Maliki that he had to "kill all the bad guys" and so Maliki said, "Sure, I'll go kill all the bad guys." Because, you know, as long as Maliki has enough "will" and "resolve" he should be able to do that.

BAGHDAD — American-trained Iraqi security forces failed for a third straight day to oust Shiite militias from the southern city of Basra on Thursday, even as President Bush hailed the operation as a sign of the growing strength of Iraq’s federal government.

The fighting in Basra with the Mahdi Army, the armed wing of the political movement led by the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, set off violent clashes in cities throughout the country and major demonstrations in Sadr City, the huge Baghdad slum that is Mr. Sadr’s base of power, and other Shiite neighborhoods in the capital.

Although Mr. Bush praised the Iraqi government for leading the fighting, it also appeared that the Iraqi government was pursuing its own agenda, calling the battles a fight against “criminal” elements but seeking to marginalize the Mahdi Army. The Americans share the Iraqi government’s hostility toward what they call rogue elements of the Mahdi Army but will also be faced with the consequences if the battles erupt into more widespread unrest.

Deep Thought

The Iraq war is so awesome.

Fresh Thread

Off to go tell Patrick Murphy how he's supposed to vote on every piece of legislation. And he'll listen or HULK WILL SMASH!!

The Eschacon Hotel Subway Stop

No this isn't normal.

Sean Patrick Conroy, the 36-year-old Starbucks manager who was attacked in a Center City subway yesterday, died of an "asthma attack brought on by blunt force trauma," the medical examiner ruled today.

His death was ruled a homicide, said Jeff Moran, a spokesman for the medical examiner.

Police today are intently searching for three of four Simon Gratz High School students who skipped classes Wednesday and ambushed Conroy on a subway concourse in the heart of Center City. The man died less than an hour after the attack.

A 16-year-old 10th grader at the Nicetown high school who was arrested after the incident told police the four youths had chosen Sean Patrick Conroy at random and attacked him for kicks, with no motive of robbery, police said. The District Attorney has not yet filed charges against the youth. Police said they are waiting for the medical examiner to determine a cause of death before recommending charges.

How'd That Happen

Just what is going on.

Col. Abbas al-Tamimi, media officer for the 14th Iraqi Army Division operating in the city, said he expected the fighting to escalate. “The gunmen have heavier and more sophisticated weapons than we have,” he said.


Always difficult to know if reporting about Iraq is painting an accurate and relatively complete picture of what's going on, but in any case this Times of London story isn't very encouraging.

Not Lou Dobbs

Probably the biggest thing I've gotten wrong over the past few years was thinking that immigration would be the winning issue for the GOP. It just isn't.


More positive moments.*
BREAKING NEWS: American killed in rocket or mortar attack on Baghdad's Green Zone, U.S. Embassy says

*This is called sarcasm, trolls.

How Will They Tally The Votes?

I suppose other states have dealt with similar, but I'm curious about how the primary vote in PA will be mapped to some popular vote count. I've seen an absentee ballot, and here in Philadelphia we vote directly for a number of delegates, up to 9, which are linked to a candidate. There are 9 Obama delegates on the ballot, and 7 Clinton ones.

Positive Moment

I'm not sure the country (ours or theirs) can survive another 300 days of this.

Late Night

For once our local transit authority isn't completely broke and they can therefore contemplate service improvements.

Among the proposals are late night Friday and Saturday regional rail service on the R5 Paoli/Thorndale line, the R6 Norristown line and R7 Trenton line, which would run an hour to two hours later than current weekend service.

Last train out is at 12:15 for the R5 on weekends, which really isn't helpful for people from the burbs who like to come in for some city fun. It cuts it a bit close for kids who might want to come into town for shows. And aside from the potential to reduce drunk driving a bit, I'm a big believer in the idea that public transit is something that people have to get used to taking, and if you give them an excuse to try it a few times they'll keep using it.

Everybody Hearts Bush

Apparently he has a "has a personal (as opposed to job performance) approval rating of better than 50 percent."

Going to the latest polls...

NBC: Very Positive+Somewhat Positive=33%
Newsweek: 33%
Pew: Very Favorable+Mostly Favorable=35%
Fox: 35%
Diageo/Hotline: 38%


Bush is on the teevee. It's actually quite scary. Apparently al Qaeda is in Mosul now. Or something.

Bush was never a gifted orator, but now neither he nor his speechwriters are even trying anymore. And he really does slur his words.

...I sorta remember when the armed vigilante groups we like were rebranded from "awakening councils" to "sons of Iraq," but I don't remember anyone commenting that it's really rather unfortunate to have such a gendered name. They aren't just vigilante groups, of course, they're political organizations, and apparently no daughters are allowed.

...normalcy is returning to Iraq. WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

More Liquid

For those who think 7pm is a little late to begin having liquid refreshments, the unofficial Eschacon '08 preparty will be at the Khyber.

Here's a map showing Lucy's Hat Shop (A) and the Khyber (B). Both are conveniently located near the 2nd st. subway stop. Both are about a 20+ minute walk from the hotel.

...probably a $6.00 cab ride to/from hotel (or less).

Last Chance Foreclosure Opportunity

You read stuff like this and you realize that banks were just doing insane things over the past few years. $600,000 in HELOCs and a million+ option ARM refinancing? WTF?!

More Success

So successful.

One of southern Iraq's two main oil export pipelines has been severely damaged in a bomb attack, officials said today.

The bombing of the pipeline, seven miles south of Basra, came as clashes between Iraqi security forces and Shia fighters in the port city entered a third day.

"This morning, saboteurs blew up the pipeline transporting crude from [the] Zubair 1 [oil plant] by placing bombs beneath it," an oil company official said.

"Crude exports will be greatly affected because this is one of two main pipelines transporting crude to the southern terminals. We will lose about a third of crude exported through Basra."

Sorry About the Weather

Looks like we'll have some rain tomorrow, and then Saturday and Sunday will be clear but a bit chilly.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Still pretty high at 366,000 new unemployment claims.

Morning Thread

Bring Your Friends!

Tix here.
--Molly I.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Late Night

Rock on.

Evening Thread


Over there.

BAGHDAD — U.S. aircraft supporting an Iraqi government offensive against Shiite Muslim militias bombed suspected militia positions south of Baghdad amid intense fighting Wednesday in parts of the Iraqi capital and in the southern port city of Basra, Iraqi police said.

Spokesman Muthanna Ahmed of the Babil province police said 60 people had been hit but that he couldn't give a breakdown of dead and wounded. The U.S. military was looking into the report but couldn't confirm it Wednesday evening.


They are stupid things.


And the war is over, and the dead are all living.

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The Pentagon on Wednesday said an eruption of violence in southern Iraq, where US-backed government forces were battling Shiite militias, was a "by-product of the success of the surge."

Gas Is Expensive

Had to fill up my carshare car today.



Over there.

More than 80 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting, centered on the southern oil hub of Basra and spreading to Shi'ite parts of Baghdad where Sadr's followers hold sway and the towns of Hilla, Kut and Diwaniya in the south.



Bond insurer FGIC Corp said on Wednesday that its exposure to mortgage losses exceeded legal risk limits and it may raise loss reserves due to litigation related to stricken German bank IKB.

FGIC, the parent of bond insurer Financial Guaranty Insurance Co, earlier this month filed a lawsuit accusing German state-owned IKB of fraud in providing incomplete information on $1.9 billion of debt that FGIC agreed to insure.

FGIC in a statement also said it has a substantially reduced capital and surplus position through December 31. As a result, insured exposures exceeded risk limits required by New York state insurance law, the New York-based company said.

"This is a bombshell," said Rob Haines, senior insurance analyst at CreditSights in New York. "They are actually in violation of New York insurance law. If they don't remediate this, the state has the ability to take control of the company."

McCain Recycles Speech

It was good enough in 2001, so it's good enough in 2008. Because things are exactly the same now!!

But What About Atriots?

Can't we be fascists, too?


Giant sign on my corner, with an arrow. It seems they're filming a movie. Probably Rocky XV.

...ah, must be this.

...yep, saw Lauren Graham as I was walking home from lunch.


Glennzilla has a fascinating excerpt of unscripted interviews with Iraqis by Peter Jennings as the Iraq war was unfolding.

I'll just add that there are many things left out of our discourse about Iraq, including the perspectives of actual Iraqis.



Now, some Iraq-watcher friends of mine point out that this is absurd. "Sadr is, of course, a thug," they say, "but he's a nationalist. And he's far less beholden to Iran than the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or Maliki's Da'wa Party -- both of whom we're supporting! And most importantly, Sadr remains perhaps the most popular figure in Shiite Iraq. Petraeus can do business with him. This doesn't make any sense!" And they're right. It doesn't. But as long as we sponsor the Iraqi political process -- and a Sadrist doesn't actually become premier himself -- this will keep happening.

And another option would be to... stop being the sponsor.

Shock Poll

Drudge is pushing a poll which apparently has the shocking result that 22% of Dems want Obama out and 22% of them want Clinton out.


New Home Sales

Still flat. (.pdf)

Sales of new one-family houses in February 2008 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 1.8 percent (±15.0%)* below the revised January rate of 601,000 and is 29.8 percent (±9.6%) below the February 2007 estimate of 840,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in February 2008 was $244,100; the average sales price was $296,400. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February was 471,000. This represents a supply of 9.8 months at the current sales rate.


Durable goods orders decline again.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in February decreased $3.6 billion or 1.7 percent to $210.6 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This was the second consecutive monthly decrease and followed a 4.7 percent January decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 2.6 percent. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 1.6 percent.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Deep Thought

Remember back in junior high, when you had that friend that the bullies picked on all the time? And you defended that friend, who really never did all that much for you, which led to you getting your ass kicked a few times yourself? And then you got to high school and your friend joined up with the bullies? It's kind of like that.

...just make it stop.


A bunch of stuff I could say, but I guess I'll let the picture speak for itself.

Evening Thread

Thanks Chuck

Chuck Norris doesn't like this organization which is working to eliminate violence directed against gay and lesbian kids in schools. Violence that includes murder.

Check GLSEN out and tell 'em Chuck Norris sent you, that great big orange-headed palooka.

New Orders

And on and on...

"The cease-fire is over; we have been told to fight the Americans," said one Mahdi Army militiaman, who was reached by telephone in Sadr City. This same man, when interviewed in January, had stated that he was abiding by the cease-fire and that he was keeping busy running his cellular phone store.

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

MSNBC Chyron asks:

Is McCain Getting A Free Ride?

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

War On


BAGHDAD (AFP) - Moqtada al-Sadr's militiamen battled troops in four Iraqi cities on Tuesday, including the capital, as the hardline Shiite cleric threatened a countrywide campaign of civil revolt.

Heavy clashes broke out between Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters in the southern oil city of Basra, killing at least seven people and wounding 48, and in Kut and Hilla, both south of Baghdad, officials said.

As evening fell, Mahdi Army fighters fought with Iraqi and US forces in their Sadr City bastion in eastern Baghdad for the first time since last October, a security official and witnesses told AFP.

Troops had surrounded the sprawling impoverished neighbourhood of two million people and armed Shiite fighters were roaming the streets, a witness said.

Chris Matthews' New Favorite Phrase

Just a prediction, but I think he'll like this one. Be warned, Clinton supporters.

Eschacon 08: The Eschaconing

See what all the squares are missing and what all the cool kids will be doing.

The Washington Way

Just get some people in a room to meet and magic ponies will appear.

That Time Of Year Already?

Social Security trustees report comes out today. Get prepared for usual round of IT'S GOING BANKRUPT AND WE'LL HAVE TO CUT THEIR BENEFITS UNLESS WE CUT THEIR BENEFITS.

...and here it is.
Quick glance says no substantial change from last year's projections. On to dig through and see what's up with the assumptions...

Patrick Murphy Fundraiser

For local folks or those arriving early to Eschacon, Murphy's having a fundraiser on Thursday, 6-7:30 at Black Sheep Tavern at 247 S. 17th St. Suggested contribution is $100, $25 for students. RSVP if you wish.

Iraq 4Evah!

And on and on.

WASHINGTON — Troop levels in Iraq would remain nearly the same through 2008 as they have been through most of the five years of war there, under plans presented to President Bush on Monday by the senior American commander and the top American diplomat in Iraq, senior administration and military officials said.

Mr. Bush announced no final decision on future troop levels after the video briefing by the commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and the diplomat, Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. The briefing took place on the day when the 4,000th American military death of the war was reported and just after the invasion’s fifth anniversary.

But it now appears likely that any decision on major reductions in American troops from Iraq will be left to the next president. That ensures that the question over what comes next will remain in the center of the presidential campaign through Election Day.

Free Ride

"The press loves McCain. We're his base." - Chris Matthews

I read the draft of this book some months ago and it's really quite good. While we all have a general sense of the degree to which the national press will bend over backwards to excuse anything St. McCain does, Free Ride documents this history with horrifying but entertaining detail. More than that, it shows how at odds the national media, who worship Saint McCain, are with the local media in Arizona, who know a bit more a bit the real senator.

The site will be rolling out the top myths about McCain. Here's #1:

Perhaps no word has been used to describe John McCain more often than "maverick." In January and February of 2008 alone, McCain was called a "maverick" more than 1,300 times in newspapers and on television. And those who use the label to describe McCain rarely explain just what he has done to earn it. But a closer examination of his record shows that McCain isn't quite the maverick that he is made out to be. The truth is that McCain's breaks from the Republican Party line are few and far between. According to Congressional Quarterly's "party unity" ratings, since he came to the Senate in 1989, there have been only three years in which McCain voted with his party less than 80 percent of the time. When he has gone against the party line -- such as on campaign finance reform, global warming, or tobacco regulations -- McCain has taken a position that was overwhelmingly popular with the public, meaning that when he takes a "maverick" stance, he's gaining support with the public -- and hardly taking a political risk.

Just as important, McCain's acts of independence aren't so much on high-profile issues as they are on issues that the press makes high-profile, precisely because of McCain's involvement. In all these cases, something important happens in the media when McCain opposes his party. When an ordinary senator crosses party lines, he or she will join members of the other party and perhaps have occasional opportunities to be quoted or interviewed on the issue in question. When McCain crosses party lines, on the other hand, the story the news media write undergoes a shift: It then becomes a story not about a conflict between Democrats and Republicans, but a story about John McCain and his rebellion. This is why McCain is perceived to be much more of a maverick than Republicans such as Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins, who actually break with the GOP far more often. Yet journalists continue over and over to call McCain a "maverick," seldom questioning whether there might be more to the story.

Even more than other campaigns, this presidential race will pit the Democrat against McCain and his "base," the mainstream media. Combatting and shaming the media into covering McCain and his past accurately will be the job all of us have. Buy the book!

Not So Confident


U.S. consumer confidence took an unexpectedly sharp fall in March, hitting a five-year low while expectations for the future tumbled to their lowest since January 1974, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The Conference Board said its index of consumer sentiment fell in March to 64.5 -- its lowest since March 2003 -- from an upwardly revised 76.4 in February.

Wanker of the Day

Charlie Rose.

Dreaming of Ponies

Like the rest of them, Packer is just upset that no one will find his pony in Iraq. Because it's about him, you see.

Modern Worries


One of the people he helped was Paige Carey, the parent of a senior at Coatesville Area High School. She was carrying 13 new registration forms, and had worked hard to convince her daughter's teenage friends that registering to vote would not somehow get them drafted into the military.

"I really had to ease their fears," she said.

I Read The News Today Oh Boy

Carshare Wars

Competition heats up.

Zipcar, which bought Seattle-based Flexcar last fall, is bidding to replace PhillyCarShare Inc. as car-share supplier to the City of Philadelphia, said Robert Fox, head of the city Office of Fleet Management.

Zipcar plans to convert its local 110-vehicle fleet to the Zipcar brand today. It is offering promotional pricing, including $6 an hour for a hybrid Toyota Prius, with free gas, miles and insurance. That compares with PhillyCarShare's weekday rate of $3.90 plus 9 cents a mile, and a free hour per month.

"They're trying to follow our lead in discounting hybrids," said Clayton Lane, deputy executive director at PhillyCarShare. "Because we're not trying to provide a financial profit, we can provide a lower price and invest more in our cars and systems."

PhillyCarShare said it earned a 10 percent surplus from its $10 million in sales last year, when it served 35,000 customers, up from 6,000 the year before. That money went back into the business for faster computer systems and a better variety of cars, Lane said.

Zipcar membership does offer one benefit in that it can be used in other cities, but it's difficult to see how they could really beat PhillyCarShare.

Wrong Road

I agree with Tanta. The Fed needs to make sure people know it's out of the business of arranging fire sales.

Ethnocentric Special Interests

This from a man who hosts the nightly pasty puffy white guy hour.

Monday, March 24, 2008


In case that didn't do it for you.


This one's for Simels.

Delphic Oracles



La Barba

I see stupid people.

Political Gawker

Spotted Ed Rendell getting into a car outside the Park Hyatt Bellevue. Also spotted his poor aide drop a bunch of folders and papers all over the ground.

Deep Thought

Your decision to support your candidate demonstrates a profound degree of ignorance and obvious mental instability.

Wanker of the Day

Michael O'Hanlon.

Fresh Thread


I didn't see the moments referenced here, but Michael Ware has long been an interesting figure. His reporting tends to convey the fuckupedness of the situation a bit more clearly than that of many others, but he also strongly sees that fuckupedness as a reason the US needs to stay in Iraq.

So, 15 months from January '09 is too soon a time to withdraw. That brings us to April of 2010, two years from now and seven years after the war started.

And on and on.

Secret Obama Supporter

Just engaging the debate in the thread below, if people want to imagine that I don't really care. I've long said that if I ever felt like a candidate supporter I'd say so, but I just don't. I don't wake up in the morning hoping for bad news for the Clinton campaign, or thinking about ways to put the worst spin on things for them. I don't cheer when polls swing Obama's way, except to the extent that I think he's being knocked down by really stupid things (and the same goes for the Clinton campaign). By that I mean I don't like when either candidate gets stupid media treatment, and am therefore happy if stupid media treatment du jour doesn't negatively impact them.

I've said I tend to lean Obama more often than I lean Clinton, and that's increasingly true when the campaign insults my intelligence on a regular basis. Longtime readers of this blog should understand pretty well why Hillary Clinton isn't an obviously perfect fit for me, but longtime readers should also know why Obama isn't one either. I've been rather critical of the senator from Illinois many times.

The distance between the two candidates on most issues isn't very large, so ultimately it comes down to making a decision based on very subjective judgments about largely unknowable things. I appreciate that many people have made their personal determinations and latched on strongly to a candidate. Personally I don't really feel like the knowns push me strongly to either candidate. The unknowns push me a bit towards Obama, but the unknowns are unknown and I don't believe I have some grand insight into them that others lack.

There are people who seem to think that unless I'm balancing my criticism - one post slagging Obama, one post slagging Clinton - then I'm secretly using my platform as a way of pushing one candidate over another. Frankly I don't think there's anything I could really do to impact this race at the moment in a meaningful way (if there ever was), but if I did I don't think I'd choose that route to do it.

And screw all of you haters for mocking the Gravelmentum.

...adding, there are times when I've rooted for Obama because I want this thing to be over. Clinton can stay in the campaign as long as she likes, but I do wish she'd have focused her fire on McCain, instead of arguing that he's so awesome that Obama couldn't beat him.

What Am I, Stupid?

I do my best (though it's hard) not to judge the candidates by their campaigns or surrogates. Ultimately this is about who you think will make the best president, combined with considerations of electability and coattails (areas I also try to stay away from). But for several weeks now there's just been this steady stream of downright insulting stuff coming out of the Clinton campaign. It's the kind of stuff that would come out of Ari Fleischer's mouth back in the day. Stop it!

Magic Ponies

Tom Tomorrow.

Double Down


March 24 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Home Loan Banks were freed to increase their purchase of mortgage-backed bonds by about $150 billion as part of a government effort to pump money back into a market that slumped as the housing crisis deepened.


The FHLBs are cooperatives created by President Herbert Hoover in 1932 to spur mortgage lending. The system's 8,100 owners and customers range from New York-based Citigroup Inc., the largest U.S. bank, to the single-branch Custer Federal Savings & Loan in Broken Bow, Nebraska. Their government ties support top AAA ratings from Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service.

Better Wise Old Men of Washington, Please

Really. Please.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) --Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton called on President Bush on Monday to appoint ''an emergency working group on foreclosures'' to recommend new ways to confront the nation's housing finance troubles.

The New York senator said the panel should be led by financial experts such as Robert Rubin, who was treasury secretary in her husband's administration, and former Federal Reserve chairmen Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker.

Perhaps in fantasyland the people who made the messes would have to clean them up, but that would require that those people acknowledged that they helped to make the mess.

Even aside from his aversion to any sensible regulations, we had this:

He said a Fed study suggested many homeowners could have saved tens of thousands of dollars in the last decade if they had ARMs. Those savings would not have been realized, however, had interest rates shot up.

"American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage," Greenspan said.

That was in 2004.

And Robert Rubin was a Citi board member, and, Condi-like, suggested nobody could have predicted...

How about finding some wise old men of Washington (or young ones) who were trying to warn about this stuff instead of the ones who were cheering it on.

Mo Money

Bear is hungry.

LONDON - With angry shareholders threatening to block what they see as a piddling bid for Bear Stearns by JP Morgan, it's perhaps not surprising that the buyer would attempt to placate them by quintupling its offer.


Bear was reportedly seeking to authorize the sale of a 39.5% stake on Sunday night, which under Delaware law can be done without shareholder approval. Both Bear Stearns and JPMorgan Chase are incorporated in Delaware.

I don't know know enough about what either company is/was sitting on to really know what's going on, but we do know that the Fed/Treasury said ok to this deal based on the idea that by essentially wiping Bear's shareholders out, it wasn't in any sense a "bailout" of the company. They weren't rewarding bad behavior (though whether they were rewarding JPMorgan for bad behavior is another question).

...more here.

Does Politics Have A Place In The Pulpit?

Apparently Barack Obama has forced CNN to address this newly-raised question.

Sunday, March 23, 2008



Not Rocking On.


Thanks liberal hawks. BTW, that spot doesn't wash out.


Rock on.

More Thread


Evening Thread

Time to cook.


KC Star:

Real estate agent Cindy Tomasic was taken aback by her first foreclosure listing in tony Loch Lloyd.


A review by The Kansas City Star of real estate listings in Jackson, Johnson, Clay, Platte and Cass counties showed at least 50 homes priced $500,000 or more are in foreclosure or are subject to bank-approved sales to avoid one.


As a result, real estate agents point to some bargain-basement prices on homes boasting 4,000 square feet or more. Examples abound:

•A $1.5 million Blue Springs home with staircases to east and west wings, a dance floor and five garages listed for $1.05 million.

•A $1.4 million Independence home with two decks, a poolside wet bar, hot tub and waterfall offered for less than $1 million.

•A $1.3 million, 6,500-plus square-foot Hallbrook home with granite, marble and hardwood floors sold for $849,000.

•A $1.25 million Loch Lloyd home with a wine cellar and an imported English pub bar sold in foreclosure for $775,000.


Just about nice enough to go up on the roof and grill a bunny.

Local Activity

Saw no political activity whatsoever during my 18 block round trip walk to Whole Foods. Rather odd as tomorrow is the voter registration deadline.

Afternoon Thread

That's it... if Gus Hall is not the candidate, I ain't voting!

--Molly I.

Condo Hell

On its way.

The condominium market is about to get worse as many cities brace for a flood of new supply this year -- the result of construction started at the height of the housing boom.

More than 4,000 new units will be completed in both Atlanta and Phoenix by the end of the year. Developers in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., are readying nearly 10,000 total new units in a market already struggling with canyons of unsold condos. San Diego, another hard-hit region, will add 2,500 units, according to estimates provided by Reis Inc., a New York-based real-estate-research firm.


Developers usually put up their own money for a project first, then spend borrowed funds. Once developers have spent their money and have commitments from lenders, they have a strong incentive to keep building to finish the project.

"These developers had millions of dollars tied up and they had them financed so they just moved forward," says J. Ronald Terwilliger, chief executive of Trammell Crow Residential, which builds many rental apartment buildings and also a few condos. "What they hope is that by the time the project is finished the market comes back."

There's just an incredibly long time between the moment when a big urban condo project is envisaged and when it can be completed. Here in Philly, where I don't think things ever got quite as crazy as some other places, there are new projects just beginning which probably don't make much sense. No one seems to have explained to local developers and real estate agents the concept of "nonconforming loans," and that most people just don't have access to a mortgage at a sane rate above $417,000 right now.

Probably the biggest concern is that these places get built, but built on the cheap.

Deep Thoughts On Race

Holy crap.


Over there.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A suicide car bomber killed at least 13 Iraqi soldiers and wounded dozens more people in Iraq's north on Sunday. Meanwhile, the U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad came under fire from either mortars or rockets, and a round that fell short injured two bystanders.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week" — Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Jack Reed, D-R.I.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Journalists round table.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie; Gov. Janet Napolitano, D-Ariz.; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Laura Tyson, former economic adviser to President Clinton.

"Fox News Sunday" _ Govs. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and Ed Rendell, D-Pa.; former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers; Glenn Hubbard, former chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers; Eli Manning, New York Giants quarterback and member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Morning Thread

Happy Peeps Day, peeps.

David Sedaris explains it all.

--Molly I.

(h/t MikeJ)

Samwise For Hillary

But what of Frodo?

Actor Sean Astin and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend will join former President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea on their campaign swing through Indiana Monday.

Ah, Frodo's too busy with gypsy stuff.