Saturday, May 17, 2008

Conspiracy Unmasked

Over at FDL, I explore a frightening possibility.

Deep Thought

The farmer and the cowman should be friends.

Early Evening Thread.

Let's remember who the real enemy is, people.

--Molly I.

Obama Bucks

I keep thinking about this post by Stoller, where he lays out just how much Obama has changed American electoral politics in this cycle. I've been saying all along that the story is not the horserace, but the turnout. Which of these centrist Democrats got the nomination didn't matter that much. What matters is the composition of the Congress. Rather than engaging in pie fights, we should be looking down ticket

Fourlegsgood remarked last night in comments on how well Noriega is doing against Cornyn in the Texas Senate race. Light bulb!

One of the questions Matt raises in the post above is what Obama is going to do with his massive fundraising capability.

One email from Moveon to their full list can bring in between $100k to $1M for a candidate, with $1M being the very top end of the range. With one good email to his list, in a few months, Obama will probably be able to bring in $1-3M for a Senate candidate under attack or split that among several. 10-20% of the money going to Senate candidates this cycle might come from Barack Obama's internet operation. Stunning.

I say what Obama will do is support freshman challengers. The only Democrat playing defense in the Senate this cycle is Landrieu in Louisiana. The netroots claims credit for narrow wins like Tester's in Montana. Obama will be able to much more credibly claim credit for Senate and House seats he targets, just because of the sheer quantity of cash he can deliver. He also, following Dean's lead, has adopted his own 50 state strategy that can be used in support of candidates like Noriega, LaRocco and Begich. is the cornerstone of the campaign, and it will have between 10-15 million opt-in members by election day. This group can be used for lobbying on legislation, GOTV, and donations. It's a cross between and the DNC, and with the White House, it can transform progressive politics and further amplify the power of the Presidency. As coordinated campaigns pick up, and the top of the ticket brings coattails, organizing power is going to further flow to the Obama campaign.

This is a game-changing situation, coming at a pushmi-pullyu moment in the Republican party,. Looking at MS-01 (a 28 point swing), they want to run away from Bush, but can't create any space between them. McCain is flipping as hard as he can, but he's still attached.

Obama's bucks, and Obama's field represent very big coattails. And all those freshman will have a big chit in their pocket that says "Obama."

Behind the Music

While I generally try to avoid as much as possible the genre of "anonymous campaign aides dish on campaign" journalism, I've generally enjoyed Michelle Cottle's contributions this season as they've tended to give voice to multiple perspectives within the campaign instead of the all too typical "find a source to provide a quote to fit a narrative" examples we usually get.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Hope for the Best


(CNN) -- Sen. Edward Kennedy was rushed to Cape Cod Hospital in Massachusetts Saturday morning, a well-informed, prominent Democratic source in that state told CNN.

Sen. Ted Kennedy, shown in May 2007, reportedly was rushed to a hospital Saturday morning.

The source said the 76-year-old senator had "symptoms of a stroke."

Kennedy was taken to the hospital around 8 or 9 a.m. from the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis, according to the source. The source said the senator would be transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Justly Married

It was a pretty awesome moment when Gavin Newsom started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. There was something exciting about it. People were lining up to get married, and random people all over the internet were sending flowers to the couples in line.

Plenty of my gay and lesbian friends have mixed feelings about marriage being the centerpiece of the gay rights movement, especially as it crowds out everything else. I can understand that, but nonetheless it is in both real and symbolic terms an important step in making gays and lesbians equal under the law.

Newsom's actions were derided by many at the time as just a stunt. Perhaps it was. But it ultimately led to this week's ruling. Hopefully California voters don't bring on the stupid in November and change their constitution.

In 25 years this will all seem so stupid.

Wanker of the Day

Glenn Reynolds.

Poor Michelle

McCain won't invite her to the dance.

Morning Coffee

On a weekend morning, you don't need crashing guitars.


Spring is in the air

Kinda Long

Embed disabled

But you have time.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Late Night

Eurovision is awesome.

Too Early

For more Brooklyn Goth.

And too late for the Shitpile.

So you're on your own.

Hulk Smash Susan Collins

Actually, I'll settle for Tom Allen besting her in thoughtful argument.

Schecter's got the latest

This could be a very important issue in a key race in a swing state. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has either chaired or been the ranking member on the Committee On Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in recent years.

In that role she is charged with looking into war contracts, which has been a mess in Iraq and she has seemingly done very little to investigate. Below, the video contains the crux of Congressman Allen's (D-ME) charge

The ad Allen is running is at the link.

I'm from Maine. My mom was active in the Republican party, and I worked for a couple of candidates in HS, including a Senate race. Mainers are centrists--two independent governors in my lifetime. This is a race we can win, even though we're behind.

Senate Overrules FCC

Senate reverses FCC

Thursday night, the Senate cast a near-unanimous vote to reverse the Federal Communication Commission's December 2007 decision to let media companies own both a major TV or radio station and a major daily newspaper in the same city.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who introduced the rarely used "resolution of disapproval," said last night that "the FCC is supposed to be a referee for the media industry, but instead they've been cheerleaders in favor of more consolidation. ... We already have too much concentration in the media."

One of the hallmarks of this administration has been to have agencies flout the law and legislative intent rather than pass new legislation.

The Producer

You saw Billo lose it. Here's what was happening behind the camera.


Bush in the 2000 campaign.

BUSH: No, I don't. I think I agree with the energy secretary that the strategic petroleum reserve is meant for a national wartime emergency.

What I think the president ought to do is he ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say we expect you to open your spigots. One reason why the price is so high is because the price of crude oil has been driven up. OPEC has gotten its supply act together, and it's driving the price, like it did in the past. And the president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price.

And if in fact there is collusion amongst big oil, he ought to intercede there as well.

I used to be in the oil business. I was little oil -- really little oil. And so I understand the -- I understand what can happen in the marketplace.

January of this year:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — President Bush on Tuesday urged Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC to consider the strain the high cost of oil was having on the American economy, addressing an issue that has begun to color the last year of his presidency and dominate the presidential election campaign.

Bush now:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — With the price of oil hitting record highs, President Bush used a private visit to King Abdullah’s ranch here Friday to make a second attempt to persuade the Saudi government to increase oil production and was rebuffed yet again.

They Have Footage

upyernoz points out that since John McCain has been on every Sunday gabfest since 1874, it shouldn't be too tricky to find footage of him saying something that directly contradicts whatever he's confusedly pandering about during the campaign.

We Drank The Milkshake

Oil up close to $128...

Teaching Moments

Now that the Wright business is behind us (yes I know they'll swiftboat Obama using him), I do want to note the one thing that left me irked. I’ve worked with church people on a number of projects, and over time they introduced me to the concept of the “teaching moment,” an event or a comment that serves as a springboard to the elucidation of a difficult idea.

When he was put onto these national platforms, with all lights on him, Jeremiah Wright was given a teaching moment, one in which he could have introduced the American Hegemony Project into the public discourse. As Glenzilla likes to point out, this topic is simply not permitted by the Serious People who serve as gatekeepers.

The “chickens come home to roost” sermon was about American imperialism, following the theme of Chalmer Johnson's Blowback. It was a really fine sermon, exploring issues of American exceptionalism in a striking way. If, when the klieg lights came up, he had translated those ideas from the language of an inner city pulpit into secular foreign policy speak he could possibly have influenced the public dialogue. And, just by the way, he could have refuted the stereotyping taking place, as he did on Moyers.

Instead, he chose to reinforce the stereotype.

Update: To be clear, the formation of al qaeda and the WTC attacks are precisely what Chalmers Johnson writes about. Al qaeda came together as an organization because of US and Saudi support for them in Afghanistan, through the Pakistani intelligence service. (See Steve Coll's Ghost Wars)


One reason I'm always quite amused when Villagers retire to their fainting couches over all of the naughty words those uncivil bloggers use is that while I haven't spent a lot of time around members of Congress, I have spent some, and Joe Biden isn't exactly the only one who feels free to throw out the occasional four letter word.

Writing the Script

Approximately 12,000 articles will be written between now and November about how Jewish voters have a problem with Obama, and then they will go to the polls and overwhelmingly vote for him. Despite this, no articles will be written about how Jewish voters have a problem with McCain.

Speaking of Totemic Phrases

I bet 95% of Americans couldn't come up with even a sorta correct brief explanation of what Hamas is. Still it's a word which is vaguely associated with scary brown people, so it's bad. But Huggy Bear was for talking to them before he was against it.

McCain, meanwhile, is guilty of hypocrisy. I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton and believe that she was right to say, about McCain's statement on Hamas, "I don't think that anybody should take that seriously." Unfortunately, the Republicans know that some people will. That's why they say such things.

But given his own position on Hamas, McCain is the last politician who should be attacking Obama. Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's "World News Tonight" program. Here is the crucial part of our exchange:

I asked: "Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?"

McCain answered: "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

Justly Married

Some good news.

SAN FRANCISCO -- -- The California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage Thursday in a broadly worded decision that would invalidate virtually any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

The 4-3 ruling declared that the state Constitution protects a fundamental "right to marry" that extends equally to same-sex couples. It tossed a highly emotional issue into the election year while opening the way for tens of thousands of gay people to wed in California, starting as early as mid-June.

The majority opinion, by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, declared that any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation will from this point on be constitutionally suspect in California in the same way as laws that discriminate by race or gender, making the state's high court the first in the nation to adopt such a stringent standard.

The decision was a bold surprise from a moderately conservative, Republican-dominated court that legal scholars have long dubbed "cautious," and experts said it was likely to influence other courts around the country.

Glennzilla has some analysis.

Gossamer Shines

Good for Matthews for actually trying a wingnut to explain just what he means. Wingnuts have created a whole lexicon of totemic phrases that they just appeal to, often devoid of real meaning. Additionally, usually any national security "attack" is assumed to just be some all powerful weapon which causes everyone to just cry and whimper.

Can You Tell a Hawk from a Handsaw?

Because if not, I'm not sending you to the grocery store for either one. But if you really don't know how to tell them apart you might have a job waiting in Homeland Security.


Brooklyn Goth

Type O Negative

Another Dose

of late night relief.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Trip Trap

No troll bait here.

Just enlightening and thoughtful conversations.

Snip Snip

It's good to be the editor.

Evening Thread


Republicans Cave on Iraq

They are desperately trying to back away from the war.

It's too late. So they're trying to find gimmicks to make the Democrats co-owners. It's not gonna work. Matt Stoller:

Today, about 100 House Republicans refused to vote for more war funding, voting 'present'. They are trying to hand off the war to the Democrats, but even Democrats were able to increase their 'no' vote number on funding from 141 to 149; the bill failed. In a separate bill, Republicans also voted against timelines, for torture, and accountability for military contractors, including various elements of a Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. This bill passed with 227 votes; last year, it passed with only 218 votes, for a gain of 9.

Finally the GI bill passed with overwhelming margin of 256 votes in the House, including 32 Republicans. It included a war surtax of one half of one percent on people making over $500k a year to pay for the GI bill, at the behest of Blue Dogs. This might actually be the most remarkable piece of the votes today; conservative Democrats agreeing to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for educational benefits for veterans.

This is what Schumer expected in the summer of 07. When it didn't happen, the Dems let the Senate Republicans continue the occupation.

But MS-01 makes it clear that they've finally noticed that they've driven themselves off a cliff.

Like Wile E. Coyote, they're spinning in space looking for a handhold.

They don't have one.

Oh, by the way, Begich up by five points in Alaska over Toobz Ted.


Blood and Soil

And blackhearted gossoons.

Somebody's Making a Whole Lot of Sense

And, look, she votes Democratic.

x posted at If I Ran the Zoo

Cracking Your Laptop

Bruce Schneier just sent out the 120th monthly issue of his security e-newsletter this week. I've been getting it for nearly long as he's been sending it out, if it's only been ten years.

While he writes about arcane cryptoshit a lot of the time, he also has practical security advice. This month, he writes about crossing international borders with your laptop.

Last month a US court ruled that border agents can search your laptop, or any other electronic device, when you're entering the country. They can take your computer and download its entire contents, or keep it for several days. Customs and Border Patrol has not published any rules regarding this practice, and I and others have written a letter to Congress urging it to investigate and regulate this practice.

But the US is not alone. British customs agents search laptops for pornography. And there are reports on the internet of this sort of thing happening at other borders, too. You might not like it, but it's a fact. So how do you protect yourself?

The article has advice. But I thought folks would want to know about this. Presumably the Canadian and Mexican borders count. Or will soon.

Unrelated good news: California Court overturns gay marriage ban


With builders going bankrupt, this kind of vulture fund buying up cheap land probably will be a smart investment. Still I'd caution that places like the Inland Empire might be losing their appeal longer term, given high energy prices. Expensive to cool, and obviously expensive to drive. Maybe the described European investors will bring along some European land use planning.

Prescott Bush

just sayin'.

Condo Hell

Another foreclosure problem.

Each of the remaining owners has had to chip in an extra $1,000 assessment and $50 more a month for cable and Internet. That is on top of Ms. Sanz’s $450 monthly maintenance fee.

Even though she pays more, her building has broken washers and dryers and unusable exercise equipment, and her hallway is spotted with mold.


When people buy condos, they expect their monthly fees will cover many of the responsibilities that they would otherwise have as owners of single-family homes, like cutting the grass and paying the water bills.

Now many find themselves nagging each other in the hallways to pay their assessments and adding special fees while haggling over chores.


10 years in Iraq.

In a speech he's about to give shortly at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Ohio, Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will for the first time talk about a specific date for when he envisions direct American military involvement to be over in Iraq.

It's January, 2013. By then, he says, American combat involvement will be over and most U.S. troops back home.

In a major speech and change in policy regarding the Iraq war, Arizona Senator and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain describes all U.S. combat involvement over by January 2013 and almost all troops back home

A staunch defender of the war in Iraq and an ardent advocate for last year's military surge, even before the Bush administration decided on it, McCain's surprising remarks this morning are an early indicator of a significant shift in the former fighter pilot and POW's stance on the controversial and unpopular war.

Or maybe 100?

Wanker of the Day

Joe Klein.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Still high at 371K.

The Great Separation

I actually don't expect this to happen.

WASHINGTON — The Republican defeat in a special Congressional contest in Mississippi sent waves of apprehension across an already troubled party Wednesday, with some senior Republicans urging Congressional candidates to distance themselves from President Bush to head off what could be heavy losses in the fall.

They've wrapped themselves around Bush for so long that it's kind of hard to sever the link. And Huggy Bear won't let them wrap themselves around him.

But Mr. McCain’s advisers said the Mississippi race underlined his intention to distance himself as much as possible from Congressional Republicans. Mr. McCain has already been openly critical of some of President Bush’s strategies.

The level of distress was evident in remarks by senior party officials throughout the day.

Republicans are getting to the point where Democrats were for so long. They've lost their brand, and they won't be able to get it back as long as they're all running against the party and each other.

But for this election at least, they're still Bush's party.

Late Night Relief

You people talk too much.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Schaffer Moves Mountains

Troubled Bob Schaffer running for the seat being vacated by Wayne Allard in Colorado came out with an ad today.

In his first campaign ad out of the gate, U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer came out with a zippy spot touting his ties to Colorado – the fact that his daughter goes to the Air Force Academy and that he proposed to his wife Maureen on the top of Pikes Peak. Though it’s a fun spot that ought to play well with many voters, the mountain shown in the ad isn’t Pikes Peak at all, but Mt. McKinley – in, yes, Alaska.

He's pulled the ad.

Mark Begich
is honored on behalf of AK:

"While Alaskans can understand why Bob Schaffer would promote our beautiful mountain, I hope he doesn’t expect Alaska to cede North America’s highest peak to the State of Colorado."

Updated to correct status of seat. Thanks to apostate in comments.

Update 2: Colorado press is on the story.


I gave up line dancing and dating Ann Coulter.

Rescue Thread

by Molly Ivors



Going back on both his principles and off the record promises, John Edwards turns his back on Kodos,* the only candidate with a plan to end poverty, and instead endorses Barack Obama.

*Specifically, eating all poor people.


Edwards just endorsed Obama. Or announced his intention to do that.

Responsible Challengers To Do List

The Responsible Challengers plan to end the war in Iraq is a well-conceived document, very clearly written that describes the current situation in Iraq, an achievable end state, US actions that can be taken to achieve that end state, and policy changes to prevent a recurrence of an imperialist war like the occupation of Iraq.

It was written under the aegis of Darcy Burner with a team of authors. Among those credited are four DoD types including Iraq Transition Commander Major General Paul Eaton and Lawrence Korb, Asst SecDef in the Reagan administration. It has been endorsed by over 50 challengers, the first time in my memory that a Congressional Caucus has been formed before an election.

One of the good things about the plan is that the last piece--the "avoid this disaster in the future" part has elements that we can get started on now. These include:

Reduce reliance on private militias
Fund veterans health care
The New GI Bill
Establish oversight on contractors

In all of these cases, the document points to existing legislative proposals. Thanks to a citizen action by, most US Representatives received a copy of the plan on May 1st, fifth anniversary of Mission Accomplished. It would do no harm to call your US Rep and ask him or her if the document has been reviewed.

The political as well as the practical benefits of pursuing this legislation now should be obvious. It allows Democrats to attack the "support the troops" and "government waste" talking points that Republicans meretriciously traffic in.

I'll be talking about the plan with Darcy and mcjoan of Dkos tomorrow evening at 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern at my weekly interview program, Virtually Speaking which will be simulcast on BlogTalkRadio.

Simple Answers to Simple Questions


Has there ever been a more moronic interview of a president of the United States than the one conducted yesterday by Mike Allen?


Shorter Kathleen Parker

"Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!"

Long form posted at If I Ran the Zoo


Over there.

Iraqi police say a suicide bomber killed 22 people and wounded at least 35 at the funeral of a Sunni school principal west of Baghdad.

The bomber blew himself up in a funeral tent in the village of Abu Minasir. The funeral was for a grammar school principal who was shot and killed Tuesday.

Wanker of the Day

Little Tommy Friedman.

Coming to America

It really just gets crazier and crazier. And more depressing.

But on April 29, when Mr. Salerno, 35, presented his passport at Washington Dulles International Airport, a Customs and Border Protection agent refused to let him into the United States. And after hours of questioning, agents would not let him travel back to Rome, either; over his protests in fractured English, he said, they insisted that he had expressed a fear of returning to Italy and had asked for asylum.

Ms. Cooper, 23, who had promised to show her boyfriend another side of her country on this visit — meaning Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon — eventually learned that he had been sent in shackles to a rural Virginia jail. And there he remained for more than 10 days, locked up without charges or legal recourse while Ms. Cooper, her parents and their well-connected neighbors tried everything to get him out.

I Agree With Paul Weyrich!

I just like writing that for some reason. I've long been amused that leading theocon Paul Weyrich loves light rail and street cars.

When we are ruled by our dominionist overlords, at least we might be able to ride the trolleys.

The Correction

How they think.

RUMSFELD: That's what I was just going to say. This President's pretty much a victim of success. We haven't had an attack in five years. The perception of the threat is so low in this society that it's not surprising that the behavior pattern reflects a low threat assessment. The same thing's in Europe, there's a low threat perception. The correction for that, I suppose, is an attack.


Thanks to all who contributed to Scott Kleeb's primary race. He won. Onward to November...

Why I Don't Hide Dessert in My Children's Rooms

"Why on earth should we be putting oil underground at a time of record-high prices?" -- Senator Byron Dorgan

Because saving for a rainy day means enduring some not-perfectly-sunny-ones without ripping open the mattress and throwing all the money in the air, ok?


cross posted at If I Ran the Zoo

Our Country

It's like they saw everything that was decent and decided to take a leak on it.

The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.


Such episodes are among more than 250 cases The Washington Post has identified in which the government has, without medical reason, given drugs meant to treat serious psychiatric disorders to people it has shipped out of the United States since 2003 -- the year the Bush administration handed the job of deportation to the Department of Homeland Security's new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE.

Involuntary chemical restraint of detainees, unless there is a medical justification, is a violation of some international human rights codes. The practice is banned by several countries where, confidential documents make clear, U.S. escorts have been unable to inject deportees with extra doses of drugs during layovers en route to faraway places.


Bush played golf after he "sacrificed" it.

Please note

I'd like to post a little corrective to a myth I've seen propogating in comment threads:

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama voted for the bankruptcy bill.

John McCain did vote for it.

The Republican Congress originally passed a version of the bill during President Bill's adminstration, and he vetoed it because his wife convinced him it was a terrible bill. She has always steadfastly opposed it.

When it came to the Senate this time, Senator Clinton voted in favor of every single attempt to amend it to make it less odious. However, her husband was having heart surgery on the day of the actual floor vote on the bill itself, and she was with him in the hospital; her office did issue a statement of opposition to the bill. (Her vote would have made no difference.) Barack Obama voted against the bill.

Not Atrios


I was in a NetRootsNation in Second Life organizational meeting when the email came through that Childers (MS-01) had won. Was in the middle of a spiel about organization or something, but interrupted it to note that my little email widget had AP calling the race for Childers. "Yays" ensued.

Post-meeting snooze over, I just looked to see what the margin was.

By 8 points. 54-46.

Childers increased the initial electoral margin.

DavidNYC at the Swing State Project
breaks it down.

Bullet point 1:

This district has a PVI of R+10. It voted for Bush 62-37 in the last election. Only seven Democrats sit in comparably red seats - and not a single Republican sits in a seat as blue as this one is red. And almost every major prognosticator (at least at the start) treated this as a safe seat.

Read 'em all.

Even Uncle (Toobz) Ted in AK is in trouble urr, under indictment, with cleancut, youthful Mark Begich on the case.

In other news, my dinner was crustacean-free. And not on any damn roof.

I also took no photos. You've seen grilled cheese.

For Dad

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


TRex is right; VoteVets is a good place to send some dough, if you're in the mood to do some good and can afford it.

They Make Videos

Winner of the MoveOn video contest; donate to air it here.

UPDATE: AP calling Mississippi special election for Dem, Childers. This is good news for Republicans.

And What About The Candy?


WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush said in an interview out Tuesday that he quit playing golf in 2003 out of respect for the families of US soldiers killed in the conflict in Iraq, now in its sixth year.

October, 2003:

Mansfield also reports: "Aides found him face down on the floor in prayer in the Oval Office. It became known that he refused to eat sweets while American troops were in Iraq, a partial fast seldom reported of an American president. And he framed America's challenges in nearly biblical language. Saddam Hussein is an evildoer. He has to go." The author concludes: " . . . the Bush administration does deeply reflect its leader, and this means that policy, even in military matters, will be processed in terms of the personal, in terms of the moral, and in terms of a sense of divine purpose that propels the present to meet the challenges of its time."

About the same time in October, 2003:

Bush was in an expansive mood on the flight from Indonesia to Australia, wearing an Air Force One flight jacket, snacking noisily on a butterscotch sweets and chopping the air for emphasis.

People Vote Too Often

West Virginia results here...

True Story

Tonight Ferran Adrià dined at my table.

"Under the Rug"

Is that where Condi Rice has been? And what does Cheney do all day?

Tax-Free Hedge Fund

Massachusetts is thinking (imagine Cape Cod twirling around like a propeller on a beanie) of imposing a tax on college endowments. Jim Manzi, via the Yglesias book promoting machine, points out that Harvard is really a tax-free hedge fund:

If you think of Harvard as a corporation, it had an income statement in FY 2007 with about $2.2 billion of revenues (tuition, sponsored research contracts, and so on) and about $3.2 billion of expenses, and therefore had to move about $1 billion from the endowment to make up the difference in order to run at basically break-even. In other words, it’s a big institution, but hey, it doesn’t make any money and has to survive on the kindness of donors, even if these donations are channeled through an endowment.

But if you look at what was happening on the balance sheet, or, rather the black box that is the endowment:

[i]f you just think about how much cash went into the shoebox and how much came out of it, a more accurate accounting for Harvard for FY 2007 would, in rough numbers, be a lot more like the following:

Receipts = $2 billion of operating revenue + $7.3 billion of investment income + $0.6 billion of gifts to the endowment = ~$10 billion.

Operating costs = ~$3 billion.

Profit = $10 billion – $3 billion = ~$7 billion.

This explains why Harvard’s net assets increased about $7 billion in 2007, from about $35 billion to about $42 billion.

Viewed purely in terms of economics, Harvard is really a $40 billion tax-free hedge fund with a very large marketing and PR arm called Harvard University that has the job of raising the investment capital and protecting the fund’s preferential tax treatment.

I had an epiphany reading about Princeton's endowment when I realized they could fund everybody's undergraduate tuition into perpetuity by the money thrown off from their endowment. Or they could make a tithing deal available. You can get a full boat, but that means giving X percent of your earnings for the rest of your life.

And that made me realize that it's all about the endowment. Everything. They want genders about even so most of the kids can have fond memories of college sex. They have sports teams to create lifelong bonds. Campuses create a sense of permanent community that are designed for nostalgia. The Ivies take legacies at a higher rate because they are more likely to contribute--a multigenerational commitment is best of all. Harvard allows you to have a mail address for the rest of your life.

This is all marketing for the hedge fund.

10,000 Words

Or rather, word equivalents.

From SadlyNo for the doughy pantload.

Peter Canellos Sells Boston Globe Sloppy Seconds

And, you know, its just as delightful as it was the first time. Channelling Peggy Noonan's weekly tear jerker in the WSJ , or as we used to call it, plagiarizing with quotes, Peter Canellos explains that because Barack Obama doesn't get all tingly down there when thinking of the Wright Brothers he can't make Peggy all tingly down there for him. Canellos really admires Peggy because, apparently, in a speech for Reagan she was actually able to find an apt quote so that just proves she has political insights denied the rest of us. For bonus points Canellos adds a new twist on an old favorite—because Obama is accused of lacking patriotism his every attempt to address the issue of what patriotism means is going to be seen as a tedious, elitist, lecture. How bo-ring these liberals are, always wanting to talk about shit when republicans and the media know that shit is for flinging.

Cross posted at If I Ran the Zoo


Not Just Burma

McCain's campaign staff/lobbyist buddies have a pretty solid track record supporting authoritarian, murderous regimes, Cliff Schecter discovers.

It turns out that they have friends in low places, however. I contacted David Donnelly, Director of Campaign Money Watch, for a comment, and what he had to say explains what his group is trying to accomplish:

John McCain ought to immediately fire three lobbyists — Charlie Black, Tom Loeffler, and Peter Madaigan -- whose lobbying for brutal dictators and foreign governments is every bit as bad as the two lobbyists who left his campaign over the weekend. Frankly, McCain’s campaign is turning out to be an effort of, by, and for these types of Washington influence peddlers. His credentials as a reformer are gone.

His field guide to McCain oppo research is on sale.

I've stopped watching the teevee. Is he on anymore?


That's a lot of propaganda. Still the question remains: if the media doesn't tell you that they were a conduit for government propaganda, did it really even happen?

Down the memory hole.

Worst Ever

James Fallows, over at the Atlantic, just had a contest for the worst public policy decision ever. What he meant by that was the adoption of a policy that everybody knew would be certain to not achieve its objectives, but was proposed anyway. This was in the context of the gas tax holiday proposed by McCain and endorsed by Clinton, which everyone knew is certain not to achieve the objective of putting more money into the pockets of ordinary Americans.

The winner? Ethanol fuel subsidies.

My entry? Earl Butz and Richard Nixon’s program planting corn from fence rail to fence rail. Not unrelated, but it wasn’t clear at the time just what a bad idea that was.

The day after he announced the winner, I pointed out that he had closed the contest too soon.

Wrong Track

I've never quite been able to explain why I find these high "wrong track" numbers so fascinating. Malaise, anyone? Wrong track's up to 82%. And then there's this:

Overall, Democrats hold a 21-percentage-point advantage over Republicans as the party better equipped to handle the nation's problems.

The article also sets down a marker, describing a 51-44 poll lead as "slim."


Oh well.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The Pentagon has dropped charges against a Saudi at Guantanamo who was alleged to have been the so-called "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11 attacks, his U.S. military defense lawyer said Monday.

Mohammed al-Qahtani was one of six men charged by the military in February with murder and war crimes for their alleged roles in the 2001 attacks. Authorities say al-Qahtani missed out on taking part in the attacks because he was denied entry to the U.S. by an immigration agent.

Paging Lou Dobbs

Haven't looked at the study myself, so put this in the category of "confirms what I already thought," but as someone who lives in a city which still has plenty of white ethnic enclaves I've long been puzzled by the widespread belief that today's immigrants are somehow "different," aside from the skin color of some of them.

Immigrants of the past quarter-century have been assimilating in the United States at a notably faster rate than did previous generations, according to a study released today.

Modern-day immigrants arrive with substantially lower levels of English ability and earning power than those who entered during the last great immigration wave at the turn of the 20th century. The gap between today's foreign-born and native populations remains far wider than it was in the early 1900s and is particularly large in the case of Mexican immigrants, the report said.


The report found, however, that the speed with which new arrivals take on native-born traits has increased since the 1990s. As a result, even though the foreign population doubled during that period, the newcomers did not drive down the overall assimilation index of the foreign-born population. Instead, it held relatively steady from 1990 to 2006.



Monday, May 12, 2008

It Takes a Village Voice

Say hello to Big Media Roy Edroso.

(The Voice doesn't link to alicublog, but we do, because we are not Ethically Compromised. Yet.)

Billo Effin Remix

via trex in email


Wanker of the Day

Michael Barone.

Putting On My Economist Hat

Of those people on the list below who I had some passing familiarity with (not all of them), Ken Rogoff is the only one who surprises me a bit.

Hall of Shame

Via Brad DeLong:

Economists endorsing McCain's economic plan:

Gary Becker, James Buchanan, Robert Lucas, Robert Mundell, Vernon Smith, Michael Boskin, John Cogan, Steven Davis, Francis X. Diebold, Martin Eichenbaum, Martin Feldstein, Kevin Hassett, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Anne Krueger, Deepak Lal, Burton Malkiel, Paul W. McCracken, Allan Meltzer, Tim Muris, June O'Neill, Michael E. Porter, Kenneth Rogoff, Richard Roll, Harvey Rosen, George Shultz, Beryl Sprinkel, John Taylor, and Arnold Zellner.

A couple of commenters say they refused to sign because there is no mention of Iraq and how that is to be paid for.

Big Shitpile Giant Pool Of Money

I haven't had a chance to listen to this yet, and probably won't until I get home, but various people have recommended the latest This American Life episode.

Pony Boy is grumbling

I have no idea whether this is a dupe.

Bush's approval rating has been extraordinarily stable -- before today's 31 percent it had been 32 percent or 33 percent in nine ABC/Post polls from July through last month. In presidential approval polls by Gallup since 1934, just three presidents have gone lower: Jimmy Carter, who bottomed out at 28 percent approval in July 1979; Richard Nixon, 24 percent in July and August 1974; and Harry Truman, 22 percent in February 1952.


And this doesn't mean I'm posting an over/under employment bet. Dad didn't say I had to.

Suggestions Welcome

Jonah Goldberg is confused as to the nature of "Bush's legacy" and is asking for someone to shed light on this mysterious puzzle. Brad tells us how we can help him out.

Speculative Shit

According to a NY Times article this weekend, "speculators" and second home owners are doing the walking away. But Regular People are riding it out.

The LA Times says that the jingle mail is a suburban myth concocted by lenders to distract the public and regulators from the shoddy loans they gave out.
"So many of the loans made were irresponsible -- for the borrowers and for the lenders," said Kurt Eggert, an expert on predatory lending at Chapman University Law School in Orange County. "Lenders have an interest in painting themselves as responsible, even caring entities. They want to cast blame for the sub-prime meltdown as much as possible on their borrowers."

It is generally agreed that the real culprit in the meltdown is the proliferation of exotic mortgages that hit borrowers -- many with paltry down payments and therefore almost no equity in the home -- with huge payment shocks in the early years of the loan. The new payments are often raised to levels that the borrowers could never have afforded but expected to escape via a refinancing or a sale of the house into a rising market.
It's always looked there was a lot of speculation because the problem seems to be localized in areas where people would be likely to speculate-Arizona, Florida, Southern California.

Here in Manhattan, prices are holding, softening somewhat. The most recent sale in my building had five offers and sold at the asking price.


According to Gallup,
George W. Bush may do as much damage to John McCain's chances of being elected as Jeremiah Wright does to Barack Obama's, according to results of a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.
Because Wright and Bush are equally significant figures on the national stage this result comes as no surprise.

Real ID: Western Wedge

McCain supports Real ID
The 9/11 Commission recommended that the federal government set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver's licenses. Consistent with these recommendations, the Real ID act established federal guidelines to prevent fraud in the issuance and acquisition of identity documents. I support full implementation of Real ID but understand that states need to be given enough time and funding to implement the requirements.
Obama Opposes

Obama appears more liberal than Clinton, flatly opposing the Real ID Act while she's less forceful, saying it needs to be reviewed. Both engage in a careful lapse in memory: unlike Paul, Clinton and Obama voted for Real ID as part of a broader "Global War on Terror" spending bill three years ago before turning around and criticizing it.
The vote on the broader bill that contained HR 418, the Real ID bill, was for a GWOT omnibus that was a must pass 100-0.

This is a wedge issue in the west. The AZ legislature just passed a bill refusing compliance, joining the libertarian mountain west and the cranky yankee New Englanders expressing plans to not comply. It's win-win for us. If the governor signs it, then we've split her from McCain. If she vetoes it, we've got clear Republican support for it. Not something ol' AU-H2O would have liked.

This is also a very expensive unfunded mandate, requiring major retooling of systems for many states. And it's a shuck, a way to get a national ID card while pretending not to.

Bad issue for McCain. Tell your friends.

Updated to remove dumb mistake. Thanks to

Manhattan Living I

I used to travel to the Midwest a lot, and I got used to the “Are you some kind of Martian?” look I got when I said I lived in Manhattan. New York, not Kansas. Eventually I worked out this little set-piece that started: “It’s the warmest, friendliest place I’ve ever lived” which had the dual virtues of flying directly in the face of a caricature of New York and of being true.

Being on foot in a densely populated area creates social contact. You can’t walk by someone two or three times a week without acknowledging his or her existence. You can’t walk your dog three times a day without meeting other dog owners on the same schedule. You don’t make weekly trips to the grocery store five miles away to collect a dozen bags of groceries. You make daily trips, and get to know the checkers, who are currently making fun of my bringing a tote.

Everyone’s living space is small, and so the outside world is like an enormous, shared living room, with the Park a shared back yard. That sharing creates comity.

atriots downstairs are comparing walk scores.

Don't know what brought that on, but mine is 95.

18% Good

Eighty-two percent of Americans now say the country's seriously off on the wrong track, up 10 points in the last year to a point from its record high in polls since 1973. And 31 percent approve of Bush's job performance overall, while 66 percent disapprove.

ABC h/t

Declaring Victory

In the September 2006 issue, when Atlantic still lived behind the legacy media’s cordon sanitaire of a subscription wall, James Fallows wrote a well documented piece, Declairing Victory, about how the Global War on Terra was over, and that we’d won. Failing to recognize this, and casting our bottles of water away, taking off our shoes for the TSA minions, and, more importantly, denying smart people in turbans entry visas and, um, engaging in a colonialist, unwinnable war, was exactly what bin Laden wanted the US to do.
Viewing the world from al-Qaeda’s perspective, though, reveals the underappreciated advantage on America’s side. The struggle does remain asymmetric, but it may have evolved in a way that gives target countries, especially the United States, more leverage and control than we have assumed. Yes, there could be another attack tomorrow, and most authorities assume that some attempts to blow up trains, bridges, buildings, or airplanes in America will eventually succeed. No modern nation is immune to politically inspired violence, and even the best-executed antiterrorism strategy will not be airtight.

But the overall prospect looks better than many Americans believe, and better than nearly all political rhetoric asserts. The essence of the change is this: because of al-Qaeda’s own mistakes, and because of the things the United States and its allies have done right, al-Qaeda’s ability to inflict direct damage in America or on Americans has been sharply reduced. Its successor groups in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere will continue to pose dangers. But its hopes for fundamentally harming the United States now rest less on what it can do itself than on what it can trick, tempt, or goad us into doing. Its destiny is no longer in its own hands.

It’s old, but it’s still fresh. Kinda like a Lil Debbie snack cake.

Political "Nanomanagement"

Besides engaging in anti-voter tactics, the other core strategy for the McCain campaign, and, FTM, for the desperate Republican attempts to hold the Senate to under 60 Dem seats (ID, TX and AK are in play!) is the Gitmo Show Trials.

They've been so blatant about the political nature of these trials that the folks in the military justice system are getting their backs up. First, the prosecutor resigns and offers to testify for the defense of Hamdan. And now a judge boots Thomas Hartmann, the commissar in charge of making sure the right trial result ("no acquittals") comes about.

The judge directed the Pentagon to appoint a replacement for General Hartmann in dealing with the Hamdan case. General Hartmann is the legal adviser to Susan J. Crawford, a Pentagon official with the title of Convening Authority, who has broad powers over the entire war crimes system, including the power to approve charges, reduce sentences and make plea bargains.

General Hartmann has described Ms. Crawford as “an independent, quasi-judicial figure” who administers the Pentagon’s Office of Military Commissions, which runs the war crimes system at Guantánamo.

It was that independence Judge Allred found that General Hartmann compromised by becoming so deeply involved in the prosecution that he was making decisions about what cases were to be prosecuted and how. Judge Allred called it a Pentagon official’s “nanomanagement of the prosecutors’ office.”

(From the "judge boots" link.)

Marcy reads the opinion and notes:

[T]op Administration officials were concerned not about complying with SCOTUS' ruling in Hamdan, but with a way to gain political advantage from the show trials. Further, I find it mighty interesting that--at precisely the same time as Bush was trying to purge DOJ of the US Attorneys who wouldn't bring politically sensitive cases on demand--Stephen Cambone was getting DOJ more involved in the Gitmo show trials.

The real crime is that these blatant manipulations of the process don't sound bite well enough to make the story onto the teevee, but the show trials will sound bite just fine. I hope Obama is planning his pushback early.

Little Brother

Just finished reading Little Brother, the new novel from Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing and elsewhere. It's targeted as "young adult," which I guess is a euphemism for "teen," but it's a decent read for us old people too. It's sort of a channeling of much of the Boing Boing type stuff - intellectual property rights, security, surveillance, hacking, online culture - served up as a tale of a kid who uses the awesome powers of technology to fight back against the man. It's a fun read, and a nice bit of anti-authoritarian shot in the arm. Buy it for your kid, or yourself.

I do not have the power

But if I could I would name Joe Lieberman something that rhymes with Chancre of the Day.

Although that works too.

All Sources Are Now in Doubt

Joe Klein (who has been not wanking lately) posts a defense of his sources in response to a commenter raising questions about whether they include the Pentagon sockpuppets.

Turns out probably not. But this points out that every story is now in question. If people were willing to carry the administration's water (Glennzilla is all over this. No permalink.)on the record then the lies they're telling off the record must be legion.

And the campaign hasn't really started yet.


Jay Rosen in a swampland comment agrees with the atriots who say Joe can never not be wanking. Although he puts it a little more politely than that.

NYT China Earthquake Update

Looks bad.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Sichuan Province on Monday afternoon and raised immediate concerns that the death toll could rapidly rise. State media reports said “rows of houses” had collapsed near the quake’s epicenter. By early evening, state media had reported 107 deaths and 34 injuries in four provinces.

I Missed This

And if I'm the only one who did, my apologies.

Last week, dday over at digby's linked to a Stoller post that examines the breadth of Obama's plans.

Money: With 1.5 million donors, this campaign has blown away anything we've ever seen in terms of grassroots fundraising. The technology is all centralized, so Obama knows the name, address, giving patterns, and occupation of every donor out there, as well as social networking information, like who the best raisers are. He has bypassed Actblue, and will probably end up building in a Congressional slate feature to further party build while keeping control of the data.

One email from Moveon to their full list can bring in between $100k to $1M for a candidate, with $1M being the very top end of the range. With one good email to his list, in a few months, Obama will probably be able to bring in $1-3M for a Senate candidate under attack or split that among several. 10-20% of the money going to Senate candidates this cycle might come from Barack Obama's internet operation. Stunning

Field: (MyBO): is the cornerstone of the campaign, and it will have between 10-15 million opt-in members by election day. This group can be used for lobbying on legislation, GOTV, and donations. It's a cross between and the DNC, and with the White House, it can transform progressive politics and further amplify the power of the Presidency. As coordinated campaigns pick up, and the top of the ticket brings coattails, organizing power is going to further flow to the Obama campaign.

He's put together his own network of dirty fucking hippies without even asking our permission. It's a BIG network. It really is a network, with connections. It's not just lotsa people. It's lotsa people who know how to use Facebook.

First They Want ID

Missouri looks into an anti-voter constitutional amendment.

I remember the days when every election was followed by an editorial lamenting low rates of American voter participation. But the legacy media doesn't cover, or even much mention, the methods the Republicans use to pursue their central strategy of voter suppression. It's a pretty broad spectrum, ranging from running negative ads to outright intimidation. For them, it's even more important than what Mark Penn thinks about bible toting porch sitters or 400 pound Tab drinkers.

Sunday, May 11, 2008



Happy Mother's Day

Wanker of the Day

Maureen Dowd.


urrr.. KAOS

Amusing and insightful stuff from a guy with a shaved head named Clay. It's about the idea of a cognitive surplus that's been spent on watching the teevee as people adapted to an increase in leisure time. The time Clay and I spent in our youth watching Gilligan's Island and Green Acres can now be used to make wikis and lolcat bible translations.

Or commenting.

via Jay Rosen, pointed out by commenter J.J. at TIME's Swampland.


This article touches on it a little bit, but something generally missing from our discourse is how rural gentrification can be a community killer. We talk about urban gentrification all of the time, but my guess is that rural gentrification is often much more destructive to longtime residents of developing rural areas, especially if their livelihood is tied to the land.

This farming community on the eastern edge of the Bay Area absorbed an outsize portion of the region's growth during the prolonged housing and development boom, adding 40,000 residents in the past 16 years as subdivisions and strip malls overtook agricultural land. It regularly ranked among the state's fastest-growing cities. Now, Brentwood is suffering disproportionately from the bust.

Hundreds of families have lost their homes to foreclosure since the beginning of last year, and in a sign of more to come, at least 1 out of every 16 households has received default notices.

For the neighbors left behind, the dreams of the pretty, tight-knit community that lured many there in the first place have dissolved.

You can have some fun searching around the listings and sales histories of these places. $250K haircuts from the peak.


Though sadly unsurprising as well.

So many victims of this war.


A couple of months ago it seemed like this would be the appropriate time to take a little break. You know, with the primary over and all that. Oh well.

Anyway, through the magic of FUTURE posting it'll be a bit easier to keep this thing humming while I'm on the road. If any of the regulars have been waiting for the right time to put up a magnum opus on biofuels or whatever on the front page here this week would be a good time. Might be one or two additional faces chipping in a bit. Could just be chaos. Exciting!!

What About The War?

Without the war, there wouldn't have been any space for anyone to run against Clinton.

Houston Embraces The Future

18 lanes. Pretty impressive.


What's interesting about this article is that nowhere does it say if he ever even rented any of these properties out.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man who has defaulted on nine homes and expects banks to foreclose on all of them, forcing him into bankruptcy, says he now considers it a mistake to have invested in the real estate market.

Shawn Forgaard, a 37-year-old software company project manager, bought one home for his family to live in and nine more as investments. He stands to lose all the investment houses in the mortgage meltdown but says he has come away wiser from the experience.


Forgaard bought a house in Santa Cruz, about 60 miles (100 km) south of San Francisco, in 2000. Four years later, using $800,000 in stock options, he began snapping up investment properties, putting 10 percent to 40 percent down on negative amortization loans -- in which payments do not cover the interest so that a borrower's balance grows over time.

My guess is they were investment properties simply in the "prices go up forever" model and not the "I'll make some money renting them out" model.


Apparently we may still have him to kick around after all.


A big issue with how people perceive their costs of operating their cars is that most of the costs are fixed, and they therefore see the marginal cost of driving as much lower than the average cost. Nobody really thinks they spend 54.1 cents every time they drive a mile, because car payments, insurance, and even maintenance are perceived as fixed costs.

Drive Until You Qualify

People make choices.

LIVINGSTON -- Zack Guettinger's alarm sounds at 3:45 a.m., bringing with it a cruel reminder that he must drag himself out of bed for another three-hour drive to his job in San Ramon.


On a typical day, he drives 200 miles there and back. It's not a short drive, but as he explained, it's what must be done.


There's a phrase, "Drive until you qualify," meaning that a Bay Area worker can afford a house only if he moves farther from his job.

Guettinger lives on Arena Way in rural Livingston, where he moved a few years ago with his wife and kids because he couldn't bear the thought of his sons growing up in an unsafe Bay Area neighborhood.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week" — Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Carly Fiorina, adviser to John McCain's campaign.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.; Terry McAuliffe, campaign chairman for Hillary Rodham Clinton.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.; McAuliffe.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Reps. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq; Samir Sumaidaie, Iraqi ambassador to U.S.


The schisms in The Liberal Blogosphere that have been lately discernible are to be lamented. I regret myself that it has come to this, but I must hereby hurl my despite in the teeth of The Editors.

Here is a YouTube video of "Mike and the Mad Dog" discussing Lenny Dykstra.

And you thought that shit with the Rev. Wright was bad... I am sorry but the real issues at stake in this election demand our most sincere attention. Nobody could have predicted it would come to this.