Saturday, June 21, 2008

More Thread

Saturday Evening Thread


More Broder

Ken Silverstein responds to Little Debbie's column.


Ever since Watergate, the ideal of campaign finance reform has been to replace a system fueled by special interests and big money with either full public financing or a system of civic-minded small donors. The former is abhorred by much of the public while the latter looks remarkably like In effect, the Obama campaign has come closer to achieving the ideals of campaign finance reform than 30-plus years of regulation. To condemn the campaign’s departure from the system is to elevate rules over the principle that gave birth to the rules in the first place.

My brush with the "reformers" made me realize they had disturbing desire to regulate for regulation's sake, a belief that all politics must be kept in a little box where they could keep an eye on it. If the small donor model actually works then there isn't much need for public financing, and there certainly isn't a need to demand that candidates pointlessly participate in such a program.

So Sorry

It is really an accountability-free profession. Having said that, I'm not really entirely sure what outside speaking fee and similar rules should be for journalists, though in Broder's case the hypocrisy (given that he'd sanctimoniously railed against the practice previously) was enough to merit comment. Still, rules are rules and perhaps they should be followed?


As I've written before, Democrats will regret embracing the expansion of executive power because a President Obama will find his administration undone by an "abuse of power" scandal. All of those powers which were necessary to prevent the instant destruction of the country will instantly become impeachable offenses. If you can't imagine how such a pivot can take place then you haven't been paying attention.

Oh Well

And another preznidential "accomplishment" fails.

WASHINGTON — Driven largely by the surge in foreclosures and an unsettled housing market, Americans are renting apartments and houses at the highest level since President Bush started a campaign to expand homeownership in 2002.

The percentage of households headed by homeowners, which soared to a record 69.1 percent in 2005, fell to 67.8 percent this year, the sharpest decline in 20 years, according to census data through the end of March. By extension, the percentage of households headed by renters increased to 32.2 percent, from 30.9 percent.

Rate in 2001 Q1: 67.5%.

Rate in 2002 Q1: 67.8%

Bush at 2005 SOTU:

America's economy is the fastest growing of any major industrialized nation. In the past four years, we have provided tax relief to every person who pays income taxes, overcome a recession, opened up new markets abroad, prosecuted corporate criminals, raised home ownership to the highest level in history, and in the last year alone, the United States has added 2.3 million new jobs. When action was needed, the Congress delivered -- and the nation is grateful.

A 15 Point Obama Lead Is Good News For Republicans


A Trouble With Amtrak

No easy solution.

H. Glenn Scammel, a former head of staff of the rail subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the railroad should give up on some of its cross-country trains and redeploy the equipment on relatively short intercity trips, where it could provide enough frequency to attract new business. (Providing one train a day in each direction will not draw many new business travelers.)

But the railroad’s labor contracts provide stiff penalties for dropping routes, and dropping states from its itinerary would hurt its political support, especially in the Senate, where thinly populated states are overrepresented relative to their population.

You get a micro version of this at the state and local level. Getting transit funding involves getting more lawmakers on board, including ones who live in areas where mass transit makes much less sense. Bribing them with money for costly low ridership routes in order to get money for other things provides ammunition for the anti-mass transit crowd who get to squeal about how costly it is.

Here's our situation locally:

Geopolitics is always a driving force on the board. SEPTA's board makeup gives the four Republican-dominated suburban counties more clout than Democrat-dominated Philadelphia, although the city provides most of the riders and most of the local subsidy.

I'm not quite sure how that state of affairs evolved, though it obviously doesn't make any sense.

Mall Payments

Certainly an innovative business model, on both sides.

But some of the forces pushing Steve & Barry's growth were not tied to end-consumer demand, but the needs of mall owners in a softening commercial-real-estate market. Much of the company's earnings came in the form of one-time, up-front payments from mall owners. Those payments were designed to lure the retailer to take over vacated sites, say several people familiar with the company.

Without these payments, the stores are barely profitable, if at all, people familiar with the company's finances say. In recent weeks, the retailer has been seeking at least $30 million to fund operations through 2008. It has approached a number of financing sources, say these people.


3) Profit!

(via cr)

Do These People Even Live In Our Society?

Our news media has discovered the teen girls sometimes get pregnant. ABC just asked a principal if having child care services at a high school shows too much "leniency." What we need is more punishment!


MBIA says it's still standing.

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- MBIA Inc.'s five-level downgrade by Moody's Investors Service probably will force it to make $7.4 billion of payments and collateral postings.

MBIA has $15.2 billion of assets available to satisfy the requirements, the company said yesterday in a statement. That includes $4 billion in cash and short-term investments, $1 billion of unpledged collateral and $10.2 billion of other securities, MBIA said.

There will probably be some additional fallout from this.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Morning Thread

by Molly Ivors

For our dial-up friends.



Friday, June 20, 2008

Better Democrats

Darcy Burner.

You can help out here.

Hack Attack

When good economists go bad.

Later Night

Time to rock out a bit.

Friday Evening Thread

Off to drown my sorrows.

They Run Ads

Well, a depressing end to a chaotic week. Elect more and better Democrats. Humiliate the bad ones (donate here). And organize, organize, organize...

Wanker of the Day

Barack Obama.

More and Better Democrats

Good for Congressman, and Senate candidate, Udall.

Earned himself a spot on the Eschaton challengers list.

As did Jim Himes.

Deep Thought

I'm pretty sure Joe Klein isn't Ana Marie Cox's Facebook friend.

What Saint McCain Really Means


If a candidate for president unwittingly revealed, at a widely attended press conference, that he either didn’t understand a basic element of one of his own key policy proposals, or wanted to fool the public about it, you’d think the mainstream press would treat it as news. Apparently, you’d be wrong.

CJR obviously misunderstands the role of the press in this campaign, which is to explain what they "know" John McCain really meant in such a way as to excuse every gaffe and to minimize any potential damage to him. Since at this point he's been on all sides of just about every issue, this involves making sure voters understand that whatever they think about the issues, John McCain agrees with them!

Fresh Thread


Who Was Preznit On 9/11 Again?

All the conservative fearmongering about a Democratic president is only possible because the media has always conveniently let Bush off the hook for failing to do his job. It's especially galling because it's the job Bush regularly claims is his most important one.

What did that say again? Oh yes.

Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.

Now watch this drive!

The End of Public Finance

As long as donation caps are kept in place, I really don't think the death of general election presidential public financing is anything to cry about.


Broder's boy bounces to 29% in latest Fox poll (.pdf).


Philly Mayor Nutter:

"We are a walkable city, increasingly home to bicycles," Nutter declared. "We want to preserve our urban form. We do not want the automobile and its design requirements to dominate the landscape."

That's the issue explained very succinctly. If developments are designed around the requirements of automobiles then you cannot maintain a walkable and desirable city. That isn't to say that cars should be completely exclued or ignored, just that they cannot, as they have been for so long, be the primary consideration.

I'd Like 5 More Rail Lines

Guess I'll have to move to Houston.

City Council approved an agreement Wednesday with the Metropolitan Transit Authority, giving permission for the agency to build five light rail lines on Houston streets, but also pledging to make sure Metro does the job right.

The 13-2 approval came after weeks of discussion and questions from council members — and after Metro officials said they would reconsider plans to put part of the University line on Wheeler Avenue.

Claims they'll be done by 2012. I haven't spent much time in Houston so I have no sense of where these lines go and if they're good projects. Wikipedia has more information.

And Another Jenga Piece Comes Out

Who will get caught holding the bag?

Moody's Investors Service on Thursday stripped the insurance arms of Ambac Financial Group and MBIA of their AAA ratings, citing their impaired ability to raise capital and write new business.


MBIA said Moody's action will give some holders of guaranteed investment contracts the right to terminate the contracts or to require that additional collateral be posted. The company said it has "more than sufficient" liquid assets to meet those requirements.


Bloomberg on the arrested Bear Stearns guys:

``The subprime market is pretty damn ugly,'' Tannin wrote in one e-mail to Cioffi. ``If we believe the [CDO report is] ANYWHERE CLOSE to accurate I think we should close the funds now. The reason for this is that if [the CDO report] is correct then the entire subprime market is toast.''

Tannin sent the e-mail from a personal account, not the Bear Stearns system, to the personal e-mail account of Cioffi's wife, according to the indictment.

That e-mail and others cited in the indictment ``are really absolutely the key,'' said Villanova University Law School Dean Mark Sargent, who read the indictment.

``They show that they knew the funds were cratering, that the bottom had dropped out of the subprime market, and their leverage was putting enormous pressure on the fund,'' Sargent said.

Blog time is so confusing, so I had to look up when in the basic housing bubble/credit crisis timeline this happened. It was right at the peak of the subprime implosion.

Liz Sidoti

It appears we've found this election season's Pickler.

Thursday, June 19, 2008



Later Evening Thread

It will get later.

Evening Thread


I've Already Seen This Show

It was called "Flip This House" and every episode I saw (3-4) ended with the flippers being unable to sell the house at a price they expected.

Abu G

What a wonderful administration.

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, now under investigation for allegedly politicizing the Justice Department, ousted a top lawyer for failing to adopt the administration's position on torture and then promised him a position as a U.S. attorney to placate him, highly placed sources tell ABC News.

Gonzales, who was just taking over as attorney general, asked Justice Department lawyer Daniel Levin to leave in early 2005, shortly after Levin wrote a legal opinion that declared "torture is abhorrent" and limited the administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques.


Levin took the NSC job in March 2005. The U.S. attorney position never materialized, and sources close to Levin say he never believed Gonzales was serious. He went on to take a job in private practice.


Wonder why this dateline is Bangalore.

BANGALORE (Reuters) - Washington Mutual Inc (NYSE:WM - News) said on Thursday it eliminated 1,200 jobs, following mortgage losses that some analysts have said will keep the largest U.S. savings and loan from turning a profit before 2010.

The cuts affect roughly 3 percent of the thrift's employee base. Washington Mutual has said it ended March with 45,883 employees, down from 49,403 at year-end.


At the end of 2005, well before the housing crisis began to take hold, the thrift had employed more than 60,000 people.

Down about 25% since 2005.

Afternoon Thread

I got nuthin'.

Keep Calling

Switch to the Majority Leader's office.


Nixon's America

Congratulations, Steny Hoyer, for your efforts in restoring the monarchy.

1705 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone - (202) 225-4131


Inevitably when I do a post like the one below people jump in to assert I'm stupid or naive for suggesting otherwise. The Bush administration is not a monolith, it's made up of a large number of players. More than that, even to the extent that it's about money in broad terms, there's more than just oil. Remember that military industrial complex that dirty fucking hippie Eisenhower warned us about? Bush obviously had messianic delusions about the world being reshaped by the power of his mighty codpiece. And there were crazy people around who I think genuinely believe that Saddam has been behind every negative deed in the world in the past 15 years. Others, I think, simply believe in American hegemony and figured the Middle East was a reasonable place to expand it. Due in part, of course, to the presence of oil.

Absent oil or some other valuable resource that part of the world would be much less interesting to us. Oil's a big part of this story, but it isn't the only piece and even if one doesn't grant any genuinely positive motivations to those who brought us his disaster, there are still plenty of malevolent ones in addition to oil. Sure it's about oil, but it isn't the only thing going on here.

Kick Their Ass And Take Their Gas

As Yglesias suggests, I don't really think we went to war in Iraq for oil, or at least that wasn't the primary motive of a lot of the major players, but it is part (though again, not all) of the reason we'll stay there forever.

So we'll spend a hell of a lot of money and lose a lot of lives presiding over an occupation and using our military to provide security for the private security which will be guarding the commercial interests involved in oil extraction.

And since it's against Village etiquette to suggest that we we are engaged in an imperial colonial adventure, it will be almost impossible to debate the merits of our policies in Iraq or even have a vaguely honest discussion about what those policies are. Hiding behind peeance and freeance and a "desire for victory" and fears of the "inevitable" regional war if we leave to obscure just what it's all about.

Facts Are Stupid Things

And the most trusted name in news doesn't want you to have access to them.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Still high, with 381K new lucky duckies. Continuing claims increased declined slightly..

No Public Financing

Obama's opting out officially, sez CNN.

Good. I've long been somewhat wary of public financing in general terms. It was a solution to a problem, but not the only one, not necessarily the best one, and definitely not a solution immune from exploitation such that it could eventually become part of the problem itself. That is, something incumbents could manipulate to their own advantage in various ways. Details matter.

Obama found another solution to the problem, demonstrating that it is possible to raise immense amounts of money from small (and larger, too, of course) donors. It's now part of what presidential candidates will have to figure out how to do to win, and there's nothing wrong with that. The problem was never money in politics, it was the concentration of big money.

No Bid

Nobody could've predicted, blah blah blah.

BAGHDAD — Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.


There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract. The Bush administration has said that the war was necessary to combat terrorism. It is not clear what role the United States played in awarding the contracts; there are still American advisers to Iraq’s Oil Ministry.

Now maybe all the serious people in Washington can acknowledge what the dirty fucking hippies have known all along. Just why do we need 58 bases in Iraq?

Shorter Many Months Of Self-Righteousness

You all thought Obama was liberal Jesus, and I tried to warn you that he's not!!!

Note that I'm quite happy for people to criticize Obama for failing to be whatever they want him to be, I'm just rather tired of the "I know you think/thought X but you are/were wrong!!!" construction. It'll be no shock to most of us if Obama is less than all we want him to be in many ways. Let's just hope he's more than we expect him to be in others.


Keep waiting for this piece to be pulled out...

June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Bill Ackman was right: the world's largest bond insurers aren't worthy of a AAA credit rating and may be headed for the bottom of the scale.

Ackman, the 42-year-old hedge fund manager who says he stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars betting against MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc. if they go bankrupt, will tell investors at a conference in New York today that losses posted by bond insurers may threaten to breach the capital limits allowed by regulators, making them insolvent.

That once-unthinkable scenario would trigger clauses in $400 billion of derivative contracts written to insure collateralized debt obligations and other securities, allowing policyholders to demand immediate payment for market losses, which have reached $20 billion, according to company filings. Downgrades of the insurers would cause a drop in rankings for the $2 trillion of debt that the companies guarantee, wiping out the value of the CDO insurance held by Wall Street firms, analysts at Oppenheimer & Co. said.

Stupid Mass Transit

I take it all back. It sucks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Midnight Moon Thread

Wednesday Night Thread

Be excellent to each other.

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Brad asks:


Actually, never mind. This one has long stumped me.

Wanker of the Day

Will Saletan.

And When You've Finished With That

Please remove the state of Florida from all US maps. Thank you.

They're everywhere, from the bare-breasted ladies who decorate the fountain at Dupont Circle to the peekaboo statue in the Justice Department's Great Hall to the countless nudes in our museums. But while those of us who live here hardly blink at the public nudity, it can shock some of our visitors. Such was the case for Robert Hurt, who last week tried to add the issue of artistic indecency in the nation's capital to the platform of the Texas GOP.

"You don't have nude art on your front porch," the Dallas Morning News quoted the delegate as telling the platform committee at the state party convention. "So why is it important to have that in the common places of Washington, D.C.?"

Hurt, 54, a Kerrville, Tex., rancher and father of 14, told us in a phone interview he first came to Washington a decade ago for a gathering of the evangelical Promise Keepers on the Mall. "It was probably not much different than 'The Beverly Hillbillies' going to Beverly Hills," he joked. At the National Gallery, he was appalled to see statues of unclothed people. "I found it very inappropriate," he said. Returning a few years later, he discovered Arlington Memorial Bridge, flanked by the bare-chested figures of Valor and Sacrifice.


NPR sez form Bear Sterns hedge fund managers were probably/will probably be indicted today.

Fresh Thread

Getting musty down there.

Big Shitpile

May be claiming another victim.

Thornburg Mortgage, the jumbo mortgage lender that lost $3.31 billion in the first quarter, said on Wednesday it has received subpoenas from U.S. securities regulators and its survival remains in doubt.

The disclosures reflect further problems for the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based lender, which was on the brink of bankruptcy in March before raising $1.35 billion of capital.

You Can't Say That About Saint Rudy

Except I think they just did. DNC:

"Democrats are not going to be lectured to on security by the mayor who failed to learn the lessons of the 1993 attacks, refused to prepare his own city’s first responders for the next attack, urged President Bush to put his corrupt crony in charge of our homeland security, and was too busy lobbying for his foreign clients to join the Iraq Study Group,” DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney said. “Rudy Giuliani, can echo the McCain campaign’s false and misleading attacks, but he can’t change the fact that John McCain is promising four more years of President Bush’s flawed and failed policies on everything from energy security and the economy to the war in Iraq."

Deep Thought


Not Vicious

Nasty Email Campaigns

This one will doom the Obama campaign.

Deep Thought


Not Vulgar



Broder's boy bounces all the way to 24%.

# President Bush’s latest ratings are 24 percent positive and fully 75 percent negative. Previously, his worst numbers were 26 percent positive and 72 percent negative in April of this year. His ratings are substantially worse than those of any president, except for Jimmy Carter (22%-77% in July 1980), since Harris first started measuring themin 1963.
# Vice President Cheney’s ratings are even worse, 18 percent positive and 74 percent negative, compared to his previous low of 21 percent positive, 74 percent negative last July.
# Secretary of State Rice’s ratings are much better than those of the President and Vice President, but also have fallen to their lowest point ever, 39 percent positive and 54 percent negative, compared to 42 percent positive and 51 percent negative last October.
# Only 14 percent of the public think the things in the country are going in the right direction and fully 80 percent think they are on the wrong track.

(ht pony boy)

Narrative Down

The Right has been pushing the ZOMG PEOPLE HATE MICHELLE OBAMA narrative into the mouths of their mainstream media sock puppets for a long time. And remember that CNN article which asked if Cindy McCain was perfect? Oh well.

Forty-eight percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll see Obama favorably, vs. 39 percent for McCain, a 9-point Obama advantage. Slightly more, though, also view Obama unfavorably – 29 percent vs. McCain's 25 percent.

War Criminals


It was largely the work of five White House, Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers who, following the orders of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, reinterpreted or tossed out the U.S. and international laws that govern the treatment of prisoners in wartime, according to former U.S. defense and Bush administration officials. The Supreme Court now has struck down many of their legal interpretations.

The lawyers drafted legal opinions that circumvented the military's code of justice, the federal court system and America's international treaties in order to prevent anyone — from soldiers on the ground to the president — from being held accountable for activities that at other times have been considered war crimes.

And there you are.

Iraq 4Evah

I can remember when only dirty fucking hippies talked about how we were planning to the there forever.

Right now, they are counted as 12. But in the continental United States, the military officially considers them as only one, Mr. Pike says. So just a small accounting change could, in theory, easily reduce 250 or more bases to 58 or less.

In any event, it is not clear why the United States would need more than a handful of big bases in the future, and most if not all of those are already there and looking quite permanent, from the KFC and Burger King outlets, to the car dealerships, to the 6,000- person mess halls.

Morning Thread

by Molly I.

Got nothing. Still annoyed with Michael Gerson. Keep chatting.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

At Least I Know I'm Free

Thanks Oh Wise Old Men Of Washington.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military hid the locations of suspected terrorist detainees and concealed harsh treatment to avoid the scrutiny of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to documents that a Senate committee released Tuesday.


The administration overrode or ignored objections from all four military services and from criminal investigators, who warned that the practices would imperil their ability to prosecute the suspects. In one prophetic e-mail on Oct. 28, 2002, Mark Fallon, then the deputy commander of the Pentagon's Criminal Investigation Task Force, wrote a colleague: "This looks like the kind of stuff Congressional hearings are made of. ... Someone needs to be considering how history will look back at this." The objections from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines prompted Navy Capt. Jane Dalton, legal adviser to the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, to begin a review of the proposed techniques.


While Mrs. Atrios obviously shares a pseudonym with me, she didn't share a last name. We didn't think much about this when we got married - there were a few purely practical reasons it was easier for her to keep her name - but it seems perfectly normal. Normal, at least, until we realize that for a lot of people it's a freaking weird thing to do.

Anyway, I don't really care. I can understand reasons why people share names, and reasons why they don't, but again, who cares? It just isn't important.

Better Democrats

Donna Edwards wins!


Joe Conason makes me smile.

Via TS.

Evening Thread



Thought not safe for work due to the repetition of a particularly naughty word.


Must be something in the air today.

Wanker of the Day

Hugh Hewitt.

Did I Say 11?

Make that 51+...

BAGHDAD — A car bomb set to explode during the busiest time of day killed at least 51 people and wounded 75 Tuesday evening as shoppers were strolling through a Shiite neighborhood market in Baghdad. It was the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital in more than three months.

Thanks Oh Wise Men Of Washington for all that you have done for these people.

People Vote Too Often

For those who live in MD-4 make sure you go out and vote for Donna Edwards in the special election today.

A couple of people have asked why Donna's name appears on the Eschaton challengers list when she's almost guaranteed a win. As soon as she wins I'll move her to the incumbent list, but it's important to support progressive candidates even once they are in office. Raising money isn't just about winning elections, it's also about making yourself more independent from the powers that be and building a base of power. The "better" part of more and better Democrats doesn't just involve electing better Democrats, but also empowering them.


The Associated Press-Wankers are reporting that 11 people died in a Baghdad car bombing.

Calling Foul


Liberals tend to believe that sexual orientation is determined by genetics but that gender-difference in behavior is not, whereas conservatives tend to believe the reverse. But, of course, as we see here these are related issues.

While I'm not the duly-appointed keeper of the Book Of What Liberals Think, I don't really think this is an accurate characterization (or caricature). I think the liberal position is that a lot of perceived gender-based behavior differences have strong cultural roots and reinforcement, and that even the perceptions of differences, which are not always correct, are strongly culturally defined. While men and women are clearly different in some sense, there isn't really evidence out there to prove that many of the stereotypical "differences" (girls are bad at math!) have a genetic or biological basis.

Most of all liberals understand that the effort to pin it on genetics is part of a movement to convince the world that the lack of proper female representation at higher levels of power and success is just "natural" and therefore nothing we should worry our pretty heads about. But that's not the same as thinking that no differences with genetic roots could exist.

Facts Are Stupid Things

And Bill Kristol and John Yoo don't want you to have any contact with them.

Don't Call It A Quagmire

Joe Scar says we need to get out of Iraq. He then suggests doing so would likely lead to a regional war which would require we return.

I imagine this is currently the beltway conventional wisdom of the situation as a quantum state of needing to leave and needing to stay.

Or we could just express this in a song.

Hate Group

I do not think that phrase means what 9th District Police Capt. Dennis Wilson thinks it means.

Not Just A Blogger Thing

When Associated Wanker-type issues come up, people in the professional media like to marginalize it as some sort of blogger-specific issue when, in fact, this is an "all of us including them" issue. This isn't "bloggers versus the AP," this is the AP versus everyone who might ever have occasion to quote something for scholarly work, discussion, criticism (forbidden!), parody, etc.


This post by Mark Glaser on the Associated Wankers is mostly fine, but it briefly veers off into silliness.

However, many blogs have taken this case too far themselves. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch says he’s banning links to AP stories and there’s been a petition to boycott the AP among bloggers. The New York Times’ Saul Hansell rightly points out that blogger boycotts won’t amount to much, and that bloggers should take up the AP’s offer for constructive conversation instead of destructive hyperbole.

The AP started this off with legal threats and lawyerly nastygrams. While not "destructive hyperbole," it was, you know, "destructive." As in, we're going to sue you and take your bank account. That's a bit more nasty than, you know, calling them goatblowers. People who lack legal teams are responding the way they can, by ratcheting up the rhetoric.

More to the point, as Glaser realizes in an update, the AP is full of shit here and there's nothing to talk about. If they want to take this to court, they can, but there are no guidelines to be negotiated here. They don't write copyright law or get to determine its precise boundaries. It isn't for them to determine what is legal fair use and what isn't.

Highways Are Expensive

Indeed they are. But they're sort of like the Iraq war in that spending on them doesn't really count.


Wholesale prices up 1.4% in May.


Broder's boy bounces all the way to 29%.

McCain will be running into stiff headwinds over the next five months. Bush's approval rating hit another low in Post-ABC polling and now is 29 percent, with 68 percent saying they disapprove of the job he is doing -- 54 percent strongly. Among the dwindling number who approve of the way Bush is handling his job, 80 percent back McCain.

(ht pony boy)

Rail Advantage

One advantage of rail over buses is that the former has a degree of permanence which can potentially spur development along its corridor. With a lot of luck planning authorities will encourage the right kind of development with relatively high density, pedestrian friendly around stations, much lower priority for parking, etc...

Light rail is six months from operation, but the transit system's impact on the Valley's real-estate market has been in full swing with new condos, office buildings and mixed-use developments rising throughout metro Phoenix.

Transit officials estimate that since 2004, developers have spent close to $6 billion on public and private projects on and around the future light-rail line.

George Will Is Mostly Making Sense

From the credit where credit is due file.

War Criminals

It's useful to properly name things.

A Senate investigation has concluded that top Pentagon officials began assembling lists of harsh interrogation techniques in the summer of 2002 for use on detainees at Guantanamo Bay and that those officials later cited memos from field commanders to suggest that the proposals originated far down the chain of command, according to congressional sources briefed on the findings.

The sources said that memos and other evidence obtained during the inquiry show that officials in the office of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld started to research the use of waterboarding, stress positions, sensory deprivation and other practices in July 2002, months before memos from commanders at the detention facility in Cuba requested permission to use those measures on suspected terrorists.

The reported evidence -- some of which is expected to be made public at a Senate hearing today -- also shows that military lawyers raised strong concerns about the legality of the practices as early as November 2002, a month before Rumsfeld approved them. The findings contradict previous accounts by top Bush administration appointees, setting the stage for new clashes between the White House and Congress over the origins of interrogation methods that many lawmakers regard as torture and possibly illegal.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Deeper Thought

I wonder if the Associated Press has ever quoted more than 4 words from someone without providing them with compensation.

Deep Thought

I wonder if it would be a copyright violation if I quoted some posts by top Associated Press executives from


Anyone - AND I MEAN ANYONE - who has ever quoted 5 or more words from me owes me money. Retroactively!!!

Concern Trolling

While it's a bit refreshing to see to see it being applied to the other team for a change, it's still fucking annoying and stupid.

Dick's First Loyalty

His home team:

WASHINGTON — The Army official who managed the Pentagon’s largest contract in Iraq says he was ousted from his job when he refused to approve paying more than $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR, the Houston-based company that has provided food, housing and other services to American troops.

The official, Charles M. Smith, was the senior civilian overseeing the multibillion-dollar contract with KBR during the first two years of the war. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Smith said that he was forced from his job in 2004 after informing KBR officials that the Army would impose escalating financial penalties if they failed to improve their chaotic Iraqi operations.

Army auditors had determined that KBR lacked credible data or records for more than $1 billion in spending, so Mr. Smith refused to sign off on the payments to the company. “They had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn’t justify,” he said in an interview. “Ultimately, the money that was going to KBR was money being taken away from the troops, and I wasn’t going to do that.”


(ht bunch)

Wanker of the Day

Mary Matalin.

Wrong Side

Obama on Huggy Bear:

On almost every single issue that's important to women, he's been on the wrong side," the presumptive Democratic nominee told ABC News in an interview in Flint, Mich. Monday.

"You know, he is in favor of judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade. He has opposed equal pay. He has opposed the CHIP [Children's Health Insurance] program, that would make children insured," Obama said.

He also loves the war. Women care about that, too.

More Thread, Improved


I offered to bet someone 5 billion dollars that Obama wouldn't choose Sam Nunn as his running mate. While the bet was not accepted, I still wouldn't really like to be wrong.

Associated Wankers

I'll probably slip occasionally, as it's sometimes easy not to notice when a news story is an AP story when it's republished in a different news outlet, but it's now my policy to not link to AP stories. I will continue to publish fair use, as generally understood, excerpts and credit them accordingly.



The credit crisis may get its first formal criminal charges against Wall Street execs in coming days, according to a published report Monday. The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors are preparing to charge two former Bear Stearns & Cos. managers with securities fraud tied to the well-publicized implosion of two hedge funds at the company that served to mark the start of the credit crunch on the Street.


The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn is set to unveil charges as early as this week, the Journal said, once the investigation is completed. At issue is whether the two men painted a rosier picture for investors than they knew to be true privately. Cioffi is alleged to have publicly pushed calm to investors in April, while expressing grave concern with colleagues internally over email. He also moved $2 million of his own investment in one of the troubled funds out in March, before any trouble became widely known.

And Speaking of Records

Corn prices also hit a new record, as floods damage crops and lead to lower expected output.


Oil hits new record.


I don't think they're the worst proposals in the world though I share Krugman's general lack of enthusiasm, but I think the simple answer is that Obama's people recognize that while EITC is a good program it also is a program... for poor people. The key thing for adding new programs is to broaden the perception that it's helping ME and PEOPLE LIKE ME, and that involves expanding the scope. Perception doesn't necessarily equal reality, of course, as, for example, Republicans are quite good at convincing people that raising taxes on the top 2% will raise their taxes.

Having said that, in an ideal world we'd have a kind of complete overhaul of all of this stuff in a way which creates progressive taxation+EITC benefits for working poor in a way which does have a very broad base of beneficiaries. And next year hopefully that happens. But I can understand why in an election year it's easier to sell little bits combined with general suggestions of a larger overhaul.

Calm and Civilized

Only the best supporters for McCain.

No Liberals On The Teevee

People are shocked to discover that when you put liberals on the teevee people watch even though on those rare instances when a liberal has been put on the teevee, people watched.

Holding On

There's a better version of this "I just moved and haven't had enough coffee" post to be written, but my take is that while I'm not particularly bothered by minor speech restrictions in other countries I would be bothered by them here. That is, while I agree that they aren't necessarily a slippery slope in other countries, I think they'd be more likely to be one here. Free Speech is an American norm in away that some of our other claimed rights aren't in that generally elites are on board with it in a way that they aren't necessarily, say, on board with strong interpretation of 4th amendment rights. I'd be quite worried if the legs started to be knocked out from under it because it would signal a big change in prevailing attitudes. While enacting such laws might not automatically send you down the slippery slope, I think if we started doing so it would signal that we'd already started heading down it.

It's a right we're holding onto fairly well, and I'd be worried if we started to lose it even a bit.


Oh what a sad thing it would be if Bradley Schlozman discovered he had some legal difficulties. Sometimes it's hard to keep track of all the B- and C-list Bushies who find themselves having a bit of trouble, so let's remind ourselves of what a stellar specimen he is:

A number of those questions from senators centered on Schlozman's efforts to purge the appellate section of the Civil Rights Division -- the small, but important section that handles civil rights cases in the court of appeals. What were they getting at? An anonymous complaint against Schlozman sent to the Justice Department's inspector general in December of 2005 spelled out the allegations. The complaint, obtained by TPMmuckraker, was filed by a former Department lawyer. You can read it here.

"Bradley J. Schlozman is systematically attempting to purge all Civil Rights appellate attorneys hired under Democratic administrations," the lawyer wrote, saying that he appeared to be "targeting minority women lawyers" in the section and was replacing them with "white, invariably Christian men." The lawyer also alleged that "Schlozman told one recently hired attorney that it was his intention to drive these attorneys out of the Appellate Section so that he could replace them with 'good Americans.'"

The anonymous complaint named three female, minority lawyers whom Schlozman had transferred out of the appellate section (of African-American, Jewish, and Chinese ethnicity, respectively) for no apparent reason. And in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week in response to questions from senators, the Justice Department confirmed that all three had been transferred out by Schlozman -- and then transferred back in after Schlozman had left the Division.


Just a bit of fraternity hazing.

KABUL, Afghanistan — American soldiers herded the detainees into holding pens of razor-sharp concertina wire, the kind that's used to corral livestock.

The guards kicked, kneed and punched many of the men until they collapsed in pain. U.S. troops shackled and dragged other detainees to small isolation rooms, then hung them by their wrists from chains dangling from the wire mesh ceiling.

Former guards and detainees whom McClatchy interviewed said Bagram was a center of systematic brutality for at least 20 months, starting in late 2001. Yet the soldiers responsible have escaped serious punishment.

Morning Thread

Because Atrios' back undoubtedly hurts and he deserves to sleep in.

I see your Bonnie Tyler and raise you...

--Molly I.


The greatest video ever made.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Moving All Done!!

Nobody told me about the unpacking part.

Still Moving!



Still moving.

Gay People Are People Too

What's with all the stories about how, shock, some gay people don't want to get married, some people do, some people end up having bad marriages, some people end up happy?

I mean, duh.

Afternoon Thread


Worst Russert Related Commentary

I've been trying to hold back, but this is absurd:

It's surely no consolation to his family if we note that Russert dedicated himself to the pursuit of a noble cause: journalism, the free flow of information, the First Amendment, the need (more than ever) to hold politicians accountable for their words and actions. That, in fact, is more than a noble cause. It is patriotism. And his passing is sad proof that a patriot can sacrifice himself for the country he loves without dying in battle.

Even leaving aside the sharp contradiction between "free flow of information" and the Russert standard of "everything is presumed to be off the record," what sacrifice has Russert made? It's estimated that his annual salary was $5 million plus.

Comparing the "sacrifice" of celebrity journalists, even one who happens to die young, to people who get sent off to die in war isn't just absurd, it's obscene.

Thread for the Bobbleheads

Moving Day.



Mobility decline due to declining house prices is going to impact a lot of people, and lead to more short sales and walk aways. Areas with dropping home prices and high foreclosure rates will experience local recessions, which will cause people to want/need to move elsewhere for employment. Difficulty in selling homes will make it harder to do so.

Companies which have felt free to transfer workers will find it harder to do so, unless they bring back house buying programs big companies used to have (would buy houses at market rates when employees were transferred and then sell them, essentially taking responsibility of the transaction away from the transferred worker).

Peeance and Freeance

Hey, the Boston Globe actually noticed that our grand imperial adventure is... a grand imperial adventure!

The two agreements have been reopened for negotiation. Though Bush speaks of Iraq as a free, democratic ally, the original versions gave the United States privileges in Iraq more suitable to the relationship between a colonial power and its protectorate.

The contents of the agreements were not cast in the form of a treaty because a treaty would have to be ratified by the US Senate. Bush plainly does not want senators asking troublesome questions about the implications of an open-ended Iraqi approval for 58 American military bases on Iraqi soil.

Five of the 58 are sprawling megabases that replicate the amenities of an American town. Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad, has air traffic comparable to Chicago's O'Hare Airport. No wonder some Iraqis see these bases as proof that Bush invaded Iraq to gain control of its vast oil reserves and to establish a new permanent military presence in the heart of the Middle East.

Crazy Iraqis and their conspiracy theories!

Habeas Shmabeas

'Cause I'm proud to be an American...

Akhtiar was among the more than 770 terrorism suspects imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They are the men the Bush administration described as "the worst of the worst."

But Akhtiar was no terrorist. American troops had dragged him out of his Afghanistan home in 2003 and held him in Guantanamo for three years in the belief that he was an insurgent involved in rocket attacks on U.S. forces. The Islamic radicals in Guantanamo's Camp Four who hissed "infidel" and spat at Akhtiar, however, knew something his captors didn't: The U.S. government had the wrong guy.

"He was not an enemy of the government, he was a friend of the government," a senior Afghan intelligence officer told McClatchy. Akhtiar was imprisoned at Guantanamo on the basis of false information that local anti-government insurgents fed to U.S. troops, he said.

An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that Akhtiar was one of dozens of men — and, according to several officials, perhaps hundreds — whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments.


This unprecedented compilation shows that most of the 66 were low-level Taliban grunts, innocent Afghan villagers or ordinary criminals. At least seven had been working for the U.S.-backed Afghan government and had no ties to militants, according to Afghan local officials. In effect, many of the detainees posed no danger to the United States or its allies.

The investigation also found that despite the uncertainty about whom they were holding, U.S. soldiers beat and abused many prisoners.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos": Campaign '08: former Sens. (and presidential candidates) John Edwards (D) and Fred Thompson (R).

CBS' "Face the Nation": Campaign '08: Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Jim Vandehei of Politico

CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer": House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Campaign '08; Douglas Holtz-Eakin (McCain economic advisor) and Dan Tarullo (Obama economic advisor) on the economy; Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

"Fox News Sunday": Energy prices: Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.); Red Cavaney, president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute. Campaign '08: Karl Rove.

NBC's "Meet the Press": A remembrance of Tim Russert, with Tom Brokaw.
Technorati Profile

Fresh Thread

But still, be kind.