Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nobody Could Have Predicted

I seem to remember back then being told to shut up and sing clap louder.

The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.

In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ ”


The history records how Mr. Garner presented Mr. Rumsfeld with several rebuilding plans, including one that would include projects across Iraq.

“What do you think that’ll cost?” Mr. Rumsfeld asked of the more expansive plan.

“I think it’s going to cost billions of dollars,” Mr. Garner said.

“My friend,” Mr. Rumsfeld replied, “if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”

River City

Trouble. Right here. Calling SUPERTRAIN.

Even More Thread

Have fun.

More Thread


Screwing Everybody

It's impressive in a weird way.
In recent days, Dreier L.L.P., the Park Avenue law firm that Mr. Dreier founded, has been plunged into chaos. At least $35 million in escrow money that was to have been held by the firm also seems to be missing, the authorities say, and nearly all of its 250 lawyers are now looking for work.


As the Dreier firm’s lawyers rummage through the law firm’s books, which had been until recently Mr. Dreier’s exclusive preserve, the lawyers are finding that bills have not been paid in months. Their health insurance is in default and the firm will not be able to make its $2.6 million payroll on Monday, lawyers there say.


There would be no executive committee. No partners meetings. Mr. Dreier would handle all administrative chores.

For lawyers there now, the delegation of responsibility means that they are just now figuring out that Mr. Dreier had let their malpractice insurance lapse, exposing them to enormous risk if they are sued by Mr. Dreier’s growing list of potential victims, lawyers said.

Turning Rich People Into Much Less Rich People

I'm not quite sure I believe that there will be many people made "destitute" by the collapse of the Ponzi scheme - though a few might be - but certainly many might find that they've been knocked down several pegs.

Afternoon Thread



I've long been waiting for an opportunity to vote for a Republican to establish my bipartisan cred, and while I never thought Arlen Specter would be the guy, if Tweety's his opponent it'll probably happen.

Please, someone else run.


One of the more frustrating things about being a godless heathen in this society is that we're generally the ones actually fighting for religious freedom while it's religious people (not all, of course) who are doing their best to stamp it out.
Washington state officials placed a moratorium late Friday on permitting any more holiday displays inside the Capitol this year. An atheists' sign placed near a Nativity scene sparked a controversy after commentators on Fox News drew attention to it. Afterward, Gov. Chris Gregoire's office was flooded with nearly 15,000 phone calls from people nationwide who opposed the sign. The moratorium in effect denies space to several requests, including one for a sign that says "Santa Claus will take you to Hell" and a "Festivus" pole. Festivus is a mock holiday popularized by the "Seinfeld" sitcom in the 1990s.

We Just Thought He Was A Different Kind Of Crook

I thought this was the funniest bit about the $50 billion Ponzi scheme.
"I am shocked, as I know you are, by this fraud," Merkin wrote. "As one of the largest investors in our fund, I have also suffered major losses from this catastrophe." Analyst Henry Blodget wrote on his blog Friday that some savvy investors figured Madoff was up to something because his returns were so high. "Many Wall Streeters suspected the wrong rigged game, though: they thought it was insider trading, not a Ponzi scheme," Blodget wrote. "And here's the best part: That's why they invested with him." Madoff issued sparse paper reports to his investors, claimed his portfolio only lost money in five of the last 156 months and used an obscure accounting firm in Rockland County as his auditor.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.


Chilly here. Worse elsewhere, I hear. Good day for waffles. And, of course, bacon.


For the insomniacs.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Night


Excellent Call

MSNBC last December:

By John W. Schoen
Senior producer
updated 8:26 a.m. ET, Wed., Dec. 19, 2007

With the housing market still in decline and consumers tightening their belts, the economy is likely to slow substantially in the coming year but will skirt an all-out recession. That, at least, is the consensus view of economists polled for’s sixth year-end economic roundtable.

While the 10 forecasters on our panel believe the economy will avoid a recession, much depends on how the Federal Reserve responds, how many more homeowners get swamped by higher mortgage payments and whether oil prices stay below $100 a barrel.


Sanderson State Bank, Sanderson, TX gets eated.

The FDIC is hungry!


Librarians don't get enough credit. They've led the way on internet access, fought the good fight on censorship, and, here at least, have used network technologies to create fabulous systems. All the books in the five boroughs are available to me. And they show up, just three blocks away, upon request.


Haven Trust Bank, Duluth, GA.
(ht reader m)

Beginning early!



The publisher of the Detroit Free Press is expected to announce that the newspaper will cease home delivery on most days of the week.

Afternoon Thread


Shutting Down

Last night I bet someone $20 that unemployment would hit 7.6% or higher. Not worried about losing that bet. Though I'd be happy to.

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Corp. says it will cut another 250,000 vehicles from its first-quarter production schedule by temporarily closing 21 factories across North America.

The move affects most plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Many will be shut down for the whole month of January.

No We Can't

It is a bit weird that in the supposed richest country in the world even contemplating things like new subway lines is practically unpossible.


I think they've been somewhat left out of the discussion about the auto industry, with focus mainly being on the manufacturing side of things, but if the full dealer network goes under they'll bring other things down with them.

Republicans are going to be in smash and destroy mode. It's really all they know. Well, that and looting.

And Speaking of Carnage

Real retail sells fell 10.1% from a year ago...


The proliferation of easy credit over the past 15 years or so has made it easier for people to handle downturns in their economic fortunes. This came at a price, of course, with many people having high debt burdens. The housing bubble HELOC ATM made easy credit, for awhile, cheap for many. But now the HELOC ATM is gone, and people have unaffordable debt burdens. Pulling back will be the only option.

Gonna be messy.


The teevee tells me the Bushies might use what's left of the TARP money for loans to the auto companies. They'll probably have to ask Congress to give the other $350 billion before they do it. And as they think about what to do...

General Motors and Chrysler, for example, owe their suppliers a total of roughly $10 billion for parts that have been delivered. G.M. has held off paying them for weeks, and Chrysler is paying in small increments. But the cash shortages at G.M. and Chrysler are getting more severe, according to their top executives and other officials.

G.M. has said its cash reserves are falling by more than $2 billion a month, and the company has hired bankruptcy advisers, including Harvey R. Miller of the firm Weil Gotshal & Manges. Chrysler is a private company, but its sales are falling faster than any other company in the industry, and has acknowledged it will run out of money soon, too.

Morning Thread

Republicans to Detroit: if only you could figure out a way to pay your executives and not your workers, we might help you.

Do I have that right?

--Molly I.



Thursday, December 11, 2008


Futures plunging. Could be another exciting day tomorrow!

Ice? Pouring Rain.

That's what's here. Dog doesn't like it.

Iced-In Thread

by Molly Ivors

Everyone should read this Joseph Stiglitz piece, whether they're trapped at home or not.

Happy Hour Thread



So many lucky duckies.

While both factors will result in the elimination of positions, the company has not completed its analysis. Bank of America expects to have a final plan early in 2009 and estimates it will project the reduction of approximately 30,000 to 35,000 positions over the next three years. A final number will not be determined until early 2009.
The reductions are coming from both companies and affect all lines of business and staff units. Details as to specific reductions in communities or by business line have not been determined. As many reductions as possible will be made through attrition. Severance and other benefits will be provided for those associates whose jobs are eliminated and who cannot be offered another position.


I don't really understand why the Democrats don't say they're trying to pass the "Christmas Rescue Act of 2008" and accuse the Republicans of trying to kill Santa.

Every time they place nice with the Republicans so they don't start in with their patented "Well, we wanted to pass this bill but then the Democrats hurt our widdle feelings..." But then they don't actually pass anything and the public has no sense of who the good guys and bad guys are, especially when the compromise bill that fails to pass also kinda sucks.

This Isn't Supposed To Happen To People Like Us

Poverty's for the poor, after all.

Well-paid professionals like lawyers and architects are joining the rapidly expanding unemployment rolls in New York City, according to a new unemployment study.

The report, scheduled for release by the Fiscal Policy Institute, shows that the effects of the financial crisis have spread well beyond Wall Street to other white-collar jobs, as well as construction, retail and service jobs.

The number of white-collar workers outside the financial industry receiving unemployment checks has increased by more than 40 percent and the number of college graduates collecting benefits is up by 50 percent in the city since last year, the report shows.

Afternoon Thread



Sucks about News & Notes being canceled, but I think we'll survive the loss of Day to Day, a show based on the idea that what the world really needed was more Slate magazine and featured Mickey Kaus rambling incoherently onto answering machine tapes.

'Tis The Season

Though not the season you expect major toy retailers to go BK.

Unconscionable And False

Pretty much sums up the last 8 years.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new Senate report says the physical and mental abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was the direct result of Bush administration policies and should not be blamed on guards and interrogators.


The report says administration officials publicly blamed the abuses on low-level soldiers but called that ''both unconscionable and false.''

The Most Important Man In America

I recognize that the Blago story is of course a legitimate one, but perhaps the members of the press, who of course understand how politics works in ways I couldn't possibly because of their fedoras or whatever, could think of a few non-Blago questions to ask Obama?

Transforming Tysons

Reader m sent in this piece from NPR about Tyson's Corner's plan to turn their Edge City into more of an urban space. I've looked at these plans before and I admit I'm not entirely optimistic that the effort will be a success. I've never been there, but I've read about it for years and know similar places such as the ones referenced in the article - Costa Mesa, King of Prussia - and think it'll be really hard to convert them into desirable urban spaces. The efforts will probably lead to them being better places - more walkable, opportunities for people to live near their employer, etc... - but not awesome.

Much easier to retrofit places which were original built around streetcar and transit lines, but which either got frozen in amber development-wise 60 years ago or were somewhat paved over as car culture moved in. Plenty of places like that along the Philadelphia commuter rail system, where a few tweaks could make for much better transit oriented development/walkable communities (to be clear, there are places like that already).


The war is over.

KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least 46 people and wounded around 100 on Thursday in a crowded restaurant near Iraq's ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, shattering the calm during a major Muslim holiday, police said.

The bomber detonated explosives inside the Kurdish restaurant, police said, which was packed with government officials, women and children during lunch hour north of Kirkuk, a city disputed by ethnic Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Holy crap!

The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits surged to a 26-year high last week, Labor Department data showed on Thursday, as a deepening recession forced employers to cut back on hirings.


Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits jumped by 58,000, the biggest increase since September 2005, to a seasonally adjusted 573,000 in the week ended Dec. 6 from an upwardly revised 515,000 the previous week. That was the highest print since November 1982, when 612,000 workers submitted new claims for unemployment benefits.

Morning Thread

I think this headline is premature.

"Mets acquire Putz in three-team deal"

At least let him collapse down the stretch in September with the rest of his teammates before you label him.

Over Night

Rock on.

Over Night

Rock on.

Deep Thought

Tom Baker really was pretty good.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Late Night


Dinner Thread


And In Other Wanker News

Nobody could've predicted...

Bob Kerrey, the former Nebraska governor and senator known for his acerbic tongue and iconoclastic tendencies, earned an overwhelming vote of no-confidence on Wednesday afternoon from the senior faculty at the New School, the Greenwich Village university he has run since 2001.

Mr. Kerrey has clashed with some faculty leaders since the day of his appointment as the New School’s president, with complaints that he lacked academic credentials and that his politics — particularly his early support for the Iraq war — were too moderate for the unabashedly liberal campus. But the underlying controversies became an open uprising in recent days as Mr. Kerrey announced that he would serve temporarily as provost as well president after cycling through five provosts in seven years.

After a lengthy closed-door discussion, 74 senior, tenured faculty members voted for the no-confidence resolution, 2 voted no and one abstained, according to Jim Miller, a professor of politics who is co-chairman of the Faculty Senate. While the vote has no practical impact, its organizers said their goal is to pressure the New School’s board of trustees — which was meeting separately at 4 p.m. — to dismiss Mr. Kerrey for what they contend is a failure to safeguard and defend the academic values of the institution.


It sure would be weird to have an Energy Secretary who knew something about energy instead of the energy business and energy lobbyists.

Fresh Thread

I got nothin'.

No Bobby?

I was so looking forward to Huck, Mittens, and Jindal fighting it out.

Afternoon Thread



CNN tells me Obama is calling on Blago to resign.

As I haven't been following Illinois politics, I found it pretty amazing when a month or so ago a poll came out showing that Blago had 4% approval. That's impressive! You can get 4% to come out in favor of shooting puppies.

Watching the guy now, he seems, well, nuts.

Hopefully He Taps Their Phones

Like Matt, I'd sorta hoped that conservatives might rediscover a concern for unchecked unconsitutional executive power. I guess not.


A look back in horror.

We're Not All Bank Holding Companies Now!

Apparently there are some standards!

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- GMAC LLC, the auto and consumer lender seeking federal aid, failed to obtain enough capital to become a bank holding company and may abandon the effort, casting new doubt on the company’s ability to survive.


They've got Peter Beinart, too!

Such a very serious organization.



Late Night

Everybody poops.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh, By The Way?

You're eating even more Big Shitpile! YUM!

Lies and the Lying Liars

Sean Hannity edition.

Evening Thread


Stealing All Your Money

Probably will need another couple hundred billion soon.
Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- American International Group Inc., the insurer whose bonuses and perks are under fire from U.S. lawmakers, offered cash awards to another 38 executives in a retention program with payments of as much as $4 million. The incentives range from $92,500 to $4 million for employees earning salaries between $160,000 and $1 million, Chief Executive Officer Edward Liddy said in a letter dated Dec. 5 to Representative Elijah Cummings. The New York-based insurer had previously disclosed that 130 managers would get the awards and that one executive would get $3 million.


Apparently the Tribune didn't cave to Blago's pressure, just managed to get him to think they would.

The writers were not fired, the editorial page continued to take on the governor, Tribune editors said Tuesday that they were not aware of any pressure from the governor’s office, and the company said it did not do the governor’s bidding.

But conversations recorded by federal investigators, and excerpted in a criminal complaint filed on Tuesday by the United States attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois, suggest that for a few weeks, Mr. Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, believed that Tribune would give in to their demands.

Local Notes

Philadelphia Drinking Liberally tonight, 6pm, at our latest trial location, Triumph Brewing Company 117 Chestnut St. $3 beer, $4 wine, $5 mixed drinks, and I think half price burgers and maybe some other food specials. By the rear bar assuming we're where we were last week.

Deep Thought

Of course everybody cares what Matt Stoller thinks.

National Disaster

I admit I'm quite surprised by Obama's extraordinarily high popularity. At 79% approval he's even getting the nod from some Bush dead enders.

Late Lunch Thread

Is it time to go home yet?

UPDATE: Sir Robin rallies the troops!

--Molly Ivors

Who Cares What Chris Bowers Thinks?

Or me. Or Markos. Or anyone, really. I remain deeply puzzled by the number of people who seem to get incredibly upset if someone is critical of Obama. I mean, argue with people if you disagree with them, but there seems to be this weird notion that if some blogger with high traffic says mean things about Obama then his administration will fall.

I'm personally not spending my days looking for things to fault Obama for, but other people might be! They have slightly different priorities than I do, different beliefs about the importance of various things. And, you know, they're bloggers so they have to write about something!

Anyway, after years and years of blogging I've developed a pretty thick skin, as I assume Chris has, but the one thing which tends to gnaw at me is when people make bad faith accusations, assuming that everything I'm writing about or not writing about is part of some grand strategy to get an administration job, or become a Real Live Tevee pundit, or some other weird motive which never makes any sense to me. If those were my goals I'd use the word 'fuck' a lot less.

Time For A Blogger Ethics Panel

Because, you know, the greatest threat to our democracy is the possibility that anonymous bloggers have some undisclosed financial ties.

According to the affidavit, intercepted phone calls revealed that the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Cubs, has explored the possibility of obtaining assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) relating to the Tribune Company's efforts to sell the Cubs and the financing or sale of Wrigley Field. In a November 6 phone call, Harris explained to Blagojevich that the deal the Tribune Company was trying to get through the IFA was basically a tax mitigation scheme in which the IFA would own title to Wrigley Field and the Tribune would not have to pay capital gains tax, which Harris estimated would save the company approximately $100 million.

Intercepted calls allegedly show that Blagojevich directed Harris to inform Tribune Owner and an associate, identified as Tribune Financial Advisor, that state financial assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board were fired, primarily because Blagojevich viewed them as driving discussion of his possible impeachment. In a November 4 phone call, Blagojevich allegedly told Harris that he should say to Tribune Financial Advisor, Cubs Chairman and Tribune Owner, "our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support."


In a November 11 intercepted call, Harris allegedly told Blagojevich that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner "got the message and is very sensitive to the issue." Harris told Blagojevich that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be "certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he's going after that section." Blagojevich allegedly responded. "Oh. That's fantastic." After further discussion, Blagojevich said, "Wow. Okay, keep our fingers crossed. You're the man. Good job, John."

Change We Can Believe In

The alternative would have been a lousy way to start a presidency.

In a conversation with Harris on November 11, the charges state, Blagojevich said he knew that the President-elect wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them.”

Here's The Statement From Fitzgerald

Chief of staff taken too

A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife. At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:
< a substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;
< placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;
< promises of campaign funds – including cash up front; and
< a cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.
Just last week, on December 4, Blagojevich allegedly told an advisor that he might “get some (money) up front, maybe” from Senate Candidate 5, if he named Senate Candidate 5 to the Senate seat, to insure that Senate Candidate 5 kept a promise about raising money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election. In a recorded conversation on October 31, Blagojevich claimed he was approached by an associate of Senate Candidate 5 as follows: “We were approached ‘pay to play.’ That, you know, he’d raise 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator.”

The Teevee Tells Me

Gov. Blagojevich has been taken in custody by the Feds.


A source said today that Gov. Rod Blagojevich was taken into federal custody at his North Side home this morning. The U.S. attorney's office would not confirm the information.

A Blagojevich spokesman said he was unaware of the development. "Haven't heard anything -- you are first to call," Lucio Guerrero said in an e-mail.

The stunning, early morning visit by authorities to the governor's North Side home came amid revelations that federal investigators had recorded the governor with the cooperation of a longtime confidant and had begun to focus on the possibility that the process of choosing a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama could be tainted by pay-to-play politics.

Our Security Regime

More on Hayden from Glenzilla.  I get the idea of carrying over Gates at Defense. I do not get the idea of carrying over any of these people.



Monday, December 08, 2008

Some Trick

If I understand this correctly, Sam Zell basically bought his newspaper empire by pretending the employees were actually the owners and then borrowing lots of money in their name, paying it back by deducting from payroll.

One of the trickiest issues will be how to handle a financing scheme Zell used to buy Tribune that relied on a tax-exempt employee stock ownership plan, known as an ESOP. Although employees had no say over how the ESOP was used, Tribune's board approved Zell's bid, which used the ESOP as a vehicle through which he borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to tax-efficiently fund the transaction. The scheme allowed Zell to pony up just $315 million of his own cash to wrest control of the company and made employees technically Tribune's owners.

But ownership came at a price: Tribune cut back its 401(k) contributions and instead committed to use a portion of its payroll to pay down the hundreds of millions in debt that a trust set up for the ESOP used to buy Tribune shares, according to employee stock owner plan expert Corey Rosen. "It was like a mortgage that you use to buy a house with no money down," says Rosen, who wrote a report that goes into detail on Tribune's ESOP arrangements.


That Changes Things

Leno on NBC five nights a week... at 10pm.

Another Cunning Plan

Well, not. Byebye unions and pensions.
WASHINGTON — The White House and Democratic Congressional leaders said Monday that they were close to agreeing on the terms of a $15 billion government rescue of the American automobile industry that would be directed by one or more appointees of President Bush and would impose expansive federal oversight of the auto companies. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hoped that Mr. Bush’s appointee – or car czar as the position has come to be known – would not need to be replaced by President-elect Barack Obama, raising the prospect that the outgoing and incoming administrations would cooperate in selecting someone.

Yes, because that's so what's going to happen.


For Vicki


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Vice President Al Gore is set to meet with President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden Tuesday, leading to speculation Obama is eyeing Gore for a slot in his administration.

Dinner Thread


Lucy and the Football

Step 1: declare something needs to be done

Step 2: declare that something will be done

Step 3: declare the proposal to be unacceptable

and wait for step 4...


Trouble in the newspaper biz.

NEW YORK Following reports of trying to avoid this step, The Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy protection in a federal court in Delaware on Monday.

In a court filing, The New York Times reports, Tribune said it had nearly $13 billion in debt, compared to $7.6 billion in assets. "Most of that debt was taken on when Mr. [Sam]Zell acquired the company — a deal he struck using mostly borrowed money."

Heckuva job.


Trouble in the newspaper biz.

NEW YORK Following reports of trying to avoid this step, The Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy protection in a federal court in Delaware on Monday.

In a court filing, The New York Times reports, Tribune said it had nearly $13 billion in debt, compared to $7.6 billion in assets. "Most of that debt was taken on when Mr. [Sam]Zell acquired the company — a deal he struck using mostly borrowed money."

Heckuva job.

Afternoon Thread



The pissypants administration is upset that Obama isn't doing their bidding.
WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama's transition team is resisting Bush administration overtures to coordinate more on the financial-sector rescue, convinced that neither the lame-duck President George W. Bush nor the president-elect has the clout to win a smooth congressional release of more bailout funds.


But tension is growing: Treasury officials believe Obama aides are being short-sighted in their refusal to offer more policy and lobbying assistance, while the transition team sees an administration looking to be rescued from its own miscues.


But officials with the Treasury and the transition agree that the spectacle of even a failed effort to block the money could send financial markets into an uproar. One transition official said he was told Mr. Bush could expect only a handful of Republican votes -- perhaps five -- in his favor.


He should be arrested, not rewarded.

Lunch Thread


The Irrational Angry Left

The Obama campaign didn't exist to make me feel good, and the Obama presidency won't either. I don't especially like his people punching the dirty fucking hippies under the bed, but on the other hand if they manage to convince people that Obama is a sensible centrist who wants to do sensible centrist things like build SUPERTRAINS, get out of Iraq, not torture people or invade random countries, strengthen labor protections, reduce income inequality, improve education, provide health care for people, and reduce poverty, while those DAMNED DIRTY HIPPIES just won't shut up about their magic ponies, it's fine by me.

For years we've had Democrats railing against those crazy hippies as an excuse to not do all of those things. If Obama's people are going to rail against the hippies and use it as an excuse to do them, fine with me. If.


Mass transit ridership up 6.5% over same period last year. Obviously high gas prices were a catalyst, but I think there's been a big cultural change, too, along with the expansion of car sharing programs.

Talking To Themselves

God they're boring these days.

Sunrise Thread

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Czar, Czar


In Hard Times, Russia Moves In to Reclaim Private Industries

BEREZNIKI, Russia — In late October, one of Vladimir V. Putin’s top lieutenants abruptly summoned a billionaire mining oligarch to a private meeting. The official, Igor I. Sechin, had taken a sudden interest in a two-year-old accident at the oligarch’s highly lucrative mining operations here in Russia’s industrial heartland.

Mr. Sechin, who is a leader of a shadowy Kremlin faction tied to the state security services, said he was ordering a new inquiry into the mishap, according to minutes of the meeting. With a deputy interior minister who investigates financial crime at his side, Mr. Sechin threatened crippling fines against the company, Uralkali.

Everywhere A Czar:

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats on Sunday were weighing options for tight government control of the crippled American auto industry, including the possible creation of an oversight board made up of five cabinet secretaries and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and led by an independent chairman or “car czar.”

If It Wasn't For Those Meddling Bloggers

Obviously the existence of quality journalism - local and national - is necessary for a well-functioning democracy, but the survival of any individual institution isn't so important.

The Tribune Company, the newspaper chain that owns The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, is trying to negotiate new terms with its creditors and has hired advisers for a possible bankruptcy filing, according to people briefed on the matter.

Tribune is in danger of falling below the cash flow required under its bonds, but it is not clear how seriously Tribune is thinking about seeking bankruptcy protection. Analysts and bankruptcy experts say that the hiring of advisers, including Lazard and Sidley Austin, one of the company’s longtime law firms, could be a just-in-case move, or a bargaining tactic. The company would not comment on Sunday.

I don't mean to minimize the potential problems with the evaporation of such entities, but democracy doesn't depend on the continued existence of the current LA TIMES, it depends on, among other things, quality local journalism.

Deep Thought

So, who's up next for a bailout?

One More

Mary Jo Kilroy wins.

Evening Thread



It's important to remember that Shinseki's testimony wasn't just about giving an honest assessment of what it would take to to occupy Iraq successfully, it was also about making the point that we cannot do this. What 500,000 troops?

Afternoon Thread


"Worse Than Roubini Thinks"

Dr. Doom is an optimist!


I quite agree with Jane. It's one thing when the children of politicians use their name and network advantages to make political careers for themselves - regrettable but inevitable in our very imperfect meritocracy - but quite another when it's just bestowed on them.

And In That Other War

I'll know we're finally past the post-9/11 era when it finally becomes acceptable to question whether that one was a good idea.

In one of the biggest and most brazen attacks of its kind to date, suspected Taliban insurgents with heavy weapons attacked two truck stops in northwest Pakistan early today, destroying more than 150 vehicles carrying supplies bound for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan.

Name Them!

I do hope Rove does tell us who were the few people in Washington who didn't treat Commander Bunnypants as the second coming of Jesus. Something tells me they won't be received as the villains Rove imagines, though some might be seen as cowards if they kept their doubts private.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.
ABC's "This Week" - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Ron Gettelfinger, president, United Auto Workers. --- CBS' "Face the Nation" - Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. --- NBC's "Meet the Press" - President-elect Barack Obama. --- CNN's "Late Edition" - Rice; Govs. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., and Ed Rendell, D-Pa.


Red State invokes Paul Krugman in order to vanquish Keynes and the Left Blogosphere.

I have, I believe, now seen it all.


Get a life!