Saturday, January 22, 2011

Midnight Thread

Rock on

Saturday night thread

Rock on!

Not Atrios

More Thread

It's cold.

Afternoon Thread


Europe Not Sucking

When I was in Yurp in the late 90s, the locals had a kind of "maybe America is actually aweseome and we're doing it wrong" attitude. But that was then, and this is now.

And Brussels was the first place I lived where home broadband was an option, so they caught up pretty quickly on the internet front too.

Fee Fees

We've gone from saying small government is good to saying that unless top CEOS are sufficiently worshiped by the masses they rule over then the economy will tank.

I do not believe there is an economic model which actually suggests this.

Back To The Future

Wonder how long it'll be before the "no liberals allowed on the teevee" rule is back in effect.

Maybe Lanny Davis could get a show.

Morning Thread

by Molly Ivors

There was a time when Keith Olbermann was the only person who drew attention to the deep, deep veins of damage in our public life.

The first time he came to my attention was in 2004, when he focused like a laser on the electoral irregularities rife in Ohio, both on Countdown and his old blog Bloggermann, with a simple, straightforward shrug: "I'm a sports guy. I look at the numbers." (I may have that quote wrong, but it was similar to that.)

As he developed a clearer voice in his broadcasts, including the often hotly-awaited Special Comments, I didn't always agree with him, but he always seemed to speak from a principled position. He is a good American, and we need him.

He will be missed.

Late Night

Friday, January 21, 2011

Evening Thread

Keith Olbermann and MSNBC.

Two Roads

The man in charge managed to raise a decent amount of money last time around.

We Made Him

Beck was a Philly based radio host before moving on to CNN and then Fox...

Friday Evening Dicussion

Either the plays of Wallace Shawn or Lady Gaga vs. Madonna. Your choice.

Send Me Stuff Or Bags Of Cash

I joke about this regularly on the twitter machine, but one curse of the blogger is the immense amount of PR emails you get. I accept that it just comes with the territory, but I actually wish PR people would be... well, better at it. I don't actually need bags of cash, but if they sent me, say, screeners of movies and TV shows instead of links to their exciting websites and TRAILERS I might actually watch them and talk about them. I don't do it as much as I should, but I actually believe in using my mighty microphone to share good stuff, even good stuff produced by giant megarich corporations. I'd share the good stuff if they sent me the right good stuff.

Or bags of cash.


As we prepare to (eventually) say goodbye to Joe Lieberman, I suppose this passage from Philip Roth's The Human Stain is as good of a sendoff as any.
The summer that Coleman took me into his confidence about Faunia Farley and their secret was the summer, fittingly enough, that Bill Clinton's secret emerged in every last mortifying detail—every last lifelike detail, the livingness, like the mortification, exuded by the pungency of the specific data. We hadn't had a season like it since somebody stumbled upon the new Miss America nude in an old issue of Penthouse, pictures of her elegantly posed on her knees and on her back that forced the shamed young woman to relinquish her crown and go on to become a huge pop star. Ninety-eight in New England was a summer of exquisite warmth and sunshine, in baseball a summer of mythical battle between a home-run god who was white and a home-run god who was brown, and in America the summer of an enormous piety binge, a purity binge, when terrorism—which had replaced communism as the prevailing threat to the country's security—was succeeded by cocksucking, and a virile, youthful middle-aged president and a brash, smitten twenty-one-year-old employee carrying on in the Oval Office like two teenage kids in a parking lot revived America's oldest communal passion, historically perhaps its most treacherous and subversive pleasure: the ecstasy of sanctimony. In the Congress, in the press, and on the networks, the righteous grandstanding creeps, crazy to blame, deplore, and punish, were everywhere out moralizing to beat the band: all of them in a calculated frenzy with what Hawthorne (who, in the 1860s, lived not many miles from my door) identified in the incipient country of long ago as "the persecuting spirit"; all of them eager to enact the astringent rituals of purification that would excise the erection from the executive branch, thereby making things cozy and safe enough for Senator Lieberman's ten-year-old daughter to watch TV with her embarrassed daddy again. No, if you haven't lived through 1998, you don't know what sanctimony is. The syndicated conservative newspaper columnist William F. Buckley wrote, "When Abelard did it, it was possible to prevent its happening again," insinuating that the president's malfeasance—what Buckley elsewhere called Clinton's "incontinent carnality"—might best be remedied with nothing so bloodless as impeachment but, rather, by the twelfth-century punishment meted out to Canon Abelard by the knife-wielding associates of Abelard's ecclesiastical colleague, Canon Fulbert, for Abelard's secret seduction of and marriage to Fulbert's niece, the virgin Heloise. Unlike Khomeini's fatwa condemning to death Salman Rushdie, Buckley's wistful longing for the corrective retribution of castration carried with it no financial incentive for any prospective perpetrator. It was prompted by a spirit no less exacting than the ayatollah's, however, and in behalf of no less exalted ideals.

It was the summer in America when the nausea returned, when the joking didn't stop, when the speculation and the theorizing and the hyperbole didn't stop, when the moral obligation to explain to one's children about adult life was abrogated in favor of maintaining in them every illusion about adult life, when the smallness of people was simply crushing, when some kind of demon had been unleashed in the nation and, on both sides, people wondered "Why are we so crazy?" when men and women alike, upon awakening in the morning, discovered that during the night, in a state of sleep that transported them beyond envy or loathing, they had dreamed of the brazenness of Bill Clinton. I myself dreamed of a mammoth banner, draped dadaistically like a Christo wrapping from one end of the White House to the other and bearing the legend A HUMAN BEING LIVES HERE. It was the summer when—for the billionth time—the jumble, the mayhem, the mess proved itself more subtle than this one's ideology and that one's morality. It was the summer when a president's penis was on everyone's mind, and life, in all its shameless impurity, once again confounded America.

Can The President Veto An Impeachment Law?

Don't know nothin'.

How About The Tan Man?

Don't think Angelo Mozilo is doing much these days. Did he say no?


There has been an absolute explosion in inter-city bus service from and to my urban hellhole. I'd add "convenience and transparency of internet booking" to the list of reasons why.

Things Change

So I was recently in LA for a little bit, and it has certainly changed since the last time I spent much time there. Basically, it seems to have filled in a bit and there was actual foot traffic in places like downtown LA even on weekends. It's still a place where the car is king, of course, with much of it, though theoretically walkable, really built at a scale which isn't really pedestrian friendly. Still it is dense enough - and as I said seemed to have filled in a bit since last I was there - that one can get around to some degree without one. Rode their local SUPERTRAINS from the airport to downtown and they were pretty full on a Sunday.


As I said before, actual proposed budget cuts, as opposed to "let's just wish the budget was smaller," will mostly be about pissing off liberals.

$18.9 Million In Irvine

Such a thing would only be desirable if you entertain. A lot. Do people who buy them really entertain that much?


Read enough conservative blogs over the years, and you get that most of them have a pretty intense hero fantasy. They get off on war porn, fantasies mostly involving other peoples' heroism as most of the 101st keyboard commandos have never had any intention of enlisting. But many of them are gun nuts, and like all gun nuts I've ever known (I don't mean all people who own guns, or hunt, or whatever, I mean gun nuts), they have a hero fantasy which involves them killing an assailant with their gun.

So this kind of heroism probably doesn't really resonate.

What's Good For GE Is Good for America

And if we just babble cliche modern capitalism talk the jobs pony will finally come.


In one of the webcast things I do, Marcy Wheeler said that one of the things that is evident in the WikiLeaks cables is the degree to which democratic processes are held in contempt by the people in what Assange calls the invisible government. We're seeing this now as we wait, breath bated, to see whether the State of the Union will include an incredibly unpopular call to cut Social Security--with no policy discussion about the merits of doing so taking place in the public sphere.

Likewise, there are gun regulations that have extremely broad support, but are very difficult, for some reason, to implement.

They Get Death Threats

Glenn Beck targets Frances Fox Piven. (Who is...? Why, she is someone Glenn Beck targets.)
Beginning in September of 2010, Glenn Beck started branding Piven, a distinguished professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, as an “enemy of the Constitution.” Piven, well known for advocating for the organizational rights of the poor and encouraging voter registration, has since received threatening phone calls and letters, and has become the subject of many death threats left open to the public on Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze"...

The Center for Constitutional rights details a backlash through some of the many violent quotes on Beck’s website. Examples include, “Maybe they should burst through the front door of this arrogant elitist and slit the hateful cow’s throat,” “We should blow up Piven’s office and home,” and “I am all for violence and change Frances: Where do your loved ones live?”
Should Professor Priven be worried? Yes. She should.

"You need to go back to June --- June of this year, 2010," said would-be mass murderer Byron Williams, referring to Glenn Beck in a jailhouse interview. Williams had been stopped by police in a San Francisco shoot out on his way to assassinate members of the ACLU and the progressive Tides Foundation in July of 2010. "Look at all his programs from June, and you'll see he's been breaking open some of the most hideous corruption," Williams, who viewed Beck as a "schoolteacher on TV", later said.

In case you are wondering about Beck's comments in the video above, thinking it must be out of context or something, it's not.
Read the rest.

At what point will Fox, and CNN before them, be compelled to concede that it might have been a mistake to make this nut a star?

Thursday, January 20, 2011



Evening Thread


Things I Believed

I certainly didn't believe in #s 1, 3, or 5, though I probably thought them to be more true than I do now. I didn't believe 2 completely, but close enough. I did believe in 4. Oh well.

Can't Run From Your Signature Policy

Whatever its merits or lack of, it was truly bizarre watching Democrats run and hide from their signature policy because, well, there wasn't actually any way to run from it. Either stand up for it or don't pass it in the first place. Glad they've finally come around.


In a happier parallel universe I did not have to learn that term.

Real Amurrikah

Despite months of media fluffing of Tea Partiers and decades of demonizing anything that sounds remotely like socialism... Socialism wins!

Lady Boobs

One things I've come to realize is that there are a lot of people (men, mostly, of course) who don't realize that there is no way for women with larger breasts to dress "modestly," if you define "modestly" as dressing in such a way that the world is unaware of your breasts.

Twin Turbos

The WaPo newsroom is apparently filled with more hideous people than even I could imagine.

The Only Legitimate Way To Get Around Is In 2 Tons Of Metal

So get back in your cars, people.

Blogging Like It's 2002

This story of mass mob arrests inspires me to do some Sopranos blogging. I've been slowly working my way through the series over the past couple of years, which I'd never seen before, and am nearing the end. I have no clue of the deal of realism of its portrayal of mob life, but one thing which has consistently struck me about the portrayal is how even the relatively senior people in the organization don't actually seem to make very much money. Seems to be a relatively high stress 'job' for so little compensation.

No Urgency

While I'm generally on board with Summers bashing, I'm not sure I quite agree with Felix that the Baker NYT piece makes him THE bad guy. I'd say, if anything, it makes Obama the bad guy, and not simply in the kossacks just work for the Czar sense. I think "they" believed in December of 2009 through the Summer of 2010 that they'd fixed it. And "they" includes the guy in charge.

Being Bold

One way to be bold on the economy would be to fix the damn foreclosure crisis. They had a $50 billion slush fund to spend on it, and they didn't bother.

It isn't some tremendous mystery why the economy didn't turn around, and the administration didn't use the tools they had at their disposal which didn't require President Snowe's approval.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

404K new lucky duckies. Not quite good news, but better.

Picking Winners

In the wake of the news that Evergreen Solar is shutting down its US manufacturing I've seen a lot of trite and lazy commentary about US manufacturing and "picking winners." Some conservative critics see an opportunity to bash, well, stuff liberals support, but I think they're mostly* misguided on a number of levels.

I deleted a longish and rambling draft of this post, so I'll just point out that the greater degree of financial support (not even counting the managed float of the RMB) is more important by a factor of 2-4 in the lower cost of Chinese PV modules, rather than labor costs or environmental regs, so it isn't inevitable that US manufacturing can't compete. First Solar is proving that pretty well, and the Chinese firm Suntech is opening US manufacturing now. If 10% of the annual cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were pumped into solar to reduce the capex of domestic producers, we'd be making the least expensive, most efficient modules in the world in short order.

Anyway, for the sake of brevity here, I'll just say that I'll be happy to explain the fate of Evergreen for the price of a beer sometime. Suffice it to say, String ribbon wafers were an important and potentially disruptive technological advance, but both outside forces and apparently fundamental limitations of the process have hindered the technology, and the company. I should add that I do not work for Evergreen or any PV module manufacturer.

*There are obviously important debates over various aspects of the issue about which reasonable people can disagree, but Michele Malkin and her cohorts are not reasonable people.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More Thread

Because you talk too much.

I Tried To Warn Them

But no one listens to me.
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's apparent willingness to consider cuts in Social Security benefits may be winning him points with Washington elites, but it's killing him with voters, who see the program as inviolate and may start to wonder what the Democratic Party stands for, if not for Social Security.

That's the conclusion of three top progressive pollsters who spoke to reporters Wednesday at a briefing sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute, the Century Foundation and Demos.

"For the public, cutting benefits is the problem, not the solution," said Guy Molyneux, a partner at Hart.

More Thread

Happy Hour Thread


We Know What To Do

The maddening thing is it isn't a mystery what we can do to boost aggregate demand. We know! There's a reason we call him Helicopter Ben. I actually really don't know what statutory authority the Fed has to rain money on people, but it could always get it from Congress.

Instead we'll do a bunch of bank shot stuff which isn't very likely to work well or fast.

Stay Classy Rusty


Afternoon Thread



Whatever is actually in that book, or whatever its adherents believe is in that book, it's still the case that a piece of religion in this country for a lot of people is a basic kind of ethnic tribalism. Most people aren't genuinely very religious and most of those who profess to be don't have any kind of sophisticated understanding of what their religion is supposed to be. They do know what team they play for, and that's important.

Tea Party Socialists

Years ago I was going on Sam Seder's show right after Lawrence O'Donnell, and he made some comment to the effect that politically Americans basically want someone with the politics of Christine Todd Whitman. While I think this was basically a typical example of the pundit's fallacy - politically, at that time anyway, that's what O'Donnell wanted! - there was a bit of unsaid truth to it, which is that Americans want big government but don't want to pay for it, which is what Whitman did by essentially robbing the state pension funds.


I guess we know most of this: the stimulus was too small, it should have been bigger, the administration never made the case for a second stimulus, they thought the economy was turning around, and then... nothing.

...adding that I think I'll understand the world a bit better if I start interpreting phrases like "strong personality" to mean "emotional maturity of a 4-year-old."


So now "balance" in the New York Times is between the GOP and the CBO.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Late Night


Tuesday Evening


The Day The Music Died

Various outlets reporting that Holy Joe will not run for re-election. I think there's a reasonable chance this is a fakeout, but if it's took awhile, but we were finally victorious.

Reinventing Government

When he was Veep Al Gore basically headed up the same kind of thing, but managed to do so without making it sound like some sort of gift to Big Biz but instead as simply common sense pragmatic liberalism.

Who's Missing?

Democracy Corps email on their new poll:
The voters have a clear and dramatic message for the new Republicans in the Congress and the President on the eve of his State of the Union Address: focus on jobs and the economy and show how America is going to be economically successful again. This is not a nuanced poll. If Democrats did not get the message in 2010, voters are ready to send a message again, according to the first Democracy Corps–Campaign for America’s Future survey of 2011.

The media pundits and Washington conventional wisdom say deficit reduction and cutting government spending are the top priorities for the nation; yet, the Republican Congress has prioritized health care repeal and Social Security cuts (which are on the table for the first time.) They could not have it more wrong. It is jobs, stupid.

sadly, "Washington conventional wisdom" appears to include the administration. Prove me wrong!

Unpossible In The Urban Hellhole

Just adding a few things to this post based on discussion in comments:

*My point is not "everyone should want to live in cities!" just that while I get that raising children in an urban hellhole offers some different challenges, I don't get the idea that it's universally "more difficult."

*Urban hellhole living doesn't necessarily mean downtown skyscrapers, or being carless, or more generally lacking anything resembling suburban amenities. Supermarket and Target with large parking lot are near to me. Also, too, Walmart and Ikea.

*Yes schools are an issue that can trump everything else. I get that.

That's So 2008

I appreciate Merkley's proposal, except for the dumb first time home buyer tax credit (I assume there to try to get buy in from others), but sadly I think our national politicians have mostly moved on from that whole foreclosure crisis. What was once an urgent problem is, despite the fact that it is ongoing with no signs of letting up, simply the new normal.

Strangler Confessed

So they probably have the right guy then. Good.

Urban Hellholes For All

I've read a lot of interesting discussion of this article about the kids today wanting to live in cities. I don't have any opinion about whether this is a real trend, but I did find two basic threads of the discussion to be interesting. One was that "of course young people want to live in cities." Well, when I was coming of age and making such choices, most cities really were urban hellholes, with very high crime rates, and the ones that weren't were sinking under the weight of the recession and its aftermath. Don't think my peer group at the time was necessarily representative of the population as a whole, but "moving to the city" actually wasn't what people wanted. Getting married fairly young and buying a house in the burbs was.

The other thread is the "people want to live in cities until they have kids then it's too hard." I get that quality of local schools is a genuine issue, but otherwise I'm rather confused by the "can't raise 2 kids without a minivan in the suburbs" attitude I see from lots of people. People can and do raise kids in the city and manage just fine. Really not sure what the difficulties are.


At my recent undisclosed location, I overheard a delightful conversation. It started out, "Katrina happened...and everybody got rich," and went downhill from there.

Your Toilets Are Hooked Up To The Collective

Wouldn't be surprised if we just decided to end all public services.

Economy All Better Now

Hopefully I'm just a pessimist and the economy really is about to turn around, but I think even if that's the case the optimists are grossly underestimating the impact of the foreclosure crisis and Great Recession on people longer term.

They really are out of touch.

Hopefully They Got Him

We have had a wee serial killer problem in the urban hellhole. Suspect has now been arrested based on DNA evidence, though suspect doesn't look very much like widely circulated sketch.

Can't Control Future Congresses

I really don't know why left-leaning technocrats don't understand this point.

Also, too, jobs.


By accounts Christina Romer is one of the better members of Tribe Econ, but the idea that it's good politics to talk about the deficit in the State of the Union is insane, and the idea that it will be good for policy to have the political dialogue focused on the deficit, as opposed to, you know, JOBS, is even more insane.

We are doomed.

Urban Hellhole Blogging

Contra Beck, I regularly leave my house after 6 pm and do so without any fear or concern whatsoever.


What a lovely little war.

BAGHDAD — In the worst terrorist attack in Iraq in months, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a gathering of police recruits on Tuesday, killing 60 people and wounding about 150, police officials said.

The attack in Tikrit, a city north of Baghdad that's best known as Saddam Hussein's hometown, was the latest to target Iraqi security forces, which have made considerable progress in fighting al Qaida-linked militants but continue to suffer sporadic violence.

The Recent History Of Everything

Krugman talks about the dollar, but his basic point is true about lots of things. The more paranoid corners of the financial chatter world have lately been freaking out about fluctuations in various exchange and interest rates, as well as commodity prices, which are well within recent "normal" ranges.


I haven't listened to this yet because I was asleep at the time, but: Eric Boehlert and Nicole Sandler on Virtually Speaking Susie with Susie Madrak.

Not Atrios

Morning, Morning

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Greatest Comment Evah

From one of the freepi:

In this society, being car-less is a significant empediment being a full citizen. Such situations make you dependent on the collective, and to the schedules of mass transit. Car-less is no way for an american to live.


Rock harder.

Evening Thread

rock on

Happy Hour Thread

Slow day.

Afternoon Thread

Let's talk about where the royal courtiers should be seated.


It is one of those issues urban hellhole dwellers care about and political leadership is usually absent, though I'm not sure why.


Birds of feather and all that.


I'm sure the Very Serious People response to anti-rich people leaks to wikileaks will be the same as their response to leaks embarrassing powerful people in governments. It's just wrong to hold powerful people accountable for anything.

Look forward people!

A Day Of Service

One of my idiosyncratic pet peeves is that every other holiday we have - including Memorial Day! - is understood as a good reason to eat, drink, and be merry, while MLK Day is supposed to be More Than That.



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Evening


City Victim, Country Victim

There was some discussion earlier about urban/rural guns/murders, so I went poking around. I don't think anything definitive emerges from these pretty pictures, which I made at, but have fun gazing at them. This is "percent of population affected by murders" in 2007 by county, with darker colors meaning more murders. Gray means no data. Murders doesn't equal gun murders, of course, though I'd guess they're pretty correlated.

Even More Thread

Managed to drag myself to the gym.

Afternoon Thread


Dumb Ideas

If I were your benevolent dictator, I would, in fact, take all of your guns away, but I am not and given the reality of our Supreme Court's view of the constitution and politics generally, there really is no chance of any actual effective gun control legislation being passed. And finding ways to exclude people from gun ownership in rather arbitrary ways really isn't going to achieve any useful result.


One for the good guys.

I shouldn't be surprised by much of anything these days, but the extent of the "well the borrowers owe somebody so it doesn't really matter who kicks them out of their house" reasoning really has shocked me. Once you open the door to fraud, even fraud by people who notionally do actually have a legal right but are too cheap and lazy to be bothered to prove it, you completely destroy any confidence in our property title system. I'm certainly open to arguments that our current system is clunky and inefficient and should be improved upon, but that doesn't mean the banskters can just go ahead and do it outside the law.

While We're On Good Ideas That Very Serious People Hate

Yes lowering the Social Security full benefit eligibility age is a perfectly awesome idea, so of course the Post hates it.

Most of us aren't David Broder, with lifetime full employment guaranteed no matter how badly we do our jobs.

Public Banking Option

Yes there should be one though probably the best we could hope for is a "if you want to make money providing the financial services to run our food stamp debit cards then you must offer accounts on these terms." Not holding my breath for that one, but "paying someone lots of money to do what the government could do more cheaply" seems to be the only acceptable way to do anything decent these days.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Face the Nation has Gillibrand, Wasserman Schultz, Jeff Flake, Ed Rendell, and Rudy 911.

Meet the Press has Gillibrand, Schumer, Coburn, and Sharpton.

This Week has a "town hall."

Document the atrocities!

Wakey, Wakey

If able, please do make a contribution to Diane. She's been doing yeoman's work at Cab Drollery for years now and rarely holds a fundraiser.