Saturday, November 20, 2004

Saturday Night Thread

Chat away.

One Road

One of the things I actually find a bit confusing is... why the hell can't we even secure the road to the Baghdad airport? As roads go, it's presumably quite important.

Holy Crap

Just go read this, do what John asks, and then cancel your Washington Post subscription.

...anyone know what it costs to put a special supplement in the Washington Post? We should raise some money and see if they'll publish something like this or perhaps a copy of Garrett's "Breeding Down" or a holocaust revisionism pamphlet.

Brand Democrat

Oliver's on to something.

Mistah Kurtz, He Has No Memory

Of course, no memory we can forgive, but we can't forgive his failure to spend 5 seconds do a Nexis search of his own fucking network's transcripts.


But I don't remember anything like all this live coverage when Bush 41 opened his library, do you?

CNN, November 6, 1997:

. CNN, CNN SPECIAL EVENT 00:00 am ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 12:24 am Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110602V54, News; Domestic, 5042 words, George Bush Presidential Library Dedication, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Sonia Ruseler, Charles Bierbauer

The rest of the day included:

CNN, CNN EARLY EDITION 07:00 am ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 7:16 am Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110603V08, News; Domestic, 866 words, President Bush Library and Museum to be Dedicated Today; Bush Biographer Discusses New Book, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Charles Zewe, Martin Savidge
2. CNN, CNN EARLY EDITION 07:00 am ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 7:00 am Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110601V08, News; International, 958 words, Showdown with Iraq: U.S. Military Action Likely, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Martin Savidge, Brent Sadler, Eileen O'Connor
3. CNN, CNN MORNING NEWS 09:00 am ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 9:06 am Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110603V09, News; Domestic, 653 words, Former Press Secretary Talks About President Bush's Legacy, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Donna Kelley, Marlin Fitzwater
4. CNN, CNN MORNING NEWS 09:00 am ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 9:33 am Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110605V09, News; Domestic, 588 words, Bush Presidential Library to be Dedicated Today, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Donna Kelley, Charles Zewe, Bill Hemmer
5. CNN, CNN EARLY EDITION 07:00 am ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 8:11 am Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110606V08, News; Domestic, 2054 words, Former President George Bush Discusses Library Dedication, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Martin Savidge, Charles Bierbauer
6. CNN, CNN MORNING NEWS 09:00 am ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 10:03 am Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110609V09, News; Domestic, 407 words, Bush Presidential Library Commemorates Gulf War as Tensions with Iraq Remain High, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Donna Kelley, Charles Zewe
7. CNN, CNN MORNING NEWS 09:00 am ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 10:36 am Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110614V09, News; Domestic, 609 words, Jeb Bush Discusses his Father, Former President Bush, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Donna Kelley

9. CNN, CNN NEWSDAY 12:00 am ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 12:09 am Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110602V11, News; Domestic, 362 words, American Dignitaries Gather for Bush Presidential Library Dedication, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Sonia Ruseler, Charles Bierbauer
10. CNN, CNN MORNING NEWS 09:00 am ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 11:16 am Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110618V09, News; Domestic, 1779 words, Dick Cheney Talks About the Legacy of the Bush Presidency; Former Presidents Respond to Questions, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Bill Hemmer

12. CNN, CNN TODAY 13:00 pm ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 2:53 pm Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110612V13, News; Domestic, 443 words, Keeping up with George Bush As Presidential Library Opens in Texas, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Lou Waters, Natalie Allen, Charles Bierbauer

17. CNN, CNN EARLY PRIME 17:00 pm ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 4:35 pm Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110605V16, News; Domestic, 604 words, Commemorating George Bush at the Opening of Presidential Library, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Natalie Allen, Charles Bierbauer
18. CNN, CNN WORLDVIEW 18:00 pm ET, November 6, 1997; Thursday 6:07 pm Eastern Time, Transcript # 97110604V18, News; Domestic, 320 words, George Bush Is Honored with Presidential Library, LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overview This document contains no targeted Topics. , Skip Loescher, Judy Woodruff

(via the Daou Report)

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Late Night Chat


Hope this is ok; folks were asking for a new thread.


I believe we can now declare our brief flirtation with becoming the morality party over, and not a moment too soon. There's no way we can outdo these crackpots...

Full Kerry Message

Right now the guy has profile, visibility, and an email list. There's a tremendous leadership vacuum on our side right now, and while John Kerry may or may not be the one to fill that position long term but at least in the short term until we get our shit together he may be the only one...

Dear Supporter,

I want to thank you personally for what you did in the election -- you rewrote the book on grassroots politics, taking control of campaigns away from big donors. No campaign will ever be the same.

You moved voters, helped hold George Bush accountable, and countered the attacks from big news organizations such as Fox, Sinclair Broadcasting, and conservative talk radio.

And your efforts count now more than ever. Despite the words of cooperation and moderate sounding promises, this administration is planning a right wing assault on values and ideals we hold most deeply. Healthy debate and diverse opinion are being eliminated from the State Department and CIA, and the cabinet is being remade to rubber stamp policies that will undermine Social Security, balloon the deficit, avoid real reforms in health care and education, weaken homeland security, and walk away from critical allies around the world.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted -- and they will be counted -- we will continue to challenge this administration. This is not a time for Democrats to retreat and accommodate extremists on critical principles -- it is a time to stand firm.

I will fight for a national standard for federal elections that has both transparency and accountability in our voting system. It's unacceptable in the United States that people still don't have full confidence in the integrity of the voting process.

I ask you to join me in this cause.

And we must fight not only against George Bush's extreme policies -- we must also uphold our own values. This is why on the first day Congress is in session next year, I will introduce a bill to provide every child in America with health insurance. And, with your help, that legislation will be accompanied by the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

There are more than eight million uninsured children in our nation.

That's eight million reasons for us to stay together and fight for a new direction. It is a disgrace that in the wealthiest nation on earth, eight million children go without health insurance.

Normally, a member of the Senate will first approach other senators and ask them to co-sponsor a bill before it is introduced -- instead, I am turning to you. Imagine the power of a bill co-sponsored by hundreds of thousands of Americans being presented on the floor of the United States Senate. You can make it happen. Sign our "Every Child Protected" pledge today and forward it to your family, friends, and neighbors:

This is the beginning of a second term effort to hold the Bush administration accountable and to stand up and fight for our principles and our values. They want you to disappear; they are counting on that. I'm confident you will prove them wrong, and you will rewrite history again.

Here is what I want you to know. I understand the strength, commitment, and passion that are at the core of what we built together -- and I am determined to make our collective energy and organization a force to be reckoned with in the weeks and months ahead.

Let's roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country.

petition and video here.

Friday Cat Blogging

Lauren Rainey Update

Hopefully you all remember Lauren Rainey, the girl whose life-saving home health care is being threatened by a ridiculous and wrong ruling by their Medicaid agency.

Alabama's Medical Director says Lauren is losing her care because based on medical records her condition is not worsening.

Her doctors insist she could die if her condition was to worsen further. "I think if she were to get the flu, it would be very difficult to help her through that. If she were to catch pneumonia, it would be very difficult to help her through that. So the likelihood she could die is very high." said Dr. Lawrence Sindel.

Shelley-Tremblay said, "We're trying to get a clear picture of what Lauren's case means both to Lauren and her family but also to the state of Alabama as a whole and in general what it means about the state of Medicaid." adding, "all of us are interested in policy change that is going to help improve the care of the people who need care."

But Alabama Governor Bob Riley saw the story differently, "Because I think to a large extent what you've done is frighten a child, sent the wrong message to the community that the state is not being as responsive as it can be because there are a variety of different programs and I think if we all had taken the opportunity to sit down and explore all the other options we wouldn't even be having this conversation."

When asked if he knew what those other programs are, the Governor responded, "No, but I can find out and let you know."

Lauren's mom did check with Medicaid about those other programs. "The only thing she qualifies for is house keeping and the girl comes in 3 hours twice a week and that's not helping me. I don't need a housekeeper I need a nurse there that can take care of her." said Lauren's mother.

Nick Dupree of Nick's (victorious) Crusade and now Nick's Blog writes in:

The Governor of Alabama has responded, and basically said, "there are other programs for Lauren. We just can't name them or prove they exist. How dare you not highlight our wonderful, non-existant program!"

It's not true. They tried raising phantom alternatives in my case too, to provide some cover for their dispicable actions. Don't buy it. Mary Finch, Medicaid spokeswoman and public policy liason, is employing a much more aggressive PR strategy this time, circulating a talking points memo claiming there are other (as yet unnamed) programs for Lauren and accusing WPMI TV of misrepresenting the facts to gain national attention.

It's a lie.

There is no program for people like Lauren, and last year a friend of mine, Chris, died after losing care under the EPSDT program.
There are currently only 28 people state-wide getting care hours under EPSDT. This came from a decade-long purging of EPSDT. No one wants to talk about how we got to this point, but in 1997 there were well over 28 people getting care hours under EPSDT in THE MOBILE AREA ALONE found during my mom's advocacy in the '97 crisis (the Medicaid commissioner of that time tried to end the nursing care program altogether). The state is legally obligated to provide nursing care for citizens under age 21 under the EPSDT program. Alabama is trying to shirk its responsibility under the law and has successfully cut it down to 28 people state-wide. We went from over 28 in Mobile area to 28 state-wide. Now the few survivors of the purge are in the crosshairs.

You can contact the governor's office and ask him why he's lying to this girl:

State Capitol
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
Switchboard: 334-242-7100
Fax: 334-353-0004

*Email the Governor's Office*

Kerry Statement/Video To Be Released Soon

Here's a leaked excerpt, which gives us a good idea about what the guy is planning:

And we must fight not only against George Bush's extreme policies -- we must also uphold our own values. This is why on the first day Congress is in session next year, I will introduce a bill to provide every child in America with health insurance. And, with your help, that legislation will be accompanied by the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

There are more than eight million uninsured children in our nation.

That's eight million reasons for us to stay together and fight for a new direction. It is a disgrace that in the wealthiest nation on earth, eight million children go without health insurance.

Normally, a member of the Senate will first approach other senators and ask them to co-sponsor a bill before it is introduced -- instead, I am turning to you. Imagine the power of a bill co-sponsored by hundreds of thousands of Americans being presented on the floor of the United States Senate. You can make it happen. Sign our "Every Child Protected" pledge today and forward it to your family, friends, and neighbors...

Link when available...

...Josh Marshall has a seperate excerpt...

Self-Righteous versus Scold

No, we can't become the party of censorship. Look, the dominant narrative is that the Republicans are the "morality" party and we're not. If you want to overturn that narrative in certain ways, it'll take years to do it. Right now, when Republicans start concerning themselves with these things, whether they make any legislatives moves or not, it's because they're worried about "values." If Democrats do it it'll be because we're a bunch of prudish scolds who want to take away your porn.

The Dems should be going after the techno-lib vote by fighting against the Intellectual Property grab which is currently going on. Give people their porn, their Napster, and their unfettered Tivo. And, yes, I am respectful of genuine intellectual property rights but DMCA, the Mickey Mouse Preservation Act copyright extension and the inevitable progeny of both will soon make it impossible to say or do anything without handing over a license fee.

November 11 - November 15, 2004


Santorum -- Not a PA Resident


All of which begs a much bigger question: Is Rick Santorum R-Pa. or R-Va.? No one should represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate because he once lived here or because he visits all 67 counties every year. A traveling salesman can do that.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution says, "No person shall be a Senator ... who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen." Rick Santorum last won election in November 2000, when he owned the house at 111 Stephens Lane in Penn Hills plus a house in Virginia. Where he was an "inhabitant" at the time only he can say.

He faces re-election in 2006, but if that election were held today, the two-term Republican would be hard-pressed to convince voters that he inhabits a house on Stephens Lane. Sure, he and his wife pay taxes on the house. They also use the address for voter registration, but so do two other people. When a Post-Gazette reporter visited the house last Friday, a young man came to the door and declined to comment. He wasn't Rick Santorum.

It gets worse. The two-bedroom house that the Santorum children called home for education purposes and that gives Mr. and Mrs. Santorum the right to vote in Pennsylvania lacks an occupancy permit. And the property tax break from the homestead exemption claimed by the Santorums on the Penn Hills house is allowed under law only if the dwelling is their "permanent home."

It's a strange case of political turnabout. In his initial House race against Rep. Doug Walgren in 1990, challenger Santorum attacked the incumbent from Mt. Lebanon for buying a house and raising his children in McLean, Va. Now Rick Santorum of Leesburg, Va., is saying that he is and he isn't a resident of Pennsylvania.


Len Downie thinks that his newspaper circulation problem can be fixed if his paper starts to look like USA Today.

I remember a bunch of stories that were put on page A18 which probably would've sold a few papers had they been on the front page with BIG FONT HEADLINES like they deserved...

(thanks to reader b)

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Joementum into Iran

Yglesias wonders why we're mocking Pollack's new book, The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iran The Persian Puzzle : The Conflict Between Iran and America for calling for an invasion of Iran when the new book apparently doesn't do that. But, the old book didn't actually call for an invasion of Iraq (no matter what the title said). What it did do was say if we can accomplish a,b,c,d, and e, and Saddam Hussein won't do x,y, and z, then maybe in about 5 years war will be necessary and appropriate. But, then, Pollack had about 500 hours of face time on TV during which he could have stated loudly and clearly that "well, no, I think this invasion is a bad idea." He didn't.

His new book doesn't argue for an immediate war in Iran either, but as with Iraq -- once you make the case that something is a serious threat, and once the people in power reduce the options to "war or not war," suddenly we'll find war once again presented as the only "serious" option.

And, yes, my silly conservative friends, I'm well aware that that the Iranian government is not exactly to be admired. Nor is the Chinese government, the Saudi government, the Azerbaijan government, or the government of Uzbekistan. The latter two, of course, being a part of the much praised Coalition of the Willing. And, I'm all for peaceful protest by college students to enact change, something which is praised abroad but strangely sneered at here. I have nothing against the students who might agitatate for change and everything against those who fetishize them by projecting their own political agenda onto them.

The fact is that the Bush administration strengthened the hand of the anti-American forces within Iran the instant the "axis of evil" phrase crossed his lips. Reform in Iran is great. Reform from within is even better. But cut the crap.

Media Responsibility

They really shouldn't be letting bullshit claims by the party in power go unchecked. That's true of both parties, of course, but given the automatic additional voice the majority is given in the winner-take-all system, they have a duty to provide extra scrutiny of the people in power.

They're already failing.

Late Night


Open Thread


More Insurance

Okay, so let's try to think about health insurance which combines lots of issues that other types of insurance markets have but also adds in a few complicated wrinkles, which we'll try to add on one at at time...

Imagine everyone begins adulthood as an identically healthy 18 year old. Every year you have some probability of developing an illness, with an associated financial cost. Starting there, we have the fire insurance model discussed below. Add one more wrinkle - for every year you age, the probability of getting an illness (or more generally the overall average illness cost) goes up just a little bit. Now we're still in the fire insurance model, only your insurance premium goes up a little bit each year. We don't have the car insurance/adverse selection problem because your illness probability is simply a function of your age. Every person of a given age gets charged an identical rate. Okay, what's the problem with this? Well, nothing, except for the fact that by the time people reach age 65 or so, their insurance premium is going to be hitting the stratosphere.

My conservatarian friends will say, so what? If you didn't save enough money in anticipation of this, then tough titties. No money, no insurance, no medical care. And, that's one way to view things I suppose, though not the way I want our society to operate. Even if we make all the right decisions in life, bad luck (such as becoming mostly unemployable after getting a few limbs shot off in Iraq) can obviously impact our ability to earn enough money to afford to cover our medical expenses in our old age.

So, first option is to just let people die. What are some other options? One is to have some sort of universal insurance for old people, which we have. Another would to have same but means test it to some degree. A third would be to encourage/require people to purchase lifetime insurance plans, which they'd start paying into when they're young. Advantages would be that payment schedules could be smoothed over a lifetime and contracts could be written so that policies couldn't be cancelled due to the development of a chronic condition (more on that below, that's an "outside the current model" situation). Disadvantages would be that not all people would be able to afford to pay these premiums, the policies could presumably be cancelled due to temporary inability to pay, and perhaps most importantly your health insurance company could go bankrupt about the time you hit 60, or the contract invalidated by a Republican judicial appointee, leaving you rather screwed. For various reasons, expectation of the enforcement of such long term contract arrangements can't really be guaranteed.

more later, as we add on some more wrinkles to make this a bit more realistic...

The Stupids

For some reason health insurance is one of those topics which brings the idiots out of the woodwork, largely because people seem to have little understand of what the purpose of insurance is generally. In addition, it's important to realize that we increasingly don't really have a system of "health insurance" but instead a system of "health care service providers," but we should all at least understand the general model of insurance, so we can begin there...

People want to buy insurance because they're risk averse. All else equal, people would prefer to earn $50,000 every year than $100,000 50% of the time and $0 50% of the time. Over your lifetime it'll add up to the same amount, but you'd prefer to be certain of $50,000 every year than to flip that coin every year. In rough econspeak:

U(50,000)> .5U(0)+.5U(100,000)

That is, the utility obtained from 50,000 with certainty is greater than the expected utility of a gamble which gives you 0 if the coin toss comes up heads and 100 grand if it comes up tails.

So, consider something like fire insurance. Every year there's a 10% chance that your house burns down and you lose $100,000 and a 90% chance you don't. Because you don't like the uncertainty, you're willing to pay some amount to remove that uncertainty from your life. Since an insurance company can bundle up a large number of people, as long as fires are uncorrelated events (no entire blocks burning down), the law of large numbers ensures that the total losses (equal to total insurance payouts) are essentially predictable. That is, the insurance would pay out an average of $10,000 per policy per year. An actuarially fair policy would have an insurance premium precisely equal to the expected (average) loss, or $10,000 per year, and a competitive insurance market would result in a price of just about that. The net result is that your "loss" every year is precisely certain - the value of your insurance premium. If your house burns down, you're out the $10K you paid to the insurance company, but they write you a nice check for 100 grand.

But, all that assumes the odds of houses burning down are identical and (more importantly) known by all parties. Reasonable enough for fire insurance, roughly, but not reasonable for car insurance, because some drivers are more likely to have accidents than others due to driving environment/ability/habits. If there were no legal requirements for automobile insurance, and insurance companies had no way to tell which drivers were "good" and which drivers were "bad," then there'd be a serious problem with the market. Short version is that actuarially fair premiums equal to the expected loss of the whole population of drivers would likely be higher than "good" drivers, who don't get into many accidents, would be willing to pay. So, good drivers don't buy car insurance, not because they don't "want to" but because they don't want to at a price which effectively subsidizes the rates of bad drivers. There's a market failure in the insurance market for good drivers. Bad drivers do get insurance, at an actuarially fair but expensive rate.

In practice, a combination of legislation requiring people to be some minimum amount of car insurance (for this and other reasons) and the ability of companies to charge different rates based on driving records and personal characteristics from which a risk profile can be inferred prevents this kind of market failure from happening.

With health insurance, however, the issues are somewhat different, but this post is getting too long...


Big Media Matt has a decent overview of the tax code change trial balloon. He concludes with:

As a word of advice to the Democrats, it would be best not to just get stuck defending the status quo and getting labeled as "against tax reform" while hoping that the media sorts out the details of this complicated boondoggle. Far better to devise a progressive, revenue-neutral, tax reform counterproposal, hopefully before Bush's planned commission is done spinning its wheels.

This is perhaps true, but it's also somewhat of a trap. The thing about "revenue neutral" changes to the tax code is that they necessarily raise some taxes and lower others. I'm quite sure that the primary mission of whatever commission is cobbled together by the Bushies will not to be to plot grand tax policy, but rather to find ways to add in a few gimmicky things they can use to come up with fake "representative" families who will miraculously find their taxes cut, and other propaganda gimmicks (mostly involving "small" business owners).

The problem with the Democrats having a plan is that it too will inevitably raise taxes on some people, and so coming out with a plan pre-emptively will allow Republicans to screech "Democrats want to raise your taxes!!!!"

So, yes, devise the plan... but introducing it first could be dangerous.

How Low Can the Bar Go

Yesterday's column by Anne Applebaum is perhaps the stupidest thing ever published in a major paper.

Holy Crap

Really. I don't even know what to say about this. I think the fact that insurance is linked to employment is a bad way of doing things, but this obviously isn't the way to solve it:

Instead the administration plans to push major amendments that would shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation, expand tax breaks for business investment and take other steps intended to simplify the system and encourage economic growth, according to several people who are advising the White House or are familiar with the deliberations.

The changes are meant to be revenue-neutral. To pay for them, the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns and scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance, the advisers said.

bye bye health insurance for a hell of a lot of people.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Late Night


Blood Libel

Wow. US News senior writer Michael Barone doesn't think the Willie Horton ad was racist, and says it's blood libel on the American people to suggest that it was.

And us bloggers are always being accused of contributing to vitriol...


Thanks to Hecate for handling things while I was away. Went to NYC to participate on a panel at the Columbia Journalism School about (surprise) blogging and the election. Spent most of the time discussing the usual blog straw men.

Celebrity sighting report (not at the panel): John Waters, who was kind enough to give my wife directions, and Andy Borowitz who is really really tall.

Groundhog Day

We really are in repeat. I'd forgotten Ken Pollack has a big new book out warning us about Iran. I'm sure we can look forward to his numerous appearances on chat shows saying diplomacy is the best solution, but absent that war is probably a better choice than doing nothing. Rumsfeld will deny that there are any "war plans on his desk," giggling as our press fails to note that he neither bothers to make any plans nor does he actually use a desk. Andy Card will comment that one waits until after Labor Day to roll out any new product. Judith Miller, the current Queen of All Iraq, will develop exciting new sources within the new Iranian National Congress. With any luck, the balsa wood drones of death will reappear, as will scary plans for weapons of mass destruction which look like they'd been scribbled by a 5 year old. And, it'll all hit the fan right before the midterms as the Dems once again run and hide.

Wake me up, please.

...oh no, it's going to be worse. We'll have endless weepy tributes to "Iranian college students" who will overthrow the government by Crazy Andy and Tom Friedman. Friedman will write endless "soul searching" columns about "Tom Friedman's war." Oh Lord, it goes on and on... the last two years really did righteously suck. I don't want to do them again.

Mine all Mine

Josh Marshall is right. We have a president who believes his "mandate" entitles him to appoint nothing but sycophants. I suppose he's correct, but at least with the last bunch, despite their utter incompetence they weren't utter fools. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Truly Stupid Ideas

Confessore has a great one, and it's a model more membership organizations should consider...

...just to add, there's no reason to stop (or necessarily start) at health insurance. Credit unions, other types of insurance, free subscription to 'Juggs', whatever. Let membership have its benefits...

Afternoon Thread

Chat away.


Anyone remember what this war was about?

The Cold War is Dead -- Long Live the Cold War!

Of course, nukes in the hands of state actors who are nuts could be a bit of a worry too...

Deja Vu All Over Again

Iranian exile group claims Iran has secret nuke program...

For the record Iran always seemed more like a genuine concern-->threat than Iraq ever did, though I'm not sure a "nuclear Iran" is really more worrisome than a "nuclear Pakistan." In both cases the greater concern is proliferation to non-state actors who are, well, nuts.

Euro Hits Record High

CBS Market Watch reports:

Euro rises to record high on dollar
Options barrier falls; Snow reiterates 'strong dollar'

By Emily Church & Osamu Tsukimori
Last Update: 7:22 AM ET Nov. 17, 2004

LONDON (CBS.MW) - The euro hit a record high against the dollar at $1.3047 on Wednesday as a wave of dollar selling in the foreign exchange markets took out options barriers protecting yen and the euro levels.

"There's an overwhelming belief ever since the U.S. elections that the dollar has got quite a way to go down," said Chris Furness, senior currency strategist for 4Cast research in London.

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, traveling in Europe, reiterated Wednesday that a "strong dollar" policy is in the interest of the U.S., but analysts said that the massive U.S. budget and trade deficits are keeping the pressure on the dollar.

Snow also reiterated his comment that the market should set currency rates, which bolstered the view in some corners that a coordinated invention to stem the dollar's decline is unlikely.

"The fundamentals suggest the only way the deficit is cured is with a lower dollar and the U.S. isn't going to stand in the way," Furness added.

The euro was last at $1.3034 after hitting a record $1.3047 in mid-morning trade in London. The markets are looking at $1.33 as the next target for dollar bears, Furness said.

Snow, speaking in London at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, pledged to take action to encouraging higher U.S. savings to curb the U.S. budget deficit, AFX News reported.


You heard the man. Quit spending money and start saving it.

John Kerry Reporting for Duty

Today's WaPo reports:

It's been two weeks since Kerry lost to President Bush. "The votes have not all been counted in New Mexico and Ohio," says Kerry's campaign and Senate spokesman David Wade, who is waiting for Kerry outside the strategy meeting. "And if you believe some of what you read on the Internet. . . . "

Wade is referring to the litany of conspiracy theories about voting irregularities. He says this while rolling his eyes. Message: Kerry is back at work.

More here.


Say what you will, I like Kerry's style. No one would have been surprised if he'd decided to take a long vacation, but he's back doing the people's business. Thanks, John Kerry. Oh, and one word of advice: Tell Wade to quit dissing the internets.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Late Night

bla bla.

In Crazy Balance

In crazy balance at the edge of time
Our spent days turn to cloud behind today --
And all tomorrow is a prophet's dream--
This moment only rages endlessly
And prime
Is always the long moment of decay.

by Mervyn Peake


Not really trying to start another poetry thread, but wanted to give you something a bit more substantial than: Chat away my sweet Martian bitches!

Green Tea in Red States

I'll have more on this, as well as thoughts on how-the-media-covers-religious-America, but I think it's pretty clear that it's people like Candy Crowley who have nothing but contempt for the masses even as they chastize Democrats for the same. Red Staters do more than drink beer, watch Nascar, and eat supersized McDonalds meals. I believe multiple varieties of tea have been widely available in most of the country for quite some time.

Paging Mr. Spitzer. Mr Elliot Spitzer to the Red Phone Please

The NYT says Shumer will stay in D.C.


Published: November 16, 2004

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 - Senator Charles E. Schumer on Monday ruled out running for governor of New York in 2006, saying that he would instead help lead the Democratic Party's efforts to retake the Senate.

Mr. Schumer's decision reshapes the political landscape in New York State and leaves the field open to Eliot Spitzer, the Democratic state attorney general, who has been gearing up for the campaign. Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican in his third term, has not said whether he will seek re-election.

Mr. Schumer, 53, who was just re-elected to a second term with a record 71 percent of the vote, made his decision to stay in Washington after seriously considering a jump to Albany, in part because of the diminished role of Democrats in the Senate.

But top Democrats vigorously campaigned to keep him in Washington, promising him a spot on the powerful Finance Committee and persuading him to lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee through the midterm elections of 2006.


This was a good decision, I think. Spitzer would likely make a good governor and stands a good chance to beat Pataki. I haven't followed Schumer too closely, but if he can help turn things around in 2006, I'm going to have nothing but good things to say about him. Let's start sending him our ideas and keep the pressure on him for the next two years. He needs to start, oh, about, yesterday working to win a solid majority in the Senate. Which seats are the Democrats most likely to pick up? I know I'm going to write him a long letter about Senator Allen's seat in Virginia.

It's Not the Sex, It's the Lying...

Bob Somerby reminds us that Condi Rice did, in fact, without any doubt lie while under oath to the 9/11 commission.

Rule of law! Rule of law!

Doctor Watch

Alterman says:

Remember my Kissinger/Zbig rule; though: Any journalist who sucks up to Condi by calling her “Dr. Rice,” has to use the same honorific for Josh M. and me, too--that is if we’re still speaking to you.

Hey, don't forget me!

Reid It And Weep

Well, they did it. The Dems have picked Harry Reid to lead the party. Good luck, Harry. You're going to need it.

Soldiers Reluctant to Go

More and more soldiers appear to be saying, "Heck, no! We won't go!". Be interesting to see if this gets much attention.

Foreign Fighters

LA Times reports that only 15 out of 1000+ people detained were foreign to Iraq.

Ridge Gone?

Or not. It appears that MSNBC is getting mixed messages, but CNN is still reporting it.

Replacement rumored to be the guy Tommy Franks called "the stupidest fucking guy on the face of the Earth."

duck and cover folks.

CBS Reports Surge in Producer Prices -- Led by Food and Energy

8:30am 11/16/04
U.S. Oct. PPI surges 1.7%, most in 14 years By Rex Nutting
WASHINGTON (CBS.MW) -- U.S. producer prices increased 1.7 percent in October, the fastest rate in 14 years, the Labor Department estimated Tuesday. Most of the inflation in finished goods prices came from volatile food and energy categories. The core rate, which excludes food and energy, rose a more moderate 0.3 percent for the second straight month. The headline figure stunned Wall Street economists, who were expecting a much milder 0.6 percent gain in the producer price index and a 0.2 percent rise in the core rate. The PPI is now up 4.4 percent in the past 12 months; the core rate is up 1.8 percent in the past year.


Atrios is the economist, but this doesn't sound to me like good news. Food and energy are things even the poorest have to buy. Now, volatility in the price of food and energy is affecting the price of produced goods. Merry Xmas! Consume some more!

Genocide in the Sudan

The situation in Sudan seems to go from bad to worse. Other than calling it a "genocide," the Bush administration has done nothing about the problems in Sudan. Freedom is certainly not on the march in the Sudan, but no one seems to care. How long until the terrorists figure out that this is a good place to hang out?

Whoops, look over there! Gay people! Scott Peterson! Survivor! Early Xmas shopping!

Late Night


Monday, November 15, 2004

War Crimes Are Not an American Value

Of course, Kerry was telling the truth about the atrocities in Viet Nam. Every war has atrocities. Now, there's a new one in Iraq. But it's too icky to show on tv. Too bad. This war will end when Americans get to see every night at dinner what their sons and daughters are becoming. What the true cost is of those SUVs. If it's too icky to show, maybe it's too icky for us to be doing it?


I don't know if Ken Mehlman is gay, but I do know that the Washington Blade ran a rather bizarre article recently about a bunch of gay Republicans... and Ken Mehlman. One imagines they "knew" but didn't have enough for good journalism, so they just threw him out there.

And, spare me the crap about his private life. This isn't about who Ken Mehlman is or isn't screwing, it's about whether a gay man is going to head the "values" party.


I'd like to think she'll do less damage at State than she did as NSA, but that's a) setting the bar pretty low and b) overly optimistic...

While the first Bush administration was run by the "competent grownups" who turned out to be incompetent, the second one will be run by their not so bright teenage nieces and nephews... Condi will be the closest thing to a "grownup" there is...

...internet vets for the truth (who I know nothing about - found through google) was kind enough to post the video of Condi's greatest moment. I wonder if her dinner pal Gwen Ifill will play this during her confirmation hearing.

How Do You Ask a Man to Be the Last One to Die Protesting a Mistake?

I was really still a girl during Viet Nam, but I'll never forget the pictures of Buddhist monks calmly burning themselves to death as a means of protest. Recently, we've had a suicide at the site of the World Trade Towers, apparently to protest the election and now, a man setting fire to himself in Washington, D.C. which may, or may not, be related to the war and recent election.

My dad took me to the great anti-war marches to protest the Viet Nam war. Some say that those protests helped to end the war; others say the war ended when it would have, anyway. Certainly, the bravery of the young men like John Kerry who came home from that war and called for its end helped to bring an end to that insanity.

Now, we're stuck in another quagmire, probably worse than Viet Nam. Again, young people are dying for no reason and others try to protest in as dramatic a fashion as possible. I don't think suicide is the answer, but I'd love to see a discussion. How can we effectively protest this insane war? What would work? Boycotts? Marches? Let's think creatively. The times call for it.

Preventing Nuclear Proliferation Should Be An American Value

One of Kerry's strongest moments in the debate was when he explained what a danger nuclear proliferation is and will be in the future. Apparently, the Europeans took him seriously. Too bad this administration would rather let nuclear proliferation grow in countries such as N. Korea and Iran while it pursues war games in Iraq.


U.N. agency welcomes Iran pledge on nukes
Suspension of uranium enrichment would meet main demand

The Associated Press
Updated: 12:17 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2004TEHRAN - The U.N. atomic watchdog agency gave its support Monday to Iran’s agreement to suspend all uranium enrichment activities

The United States, which has been pressing for tough U.N. action against Iran, has not yet taken a position on the tentative deal, saying it is waiting for word from Britain, Germany and France, the three nations negotiating with Tehran.

If a agreement announced Sunday with the Europeans is sealed, it would prevent Iran from being referred to the U.N. Security Council, where it could face sanctions for its nuclear program. In return for the suspension, Europe has been suggesting it would help Iran in developing peaceful nuclear energy.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a confidential report made available Monday to the Associated Press that Iran’s promise to suspend the enrichment activities by Nov. 22 would satisfy some of the agency’s demands.

Suspicions remain about clandestine programs
The agency said other suspicions remain about the nature of nearly two decades of clandestine nuclear programs.

ElBaradei was “not yet in the position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials” that could have been used for a weapons program, the report said.

But, it said, all nuclear material that Iran has declared to the agency in the past year has been accounted for, “and therefore we can say that such material is not diverted to prohibited (weapons) activities,” said the report, authored by ElBaradei.

In an important departure from previous reports, the document did not specifically say that ElBaradei would report to the next IAEA board on Iran. Instead it said it would give an accounting on the country and its nuclear activities “as appropriate.”

That wording was expected to be welcomed by Iran, who for months has urged the agency to close its file. The United States, which insists that Iran’s nuclear activities are geared toward making weapons, was likely to be unhappy with any suggestion that future pressure would ease.

Iran’s key concession is the suspension of activities related to enriching uranium — a process that can produce nuclear fuel either for power generation or for creating weapons.

More here.

Democrats Can Win by Promoting American Values

Reader Erik makes a good point. Promoting the environment can be a good way for Democrats to win.

Innovation that Protects the Environment and the Economy is an American Value

Industry sources report today that Republican lawmakers will flex their political muscle next year with a renewed push to permit drilling for oil and gas in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Some Republicans are also optimistic that their bigger Senate majority will help them advance broader energy legislation (HR 6), which stalled in November 2003 over a provision to limit liability for producers of MTBE, a fuel additive that can pollute groundwater. Some Republicans--including House Energy land Commerce Committee Chairman Joe L. Barton of Texas--have said they would like to push the energy legislation this month during the lame-duck session. Domenici has said that plan is unrealistic.

Meanwhile, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is poised to consider revising the 1990 Clean Air Act and the 1973 Endangered Species Act (PL 93-204) building on legislation (HR 2933) approved by the House Resources Committee in July that would make it more difficult to set aside land for endangered plants and animals.

Welcome to the Polluted States of America.

Of course, what we really need, and won't get with this administration, is a Manhattan project to get this country off of oil. It would improve our foreign relations, our environment, and our economy. Properly done, a Manhattan project would create jobs and new technologies that would allow us to stop polluting and still maintain our economy. However, given the oilmen in this administration and this administration's blinding short-sightedness concerning all global problems, don't hold your breath. Or, do; it might be better for your lungs.

Reader Rick makes a good point. There's no real need to move the scientists to Manhattan. The web now makes it possible for people all over the world to cooperate on a project like this and they would do so, particularly for the sort of rewards Rick suggests.


Travelling for a couple of days. I'll be in and out and Hecate will hopefully pick up the slack while I'm away...

¿Entiendes, Estrada?

I really can't believe Dobson is pushing Miguel Estrada...

Mr. Dobson said the Senate confirmation of new Supreme Court justices will be the most important job of the new Congress.
"And especially, especially, putting conservative judges on the judiciary, that is the key to everything," Mr. Dobson said.
"Miguel Estrada would be at the top of the list," Mr. Dobson said, referring to a conservative nominee to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District whose name was withdrawn in the face of a Democratic filibuster.

Mr. Estrada doesn't exactly fit into Mr. Dobson's "family" agenda...

Bye Colin

Thanks for nothing.

I'm reminded of Margaret Carlson, for some reason...

ROSE: Where were you on the war?
CARLSON: I was, give diplomacy a chance. I was with Colin Powell the whole way along! Whatever Colin Powell—

ROSE: Oh, so whatever Colin— You know. OK.

CARLSON: Yeah. Whatever Colin does, I’ll go with.

ROSE: Is that right?

We look forward to your resignation, too, Margaret...

Powell's Gone

Well, I didn't blow up the whole thing the other day, and Atrios will be in the Big Apple for a bit, so I'll be dropping in on occasion. Powell's gone and good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. He knew they were wrong, knew they were sending American solidiers to their death for no reason, and he sat back and allowed it to happen. Next SoS?

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Late Night

And on and on.

Evening Thread


Grand Ole Christian Conservative Police Blotter

Another corrupt one. What will we tell the children?

Some Loner

Now this is funny. According to Danny Boy Okrent, Jodi Wilgoren was justified in calling Kerry a "social loner" because...

yes, wait for it...

she talked about Kerry "with scores of his friends and associates."

Just meditate on that one for awhile...

(thanks to reader r)

Immunization Fallacy

Big Media Matt is right. No one is immune from the GOP attack machine.

This "immunization fallacy" needs to be combatted in all its manifestations. People thought after the 2000 election that it wouldn't be possible to demonize Tom Daschle, the soft-spoken veteran moderate Senator from very red South Dakota, but it was. People thought during the 2004 primary that it wouldn't be possible to demonize John Kerry, the war hero, as weak on national security (Kerry himself repeatedly asserted this), but it was. It's not impossible to demonize anyone, especially when the accuracy of your charges is entirely unrelated to your willingness to make them or to the media's willingness to cover them in a damaging manner. Reid will be subject to a demonization campaign. If Jeb Bush wins the Democratic nomination in 2008, he will be subject to a demonization campaign. The question is what are you going to do about it?

Stop. Blaming. The. Victim. You fucking morons.

The Test of Fallujah

At various junctures, we were promised by the administration that "now" we were "turning the corner." The statue toppling moment, "as soon as the electricity situation improves," the 6 or 7 times we killed "Chemical Ali," the capture of Saddam, the fake handover of power to Allawi, etc.. etc...

You'd think 17 times bitten twice shy, but at each point our media has been willing to propel this narrative, which basically amounts to "the light at the end of the tunnel is just around the corner."

I think it's fair to consider Fallujah the final test of the Bush administration's strategy of Whack-a-Mole. Even now, the Bush administration will not admit failing our troops by not having enough of them there. Their attempts to pass the buck by blaming the generals (except for Franks, who clearly deserves blame) were truly depraved. So, if after sending dozens of our soldiers to their deaths nothing really improves, can we finally say that without a doubt the current leadership has failed our troops, the people of Iraq, and us.

Purging the CIA

And so it begins...

WASHINGTON -- The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.

"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."

One of the first casualties appears to be Stephen R. Kappes, deputy director of clandestine services, the CIA's most powerful division. The Washington Post reported yesterday that Kappes had tendered his resignation after a confrontation with Goss' chief of staff, Patrick Murray, but at the behest of the White House had agreed to delay his decision till tomorrow.

But the former senior CIA official said that the White House "doesn't want Steve Kappes to reconsider his resignation. That might be the spin they put on it, but they want him out." He said the job had already been offered to the former chief of the European Division who retired after a spat with then-CIA Director George Tenet.

Exitus Acta Probat

Uggabugga has the new seal of the Justice Department.

He's overly generous. In this case, from what we know, there were no "ends" which actually justified the means.