Saturday, March 19, 2005


Remember folks, it's not the sex it's the lying...

In an effort to increase pressure on North Korea, the Bush administration told its Asian allies in briefings earlier this year that Pyongyang had exported nuclear material to Libya. That was a significant new charge, the first allegation that North Korea was helping to create a new nuclear weapons state.

But that is not what U.S. intelligence reported, according to two officials with detailed knowledge of the transaction. North Korea, according to the intelligence, had supplied uranium hexafluoride -- which can be enriched to weapons-grade uranium -- to Pakistan. It was Pakistan, a key U.S. ally with its own nuclear arsenal, that sold the material to Libya. The U.S. government had no evidence, the officials said, that North Korea knew of the second transaction.

Pakistan's role as both the buyer and the seller was concealed to cover up the part played by Washington's partner in the hunt for al Qaeda leaders, according to the officials, who discussed the issue on the condition of anonymity. In addition, a North Korea-Pakistan transfer would not have been news to the U.S. allies, which have known of such transfers for years and viewed them as a business matter between sovereign states.

Late Night

Have fun.

Spiro Nikolouzos

George Bush signed the law which allows the hospitals to make this decision:

A patient's inability to pay for medical care combined with a prognosis that renders further care futile are two reasons a hospital might suggest cutting off life support, the chief medical officer at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital said Monday.

Dr. David Pate's comments came as the family of Spiro Nikolouzos fights to keep St. Luke's from turning off the ventilator and artificial feedings keeping the 68-year-old grandfather alive.

St. Luke's notified Jannette Nikolouzos in a March 1 letter that it would withdraw life-sustaining care of her husband of 34 years in 10 days, which would be Friday. Mario Caba-llero, the attorney representing the family, said he is seeking a two-week extension, at minimum, to give the man more time to improve and to give his family more time to find an alternative facility.

Caballero said he would discuss that issue with hospital attorneys today.

Pate said he could not address Nikolouzos' case specifically because he doesn't have permission from the family but could talk about the situation in general.

"If there is agreement on the part of all the physicians that the patient does have an irreversible, terminal illness," he said, "we're not going to drag this on forever ...

"When the hospital is really correct and the care is futile ... you're not going to find many hospitals or long-term acute care facilities (that) want to take that case," he said. "Any facility that's going to be receiving a patient in that condition ... is going to want to be paid for it, of course."


In 1999 then governor Bush signed a law which allowed hospitals to withdraw life support from patients, over the objections of the family, if they consider the treatment to be nonbeneficial.

Red Alert

45% approval.

March 19 - Although President George W. Bush has been traveling the country touting a new plan to overhaul the Social Security system, campaigning in 15 states over six weeks, the majority of Americans remain unswayed, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. Only one-third of all Americans (33 percent) approve of his proposal to create investment accounts under Social Security, the poll found, while 59 percent disapprove. More Americans (44 percent) trust Congressional Democrats with managing the 70-year-old program. The poll also found that, with the exception of his handling of terrorism and homeland security, his approval numbers are down across the board.


Forty-five percent of all Americans approve of the way he is doing his job, a five-point dip from early February; 48 percent disapprove, up six points. Bush's approval numbers have fallen the most among the demographic at whom his Social Security overhaul is targeted at: just 43 percent of 18-29 year olds approve of his performance (down from 56 percent a month ago).


professor b says:

Anyway, so now he's changed his mind. Sort of. On the grounds that the opposition would make it very difficult to run a legal system. Not, mind you, on the grounds that it's fucking disgusting (I know, just like a girl to get all emotional. That's not a substantive political argument! Next you'll be saying that it "makes you feel sick," and we'll be able to accuse you of being Victorian. Which of course is a substantive political argument, because we say so).

And apparently a number of people seem to think that this is real big of him. This is how low the bar is set? It's reasonable to debate whether or not torture is ok while tut-tutting the inexcusable level of personal abuse that someone advocating torture gets, praising him for his usual even temper?

Yes. Let's all toss bouquets about when people advocate torture in measured tones, and distance ourselves from those who are horrified. Let's nod our heads sagely and have a discussion: is torture a good idea? Let's denigrate those who express incredulity and anger at said discussion by calling them "abusive" without tasting the bitter irony. And, having whetted our appetites over a rousing gentleman's debate, let's buy torture advocates dinner when they allow that, well, torture may be desirable but, alas, it's not practical.

You look a little nauseous. Here, have a mint.

Jonah's Mission

Ah, finally Jonah Goldberg will be able to live out his dream of serving this fine nation, now that the age of eligibility has been lifted to 40.

Moreover, military leaders are taking steps to ease stress on the troops by temporarily boosting ranks; rebalancing forces to add badly needed infantry, military police and civil affairs troops; and employing civilians where possible. Yesterday, defense officials worried about recruiting announced that they will raise the age limit, from 34 to 40, for enlistment in the Army Guard and Reserve. The Pentagon is spending billions to repair and replace battle-worn equipment and buy extra armor, radios, weapons and other gear.

Yet such remedies take time, and no one, including senior officials, can predict how long the all-volunteer force can sustain this accelerated wartime pace. Recruiting troubles, especially, threaten the force at its core. But with a return to the draft widely viewed as economically and politically untenable, senior military leaders say the nation's security depends on drumming up broader public support for service.

Jonah's example will inspire thousands of others to follow his lead.

(thanks to RK in comments)

...and, as Alice reminds us, Private Beinart will presumably be joining him.

Privatization Sucks

This WaPo article is, as they say, a "must read." Short version: Even without cuts in guaranteed benefits, with the "clawback" in the Bush Social Security program, 32% of workers who divert their payroll taxes would do worse than those who don't, using the unrealisitically high rates of return assumed by the SSA actuaries.

Under rates of return which sensible people believe in, and which are compatible with assumptions about the economy made by the SSA actuaries, 71% of workers would be worse off.

Kevin, and Max have more.

Poor Joe

DeLong explains why Joe Lieberman is, in fact, full of republican talking point shit.

Open Thread

Have fun.

Politics, Republican-style


And, the sight of Doctor Doctor Senator Frist, M.D. Wanker Esquire giving his professional "diagnosis" of Schiavo was just stunning.

The depths to which these people will sink knows no limit.

Bobo's World


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Agents with the FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force arrested a Christian radio station personality as part of a child pornography investigation.

Bureau agents began investigating Chris Ruleman, 40, a midday host for WFFI, 94FM The Fish, earlier this week after receiving information that he possessed child pornography.

He remained in the Nashville jail pending an appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge on Friday.

The Fish general manager Mike Miller said Ruleman will not be on air while the investigation is ongoing.

Morning Thread


Friday, March 18, 2005

Late Night



I'm going to break my own rules and for a moment take an online poll seriously. This was what CNN had up a few minutes ago:

The spectacle of Congress trying to intervene on a case-by-case basis in these types of personal decisions is something which turns off most people. It'd be one thing if 6 months ago they'd try to enact some sort of general legislation about these types of issues, but watching them leap into action at the last minute and try to poke their noses into a family's choice that all of us hope we never have to make is going to disturb a lot of people.

As for the Democrats -- not all manufactured culture war events require you to play for the wrong side. People don't always side with the Republicans and their ridiculous spectacles.

...and, here are some actual poll results.

Friday Cat Blogging

If you come near me, Jonah, I'll scratch your goddamn eyes out edition.

This is the stray cat who hangs out on the roof of the abandoned building next door (Atriosville not quite fully gentrified).

And, here he is taking his afternoon nap.

A Cunning Plan

Matthew Yglesias has some fun with the Ferrara/Sununu/Ryan plan for social security. Short version of the plan:

1) divert substantial social security tax revenues into private accounts
2) guarantee that private account + guaranteed benefits = currently promised benefits (if your account tanks, they still pay you)
3) maintain solvency of trust fund until infinity and beyond!

This is the have your cake and eat it and everyone else's too and then some free pie and here's a pony! plan.

It's quite an amazing plan, really -- I bet you're all scratching your heads wondering just how on Earth they manage to pull of this kind of magic wizardry! How could they guarantee current benefits, divert taxes, and maintain solvency until infinity and beyond without raising taxes which as we all know is impossible!

Simple, they simply mandate transfers from the general fund into the trust fund as necessary. Just like magic! As I wrote awhile back, "a way to "solve" the "problem" by acknowledging that it doesn't exist."

Of course, you can do away with the private accounts and still solve the solvency problem tomorrow by mandating the general fund transfers. In fact, the private account add-on would require much higher general fund transfers.

It's truly a batshit crazy plan, but since it promises everything for everyone...


The diary of a young Midwestern girl...

"Nutty Idea"

(Poppy) Bush on privatizing social security.


Majikthise writes:

It's an exciting development for the armchair torture contingent. We've segued from "Could torture ever be an acceptable means to an end?" to "Torture is a morally obligatory punishment that the state should inflict on its own citizens, even if we have to rewrite the Constitution to do it."


Via Shakespeare's Sister I came across this rather stunning fact, which I think I've been exposed to before but I tend to block it out - it wasn't until 1991 that a regular Gallup showed that a plurality of Americans approved of interracial marriage (48%). 4% approved in 1958. 36% approved in 1978. In 1991 20% thought it should be illegal - that number was 40% in 1972.

...and, thinking back, let me just add that in the 80s I seem to remember that a lot of people who disapproved of interracial imagined that it wasn't out of any personal disapproval, but, you know, what about the children who have to grow up in a racist society? As in, *I'm* perfectly fine with it, but other people aren't, so perhaps it's better if it doesn't happen. Ridiculous, but nonetheless a fairly mainstream position at the time.

Projection Much?

Jesse brings us Krauthammer's latest.

Those who claimed, with great certainty, that Arabs are an exception to the human tendency toward freedom, that they live in a stunted and distorted culture that makes them love their chains -- and that the notion the United States could help trigger a democratic revolution by militarily deposing their oppressors was a fantasy -- have been proved wrong.

About which Jesse writes, "I think the claim's been made often enough that someone, somewhere, should have a quote which in some way proves it."

I will step up to the challenge! This was written in the Washington Post on October 14, 1993:

But Russia is hardly the only place where we will have to make fateful choices between authoritarians and totalitarians. We face the same question in the Arab world, where Islamic fundamentalist forces are pressing their campaign against the moderate regimes of Egypt, Jordan, Algeria and Tunisia.

In the case of Egypt, the question is becoming acute. President Hosni Mubarak is in the midst of a desperate campaign against Islamic extremists adept at terror and committed to a Khomeini-like Islamic state. The fall of Egypt, linchpin of the Middle East, would be an international calamity second only to the fall of Russia, linchpin of Eurasia. Mubarak is no doubt asking us, "Do you support me in my war against the fundamentalists?" Our answer has to be: Given the alternative -- yes.

In Algeria last year, Islamic fundamentalists may well have won a democratic election but were denied power and indeed outlawed by the military. In the face of the military's usurpation, the United States was silent, a silence correctly interpreted as tacit support.

Are we not violating the very tenets of democracy that are supposed to be the moral core of American foreign policy? No. Because democracy does not mean one man, one vote, one time. In the German elections of 1932 and 1933, the Nazis won more votes than any other party. We know what they did with the power thus won. Totalitarians are perfectly capable of achieving power through democracy, then destroying it.

Moreover, democracy does not just mean elections. It also means constitutionalism -- the limitation of state power -- in political life, and tolerance and pluralism in civic life. Yeltsin and Mubarak are clearly more committed to such values than those who would overthrow them. That is why it would be not just expedient but right to support undemocratic measures undertaken to avert a far more anti-democratic outcome. Democracy is not a suicide pact.

by none other than.... Charles Krauthammer!

Wanker of the Day

Joe Lieberman.

Here's what Krugman wrote:

In fact, the trustees never said that waiting a year to "fix" Social Security costs $600 billion. Mr. Bush was grossly misrepresenting the meaning of a technical discussion of accounting issues (it's on Page 58 of the 2004 trustees' report), which has nothing to do with the cost of delaying changes in the retirement program.

Here, for the record, is the relevant excerpt from p. 58 of the trustees' report:

Between 2003 and 2004 it actually became less expensive to save social security until infinity time!

Living Wills

Just go write them, now. That is all.

The Problem With Wolfowitz

He's craptacular!

Thursday, March 17, 2005


More on Radical Professors from Digby, Ignatz,, agonist, and yglesias and ACSBlog.

Thanks Senator Smith

Kudos to Senator Smith for showing there's some humanity left on the other side of the aisle.

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to strip all proposed Medicaid cuts from the $2.6 trillion budget for next year, jeopardizing the heart of the plan's deficit reduction in an embarrassing setback to President Bush (news - web sites) and Republican leaders.

The change, whose chief sponsor was moderate Sen. Gordon Smith (news, bio, voting record), R-Ore., was approved 52-48 after days of heavy lobbying by both sides. It was widely seen as a test of the GOP-run Congress' taste for making even moderate reductions in popular benefit programs that consume two-thirds of the budget and are growing rapidly.

The Medicaid cuts could still be revived when the House and Senate try writing a compromise budget next month. The more conservative House approved a budget Thursday by 218-214 that is tougher on domestic spending than the Senate is, including up to $20 billion in Medicaid savings.

Medicaid is hideously expensive because our health care system is so screwed up.

A Sentence I Never Thought I'd Write

"If only more conservatives were as sensible as Jeff Jacoby..."

It's An Insurance Program

Yes, survivor benefits don't do anything for childless people, and I'd be more than happy to increase Social Security's tiny "death benefit" to at least inflation-adjusted levels, but for married (or even divorced) people with children, Social Security is an extremely generous life insurance policy.

The Cultural Revolution

A survey by Billmon.

Radical Professors

Roy and Arthur discuss.

...and Henry.

CNN Hurts America

Between this and the live coverage of the baseball hearings, which nobody actually cares about


Remember, it's not the sex or the creepy dead fetus kidnapping, it's the lying...

WASHINGTON - Three weeks ago, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., vowed to fight President Bush's "unacceptable" plan to eliminate funding for Amtrak.

He changed tracks yesterday, voting with the president and against an amendment to add $1.04 billion in government assistance for the system.


Appearing on "Meet the Press" on Feb. 27, Santorum said Bush's proposed cut was "not acceptable to me" and predicted it would not pass.

Call and inform the good senator's staff that you're shocked that such a good Christian man is such a big fat liar.

Washington, D.C. Office:
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main: 202-224-6324

Morning Thread


Wednesday, March 16, 2005


On NPR today:

But that's why as we manage the most serious risks, we drive down the consequences of an act. It's not terribly different from what we do with organized crime in this sense. When we attacked organized crime at law enforcement community, we didn't eliminate crime, but by targeting the high-priority elements of where they were causing the greatest damage to society, we drove the risks down, we drove the consequences down to a level which was still bad but was not as bad as it had been. Likewise, in the era of terrorism, what we seek to on the way to eliminating terrorism is drive down, again to protect the most important, most valuable things against the greatest risks so that the consequences of an act are less serious a year from now than they would have been, let's say, a year ago.

Gee, that reminds of something someone said once... maybe during a political campaign or something... can't quite remember...


Looks like they may succeed in killing it.

I guarantee what will happen is that they'll kill it, open it up to private companies which need subsidies for the "transition," those subsidies will never really go away, but it's okay because it's "for profit" now even if those profits are just pork.

No More TV About Blogging

What CJR says. Look, people sitting in front of computer screens talking about what bloggers are talking about has to be one of the most mind-numbingly boring things possible. If you think a blogger has something worth saying, get them in a studio. If you think bloggers are covering interesting stories, then cover those stories. But "covering the bloggers" is really just silly.

(via DC Media Girl)

Told You So


Despite a pledge by OPEC ministers to increase oil production, don't expect much of a break on oil prices. With crude oil prices hitting a record $56 a barrel Wednesday, OPEC ministers meeting in Iran have been grappling with a problem they haven’t confronted in the cartel’s 45-year history. In the past, OPEC tried to cool overheated prices by pumping more when supplies got too tight. But most OPEC producers say they’re already pumping as fast as they can. And despite the high cost of a barrel of crude, world demand shows no signs of slowing.

To help stop the surge in prices, OPEC ministers agreed to pump an extra half million barrels of oil a day beginning April 1. OPEC said it would consider pumping more later if the extra oil doesn't push prices lower.

But even before the decision was announced, some ministers had openly expressed doubts that the move will do any good, saying they’ve run out of options in trying to rein in the price of crude. Global oil demand has taken up most of the slack in extra OPEC capacity. Consumption is now believed by many analysts to be pressing up against the limits of what the world can produce. Saudi Arabia is the only country believed to have any surplus production left, and even then the Saudis are pumping close to 90 percent of capacity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

"There is not much we can do,” Algerian Oil Minister Chakib Khelil told reporters Tuesday in Isfahan, Iran, the site of Wednesday’s meeting.

"OPEC has done all it can do.” Qatar Oil Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah said. “This is out of the control of OPEC."

That's not to say OH MY GOD WE'RE OUT OF OIL WE'RE DOOMED. It's quite possible that they can ramp up production over the longer run, but I can't believe there'd be enough cartel discipline to keep members from pumping out everything that wasn't short run profitable.

They Get Letters


Any lingering doubt that the national cable news channels have lost their collective minds should have been dispelled on the afternoon of March 16. While the U.S. Senate was voting that day on the Cantwell amendment, an attempt to stop the Bush administration from allowing oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), CNN and MSNBC were blathering on about the death-penalty ruling in the Scott Peterson case. Outside its immediate community, the Peterson case is a total non-event. And it’s not as if the Senate vote on ANWR wasn’t good video: As dutifully covered by C-SPAN, the vote was close (49 to 51 against), and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chair of the proceedings, was wearing -- and I could not make this up -- what appeared to be an “Incredible Hulk" tie. Stevens’ tie perhaps aptly describes the current state of national cable television news: an incredible junkpile.

...and, onward to the Blake decision...


What Chait says.

Open Thread

Have fun.


This is a rather long and complicated post on the issue, but short version is that right now the House is an ethics free zone and the Democrats are trying to force a floor vote to establish an appropriate set of ethics rules.

You can read the post for all of the ways that Bob Ney is tied up in the Abramoff/DeLay stuff, but here's the action alert:

So, for anybody living in Ohio's 18th, a quaint area that includes Zanesville... please give Mr. Ney a call and ask whether he will sign the discharge petition. If he says that he will not, remind him that if he is truly guilt-free he should want a fully functioning ethics committee with public confidence to clear his name, and that his lack of support lends itself to serious suspicion. If you live in Ohio but outside of the 18th district, write a letter to the editor noting Ney's predicament. Bob Ney Day!

For any of you who are in Ohio's 18th, give Ney a call and ask him to sign the discharge position.

Washington, D.C. 20515
P: 202.225.6265
F: 202.225.3394

St. Clairsville
146 A. West Main St.
St. Clairsville, OH 43950
Phone: 740-699-2704
Fax: 740-699-2769

New Philadelphia
Hilton Fairfield Building
152 Second St., NE #200
New Philadelphia, OH 44663
Phone : 330-364-6380
Fax : 330-364-7675

126 East Second Suite D
Chillicothe, OH 45601
Phone : 740-779-1634
Fax : 740-779-1641

200 Broadway
Jackson, OH 45640
Phone: 740-288-1430
Fax: 740-286-7630

Masonic Temple Building
38 North, 4th St.
Zanesville, OH 43701
Phone: (740) 452-7023
Fax: (740) 452-7191

Mystery of the Wingnuttery Solved!

Bob Somerby tracks down the source of George Will's wingnuttery. It's really unbelievable, and it's extraordinary that Fred Hiatt lets this stuff get in print.

DC Folk - Get Visible

Tom Delay and the Republicans are holding an Outdoor Media Event TODAY in DC to Promote Privatization of Social Security!

Let’s take to the streets and make OUR presence known.
Tom Delay must know that nowhere is safe for Republicans to promote privatization.

Where: 1st and Independence St, SE (1 block north of Capitol South metro)
When: 1:45 pm TODAY
Why: To show there is strong opposition to privatizing Social Security - An Americans United to Protect Social Security Rally!
What: A short little march outside their event (2:00 on the Cannon Terrace)

Take 20 minutes out of you day to join us! The Privatization folks are using this time to promote their agenda­Lets not let that happen!

****Stop the Lies, Don’t Privatize****

If you have any question contact

Alison Whelan
Americans United to Protect Social Security

Bush on Social Security

"I have not laid out a plan yet."

Wanker of the Day

Davey Horowitz.

"Something Really Futile and Stupid"

Now we know what drives the Republican agenda...

Opec Boosts Output

My bet is that at these prices every country in the cartel was cheating anyway and there isn't much production slack. But, we'll see...

Government By Halliburton For Halliburton

From Think Progress:

In 2004, the UN’s International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) - the international group that oversees the use of Iraqi money on Iraqi reconstruction - wanted to know more about Halliburton. Specifically, they wanted to conduct an audit of Halliburton subsidiary Kellog Brown & Root’s single-source, oh-so-lucrative Iraq contract, $1.6 billion of which came straight from Iraqi coffers. After much foot dragging, the White House finally complied, sending the IAMB heavily redacted versions of audits the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) had conducted into Halliburton’s use of the money.

Blacked out of the redacted report was the fact that Halliburton may have bilked the U.S. military out of about $100 million. Also blacked out were statements critical of KBR like “KBR was unable to reconcile the proposed costs to its accounting records” and “KBR did not always provide accurate information.”

Here’s where it gets really interesting. Wondering why the extensive redactions blocked all of the negative findings, the crack researchers in Rep. Henry Waxman’s office looked into the matter. It turns out the White House gave Halliburton a copy of the negative audit and let the company scrub out all of the negative stuff itself before it was sent to the UN group. A letter from KBR dated 9/28/04 to the Army Corps of Engineers states “we have redacted the statements of DCAA that we believe are factually incorrect or misleading and could be used by a competitor to damage KBR’s ability to win and negotiate new work.”

Deep Benefit Cuts and Massive Debt

Yesterday, 50 senators put themselves on record voting for deep benefit cuts in social security and massive new debt. The ones who are up for re-election in '06 are:

Allen, George VA
Burns, Conrad MT
Chafee, Lincoln RI
Ensign, John NV
Hatch, Orrin UT
Hutchison, Kay Bailey TX
Kyl, Jon AZ
Lott, Trent MS
Lugar, Richard IN
Santorum, Rick PA
Talent, Jim MO
Thomas, Craig WY

...they all voted against the Nelson Amendment which stated:

It is the sense of the Senate that Congress should reject any Social Security plan that requires deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt.

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Open Thread

Have fun.


Bowers has some questions for Chait which are pretty good regarding his recent mini-tantrum about "the suicidal purity of the Democratic party's left wing, embodied by the Howard Dean movement and its fanatical internet contingent."

Of course, what Chait's really talking about isn't purity with respect to politicians - there isn't actually much of that. Hell, if there were we'd all give up and go vote for the latest incarnation of Ralph. He's talking about flak that an Even the New Republic writing, Iraq war supporting, Anti-Dean blog running pundit gets because he's ostensibly representing a "left" which has little actual voice in the media.

I'm sure he got lots of nastyness from Dean supporters, but he did sort of invite it by thinking that the best use of his time was to devote himself to fanatically nuking his candidacy on the internet.

Open Thread

160% of Democrats agree!

Pizza Eating Surrender Monkeys

Italy to pull out by September...

...or maybe not, nice job getting it wrong CNN. Raising possibility of bringing some troops home.

Ebbers Guilty

It's nice to see that the Sgt. Schultz defense, for once, didn't work.

Hurrah for War!

About 40% of Republicans want to go to war with North Korea, Syria, and Iran.

I'm sure these patriotic people will get busy driving their sons and daughters to the recruitment center.


I'm so glad we're in a world where C-Span feels the need to balance a writer who wrote a book about the lies of a holocaust denier... with the holocaust denier.

One of the weirdest episodes in punditocracy history is Chris Hitchen's long flirtation with Irving:

This is the tack Christopher Hitchens has long taken when writing about David Irving, and it is worth dwelling on him, as his writing provides a useful compendium of Irving apologias. In a June 1996 Vanity Fair column after St. Martin's Press canceled its contract with Irving to publish his biography of Joseph Goebbels, Hitchens, styling himself the macho defender of the First Amendment, called the anti-Irving articles that led to St. Martin's actions "hysterical and old-maidish." Of the historians condemning Irving he wrote, "These are supposedly experienced historians who claim to have looked mass death in the face, without flinching. And they can't take the idea of a debate with David Irving?"

The sly implication of those lines is that Irving's opponents are afraid to confront him. What Hitchens ignores is the position that Deborah Lipstadt has taken for years: that to debate Holocaust deniers implies they are expressing a fact-based vision of history. Shilling for Hitler, Irving is expressing no such thing.

Wanker of the Day

Joshua Green.

Drinking Liberally

For locals, remember every Tuesday 6-9 at Ten Stone, 21st and South. Or, find your local time and place here.

There's a pretty big weekly crowd now, about 8-10 regulars and usually half a dozen or more not-so-regulars. And, don't be shy - we're not always so good about herding new people into the group, so just look for a group of mixed-age people and say hello.

And, this week, free buttons!


Just curious, how much per week do you spend on gas generally?

...anyway, I was wondering because I was just trying to get a sense in an anecdotal way of how painful further increases in gas prices would be. I have to say, not all that much. Sure, any increase in the price of something you need hurts if you're at the lower end of the income distribution, but even for people who drive a lot gas expenses don't appear to really be a significant portion of your expenditures.

...and, yes, oil and gas price increases make everything more expensive, but I was curious about "pain at the pump."

Paging John Stossel

John Stossel's usually the kind of guy who can turn $30 in "government waste" into an epic poem about the evils of government.

So, why is he not bothered by the fact that we paid $27 million for $87,000 in fuel?

Morning Thread


Monday, March 14, 2005



As it happens, Mr. Lieberman stated clearly what was wrong with the bankruptcy bill: "It failed to close troubling loopholes that protect wealthy debtors, and yet it deals harshly with average Americans facing unforeseen medical expenses or a sudden military deployment," making it unfair to "working Americans who find themselves in dire financial straits through no fault of their own." A stand against the bill would have merged populism with patriotism, highlighting Democrats' differences with Republicans' vision of America.

But many Democrats chose not to take that stand. And Mr. Lieberman was among them: his vote against the bill was an empty gesture. On the only vote that opponents of the bill had a chance of winning - a motion to cut off further discussion - he sided with the credit card companies. To be fair, so did 13 other Democrats. But none of the others tried to have it both ways.

It isn't always bad politics to say things that aren't true and claim to support things you actually oppose: just look at who's running the country. But Democrats who engage in these tactics right now create big problems for a party that has been given a special chance - maybe its last chance - to remind the country of what Democrats stand for, and why.

Village Green Preservation Society

Is it just me or is this old album by the Kinks suddenly everywhere. I think a song or two was used in commercials recently and now everywhere I go it's being played. Today it was on at the local Pad Thai take out...


Media Matters notes George Will's latest Social Security hackery. While he didn't invent the "2011 is the crisis date!" spin point (the person I saw peddling that first was Luskin, I believe), I'm curious about something else. I didn't do this item, but I did spend a few minutes trying to track down the wingnut communications post from which he got his claim that "between 2011 and 2016, Social Security outlays will exceed revenue by $32 billion." Usually this kind of wingnuttery bubbles up from somewhere, but I couldn't find it anywhere except Will's column.

But, hey, I'm just a silly blogger who doesn't have any editors. Will's editors appear to be asleep.

Ministry of Silly Hacks

I've long thought that Marshall Wittmann was a very silly person, and with this post he degenerates into a self-parody of the self-parody that he normally is.

But, just to make clear why people like me don't like Joe Lieberman - it's because he's a Fox News Democrat. Yes, his unwavering support for Bush's disastrous foreign policy and his love for torture don't win him any points either, but he's not the only Democrat for whom that applies.

And, on most issues, it isn't even true that Lieberman is particularly conservative. Yes, he huffs and puffs about the evils of Hollywood and video games, but his voting record on most issues is fairly good.

The problem with Lieberman isn't that he's too far to the right it's that he's frequently willing to adopt and perpetuate Republican spin points. It's okay to criticize your own side, and it's okay to have some independence. What isn't okay is attacking your own side in a way which benefits the other guys, especially when it's most of what you do.

It's a big tent, but not big enough for the Fox News Democrats.

Open Thread

Have fun.

Trustees' Report

I know I keep banging on this, but it really is something we need to keep an eye on. Sometime this month, presumably, the SSA Trustees will release their annual report on the health and wealth of the trust fund. Included in that will be a "high," "medium," and "low" cost projects about the solvency of the system, each with different economic and demographic assumptions. The "medium" cost one will be adapted as the most accepted number for use in the media.

Last week Krugman wrote:

Many people involved in the debate over Social Security's future worry that the 2005 trustees' report will be slanted in favor of privatization.

I don't expect to see books that are literally cooked: Stephen Goss, the agency's chief actuary, has an excellent reputation. But it's not out of the question. After all, in 2003 the chief actuary of Social Security's sister agency, which oversees Medicare, was told that he would be fired if he gave Congress accurate information about the cost of the Bush Medicare bill.

Even if the numbers aren't fabricated, however, it's a good bet that they will be presented in a way intended to make Social Security's financial outlook seem much bleaker than it really is.

From what I understand he's underestimating the potential for tricksyness. Goss may have an excellent reputation, but there is a lot of wiggle room for the choices of projected numbers to throw into the model. And, most importantly - the Trustees themselves, a bunch of Bush cabinet officials and other assorted hacks, will be the ones choosing the final numbers.

The real story won't be the bumper sticker results, but what sort of massaging was implemented to get there. There will be tremendous political pressure to make the report look "bad," even though given that last year's productivity increase (a key variable) greatly exceeded what was projected for last year's report.

Bashing Mallaby

Matt takes a crack at it.

As does Josh.

...and Chait

...and Somerby

Everybody pile on!


While all right thinking people should condemn the Bush administration for their production of fake news, it's important to not lose sight of the fact that it's our ethically pure media who are running the segments. And, if the NYT is correct that these outlets are actually being paid to do so...

But Markos once worked for Howard Dean and disclosed it!!!

Nice Work

I miss Bernie Kerik:

Former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik accepted thousands of dollars in royalties from a book published to raise money for the families of heroes killed on Sept. 11, 2001, the Daily News has learned.
Kerik contributed an 11-sentence foreword to the book of photographs, titled "In the Line of Duty," in which he praised police and firefighters who "desperately fought and struggled and bled and died in a noble effort."

"Theirs is a story beyond words; a story of bravery, fidelity and sacrifice; a story that must never be forgotten," Kerik wrote.

Kerik's royalties on the book have so far totaled $75,954.52, sources told The News.

The deal came about when Kerik was engaged in a torrid year-long affair with the book's publisher, Judith Regan, as The News revealed in December.

Wanker of the Day

Michelle Malkin.

Deep Thoughts

By Jim Henley.

Too Much To Ask

A little while back Yglesias wrote about his experiences with Mike Allen on a panel:

He said that news writers are trying to present both sides' points-of-view, hence the "he said, she said" quality to it, but that they're trying to present these points-of-view in such a way so that a discerning reader can tell who's right based on reading the story.

I suppose this story about Tom DeLay is an example of that. A discerning reader can indeed tell that DeLay's defenders are buffoons and hacks, that Allen knows that, and that their inclusion in the story is just a way to maintain "balance" while making it perfectly clear what in Allen's mind the truth is. But, that's not what most readers take away from it. Most readers get that this is just another he said/she said story.


BMM says:

The only possible alternative plan the Democrats could put forward would be to increase the extent of Social Security pre-funding. In principle pre-funding, as epitomized by the '83 reform, is a good idea. In practice, the '83 reform was part of an elaborate 22 year-long boondoggle to decrease taxes on the wealthy, increase taxes on the poor, and gut Social Security. At some point in the future, the GOP may regain enough credibility on this issue to make the concept worth revisiting. That point is not now. The only policy objective related to changing Social Security that Democrats really need to be pushing is increasing General Fund revenue so that the last round of pre-funding can be implemented as Ronald Reagan promised it would be.

Indeed, and it isn't just the Republicans. There are many in the "respectable" media (cough, Tim Russert, cough), who fret about "solvency" while simultaneously poo-pooing the reality of the trust fund. Pre-funding is just a scam to add a regressive tax unless the players acknowledge that the trust fund is "real."

Again, this kind of doubletalk is expected from politicians. It's pathetic when it comes from supposedly neutral media types.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Blue Finger

Armando makes the important point that demands for orgasmic happy talk for any positive-sounding events tend to suppress any rational discussion of those events. This doesn't just shut down avenues of opinion, it shuts down the reporting of actual facts.

I never thought we should've invaded Iraq. But, I always wanted it to work out for the best to whatever extent that was possible. It's a shame that those who supported the war were, for the most part, more concerned with preserving the reputation of war supporters than actually doing anything to ensure that their pet project was a success. It's been a constant refrain that anti-war folks wanted things to go badly in Iraq, but it's been pro-war types who have consistently enabled the inept bungling that followed the fall of Baghdad.

Free Katha

In response to all the various discussions about the lack of female columnists, an emailer suggests that the New York Times remedy this by hiring Katha Pollitt.


Follow Up

Perhaps this is the question I'm curious about:

If you leave your child of age X alone for an afternoon and she manages to injure or kill herself, what is the minimum X such that you won't be arrested for some sort of parental negligence? What is the minimum X such that Nancy Grace won't try to destroy your life on national TV?

And, has X changed over the past 20 years?

And, in terms of arrest I don't need citation of state law, as these are the kinds of things which tend to be prosecuted with a lot of discretion. Just a general sense of how old does a kid have to be before it's "okay" to leave them alone?

The Culture of Parenting

So, has it changed? There's a lot of chatter about how expectations about adult supervision for children have changed a lot over the years -- that it's no longer culturally acceptable for kids to be unsupervised up to a pretty advanced age. Is this true?

Zombies and Racists

Amanda updates.

Bicycle Helmets and Child Car Seats


More on Kids and Suburbs

Because everyone loves a good flamefest...

In the post below I wasn't questioning why many people choose live and raise kids in the suburbs. There are perfectly good reasons including the fact that many people really like suburban life. I'm not criticizing their choices.

What I'm talking about is my sense that there are large numbers of people who would consider someone who chose to raise their kids in an urban environment to be, well, out of their minds. And, that would be the case even if you took the top two "why I love the suburbs" reasons off the table - schools and crime. If you provided more decent school opportunities in urban areas and substantially reduced crime, they would still consider it nuts to raise your kids in the city.

Open Thread



Margaret Cho's show is really funny. Highly recommended -- catch it when it comes to your town. Last comedian I saw was Jon Stewart and she was much better.

Bumped into her costar and opening act, Bruce Daniels, at a bar after the show and he was very friendly.

Kids in the City

Yglesias says:

Having been raised in Manhattan, I firmly believe that it's not only a good place to raise children, it's a fantastic place to raise children. If you can afford it, that is. Which is, needless to say, a very big if.

I don't have any wee ones, but one thing I will never understand is why suburban America is almost universally considered to be the ideal place to raise children. Yes, the money issue in cities is real, so I understand why people choose the suburbs over the city, but the money isn't the reason which is usually given. The entire suburban aesthetic is thought to be good for kids. Don't get it.

Wanker of the Day

Byron York.

News, Produced By the Federal Government

Isn't it time to have another conference on blogger ethics or something.

Good Morning

Chat away.