Saturday, October 01, 2005

Open Thread

Cry "Thread," and let slip the dogs of war.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.


One of the polite fictions we were all supposed to buy throughout all of this is that the confidentiality waivers were "coerced" and therefore they weren't good enough. Of course, this polite fiction allowed everyone to look good as long as we all pretended to buy it. Bush got to look good by telling his staff to cooperate. Potential perps got to look good because they played along by granting the waivers. And, the journalists go to look good by pretending that they were standing up for some grand principle by refusing to accept "coerced waivers."

But, there was no actual coercion invovlved here, just a bunch of theater. If Bush says "play along or I fire you" to people on his staff, then they should either play along genuinely or allow themselves to be fired (as if). It isn't as if Scooter Libby or Karl Rove would go hungry if they no longer worked for the Bush. We're not talking about some low level civil servant whistleblower throwing their career down the toilet. We're talking about rich, powerful people who would continue being rich and powerful people in other ways if forced to leave their jobs. Big deal.

What a crock.

Open Thread

What's in a name? That which we call a thread by any other name would smell as sweet.

Open Thread

Small threads make base men proud.

Open Thread

Cry "Thread," and let slip the dogs of war.

Open Thread

All the world 's a thread, and all the men and women merely players.

Open Thread

These threads are razors to my wounded heart.

Dual Piano

Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

For the record, I have no idea what Rice's sexuality is and in her case find it almost entirely irrelevant (if she is a lesbian, and I have no reason to believe she is, there is an issue regarding contradictions with how the media treats the private lives of public figures, but that's really a separate issue and not about her per se).

But, I also have no idea why a Fox reporter, given a chance to interview the Secretary of State, would, on camera, have this exchange:

MR. ROSEN: I think it's outrageous, frankly. All right. I close with a gift for you. You met this person once, I believe, but you really, I think, ought to know each other because this woman is, I think you'll have an interest in knowing her. She is one of our FOX News anchors in New York. Her name is Lauren Green. She is brilliant, she's beautiful, she's African American, she's single and she's a concert pianist in her spare time.

SECRETARY RICE: My goodness.

MR. ROSEN: And she asked me to give you her CD and I promised her that I would.

SECRETARY RICE: That's perfect.

MR. ROSEN: And here's her doing a number of different classical pieces.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, that's special.

MR. ROSEN: So there you have it.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank her very much and I look forward to seeing her sometime.

MR. ROSEN: All right. She's going to want to hear from you.

SECRETARY RICE: And maybe even playing dual piano sometime.

MR. ROSEN: That would be great. Thank you, as always.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. [snip]

For A Shriller America

That's a campaign slogan I like.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging

Open Thread

What's in a name? That which we call a thread by any other name would smell as sweet.

Open Thread

These threads are razors to my wounded heart.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.


Everyone hates unsolicited mass emails promoting something. Just a reminder. And, no, that doesn't include people emailing me personally about things they think I might like. The key word is "mass."

Idiots Abroad

This quote was in Sid Vicious's column yesterday, and I suppose he just left it hanging because it was so obvious. But, sadly, it isn't actually obvious to enough people so we should spell it out. Karen Hughes:

UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I haven’t really heard a lot of that. I had one person at one lunch raise the issue of the President mentioning God in his speeches. And I asked whether he was aware that previous American presidents have also cited God, and that our Constitution cites “one nation under God.” He said “well, never mind” and went on to something else. So he sort of was trying to equate that with the terrorists’ (inaudible). So I explained that I didn’t really think that was something you could equate. And he sort of dropped it and moved on. He was one of the opposition leaders in Egypt.

Would someone please send Hughes a copy of our constitution? It'd be nice if, maybe, she actually knew what was and wasn't in it.


I, for one, will welcome our mutant mice overlords.


One would think that if for no other reason it's currently rather costly and difficult replace dead soldiers that the Pentagon brass would be interested in providing body armor to troops in the field. There are of course less cynical reasons to want them to have body armor.

We're All Going to Die

Yesterday I was up in New York recording an episode of The Issue for Evolve TV which should be up in a couple of weeks. I had the opportunity to interview Graham Allison, which of course motivated me to read his recent book to prepare. Allison's book is about what we can do to prevent nuclear terrorism. It's a good book, alarming without being alarmist. That is, it's designed to scare us enough that we care enough to do something about it but not so much that we just crawl under the covers waiting for armageddon to come. In very simple and easy to read language it outlines the potential threat and has some sensible suggestions about what we should be doing. A lot of it is what should be common sense, but if it was common sense he wouldn't have had to write the book as the Bush administration would already be doing it.

Scariest stuff: we all have heard the phrase "tactical nukes" but man, we had some crazy ideas about what they could be used for...

One thing we presumably shouldn't be doing is putting nuclear plant security under the control of the vast crony capitalist industrial complex.


Bennett gets Sister Souljahd by the prez.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House on Friday criticized former Education Secretary William Bennett for remarks linking the crime rate and the abortion of black babies.

"The president believes the comments were not appropriate," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

One Battalion

Just so we all understand, a battalion basically consists of fewer than 1000 troops.

DeLay Lawyer: My Client is a Liar

This is hilarious:

The day after U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's grand jury indictment, his lawyer and the jury foreman on Thursday appeared to contradict the Texas politician's assertions that he was not given a chance to speak before the jury.
The foreman, William M. Gibson Jr., a retired state insurance investigator, said the Travis County grand jury waited until Wednesday, the final day of its term, to indict him because it was hoping he would accept jurors' invitation to testify.

DeLay said in interviews that the grand jury never asked him to testify.


"I have not testified before the grand jury to present my side of the case, and they indicted me," said DeLay, according to the Associated Press.

Dick DeGuerin, the attorney representing DeLay, said Thursday that DeLay actually was invited to appear before the grand jury, where he would have been under oath. The Houston attorney was not yet on the legal team when DeLay was asked to appear, but he said other attorneys advised him not to testify — a decision DeGuerin supports.

(thanks to reader K)

Communists in the State Department

Tom DeLay has a secret list.

7000 Opportunities

Time to mobilize the 101st:

The Army has not published official figures yet, but it apparently finished the 12-month counting period that ends Friday with about 73,000 recruits. Its goal was 80,000. A gap of 7,000 enlistees would be the largest - in absolute number as well as in percentage terms - since 1979, according to Army records.

The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, which are smaller than the regular Army, had even worse results.

The active-duty Army had not missed its target since 1999, when it was 6,290 recruits short; in 1998 it fell short by 801, and in 1995 it was off by 33. Prior to that the last shortfall was in 1979 when the Army missed by 17,054 during a period when the Army was much bigger and its recruiting goals were double today's.

(via First Draft)

Judy Judy Judy

Digby has a good overview of some of the recent ins and outs. There appears to be a wee dispute between Miller's laywer and Libby's lawyer about the "confidentiality waiver." I think these confidentiality waivers have always been a little fiction designed to make everyone look good. Arianna gets it right:


it defies credulity for Miller, Sulzberger, and Bill Keller to keep insisting that Libby’s earlier waiver was coerced when Libby says that it wasn’t. I don’t have much good to say about the vice president’s chief of staff, but I don’t doubt that he knows the difference between being coerced and acting on his own free will. How deep is the Times’ contempt for its readers that they really think they’ll buy the “Oh, Judy finally has the right waiver” line?

The truth of the matter is there is no way that the New York Times editorial claiming “it should be clear…that Ms. Miller is not going to change her mind” can be squared with Ms. Miller changing her mind. And there is no way to accept at face value Miller’s grandstanding about “fighting for the cause of the free flow of information.” Who is she still trying to convince? Herself?

Open Thread

The thread 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!

Open Thread

A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the thread and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


I'm a crappy reviewer, but Stephanie Zacharek does a nice job.

Judy, Judy, Judy

Pinch, Judy, and Billy K. give their statements.


People gonna be hurting. Our local utility has put in for rate increases for the year totalling about 30% so far, and they can update it again in December...

It's still under most people's radar screen right now," said Carl Neill, an analyst at Risk Management Inc., a natural gas consultant and brokerage firm Chicago. "The public has absolutely no idea how high prices are going to be this year. It's going to be mind-boggling. Price are going to be 50 to 100 percent higher for residential consumers than in previous year.


Assuming Miller is intending to testify, it'll be interesting to see what the new line is from all of those who have spent the last few months writing outraged pieces about her courageous stand against an unjust government action. There certainly were people who thought she shouldn't have to go to jail who made reasonable, if ultimately insufficient, arguments to that effect. What was troublesome was how many of those making the case would, with calculated obtuseness, fail to really acknowledge what the issues were in the case. Fitzgerald was no out of control zealot, having exhausted all other avenues before even attempting to get limited testimony from journalists, and this was a complicated case raising a lot of issues which don't fit nicely into a Journalism 101 lecture on ethics.

Now that Miller has apparently done something she could've done months ago, just what was that principle she was upholding in the first place? And, will the Times ever follow up on this editorial from August:

As of today, Judith Miller has spent more time behind bars to protect privileged information than any other New York Times journalist. Reporters from other news organizations have endured longer jail time in the same important cause over the years, but for us and we hope for others, it should be clear after 41 days in a Virginia jail that Ms. Miller is not going to change her mind. She appears unwavering in her mission to safeguard the freedom of the press to do its job effectively.

If she is not willing to testify after 41 days, then she is not willing to testify. It's time for the judge and the prosecutor to let Ms. Miller go.

Judy Judy Judy

Free at last, free at last.

WASHINGTON - Judith Miller, The New York Times reporter who has been jailed since July 6 for refusing to identify a source, has been released, The Inquirer has learned.

Miller left an Alexandria, Va. jail late this afternoon, a jail official said.

She was released after she had a telephone conversation with the Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, sources said. In that conversation, Libby reaffirmed that he had released Miller from a promise of confidentiality more than a year ago, sources said.


It could be immediately determined whether Miller has now agreed to testify.

I'm guessing that's a typo and it should say "It couldn't be immediately..."

And Lou Dobbs just told me, 3 minutes ago, that Judy was still in jail.

Hire Liberally

Shakespeare's Sis needs a job, presumably in or around northwestern Indiana section of greater Chicago.

Shorter Tom DeLay

I'm guilty, I tell you! GUILTY!

Judge Orders Abu Ghraib Photo Release


Wanker of the Day

Ricky "Slick Rick" Santorum.

...and, uh, wow, just check out this story on the Santorums:

"When she met Rick, Karen was living with Tom Allen, an OBGYN who in the early-1970s cofounded Pittsburgh's first abortion clinic. It was a somewhat unusual pairing. Allen was the doctor who delivered Karen. She began living with him while an undergraduate nursing student at Pittsburgh's Duquesne University. She was in her early 20s, he was in his 60s.

"'When she moved out to go be with Rick, she told me I'd like him, that he was pro-choice and a humanist,' said Allen, an elderly but vibrant man, during a brief conversation on the porch of his Pittsburgh row home. 'But I don't think there's a humanist bone in that man's body.'"

Thank You Andrew Sullivan

For helping to mainstream racism. Sir, we salute you.

Open Thread

A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the thread and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Open Thread

All the world 's a thread, and all the men and women merely players.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

Why It Matters

Steve Clemons:

However, if the Republican-Majority-Leader-to-be was preempted because he was gay, that is real news. I haven't heard the commentary yet, but several people have reported to me that CNN's Wolf Blitzer stated that Dreier was blocked at the last moment because he was pro-choice, from Southern California, and had "other issues" -- the last part stated in a low and halting voice.

If true, what is that about, Wolf? If Dreier -- who is one of the most powerful and, frankly, capable members of House Republican leadership -- Chairman of the powerful Rules Committee -- was stopped from stepping into the indicted Tom DeLay's seat because he was gay -- can we finally get beyond the blogs and onto the pages of the New York Times and Washington Post about this real news?

Dreier was blocked because he has a long-term, loving relationship with someone of the same sex. This has been documented on many fronts and is widely known by members of Dreier's own caucus. If the reality of this blocked Dreier's ascension, then the news has a duty not to keep this matter hidden.

I'm pleased by Tom DeLay's fall from grace. But I'm irritated by the main stream media's complicity in hiding the bigotry that runs unchecked through a significant quarter of the Republican party.

Open Thread

What's in a name? That which we call a thread by any other name would smell as sweet.

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Veronica Mars

If you haven't been watching you should be. That is all.


It's actually hard to imagine that Frist was in fact dumb enough to engage in a bit of insider trading, but if he was it sure does offer a fascinating glimpse into the guy. While this review of his book may be a bit over the top, if Frist really did do it then perhaps there's something to it:

This is a fascinating study of the extraordinary mix of in-breeding, animal sacrifice, and corruption required to produce the world's worst human being. Coming from a family of mildly despicable cheats, the Frists had a leg up on normal human beings...but it still took an enormous amount of laboratory work and careful training to produce not just a self-involved twit but an unspeakable monster.

This book is Frankenstein of our century, a marvellous account of the line between science and morality, and the "Dr. Frist" character is a chilling reminder of the true evil inherent in all humanity...even if readers will find Dr. Frist himself an impossibly overdrawn character. Surely, no actual human could be so evil. Neverthless, he stands like Shelley's monster as an emblem of the path we as a species must never take.

By damning this "Dr. Frist" character and the bizarre process that created him, this sterling work serves as a moral guide, a hope for the future.

But, still, look, if I'm a reasonably rich guy and I get elected to Senate and dream of running for president... I'm gonna put the goddamn stock portfolio in a goddamn blind trust. Aside from issues of ethics and legality (or issues of perception), I'd assume I'd have too much to worry about to spend my time day trading.

Open Thread

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your thread; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Reading the Tea Leaves

It sounds like DeLay's pretty much done. He may or may not be convicted, of course, and if he doesn't he'll likely manage to stick around in Congress for a little while, but it sounds like the DeLay era is over. David Brooks was on NPR, and he's a reliable peddler of a certain strand of Republican information. Things we learned: Bush never really got along with DeLay, conservative Republicans have come to believe that DeLay only wants more and doesn't have any genuine conservative principles (whatever they are), everyone just loves Blunt. Whatever the truth of any of these things, the fact that Brooks is peddling these storylines says that they're pushing him out permanently.

My guess is he'll decide at some point that it's much more fun (and lucrative) to retire to K street, if he manages to escape the pokey.


Dreier, er, out, Blunt in...

How to Bring Down the Crime Rate

Bill Bennett has a suggestion.


It'll be interesting to see what kind of power grabs go on among House Republicans now. Sure, DeLay loyalists will be loyal... for awhile. But, at some point the tide will turn as DeLay becomes increasingly radioactive. At some point they'll all jump ship.

Will closet heterosexual David Dreier maintain the leadership position? We shall see...


CNN mentioned about 50 times that Ronnie Earle was a partisan Democrat. A brief reminder:

While Earle is an elected Democrat, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, a June 17 editorial in the Houston Chronicle commended his work: "During his long tenure, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has prosecuted many more Democratic officials than Republicans. The record does not support allegations that Earle is prone to partisan witch hunts." This assertion supports Earle's own claim about his record; a March 6 article in the El Paso Times reported: "Earle says local prosecution is fundamental and points out that 11 of the 15 politicians he has prosecuted over the years were Democrats."

Two Years

There's no way God likes me this much:

A Travis County grand jury today indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on one count of criminal conspiracy, jeopardizing the Sugar Land Republican's leadership role as the second most powerful Texan in Washington, D.C.

The charge, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years incarceration, stems from his role with his political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, a now-defunct organization that already had been indicted on charges of illegally using corporate money during the 2002 legislative elections.


Snoopy dance:

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist faces a near-term ordeal unwelcome to anyone, particularly an ambitious politician: an official probe into his personal financial dealings by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC authorized a formal order of investigation of Frist's sale in June of HCA Inc. shares, people with direct knowledge of the inquiry said yesterday. The order allows the agency's enforcement unit to subpoena documents and compel witnesses to testify, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the order hasn't been made public.

Merry Christmas

DeLay indicted on one count of criminal conspiracy.

...Dreier possible Majority Leader successor. Odd choice to lead the party of homophobia.

...DeLay has stepped aside.


Sisyphus Shrugged on Philadelphia Magazine.

Keep Bombing

So, there it is. The grownup post-9/11 foreign policy. Just blow some shit up and they'll come around.

Yeah, that'll work.

Open Thread

What's in a name? That which we call a thread by any other name would smell as sweet.

Shorter Tom Friedman

All we are saying
Is give civil war a chance.

That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind.

Open Thread

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your thread; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

Open Thread

These threads are razors to my wounded heart.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Lord Shafer writes:

Without a doubt, diversity can improve the newspaper quality by putting ears, eyes, and brains inside the newsroom that understand the world outside. So, how do you increase diversity? You recruit for it and you train for it. But that effort isn't always painless. It's predictable that when a minority is hired or promoted that someone on staff will suspect that a diversity calculator in the backroom made the personnel decision, not a human being who considered only merit.

So, diversity provides valuable diverse views which lead to improved reporting, but nonetheless looking for diversity is the opposite of considering people on the basis of merit?

This is ridiculous. Look, I'm comfortable with debates on the intrinsic value of diversity when it, say, comes to recruiting students or something similar [Personally, I think there are a variety of reasons aside from the correction of historical injustice why there is value in diversity, but that's a separate debate]. However, diversity of backgrounds on the news staff of a major metro paper clearly isn't just about obtaining diversity for its own sake. Diversity of background isn't simply, or even necessarily mostly, equivalent to racial or ethnic diversity. But, a major newspaper has to report on a variety of racial/ethnic/other communities. The point of diversity in these situations isn't simply to meet some sort of easy racial quota, it's to make sure that the reporters you have on staff can capably address a variety of issues.

The Best

To paraphrase Madonna, there was no one cooler than Media Whores Online. They are missed.


A few people recently have encouraged me to write more about, or at least highlight what others have written, about policy. I often shy away from policy, aside from the more obvious stuff, believing for so long that we live in the age of anti-wonk. But, who knows, maybe that's changing.

In any case, we can begin with this about why we should raise gas taxes. We should, of course, though it would be political suicide. Still, it's worth discussing how we could potentially make raising the gas tax both even smarter and perhaps not quite political suicide.

Gas taxes and sales taxes generally are regressive. Regressive bad for good liberals. But, taxing purchases which have negative unpriced externalities simply puts the actual price more in line with the social cost. Consuming gas has unpriced, to the individual, effects on the environmnent and road congestion (and, while harder to quantify, presumably an impact on the cost of our foreign policies). So, increasing gas taxes brings the price of gas in line with its social cost, and therefore brings us closer to a more socially efficient level of gas consumption.

But that doesn't change the fact that gas taxes are still regressive. So, what to do? As the link explains, you offset proposed gas tax increases with decreases in other taxes - optimally other sales taxes, FICA taxes, user fees, or other mostly regressive taxes. That way you discourage the behavior without disproportionately impacting poor people.

God Probably Doesn't Like Me This Much Either

But, hey, you never know...

I Don't Believe God Likes Me This Much

One can still dream.

The Op-Ed Which Wasn't Run

Rick Perlstein wrote this in the second week of September, and sent it to various major newspapers for submission. Rick has had great success in placing such things. It was rejected or simply ignored everywhere he sent it, including one major newspaper he's never been rejected from. There are times when being wrong gives your more credibility than being right, apparently.

A white friend who's volunteering in refugee shelters on the Gulf Coast tells me the kind of things he's hearing around the small city where he's working.

A pastor is obsessed that "local" women not be allowed near the shelters: "At a community meeting they said these were the last evacuees, the poorest of the poor"--the most criminal, being his implication, the most likely to rape.

My friend says: "There were rumors that there were basically gangs of blacks walking up and down the main drag in town harassing business owners." The current line is that "some of them weren't even evacuees, they were just fake evacuees trying to stir up trouble and riot, because we all know that's what they want to do."

He talked to local police, who report no problems: just lost, confused families, in desperate need of help.

Yet "one of the most ridiculous rumors that has gone around is that 'the Civic Center is nothing but inmates. It's where they put all the criminals.'"

I immediately got that uncanny feeling: where had I heard things like this before?

The answer is: in my historical research about racial tensions forty years ago. I'm writing a book against the backlash against liberalism and civil rights in the 1960s. One of the things I've studied is race riots. John Schmidhauser, a former congressman from rural Iowa, told me about the time, in the summer of 1966, he held a question and answer session with constituents. Violence had broken out in the Chicago ghetto, and one of the farmers asked his congressman about an insistent rumor:

"Are they going to come out here on motorcycles?"

It's a funny image, a farmer quaking at the vision of black looters invading the cornfields of Iowa. But it's also awfully serious. The key word here is "they." It's a fact of life: in times of social stress when solid information is scarce, rumors fill the vacuum. Rumors are evidence of panic. The rumors only fuel further panic. The result, especially when the rumors involved are racial, can be a deadly stew of paranoia.

In the chaotic riot in Detroit in 1967, National Guardsman hopped up on exaggerated rumors of cop killers would descend upon a block and shoot out the streetlights to hide themselves from snipers. Guardsmen on the next block would hear the shots and think they were under attack by snipers. They would shoot at anything that moved. That was how, in Detroit, dozens of innocent people were shot. In one case, a firefighter was the one who died.

And now, a similar paranoia has turned deadly in New Orleans too. The early report Sunday was that police shot at eight suspicious characters at the 17th Street Canal, killing five. On Monday the report was clarified: the victims were contractors on their way to work to fix the canal.

It's not that human beings haven't committed awful crimes amidst the toxic muck of New Orleans--just as they did in the urban riots of the 1960s. It's not as if the onslaught of poor, frightened, and alien-seeming evacuees aren't making life nerve-wracking in the many scattered towns where they are straggling in as refugees. With statistical certainly, they have.

But now New Orleans has filled with tens of thousands of Army, police, and National Guard soldiers. They are doing courageous, necessary work. But that are also operating in a cultural context rife with paranoia. Many of the people they are policing are armed as well--also possessed of a hair-trigger paranoia that might presume every shotgun-like crack, every snapped powerline, every detonated firecracker, is a sniper's shot aimed at them.

And now there is that New Orleans diaspora, poor black men ("fake evacuees"?) wandering around unfamiliar towns.

It is the job of all of us to help ratchet down the paranoia: not to let the rumors spread. So none of these people start firing on each other.

Paranoia is not the exclusive province of Iowa farmers forty years ago, or--urban snobs take note--Louisiana yokels in rural parishes now. In 1992, in New York City, during the Los Angeles riots, the word spread on certain street corners about rioters burning buildings and overturning cars just a few blocks away. All of it was fantasy.

But now, everyone with an email account can be implicated in the spreading of such fantasies--nationwide.

One of the most riveting early accounts of conditions in New Orleans was an email sent around by Dr. Greg Henderson. "We hear gunshots frequently," he wrote. It wasn't long before that got transformed, in the dissemination, into: doctors get shot at frequently. An Army Times article reported that desperate evacuees at the Superdome, terrified that losing their place in line might mean losing their life, "defecated where they stood." Now, it's easy, if you take a moment to think about it, to understand that happening to people, perhaps elderly and sick, under unendurable conditions of duress. As circulated on the Internet, however, another interpretation takes shape: these people are not like us. Them. Savages that, if they come to your town, might just be capable of anything. Even if they are just lost, confused people, in desperate need of help.

We can do better. We must do better.



WASHINGTON - A Texas grand jury’s recent interest in conspiracy charges could lead to last-minute criminal indictments — possibly against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — as it wraps up its investigation Wednesday into DeLay’s state political organization, according to lawyers with knowledge of the case.

Conspiracy counts against two DeLay associates this month raised concerns with DeLay’s lawyers, who fear the chances are greater that the majority leader could be charged with being part of the conspiracy. Before these counts, the investigation was more narrowly focused on the state election code.

By expanding the charges to include conspiracy, prosecutors made it possible for the Travis County grand jury to bring charges against DeLay. Otherwise, the grand jury would have lacked jurisdiction under state laws.

Brownie - Big Liar

I caught this earlier but didn't have a chance to parse his exact words to be sure. Brownie is, in fact, full of shit.

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.


So, the right wing which spent weeks pushing stories of looting, rapes, and murder in New Orleans are now taking media reports about how such stories were exaggerated to mean that what happened in New Orleans wasn't as bad as we were led to believe.

It was bad because people had no food, no water, no shelter, no medical care, and most importantly, no help.


So that's what we're calling "irrational exuberance" these days.

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said asset prices often fall after long periods of stability and perceived low risk create ``euphoria,'' comments that economists read as a warning about housing and bond prices.

``A decline in perceived risk is often self-reinforcing in that it encourages presumptions of prolonged stability,'' Greenspan told the National Association for Business Economics in Chicago today. ``History cautions that extended periods of low concern about credit risk have invariably been followed by reversal with an attendant fall in the prices of risky assets.''


John's a wee bit upset at the Note for publishing what they claim is an advance copy of a Bush speech, when in fact it was a 1979 speech from Carter. I don't have a problem with that, but what I do have a problem with that is that they included this line in what they published:

Simply put, there is a malaise afflicting America.

A line which wasn't actually in Carter's speech and therefore doesn't appear in the copy they linked to. But, it's one of those factesque gems of history, so the Note of course had to recycle it.

The Story's the Thing

Richard Cranium responds to Weyrich's nonsense. He hits on Weyrich's version of the Prime Pundit Fallacy- since he's in it for the attention and media adulation everybody who ever puts themself out there is in it for the same reason. This is a fairly common misconception about bloggers. People are stunned if you, say, turn down a chance to appear on TV for 5 minutes, the assumption being that getting your sweet mug in front of a camera is the sole motivating goal in all of human existence.

But, what should be obvious is that people who blog behind pseudonyms aren't, in fact, doing it for fame and fortune (why anyone thinks one who desires fame generally would turn to blogging I do not know). The main reason people start blogging is that they want to, in some small way, occasionally have an impact on the public discourse. It's satisfying when it happens, whether or not it's accompanied by any "credit." Frankly, that part of it is usually a bit creepy.

Wanker of the Day

Noel Weyrich of the ridiculously irrelevant Philadelphia Magazine, which is about as much of a "must read" for Philadelphians as Siberia Daily.


What a piece of work. I assume his medal cerermony will happen tomorrow.

Open Thread

Small threads make base men proud.

Sully the Pooh

What the Poor Man says.

Perhaps I’m being overly-optimistic here, but it feels like we are a nation emerging from a very bad period, waking up, in a way, to be more like what we should be - a nation of well-intentioned, capable, and realistic pragmatists, and less like what it has been - a collection of spiteful, fearful, hateful, often deliberately ignorant fools. (Of course, I’ve felt this before - the country may hit the snooze bar a few times after this, too, but we will awake.) There will be a time, I hope, not too far from now, when the insanities which drive us today are no longer operational. I don’t mean to be pollyannaish about this - we may well find new insanities to keep us busy, and we may well continue in this decline forever. But we can do things to give us a chance at a better future, and one of those things is to prevent those people who have a track record of lying and fear mongering from having any influence on the national debate ever again.

Words Speak Louder Than Actions

The strategy continues.

Things That Make No Sense, Except When They Do


Brown told congressional investigators Monday that he is being paid as a consultant to help FEMA assess what went wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to a senior official familiar with the meeting.

On Saturday, Jane wrote:

And now I will leave you to guess where this bit of gossip came from, because I promised not to tell. But one of the above-mentioned folks called me this afternoon to say that according to sources within the Enquirer itself, the source for Bush's drinking story is -- an incredibly pissed-off, recently scapegoated head of a federal agency who thinks that BushCo. done him wrong.

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!


I'm not sure when we call it a civil war, but here we are:

Camp al Qaim, Iraq -- A senior U.S. Marine commander said Monday that insurgents loyal to militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had taken over at least five key western Iraqi towns on the border with Syria and were forcing local residents to flee.

In an interview with The Chronicle, Lt. Col. Julian Alford, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines Regiment stationed outside the western Iraqi town of al Qaim, said insurgents in the area had been distributing flyers they called "death letters," in which they ordered residents of this western corner of volatile Anbar province to leave -- or face death.

"Basically, the insurgents say if they don't leave they will ... behead them," said Alford, who took command this month of about 1,000 Marines stationed in the dusty desert area populated by roughly 100,000 Sunni Arabs.

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Monday, September 26, 2005

ITunes 5.0 - Crap

New Itunes version can't even manage to play a song without disruption/distortion unless literally everything else is shut down.

Fix it.

Serenity Now

Well, thanks to a kind reader I did get myself into see Serenity tonight, although the screening wasn't anything close to being full anyway.

Having seen the series on DVD, which I didn't like all that much until near the end of its run, it's hard to view the movie independently of that. Still, it probably works for the unitiated as a pretty entertaining action sci-fi movie with good humor. But more generally I'm increasingly under the impression that "that kind" of science fiction is just works much better on TV than it does on the big screen. It takes time to create an entire universe with its own rules, history, politics, technology, etc. It's generally not something all that well-suited to a 100+ minute format.

But, it's a fun movie. It would've been a good series on TV, and probably still could be.

I Guess We Still Have Brownie to Kick Around

Rehired by FEMA.

Open Thread

Small threads make base men proud.

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!


Between calling for personal conservation and opening up of the strategic reserve, someone in charge appears to be a bit concerned about the oil and gas situation in the country.

Fact Free And Loving It

There are days I dream of being a right wing blogger. The ability to confuse baseless opinions with facts would make blogging much easier.

Land Use and Light Rail

Rocky Mountain News:

The rail line, part of the T-REX project between Broadway and Lincoln Avenue (south of C-470), will have 13 new stations, most of them on the west side of I-25. Plans are under way for new residential and commercial development that will create homes and workplaces for thousands of people within walking distance of the stations.

Without having actually seent he plans I'm somewhat skeptical. The only way to have genuine walkability is to reduce the amount of street level parking to levels that modern developers largely used to suburban development are uncomfortable with. Still, it'll be interesting to see whether sensible development can happen. This point in the article jumped out at me:

"We're talking about 1,000 or 2,000 residential units," said Madden. "There will be a lot of people buying who want to get rid of one car and have something new and exciting. It's something we're ready for."

That, I think, is the key issue for this kind of development. Can you, outside the core of a major city, create spaces that people like which allow them the genuine opportunity to have a fewer number of cars than the number of driving age individuals in their household. The point isn't to try to create places where no one owns a car - people like cars and want to own them even if they're not strictly "needed" - the point is to make households less car dependent by providing them with some desirable walking/transit opportunities.


Mmm. Popcorn.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Blind trusts are designed to keep an arm's-length distance between federal officials and their investments, to avoid conflicts of interest. But documents show that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist knew quite a bit about his accounts from nearly two dozen letters from the trust administrators.

Frist, R-Tennessee, received regular updates of transfers of assets to his blind trusts and sales of assets. He also was able to initiate a stock sale of a hospital chain founded by his family with perfect timing. Shortly after the sale this summer, the stock price dived.

A possible presidential contender in 2008, Frist now faces dual investigations by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission into his stock sales.


Asked in a television interview in January 2003 whether he should sell his HCA stock, responded, "Well, I think really for our viewers it should be understood that I put this into a blind trust. So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock"

Frist, referring to his trust and those of his family, also said in the interview, "I have no control. It is illegal right now for me to know what the composition of those trusts are. So I have no idea."

"Stinking Repository of Bush-Licking Pre$$titution"

Such delicate flowers at the note.

Tim vs. the Mustache of Understanding

This week's Russert watch.

Arianna does make a very good point - media people deserve the same degree of scrutiny for their various pronouncements as do politicians on issues where they have significant influence. But, it's accountability free land for the elite pundits.

"Why Didn't Somebody Do Something"

Huckabee equates standing up to Democrats with standing up to Nazis.


Head of SEC recusing himself from the Frist investigation.

Hindrocket is THE ONE

Enter the MSMATRIX.

They Write Letters

The General writes a letter.


This story about a fake DHS television show is pretty interesting - a really elaborate scam which was helped out by press participation, something left out of the main press acount.


Funny how things sometimes turn out to be false:

NEW ORLEANS — After five days managing near riots, medical horrors and unspeakable living conditions inside the Superdome, Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron prepared to hand over the dead to representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Following days of internationally reported murders, rapes and gang violence inside the stadium, the doctor from FEMA — Beron doesn't remember his name — came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalled the doctor saying.

The real total?

Six, Beron said.

Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the handoff of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice.


The vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees — mass murders, rapes and beatings — have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law-enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.

"I think 99 percent of it is [expletive]," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong — bad things happened. But I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything ... 99 percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."

We know that all of these stories helped delay help for people who needed it.

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


The question isn't really how many Mike Browns are there. The question is when will they be replaced by competent people?


I admit to being somewhat surprised that Rep. Ney didn't drool on his shoes when I testified to his committee, but he still apparently has a wee bit of problem with the truth.


When I participated in a symposium at Grinnell College recently, FT columnist Jurek Martin asked what I thought about the recent decline in right wing radio ratings. I responded something to the effect that while I'd like to imagine it represented a major shift in the prevailing political winds and a general rejection of their product, I more just chalked it up to the fact that their basic story is getting rather old. It isn't just the Bush administration that was jumpstarted on September 11 -- it was also the entire conservative press who, after a decade of being all Clinton all the time, needed a new plot and a new cast of characters. Sure, the story never really changes much, but it at least requires a bit of scenery change and a recast now and then. Frankly, they're getting boring.

It occurs to me now, however, that this isn't just an issue with right wing radio. It's also rather true of the commentariat generally. While the talking head class has skewed seriously right for years, it's only fairly recently that the left has been almost entirely marginalized. Aside from whatever impact this has on the range of viewpoints available to the general viewing public, it also becomes incredibly boring.

Living Liberally

Enjoyed my visit to Drinking Liberally World Headquarters and all the people I met and saw again. Thanks to DK's Justin, Katrina, Matthew, David and everyone else there whose too many names overflowed the tiny name buffer in my brain. Got a chance to catch up with Chris Bowers, Peter Daou, and Matt Stoller as well.

Franken was kind enough to drop by the evening event. He commented that what groups like drinking liberally are doing is building social capital, something which has value in and of itself.

Anyway, please feel free to attend your local drinking liberally chapter or start your own.

La Nooners

Our Dear Peggy is not happy with the boy blunder. Apparently what set her off were comparisons to Saint Reagan. I was especially amused by this:

The administration, in answering charges of profligate spending, has taken, interestingly, to slighting old conservative hero Ronald Reagan. This week it was the e-mail of a high White House aide informing us that Ronald Reagan spent tons of money bailing out the banks in the savings-and-loan scandal. This was startling information to Reaganites who remembered it was a fellow named George H.W. Bush who did that. Last month it was the president who blandly seemed to suggest that Reagan cut and ran after the attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon.

Poor Reagan. If only he'd been strong he could have been a good president.

Of course, Reagan did cut and run all the way to Grenada after the events in Lebanon.

Evolve TV

Check out the first installment.

Pundit Fallacy Prime

Previously, Big Media Matt has written of the Pundit's Fallacy, the belief that whatever your pet political issue is also, miraculously, is the issue which will be massively popular among the electorate. I'd like to suggest, however, the Prime Pundit Fallacy is something different - that most people are like the pundits themselves, believing that being right is more important than anything else. True, perhaps, for the exalted members of the pundit class but certainly not true of everyone else.

Lord Weisberg provides us with the latest iteration of this.


Apparently there's no level of corruption I can sink to which will score me free tickets to Serenity.

I actually don't know what sort of massive marketing power for such things this blog could provide, but I do tend to get the wrong kind of "free stuff." I currently do get a lot of copies of nonfiction books provided by the publishers, which is great, but I rarely manage to actually read the books in an especially timely fashion and don't ever really do much to help market them.

On the other hand, I'd be much more likely to watch/say nice things about movies and TV shows if I were to get preview tickets or DVD screeners. Even for books I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction, so it'd make more sense for me to be on those distribution lists...

btw, how many blogs does Yglesias have, anyway?

Open Thread

To mourn a thread that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on.

Open Thread

The thread 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!

Neither Blood Nor Treasure

The 101st Fighting Keyboarders have only forked over $600 for their excellent adventure in Iraq.

Open Thread

These threads are razors to my wounded heart.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

Open Thread

To mourn a thread that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on.