Saturday, March 25, 2006

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Even More Ben

The gift that keeps on giving.

A Very Special Blogger

Jeff Goldstein:

Ben has owned up to his mistakes. He has, as I anticipated he would, taken that most difficult first step to rehabilitating his credibility. Now it's time for other folks to do the same: Molly Ivins; Larry Tribe; Stephen Ambrose; Dan Rather; Jason Leopold; Joe Biden; Micah Wright; Ward Churchill; Eason Jordan; CNN's agreement with Saddam's Iraq; Joe Wilson; Steve Erlanger—we're looking at you.

Stephen Ambrose died in 2002.

Jeff Goldstein, Artist's Conception

Conservative Blogger

Since Jim Brady is intent on his mission to hire a conservative blogger (specifically a social or cultural one) I've been thinking hard about who it should be.

I honestly can't think of one. I don't mean that there aren't any decent conservatives. But Brady doesn't want a "conservative even liberals like" or a soft-pedalng David Brooks clone. He wants a hardcore "Red Stater."

I really can't think of any who would fit that bill who won't embarrass the hell out of them.

Dixie Chicked

The conservative establishment media is still doing it to them.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Where We Are

I have no idea how to wake the slumbering press.

Put another way, the Administration has seized the power of Congress to make the laws, they have seized the power of the judiciary to interpret the laws, and they execute them as well. They have consolidated within themselves all of the powers of the government, particularly with regard to national security. This situation is, of course, exactly what Madison warned about in Federalist 47; it really is the very opposite of everything our Government is intended to be:


As usual, the most amazing aspect of all of this is not that the Administration is claiming these powers. It is that even as it claims them as expressly and clearly as can be, the Congress continues to ignore it and pretend that it still retains power to restrict the Administration by the laws it passes. And the media continues to fail in its duty to inform the country about the powers the Administration has seized, likely because they are so extreme that people still do not really believe that the Administration means what they are saying. What else do they need to do in order to demonstrate their sincerity?

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

"I Kind of Like It"

The most astute lyric in the new song by the Chicks.

Shame on our media.



He explained the passage that appeared to be copied from Mr. O'Rourke's book by saying that Mr. O'Rourke gave him permission.

Contacted at his home in New Hampshire, Mr. O'Rourke said that he had never heard of Mr. Domenech and did not recall meeting him.

"I wouldn't want to swear in a court of law that I never met the guy, Mr. O'Rourke said of Mr. Domenech, "but I didn't give him permission to use my words under his byline, no."

Yah, look, this was ridiculous from the beginning. I'm sure it's quite possible Ben chatted with O'Rourke and said "Dude I wanna update your party description for my college!" and O'Rourke said "yeah, great idea!"

But that isn't permission to rip off most of it while changing just a few words.

17-year-olds do dumb stuff, their 24-year-old versions shouldn't be trying to justify that stuff.

Flat Hat Speaks

Flat Hat (Ben's college newspaper) on some issues.

It confirms one thing I knew was true and which wasn't really controversial, but which both the Post and Salon got wrong - Ben never graduated college. I emailed Salon about it but I couldn't provide solid enough evidence (by my own admission) and the college offices were closed so they couldn't confirm it.

And, again, note I don't give a shit if people have college degrees. I welcome a changed world where such things have diminished importance.

Shorter Krempasky


I just stole Jeff Goldstein's paste. It was yummy.

Jeff Goldstein, Artist's Conception

Friday, March 24, 2006

Even More Ben

National Review finds more stuff.

Not all of it's tremendously galling, some of it's understandable sloppy practices from a young writer which in isolation would be no big deal. I think it's made a bit worse, contra Red State mutterings, that he was doing movie reviews and the like where my first thought would be to, you know, watch the movie and write a review. Maybe do some internet research about some basic biographical facts, or whatever, but it wouldn't occur to me to research my review by reading the reviews that others had done.

Regulating the Internets

The FEC has released its draft regulations which they'll vote on Monday. On advice of counsel I'll withhold public comment for the moment, but said counsel has the details.

Digby has some comments on the general issue, though not the specifics.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Sunday Guests

Notable for the inclusion of an actual progressive pundit:

Meet the Press hosts Sec/State Condoleezza Rice and a roundtable of Washington Post's David Broder, New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller, Cook Report's Charlie Cook, and Wall Street Journal's John Harwood.
Face the Nation hosts NSA Stephen Hadley and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA).
This Week hosts Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) and a roundtable of George Will, Fareed Zakaria and Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel.
Fox News Sunday hosts Rice and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI).
Late Edition hosts Rice and Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS).

As Inspired

In his excuse making Box Turtle Ben implied that when he ripped off PJ O'Rourke that it was labelled with "as inspired by O'Rourke's original." I'm not entirely sure if he intended to make that claim or if it was just sloppy writing (as this was something he wrote himself it's hard to tell). Either way no such disclaimer was on it.

Matthews Video

At C&L.

Why It Matters

I know there are those who understandably wonder why the Box Turtle Affair is of any real importance. In and of itself it isn't but it speaks volumes about how our conservative establishment media sees itself and what its role is and should be.

More from the Wanker

Brady is such a tool.

Brady said the site picked Domenech for two reasons: he's conservative and provocative. Brady denied that the paper hired Domenech as a way to deflect criticism from the right that Dan Froomkin, one of its most popular columnists, is too liberal. "That's not true and it never was," he said.


And the site still wants someone on the right. "A conservative columnist, a conservative blogger, whatever it ends up being. Certainly we're looking, but I don't know the timeframe," Brady said.

Asked if the site is looking for a liberal, he said, "Potentially, potentially."

Even the Corner


As the previous links on the matter mention, at least one of the pieces Ben Domenech is accused of having plagiarized was a movie review for National Review Online. A side-by-side comparison to another review of the same film speaks for itself. There is no excuse for plagiarism and we apologize to our readers and to Steve Murray of the Cox News Service from whose piece the language was lifted. With some evidence of possible problems with other pieces, we're also looking into other articles he wrote for NRO.


The transcripts really don't do this justice. Matthews practically sounded like he was crying during parts of this. From the Imus newsletter:

Imus speaks to MSNBC's Chris Matthews about the decision to go to war in Iraq:

Imus: "I forgot who said this, it could have been Tom Friedman or, and I always thought that after September 11th, the administration wanted, maybe they always wanted to go to war with Iraq or whatever, but they wanted to demonstrate to the Muslim community and the Muslim world that we were not going to take that and that we were going to strike back at somebody and they picked what they thought was going to be the easiest target, they thought as that moron at the CIA said that it was a slam dunk. They went in there and instead of being greeted as liberators as the Vice President told Tim Russert a week before this thing started, they got in there and the thing blew up on him and they have been there three years trying to get out."

MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "Well I am just going to stick to this point that the president led us in there with the background music of American culture. Everybody was led to believe that we were getting payback, we were avenging what happened on 9/11 and that we are going to get them. Vice President Cheney said we are going to attack terrorism at its base. Over and over the language was, this is where it came from, in fact most recently the President suggested that it was always the hot pursuit, like a new York police chase, we chased them back into their country. We pursued the terrorists back to Iraq and it's all nonsense. The reason there are terrorists in Iraq today like Zarqawi is we created the opening by blowing the country apart. From the beginning it's been not true. Now you can't prove motive and you can't prove somebody lies, but from the beginning everything about how they've got WMD's, they are a threat to us, they are going to bomb us with a nuclear weapon, this country is going to be an easy liberate, it's going to be a cake walk. As Cheney said as recently as ten months ago the insurgents are in their last throws. Everything that is said is not true. And right to the end here, here we are now and it's not a civil war and when Allawi the prime Minster is saying it is a civil war and here is the president quoting his own people that it's not a civil war. I mean the denial has been continuous. So you really can't count on the administration to tell you what is going on. That is just the fact. You've got to check it out. By the way, the president said this week that he wants the whole truth about what is going on in Iraq, the whole truth and that the media isn't telling the whole story. I'll tell you what we are not telling. We are not showing pictures of the twenty five hundred bodies coming back because they won't let us show the pictures. They don't want the whole truth out and that's the fact."


MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "I think the president made a big mistake this week, and maybe I'm the only one that caught it, but when he came out and said he never said that we went to Iraq because of what happened on 9/11, that Saddam was never involved in 9/11, that whole mentality, the whole culture, the country music, everything, was saying this was payback. We are getting them in Iraq because of what they did to us on 9/11, and now they come out and say I never claimed that. Well you know it's in the actual language of when he said to congress, I'm now going to pick you up on that authorization to go to war, but we are going to war tomorrow, this is in 2003 in March, we are going to war tomorrow and the reason we are going is because we are going to get the countries attacked us on 9/11 we are going to get them. He clearly said all along. The Darryl Worley song remember how you felt, and you know all that stuff, the Vice President saying that Saddam was involved in 9/11 again and again. To come out now and say I never said this was payback is B.S."

Imus: "Didn't they actually say, because we were talking about that as well, because the way they left it out... didn't he actually say that they harbored terrorists, and as I pointed out the way that people pay attention to the news, which is not as much as you and I do, it was easy for Americans to infer that he meant... and by the way they did these polls, as you well know, in which the majority of the American people actually thought that the people who flew the airplanes into the World Trade center, the Pentagon and then the field in Pennsylvania actually came from Iraq, so while they didn't specifically say that they said that they harbored terrorists and the implication was... well you are right, but did he actually say that?"

Chris Matthews: "He said in the statement he gave to Congress when he said ok boys we are going to war tomorrow morning, in that statement he said I'm operating under the authorization that allows me to go after organizations or countries that attacked us on 9/11. Many times he said we can't distinguish between the people who attacked us on 9/11, we can't separate the two. The vice president was very clear, continually talking about coordination between the Iraqi intelligence and Muhammad Atta, who was the chief hijacker, it's right there in the tapes, and then Cheney comes out and denies it even though it's right on tape. Remember Gloria Borger interviewed him, I'm not sure if she was CBS at the time, but she interviewed him and he directly lied about it, and said that he did not say that. A number of times we have showed the tape and when he actually said exactly what he was denying on tape, we got the tape of what he was denying."

Wanker of the Day

Jim Brady, for thinking a man who would write the following line:

To my enemies: I take enormous solace in the fact that you spent this week bashing me, instead of America.

belonged in the Washington Post.

As for Box Turtle Boy, it sounds like he didn't plagiarize the Crosswalk music bit, he just copied from himself. Not such a sin.

Other than that, it appears he's rewritten the Led Zeppelin song:

Tryining to save my soul tonight
It's everybody's fault but mine

A former editor of Box Turtle Boy wrote in:

Hi --

This all seems to have happened really fast. I hadn't really checked the news til midday today when I saw all of this happened. It might be kind of moot now, but I was Domenech's editor at The Flat Hat when he was writing the reviews. Four people, including me, would have handled his copy, the others being my assistant section editor, the managing editor and the editor.

This should seem obvious, but no one on the editorial staff was going into Salon (or wherever) and pasting whole sections into his reviews. We were more concerned about getting the paper done so we could get home at 2 in the morning instead of 5. We may have put additional words in the story, but it would never have been completely foreign content. It was just editing.

And Kurtz chimes in.


I'm all for the media policing their own and drawing sharper and clearer distinctions between the various hats worn by people, but this is totally unrelated to regulating online activity. Deal with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh before you deal with me (not that I think they should be dealt with by regulation either). They, too, are Media, and can say what they want except for, in Limaugh's case, what the FCC defines as obscenity.

Jeff Goldstein Is A Very Special Blogger

He wrote:

Ben, for what ever mistakes he may have made, at least appended his own name to whatever he posted or wrote publicly.

After which he went back to eating paste. I had no idea Ben Domenech's real name was "Augustine."

Jeff Goldstein, Artist's Conception

Missing the Point

As he often does Vaughn Ververs misses the point. The Post does not have to provide balance in its opinion section any more than the Wall Street Journal does. What the Post should not do is hire a conservative for the purpose of balancing journalists in order to bow to the pressure of conservatives. The former is an editorial decision, the latter is fundamentally dishonest as it tacitly admits something which isn't true.

Serial Violations of the Law

How many times is the president going to declare his right to break the law before someone in that damn town gives a shit?

The Morality of Box Turtle Ben

It's important to remember that to try to keep his job Ben hung his nameless former editor, Jim Brady, Howie Kurtz, and his pals/colleagues at out to dry as they sat there to defend him. The Redstaters have to be pissed, as they don't just see themselves as a blog, but as the nexus of the conservative political movement online. They're even organized as a 527.* They're not going to like having their reputations tarnished. And poor Ticky Tacky Tacitus.

*Correction. They did organize as a 527 but I don't believe they're running under its umbrella.

The Moral of Box Turtle Ben

It's very simple. Stop trying to appease conservatives. You never will. Stop worrying about "bias." Continue worrying about doing good journalism.

I said on Air American just now that if the Post had announced a "Blue America" along with "Red America" Ben's plagiarism likely would've never been discovered. The outrage was over the fact that once again conservatives had succeeded in mau-mauing a mainstream media outlet into balancing reporters with conservatives.

Bye Ben



I do appreciate the commitment to spin and obfuscation we've gotten from Posties in recent months.

In More Important News

Pension Bill allows corporations to underfund their pensions by an even greater amount.

Look, this is all just part of the greatest heist ever imagined. It begins with the attempt to steal the Social Security trust fund. The next step is to allow theft from corporate pension funds. And then finally they'll remove protections from 401(k) funds to allow creditors to take those funds.


Fortunately for Box Turtle he's young enough to recover and rebound from this. I'd like to suggest that this would be just the way to rehab his reputation.

Malkin Runs Away

But man, who knew an entire political movement could be centered around constant whining.


The question which will never be answered is just how Box Turtle Ben got his job at the Post. There was no "Wanted: Blogger" sign posted, and nor were they under any requirement to do so. But, as with all cronyism and wingnut welfare generally, there were connections, and people who knew people, and the general network in place. Young Box Turtle has had good PR from the beginning in Washington circles, as this 2000 article in the Post demonstrates:

At 18, Benjamin Domenech, of Round Hill, has landed himself a plum assignment in the world of inside-the-Beltway journalism. He writes a column, "Any Given Sunday," recapping the political talk television programs for the World Wide Web site of the conservative National Review magazine.

If there was a Top 10 list of young Loudoun County people to watch, he’d be on it. And agree with him or not, you would be hard pressed to deny that Domenech is a sharp writer with an obvious command of his national politics beat–especially considering that this is the first year he is eligible to vote.

"He really shows maturity beyond his years," said Richard Lowry, editor of the National Review.

Lowry said he runs into a lot of George Will-wannabes trying to break into national journalism circles at a very young age, but "few of them can actually pull it off. [Domenech] just seems to be just a couple steps in front of everyone else."

heh indeedy.

Not every 24-year-old college dropout gets to have an opinion column backed by the institutional grandeur of the Washington Post. Note I have nothing against people who lack pieces of paper certifying their completion of formal education, but that doesn't change the fact that given the current rules of the education game such pieces of paper are in fact an entrance requirement for people not named Box Turtle Ben.

It's also important to note that this is all just a continuing trend. Once upon a time newspapers handed out columns to seasoned journalists as an end of career bonus. Then, in part to satisfy screeching wingnuts crying about liberal bias, and in part to save money, they bought up syndication packages of mostly talentless wingnuts with little or no experience in journalism to balance the so-called "liberals" in the op-ed pages. And, as with Froomkin, whatever the "liberal" leanings of the existing columnists, their entire careers were based around a respect for objectivity and balance, for truth and reason, and were in no way part of a "grand liberal movement" the way that the conservative columnists are. In other words, they weren't hacks and propagandists.

I have nothing especially wrong with a bit of hackery, as long as it is fairly honest hackery, but it would never occur to the Post to hire the liberal equivalent of Box Turtle. And the hack gap persists...

Stealing and Lying

From Echidne:

Stealing is a sin in Christianity, and plagiarism is stealing. Ben Domenech, the Washington Post's new conservative blogger, tells us that he takes pride in his fundamentalist Christianity, including in a literal belief in the Genesis. This makes me think that he would also take pride in following the ten commandments of Christianity which include the command "Thou Shalt Not Steal".

If this is true he must feel pretty bad right now, given that he has been found to have plagiarized countless pieces of writing, including work that he has published since college years.

Plagiarizing is stealing. It is also lying, because a plagiarist pretends to have written or produced something that is someone else's work. Thus, Domenech appears guilty of both stealing and lying. He believes that his party is the party of moral and ethical values. Well, I guess we have found out what these values mean to him.

Enough sermonizing about this young wingnut. It's time to sermonize about the Washington Post who hired him without using the miraculous Googling tool. Either wingnuts get a free pass in the Post or whoever was supposed to have checked Domenech out was sleeping on the job. Or perhaps the whole thing was designed as a great revenge against the horrible liberal blogosphere. Whatever the explanation, the Post is not smelling very good right now.

More New Post Blogs

John has found the list for next week's rollout.

Who It Hurt

Aside from the fact that plagiarism is, you know, wrong and greater figures in journalism than Box Turtle have had their careers ended and slapped down it's important to remember that this wasn't a victimless crime. Box Turtle's plagiarism allowed him to do a lot more and better (in some sense) work for the student newspaper than his peers, which is presumably what led to his getting a regular column at the paper. From what I've read his column was mostly sophomoric whining with writing of a much lower quality than the critics and others he stole from (I haven't yet found any examples of plagiarism in that column). But he outcompeted one or more of his peers to get the slot.

"Michelle. Hugh. Rush. Glenn. This is the moment. Where will you stand?"

(Note the quotes around the title! I'm quoting someone!)

I hope when I'm 96 years old and about to die someone hands me a printout of this so I can, one last time, laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh....

Where do Michelle and Hugh stand? Will they continue to literally defend anything and anyone as long as it's in service to Dear Leader? Box Turtle Ben edited Malkin's book, remember...oh, and Hewitt's latest, too.

The Editor Did It!

This is silly. The plagiarism examples keep rolling into my inbox:

Late yesterday, the liberal Web sites Daily Kos and Atrios posted examples of what appeared to be instances of plagiarism from Domenech's writing at the William & Mary student paper. Three sentences of a 1999 Domenech review of a Martin Scorsese film were identical to a review in Salon magazine, and several sentences in Domenech's piece on a James Bond movie closely resembled one in the Internet Movie Database. Domenech said he needed to research the examples but that he never used material without attribution and had complained about a college editor improperly adding language to some of his articles.

...and, let me add, as someone who has graded plenty of papers I know the difference between "inadvertent plagiarism" where a good faith but failed effort is made to restate something found elsewhere and wholesale lifting of paragraphs.

...and, as james notes, it would be truly bizarre for an editor to lift an entire column from PJ O'Rourke and put his name on it. (Yes, I know this defense doesn't even pass the giggle test but for some reason it's convincing the the country's most prominent media critic Howard Kurtz).

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Digby Speak

Everyone listen.

There are days I want to yell at Digby: Bad blogger! Lazy blogger not post enough! Ditto the Poor Man and the Mighty Reason Man who I think made five posts, all brilliant, over his entire blogging career before disappearing.

But, speed ain't everything, and usually about the time I've come up with a coherent larger critique Digby comes through. I've long joked that if Digby posted more often I'd have to quit blogging. If we managed to clone Digby into 3 that would be the case.

The Horse once flattered me by saying something along the lines of "Atrios+Media Matters=The Horse." I got the point, but a more accurate version would be "Digby+Media Matters=The Horse."

Portrait of a Wanker


The Post may be deaf to complaints about overheated rhetoric and insults to a civil rights hero, but the plagiarism and quote-fabrication charges can't be ignored. It's hard to imagine Domenech will survive this, but whatever happens next, the Post's failure to adequately vet its new hire in its fretful search for "balance" could damage its credibility substantially. For now it looks like the paper hired the love child of Janet Cooke and Donald Segretti.

Ticky Tacky

The wankosphere's most pompous twit, Tacitus, is back for some funny stuff:

Assume, for a moment, that the plagiarism charge is true. For the sake of argument, assume that.
Now, having accepted this, what are we left with?

It is the sole critique of Domenech by the left with any objective merit.

It does not have much merit, as the profferred examples are:

-- Old, dating wholly from Domenech's teen years.
-- Confined wholly to movie reviews.

True, ripping off movie reviews was a favorite. But we also have news articles, portions of humor books, and even music reviews.

And tomorrow's another day...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Fresh Thread

Try not to shoot anybody, including yourself, in the face while reading this.

Meanwhile, all good patriots will shun Thersites for his nasty plagiarism.

Even More

Plagiarized stuff for the National Review.

The basic sense I'm getting is the guy couldn't write for shit, which is evident if you read his non-plagiarized opinion columns for his student newspaper. So, to puff up his cred he stole stuff. Presumably being lazy had something to do with it.

...and stealing from the WaPo itself. Bit behind apparently, was out seeing Buried Beds and Anne Heaton.

...and more. Frankly at this point the challenge is finding articles written by him that weren't plagiarized.

...some high comedy here.

...more here and here thanks to AB.

...Thersites adds his own unique view.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Even More

Athenae finds more.

Box Turtle:

At its best, "The Bachelor" skews the absurdity of any human relationships ‹ even the successful ones. As terrified as Jimmie is of losing his freedom, Anne is equally worried about becoming like her parents ‹ who, it turns out, are an older couple nauseatingly and demonstratively still in love with each other.


At its best, it skews the absurdity of any human relationships -- even the successful ones. As terrified as Jimmie is of losing his freedom, Anne is equally worried about becoming like her parents -- who, it turns out, are an older couple nauseatingly, demonstratively, still in love with each other.

I suppose we should acknowledge the possibility that all of these reviewers were ripping off Ben [/snark].

Even More

Epidemic. Box Turtle.

The most important co-stars in the Bond movies are the spy's toys. These films usually have the audience applauding for the stunts and this episode of the superspy saga is no different. There's plenty of action and vehicles to enjoy, like the helicopter with a super-sized chainsaw attached, which cuts through cars and buildings, and a sleek, one-man boat with jet afterburners that looks like something custom-made for Batman.

Steve Rhodes:

The most important costars in the Bond movies are the spy's toys. These films usually have the audience applauding for the stunts, and this episode of the superspy saga is no different.

The best of the bunch in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH is a sleek, one-man, black boat complete with jet afterburners, which looks like something custom-made for Batman. The vehicle even has the ability to dive underwater briefly while the driver holds his breath. It can turn into a car as well, all the better to engage in a typical Bond demolition derby.

More Plagiarism

Oh Lordy. Box Turtle Ben:

One night, Frank meets Mary Burke (Patricia Arquette), whose father has suffered a heart attack. Mary, a former junkie, hasn't spoken to her father in three years, but she becomes deeply troubled when she realizes he's so close to death. Frank is even more concerned for her than he is for her father. He begins to fall deeply in love with her, checks up on her at her apartment, invites her to have a piece of pizza at the hospital with him. He's as gentle as a lamb with her, but he's an exhausted one, all bruised and battered.

Zacharek in Salon:

In the line of duty one night, Frank meets Mary Burke (Patricia Arquette), whose father has suffered a heart attack. Mary is a former junkie who seems to have just barely pulled her life together. She hasn't spoken to her father in three years, but she becomes troubled when she realizes he's so close to death. Frank is just as concerned for her as he is for her father. He begins to fall deeply in love with her, checking up on her at her apartment, inviting her to have a piece of pizza at the hospital with him. He's as gentle with her a spring lamb, but he's an exhausted one, all bruised and buffeted.

Box Turtle:

Rhames gives the most delightful and energized performance in the movie. His scenes, particularly his sassy flirtation with a honey-voiced dispatcher (Queen Latifah) let some much-needed light leak into the picture. Arquette is charming but neurotic as the dazed, soft-spoken Mary. She seems to walk around in a haze of confusion half the time, but when she smiles, the air around her seems to clear miraculously. Her scenes with Cage (her husband in real life) have an emotional quality that sets them apart from the rest of the film, but they are sometimes overlong.


Rhames gives the single most delightful and energized performance in the movie. His scenes, particularly his sassy flirtation with a honey-voiced dispatcher (no wonder: it's Queen Latifah) let some much-needed light leak into the picture. Arquette, as usual, is charming, here as the dazed, soft-spoken Mary. She seems to walk around in a haze of confusion half the time, but when she smiles, the air around her seems to clear miraculously. Her scenes with Cage (her husband in real life) have a strange, arrhythmic underwater quality to them that's vaguely maddening but fascinating at the same time.


(discovered by silence at kos)

Oh No Not Again

Please follow this man's advice and stop having these elite media/politician lovefests. Here's a screen cap of Joe Lieberman laughing it up when Bush was joking about not being able to find weapons of mass destruction.


I saw the humor column in question before and while it seemed a bit out of character for the 17 year old Box Turtle it didn't really seem relevant.

...more here.

Best. Movie. Ever.

And it's going to get even better.

If you can't understand why a movie with Samuel L. Jackson killing snakes on plane will in fact be the greatest movie ever made no matter how bad it is then there's no hope for you.




Great, you all blew past my goal of 225 donations and got it up to 238.

Sam Seder's going to be talking about Joe soon.

Looking Good

I have no idea if Mara Liasson is correct that people get all upset when those reporters actually ask the preznit hard questions, but what I do know is that such considerations should not even enter the picture. It's not a popularity contest between the preznit and the press.

Great Moments in Earmarking

Jeebus, do these people ever stop being corrupt?

Tax deductible "charitable" contribution which goes directly into your son's pocket.

More on Box Turtle Ben

From Alex Koppelman.

Bloggity Blog

Nora Ephron has a good post up at HuffPo about why blogging is a good outlet for anyone, including celebrities who could probably get their voices heard in other ways.

I was rather skeptical off HuffPo when it started for a variety of reasons, but one thing I like about it is that it's been very egalitarian. Celebrities do write for them, but so do lots of other people, and their stuff all goes up together.


Colin McEnroe continues down the path of discovery of the unbearable wankery of Lieberman.

The quote, he said, came from a speech. Read the whole speech, he said angrily, several times on the air. Several times, also, he urged me to notice that he encouraged the Republicans to adopt a similar sense of forgiveness in the very next line.

So I did read the speech. And what did I find?

The speech, overall, is an exercise in self-massage disguised as bipartisanship. It congratulates Lieberman for being Lieberman. It urges everone else to be ...more Lieberman. Lieberman is right. Everyone should read this speech, so they know what he really means when he calls for bipartisanship. He's really calling for an uncritical endorsement of his own behavior.

193 of you have donated to Ned Lamont through this site (well, 192+me). How about we give it just a little more cowbell and get that number up to 225 today.

For inspiration, here's the transcript of Sam Seder's interview with Lamont.

I’m a Democrat because we believe that power starts with the people. We build from the ground level up, we don’t trickle down,we don’t start at the top. And I think that’s been our basis since Jacksonian democracy. We believe in opportunity for everybody regardless of race, gender, ethnicity. That’s been part of our credo since the beginning of the Democratic Party. And I think that Sen. Lieberman and George Bush have sort of lost their moorings in terms of what’s been important for Democrats and what’s been important for this country over the last five years. That’s why I’m in this race.

Regulating the Internets

The FEC has briefly postponed its decisionmaking yet again. Bob Bauer explains where we are.

Pay It All Back!

The pressing question is whether Box Turtle Ben has paid back his scholarship, as promised.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Dixie Chicked

Just a reminder of the climate we lived in. The Dixie Chicks "controversy" was caused by this comment made at a London concert:

Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.

That was it. That was all it took.

We were all Dixie Chicked then.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Chicks

New tune from the band Christopher Hitchens called "fucking fat slags."

TV Funnies

Just caught last week's Veronica Mars on Tivo. Plot involved someone blackmailing gay students. At one point the fake name used by the blackmailer was "Rick Santorum."

Ho Howie

Holy crap.

Speaking of Republican Affection for Animal Sex

How could we forget Scooter Libby's contribution to the genre?

It took Libby more than twenty years to write “The Apprentice,” which is set in a remote Japanese province in the winter of 1903. The book is brimming with quasi-political intrigue and antique locutions—“The girl who wore the cloak of yellow fur”; “one wore backward a European hat”—that make the phrase a “former Hill staffer,” by comparison, seem straightforward.

Like his predecessors, Libby does not shy from the scatological. The narrative makes generous mention of lice, snot, drunkenness, bad breath, torture, urine, “turds,” armpits, arm hair, neck hair, pubic hair, pus, boils, and blood (regular and menstrual). One passage goes, “At length he walked around to the deer’s head and, reaching into his pants, struggled for a moment and then pulled out his penis. He began to piss in the snow just in front of the deer’s nostrils.”

Homoeroticism and incest also figure as themes. The main female character, Yukiko, draws hair on the “mound” of a little girl. The brothers of a dead samurai have sex with his daughter. Many things glisten (mouths, hair, evergreens), quiver (a “pink underlip,” arm muscles, legs), and are sniffed (floorboards, sheets, fingers). The cast includes a dwarf, and an “assistant headman” who comes to restore order after a crime at the inn. (Might this character be autobiographical? And, if so, would that have made Libby the assistant headman or the assistant headman’s assistant?)

When it comes to depicting scenes of romance, however, Libby can evoke a sort of musty sweetness; while one critic deemed “The Apprentice” “reminiscent of Rembrandt,” certain passages can better be described as reminiscent of Penthouse Forum. There is, for example, Yukiko’s seduction of the inexperienced apprentice:

He could feel her heart beneath his hands. He moved his hands slowly lower still and she arched her back to help him and her lower leg came against his. He held her breasts in his hands. Oddly, he thought, the lower one might be larger. . . . One of her breasts now hung loosely in his hand near his face and he knew not how best to touch her.

Other sex scenes are less conventional. Where his Republican predecessors can seem embarrassingly awkward—the written equivalent of trying to cop a feel while pinning on a corsage—Libby is unabashed:

At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest.

And, finally:

He asked if they should fuck the deer.

The answer, reader, is yes.

Lieberman Freaks Out

Oh. My. God.

Jane has some transcript.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Hot Bestiality

Jeff Goldstein probably should turn his site over entirely to Lassie porn fiction, it's really where he does his best writing, odd as it is.

Deep Thoughts From Augustine


Dan Froomkin is without question a lying weasel-faced Democrat shill.


I just have this specific and deep-rooted dislike for everything Dan Froomkin says and does. He's one of the dozen or so people in the world that I just detest - along with Noam Chomsky, Eric Alterman, Louis Farrakhan, Barbra Streisand, Kate Michelman, Mitch Albom, Michael Irvin, David Duke, Peter Singer, and Rick Reilly.

(thanks to reader b)

Aw, Crap

I knew I should've saved the damn picture. Box Turtle Ben deleted the "Marine Sniper - you can run but you'll die tired" or whatever mug from his cafepress site.

...Ntodd and QrazyQat to the rescue from the google cache:

They Write Letters

Pete Stark writes a letter to the Washington Post:

I noted with interest that has just hired a former Bush Administration official to write a conservative blog entitled “Red America.”

Balanced coverage and ideologically diverse editorials have long been hallmarks of responsible journalism. If the Post would like to appear evenhanded, I strongly suggest the website launch a similarly partisan liberal blog, “Blue America.”

I recognize that the Post has come under fire for its supposed “liberal bias.” I only wish that were true. The Post’s editorial board has taken numerous positions – in support of a misguided Iraq war, for example – that suggest a conservative tilt.

For years, the right has worked to undermine media objectivity and bias coverage in conservatives’ favor. The Post’s new blog is the latest evidence that the Republican effort is working.

U.S. Representative (D-CA, 13th)

Support the Troops

More idiocy from the Richard Cohen school of punditry.

More Wasted Government Money

Uh, advertising on the blogs of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders is really not a good use of military recruiting dollars.

Signs of the Apocalypse

I must defend George Bush and by extension Box Turtle Ben from the vile slanders of unhinged lefty Kevin Drum and of Fox News. The law that Bush signed allowing hospitals to pull the plug over the objections of family only applied to adult patients. Governor Goodhair signed the sequel law which allowed them to pull the plug on kids, too.

Judges: Worst Than the KKK

More deep thoughts from Augustine.

Calm Composure

Deep thoughts from the Derb.

Shorter Ben Domenech

From B3

The people who hired me are idiots.

Chickenhawk Squawk

Check out the fine item of merchandise one can purchase at the Ben Domenech store.

What a tough guy, so brave.

Unrewarded Genius

It would be just plain wrong to let the marvelous creation that is the Jeff Goldstein drinking game rest in the obscurity of the comments section of an old Poor Man post. Let's give it, and its creator Clambone, the star billing they deserve.

Jeff Goldstein drinking game (all drinks are Coors Light unless otherwise specified):

- Every time he writes a sentence with over 80 words, drink.

- Every time he uses an insulting name for Bush that you’ve never seen a real leftist use (”Chimpy McHitlerburton”, say), sip.

- Every time he tries to asserts his non-bootlicking credentials by referencing the Terry Schiavo case, drink.

- Every time he mentions that he was the go-to wingnut during Katrina for his unswerving support of Bush and Brownie, chug.

- Every time he writes a sentence that points to ten or more of his own past posts (as in- and this is a real quote- “For those of you interested, you can find my previous posts on the topic (which include comprehensive sourcing of primary and secondary documents) here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.”), huff a paper bag full of airplane glue.

- Every time he writes a mirth-free “humor” post juxtaposing a seventies pop-culture figure and a modern left-winger (”Cindy Sheehan and Billy Jack talk about how they hate freedom and smell their own butts”), drink something ironic, like Harvey’s Bristol Cream. Then call out, voice dripping in self-satisfied sarcasm, “Hey, I sure like this Harvey’s Bristol Cream“.

- Every time he calls someone an anti-Semite, sip. if the person in question is being called an anti-Semite for using the term “neo-con” or “neo-conservative”, drink the bitter tears of the debasement of our discourse by idiots.

- Every time he uses some variation of “BECAUSEOFTHEHYPOCRISY!”, train a parrot to drink.

- Every time that he ignores his purported pro-choice or pro-gay rights principles in the interest of supporting a White House decision or appointee, pour yourself a pitcher of Bloody Jennas (1 part vodka, 2 parts W-brand Ketchup, absolutely no Tabasco). Drink until it don’t hurt no more.

Where the Best Lines Come From

Hilarious. Our own Nim has discovered that the Box Turtle line probably originated with commenter Kev at Ben's old place:

"No one cares if you get married. You shouldn't care if anyone else does."

Actually, lots of people care if you get married, just like lots of people cared that Ben got married (how big was that wedding again?). They care because your faux marriage sends the exact wrong message to my kids, and to all children. You are sending the message that your "lifestyle choice" is morally acceptable, that two men with rings are no different than a man and a woman. Those marriages in Massachusetts are now teaching the next generation of Americans that marriage has nothing to do with childbirth or family or society or community... that marriage is solely an expression of individual self-gratification... that marriage has nothing to do with childbirth and childrearing... that marriage is a package of legal benefits and a mark of social acceptance, not a holy institution that yes, started in Genesis. Those lessons are lies, and filthy ones at that.

If your hypothetical boyfriend is dying in the hospital in Massachusetts, you could visit him well before this marriage travesty began. They have a statute in Massachusetts that allows for that, just like more than half of the states. You don't need marriage to have that kind of right - it's as simple as a majority-will state law. Same with all of the other range of state-level rights. But there you go again making marriage into nothing more than an inert package of assorted benefits.

Oh, and by your straw-man measure of "changing your daily routine": it wouldn't change my daily routine a whit if you "married" a box turtle. That doesn't mean it's right.

Movies for WATBs

The Poor Man reminds us that Red Dawn was in fact a movie for WATBs.

Box Turtle

I guess we've been a bit hard on Ben Domenech, as there's a pretty good chance he's provided us with one of our most comical moments in recent political history. He was a speechwriter for Senator Cornyn when this line was in his written speech:

It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right. . . . Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife.

Apparently Cornyn had the good sense enough to recognize that the Republican obsession with interspecies sex is probably something best kept quiet and he didn't deliver the line, but it was in the prepared speech.

The Cobb Awards

Vote early, vote often.


Isn't there something a bit weird about red-baiting from red-staters. I suppose if he had the courage of his convictions he would have, in honor of his favorite movie Red Dawn, fought back the commie invasion by SHOOTING HER IN THE FACE while she was still alive.

A Minor Observation On Wingnuttia

Isn't it a bit weird that we have to deal with people arguing, simultaneously, that Saddam really WAS in league with al Qaeda but Bush never claimed that he was so stop saying he did?

Must be tough dealing with all those contradictions.

A Drunk 10 Year Old Literary Postmodernist With Thin Skin

Over at hilzoy's place, Sifu Tweety in comments explains Jeff Goldstein.

We'll return shortly to our regularly scheduled Domenech bashing.

Clan Domenech

It appears that Papa Bear Domenech was tasked with making sure Jack Abramoff got what he wanted.

Looking in the Mirror

I guess the institutional endorsement of Domenech will teach the world a lesson in conservative projection.

Life Among the Domenech

A dishonest creationist to boot!

Ah, standards.

Not Quite as Funny as Evil Bert

But the Pickler hits American Idol.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Jane, I Love You

Just don't tell my wife.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

West Wing 3/26

On the next West Wing episode I'll be, through the magic of acting, in some sense making an appearance. I understand it'll be a somewhat less than flattering one, but I agreed to it nonetheless because I figure it'll be good for a giggle.

Meet Young Ben Domenech



May 31, 1997; Saturday 6:19 am Eastern Time

Transcript # 97053103V26


SECTION: News; Domestic

LENGTH: 471 words

HEADLINE: A Look At One Family's Efforts At Home Schooling

GUESTS: LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article Related Topics Overvie

This document contains no targeted Topics.

BYLINE: Denise Dillon, Kyoko Altman

Rebecca Sealfon(ph) became the first child ever to win the National Spelling Bee who was educated through home-schooling.

The Domenech family discusses their home-school program works with their family.


DENISE DILLON, CNN ANCHOR: Teaching kids the three Rs at home is becoming more and more popular, and while some parents insist it's a way to counteract the problems in public schools, others say kids are missing out.

CNN's Kyoko Altman has more.


CHILD: Mom, mom.


CHILD: I don't understand this.

DOMENECH: If y equals 2, you have to have at least two points so that you can see the change, which is where I was going with you, but...

CHILD: I only did one point instead of two.

DOMENECH: All right, well, let's...

KYOKO ALTMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's another school day at the Domenech house in Purcellville, Virginia, where mom teaches 15-year-old Benjamin, 12-year-old Emily, 10-year-old Alice, and little Florence, who's almost three. Like the Domeneches, more American children, at least half a million, are getting their education at home, three times more than ten years ago.

The practice evolved out of religious tradition, but an increasing number see home education as an alternative to public schools, ridden with problems from overcrowding to crime.

DOMENECH: I visited several schools, and just felt like the atmosphere at home would be a little bit easier for him to concentrate and move at his own pace.

BENJAMIN DOMENECH: My mom really does make sure we learn something. I mean, you can't just go halfway.

ALTMAN (voice-over): Rebecca Sealfon(ph) was the first home- schooled student to win the National Spelling Bee. She says a flexible study schedule was the key to her success.

REBECCA SEALFON(ph): I think it's very unnatural to have like 45-minute periods, and they ring the bell and you go to something else.

ALTMAN (on camera): But critics caution home-schooling may not be for everyone. They argue parents may not be qualified to teach, and that home-schooled children may be isolated.

PAUL HOUSTON, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS: They really don't have much of an opportunity to interact with other kids, and I think that you end up being stunted socially in that situation, because it's very difficult to work in a work environment if you've not been around people.

ALTMAN (voice-over): Benjamin disagrees.

B. DOMENECH: Home schooling makes you a very independent person and makes you very defined.

ALTMAN (voice-over): His mom admits home-schooling is a full- time job.

J. DOMENECH: It's kind of like the guy on Ed Sullivan with the plates, you know, he's turning the plates and making them stay in the air at...

ALTMAN (voice-over): For now, educators say there's no conclusive evidence that home-schooling is better for children, but for some, there's just no place like home.

Kyoko Altman, CNN, Washington.

Meet Ben Domenech



Helen Thomas vs. the Beard:

BLITZER: Tell our viewers what you are up to nowadays. How you feel and what your goals are right now?

THOMAS: My goals are to seek the truth wherever it leads me. And I do think that's the goal of journalists. And I think we fell down on the job.

BLITZER: The news media in general? That we weren't -- what?

THOMAS: Come back. All is forgiven.

BLITZER: You are going to forgive us? You are part of the news media too.

THOMAS: Right.

BLITZER: We sat in those briefings for a long time together.

THOMAS: You ask very tough questions.

BLITZER: I'm trying to did the best I can, like you.

THOMAS: You asked President Clinton why he wouldn't resign.

BLITZER: I asked him some tough questions. But that's another time and this is another story.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Memories of Domenech

Ah, the internets.

A Wee Bit Of Justice

In a truly awful story. Finally sentencing in a gang rape case. It's hideous, but everyone should read the victim's statement.

(a little late to the end of this story which I'd vaguely been following since it began).

Policing Their Own

Fox News is a news channel, Bill O'Reilly has their biggest audience. Perhaps we should talk about bloggers...

Wankers of the Day

I love it when journalists/editors feel entitled to not actually answer questions in a straightforward fashion.

...and Media Matters writes a letter. The Right is attacking the very notion of journalism itself, and the Post begs for more...

Rage Against the Machine

Dealing with machine politics in Philadelphia.

Official Narrative

Josh notes Bush lies again today. But this isn't really a lie. It is true that it is at odds with actual reality, but it's completely in line with the Official Narrative of the events.

Standard stuff.

No one will bother to take note

(link corrected).

Fresh Thread

Try not to shoot anybody in the face.

"They Told Me What to Say"

Does this make any sense?

Now, sometimes I didn't -- I like the size of the pie, sometimes I didn't particularly like the slices within the pie. And so one way to deal with the slices in the pie is to give the President the line-item veto. And I was heartened the other day when members of both parties came down in the Cabinet Room to talk about passage of a line-item veto. I was particularly pleased that my opponent in the 2004 campaign, Senator Kerry, graciously came down and lent his support to a line-item veto, and also made very constructive suggestions about how to get one out of the United States Congress.

Let's see here. They told me what to say. David.

(image thanks to holden)

Quality Local Candidate

All good local people should rally to support Anne Dicker for Pennsylvania State House. She's running in the 175th district - Queen Village, Bella Vista, Society Hill, Old City, Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Kensington, Port Richmond. I know Anne a little bit personally, and have been aware of her activities since she comped me into a Dean fundraiser back when I was still anonymous and nobody knew who the hell Howard Dean was. Anne cofounded the local Philly for Dean organiazation which has morphed into Philly for Change (still DFA affiliated), which is still a very active organization.

She was helping Patrick Murphy with his campaign but when an open seat appeared she entered the race.

You can meet her at the campaign kick-off party tomorrow:

Wednesday, March 22
7:00 pm
New Wave Cafe
3rd & Catharine Streets


Red Dawn is indeed a wonderfully awful camp movie. But it's also the basic template for how right wingers imagine themselves as they're furiously typing away for victory in their basements.

Moisture Farming

Um, I thought the first 20 years of Luke Skywalker's life were really really boring?

BoBo's World

BoBo continues to choose his own reality edition.

In Until the End

Lucky troops:

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Tuesday the decision about when to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq will fall to future presidents and Iraqi leaders, suggesting that U.S. involvement will continue at least through 2008.

On the Wankosphere

From Greg Sargent:

Either way, the problem is this: Those critics can't be placated. The right wouldn't stop shrieking their "media is liberal" war cry if every single major liberal columnist in America were hauled off in tumbrels and beheaded on the Mall. Right-wing media criticism isn't about achieving the "balance" they supposedly seek; it's about bullying and intimidating mainstream reporters and pundits to fear being labeled as "liberals" if they don't reproduce GOP spin, even when they know it to be false. It's also about enabling right-wing voices that are far out of the mainstream to infiltrate the media.

Take a look at Domenech's maiden voyage. He writes:

[E]ven in a climate where Republicans hold command of every branch of government, and advocate views shared by a majority of voters, the mainstream media continues to treat red state Americans as pachyderms in the mist - an alien and off-kilter group of suburbanite churchgoers about which little is known, and whose natural habitat is a discomforting place for even the most hardened reporter from the New York Times.

Domenech's MSM-bashing, of course, is belied by his own apparent hiring. And the paper's columnists include conservatives Charles Krauthammer and George Will. Indeed, one way to think about the right's "media-is-liberal" campaign is as a kind of crude protection racket. The analogy isn't perfect, but the idea is this: The right-wing criticism effectively says to the MSM, "Look, there are a lot of pretty pissed off people out there who think you're too liberal. You need to hire some of us to protect you against them and the too-liberal charge."

And Chris Bowers:

I still believe this, only now I feel it has developed to such a degree that the right-wing blogosphere itself has been all but annihilated. Most major right-wing bloggers have now been incorporated into the established news media apparatus. Glenn Reynolds is a columnist for MSNBC. Andrew Sullivan is a columnist for Time. Michelle Malkin is a frequently published columnist in a number of offline outlets. And now, RedState co-founder Ben Domenech has a regular column in the Washington Post. Despite being the latest in a long line of conservative bloggers to achieve "mainstream" status with the established news media, his first column was, predictably, an attack on the same institutions that just hired him and gave him space.

Support the Troops

From Big Pharma's site:

This idiocy should be self-refuting, but maybe I'll explain it so even dittoheads and Jeff Goldstein can understand. I'll assume his fatality numbers are roughly correct.

There are 300,000,0000 people in this coutnry. There are about 130,000 troops serving in Iraq. Think about that and why that graphic makes you the likely winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize for Excellence in Wankery.

(tip from reader s)


The incompetence dodge is just that. But it's precisely where the foreign policy line is being drawn in the Democratic party, between those who thought all along the war was a disaster and those who imagine that if they had been in charge things could've worked out better.

I'm with those (obviously) who think it's fundamentally important not just to repudiate the execution of policy by the Bush administration, but the policies themselves and their justifications. "Like Bush only better" will not win a presidential election.

On Domenech

From Edsall:

Tom Edsall: The hiring of Ben Domenench of RedState has provoked a firestorm, if the volume of questions this morning is any measure. One theory in the newsroom is that he was hired at the behest of Dana Milbank.
More seriously, I am told that this is part of the Post's web operation's efforts to provide diverse views. These decisions are, unfortunately, above my paygrade, much as I would love to have the power to hire and fire.

There are a couple of more questions there about it as well. In any case, for the record I'm not of the belief that the Post is required to provide balance on its editorial page or website. But Posties have expressed a desire for balance, and if hiring Domenech who has no counterpart on the left is their way of achieving that it's ridiculous.

Meanwhile, DeLong suggests that this is a clever plan by the Post to publish a frothing idiot to discredit the Right. Who knows, might explain Krauthammer too. I doubt it though, and skippy notices some wee factual errors.

Wonking Sullivan

Where we first came in we had Andrew Sullivan claiming that he was for Bush tax cuts but that he wanted spending cuts to match them:

So let's recap: I'm in favor of Bush's tax cuts, but want spending cuts to match them; I favor balanced budgets... I want more money for defense, specifically more troops...

Now we find out that he in fact supports a bunch of big tax increases (and rolling back one of Bush's tax cuts).

Kevin Drum has challenged me to detail how I'd balance budgets while keeping Bush's tax cuts. (A small clarification: I'd keep the estate tax as it once was; and I'd add a buck to the gas tax pronto.) I'd prefer experts like Brian Riedl or Veronique de Rugy to propose detailed cuts. But my back-of-the-envelope wish-list is that I'd repeal the Medicare drug entitlement, abolish ear-marks, institute a line-item veto, pass a balanced budget amendment, means-test social security benefits, index them to prices rather than wages, extend the retirement age to 72 (and have it regularly extended as life-spans lengthen), abolish agricultural subsidies, end corporate welfare, legalize marijuana and tax it, and eliminate all tax loopholes and deductions, including the mortgage deduction, (I'd keep the charitable deduction). For good measure, I'd get rid of the NEA and the Education Department.

Let's try to separate the things which are tax increases and those which are spending cuts.

Tax increases:
Repeal estate tax cut
A dollar a gallon gas tax increase
Eliminating all tax loopholes (?) and deductions except the charitable deduction.

Spending cuts:
Repealing Medicare drug plan.
Abolish agricultural subsidies.
Eliminate NEA and Department of Education.

The rest are policies which don't do anything in and of themselves (balanced budget amendment, line item veto, earmarks), in the realm of fantasyland (taxing marijuana), too ambiguous to really address directly ("corporate welfare"), or do nothing for the health of the budget generally unless you support raiding payroll taxes (social security benefit cuts).

Let's start with the spending cuts. All these numbers are going to be ballpark. Eliminating the NEA will save about $120 million. Eliminating the Department of Education will get you $56 billion and make a lot of state and local governments very angry. Farm subsidies will get you about $25 billion and throw the Senate to which ever party opposes the cuts. Killing Medicare D will save you about $65 billion. So, total roughly $145 billion in spending cuts.

Now for the tax increases. A buck gallon gas tax increases taxes by about $100 billion. No estate tax repeal (bring it back to where it was) increases taxes by $25 billion. Ending the mortgage deduction alone increases taxes by about $75 billion. I'll not worry about the other deductions.

So, Sullivan does come close to getting rid of the federal deficit by reducing spending about $145 billion and by increasing taxes by about $200 billion, mostly with regressive taxes hitting the poor (gas taxes) and middle class (gas tax & mortgage deduction), although he also wants to increase military spending so we'll have to pay for that somehow.

My dream is that Republicans propose these things, so Democrats can rule for all eternity.

Repeating, all these numbers are ballpark and shouldn't be cited with any authority...(and if anyone notices a number that's grossly off let me know).

Bush: Troops in Iraq Through End of Presidency

Not that this wasn't obvious, but now we know. Bush equates leaving with losing.

On Blogging

From Roy:

One of the benefits of making fun of people who never learn anything is that you can go away for a long while and when you come back, they're still idiots.

In Jeff Goldstein's case, HE went away from a long time and when he came back he was an even bigger idiot.

"They Told Me What to Say"

Where the hell did that come from?

Is This Stuff Funny?

God, people are dying and he just keeps yukking it up. Gross.

Submit Your Questions

The Post just hired Ben Domenech, former Bush appointee and Red State cofounder, to write their "Red America" blog. Ask Tom Edsall if they have any plans to hire a "Blue America" blogger.


Hey, the press discovers the obvious.

BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq - The concrete goes on forever, vanishing into the noonday glare, 2 million cubic feet of it, a mile-long slab that’s now the home of up to 120 U.S. helicopters, a “heli-park” as good as any back in the States.

At another giant base, al-Asad in Iraq’s western desert, the 17,000 troops and workers come and go in a kind of bustling American town, with a Burger King, Pizza Hut and a car dealership, stop signs, traffic regulations and young bikers clogging the roads.

At a third hub down south, Tallil, they’re planning a new mess hall, one that will seat 6,000 hungry airmen and soldiers for chow.

Are the Americans here to stay? Air Force mechanic Josh Remy is sure of it as he looks around Balad.

“I think we’ll be here forever,” the 19-year-old airman from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., told a visitor to his base.

Another presser?

Oy. I remember when Chris Matthews told me how great it would be when Bush was president because he wouldn't be on TV all the time like that awful Bill Clinton.

Wonder which journalist will ask "Just how much do you love freedom, Mr. President?"

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


Eugene Volokh is much smarter than his patron Instapundit, but still no less of an assshole.


I'll deal with this in a bit more wonky detail over the next couple of days, but I'm beginning to think that Andrew Sullivan is even dumber than Jeff Goldstein. Yes, hard to believe, I know. We may have to rank them, in order of stupidest to less stupid, 1) Doug Feith, 2) Andrew Sullivan, 3) Jeff Goldstein. Still not sure on the appropriate ordering for the last two.

Look, if you're the former of editor of one of the nation's premier political magazines and you're currently writing for one of the two premier weekly news magazines and you're pontificating on the budget you should, you know, actually know something about the damn thing. I appreciate that it's "just a blog" and so a bit of off-the-cuffness can be tolerated. But when you're called on your shit maybe you should do a wee bit of research. It isn't hard. You don't have to be an economist like Dr. Atrios, Ph.D to pull up the budget numbers and do a bit of addition and subtraction. You don't have to be an economist, or a high school graduate, or a even a goddamn chimpanzee, to understand that when you're asked what you'd cut to balance the budget without raising taxes (now he's backed down a bit from that) the response "pass a balanced budget amendment" is a fucking stupid thing to write, as is "institute a line item veto."

I guess Time decided the best way to attract hits is to publish an idiot who invites criticism. Probably a smart business move.

Monday, March 20, 2006


To your mother!

Worst President Ever

Yeah, pretty much, at least in modern times. Whether Reagan was an intrinsically better person, or there was simply a greater representation by the "Adult Republicans" to offset the loonies (which Reagan had plenty of), I don't know. But the lunatics are running the show after 5 years of a process of natural selection which has weeded out everyone but the greatest sycophants.

Scary times.

matt pond PA

I believe it was the catankerous and cathartic Tbogg who recommended matt pond PA and I'm glad he did. Just got back from seeing them and they put on a good show. The PW said of them:

The problem for Matt Pond PA is that sometimes these elements add up to random indie band, not breakout indie band, and right now it's looking like the band is destined to be a footnote to the likes of the Shins and Death Cab for Cutie.

and I hope not. They at least deserve enough fame to earn them a VH1 special 20 years from now. Their music tends to evoke the mood of moments in transition - that moment in late October when you're nostalgic for the summer that wasn't quite all it could be, that moment in a new relationship when it suddenly stops being new and starts to be something else - that is, the nostalgia for a moment just passed. That's probably best captured in the lyrics to So Much Trouble from their latest CD Several Arrows Later.

i don't think i want to think about it
how the fall is coming down
the light is leaving and it's hard to breathe
buried in a pile of leaves

Anyway, good stuff, unless my taste in music is shite in which case you should ignore me.

Your Liberal Media

The Washington Post adds a conservative blogger to balance the liberal blogger they don't actually have.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


Chris Bowers has a post about the netroots consensus generation machine. I think some people reading it will miss the point and decry the hegemony of the big bloggers or something so let me add my two cents to shift the emphasis of what he wrote slightly.

News, current events, whatever, is an ongoing story about the state of reality. It's an ongoing story with a cast of characters, a set of plotlines, a backstory. It's story told by thousands of different unreliable narrators, and every individual hears some combination of these narrators and then roughly synthethsizes it all into a basic narrative about what's going on. For a long time conservatives have had a very large and loud narrative generation machine, which has for its viewers and listeners been able create the narrative by emphasizing certain facts (true or not), by creating bad guys and good guy, by determining what the important stories of the day were, by inserting certain basic assumptions into the debate, etc. In other words, to write the story. And, this machine has been loud enough to have a big impact on how the less partisan media told their story, too.

On our side we had the never-was-all-that-liberal-and-certainly-haven't-been-for-some-time outlets like New York Times and NPR, where "balanced" reporting commentary is the norm. Whatever the merits/slant or lack of for NYT and NPR generally, the "two sides to every story" approach doesn't actually serve to generate a basic liberal narrative about events, a common thread which we can all follow.

Now with blogs and a bit more genuine liberal talk radio we finally have our own narrative generation machine, and people who follow them regularly are following a basic storyline. The point isn't that there's consensus on all issues all the time, but we're largely operating within the same basic story, our little model of reality.

...adding: The only other liberal consensus generating machine we had previously was The New Republic. Edited as it was by noted liberals Michael Kelly and Andrew Sullivan, and noted wanker Peter Beinart, it hasn't been very successful for obvious reasons.


Ezra Klein tells us what's up with Al Gore.

My take on Al Gore and the presidency is that the 2000 election drove him sane and cured him of the basic level of insanity necessary to actually want to be president.

Your Liberal Media

Still nowhere to be found.

If It Isn't Illegal It Should Be

Funneling campaign dollars into your wife's bank account just doesn't sound right.


Only our elite opinionmakers could get offended at the notion that someone might actually criticize them for the mess they helped create.

Kurtz's own paper was oddly silent yesterday.

Winger Politics

Even in South Dakota outlawing abortion may not be such a popular thing.

I have to believe that a lot of the state politicians who voted for this nonsense can be driven from office. Not all, of course, but certainly some.

Pick a Patriot

Realizing these stunts are done in part to con you into giving Russ Feingold your name and address, I still like these little "vote for a candidate" stunts. Besides, the least you can do is give Feingold your name and address.


Come on Connecticut politicos, think of just how much happier you'd be if you never had to spend another minute with Joe Lieberman. I mean, can you imagine what it must be like to have to kiss up to America's Nanny all the time?

Year 5

Sadly, Yglesias will be able to recycle this post next year.

I know there's a certain segment of political elites, including both Biden and Murtha, who imagine that troop drawdown is beginning and that we'll have 30,000 fewer troops there by the end of the year but sadly I believe this view underestimates the importance of a president who equates leaving with losing.

The funny thing is, as dumb as Bush is he still isn't as dumb as Jeff Goldstein.

Give That Man a Budget

I know picking on Silly Sully is just swatting flies, and the fact that intellectual lightweights like Sully dominate our discourse is truly sad, but this is part of the current conceit of post-Bush conservatives who are just shocked at his spending ways:

So let's recap: I'm in favor of Bush's tax cuts, but want spending cuts to match them; I favor balanced budgets... I want more money for defense, specifically more troops...

What would you cut? Which $350 billion or so would you cut out of the current budget, plus even more cuts to provide for even more defense spending, and even more cuts to pay for the extension to the tax cuts when the whole thing blows up?

It's a nice little fantasy to fetishize "small government" and imagine that liberals fetishize "big government" but that just isn't the reality. Put up or shut up - what would you cut out of this budget? Once you've answered that question, ask yourself if the politicians advocating such cuts will manage to stay in office.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.



Defining Protectionism Downwards

Daniel Davies has a good article about rhetoric creep. It's just another part of the agenda creep under the banner of "free trade." Policies may or may not be good ideas, but they often have little or nothing to do with what we historically understood to be free trade issues.


Calling for a shakeup in the Bush administration is apparently the new cool thing to do, but Fred Barnes certainly wins the award for the most cowardly conservative. Unable to actually suggest Bush fire anybody important except Rumsfeld, Barnes just suggests they all switch offices.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Bold and Different

As with cable news and talk radio the morning shows all seem to be interested only in chasing the existing audience instead of finding new ones.

So, my dumb idea of the evening is for Keith Olbermann to replace Katie Couric! You'd have to fire Matt Lauer, too, not that anyone would miss him.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Shrill One

Behind the wall:

Mr. Bush, of course, bears primary responsibility for the state of his presidency. But there's more going on here than his personal inadequacy; we're looking at the failure of a movement as well as a man. As evidence, consider the fact that most of the conservatives now rushing to distance themselves from Mr. Bush still can't bring themselves to criticize his actual policies. Instead, they accuse him of policy sins — in particular, of being a big spender on domestic programs — that he has not, in fact, committed.


So where does the notion of Bush the big spender come from? In a direct sense it comes largely from Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation, who issued a report last fall alleging that government spending was out of control. Mr. Riedl is very good at his job; his report shifts artfully back and forth among various measures of spending (nominal, real, total, domestic, discretionary, domestic discretionary), managing to convey the false impression that soaring spending on domestic social programs is a major cause of the federal budget deficit without literally lying.

But the reason conservatives fall for the Heritage spin is that it suits their purposes. They need to repudiate George W. Bush, but they can't admit that when Mr. Bush made his key mistakes — starting an unnecessary war, and using dishonest numbers to justify tax cuts — they were cheering him on.

Still, the fact remains that the Bush era is over precisely because they now distance themselves from him. The Rove strategy requires unity; once it is gone, the entire approach fails.

Embrace Gutter Discourse!

If Dr. Atrios, Ph.D can so can you!

As I like to say, the political discourse was in the gutter long before I got here, as the collected transcripts of Hardball - The Clinton Years will clearly demonstrate.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


The last 3 years in all of its horror.


I can't remember who reminded me of this today, but it's one of those stupid things which has long driven me crazy. It's petty little thing, but so telling about the cretin in the oval office. When the Iraq war started media reports revealed that Bush was making the noble sacrifice of giving up candy while troops were in Iraq. He didn't last 7 months, if that.

The Nedrenaline Surges!

Good article at the Hartford New Haven Advocate:*

Had a chance to speak with Ned Lamont last Friday, in advance of his announcement Monday that he was officially jumping into the Democratic primary race against incumbent Republocrat senator Joe Lieberman. Before getting into some of the issues we talked about, it’s important to report that the Baby Boomer Lamont says he’s a Rolling Stones man to the core. (He also likes Kanye “Bush don’t like black people” West.) Better still, he’s definitely not one of those fans living in some “Satisfaction”-saturated reverie, where the band is still some vital, dangerous phenomenon. “They have been getting a little creaky,” says Lamont of his beloved band. “Even I have to say they were a disaster at the Super Bowl.”

Such refreshing candor. Let's hope it lasts.

Lamont's the real deal, so far at least, and he's the perfect foil to Sen. Fuddy Duddy, who just recently was the subject of a well-traveled blog report from former Reprise Records president Howie Klein, who reminded voters that the censorious Fud's the least rock'n'roll senator going. Note to Ned: Seize the culture war by the Brokeback reins, and secure the Bono vote, ASAP.

The Lamont moment has arrived, brought to you courtesy of George Bush's Iraq War and of Fuddy Duddy's ongoing support for it. And the heat is getting turned up on those who would continue to "stay the course" until a mighty wind of democracy mellows the mess in Mesopotamia. Connecticut's senior senator, Chris Dodd, has called for immediate troop withdrawals if the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds can't pull together a coalition goverment in the coming weeks. Lamont has already called for an immediate withdrawal, civil war or no civil war. Lieberman is staying the course, of course he is.

...* adding, as Misha noted in comments, it's pretty wankerific to misquote a prominent African-American by making it stereotypically gramatically incorrect.

Round the Corner

Tom Tomorrow.

Speaking of which, if you don't buy his new book the terrorists will win.

Jane Speak

You listen.


Hagel's the Republican that the media bobbleheads pretend McCain is. The primary reason is that McCain flatters them and giggles at their little jokes.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


It appears that the latest talking point out of the conventional wisdom generation machine is that Iraqis have to form a government by Summer and if they don't manages to do so then maybe, just maybe, it'll be time to take our ball and go home.

Of course there's no reason that successfully forming a government is going to improve the situation any more than any of the other 17 turned corner moments did. In fact, just the opposite. The formation of the government and its subsequent actions could quite easily do the opposite by stirring up sectarian tensions even more, inviting political assassinations, etc...

Any ideas what the next turned corner will be? Any doubt we'll still be having this conversation 4 years from now?

If only the Bush administration would listen to uber-thinkers like Glenn Reynolds who has an excellent strategy for Iraq:

3. What should the U.S. do in Iraq now?


(last link via UO)

Bush and the Media

From Jamison Foser:

Think about that for a moment: Lauer suggests that Bush's low approval rating is a good thing for Republican candidates, because now, they can run away from him. We assume Lauer would agree that it would be a positive for Republican candidates if Bush had a high approval rating. What, then, is left? Can anything be bad news for Republicans?


It's about time media stop portraying every new controversy as a danger to Democrats, and start recognizing that these things are threats to Republicans: they're the people in charge of a government widely seen as incompetent and corrupt; they're the party led by a horribly unpopular president; and they're the people who pushed a soundly rejected Social Security privatization scheme. And yet, media see everything as an opportunity for them, and a danger for Democrats. Osama bin Laden may be dead? Good news for Republicans: They got bin Laden! New tapes prove bin Laden is still alive? Good news for Republicans: It reminds people of the threat of terrorism! Democrats don't criticize Bush? Good news for Republicans: Democrats are timid! Democrats do criticize Bush? Good news for Republicans: Democrats are shrill!

Useful Idiots

Greg Mitchell takes on our nation's elite editorial boards.

They Write Letters

The General writes a letter to Scott Robinson.

Nice Work

If you can get it.

A number of members of Congress have spouses on the payroll. But the Doolittles, well ... they did a lot. Julie Doolittle had a political consultancy and she worked on commission raising money for Doolittle's campaign and political action committee.

Now, let's take out the ethico-criminal magnifying glass and look closely at what that means. As the article, makes clear, Julie had no fundraising experience prior to starting her consultancy. She also didn't seem to do any actual fundraising. What this meant was that every time someone gave Doolittle money, Julie and John personally got a 15% taste of the cash.

So, for instance, the Wilkes crew gave Doolittle's campaigns $118,000. And according to the Union-Tribune's investigation, the Doolittle's got at least $14,400 of that personally.

Now, you might say, if Julie Doolittle was a professional fundraiser, and why should she be barred from working for her husband's campaigns. But then Julie Doolittle wasn't a fundraiser.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Brit Hume, still making it up after all these years.

Round II

Another round of Rumsfeld must go. Obviously he should go but his departure won't really solve anything. And anyone who thinks Joe Lieberman, the shame of a nation, would be an improvement is bonkers.

First, President Bush should accept the offer to resign that Mr. Rumsfeld says he has tendered more than once, and hire a man who will listen to and support the magnificent soldiers on the ground. Perhaps a proven Democrat like Senator Joseph Lieberman could repair fissures that have arisen both between parties and between uniformed men and the Pentagon big shots.

This Joe Lieberman?

I and some other journalists had lunch with Senator Joe Lieberman the other day and we listened to him talking about Iraq. Either Senator Lieberman is so divorced from reality that he's completely lost the plot or he knows he's spinning a line. Because one of my colleagues turned to me in the middle of this lunch and said he's not talking about any country I've ever been to and yet he was talking about Iraq, the very country where we were sitting.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.