Saturday, May 13, 2006

Frank Rich is Shrill

It appears that Frank Rich has achieved a level of shrillness not previously imagined, let alone achieved, by mere mortals.

Wankers of the Day

The lying Telcos.

Fresh Thread

Must've taken Threadbot to Supermax.


Dick Cheney hates this country:

WASHINGTON, May 12 — In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.

More Exciting Poll Results

From Newsweek poll from email:

52% of those polled want Dems to take Congress, including 47% of independents (35/30 respectively want Repubs to keep controly).

50%/31% say they want a Dem/Repub to be the next pres.

32% approve of Bush's handling of Iraq.

and 39% taxes.

and 25% immigration.

50% say he will be seen by history as a below average history. 16% say above average.

48% say their opinion of Bush has gotten worse since the 2004 election. 4% say better.

Favorable/unfavorable ratings of national dems:

Hillary 53/42
Dean 33/36
Edwards 49/24
Gore 49/43
KEnnedy 43/45
Kerry 49/40

Most importantly:

14. Now on another subject… As you may know, there are reports that the NSA, a government intelligence agency, has been collecting the phone call records of Americans. The agency doesn't actually listen to the calls but logs in nearly every phone number to create a database of calls made within the United States. Which of the following comes CLOSER to your own view of this domestic surveillance program…(READ)

41% say necessary tool, 53% say goes too far.


15. In light of this news and other executive actions by the Bush-Cheney administration, in general, do you think they have gone too far in expanding presidential power, or not?

52% Yes, gone too far, 38% No have not

Gotta Love the WaPo

Shill shill shill.

Running Out Of Ponies

MSNBC says new Newsweek poll has Bush at all-time low (for this particular poll) of 35%.

Nose Pickers

I meant to post on this yesterday but didn't get a chance. Kos took care of it.

People in DC are fighting over money. I have no idea if Howard Dean is spending money sensibly or not, but that question is probably entirely divorced from the question of whether the "50 state plan" is a good idea or not. If people want to complain about what the money is being spent on they should focus on the actual expenditures rather than the strategy behind those expenditures.

I don't really know why a Democratic who regularly harp on the need to appeal to red staters would deride activists trying to do just that as "nose pickers." I imagine it's basically a generally disdain for personal activist politics in favor of Washington media consultants, and we know how much they cost.

More than that, it's about pre-emptive asscovering. Those in DC invested in staying the course with the usual strategy want to make sure they don't get the blame if they lose, yet again. If only HoHo would've given them more of the dough they would've won. Who knows, they might be right.

Clenis Envy

Poor George. He's stupid and he's ugly and nobody likes him.

Respondents favored Clinton by greater than 2-to-1 margins when asked who did a better job at handling the economy (63 percent Clinton, 26 percent Bush) and solving the problems of ordinary Americans (62 percent Clinton, 25 percent Bush). (Watch whether Americans are getting nostalgic for the Clinton era -- 1:57)

On foreign affairs, the margin was 56 percent to 32 percent in Clinton's favor; on taxes, it was 51 percent to 35 percent for Clinton; and on handling natural disasters, it was 51 percent to 30 percent, also favoring Clinton.

Moreover, 59 percent said Bush has done more to divide the country, while only 27 percent said Clinton had.

When asked which man was more honest as president, poll respondents were more evenly divided, with the numbers -- 46 percent Clinton to 41 percent Bush -- falling within the poll's margin of error. The same was true for a question on handling national security: 46 percent said Clinton performed better; 42 percent picked Bush.

Working Assets

I was meaning to plug them before the ad came in, so forgive me for violating the sacred wall between editorial and advertising. I've used them for years and have been more than happy with the service itself as well as their customer service on the few occasions I've needed it. In addition, they help good causes and they've joined the ACLU's lawsuit against the NSA. So, consider switching to them.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday Night

Play nice.

Going to be Shocked

Not sure I'm capable anymore, but I'm sure some people will be.

Pundits of the Floating World

I think Garance's column on the dynamics of blog wars is pretty good:

Part of what’s at issue is a classic journalistic position: People who become reporters in general hate to play on anyone’s team. And to the extent that reporters who become pundits take that one-step removed attitude with them into their punditry, they generally see it as a badge of intellectual honesty. Being a reporter has always been about being in the world but not of it. But the schmoozy familiarity required to develop good sources over time often places reporters smack in the middle of the social milieus they cover in a way that elides those distinctions, and when reporters become pundits or write commentary and take sides, they’re also deeply embedding themselves in and speaking on behalf of communities that they nonetheless resist seeing themselves as members of or advocates for. That has always been a somewhat awkward position.

Now the communities in which they’ve embedded themselves are fighting back: Blog wars are a symptom of the way that political communities are fighting for direct self-representation in the public eye, rather than the mediated presentations of the reporter-pundits.

Most political bloggers on the left see their role as defenders of an intellectual and philosophical community under siege. Many of them are also Democratic Party activists in one way or another, or are in the process of becoming such. They are part of a team, and they (correctly) see themselves as reinforcements for players who have lost their touch and need fresh energy. They have no use for anyone who claims to be an expert on them and to be on their side but who writes pieces that undermine their interests, or that spend as much effort on snarkily establishing the independence of the author as on doing something useful for the team.

I Might Like This Idea


With efforts to ban workplace cigarette smoking still stuck in City Council after more than a year of maneuvering, a longtime foe of antismoking laws yesterday proposed a compromise: tax breaks for bars and restaurants that go smoke-free.

Republican City Councilman Jack Kelly wants to eliminate the gross-receipts tax for any liquor-licensed establishment that bans smoking. He said the bill would take action against the use of tobacco while letting owners permit smoking if they deem it good for the bottom line.

I'm fairly on the fence about smoking bans in bars, generally deciding that a ban with relatively light enforcement/penalties for violators, especially for smaller establishments, would probably be about right. As taxes go the gross receipts one in Philadelphia is a pretty crappy one, and it wouldn't cost the city too much in lost revenue to hold it out as a carrot for establishments to choose to ban smoking voluntarily.

"We Need More Babies"

"We" being white, non-Hispanic Americans.

Lovely sentiments from "Five to the Noggin" Gibson.

Even Newt

Won't defend the indefensible.

...and Joey Scar last night:

Now, whatever you consider yourself, friends, you should be afraid. You should be very afraid. With over 200 million Americans targeted, this domestic spying program is so widespread, it is so random, it is so far removed from focusing on al Qaeda suspects that the president was talking about today, that it‘s hard to imagine any intelligence program in U.S. history being so susceptible to abuse.

You know, I served on the Judiciary Committee and the Armed Service Committee in Congress for four years, and no program I studied while using security clearances ever came close to the scope of this massive spy program. It is dangerous, it breaks FCC laws, and it endangers all Americans‘ right to privacy.

But you know what? The villains in this spy program are pretty easy to target, almost as easy as your phone records. First you have the president, who‘s shown that he will break laws if they get in his way of spying. Second, Democratic leaders—they complain now, but where were they? They reviewed the program. Why no protest? Don‘t hold your press conferences now, Nancy Pelosi. Tell us about it when you learn about it!

And finally, the phone companies, who actually profited from the government reading all of your phone bills. They should be sued and their CEOs fired.

Hey, memo to the president and congressional leaders who signed up on this lousy program; We don‘t trust you anymore. We don‘t trust you with our phone bills. We don‘t trust you with our bank records. We don‘t trust you with our medical histories. From now on, if you want to look at Americans‘ private records, get a damn search warrant!

I'd like to really know which members of Congress were briefed. The administration is always claiming they briefed everyone, but members then disagree. Some good reporters might want to consider spending some time sorting out the various claims.

It's important to note also, of course, that being briefed on classified programs doesn't meant that Democrats can a) tell anyone about them or b) have the power to do anything about them. So to some extent the "they were briefed" is a bit of a red herring anyway.

Home and Office

Just in case it wasn't clear, it's rather a big deal with the guy who just quit as #3 of the CIA gets his home and office raided by the FBI.


Really, what's up with Big Time? These snaps of him snoozing haven't been surreptitiously taken, they've been taken at high profile photo ops were one imagines he would at least try to stay awake.


FBI raids home:

VIENNA, Va.– Federal agents Friday morning raided the home of Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who stepped down this week from the No. 3 post at the CIA amid accusations of improper ties to a defense contractor named as a co-conspirator in the bribery case of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

One agent told reporters that Foggo was not at the modest home in a quiet suburban neighborhood near the CIA's Langley headquarters and had not been detained. The agents refused to answer other questions about the raid, including what agencies were involved.

A neighbor said the agents arrived about 8 a.m. ET. A white Chevrolet van was backed up to the carport of the split-level brick home and, at one point, a man wearing latex gloves emerged from the house and went around the back.

I'm so glad we know that Porter Goss resigned over a "turf war."


Like Bradrocket I have no idea how a prime time speech on immigration will help Dear Leader or his party look good.

Panty Sniffer


May 12, 2006 -- The former prosecutor who negotiated the deal that kept President Bill Clinton from being indicted in the probe of his sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky has been charged with stalking an ex-girlfriend, a law enforcement official said.
Robert Ray surrendered to cops last night after Manhattan resident Tracy Loughlin, 40, filed a complaint.

"She tried to end it four months ago, but he kept calling her, sending her e-mails and showing up at places he knew she would be," the official said.

Party On

For local folks, Young Philly Politics is hosting a happy hour with local candidates Anne Dicker and Tony Payton, along with Lt. Governor candidate Valerie McDonald-Roberts.

Poison Fruit

Yglesias returns us to what is another fundamental point about all this - once you corrupt the system you have to set up an entirely parallel system of "justice." I made the same point here, but it's something which I think needs to be hammered on a bit more.

You may remember earlier news reports about the FISA court which I'm too lazy to dig up which reported that the FISA judges were at times very concerned about the sources of evidence upon which they were basing their rulings, whether the evidence was in fact obtained illegally.


Been watching the Euro creep up about half a cent per day recently, as bond yields have also been rising. Nothing intelligent to add.


My gut says not today, but...

Facts, Schmacts

Colbert really does bring out the stupids in people.

Let Them Spend Their Money

I'm happy to take some of it, but you can feel free to ignore the Telco ad to the right.

Morning Thread

Enjoy your coffee.

Glenn Reynolds

Was dumb as a stone when I started blogging, is dumb as a stone now.

Poison Tree

As I said earlier, it's all the same thing. Illegal databases, illegal surveillance, warrantless searches, indefinite detention...

It's all the same thing, the Bush Administration's War on the Constitution.

Thursday, May 11, 2006



President Bush’s job-approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January.

Oh, and a pony.

Billions and Billions

Make the Telcos pay.

Net Neutrality

Begala today.

BEGALA: That's a very good point.

And the Democrats are going to have to point out that this is a classic Republican move, not a national security move. Big government is getting into bed with big business. We're talking about AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. AT&T, by the way, wants to take over the Internet and start charging for access to the Internet, which Internet pioneers desperately oppose.

So, now, if you are running AT&T, and the president of the United States comes to you and says, hey, why don't I spy, why don't I snoop through your files there, and you want him to give you permission to control the Internet, that's a really lousy alliance politically for the Republicans, to be seen as big government in bed with big business.

These are the companies we're supposed to trust to discriminate between different content on the internet? The ones who illegally do the government's bidding?

Can't Ever Let Monica Go

Tweety's showing the all-time low Gallup polls for all the presidents. Tweety said:

Clinton was 43 at his lowest. That includes Monica.

Yes, that includes Monica, but is very deceptive as it implies that during Monica Madness was when Clinton was the most unpopular. Clinton was very popular during Monica Madness and no Gallup poll got anywhere near 43% approval. The lowest poll number from Druge Day through the end of impeachement was immediately after that day and was 58%. It hit 59% only one more time, and then stayed 60+ until impeachment was over.

Lott Confirms Wiretapping Phone Records Story

Since it's double-secret super classifed was the senator authorized to confirm it?


I think this story will resonate more than the earlier warrantless wiretapping story because on that latter one the administration was more able to convince people that of course THEY wouldn't be impacted, just that bad people would be. People were more bugged by that story than our media would generally let on, but they didn't rise in outrage.

The fact that the administration could more convincingly claim that only "bad people" were monitored didn't make that claim true - in fact it was a ludicrous claim, as one wonders why we aren't arresting all these people - but it still was a claim they were able to convincingly make.

But big TelCo handing over all your phone records to George Bush? Everyone knows they're getting monitored too.

Still, the real issue is that the president believes he is bound by no law. Until people accept that truth, which they've been quite vocal about, this will largely just be a dance.

Grand Old Police Blotter

Governor Fletcher (KY) indicted on 3 counts.

The special grand jury that’s been investigating state government hiring practices indicted Gov. Ernie Fletcher on three misdemeanors for conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination.

The jury also indicted former Transportation Cabinet official Sam Beverage for perjury, which is a felony.

And the jury also submitted to Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham 14 more indictments that are under seal.

Those indictments cover crimes that may have occurred before Aug. 29, 2005, when Fletcher pardoned all administration officials except himself.


We'd better all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, because he might be all that's standing between us and a full-blown dictatorship in this country.

C&L will have the video soon has the video.

...the DCCC has a roundup of House member reactions.

Get It Right

Zack Exley tells the Dems to get this spying crap right.

Just on CNN, it appears Jane Harman may have finally woken from her slumber and her and other Dems have introduced legislation which would require the NSA to comply with FISA. Of course, FISA already requires them to comply with FISA so, you know, maybe if we super-double-mean-it the administration might listen.

I suppose it's a step, but the only way to fundamentally deal with this situation is for members of Congress to come to terms with the fact that Bush and his administration have declared the right to violate any law they want to violate. They've said it very plainly. They haven't really tried to hide it. Why everyone pretends not to hear I do not understand.

Reporters, Whistleblowers, Political Opponents...

Dana Priest today:

Rockville, Md.: Isn't it possible that the massive database of phone records could also be used to expose whistleblowers, reporters onto stories damaging to the Bush administration, and/or political opponents of the current administration?
Dana Priest: hmmm. sure hope we can answer that for you, and for me, by the end of the day.

(via romenesko)

Philadelphia Vote

If you live in Pennsylvania's 8th Senate District (map at the link) and are so inclined please remember to follow Chris Bowers' instructions (for putting him in as a write-in candidate. And tell your friends to do likewise.

Not Normal

Reed Hundt:

No one should imagine that what NSA has done, if reports are accurate, is normal behavior or standard procedure in the interaction between a private communications network and the government. In an authoritarian country without a bill of rights and with state ownership of the communications network, such eavesdropping by people and computers is assumed to exist. But in the United States it is assumed not to occur, except under very carefully defined circumstances that, according to reports, were not present as NSA allegedly arm-twisted telephone companies into compliance. That is a topic that can't be avoided in the general's hearing, if he gets that far.

In a follow-up post Greenwald explains why this is basically illegal, except in "I'm the Decider" world where the president gets to be all 3 branches of government rolled up into one pathetic little boy.

Turning on Ourselves

That's what this is about. Greenwald:

But beyond that, when the NSA scandal first broke, the administration’s principal political defense was to continuously assure Americans that they were eavesdropping only on international calls, not domestic calls. Many, many Americans do not ever make any international calls, and it was an implicit way of assuring the heartland that the vast bulk of the calls they make – to their Aunt Millie, to arrange Little League practice, to cite just a few of the administration’s condescending examples – were not the type of calls being intercepted. The only ones with anything to worry about were the weird and suspect Americans who call overseas to weird and suspect countries. If you’re not calling Pakistan or Iran, the Government has no interest in what you’re doing.

That has all changed. We now learn that when Americans call their Aunt Millie, or their girlfriend, or their psychiatrist, or their drug counselor, or their priest or rabbi, or their lawyer, or anyone and everyone else, the Government is very interested. In fact, they are so interested that they make note of it and keep it forever, so that at any time, anyone in the Government can look at a record of every single person whom every single American ever called or from whom they received a call. It doesn't take a professional privacy advocate to find that creepy, invasive, dangerous and un-American.

Greenwald notes at the end of the post the fascinating phemenon we keep seeing - the brave 101st appear to get massive top secret briefings on these things every time they break (not really, but they act as if they do).

"Not Mining Or Trolling" Sez Bush

Um, so you're collecting this massive database and just... letting it sit there?


The telcos may be complying with the NSA simply because they're being paid a lot of money to do so, or at the very least being. promised payment for other services.

Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies. It also tried appealing to Qwest's patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest's refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.

In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government. Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest's lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA's explanation did little to satisfy Qwest's lawyers. "They told (Qwest) they didn't want to do that because FISA might not agree with them," one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general's office. A second person confirmed this version of events.



Yglesias outlines all the things the administration has declared the right to do. It's actually worse than that. They don't really believe the Supreme Court will agree so they'll keep ensuring that no cases ever reach the Court, not until more Alito clones get put on the bench. More than that, it's a way of sidestepping our entire criminal justice system. Once you start with the "fruit of the poison tree" - derived from illegal searches, illegal wiretapping, torture-inspired confessions - you ensure that no one scooped up through these means can actually go through the system, so you get indefinite detainment without charges, gitmo, rendition, etc... It's all one thing. You can't separate them.

It's why we used to respect the constitution, the rule of law, and our constitutional system of justice. No longer, apparently.

Receding Santorum

Seriously behind in the latest poll. I understand that the previous poll, which showed him closing the gap, heavily undersampled Philadelphia.


If you have any business you can switch from one of the other big carriers to Qwest, now would be a good time.

Oh My

Investigation of the House Appropriates Committee Chair? That could bring the whole place down.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Welcome to the Police State

I had no idea so many Americans were talking to Al Qaeda. Joe Klein assured me this was totally cool.

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.


As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.

Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans. Customers' names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA's domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.

It's okay. Joe Klein said so.

Oh, did I forget to tell you that Joe Klein is that bigget wanker in the history of wankerdom and that he is always wrong about everything?


Herbert (behind the wall):

Enough already with the analyses ad nauseam of the strategies and tactics and philosophies that the Democratic Party should pursue to regain power in upcoming elections.

We've been listening to this armchair chatter for years: The Democrats need new ideas. They need big ideas. They need to move to the center. They need to wave the flag. They need to go to church. They need the soccer moms and the Nascar dads. They need to run from the blacks. They need to run from the gays.

I have no more patience with this perennially pathetic patient, this terminally timid Democrat who continues to lie cowering and trembling on the analyst's couch, wondering why the Demolition Derby Republicans control virtually all of the levers of power in the United States.

The Democrats are thinking too much and doing too little. This is a party in need of a moxie transplant. It's time for the patient to climb off the couch, walk outside and mix it up with the gang that has made a complete and utter mess of the country that was entrusted to it.


It's time to climb off the couch, Democrats, present yourselves to the public, and take a stand. If you're personable, and possessed of just a little bit of courage, you're halfway home.

Go Cheney Yourself

In response to a caller's question on Larry King regarding the anti-gay ballot measure in Ohio and what she could've done to stop the amendments which, as the caller pointed out, was basically there to support GOTV efforts to help Bush win, Mary Cheney responded that she credited the good "get out the vote" effort in Ohio and said that they chose the "right candidate" based on the "characteristics" they saw in Bush and Kerry.

Presidential race:

Bush 51
Kerry 49

Anti-gay measure

Pro 62
Con 38

Evil. It's the new black.

Ticky Tacky Tosser

Montalban has some fun with Ticky Tacky.

Fresh Thread

Please don't hand out government contracts based on partisan loyalty, or shoot anybody in the face.

What's the Problem?

Everyone knows women don't blog or have any smart opinions and when you DO let them write sometimes they even talk about stupid stuff like how no one gives writing jobs to women unless they spend most of their time bashing women like that nice lady Caitlan Flanagan does and besides unlike REAL PUNDITS most of them can't do algebra and aren't smart enough to discuss stuff like Social Security.

Even More Fun

Noe to change plea:

Tom Noe intends to change his not-guilty plea in connection with three federal charges that he illegally funneled money into the reelection campaign of President Bush, according to court records released today.

Mr. Noe had pleaded not guilty to the charges in October. He faced a maximum of 15 years in federal prison if convicted of all charges. Authorities, however, said a lighter sentence was more likely.

It is not clear what the new plea will be. According to a status report filed today, proseuctors and attorneys for Mr. Noe have asked the court to set a hearing date “as soon as possible” for the change in plea.

HUD Inspector General Opens Investigation

As the story continues to evolve. It's very simple. Jackson boasted that he ran HUD like the worst of city patronage machines. Whether he was lying or not lying he's clearly unfit for the job.

Joke Records

White House released records of Abramoff visits don't include the 3 visits already known about.


Voters don't seem like anybody very much these days. Here are the ranked approval favorability scores of various national figures from the NYT poll (.pdf):

  • Hillary Clinton - 34%
  • John McCain - 31%
  • Al Gore - 28%
  • John Kerry - 26%

The Editors

The Editors explain why he is the worst blogger ever, and then can't avoid being sucked back into teh stupid.

Choice and Competition

I really don't understand why apparently smart people think that choice and competition are something people want from a prescription drug insurance plan or that it's in any way likely to lead to better outcomes for consumers.

On the producer (insurer) side the reason to support competition is that it will lead to lower costs. But Medicare has incredibly low administration costs while administrative costs everywhere else are crazy.

One the consumer side, what possible flexibility exists that one would want from a plan? You want to get cheap drugs when you need them. That's it. You don't want to have to worry about which drugs your plan might cover. You don't want to worry about having the plan suddenly stop covering the drugs you like. You want to know that when you get sick you'll get cheap drugs. That's it.

It's just stupid.

Out of the Mainstream

Will Bunch reminds us yet again how majority-supported Democratic positions are regularly claimed to be "out of the mainstream."

Elect a Good One

I urge all local people to consider supporting Anne Dicker in her election bid any way they think they might be able.

Here's a fascinating Philadelphia Weekly article which discusses the race and portrays just how screwed up Philadelphia machine politics is.

When Lederer announced her retirement, Dicker spent only 24 hours mulling over whether to run for the seat. Shortly after tossing her hat in the ring, Dicker says Fumo summoned her to his district office at 12th and Tasker streets.

Dicker and supporter Ray Murphy tromped downstairs and through a hallway lined with the senator's Mensa certificate and newspaper stories. At the end of the tiled corridor they found Fumo and veteran political consultant Howard Cain-both dressed in sportcoats, jeans and loafers.

Reportedly, Fumo warned Dicker he'd be "very upset" if Mike O'Brien wins the 175th District seat. (Some political observers agree that Dicker and Graboyes could split the progressive vote, allowing O'Brien to win handily.)

"Fumo has a lot of audacity to tell me to drop out when he's the subject of an FBI investigation," Dicker says, adding that Dougherty also phoned with the reminder that "O'Brien is his guy."

Fumo and Dougherty are the dueling warlords here in Philadelphia.

I can't vote for Anne. In my district I get to choose between a useless Democrat who has been there forever and a used-to-be-Republican who thinks he should be elected because he can work with Republicans.

Give You Cheap Bastards

Please consider donating to one of these fine candidates or one of your choice.

Oh My

Cooperate Dukestir, cooperate!

The Most Well-Funded Liberal Trolling Outfit

Tapped catches TNR trolling again.

Finally, I should add that Matt is absolutely correct to take The New Republic to task for their offensive unsigned editorial that is long on high-octane rhetoric, but completely devoid of policy proposals to curb the genocide. TNR has wielded genocide as a rhetorical weapon to score points against progressives (like me) who are skeptical about the wisdom of deploying American troops to Darfur. Instead of offering specific proposals that answer the legitimate questions that Matt raises at the end of his column, the TNR editorial appropriates the Darfur genocide to attack liberals. This is shameful.

The End of Celebrity Pundits

Let's hope so. Gene Lyons:

The larger point is that Beltway courtiers like Cohen, Time’s Joe Klein and others currently succumbing to the vapors over critical e-mails from fans thrilled by Colbert’s gutsy performance are on their way out. The brief reign of the celebrity pundit began with cable TV and appears to be ending with the Internet. Washington socialites are quickly being replaced in public esteem by politically oriented bloggers like Josh Marshall, Kevin Drum, the inimitable Digby, Glenn Greenwald, Billmon, Atrios and many others. As Greg Sargent recently pointed out in The American Prospect, “Readers are choosing between the words on a screen offered by Klein and other commentators and the words on a screen offered by bloggers on the basis of one thing alone: The quality of the work.” Sure, there’s a danger of groupthink. That’s true of all mass media. But there’s also a fierce independence and an intellectual honesty among the best online commentators that are making Washington courtiers awfully nervous.

Time to Resign

Alphonso Jackson needs to resign.

Wanker of the Day

Donald Rumsfeld.

The man has a sociopathic ability to blame everybody else for his failures.


I don't know enough about the operating revenues of the Daily News to have an informed opinion, but with that caveat I would say that yes, free distribution of the Daily News, at least in much or all of the city, would be an excellent idea. It would destroy the competing free alternative of the local Metro version, as it's a much better product.

Reading newspapers is a habit, and the challenge is to get more people hooked on that habit again. I think going all-internet is unlikely to work, as newspapers are still the superior method for delivering a lot of local advertising.

Worth a try for a year or so, anyway.

Good for Pelosi

She's right and they're wrong. (Roll Call. Sub. req.)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is drawing the ire of telecommunications giants after she came out against them in a fight between corporate titans of long-standing importance to Democrats — and encouraged her party colleagues to fall in line behind her.

The battle — over the relatively obscure issue of "net neutrality," which concerns whether and how the federal government should regulate the Internet — pits cable and phone industry giants against tech heavies such as Google, which is based in Pelosi's home turf of the Bay Area, as well as an array of consumer groups.

That the debate has turned partisan is angering cable and phone-friendly Democrats, who accuse Pelosi of trying to impose her personal views on the party.

"She's taking this bill personally. It's a constituent issue for her, and she's generalized it into a Caucus issue," said a senior aide to a Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

From the Richard Cohen's Greatest Hits File

In which Richard Cohen provides the inspiration for Dinesh D'Souza. Post 9/7/86

In order to be admitted to certain Washington jewelry stores, customers have to ring a bell. The ring-back that opens the door is almost perfunctory. According to the owner of one store, only one type of person does not get admitted: Young black males. The owner says they are the ones who stick him up.

Nearby is a men's clothing shop -- upscale, but not really expensive. When young black males enter this store, the sales help are instructed to leave their customers and, in the manner of defensive backs in football, "collapse" on the blacks. Politely, but firmly, they are sort of shooed out of the store. The owner's explanation for this? Young blacks are his shoplifters.

Are these examples of racism? The shopkeepers either think so or think they can be accused of it. They are loath to talk about their policies and quick to assert their liberalism, but business, as they say, is business. Most of their customers apparently concur. Usually they say nothing when they see blacks turned away, and one white congressman, witnessing some blacks being rebuffed, said that if he owned the store, he would do the same even though he considers himself a liberal. He obviously thought there was a contradiction between his ideology and his self-interest.


For too long now, liberals have reacted to race as predictably as the racists they so abhor. Like racists, they too sometimes see nothing but race, ignoring all other factors. As long as race is involved, it dominates. For instance, it was not just race that bothered some school-busing opponents; it was social class as well. As for our Washington storekeepers, race is only one factor in their admissions policy. Age and sex count, too. And while race is clearly the most compelling factor, ask yourself what their policies would be if young white males were responsible for most urban crime.

Of course, all policies based on generalities have their injustices. A storekeeper might not know that the youths he has refused to admit are theology students -- rich ones at that. But then insurance companies had no way of knowing I was not a typical teen- age driver. I paid through the nose anyway.

A nation with our history is entitled to be sensitive to race and racism -- and we are all wary of behavior that would bring a charge of racism. But the mere recognition of race as a factor -- especially if those of the same race recognize the same factor -- is not in itself racism. This may apply as much to some opponents of busing or public housing in their own neighborhood as it does to who gets admitted to jewelry stores. Let he who would open the door throw the first stone.

He followed up with a column on 9/14/86 which is eerily familiar:

A caller, let's call him Bill, phoned to criticize a column I did in The Washington Post Magazine about storekeepers who will not serve young black males. He is a young black male, the caller says, but also a lawyer, and he describes some of the experiences I wrote about. He names the stores where he cannot be served, where he is given the bum's rush, and he tells about the night he and his girlfriend went to the movies and then waited for two hours before a cabdriver would pick them up. He says that my column has sanctioned this sort of treatment.

Bill's call was far from the only one I received. There were many, most from blacks, some approving, most not. Some were harsh and insulting, some racist about whites, but there were some, like Bill's, that could be labeled constructive criticism. These I appreciated.


Now I am being accused of racism. The accusation stings if only because there is no way to prove otherwise. It is said that in describing the situation and empathizing with the merchants, I am either somehow responsible for it or, worse, have abetted it.

But I was attempting to point out in my magazine column that what seems like racism -- the refusal to admit or serve young blacks -- is often more complicated than that. Sure, it is sometimes nothing but racism, but for some merchants -- and some cabdrivers, black as well as white -- race is only one element.

A cabdriver who passes up a young black male is seeing more than race. He is also seeing sex and age. The three together fit the profile of the most common type of Washington criminal, and the cabdriver acts accordingly. In a different city, a different kind of person would be passed up. The thinking that goes into that decision is quite different from the thinking that made white cabdrivers of old Washington pass up blacks of any sex or any age simply because they were black. It does no good to simply label as racist those whose motives are otherwise, those, in fact, who may be of the same race.

I wrote a difficult column about a difficult subject -- a dilemma for both whites and blacks. I realized that I was providing a justification for some racists, but the only way to avoid that was not to write at all -- and that would not have changed the situation one iota. I wanted very much to get past the knee-jerk response of racism when certain subjects are raised. To some extent I succeeded and to some extent I failed. I take heart from the number of people like Bill who called neither to denounce nor to insult, but to say, "Let's talk."

From the Richard Cohen's Greatest Hits File

7/31/1998, Washington Post:

Let's go now, as they say in television, to the Thomas Circle area around midnight. What do we see there? Well, we see some women walking in a certain way, dressed in a certain style. They're hookers. How do we know that? Because, as I said, they're walking in a certain way and dressed in a certain style. Case closed.

Now let's go to a different location, a different time. We are in a government office, say around 9 in the morning, and a young woman comes in to work. She walks in a certain way and dresses in a certain style. Is she a hooker? No way. She's a clerk-typist, and should she be treated like a hooker she just might file a sexual harassment complaint with a multitude of government agencies -- and the United Nations, for good measure.

Is it fair that she be treated like a hooker just because she dresses like one? On the other hand, is it fair that a man be condemned for responding to the signals he thinks she's sending? My letter writers and phone callers say yes to the former, no to the latter. Following a column I wrote on sexual harassment, which began with an offhand remark to a colleague who had worn a short skirt to work that day, I heard from many men (and some women) who insisted that I had been entrapped. My colleague, they said, should have worn a longer skirt.

In principle, I reject that argument. But I also reject the argument that women are never accessories to their own harassment, that the man is always totally wrong and the woman never, not even a tiny bit. Let's examine this by analogy. Just because you leave your keys in the car doesn't mean someone is entitled to steal it. But by leaving your keys in the car you have made it easier for someone to steal it. Similarly, you have a perfect right to flash your money, and should you get robbed, the thief has no excuse. But neither, really, do you.

Prudent women recognize the importance of dress and behavior, the subtle signals that clothes and mannerisms send. For instance, it's neither smart nor good manners to wear short skirts or shorts in most Third World countries. It's not smart to go sashaying down dark streets there alone at night. To do those things sends a signal. A woman might just be trying to keep cool, but her outfit would not be interpreted that way by many Third World men. They would find her insolently provocative. The response might be brutal.

American men and American women share the same culture. But even within a single culture, subcultures exist. Sometimes they're racial, religious, ethnic or geographic. But they can be sexual as well. A woman may think she is saying nothing by wearing a short skirt, but many men think otherwise. If the skirt is accompanied by flirtatious behavior, then the message is even stronger. The woman may be oblivious to what she seems to be saying. She also has the law on her side. But, to many men, she is saying something nonetheless.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

From the Richard Cohen's Greatest Hits File



Here’s one story out of the Washington Post’s New York bureau that won’t make it into the paper: It’s about columnist Richard Cohen and why he’s just moved his office from the twelfth floor of the paper’s New York bureau to the twenty-second floor of the Newsweek building. The New York-bureau chief, Blaine Harden, passed along to management a complaint against Cohen made by Devon Spurgeon, a 23-year-old female special correspondent in the bureau. One Post insider says Harden and others in the bureau witnessed several instances in which Cohen made inappropriately sexual remarks to the young assistant. Management took the situation seriously enough to fly to New York to talk with Cohen on April 3, the insider continues, while Spurgeon was asked to take a paid leave of absence during the negotiations. Eventually, management decided that Cohen’s office would be moved. Cohen vehemently denies the charges. “There was, for want of a better term, a personality conflict,” he explains. “It didn’t involve sexual harassment -- it didn’t involve sex, it didn’t involve harassment -- and no disciplinary action was taken.” Neither a Washington Post spokeswoman nor deputy managing editor Milton Coleman would comment on personnel matters, and neither Harden, Spurgeon, nor managing editor Robert Kaiser returned calls.


Yet again:

Mr. Bush's overall job approval rating hit another new low, 31 percent, tying the low point of his father, George H. W. Bush, in July 1992, four months before the elder Mr. Bush lost his bid for a second term to Bill Clinton. That is the third lowest approval rating of any president in 50 years; only Richard M. Nixon and Jimmy Carter were viewed less favorably.

From the Richard Cohen's Greatest Hits File

Holy Crap.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

The General's Identity Revealed



Wow, I've often joked that Jeff Goldstein was one nudge away from a nervous breakdown. I thought I was (mostly) kidding.

Lautenberg Calls For HUD Sec. Resignation

He has to resign.

Waxman and Frank demand explanation.

Breaking the Law

HUD secretary needs to resign.

From the Richard Cohen's Greatest Hits File


He Just Wants to Be Loved

Like Jedmunds I don't need TNR to pat me on the head. I don't care. But this "mommy he hit me back!" whine is ridiculous.

I'm sure TNR writers really appreciate their jobs and hope to continue earning a paycheck to do whatever it is that they do, and some of them do good suff, and perhaps they blame their negative circulation and declining influence on nasty bloggers who say mean things about them on the internets. Or maybe they should just understand that their contrarianism is as predictable as the rising sun, that their support for the Iraq war means they're partly responsible for a catastrophic foreign policy blunder for which we will be reaping the moral, economic, diplomatic consequences for decades, that their endorsement of Lieberman in 2004 turned them into a caricature of themselves, and if they want people to actually like them they should can, as Jay Rosen of Pressthink put it here, their apparent belief that "we're smarter than our readers online, and that's why they read us!"

My problem with TNR of course isn't that I can't handle something I only agree with 80% of the time. My problem with TNR is that it has long defined the left flank of acceptable opinion and discourse in this country. That's in part the fault of the mainstream media which lets it occupy that space and that's in part due to a tendency of some TNR writers to be overly concerned with marginalizing opinion to the left of it in order to maintain its occupation of that space in our discourse. If the left flank of acceptable mainstream opinion is the center-right, and the right flank are the radical morons of the National Review, the outcome is going to be a world where hardline conservative John McCain is labelled a moderate.

Because I Missed It

He of the accented name weighs in on Cohen/Chait.


Quite apart from the performative contradiction involved in this paragraph, two things immediately come to mind—one tragic, one (appropriately) comic. The comic one is this: do you remember that incredibly pompous doofus in seventh grade who thought he was some kind of Serious Intellectual? The guy who was such an obstreperous asshole that even teachers would ask him to make a fool of himself for general class amusement? It’s a dull day in May in your English class, and everyone’s supposed to be discussing something like “Miniver Cheevy” but they’re really looking out the window or doodling “Yes” logos in their notebooks or thinking about sneaking into Billy Jack on the weekend because it’s rated R and their parents won’t let them see it, and suddenly Mrs. Eggleston at the front of the room says, “Mr. Cohen, say something funny for us, won’t you?” And the entire class snaps to, because everyone knows Mrs. Eggleston meant “say something ridiculous and goofy as hell,” and Richie really does say the most amazingly stupid-ass things you’ve ever heard come out of a human mouth, and sure enough, he does not disappoint: “I think Miniver Cheevy is the kind of hero who could help us turn the corner today in Vietnam,” says little Richie. Half the class bursts into laughter, and the other half thinks WTF? and actually looks at the poem to try to figure out where in the world Richie pulled that one from, and lo! Mrs. Eggleston’s English class is back on track, and nobody’s thinking about Billy Jack any more. It’s dirty pool, pedagogically speaking, but it works.

The tragic one is this: little Richie is still at it today! Right on cue, he opens his mouth and says that Saddam has WMD and that “only a fool—or possibly a Frenchman—could conclude otherwise.” Get it? possibly a Frenchman? That is teh funny, Richie! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Every time the right calls on you—to stump for war in Iraq, to demand that Patrick Fitzgerald close his investigation into the Plame scandal, to defend Bill Bennett, or simply to insist (way back in 2000) that Bush was the man to heal our nation—you deliver. Karl Rove says, “say something funny, won’t you, Mr. Cohen,” and within seconds, they’re laughing uproariously at you. At you, Richie, not with you. They think you’re a buffoon, really they do. In fact, they think they can get you to say anything at all. Now, Richie, why do you think they think that? Go ahead—say something funny! We’re all waiting.


You know, I can understand why the press went in the tank for Iraq. There’s no mystery why Tweety and Liddy had simultaneous wargasms about the flightsuit. I can see why the Plame story and the Downing Street Memo are so bo-ring to the CWmeisters. I don’t blink in disbelief when every bobblehead says in chorus, “Democrats, too, were involved in the Abramoff scandal.” I wasn’t surprised that the Washington Post, burned first by nasty mean blog commenters and then by their own Ben “even my prepositions are plagiarized” Domenech scandal, would order a takedown of Maryscott O’Connor, who, together with a couple of other liberal bloggers, has precipitated a National Civility Crisis. I could have predicted that poor Joe Klein would need to have his many wounds kissed and dressed by Hugh Hewitt. I know all too well why DC power couple Ana Marie Cox and Chris Lehmann have signed up for the nose-pinching “Colbert is not really our cup of tea, dahling” society. And I don’t even think very highly of Richard Cohen. In fact, these days I’m thinking he could beat Jeff Goldstein in a head-to-head matchup of supercilious, ignorant, self-satisfied wankers, and remember, my prognosticatin’ record has been pretty good lately.

But for some reason, I just wasn’t ready for the weekend media blackout on Hookergate. Of all things to trip my incredulity wire! On Friday I was readin’ around the usual blogs, and many of them were on full-alert Pony Watch. On Monday I find that the only people still talking about Hookergate are . . . bloggers. Really smart, reliable ones like Laura Rozen and Kevin Drum, mind you, not those foul-mouthed denizens of the fever swamp (i.e., everybody else, including you). Well, at least this reminds me why I started reading blogs in the first place, back in the summer of 2002—out of a growing sense that almost everything else had become worse than useless. (Yes, I know it took me way too long, another eighteen months, to start my own damn blog. Give me a break already—especially those of you who think I’ll look like Richard Cohen in a decade or two.) But that’s a long way to go to look for a good side.


Digital lynch mobs of radical left-wing Symbionese Liberation Army sympathizers armed with a big bowl of Maryscott O’Connor® Brand Angry Flakes are bad for the Democrat Party. If not for digital lynch mobs of radical left-wing Symbionese Liberation Army sympathizers armed with a big bowl of Maryscott O’Connor® Brand Angry Flakes, political discourse in the United States would be characterized by good sound Habermasian communicative reason, and Max Cleland would still be a Senator today.

Polite, respectful, decorous, civil bloggers armed with sarcasm, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes (especially the litotes) and satire are good for the Democrat Party. With the help of polite, respectful, decorous, civil bloggers armed with sarcasm, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes (especially the litotes) and satire, the Democrat Party will take back the House and Senate this fall. And then, finally, we can make the bastards pay! We will launch an investigation into smug, supercilious, clueless wanking, and we will issue our first subpoena to Richard Cohen.

From the Richard Cohen's Greatest Hits File

Consequence-free punditry:

It is time once again to quote my favorite philosopher -- Tevye, the lead character from "Fiddler on the Roof." It was his habit to weigh his options by saying, "On the one hand, " and then, "On the other hand," until he confronted a situation where there was no other hand. This is where Colin Powell brought us all yesterday.

The evidence he presented to the United Nations -- some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail -- had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool -- or possibly a Frenchman -- could conclude otherwise.


The French, though, are so far deaf to such logic. Their foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, said that the consequences of war are dire and unpredictable. He is right about that. But the consequences of doing nothing -- and mere containment of Iraq amounts to nothing -- are also dire and somewhat predictable. The United Nations will be revealed as a toothless debating society -- a duty-free store on the East River -- and every rogue will have learned a lesson from Saddam Hussein: Stall until everyone loses interest.


As with Tevye, there is no "other hand" when it comes to Iraq. If anyone had any doubt, Powell proved that it has defied international law -- not to mention international norms concerning human rights -- and virtually dared the United Nations to put up or shut up. There is no other hand. There is no choice.

Now that was certainly a civil column, calling everyone who opposed the Iraq war Frenchman or fools. Box Turtle Ben would be so proud. If only I had the good manners and gentle approach of Richard Cohen, then I too could attend the best cocktail parties.

But, my stars, he got some angry obsenity-laced emails whose content he divined due to his telepathic connection with his computer, or something, because he didn't bother to read them.

Really, a columnist who has access to the about the most valuable real state in journalism and decides to write about emails he didn't even read really needs to retire. As Digby writes:

Richard Cohen has been upset by the angry mob for some time. And when that happens he inevitably turns to the Republicans to set things right. They are, after all, the "conciliators." But far be it for me to say he has a political agenda. I frankly don't think he does. He is just easily upset by human beings who object to being treated like imbeciles by sniffing sycophants like Richard Cohen and don't feel like taking his condescending shit anymore.

I'm not quite as old as Cohen but I lived through the same era. How pathetic now to see liberals of my generation get so exercised over a few hostile emails. It's obviously been a while since they felt anything more strongly than irritation at too much foam on their cappucino. They sound exactly like the older generation sounded when we were young --- afraid of change and seeing political passion as being "hateful" and dangerous. Baby boomer elites are now that creepy old guy muttering at the kids to stop walking on his lawn or he'll call the cops.

Get Your Chait On

I've always liked Chait's writing, enough that I manage to conveniently forget that he thought the best use of his time during the 2004 election was to write a near-psychotic anti-Dean blog. Enough to overlook his cluelessness when in the middle of the mainstream media's narrative that all opposition to Bush was driven by nothing more than irrational hatred, Chait penned a column at the perfect moment to give that little storyline even more resonance.

Given all that I guess what motivates Chait and his opposition to both Dean and Lamont is his desire to maintain the system of kingmakers, where smart deserving people are given jobs at Joe Lieberman weekly where they get to choose our leaders absent the messy involvement of the rabble.

Weird people.

Bringing Cronyism Into the Open

I'm glad we're upfront about the fact that the federal government has been turned into a massive patronage machine. Local corruption is for amateurs:

Jackson, a former president and CEO of the Dallas Housing Authority, was among the featured speakers at a forum sponsored by the Real Estate Executive Council, a national minority real estate consortium.

After discussing the huge strides the agency has made in doing business with minority-owned companies, Jackson closed with a cautionary tale, relaying a conversation he had with a prospective advertising contractor.

"He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something ... he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'

"I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don't like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect -- the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn't be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don't tell the secretary.'

"He didn't get the contract," Jackson continued. "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."

Secretary Jackson needs to resign. Immediately.

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.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


Time to retire, Richard. Really.

Late Night

Be excellent to each other.

Be mean to wankers.

Monday, May 08, 2006

We're the Decider

Drum provides the regular lament that there ain't enough wonk talk in the blogosphere. There's more than he gives credit for - there's certainly a lot of reacting to the atrocity-in-Congress-of-the-day - and as Stoller points out it is to a great degree a waste of time.
But I think the "liberal netroots" does have a fairly clear consensus on a number of issues. I'm not going to claim every liberal blogger or blog reader agress with everything on this list - that'd be ridiculous - but nonetheless I'd say there's a pretty obvious general consensus on the following:

  • Undo the bankruptcy bill enacted by this administration
  • Repeal the estate tax repeal
  • Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI
  • Universal health care (obviously the devil is in the details on this one)
  • Increase CAFE standards. Some other environment-related regulation
  • Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice. On the last one there's probably some disagreement around the edges (parental notification, for example), but otherwise.
  • Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code
  • Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination.
  • Reduce corporate giveaways
  • Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan
  • Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions.
  • Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana. Generally move towards "more decriminalization" of drugs, though the details complicated there too.
  • Imprison Jeff Goldstein for crimes against humanity for his neverending stupidity
  • Paper ballots
  • Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies. Obiously details matter.
  • Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes.
I'm sure I could think of a few more things. I left off foreign policy because I find that most people who write about it imagine they're playing the game of Risk. It's nice to have nice bumpersticker doctrines which are ultimately meaningless, but basically "put grownups in charge" is my prescription. Kick the petulant children out.

...adding a few more things which would be obvious if we weren't living in the Grand and Glorious Age of Bush:

  • Torture is bad
  • Imprisoning citizens without charges is bad
  • Playing Calvinball with the Geneva Conventions and treaties generally is bad
  • Imprisoning anyone indefinitely without charges is bad
  • Stating that the president can break any law he wants any time "just because" is bad
...oh, and I meant to include:

  • Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens.

Rupert and Hillary are Friends

While this obviously outs their relationship it's been an open secret that Murdoch has been a Hillary fan. The New York Post has been pretty obviously gunning for her would-be opponents in the Senate race every time they pop up. Obviously Fox News isn't pushing Hillary, and I haven't noticed a lot of pro-Hillary stuff in the Post, but the Post has been reliably nasty to her opponents while being pretty easy on her.

Bush&Nixon Photo Finish

Certainly an exciting race.


On Countdown Shuster said he's convinced that Rove will be indicted.

Chill the champagne.


Shuster: Well, Karl Rove's legal team has told me that they expect that a decision will come sometime in the next two weeks. And I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted. And there are a couple of reasons why. First of all, you don't put somebody in front of a grand jury at the end of an investigation or for the fifth time, as Karl Rove testified a couple, a week and a half ago, unless you feel that's your only chance of avoiding indictment. So in other words, the burden starts with Karl Rove to stop the charges. Secondly, it's now been 13 days since Rove testified. After testifying for three and a half hours, prosecutors refused to give him any indication that he was clear. He has not gotten any indication since then. And the lawyers that I've spoken with outside of this case say that if Rove had gotten himself out of the jam, he would have heard something by now. And then the third issue is something we've talked about before. And that is, in the Scooter Libby indictment, Karl Rove was identified as 'Official A.' It's the term that prosecutors use when they try to get around restrictions on naming somebody in an indictment. We've looked through the records of Patrick Fitzgerald from when he was prosecuting cases in New York and from when he's been US attorney in Chicago. And in every single investigation, whenever Fitzgerald has identified somebody as Official A, that person eventually gets indicted themselves, in every single investigation. Will Karl Rove defy history in this particular case? I suppose anything is possible when you are dealing with a White House official. But the lawyers that I've been speaking with who know this stuff say, don't bet on Karl Rove getting out of this.


One does wonder why Chait is so desperate for attention.


CSPAN made a deal with Google Video to let them run it.

Make sure you don't laugh because it isn't funny.

The Spread

Bush's current approval/disapproval gap is now a whopping -34, an achievement only exceeded post-war by Nixon and Truman.

"Slipping Joementum?"

That was the headline on CNN just now.

And Chris Bowers reports from Connecticut.

Fresh Thread

Keep it civil. Don't shoot anybody in the face or tell people to go fuck themselves.


Only the real whack-jobs like the president.

WASHINGTON — President Bush's approval rating has slumped to 31% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the lowest of his presidency and a warning sign for Republicans in the November elections.
The survey of 1,013 adults, taken Friday through Sunday, shows Bush's standing down by 3 percentage points in a single week. His disapproval rating also reached a record: 65%. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.


I went to a fundraising event for Lois Murphy last night (you can all give here). In attendance was Frances Moore Lappe who spoke for a bit and read a brief excerpt from her book Democracy's Edge. The excerpt was:

It is the final week before the 2004 election, and I'm seated in the social hall of a synagogue in suburban Philadelphia. A debate between Lois Murphy, the candidate I've traveled here to support in her race, and the Republican incumbent, Jim Gerlach, is about to begin.

The large room is overflowing, and I am eager to get my first glimpse of Gerlach, the man who had just released a message going to thousands of area telephones linking my candidate, an upstanding community member and strong advocate for women, to the Taliban!

I know his ad has had an impact. The day before, as I approached one house to leave campaign literature, and agitated man at the door asked, "Are you with the Taliban, lady?" When I tried to explain, he threatened to unleash his angry dog.

Murphy opens by asking Gerlach to disown his dishonest ad. He refuses, no one objects, and the debate proceeds. The audience has been told to submit questions in advance but to not speak.

Only later do I realize what democracy demanded of me that morning.

Instead of going up to Gerlach afterward and telling him his ad was an assault on democracy -- something I prided myself for doing at the time -- I could have simply stood up when he refused to disown his own ad. I could have announced that I would remain standing until Mr. Gerlach acknowledged his mistake. My voice would have quivered as my heart pounded. But my example might have enabled others to stand. And even if not one person had joined me, at least there would have been an inescapable message in the room about the preciousness of democratic principle. Beyond focusing on policy differences, everyone there would have been called to reflect on the need to defend democracy itself.

That, of course, would've have been very uncivil. The organizers had established ground rules, and the civil thing for the audience to do was to follow them.

I have no idea why Mark Kleiman felt the need to defend that wilting flower damsel-in-distress Ana Marie Cox from the naughty and uncivil language directed at her for her writings on that obscure outpost called Time Magazine, or why he assumed her critics were motivated by "male chauvinism" or "misogyny" depending on the day or that I hold a "sincere and passionate belief that anyone who disagrees with him must be A Bad Person" (Kleiman generally holds, from what I've seen, a sincere and passionate belief that anyone who disagrees with him must be Wrong). I've generally defended Cox over the years. I was never a big fan of the fact that an ass-fucking obsessed columnist became the media's "liberal blogger" for a time. It was a predictable move by the liberal media, but I was always pretty amused when she didn't deviate much from her online persona for such appearances. They invited Wonkette, they got Wonkette, even if the topic of discussion was Social Security. What did they expect?

As I said I've generally defended Cox. When her book was released I linked to a positive review of it. After I read it, and thought it truly awful, I refrained from writing a bad review. Still, when someone takes dishonest swipes at my friends the very civil thing to do is respond, and I see no reason to do so in a manner which conforms to artificial rules regarding "civility" which apparently include not calling people on their bullshit and courageous battles against straw mountains.

As Retardo Montalban points out, we've been around this block before with Kleiman. Whatever value civility has, it's bizarre to elevate it above just about everything else.


Earlier when discussing Boehlert's book lapdogs I said something along the lines of there wasn't all that much surprising for those of us who have obsessively been paying attention over the past couple of years. One exception to that, I think, is Boehlert's chapter on the Note. He writes:

Personally, I'm a big fan of chapter 3, "Noted at ABC," which details the handy work of the smart guys at ABC's The Note.

The Note flies largely under the radar because I think most of us unsubscribed long ago under the orders of our doctors. It's essentially a daily affirmation of the standard liberal blogger critique of Everything That's Wrong With The Elite Media on display for all to see, and Boehlert documents that well.

3 Presidents

A brief comparison.

Representative #1

Josh has the plea deal documents. I think it's fair to say that Representative #1 just crapped his pants.

Getting Closer to my BFF


WASHINGTON - A former congressional aide and business associate of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has agreed to plead guilty to charges in connection with the investigation of influence-peddling and public corruption, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

Neil Volz, who served as chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, was expected to plead guilty Monday to conspiracy charges stemming from his work on Capitol Hill and the lobbying practice he joined after leaving Ney's office.

"The purpose of the conspiracy was for defendant Volz and his co-conspirators to unjustly enrich themselves by corruptly receiving, while public officials, and providing, while lobbyists, a stream of things of value with the intent to influence and reward official acts and attempting to influence members of Congress in violation of the law," according to a criminal information filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington.

A plea hearing was scheduled later Monday before U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the hearing has not yet taken place.

What I Learn From CNN

John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy, regarding Hayden:

He's very sensitive to civil liberties issues, and to unwarranted surveillance issues.

Yeah, Hayden, who doesn't even know what the 4th amendment says.

Miles O'Brien actually called him on this a bit, though let him get off with some bullshit answer.

Blogger Ethics Panel

Jane reminds us of one of Fitzgerald's greatest hits:

It is also relevant to note that Russert has treated an asserted waiver of the reporter’s privilege quite differently when convenient. When Richard Clarke published his book Against All Enemies and testified before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the September 11 Commission), Clarke became subject to intense media scrutiny. On March 24, 2004, the White House disclosed Clarke’s identity as the "senior administration official" who gave a "background" briefing in August 2002. When Clarke appeared as a guest on Meet the Press on March 28, 2004, Russert noted the White House had been aggressive in attacking Clarke’s credibility and had identified Clarke as the source for the background briefing — without indicating any concern about the "voluntariness" of the waiver, in which Clarke apparently played no role. (Copy of the March 28, 2004, Meet the Press transcript, Exhibit 1). Russert did not hesitate to broadcast out of any concern that such disclosure might chill future background sources.


Yeah, behind the wall:

The truth is that many of the people who throw around terms like "loopy conspiracy theories" are lazy bullies who, as Zachary Roth put it on CJR Daily, The Columbia Journalism Review's Web site, want to "confer instant illegitimacy on any argument with which they disagree." Instead of facing up to hard questions, they try to suggest that anyone who asks those questions is crazy.

Indeed, right-wing pundits have consistently questioned the sanity of Bush critics; "It looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again," said Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post columnist, after Mr. Gore gave a perfectly sensible if hard-hitting speech. Even moderates have tended to dismiss the administration's harsh critics as victims of irrational Bush hatred.

But now those harsh critics have been vindicated. And it turns out that many of the administration supporters can't handle the truth. They won't admit that they built a personality cult around a man who has proved almost pathetically unequal to the job. Nor will they admit that opponents of the Iraq war, whom they called traitors for warning that invading Iraq was a mistake, have been proved right. So they have taken refuge in the belief that a vast conspiracy of America-haters in the media is hiding the good news from the public.

Unlike the crazy conspiracy theories of the left — which do exist, but are supported only by a tiny fringe — the crazy conspiracy theories of the right are supported by important people: powerful politicians, television personalities with large audiences. And we can safely predict that these people will never concede that they were wrong. When the Iraq venture comes to a bad end, they won't blame those who led us into the quagmire; they'll claim that it was all the fault of the liberal media, which stabbed our troops in the back.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Y Kant Kleiman Read?

Better reading comprehension next time, Mark.

As for male chauvinism, well...

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Wanker of the Day

Jon Chait.

Tom Cruise's Ego 3

I have to admit to feeling quite pleased the Mission Impossible 3 is predicted to have a lower opening weekend total than did Scary Movie 3. Though, in its defense, it will manage to beat Scary Movie 4.

The Failure of Liberalism

I am so ashamed of what liberals have done to this country. We control EVERYTHING!

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

The War On Fucking

Yes it is good that finally there's some notice in the mainstream media that the conservative anti-choice movement isn't simply anti-choice but anti-sex, or specifically that they want to determine who is and isn't allowed, and anti-contraception.

Baghdad Mowaffak

We've really exported Bush democracy. From Blitzer today:

BLITZER: And joining us now, also in Baghdad, to talk about Iraq's new government, as well as plans for countering the country's deadly violence is Iraq's national security adviser, Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie.

Dr. Al-Rubaie, welcome back to "Late Edition."

It sounds like the violence is continuing full speed ahead, despite the efforts to forge a new government. What's going on?
AL-RUBAIE: Well, in general, the violence is getting lower and lower, and I think it's (inaudible). If you look to the country in general, you will see that there are probably more than 80 percent of the country is secure, and people are going to their jobs, normally, while some pockets in Baghdad, some neighborhoods in Baghdad, are troublesome and hot spots. Otherwise, the rest of the capital is stable and secure.

BLITZER: Well, you say that, but the Los Angeles Times today writes this in a dispatch from Iraq. "More Iraqi civilians were killed in Baghdad during the first three months of this year than at any time since the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime, at least 3,800, many of them found hogtied and shot execution style. Targeted killings now account for most of the violence."

It's 3,800 people killed in the first three months of this year alone, more that any time since the war started three years ago. It doesn't sound like it's getting any better.

AL-RUBAIE: Well, the violence has got worse after the blowing up of the Golden Mosque in Samarra in the middle of February, and following that, there was a surge and spike of a number of violence between -- well, sectarian-motivated violence between the Shia and Sunnis. And because of the call from the political leaders, from the religious leaders, from everybody in the country, I think we are back to the -- almost to the same level as before the Golden Mosque explosion.

Baghdad 2006


BAGHDAD — More Iraqi civilians were killed in Baghdad during the first three months of this year than at any time since the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime — at least 3,800, many of them found hogtied and shot execution-style.

Others were strangled, electrocuted, stabbed, garroted or hanged. Some died in bombings. Many bore signs of torture such as bruises, drill holes, burn marks, gouged eyes or severed limbs.

Every day, about 40 bodies arrive at the central Baghdad morgue, an official said. The numbers demonstrate a shift in the nature of the violence, which increasingly has targeted both sides of the country's SunniShiite sectarian divide.

Zombie Lies

Impossible to kill.

The Good News


BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A car bomb targeting government workers killed at least five people and wounded 18 in Karbala on Sunday, and two car bombs in Baghdad claimed the lives of at least nine victims, hospital and police officials said.

Karbala -- which lies some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad -- is home to two of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines and has been targeted by insurgent bombings in the past.

The first blast in Baghdad, at an Iraqi army base, killed eight people and wounded 15. The second, near a government agricultural building, killed one person and wounded five, police said.

The attacks come as Iraqi police told CNN a total of 43 bodies have been found in Iraq's capital in the past 24 hours. All of the bodies had gunshot wounds to the head.


This is probably correct:

The recent White House shake-up was an attempt to jump-start the administration and boost President Bush's rock-bottom approval ratings, but have those efforts come too late to salvage the presidency? A prominent GOP pollster thinks that may be the case.

"This administration may be over," Lance Tarrance, a chief architect of the Republicans' 1960s and '70s Southern strategy, told a gathering of journalists and political wonks last week. "By and large, if you want to be tough about it, the relevancy of this administration on policy may be over."

Barring some extraordinary event Bush will never get his mojo back. I doubt we'll see poll numbers above about 42 until the end of the presidency where there might be the common "goodwill now that he's going out the door" poll bounce.

Of course, that won't prevent the administration from doing tremendous damage to our country and the institutions of government in the time it has left, along with leaving numerous traps for the next administration to set off.

The midterm elections will have some impact. If Republicans lose control they'll run from Bush at lightning speed. Then the presidential campaign begins.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

Caitlin Flanagan

Ezra writes:

Barbara Eherenreich isn't a Democrat. Nor is Salon a Democratic organ, nor the Upper West Side the official Democratic headquarters. Flanagan isn't being attacked by the "Democratic Party," she's just pissy because the "Democratic Party" hasn't mounted a frontal assault against those who disagree with her lifestyle choices. Indeed, this is just an extension of Flanagan's normal romantic arguments to politics: she is a weak, vulnerable women in need of protection. Whether the answer is a strong man or an attentive party, the common problem is always her protested helplessness, which she insists all women share. The Democratic Party did nothing to Flanagan save not take sufficient notice of her assailants.

The only mystery is why male editors keep publishing her.

Which isn't really much of a mystery.

Catfish Coughs Up 1984 School Ring

CNN's on the job.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.