Saturday, December 09, 2006

Even Later Night

More normal blogging to resume tomorrow.

More thread

So, who watched The Screwfly Solution?

Fresh Thread

Rock on.

Done. Wrecked. Ruined.

The Bush family:

The setting was a leadership summit Monday in Tallahassee, where the elder Bush had come to lecture and to pay homage to Jeb, who is leaving office with a 53 percent approval rating, putting him ninth among the 50 governors in popularity. The former president was reflecting on how well Jeb handled defeat in 1994 when he lost his composure. “He didn’t whine about it,” he said, putting a handkerchief to his face in an effort to stifle his sobbing.

That election turned out to be pivotal because it disrupted the plan Papa Bush had for his sons, which may be why he was crying, and why the country cries with him. The family’s grand design had the No. 2 son, Jeb, by far the brighter and more responsible, ascend to the presidency while George, the partying frat-boy type, settled for second best in Texas. The plan went awry when Jeb, contrary to conventional wisdom, lost in Florida, and George unexpectedly defeated Ann Richards in Texas. With the favored heir on the sidelines, the family calculus shifted. They’d go for the presidency with the son that won and not the one they wished had won.

The son who was wrongly launched has made such a mess of things that he has ruined the family franchise. Without getting too Oedipal, it’s fair to say that so many mistakes George W. Bush made are the result of his need to distinguish himself from his father and show that he’s smarter and tougher. His need to outdo his father and at the same time vindicate his father’s failure to get re-elected makes for a complicated stew of emotions. The irony is that the senior Bush, dismissed by Junior’s crowd as a country-club patrician, looks like a giant among presidents compared to his son. Junior told author Bob Woodward, for his book “Plan of Attack,” that he didn’t consult his father in planning the invasion of Iraq but consulted a higher authority, pointing, presumably, to the heavens.

Strategies and Goals

Over at Kos, LithiumCola makes the good point that while Bush is supposedly mulling over "strategies" what he's really doing is mulling over "goals." Years later we still lack an underlying rationale for being there, and the only real goal is to find something which will perpetuate his fantasy and save official Washington from any more embarrassment.

Man of the Year

I've grown to detest all year-end lists and accolades and whatnot. They all just seem to trivialize what has already been trivialized enough.

Still, in the alternative universe where I edit Time Magazine the Man of the Year is (drum roll):

The Dirty Fucking Hippie

The Wise Old Men of Washington

And Sally Quinn is their queen.

The Boy King

We are ruled by a child.

Thanks, Oh Wise Men of Washington, for telling us how great it would be when the grownups were in charge again.

Late Night Thread


Friday, December 08, 2006

Evening Thread


In Which Holden Gets Yet Another Pony

Bush hits all time low in Zogby poll at 30% approval.

Money-Grubbing Jews

I really don't know how Imus manages to keep his job.

Afternoon Thread


Moral Seriousness

Really. These are all very silly people who should be shunned and ignored, preferring to grouse and sneer and throw potshots from the peanut gallery while refusing to engage in any kind of productive discourse. Shame on them for preferring to be the smartest people in the room rather than actually trying to accomplish anything. It isn't just morally unserious, it's morally sick.

Smith's Out

Oregon Senator:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In an emotional speech on the Senate floor Thursday night, Sen Gordon Smith, a moderate Republican from Oregon who has been a supporter of the war in Iraq, said the U.S. military's "tactics have failed" and he "cannot support that anymore."

Smith said he is at, "the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up the same bombs, day after day.

"That is absurd," he said. "It may even be criminal."


"I, for one, am tired of paying the price of 10 or more of our troops dying a day. So let's cut and run or cut and walk, but let us fight the way on terror more intelligently that we have because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way," he said.

Stay the Course

The ISG had one chance (not a big chance, I admit, but a chance) to force a policy change. That was to clearly, and in no uncertain terms, advocate the policy that a strong majority of Americans want - a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. They failed to do that, and now they're going to wonder why The Decider is filing their recommendations in the circular filing cabinet:

Former White House advisers to George H.W. Bush are keenly disappointed and concerned about the current President Bush's initial reaction to the report by the Iraq Study Group.

They consider him rather dismissive of the group's conclusions, issued yesterday, which include the view that current Iraq policy is failing. The group recommends a variety of important changes, such as assigning U.S. troops to play more of an advisory and training role and less of a combat role. The ISG also recommends that the United States withdraw most of its combat brigades by early 2008 and that the administration increase diplomatic efforts, including starting talks with Iran and Syria and energetically working toward an Israeli-Palestinian solution.

"We have a classic case of circling the wagons," says a former adviser to Bush the elder. "If President Bush changes his policy in Iraq in a fundamental way, it undermines the whole premise of his presidency. I just don't believe he will ever do that."

White House advisers say Bush won't react in detail to the ISG report for several weeks, while he assesses it and awaits various internal government reports on the situation from his own advisers. Bush tells aides he doesn't want to "outsource" his role as commander in chief. Some Bush allies say this is a way to buy some time as the president tries to decide how to deal with rising pressure to alter his strategy in Iraq and hopes the critical media focus on the Iraq war will soften.

The Center

According to new AP/Ipsos poll, 60% of the country favors a complete withdrawal in 6 months. That number jumps to 71% for a 2 year timetable.

Of course, none of this will happen because the Wise Old Men agreed!

(ht pony boy)

Wankers of the Day


Fresh Thread


Late Night Thread


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fresh Thread

For the evening.

But the Wise Old Men Agreed!

William Arkin is a bad person. All the wise people of Washington made a proclamation, and they agreed to agree on everything, and David Broder praised them. Then Sandra Day O'Connor said it was the job of people like William Arkin to make sure that the entire country got behind the plan, because as Lee Hamilton said that was even more important than the plan succeeding!

So, William Arkin is a very bad man.

I understand that this "new" solution is Washington's way of withdrawing without saying it is withdrawing. But there is too much hope associated with the shift: hope that if we just redouble our effort with the Iraqis, they will all of a sudden get it and transform. In here as well is the strange article of faith that less capable Iraqi military units will succeed where more capable U.S. units failed. It seems to me that if we are admitting that there is no military solution to the problem, there is no Iraqi military solution either.

And then there is the question of Americans in uniform being thrust into an impossible position. I know that the embedded American will be there to teach their Iraqi counterparts how to shoot straight, as show an example of camaraderie, and to school them in human rights and the laws of war. But it is only a matter of time before Americans are thrust in the middle of blood letting and abuse.

Here's how I see Iraq playing out in the short term: The president makes an announcement within a month about his "new" plan. Washington is ever so pleased with a new approach. But the a la carte plan is seen by the Iraqis for what it is; it is not a U.S. timetable for withdrawal. It is not an unequivocal pledge not to establish permanent bases. It is sovereignty and authority in name only for Iraq with continued American control behind the scenes. I can't see who any of this equivocation will deflate the insurgency or stem the hatred for America that is fueled by our presence.

The "plan," in other words, is neither what the American people nor the Iraqi people want.

Doubleplus ungood William Arkin!

Fresh Thread

Travel ahead, so light posting for awhile...

No More Friedmans

Freidman on Imus this morning:

We need to set a date, a clear and defined date, circled on the calendar, for us to leave there.

Join the Fray

It is a big problem that more smart potentially liberal-leaning intellectuals don't join in the dirty business of politics. I understand why they don't, but it's still disappointing.

...adding, I know absolutely nothing about David Card's politics, but he dares challenge the Econ101 Orthodoxy that pervades thinking about policy and pushes public opinion towards supporting conservative economic policies. Joining the Fray doesn't necessarily mean he stands up on stage with John Kerry and Jon Bon Jovi, it just means he participates in forums where the overtones are inevitably political even if the focus is not.

The Dangerous Seduction of Technocracy

I once shared Matt's opinion about the gasoline tax - that it was a good idea to raise it, no politician would dare do it, so finding some way to provide cover for them to do so would be smart.

But it's really not a good idea. First, unpopular-but-good-ideas can be made popular by good leadership. And, there are very good reasons why increasing the gas tax would be unpopular which are related to why it might actually not be such a great idea. Gasoline demand is highly inelastic. Even a giant increase in the tax would have limited impact on driving behavior. Public transit just isn't a viable option for great masses of the country. They don't have other options.

What's needed isn't a blue ribbon panel to provide political cover for politicians, what's needed is better leadership on these issues. A gas tax is a tiny band aid which won't really do anything but make people pay a lot more for gas. Long run it's possible that it'll improve political support for alternative transportation, but what would be better is having political leaders who would be trying to build support for alternative transportation - and providing it - instead of using a stick to try to beat people into taking trains which don't exist.

...adding, to be clear I think raising the gax tas is a good idea. If I were the Decider I'd stick on $3/gallon, at least until the people took to the streets and burned down my presidential palace. But rather than focusing on "what's good for them whether they know it or not" kind of policies, it's important to focus on policies which reduce the need for people to use gas. The kinds of land use changes which might result from a huge increase in the gas tax would take years and years to happen. Sure, people would over the course of a few years switch to more fuel efficient vehicles. But the primary reason the tax would be unpopular is that most people don't have other options. Start by providing them.


Well, one McCain or Two F.U.s is up. And the very serious person who we should all listen to about very serious foreign policy issues got it wrong. Again.

There's no reason to think that the people whose catastrophically poor judgment got us into this thing in the first place should be listened to now, unless you're the very smart people who run Washington.

Wanker of the Day

Dana Bash.

Your Moment of Gloat

You can sing along to the tune of the Right Brothers "BUSH WAS RIGHT"

George Allen - GONE!
Rick Santorum - GONE!
Dick Pombo - GONE!

I Can't Wait To Hear His Defense


MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- The son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor was indicted Wednesday on U.S. charges of committing torture as chief of a paramilitary unit during his father's regime.

The indictment marks the first time a 12-year-old federal anti-torture law has ever been used, U.S. officials said.


The indictment said that in 2002, a man was abducted from his home, and Emmanuel and others burned him with an iron, forced him at gunpoint to hold scalding water, applied electric shocks to his genitals and other body parts and rubbed salt in this wounds.

His lawyers can simply dust off Bush administration memos on what constitutes torture and hand them to the judge.

Coalition of the Wrong

Still, they know deep in their hearts that they're right and the dirty fucking hippies are wrong.

WASHINGTON - President Bush and some of the most vocal Capitol Hill backers of the Iraq war from both parties gathered yesterday for what an insider described as a group therapy session.


Their wings clipped by the Iraq Study Group's report, the hawks who met with Bush included his pal Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Independent-Conn.), California Rep. Jane Harman, who lost her job as top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a 2008 presidential hopeful who wants to send more troops to Iraq.

How about having a chat with a single person who, you know, was right about this from the beginning.

Morning Thread


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Late Night

Rock on.

Fresh Thread


On Countdown:

The fact is this commission was composed apparently entirely of people who did not have the judgment to oppose this Iraq war in the first place, and did not have the judgment to realize it was not a wise move in the fight against terrorism. So that's who is doing this report. Then I looked at the list of who testified before them. There is virtually no one who opposed the war in the first place. Virtually no one who has been really calling for a different strategy that goes for a global approach to the war on terrorism. So this is really a Washington inside job and it shows not in the description of what's happened - that's fairly accurate - but it shows in the recommendations. It's been called a classic Washington compromise that does not do the job of extricating us from Iraq in a way that we can deal with the issues in Southeast Asia, in Afghanistan, and in Somalia which are every bit as important as what is happening in Iraq. This report does not do the job and it's because it was not composed of a real representative group of Americans who believe what the American people showed in the election, which is that it's time for us to have a timetable to bring the troops out of Iraq. here.

Wise Men

Round and round we go.

I Am No Longer A Democrat

I throw my support behind the Connecticut for Lieberman candidate for president.

Welcome to 1968

Welcome to 1968: everyone knows the war must end and victory is unachievable, but the will to actually withdraw in full remains unpalatable to the political class. Bush will have a very hard time recommitting the country to a chimerical "victory" in Iraq. But in the name of “responsibility,” thousands more will die, for years and years, as the situation deteriorates further. Someone, at sometime, will finally have to say "enough," and get the United States out. Even Heidi Klum understands that.

These are the Very Serious People of Washington.

Clowns, every one.

Buh Bayh

Really, just don't bother.

Stay the Course

Murtha on the ISG:

On November 7th, 2006 the American public sent a message on Iraq and as the new Democratic majority, we must respond with decisive action. Staying in Iraq is not an option politically, militarily or fiscally. The American people understand this. Today there is near consensus that there is no U.S. military solution and we must disengage our military from Iraq. The ISG recommended that we begin a withdrawal of U.S. troops by early 2008, depending on conditions on the ground. This is no different than the current policy. We must do what is best for America and insist on a responsible plan for redeployment. Iraq is plagued by a growing civil war and only the Iraqis can solve it.

The only way the ISG was going to actually possibly cause a change in policy was if they said it's time to leave. Bush will continue what he's doing. ISG report anniversary day is now on the calendar, and a year from now we can see just what the Wise Old Men of Washington have accomplished.


Ah, the honesty of the right wing press.

The Week

Seven on Sunday, Seven on Monday, and Ten Today.

Thank God no one in Washington is embarrassed. That would be really upsetting to Broderella.

All By Themselves

It's amazing when that happens:

On one other matter, Americans have reached a remarkable conclusion that you're not likely to find either in your local newspaper, on the nightly news, or in the ISG report. On the question, "Do you think the US military presence in Iraq is currently a stabilizing force or provoking more conflict than it is preventing?," only 35 percent opt for "stabilizing force," while 60 percent have reached the reasonable conclusion that American forces, rather than standing between Iraq and a hard place, are "provoking more conflict than [they are] preventing."


Thank you Oh Wise Men of Washington, oh Preservers of The Elite Consensus, Oh Cultivators of Unity, Oh Keepers of the Glorious Flame of the Vital Center, Oh Quiet Americans.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Ten American servicemembers were killed in two improvised explosive device attacks in Iraq on Wednesday, NBC News reported. The news came hours after a mortar attack killed at least eight people and wounded dozens in the Sadr City Shiite district of the capital, police said.

In the 10 American deaths, five troops were killed in the north, and five were killed in Anbar province, a U.S. military official told NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski. No further details were immediately available.

Elite Consensus


Gates seems to be part of the "mainstream" elite consensus which holds that Iraq is almost certainly doomed, but that we should sort of keep on prosecuting the war for years and years just because it would be embarrassing to give up and, hell, who knows maybe a pony will come along. That sort of thing works, I think, if and only if you regard the war as a total abstraction, rather than actual events happening to actual people.

There is something wrong with these people.

...and, Russ Feingold from my inbox:

Unfortunately, the Iraq Study Group report does too little to change the flawed mind-set that led to the misguided war in Iraq. Maybe there are still people in Washington who need a study group to tell them that the policy in Iraq isn’t working, but the American people are way ahead of this report.

While the report has regenerated a few good ideas, it doesn’t adequately put Iraq in the context of a broader national security strategy. We need an Iraq policy that is guided by our top national security priority – defeating the terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11 and its allies. We can’t continue to just look at Iraq in isolation. Unless we set a serious timetable for redeploying our troops from Iraq, we will be unable to effectively address these global threats. In the end, this report is a regrettable example of ‘official Washington’ missing the point.

Cutting and Running

Even Papa Bear is a dirty hippie now.


Tony Snow on the ISG:

The one thing they thought was absolutely important was to rebuild a sense of national unity on this, and that was their overwhelming objective.

There is national unity. To get the fuck out.

High Broderism: Broder Edition

It's amazing that a group of people could be so unaware as to not imagine that very publicly elevating their own public image over all other considerations - and to think that this isn't important just for them personally, but for the sake of the country - might be a wee bit unseemly, especially when lots of people continue to die.

Best Laid Plans

Let's stipulate that the ISG plan is the Best Plan Evah, that if implemented in all of its particulars we would achieve a state of Peak Pony in Iraq within a year. Not that I believe this, of course, but lets stipulate it for sake of discussion.

The problem is that things like this are doomed to failure because not enough consideration is given to the most likely outcome: Bush and Cheney pick and choose their favorite bits and ignore the stuff they don't like.

The point of producing such a plan isn't to produce a plan, it's to try to achieve a desirable outcome. But the magic plan isn't going to be implemented in totality. Instead it will, at best, be implemented piecemeal.

So the right question isn't: Will Plan Points A-Z achieve Peak Pony?

The right question is: Will Plan Points A, J, K, R, U, the ones Bush and Cheney are likely to implement, bring us any closer to Peak Pony?

If the answer is no, then all you've managed to do is continue to enable a set of destructive policies.

There's a Lesson Here Somewhere

But I, being a cable news station programming director, have yet to figure out exactly what it is.

The Scoreboard: Monday, December 4

25-54 demographic: (LS)

Total day: FNC: 233 | CNN: 148 | MSNBC: 129 | HLN: 105 | CNBC: 57

Prime: FNC: 402 | CNN: 213 | MSNBC: 228 | HLN: 223 | CNBC: 36
5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p:
FNC Gibson: Hume: Shep: O'Reilly: H&C: Greta: O'Reilly:
201 216 290 413 416 378 374
CNN Blitzer: Dobbs: Blitzer: Zahn: King: Cooper: Cooper:
210 269 211 159 265 215 176
MSNBC Matthews: Carlson: Matthews: Countdo.: Scarbo.: Punishment: Investig.:
96 108 148 366 205 112 184
HLN HLN: Prime: Beck: Grace: Beck: Grace: Showbiz:
43/91 64 175 309 195 163 109

Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.

Total viewers: (LS)

Total day: FNC: 799 | CNN: 474 | MSNBC: 294 | HLN: 233 | CNBC: 169

Prime: FNC: 1,686 | CNN: 702 | MSNBC: 555 | HLN: 450 | CNBC: 117
5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p:
FNC Gibson: Hume: Shep: O'Reilly: H&C: Greta: O'Reilly:
980 1,296 1,424 2,328 1,584 1,148 1,023
CNN Blitzer: Dobbs: Blitzer: Zahn: King: Cooper: Cooper:
725 993 666 544 892 671 437
MSNBC Matthews: Carlson: Matthews: Countdo.: Scarbo.: Punishment: Investig.:
278 259 339 821 577 269 331
HLN HLN: Prime: Beck: Grace: Beck: Grace: Showbiz:
189/172 141 295 605 373 374 248

The Center

58% want a timeline to get out.

America: A proud country of dirty fucking hippies.


Newsweek has apparently hired a Dirty Fucking Hippie.

All that might happen... But, no, I don't think it will. Much more likely is that our dreams in the Middle East a year from now, like this year, last year and the year before, will be nightmares. And that's true even if by then we're "winning."

Every day we move closer to the edge of a humanitarian abyss. Think the Balkans, Rwanda, or Darfur, but with this grim difference: the United States won't be able to stand back from the slaughter and wring its hands in Iraq. It is implicated up to its elbows already, and there's more to come. Attempts to hold Iraq together by political compromise have failed. If the Americans stay there in any way, shape or form, they're going to have to choose sides, backing Iraqi "friends" who will do whatever they think is necessary to impose order.

That was the not-so-coded message from the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim shortly after he met with President Bush in the White House on Monday. (Yes, you read the name of his organization right. Hakim's goal is quite explicitly "the Islamic Revolution in Iraq," but, hey, America finds its friends where it can in Baghdad these days.)


The sad fact is that insurgencies are defeated only rarely, and then by imposing the peace of the grave on hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. How much more can Washington let itself be implicated in such carnage? How far over the horizon do American troops need to pull back to escape the stench of such a victory?
One answer: all the way home.

High Broderism

This is slightly encouraging:
Jay Rosen: Do you think the political press has a “political perspective” or would you say that on the whole it doesn’t?

John Harris: In my experience, the vast majority of political reporters approach ideological questions with what you might call centrist bias. They are instinctually skeptical of what they see as ideological zealotry. They believe activist government can do good things but are quick to see how those aims are distorted by partisan corruption or bureaucratic incompetence. They tend to have a faith that politics should be a tidier and more rational process than it is.

I sometimes think that if Washington political reporters ran the government their ideal would be to have a blue ribbon commission go into seclusion at Andrews Air Force base for a week and solve all problems. It would be chaired by Alan Greenspan and Sam Nunn. David Gergen would be communications director, and the policy staff would come from Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute. They would not come back until they had come up with sober, centrist solutions to the entitlements debate, the Iraq war, and the gay marriage controversy.
It took me a while to realize how this instinct for rationalist, difference-splitting politics can itself be a form of bias. It is ideologues, rather than Washington technocrats, who make history. On the right, ideas about free markets that a generation ago were exotic are now mainstream. More recently, what started out as the left’s critique of the Iraq war increasingly defines the center.

I think this constant churning of the terms of debate should be chastening to journalists, and even to you as you urge a more advocacy-driven approach to covering news. Who needs a bunch of reporters popping off with their views? It is hard enough—and honorable enough—to aim to report and analyze politics fairly and with a disciplined effort to transcend bias. That is what we will do in this new venture.

Jay Rosen: To answer one of your questions: Why am I so concerned that most traditional newsrooms do not organize themselves around ideology, and that yours won’t either? I am neither demanding it nor expecting you to organize around an ideology. I was asking about the politics that is built into newsgathering in the way the political press has learned to do it.

I am happy to report that we have some common ground. The “instinct for rationalist, difference-splitting politics” can indeed be a form of bias. A “fixed idea” as Joan Didion says. Extreme centrism (as I would call it) is about hogging rationality to itself. (See Atrios on it.) This is the default form politics takes in the way the mainstream press conducts its reporting and explains the world to us. It’s software the system runs on. Maybe you plan to un-install it, or put it out of commission. That would be a development I would watch with great interest.

Though Harris reveals more than he intends to here. Note that the range of opinions runs from people who occupy what is generally called (rightly or wrongly) the center of political opinion to the extreme right. David Gergen is a Republican. Sam Nunn is a conservative Democrat who likes to run around with Warren Rudman telling people the Social Security is DOOOOMED. Alan Greenspan is an extreme conservatarian freak. Brookings prides itself on itself on straddling the political center and hosts such grand contributors to our current mess as Kenneth Pollack, while AEI is a right wing freak show filled with hackery of epic proportions.

In other words, as I've long said, the acceptable positions in Official Washington range from the New Republic to the Free Republic.


Over and over I keep hearing about how wonderful it is that the ISG report is some sort of bipartisan consensus. There certainly is a time and place for compromise and bipartisanship, but it's a means not an end. Good advice and good policy is what matters, not political asscovering. Splitting the baby is not always a very smart thing to do.

More than that, this sounds like very bad advice indeed. Who was it who said that the report calls for us to "pretend to leave"? That sounds about right.


It's Not 1992

I don't know why our entire political industrial complex thinks it is. Digby:

So, he did what he did and received huge plaudits from the punditocrisy. Jesse had a fit and that made everyone even happier. And Clinton won, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the candidacy of Ross Perot. (Whether you agree that Perot took votes from Clinton or Bush, there's no doubt he scrambled that election.) It became, however, a matter of conventional wisdom that Democrats needed to distance themselves from their "special interests" and liberal base in order to win elections.

Now, fifteen years later, it's become a tic, a reflexive point that is no longer used for any specific purpose but rather serves as a political ritual designed to assure the conservative political establishment that the candidate does not associate himself or herself with undesirable liberals. The members of the base who have been used for a decade and a half as the human sacrifices to the pundit Gods of the beltway are starting, quite naturally, to rebel. It's not, however, just because they are sick of being scapegoated; it's because it's become part of the predictable "braindead politics" of Washington that Clinton so rightly ran against in the first place.

I don't blame Bill Clinton for doing what he did. Indeed, I give him credit for having the guts to point to a specific act instead of adopting the modern mealy mouthed rhetoric ("some on the left need to stop ...") which at least allowed for an honest debate about something identifiable and real. And, in the wake of the riots, as part of a serious national debate about "law and order" and race in the middle of a presidential campaign, it made sense for a Democrat to try to thread that needle.


Today, it's the Republicans who are seen as captives of their own worst impulses which is why it is so out of sync and dissonant for Obama and others to still be triangulating against their own base. It feels odd --- discordant. The Democratic rank and file are no different than millions of average people in this country who are feeling uncomfortable with the radicalism, incompetence, hubris and corruption of the Republican party after six years of one party rule --- and a quarter century of conservative consensus. And the activist base from which these politicians are trying to distance themselves is where the energy and future of this new majority party rsides. Why would you run from them just when the other side's consensus is starting to fray? It's far more politically useful to present them to the public as the average people they really are. We're all just like you --- regular everyday citizens who believe that the country needs a new direction.

As we have seen, triangulating can sometimes be the politically smart thing to do. But not right now. This is the political moment for the Democrats to seize the mantle of the mainstream --- to argue that we are the big tent, where people of conscience from all over the political spectrum are coming together, concerned about our nation, ready to work in common cause. The Republican party has abandoned the concerns of the American people. The Democratic party is the party that will secure the future.


Mary Cheney is going to have a baby.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Brief Reminder to Democrats

Bush is currently, has been for some time, and will likely continue to be an extraordinarily unpopular president. I understand this viewpoint is underrepresented in the mainstream media, but it is not underrepresented in the public at large.

Fresh Thread

Apologies for all the drive by posts today. Was busy with various things.

Punditry By Other Means

I really can't believe we let people who think like this run the country for so long.


The stupid! IT BURNS!

But How Many Of Them Will Enlist?

We all know the answer. Onward to Madagascar!

But Which Revolutionary?

Danny "not the actor" Glover gets sillier and sillier.

Still, if everyone on the list would just take the quiz we'd have the answer.

I'm Margaret Sanger.

Four More F.U.s

At which point, conveniently, it'll be somebody else's problem. Bush can sleep soundly, knowing that since he stayed 'till the end he "won" while the loser who takes office after him "lost."


Robert Gates, the White House choice to be the next defense secretary, conceded Tuesday that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq and warned that if that country is not stabilized in the next year or two it could lead to a "regional conflagration."

At the outset of his Senate confirmation hearing, Gates said he is open to new ideas about correcting the U.S. course in Iraq, which he said would be his highest priority if confirmed as expected.

As always, what happens if... it isn't stabilized? If it does descend into a "regional conflagration." What will we do then?

Shorter Matthew Yglesias

They still won't listen to the Dirty Fucking Hippies.

Slightly longer Matthew Yglesias:

If only it were true. By my read of the working group’s personnel roster it is the case that the May-style neoconservative intellectuals who largely formulated the Bush Iraq policy and took the lead role in pushing for its implementation have been sidelined. Also scantily represented on the commission, however, is another important category of people -- those who saw the direction things were heading and took a strong stand against the march to war. I don't want to say that none of the experts here were against the war, which is almost certainly false. But while many of them wrote in support of invasion or worked for institutions like the Heritage Foundation or the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that backed it, virtually none of them -- none at all that I recognize -- engaged in public opposition to the war before it happened.

This, however, is just the very mix of silence, collaboration, and complicity on the part of "respectable," "credible," "mainstream" analysts that produced the war in the first place. The more courageous and farsighted voices who got things right were treated as marginal at the time and, shockingly, are still treated as marginal -- excluded from all the coolest bipartisan commissions.

Under the circumstances, it's no wonder that they'd like to take Iraq off the table as a political football. But what’s good for an insular elite, shockingly enough, does not serve the best interests of the Democratic Party, or progressive politics, or, indeed, the nation. Debate and controversy will lead to accountability -- badly needed accountability -- for people on both sides of the aisle.

Fresh Thread


Wanker of the Day

Howard Kurtz.


Over there:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A trio of car bombs ripped through a southwestern Baghdad neighborhood Tuesday morning, killing at least 14 people and wounding 25 more, Baghdad emergency police said.

The attack took place near a gasoline (petrol) station around 10 a.m. (2 a.m. ET)

About 90 minutes earlier, gunmen in northern Baghdad opened fire on a bus carrying employees of the Shiite Endowment, a group that oversees religious sites and Shiite mosques.

The attack killed 15 people and wounded nine others.

The McCain/Lieberman war continues.

Morning Thread


Monday, December 04, 2006

Iraq: A Timeline


Late Night


Unity 08

Bowers has some thoughts.

Here are mine:

(ht someone in comments this morning)

Evening Thread


Lou Dobbs' World

What Lou Dobbs' correspondent just told me:

The vast majority of Americans are adamantly opposed to anything that resembles 'amnesty.'


Quinnipac Poll, 11/13-19:

"Do you support or oppose creation of a guest worker program that would allow illegal immigrants to register for temporary legal status and employment?"

Support 65%, Oppose 32%

Currently illegal immigrants cannot apply for citizenship. If the law were changed to allow illegal immigrants to register into a guest worker program, should that program offer them the ability to work toward citizenship over a period of several years?"

Yes 69%, No 27%

Gallup Poll, 6/8-6-25:

"Which comes closest to your view about what government policy should be toward illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States? Should the government deport all illegal immigrants back to their home country, allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States in order to work but only for a limited amount of time, or allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States and become U.S. citizens but only if they meet certain requirements over a period of time?

Deport All 16%, Remain for Limited Time 17%, Remain if Meet Certain Requirements 66%

LA Times, 6/24-27:

One proposal would allow undocumented immigrants who have been living and working in the United States for a number of years, and who do not have a criminal record, to start on a path to citizenship by registering that they are in the country, paying a fine, getting fingerprinted, and learning English, among other requirements. Do you support or oppose this, or haven't you heard enough about it to say?"

Support 67%, Oppose 18%

CBS 5/16-17

"Would you favor or oppose allowing illegal immigrants who have done the following to stay and work in the United States: paid a fine, been in the U.S. for at least five years, paid any back taxes they owe, can speak English, and have no criminal record?"

Favor 77%, Oppose 19%.

Okay, I'll fix her typo:

The vast majority of people who work on the Lou Dobbs Show are adamantly opposed to anything that resembles 'amnesty.'


I think if a senator wants to wander around the office in pajamas he or she should go for it.


The blithering moron known as St. John McCain is a very serious person.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.


With the minimum wage in the air, I see the Econ 101 trolls are out in force. Look, unless you believe that the labor market is accurately characterized as perfectly competitive then not only is it the case that the minimum wage doesn't necessarily, reduce employment, it's actually quite possible that small increases in the minimum wage will increase it. To the extent that firms have market power, and there's plenty of reason do think they do, the impact of small minimum wage increases can potentially be either "paradoxically" to increase employment or to just basically be a wash. You can read Alan Manning's book if you're interested in more, or if I'm extra inspired later I'll given you the Econ101 version of monopsony (sadly, not always actually taught in Econ101) so that even smart Ph.D economists can understand.

The real point is that if the minimum wage has small or negligible employment effects, and there is both theoretical and empirical support for this idea, then it's a pretty effective and inexpensive poverty reduction program. Obviously if poverty reduction programs for poor people interest you less than, say, poverty reduction programs for oil executives then you don't much care about that.


Why is Kenneth Pollack on my teevee?

The Sky is Not Falling

Can people relax for just a couple of minutes.

Not Going to Happen

I'd like to believe that Bush is going to declare victory and go home, and I do believe that it is possible, but that isn't going to happen unless they can create some artificial benchmark by which we can actually declare victory. It'd be bullshit, and we'd all know it was bullshit, but in order to save the fragile ego of the worst president ever we'd all go along with the charade. Or something. But I don't see how that artificial benchmark can be created. We've turned all the damn corners there are to turn. At each magical step, especially the formation of the government, they could've declared victory and started coming home. But Bush couldn't let go of his pet war. Rove couldn't let go of his pet political issue (nice math, turd blossom). So on it went. Not only did they not declare victory and start coming home, they thought "stay the course" was such a winning issue that they didn't lay the groundwork for a future declaring victory moment.

There's no way out which preserves the fragile ego of the boy king, and therefore absent immense political leadership elsewhere I fear there is no way out until he has left office.

Wanker of the Day

Joe Klein.

The dude just can't stop wanking.

Can't Sell Out If No One's Buying

It suddenly occurs to me that despite all the graft which is apparently floating around the blogosphere, no candidate or campaign has ever offered me a penny.

I am such a loser.

I'm So Excited

And I just can't hide it. From my inbox:

Dear Unity08 Community Member,
Here at Unity08, we've been working hard to keep up with all of your suggestions and are proud to announce major improvements to the Unity08 Web site and community tools — improvements you've been asking for.

We've given the site a new look — including adding the faces of those who are Unity08. We've created more space to highlight your comments and discussions, and your take on the most crucial issues facing our country.

Check out the new discussion on "Top Ten Reasons Why the Moderate Middle Matters" and the great write up of our movement on the USA Today Web site.

Our new site needs your immediate input — we need a tagline! On the homepage, you can vote for a few options or add one of your own. Over the next two weeks we'll work together to decide as a community what phrase best captures the spirit of our movement. Even more importantly, and as a direct response to community feedback, we've added some great new features to the community tools.

Create your profile. Log in and upload a picture, create your statement, and add your bio. Let your fellow Unity08 community members know more about you. If you already have a username and password to post comments, click here to update your profile (you may need to log in first). If you don't, click here to create a profile.
Threaded comments. Keep better track of the flow of a discussion and decide when you want to weigh in.
Better control your own posts. Edit and delete your prior comments and sort comments by chronological order.

The new look and improved features are just the first step in building out our online community and Web site. Next week we’ll be adding comment-level ratings and easier ways to reference and quote other people's comments. And we’re not stopping here! We have some exciting announcements coming in the next few weeks, plus a whole new edition to the Web site coming in January.

So take a minute right now and visit the new Web site. Help us with the tagline and join in the discussions. Thank you for all the great suggestions and support. Keep them coming as we all work together to bring about true democracy.

Only this mythical constituency can save our country from itself!

Bye John

Bolton's resigned [as of the end of his recess appointment]. Pam Atlas suicide watch begins.

The Straw Blogger

There are so many ways to write articles casting bloggers in a poor light. First, invent arbitrary ethical or journalistic standards which apply to no one else in the universe, and then show how bloggers violate them. Second, assume beliefs and motives of bloggers, lumping them all together, and then invent charges of hypocrisy. Third, invent arbitrary benchmarks for accomplishments which if achieved prove bloggers have superpowers, but if not achieved prove they are teh suck. Fourth, elevate an invented concept of "civility" as an all-important value. Fifth, the practice of "nutpicking," attributing the comments in unmoderated comments sections to the blogger him/herself.

I'm sure there are more.


Guess who said:

I can’t for the life of me fathom why any journalists would want to become insiders, when it’s so much fun being outsiders—irreverent, inquisitive, incorrigibly independent outsiders, thumbing our nose at authority and going our own way.

They Believe They Have The Right To Do It To You

Jose Padilla is an American citizen.

Mr. Padilla was added as a defendant in a terrorism conspiracy case already under way in Miami. The strong public accusations made during his military detention — about the dirty bomb, Al Qaeda connections and supposed plans to set off natural gas explosions in apartment buildings — appear nowhere in the indictment against him. The indictment does not allege any specific violent plot against America.


Pincus has an article about Democrats who were, you know, right about the war (aka the Dirty Fucking Hippie Caucus) are moving into positions of power. Most satisfying, though, is the slap he gives his own paper for non-coverage of their opposition four years ago when the opinions of Dirty Fucking Hippies were not deemed suitable for mass consumption:

The day after the House vote, The Washington Post recorded that 126 House Democrats voted against the final resolution. None was quoted giving a reason for his or her vote except for Rep. Joe Baca (Calif.), who said a military briefing had disclosed that U.S. soldiers did not have adequate protection against biological weapons.

"As a veteran, that's what hit me the hardest," he said.

Lee was described as giving a "fiery denunciation" of the administration's "rush to war," with only 14 colleagues in the House chamber to hear her. None of the reasons she gave to justify her concerns, nor those voiced by other Democratic opponents, was reported in the two Post stories about passage of the resolution that day.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Wanker of the Day

Danny "not the actor" Glover.

...adding, the consistency with which elite media outlets obviously fuck up news stories which I a) know something a lot about and b) are largely verifiable through relatively easy means doesn't make me very confident about their reporting on the stuff that I don't know anything about and therefore can't easily check.

The Economist was the first warning sign in this area...

Urban Archaeology

About 10 years ago or so I was living in Providence, RI. They had demolished some downtown buildings because they were going to build a mall on the site. On the site they found the old foundations, which delayed construction for awhile as they allowed some urban archaeologists to come in and figure out what was up. They'd found an 1830s or so era prison (IIRC). After they did their thing they conducted a few public tours of the site, which included descriptions of the prisoners' rooms, and some discussion of the warden's diary and other things. [This is from memory, so my details may not be precise - it may not have been the warden, but some other prison official, or outside observer]

Anyway, in the diary were observations about the mental health of the prisoners. The prisoners lived in solitary confinement, in small rooms lacking natural light. The diarist expressed genuine surprise that it didn't take very long (6-12 months) for prisoners - many of whom were in for minor offenses - to start displaying signs of profound mental illness.

What this has to do with current events is left to the reader.


The McCain/Lieberman war continues:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Nine U.S. troops died in Iraq during the weekend, including five killed by roadside bombs, the U.S. military reported Sunday.

Two soldiers were killed and two wounded Sunday when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle in northern Iraq, U.S. commanders in the northern city of Tikrit announced. The soldiers were assigned to the Army's 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.


Iraqi police found 51 bodies across the Iraqi capital, all shot to death, a Baghdad emergency police official said Sunday. Some were blindfolded with bound hands, and showed signs of torture. They are believed to be victims of the Sunni-Shiite sectarian warfare.

Fresh Thread


I've Forgotten More Than I Know

One day I hope to get a kind person at blogger to reformat my whole blog in monthly chunks from start to finish so I can relive all the fun we've been having over the past few years. Every time I go hunting for something random in the archives I discover something which I'd forgotten. This time it was the dummied up dossier.

The government's carefully co-ordinated propaganda offensive took an embarrassing hit tonight after Downing Street was accused of plagiarism.

The target is an intelligence dossier released on Monday and heralded by none other than Colin Powell at the UN yesterday.

Channel Four News has learnt that the bulk of the nineteen page document was copied from three different articles - one written by a graduate student.

On Monday, the day before the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell addressed the UN, Downing Street published its latest paper on Iraq.

It gives the impression of being an up to the minute intelligence-based analysis - and Mr Powell was fulsome in his praise.

Published on the Number 10 web site, called "Iraq - Its Infrastructure of Concealement Deception and Intimidation", it outlines the structure of Saddam's intelligence organisations.

Here's what Powell said during the speech to the UN

I would call my colleagues attention to the fine paper that United Kingdom distributed yesterday, which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities.

Like anything which questioned the administration's narrative at the time this was underplayed in our press, captivated as they were by the spellbinding presentation of Colin Powell, even as it was being debunked almost in real time.

Ah, memories. Thanks, oh Wise Men of Washington.

Slave State

It appears George Allen isn't the only politician with a fondness for the good old days in the South.


As a coda on the previous post, Lieberman is such a buffoon. It'd be funny if people weren't, you know, getting killed and stuff.

The Last Honest Man

We have been told over and over by the Wise Old Men of Washington, by the Keepers of the Flame of the Vital Center, and by the Quiet Americans that Joe Lieberman was a very serious foreign policy person. If he's so serious, how did he get it so wrong? I don't mean by my rules, I mean by his. It wasn't so long ago - just this past summer - that Joe Lieberman was predicting that by the end of this year significant troop withdrawals would begin, with half or even complete withdrawal possible by the end of 2007. During his campaign, in which The Last Honest Man said, "No one wants to end the war in Iraq more than I do,” he never advocated sending more troops to Iraq. Yet now he says sending more troops is the solution. How is it that this very serious person failed to advocate to change the policy which he now says is the cause of failure?


Just Say It


GERGEN: Yes, I do. I think Nick Kristof is bright on this. But I must tell you that the pendulum has swung on this. There was a sense, in the lead-up to the war, in which the press, I think, was guilty of cheerleading. We were waving the flags and it was almost unpatriotic to question the possibility of war with Iraq. And then during the time of the invasion itself, when the reporters were embedded, you know, many of them fell in love with the military and I think they reported very accurately.

But there was no question that they were swayed by what they had seen. But since they have been there, I do think the press has been on the cutting edge, been the leading indicator of saying it's not going as well as the administration says. And for those that think that the press is being too harsh, we now have the leak of the Hadley memo this week, which shows, within the administration itself, there's a real difference between what they're telling each other internally and what they're saying publicly.

The internal reporting inside the administration is much grimmer and much more similar to what the press says than what the administration has officially been saying.

In other words, they're lying, and lying about important things which don't involve fellatio.

Shorter New York Times

We find it unconscionable that bloggers have to eat.

And Jesse Taylor handed Pandagon, which he operated mostly when he was a college student, over to Amanda before he went to work for Strickland. I guess the blogger ethics standard is now if you've ever run a blog there's something unseemly about actually working with politicains, even years later.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week" _ Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; Gov. Tom Vilsack, D-Iowa; actor Richard Dreyfuss.


CBS' "Face the Nation" _ National security adviser Stephen Hadley; Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.


NBC's "Meet the Press" _ Hadley; Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John Warner, R-Va.; former President Carter.


CNN's "Late Edition" _ Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Turki al-Faisal; Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and John Kerry, D-Mass; U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad; Iraqi Industry Minister Fawzi al-Hariri.


"Fox News Sunday" _ Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; Incoming District of Columbia police chief, Cathy Lanier.