Saturday, December 23, 2006

More Thread

Don't make the baby Jesus cry.

Fresh Thread



I'm sympathetic to Kevin's thinking about this stuff, but it just doesn't work this way. There has been no grand bargain between war supporters and the rest of us such that they get their "one last shot" and if things don't work out then, you know, the dirty fucking hippies will finally be put in charge of things. As we've seen with both neoconservative hawks and liberal hawks, they're never wrong and the mess they've created will always justify the continued mess. Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon has informed us that "2007 will be make or break time in Iraq." Actually, that's not true, as tends to happen with this issue he informed us that it will "very likely" be "make or break time." A year from now we'll find out that no, 2008 is Pony Time. And O'Hanlon also tells us that if 2007 leans towards break instead of make, there are some wonderful New Ideas to try like, say, "a plan to help people to where they feel safer within the country." Which, once you run that through the Quiet American decoder ring, actually means "forced ethnic partition and mass relocation." Because once we do that there will surely be nothing to fight about anymore. Whatever.

And this is the Left Flank of acceptable elite discourse on the subject, almost 4 years after the dirty fucking hippies were proved fucking right.

Congratulations, Chris Dodd!

You are the only Democrat on the Sunday shows this week.


Regarding this, I think there are a few basic reasons. First, I think most of us are rather annoyed that vapid presidential primary talk already dominates the coverage of politics and don't wish to contribute to it (though it's easy to get sucked in). Second, WE WON! and, you know, there are opportunities to actually try to accomplish some stuff instead of having mostly pointless conversations about presidential primaries. Third, there's no clear issue/candidate like Iraq/Dean to highlight how They're Getting Everything Wrong.

All that will change eventually, especially as we get beyond the personality primary and candidates actually start to differentiate themselves on meaningful issues that Tim Russert doesn't care about, but for the moment there just isn't much point.

Meanwhile, pass the popcorn and watch the wingnuts tear each other apart. Here's an entertaining slice of online wingnut history.

Congratulations, ABC!

You are the misinformer of the year.

The Amnesia War

One benefit of the media-industrial complex's complicity in this endeavor is that they're generally happy to not notice when people get everything wrong.

We're doubling down on 20, as McCain/Lieberman said we should.


Norfolk & Western - A Gilded Age

Open thread

Have at it, me hearties!

(And don't forget, there are still people on the blogroll who are posting away.)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.


Rahm Emanuel:

CHICAGO, IL - Today Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) issued the following statement in response to Representative Virgil Goode's (R-VA) continued efforts to undermine the First Amendment by condemning Keith Ellison's (D.-Minn.) right to take his oath of office on the Koran.

"Tolerance for different religions speaks to the very character of this country and the precepts on which it was founded," said Emanuel. "President Bush has reminded us time and again that freedom of religion is a fundamental American value. As such, I call on President Bush to be consistent and denounce Congressman Goode's intolerance."


On CNN yesterday:

WHITFIELD: Let's begin with Secretary Gates. He says that he won't be shaped by politics. Is that possible when already the president is saying one thing, the generals are saying another.

GERGEN: That's -- isn't that the question of the hour. Thank you for asking that. The president has contended all along in this war that politics would not drive decisions, that his decisions on how many troops and how to deploy them in Iraq would depend upon the commanders on the ground, upon the top military officials and the government. Now he has staked out a position, at least his aides are staking out a position in favor of a strong surge of American troops into Baghdad. A decision with which the joint chiefs and the commanders on the ground disagree. So here we have not just the commander in chief but the politician in chief and the president who has to ask himself the question, does he want to override the wishes of his own generals? That's a big, tough call.


GERGEN: I agree with that. And, you know, the process has become extremely messy from his point of view. The White House's point of view. When you're in the White House, you want to convince people you have things sort of under control. You have a thoughtful, logical, coherent process of making decisions. That people sort of reach a consensus and then you go. And here we've got a process that started 15 days ago when the Baker Hamilton Commission report came out. This had gotten extremely messy, lots of leaks, lots of disagreement within the administration. I think it makes it much, much tougher for the president to go forward in January with people having confidence that what he's saying represents a consensus. If there's so much disagreement right now, this is going to be very, very difficult to bring coherence within his own government before he goes to the public.


My opinion on the draft is that it's pretty much the [Insert Political Party Which Supports it] Suicide Bill, which is another way of saying it won't happen. No matter what.


Posting will be light, on and off, throughout the holiday season.

A few people have written in to ask whether the New Blogger is worth switching too. I don't know. They failed to migrate my blog over so they just switched it back to the old one. Personally, at least from what I know about what the new features are, I can do without them. I like that Blogger is simple. I really don't need tags and all the other stuff that people think are cool.

Gang of 14

I was feeling quite a bit of sympathy for Lincoln Chafee, softy that I am, until I heard him on Terry Gross's show yammering on and on about how noble and wonderful the Gang of 14 were, and how that bipartisan moment was one of his best times in the Senate, yadda yadda...

Look, what the Gang of 14 did was endorse the notion that the Republicans in the Senate had the right to cheat, to amend Senate rules by using a bit of trickery which no one actually believes. So, what these wonderful and noble bipartisan senators did was endorse Republican cheating. Truly these are Gods among Men.

So, any Democrats who trumpet the gang of 14 - endorsing right to cheat - are truly awful people.


The McCain/Lieberman war continues.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Five more American troops have died from combat wounds in western Iraq and Baghdad, the military said Friday, pushing the U.S. death toll since the war began closer to 3,000.

In December, 76 American troops have been killed; at the current rate, the number of U.S. combat deaths this month could meet or exceed the previous monthly record for 2006.

At least 2,964 American troops have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told The Associated Press on Thursday that Iraq was ''worth the investment'' in American lives and dollars and said the U.S. can still win a conflict that has been more difficult than she expected.


Passive Voice

Even now there seems to be a remarkable degree of Not Blaming The Guy In Charge for all of the reasons he's unpopular. Katrina, Iraq, the Social Security debacle, the midterm elections are all sort of things that happened to poor George Bush, instead of, you know, stuff he was responsible for.

I know nothing is ever George Bush's fault, according to George Bush, but its rather miraculously how much that view has been universally adopted.

Wankers of the Day

Washington City Paper with an assist from another Spinsanity alum.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ooh! Ooh!

The Krugster writes the column I've been waiting for to provide the foundation for my Really Exciting Post.

Well, not that exciting, but maybe a little bit. So, tomorrow it'll happen.

Late Night

Gogol Bordello - Not a Crime

No Law

Except, you know, the law he's admitted to violating repeatedly.

This isn't hard people.

Evening Thread

Rock on.

Bug Lou Dobbs

Just for old times' sake. Take the poll, vote no (unless you disagree of course).

Stop It

Really. You're either far more stupid than I think or you're just happy to be an arm of the government. CNN's running with the "soldiers want there to be more troops in Iraq" story. As I said I imagine some do. Maybe most do. I don't know. But Secretary of Defense Gates didn't talk to a bunch of random soldiers, he talked to a hand-picked group of soldiers whose hand-picked quotes just happened to jive with the president's message of the day. Those views may be representative, they may not, but I don't know, you don't know, and most importantly CNN doesn't know.

Faith in America

Apparently it's all about socially conservative Christian white guys.

Meet the self-parody.

No Shame

Indeed. It's true that liberal columnists make errors, cite facts a bit selectively (easy to do in 730 words), or give some arguments more weight than they deserve, I know of none who clearly see themselves as propagandists. Meanwhile, it's pretty standard on the right. What they're doing is fairly transparent. But, nobody cares.


This is where the McCain/Lieberman war is going:

It now looks like the administration has adopted the surge strategy as its mantra. Simply put it means no new political road map for Iraq in place of the “national unity government” formula that has so far failed (has not delivered on the insurgency but has managed to alienated the Shias, and has actually caused more rather than less sectarian violence since the U.S. adopted it); going it alone (ignoring ISG’s recommendation to talk to the neighbors); and putting more boots on the ground. This last item deserves special attention. The language of the administration suggests that the surge will be used to fight radical groups and sectarian militias—Sunni ones and especially Shia militias and death squads associated with Muqtada al-Sadr. But listen closely; what they mean is that surge is in fact meant to finish off Sadr. And there lies the danger.

New troops will be in Iraq not to police the streets and hold the line against the creeping violence, but to expand the war by taking on the Shia militias. This is an escalation strategy. Will it work; maybe, maybe not. But it runs the risk that it may very well provoke a Shia insurgency—something Iraq has not so far witnessed. Thus far the U.S. has faced a Sunni insurgency (which by most estimates continues to account for 80% of U.S. casualties), and sectarian violence in which Shias and Sunnis are killing each other. Shia militias are violent, destructive and radical, but Shia militias are a very different problem from the Sunni insurgency. Shia militias, unlike te insurgency, are not targeting American troops. But it looks like the administration is set to change that. Over the past year Washington and its Baghdad embassy have alienated the Shia and undermined the authority of the more moderate Ayatollah Sistani. Anti-Americanism has grown in Shia ranks as they accuse U.S. of favoring Sunnis by focusing on Shia militias rather than Sunni insurgency. By going to war with the increasingly popular Sadr Washington runs the danger of losing the Shia altogether.

Afternoon Gypsy Shit

Because my blog was bloggered after the show last night.

Gogol Bordello performs Manu Chao's Mala Vida.

Notable Quotables

Chris Matthews, Tuesday:

I think it‘s not always so obvious to the cretins that got us in this war that real people are paying the price for their mistake.

Invade Their Countries, Kill Their Leaders, and Convert them to Christianity

Ann Coulter?

No, Rep. Robin Hayes.

(via Ed Cone)


to Gilliard

Think Progress





Greg Greene

Taylor Marsh

Ntodd (now what are you going to whine about you WATB)

First Draft

And everyone else who I may not be aware of who linked to the temporary site. Had I known blogger would've fixed things so quickly I wouldn't have bothered, and I also wouldn't have bothered if I didn't want to make sure the community had a place to go. The world can live without my ramblings for a day or two.

And, for those who love to harsh on blogger, everyone has tech problems. Blogger's free, works most of the time, and though it fails spectacularly and stupidly on occasion, their gnomes usually come through and fix things.

Young Patriots

Fred Kaplan:

Kagan writes, "The President must call for young Americans to volunteer to defend the nation in a time of crisis." Given the unpopularity of the president, and of this war, this seems unlikely. After the Sept. 11 attacks, when Bush was at peak popularity, and when the country was experiencing a surge of patriotism, Congress passed a bill expanding the size of the Army by 30,000 troops. Five years later, the Army has actually expanded by just 23,000 troops. It's still 7,000 troops short of that target. How does Kagan expect to attract 30,000 more in just one year, much less to do so two years in a row?

But why limit it to the president? Why doesn't, say, Bill O'Reilly or Fred Kagan or Kenneth Pollack or Rush Limbaugh or Hugh Hewitt or Jonah Goldberg or any of these other people "call for young Americans to volunteer to defend the nation in a time of crisis." Why isn't Sean Hannity touring the country with military recruiters to sign up his fans? Why aren't any of the RedStaters, who spend their days drooling over LOTR war porn, signing up?

One thing this latest conversation has done is acknowledge that there aren't enough troops. So why aren't all of these patriotic Americans enlisting or calling on their fellow travelers to do so?

(via lgm)


One thing I've tried very hard to do on this blog is never presume to speak for the soldiers who are serving in Iraq. An obvious reason for this is that they of course don't speak with one voice or one mind. Still, how credulous can a reporter be who writes this up without pointing out the obvious:


Gates had breakfast with U.S. soldiers to hear their views.

"Sir, I think we need to just keep doing what we're doing," Specialist Jason Glenn told Gates.

"I really think we need more troops here. With more presence on the ground, more troops might hold them (the insurgents) off long enough to where we can get the Iraqi army trained up."

None of the soldiers present said U.S. forces should be brought home, and none said current troop levels were adequate.

A senior defense official in Baghdad said U.S. commanders were concerned a surge in the number of troops would make the Iraqis feel less under pressure to take full responsibility for security.

"Look, the Iraqis are smart. They see what we do, and if we surge, they can step back," the official said.

Gates said it was not surprising troops wanted reinforcements. "We have to take into account the views of the Iraqi government the views of our own leadership, the views of our own military leadership in taking that into account."

I wouldn't be surprised if plenty of the people on the front lines felt this way. Hell, maybe most of them. How would I know? But implicit in this news report is the idea that this hand-picked small group of soldiers was somehow just some random representative group of soldiers instead of, you know, a hand-picked group chosen for their... oh, I don't know, maybe for their views on the situation in Iraq.

I'm not impugning the integrity of these people. They may believe these things sincerely. That isn't the issue. The issue is pretending that when the new Secretary of Defense shows up to talk "to the troops" that those people chosen for that talk are a representative random group.

Pony Hunters

The "liberal" Brookings is hosting a debate between those who think we need to keep hunting for ponies, and those who think we need to kill a few more ponies before we find the One True Pony. Or something.

Left out of the Serious Debate in this country is, of course, the views of the majority of the country.

...adding, the self-parody quote:

Although it has been said before about previous new years, it seems very likely that 2007 will be make or break time in Iraq.

Fine. AND THEN WHAT? Two more Friedmans from now, I expect to read:

Although it has been said before about previous new years, it seems very likely that 2008 will be make or break time in Iraq.

Turkee for Digby

Since blogger at my blog right after I posted this last night, here's a repeat. Go give lots of money to Digby, who, unlike George Will, is smart, writes well, has something unique to contribute to the discourse, and thankfully rarely if ever resorts to awful baseball metaphors to make a point.

McCain Hires Experienced Internet Sock Puppet


Heroes of the Revolution

Since my blogging days began we've been treated to various rounds of "WHY AREN'T LIBERAL BLOGGERS SUPPORTING IRANIAN STUDENT PROTESTERS." The first reason is obvious - furiously typing away at my keyboard about events and people does not in fact make me a hero of the revolution and more than that has absolutely zero impact on the events over there. Second, I don't know much about internal Iranian politics but I know enough to know that the issues are a bit more nuanced than the warbloggers, who see everything as a referendum on Glorious Leader Bush, seem to think. Third, to the extent that such a things have an impact, American support in whatever form doesn't exactly help the cause of reform movements in the Middle East. And, finally, while I appreciate it when the dirty fucking hippies of any country take to the streets, I also remember quite well the last time there was as major student uprising in an authoritarian country. That didn't end so well.

Lying for Years

In the Post:

he internal struggle over troop levels in Iraq has exposed a schism between civilian and military leadership 45 months into a war that, at the moment, has no end in sight. Testifying before a Senate committee Nov. 15, Abizaid bluntly rejected the surge option, saying: "I do not believe that more American troops right now is the solution to the problem. I believe that the troop levels need to stay where they are." Other generals have been equally resistant in public and private comments.

Bush has traditionally paid public deference to the generals, saying any decisions on moving U.S. forces in the region would depend on their views. At a Chicago news conference in July, for instance, Bush said he would yield to Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Iraq commander.

"General Casey will make the decisions as to how many troops we have there," Bush said, adding: "He'll decide how best to achieve victory and the troop levels necessary to do so. I've spent a lot of time talking to him about troop levels. And I've told him this: I said, 'You decide, General.' "

By yesterday, however, Bush indicated that he will not necessarily let military leaders decide, ducking a question about whether he would overrule them. "The opinion of my commanders is very important," he said. "They are bright, capable, smart people whose opinion matters to me a lot." He added: "I agree with them that there's got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished with the addition of more troops before I agree on that strategy."

A senior aide said later that Bush would not let the military decide the matter. "He's never left the decision to commanders," said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so Bush's comments would be the only ones on the record. "He is the commander in chief. But he has said he will listen to those commanders when making these decisions. That hasn't changed."


"Not Just the Jesse Helmses"

Poor Mitt Romney. He was Joe Lieberman back when it was still cool to be Joe Lieberman.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Turkee for Digby

Time to pay back for all that free ice cream.

Fresh Thread



In the McCain/Lieberman war:

*BAGHDAD - Iraqi police found 76 bodies around Baghdad, all with gunshot wounds and most with signs of torture, the Interior Ministry said.

*BAGHDAD - Two U.S. soldiers were killed in two separate roadside bomb attacks in southern Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement.

*MOSUL - Police said they found 11 bodies, all with gunshot wounds, in the northern city of Mosul.

BAGHDAD - Gunmen killed university professor Muntathar Mohammed Mehdi in his car, along with his brother and cousin, relatives and hospital sources said. Relatives said Mehdi was a member of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's political movement.

If only there'd been an item:

*Mosul - 3 schools received new coats of paint.

Then Stanley Kurtz would believe it.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Last Honest Man edition.


Apparently Barack Obama has Muslim genes, which means he might try to destroy America. Or something.

Schlussel, of course, is a fairly regular contributor to our mainstream media discourse, appearing on Fox and MSNBC multiple times over the past year.

The mainstreaming of bigotry and racism has been one of the more depressing developments over the past few years.

But, liberal bloggers use bad words sometimes so I guess it all evens out.



I do not support an escalation of the conflict. I support finding a way to bring our troops home and would look at any plan that gave a roadmap to this goal.

It's been two weeks since the Iraq Study Group released its plan to change the course and bring our troops home. Since then, the President has been on a fact finding tour of his own administration -- apparently ignoring the facts presented by those in the military who know best. The President needs to put forth a plan as soon as possible, one that reflects the reality on the ground in Iraq and that withdraws our troops from the middle of this deadly civil war.

Leaving is the only plan which makes any sense. The details of leaving aren't so simple, but the premise is. Get out.

Baby Steps

Rich Lowry says maybe things are bad in Iraq. And Stanley Kurtz blames the media for his failure to believe all the bad news they were reporting like, you know, casualty counts and stuff.

Listening to the Commanders

It was always an absurd little fiction that the press played along with, the question is will they note that he's now likely to overrule them.

More than being an absurd little fiction, it was just wrong. I really don't want Commander CooCoo Bananas running things, but the fact is he does. He is the civilian commander, and for years he's been hiding behind their uniforms blaming them for decisions he has made.


I couldn't deal with Anne Applebaum yesterday because exposure to her column was going to cause several aneurisms to form and burst.

But, let's have a Carnival of the Inanities.




(warning: somewhat rude).

Flip Flop

If Bush had, you know, listened to Kerry we'd already have a bigger military.

Don't Do It

Social Security is a lovely program. It's fine. There's nothing wrong with. There is no problem. Don't mess with it. There's no reason to. I know if a bunch of you get a room and cut a deal, any deal, David Broder will be very happy. But there's no reason to mess with the program. At all. Stop it.

Morning Thread

The decider's gonna answer some questions soon.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chris Bowers is the Problem


More seriously, I think something we all need to come to terms with is the fact that the Democrats actually have power now. And while most of us probably remember when Clinton was president, the Democrats have essentially not had the power to pass legislation since 1994.

Especially since 2002 all the Dems have had is message. So, we're quick to jump on that when they screw it up. Messaging is still important, and they still shouldn't screw it up. But it isn't the only power they have now, and it isn't the most important power they have.

So, yes, they should speak smarter when they go on the Sunday shows. But the sky isn't falling when they don't.

Not So New

I'll leave it to wider read sci fi fans (it's been years since I've read much) to provide the evidence, but right wing dystopianism in sci-fi isn't a new thing, though its emphasis has changed. My memory is that over the 80s-90s it was generally directed at environmentalism or lefty Ludditism (real or imagined), or occasionally nanny-state stuff run amok, and courageously armed right wingers would save the day then too. What is new is the equation of leftyism with radical violent (or even nonviolent) Islamism, which is of course absurd given that, you know, we tend to be all about the guilt free sex and gay marriage and religious freedom and whatnot.

Evening Thread


Not Going to Happen

Greg Sargent reminds us that McCain, at one time, said the policy he was courageously advocating wasn't going to happen.

It's the McCain/Lieberman war now.

Iraq 4Evah!

Brought to you by the Wise Old Men of Washington.

Thanks guys.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.


Three months ago today, ISG commissioner Lee Hamilton:

The next three months are critical. Before the end of this year, this government needs to show progress in securing Baghdad, pursuing national reconciliation and delivering basic services.

But, unsurprisingly, those things haven't happened. So now what?

Wanker of the Day

Richard Cohen.

They Control The Country

While I appreciate Ezra's observations, I actually think something else is going on here. There's a permanent class in Washington, various orbits of power centers, who really believe they run the town and by extension the country. Politicians come and go, but the permanent ruling class is always there. Its members shift a bit over time, and there are those higher up in the perceived power structure than others, but the class remains. It's what Broder meant when he said "it's our town." of Clinton, "it's not his place." They set the rules, define the parameters of debate and acceptable conduct, and every now and then step in and Make a Decision which they assume Will Be Listened To. Once the Wise Old Men finally got around to realizing that Iraq was a disaster, they assumed They Would Be Heeded, especially if they did it in a nice way which didn't blame anybody for anything and let Bush off the hook.

This is the true High Broderism - not just a belief in the ultimate rightness of the club of bipartisan technocrats, pundits, and other elites, but a belief in their actual power.

While Clintonites have now entered into the ruling class, they weren't there in the 90s. The Wise Old Men hated Clinton in part because he upset the existing social order and forced a lot of their friends to find new jobs (see Travelgate for a trivial example) after 12 years of Republican rule. They had been dancing in a well-orchestrated dance for some time and didn't appreciate it being changed. Then they hated him because he refused to obey their call for him to resign after the Lewinsky revelations. They hated him even more because they recognized how out of touch they were with mainstream public opinion.

The Wise Old Men of Washington believe they run the place. It's their town, after all. They thought Bush would have to listen to them.

...adding, as I left off my final point - so, yes, their failure to understand Bush has to do with their failure to simply listen to Bush the Man instead of Bush the Imagined Man, but I think a big reason for that failure is the belief in their own rightness and power. They are right, they are powerful, so of course Bush should agree, and Bush should listen.

I Don't Think Rudy Gets It

Movement social conservatives are all about obsessing about and controlling who is putting what where.*

Conservative Episcopalian churches just put themselves under an African Archbishop who advocates putting gay people in jail.

Something tells me Rudy doesn't get out much.

*not necessarily all self-described social conservatives, but it's what animates the movement.

Punish the Dirty Drunken Whore

All this media coverage of the "misbehavior" of a Miss USA (CNN said there were "serious allegations"), who no one other than AssRocket had probably heard of until yesterday, is absurd. And, yes, I know all the contractual obligations that these people have, but really this is ridiculous.

Done. Ruined. Wrecked

William Arkin:

Will anyone get beyond the view that "we have to succeed" to actually ask the question as to whether it is possible or likely?

More than that, it's quite possible to fail even more than we already have.


At least Newsday covers it:

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton beats John McCain and ties Rudolph Giuliani in a new Newsweek national poll, a stunning counterpoint to recent surveys showing the former first lady trailing the GOP's dueling presidential frontrunners.

The poll, taken earlier this month, shows Clinton besting McCain 50 to 43 percent among 1,000 registered voters nationwide. It also showed her in a dead heat with McCain among independents, a group that has proven stubbornly resistant to her centrist message.

And laugh at this statement:

The Newsweek numbers on the head-to-head presidential matchups were not publicized by the magazine. They appeared in a press release on the magazine's Web site but weren't included in a Clinton-Barack Obama cover story, which focused on whether Americans were receptive to black or female presidential candidates. A Newsweek editor said the poll matchups were not pertinent to the cover story.

Right. The poll numbers regarding how receptive voters were to Clinton and Obama were not pertinent to a cover story "which focused on whether Americans were receptive to black or female presidential candidates."

Morning Thread

Please don't shoot anyone in the face.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Late Night

Rock on.


I'm not one to hit the caps lock or refer to myself in the third person, but this just about caused a meltdown:

WASHINGTON — Iraq Study Group member Leon E. Panetta believed that his panel's unanimous bipartisan recommendations about a new way forward in Iraq would give President Bush the political cover needed for a dramatic policy shift. So the former chief of staff to President Clinton has watched with alarm as Bush this week signaled that he may reject suggestions about diplomacy and withdrawing most US troops from Iraq by 2008.

Bush has even criticized the idea that the group was providing a "graceful exit" from the war — which is what Panetta and other panel members figured Bush most wanted.

How is that little old me, one of the blogosphere's most disreputable rabid lambs, understands what's going a hell of a lot better than The Wise Old Men of Washington? Really, I'm just aghast at this. Bush has made it quite clear for months and years that leaving is losing. My brilliant insight isn't based on my ability to look deep into his soul, it is based on my ability to hear what he has said over and over again. It's possible the ISG could've provided cover for Bush to shift from "stay the course!" to something slightly different, but only if that slightly different thing didn't involve, you know, leaving. Bush has made that perfectly clear repeatedly. Leaving is losing. Staying is winning. It's that simple.

...adding, the main issue is that there was no way the ISG was going to achieve desired change simply by "providing cover." To the extent that they could they had to try to force his hand. If they'd had the 6 weeks+ of media hype with Broderella and the gang falling all over themselves to praise their brilliance, and then they'd laid the nuclear "get the fuck out NOW you goddamn moron!" smackdown (in slightly more diplomatic language) on Bush, then maybe, just maybe, they'd have caused a big enough earthquake to force a sensible change.


I can't find it at CNN anywhere, but I've seen people comment on it and Joe Scar just repeated it - only 12% support the McCain/Lieberman plan for sending more troops to Iraq.

...ah, it was LA Times/Bloomberg, not a CNN poll it seems.

...11% in CNN.

Thrilled to Be Here Sir

Attacks at Record High

This is a year after The Last Honest Man said our plan was working, about six months after Operation Forward Together and then Together Forward and then Together Forward II: Electric Boogaloo was supposed to be our one last shot at this very critical juncture blahblahblah...

One Last Shot

It was six months ago today that Joe Klein said that the Democrats need to give Iraq "one last shot." He didn't specify a time frame, so I allocated a Friedman.

Over that time period, about 430 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. On November 25, Joe Klein kinda-sorta said it's time to go.

Saint McCain Beaten By A Girl

I bet this poll won't get any coverage. In fact, I couldn't even find coverage of it in Newsweek itself, aside from the linked press release.

Clinton's up 50-43 over McCain, 48-47 over Three Wives Giuliani, 58-32 over Mitt Romney.

McCain beats Obama 45-43, Giuliani beats Obama 47-44, Obama beats Romney 55-25.

Early polls like this don't really mean much but they do drive news coverage. Unless they're just ignored of course.

...Bowers has more on how Newsweek is ignoring its own poll.


I miss the good old days when conservatives would freak when someone made a Vietnam comparison.

Run, Rudy, Run!

Like Rangel, I support the Giuliani-Kerik ticket.

Other Peoples' Lives

Not hard for, uh, who?

Fresh Thread

But only for people who keep it real and are willing to rock it old school.


I suppose it'll be time to shift gears soon. I've long said on this blog that much public discussion of wonkery was largely wankery, as with Democrats out of power and with the way Republicans treated the minority party, especially in the House, None Of It Was Actually Going To Happen.

But, now, that's going to change. There's some slight chance we can start having grownup conversations about real policies. I'm not super optimistic that much good can happen over the next couple of years, between bare control in the Senate, obstinate blue dog Democrats in the House, and of course Bush's inevitable newfound love of the veto. However, at the very least some decent legislation - both small and big - can at least be proposed, discussed, and taken seriously.

I've spent some time looking over Ron Wyden's health care proposal. I think it's pretty good, though not perfect. It seems like a reasonable starting point for a discussion at least. Most importantly it puts a marker down to presidential wannabes and motivates them to either support it or come up with their own.

Sadly, the 2008 election will, once again, be largely about Iraq, but there are opportunities for other things. I for one wouldn't mind the various candidates spending some time arguing about who has the awesomer universal health care plan.

Some Notes on Primary Season

1) Your favorite candidate is the only one who can win.

2) Your favorite candidate is the only one who will truly get behind a progressive agenda.

3) Other candidates are part of some nefarious conspiracy to destroy your candidate.

4) Supporters of other candidates are motivated by groupthink.

5) Supporters of other candidates are operating in bad faith and arguing dishonestly.

6) "Powerful" bloggers shouldn't be "biased."

7) Primary season is the silliest season of all.


Indeed it is. Note to self: next time you go to a casino, use someone else's money. Much more fun that way.


I wanted to highlight what I think is a pretty good example of how the current obedience to the odd conventions of modern journalism creates some really crappy writing. So, in the middle of the article about the American detained in Iraq, we get this:

A spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s detention operations in Iraq, First Lt. Lea Ann Fracasso, said in written answers to questions that the men had been “treated fair and humanely,” and that there was no record of either man complaining about their treatment.

Now, the reporter lets this comment stand without any response. The smart reader, of course, will note its Kafkaesque absurdity. They didn't have access to attorneys. They were placed in solitary confinement. They were in cold cells, with fluorescent lights left on all night.

And First Lt. Lea Ann Fracasso is suggesting she checked with the Complaints Department, and found nothing, so there's nothing to see here.

Overall it's an excellent well-reported story, and the smart reader who reads all the way through will understand what an absurd statement this is. Still, later today, if Rush Limbaugh decides to talk about this story he'll say "But they guy didn't even complain!!!"

Role Play

On 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin's character explains why he had to break up with Condi Rice.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Gift to Rupert Murdoch

Some Judith Regan flashbacks from various appearances:

REGAN: Absolutely. I don't think there's any question. I mean, here's Hillary who's been standing by her man all these years and allowing him to behave in this reprehensible fashion.

REGAN: You know, look at Monica Lewinsky talking about being suicidal, being on antidepressants, you know, gaining this huge amount of weight. This is clearly a woman who has suffered and is suffering inside because she has no depth of feeling and no morality whatsoever. And so, I decided, after being involved in this ugly negotiation, which I found morally reprehensible, that we should make fun of the whole thing, and we should make a comment about the amorality of everybody.

REGAN: I would never tell. Unlike Monica Lewinsky, I keep my secrets and take them to the grave.

REGAN: I don't know. I mean, I think that they're going to move forward here, and I think it's alarming to me that the country is not concerned about having an amoral man in the White House.

REGAN: I said, "You know what? There's a really great morality tale here with a great, great moral lesson," and nobody's really said that.

REGAN: Well, partially, but it's also an "amorality tale" because the one thing that's missing from "Monica's Story" is, you know, deep thinking about her own amorality, which we saw -- was in ample evidence during the Barbara Walters love fest the other night. I mean, here's a woman who clearly knows a lot about sex, but knows nothing about right and wrong.

REGAN: You know, the amorality tale, "Monica's Untold Story," is about her amorality, and the amorality of all of the people in this ugly story. But one of the things that was remarkable about her two hours is her utter lack of sincere remorse. And in that case, I would say she is a true soulmate of Bill Clinton because the two of them -- she learned a lot about spinning. She learned a lot about publicity. You know, she learned a lot about changing her image. And she tried to do another Barbara Walters show, but I don't know if America's buying it. I'm sure not.

Ms. REGAN: Well, I think that the social fabric of this country has become completely unraveled. I think the sexual revolution had a lot to do with that. I think that we are in terrible shape. I think we have a country where half the kids are being raised by single mothers. A lot of that has to do with male behavior. We look at the men in this country who do not want to be accountable to their wives, do not want to be accountable to their children and we have as a president a man who could be a symbol of everything that is good; he could be a wonderful husband, he could be a wonderful father. He is in a position of great authority to show this country and to lead this country in a way that is much more important than economically.

Ms. REGAN: this kind of fame, don't grow up thinking, You know, what I really want to do is to be a good citizen, to be loyal to my friends, to care about my neighbors, to get married, to be faithful to my husband, to have a family.' These are not the things that we're teaching.

Ms. REGAN: We can conquer others with force but to conquer ourselves we need strength.' And this is really what we need in America today. We need to conquer our own impulses. We need to understand that we can't act on them all the time because it feels good for us. We have to care about the other.

Ms. REGAN: Let me tell you something, my father has never cheated on my mother, my brothers have never treated cheated on their wives. I come from a big Italian Irish Catholic family and I have to say that for the most part, they have not cheated on each other. My brothers were virile...


Smell it. Smells like ass.

American guards arrived at the man’s cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.

The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.

Detainee 200343 was among thousands of people who have been held and released by the American military in Iraq, and his account of his ordeal has provided one of the few detailed views of the Pentagon’s detention operations since the abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib. Yet in many respects his case is unusual.

The detainee was Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.

But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.

Late Night

Oh I was going to post about New Labour successfully triangulating against itself when Blair took power, and why that isn't really possible here, but that sounds like too much work.

Instead I'll just tell you to rock on.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.

Whistling Past Dixie

Late in the conversation, but discussion with Tom Schaller over at Firedoglake is interesting.

Obama Etc.

Responding to this post and the rather long comments thread which was ALL ABOUT ME ME ME here's what I put in comments over there. If you actually care to know everything I'm responding to you'll have to read through the entire comments thread over there.

Wow, wondered why my ears were burning.

Anyway, to clarify - Obama's triangulation is more rhetorical than real. One can triangulate by picking a Third Way position, or one can triangulate by picking a position and calling it the Third Way and that's what Obama tends to do. See Tomasky's review of his book in the NYRB. It may be dishonest or he may genuinely mean it, and I don't much care. Dishonesty has an honorable place in politics. My problem with triangulation has nothing to do with dishonesty or personal affront - I don't expect politicians to cater to me in their speeches. My problem with triangulation is that it's a way for a man to win an election, but not a way to build a party's brand. It's a short term strategy to benefit an individual, not a long term strategy to increase the size of the tribe.

As for me hating religion, I really don't. I'd certainly say so if I did. Either as belief systems or institutions religions in general terms don't bother me. I'm sure my contempt for the Christian conservative political movement at times comes across as being anti-religious, but the fact is I'm really not. I don't know why my failure to aggressively promote or link to explicitly religious bloggers should surprise anybody. I'm a secular person, it's not my role to pick the "right Christians" over the "wrong" ones. That's a theological debate they can have with each other. If religious people support a policy agenda which I agree with, great, but I'm not interested in reading religious justifications for those positions. Amazingly, good things on the internets can find an audience even if I don't link to them.

Fresh Thread

Rock On.

Reid on Iraq

People seem to be upset that Reid sorta-endorsed the McCain/Lieberman plan to increase the number of troops in the short run. I don't really see it that way - no Senator can expect to micromanage troop levels in Iraq. Reid basically said that he's fine with any strategy which has the goal of getting the troops out by about next Spring. That, of course, isn't the McCain/Lieberman strategy.


The McCain/Lieberman war continues.

BAGHDAD - Iraqi police said they had found around 53 bodies in Baghdad in the last 24 hours, 9 of them apparently killed execution-style.


A roadside bomb killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded one north of Baghdad on Saturday, the U.S. military said on Sunday in a statement.

Shorter Washington Post


Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities:

ABC's "This Week" — Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; retired Army Gen. Jack Keane; Rep.-elect Joe Sestak, D-Pa.; actor and activist Isaiah Washington.
CBS' "Face the Nation" — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
NBC's "Meet the Press" — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
CNN's "Late Edition" — Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi; Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Shibley Telhami, Brookings Institution; retired Army Gen. Daniel Christman; Vali Nasr, Council on Foreign Relations; John Podesta, Center for American Progress; Danielle Pletka, American Enterprise Institute.
"Fox News Sunday" — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.; FedEx Corp. CEO Frederick Smith; retired Marine Corps Commandant Gen. P.X. Kelley, co-chairman of the Energy Security Leadership Council; Morrill Worcester, president of Worcester Wreath.


This is the first picture I've seen in a long time which roughly matches how I see myself. Of course, that doesn't mean it matches how others generally see me.

And, coincidentally, Amanda has a new gig.

Late Night

Rock on.