Saturday, January 20, 2007

Beating Off

The Life and Times of Lee Siegel.

Blah Blah Blah

Any thoughts on what the 2012 candidates for president will do about Iraq?


As Joe Lieberman doubles down with other peoples' lives:

Imus: "You really haven't answered, well not really, you haven't answered my question, and my question is what happens, what's plan B? What happens–"

Sen. Joe Lieberman: "Yeah."

Imus: "…When this doesn't work?"

Sen. Joe Lieberman: "Yeah."

Imus: "I know we hope and pray it does work. Of course we do."

Sen. Joe Lieberman: "Yeah"

Imus: "I hope and pray I win the lottery."

Sen. Joe Lieberman: "Yeah you do. And I hope and pray you win the lottery, too, cause you'd probably give a lot of it away."

Imus: "Give all of it away. I'd have to."

Sen. Joe Lieberman: "You probably would."

Imus: "Well, anyway, what happens when it doesn't work?"

Sen. Joe Lieberman: "Yeah, well, you know, we will then look at the situation and decide what we can do, and the alternatives are limited here. The other alternatives–the main alternative that the opponents of what the President has done are offering is to simply begin to withdraw. And the theory there is that somehow if you with– I mean some people want to withdraw because they just want to get out. They think the thing–They want to give up. They think the thing is not winnable. I'm afraid they don't agree with me that the consequences of pulling out would be a disaster for everybody, including most important, us. But some say if you begin to withdraw, then Maliki and the other Iraqis will say 'Oh, my God, they're leaving. We got to get our act together. I don't think so. I think what is more likely is that the Iraqi politicians will begin to hedge their bets, and the militias and the Al Qaeda terrorists will just hold back until the day we're gone, and then chaos will break out, and unfortunately as McCain says, we'll probably be back there in a larger war, you know, two, three, four, five years from now. I think this is our chance, so I'd guess I'd say to you in war–There's a famous old saying that war is a series of catastrophes that ends up in victory for one side, and right now I'd say this plan is the best next step we've got. Let's hope it works, pray it works, and if it doesn't, then we'll figure out what we're gonna do then."

He keeps losing:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - At least 20 American service personnel were killed in military operations Saturday in one of the deadliest days for U.S. forces since the
Iraq war began, and authorities also announced two U.S. combat deaths from the previous day.

More Thread

This blog gets suckier and suckier, but the comments section seems to get increasingly popular.





Still bouncing.

Jan. 20, 2007 - When President George W. Bush declared earlier this month that the only way to quell sectarian violence in Iraq was to send more than 20,000 additional American troops, he probably knew the move would be unpopular. Indeed, the latest NEWSWEEK poll finds that Bush’s call for a “surge” in troops is opposed by two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans and supported by only a quarter (26 percent). Almost half of all respondents (46 percent) want to see American troops pulled out “as soon as possible.”

Bush’s Iraq plan isn’t doing anything for his personal approval rating either; it’s again stuck at its lowest point in the history of the poll (31 percent). Meanwhile, the new Democratic-controlled Congress is getting relatively high marks. And 55 percent actually trust Congressional Dems on U.S. policy in Iraq, far more than the 32 percent who trust their commander in chief.

Wanker of the Day

Tom Friedman.


Vote early, vote often.

Two Down

Rox reminded me of this:

My prediction: The Republican nominee will not be Frist, Romney, Allen, or McCain.

Your Conservative Leaders

Rush Limbaugh, yesterday:

Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.

At least one station noticed:

The Rush is no longer going to be on the air on WJBC. Radio Bloomignton General Manager Red Pitcher announced this afternoon the syndicated Rush Limbaugh Show will air for the last time March 2, 2007. Pitcher tells WJBC's Steve and Beth on The Drive, local programming will replace Rush.

Pitcher believes Limbaugh's popularity is declining becuse of controversial remarks that are offending even his Republican fans. He pointed to today's show in which Limbaugh compared players in the NFL with gang members. Details of the local programming line-up that will begin on March 5th will be announced in coming weeks.

(ht reader n)

It's Back

Oh Lordy, I don't have it in me to do a full round of Charles Murray, who bubbles up every now and then and whose name attracts trolls like flies to shit. I'll just reprint Nobel prize winner James Heckman's summary:

The Book fails for five main reasons.

1. The central premise of this book is the empirically incorrect claim that a single factor - g or IQ - that explains linear correlations among test scores is primarily responsible for differences in individual performance in society at large. Below I demonstrate that a single factor can always be constructed that "explains" all correlations in responses to a test or correlations in scores across a battery of tests, but in general this g is not constructed by conventional linear methods. There is much evidence that more than one factor -- as conventionally measured -- is required to explain conventional correlation matrices among test scores. Herrnstein and Murray's measure of IQ is not the same as the g that can be extracted from test scores available in their data set. They do not emphasize how little of the variation in social outcomes is explained by AFQT or g. There is considerable room for factors other than their measure of ability to explain wages and other social outcomes.

2. In their empirical work, the authors assume that AFQT is a measure of immutable native intelligence. In fact, AFQT is an achievement test that can be manipulated by educational interventions. Achievement tests embody environmental influences: AFQT scores rise with age and parental socioeconomic status. A person's AFQT score is not an immutable characteristic beyond environmental manipulation.

3. The authors do not perform the cost-benefit analyses needed to evaluate alternative social policies for raising labor market and social skills. Their implicit assumption of an immutable g that is all-powerful in determining social outcomes leads them to disregard a lot of evidence that a variety of relevant labor market and social skills can be improved, even though efforts to boost IQ substantially are notoriously unsuccessful.

4. The authors present no new evidence on the heritability of IQ or other socially productive characteristics. Instead, they demonstrate that IQ is more predictive of differences in social performance than a crude measure of parental environmental influences. This comparison is misleading. It fails to recognize the crudity of their environmental measures and the environmental component that is built into their measure of IQ, which biases the evidence in favor of their position. Moreover, the comparison as they present it is intrinsically meaningless.

5. Finally, the authors' forecast of social trends is pure speculation that does not flow from the analysis presented in their book. Most of the social policy recommendations have an ad hoc flavor to them and do not depend on the analysis that precedes them. The appeal to Murray's version of communitarianism as a solution to the emerging problem of inequality among persons is a deus ex machina flight of fancy that is not credibly justified.

For the Record

I occasionally do business with people who I know are Republicans. Just scooping the Washington Post on this scandalous fact.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Morning Thread

Hillary's in.

Late Night

Friday, January 19, 2007


Or Ezra on healthcare. It's one of my hobby-horses.

They Write Letters

Dinesh D'Souza writes to the General.

Swamp Things

Just to clarify something while Atrios rides the Mystery Train. I wasn't snarking below when I offered kudos to Karen Tumulty for this post on the Time blog, where she reports that a GOP aide offered her "false spin" that was quickly contradicted by reality.

This is the sort of reporting that might actually justify the existence of a blog run by a major news organization. In a straight news story you rarely see a sentence like "a top GOP aide told this reporter something that turned out to be a big fat whopper." One of the most serious complaints that we incivil Angry Liberal Bloggers have with "straight" news reporting is that its very format seems to oblige journalists to be objective by reporting "both sides," where one side is the truth and the other is, well, "false spin."

On a blog, while of course standards should still apply, there could be less pressure of this sort. I think it's news, or should be news, when a confidential source tells a fib to a reporter in an attempt to game public perception. But I can also see why "political operative tells fib!" might not be exactly headline news. But on a blog, well, the reporter can perhaps have a bit more leeway to make such "false spinning" public.

So I'm glad that Tumulty broke what many of us suspect is a kind of bogus journalistic omerta, the fear that what we're reading is just so much hooey because the reporter is too timid to call BS on something she or he must know perfectly well is a bunch of crap.

Anyhow. What we don't need from blogs like Swampland is another place for more gasbag punditry (*cough* Klein) or vapid insider snark. There are plenty of other outlets for that sort of stuff, thankyouverymuch.

Though I would like to know a few things from Tumulty: what do you do when your source gives you BS, or just spin? Don't readers have the right to know that someone tried to pull one over on you, because ultimately that means they were trying to pull one over on your readers? And why should someone who fibbed to you deserve your protection of their anonymity?

Mysteries of the Universe...

Quickly, Quickly, Before the Master Returns

Instead of a Friday dump it might be time for some Friday cheers. The new Congress is doing something, and that is astonishingly refreshing. Some examples:

The new federal minimum wage. The adult and serious inquiry into domestic wiretapping. And then overhauling the congressional pages program. And the ethics rules. And the rolling back of subsidies to the oil industry.

It's easy to belittle any and all of these efforts should one wish to do so. But I like the return to something a little less like a fundamentalist corporate haven for this country.


Not only was I in meetings all day, but everywhere I go it seems someone has shoved a dirty sock into the intertubes.

Anyway, thanks all for helping out. A train ride from now hopefully all will return to its normal level of suckyness. Until then you'll have to deal with New Improved Awesomer Eschaton - Now With Less Atrios!

Chinese, Rice

From the WaPo article on Rice's peace-making trip to the Middle East:

At one point, Rice said that the difficult circumstances in the Middle East could represent opportunity. "I don't read Chinese but I am told that the Chinese character for crisis is wei-ji, which means both danger and opportunity," she said in Riyadh. "And I think that states it very well. We'll try to maximize the opportunity."

But Victor H. Mair, a professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania, has written on the Web site, a guide to the Chinese language, that "a whole industry of pundits and therapists has grown up around this one grossly inaccurate formulation." He said the character "ji" actually means "incipient moment" or a "crucial point." Thus, he said, a wei-ji "is indeed a genuine crisis, a dangerous moment, a time when things start to go awry."

Just to note: yes, this is trivial. But in the trivial as in the serious, here's what we have: misreadings, missteps, and bad omens...


Today, the network that brought you falafelatio, five-to-the-noggin, and pre-pubescents prefering violent abduction to algebra had its morning zoo crew speculating that Barack Obama secretly attended an Islamic Terrorism Training Center between the ages of 6 and 8.

No slur too outrageous for FoxNews.

FoxNews of the Future, at least I think it is supposed to be the future.

News from the Swamp

Karen Tumulty fires back at Atrios! Pow! Pow! Bang! (She has in mind this post from our host.) Anyway, Tumulty writes that the point of her original post was to "show that the GOP was putting out false spin, which was quickly exposed by their actions on the floor." Well, then, good & kudos. Take that!

Elsewhere in the mire, Joe Klein helpfully clarifies his stance on death squads: he's against us training the Iraqis to use them. Whew. But our death squads are the shit. Joe Klein es muy macho.

Up = Down, Black = White...

Defense = Offense. Meanwhile, the cruel farce continues.

Fresh Thread

In meetings all day. If anyone who has the keys wants to jump in, feel free.

Wankers of the Day


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Relevant Memories

Colbert last year.

...watching again months later, it's much more subversive than I remember.

I Hear Someone A Knockin'

And it's time to get rockin'...


Mike Allen:

[T]here's probably not many people who watched that clip of Senator Obama saying at the convention, "We worship an awesome God in the blue states, too," who know that Senator Obama had 100 percent from Planned Parenthood when he was in the state legislature.

True. Only atheists support family planning and reproductive health.

Just shoot me.

All Hail "Freedom Fries!"

Just because I imagine I won't have many opportunities to say that line.

More Thread

Commence rocking on.


I really don't understand the deep hatred these people have for this country.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.

Wingnut Welfare

Nice work if you can get it.

Neither Saint

I'll be shocked if Rudy even runs, and I definitely agree that the chance of McCain winning is pretty poor. McCain's "base" are his fluffers in the media, independent voters, and Democrats who once admired him for some reason I never quite understood (not as awful as Bush never seemed like an especially compelling reason to want someone to be president). McCain's been trying to court the lunatic Republicans while assuming that the media fluffers would cover for him enough that the independent voters wouldn't notice. I imagine that might have worked if not for Iraq.

I used to worry that McCain the candidate would be hard to beat (though I believed that less than some). Now I hope he's the guy. It's his war now.


We don't need no facts.

Oh, Jay?

Maybe you should take a gander at this.

Flip Flop

Saint McCain, the patron saint of liars, was for it before he was against it.

Market Failure

Dusting off my economist hat for a second and jumping in to expand on a point raised by the mysterious Ms. Goodrich, the government isn't just in the business of subsidizing student loans as a means of lifting up poor people, it's in the business of subsidizing student loans because otherwise there wouldn't be much of a market for them. As we lack indentured servitude (a good thing), and there's no physical asset associated with education (a mortgage lender can take your house if you default, a student loan broker can't appropriate your brain), student loans aren't backed by anything.

To the extent that investment in education has decent rates of return, but credit constraints due to a lack of a well-functioning market for student loans prevent people from making those investments, there will be much less education than is efficient.

Loan programs are directed at poorer students because it's presumed wealthier ones have access to "credit" from their parents.

Or, as Goodrich wrote:

Financial markets are incomplete in the sense that a student cannot acquire a loan against the collateral of future earning power (except with the help of the government and the rules and regulations to ensure such help).

Wanker of the Day

David Broder.


Yes, it was one of the more amusing days when the wingnutosphere erupted at Al Gore's speech which, while not correct on everything, was a sober and serious warning about our impending Great Iraq Adventure.

I collected reactions at the time. Warning, the Neal Pollack one is parody, though at the time he got lots of hate mail from people who, understandably, didn't realize it was a joke.

It's made all the more amusing when juxtaposed with this recent post by Silly Sully.

Wrecked and Ruined

It's true that the Republican party is pretty much wrecked unless they find a way to pivot on Iraq. Still they seem to be surprisingly unwilling to make that pivot. The part of my brain which sees everything in terms of crass politics is thrilled by this development. The bigger part of my brain which actually cares about tangible results is rather unhappy about this.

Save yourselves, save the country. Tell George Bush to stuff it, Republicans.


In this edition, Karen Tumulty learns that she can't necessarily trust Republican leadership aides. One hopes this is a bit of knowledge she retains, and not something she just has to relearn each day.

Learning From Them

Maliki says Rice's comments help terrorists.


Over there:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 17 people were killed and 47 wounded in car bombings in Baghdad on Thursday as insurgents staged a fresh series of attacks in a bloody week in the Iraqi capital.

Three bombs in quick succession killed at least 10 people and wounded 30 in a wholesale vegetable market in the violent southern district of Dora, police said.

"There is no mercy anymore, the people here just want to work," Mohammed Ali Kazim, a vegetable seller in the market, shouted angrily.

"They have followed us to this poor place. People here are Sunnis, Shi'ites and Christians and they just want to live."

Earlier, a car bomb in Saadoun Street, a commercial thoroughfare in the city center, killed four people and wounded 10. A fifth car bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad killed three and wounded seven.

Late Night

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

People Hate the War

This will never change. I'm pretty sure they could even find the pony* and people would still hate this war. Opinion has been cemented.

*For the record, I hope they find the pony. Also, for the record, even if they found the pony that wouldn't transform this into a Great and Glorious War.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.


Governor Terminator has come out both in favor of Bush's plan to escalate and, according to CNN, withdrawing all troops by the end of the year.

Now that's some awesome triangulating!

"An Act Of Patronage"

I know all us bloggers are supposed to be dumb and stoopid about how that complicated Washington world works, and we should just leave it all to our betters, but this is really quite incredible. Jay Carney would have us believe that an attempt to stack the US Attorney roster with loyal Republican hacks is all very innocent, and he seems not to understand what a patronage system is. It isn't simply handing out goodies to supporters because of past service, it's a system of putting loyalists into positions of power to reduce the possibility that, say, they might investigate you and increase the possibility they might investigate your political opposition.

These are the people who rule our elite discourse. Jeebus help us.

Who's Looking Out For You?

Papa Bear blames kidnapping victim.


Those foul-mouthed bloggers are awful.


I suppose it's progress that major Democrats are trying to one-up each other on legislation-about-Iraq-that-won't pass. Still, now that they have a majority and seem to generally agree that ending the war is the right thing to do I'd prefer it if they got into a room and found something they could all get behind which would be an attempt to end this thing.

I do think Democrats (ones in office more than the 60s-scarred punditry) are at least understanding that this war is unpopular and there will be no backlash against them for attempts to end it.

in ur internetz stealin' ur guest bloggers


You're an Idiot

Morons every one.

Shorter Abu Gonzales

Maybe we'll, um, obey the law after all.


The guardians of our elite discourse are truly silly people.

Do Republicans Exist?

Yes, this is an odd complaint from me, but it really does seem as if our media is unaware that in addition to an impending Democratic primary there's also a Republican one.

The Clinton Rules of Journalism

They really feel like they can say *anything* about them.

Wanker of the Day

Arlen Specter.

Blame America First

D'Souza was a complete train wreck on Colbert last night. Politics TV has the links.

The Patron Saint of Liars

Move On is running an ad about McCain.

Unsurprisingly, the patron saint of liars is lying about Move On with this statement released by his flunky:

Danny Diaz, a McCain spokesperson, responded to MoveOn's ad by telling ABC News: "MoveOn.Org is an out-of-the-mainstream organization that has a long history of airing inflammatory material, even comparing the President to Hitler. It is not surprising that a liberal group opposed to military action after September 11th would attack Senator McCain's conservative values, as well as changing strategy and securing victory in Iraq."

Move On never opposed military action after 9/11 and never compared Bush to Hitler. Still, John McCain will lie and lie and lie and lie and Wolf Blitzer will talk about his love for straight talk.

Above the Fray

Following up on Chris's post yesterday, this is long an issue I've found fascinating. Lots of people imagine themselves to be, somehow, above the fray. The most obvious group which does this is journalists and their brethren. They fail to see themselves as actors on the political stage, instead of detached observers. This doesn't simply apply to "straight" journalists, but to most commentators who come from that world (I think most conservative pundits fully understand that they are actors, so it's more liberals who feel the need to cling to this notion). It's pretty weird to achieve a position of prominence in our public discourse, a platform from which you can communicate information and persuade, and yet still somehow see your words as irrelevant.

I've also seen it in academics, who for all their supposed liberalness, to a great degree really see themselves outside of this grand messy business called politics. It's dirty, somehow.

You see it in technocrats, who too often devise their magical pony plans without considering the need to understand the broader context.

From what people say, you see it in a lot of liberal donors/institutions, who somehow like to see what they do as operating outside of politics.

And, generally, you see it in a lot of "smart" people who imagine their political opinions are arrived it from some pure intellectual calculation, when more often than not they're just repeating what they read in Maureen Dowd's last column.

Not all of these things are exactly the same thing. Some involve peoples' need to feel intellectually independent, some a kind of arrogance, some just a lack of self awareness. But they're all part of, somehow, this "thing" which I've tried to get a handle on for quite some time - a general phenomenon where people somehow see themselves as outside of the pool of muck that others are swimming in.


Tom Tomorrow.

Morning Thread


How We Got Here

October 16, 2001:


October 16, 2001, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 504 words

HEADLINE: Lieberman says U.S. should oust Saddam

BYLINE: Jill Lawrence


WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joe Lieberman called on President Bush to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq in a speech Monday detailing the role Lieberman says Democrats should play in the war against terrorism.


I don't have any confidence in the existence of a "God," or a sense that even if one exists such a being pays much attention to us. Still, like many people, when faced with awful news I plea for miraculous fortune. Hope is not a plan, but hope is hope. So let's hope for Jane.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Late Night

Rock on.

Uh, Whut?


..adding, it's always a bad idea to engage incoherent arguments. But, fine:

I opposed the war primarily because it seems like a bad idea to go to war for no reason. And there was no reason. I don't really know why I have to keep explaining that.

Not only was there a no good reason, but it was transparently sold with lies in a hostile divisive political campaign. I'm sorry some people believed those lies. I'm sorry journalists like Tom Ricks who recently asserted that he "thought that at most they would find some old mustard gas buried out in the '91 war that somebody had forgotten about" didn't share that information with the rest of us at the time, but you go to war with the shitty pundits and journalists you have, not the shitty pundits and journalists you'd like to have.

It's true that the I never made any real predictions about the precise nature of the consequence of the Iraq war. That's because I thought, wrongly apparently, that the transparently shitty awful reality of war should be enough to deter a war for which there was no reason to engage in. Yes, again, I'm sorry there were morons who were frightened by Colin Powell's vial of talcum powder, but again you go to war with the shitty pundits, bloggers, and journalists you have not the ones you wish you had. Sorry. I thought "oh my god we're going to go kill a bunch of people for no reason and get a bunch of our own troops killed for no reason and then occupy a country with incompetent leaders" was transparently a good argument against the war. My bad, apparently that isn't a good enough argument for opposing the war. What the hell was I thinking?

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

..adding, as I meant to say in the original post, there are also numerous obvious bad consequences to killing a bunch of people for no good reason. So, yes, there were numerous reasons to oppose this war and no good reasons to support it. Why are we still arguing about this?

Read This

I probably won't have much intelligent to say about what Chris Bowers writes here tonight, but I think he's getting at some things I've tried to express a few times. There are those, good and bad, who think they somehow float above the soup and those who recognize that they are a part of it and therefore dive right it in. It's something I've always found a bit odd and have never quite been able to understand or explain.

Fresh Thread

Rock on.

"Straight Talk"

Really, "journalists," just stop it.

Bush's Last Fans

The wankers at the Note.

Paging CNN

The Bush administration is purging federal prosecutors. Perhaps you should cover this.

Richard Cohen Is Smiling

I really loved Rich Little when I was 10.


How many elite pundits and editorial boards support the majority position of this country - that all troops should be removed from Iraq within a year?

Of course policy can't be left to the orthdontists instead of the Wise Old Men who have demonstrated masterful competence in recent years.

Washington, D.C.: I am somewhat surprised at the debate about the surge. In October, The Post's own polling showed that 19% of voters favored an immediate withdrawal. Yesterday, CNN reported that more than 50% want an immediate or by year's end withdrawal. Still, the politicians debate more or less, not sooner or later. Why won't the politicians follow the polls when it comes to leaving Iraq?

Shailagh Murray: Would you want a department store manager or orthodontist running the Pentagon? I don't think so. The reason that many politicians are squeamish about hard and fast goals of any kind in Iraq is that there is no simple response or solution -- it would have emerged by now. A withdrawal by year's end carries enormous, very serious implications.

As does staying for another year. As does starting the damn war in the first place.


At least 65 killed in Baghdad University attack. CNN reporter said another bombing elsewhere had killed 20, and that another large explosion had just been heard.


I had been curious about who was going to give the Dem reponse to the state of the union address. CNN sez it's Webb.

Ghosts of Straight Talk Past

John McCain, 1990:

We cannot even contemplate, in my view, trading American blood for Iraqi blood.


It's amazing how the "center" gets redefined so quickly.

Toxic Train?

CNN's been running images of this burning train in Kentucky, and they keep saying something like "the difficulty is knowing exactly what is on the train..." Now it's certainly possible that it's difficult for CNN to know that, and it may be possible that the firefighters have thus far been unable to discover what's on the train, but the idea that CSX doesn't know what's on that train is absurd.

...ah, finally they have a former rail employee on making roughly this point.

Morning Thread

Rock on.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Just adding to what Josh says, it's relevant to note that Bush hasn't hit 50 in Gallup since May of 2005. I'd bet a reasonable sum that he won't hit 50 again while he's in office. One wonders why questions such as "why does hideously unpopular president think a teevee appearance will persuade anyone?" don't appear regularly.

In 1998 when Clinton's personal favorability rating flirted with sub-50 this was evidence he should resign. An odd poll, with a strangely re-worded question, was touted as a reason he should. Tweety:

MATTHEWS: Overnight, the polls--the Gallup poll, the most respected poll in the country, shows a 20-point drop in the president's personal approval rating, down from 60 percent to 40 percent. Big cut in personal approval, followed by, today, lots of noise on the Democratic side. The usual suspects, meaning Dan Quayle, Dan Coats and other Republicans, Mr. Ashcroft--Senator Ashcroft of Missouri, have called for his resignation. Perhaps no surprise there, but some very important Democrats, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, have really shown their anger at what they perceive to be betrayal and deceit for six months, seven months now, of saying one thing and now turning it around and saying he wasn't telling the truth--by the president.

Bill Sammon, what's happening on the Hill?

Mr. BILL SAMMON (Washington Times): Well, I think you're starting to see more and more people talk about resignation. I think a--at this stage of the game, it seems somewhat extreme. But I think you have to remember in this scandal, things that started out seeming extreme have a way of, over a period of months, settling into the consciousness and becoming more of the norm. So I th...

MATTHEWS: Well, let's ca--let's calibrate this. Where are we then? Let's not jump ahead and talk about...


MATTHEWS: ...the president's resignation. Is there now more of a stir on the Democratic side o--of perhaps si--dissatisfaction? Well, you--you p--you're the reporter. You go through it. What is the reaction to the president's speech on the Democratic side last night?

Mr. SAMMON: Well, I think you're s--there's still a lot of reluctance to--to jump into it. There's still a lot of feeling th--Let's hold back and let's not get into this and see what the fallout is.' Congressman Convers, the--the guy on the Judiciary Committee...

MATTHEWS: John Conyers of Michigan.

Mr. SAMMON: Right--he was going to go on "Larry King" last night. And at the last minute, he canceled and said, You know, I wanna wait a day and see what the fallout is.' And I think that typifies a lot of the response you're seeing. It's a very volatile situation right now we're in. It's very fluid. Clinton's numbers are dropping. I think a lot of people expected a bump out of his...


A small change in the wording of a poll question by The Gallup Organization led to a significant overstatement of the drop in President Clinton's personal favorability rating after his speech on Monday.

Instead of a 20-point drop in personal favorability, reported by Gallup and picked up by several news organizations, including The New York Times in both its news and editorial pages, the actual drop now appears to be considerably less.

In Monday's survey, taken after the President's speech, respondents were asked: ''Now thinking about Bill Clinton as a person, do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him?'' That elicited responses from the public that were 40 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable. In previous Gallup polls the wording was: ''Now I'd like to get your opinion about some people in the news. As I read the name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of this person.''

Last week, that traditional wording resulted in public impressions of Mr. Clinton that were 60 percent favorable and 38 percent unfavorable. Thus, it appeared on Monday that there had been a 20-percentage point drop in Mr. Clinton's personal ratings.

In a poll on Tuesday, Gallup used the traditional wording and measured 55 percent favorable views of Mr. Clinton and 42 percent unfavorable.

Bush's last several favorability ratings are: 45, 38, 42, 39, 46, 48. Any discussion of resignation?

...adding, the guest list on that particular episode of Hardball was:

Bill Sammon
Susan Molinari
Victoria Toensing
David Maraniss
Peter Fenn

Which Internets Were You Reading?

I generally tend to defer to Comrade Max on lots of things, as even when my instinct is to disagree I imagine he's probably righter than I realize. Still, I really just don't think this is true at all:

* The netroots criticized the Iraqi effort a) for not gaining the support of the U.N.; b) for not armoring the troops sufficiently; c) for not proving the existence of WMDs; d) for not proving connections to Al Queda; e) for not using enough troops. Can we presume that if George H.W. Bush had been there to get the support of the U.N. and prove Saddam had WMDs, an invasion would have been justified?

I'm sure all of these criticisms were made by many on blogs including mine, but they were just extra criticisms thrown in there in various ways in an attempt to engage the dominant discourse of the times, not the only criticisms which were either made or endorsed. It's useful to a) highlight the failure to engage international institutions/norms, b) highlight anti-military actions by the "we love the military" party, c) lies, d) lies, e) incompetence, to try to convince people who care about all of those things even if they aren't the only or primary reasons for opposing a war. Of course people are going to engage in a debate, to some degree, on the terms in which its being carried out in the dominant discourse.

But nonetheless most people rejected the concept of "pre-emptive war" and rejected the notion that even if WMD claims were all correct Saddam was an actual threat in any way to this country. That was the point that I remember most of us desperately trying to communicate, even if other arguments were used to try to further the general cause of stopping the goddamn war.

Obviously there were some in the liberal blogosphere who were more sympathetic to the Pollackian view of the universe, but for those of who thought this was crazy from the beginning - many of us - its lunacy wasn't about failure to follow UN procedure or to find a buried barrel of mustard gas.

Joementum II: The Smell of Fear

Please Joe. Just stop.

The rules are embedded in a copyright bill called the Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act, or Perform Act, which was reintroduced Thursday by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). They have pitched the proposal, which first emerged in an earlier version last spring, as a means to level the playing field among "radio-like services" available via cable, satellite and the Internet.

By their description, that means requiring all such services to pay "fair market value" for the use of copyright music libraries. The bill's sponsors argue the existing regime must change because it applies different royalty rates, depending on what medium transmits the music.

But the measure goes further, taking aim at portable satellite radio devices, such as XM Satellite Radio's Inno player, that allow consumers to store copies of songs originally played on-air. The proposal says that all audio services--Webcasters included--would be obligated to implement "reasonably available and economically reasonable" copy-protection technology aimed at preventing "music theft" and restricting automatic recording.

"New radio services are allowing users to do more than simply listen to music," Feinstein said in a statement. "What was once a passive listening experience has turned into a forum where users can record, manipulate, collect and create personalized music libraries."

People Hate Bush

It's been a long time since Bush appearing on the teevee would bump his ratings. It's time for the Gang of 500 Wankers to internalize that.

More Thread

I got nuthin'.

More Thread

Please don't shoot anyone in the face.

Does Wayne Allard Have More Integrity Than Susan Collins?

We might find out.


Sheesh, and Eritrea was even a member of the "coalition of the willing."

Where Were They?


Klein doesn't quite get that he's been tested, and that he failed. He should have been out in the streets with the dirty fucking hippies back in '02, but he wasn't. Hell, if you don't like stupid chants and giant puppets, and I'm no big fan myself, fair enough, he should have fucking STOOD UP and put his ass where it fucking belonged, and said NO to this retarded war in unweaselly terms. You know why I was out on the streets at those freaking ANSWER marches, run by a group I still want to piss on? Because NOBODY ELSE WAS FUCKING DOING OR SAYING ANYTHING, that's why.

Klein didn't have to march with the giant puppets, he could've just gone on a teevee show like, you know, Meet the Press or the Tim Russert show, and said:

So I'll say it: I hate this war that's coming in Iraq. I don't think we'll be proud of it. Oppose this war because it will create a millennium of hatred and the suicidal terrorism that comes with it. You talk about Bush trying to avenge his father. What about the tens of millions of Arab sons who will want to finish a fight we start next spring in Baghdad?

Instead of:

Mr. KLEIN: All you have to do is look at a--a picture of Abraham Lincoln's face, a photo of Abraham Lincoln's face, during the Civil War or Franklin Roosevelt's face during World War II, the dark circles under his eyes, or, you know, those photos of John Kennedy silhouetted against the--you know, the--the Oval Office windows during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I mean, we haven't gone to war with Iraq yet, but we have been involved in a clear, you know, cut confrontation since September 11th. And what you get from this president publicly are these very, you know, occasionally--often elegant public speeches, and then he kind of lapses into, you know, this tough macho talk.

I was watching him at the--at the Jacksonville Naval Station, and he was kind of leaning an elbow on the podium and kind of squinting sideways at the camera and dropping his G's and saying, 'We're smokin"em out. We're gonna get 'em.' And I just think that that kind of attitude, you wonder how that squares with the humility of his religious faith. You know, I'm not questioning his faith. I think it's real, and I think it's--it--it's a--it's an enormous comfort and enormous strength for him. But I do wonder about the absence of doubt. One of his top aides said to me, 'There's been no hand-wringing about this. There's been no existential anguish.' Well, some anguish is called for. This is a really tough decision. War may well be the right decision at this point. In fact, I think it--it's--it--it probably is.

RUSSERT: Now that's twice you've said that: 'It's the right war.' You believe it's the wrong time. Why do you think it's the right war?

Mr. KLEIN: Because sooner or later, this guy has to be taken out. Saddam has--Saddam Hussein has to be taken out.


Mr. KLEIN: He has been defying the world for 12 years. It is very clear--I mean, I--I--I haven't found anybody who doesn't believe that he's hiding stuff there. And if there's going to be a civilized world order, the--the world has to be able to act on its--you know, on--on--on its agreements. And--and there have been now 17 UN resolutions calling on this guy to disarm, a--something that he agreed to do, and at certain--at a certain point, you have to enforce it.

Now you can quibble with the fact, you can argue with the fact that the Bush administration forced this judgment at this time in this way, but I think--and--but I--but I do believe that it was Bill Clinton's moral responsibility and responsibility as leader of the country to do it in 1998, as we--as we were saying before. And--and I think that now that we've reached this point, where the inspectors are in and it has become absolutely manifestly clear that he's not going to abide by this--you know, just look at his behavior in the days since the peace protests. All of a sudden, you know, he's--he's--you know, he's defiant again.

So I think that, you know, the--the message has to be sent because if it isn't sent now, if we don't do this now, it empowers every would-be Saddam out there and every would-be terrorist out there.

RUSSERT: So you expect war?

Mr. KLEIN: I do expect war. And, in fact, I think the only way to avoid war now is a unified--absolutely unified show of force on the part of the civilized world.

Who knows what the hell that last line is supposed to mean. Anyway, my suggested line for Klein came from none other than Chris Matthews, another courageous one who recently said he opposed the war in his columns. He did, but he stopped writing them as of 9/1/02, even before the force authorization bill passed.

Pundits, especially the elitist arrogant ones like Klein, think they have a special skill to take the news of the world, make sense of it, and explain it to the rest of us rabble. Why they think this is a special ability I do not know. But, in any case, when it mattered Klein didn't have the courage to stand up for what he (claims he) believed in, despite being one of the elite few who have very prominent platforms for their opinions and don't have to resort to mass demonstrations as their only means of being heard.

Driving Him Insane

We learn what's really bothering Bush.

That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.

I swear that someone - maybe Garner - said that Bush's priority for new Iraq leadership post-invasion was to find someone who was sufficiently grateful to him for all he'd done. I can't find it though.

...ah, Eli comes through with this.

In Bremer's account, the President was seriously interested in one issue: whether the leaders of the government that followed the CPA would publicly thank the United States. But there is no evidence that he cared about the specific questions that counted: Would the new prime minister have a broad base of support? Would he be able to bridge Iraq's ethnic divisions? What political values should he have? Instead, Bush had only one demand: 'It's important to have someone who's willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq.' According to Bremer, he came back to this single point three times in the same meeting. Similarly, Ghazi al-Yawar, an obscure Sunni Arab businessman, became Bush's candidate for president of Iraq's interim government because, as Bremer reports, Bush had 'been favorably impressed with his open thanks to the Coalition.

Straight Talk

More bullshit from St. McCain, the patron saint of liars.

Speaking Of Great and Glorious Wars

How are things in Afghanistan these days? Achieved our goals?


The Great and Glorious First Gulf War

One thing I've been slightly puzzled about is how the first Gulf War has become universally thought of as The Good War. Obviously there were things which, from the American perspective, made the war a lot less unpleasant than the current one: it was cheap, there weren't too many American casualties (though more than people seem to remember), and we got the hell out of there.

So from those perspectives it wasn't a disaster. And, also, since the obvious "costs" were fairly low it's much easier to argue the "benefits" exceeded them. But it's also true that taking the longer view it's not clear what the Great and Glorious First Gulf War actually accomplished that was positive. Obviously if you're a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family you're a fan. And, obviously, if you think that in the modern world someone should act as a global cop to prevent nations from invading other nations (irony overload causing brain damage here) maybe you're a fan.

Anyway, I don't really want to engage in a full argument about whether it was a "good" or "bad" war, I just find it puzzling that it's become universal conventional wisdom that it was a great and glorious thing and that anyone who disagrees obviously is a dirty fucking hippie. Through the narrow lens of American politics it's true that politicians didn't pay a price of supporting it, though I'm not really sure anyone paid the price for opposing it either, but that really has little to do with whether from a broader perspective it was a sensible thing to do, even without pointing out that maybe there was a way to stop Hussein from invading Kuwait before he did so which didn't involve military force.

Hunting for Ponies

It's important to keep in mind that the people of Iran could elect leaders on the "George Bush is our Messiah" party ticket and the swinging dicks inside this administration would still feel that "regime change" in Iran was a key policy goal.

Morning Thread

Rock on.

Johnny E.

Starts off a bit rough, but then gets pretty good.


Just to annoy Steve "yes's #1 fan!" Simels.


I don't think I'll ever figure out how I missed a flight which was supposed to have been 2.5 hours late...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Evening Thread

Welcome home, Atrios!

--Molly Ivors

Fresh Thread

Rock on.


Lucky me. Two hour flight delay in Atlanta. Jane Fonda was on my flight to here. We discussed the best methods for spitting on returning soldiers.*

WiFi coverage is pretty good, relatively inexpensive though not free. There's a shortage of outlets though.

*Not actually true.



Wrong About Everything

This article explains, yet again, how our country has been run by the stupidest fucking people on the face of the planet for years.

It's almost incomprehnsible that people can be that stupid, but they are. It also explains what Eschaton regular Ahmed Chalabi has been doing lately. He's the chairman of the Supreme National Commission for De-Baathification.

Oh boy.



Forty years ago, almost to the month, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood at this pulpit, in this house of God, and with the full force of his conscience, his principles and his love of peace, denounced the war in Vietnam, calling it a tragedy that threatened to drag our nation down to dust.

As he put it then, there comes a time when silence is a betrayal -- not only of one’s personal convictions, or even of one’s country alone, but also of our deeper obligations to one another and to the brotherhood of man.

That’s the thing I find the most important about the sermon Dr. King delivered here that day. He did not direct his demands to the government of the United States, which was escalating the war. He issued a direct appeal to the people of the United States, calling on us to break our own silence, and to take responsibility for bringing about what he called a revolution of values.

A revolution whose starting point is personal responsibility, of course, but whose animating force is the belief that we cannot stand idly by and wait for others to right the wrongs of the world.

And this, in my view, is at the heart of what we should remember and celebrate on this day. This is the dream we must commit ourselves to realizing.

* * *

Escalation is not the answer, and our generals will be the first to tell you so. The answer is for the Iraqi people and others in the region to take responsibility for rebuilding their own country. If we want them to take responsibility, we need to show them that we are serious about leaving – and the best way to do that is actually to start leaving and immediately withdraw 40-50,000 troops.

That is why I have spoken out against the McCain Doctrine of escalation. That's why Congress must step up and stop the president from putting more troops in harm's way.

If you’re in Congress and you know this war is going in the wrong direction, it is no longer enough to study your options and keep your own counsel.

Silence is betrayal. Speak out, and stop this escalation now. You have the power to prohibit the president from spending any money to escalate the war – use it.

And to all of you here today – and the millions like us around the country who know this escalation is wrong – your job is to reject the easy way of apathy and choose instead the hard course of action.

Silence is betrayal. Speak out. Tell your elected leaders to block this misguided plan that is destined to cost more lives and further damage America’s ability to lead. And tell them also, that the reward of trust.

All The Same

Joe Lieberman is a very serious foreign policy person:

I think the consequences for the Middle East, which has been so important to our international stability over the years, and to the American people, who have been attacked on 9/11 by the same enemy that we’re fighting in Iraq today, supported by a rising Islamist radical super-powered government in Iran, the consequences for us, for—I want to be personal—for my children and grandchildren, I fear will be disastrous.

Our Wonderful Media

Experts who aren't experts and who miraculously change their mind as White House policy changes.

At least NPR had Fred Kaplan on awhile back to explain (from Dec. 21):

Mr. KAPLAN: Right. He wrote an article in the December 4th issue of Weekly Standards - the briefing is dated December 17th, I believe. He did a calculation which showed that you would need 80,000 additional U.S. troops. He then said, persuasively, that you could probably cut that down to 50,000. And then in this briefing, he's all of the sudden got 21,000 without any explanation for the difference, and as far as I can tell, no difference in the analysis. It's unclear how many troops are really needed for this plan.

Of course, that didn't stop them from having Kagan on on Jan. 11 to tell us:

Dr. KAGAN: You know, in the report that we did and published a little while ago, we recommended an increase of five American army brigade combat teams into Baghdad in addition to the five that are already there. And we do believe that such a doubling of the force that we have now in Baghdad can be decisive, especially if it is coupled with an influx of additional Iraqi forces to assist.

Frankly, I think that it's possible for us to succeed with this force level that the president is announcing, even if a number of those Iraqi forces don't show up. And so I think this is a plan that does - just looking at this general outline - have a good prospect for success.

Nothing keeps these people off the rolodex.


Obama on November 20:

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who is contemplating a run for the presidency, on Monday called for a "gradual and substantial" reduction of U.S. forces from
Iraq that would begin in four to six months.

Obama today:

If there are ways that we can constrain and condition what the president is doing, so that four to six months from now we are considering a phased withdrawal… that is the area that I am most interested in supporting.

As I wrote in November:

The basic content of what Obama is saying, divorced from the larger debate, is fine, but as to how it plays in the current debate it's not fine. It allows us to wait around one more Friedman... and then something will happen. Except it won't happen. Troops will not start coming home 4-6 months from now. And, most likely, 4-6 months from now Obama won't be saying "bring them home now," though I've put him on my little calendar and will make sure to check back then and let you know.

The thing is that "bring them home now" doesn't really mean now. It doesn't mean that thousands of troops start boarding transport planes for the trip home. It just means that the focus shifts from staying to leaving, and the latter slowly begins to happen. Every time someone punts that action for yet another Friedman, it helps to ensure that the end of the war will always be a Friedman away.

The Most Absurd Man In America

The last honest man.

Blogroll Amnesty Day

One problem with having a blog for a long time is that you're not inclined to delete people from your blogroll, which means that it eventually grows so large that you aren't very inclined to add people to it either.

Long ago I decided that my blogroll should consist of people I'm interested in reading. But, over time those interests change and blogrolls become rather static.

So I'm declaring February 3 Blogroll Amnesty Day - the day people are free to make adjustments to their blogrolls and ignore any complaints about those adjustments.

Personally, I'm going to delete my blogroll entirely and then build it back up, adding links to people I actually read.

Wanker of the Day

Andrew Sullivan.

Shorter New York Times

The dirty fucking hippies are wrong. We need to stay in Iraq and do a bunch of stuff that isn't actually going to happen.

Your liberal media.

Enormous Progress

We are ruled by lunatics.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Damn Central Time. Messes with my schedule. Document the atrocities!

Meet the Press" Guests: National security adviser Stephen Hadley; Sens. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.

• "This Week" Guests: National security adviser Stephen Hadley; Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.; California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
• "Face the Nation" Guests: Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill.

• "CNN Late Edition" Guests: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari; Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John Kerry, D-Mass.; Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz; retired Gen. Richard Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
• "Fox News Sunday" Guests: Vice President Dick Cheney.

New Thread

Watch out for the giant bunnies!

They Talk Too Much

Please. STFU quiet Americans.

You Talk Too Much

Yeah, more thread.

It could be your great end
or your sinner's sole reprieve
not to know how to fight
but still to believe