Saturday, July 14, 2007

Later Evening Thread

Sponsored by Chertoff's gut.

Evening Thread

You can has a thread.


I've long been puzzled by Lamar Alexander's tenure in the Senate. He went from being somewhat of a national figure to being almost invisible.

Wouldn't surprise me if he decided to move on.


I've tried to resist talking about these people, but who the hell talks (or writes) like this?

For Wonkette's long coverage, see here...


Go chat with Darcy.

Give some money to her campaign.

I Blame Colin Powell and Tom Friedman

Not quite, but it is true that while that there was much more opposition to the Iraq war than was ever given any representation on the teevee, plenty of Democrats (voters, not politicians) either supported it or were somewhat on the fence.

After all, would that nice Little Tommy Friedman, age 7, lead you astray?

Afternoon Thread

Be excellent to each other.

They Write Letters

Waxman and Davis write to Fred Fielding.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

1, 2, 3...

What are we...


Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave "any time they want," though he acknowledged the forces need further weapons and training.

The embattled prime minister sought to show confidence at a time when congressional pressure is growing for a withdrawal and the Bush administration reported little progress had been made on the most vital of a series of political benchmarks it wants al-Maliki to carry out.

Al-Maliki said difficulty in enacting the measures was "natural" given Iraq's turmoil.

But one of his top aides, Hassan al-Suneid, rankled at the assessment, saying the U.S. was treating Iraq like "an experiment in an American laboratory." He sharply criticised the U.S. military, saying it was committing human rights violations, embarassing the Iraqi government with its tactics and cooperating with "gangs of killers" in its campaign against al-Qaida in Iraq.


1, 2, 3, what are we...

It's Bastille Day

How are you planning to spend it?

Not Atrios


Longtime Eschaton comments regular Sarah Deere has been having a rough go of it lately. See the end of comments to the last thread.

Peace, Sarah.

Open thread, too.


Brahms' Double Racket for Violin and Cello, 3rd movement.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Even Later Night

It's actually really hard to find decent classical music clips on Youtube, at least for anything other than really popular stuff.

Here's Mahler's 2nd Symphony, first movement, in 3 parts.

Late Night

Reader s sent this in.'s Glenn Gould, late in life, performing the first 7 of Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Evening Thread

Little known fact, William Howard Taft was the last President to invoke "Executive Leverage"


Wanker of the Day

Jake Tapper.

Seeing the Future

There will come a point where all of the very serious members of Congress (the wanker caucus) will come together on some bill or another which will pretend to force Bush to do something about Iraq but which won't actually force him to do anything. David Broder will applaud, the media will praise the president for not vetoing it, and only us dirty fucking hippie bloggers will point out that it doesn't change a damn thing.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Will our press ever stop the first draft stenography?

No Shame

Really, these people are just dishonest propagandists. Oh, and very serious members of our elite media.

Afternoon Thread


Free Conrad

Conrad Black guilty of 4 of 13 charges, including mail fraud and obstruction of justice.

Great Moments in Modern Punditry

Little Tommy Friedman, age 7, in Feb. 2005.

MR. FRIEDMAN: I don't think they could possibly be blamed for losing Iraq. We're at a stage now in Iraq, though, Tim, where all the issues that we were debating before--Do we have enough troops on the ground? What is the pace of training?--all the issues related to the Pentagon's performance here are still very much alive. Look what happened just in the last week--I mean, the number of American soldiers killed, the number of Iraqis killed. As much as I want this to succeed, as important as I believe this is, this is not over. It's not over for the Bush administration.

But I do believe that it is so important, and precisely because it's so important, it's too important to be left to the Bush administration alone. Democrats need to be in there. Joe Biden, who was here, gave a lot of good advice during the last two years to Rumsfeld that was ignored--OK?--about troop levels. And I believe that Democrats should be not only participating in this with their enthusiasm but with their ideas, and embracing it and trying to shape it. This is the biggest democratization project in the world going, and one that is fundamental to our national interests. The idea that the Democrats would just sulk on the side and basically put them in a situation where they only succeed if the country fails--that, to me, is as dumb as the day is long.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think Iraq may be an issue in 2008?

MR. FRIEDMAN: I don't--I'm hoping it won't be. I'm hoping that we'll be beyond it.

While it was apparent at the time, I'm still amazed that our elite political discourse over the past few years has been carried on by shockingly stupid people who bought into transparently absurd premises.


Rarely is it put so plainly:

Between now and September the battle for Baghdad will intensify, likely costing hundreds of American troops' lives...


I think Yglesias's bit on libertarianism is pretty good, along with the reminder about Nick Gillespie's article admitting that he sort of likes New York.

At heart really is the knee-jerk libertarian reaction against government infringement on some nebulous concept of "liberty." Drop me in the middle of the desert and I am truly free, though it's not really the kind of freedom I am interested in.

If you want a place like Manhattan to exist you have to accept the masssive government that is a necessary condition for such a place. All of those people and buildings piled on top of each other requires a rather invasive and elaborate regulatory structure, as well as substantial government provision of public services. One can cosmetically "privatize" some of those services, a process which in practice involves expanding the local patronage machine, but that doesn't change the fact that the government is basically paying the bill. You need the kind of collective action which only government, or some equivalent with a different name, can provide.

Having said that, I do think libertarians could find their calling by focusing on stupid state and local laws, and I don't mean symbolic but not especially important things like seatbelt laws and smoking bans. Small businesses do face rather onerous regulations and taxation, often applied by corrupt and/or incompetent agencies, in many municipalities. There are genuine and pointless barriers to the kind of economic freedom libertarians talk about, but the federal payroll tax isn't really a particularly important one.

"Know Hope"

Took a trip to AndyLand today and I see his practice of conveying various bits of contextless bad news about Iran and affixing his new tag line "Know Hope" to them continues.

Just shoot me in the face, Obi Wan.

Good People

Good people write flowery speeches in support of the invasion of Iraq.

Fortunately his God will, apparently, hand out appropriate punishment at the appropriate time.

Morning Thread

Let's all perform pujas to Ganesh!

(h/t Hecate)
--Molly I.

Overnight With the Shrill One


During the 2000 presidential campaign, Ralph Nader mocked politicians of both parties as “Republicrats,” equally subservient to corporations and the wealthy. It was nonsense, of course: the modern G.O.P. is so devoted to the cause of making the rich richer that it makes even the most business-friendly Democrats look like F.D.R.

But right now, as I watch Senate Democrats waffle over what should be a clear issue of justice and sound tax policy — namely, whether managers of private equity funds and hedge funds should be subject to the same taxes as ordinary working Americans — I’m starting to feel that Mr. Nader wasn’t all wrong.

What’s at stake here is a proposal by House Democrats to tax “carried interest” as regular income. This would close a tax loophole that is complicated in detail, but basically lets fund managers take a large part of the fees they earn for handling other peoples’ money and redefine those fees, for tax purposes, as capital gains.

The effect of this redefinition is that income that should be considered by normal standards to be ordinary income taxed at a 35 percent rate is treated as capital gains, taxed at only 15 percent instead. So fund managers get to pay a low tax rate that is supposed to provide incentives to risk-taking investors, even though they aren’t investors and they aren’t taking risks.

Over The Night


Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Evening Thread

Cool and refreshing.

Evening Thread

Please don't shoot anybody in the face.

Time For Another Blogger Ethics Panel





Broder's boy bounces all the way to 26% in new Harris poll (.pdf).

Not Your Monkey

Just to provide a somewhat "shorter Chris Bowers," to an incredible degree causes/organizations/campaigns/hell, even just readers/etc... fail to understand that The Mighty Bloggers are mostly individuals with limited time and resources, and have rather unreasonable expectations about what we should be doing for them.

The Establishment

One thing that Bush has going for him is that for some reason the Very Wise Men in Washington are slow to understand that they don't actually get a say in anything, no matter how important they imagine they are.

Pope Wars

Admittedly, this is taking the interdenominational conflict a bit further than I intended.

(ht rick perlstein)

What Else To Do

I think Kevin is both correct and giving them too much credit. The only "bad guys" we can kill are those we label "al Qaeda" because anything else basically involves taking sides in any number of sectarian conflicts.

However that's not the same thing as saying this is the most useful thing to do. Maintaining security doesn't simply involve trying to kill "the bad guys," and killing the bad guys also generally involves killing some not bad people especially when air power is involved.

More than that, "fighting al Qaeda" is simply Bush administration propaganda for what the entire war effort is about. Bush thinks we're fighting al Qaeda, the public thinks "fighting terrorists" is a noble cause, and 6 years later we're still linking all this up to a horrible day in September when a bunch of guys not from Iraq killed a bunch of people on US soil.

The administration has never been able to distinguish their propaganda about what was going on in Iraq with what was actually going on in Iraq.

...nor has Fred Hiatt ever been able to do so.

Great Moments in Presidenting



BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thieves have stolen nearly $300 million from a bank in Baghdad, police and a bank official said Thursday, in what is probably one of the biggest thefts in Iraq since the 2003 war to topple Saddam Hussein.

Wanker of the Day

Samir Benakmoume

Yes, this is a local thing, but I'm entitled now and again. Basically a developer who built an otherwise reasonable building decided to just annex 6 feet of sidewalk, making the rest of the sidewalk impassable to anyone in a wheelchair while laughably trying to describe the whole thing as a wheelchair ramp. Asshole.

I Bet This Will Be Good For Republicans

Indeed, can anything make the press stop carrying water for the administration? This administration's entire premise is that it exists to reduce the risk of terrorism. That was what the GWOT was supposed to be about. That is what they've used to justify all of their illegal actions and all of their fuckups. So when 6 years later it turns out those policies have not actually achieved their aims, even leaving aside all of the additional dead people they've helped create, you'd think it would be fairly logical to see that as a bad thing.

Breakin' the Law

The very serious Saint McCain has problems.


The pathetic manchild is having a press conference today.



The “bipartisan” compromise the Ignatiuses of the world envision is that we stay in Iraq so that we can stay in Iraq. Because if we pulled out of Iraq, well, we wouldn’t be there any more.

And if we weren't there any more, the fragile egos of vain frightened old men would be in trouble.

Early Morning Thread

Just to throw a topic out there:

David Vitter: Huggies, Pampers, or the old fashioned values of cloth?

- Attaturk

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pope Wars

This is good. Really, it's not weird for the Pope - or the head or members of any denomination - to think of themselves as the "one true" anything. Of course they think that! They may be rather flexible about what the Big Guy in the Sky feels about deviations from the One True whatever, but it's pretty absurd to imagine they shouldn't think they've found the Truest Path.

While religious tolerance is a wonderful thing, overall the whole ecumenical "we're (believers) all on the same Judeo-Christian team" crap has been a horribly bad development. Keep the tolerance, cut the whole "we all basically agree" crap. We don't. We disagree.

No Checks

DOJ tells Congress to go suck an egg.

At some point Congress's ovaries are going to have to present themselves.


Okay, I've seen this floating around and even Carville brought it up on CNN:

CARVILLE: Look, to me, I forgive -- I mean, I completely forgive him, but he's -- it's the people of Louisiana he's got to go to. And people in Louisiana are going to say, that's great. I'm just saying, but -- but we don't need to be embarrassed anymore. We don't need to have $90,000 in the freezer. We don't need somebody like getting a prostitute to wear -- getting him to wear a diaper or whatever the story is.

But what's the original sourcing for this? That I haven't seen.

Larry Flynt on MSNBC

"30 solid leads...

...we have two serious investigations with other senators

...we have a total of 25 congressmen and there are several other top ranking officials. It's gonna be a lot of fun."

Worst Part of His Job

Tweety just hates having to say bad stuff about his BFF Saint McCain.

They Write Press Releases


A clear majority of the Senate—56 Members – sent a strong message today in favor of ensuring responsible deployment cycles for our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I regret that we did not reach the 60-vote margin that would have allowed this amendment to prevail. It was offered in the spirit of bipartisanship. It was offered with the intention of protecting the well-being of our troops.

“A Republican filibuster kept this amendment from passing by an up-or-down vote. Americans are tired of this kind of posturing. The troops and their families don’t want to hear about political, procedural maneuvers. What they really care about are results. They are looking for concrete actions that will protect the well-being of our men and women in uniform.

“The question on this amendment is not whether you support this war or whether you do not. It is not whether you want to wait until July or September to see where one particular set of bench marks or summaries might be taking us. The question is this: more than four years into ground operations in Iraq, we owe stability, and a reasonable cycle of deployment, to the men and women who are carrying our nation’s burden. That is the question. And that was the purpose of this amendment.”

Because Our Discourse is So Stupid

I have to write blindingly obvious things like:

When an occupying force is seen by a sufficient number of the people as an unwelcome occupier to be opposed, then there's no way that occupier can be responsible for creating and maintaining order.


I'm probably not the only person who has played a game of Risk with someone who, when losing, decided the best course of action was to just give the board a good whack and scatter the pieces.

Heckuva Job, Bushie

While I know this is practically a taboo topic, because it was the good and righteous war, but can we remember what the point of invading Afghanistan was?

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government has concluded that al-Qaida has rebuilt its operating capability to a level not seen since the summer of 2001, The Associated Press has learned.

That war, too, has had a tremendous cost. That war, too, apparently failed to achieve its objective.

Let's Impeach the President for Lying

Or committing felonies. Either way.

Lady Bird Johnson, RIP

Died at age 94.

Bush Makes Me Feel Sad and Resort to Alcohol and Drugs

Can we outlaw him now?

Powers I Had No Idea the President Had

Over the wires via email..

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush has ordered his former White House counsel, Harriet Miers, to defy a congressional subpoena and refuse to testify Thursday before a House panel investigating...

...Conyers&Sanchez respond. Time to throw her in the slammer.

Afternoon Thread


"We Could Be Next"

Do tell, Senator DeMint.

Excursion Into Fantasy

The very serious Senator Lieberman.

COOPER: Michael, I want to play something that Senator Lieberman said about the war in Iraq. Let's -- let's listen.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: The war is not lost in Iraq. In fact, now American Iraqi security forces are winning. The enemy is on the run in Iraq. But, here in -- in Congress, in Washington, we seem to be, or some -- some members seem to be on the run, chased, I fear, by public opinion polls.


COOPER: Is the enemy on the run in Iraq, Michael?

WARE: No, certainly not.

And I think we need to be aware that it's enemies. I mean, America doesn't face just one opponent in this country, but a whole multitude, many of whom are becoming stronger, the longer the U.S. occupation here, or presence here, in Iraq continues. So, unfortunately, I'm afraid that Senator Lieberman has taken an excursion into fantasy.


My guess is that Snowe signs on to this, and only this, piece of legislation. Happy to be wrong.

Still, those looking for a bit of fun can call Susan Collins' office and inquire about whether she's planning to side with her friend Olympia or her BFF Joe Lieberman

Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-2523

...Webb amendment filibustered, Collins abandons BFF Joe.

They Write Letters

Bennie Thompson writes a letter to Michael Chertoff's intestinal tract.

The Reason We Need to Understand How We Got There

Because little Tommy Friedman, age 7, isn't done smashing things.

Fourth, we will restore our deterrence with Iran. Tehran will no longer be able to bleed us through its proxies in Iraq, and we will be much freer to hit Iran — should we ever need to — once we’re out. Moreover, Iran will by default inherit management of the mess in southern Iraq, which, in time, will be an enormous problem for Tehran.

This the fourth "advantage" of little Tommy Friedman's wonderful idea to have a withdrawal date from Iraq.

Spectacular Attacks

We're all Yossarian now.


As CNN's Bill Schneider informs us, a majority of Americans think the Iraq war was a mistake. Indeed 62% of people think so. Sadly, however, I think our leaders lack the courage to communicate the magnitude of that mistake, its consequences, and most importantly, how that mistake came to be. Most of them - politicians and pundits alike - were complicit.



Why is Tracy Flick testifying to Congress?

Last Chance

One Friedman ago today, Dana "He's Got a Secret" Rohrabacher informed us that this was the "last chance."

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA): Well, sometimes you win the game when you throw a Hail Mary pass, you know? And maybe this might be a worthwhile endeavor.

Just prefacing my question about Iraq, let me just note that this administration's insistence on sending to prison two border guards for what they were doing, where they intercepted a drug dealer on our Southern border, undermines the president's support among those of us who would like to offer more support, because if he thinks this lowly of securing our Southern borders, it makes us question why we're sending troops overseas -- just preface it with that.

Is this not -- and we wish you success, but is this not the Iraqi people's last chance, because of the public opinion here in the United States? And we wish you success. We wish the president success, because we want the forces of evil to be thwarted there in Iraq. But if the Iraqi people don't step up after we've given them this chance, this is their last chance. Is it not?

SEC. RICE: Well, obviously, failure in Iraq would be of great consequence for us and for the American people, as well. And so I think what we're trying to do is, in what is a very important and pretty bad set of circumstances in Baghdad, to give them a chance to get on top of this sectarian violence. But I don't think they have --

REP. ROHRABACHER: Well, we're giving them a chance.

SEC. RICE: I don't think they have many more chances to do it.

REP. ROHRABACHER: There it is. We don't have many more chances. I'd say it's their last chance

Six Months

Six months ago today we were told this on the CBS early show.

The president did not predict how long the surge will last, but Pentagon officials say if this new strategy works, they should be able to begin withdrawing troops from the streets of Baghdad in about six months.

Six Months

Six months ago today, Barack Obama asked a question:


What leverage do we have that, six months from now, you will not be sitting before us again saying, 'Well, it didn't work."


Well, Senator, the leverage is that we're not going to stay married to a plan that's not working in Baghdad.

How About Merit Pay for Tenured Columnists?

Maybe that'd improve the state of our political discourse.

The Horror

Fred Kaplan surveys the horror of yesterday's speech.

Thought for the day

Shouldn't it concern us that Republicans are constantly talking about how people will all wise up when the next terrorist attack at home comes?

I mean, they really seem to be looking forward to it, and they take great delight in the thought that, by God, people will see things differently when it happens.

They relish the thought. They hunger for that terrorist attack they need to save their Party.

I, Not Atrios, think Democrats would be wise to talk on TV about how the last thing we need is to put people in power who have such a stake in having terrorists attack Americans.

Eschaton After Dark

The kids are still alright.


The kids are alright.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I haven't gone into the full details, but from what I could tell from the Larry King joint appearance tonight what happened was fairly typical. Basically, to "fact check" Moore, the kind of scrutiny which rarely happens to, say, hacks from AEI or the Preznit of Amurka, Gupta pulled up some nitpickery alternative numbers. One could determine whether Gupta's chosen numbers were more or less correct than Moore's, but nothing supported the idea that Moore "fudged the facts" as was claimed. More than that, the differences weren't relevant to any point Moore was trying to make.

Anyway, I haven't seen SiCKO. I haven't put any time into researching any claims, or counterclaims, in the movie. But what is clear is that "fact checking Moore" means one can throw up something, anything, and use it to cast doubt on his integrity. I welcome fact-checking. I just wish CNN would subject more of their guests to it.

Forget the Sex

Can we focus on the breaking of the law?

Late Night

Which generation do you think was the first to discover out of wedlock sex?

...snark and statistics aside, at my old age of 35 I came of age during what I perceive to be the height of neo-puritanism (AIDS and the Reagan era) and neo-temperance (MADD, general health concerns, expanding drug laws and cultural taboos), people had the occasional fun and sex, as did people 10-15 years older than I was.

Chicks and Dudes

In truth, the extremely low first marriage ages of the post-war years were an aberration. Contrary to popular myth in the "old days" men didn't get married at all that young of an age and women didn't all get married on their 18th birthday. It's in the 1950-1970 era that the marriage age shrunk radically, with men and women marrying at more similar ages.

The key difference now is that both male and female first marriage ages are going up in tandem. The age gap between the genders shrunk in the 50-70 years as both men and women were marrying earlier, and then the gap remained relatively small as members of both genders began to delay marriage until a later time.

How many billions

Do we spend on "Homeland Security"? Yet the best tool Skeletor has is this.

- Attaturk


Truly an awesome magazine, staffed with awesome people.

Six Months

But nothing will stop Fred Hiatt from continuing to publish Krauthammer.

Real Christians

I dunno. One upside of the "wear your faith on your sleeve," movement, combined with Mormon Mitt, is that maybe we can get this fight out into the open. Then maybe lessons will be learned.

Let's turn one of the Republican presidential debates into a theological debate. Then the absurdity of all of this (religion in politics, not religion) will be made obvious.

Summer in the City

It's hot, but if you're local there's no better way to cool off than having a nice cold Hoegaarden at Drinking Liberally's Philadelphia chapter. Tangier, 18th & Lombard, tonight, 6-whenever people leave. Free wings!

...and Reid finally was on CNN.

Now They're Just Fucking With Me

CNN follows Bush with... McCain.

Just Curious

Has CNN shown a single Democrat today? I've seen an extended bit with Walnuts from the Senate floor, then him again, then Olympia Snowe, and now Bush.

...cutting back to Bush:

Now back to the president, he is talking about the so-called surge and strategy in Iraq...

...New technologies enabling us to become better stewards of the enviornment. Imagine one day being able to drive your car with hydrogen...

Two More

5 rats in all leave McCain's ship.

Sign O' The Times

It occurs to a city newspaper in an overly Democratic city that maybe, just maybe, that city doesn't need two conservative newspapers.

Hard to Alter

I disagree with Matt. Michael O'Hanlon is, for reasons the reader can determine, a part of the liberal foreign policy industrial complex. Altering that is quite difficult, or he wouldn't be there to begin with. We have a very big problem.

Not Amicably.

McCain's 3 top people out apparently.

I bet Karen's guess is correct, that McCain understandably is a bit peeved that they spent all his money.


Beltway journalism.

Charlie Rose

One Friedman ago today, Charlie Rose had a panel discussion about the surge. His guests were:

Fareed Zakaria who supported the war.
Bill Kristol who supported the war.
Richard Holbrooke who supported the war.
Ken Duberstein who supported the war.
Rahm Emanuel who supported the war.
David Ignatius who supported the war.

Michael Duffy, Tom Ricks, and Robin Wright who, as "straight" journalists, presumably took no public positions on the war.

Six Months

One Friedman ago today, Senator Kerry asked Quiet American Michael O'Hanlon a question:

So my question to each of you, in sum, is if there isn't sufficient evidence of this kind of summitry and diplomacy -- if there isn't a sufficient political process in place -- and I want your judgment as to whether or not there is -- will more troops have any chance of, in fact, getting what we want, or is it going to make matters worse? And if it does, where are we after putting them in in six months if it hasn't worked? Mr. O'Hanlon?

MR. O'HANLON: Senator Kerry, very tough question. I like your idea of a ledger. On the positive side of the troop surge proposal, I would say we all know tactically there have never been enough troops in Iraq to clear and hold. So that's the tactical argument for this case. It would have been a much more compelling argument three and four years ago than it is today, but I think it remains at some level in the plus column. On the negative column, of course, we know that there is no political resolution of these very sectarian divides --

Wanker of the Day

John Boehner.

And why does CNN think we need to hear what Walnuts McCain says about anything? Is it possible that just once some dirty fucking hippie who opposed this war could get some airtime?


We Need to Say

One Friedman today, Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks (Ret.):

FOREMAN: Six months from now, are we going to look at this area right here where most of them are going to go and say we're better off or worse off?

MARKS: We need to say we're better off.

ZAHN: We need to, but will we?

MARKS: There are ways to achieve that. And it's not mutually exclusive. It's not a political solution better than a military solution. All of these are essential ingredients to a solution. So it's not a military strategy.

We'll Know It's Not Working

From CBS News, one Friedman ago today:

Pentagon officials expect US troops to stay in the streets for about six months before turning security over to the Iraqis. `If it hasn't happened in six months,' one official said, `we'll know it's not working.'

Dead Serious Six Months

One Friedman ago today, Tim Russert said:

Unless considerable progress is made in Iraq in a relatively short time, you will see Republicans crossing over and joining Democrats in challenging his Iraq strategy in a bipartisan way. This is a dead serious six months we're approaching.

Second to Last Stand

One Friedman ago today Chris Matthews said:

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think it`s his last stand. I think it`s the second to the last stand. I think asking for more troops suggests hope that if we try a little harder, it will work. I think the next go-around, six months from now, or a year from now, perhaps, you`ll see the president come back to the American people and say, give me one last shot at this. I think he has one more chance after this. It`s not the end of the game.

This is the second to the last battle, I believe, of this war politically. But I do believe his numbers will continue to go down. I think we`ll see casualties in the streets of Iraq, Baghdad. It`s going to be a bloody campaign and I don`t think it`s going to yield stability.

Family Values

David Vitter style.

Last Shot

One Friedman ago today, Quiet American from Brookings Michael O'Hanlon said:

He has one last shot, and that's the way to look at it, I think. It's Hail, Mary time.


Broder's boy bounces all the way to 29% in USA Today/Gallup poll.

(ht pony boy)

Six Months

One Friedman ago, Mary Matalin said:

But we will be able to know in the next six months, although the sustained effort has to take longer than six months.

Last Shot

One Friedman ago, ABC News's David Kerley said:

You know, we've talked about that before here, Sam, on this program, that this is, the President believes, his last shot.

Last Chance

One Friedman ago, Pat Buchanan said (on Scarborough):

This is why I`m saying, look, this is the last chance for Maliki, the last chance for the Americans.

The full context for these nutters was:

BUCHANAN: He has said it this time. The last test is right now.

This is why I`m saying, look, this is the last chance for Maliki, the last chance for the Americans. The acid test is whether they go after the Mahdi army, which I think knows we will go after them. And that`s why I think it may very well run to earth for the next six months.

SCARBOROUGH: We have to -- we have to do that. We have to go after al-Sadr. We have to go after the Mahdi army. And, if we are, in fact, trying to start a democracy over there, and bring justice to Iraq, then, we have to arrest or kill al-Sadr.

Judd Legum, on the same show, provided sanity:

LEGUM: It was really -- it was kind of a letdown. And I predict that, you know, in six months nobody is going to remember this speech. The strategy laid out today won`t have an impact on the situation in Iraq.

And all the people who are on TV today say, "This is the last chance. This is our one last shot. We`ve got to give it a go," are going to be saying again, we need to give it one last chance. I give it a go.

Morning Thread

How much can I get done before it's too flipping hot to think?

--Molly I.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Late Night


Or, read George Eliot.

...adding, a bunch of people have suggested that the Vitter press release is proof that ABC inappropriately sat on info. I don't know if that's the case, but from what I understand ABC only got a few years of the phone records before the judge temporarily stopped it. It's late so I'm too lazy to hunt it up, but from what I remember the "DC Madam" said that only 4 years had been handed over and I believe the years in question wouldn't have included the time period suggested by the Vitter info.

For all I know ABC did sit on stuff we'd consider appropriately newsworthy, but I don't think this revelation demonstrates that point.



For immediate release

July 9, 2007

Vitter Issues Statement

U.S. Sen. David Vitter made the following statement today about his telephone number being on the old phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates prior to his running for the U.S. Senate. He respectfully requests that the statement be used in full without editing or paraphrasing.

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible. Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there-with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way," Vitter said.


Don't know when exactly this was. While it might have been prior to his Senate run it was most likely while he was a member of the House.

Rudy! picks another winner
. Vitter's his Southern Regional Chair.

Heckuva Job, Kagans

Ah well.

A progress report on Iraq will conclude that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad has not met any of its targets for political, economic and other reform, speeding up the Bush administration's reckoning on what to do next, a U.S. official said Monday.

For those keeping score, that means zero.

The Kagan family has secured themselves a lovely place in history. Perhaps their children will have to change their names.

Coward Caucus

MSNBC sez Olympia Snowe is calling for "binding legislation to start bringing troops home." My guess is she'll throw her support behind one and only one amendment which will achieve that, and then refuse to support a whole array of other imperfect measures which would at least move things in that direction or otherwise try to constrain the preznit.

Happy to be wrong.

Torture Lou

Take the poll, for old time's sake.

...and here is Moore and Blitzer.

Men Without Consciences

The pattern used in the Kagan cloning vat must not have included the conscience gene.

I don't know how these people can sleep at night.


Major shouting match between Michael Moore and Blitzer. I'm sure one of usual suspects will have it shortly...

No One Wants To Hear Your Super Theory of Super Everything!

For those who may not have been hanging around here for very long, the occasional mentions of "biofuels, bitches!" or similar refer a time when I was sent an angry email suggesting in rather strong terms that I really really should be posting about biofuels. The related point was that all the "open threads" were wasted space which I could use to link to super awesome things. Like, of course, posts about biofuels.

The truth is that finding super awesome things to link to takes time. It actually takes the most time. Writing - at least the kind of "talking with my fingers" that I do most of the time - is the easy part. It's the finding of the conversation topic that's difficult, especially 15 hours/day 7 days/week.

People also seem to have this sense that if it's front paged on Daily Kos, or linked to here, or whatever, it somehow gains magic powers. Sad to say, a blog post ain't gonna change the world.

Time to stop meta before the madness sets in.

Afternoon Thread

Try not to shoot anybody in the face.

I Get Press Releases

Whenever I write a post, as I did recently, noting that I get an immense amount of email, some people inevitably misinterpret it as a complaint. It isn't, mostly, although certainly some kinds of email annoy me. But even if you took away all of those in the category of "annoying," I would still get an immense amount of email. The point is that it's just something which comes with the territory. It's an unavoidable part of having a blog with a decent-sized readership. Blogger beware. Having said that, I always appreciate people who send me interesting stuff. Those are rarely in the category of annoying, unless they're accompanied with "WHY AREN'T YOU POSTING ABOUT THIS?!?!?!" kind of remarks.

I just got a press release from the office of the ambassador from a certain country informing me that all of their diplomatic vehicles will now be hybrid-electric ones.

Just part of my day...

Life in Andyland

I have to admit it's sort of amusing watching Andy react to the kind of arguments and rhetoric he himself once embraced - if not pioneered - rather wholeheartedly.

They Write Blogs

Stoller and Bowers have a new home.

Not an Issue

Rove says Iraq won't be an issue in the '08 elections. That's absurd, of course, and he knows it. One just worries that 9/10 Democratic consultants agree.


Elite punditry, an accountability free profession.

David Brooks, on PBS NewsHour July 6th: "And, then, the final thing, the problem with the Iraq Study Group--and Mark is absolutely right. I think the Bush administration bitterly regrets not embracing that now."

Ah, but where was David on the ISG back in the day, you know, when it counted most? Here he was on January 11th of this year, busily poo-pooing the ISG's findings ("pulling a tooth slowly"), just as debate had been raging as to whether Bush should adopt same: "So we are stuck with the Bush proposal as the only serious plan on offer."

Even Brooks's take on the ISG "plan" is either missing the point or deceptive. The ISG put out a framework into which roughly any "let's start getting the hell out, if even slowly" move by the Bush administration could have been fit. The point wasn't really to provide a plan, the point was to provide cover for Bush and all the Republicans (and some Democrats) who had been screaming that if we leave Iraq WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE. The purpose was to provide political cover for an exit strategy, and any exit strategy, even a glacial one, would've been fine. All they had to do was trot out Baker and Hamilton to say that yes, this fits our recommendations, and all the very serious wise old men would've nodded their approval at the brave and cunning president and the wonderful and noble Republican party. That was the chance that Bush missed. The issue isn't that he failed to implement the ISG plan, it's that he failed to take the opportunity to start getting the hell out.

(via yglesias)

We Can't Stay and We Can't Go

Local foreign affairs columnist Trudy Rubin was on local NPR just now. She isn't stupid, but she's Very Serious. The host asked her whether there should be a timeline for withdrawal and her response was something like:

We can't maintain troop levels after the Spring, so the beginning of withdrawal is inevitable.

A fast withdrawal would be disastrous, so we can't do that.

We have to have some US presence just in case.

As Petraeus told her, it would be horrible to just sit in bases doing nothing while civil war raged.

In other words, we should withdraw troops down to the level at which we wouldn't be able to do much other than guard our own stuff, which would be horrible. Or something. It's all utterly incoherent.

No Debate

Tony Snow informed the press that the NYT is bogus, there's no high level debate about withdrawing troops from Iraq, blah blah blah.

No shit.

Depths of Difficulty

The truth is that Karl Rove is probably right, and Republican whiners are quite wrong. The White House is not in any difficulty with respect to Iraq. That would only be the case if a significant number of Republicans thought that doing the right thing was more important than fealty to Dear Leader. But that isn't the case, and it isn't likely to be the case. The White House will keep doing what it's doing, Republicans will fail to join with Democrats to oppose them, the occupation of Iraq will continue, Republicans will lose many House and Senate seats, and, with a little luck, the presidency.

It isn't the White House that fails to understand the "depths of difficulty" they're in, it's Republicans in Congress.

Regional War

I've long been a wee bit puzzled by the "okay, we should leave Iraq but leave troops there just in case..." crowd. One of the "just in cases" is the potential for a wider regional war. I'm really not sure how our presence - especially a diminished "50,000 or whatever number I pulled out of my ass" presence - would prevent a regional war. Mostly it would ensure our potential involvement.

I assume all these Turkish troops on the border aren't planning to do much, but what exactly would we do if they did? We certainly have many levers of power we can use against Turkey, and going to war against Turkey seems to be the least effective one because it would be, you know, insane.

Wanker of the Day

Bill Kristol.

Stay the Course

It might have an exciting new name, it might have enough rhetorical flim-flam to let Official Washington provide cover for wavering Republicans, but there's no way Bush is going to even an announce an intention to maybe withdraw some troops, except with the caveat "if a bunch of stuff which isn't going to happen actually happens."

So: "We're looking at the possibility that if we find the pony we can withdraw some troops" might happen.

"We're looking at the possibility that we can withdraw some troops" won't.

Good morning

And another exciting bit of code from my blogroll:


King of Zembla

Mark Kleiman

Liquid List

Elayne Riggs



No More Mr. Nice Blog

Fanatical Apathy

Blue Gal

Update: Echidne on a tear.
Further update: House of Bush still anti-life.

Not Atrios

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Josh says it a bit better than I did earlier:

But the White House is urging her to ignore the subpoena. And since, in the words of Taylor's lawyer, the president is "a person whom [Taylor] admires and for whom she has worked tirelessly for years", she doesn't want to testify and thinks she shouldn't have to.

Pleading the fifth is on the books. Various privileges, though most are bogus, can be asserted and litigated. But being a member of the Bush personality cult just isn't a reason to refuse to testify.

Right. There may be some imagined if probably bogus privilege the Bushies can try to claim. They could use that claim to try to block her from testifying by going through the courts. But there's no "I want to testify but I can't because they're telling me not to" rule that makes any sense.

More Thread

Rock on.

Fresh Thread


The Full Broder

David Broder, 1/3/1993:


LENGTH: 797 words

HEADLINE: Breaches Of Trust

SERIES: Occasional

BYLINE: David S. Broder

The problem is not Caspar Weinberger. The problem is not George Bush. The real problem that was revealed -- again -- by the presidential pardon of former secretary of defense Weinberger and those other Iran-contra figures is bigger and more bothersome.

The real problem is that we have not found any effective method to instruct White House and executive branch officials on their duty to obey the law, because we have failed as a society to express our contempt and disgust for those who violate their oaths of office with such impunity.

The record is depressing. All those top White House and Justice Department officials in the Nixon administration went to jail for their parts in planning, or covering up, Watergate. You would have thought that would send a message clear enough for anyone to grasp. But the U.S. attorneys and special prosecutors have been kept busy by successor administrations. The crimes and the coverups go right on.

The deterrent effect of these much-publicized cases has been minimal. It may be, as some suggest, that the impact would be different if the White House crooks were sent to the slammer with criminals of less distinction, instead of being allowed to do their time at Allenwood or other prison farms where the amenities are not so scarce.

But I'm not sure that even the threat of Stateville or San Quentin would convince these characters that Americans mean what they say when they talk about this being a government where no one is above the law.

Frankly, they have good reason to doubt it. The criminal justice system works only when the crimes involved are those that evoke genuine abhorrence from the society. Murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault, distribution of hard drugs -- these are the easy cases. The perpetrators are locked up -- sometimes, even put to death -- because we think their actions abominable.

A curtain of shame also descends on those who recklessly endanger the lives of others -- drunken drivers, for example, or makers of dangerous machinery. We don't draw the line as clearly on perpetrators of financial fraud, even though they also often ruin people's lives. Too often, a stock market manipulator or crooked speculator/developer wins sympathy by pointing to good works he has done.

But the real difficulty arises when the crime is not against an individual but against the society as a whole, its vital institutions or its Constitution. That is where we go squishy soft and lose our moral bearings.

Many of the Watergate figures became celebrities who stepped out of jail into lucrative work on the book-and-author lecture circuit or as permanent fixtures on the TV and radio talk shows. Oliver North, who was convicted of "obstructing Congress" by giving false testimony in the Iran-contra case, was in great demand as a fund-raiser for congressional candidates. With his conviction overruled by an appeals court finding that the trial may have been tainted by witnesses' knowledge of the statements that North had made under a grant of immunity to congressional investigators, he is now getting ready to run for the U.S. Senate in Virginia. Jefferson and Madison must be spinning in their graves.

Far worse, look at the case of Richard Nixon, the "unindicted co-conspirator" in the Watergate coverup, forced to resign from the presidency and then pardoned. Here is a man who sanctioned a secret police operation from the White House itself, a man who subjected his country to two years of incredible stress and division while trying to protect himself from the consequences of his own crimes.

So what happens to him? After a minimal period of penance, he resumes his role as commentator-in-chief on national and international affairs, welcomed with standing ovations by such organizations as the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the American Newspaper Publishers Association -- the very people whose reporters were wiretapped by the Nixon White House.

Today, many of those newspapers are condemning Bush for pardoning Weinberger and for failing to acknowledge the wrongdoing in the Iran-contra affair. They should look to their own behavior before they cast stones.

And so should we all. The voters were outraged by the petty finagling of the House bank scandal, but forgive far more serious breaches of trust. Until this society is prepared to condemn and to shun those who abuse their governmental authority, there is no point in having special prosecutors or others trying to squeeze these cases through the criminal justice system.

We don't need more convictions and pardons of government officials. We need scorn and shame for those who violate their oaths of office.
And that is a penalty that the American people -- and only the American people -- can invoke.

Afternoon Thread


Things I Don't Understand

What possible authority does the White House have to try to prevent a former employee from testifying about something? How can the White House "not let her" testify?

Obviously if she doesn't want to testify they can play legal games to try to prevent her from being compelled to testify, but she's said she's willing. How can they stop her? I don't get it.


Over there.

A bomb blast killed 17 new Iraqi army recruits and wounded 20 others on Sunday while they were travelling on a road near Baghdad, police and an army officer said.

And still they cling to their rallying cry... FRIEDMANS FOREVER!

The Iraqi government is unlikely to meet any of the political and security goals or timelines President Bush set for it in January when he announced a major shift in U.S. policy, according to senior administration officials closely involved in the matter. As they prepare an interim report due next week, officials are marshaling alternative evidence of progress to persuade Congress to continue supporting the war.

Two More Friedmans

Ankush reminds us that Two Friedmans ago the NYT editorial board was in full wank mode.

If only they'd listened to the DFHs.

Wanker of the Day

Colin Powell.

Seeing Al Qaeda Around Every Corner

Times Ombudsman does good.

Why Bush and the military are emphasizing Al Qaeda to the virtual exclusion of other sources of violence in Iraq is an important story. So is the question of how well their version of events squares with the facts of a murky and rapidly changing situation on the ground.

But these are stories you haven’t been reading in The Times in recent weeks as the newspaper has slipped into a routine of quoting the president and the military uncritically about Al Qaeda’s role in Iraq — and sometimes citing the group itself without attribution.

And in using the language of the administration, the newspaper has also failed at times to distinguish between Al Qaeda, the group that attacked the United States on Sept. 11, and Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, an Iraqi group that didn’t even exist until after the American invasion.

There is plenty of evidence that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is but one of the challenges facing the United States military and that overemphasizing it distorts the true picture of what is happening there. While a president running out of time and policy options may want to talk about a single enemy that Americans hate and fear in the hope of uniting the country behind him, journalists have the obligation to ask tough questions about the accuracy of his statements.

Middle East experts with whom I talked in recent days said that the heavy focus on Al Qaeda obscures a much more complicated situation on the ground — and perhaps a much more dangerous one around the world.

“Nobody knows how many different Islamist extremist groups make up the insurgency” in Iraq, said Anthony H. Cordesman of the bipartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Even when you talk about Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the idea of somehow it is the center of the insurgency is almost absurd.”

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

•NBC’s “Meet the Press,” — Guest: Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican.

•“Fox News Sunday,” — Guests: Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat; Rep. Chris Cannon, Utah Republican; Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican.

•ABC’s “This Week,” — Guests: Rep. John Conyers, Michigan Democrat; Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican; former senator Mike Gravel, Alaska Democrat.

•CBS’ “Face the Nation,” — Guests: Sen. Charles Schumer, New York Democrat; Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican.

•CNN’s “Late Edition,” — Guests: Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraqi national security adviser; Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican; Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat; Sen. Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican.

Early Morning

This was NTodd's idea.

Booze was involved. So was pissing off The Kenosha Kid.


Rock on.