Saturday, November 10, 2007

More Thread



I don't read much celebrity news, so it's kind of a surprise to me that it's Jonathan! who is making the movie about the Florida Recount. This combines two of my obssessions in a convenient package.

Not Atrios

No Good Deed

Oh well.

$1.4 Million By 2016

Now that's comedy.

"Long-time market watcher" revises previous estimate of the median home price in Orange County, CA reaching $1.4 million by median home price reaching $1.4 million by 2016.

Assuming plausible expected wage and inflation growth, this is nuts.

His prior prediction:

Given plausible inflation rates let's say in real terms he's talking about the media home price being about a million in 2016.

Generously, assume 10% down ($100K) and 6% 30 year fixed rate.

Oh, Larry?

Wondering what became of this. From two weeks ago.

Larry Flynt, editor and publisher of Hustler magazine, just told FOX Business Network’s Neil Cavuto that he’s “hoping to expose a bombshell” that will stand “Washington and the country on its head.” Within the next week or two, he says his magazine will expose a sex scandal of huge proportions involving a prominent United States Senator. Flynt refused to comment on the Senator’s political affiliation, but alluded that he or she is a Republican.

And, no, a tell-all from Vitter's hooker doesn't count.

Ron Paul Mania

Drove by the rather large rally for Ron Paul here in Philadelphia.

Certainly interesting, and judging by signs his opposition to the Iraq war is an important part of his attraction.

Still not a phenomenon I quite understand.

Open Thread

My cable company is worse than your cable company.

So there!

Rhymes With Laci Peterson Is Missing

Yes, it must be awful for the family, but please don't do this to us again...



In an interview after the hearing, Representative Hinchey discussed the disconnect between official government reports and the reality facing working families. He noted that the unemployment rate does not include workers who have become so discouraged that they’ve given up looking for a job.

And the most popular measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, does not include the cost of energy or food, “the two most significant aspects of the increased cost of living for the American people.”

This isn't true. The CPI does include food and energy; the "core inflation" measure does not. It seems increasingly likely that the Fed puts its hands over its ears and says "NA NA NA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" when it comes to the CPI and focuses almost entirely on the core inflation rate when thinking about its monetary policy decisions, and because of this press accounts tend to focus on the core inflation rate as the only thing that matters.

But the CPI does include food and energy costs, and it is the CPI, not the core CPI, which is used to calculate things such as cost of living increases for Social Security benefits (well, specifically a slightly modified measure called CPI-W is used, but it too includes food and energy).

Whether or not the index is calculated appropriately is another question, but it doesn't exclude those things.

CDO Shitpiles

Your happy financial market viewpoint of the day.

The Social Security Con Job

The problem with Obama wanting to deal with "Social Security crisis" is that this political debate has long been waged under the Village rules, which include the lie that there is some kind of "crisis."

As long as any discussion about Social Security is framed with crisis rhetoric, a sensible discussion about possible changes to the program (utterly unnecessary, except for dealing with current underfunding of its administration) cannot be had.

The other part of the Village con job is that while they know it's "necessary" to raise payroll taxes in order to increase the Trust Fund, they don't believe in the Trust Fund. A typical Village story about the money in the fund looks something like this:

The most recent government forecast says that in 2017, Social Security trust funds will begin paying out more in benefits than it takes in. In 2041, the trust funds will be empty, and benefits will have to be cut.

The first sentence is completely irrelevant and the second is highly misleading. It's true that if projections were spot on and general funds weren't used to cover any shortfalls, benefits would "have to be cut" relative to currently promised benefits, but even those "cut" benefits would be higher than what current retirees get today, because as wages grow generally in the US, retiree benefits grow modestly as well.

There is no crisis. Stop it.


It's also the deadliest year for US troops in Afghanistan.

KABUL, Afghanistan - Six U.S. troops were killed when insurgents ambushed their foot patrol in the high mountains of eastern Afghanistan, officials said Saturday. The attack, the most lethal against American forces this year, made this year the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion.

The troops were returning from a meeting with village elders late Friday afternoon in Nuristan province when militants attacked them with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire, Lt. Col. David Accetta told The Associated Press.

Quote Clipping is Fun!


PRESIDENT BUSH: Congress is not getting its work done.

FOREMAN: From Iraq to domestic programs, Democrats face White House vetoes and little support from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

PELOSI: I know that Congress has low approval ratings. I don't approve of Congress because we haven't done anything --

Actual Pelosi quote:

I know that Congress has low approval ratings. I don't approve of Congress because we haven't done anything to -- we haven't been effective in ending the war in Iraq...

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Morning Thread

You guys still talking? Time for some French in Action.

Baguette! Hunh hunh HUNH!

--Molly I.

Friday, November 09, 2007

More Thread

Entertain yourselves.

Because these guys are goddamn funny

--Molly I.

Late Nite

A highlight from the career of Eschaton regular commenter Snow.

Friday Night Thread

This thread is excellent news for Republicans.


Digby writes about the WGA strike and some bloggers join the line.

Josh Friedman:

Since I visited with you last I have shot a pilot and eight episodes of television on my wonderful little art house show we like to call "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." (Those of us in the know call it "Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles" for short.) Unfortunately, I've only locked picture on the pilot and each one of those other eight precious little diamonds is now sitting uneasily in an editing bay like a toddler whose parent has passed out on the couch from too much Vicodin.

In this case, the couch is the picket line and the Vicodin is my vow that I will do NO WORK on my show until the strike is finished. No writing, no editing, no sound mixing, no casting, no notes calls, no publicity, no NOTHING.

What will happen to our work of the last year? Couldn't tell you. Ask the AMPTP. It's their show now, along with a hundred other shows whose creators and showrunners have chosen to walk the picket line instead of doing their producer duties.


Another fine day in Cramerville.


At least this "theory" does suggest that fertile women aren't thrilled to be raped by just anyone.

Are There Any Republicans Left?

And still another one. Barbara Cubin to retire.

Afternoon Thread

Ground zero love nest edition.

Are There Any Republicans Left?

And another one is out.

Bad Words

I love civility lessons from Mr. "We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!"

Heroism According to the Villagers


An apartment in Battery Park City that former Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik secured for his personal use after Sept. 11 was originally donated for the use of weary police and rescue workers who were helping at ground zero, according to a real estate executive who has been briefed about the apartment.

After the cleanup had settled into a routine that fall, the executive said, Mr. Kerik, who was still police commissioner, asked to rent the two-bedroom apartment for his own use. During his use of the apartment, Mr. Kerik and Judith Regan engaged in an extramarital affair there, according to someone who spoke to Mr. Kerik about the relationship. Ms. Regan published his best-selling autobiography in 2001.


I mean, love nest aside, does anyone have any idea when Bernie Kerik became the hero of 9/11?

Note To Local Law Enforcement: Don't be America's Anything

First America's Sheriff goes down.

Sadly, Michael S. Carona is a deeply flawed individual. This week, the U.S. Attorney’s office, in conjunction with the FBI and a federal grand jury, threw a 10-count corruption indictment at Carona, two of his former assistant sheriffs, his wife and one of his numerous mistresses. Except for a few of us who never bought Carona’s glad-handing, cheap smiles and constant lies, the indictment is a tsunami for Orange County government, politics and law enforcement.

In a world of constant scandal, this still qualifies as major national news. Carona is chummy with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once openly considered the sheriff as a possible lieutenant-governor running mate. President George W. Bush appointed him to an elite national-security advisory board—though he has no anti-terrorist training, associates with organized-crime figures and has never made an arrest in his life. Way before anyone was willing to listen to OC Weekly’s lone drumbeat, CNN’s Larry King anointed Carona “America’s sheriff,” and the local media abandoned watchdog roles to treat his word as gospel.

And then America's Cop.

Perhaps not a good label to adopt.

Wanker of the Day



Perhaps they should start listening to those sensible heartland folks they're always condescendingly elevating.

“You people are really nuts,” she told a reporter during a phone interview. “There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip.”

Liquidation: Do Not Want

This really isn't my world, but I'm having a hard time interpreting this as anything other then S&P punishing an entity for daring to sell off its financial assets at market prices.

TOKYO, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The trustee of a $1.5 billion collateralised debt obligation (CDO) managed by State Street Global Advisors has started selling assets, apparently starting a process of liquidation, Standard & Poor's said late on Thursday.

The news from the ratings agency raised worries of similar action on a wider array of structured securities, and stirred more fears about the exposure of U.S. financial institutions to credit markets.


S&P said it slashed its ratings on Carina CDO Ltd's top tranche of securities by 11 notches to the junk level of BB from the top-notch triple-A after it received a notice on Nov. 1 saying that the controlling noteholders had told the trustee to liquidate.


The ratings cut on the Carina CDO is more severe than would be justified by the deterioration of the underlying assets because a decision to liquidate would depress prices and affect all notes that were issued, S&P said.

S&P said the ratings on the top two parts of the CDO would only be trimmed by one or two notches if the liquidation notice were withdrawn, but any selling will lead to material losses and market prices may not recover during the liquidation period.

This just isn't big enough of a shitpile to "depress prices," but it is a big enough of a shitpile to "reveal prices." That is, to put a market price on this crap so that others with similar shitpiles are forced to actually put forward an accurate valuation of them.

At least that's how I see it. Maybe I'm wrong.

(via CR)

Stop the Madness

I had wondered if there was a bit of an overreaction by me and others to Obama's Social Security language which was why I tried to explain our hypersensitivity to the issue. Turns out there was no overreaction. Obama is peddling the "social security crisis" narrative.

There is no crisis. Just stop it.

City in the City

Inga Saffron discovers a developer who's keeping the urban in the urban. Aside from the issue of New Urbanist developers spending too much time where they're essentially not welcome, it's good to do some whack-a-mole on creeping suburbanization of the city. A combination of bad zoning laws/misplaced neighborhood concerns (every development needs parking!), developer misreading of what people want (more parking!), and generally being influenced by the prevailing suburban aesthetic, too much new urban development has a very inappropriately suburban character to it.

Damn front garages are gonna ruin the place. Stop the madness!

Worshipping Glenn Reynolds

Farley's kidding, but back when I started this blog what he said was exactly the way the blogosphere worked. There was left and right, and Glenn Reynolds played the role of Cyborg Lawyer debate moderator and judge. It was actually kind of sad, with everyone desperate to please Daddy Glenn and get his approval (and traffic generating links).

The good lefties of the blogosphere were rather annoyed at the time that I didn't think much of our benevolent blogospheric ruler.

Advantage: me!


Walking the line.

Morning Thread

Coffee is brewing.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Some Will Say That Tobin Harshaw Rapes Babies

And who am I to say they're wrong?

Overheard in Philly

Relatively intelligent people horrified about NPR's bogus story about the Clinton campaign not tipping at a restaurant.

How it all happens...



Pound for pound, ounce for ounce, nuts for nutty, we know Major Tom's a junkie --

Ron Paul only wishes he was half the fruitcake lunatic Rudy Giuliani is on his better days.



Spin your yarns.

Wanker of the Day

Joe Lieberman.

This Is Excellent News For Republicans

It always is.

Please Kill Me Too

Just make them stop.


Let's be clear that "centrism" is, for the most part, a cosmetic pose for the benefit of Beltways journalists who know that The Most Important Thing Is To Be A Centrist.

In terms of what those centrists actually support in terms of policy, I'd say there are roughly 3 kinds of things. Occasionally they live up to their name and push through genuine compromises between left and right. More often than that they push fake "split the baby" compromises which achieve nothing genuine but have the appearance of doing "something."

And, most often, "centrism" is used as a cover for what amounts to bipartisan endorsement of corruption in the name of furthering the Might and Majesty of the establishment powers.

OJ Simpson In Court

Finally the really important news for America.


Another fine day in Cramerville.

Don't worry. Citigroup is only down 6.5% 6.9%.

Bag Holders

Why that would be us. Helicopter Ben:

Bernanke did suggest that one way around this risk would be to have the federal government take on the risk of subprime or jumbo loans that Fannie and Freddie buy.

Muffie's World

It is somewhat sad that there isn't easy availability of transcripts/videos from the 90s.

It would be fun.

Shhh... Don't Tell Howie

People still hate this goddamn war.

Support for the war in Iraq has dropped to 31 percent and the 68 percent who oppose the war is a new record.

Despite the drop in violence in Iraq, only one quarter of Americans believes the U.S. is winning the war. There has been virtually no change in the past month in the number of Americans who believe that things are going badly for the U.S. in the war in Iraq.

The public also opposes U.S. military action against Iran. Sixty-three percent oppose air strikes on Iran, while 73 percent oppose using ground troops as well as air strikes in that country.

Little Ricky

Well, he has a column now, and it appears that it's ghost written by Ben Domenech.

About as original and coherent, anyway.

Who Gets The Pieces of the Pie

I'm always surprised how many people fail to be sympathetic to striking workers simply because they perceive them to be "well-paid." Certainly one can always find a more worthy cause, a more desperate case, someone more "deserving." But ultimately this is about whether management gets to screw workers, and that's something we can all be concerned about whether it's janitors, Hollywood writers, or even millionaire baseball players.

The main issues for the WGA are rather simple - when the studios repackage their work until the end of time in new and exciting media formats, how much residuals should they get (if any). If you fail to "sympathize" with striking writers, you think that management should just expropriate the value of their work forever. In other words, you sympathize with management.

And of course plenty of writers aren't "well-paid" in that they don't always find consistent work. The writers for more high-profile shows who have steady jobs are probably making a decent living, and they're the ones we see on the Youtube clips, but to a great degree the strike isn't about them - or at least it's less important for them - and they're supporting the strike on behalf of both current and former less employed writers and, even more importantly, future writers who will see whatever gains the union has made over the years demolished because they're "writing for the internet"... when everything is on the internet.

Right now this is about a few extra pennies per DVD sale and getting a tiny chunk of whatever money is being made from putting teevee shows on the internet. But in the future it'll all be on the internet, or something even more exciting. If they don't lock in a good deal now, there may be no good deal in the future. Absent a good contract result, technological change may essentially bust the union.

Offloading Risk Liability Into the Ether


The core issue here is a cornerstone of the whole "originate and sell" model that has created such a crisis. If Cuomo's suit makes any headway at all, it will put eAppraiseIT out of business one way or the other. That's because if appraisal management companies are no longer willing or able to write these liability swaps into their contracts, they won't be able to offer what the lenders really want from them. The advantage of doing business this way isn't really about saving a few dollars on outsourcing administrative work for the lenders, it's about getting out from under a huge expensive compliance and legal risk.

No wonder Cramer's head is exploding again. This thing really isn't about appraisals, it's about stopping the game of risk-layoff. The weakest (financially and politically) party in the chain, eAppraiseIT, appears to have taken on all the residual risks from WaMu and Fannie Mae, and now Cuomo is going to force those losses to materialize. You can bet that every General Counsel at every mortgage lender still operating is busy reviewing many, many contracts right now. The results will be very, very ugly.

Short version of the story: Fannie offloads its risk onto WaMu, and WaMu offloads its risks onto eAppraiseIT, an independent appraisal company. Of course an entity such as eAppraiseIT likely doesn't have even an infinitesimal fraction of the assets needed to actually cover potential liability here (or, presumably, sufficient or any insurance), so they may as well have offloaded all their liability onto my cat Gizmo.

...adding, it doesn't mean that the liability has successfully been disappeared. We'll have to wait and see who ultimately holds the bag at the end of the day.

D-Trip - Not Just an Incumbency Protection Racket

This is good news. Incumbents really don't have trouble raising money if they put the time in (it's grueling horrible awful work, but it's part of the job), and the marginal impact of a few extra surprise dollars for challengers must be higher than for incumbents.

Top House Democrats, sensing an opportunity to pick up additional seats in 2008, are warning some of their more vulnerable incumbents that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee won’t spend money in their districts unless Republican leaders do.

Despite very poor public approval ratings for Congress, House Democrats are increasingly confident they can make solid gains next fall, and they’re willing to take some risks to do it.


With a huge cash advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee, Van Hollen and Emanuel are cautioning their colleagues that the DCCC wants to have money to put into 40 challenger races next year — and if these vulnerable Democrats are not facing serious races or any effort by the National Republican Congressional Committee to unseat them, the DCCC will spend its resources elsewhere.

In an interview, Van Hollen said it was always the goal of Democratic leaders to “graduate” members from the Frontline program if they were no longer in need of special fundraising help.

Obviously they're not saying that no money will be spent on incumbents, just that they can't assume it will be there.

One thing party organizations can do which no one else really can is suddenly drop a surprise wad of cash onto an election. Committing most of their money to challengers will really keep the poor Goopers on their toes.

And hopefully there won't be just more Democrats, but better ones.

How Greedy Can They Get

Here's Sandra Oh.

Dance With The Devil

I'm not sure if the case is fully made in this article, but there's at least something to it.

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Washington Mutual Inc. got what it wanted in 2005: A revised bankruptcy code that no longer lets people walk away from credit card bills.

The largest U.S. savings and loan didn't count on a housing recession. The new bankruptcy laws are helping drive foreclosures to a record as homeowners default on mortgages and struggle to pay credit card debts that might have been wiped out under the old code, said Jay Westbrook, a professor of business law at the University of Texas Law School in Austin and a former adviser to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

``Be careful what you wish for,'' Westbrook said. ``They wanted to make sure that people kept paying their credit cards, and what they're getting is more foreclosures.''

And The Dead Are All Living

I apologize to Howard Kurtz for my opposition to the Iraq war.

Morning Thread

I couldn't help but notice that David Broder is "outsourcing".

Oh, and Rorschach found that the leader of the Minutemen may be similar to Musharraf in the "straight-cash homey" sense.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

CNBC Ticker

What fun.

Millions of Chinese-Made "Aqua-Dots" toys have been pulled from store shelves worldwide because scientists found the plastic dots contain a chemical that converts into a powerful date rape drug if swallowed.


Get your Office on.


It's late so this won't be a very fleshed out point, but I do think it's useful to follow the details of the WGA strike. It may not be a stereotypical union, but the issues they're dealing with are still fairly typical.


Exciting times in Asia!!


Have fun, dial-up people!

Evening Thread

My spider sense tells me that the primary season is about to achieve nuclear levels of stupid, so I'm going out for a nice dinner to prep for the coming mayhem.

Wingnut Welfare

As Jane suggests, it's hard to perceive Regnery's basic operating model as being anything other than beneficial for the authors involved. It's basically what crazy people like me used to point out until we stopped bothering, that they use, uh, interesting practices to force their books onto the bestseller lists so as to give them maximum publicity/free advertising and promotion. And now the authors are upset. Funny.


First, the ABX indices explained.

ABX.HE indexes track credit default swaps (CDS) on subprime mortgage-backed securities. CDS are derivatives that provide insurance against default. Mortgage-backed securities are home loans that have been packaged up together and sold as a single security.
The ABX.HE index that tracks CDS on the riskiest subprime loans, rated BBB-, that were sold in the second half of 2006 fell to 69.39 on Friday, according to, which administers the indexes. That's down from 72.71 on Thursday and 79.04 at the beginning of the week. In early February, this index was above 90.
Friday's price means that if investors wanted to buy protection against default on a notional $10 million of these loans, they would need to pay $3.061 million up front, plus a fixed 2.42% annual payment. This is a record low, and represents a spread of roughly 1,500 basis points.

Or, roughly speaking, if the index is at 70, there's a 30% of default. If the index is at 25, there's a 75% chance of default. etc...

All the supposedly "bad" stuff crashed awhile back, but today the "best" stuff crashed too, with a price reflecting about a 30% chance of default.



Another lovely day on Wall Street.


More info at this blog.

Helicopter Ben to the Rescue

CNBC sez: "Fed's Poole says easy to see scenario requiring Dec. rate cut."

Poole's the kind of guy who sees inflation behind every tree, so look forward to your rate cut.

...meaning he's inflation paranoid, so less likely to endorse rate cuts. So if he's suggesting one could come...

Unity08 or Amway?

It seems Unity08 has reinvented itself as some sort of weird multilevel marketing project.

Welcome to Unity08’s new web site. We are very excited to finally set the tone and direction for how we are going to accomplish our goal of remaking American politics by combining our highest values with our newest technologies. If this is your first time here, then we welcome you to Unity08! If you have experienced our site before, you’ll know that this is a major release for us.

Members are now in charge. As a member of Unity08, you can now rank the issues that are most crucial to the country according to you, and view how other members have responded in aggregate. Each issue of the American Agenda is populated by news and web resources submitted by members. It’s not up to Unity08 to tell you how to feel about the issue, it’s up to you to help educate all of us with articles and videos on the important issues facing our great nation. I highly suggest you submit a resource if you come across something that you feel others would value reading, discussing or viewing.

Members now gain "Political Capital" points for participating within the Unity08 community. As you post, invite others, donate, you gain Political Capital points. The more points you gain, the larger your Torch grows signifying a re-energizing of our American community. Soon, your Political Capital points will open additional tools and privileges on the site.

I can't wait for my Torch to grow larger.

The Village

Name those Villagers.


From Stephen Simons, owner of the Khyber:

The standard deal for locals with no past history is that they split 90% of the door after $200. The $200 covers the doorman, the soundguy, advertising and hospitality (generally 3 drinks per band member). This means that on a good Tuesday night, the bands will make $50-100, but on most Tuesday nights, they'll get either nothing or maybe $12. We have had nights where only 5 people pay and it would have been much better to just be closed.

Larger locals and most touring acts will get a guarantee. Those deals generally work like this.
Headliner - $500 (This number varies wildly, but I don't think it's ever been higher than $2,000 at Khyber)
Opener who the headliner is touring with - $100
Local opener - $100
Local opener - $50

Then the headliner will get an additional 85% after costs. Touring bands generally also get $10 per band member as per diem.

CDO Writedowns

From CNBC, an estimate of major financial institutions' coming write-downs due to exposure to collateralized debt obligation shitpiles.

Bear Stearns: $3.2 billion
Lehman Brothers: $3.9b
Merrill Lynch: $9.4b
Goldman Sachs: $5.1b
Morgan Stanley: $3.8b

(source: Credit Sights)

A billion here, a billion there...

Wankers of the Day

The Bush Dogs.


In total, 2284 people gave $101,665 to Donna Edwards over the past week, with a bit under $14,000 coming from Atriots.



Last night I dreamed that I met the good Roger Ailes and gave a speech about a blogger fantasy football league and its importance in the early development of the liberal blogosphere, during which dozens of people killed each other at a bar neighboring the speech for reasons I do not remember. Oh, and Michael Gerson was there.

Americans View the World

CNBC bobbleheads:

#1: Sort of a cruel irony that all of that oil is in so many places that are either hostile or unstable or whatever.

#2: And we're such happy and willing buyers. I don't understand why there's not more accomodation to us.

Economics of Touring

Something I don't know anything about. When bands hit small bars/clubs (100-300ish capacity), what do the bands get paid?

...I suppose my basic question was whether there was a fairly standard "percentage of the take (either door or door&bar)" or if it varied wildly. Judging by answers, it varies wildly.

What Are They For Again?

Bands needed record labels for marketing and distribution. The old models for both of those things are dying.


Yes, Robert Samuelson is the kind of economic wingnut who really doesn't like it when prosperity is broadly shared and is quite excited by the prospect of the masses having their wings clipped a bit.

And newspaper people wonder why their circulations are declining. "Smile - you'll be poorer soon!" is not a message that resonates with most people.


A Canadian dollar now costs $1.10.


There's a certain kind of behavior that I've come to think of as "Beltway stupid".

Not Atrios

So Close

Not sure of the exact number, but we're about $1500 or so away from reaching our goal of raising $100k for Donna Edwards since last Wednesday.

You wouldn't want to be left out, would you.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

VA Blue

It appears the Dems have taken the state Senate in VA.


The power company is probably gonna shut off my electricity for a couple of hours tomorrow morning, so there may be no new blog for you until it turns back on or I manage to haul myself to a coffee shop.

Wingnut Fight


Bye Ernie

Steve Beshear gonna win in Kentucky.

...ooops, attaturk already told you that. Maybe I should read my own blog once in awhile.

Evening Thread

Comment liberally.

Looks like Kentucky has a Democratic Governor...and Mitch McConnell has reason to be real nervous.

False Confessions

They've always been the point of torture, and always will be.

In a CIA sub-station close to al Libi's jail cell, the CIA's "debriefers," who had been talking to al Libi for days after his return from Cairo, were typing out a series of operational cables to be sent Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 to the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va. In the view of some insiders, these cables provide the "smoking gun" on the whole rendition program -- a convincing account of how the rendition program was, they say, illegally sending prisoners into the hands of torturers.

Under torture after his rendition to Egypt, al Libi had provided a confession of how Saddam Hussein had been training al Qaeda in chemical weapons. This evidence was used by Colin Powell at the United Nations a year earlier (February 2003) to justify the war in Iraq. ("I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al Qaeda," Powell said. "Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story.")

But now, hearing how the information was obtained, the CIA was soon to retract all this intelligence. A Feb. 5 cable records that al Libi was told by a "foreign government service" (Egypt) that: "the next topic was al-Qa'ida's connections with Iraq...This was a subject about which he said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story."

Al Libi indicated that his interrogators did not like his responses and then "placed him in a small box approximately 50cm X 50cm [20 inches x 20 inches]." He claimed he was held in the box for approximately 17 hours. When he was let out of the box, al Libi claims that he was given a last opportunity to "tell the truth." When al Libi did not satisfy the interrogator, al Libi claimed that "he was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and he fell on his back." Al Libi told CIA debriefers that he then "was punched for 15 minutes." (Sourced to CIA cable, Feb. 5, 2004).

Here was a cable then that informed Washington that one of the key pieces of evidence for the Iraq war -- the al Qaeda/Iraq link -- was not only false but extracted by effectively burying a prisoner alive.

Now I'm really off to drink liberally.

Evening Thread

Off to drink liberally.

Prosperity Republicans

The Democrats do need to offer something to these people.

The national downturn in the housing market has arrived in Loudoun County, a once-largely rural area on the western fringes of Washington that has become one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States. In addition to the economic effect, it's stirring anxiety and discontent that have begun to change the climate in which people consider politics -- especially some Republicans.

"I used to consider myself a Republican, but now I consider myself an independent," Schroeder said.

The shift is not confined to one county in the mid-Atlantic region. Similar rumblings of discontent can be heard among GOP voters in fast-growing areas across the country that are being hit by the housing crunch, including parts of Florida and Nevada.

For Republican strategists, the change is particularly troubling because, as recently as 2004, high-growth exurban areas like Loudoun County were fertile ground for GOP organizers, who rallied conservative volunteers from churches and community groups to turn out new voters. It was primarily in such areas that Republican strategists beat Democrats at their own game -- registration and voter turnout.

Better Villagers

Getting close to the 100K goal Donna Edwards....

You can help.

Deep Thought of the Day

It is unlikely that the media would regularly refer to a President Hillary Clinton as "the commander in chief."

The Village

Yes they're a laughingstock, because they run the goddamn world and they act like 7th graders.


Brian K. Vaughan gives his views.

Buy a comic, support the strike.

Afternoon Thread

Get this damn cat off my lap.

Bush Beats Nixon!!!



Somewhat interesting following the WGA strike. Go writers!

...bit more from Jane Espenson.


It really is depressing that the Democrats are incapable of leading on issues even when the polls tell them it's ok.

Every time Mr. 24% tell them they "must do something" they should get on the teevee and laugh and laugh and laugh at the incompetent manchild who the country hates.

CA Budget

I've lost my knowledge of the structure of California public financing, but it's fascinating how they're always about 3 days away from a budget crisis.

In more general terms, it really is the case that at some point Democratic politicians are going to have to show some leadership and overturn the state of political discourse in this country. Barraged with local campaign ads from Philly burbs in PA and NJ and aside from the fact that everybody's opponent is a corrupt liar, they all increased taxes which is The Most Evil Thing Evah.

At some point Dems are going to have to make the case that the government is good at some stuff, that those public services people want and need actually cost money, and some times you need to raise taxes to pay for that stuff.

Just What Are They Paid For

Dean Baker:

The Financial Times reports that several market analysts now think that the fallout from bad mortgage debt will continue for some time and be much worse than they had expected. Given that these people are paid very high salaries to understand these markets, it would be worth asking why they apparently got this one so badly wrong. It would also be a very good story to report on the extent to which these high priced experts suffer any professional consequences as a result of such a costly mistake.

Tired of Being Castrated

It is true that de Beste was a real foundational figure of the conservative blogosphere's basic worldview. And his ideas travelled. From 2004:

I spent this morning at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace attending a conference on the future of American foreign policy co-sponsored by CEIP and the New America Foundation. It was, in short, a serious gathering of serious people. Until, that is, one panelist said that one good way to think about the Euro-American divide was to consider the rise of "transnational progressivism," a term he first heard "on the Internet," in recent years. Someone call Harold Bloom!

Who Are These People?

We are ruled by the worst people in America.


I'm supposed to vote today. Aside from voting against retaining Judge Teresa Carr Deni, any local people have any insights about those few down ballot races which actually matter but about which I know little?

Almost everything important was already decided in the primary, but there are judges to be voted on. Locally the suburban races are a bit more interesting, with Democrats potentially (I'll bet against, happy to be wrong) taking some power there for the first time in a long time.


Almost forgot about that war.

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed 90 people and wounded 50 on Tuesday in an attack on a delegation of visiting parliamentarians in the northern Afghan town of Baghlan, the director of the local hospital said.


Five parliamentarians, including opposition spokesman Mostafa Kazemi, were among those killed, the provincial governor said. Baghlan's intelligence chief, Abdurrahman Sayedkhail, said the number of casualties was so high it was impossible to give an accurate number for now.

Morning Thread

Dear Chuck Schumer,

You don't represent me and you have absolutely no moral standing with me.

Molly I.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Wanker of the Day

America's Worst Journalist Mark Halperin.

The Funny and the Not Funny

Gavin at Sadly No has a tale to tell, about perhaps the most despicable Freeper ever.

Go to the Weblog Awards page and vote against this creep, either for SN or Jon, who do make with the funny, or, well, anyone else but the DUFunnies asshole. It would make him cry, and that is a Good Thing...

... almost as importantly, Hec reminds us that if you live in Virginia, get to the polls tomorrow.

Evening Thread



Thanks for finally listening, but not quite what I had in mind...

The Half-Life of Republican Empathy

We've all observed that a key feature of Republicans is their inability to feel empathy about an issue until it hits them directly. Every now and then you'll see a Republican holding a uncharacteristic viewpoint on something suggesting they might have a heart, and then you find out it's because some relative or other closely connected person (him or herself) was afflicted with the condition in question.

Now we know that empathy decays rather quickly.

At a packed and emotional news conference in May 2000, in which he announced he was dropping out of the race for the U.S. Senate as a result of his illness, Giuliani admitted to suddenly seeing the world very differently. He said his illness had changed him and that he wanted to reach out to minority groups and the poor. Most important, he said, he had newfound respect, understanding, and empathy for the city's uninsured. It seems Giuliani couldn't feel people's pain until he, well—literally—felt people's pain. But once he had, he stated that extending health insurance coverage to more of the city's uninsured was his top goal for his remaining 18 months in office. ''One of the things that I felt from the beginning of [my illness] and continue to feel is a tremendous sense of compassion for the people that have to make decisions like this alone," he explained. "One of the things maybe that I can do is figure out how we accelerate making sure that people are covered."

A couple of weeks later, Giuliani made good on his promise. He reversed his administration's earlier position, which sought to limit government involvement in addressing the problem of the city's uninsured—especially children. Giuliani announced he was tripling his administration's financial support for a program called Health Stat, which would aggressively recruit greater numbers of uninsured children for coverage under two existing government-run programs: Medicaid and Child Health Plus.

In other words, in the immediate wake of his own cancer diagnosis, Mayor Giuliani embraced government-run health insurance, or what candidate Giuliani now calls "socialized medicine," and explicitly tied his change of heart, in deeply personal and emotional terms, to his own experience as a prostate cancer patient. When asked what the tripling of Health Stat would cost, Mayor Giuliani replied he didn't know, but acknowledged it would be "a good deal of money." (One estimate at the time put the cost to the city over four years at roughly $390 million.) His message was clear: He didn't care what it cost, because it was the right thing to do, and he hoped New York would become "a model for the rest of the country."

How fast things change.

Ron Paulmania

$2.2 million in one day...

This is a phenomenon I do not understand, but it isn't getting nearly as much news coverage as it deserves.


Dukestir briber goes down on all 13 counts.


The political donations of Dick Parsons' apparent successor (all Democrats in the past few cycles) are a bit of an improvement. Who knows, maybe he'll put a real live liberal on the teevee.

I Don't Always Understand Business News

I was an academic economist and so all of this business stuff is a bit confusing sometimes. CNBC chyron just now:


Afternoon Thread

Wide tranche edition.

And For An Even Happier Take

Here's Roubini.

Short version: even to the extent that there are market signals of the actual appropriate valuations - the ABX indices - of these piles of shit, the major financial entities aren't using them and are way overvaluing said shitpiles.

Level 3 Assets

Citigroup has a lot of them.

I haven't quite managed to get my brain around this completely, but in all of this there seems to be this inability to understand the difference between accounting and reality. Obviously crooked accounting can be used to obscure reality, and sometimes the norms of accounting might not provide an accurate picture of reality even if there's no deception intended, but nonetheless there is some underlying reality there.

I guess the point is that the inability to put reasonable estimates on the value of this stuff isn't simply due to an inability to account for them accurately due to the fact that they don't trade enough to have a genuine market price. Whoever loaded up on these piles of shit should have some knowledge of just what is contained in them. Even if the "market" isn't much interested in trading in these things because there's a lack of transparency, someone should be able to make a reasonable guess about what kind of revenue streams can be reasonably expected from them.

Unless, of course, no one has any clue what these pieces of paper represent. And that seems to be where we are.

Bank Accounts and Drivers' Licenses

The basic issue is that it is stupid to set DMV's up as immigration enforcement centers, and if you're not going to do that then it makes complete sense to give illegal immigrants drivers licenses.

I'm reminded of how Lou Dobbs blows a gasket every time he hears that an illegal immigrant might get a bank account. Why this is I have no idea. Getting a bank account isn't actually any different than getting a cup of coffee at a Starbucks. You're just contracting with a bank for a set of financial services they'll perform, including storing your money for you. It's an utterly mundane part of our economy. There's zero reason that whether their customers meet residency or citizenship requirements should be of any more concern to the bank than it should be to Starbucks. And given the fluid nature of immigration status it's even more absurd. One can open a bank account while, say, on a temporary student visa and still hold on to that account after the student visa expires and you leave the country. Given the wonders of international commerce and the internets, you can still access your bank account from abroad in various ways even if you haven't overstayed your visa.

Bonus Points for Slummy Joe Reference

From an Edwards release:
There’s no doubt that Iran is an extremely dangerous country. Iran supports terrorist and insurgent activity, threatens Israel, rejects U.N. Security Council resolutions, and appears to be trying to produce fuel for a nuclear bomb. We should take Iran very seriously. As commander-in-chief, if John Edwards ever learned that any nation, including Iran, is threatening an imminent attack, he will do what’s necessary to protect America. But there is one thing Edwards believes must not be done—and that is to make America less safe by launching another so-called “preventive war,” when the U.S. and the community of nations possess a strong arsenal of diplomatic and economic options that have not yet been used.

George Bush’s “preventive war” doctrine was crafted by a radical group of neoconservative Bush administration aides. The doctrine holds that America should shoot first and only ask questions later. It rejects the historic grounding principle of America’s national security policy, which is that military force should always be an option of last resort. This radical doctrine was a stunning departure from the policy that kept America safe during both World Wars and during the Cold War. The doctrine led directly to the disastrous war in Iraq and is driving the Bush-Cheney approach today to Iran, including Senator Joe Lieberman’s resolution declaring Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

As I wrote once, channeling a bit of wisdom is that seems to have been lost... War is bad.

A Landslide Democratic Victory Would be Good News For Republicans

The optimistic Bowers:

A massive Democratic wave in 2008 could spell the end of "Democrats need to do X in order to win" literature for the foreseeable future. The electoral difficulties that Democrats have had to live with for a few decades now would be over, and the first, solid, post-civil war "natural" Democratic majority without the remnants of the "solid south" would be achieved.

I think we've had a generation of a political-media-industrial class which has been completely infused with a narrative of Republicans are ascendant/Democrats are in decline. I'm not sure anything can dislodge this mindset.

I say political-media because it isn't just an issue with the media. Democrats and people who claim to speak for them are to blame for this is well. But I'm not optimistic that Democrats achieving a far greater advantage in Congress than Republicans ever managed to do would kill off this zombie narrative.

It's also clear that there are factions that are very wedded to the "what Democrats need to do" literature because they're interested not in simply winning elections but in remaking the Democratic party in their image. For some the 2006 election win was premature as the Democrats won without massively repositioning themselves, proving it was possible.

Second Deep Thought of the Day

Yes, everyone's expressed this one already, but it is just rather shocking how your modern American conservative movement, especially one whose online contingent is populated by so many glibertarians, is defined by its support for torture and the right of state to imprison you indefinitely without charges and spy on you without warrants.

I certainly had a dim view of conservatism, the Republican party, and George W. Bush in the year 2000 but I wouldn't have thought that this was where we'd be 7 years later.

Deep Thought of the Day

Nobody could have predicted that it might not be such a good thing if the issuers of loans have little incentive to issue good loans.


As Yglesias says, liberal politicians need to start advocating liberal policies with liberal arguments.

It isn't just foreign policy. One gets the sense they've been in crouch position since 1995. One would've thought 2006 would have changed that.

Oh well. Maybe next time.


Rock on.


Exciting stuff in Asia!!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Thread




NEW YORK (AP) -- Citigroup Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Charles Prince, beset by the banking company's billions of dollars in losses from investing in bad debt, reportedly agreed to resign Sunday, and was being replaced as chairman by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.


The Journal said Citi would also be announcing that it would take an additional $8 billion to $11 billion in writedowns. It has already said it was writing down $6.5 billion in assets.

America's Sheriff

And another corrupt asshole goes down...

Daylight Savings Forever

Early sunset sucks.

Where We Are

The media treatment of the Clintons gives us a reminder of how things were and how they inevitably will be again.


One of those days. I got nuthin', but I'm sure somewhere someone has a very important post about biofuels which you should go read.

A Couple Swings Of The Axe On The Way Out

Slightly amusing, though even in the absence of deliberate damage simply leaving a place - yard, pool, etc... - unattended for even a realtively short amount of time can degrade a property pretty fast. A few like that on the block and pretty soon it... looks like my neighorhood only suburban.

As many as 25 percent of Las Vegas' bank-foreclosed homes suffer intentional damage, according to an informal R-J survey of valley appraisers and real estate agents. According to Thomas Blanchard, owner/broker of First Realty Group, this damage -- most of which is inflicted in the four to 12 months between the notice of default and the constable's knock at the door -- typically requires $3,000 to $10,000 to repair. However, it can approach or exceed 10 percent of a home's total value.

(via CR)

In Praise of Cheeseheads

Feingold to Oppose Mukasey

--Molly I.

Frederick of Hollywood

For no particular reason I'm reposting the set of questions asked by the liberal Margaret Carlson of Fred Thompson when he left the Senate.

CARLSON: Senator Thompson, let me ask you the sad question first. Why are you leaving us?

CARLSON: And you didn't even -- you didn't even run on term limits, and you just went into the sunset.

CARLSON: What's the tipping point in a Washington scandal?

CARLSON: Many of us in the press and many of your colleagues thought you would run for president. Your good friend, John McCain, did. You never did. Why not? And will you ever?

CARLSON: Friendship's never stopped any ambitions in Washington.

CARLSON: You were too tall...

CARLSON: Now, who are you going to miss in the Senate?

CARLSON: You can have a club.

CARLSON: Any Democrats?

CARLSON: I hold the record for watching "Law and Order," reruns in particular!

CARLSON: So I know that...

CARLSON: I've been -- I've caught a few of the ones that you're now in. Are the writers accommodating a loquacious ex-senator?

CARLSON: And you would filibuster anyway.

CARLSON: Well, now that you're in that life, you're kind of a Hollywood actor, maybe your foreign policy views will be taken seriously.

Are you and Sean Penn -- are you going to join...

CARLSON: Oh. Are you going to join Sean Penn in Baghdad?

The Village.

Join Us

The more the merrier.

Nationwide, citizenship applications also increased in August and September compared with last year, according to new figures from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The applications are on track to surpass the 1-million mark, a milestone reached only twice in the last century -- both times in the mid-1990s. That's when many illegal immigrants who received amnesty in the 1980s became eligible for citizenship, and a political backlash against them motivated many to apply.

Wanker of the Day

Maureen Dowd.

Worst Blog Posts

I really don't know how these people still manage to get out of bed in the morning.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

Guest lineup for the Sunday TV news shows:


ABC's "This Week" — Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., Mark Penn, chief strategist for Sen. Hillary Clinton campaign.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Mideast peace envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

"Fox News Sunday" _ Former President George H.W. Bush.

Morning Thread

G'morning, kids.

--Molly I.


If this blog is a rockin' don't come a knockin'.

Very Late Nite