Saturday, January 05, 2008


Apparently Time brought Michael Scherer on board so he could write parodies of his colleagues.

At least that's the only charitable explanation I can come up with...


I think it's perfectly disgusting how the Republicans are playing identity politics by pandering to the horrible decrepit paranoid old white guy vote.

More Thread

I hear there are some debates on.

I Can't Read All The Internets At Once

Occasional reminder that I can't read every blog out there. It's quite possible there is something awesome on your blog that I would be interested in and that should have a wider airing. The best way to bring it to my attention is send a polite email with a link to the specific post and either a good summary or the post itself in the email.

Fresh Thread



So awesome.

A number of people shouted falafel, the word O'Reilly used in a racy set of telephone conversations with a young woman he was trying to seduce as he described a shower they might take together. He meant loofa, which is not a Middle Eastern delicacy but a bath item.


Hertzberg covers the Bush-McCain-Lieberman Iraq strategy:

But what the context shows, I think, is that yanking that sound bite out of context isn’t really all that unfair. McCain wants to stay in Iraq until no more Americans are getting killed, no matter how long it takes and how many Americans get killed achieving that goal—that is, the goal of not getting any more Americans killed. And once that goal is achieved, we'll stay.
[I fixed a typo]

Faux News

It was never clear to me if it was just Fox or if the NH Gop was also opposed to having Ron Paul in the debate. Now we know - it's just Fox.


Shoves Obama staffer.

Tase him, bro!

Going Dark On The Primary

Because spending to much time thinking about it causes one to start writing endless horserace posts which make this blog even suckier than normal, I will not write another word about the primary until the polls close on Tuesday in New Hampshire.*

Though I will leave on prediction: the decisive vote, the one which will decide the outcome, will be cast by me in the April 20 Pennsylvania primary.

*adding that commenting on stupid media coverage of the primary is still allowed.

This Is Excellent News For John McCain

Except the first post-Iowa poll has him down 2 points.

Never occurred to any of our elite bobbleheads that if Huckabee's victory helped him in Iowa that he might take away votes from Saint McCain.

Of course this kind of poll movement is small enough to be meaningless, but so far there's no evidence of McCain's 4th place showing in Iowa being good news for John McCain.

Not Real Unless It Happens In The Burbs


Some of Greater Boston’s most exclusive residential enclaves are seeing a startling spike in foreclosure activity.

Wellesley, Weston, Sudbury and Newton in MetroWest, one of the nation’s wealthiest suburban clusters, all saw big increases last year in foreclosure filings, statistics from the Warren Group show.

There's a pretty map at the link.

Negro Uprising

Aside from the racism, the real issue is that the breakdown of civil society is the perpetual wet dream of gun nut glibertarians like Reynolds. They imagine themselves guarding their horde of HDTVs and digital cameras with their penis extenders gun stash, heroically shooting the "bad guys."


Rock on.

Liberal Intellectuals

Next thing you know we'll be hearing that he hangs out with Jews.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Things Are What You Make Of Them [.mp3].

Fox Propaganda

As is often the case, it goes without saying that if some other supposedly liberal (but not really) news network had done something similar - like, say, excluding candidate Joe Lieberman from a debate - that there would be much more media outrage. Howie?

Stop It

There really are more important things than baseball.

Evening Thread

Tell steve your favorite novelty songs!

Here's one of mine:

--Molly I.


As I said before you can't get too excited about one month of data. Still there are some other ominous signs. Contrary to common misperception, the BLS does actually derive a variety of measures of unemployment. The "standard one," and the one the press pays attention to, is U-3, but there are others. The broadest measure, U-6, has been slowly inching up throughout the year, and jumped along with the U-3 jump this month. Weekly new jobless claims rose in recent months, and continuing claims are also going up.

Not enough to quite call a trend, though if the unemployment rate creeps up next month or if there's another bad jobs number I'd say it's time.


Another exciting day on Wall Street.

Shock Doctrine

Crises do provide opportunities. People are offering to deal with trash-outs, foreclosed homes trashed by their owners as they were on the way out.

Trust Me

In all my dealings with Obama people, as well as the man himself, there's always been this sense that they're constantly telling people, "Trust us. We've thought this through. We know what we're doing. It'll work. Yes we understand that you're uncomfortable with this, or that you think it's wrong, but really we know what we're doing."

And then those of us in the cheap seats think that there's no way all of those new/young voters show up to vote in Iowa, that Obama's inclusive rhetoric doesn't have the appeal he imagines, etc.. etc... And then he pulls it off. Maybe he does know what he's doing.

Now You See It

Now you don't.

Springfield's multimillion investment was supposed to represent a new chapter in the city's beleaguered financial history. After years of financial woes, city officials tightened expenditures and in the last two years began generating surpluses, some of it invested through Merrill Lynch.

The investments, backed by home loans, plummeted in value amid the ongoing subprime mortgage disaster. Worth nearly $14 million last year, Springfield's investment today is worth just $1.2 million.

Springfield officials have blamed Merrill Lynch, saying the Delaware-based financial firm improperly invested city funds in risky instruments.

Speaking of Agendas

Will all the media people who swooned over McCain saying that negative ads don't work last night notice that he's... running a negative ad.

All signs point to no.

Worthless Chatter

The point isn't that pundits make incorrect predictions, the point is that there's such an aligned conventional wisdom among our elite chatterers which doesn't simply reflect what they believe to be true, but also tends to push a particular agenda.

Where's Fred?

I know the media are busy fluffing 6-way tie for first John McCain, but doesn't Fred deserve a little attention?

Let's See It

I disagree with Tristero. There's a segment of the US population whose views and attitudes have long been laundered and whitewashed through the pens of elite Beltway scribes. For a brief moment - during the Schiavo circus - when the country got a slight peek at this group they weren't amused.

And of course not all Huckabee voters really are a part of the group I'm talking about. Some simply responded to a charismatic speaker who talked about change. But it's time for the hard core group to have their moment in the sun.

Corn-Sucking Idiots

This is so much fun.


Here's some more on the latest job numbers. Employment has sort of been limping along for the last few months, and while one shouldn't make too much out of a single month of data, the latest numbers certainly suggest that the bad times are coming. Roubini's characterisitically pessimistic, but he's been pretty right - if slightly premature - about things so far.

Until now soft landing optimists could dismiss other recessionary signals in the economy – a much worsening housing recession, faltering capex spending by the corporate sector, a severe liquidity and credit crunch, oil at $100, forward looking indicators of supply (ISM) showing contraction, a weakened consumer that was saving-less and debt burdened – based on the argument that as long as there was job generation the consumer would keep on spending and – with consumption being 72% of aggregate demand – a recession could be thus avoided.

Until now the US consumer had negative savings, was debt burdened and was being buffeted by many shocks: falling home values, falling home equity withdrawal, rising debt servicing given resetting ARMs, rising delinquencies on mortgages, credit cards and auto loans, falling consumer confidence, high and rising gasoline prices and, more recently, falling stock market wealth. But as long as income and jobs were generated at a satisfactory rate the optimists argued that all these shocks did not matter as the consumer would keep on consuming. But the dismal employment report today – 18K jobs created, private jobs falling by 13K and unemployment rate up to 5% from 4.7% - confirms that even job and income generation is now faltering making a recession an almost sure outcome.

David Lereah


Republican Disarray

If I got all my news from MSNBC I'd be really impressed by the fact that McCain was in a 5-way tie for 2nd place.

Good Speech

Indeed it was.

I try not to get sucked in too much by good speechifying - recognizing that it's more a candidate skill than a presidenting skill. Still a good speech is a good speech.

Big Turnout

I've been rolling my eyes over the last few weeks over all the media paeans to the "die had" Iowans who take their democracy oh so seriously despite the fact that few of them usually bother to show up.

It appears those nice Midwestern folks actually showed up this time.


Damn. Forgot to make my bet, so you'll just have to trust me.

The unders win.

U.S. employers added a scant 18,000 jobs in December and the national unemployment rate kicked up to five percent, its highest in more than two years, according to a government report on Friday that underlined the economy's rapidly slowing momentum.

The Labor Department said December's pace of job creation was the weakest since August 2003 when 42,000 jobs were cut. It was far below the median estimate of analysts surveyed by Reuters who had forecast that 70,000 non-farm jobs would be added last month.

The unemployment rate jumped to 5 percent, its highest since it matched that rate in November 2005, from 4.7 percent in November.

The department said that for all of 2007, payroll employment growth averaged 111,000 a month, down from 189,000 a month in 2006. President George W. Bush told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that he was considering a stimulus package to shore up a struggling economy but had not made any decisions.

Yay! More tax cuts for rich people!

Morning Thread

So, did something happen yesterday?

Adding: Are there really no editors at the New York Times? "'We’ve learned that people really are more important then the purse,' he said." Grr.

--Molly I.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tears of a Tagg

Dad blew his inheritance.

Mitt's a Dork

Despite the chin of colossus and shoulders you can land an airplane on... Mitt's basically a big doofus.



Dear Duncan,

I count the past year of campaigning for the presidency as one of the most rewarding in a career of public service.

Unfortunately, I am withdrawing from that campaign tonight.

But there is no reason to hang our heads this evening -- only the opportunity to look towards a continuation of the work we started last January: ending the Iraq War, restoring the Constitution, and putting a Democrat in the White House.

I know a lot of you came to this email list through a shared desire to return our nation to one that respects the rule of law, and I want to make one thing clear to all of you:

The fight to restore the Constitution and stop retroactive immunity does not end with my Presidential campaign. FISA will come back in a few weeks and my pledge to filibuster ANY bill that includes retroactive immunity remains operative.

You've been an invaluable ally in the battle, and I'll need you to stick by my side despite tonight's caucus results.

So, one more time, thank you for all of your efforts throughout the course of this entire Presidential campaign.

We made a real difference in shaping the debate, and we'll continue to do so in the coming days, weeks and years.

I'll never forget you, and what we've fought for, together, over the past year.

Chris Dodd

...Biden's out, too.

Chuck Norris Fact

Chuck Norris has very white teeth.

...Blitzer: "Tight three-way..."

This Is Excellent News For John McCain

It always is.

The Kids Are Alright

Well I'm a bad pundit. I figured it'd be basically a tie with 1) Edwards 2) Obama 3) Clinton. I figured Obama's younger voters wouldn't come out, and Edwards' rural voters would. No actual numbers, but buzz is that the younger voters showed up.

...John Edwards is very angry.. YEEAAAARGGGH



Senator Barack Obama : 36.68%
Senator John Edwards : 30.24%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 29.99%
Governor Bill Richardson : 2.01%
Senator Joe Biden : 0.94%
Uncommitted : 0.11%
Senator Chris Dodd : 0.03%
Precincts Reporting: 1487 of 1781
(Percentages are State Delegate Equivalents.)


Huckabee 34%
Romney 25%
Thompson 14%
McCain 13%
Paul 10%
Giuliani 4%

...Blitzer turns to the 2nd most important person of the evening, #6 Rudy Giuliani!

...Cafferty: He's [Obama] articulate...

More Results


Senator Barack Obama : 34.99%
Senator John Edwards : 31.26%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 30.96%
Governor Bill Richardson : 1.70%
Senator Joe Biden : 0.95%
Uncommitted : 0.11%
Senator Chris Dodd : 0.03%
Precincts Reporting: 1212 of 1781
(Percentages are State Delegate Equivalents.)


Huckabee 31%
Romney 23%
Thompson 13%
McCain 12%
Giuliani 11%
Paul 10%

...Blizter cuts to the most important man of the night... #4 John McCain, live from New Hampshire!

...Blitzer calls it for Obama. Presumably will shortly tell us how this is good news for John McCain.

...Albino Turd Bill Bennett, bringing up race, praises Obama for not bringing up race.

...CNN's having vote counting problems. Giuliani went from having a bunch of votes to... not. Now they say:

Huckabee 34%
Romney 25%
Thompson 14%
McCain 13%
Paul 10%
Giuiliani 4%


Gloria Borger

I spoke with a Republican strategist who is unaffiliated but is contact with every campaign and he's very upset about Huckabee's win. He said look, this is the right kind of state, the right kind of structure, large evangelical community. But this is a quote. He said, "This is the equivalent of Pat Robertson winning. The idea that Huckabee could mount a credible general election campaign is laughable."

This is the establishment Republican party speaking right now.

I'm shocked that Gloria Borger could find an "unaffiliated" strategist who hates Huckabee but is authorized to speak for "the establishment Republican party."


Senator Barack Obama : 33.50%
Senator John Edwards : 32.04%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 31.71%
Governor Bill Richardson : 1.73%
Senator Joe Biden : 0.93%
Senator Chris Dodd : 0.06%
Uncommitted : 0.04%
Precincts Reporting: 784 of 1781
(Percentages are State Delegate Equivalents.)


Huckabee 35%
Romney 24%
Thompson 14%
McCain 12%
Paul 11%

...Funny, CNN included Richardson in the Democrats' pie chart with his 2%, and left Ron Paul off the Republicans' pie chart with... 11%.

...Fluffer John King: John McCain is one of the ones "doing the best" in the campaign.

...Donna Brazille: "This must be good news for John McCain." the SammyCam

More Results


Senator John Edwards : 33.06%
Senator Barack Obama : 32.20%
Senator Hillary Clinton : 32.14%
Governor Bill Richardson : 1.78%
Senator Joe Biden : 0.70%
Senator Chris Dodd : 0.08%
Uncommitted : 0.04%
Precincts Reporting: 433 of 1781
(Percentages are State Delegate Equivalents.)

Huckabee 36%
Romney 23%
Thompson 15%
McCain 12%

...CNN calls it for Schmidt Huckabee


Here they are...

...Bill Bennett just told me how nice it is that in Iowa, unlike Pakistan, people aren't killing each other.

...Blizter: "it's a 3-man... I should say 3-person... race at this point." What a tool.

"Countdown To Caucuses"

Could someone tell CNN that while the Republican caucuses are indeed 1:35 from now, the Democratic caucuses start in 65 minutes?

Horror Show

Digby has more on the horror show of Village discourse.

So Absurd


MATTHEWS: I think in terms of world news, it's the second headline. Maybe it's the biggest news domestically. Because if you look at the numbers as they're shaping up, it looks to me like even if Hillary Clinton does manage to squeak it tonight -- I don't think she will -- she's been rejected here in Iowa by two-thirds of the Democratic Party. She is lucky to get 33 percent.


And after all that knowledge, we say, by 2-to-1, no. I mean, I'm talking about the Democratic Party participants in the caucuses tonight. That's a resounding rejection if she only gets, like, a low 30 percent. Very resounding.

So if Hillary gets 33 percent "she's been rejected here in Iowa by two-thirds of the Democratic Party."

What of Saint McCain?

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you -- let me ask you this about the John McCain. Andrea [Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent], you first. John McCain looks like he might be in the position that Gary Hart was in back in '84. Get a high percentage, a teen number, say, poll 18 tomorrow night and be the big hero tomorrow night?

If McCain is rejected by 82% of caucusgoers he's a "big hero."

Tweety just repeated the Clinton/two thirds crap on Hardball just now.


Over there.

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Three US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, the US military announced on Thursday, making them the first American casualties of the new year.

A military statement said two soldiers were killed in a small-arms fire attack while conducting operations in Diyala province on Thursday. Another soldier was wounded.

Fredmentum II: Electric Boogaloo

January 3rd, 2008, Fred gets the much coveted Jim Robinson endorsement.

Jim Robinson, founder of Free Republic has endorsed Fred. Here’s part of his endorsement:

With Fred, we know we’re getting a solid, no-nonsense, commonsense pro life and liberty conservative who will defend the nation, secure the borders, defend the constitution, appoint originalist judges, defend the Bush tax cuts, work to simplify and flatten the tax code, keep social security solvent while providing alternative private accounts, reduce government and spending, and work to return states issues to the states. Imagine that.

In fact, he comes closest to being the conservative leader I’ve been praying for all these years. I don’t know about you, but I think it would be great to be able to enthusiastically support and work for a true conservative candidate whose principles and convictions match so many of my own.


Such fun. I can't find it now, but someone recently wrote something to the effect of "I can't wait until Thompson drops out and endorses McCain and will be put on suicide watch."

Justified Racism

I recently chatted with someone very concerned about immigration. But he didn't really have anything against immigrants - he was married to one! though one from one of those light-skinned places - but he was very worried about the *bad* immigrants. We had to find away to get rid of the *bad* ones. *Bad* seemed to be some combination of crime/terrorism. It wasn't well-specified, and didn't really have any factual basis. Basically people don't like the other, are enlightened enough to realize that simply being racist is probably not so nice, so they convince themselves that there are Mexican Islamo-terrorists everywhere. In other words, their fear and hostility is completely justified in their minds so they aren't racists.


The voters described by Chris Hayes aren't the same as my "self-declared independents." Mine are kinda stupid, but they pay a bit more attention to politics. They're usually actually either Republicans or Democrats who are a bit more likely to vote for the other side based on personality or a single-issue fetish. They're narcissistic, imagining themselves to be the median voter and believing that politics should cater to them.

But the universe of The Grand Center includes Villagers, Chris Hayes' undecideds, and my self-described independents.

We're doomed.

What's Politics For

Stoller comments a bit more on the bipartisan/independent disease. It's a message the mainstream media - and many politicians - have been transmitting for years, that somehow politics is about finding ways to get along. It isn't. It's a contest to put people in power so they can enact a particular agenda. There isn't a "good" set of policies which would be implemented if only we stopped arguing. People argue because they disagree and because policies impact different people and sectors and interest groups in different ways.

There's nothing wrong with bipartisanship, and given the peculiar nature of our government and recent voting patterns it's often necessary to pass legislation. But it isn't a goal in and of itself. In fact, it isn't important at all except to the extent to which it enables things to happen.

People disagree about stuff. Grow up.

I Lied

Okay I'll predict:

Edwards, Obama, Clinton.
Huckabee, Romney, McCain.

I feel like a real pundit now!

Oh By The Way

Jeebus. After spending months focused on nothing but Iowa, all the cool kids are now telling us that it's stupid and sucky and we shouldn't pay too much attention to it.

It's all so absurd.

What To Do About The Independents

Since I'm not a politician I can say it: self-described independent voters tend to have that wonderful combination of arrogance and stupidity, along with a belief that the right politician will just wave his magic wand and the correctly colored pony will appear. They have little understanding of how politics works, and thinks that if someone says they'll just ride into Washington and get things done by bringing people together and making it happen, that this is in fact a stunningly new concept never before communicated by any other politicians. And a pony.

But some of them do vote, so what're you gonna do.

...people misinterpret. I'm not talking about everyone who fails to register for one of the two main parties, or people who sometimes vote for the candidate from the other party. I'm talking about "self-described independents," people who think their independence makes them somehow more objective and more wise than the rest of us and that the fact that they're perfectly positioned on the mythical political center means that they are correct on all things.


I didn't catch it all, but Howard Dean was on CNN a little while ago and he uttered a heresy when discussing policy issues, saying, "This stuff matters to people!" And, indeed, government policy does matter to people. It doesn't matter much to the Villagers, who see it all as a trifling amusement, an entertaining soap opera in which they get to have what they covet most, regular cameo appearances.

Your Candidate Sucks

Since I'm not sure I've made the obligatory "all the candidates are pretty good" post, consider it done here. They'll disappoint, of course, and be thwarted by assholes in their own party every time they try to do something good (if they win), but certainly we could do much worse.


In case you missed it, this is just awesome.


It seems that both Clinton and Edwards have to win double in Iowa or they lose.

It's so absurd.


Timothy Egan captures the Republican establishment horror over Huckabee pretty well.

Few of Huckabee’s critics have actually come out and said what many of them think. The language is coded, as it usually is with class and race in this country. The Wall Street Journal, the anti-tax jihadists at the Club For Growth, the National Review – these pillars of Old School Republicanism have signaled that Huckabee is Not One of Ours. But they’re careful to say it’s not about class, because, of course – it is!

Class war is forbidden in the Republican playbook. But Huckabee, despite an inept last week of campaigning, has forced the Republican party to face the Wal-Mart shoppers that they have long taken advantage of. He’s here. He’s Gomer. And he’s not going away.


It’s okay to have faux rubes, a la Bush senior and his pork rinds, or George W. and his Midland malapropisms. But when something that looks like the real thing comes along, the Republican royalists get apoplectic. They were appalled at the recent YouTube debate because it looked like a parody of one faction of their party – complete with Bible-waving wackos, trigger-happy gun nuts and Confederate-flag enthusiasts.

Onward to New Hampshire

Iowa's almost over, and even Dean Broder's happy. He prefers the white people in New Hampshire who are apparently more representative of... oh who the hell knows.

It's all so stupid.

I'll resist the temptation to make a prediction, though of course I know for sure what will happen and it will be exciting!!



Not Atrios

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fevered Anticipation

From Margaret Carlson, anyway.

DES MOINES, Iowa – Several Republican officials close to Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign said they expect the candidate will drop out of the race within days if he finishes poorly in Thursday’s Iowa caucus.

Thompson’s campaign, which last spring and summer was generating fevered anticipation in the media and with some Republican activists, has never ignited nationally, and there are no signs of a late spark happening here in Iowa, where even a third-place finish is far from assured. wolf? Can I haz job back?


Rock on.

Lucky Duckies

Not really.

The house, on which the couple made a down payment of $88,820, is empty. Their belongings are in storage. They live, unhappily, in a hotel.

“It’s very upsetting, not to be allowed in our own house,” said Ms. Costanzo, a Russian immigrant. “Please take our money and let us move in.”

Their builder is Levitt & Sons, a unit of the Levitt Corporation, which ran out of cash in October and declared bankruptcy in November. All work on this planned 460-home development for retirees, grandly named Seasons at Prince Creek West, has ceased. The Levitt employees were laid off, the subcontractors put down their tools, and the Costanzos found themselves in limbo.

The collapse of Levitt, the first big home builder to fail in the current slump, illustrates how the turmoil in real estate is spreading far beyond subprime borrowers who cannot pay their mortgages. Levitt had a fabled brand, decades of experience and enthusiastic customers with good credit, but none of that was enough to save it.

Village Power

A timely reminder.

Hence, candidate -- and media critic -- Howard Dean reacted with humor Tuesday in Milwaukee as journalists presented him with a long-sleeve white T-shirt. It carried the motto "Establishment Media" in front, and a slogan swiped from Dean in the back: "We Have the Power, Dean Press Corps 2004."

...I always liked the Welcome to the Jungle version.

Militant Gaiis

Just how do you stop the militant gays from changing "the cultural institutions of the country"?

Do you take away their guns?

So Fun Watching Them All Lose

I really can't tell which GOP loser I want to win because it's so much fun watching them get their asses kicked. I suppose the one I want to win least is McCain, because I hate it when the Villagers are happy.

More Thread

Rock on. (Chairs squeaking.)

Incoherent Unfocused Rage

Is always so entertaining.

(via booman)


Now this is more like it!

All Too Weird

I don't regret my decision to skip Iowa.

More War!

I admit I'm a bit disappointed for Rudy's call for more war. I think he wimped out a bit. I was hoping he'd put several more countries, or maybe even an entire ethnicity, in the crosshairs, and promise to take them all out if the good people of America chose to elect him.

And frankly it just might work.


The only major political issue that Juno and Knocked Up bring up is the fact that super liberal Hollywood doesn't make movies or teevee shows which feature characters who have abortions despite the fact that in reality, lots of women have abortions.

But otherwise both movies feature women who, upon getting pregnant, have autonomy over their bodies, and no one in either film suggests otherwise. The fact that they make the "choice" which makes abortion foes happy doesn't change the fact that the women were in control of that decision, not the state or the men in the lives.

mini-reviews: I liked Juno quite a bit. Didn't like Knocked Up.

Never Lost a Case

Marcy and looseheadprop have more. This Durham guy sounds serious at least, and I don't mean that in my usual snarky sense.

Outside Prosecutor

Not quite sure exactly what that means or how independent he really will be, but I suppose that's at least a little promising.

An investigation of this kind, relating to the CIA, would ordinarily
be conducted under the supervision of the United States Attorney for the
Eastern District of Virginia, the District in which the CIA headquarters
are located. However, in an abundance of caution and on the request of the
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in accordance
with Department of Justice policy, his office has been recused from the
investigation of this matter, in order to avoid any possible appearance of
a conflict with other matters handled by that office.

As a result, I have asked John Durham, the First Assistant United
States Attorney in the United States Attorney's Office for the District of
Connecticut, to serve as Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern
District of Virginia for purposes of this matter. Mr. Durham is a widely
respected and experienced career prosecutor who has supervised a wide range
of complex investigations in the past, and I am grateful to him for his
willingness to serve in this capacity. As the Acting United States Attorney
for purposes of this investigation, Mr. Durham will report to the Deputy
Attorney General, as do all United States Attorneys in the ordinary course.
I have also directed the FBI to conduct the investigation under Mr.
Durham's supervision.

Platinum Blonde

New and exciting crimes.

This holiday season has seen an explosion in thefts of expensive, platinum-laced catalytic converters from parked cars, and authorities report that high-clearance sport utility vehicles are the targets of choice for thieves.

With a common socket wrench and 90 seconds, they leave drivers stuck with cars that sound like Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and facing repair bills topping $1,000.


The prize is a catalytic converter, a device used to reduce emissions. Platinum is more valuable than gold, and the contents of a typical converter are worth $40 to $50 to scrap-metal dealers.

Do You Trust GOP Daddy Mukasey?

I don't. But just off the wires...

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey says the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the destruction of CIA interrogation videos.

Eschacon '08

Philadelphia. March 28-30.

Be there, or be square.


Oil hits $100, markets tanking.

Dumb Reasons

Adding that it's perfectly sensible that we all incorporate "dumb reasons" into our criteria for picking a candidate. A lot is unknown and unknowable about a candidate and what they'll do, and so we incorporate basic personality-related information into our decision process. But while we use that information to make our choice, those personality characteristics just aren't important in and of themselves. "The kind of guy you'd like to eat a muffin with" is information which might help you determine whether you trust a candidate to do what they claim they'll do once they get in office, but quality muffin eating time isn't an important skill for a president to have.

So, yes, candidate skills matter, but we shouldn't confuse candidate skills with presidenting skills.

Our Absurd System

Just making the obvious point here that being able to ad lib small talk about muffins in an Iowa diner is not actually an especially important skill for a president to have. Sadly, however, our media have convinced many voters that this is, in fact, what they should be looking for in a candidate.

People - and I include myself in this - make their choices for all sorts of dumb reasons, but our media helps to make people think that the dumb reasons are actually the things that matter.

Who Would Jesus Kill?

Yep, Huckabee's the modern Republican party personified.

Be Thankful

Indeed we should be thankful for Rudy's poll decline. Of course, it seems like every campaign except Huckabee's has been imploding recently so I suppose anybody could still win.

Watching some clips on the teevee, of all the pre-Huckabee Republican frontrunners, only McCain seems to have his heart in all the campaigning though he doesn't come across all that well. Romney does a wonderful job faking it, but you know he'd rather be anywhere other than in a diner talking about muffins. Rudy clearly hates the whole thing.


Over there.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A female suicide bomber killed 10 people in Iraq on Wednesday, the latest in a string of suicide bombings that has seen a major strike nearly every day of the past week despite an overall decline in violence.

The woman blew herself up with an explosive vest at a checkpoint of neighborhood patrol volunteers in Baquba, capital of the restive Diyala province. Twenty-eight people were wounded including some women, police said.

Morning Thread

So which has had more work done, the Huckabee gut or the Norris face?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Crazy John Edwards

Because those silly brown people need training!

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — John Edwards says that if elected president he would withdraw the American troops who are training the Iraqi army and police as part of a broader plan to remove virtually all American forces within 10 months.

Mr. Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina who is waging a populist campaign for the Democratic nomination, said that extending the American training effort in Iraq into the next presidency would require the deployment of tens of thousands of troops to provide logistical support and protect the advisers.

You know, I'll admit that despite the fact that I think "getting out" is the right approach I don't personally have some comprehensive foolproof plan to do so. On the other hand, I have no idea why almost 5 years later the most important mission in Iraq appears to involve remedial education.

Late Night

This one's for steve simels.

Evening Thread


Deep Thought

Saddam Hussein and Sauron - pretty much the same.


Indeed. And even the much talked about Democratic crackup, which either happened in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, or 1994 depending on which pundit is telling the story didn't exactly consign the party to the wilderness, even though many of the Villagers talk about it as if that's the case.

And it wasn't that long ago that pundits were seriously talking about the permanent Republican majority.

Things change.


Against the Democratic Party

In his own subtle way, running against the party - at least to the extent that it's part and parcel with the Village in general - has long been Obama's message. But he's also long been good at blurring just what that meant, wink wink nudge nudge suggesting he was running to its left even as he used rhetoric which suggested he was running as David Broder's love child.

From The Credit Where Credit Is Due File

Brooks leaves a lot unsaid, such as how we got to this point, but this is a pretty good column, even if it's part of the last-minute desperate effort to re-anoint St. McCain as the leader.

Romney was their empty suit until they realized he couldn't win. Then Frederick of Hollywood was their empty suit until they realized he was awful. So it's back to McCain.


Over there.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber blew himself up at a funeral in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 30 people and wounding 38 in one of the deadliest attacks in the capital in months, police said.


One thing I really hate are all the fake scandals about "outside money." Campaign finance laws are quite the tricky thing and whatever the intent behind them they do end up making it harder for some people to participate in the political process. And participation is a good thing. I don't mean this is a slam on Obama - all the candidates will play these games - but I thought this quote was dead on.

And top union officials who support Obama’s rivals are in turn accusing the Illinois Democrat, who once sought their endorsements, of trying to damage labor’s political role.

“I’m taken aback that somebody like Obama would think that Oprah Winfrey has a greater right to participate in the political process than the four million people I represent,” said Edward J. McElroy, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, which has spent $799,619 on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s behalf, referring to the television host’s high-profile support for Obama. “It’s sour grapes. It sounds just like the charges the Republicans make.”

Some people have ready access to big microphones and can participate in the political process and reach a lot of people effortlessly. Most people require money to be heard. Pulling money together and using it to participate in the political discourse is not an inherently bad thing.


I couldn't even get past the first sentence of this Cohen column.

John Edwards lied about the cost of his haircuts.

It's so awesome when the Villagers can't even keep their fake "scandals" straight. Lied about the cost of his haircuts? wuh?

Lessons Unlearned


Arthur Schlesinger, in his biography of Kennedy, quotes Richard Harwood of The Washington Post:

“We discovered in 1968 this deep, almost mystical bond that existed between Robert Kennedy and the Other America. It was a disquieting experience for reporters. ... We were forced to recognize in Watts and Gary and Chimney Rock that the real stake in the American political process involves not the fate of speechwriters and fund-raisers, but the lives of millions of people seeking hope out of despair.”

Morning Threat

Empty as usual.

First Overnight of the Year

Monday, December 31, 2007

Hello 2008

Same old song.


No drinking. No driving. NO FLIRTING.

New Year's Eve Thread

Don't drink and drive.

Laughing With Him Or Laughing At Him

I agree with commenter swellsman regarding Huckabee's "gaffe."

Even something this cheap, and this transparent, might've worked for Huck if he was someone else. Let's face it, Huck is a huge insult to the Villagers, and it is a huge sign of how little he understands Washington that he doesn't understand that -- notwithstanding he is the frontrunner in Iowa and now a solid contender for the Republican nomination -- so far as the Villagers are concerned Huck is just po' white trash from Arkansas . . . just like those skeevy Clintons were.

"This isn't their town, it's our town, and they trashed it."

If Huck was Romney, he might even have been able to get away with this stunt. Worse than his gaffes over Pakistan, this blatant display that he just really doesn't get his 'place' in big-time, Washington politics shows that he just isn't ready for prime time.

Sure . . . it was a cheap, transparent, cynical ploy, and you won't catch me shedding any tears if Huck really is imploding. But it's also a damned shame, 'cause you just know that the idea originated with one of his paid advisors who forgot -- for a moment -- that he was working for someone the Villagers consider 'unwashed,' and therefore unable to get away with the bullshit that flies for those the Village has anointed.

It's a damned shame not because Huck is anything other than a scurvy dog, but because it reveals the rotten myopia through which all U.S. politics is now seen.

They could've reported it as a gaffe, or gone along with the "gag." Why one happens instead of the other depends on what the reporters think of a candidate.

Please Don't

Bullets go up, bullets come down.

District Attorney Lynne Abraham warned Philadelphians who plan to shoot guns in the air tonight to celebrate the New Year that they face aggressive prosecution if caught.

Joined at a late-morning news conference by Joseph Jaskolka, who on New Year's Eve in 1998 was struck and disabled by a falling bullet, Abraham also warned revelers of the devastating costs of the dangerous tradition.

Let's Be Thankful For Their Dedication to Objective Truth-Telling Above All

Or, uh, not.

Please Stop Wanking

Is there a right wing talking point Obama hasn't rushed to embrace? Going after trial lawyers?


Eschaton Endorsement!

I hereby endorse John Edwards... to win the Iowa primary caucus! Anything which will annoy Joe Klein and Stu Rothenberg is probably a good thing.

Anyway, I still haven't chosen a candidate completely and don't expect to. At various times I've leaned Edwards/Obama/Clinton/Dodd. But I'd like to see the Villagers squeal in pain over an Edwards Iowa win, though apparently he has to double super secret win for it to count. Or something.

Lindsey Stamps His Feet.... Yet Again

Last month:

Two Republican senators said that unless Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki makes more political progress by January, the U.S. should consider pulling political or financial support for his government.

The stern warnings, coming from Sens. Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss Monday, are an indication that while GOP patience on the war has greatly increased this fall because of security gains made by the military, it isn't bottomless.

"I do expect them to deliver," Graham, R-S.C., said in a phone interview upon returning from a Thanksgiving trip to Iraq. "What would happen for me if there's no progress on reconciliation after the first of the year, I would be looking at ways to invest our money into groups that can deliver."

Another cunning plan. We'd better give it a year to "work."

The Last Honest Man

Joe Lieberman, July 2006.

I am confident that the situation is improving enough on the ground that by the end of this year we will being to draw down significant numbers of American troops and by the end of next year more than half of the troops who are there now will be home.

Oh well.

No, Really, This Time...

Jackson Diehl, today.

Yet, for once, saying that the next six to 12 months will win or lose the war just might be right.

Of course what he's talking about is whether politicians will decide to keep over 100,000 troops there forever, or just a lot longer. And, suddenly, actual political progress in Iraq is basically irrelevant.

Oh Well

David Ignatius, June 2006.

A key part of the Bush administration's strategy is to involve Maliki's government in discussions about withdrawal of U.S. troops. Gen. Casey briefed the Pentagon last week on his hopes to cut the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq by more than half by the end of 2007, according to a story in Sunday's New York Times. Casey will soon meet with Maliki to form the joint U.S.-Iraqi committee that can oversee the buildup of Iraqi security forces and the corresponding drawdown of U.S. troops.

"When we establish that committee," Khalilzad explained, "the subject will be the withdrawal of U.S. forces, and the conditions related to a road map for an ultimate withdrawal of U.S. troops." He stressed, however, that there was no automatic timetable for withdrawal and that he expected Maliki "will be on the cautious side."

And What He Said


A Bloomberg candidacy would have no purpose other than satisfy his bottomless personal lust for attention and bestow the wise old men threatening the country with his candidacy with some fleeting sense of rejuvenated relevance and wisdom. His political views are conventional in every way and he's little more than an establishment-enabling figurehead. The whole attraction to his candidacy has nothing to do with any issues or substance and everything to do with an empty addiction to vapid notions of Establishment harmony and a desire to exert control, whereby our Seriousness guardians devote themselves to a candidate for reasons largely unrelated to his policies or political views, thus proving themselves, as usual, to be the exact antithesis of actual seriousness.

...adding, to be clear I don't really care if Bloomberg runs. I don't think his impact on the overall election is predictable. It's just another fascinating representation of the utter corruption, vanity, and vapidity of the floating world of Washington insiders.

Paul, Not Bloomberg

Nah, Bloomberg isn't Perot. Just the opposite. Bloomberg is for self-styled Washington insiders who think politics exists to validate their importance and for the Washington Elite Consensus folks who lack a constituency and imagine they need to save the country from the whims of pesky voters and evil communists like John Edwards. It's the permanent floating class of Washington who are sure that "Washington is broken," and who know precisely who to blame - voters. Or maybe bloggers.

Deep Thought

What this country is really yearning for is a political movement dedicated to getting Chuck Robb more photo ops.

Why Am I Awake?

Lord High Everything Else, Mike Tomasky, June '06:

Ezra and Matt are making the mistake of discussing substantive factors. You've surely learned by now that there is no substance with these people. There is only politics. We will start to get out of Iraq, bit by bit, this September and October. By the end of 2007, a plan will be announced to ensure we're substantially out (i.e., a 75 percent draw down or some such) by October 2008.

Oh well.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Deep Thought

I really miss Hot Soup.

Wanker of the Day

Alan Greenspan.

Deep Thought

I sure hope that Newt Gingrich is Mike Bloomberg's choice for VP.

Deep Thought

I wonder if General Chang ever noticed that the hills were alive with the sound of music.

Evening Thread


My Friend Serge

People often ask where the name "Atrios" comes from and I generally don't bother to tell the story - I think I did on the blog somewhere once before - as it's complicated to explain without any real payoff. But, basically, I needed a fake name to use on the internets and as I was into obscure references at the time I just grabbed the first obscure reference I could think of, though this one was obscure enough that I couldn't remember it right and couldn't find it on the primitive internet to check. So Atrios it was even though the name I was reaching for was "Antrios." Probably for the best, as I think Atrios sounds a bit better, but there you go.

Antrios is an unseen character in the play Art, by Yasmina Reza, who is the artist responsible for creating the painting which is at the center of the play. It's a painting which is white on white, basically blank, and one of the characters, Serge, purchases it for a large sum of money. This purchase drives his friend a bit crazy - he's horrified by such a ridiculous purchase - and it threatens to break up the friendship of the group of three characters in the play. Much merriment ensues.

As a bunch of old white unelected guys can't handle the fact that things are passing them by, I was reminded of the final bit of the play, spoken by the angered friend Marc who comes to accept the painting:

Under the white clouds, snow is falling.
You can't see the white clouds, or the snow.
Or the cold, or the white glow of the earth.
A solitary man glides downhill on his skis.
The snow is falling.
It falls until the man disappears back into the
My friend Serge, who's one of my oldest friends,
has bought a painting.
It's a canvas about five feet by four.
It represents a man who moves across a space
then disappears.

Democracy, Villager Style

Shorter bipartisan reacharound fetish crowd:

We're a dozen or so old, white, mostly male people who for the most part don't hold elected office. Unless the presidential candidates do what we tell them to do, we're going to encourage our short divorced pal from New York City to spend a billion bucks of his personal fortune to fuck around with the election because that's what the people need.

Pointless Observation of the Day

Edward James Olmos is in Blade Runner AND Battlestar Galactica.

More Thread


Deep Thought of the Day

People disagree about stuff.

Alien Life Form

When I taught in Orange County, I learned that the majority of my students had never boarded a train. Car-as-sole-means-of-transportation is so ingrained for many people in the country, and what such people usually don't understand that mass transit isn't simply a somewhat annoying substitute for car travel but that it can greatly transform your relationship with your surroundings and how you go about your life. Life is different, very different.

Anyway along these lines I find reading the articles about Charlotte's new light rail system highly entertaining. There's always a degree of incomprehension - just what is this train thing anyway? - in them. But the system appears to be popular.

My Iowa Prediction

While someone will come out on top, as with the polls the result will pretty much be a 3-way tie, and so this pointless contest given meaning only by the media will have even less meaning than usual, though that won't stop them.

Double Bubble

I hit this earlier but it's worth expanding on a bit.

Why did borrowers like them? Simple: Option ARMs allow you to buy maximum house for minimum initial monthly payment. They are not particularly complicated or confusing. You buy now and pay later.

"... more than 75% of option ARM borrowers have been making only the minimum payments, analysts at Standard & Poor's Corp. said last week. As a result, the delinquency rate on option ARMs already is jumping and is likely to keep rising sharply, S&P said."

That was slightly misreported. It's actually 75% of option ARM borrowers who were issued their mortgages in 2006, not the entire universe of option ARM borrowers. Still it's unlikely that the numbers for 2007 are much better, though perhaps the numbers for mortgages issued earlier are.

But the point is that if people are paying only the minimum monthly payment, then the mortgage is negatively amortizing. People are losing equity month by month even as the market price of their home is falling. That situation can go on until they hit the tripwire - 115% of the original mortgage - and their payments shoot up.

Then they mail the keys to the bank.

Drumroll Please

And the first annual award for high achievement in wanking, "The Tosser," goes to...

Lord Saletan.

Congratulations, Will, on all your wanking in 2007. Good luck to everyone next year! Start your wanking!


Aside from all the usual bipartisan reacharound fetishists, why on Earth does anyone think that Michael Bloomberg can win a national election? I know he can blow a billion bucks on it, but come on...

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week" — Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and John McCain, R-Ariz.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.; Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Joe Biden, D-Del.; former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; former Sens. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., and Jim Talent, R-Mo.; former Defense Secretary William Cohen.

"Fox News Sunday" _ Thompson.

Good morning, folks

Another dial-up rescue. I got nothing to say, I gotta go fix all the typos I made yesterday.

Not Atrios

Still Wanking

Lee Siegel could be a brilliant bit of performance art parodying assholes like Lee Siegel.