Saturday, February 16, 2008


Saturday Night Fever


Wanker of the Day

John Dickerson.

Has It Been A Year Already?

Indeed it has.

Bush Regains His Footing

By David S. Broder
Friday, February 16, 2007; A23

It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don't be astonished if that is the case.

Anything Going On?

Joe Klein do anything stupid today?

Some days I just got nothin'.


Blog birthday to Dependable Renegade.

Afternoon Thread


Saint McCain

I thought it was only foul-mouthed bloggers who threatened to disturb the tranquil peace of the most civil institution in the history of the universe.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Temper, temper.

Republican John McCain is known for his.

He's been dubbed ''Senator Hothead'' by more than one publication, but he's also had some success extracting his hatchet from several foreheads.

Even his Republican Senate colleagues are not spared his sharp tongue.

''F--- you,'' he shouted at Texas Sen. John Cornyn last year.

''Only an a------ would put together a budget like this,'' he told the former Budget Committee chairman, Sen. Pete Domenici, in 1999.

''I'm calling you a f------ jerk!'' he once retorted to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Deep Thought

Your candidate's campaign is a cult!!!

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Price to Sell

Things only got completely crazy in Philadelphia for a little while, but even here anecdotally for sale signs seem to sit on houses for a long time...

Kegley, owner of Moreno Valley-based National Realty Group, said he's finding a fair amount of pre-approved homebuyers. It's finding sellers willing to lower their prices that's more challenging.

"(Sellers) ask me what it would take to sell in 30 days, and when I tell them, they say, `Come on, be realistic,"' Kegley said. "They keep reducing the price, but they're always too late."

A real estate veteran of more than 20 years, he said the current housing meltdown "has a different twist to it" than prior slumps.

"Last time we had some equity on properties," he said. "This time there's just no equity. The prices are much lower than what's owed on the properties."

To the extent that people are underwater you can understand. You're telling them to write a big check for the privilege of leaving their house behind.

Breakfast thread

Speaking of totally cult candidates...

And more Republican follies.

Not Atrios

Friday, February 15, 2008

Late Nite Thread

Splitting the Baby

As CR says, the only way this could work is if the almost inevitably bankrupt part of the business is surgically removed from the traditional muni insuring part of the business. Then all those bits of big shitpile which we've pretended have AAA rating because they're "insured" cease to be insured and lots of financial institutions have a problem.

It's fun when that last Jenga piece comes out!


And, of course, you couldn't see his daughter getting kidnapped practically every episode coming a mile away, either.

Not Atrios

Friday Night

End of the week and I'm outta gas.

Deep Thought

Your candidate's campaign is a CULT!!!


The greatest book titled Liberal Fascism ever written has arrived!

Friday Cat Blogging


We've got trouble my friends...

Wanker of the Day

Christine Flowers.

And her editor, Sandra Shea.

Facts Are Stupid Things


The President is misrepresenting the facts on our nation’s electronic surveillance capabilities. Last August, he insisted that Congress pass the Protect America Act; but this week, he refused to support an extension, which can only mean he knows our intelligence agencies will be able to do all the wiretapping they need to do to protect the nation. That surveillance can be undertaken under broad orders authorized under the PAA or under orders that can be obtained through the FISA court.

The President knows the facts; if he did not want the PAA to expire this weekend, he should have supported an extension of it, as the overwhelming majority of House Democrats did on Wednesday. Having guaranteed the lapse of the August law, the President should now work in a cooperative way with Congress to pass a strong FISA modernization bill that protects our nation’s security and the Constitution.

Grover Gets It

Along these lines, it's worth remember what the Republican plan for dealing with Democrats is as provided by Grover Norquist. As Chait once wrote:

Norquist, like a Bond villain, has an irresistible penchant for spelling out his master plans in their full, nefarious detail.

And he does.He spelled it out quite plainly:

Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such.

He was writing from the perspective of being in the majority, but between Bush's veto pen, the hideous Bush Dogs, and the 60-vote Senate not much has changed. They can only be neutered by the Republicans if they let themselves be. And when they do, they won't look tough. The White House expected them to cower in fear:

White House officials and their allies were angry that the Democrats did not "blink," as one outside adviser said. The decision to defy the White House came in the form of a weeklong adjournment of the House yesterday afternoon.

To restate yet again: you don't look tough when you surrender.

Can't Look Strong When You're Running Away


As I argue in Heads in the Sand, it's important to approach these things from a self-confident point-of-view rather than a defensive one. When Bush says something outrageous, you have to act like you're outraged not like you're frightened that his outrageous statements will cause the voters to punish you. Confidence alone, obviously, isn't nearly enough to win political fights but it is a necessary precondition of doing so.

This has most obviously been an issue for so-called national security issues over the past few years, but it's also been an issue pretty much across the board for Democrats. Too often they sound like they're apologizing for themselves, buying into media narratives that core Democratic principles are somehow unpopular even when polls show otherwise.

And No One Will Ask Why


The issue is not "intelligence gaps." Rather, as McConnell candidly admits, the "real issue" is "liability protection for the private sector." To take them at their word, George Bush and Mike McConnell are putting the nation at risk in order to ensure that AT&T and Verizon do not have to be held accountable in a court of law for having broken the law. Think about how twisted and corrupt that calculus is.

I don't actually believe this is about protecting the telcoms; it's about protecting themselves. And given the fact that a supine press has been relatively unconcerned that the president had been illegally spying on Americans without warrants as required by law for years, one wonders just what it is they feel the need to hide.

The Press

I think this John Heilemann article on the disparate press treatment of Clinton and Obama is pretty good. I'm not sure there was anything Clinton could do to try to change the press's "meta-narrative" of her, so playing up it as a strength was probably the best bet. I also think that while the press has been good to Obama, the press has been pretty damn good to every candidate with an R after their name. Obama's coverage may be strangely positive, but strangely positive for a Democrat.

More Financial Fun


Citigroup has barred investors in one of its hedge funds from withdrawing their money, and a new leveraged fund lost 52 percent in its first three months, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The largest U.S. bank suspended redemptions in CSO Partners, a fund specializing in corporate debt, after investors tried to pull more than 30 percent of its roughly $500 million of assets, the newspaper said. Citigroup injected $100 million to stabilize the fund, which lost 10.9 percent last year, the newspaper said.

The fund's manager, John Pickett, left following a dispute with Citigroup executives and complaints from investors after he tried to back out from committing more than half the fund's assets to buy leveraged loans tied to a German media company, the newspaper said. That matter was settled when CSO agreed to buy $746 million of the loans at face value, though they were trading at 86 percent to 93 percent of face value, it said.

Billion Here, Billion There

No biggy.

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The world's banks ``remain at risk'' of up to $203 billion in additional writedowns, largely because the bond insurance crisis could worsen, UBS AG said.

``Banks have made progress in credit-market related writedowns,'' London-based UBS analyst Philip Finch said in a note to investors today. ``But more are expected,'' he added.

Writedowns for collateralized debt obligations and subprime related losses already total $150 billion, Finch estimated. That could rise by a further $120 billion for CDOs, $50 billion for structured investment vehicles, $18 billion for commercial mortgage-backed securities and $15 billion for leveraged buyouts, UBS said. ``Risks are rising and spreading and liquidity conditions are still far from normal,'' the note said.

The Campaign


Clinton is ultimately responsible for putting her political fate in this fool's hands. But this is a guy who has basically one big political win under his belt and whose record in seriously contested races, particularly Democratic primary races is one of almost constant defeats. Much of Clinton's current predicament stems from Penn's disastrous, glass-jaw 'inevitability' strategy and the mind-boggling decision not even to contest a slew of states where Obama racked up huge victories and many delegates.

Campaigns are about winning votes not making excuses. There are plenty of delegates still out there for Clinton to win -- over a thousand left in the remaining primaries. But her efforts are being stymied by a campaign apparatus rooted in the belief that any new reality can be overturned by pretending it away.

Like any political strategy, it's only "disastrous" if it fails to work. If it works it's "genius." Politics is binary. Win or lose. For quite a long time Clinton's inevitability strategy was working. Genius! And then it maybe it wasn't working so well.

Like I said yesterday, all this "spin" bugs me. Not because I'm being spun, but because spin should make your candidate look good, not bad. Mark Penn's pronouncements, and others from the campaign (he's not the only one), give me that watching-an-Ari-Fleischer-press-conference feeling. It's the utter contempt for everyone not on board with the candidate, an attempt to just assume them all away.

Morning Threadily Diddily



Really, people. It must stop. Listen to Lee Siegel.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


K.O. just said Bush was a liberal? [/Jonah]


I hadn't really looked at the banking crisis this way....

Not Atrios

Deep Thought

I have 10,000 virtual friends, and on this day I love them all.


Even the CNBC chatters (some of them) seemed to be getting it today. We're basically in a situation where several major financial institutions are probably not really meeting their legal reserve requirements even though we're pretending they are. This doesn't necessarily mean that there will be bank meltdowns, but it does mean they're trying rebuild the foundation as the game of jenga continues.


Fresh Thread

I'm cooking. Please provide links to discussions of your pet issues in the comments.

Feels Good

Good for Steny. Let's hope it holds.

What's weird is why they don't actually stand up more. You get a sense that once they do it they do feel a bit better about themselves and have a good laugh. And why not? Winning is fun!! There really just isn't any political price to be paid for opposing Mr. 24% on anything. Nobody buys this "terra terra terra" crap coming from Bush anymore except for cowards who write conservative blogs.

Eye Rolling Season

I admit I'm entering the non-stop eyerolling phase of primary season. We have two candidates who are different but not that different when it comes to policy. Those differences are real, and they could be highlighted and debated in a serious way. But we're not really getting that.

i can haz general election now?

They Write Letters

Congressman Reyes writes to President Bush.

Washington, DC - Congressman Silvestre Reyes, D-TX, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, sent the following letter to President George W. Bush today regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The text of the letter is below:

President George W. Bush

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The Preamble to our Constitution states that one of our highest duties as public officials is to "provide for the common defence." As an elected Member of Congress, a senior Member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I work everyday to ensure that our defense and intelligence capabilities remain strong in the face of serious threats to our national security.

Because I care so deeply about protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans' communications and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Administration's warrantless surveillance program.

Today, the National Security Agency (NSA) has authority to conduct surveillance in at least three different ways, all of which provide strong capability to monitor the communications of possible terrorists.

First, NSA can use its authority under Executive Order 12333 to conduct surveillance abroad of any known or suspected terrorist. There is no requirement for a warrant. There is no requirement for probable cause. Most of NSA's collection occurs under this authority.

Second, NSA can use its authority under the Protect America Act, enacted last August, to conduct surveillance here in the U.S of any foreign target. This authority does not "expire" on Saturday, as you have stated. Under the PAA, orders authorizing surveillance may last for one year - until at least August 2008. These orders may cover every terrorist group without limitation. If a new member of the group is identified, or if a new phone number or email address is identified, the NSA may add it to the existing orders, and surveillance can begin immediately. We will not "go dark."

Third, in the remote possibility that a new terrorist organization emerges that we have never previously identified, the NSA could use existing authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor those communications. Since its establishment nearly 30 years ago, the FISA Court has approved nearly every application for a warrant from the Department of Justice. In an emergency, NSA or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may begin surveillance immediately, and a FISA Court order does not have to be obtained for three days. The former head of FISA operations for the Department of Justice has testified publicly that emergency authorization may be granted in a matter of minutes.

As you know, the 1978 FISA law, which has been modernized and updated numerous times since 9/11, was instrumental in disrupting the terrorist plot in Germany last summer. Those who say that FISA is outdated do not understand the strength of this important tool.

If our nation is left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don't have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations - including al Qaeda -- that have gained strength since 9/11. We do not have nearly enough linguists to translate the reams of information we currently collect. We do not have enough intelligence officers who can penetrate the hardest targets, such as al Qaeda. We have surged so many intelligence resources into Iraq that we have taken our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, you have allowed al Qaeda to reconstitute itself on your watch.

You have also suggested that Congress must grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. As someone who has been briefed on our most sensitive intelligence programs, I can see no argument why the future security of our country depends on whether past actions of telecommunications companies are immunized.

The issue of telecom liability should be carefully considered based on a full review of the documents that your Administration withheld from Congress for eight months. However, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we will be vulnerable unless we grant immunity for actions that happened years ago.

Congress has not been sitting on its hands. Last November, the House passed responsible legislation to authorize the NSA to conduct surveillance of foreign terrorists and to provide clarity and legal protection to our private sector partners who assist in that surveillance.

The proper course is now to conference the House bill with the Senate bill that was passed on Tuesday. There are significant differences between these two bills and a conference, in regular order, is the appropriate mechanism to resolve the differences between these two bills. I urge you, Mr. President, to put partisanship aside and allow Republicans in Congress to arrive at a compromise that will protect America and protect our Constitution.

I, for one, do not intend to back down - not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.

We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.


Silvestre Reyes

Member of Congress

Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence


On the FISA issue there's even been more mendacity and bullshit than usual. And no Republican or conservative will even address Kevin's question in a serious way.

Cogs in the machine.

True Romance

They do make a cute couple.


Took them awhile, but they finally did it.

But He's A Straight Talker!

This can't be true.

As he gets closer to the Republican nomination, John McCain has been trying to balance his unqualified support for the Iraq war by reminding audiences that he was also a tough critic of the way it was managed until President Bush finally changed strategies a year ago. In recent weeks, McCain has gone so far as to tell audiences that he was "the only one" who called for then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation.

The only trick is he never did, at least not publicly. The senator from Arizona was a tough critic of Rumsfeld and more than once declared that he had no confidence in the Pentagon chief in the two years before Bush finally dumped him in November 2006. But even as he was criticizing Rumsfeld, McCain typically stopped short of calling for the defense secretary to step down on the grounds that it was up to the president to decide who served in his cabinet.

McCain has rewritten that history a couple times lately. While campaigning in Fort Myers, Fla., on Jan. 26, he told a crowd: "In the conflict that we're in, I'm the only one that said we have to abandon the Rumsfeld strategy -- and Rumsfeld -- and adopt a new strategy." Then four days later during a debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., aired on CNN, McCain said, "I'm the only one that said that Rumsfeld had to go."

The Washington Post should immediately fire this reporter for lying about St. McCain, a man literally incapable of lying.


Disrupting a memorial.


Not Atrios

Street Meat

I see Debbie Schlussel has embraced the spirit of Valentine's Day.

I enjoy any excuse to re-run this hilarious article.

And we can't forget that we're nearing the end of.... FEBRUARY FUNTASTIC FUNDRAISING special Valentine's Day edition!

Here's a heart.


I still honestly don't have a preference in this presidential primary. My leaning changes from day to day. I probably lean Obama more days than I lean Clinton, but not too many more.

However, it is rather important that one of these people is elected president in November. I try to shy away from "electability" arguments, but I do think some attention should be paid to how campaigns are... campaigning. Responsible and sensible people take responsibility for their actions and mistakes and learn from them. All of this "every time Clinton loses it doesn't count" and all those states are insignificant stuff is absurd.

I recognize that it's spin. But it's really bad spin! And they're highly paid professional spinners! It's their job to come up with better spin!


The banks go begging for a bailout.


In It To Win It

The dismissal of the voters of dozens of states and relegating them to insignificant status is the kind of thing which can come back and bite you in the ass.

I'm sure in late August, the people of Colorado will appreciate their insignificant status even more.

Morning Thread

--Molly I.


The STUPID!!!!!!!!!! IT BURNS!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dale Gribble

For years I've been on the email list of one "Dr. Rusty Schackleford" who semi-regularly sends out breathless emails about some conspiracy by brown people he, personally, has uncovered.

It wasn't until tonight that I realized the name was Dale Gribble's pseudonym.

In It To Win It

Nobody listens to me, but it's probably a decent moment to remind the various presidential campaigns that if they get the nomination and lose the general election, they will become the most hated figures in the Democratic party.

Fair or not, that's the way it is. Mike and Walter won't even ask you to their parties.

Wanker of the Day

The ole perfesser.

McCain: Insane in the Membrane, or Insane in the Brain?

Tom Hilton has a roundup of possible answers.

The Other Nightmare Scenario

Is several months of Andrew Sullivan "deciding" whether he's voting for Obama or McCain.


...actually, that's whether he's voting for the Fantasy Obama that lives inside his head or the Fantasy McCain that lives inside his head.


Pelosi still holding on for now.

All Members of Congress fully understand and support our responsibility to protect the American people and the need for the President, the Congress, and policymakers to have the best possible intelligence to fight terrorism.

On Friday, a surveillance law insisted upon by the President last August will expire. Today, an overwhelming majority of House Democrats voted to extend that law for three weeks so that agreement could be reached with the Senate on a better version of that law. The President and House Republicans refused to support the extension and therefore will bear the responsibility should any adverse national consequences result.

However, even if the Protect America Act expires later this week, the American people can be confident that our country remains safe and strong. Every order entered under the law can remain in effect for 12 months from the date it was issued.

Furthermore, the underlying Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which provides for the surveillance of terrorists and provides that in emergencies surveillance can begin without warrant, remains intact and available to our intelligence agencies. Unlike last August, the FISA court has no backlog of cases, and thus can issue necessary court orders for surveillance immediately.

It's amazing that lost in all of the discussion is that simple fact, that OH NOES THEY MIGHT HAVE TO GET A WARRANT. Which they can get retroactively.

Saint John McCain

Decides he likes torture after all.

Anyway, my nightmare matchup is McCain vs. Clinton. Not because I think Clinton would lose, but because on one hand we have a candidate who never lies, never "flip flops," never deviates from his principles, never panders to anyone, and delivers nothing but a never-ending stream of sage mavericky straight talk. And on the other we have a candidate who is unable to do perfectly normal things like "raise money," "campaign," or "not divorce her husband" without it being seen as somehow scandalously inappropriate.

That's how the Villagers see things anyway, and not even a little bit of waterboarding will make them change. be clear, when I say it's my nightmare I'm just referring to the impact on my mental state over the campaign season.

Chief Risk Officer

A casual observer might think he fell down on the job a bit.

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Ambac Financial Group Inc., the bond insurer that posted losses of $5.2 billion related to mortgage- linked securities last quarter, said its chief risk officer resigned.

William McKinnon left on Feb. 8, the New York-based company said today in a regulatory filing. McKinnon had been with Ambac, the world's second-largest bond insurer, since at least 1989, according to Bloomberg data.

McKinnon was in charge of risk while Ambac expanded beyond insuring municipal debt to guaranteeing collateralized debt obligations and subprime mortgage-related securities. Ambac had its first-ever and biggest losses in the third and fourth quarters as the value of those securities tumbled.

For his awesome job performance, in 2007 he was given "an $800,000 bonus, $425,000 in restricted stock and options to buy 32,500 additional shares at $11.13 each."


A brief history of crime.

Not Atrios

Fresh Thread



Going to jail.

Former University of Pennsylvania professor Tracy McIntosh was sentenced this afternoon to 3-1/2 to seven years in prison for sexually assaulting a Penn graduate student.

This case is notable because he originally received some of that "special justice" reserved for very special white people.

In 2004, McIntosh pleaded no contest to sexual assault in an event that occurred in his Penn office two years earlier. Judge Rayford A. Means sentenced him to 11-1/2 to 23 months of house arrest, in part in consideration of his international reputation and research work.

District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, however, appealed to state Superior Court, which vacated the sentence last April for being too lenient. But at the first resentencing hearing, on Sept. 7, Means disqualified himself because of the public controversy over his sentence. Dembe replaced him.

Surveillance State Loving Bush Dogs

Call them.

Great Moments In Presidential Predictions

Bush, 3 months ago.

Asman: "A lot of folks are worried that it's fallen too far. Is there anything more that you can do, as president, to assure the world that the dollar should maintain its value and increase in value?"

Bush: "Well, we have a strong dollar policy, and it's important for the world to know that. We also believe it's important for the market to set the -- to set the value of the dollar relative to other currencies. And if people would look at the strength of our economy, they'd realize why, you know, I believe that the dollar will be stronger. And it is low inflation, low interest, 15 months of uninterrupted job growth, 3.9 percent GDP growth in the third quarter. I mean, the underpinnings are strong. Now, we in the U.S. government, my administration, believe the market ought to set the, you know, the relation of the dollar to other currencies."

The dollar was at $1.45/euro then. Today it's at...$1.45.

"Impressionable Elites"

I don't even know what to make of this gibberish.

...interesting. Commenters make the point that read a certain way this makes sense, but shoehorning it into his "trend" framework makes it hard to understand. Perhaps Mr. Penn is just making the rather Eschatonic critique that our stupid discourse is ruled by people immune from the real world impact of actual policies.


Now this is high comedy.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The lobbying group representing homebuilders is cutting off contributions to federal congressional campaigns, saying lawmakers and the Bush administration have not done enough to stabilize the housing market.

The National Association of Home Builders said Tuesday its political action committee has decided to stop making contributions to candidates for Congress "until further notice."

Since 1990, the trade group has given nearly $20 million to federal candidates, with 35 percent going to Democrats and 65 percent to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Ad Review

I suppose this ad would be ok except the narrator sounds like he's a bad parody of political ad narrators.


What we really need are 500 modestly wealthy people who pledge $2000 each per election cycle to provide $200,000 of seed money for each of 5 qualified candidates who are willing to run campaigns against bad Democrats in blue districts. The threat of a primary from The Left, even if it's ultimately unsuccessful, can be a great behavior modifier.

...adding, it's a bit tricky to do this institutionally. Ideally one would just set up a PAC and collect a bunch of donations and hand them out intelligently. But PACs are limited to $5K contributions to candidates, so that doesn't work. So you have to do the Emily's List model, which is using a PAC to solicit direct contributions to candidates. You basically need people to pledge to give money where they're told when the time comes, and and institutional structure which makes smart decisions about which candidates to fund so that people don't feel like they're wasting their money.

For The Kittens


Please make Congress stop.

But He's Very Serious!


McCain even goes so far as to directly compare his vision of Iraq to the current situation in Kuwait, where in exchange for basing rights and oil we help prop up an unaccountable and corrupt dictatorship. Fear that this is what we're aiming for in Iraq is precisely why many Iraqis are fighting so hard against our troops, and our habit of acting this way in other Gulf states is a major driving force of anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world. The Bush administration has at least had the good sense to pursue this agenda quietly and in secret, but hot-head McCain can't keep his mouth shut to avoid gaffes and can't stop digging now that he realizes he's in a hole.

Yglesias fails to understand that this kind of talk helps maintain Leon Wieseltier's sagging post-9/11 priapism, which is what's really important.


Ha ha.

U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D) conceded a short time ago after losing to Prince George's County lawyer Donna F. Edwards.

Wynn, who had served in the 4th District for eight terms, had been targeted by an aggressive advertisement campaign, funded in part with hundreds of thousands of dollars from national labor groups and liberal organizations. The effort apparently convinced voters that Wynn had fallen out of step with his overwhelmingly Democratic district during his 15 years in Congress.

"The deed is done," Wynn told reporters at a Lanham union hall where his supporters had gathered after the polls closed. "I think the only thing that remains is to support the winner."

Edwards, speaking to her supporters at Largo hotel, said: "Today the voters went to the polls looking for a change, and they went out there looking for new leadership. They found what they were looking for in this campaign."

Coffee thread

It probably is "the most annoying things ever printed in any newspaper ever" - but the trouble is, this most annoying thing is printed in newspapers almost daily.

Not Atrios


WaPo calls it for Edwards.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Holy Crap

Edwards up 60-36, with 46% in...

Credit Where Credit Is Due File

One shouldn't have to remark on the amazing existence of a genuine outspoken liberal on the teevee in a country which hates George Bush and likes Democrats, but that's the media world we live in. So kudos to MSNBC for having Rachel Maddow on.

Hope Continued

16% in, Edwards ahead 54-42.

..26% in, 58-37!!

...39%, 59-36!!!!

Fear Is The Hopekiller

The realization that it's probably easier to unseat an incumbent during a primary in a non-presidential year has made me too scared to get excited about Edwards/Wynn... but with 6% 11% in, she's winning.

Donna's awesome, so let's allow ourselves some hope.


I'm not one who's especially enamored with Obama's audacious hope rhetoric, but he did just hit on something (perhaps he has before) related to hope which does resonate with me, the fact that his rather modest family gave him an education... and hope!

Silly, perhaps, but I have been trending towards the belief that class in this country is to a great degree an aspirational issue. I don't mean that it's as simple as "dream it, be it," but that a belief in potential opportunity - combined with real potential opportunity of course - does separate the classes to a great degree.

The Religious Left

I'll just quote this without comment, from EJ Dionne.

But I do believe that Christians (and this applies to followers of the Jewish tradition as well) have the task of calling the world -- and ourselves -- to account in the name of higher standards than any government or economic system typically achieves. Religious people should be hard to satisfy.

Listen to the Liberal

Clinton campaign people would be wise to listen to Rachel Maddow, who suggests that Clinton could win points by going after McCain, instead of Pat Buchanan, who thinks she should attack Obama.

I'm not suggesting that criticism of Obama is off limits, just that if Clinton wants to prove she can kick conservative ass, she should start doing it.

Wanker of the Day

Jake Tapper.

...NBC calls MD for Obama, McCain. Had already called DC for Obama, though who knows what that was based on other than "black people live there."

More Thread

MD extended voting hours until 9:30 due to weather. Waiting for results from the Edwards/Wynn race.


Was out drinking liberally.

Obama wins VA. GO HUCKLES!!!

...NBC projects McCain wins VA.

Evening Thread

Looks like a pretty decisive Obama victory in VA. On to what, Texas & Ohio?

--Molly I.

But Why?

Presumably the GOP state party chair can just make up some results and announce them so we can all go to bed?

"The Worst Is Just Beginning"

Glad Paulson realizes it.

Good Luck With That

I was worried that McCain would manage to adopt Lieberman's blurring strategy on Iraq ("No one wants to end the war more than I do...") kind of rhetoric. It appears he can't.

Come November it'll have been two years since The Wise Old Men Of Washington, otherwise known as the Iraq Study Group, got together to try to start to end the war. And come November, there will be just as many troops in Iraq as there were back then.

Thanks Wise Old Men of Washington!

What Happened To These People?

I really do just have to wonder what sort of getting-dropped-on-the-head or punched-by-bully or rejected-by-daddy event happened so that these people get such a hardon for the thought of sending other people into other countries to kill people.

This isn't actually healthy. Still these people are very serious.

Because You're Complete Idiots Others Find Embarrassing

That's why.

Selling Out


I have to say that what constantly amazes me is just how damn little it costs corporate America to buy our elected officials. Pennies on the dollar, really, for what they get.

While one can't discount legalized bribery campaign dollars entirely, I do think too often we assume they're the reason lawmakers do the "wrong thing" when the simpler explanation that they believe the wrong thing is in fact the right thing is the answer.

Too many Democrats simply don't have the values we imagine they do, and it lets them off the hook too much to assume they're simply craven people who need to get re-elected instead of bad people who don't share our values.


I've tried to express this point a few ways, but I'm not yet sure I've managed to get it quite right. The media coverage of campaign 2000 was a complete horror show, and not just because of the War on Gore. Essentially, the media covered the campaign as if it was a reality show to determine who would be the new star in a prime time dramedy called "The Presidency." You should vote for the guy you want to see on the teevee regularly, the one who will keep you entertained and make you feel good inside. The idea that this was a rather important job with consequences never entered into it.

Spin Driving Strategy?

I don't really mind the various examples of the Clinton campaign asserting that the states Obama wins somehow don't matter. Spin is spin and campaigns do it.

But it does seem to make the spin even barely plausible you have to let it drive strategy by pulling a Giuliani and stopping your campaigning in those states.

That seems like a mistake.

...In comments Hecate objects to the "not campaigning" characterization. Certainly it's a bit of hyperbole to assert that. Clinton was in fact campaigning in the Potomac area. But there's campaigning and then there's expending resources to build an organization. Anyway we'll see what the spin is tomorrow assuming results happen as expected. If it's "didn't win, didn't try" then this observation is valid. If not, I'll retract it.

Nobody Could Have Predicted

It's been months and finally it's sinking in that the "subprime problem" had little to do with "subprime" and was instead simply about lax lending standards in a bubble market, across the board.

The credit crisis is no longer just a subprime mortgage problem.

As home prices fall and banks tighten lending standards, people with good, or prime, credit histories are falling behind on their payments for home loans, auto loans and credit cards at a quickening pace, according to industry data and economists.

Isolating this as a "subprime" problem was a way of marginalizing the victims (not all were victims, of course) as foolish people with bad credit.

But this is a problem which is hitting people across the board. Those million dollar homes don't buy themselves.

Here's a taste of the kind of bullshit mortgage brokers pulled:

But she knows she will not be able to pay the $3,400 needed to cover her interest and principal, which she will be required to pay once her loan balance reaches 115 percent of her starting balance. And under the terms of her loan, which was made by Countrywide Financial, she would have to pay a prepayment penalty of about $40,000 if she chose to refinance or sell her home before May 2009.

She said that she now wishes she had taken a traditional fixed-rate loan when she bought the home. At the time, she asked for a loan that could be refinanced after one year without penalty. She said her broker had told her a week before the closing that the penalty would extend until May 2009 and that she reluctantly agreed because she had already started moving.

Remember that "subprime" is simply a category of borrower and the real issue is the crazy awful loan terms which were handed out to people with all credit ratings.

Buffett Wants The Good Stuff

Buffett tells the bond insurers to sell him the good stuff and they can keep the bad stuff. The idea is that he'll take their lucrative and stable business model off their hands and leave them with the crap. It might be the only legitimate way to keep them out of bankruptcy and provide them with cash to at least delay the Shitpile Day Of Reckoning. But this was their lucrative awesome business model before they branched out into fake insurance for big shitpile, and they understandably aren't going to be thrilled about giving it up.

More Thread

Until Dad arises....

--Molly I.


Need coffee.

(Okay, had some coffee. If you're in Maryland's 4th, I expect you to get out there for Donna!)

Not Atrios

Monday, February 11, 2008

Late Night

Rock on.

So Much Thread



Take all of these kinds of campaign stories filled with various anonymous sources with giant grains of salt, especially as they're all clearly designed to thwart the inevitable Scarlett Johansson roofdeck pilgrimage.

Mrs. Clinton held a buck-up-the-troops conference call on Monday with donors, superdelegates and other supporters; several of them said afterward that she sounded tired and a little down, but determined about Ohio and Texas. And these donors and superdelegates said that they were not especially soothed, saying they believed she could be on a losing streak that could jeopardize her competitiveness in Ohio and Texas.

“She has to win both Ohio and Texas comfortably, or she’s out,” said one Democratic superdelegate who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to share a candid assessment. “The campaign is starting to come to terms with that.” Campaign advisers, also speaking privately in order to speak plainly, confirmed this view.

Several Clinton superdelegates, whose votes could help decide the nomination, also said Monday that they were wavering in the face of Mr. Obama’s momentum after victories in Washington, Nebraska, Louisiana and Maine last weekend. Some of them said that they, like the hundreds of uncommitted superdelegates still at stake, may ultimately “go with the flow,” in the words of one, and support the candidate who appears to show the most strength in the primaries to come.

This all sounds overly pessimistic about Clinton chances really. If Obama, say, took Texas and Ohio then maybe this would be valid, but I don't know why people are always encouraged to get out of the race.

Besides, it's all about Pennsylvania. Remember that.

Evening Thread

Still trying to recover from the trauma of seeing Joe Klein on the teevee earlier.

Are There Any Republicans Left?

Arizona Republican Shadegg to retire...

Blog Time

One thing about blogging is that it seems to distort time rather strangely. It seems like that McCain parody video is about 6 months old already even though it came out this morning. Super Tuesday happened in 1983 or something? Not sure what it does to my mental state more generally.

All of this is just a way to remind us that it's still... FEBRUARY FUNTASTIC FUNDRAISING. Final week. I'm extremely grateful to all who have contributed so far. I'm about 3/4 of the way to what I thought was an optimistic number of donors goal - 1000 - and it'd be quite awesome to get all of the way.

Woo Me Too

I'm not a superdelegate, but the path to the Pennsylvania primary does run through my roof deck so I expect all of the best campaign surrogates to give me quality time.*

*Not really.


Surveyusa email tells me this:

Eve of VA GOP Primary, Huckabee Closes-In On McCain: Big movement in Virginia following Mike Huckabee's strong showing over the weekend in Louisiana, Kansas and Washington state. On the eve of the Virginia Republican Primary, it's John McCain 48%, Mike Huckabee 37%. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA tracking poll released 72 hours ago, McCain is down 9, Huckabee is up 12. McCain had led by 32, now leads by 11. Among Conservative voters, McCain had led by 21, now trails by 5. Among Pro-Life voters, McCain had led by 20 points, now trails by 6. Among voters in Southeast VA, McCain had led by 28, now trails by 12. Among voters focused on Immigration, McCain had led by 16, now trails by 17. Among voters who attend religious services regularly, McCain had led by 24, now trails by 2.

On the Dem Side, it's Obama 60/Clinton 38.

Shaheen Destroys Sununu

Up 17 points in poll (.pdf).

Probability of Death

Rather gruesome topic, but a commenter points us to this actuarial life table. Indeed a 72 year old man has a much higher probability of death (3.5% over the year) than does a 60 year old woman (.8%) or 46 year old man (.4%).

Toll v. Toll


NEW YORK, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Luxury builder Toll Brothers Inc (TOL.N: Quote, Profile, Research), hurt as many buyers to try to get out of contracts for new homes amid falling prices, says a member of its founding family is trying to walk away from an agreement to buy a new condominium.

The daughter of Vice Chairman and co-founder Bruce Toll informed the company last month that she and her husband "did not intend to make settlement" on a $2.47 million home they had previously agreed to purchase, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Toll Brothers went on to say that it intends to pursue its rights under the agreement of sale with Toll's daughter, Wendy Topkis.


I suppose the good news is that Michael O'Hanlon may not be welcome in Team Clinton.

The bad news is we've had so much success in Iraq that we'll have to stay longer.



Great Minds

This is pretty good, too.

Times Change

It wasn't that long ago that someone - an official Washington liberal! - thought this was an awesome title for a book.

The Funniest Thing Not Written By The Editors Ever Made

This is awesome.

Elite Failure

The story of this decade is the complete and utter failure by elites in government and media to do their jobs properly. What's so depressing about all of this is that there has been little accountability anywhere (see Kristol, Bill, New York Times for example) for the catastrophe they unleashed on the people of Iraq. For a group of people enamored with their own self-importance, they seem to have little concern for the consequences of what they do.

Accounting Weakness


Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- American International Group Inc., the world's largest insurer by assets, fell as much as 6.1 percent after auditors found a ``material weakness'' in how the company values its credit-default swap portfolio.

AIG hasn't yet determined the decline in value that will be included in its 2007 financial statements, the New York-based insurer said in a regulatory filing today. The firm dropped $2.87 to $47.81 at 9:36 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.


The war is still over.

BAGHDAD, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Two car bombs exploded in southern Baghdad on Monday, killing 11 people during a visit to the city by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Iraqi police said.

Police said the bombs, which were packed in two cars waiting at a fuel station and exploded within minutes of each other, also wounded 30 people.

Dow Changes

Altria and Honeywell out of the index, Bank of America and America's finest oil company, Chevron, added.

Not sure what the rationale is.


The SEPTA fare card system will likely be a disaster, given the way this article makes things sound. Do any of the people who actually think about these things consider what's useful and appropriate in a crowded subway at rush hour?

Make The Shitpile Higher

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Banks are driving the cost of protecting corporate bonds from default to the highest on record as they seek to hedge against losses on collateralized debt obligations, according to traders of credit-default swaps.

Banks are facing mounting writedowns on CDOs, securities that package credit-default swaps, bonds or loans, as the fallout from the collapse of U.S. subprime mortgages spreads across financial markets. The Group of Seven estimates banks worldwide will suffer writedowns of $400 billion on home loans, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said at a weekend meeting of officials and central bankers in Tokyo.

Credit-default swaps are financial instruments based on bonds and loans that are used to speculate on a company's ability to repay debt. They pay the buyer face value in exchange for the underlying securities or the cash equivalent should a borrower fail to adhere to its debt agreements. A rise indicates worsening perceptions of credit quality; a decline, the opposite.

It isn't clear that this interpretation is correct. Rather than reevaluating appropriate risk positions, it's possible that they're simply reevaluating the underlying risk of the assets.


While it's true that your candidate sucks, we need to remember the the real issue, here:
If the Government is a car setting out to give every one a ride to work, then for 40 years the Republicans have been puncturing the tires, pouring sand in the gas tank, stealing the distributor cap, and, whenever they can get their hands on the wheel, driving it straight into the nearest ditch and then, pointing to the wreckage as the tow truck backs up to it, saying, See, this proves that people were meant to walk. And they do this so that they don't have to chip in on gas.
Not Atrios

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Late Night

Zooey and M. can sing you to sleep.

Still Sunday Thread

Evening Thread

Tomorrow's Monday.


Results here...

Fresh Thread



A couple people emailed in annoyed at this post about Bill Schneider referring to John McCain's "fellow seniors," wondering if I'm hating on the old people.

I don't actually think age and health questions are all that big of deal with respect to the presidency. I'm somewhat surprised by the degree of attention they get. I would have no problem casting a vote for a 72+ year old person. It might make me look a bit more closely at who their Veep is, but I'm just not all that concerned with the possibility that the president might get sick or die in office. As for questions about vigor, or whatever, the presidency needs not be as grueling of a job as recent presidents have made it (yes, even the slacker in chief). There's no need to be constantly traveling around the country. It's probably better that they don't.

But lots of people don't agree with me about that.

Yes, would
vote for

No, would not
vote for












A woman









Married for the third time



72 years of age



A homosexual



An atheist



So McCain definitely doesn't want "McCain the senior" or "old guy McCain" becoming something people are aware of.

Thus the "ouch."


Over there.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide car bomb detonated Sunday evening near a market in Balad, killing at least 25 people and wounding 40 others, an Interior Ministry official said.

The bomb exploded near an Iraqi army checkpoint outside the market in Balad, north of the capital.

More Than A Little Weird

He who counts the votes, and all that...

More Service

This is a small completely local thing that none of you care about, but it's good that the local transit authority is increasing service frequency on one of the subway lines.

The changes include improved weekday Market-Frankford Line service effective Monday morning (February 11). Beginning at 6:45 a.m., SEPTA will expand Market-Frankford Line peak hour service frequency from 69th Street Terminal and Frankford Transportation Center (FTC). From 69th Street Terminal peak hour service will now operate until 9 a.m. while peak hour service from FTC has been extended until 9:30 a.m. with trains operating every four minutes. In addition, SEPTA will enhance midday service with trains leaving every six minutes instead of every eight minutes.

On too much of the system service frequency is such that having to take one route is fine, but having to take two is a big pain in the ass. Upping the frequency on the subways, which are basically the backbones of the system, will help that. Midday frequency of every 6 minutes is pretty good.

Broder, Hoagland, Ignatius, Will

The Washington Post really sucks on Sundays.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

•NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Guest: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Republican presidential candidate.

•“Fox News Sunday,” Guest: President Bush.

•ABC’s “This Week,” Guests: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat; Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat; Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican; former Rep. Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican.

•CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Guests: Huckabee; Joe Trippi, former John Edwards campaign adviser; Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff to Bush.

•CNN’s “Late Edition,” Guests: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat; House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican; former Secretary of State Colin Powell; Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat; and Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat.

Morning thread

I just woke up, so I'm gonna check out this place to see what's going on. Tell me what I've missed while I was asleep.

Not Atrios


Rock on.