Saturday, April 12, 2008




This is shocking. The NYT's negligence is bad enough, but that much we're used to. What I'm not used to is seeing Clark Hoyt deliver such pathetic excuses for such egregious negligence.

Not Atrios

That's A Nuisance

It seems one of the cooling fans on my laptop has killed itself.

Deep Thought

If Americans are truly the hardest working people in the world, isn't that actually a bad thing?

Nobody Could Have Predicted...

That this would end badly.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently estimated that about 45% of foreclosures in 2007 were on private, near-prime or government-backed mortgages. And that means plenty of people who thought they were fine are facing catastrophe, never expecting that their homes would be worth less than the purchase price.

The median first-time buyer put down less than 2% to buy a house in 2007, according to the National Association of Realtors. Many put down nothing, even borrowing to cover closing costs.

Keep in mind that's 2007. The subprime industry collapse happened in February and March of 2007. The first major moment of "credit crunch" happened in August of 2007. And still, in 2007, the median downpayment on a house was under 2%, which tells us that 50% of borrowers basically had no money down.


So if you're curious to know if housing prices are done falling, or if the financial crisis is over, the answer is, uh, no.

...adding, on second read I realize I missed the phrase "first-time buyer," so it isn't quite as bad. But still bad.

Dear Maureen and Camille

Okay, we get it. Democrats are all women except female Democrats who are men. You can stop writing now.


Some more bitter people.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A roadside bomb killed an American soldier in Baghdad on Saturday, capping the bloodiest week for U.S. troops in Iraq this year. Clashes persisted in Shiite areas, even as the biggest Shiite militia sought to rein in its fighters.

At least 13 Shiite militants were killed in the latest clashes in Baghdad's militia stronghold of Sadr City, the U.S. military said. Iraqi police said seven civilians also died in fighting, which erupted Friday night and tapered off Saturday.

Lee Siegel Takes the Stage

Ed Champion:

Lee Siegel belongs to that miserable genus of people who defecate upon any pleasure, tear up any moment of beauty, and who cannot locate the capacity to understand another person’s thoughts or feelings. You’ve probably met a few in your time. And like them, Siegel’s a lesson on how not to live. During the Q&A session, the good Levi Asher tried to engage Siegel in a gracious manner, pointing out that the New Republic hostilities might have been troubling because they at long last revealed what his readers really thought of him. A woman attempted to respond to his points in a fair-minded manner. But Siegel would have none of this. Unable to argue competently, he proceeded to dismiss specific terms and thoughtful angles that others presented. Siegel seemed unaware that such an attitude often causes setbacks.

Spiegel spewed out more straw men than a scarecrow population on a three hundred acre pumpkin patch. At one point, Baker suggested that Siegel once had a fascination with the Internet, pointing out that he had written many articles for Slate.

“That’s a fine conceit,” responded Siegel. “That’s one of the things that makes you a great novelist. Your negative capability.”

“Negative capability? What does that mean?” asked a baffled Holdengraber.

Where Baker hinted at the fun of all of us becoming filterers because of the Internet, Siegel snapped, “I don’t need more filtering.” Ever the hypocrite, Siegel said that the Internet was laden with false personas, but bristled when asked about the sprezzatura incident. He bemoaned being called “asshole,” “douchebag,” “fucktard,” and “shithole” on the New Republic. Being called a pedophile was the last straw. (Never mind that Siegel once called James Kincaid a pedophile.) “They all had it in for me,” cried Siegel. He wanted to give them a taste of their own medicine.


CNN just told me that a year-old mass grave with 45 bodies in it was found in Iraq.

This war is so awesome.

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To

An interesting thing when house hunting was the pretty stark differences between older homes and newer construction/rehabs (remembering that a lot of Philly rehabs are basically new construction, as the places are almost completely gutted). Aside from the fact that America seems to have fallen out of love with carpet, the proliferation of outlets/phone jacks/cable connections in new places is pretty fascinating. They're everywhere!

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Broken Tubes

You know, it always puzzles me why they can't funnel hundreds of billions of dollars to their corrupt pals to have them do something necessary.

cross the New York region, as 100-year rain events seem to arrive every other year or so, residents have grown accustomed to street and basement flooding. But here in Wawarsing, an Ulster County hamlet of crystalline streams and forests on the southern edge of the Catskill Mountains 80 miles northwest of New York City, yards are soggy even in fair weather. And homeowners like Mrs. Smith are wondering whether an aqueduct a fourth of a mile from their neighborhood is to blame.

It is the Delaware Aqueduct, a water tunnel that runs deep underground and delivers about half of New York City’s drinking water. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection has acknowledged that two sections — one in Wawarsing and the other near the Hudson River in Orange County — of a 45-mile-long stretch of the aqueduct known as the Rondout-West Branch Tunnel have been leaking for two decades.

Using dye tests, a robotic submarine and, most recently, divers, city officials have long studied the two leaks, which are estimated at 14 million to 36 million gallons a day. The department says it is committed to repairing the cracks in the aqueduct, but concedes that it will be tricky. Removing the water from the tunnel to make repairs could jeopardize its structural integrity — not to mention stress the city’s water supply.

Sleepy thought

If Russ Feingold is for something and the WaPo is against it, that's pretty much all you need to know, isn't it?

Not Atrios


Rock on.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Insert crappy youtube video here.

Roof Deck: The Next Generation

Friday Cat Blogging

Friday Night Thread

I'm tired. It's been a long week.

And I hate you all!

FBI Interviewing Members of Hung Jury

I actually have no idea if this is normal and appropriate or not.

Fresh Thread



I had no idea there was something wrong with ordering orange juice at a diner.

Our political discourse is so stupid.


John Oliver does a Fox "documentary."

Part 1

Part 2

I was struck by how much the actual Fox documentary on Bush copied McCain's campaign font/style.


I'd hate to see what losing looked like.


Sadly, as in most cities, most of Philadelphia's once omnipresent trolley system was torn down. But some routes lasted longer than others and it wouldn't be impossible to restart them, with track and wires largely still in place. Here's a map. The green ones are running, the red and blue ones lasted into the 80s or longer.

Billion Here, Billion There

That's a lot of money!


Even aside from my unrepresentative friends, Philadelphia is generally pretty acyclical so a national downturn might not touch here much. My housing inspector said that his business dropped off a little bit for awhile but then bounced right back, so real estate isn't dead here. In center city there's a bit of a glut as I think a lot of developers simultaneously saw those dollar signs and there are a lot of properties which came on the market at about the same time. It's all priced way to high; when the prices drop they sell.

Bad Mojo

Consumer confidence down.

April 11 (Bloomberg) -- Confidence among U.S. consumers sank to a 26-year low in April as the labor market continued to deteriorate and gasoline prices rose.

The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment decreased to 63.2 from 69.5 in March. The reading was below the lowest forecast in a Bloomberg News survey and the weakest since March 1982.

Most of my friends are academics and therefore not as affected by economic fluctuations. What about people you know? Is it getting bad out there, or are people just being brainwashed by the George Bush-hating liberal media into thinking it's bad?

Twice The Fun

Glad to hear that the Headhouse Market will be running both Sat. and Sun. this year. There were and are other farmers' markets in town, as well as the Italian and Reading Terminal Markets, but the newly started Headhouse Market really managed to create a nice community vibe.

I guess we'll just make this Philadelphia day on the blog and drive down traffic a bit.

Sidestepping The Machine

On one hand its nice that Obama has apparently built up a volunteer team so that it can ignore (or thinks it can) the typical Philadelphia machine process, on the other hand there's merit to the complaints that spending money on media rather than people is problematic.

Street money is a weird thing in elections. I think all of our first instincts are to react negatively to it, but what's really going on is that you're paying campaign workers for a day of work. In practice it's a bit messier than that of course.

The Little Things

I wrote that sidewalk quality and access were relatively low on the list of urban ills. And they are. But it's also the case that very minor quality of life tweaks in the city are a bigger deal than they may seem. Trash collection, street cleaning, and sidewalks aren't quite up there with improving schools and not being murdered, but they're important too.


While relatively low on the list of urban ills, it's quite true that Philly needs to take back its sidewalks. I appreciate that construction projects will, at times, need to appropriate them, but as it currently stands they have no incentive to either minimize their footprint on them or to give the space back in a timely fashion.

The Mortgage Broker Boom

A couple of months ago I chatted with someone who was fairly high up in a subprime lending business. Unsurprisingly he had been laying a lot of people off. He told me something that I hadn't quite realized, that mortgage brokers had been making a hell of a lot of money. $500K annual salary kind of money. And he told me a story woman who worked for him, and not even one he'd laid off, who had been making that kind of money, bought a house for 7 figures or so, and after business went a bit sour had lost it and had moved back in with her parents. I joked that at least she hadn't bought a bunch of properties to flip. He laughed and said that, well, she had and had lost those too. The story was pretty much like this one on NPR.

Amber Barbosa didn't graduate college. But she did get an education — by working for the now infamous subprime lender New Century Mortgage Corp.

Barbosa was a quick study: A few years later, she struck out on her own as a mortgage broker.

"In 2006, I made close to $500,000," she says. Not bad for a 28-year-old with no college degree.

By then Barbosa, who was living outside of San Francisco, had a nice boat, a 27-foot Bayliner. She had several houses, a Mercedes and a Cadillac.

Very Very Late Night

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Late Night

Rock on.

On A Lighter Note

Trying to break free of my "anything more than a comic book is too much" mode of late, I actually tried to read a book or two. Started reading Pullman's His Dark Materials series thanks to a generous reader. About 1/3 way through the second one. Pretty good so far.

Since being put on the publicity lists for various publishers I've felt oppressed by the giant number of unread nonfiction books which sit on my shelves. I appreciate receiving the ones I do as they occasionally are useful and timely references, but the fact is I'd be much more likely to actually read and review fiction. I read too much nonfiction, or at least purported nonfiction, as it is.

Deep Thought

I am bloggier than thou.

The Wingnut Mind

Joking aside, if Obama is the nominee by November a substantial portion of wingnuttia will assert that Obama is, actually, a terrorist. Not just a terrorist sympathizer, a supporter of terrorists, or looks like a terrorist, but is an actual capital 'T' terrorist.

And those of us in the saner zones of reality will scratch our heads and ponder that perennial question in American politics: are they stupid or are they lying?

Deep Thought

I wonder why the Justice Department hasn't had that terrorist, Barack Obama, arrested.

Fresh Thread


Oh Well


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he has abandoned hope that troop levels in Iraq will drop to 100,000 by the end of the year.

Last May:

It is the first indication that growing political pressure is forcing the White House to turn its attention to what happens after the current troop increase runs its course.

The concepts call for a reduction in forces that could lower troop levels by the midst of the 2008 presidential election to roughly 100,000, from about 146,000, the latest available figure, which the military reported on May 1. They would also greatly scale back the mission that President Bush set for the American military when he ordered it in January to win back control of Baghdad and Anbar Province.

My astute pundit commentary on this at the time:



Another thing which leads to monopsony power is firm-specific training and skills. You learn bunch of stuff through on the job training which is valuable to your firm but which isn't really transferable to another firm. So you're more productive working for your company than you would be for another company, and they don't face competitive pressure to fully compensate you for your value.

As for why anyone clicks through a Megan McArdle post, I could not say.

Better Temperature Monitors Please

It's warm today, but not this warm.


They publish Camille because it's a guaranteed Drudge link.

As for why anyone clicks through, I could not say.

Feeling Drafty

McCain wants more troops in Afghanistan, wanted more troops in Iraq. The world McCain envisions isn't really possible without a draft.

Wireless Included!

Nice of my new neighbor to leave their wireless open.

Meanwhile, John McCain is hanging out with a strange company.

McCain is doing an event in Brooklyn this afternoon at a company called Windows We Are, Inc. It looks like McCain’s campaign didn’t exactly check the place out first — the company’s employment application form asks applicants if they have kids, are married, and rent or own.

Lunch Break

Apologies for the lighter than usual posting sometimes. Blogging isn't that hard, but it isn't very compatible with having other things to do and lately I've had other things to do.

Spent the morning signing my name 150 times. Gonna go try the keys.


Broder's boy hits new low in AP-Ipsos poll.

A survey released Thursday showed just 28 percent approve of the overall job he is doing. His previous record low in the poll was 30 percent last month.

Lost Our Mojo

I continue to be fascinated by these right track/wrong track poll numbers, though I don't think I've ever quite been able to explain why. Only 15% say right track!

Almost half of Americans (47%) say the economy is one of the two most important issues for the government to address, up from 41 percent who said so in February This is one of the highest numbers for any issue in recent time. Further back, just over one-quarter of Americans (28%) say the War is one of the two most important issues while 17 percent say it is Health care. One in ten each says Iraq and rising oil and gas prices (10% each)

It could simply be that more people are feeling economic pain than the bumper sticker numbers from the data suggest, but it seems to me that there's just something deeper. We don't feel awesome anymore.

(Ht pony boy)


I understand Randi Rhodes has quit Air America. Whatever you think about that, you can contact and suggest that Sam Seder be her replacement.


All the networks seem to be replaying some Bush speech from 2005, 2006, or 2007.


I don't really know how much endorsements matter. Casey's probably helps Obama. Rendell tends to sound like he's endorsing everyone. Not clear what Mayor Nutter's does for Clinton, though it doesn't hurt (Rendell and Nutter are both in ads for Clinton). Obama's picking up some local support:

The Council members who will announce their support of Obama today are: Curtis Jones, Bill Green, Jannie Blackwell, Donna Reed-Miller, Jim Kenney and Wilson Goode, Jr.

Among the Pennsylvania lawmakers will be state senators Shirley Kitchen and Vincent Hughes, and state representatives Jewell Williams, Harold James and Tony Payton Jr.

Friedman Forever

Morning Thread

Deep Thought: Some days Dad likes to sleep more than others.

--Molly I.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Deep Thought

Some days this blog really sucks.


They are stupid things.

Deep Thought

I hope they get Bill T. Jones to choreograph some enhanced interrogation techniques.

War Criminals

Who should all be in jail.

In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News.

The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of "combined" interrogation techniques -- using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time -- on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.


The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.


At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.


Between this type of polling data and the right track/wrong track polling data, it's clear that something's up in this country. I haven't yet seen politicians really tap into it. Sure you get some policy proposals for this and that, but a really smart politician would figure out how to tap these sentiments, channel them into a coherent narrative, and use that to propel an agenda forward.

Just dreaming I guess.

And The War is Over

And the dead are all living.

BAGHDAD (AP) — Five U.S. soldiers died in Iraq, including three killed in roadside bombings in Baghdad and north of the capital, the military said Wednesday.

That raised to 17 the number of U.S. troop deaths in Iraq since Sunday.

Torturewanker Wankertorture

John Yoo: Torturewanker.

Does John McCain Even Bother To Pay Taxes?

I do just wonder how much media bullying will be necessary before they decide that if they demand that Hillary Clinton release her tax returns, then maybe John McCain should too. I'm not going to hope that the Clinton rules - where each new disclosure automatically leads to demands for further disclosures - will apply, just that they at least require Huggy Bear to release the damn things.

We've Been Occupying the South for Almost 150 Years!

Conservatives are hilarious.


Matthews may be the most ridiculously transparent of the Village idiots and scribes, but he is far from unique. The story isn't him, it's the sick culture that has nurtured him and allows people like him to flourish.

He is just the ultimate cartoonish manifestation of the Village. Still there's something sympathetic about him. I suppose it's his oddly childlike nature which inspires some sympathy from me. I wonder if he was just too shy to come out and play with us?

Wasting Your Money

I don't know if one could write something similar about the Obama campaign - likely I imagine - and I don't link to this as an attack on the Clinton campaign specifically. But it is the case that campaigns should have a bit of respect for their donors and supporters and not pay out millions to people. I'm not against the idea that quality people deserve money and I don't think everyone working in politics should be poor, but political campaigns are somewhat unique in that they do ask for, and receive, a substantial amount of money from people who may not have all that much money.

...and, yes, if I wasn't a lazy blogger and I'd have actually clicked through I'd know this isn't just about the Clinton campaign.

Getting rich off free-spending campaigns is, of course, a time-honored tradition in politics, and it isn't just Mark Penn who does it. Consultants typically take a percentage of the money a candidate spends on whatever service it is they provide. Media consultants make more whenever they convince their clients they need to cut another ad, pollsters make a profit on each survey, and so on. Penn's counterpart as chief strategist on Barack Obama's campaign, David Axelrod, has seen at least $1.2 million paid to his Chicago-based firm, where David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, was a partner until he left to go work for the campaign. (Plouffe makes $12,000 a month in salary.) Obama has paid his chief pollster, Joel Benenson, $635,000 so far. Bob Shrum made at least $6 million for not getting John Kerry elected president four years ago. Raise your hand if you think you could have accomplished the same job for less.

J'Ohmmn M'Cainzzz

Can't even spell his own name?

South Philly

Not actually an African-American part of the city.

Thursday is New Jobless Day

That's tomorrow, of course, but it appears that some of the new jobless aren't being counted because they can't get through to get their benefits.

SACRAMENTO -- Think it's bad losing your job in the middle of hard times? Try calling the state for help.

In January, with the unemployment rate nearing 6%, nearly 12.6 million calls were placed to the state's toll-free phone number to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. But more than three-fifths never got through.

Frank Hartzell knows the problem all too well. A laid-off Mendocino County social services worker, he tried calling morning and afternoon, 45 times in December. The computer hung up every time until No. 46, and he was able to apply.

I'm guessing that there are going to be quite a few holes in what little social safety net exists if things get worse.

Mighty Tim Tagaris

Poor guy, spent the entire primary day trying to tell the media that the Lieberman campaign was full of shit.

We Tried To Say No

And on it goes.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least a dozen people were killed in Baghdad's Shi'ite slum of Sadr City on Wednesday, despite vehicle bans aimed at preventing unrest from spreading on the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.

Police said six people died in clashes overnight, and an explosion in the morning whose cause was unclear hit a funeral inside the eastern Baghdad district that is home to 2 million, killing six more and wounding 14 people.

Dr Qasim al-Mudalla told Reuters four bodies and 23 wounded had been brought to the Imam Ali hospital he manages in Sadr City, where U.S. and Iraqi forces have battled militia loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr since Sunday.

Five years of Friedman Units, of politicians insisting that Iraq wouldn't be an issue in the next election, of pundits assuring us that Bush would have to withdraw troops any day now, of anti-war voices even now completely excluding from the media, and of course the sage advice of the Wise Old Men of Washington...

The Last Honest Man

Those of us who were in Connecticut that day know that Connecticut media was pretty much wall to wall "LAMONT CAMPAIGN HACKED THE LIEBERMAN CAMPAIGN WEB SITE" the entire day of the primary.

A federal investigation has concluded that U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman's 2006 re-election campaign was to blame for the crash of its Web site the day before Connecticut's heated Aug. 8 Democratic primary.

The FBI office in New Haven found no evidence supporting the Lieberman campaign's allegations that supporters of primary challenger Ned Lamont of Greenwich were to blame for the Web site crash.


Visitors who tried to access Lieberman's site at the time received a message calling on Lamont to "make an unqualified statement denouncing this kind of dirty campaign trick and to demand whoever is responsible to cease and desist immediately."

The Lieberman-Lamont race captured national and international attention.

Blumenthal denied The Advocate's FOI request on the grounds it was a federal matter, and it took more than a year for the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice to respond.

The Lieberman campaign alleged it was the target of a "denial of service attack," which can involve bombarding a Web site with external communications to slow it or render it useless.

"Our Web site consultant assured us in the strongest terms possible that we had been attacked," former Lieberman campaign spokesman Dan Gerstein said in December 2006.


There's what really happened, and then there's the Washington Fantasy.

In America, there is bipartisan support for getting out of Iraq. Trouble is, Fred Hiatt defines "bipartisan" as "Joe Lieberman". How'd that happen?

Not Atrios

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Rock on.


Funny stuff.

Deep Thought

Remember when Ben Domenech wrote for That was so awesome.




WASHINGTON (AP) -- The hearing on Iraq depicted just how deeply divided Americans remain on the war.

Look, Americans are "deeply divided" on practically every issue. The country was divided when 60% thought the war was awesome and when only 50% thought the war was awesome. The country is divided now that 65% want to get the hell out of there in a reasonable time frame. The country is always divided on practically every issue you could think of in that a bunch of people think one thing, and a bunch of people think another.

Fresh Thread


How Low Can They Go

Home prices:

Based on 2006 housing costs, the cost of renting in the Phoenix area averages $862 while the average cost of owning can range from $1,343 to $1,804, depending on interest rates, the report said. That means that Phoenix rental costs can range from 47 to 64 percent of ownership costs.

The report says that when ownership costs exceed 50 percent, it indicates a bubble. Some "extraordinary" gaps include New York City, where it costs 109 percent more to own a home than to rent; San Diego, 133 percent; San Francisco, 161 percent; and Los Angeles, 168 percent.

You can argue that some of these places are special and unique enough that long run housing price appreciation rates might be higher in them. But these prices have built in stupid levels of expected appreciation and will come down before they go back up.

Could Be A News Story

But GOP Daddy Mukasey is incapable of lying, so this all happened in some parallel universe we can ignore.

Cracks In The Tubes

Ted Stevens strikes again.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Two hours north of New York City, a mile-long stream and a marsh the size of a football field have mysteriously formed along a country road. They are such a marvel that people come from miles around to drink the crystal-clear water, believing it is bubbling up from a hidden natural spring.

The truth is far less romantic: The water is coming from a cracked 70-year-old tunnel hundreds of feet below ground, scientists say.

The tunnel is leaking up to 36 million gallons a day as it carries drinking water from a reservoir to the big city. It is a powerful warning sign of a larger problem around the country: The infrastructure that delivers water to the nation's cities is badly aging and in need of repairs.

The Environmental Protection Agency says utilities will need to invest more than $277 billion over the next two decades on repairs and improvements to drinking water systems. Water industry engineers put the figure drastically higher, at about $480 million.

Deep Thought

Remember when Eliot Spitzer was governor? Good times.


This is how Jake Tapper defines his job.

And as much as citizens who are suspect of the media might scoff at such a notion, many of us consider ourselves to be your representatives to help make sure our leaders are telling us the truth, and leading the country down a path we're confident is the right one.

Well okay then.

What's In A Deal

It occurred to me that I had actually no idea just what this Colombia "free trade" deal was about. Quotes are necessary because free trade deals are never really that. So I hunted through Google news to try to find out and realized it's difficult to find any real reporting on its content. This is about the best I've found so far:

The Colombia trade agreement would lock in that country's current duty-free access to the U.S. market for most of its goods and require Colombia to remove tariffs on U.S. exports and make other reforms to create a friendlier business environment for U.S. companies.

So it seems that for reasons that are unclear Colombia currently pays very little in tariffs to the US, but US companies exporting to Colombia pay a lot and this deal would set in stone the former and then reduce tariffs paid by US companies.

...okay, to the source (.pdf) Unsurprisingly this is about a lot more than tariffs. Knocks down a variety of barriers to US companies from operating in Colombia and exports our views of intellectual property, etc...

Anyway, this stuff is reported on at the level of "call it free trade so Tom Friedman will support it" but there's a lot more to these agreements and it'd be nice if journalists would actually inform people.

100 Years

I've read the numerous attempts by conservatives and mainstream journalists to complain that somehow people are being mean and unfair to Huggy Bear by taking his "100 years" comment "out of context" or "distorting it" or whatever. For the life of me I don't understand what their complaint is. His point was perfectly clear, that he's happy to stay in Iraq as long as it takes to "win" and then he's happy to stay there even longer.

They could perform some actual journalism by asking him just how long Americans should keep getting killed in Iraq, just how much taxpayers' money he's willing to spend or how many American lives should be lost in Iraq just so we can get to the point when no more American lives are being lost in Iraq.



Kudos to ABC for actually doing the story, but it's just incredible how ingrained these narratives are in the brains of our press.

I've done my best to never try to make assumptions about the political views of "the troops." They aren't a monolithic group, they all signed up for a variety of reasons, and they have differing personal circumstances. Still to anyone with a moderate bit of intelligent it shouldn't be all that surprising that some of them might not be thrilled about their extended trip to the desert and might not be thrilled to support candidates who want to make it an even more extended trip.

More Trash Cans

Hopefully substantially more.

To keep the effort going, the city plans to step up measures against illegal dumpers and deploy more trash cans.

The city will announce if a date is set for a future cleanup.

The citywide cleanup was a nice community spirit kind of thing, with some positive effects also, but cleaning up trash is an ongoing process, not a once in awhile thing. Quite a bit of random trash is generated when there's a windy storm overnight and trash people have put out for collection gets blown around. This and other type of random trash might be picked up by community-minded dogooders more often if there was a trash can to put it in. There are so few public cans in this city.

The problem, as I understand it, is that with once per week trash collection and a lack of outside space for many people the public cans are used for peoples' household garbage. They are then punished by a removal of the can. Over time, of course, all the cans get removed.

Wanker of the Day

Joe Lieberman.

A Complete Mystery

Nobody could have predicted...

Pending sales of previously owned homes fell a bigger-than-expected 1.9 percent in February to the lowest reading on record, according to a report from a real estate trade group.

And On And On

Of course since Hitler of the week al-Sadr wants a US withdrawal, we can't do it.

BAGHDAD - Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened Tuesday to lift a seven-month freeze on his Mahdi Army militia if the Iraqi government does not halt attacks on his followers or set a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal.


It's unfathomable that someone whose job it is to know better could look at the current state of the housing and credit markets and be shocked that the housing market hasn't yet turned around.


A few minutes ago Candy Crowley told me that the presidential candidates need to appear "above the partisanship," or something like that, at the Senate hearings with Petraeus. I don't even know what that means, but to the extent that I do... uh, why?


Scott Horton.

The exact circumstances surrounding the dealings between Haynes and Yoo that led to the development of this memorandum are unclear. However, it is clear that Haynes had previously authorized the use of the torture techniques, and had secured an order from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld authorizing them.

Following the implementation of these techniques, more than 108 detainees died in detention. In a large number of these cases, the deaths have been ruled a homicide and connected to torture. These homicides were a forseeable consequence of the advice that Haynes and Yoo gave.

Good morning, campers!

So, it turns out Atrios has mentioned Iraq more than the whole rest of the media, or something. No wonder I can still remember what it's called....

Not Atrios

Monday, April 07, 2008

Wanker of the Day

Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser

Late Night

Rock on.


The Very Respectable Tim Russert

And his fine fine guests.

SULLIVAN: Again, you keep playing with that quote. We're happy to have it on the record. And now you've made me forget my second point, which is --

HITCHENS: Oh, well, don't be such a lesbian. Get on with it.

Fresh Thread


But It Almost Worked!

There are definitely ways that the Clinton campaign has annoyed me, but the "win Super Tuesday and it's over" strategy really was a pretty good one and it almost worked. Politics is binary and there's big tendency to overstate the genius of the winners and lament the bumbling of the losers. Now the basic Clinton campaign strategy wasn't necessarily one which spoke to me, but the point of the campaign isn't to win me over it's to... win.

Where they seemingly went wrong was remaining wedded to the momentum strategy even after they had lost the momentum. Whether this was just stupidity or largely due to money issues I don't know, but not competing in a bunch of states let Obama get a bunch of big wins while she had been getting much smaller wins.

Still All Kinds Of Awesome

Hug that war, Huggy Bear.

BAGHDAD - Three American soldiers were killed in separate attacks Monday in Baghdad, the U.S. military said. That pushed the two-day American death toll to at least 10 nationwide.

Two soldiers were killed in a rocket propelled grenade attack and another was killed by small arms fire in east Baghdad, the military said.

And This Is Probably Bad

Oh well.

ALBANY — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s ambitious dream to remake New York City streets with an elaborate plan for congestion pricing died on Tuesday in a private conference room on the third floor of the state Capitol.

It was there that Democratic members of the State Assembly, who control the chamber, held one final meeting to debate the merit’s of Mr. Bloomberg’s plan, ultimately voting—in secret—against the idea. The opposition was so overwhelming, said Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, that he would not hold an open vote of the full Assembly, though many Republicans were supportive of Mr. Bloomberg.

Paid Leave in NJ

This is good.

New Jersey's version would offer workers up to six weeks' leave to care for sick family members and newborn or adopted children. During the last legislative session, another version of the bill, which would have offered up to 10 weeks of paid leave, failed to clear the legislature.

The current bill would offer workers leave at two-thirds of their salary, up to $504 per week, for six weeks. Workers would pay for the program through payroll deductions, which would cost an estimated $33 per year. Workers would be limited to one leave per 12-month period.

Something which is often lost in discussions of this stuff is the fact that there a whole bunch of things that we might like to take out insurance for, but given the way that insurance markets work it probably won't be possible to do so unless there's some universality to it.

Deep Thought

It's pretty awesome that Democratic campaign people have decided to give Drudge even more legitimacy.


It's hard to comprehend how Huggy Bear is going to win this election with one arm wrapped tightly around Iraq and the other around the preznit, even with his base, the mainstream press, completely in the tank for him.

They Write Books

Cliff Schecter wrote a book. And if a lot of you buy one, Cliff might go on teevee more often. Cliff makes Republicans cry.

Acutal Hard Work

If the economy continues to decline, as it likely will, plenty of people will be thrilled to pick lettuce for $50/hour.

Can't wait for that commercial.

...adding, there are of course plenty of people who would be thrilled to do that now.

Everybody Hates Joe

It's somewhat ghoulishly amusing that the future of Joe Lieberman's Senate career depends on the US getting out of Iraq before 2012 rolls around. Of course his future position in the Cabinet depends on the election of John McCain.

Digital-Era Sweatshop

Indeed, this kind of thing is really ignorant. Like any other job, blogging can have various stresses associated with it but the idea that its comparable to working in an actual sweatshop just reflects a bizarrely stupid class bias by people who write for elite newspapers.


I recently saw Wendy Wasserstein's final play, performed by the Philadelphia Theater Company. I'm a bad critic so I don't do much criticism, but this play was seriously disturbing. It was basically a giant conservative fantasy about politics, internalized and regurgitated by someone with liberal sentiments. Shorter Third: Shrill intolerant elitist northeastern liberal arts college feminist professor treats hot brilliant white male student unfairly, and that's why the Iraq war happened.

There were elements that ring true - there's a cloistered elitism in some faculty at high ranking colleges which is somewhat at odds with their expressed politics - but overall the idea that there was some giant political backlash against imaginary English professors which few in the country have any exposure to is, outside of David Horowitz's fantasy world, just stupid. "The Left" in American popular political discourse isn't represented by these people or caricatures of them, it's represented by, you know, whichever "Democratic strategist" CNN puts on the teevee that day. I spent some time in academia and I never met this archetypal shrill elitist northeastern liberal arts college feminist professor, but even if I accept that somewhere she must exist she has approximately zero influence on the political discourse 99.999999999% of the country have access to.

The F.U. Era is Over

It's been awhile since I've caught anyone promising ponies in 6 months. Now it seems we're all just supposed to accept that, well, we've just got to stick it out another 5 to 10 years. Because then the ponies will come!

BAGHDAD — The United States is no closer to achieving its goals in Iraq than it was a year ago but a quick military withdrawal could lead to massive chaos and even genocide, according to a report released Sunday by a U.S. think tank.

The U.S. Institute of Peace report was written by experts who advised the Iraq Study Group, a panel mandated by Congress to offer recommendations on U.S. policy in Iraq in 2006.


“The U.S. is no closer to being able to leave Iraq than it was a year ago,” it concluded. “Lasting political development could take five to 10 years of full, unconditional U.S. commitment to Iraq.”

And anyone who thinks that's a bad idea is a patchouli scented dirty fucing hippie unfit to dine on quail with Cokie Roberts and David Broder.


We are ruled by people who think like Kevin Kline's character in a Fish Called Wanda.

Morning thread

"Mustn't hate! Mustn't hate!...

At least so overtly."

Late Night Thread

Jagerbombs or Cherrybombs..... which is worse?


--Molly I.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Late Night

Rock on.

Propping Up Big Shitpile

Patriotic American than I am, I'm doing my part to prop up the housing market by buying a house. If all works out as planned, in a few days I'll actually own one.

It's been a pretty fascinating process. It's an incredibly complicated transaction, with dozens of moving parts having to align simultaneously. I recognize that it's also a pretty standard transaction, but there are many moments when low information buyers (and as a first time buyer I'm not exactly high information) could get screwed by the people they imagine are representing them but who in reality don't have an obligation to represent their interests solely (mortgage broker, real estate agents, etc.).

Aside from the transaction, it's provided a great opportunity to really explore the urban spaces of (parts of) Philadelphia. While I've long had an interest in such things, the opportunity to explore dozens of houses in various places has been a real education.

Unlike a lot (though not all) suburban development, parcel lot size has an immense impact on how places are developed. Given renewed interest in center city living over the past decade or so, there has been a lot of gentrification/complete rehab/new construction. In areas I was looking, the standard plot is fit for an attached row house. Most lot sizes are between 14 and 18 feet wide, with 16 being fairly standard. Depth can range from 40 feet for the classic Philly "trinity" (basically 3 rooms stacked vertically plus a bathroom and small back "yard"), to 80 feet or so, though the occasional 100 footer exists.

For plot sizes with more depth, light is a pretty big issue. Non-corner plots only have light from the front or back unless a piece has been sliced out to provide for side windows on a portion of the plot. Creative ways to bring in more outside light can be quite interesting.

The housing bubble never got completely crazy here, although I think it hit a point where a lot of builders/rehabbers thought it would be crazy and built/priced accordingly.

Most of the existing housing stock in relevant areas is about 100 years old. Some of the rehabbing has been of high quality, and some of it has been complete crap.

Fascinating to me at least! I've long thought that constraints can actually foster creativity, and some builders have been quite creative with the limited spaces they've had to work with.

Big Engineering

This article about New York tunnels past and future is fascinating.

Deep Thought

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

And Even Awesomer



Huggy Bear's war is still awesome.

Foreclosure Map

This is pretty depressing.

And it's just of subprime loans. There are plenty of not subprime loans going under, too.

(via Barry)

Deep Thought

I wonder what point Thers was trying to make by selling t-shirts which read "Your Favorite Blog Sucks" at a gathering of the readers of this blog.

Teenage Wasteland

I understand, to some degree, why suburbia is seen as a nice place to raise kids.* But at some point those kids become teenagers, and...

*Obviously perceived school quality is a giant factor in this and I'll grant that. But there are other perceived reasons which perplex me somewhat.

Please Stop

As I've said before, there are times the Clinton campaign is just sticking its finger into my brain. Usually it's the campaign and surrogates, and not the candidate herself, but this time it's coming from her.

Clinton on Saturday told Oregonians, "when Sen. Obama came to the Senate he and I have voted exactly the same except for one vote. And that happens to be the facts. We both voted against early deadlines. I actually starting criticizing the war in Iraq before he did."

It's an odd way to measure opposition to the war -- comparing who gave the first criticism of the war in Iraq starting in January 2005, ignoring Obama's opposition to the war throughout 2003 and 2004.

It's fair to say that Obama didn't exactly spend his time in the Senate being an anti-war leader, but this moving the goalpost stuff is really annoying.

The Iraq war has been a colossal moral, fiscal, and humanitarian disaster. Those who opposed it were marginalized, vilified, and ignored by our elites. Those who opposed it, in any way, had a bit of courage even if they weren't in the Senate at the time.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week" — Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Howard Dean.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa.; Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa.; Michael Eric Dyson, author of a book on Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. ; Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor and an aide to King during the civil rights movement.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Martin Luther King III; Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.; Catholic University President David O'Connell; Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and John Cornyn, R-Texas; Robert Reich, former labor secretary; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, adviser for John McCain's presidential campaign.

"Fox News Sunday" _ Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and John Kerry, D-Mass.; Joe Urschel, executive director of the Newseum media museum.


That bin there.

There Are 8 Million Bars In The Naked City

Walking home tonight it was weird seeing a couple of bars with lines outside them. These weren't places where exclusivity was part of their "charm," or places where they had some particularly unique draw of some sort. Just basic bars which were overcrowded, even though there are plenty of other bars around where those people could go. Weird.

And your favorite bar sucks!