Saturday, April 26, 2008

Late Night

Rock on.


Colliding galaxies!

Not Atrios

Stupid Media Matters

It is too different when Pelosi says it. So there.

Econ 101 Through The Gibberish Machine

Megan McCardle is one of life's enduring mysteries. Along with Jonah Goldberg.

...adding that while the term "preference maximization" is occasionally used, it's a rather bad and misleading substitute for "utility maximization."

Almost Miss The Friedman Unit Days

While it was always a farce, just a way to kick the can down the road another six months, at least during those years there was some sense that something needed to change in Iraq.

Now it's just static and stagnant. We're there. We're staying. That's it.

Parades and Magnets

It's gotta be weird returning from Iraq, from the war back to a country where the war barely exists. Its existence, at least any representation of it, is largely unacknowledged in our media. Sure they mention the war, but there's no confrontation with the reality of it or chronicling of the daily lives (and deaths) of the people who are there.



WASHINGTON — As the home foreclosure crisis sweeps across America, military and financial aid groups say they are hearing from a rising number of troops who say they are falling behind on their mortgage payments and struggling to keep their homes.

"The Army as a whole has seen an increase in soldiers and families seeking assistance for mortgage foreclosures," says Army Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, an Army spokeswoman, citing data from branch legal offices trying to advise soldier.


Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Escamilla was on his third combat tour in Iraq last year when he had to negotiate from the battlefield with his lender over disputed penalties for the adjustable-rate loan on his four-bedroom home near Fort Carson, Colo. His payment had ballooned from $967 to more than $3,000.

"Not only do I have to worry about staying alive, but now I got to worry about whether or not my family's going to get kicked out of the house," Escamilla says of the long-distance haggling last fall.


After a USA TODAY inquiry last week to the parent company, New York-based Lehman Bros., a corporate officer notified Escamilla that all penalties would be removed and his payment adjusted down to its original amount, Escamilla says. "She was sorry for what happened," the soldier says.

Not everyone can rely on a press inquiry to fix things.

Gonna Sleep With The Fishes

Eleanor Clift's if Hillary wins everyone who doesn't support her is going to sleep with the fishes article is pretty inane. Yes different people will have their pecking order in the Washington hierarchy changed depending on which candidate ultimately triumphs, but that's a sort of duh point which is less exciting than describing Clinton as a vengeful bitch.

Facts Are Stupid Things

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post just told MSNBC viewers about the "wacky superdelegate system that only Democrats could come up with."

Of course the GOP has superdelegates too, though not quite as many.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Deep Thought

Attaturk is the Phife to Thers' Tip. This analogy is taut, provocative.

Midnight Thread

Friday, April 25, 2008


Friday Cat Blogging

Friday Night Thread


Tyrant King Porn Dragon

I just wanted to type tyrant king porn dragon.


The comment below was inspired in part by the back and forth which Chief Enforcer Tomasky discusses.

I'm sort of tired of the whole journalist/blogger/citizen journalist discussion. Basically, it's very simple. Once upon a time we lived in the world where most of us, upon discovering something interesting, could tell a few friends and that's about it. We now live in a world where anyone can, potentially, broadcast a bit of information to hundreds of millions of people.

As for the Fowler situation specifically, it seems that if Fowler had merely "leaked" the information no journalist would be fretting about any ethical issues. Okay to be an anonymous source to a responsible journalist, not okay to broadcast yourself.

Deep Thought

You mean people can write pretty much anything they want on the internets?

Past Due

Sizable jumps in unpaid utility bills it appears.

By Fall we'll have a pretty good idea if we're hitting a really nasty economic period or just a minor bump.

And What Does He Say In Private?

I suppose Tweety doesn't exactly have a functioning self-censoring filter, but given all the messed up race and gender stuff he says on the teevee I do wonder what he says aloud in private.

Oh Noes

Not again.

Over and Over and Over and Over and Over

And for free!

Crying Over Henry Ford

There are certainly reasons to do so, but not the ones I presume Nooners was thinking about.

This is going to be an even dumber election than the last one.

Nobody Ever Could Have Predicted

I guess I'm failing in my efforts to turn that, and similar phrases, into enough of a joke that people stop saying it.


A bunch of people have complained that the RSS feed isn't working. Obviously that means there's a problem, but I don't know what it is. This feed appears to be working to me.

Accessing Culture

I went to see Destroyer last night, and was chatting with the person I went with about how the "kids" today are exposed to and access pop culture. Back in the pre-internet days you had mainstream radio and maybe you had a college radio station which played some other things. Perhaps an alt-weekly told you about stuff. But that was it. Aside from listening to what your friends had, other than going to record shops and buying random things you thought you might like there really wasn't any way to sample what was out there.

Obviously things are different now, with the internet, but still it's a mystery to me just how your typical suburban teen interacts with that universe.


63% think the Iraq war was a bad idea. Still, no harm no foul. We shouldn't fault the people who made that mistake. We should look forward instead, and look to those same people to continue to make wise and intelligent pronouncements about what we should do in the pages of our elite newspapers. That's the Washington way, after all.

And On And On

Still Iraq'd:

Under pressure from Iraqi government troops and the American military, Moktada al-Sadr called on his followers to stop the bloodshed, unite with all Iraqis and focus their firepower on driving out the “occupation forces,” meaning the United States military and its foreign allies.


In the statement Mr. Sadr, who is believed to be in Iran, issued eight edicts in an effort to open the way for a negotiation with the Iraqi government, but also to shore up his own support.

He instructed his followers to “to wage open war against the Americans” but forbade them from “raising a hand against another Iraqi citizen.” He also urged the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police to stop cooperating with the Americans, and he asked the government to purge the militias within the ranks of the police and the army. He said he would oppose any American military bases in Iraq.

He also issued a “final warning” to the Iraqi government to end its crackdown or face an “open war until liberation.”

The story says this is an effort to calm the situation in Iraq. Perhaps it's that, too, but it's obviously not just that.

And The Dream Is Over

Personal loan guarantees. Not so smart.

After months of wrangling with lenders over huge debts accumulated during the housing boom, prominent Sacramento-area home builder John D. Reynen filed Wednesday for personal bankruptcy protection.

Reynen, co-founder of Reynen & Bardis Communities, took the action to prevent San Francisco-based Bank of the West from seizing his house and other personal assets for a $26 million debt owed by his company, said Michele McCormick, spokeswoman for the builder.

On Wednesday, McCormick characterized Reynen's personal bankruptcy filing as a necessity that allows the company to continue its restructuring efforts with its lenders. She said all the firm's creditors have agreed to equal shares of Reynen's personal assets as a condition of trying to work out a financial solution to his company's debts.

"However, the fly in the ointment is the Bank of the West action to personally take attachment to the personal assets of John Reynen," McCormick said.

In court filings, the bank asserts that John Reynen and company co-founder Christo Bardis personally guaranteed more than $750 million in loans to various lenders and have failed to pay them. That means lenders have the right to seize their personal property.


Reynen's bankruptcy court filing estimates the number of creditors at 1,000 to 5,000 and puts his personal assets at between $50 million and $100 million. It estimates his liabilities between $500 million and $1 billion.

State Budgets

States are often pretty much powerless during downturns, given various ways in which there are constraints on their ability to borrow.

The finances of many states have deteriorated so badly that they appear to be in a recession, regardless of whether that's true for the nation as a whole, a survey of all 50 state fiscal directors concludes.

The situation looks even worse for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in most states.


The situation is grim in Delaware, with a $69 million gap this year, and bleak in California, with a projected $16 billion budget shortfall over the next two years, the report said. Florida does not expect a rapid turnaround in revenue because of the prolonged real estate slump there.

By mid-April, 16 states and Puerto Rico were reporting shortfalls in their current budgets as the revenue those budgets were built on -- typically, taxes -- fell short of estimates. That's double the number of states reporting a deficit six months ago.

Wanker of the Day

Joe Klein.


For the 3rd shift.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Late Night Thread

Thready thought

I want to vote for a candidate who will get rid of anti-sex education.

Not Atrios

Deep Thought

Why hasn't Barack Obama denounced Wesley Snipes yet?

Deep Thought

It's so awesome when the garbage train is parked by the bike path.



President Bush's lackadaisacal response to the Hurricane Katrina crisis is pretty much a truism by now. But John McCain's cameo role in the mess may soon make it into the highlight reel as well.

As the deadly storm system moved ashore almost three years ago, sending fatal floods through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Bush was in Phoenix, on a tour aimed at boosting participation in what was then the administration's new Medicare prescription-drug plan. McCain had opposed the bill, but showed up to meet Bush at the airport anyway, along with other Arizona lawmakers. It was Aug. 29, McCain's 69th birthday, and on the tarmac, Bush presented his old political rival with a cake. The two posed, holding the cake up for cameras, and within seconds, went their separate ways. The cake, melting in the 110-degree Arizona heat, was left behind, uneaten.


Yet on the issue of New Orleans, it's still unclear how different McCain and Bush actually are. Speaking about Katrina, McCain, like many other Republicans, has trashed the administration's handling of the storm and has vowed to prevent similar catastrophes. "We can never let anything like that happen again," McCain told reporters on board his Straight Talk Express earlier this week. Still, the senator, who has visited the Lower Ninth Ward twice since the storm, has yet to tread into the far trickier debate over what to do about New Orleans now, a fight that has dragged on and on with little progress since the waters washed part of the city away.

The senator won't present his own plans for recovery, at least not today. Asked earlier this week if he thought the Lower Ninth Ward should be rebuilt, McCain shrugged, considering the question for several seconds. "I really don't know," he finally said. "That's why I am going … We need to go back to have a conversation about what to do: rebuild it, tear it down, you know, whatever it is."

Not Gonna Air

Unsurprisingly, the ad that aired on a continuous loop on MSNBC for free will not actually ever run in a paid spot. No worries though, I'm sure it'll get another 48 hours or so of free airtime on cable news. it IS going to air. On Monday. Or not, depending on whether cable news spends 4 more days on this important subject.

Thursday Cat Hair Blogging

'Tis the season.

Rock Band Endorsement Watch

Obama grabs the much coveted Superchunk support.

Wanker of the Day

George Will.

Deep Thought

How many hours of free advertising will MSNBC provide by playing an ad that isn't playing in any other media, except perhaps for free on Fox, CNN, and one of my local news stations this morning?



CNBC says new home sales down 8.5%, to 5256K. 11 month supply of inventory, highest since 1981. Median price down 13.3%.

....even worse than it first sounded, as the previous month was revised downwards.

New single-family U.S. home sales fell by an unexpectedly steep 8.5 percent in March and the median sales prices versus a year ago dropped by the largest amount since 1970, a government report showed.

The pace of sales slowed to an annual rate of 526,000 last month, the weakest rate since October 1991, the Commerce Department said.

This follows a downwardly revised 575,000 in February and delivered more grim news to the troubled housing sector.

Republican Concern Trolls

In the credit where credit is due file, it appears the Blue Dogs aren't backing down on FISA/immunity. I love the Republican concern trolling:

“If they were smart, all of the Blue Dogs would sign it,” said one House Republican leadership aide. “This petition shows separation from Speaker [Pelosi] who’s toxic in their districts and would be the right thing for our national security.”

"I urge the 21 Blue Dog Democrats who have called on Speaker Pelosi to schedule the Senate-passed bill to sign the discharge petition so we can give our intelligence officials every tool they need to protect us," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio.).

Because "one House Republican leadership aide"'s prime concern is the electoral fortunes of Democrats.

Lack Expertise

Those silly Iraqis, if only they knew how to tie their shoes.

Along with the $48 billion appropriated by Congress for reconstruction since 2003, Iraqis have budgeted $50.6 billion and international donors have pledged $15.8 billion. Though Iraqis have budgeted the money, they have a poor record of actually spending it. U.S. officials say that is largely because they lack expertise in budgeting and financial management.

I do wish reporters would apply a bit more critical thinking to what "U.S. officials" tell them, both given their track record and the often utterly idiotic things they say.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

And some better news.

April 24 (Bloomberg) -- The number of Americans filing first- time claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to a two-month low, a sign some companies have put firing plans on hold.

Initial jobless claims decreased by 33,000 to 342,000 in the week ended April 19, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast a gain of 3,000. The number of people staying on benefit rolls declined to 2.934 million from close to a four-year high of 2.999 million the week earlier.

First Step

I've been thinking about Devilstower's call for reducing gas consumption. Personal conservation isn't a substitute for good public policy, though obviously it can be a good complement. Still the fact remains that for most people significantly or even marginally reducing automobile usage isn't all that realistic given how so much of this country is organized.

But the only way most people are going to be able to reduce their driving is if they move to a place where they are less automobile dependent. With annual cost of owning and operating a vehicle up over $6000, being able to reduce the ratio of cars/people in a household results in a significant cost savings. People tend to see one car per driving age person as a necessity, but it doesn't have to be. Not everywhere, anyway.

Our decision to become car-free was a financial one, not a political statement or done for environmental reasons. It was a big expense for something we didn't really need or use all that often. Increasingly I don't think I'd get a car even if cost wasn't an issue, though a change in life circumstances of some sort could necessitate it of course.

Al Gore Is So Fat


McCALL -- Near-record snowfall and low spring temperatures are creating ideal conditions at Brundage Mountain Resort. Resort officials announced today that they will be open for a third bonus weekend in May.

Overnight Anti-Elitism

In order to inoculate this blog against charges of elitism I hereby present a Judas Priest video. I'm sure Atrios appreciates it.

(Could you believe Rob Halford turned out to be gay? With all that leather? Nobody could have predicted it.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Deep Thought

Amanda Marcotte is the worst person in the world.


I'm not exactly an optimist on this issue, but even I can't see 12.7% of homeowners experiencing foreclosure.

But if they do, home prices are going to fall a lot more than 15% over the next 2 years.

Deep Thought

I can remember when the wise old men of Washington weren't actually all that old, when David Gergen was a strapping young lad of 50.

Deep Thought

I dream of the day when the generations of people who see every election as an echo of '68 or '72 put down their punditry pens for good.

Deep Thought

Next time, just politely ask him to "Suck. On. This."

Modern Parenting

All quite the mystery to me.

Anyway, fine with me if people want to be helicopter parents. Not fine with me that there's been a racheting up of social pressure so that it's expected that everybody is one.

The Next Six Months

Some Republican or conservative group runs a dumb ad.

John McCain nobly distances himself from it.

Cable news spends all day talking about it and showing it for free.

Rinse. Repeat.

Fresh Thread



Always wrong, never sorry.


The idea of actual serious food shortages in the developed world is hard to fathom, but this sounds a little ominous.

Rye flour stocks have been depleted in the United States, and by June or July there will be no more U.S. rye flour to purchase, said Lee Sanders, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs at the American Bakers Association.


For bakers, rye grain is not the only supply stock that is declining. In the past the market has typically had a three-month surplus of wheat stocks to serve as a cushion against supply interruptions, but now the surplus is down to less than 27 days worth of wheat, Sanders said.

God Hates Shrimp

Just saw a report on CNN about how our State Department might be a wee bit annoyed at forced labor in the shrimp industry in countries like Thailand. It's possible some industries are more amenable to this kind of thing, and it's also possible that human rights groups will focus on particular items as a way of focusing attention, but more generally if we trade with countries with shitty human rights and labor laws, this is in the "to be expected" column.

God Damns America

And it's okay as long as conservatives think so.

And While We're Talking Economics

I made a handy little graph to explain what's happening to oil prices. Ditto gas.

...since the picture isn't worth quite a thousand words, apparently... Basically over some range of the supply curve (marked S), firms are willing to increase the quantity supplied without charging much more. That's the flat horizontal section of the upward sloping curve. More oil can be easily pumped out of existing fields, or gasoline refineries are running below capacity. Eventually you get to a quantity where no more oil can be pumped out of the fields, or gasoline refineries are at capacity. Then increases in demand (rightward shifts in the demand curve marked D), lead to sharp increases in price without any noticeable increase in the amount of oil or gas supplied.

Over time, perhaps, more oil fields can be brought online (though probably at higher cost/barrel than existing ones) and more gasoline refineries can be built. But over a relatively short time horizon, once you hit capacity the sky is the limit on the price.


Seeds Of Its Own Destruction

In the simple adverse selection with asymmetric information model of insurance markets, the possibility exists that the market simply implodes. And if there is a market, low risk (low cost) people are underinsured and high risk people pay a lot. Essentially what we've been saying over the past few years is low end insurance getting shittier and shitter and high end insurance getting costlier and costlier. We may be hitting the point where low end insurance disappears altogether.

St. Petraeus to CENTCOM

Now he'll be able to hunt for even more ponies.

Not Really The Status Quo

In the world of media narratives, how the press will talk about the primary campaign, it's true we're at the status quo. But in terms of who is actually going to win this thing, last night was actually a bad night for Clinton. Somehow she has to win a lot of delegates, and opportunities to do so lessen with each contest.

Lucky Duckies

Or maybe not.

April 23 (Bloomberg) -- The looming wave of bankruptcies is unlikely to be kind to bondholders. And they have only themselves to blame.

Rather than receiving the historical average recovery of 42 cents on the dollar in a default, owners of a third of high- yield, high-risk bonds rated B+ or lower may get no more than 10 cents, according to New York-based Fitch Ratings. About 22 percent are likely to get 11 cents to 30 cents.


Over there.

BAGHDAD (AFP) — A suicide car bomb and roadside bombings against have killed five US troops, including three marines, the American military announced on Tuesday.

Morning Thread

Sweet jeebus, I hate Maureen Dowd.

--Molly I.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Clinton campaign sez $2.5 million raised since the nets called the PA race.

Late Night

Play nicely.

More Thread

Locally in races most of you don't care about, there's some good stuff, bad stuff, and weird stuff going on.


CNN seems to be getting them out the fastest.

...adding that while I don't have any idea how good the exit poll data is, given what's come in and what hasn't (philly burbs) it seems a bit premature for the networks to call it.

Caught on Film

Tweety in Wynnewood.

NBC Projects Clinton Wins

Atrios still calls it for Kodos.

Just For Fun

Drudge claims early exit polls of 52 C/48 O. If the actual vote totals aren't precisely this, then you know somebody stole it.

Also, now Clinton just has to beat this spread to make it a big win.

Or something.

I don't really know how this stuff works.

...and the National Review says 52 O, 47 C.

Atrios says Kodos 95, Gravel 5.

Too Forgiving

Ezra, they do it because that's what they enjoy doing.

California Foreclosures



Regarding this, it's standard practice for various campaign people to distribute "sample ballots" which are really just a way of telling you who to vote for. They are somewhat deceptive for people who haven't seen them before, but they're just standard practice here. The actual machine ballot lets you choose. There's no conspiracy of Clintonian nefariousness, just the way things are done here.

I Felt A Dark Shadow Fall Across The City

Must be Matt Stoller.

Voting Problems

One of my personal pet peeves is the fact that legitimate concerns about voting problems and systems tend to be drowned out by people freaking out about perfectly normal and minor election day snafus. You know, having a couple of busted machines or a few misplaced or unrecorded voter registrations isn't evidence of some grand conspiracy to deprive the one true candidate of a victory.

That's not to say that minor snafus or improper election day activities shouldn't be reported, get attention, and hopefully be fixed. It's just that they aren't always evidence of corruption or a sign that our democracy is hopelessly broken.

PA Delegates

Heavily Democratic places get more delegates.

Fifty-five will be awarded based on the statewide vote, which should be available Tuesday night. Another 103 delegates will be awarded based on the vote in individual congressional districts. All delegates will be awarded proportionally, as they are in every Democratic contest.

The distribution of delegates among congressional districts raises the possibility that one candidate could win the statewide vote and the other could win more delegates, but the statewide vote would have to be very close.

The delegates are weighted heavily toward urban and suburban areas because Pennsylvania, like other states, apportions congressional district delegates based on Democratic voting strength in the most recent presidential and gubernatorial elections.

Under the formula, the 2nd Congressional District, which includes part of Philadelphia, has nine delegates at stake, more than any other district. The 9th Congressional District in the south central part of the state has the fewest, with three delegates at stake.

I'm in the 2nd.'s a full district delegate breakdown for real geeks (.pdf).


Euro hits $1.60.

Deep Thought

Did I really need to order the large bowl of Pho?

Housing Market News

Existing home sales, and median price, down...


Normally we reserve this for record low approval ratings, but I think we'll make an exception for most hated preznit evah.

WASHINGTON — President Bush has set a record he'd presumably prefer to avoid: the highest disapproval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll.

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, 28% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing; 69% disapprove. The approval rating matches the low point of his presidency, and the disapproval sets a new high for any president since Franklin Roosevelt.

The previous record of 67% was reached by Harry Truman in January 1952, when the United States was enmeshed in the Korean War.

That's poorly written, suggesting FDR was unpopular. It's just about the modern polling era.

This administration really has to get out of office. You have no idea about the creepy places on the internets I have to go to satisfy Holden's insatiable lust for ponies.

Sucky Political Journalists Loved Sucky Debate

It is fascinating that they keep writing out the indictment of their own profession. Yes, we know, you love obsessing about trivial bullshit that no one cares about and that doesn't affect the lives of actual people.

Yes good journalists exist, but the ones who do campaign coverage mostly suck. And they're the public face of journalism to most people, because they go on the teevee and other conventional wisdom generating machine outlets.


Polling place wasn't crowded at all, though there's a lot of action outside. In a one party town, contested local primaries attract more poll workers than general elections do.

Off To Vote

Time for my 3 block stroll to my polling station.

My only regret is that I didn't register as a Republican so I could vote for Ron Paul.

Drink Liberally!

Anyone showing up to town for campaign-related reasons should feel free to stop by Tangier, at 18th and Lombard, 6-? this evening.


I've been reading with some fascination the various intergenerational feminist back and forth going on. I'm not sure how valid that description is for the country generally (aside from the general trend of older voters siding more with Clinton), but it has played out in the media to some extent that way.

I found this bit to be telling:

At a recent pre-panel reception, I immediately connected with a philosophy professor about the difficulties and joys of teaching feminist theorist Judith Butler. But the professor's mood took a 180-degree turn when the issue of eating disorders came up. "I'm so sick of hearing young feminists talk about fashion and body image and work/family balance," she said, rolling her eyes like an adolescent, though she looked to be about 50. "What about the women in Afghanistan!?"

She even approached one of the other panelists, 42-year-old journalist Kristal Brent Zook, with a plea to shut down any conversation about these "frivolous" issues if they should come up during the panel (i.e., shut down me, the silly author of a book on body image). Zook had my back, of course. She responded to the professor, "Actually the entire goal of this panel is to create intergenerational dialogue where all voices are heard. It's not my job to decide what's important to Courtney or any other feminist. It's my job to express my own issues and listen openly to others."

One of the more frustrating, futile, and self-aggrandizing rhetorical games is to tell people what their priorities should be. Nick Kristof has played this game in the past, chastising womens' rights groups for not focusing their limited resources on whatever his pet cause of the week happens to be. It's also global warming concern troll Bjorn Lomborg's trick, saying that instead of focusing resources on combating global warming we should use them for a bunch of other things that aren't going to happen. There's always a more important cause, a more deserving subject, a more downtrodden person. It's essentially a way of undermining all good works while building up the critic as More Serious And Enlightened Than Thou.

But people have different priorities. And to the extent people become involved in issues or causes, they have different skill sets, different abilities, different sets of knowledge. They have different things they can bring to the table. Telling people they should be fretting about the women of Afghanistan instead of focusing on eating disorders is, to put it bluntly, just stupid. More than that, it achieves absolutely nothing.

I Get to Vote

Two campaigns, neither especially aimed at getting my vote. I'm sensible enough to know that neither of them should have been aiming their campaigns at me, but the point is both candidates have said and done plenty which have ticked me off over the past several months. I'll vote for Obama today, though there was certainly a period when I would have likely gone the other way.

Basic Services

Over 5 years later...

BAGHDAD — Even as American and Iraqi troops are fighting to establish control of the Sadr City section of this capital, the Iraqi government’s program to restore basic services like electricity, sewage and trash collection is lagging, jeopardizing the effort to win over the area’s wary residents.

For weeks, there have been reports that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is preparing to move ahead with a multimillion-dollar program to rebuild the southern swath of Sadr City, which is currently occupied by Iraqi and American troops.

But almost a month after American and Iraqi forces pushed into the area, there are no signs of reconstruction. Instead, the streets are filled with mounds of trash and bubbling pools of sewage. Many neighborhoods are still without electricity, and many residents are too afraid to brave the cross-fire to seek medical care. Iraqi public works officials, apparently fearful of the fighting, rarely seem to show up at work, and the Iraqi government insists the area is not safe enough for repairs to begin.

This war was always a stupid idea, but quite often you feel like they weren't even trying to do it right. Of course they figured they'd just off the government and a libertarian paradise would emerge.

Less Gas


U.S. drivers are doing something they haven’t done for nearly two decades — consume less gasoline.

Gas consumption so far this year is down about 0.2 percent compared to last year, according to the Energy Information Administration. The federal agency is predicting that gasoline demand will be down 0.4 percent this summer and 0.3 percent for the year.

That may not sound like much, but it would be the first time since 1991 that there’s been a decline in annual gas consumption. And it would be only the eighth year since 1951 in which demand for gasoline has declined.

Morning Thread

Anything irksome?

--Molly I.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Sometimes it's a bit too easy to scan the internets for video to make fun of. Phil Collins! HA HA!

And then you check the comments.

This was the song I played at my wife's funeral a month ago. She has left me a widower at 36 and our daughter Molly, 13.

Late Night

Rock on.

Better Off Dead

John Cusack visits Crooks&Liars.


Because this was good.


Mark Begich, mayor of Anchorage, is officially running against Ted Stevens.


Not so shabby.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup on Monday will sell $6 billion in non-cumulative perpetual preferred shares, said International Financing Review, a Thomson Reuters publication.

The shares are expected to pay a fixed 8.4 percent dividend for 10 years and pay a floating rate after that.

Banks this year have been increasing their issuance of preferred shares, which improve their "Tier 1" capital ratios, a measure of their ability to cover losses.

Big Shitpile needs to be fed.

Fairly Quiet in Philly

Took my daily walk to make sure my house isn't being occupied by squatters. Campaign materials everywhere, but only a couple of corners were being worked by volunteers (Obama in this case).

And tomorrow we vote. And then on to the next states...


Little Ricky

The idea that conservatives would fail to support McCain was always a bit silly, but I thought some of the ones who had explicitly rejected him would at least hold out a little longer. Santorum hearts McCain!

Deep Thought

Even local primary politics is HURTING ME.


I just saw this ad on the teevee.

I'm voting for Ron Paul!'s a YouTube version.

Ali and Rick

I don't know why CNN is forcing Ali and Rick to stand outside the art museum on a cloudy windy day. They aren't even using good camera angles to make use of what could be a nice backdrop.


Visual aids: Art Museum area.



Times Change

This somewhat anecdotal stuff rankles my inner social scientist, but perhaps things are changing a bit.

Economists say home prices are no where near hitting bottom. But even in regions that have taken a beating, some neighborhoods remain practically unscathed. And there's a pattern emerging as to which neighborhoods those are.

The ones with short commutes are fairing better than places with long drives into the city. Some analysts see a pause in what's long been inexorable—urban sprawl.


Realtor Danilo Bogdanovic surveyed two rows of neat new brick town homes on Falkner's Lane. "These were selling for about $550,000 at the peak, which was about August 05, and they're selling right now for about $350,000," Bogdanovic said.

"So $200,000 in a year and a half and fifty 50 of this community has been ether foreclosed on or is facing foreclosure."

For residents who work in the city, their commute is around an hour on trouble-free days. But that could extend upward toward two hours very quickly.


But construction in town has held steady. Goldberg sees other cities rebounding too, including Baltimore and Philadelphia.

"Philadelphia was loosing downtown housing and in town housing until very recently," Goldberg said. "And now that's the hottest part of their market."


I know it's not about me, but still...

Some Info

BooMan has some internals.

Here's a visual aid courtesy of graphicmaps.

Meaningless Polls

I do think the Pennsylvania polls are pretty much meaningless right now, at least absent more detailed information about geographic sampling, turnouts models, and adjustments for cell phone users.

...adding, what I mean is that they may not be meaningless, but they're meaningless to me without that information. The election result will depend mostly on Philadelphia turnout and results from the Philadelphia suburbs.

Funny And True


MODUS SUCK-A-RANDI: Mention the name "Amanda Marcotte" and instantly a troll appears to explain her utter, irredeemable, innate evil -- try it, like, the next time you're on the bus or in the shower or burning a flag or otherwise going about your normal routine. It's like "Beetlejuice," but you only need to say it once and it's a lot stupider. See you in the comments, and you know who you are!

It's even worse than that. You don't even have to mention Amanda to get the reaction. Every now and then I get these random emails filled with semi-coherent rage from people who seem to just want me to agree that Amanda is the worst person ever, or something. I'm never quite sure.

Anyway, New Yorkers can go see the she-devil herself this week.

More Straight Talk

As we head towards the general election campaign, we'll be reminded once again that when Democrats propose buying an extra stapler for the office Tim Russert will ask them whose taxes they'll raise to pay for it, while Republicans can just make up numbers and he'll call it mavericky straight talk. Though occasionally news orgs will rise to the occasion.

To help pay for the tax cuts, Holtz-Eakin said he would save $30 billion a year by eliminating so-called ``rifle shot'' provisions. Those include items such as tax breaks for small insurance companies.

A Treasury Department report Holtz-Eakin cited as the source of his estimate states $27 billion could be raised by eliminating narrowly used tax preferences spread over a decade, not a single year.

The Discrepancy

When asked about the discrepancy, Holtz-Eakin replied that McCain would start with those provisions and target others like them to recover $30 billion annually.

Len Burman, director of the Tax Policy Center and a former Clinton administration Treasury official, said that is unrealistic. ``We looked for loopholes when I was there and couldn't even come up with $10 billion a year,'' he said.


There aren't really any numbers, just anecdotes, to back up the idea that this is actually a trend. Still it's a perfectly sensible thing for many people to do.

Instead of mailing in their monthly mortgage payment, a growing number of homeowners are sending lenders their keys.

The mortgage industry is struggling to estimate how many homes are going into foreclosure because of people who don't want to pay, rather than because of people who can't afford to pay.


Real-estate agents are hearing it more often from people who can't sell. Mortgage lenders are reporting getting more jingle mail, and now there are businesses advising homeowners how to walk away.

"Even if someone put 5 to 10 percent down but bought in the Valley during '05 or '06, they are likely upside down now," said Brett Barry of the north Phoenix office of Realty Executives. "I don't advise people to walk away, but how do you convince someone to keep paying when they owe so much more than their home is worth? They can't sell, and their lender isn't going to forgive $100,000 in principal. It's not good."

Investors started the walk-away trend, but it has spread to the typical homeowner.

Also, there's a pretty big gray area between "don't want to pay" and "can't pay." There are people who are fairly financially sound but who need to move. If the bank won't accept a short sale, they're either stuck or they're going to mail in the keys.

Morning thread

What happened while I was sleeping?

Not Atrios

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Any Functioning Democratic State

What are we then?

Rice used her visit to praise Maliki's choice to take on the militia. Fighting Sadr, who has declared that resistance against U.S. forces is legitimate, is an "internal Iraqi matter," she said.

"But clearly, the prime minister has laid down some ground rules which any functioning democratic state would insist upon, having to do with, you know, arms belonging to the state, not to -- not in private hands," she said. "The current circumstances come out of what I think is a very important and indeed appropriate action that the Iraqi government has taken."

Mighty General Bush Led His Troops On Horseback

We are led by the stupidest fucking people on the planet.

So Smart

The post linked below reminds me of that exciting time before the war. Aside from everything else, the pro-war conservatives and "liberal hawks" - even the milder ones - were just dripping with condescension for us dirty fucking hippies. Ultimately, I think, the Iraq war had to fought Just Because and that Just Because was some deep mystical truth that each war supporter had access to but which dirty fucking hippies could not comprehend.

5 years later they're propping up this Just Because with an ever more complicated web of Truths that only they and very serious people can see.

In other words, barking insane.

Barking Insane


Finger In Brain

YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. I can't take this primary anymore.


Grubb&Ellis predict office vacancies will peak at 19%. That's high!

Wanker of the Day

Tim Russert.

Deep Thought

After his disastrous campaign misstep of putting swiss cheese on a cheese steak, John Kerry won 81% of the vote in Philadelphia.


It's nice not having to spend my Sundays looking at open houses anymore. What's interesting is that from what I can tell, of the approximately 5 billion homes we looked at, only a couple have actually sold. The center city Philadelphia market never went completely crazy, but there were a couple years of big appreciation followed by a big rehab/construction boom in which the developers assumed that there would be a couple more years of big appreciation and priced accordingly.

The other issue is that it's difficult to get a loan larger than $417,000, so there's a bit of a discontinuity in what people can afford.

Almost Over

I suppose the CNN bus will decamp from the Art Museum soon. My prediction: a stunning write-in campaign victory for Kodos.

Vote Uretsky

Eschaton officially endorses Josh Uretsky as an Obama delegate representing Pennsylvania's 2nd Congressional District.

Vote Josh!

More Blogger Ethics

Glennzilla adds some additional perspective to the whole independent military analyst sham. Kudos to the NYT for fleshing out the story, as I said, but shame on all of these news outlets for helping to catapult the propaganda all these years.


One place I decided to try to avoid going was to the land of the "electability" argument. I find these discussions, though admittedly I occasionally get sucked in, to be quite tiresome. First I reject the idea that one should pick a candidate based on some imagined preferences of other voters. And second, there just isn't enough evidence out there to support the idea that either candidate is "stronger." People can have opinions about this, of course, but I don't think there's much of an argument to made either way.

And in this primary election the subtext is to some degree, whether stated or unstated, "Is the country more likely to vote for a woman or a black guy?" I don't know the answer to that and nor does anyone else. Again, people can have opinions, but there really just isn't an argument to made.

Lots of Clinton supporters seem to thin Obama is unelectable, whether because he's African-American, or because he has scary friends, or because Republicans will attack him. Lots of Obama supporters seem to think Clinton is unelectable because she's a woman, or because she has he negatives, or because Republicans will attack her.

But really... the Republicans will attack anyone and it's dumb to base your support on that idea. And none of us, not even David Brooks, can really guess who people will vote for.

Blogger Ethics Panel

Yes it's an old joke, but a still relevant one given the constant demands for bloggers to live up to ethics and transparency standards which don't exist, even in theory, anywhere else in the world. Anyone watching the teevee over the past few years knew that this independent military analyst stuff was just another way for the Bush administration to launder information and propaganda to give it more authority. Kudos to the Times for actually doing the hard work and fleshing out the story, but real questions remain about the standards and practices of CNN and other cable networks who used - and probably will continue to use - these people.

Back when blogger ethics was all the rage I was chatting with one reporter who was a bit obsessed about financial transparency, as if the fact that you spout off on the internets means that you have to post your bank statements. Trying to get this reporter to understand that such transparency exists nowhere in the world, I asked what kind of financial disclosures their various op-ed contributors have to make. He paused for a minute and... well, I don't want to say he was lying, but he said something he wanted to be true more than it was true, that such people were "vetted."



Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week" — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — David Axelrod, campaign adviser for Barack Obama; Geoff Garin, campaign adviser for Hillary Rodham Clinton.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Former presidential candidate Bill Bradley; Gov. Jon Corzine, D-N.J.; Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa.; Catholic University President David O'Connell; Delia Gallagher, Vatican analyst; Carly Fiorina, adviser to McCain.

"Fox News Sunday" _ Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Morning Thread

Thers explains the Left-Wing Blogosphere to you.

--Molly I.

Overnight Thread

Enjoy, but quietly.