Saturday, June 28, 2008

Late Night

Rock on.


When Red State wanks, they wank hard!

A Peculiar American Phenomenon

Truly it is.
Perhaps the summer’s most visible change is occurring in the downtown strips of small towns where, for decades, cruising on Friday and Saturday nights has been a teenage rite of passage. It is a peculiarly American phenomenon — driving around in a big loop, listening to music, waving at one another and wasting gasoline.

“We’re not cruising around anymore, with gas costing $4.50 a gallon,” said Ewelina Smosna, a recent graduate of Taft High School in Chicago, as she hung out the other night at the Streets of Woodfield, an outdoor mall in Schaumburg. “We just park the car and walk around.”

According to police officers in towns like Elkhart, Ind.; Grand Haven, Mich.; and Mount Pleasant, S.C., traffic has dropped markedly on cruise nights.

Cruising sounded like a really awesome idea when I was 13 and the known alternative was... sitting in my room doing nothing. But it is a rather poor way to interact with and meet people, which was always the point but rarely realized for obvious reasons.

Evening Thread

Slow weekend.

They Need Enemies

The behavior of Cheney and others only makes sense if that's the case.

Perhaps, as Mitt suggested, nuclear nonproliferation is just a liberal position. 


And what happens if the recession really starts to hit (recognizing that in certain places it already has).
When Congress started fashioning a sweeping rescue package for struggling homeowners earlier this year, 2.6 million loans were in trouble. But the problem has grown considerably in just six months and is continuing to worsen. More than three million borrowers are in distress, and analysts are forecasting a couple of million more will fall behind on their payments in the coming year as home prices fall further and the economy weakens.

Deep Thought

I don't think I've had anything to eat today.

Afternoon Thread

Busy day and whatnot.

Good Governance

I'm not even sure how this little bit of wingnuttery - that Katrina caused no oil spills - got into the conservative bloodstream.  In any case, one would hope that the governor of Louisiana might be aware of such details.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser. 


Have some music. I even liked some of them.

Not Atrios

Night Thread

Friday, June 27, 2008

Praise Jeebus For US News

Bringing us the finest in advertorial.
Celebrities make a hobby of flaunting the newest, flashiest and most disgustingly expensive supercars. Outside of car magazines, names like Maybach, Bentley and Lamborghini are seldom heard -- unless they're in a sentence with the words "Paris" and "Hilton." But that doesn't mean you can't own one of your favorite celeb's rides. Check out our list of cars priced from $17-50K and driven by what are undoubtedly some of the more down-to-earth superstars.


Strange you can believe in.

(Also: I have something I want to say.)

Not Atrios

Friday Night Thread

On your own.

Big Bad John

The Noriega campaign chimes in.


Just...because. From McCain's web site.

Does Anybody Remember Anthrax?

Gov't paying over $5 million to Steven Hatfill to settle a claim due to gov't suggestion that he was somehow responsible for the anthrax attacks, sez MSNBC.

Afternoon Thread




Joking, but be prepared for those headlines in the Fall...

Something Productive

If Jim Wallis wanted to do something which would genuinely reduce abortions instead of concern trolling Democrats, he could take the lead against conservatives who push abstinence only education and try to deny people access to contraception.

As Frances Kissling wrote:

In his attempts to seek "common ground" with others, Wallis focuses on the "too many abortions" argument. But his common ground is very shaky. It does not, for example, include contraception. Wallis has said he is in favor of contraception, but after a fairly extensive review of his writing and transcripts of speeches and sermons, I can find no reference to contraception as a common-ground means of reducing abortion rates. Wallis' common ground is abstinence-focused sex education, adoption reform (with no specifics on what kind of reform he thinks would lead to a significant number of women choosing to give birth and then give up their babies for adoption), and better economic benefits and social support for pregnant women to encourage them to continue their pregnancies.

A lengthy Op-Ed published in the New York Times on Aug. 4 was the first indication of where Wallis would go in terms of abortion law. While he repeatedly has said that Democrats need not change their position on abortion, just the way they talk about it (comments echoed by party chairman Howard Dean), Wallis is now out of the closet. He supports "reasonable restrictions" on legal abortion. Which ones, and how many, are unclear. Does he support a cutoff of federal Medicaid funds for poor women's abortions? Second-trimester abortions only when the pregnancies are likely to result in severe and long-lasting health consequences for the women or in dead children? Mandated scripts that lie about fetal development and the health consequences of abortion? Restrictions on access for adolescents unless their parents give consent? Waiting periods that make it hard for working women to get to clinics the several times required to prove they have "thought through" their decisions? Every restriction currently on the books adversely affects the poor women he claims to care about so much.

We all want to reduce unplanned pregnancies. I don't personally care all that much about reducing abortions per se, but the latter follows pretty neatly from the former.

And Manhattan

Commercial rents are beginning to decline there.

June 27 (Bloomberg) -- Manhattan office rents fell 2.2 percent in the second quarter, the first decline in the most expensive U.S. office market since 2005, according to real estate broker Studley Inc.

Last Throes

It was over 6 Friedmans ago that Dick Cheney said this.

The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.

Very serious.

Insult Humor

Apparently Huggy Bear has even more in common with Bush. A staple of his comedy routine involves insulting people who work for him.


The Philly Mayor has endorsed a sensible plan for doing something decent on the waterfront, moving away from perpetually seeking One Giant Development and instead, in spots, simply extending the city grid to the water, along with creating a path by it, and letting development happen more organically.

Not Very Confident

Quite pessimistic, in fact.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - consumer confidence fell more than expected in June, hitting another 28-year low as surging prices and mounting job losses sapped sentiment, according to a survey released on Friday.


The Surveys of Consumers said the final June reading for its index of confidence fell to 56.4 from May's 59.8.

The June reading is the lowest since 51.7 in May 1980, which was also the lowest reading ever. The index dates back to 1952, though the survey has been conducted since 1946.

Talking About It All The Time

McCain does talk about his POW experience all the time. And mentions it in his ads! By the standards of the last election this would provide the media license to have people come on and lie about McCain's war record for 2 months straight.

So Many Dudes

Opinions in the Post today:


Parking Ruins Everything

I've been looking at this project, which is pretty near to the new Chez Atrios, thinking it looks pretty good but never being able to figure out where the parking is. Architect renderings are always good at hiding the bad stuff. Inga Saffron tells me that it's an interior surface lot, and that there's also a big driveway on Broad St.

Oh well. There are good things about the project, and it's certainly an improvement over the abandoned shells and empty lot it'll be replacing.


Over there.

BAGHDAD (AFP) - An Iraq Supreme Court judge was ambushed and gunned down in Baghdad as he drove home from work, a court spokesman and security sources said on Friday.

Morning Coffee

Whole bean? Maxwell House? Instant? (Does anybody drink instant anymore?)

Bought on the way to work?

Late Evening Thread

by Molly Ivors.


Half of my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet.
Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Of restless passions that would not be stilled,
But sorrow, and a care that almost killed,
Kept me from what I may accomplish yet;
Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights, --
A city in the twilight dim and vast,
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights, --
And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hard Work And Stuff

At least they haven't yet started demanding government handouts.

Evening Thread


What's Good For General Motors

May not matter all that much anymore.


Even aside from the fact that Brownback himself worked with Obama on things, it's a bit weird for him to suggest that Obama only will "talk bipartisan" even as Brownback's Republican colleague, Gordon Smith, is running ads touting their record of working together.

Not that I personally care about bipartisanship, of course.

Afternoon Thread

Go pet your 401(k).

Declining Circulation

And they're all dudes, too.

Making Stuff Up

It really is hard to deal with a media system which simply fabricates facts and invents contradictions.


Oil hits new record.

Dow down 300.

FISA Delayed

That's something I suppose.

Objections by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) will push back an overhaul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) until after lawmakers return in July, Democratic leaders said Thursday. Feingold is strongly opposed to language that would likely give telephone companies that participated in warrantless surveillance retroactive immunity from lawsuits.

"It doesn't look like it," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of taking up the FISA bill this week. "Sen. Feingold wants additional time and would like to postpone it until after the Fourth of July."

Durbin said: "We can't leave until we finish Medicare and the supplemental." email Christy says schedule is still in flux so not necessarily.

Big John

I suppose everybody has already seen this...but.. wow..

Thursday Is Darcy Burner Day

Because we need better Democrats.


Got a long way to go.

I asked the Realtors how much of these sales are “distressed” properties, that is, short sales (where the seller works with the lender to sell at a price below the mortgage value--that way the seller and the lender avoid foreclosure, which usually ends in bigger losses) and REO sales which are bank-owned properties (homes that have already gone through foreclosure).

According to the Realtors, a full one third of sales are distressed properties. Think about that. Five million home sales expected this year and of those about 1.65 million will be homes that a seller couldn’t afford to keep.

Bad Bill, Bad People

I think it's easy to think that crazy internet bloggers were unreasonably obsessed about the immunity provision without caring about the fact that the FISA bill is just generally a very bad bill. Immunity became the hook when Dodd said he'd fight any bill with immunity in there, but it isn't the only thing to object to. The point was to use immunity as a way of derailing the rest of the thing. Immunity is bad, but the rest of the bill is bad too, as are the people who support it.

Not change we can believe in, my friends.


Shaping up to me another exciting day on "the street."

Good thing I didn't listen to Larry Kudlow.

5-4, 5-4...

Millionaire's amendment in campaign finance law knocked down, and individual gun rights affirmed.

Personally no strong opinions on either the actual constitutional questions or the real world outcomes, though I don't yet know how much the gun ruling still allows some gun regulation. YMMV.

Interest Reserves

There's a big ticking time bomb for smaller banks which issue a lot of commercial real estate/construction loans.

Regulators are increasingly worried about a lending practice that allows real-estate developers to delay paying construction-loan interest but can mask problems at the banks that made the loans.

Small banks, which are more exposed relative to bigger banks, have $280 billion of outstanding construction loans overall, mostly to condominium developers and home builders. When the loans were made, the banks calculated the interest that would be paid and put that money aside in "interest reserves." In essence, the banks pay themselves until the loan becomes due or the property generates cash flow.

That's A Lot Of Cars!

But it isn't true.

Ithaca Carshare plans to add more vehicles, though it's not likely to reach the numbers of Philly Carshare, which has 50,000 vehicles.

50,000 members. Not 50,000 vehicles.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Still high.

In the week ending June 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 384,000, unchanged from the previous week's revised figure of 384,000. The 4-week moving average was 378,250, an increase of 2,250 from the previous week's revised average of 376,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4 percent for the week ending June 14, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate of 2.3 percent.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 14 was 3,139,000, an increase of 82,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,057,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,103,250, an increase of 7,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,095,750.


Over there.

BAGHDAD - At least 15 people were killed Thursday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt inside an Iraqi municipal council headquarters during a meeting of tribal sheiks.

Col. Fawzi Fraih, civil defense director of Anbar province, said the sheiks were members of a group opposed to al-Qaida in Iraq and were meeting with Americans when the attack occurred in Karmah, about 20 miles west of Baghdad. At least 17 people were wounded.

Not A Time Of War

I guess the folks at Barrons really are hermetically sealed from the rest of the universe.

Eye Babies

Please just let this all be over.


Terrible lighting in the video, but the lyrics to this one are about right as a Shorter Last Eight Years: "All my songs used to end the same way/"Everything's gonna be OK"/ But you fuckers make that impossible to say..."

"You Blanks," Portastatic, from Be Still Please.

Late Night Thread

I've been seeing some people expressing concern that maverickyness may permit McCain to pull this out. Please note:

1) He's a terrible candidate. He's undisciplined, incoherent, ill-tempered and can't read a teleprompter.

2) They're running a terrible campaign. They haven't picked a logo or a slogan yet, and lime green jello is still in the running as their color scheme.

3) He's way behind, already, and right track/wrong track is at 14/80.

The media is going to desperately try to make this a horse race. Don't be fooled. Think Bob Dole. Or Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford. Jay Newton-Small will always find a weird cross-tab, and Richard Cohen will always say being a POW justifies every bit of incoherent babbling.

They're wrong.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blogger Ethics Panel

Because mainstream media outlets would never fail to inform you about the financial interests of their guests.

Eating Shit



Maybe it isn't all that important, but I think one of the things you pay people on the teevee for is the ability to not make idiotic verbal screwups.


According to Google news, the following Iraqi cities and provinces are described as "restive":

Sadr City


"the Sunni minority"


restive \RES-tiv\, adjective:
1. Impatient under restriction, delay, coercion, or opposition; resisting control.
2. Unwilling to go on; obstinate in refusing to move forward; stubborn.


One would be surprised at the lack of attention McCain's lawbreaking has gotten compared with the perfectly legal and sensible opt-out of public financing by Obama if one failed to understand that McCain is a straight talking maverick with a noble soul who can do no wrong.

David Plouffe brought a prop to his briefing with reporter: a copy of John McCain's signature on a state election document in which he attested that he'd be taking public financing.

"John McCain is spending tens of millions of dollars, we believe, unlawfully,' he said, waving the document.

The details of the argument over whether McCain used an acceptable or unacceptable loophole to secure a loan with the possibility of public financing is now before a court in a DNC lawsuit and subject to the FEC's consideration.

"John McCain signed his name, 'John McCain," Ploufe said. "He got on the ballot attesting he would be in the primary system."

Afternoon Thread


It's Amazing What One Senator Can Do

Who knew one senator can block legislation when they want to?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate progress toward approving a sweeping housing rescue plan was delayed on Wednesday by the objections of a Republican lawmaker who wants to attach an amendment dealing with renewable energy.

Nevada Sen. John Ensign -- whose state is among the hardest hit by a deep housing market slump -- was refusing to allow the housing bill to proceed without a vote on extending tax incentives for renewable energy technologies.

Please Stop

If I were the benevolent dictator, I would make it capital offense for members of the punditocracy to opine ignorantly about the tastes and habits of "regular people," who apparently have comfort zones no larger than their footprints, and who are unwilling to vote for anyone who doesn't live their lives exactly like they (are imagined to) do. Unless that person is a obscenely rich Republican, of course.

People Who Should Not Be On Transit System Boards

People like this.

The vote represented an end to the highly publicized hubbub that started late last month, when Mr. Cuomo warned that the authority’s practice of extending free travel benefits violated state law, which requires that board members serve without compensation.

Board members at first threatened to go to court to defend the free travel privileges, but facing mounting public pressure, the board backed down and said it would change its policies.

That seemed to end the matter. But then, last week, some board members said they had second thoughts and defended the free travel as an important part of their jobs overseeing the region’s mass transit system. “Why should I ride and inconvenience myself when I can ride in a car?” asked David S. Mack, a board vice chairman who represents Nassau County. The comment, which was widely reported in the news media, drew scorn from officials.

Fun With CSPAN

Feingold's up.


I don't really have any sense if such a lawsuit is warranted.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Attorney General Jerry Brown sued Countrywide Financial Corp and two top officers on Wednesday to stop the mortgage loan company from allegedly perpetrating a scheme to "mass produce loans for sale on the secondary market."

Countrywide made one in six U.S. mortgage loans last year and is closely associated with the collapsed housing bubble.

Brown's office said the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, also seeks unspecified restitution for homeowners who were allegedly conned into risky, costly loans they did not understand by brokers desperate to meet unrealistic production goals.

We do know that at some point the product that mortgage companies were selling essentially flipped. They went from providing mortgages to people, to providing bundled mortgage securities to Wall Street. While it's quite possible that there was actual fraud going on with respect to mortgage borrowers, the greater fraud might have been perpetrated against the investors which eagerly bought up their chunks of big shitpile. Obviously I sympathize less with the latter who are paid big money to, you know, have some idea what they're doing.

Bad Cyclists

I've noticed an uptick and bad cyclist behavior recently here in Philly. I'm one who thinks that it's often okay for cyclists to, say, make a turn on a red light even if it isn't allowed, or go up on the sidewalks at times. But such behavior is only okay if they aren't creating a hazardous situation for cars and pedestrians, respectively. Lately it seems like there are more cyclists cruising fast around corners on sidewalks, going the wrong way down one way streets, shooting through red lights, etc. Annoying.

New Home Sales

Down again.

The Liberation of Iraq

Tom Friedman, in 2003, explained what it was "really" about.

Silly sad and mad Iraqis.

Little Tommy Friedman

Little Tommy Friedman, age 9, is busy performing amateur mass psychology on the nation of Iraq. He seems to think the Iraqis are sad and mad because we liberated them instead of letting them liberate themselves. It's nice that Tommy Friedman likes this happy rhetoric of liberation, though it's a bit different from the days when he was saying we invaded Iraq so our soldiers could go door to door telling Iraqis to Suck. On. This. I don't know how much our soldiers actually did this, but in any case Little Tommy Friedman can't get himself to understand that maybe Iraqis are sad and mad because we invaded and occupied their country and then hundreds of thousands of people died. And over 5 years later they still don't have security or sufficient electricity.

I was struck by this bit in particular.

That also helps explain why Iraqis initially never took ownership of their governing institutions, like the Coalition Provisional Authority, or C.P.A. They never fought for it.

It's a pretty wild world in Tommy Friedman's head, one where Iraqis could have taken "ownership" of Viceroy Bremer's CPA, a division of the US Department of Defense.

But more than that, we may remember that many Iraqis did, in fact, fight for it. They didn't fight for it in the way Tommy Friedman imagines they should have, which I think involves having a staring contest or something. They fought for it by killing a lot of people and blowing a lot of things up.

War is awesome! Thanks Tommy! SUCK ON THIS!

And New York Times? You SUCK ON THIS too!

(ht JCN)

Reading Blogs While You Commute

This really is the kind of thing which will pull people out of their cars.

Commuters can now read and respond to e-mail and work on their way to the office, aboard the MBTA's 11 commuter boats that travel to Boston, Hingham, Hull, Quincy, and Logan Airport.


He said the response to a pilot WiFi program, which the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority started early this year on the Worcester-Framingham commuter line, proves that people want wireless.

"This is something you can't do in your car," he said.

I finally broke down and got wireless broadband, but it isn't something most people have obviously.

And A Movement Is Born

My fellow citizens are bringing a tear to my eye.

SAN FRANCISCO — Reagan has his highways. Lincoln has his memorial. Washington has the capital (and a state, too). But President Bush may soon be the sole president to have a memorial named after him that you can contribute to from the bathroom.

From the Department of Damned-With-Faint-Praise, a group going by the regal-sounding name of the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is planning to ask voters here to change the name of a prize-winning water treatment plant on the shoreline to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.


Over there.

BAGHDAD — Three U.S. soldiers and an interpreter were killed by a roadside bomb in Ninewa Province on Tuesday night in the second large explosion to strike the Mosul region in a day and further evidence that Sunni Arab guerrillas remain very active in the northern city despite recent Iraqi military operations.

Mickey Tax

Yes this is a horrible idea. Perhaps just make customs and immigration a bit more pleasant instead?

Roy Smash

Our lesson in social studies for the day.

Not Atrios

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Get your dialing fingers ready, because this is just more reason to turn the heat up tomorrow.

Senator Reid just informed his colleagues on the Senate floor that, because of all the other bills in the queue (like the housing bill, and the Iraq supplemental), FISA may not get a vote until after the July 4 holiday recess.

All good senators should be putting a stick into the spokes at every opportunity. And not just on FISA. They should be gumming up the works on everything until FISA is off the calendar.


Still have my Dodd for prez button.

No One Wants To Live In The City

It's too expensive.

As the realization takes hold that rising energy prices are less a momentary blip than a restructuring with lasting consequences, the high cost of fuel is threatening to slow the decades-old migration away from cities, while exacerbating the housing downturn by diminishing the appeal of larger homes set far from urban jobs.

In Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Minneapolis, homes beyond the urban core have been falling in value faster than those within, according to analysis by Moody's

In Denver, housing prices in the urban core rose steadily from 2003 until late last year compared with previous years, before dipping nearly 5 percent in the past three months of last year, according to But house prices in the suburbs began falling earlier, in the middle of 2006, and then accelerated, dropping by 7 percent the past three months of the year.

Despite my own obvious preferences, people like the burbs. It's going to take more than the stick of high gas prices for there to be any kind of radical change. It's an opportunity for a place like Philadelphia, where there are still plenty of inexpensive places to live. But transportation needs to be improved, crime rates cut, schools improved, and city services generally need to be better. Now is the moment...


Broder's boy bounces all the way to 23% in LA Times/Bloomberg poll.

The survey found public approval of President Bush's job performance at a new low for the Times/Bloomberg Poll: only 23% approved of the job Bush is doing, and 73% disapproved.

This Is Excellent News For Rudy Giuliani

Or something.

WASHINGTON -- -- Buoyed by enthusiasm among Democrats and public concern over the economy, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has captured a sizable lead over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the opening of the general election campaign for president, the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll has found.

In a two-man race between the major party candidates, registered voters chose Obama over McCain by 49% to 37% in the national poll conducted last weekend.

Evening Thread

Off to drink liberally with the local dirty fucking hippies.

Less Gas

People actually aren't using as much of the stuff.

June 24 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. gasoline demand fell 2.7 percent last week, a sign motorists are cutting back on vacation plans as pump prices touch records, a MasterCard Inc. report today showed.

Now would be a good time for Campbell Scott to introduce his SUPERTRAIN.

Deep Thought

The constitution has too many amendments. Please get rid of 3.

The Old Ways

As Ezra suggests, the bizarre lengths to which long time newspaper people defend The Way Things Are Done because That's The Way Things Are Done are really kind of weird. And we don't have to talk about more fundamental issues like false balance/"objectivity" as a lot of it is simply stylistic and doesn't really involve any deeper (right or wrong) principles.

Toss all the old conventions out the window. Do not want.

What Digby Said

This has been another edition of What Digby Said.


I'm trying to resist the temptation to do the election season "all polls all the time" thing but I suppose I won't always be able to resist them.

Survey USA says it's even in Indiana.

Bush got 60% in 2004.

And He's The Liberal!

Fox is so awesome.


Rock on.

Get Off My Lawn

It's hard, I think, to communicate to the kids today just how transformative some new technologies are (cell phones, internet, awesome new internet applications, mp3s, etc.) I'm adaptable enough that I generally get around to using and understanding new technologies - an adopter if not an early adopter - but unlike the kids today I can remember life before them.

I don't need the younger generation understand my "it's actually really hard to find out if your favorite band is going on tour" teenage years, but for some reason I kind of want them to understand how things have changed. Or maybe that's the same thing. Turn that music down!

Deep Thought

Swampland is so predictable I wonder if they read my mind, see what I imagine they're going to write about and what they'll say about it, and then post it up on the blog.

Documents Destroyed

Once upon a time it seemed like the Villagers couldn't get too upset by the crime, but would get a bit excited by the cover up at least. Now, probably, not so much.

Wouldn't It Be Great If It Was All Different

Theda Skocpol:

Mugwump type reformers -- and the current public finance reformers who are their descdenants -- think that the key to good politics in America is getting money out. These reformers (I called them neo-Mugwumps in Diminished Democracy) want minimually financed elections and believe that calm discussions among educated people are the way to go; such reformers have never been interested in expanding popular involvement in politics. But the other model, the popular civic model, realizes that widespread citizen passion and engagement are more important. Getting a lot of people into politics is more important than trying to get money out. And involving millions is worth more than winning a few arguments in the editorial pages of the New York Times.

Obviously I can't know if this describes all of those in the reform community, but there's definitely a set in Washington like this. There's a strain of elitism which is concerned about the power of money, but not so concerned about the power of... elites, or at least the right kind of elites. It was truly freaky coming in contact with people who were genuinely concerned that ordinary people could one day (this was pre-You Tube) make political videos! And people on the internets could watch them! And this must be regulated because... well just because!

Wanker of the Day

Steny Hoyer.

The Majority Leader can be reached at:



Consumer confidence low.

U.S. consumer confidence fell in June to its lowest in 16 years as high inflation continued to sap confidence and pushed expectations for the future to a record low, the Conference Board said on Tuesday.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its inflation expectations gauge matched the record-high 7.7 percent it hit in May, which will keep Federal Reserve policy makers concerned over price growth as they meet to decide rates on Tuesday and Wednesday.

And the stock market has really tanked over the past week, validating my decision some months ago to put my vast portfolio into FCOJ and Egyptian cotton futures.


President Obama will have to deal with these people.

High-ranking political appointees at the Justice Department labored to stock a prestigious hiring program with young conservatives in a five-year-long attempt to reshape the department's ranks, according to an inspector general's report to be released today.

The report will trace the effort to 2002, early in the Bush administration, when key advisers to then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft moved to exert more control over the program to hire rookie lawyers and summer interns, according to two people familiar with the probe.


Critics in the department had argued that hundreds of high-quality applicants had been rejected because of their ties to left-leaning nonprofit groups or clerkships with Democratic judges and lawmakers, according to correspondence at the time. One Harvard Law School graduate said that when he applied for the honors program a few years ago he was warned by professors and fellow students to remove any liberal affiliations from his résumé.

Bible Wars

According to the AP, Dobson says that Obama is distorting the Bible. This type of stuff is an inevitable consequence of injecting religion into politics once you understand that the actual details of religious beliefs do matter and that religious people, even if you limit that group to Christians, actually disagree about a lot of stuff. I'm not sure why a nonbeliever like me seems to understand this more than the various religious political consultants.


One thing I've realized about people like Maureen Dowd is that it doesn't really matter that for years dirty fucking hippies on the internet and elsewhere have been criticizing the appalling misogynistic horror show that is her column. But it does matter if she gets criticized within her bubble, in the place where her friends and colleagues might actually read it.


Over there.

A bomb has exploded at a local council office in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing 10 people, including four American nationals.

The United States military says two soldiers and two civilians were killed in the blast.

Facts Are Stupid Things

And neither Pawlenty nor Blitzer nor the most trusted name in news want you to get anywhere near them.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Rock on.

What some people know about the economy

Fortune magazine asked McCain and Obama, "What do you see as the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy?

They said:
Obama: If we don't get a handle on our energy policy, it is possible that the kinds of trends we've seen over the last year will just continue. Demand is clearly outstripping supply. It's not a problem we can drill our way out of. It can be a drag on our economy for a very long time unless we take steps to innovate and invest in the research and development that's required to find alternative fuels. I think it's very important for the federal government to have a role in that process.

McCain: Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we're in against Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences. You've been a supporter of climate-change legislation that would essentially impose a penalty on the use of fossil fuel.
Not Atrios

Evening Thread

Enjoy. Long day for me.

Bye Len Downie

You'll be remembered most of all for keeping Walter Pincus in exile on page A16.

I Don't Know That Guy

I guess he's supposed to be James Bond's asshole evil twin or something. But, okay, you don't actually have to really know "someone like that" to appeal to social archetypes that people feel they know and understand. But, no, I don't even think that works here. Karl's getting old.

Fresh Thread

Dad must be working on the roof deck.

Press Releases

I get a lot of press releases about stuff I don't really care about, but this reaches new levels of donotgiveashit.

LOS ANGELES (June 23, 2008) – Today, Pajamas Media (, an online media company providing news coverage, analysis and political opinion, announced that blogger Richard Fernandez of the Belmont Club has moved to Pajamas Media and will be contributing to the site as a PajamasXpress blogger.

Subtitles Gone Wild

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

Deep Thoughts From John McCain

This is a repeat, but it's really quite stunning what the Villagers consider to be a man with very serious foreign policy experience.

"One of the things I would do if I were president," McCain told a group of wealthy contributors, "would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, 'Stop the bullshit.'"

The New Republic Syndrome

Quite the track record over there.

In Defense of John McCain

He does have a point. A grave threat to the economy is the reaction of people like John McCain to what they perceive as a threat, spending hundreds of billions of dollars attacking Bolivia in response to Pearl Harbor.

Nobody Could Have Predicted

That the Bush administration would spend a lot of money to start an Arab TV network, have it be run by people who didn't speak Arabic and had no idea what was being broadcast, and end up broadcasting things which encouraged sectarian divisions in Iraq...

Actually, admittedly, even I would have had a hard time predicting that one as message control seems to be the one thing they're obsessed with. Still I suppose that "allergic to anyone who actually might speak Arabic" trumped that.

Atrios 2.0

It's coming!

According to the company, the new Atrios include improvements in several areas culled from the feedback of its user base including musicians, engineers, producers, production companies and consumers.

Just Because

What's amazing about all of this bomb Iran talk is that there doesn't seem to be any genuine (if crazy) military goal as commonly understood. Sure there's talk of bombing the nuclear program, but basically the bombing talk is about bombing for its own sake to prove that we can and to demonstrate that people still listen to John Bolton. I suppose there's some sort of tiny penis psychology going on here, such that the point of bombing them is to prove to the world that we do have a big swinging dick and then those silly Persians will be so awed by it that they'll do anything we want.

But this is, you know, morally obscene and criminal. Welcome to Bush America!

The War On Curb Cuts

David Alpert continues it.

I believe in at least some areas here in Philadelphia there's been a change of attitude towards them. From what I understand it's still easy to get a curb cut if you're on a block which already has a lot of them, but if there aren't many on your block already they're much less likely to grant permission. Hard to find info on this stuff though, which is why I don't write a blog called "Greater Greater Philadelphia."

In the city this micro stuff really matters. A few too many curb cuts can really destroy a block.

...curb cuts are when you cut the curb of the sidewalk so that a property owner/builder can put in a garage or a parking spot in the front of the house. Generally takes away one public on street parking spot and replaces it with a private one. Decreases pedestrian and automobile safety, and makes a street much less aesthetically pleasing (the garages and parking spaces that result, not the cut curb itself).

Not For Everyone

The Shrill One makes what should be the obvious point that home ownership isn't for everyone. I previously pointed out that Miserable Failure had failed to increase home ownership, something which was long a centerpiece of his domestic economic accomplishments, but I don't really consider it to be a failure that matters.

I don't object to all policies tilted towards home owners. There are some good reasons to have policies in place which make it possible for people to, if they want to, buy homes. But some people are mobile, some people don't want to deal with the additional responsibilities, etc.


Obviously the people in charge know what they're doing.

Klepac and other newcomers to Prince William County were drawn there during the housing boom because they thought it would be a cheaper version of Fairfax County, with its upscale subdivisions, good schools and plentiful shopping. Yet a year after Klepac moved in, the Potomac Club subdivision is still not completely built, and promised amenities have yet to materialize.

As their home values plummet and their taxes go up, some of the new arrivals, many of whom are 30-somethings with families, are beginning to sour on Prince William, which has the highest number of foreclosures in Virginia.

"We're stuck," Klepac said. "I don't think I would have moved to Prince William County. I felt I was getting into a brand-new community with all these luxuries. They haven't delivered."


Even so, Fuller said it's going to be a "slow cure," in part because the county's actions to curb illegal immigration have "damaged its image as a good place to do business."

Katherine M. Gotthardt said she thinks it's a waste of time and money for police to check the legal status of arrested criminal suspects. She would rather see the county invest in fire department staffing, affordable housing and schools.

That's crazy talk from Ms. Gotthardt.

I was struck by this bit, also:

"It was like the land got eaten up by these subdivisions," she said. "They've added to that climate of everyone being divided. There's no town center."

Despite the rapid growth, Prince William is still a bedroom community. Roughly two-thirds of its residents work outside the county. When it's time to shop or go out for an upscale meal, they get in their cars and drive to shopping centers in the region. What new residents want is an urban experience, with shopping and dining within the comforts of their suburban community, developers say.

Is this really what new residents want? If so, there's a giant mismatch between a tremendous amount of exurban development over the past decade and what people want.

Midnight Thread

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Evening Thread.

I'm not going to see Get Smart.


Not a happy week ahead for some.

June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc., the bank that's lost more than any other in the collapse of the U.S. mortgage market, plans to fire as much as 10 percent of the about 65,000 employees worldwide in its investment-banking division, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The story later uses the word "resizing," which I guess it the new "downsizing."

Pool Problems

Foreclosure fun:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some nights Terry and Carrie Madden won't even step onto their patio -- the stench and mosquitoes from the abandoned swimming pool next door are overpowering.

The Maddens' cash-strapped neighbors moved out in August, and the lender on the now-vacant house let it fall into disrepair. The pool is slime-green. The grass is knee-high. Once Carrie Madden had to call police to chase away burglars.

Either deliberately or just due to the overwhelming volume of foreclosures to process, banks aren't legally taking ownership of properties very fast which leaves the cities responsible for dealing with this kind of stuff.

What fun!

Early Evening Thread


There's Another Shitpile Over Here

And we have other problems.

Late payments and defaults in every other major category of consumer debt also rose in the first quarter, the American Bankers Association reported. Auto loans issued through car dealers have a delinquency rate of 3.13 percent, the highest since at least 1990, according the ABA.

"The rise in consumer credit delinquencies is consistent with a rapidly slowing economy," said James Chessen, the ABA's chief economist. "Stress in the housing market still dominates the story, but it's a broader tale of an overall weak economy."

Businesses are also feeling the pain of relying too much on credit. Construction and development loans, a specialty of regional and local banks, hit a delinquency rate of 7.18 percent at the end of March, the highest in 14 years, according to the FDIC. In October, the rate was 3.22 percent.

Brokaw to MTP

Not perfect, but I think better than anyone else from the list of reasonable possibilities.


During the last few months of the Bush administration, the elves will be busy putting metaphorical mines everywhere in the executive branch which will explode when President Obama takes office.

I hope people are thinking and worrying about this stuff.


Over there.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 15 people were killed and 35 wounded when a female suicide bomber blew herself up among policemen having lunch north of Baghdad on Sunday, Iraqi police and hospital sources said.

The attack took place in Baquba, capital of multi-ethnic Diyala province, where Sunni Islamist al Qaeda militants have sought to stoke tensions despite a succession of military offensives that have put the group on the back foot.


I don't like "fuel surcharges." Companies should just raise their prices and explain why, instead of tacking on an additional temporary-seeming charges, but this is just dumb.

But last week, PCS added a new 7 cents per mile "surcharge" to its price structure. Once again, this was misleading advertising - drivers are now paying 16 cents per mile for service, as the "surcharge" was simply added to the 9 cents a mile that PCS customers were already paying. Naturally, PCS justified this sudden 78 percent markup as a necessary response to gasoline prices that now exceed $4 a gallon.

The math, however, tells a different story.

Pooling all the data on PCS's Web site (www. regarding its fleet and averaging each car's city and highway miles-per-gallon ratings, it turns out that the average PCS car gets 39.85 miles per gallon. This impressive figure is the result of the large number of Toyota Priuses in PCS's fleet - hybrid cars that, according to PCS's Web site, get 51 to 60 miles per gallon. With gasoline at $4.10 a gallon, it appears that the average cost of driving all of PCS's cars is about 10.3 cents per mile - again, less than PCS's new prices.

A per-mile charge covers more than fuel, obviously. No such cost could perfectly cover the exact per-mile marginal cost of driving a mile, of course, but the implicit cost of driving a mile has involves more than just gas. And the 9 cents per mile price has for some time been even lower than the actual price of gas.

The Election Season Question

Just how much shit will they ask us to eat?

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

Meet the Press Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.). Panel: John Harwood, Andrea Mitchell. Moderator: Brian Williams.

This Week With George Stephanopoulos McCain supporter Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas); Obama supporter Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.). Red Cavaney, the American Petroleum Institute. Jeffrey Sachs, the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Panel: Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd, Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson.

Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace Obama advisor former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and McCain supporter former Gov. Tom Ridge (R-Penn.). Kathleen Rogers, Earth Day Foundation. Panel: Brit Hume, Nina Easton, Bill Kristol, Juan Williams.

Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer The economy: Obama supporter Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.). The economy: McCain supporter Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.). Offshore oil; the economy: Obama supporter Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.); McCain supporter Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.). The economy: Obama advisor former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich; McCain advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin. The hunt for Bin Laden; Iraq: Pakistani journalist-author Ahmed Rashid ("Descent Into Chaos"); Peter Bergen. Panel: Gloria Borger, Amy Walter, Ed Henry.

Face the Nation Obama vs. McCain: McCain advisor Carly Fiorina; Obama supporter Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.); John Harris, Politico.


Piss Russ, by watertiger. On display here for the next several minutes.