Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The John Edwards movie trailer. Clever.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Big giant (and not particularly flattering, from where I'm sitting) Huckabee profile in the upcoming NYT Magazine. Several fascinating insights (Huckabee, still, has no national finance director), as well as this gem:

Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, has no such reservations. He considers the "Left Behind" books, in which the world comes to a violent end as Jesus triumphs over Satan, a "compelling story written for nontheologians."
Which I think is basically saying, "It's like theology for dumb people."

...Or, in other words, theology. (Rimshot!)

Update: Those who get up in arms about such things are up in arms about this bit:
I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: "Don’t Mormons," he asked in an innocent voice, "believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"
Despite that fact that one of the main points of the profile is "Mike Huckabee is meaner than he looks," I do actually buy his explanation here (that it was an honest question asked to a reporter who "frankly is fairly well-schooled on comparative religions"). But I think this is a pretty good illustration of why you may want to ask someone other than a reporter when you have a question like that.

Here are a few of the conclusions from this article that I find particularly surprising:

  • "Not one of the Republican candidates is viewed favorably by even half the Republican electorate, the poll found."
  • "Even after what her aides acknowledge have been two of the roughest months of her candidacy, [Hillary Clinton] is viewed by Democrats as a far more electable presidential nominee than either Senator Barack Obama or John Edwards." ("63 percent of Democratic voters said that of all the Democrats in the race, she would have the best chance in the general election, compared with 14 percent who named Mr. Obama and 10 percent for Mr. Edwards.")
  • "Not only do substantially more Democratic voters judge her to be ready for the presidency than believe Mr. Obama is prepared for the job, the poll found, but more Democrats also see Mrs. Clinton rather than Mr. Obama as someone who can unite the country."
  • "At 21 percent, the approval rating for this Democratic-led Congress is at a new low, reflecting the defection of independent voters, a potentially worrisome development for Democrats going into next year’s Congressional elections."
  • "In fact, about as many of Mrs. Clinton’s backers say they are supporting her because of her husband as say they are supporting her because of her own experience."
  • "Mr. Edwards is viewed favorably by 36 percent." (I guess that one's not so much "surprising" as "unfortunate.")
  • "In a week when Mr. Romney delivered a speech intended to deal with concerns about his religion — he would be the nation’s first Mormon president — the poll found that little more than half of Republican respondents thought the United States was prepared to elect a Mormon to the Oval Office. That said, it also found that 45 percent were unable to say what Mr. Romney’s religion was."
People are so awesome.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mitt Romney on religion:

"I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from the God who gave us liberty," he said, drawing applause from an audience of about 300 invited guests, including supporters and religious leaders. "Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage."
In other words, he's more than happy to respect the Establishment Clause, except insofar as it applies to those dastardly atheists.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

TPM put this together, a five-minute greatest-hits video (or "mega-montage") of assorted Bush administration Congressional testimony. I guarantee it will make you laugh.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Breaking news: CNN is a joke.

This is pretty amusing.

Happy Thanksgiving, loyal readers (ha!).

Monday, November 19, 2007

I've never read this guy before, but he makes a funny point, and does so in well-written and comically-overkillian fashion:

On Friday, [embattled -- and now former -- U.S. Attorney Rachel] Paulose, in a single 48-word sentence, played the race card, the gender card, the religion card, the age card, the ideology card, the Federalist Society card, and the Joe McCarthy card. That’s a large percentage of the cards available in the victimology deck.
And fewer than seven words per victimology!

(Link via TPM.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This is great:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

About six months ago, I posted about a NewsHour debate moderated watched by Judy Woodruff, noting [savagely!] that "you can take the girl out of CNN, but you can't take the CNN out of the girl."

Well apparently she somehow missed that post, because a couple of weeks ago, Norman Podhoretz and Fareed Zakaria got together, and it was just as bad.

Dear Judy: you are the moderator. You are there to "moderate." Allowing one of your guests to say pretty much whatever he'd like is not moderating. It is watching. And it leads to conversations that would be far more at home on CNN or Fox than on the NewsHour:

NORMAN PODHORETZ: Well, I'll tell you why. First, I want to say that I think the attitude expressed by Fareed Zakaria represents an irresponsible complacency that I think is comparable to the denial in the early '30s of the intentions of Hitler that led to what Churchill called an unnecessary war involving millions and millions of deaths that might have been averted if the West had acted early enough.

FAREED ZAKARIA: Norman, perhaps instead of calling me names, you could just explain why the arguments are right or wrong. That would be just fine.

NORMAN PODHORETZ: Why can't the...

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let's let Mr. Podhoretz finish his point.

NORMAN PODHORETZ: Yes, I would appreciate being allowed to finish my point.
Because we wouldn't want to deprive the world of a pearl of wisdom like that.

(Relatedly, Josh Marshall had a similar reaction to Podhoretz, but didn't mention Woodruff. And that same day, Paul Krugman went up with a great Podhoretz takedown ("Do I have to point out that none of this makes a bit of sense?").)

TPMtv on the megalomania that is Rudy Giuliani.

There were plenty of people unhappy with Chuck Schumer this week, and I suppose on one level I'm one of them, but I have to admit that I find this persuasive:

Should we reject Judge Mukasey, President Bush has said he would install an acting, caretaker attorney general who could serve for the rest of his term without the advice and consent of the Senate. To accept such an unaccountable attorney general, I believe, would be to surrender the department to the extreme ideology of Vice President Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington. All the work we did to pressure Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign would be undone in a moment.
Mukasey's waffling on water-boarding is worrisome (and alliterative!), but I have little doubt that an unconfirmed temporary AG would be several orders of magnitude worse. The Bush administration's commitment to justice (not to mention Justice) is, to put it mildly, laughable. And as much as I hate to say it, the devil we kinda know might be significantly better than the devil we don't. So hesitantly, and with very little confidence, I'm going out on a limb: I'm with Schumer.

CBS News wants to sensationalize Protect Your Money!

That very same day, NASA also posted an online notice few people saw - seeking four-star hotel bids for its December awards, CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.

The awards are to honor workers who've contributed to flight safety. But it's not just a low-key dinner for a handful of the best and brightest.

Try five days and four nights at a luxury Florida hotel for 300 honorees and their guest. Fancy receptions and front-row tickets to the most exciting show in the space business, the shuttle launch.

All paid for by your tax dollars. ...

There's a reception to feed 750, with a "carving station with beef and turkey," coconut fried shrimp, spring rolls, shrimp wrapped with bacon, 5-6 desserts, antipasto plates to include assorted meats, cheeses, grilled vegetables and assorted marinated vegetables, breads.
[Emphasis in stupid original.] First off, even the byline is written like it's in a tabloid (I think Sharyl Attkisson may actually be Rita Skeeter). Second off, "shrimp wrapped with bacon"? "5-6 desserts"? "Assorted marinated vegetables"? Mon dieu! Where's Henry Waxman and his oversight committee when you need him?

I don't have the energy to really pick apart the stupidity of this story (except to say that the article reads an awful lot more like something you'd see coming out of a small-town affiliate than out of the network itself), so I'll toss it to this great Slashdot commenter (a NASA employee who has actually won the award in question), who does a pretty effective job of explaining why CBS is wrong:
They also made it out like some extravagant party - it really isn't. They pay for the flight (you have to cover your spouse, though), get you a hotel at the Day's Inn Cocoa Beach (or similar) for a few days, they drive you around on a tour, and feed you a few nice meals and let you meet some astronauts and agency officials.

While you may have some negative opinions about how well NASA is doing as an agency, we've got a lot of really outstanding line employees who do great work, and in any enterprise you need to reward that. When I got my SFA, I was 28 years old and had spent a year of 60+ hour weeks getting an avionics package on the Space Station working. I didn't get paid overtime for that...the SFA was a nice token from my management. Another guy on the trip won his for finding a problem that saved the government $12 million dollars. As a percentage of the overall workforce, very few people ever win this award (where I work, maybe 1 out of 50 has gotten this in the last 10 years, you have to do something exceptional). It's definitely worth the tax dollars that are spent on it - and I hope other federal agencies are using my tax dollars in similar ways.
Couldn't agree more.

As a bonus, here's a list of words in the CBS article that piss me off:
  • Luxury (thrice!)
  • Extravagant (also thrice! Once by crazy Tom Coburn, the absolute best possible person to go to for a quote for a story like this [Sharyl Attkisson presumably has him on speed dial])
  • Posh
  • Budget Blunder
  • Fancy
  • Frivolous

    To quote another Slashdot commenter, this is not about fiscal responsibility; this is about "look at those guys that have a great big party and you don't! They used your money for it!"

    Also, here's a quick hit from the end of the article that doesn't make much sense:
    What is the cost? Counting the reception ($64,000), dinner ($35,000), awards ($28,000), ground transportation (tour: $7,700; launch: $20,200), airfare ($105,000), hotel and food ($135,000 together), you’re talking $400,000 to $500,000.

    If you think that's pricey, consider this: the NASA holds its big awards every time there's a shuttle launch. December's extravaganza will be the third one in 2007. Honoring all those people is costing you about $4 million a year.
    For the record, I don't think "that's pricey." And I would be fine with spending $4 million a year to honor "all those people" (which accounts for something like one or two percent of the tens of thousands of people who work on the Shuttle program). But $500,000, three times a year, does not equal $4 million. I'm sure of it.

  • Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    I think this -- a presidential debate focused solely on science -- is an absolutely spiffy idea, and I think the chances of it actually happening are approximately zero in a million. Until Rush Holt runs for president.

    (Via Slashdot.)

    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Tom DeFrank just published a book called Write It When I'm Gone, a collection of things that Gerald Ford told him on the condition that they not be published until after Ford's death. Regarding Bill Clinton, according to Meet the Press, Ford said this:

    Ford ... returned to his Clinton head-shaking theme without any prompting. "I don't understand why any of his cabinet hasn't resigned [because of the Lewinsky scandal]. How can they keep working for him after he lied to them?"
    Seriously? Gerald Ford said that? Gerald "I’m convinced Nixon had nothing whatsoever to do with Watergate" Ford? I know he was famous for being a bumbling idiot, but surely even he must have seen the irony there.

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Roger Simon, The Politico's chief political columnist, on Face the Nation this morning:

    In a field that has seven credible candidates, actually seven pretty good candidates, for one person [Hillary Clinton] to get 51% of the vote, which is the third time she's done this, the third poll she's done this in, that's... that's not an insurmountable lead, but it's large.
    Seven credible candidates? Really?

    Actual credible candidates
  • Clinton
  • Obama
  • Edwards

    Pseudo-credible candidates
  • Richardson
  • Dodd
  • Biden

    The Seventh
  • Kucinich?
  • Gravel?
  • Gore?
  • Clark?
  • Dean?
  • Romney?

  • Friday, October 26, 2007

    The Georgia Supreme Court ruled this morning that Genarlow Wilson's ten-year sentence was cruel and unusual, and ordered that he be immediately freed. That ruling -- which is about as comically overdue as a ruling can possibly be -- prompted this quote from Wilson's lawyer:

    "The courts can work. The courts do work."
    Really? That's your quote, lawyer-lady? Genarlow Wilson, four years ago: 17 years old, star football player, honor student, looking forward to college. Genarlow Wilson, now: 21 years old, ex-convict, probably a registered sex offender, life completely fucked. It's great that the court came to its senses and ordered Wilson's release, but calling this case an indication that "the courts do work" seems to be setting the bar almost criminally low.

    (Sidenote: according to the Times report, the dissenting judge argued that the legislature's explicit decision to not apply the law retroactively is an indication that the punishment is not cruel and unusual. I haven't read the opinion, but assuming the reporter's summary is correct, that's a pretty bizarre conclusion to draw, isn't it? Neither "cruel" nor "unusual" are subject to definition by the legislature. When a punishment -- unnecessarily painful lethal injection, for instance -- is cruel and unusual, no amount of protestation by the legislature can define it as not cruel and unusual. So if the issue is, "Should [some conduct] be a crime," the judiciary probably has to defer to the legislature; but if the issue is whether or not a crime's punishment is too severe, the judge has a great deal more leeway.)

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Bloggingheads.tv goes big time.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Kucinich, on the Colbert Report the other night. Awesome.

    Monday, October 15, 2007


    "If I believed in polls, then five years ago I would have backed the war in Iraq like she did."

    -- Barack Obama, on polls showing he continues to trail Hillary Clinton, "Early Show," CBS, 10/15.

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    From Sunday's New York Times:

    "Our life, it makes you laugh, but it’s a tragedy," said Felah, a bowlegged Shiite man with a tired look, who has lost six close relatives, including a brother, to Sunni militants, and whose wife and children have been forbidden to see him by a bitterly sectarian father-in-law. "We feel that we are not telling the truth, but what can we do?"
    The story's headlined "In Life of Lies, Iraqis Conceal Work for U.S.," and it's well worth a read.

    Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, responding to John McCain:

    In the 1790s, in the waters off Tripoli, pirates were making sport of American shipping near the Barbary Coast. Toward the end of his second term, Washington sent Joel Barlow, the diplomat-poet, to Tripoli to settle matters, and the resulting treaty, finished after Washington left office, bought a few years of peace. Article 11 of this long-ago document says that "as the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion," there should be no cause for conflict over differences of "religious opinion" between countries.

    The treaty passed the Senate unanimously. Mr. McCain is not the only American who would find it useful reading.

    Mike Leavitt's Arguing School, Lesson 1: When confronted with a convincing counterargument, simply pretend you didn't hear it and repeat your initial point. Over and over and over. (And don't bother to cut him off, George!)

    In Leavitt's defense, I don't think there's really any way to make the "the President vetoed the SCHIP bill to help the children" argument not sound ridiculous.

    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    There's absolutely no chance I'll ever have the time to read Arthur Schlesinger's Journals, but Maureen Dowd's review does a heck of a job of making it sound like a good way to spend an afternoon a weekend a week a month.

    Friday, October 05, 2007


    The entire "conservative" media movement, from Limbaugh to O'Reilly to Coulter, is based on old Andrew Dice Clay skits.

    Former speechwriter and current MyDD blogger David Mizner explains his support for John Edwards:

    Some Democrats are unbothered by a candidate who claims to be a budget hawk as long as she or he also supports the kind of programs that the country needs. But there are two major problems with this approach. One, it's dishonest, the "progressive" counterpart to voodoo economics. Two, it won't work: when President Hillary Clinton proposes programs, the GOP would use her own paeans to balanced budgets against her. At that point she would have to make the choice she's refusing to make now, and I see no reason to believe she would make the right one. President Edwards, by contrast, having run a forthright campaign, would have a mandate for his ambitious proposals.

    This is not the kind of difference that gets headlines. It's not sexy. It may seem esoteric. But it's defining. It speaks to priorities, philosophy, values. Do you want the country to balance its checkbook or fix its infrastructure and fight climate change? It's the difference between liberalism and new liberalism, between Robert Rubin and Robert Reich, bewteen progressives and the Progressive Policy Institute.
    Worth reading.

    Thursday, October 04, 2007

    Chessmasters, they are:

    Mr. Leahy and other Senate Democrats had suggested that they would press for a variety of documents involving the firing of the United States attorneys and the eavesdropping program before agreeing to schedule confirmation hearings for a successor to Alberto R. Gonzales, who resigned as attorney general last month.

    The decision to go forward with the hearings appeared to reflect a calculation by Mr. Leahy and other Democrats that they did not want to be seen as willing to leave the post unfilled after complaining so loudly of turmoil in the department under Mr. Gonzales.

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    From TAPPED:

    And so I offer three ways to interpret what's going on here: a) the Edwards campaign is irresponsibly punting on the question of being able to win a general election until it can get through the primary, despite stakes that couldn't be higher for the nation, and has private data that shows Clinton to be its major competitor (call that one the Markos theory); b) the Edwards campaign is making a short-term tactical mistake by ignoring the impending Obama threat while taking on Clinton; or c) Edwards is a person of principle who sees in the Obama campaign more of what he would like in the White House, and is going to go down in such a way as to try to take Clinton with him.
    Or d) Edwards is holding out hope for an Edwards/Obama ticket.

    From a New York Times profile of Freddie* Dalton Thompson:

    Mr. Thompson parlayed the resulting attention and connections into a lucrative legal and lobbying career. Colleagues say he was skillful, if not always driven. At the Washington firm Arent Fox, where Mr. Thompson was registered as a lobbyist from 1991 to 1994, he was well liked but brought in few clients and billed only about 500 total hours.
    That's my kind of work ethic.

    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    Sy Hersh, in the New Yorker:

    This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to former officials and government consultants. The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism.
    It seems like it must be a joke, but it's not.

    (Crooks and Liars has Hersh's appearance on this morning's Late Edition.)

    Front page, Sunday Washington Post:

    Bush's EPA Is Pursuing Fewer Polluters
    Probes and Prosecutions Have Declined Sharply
    Get out!

    John McCain believes "the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation." Really truly.

    Which leads me to ask, again: what is it that Jon Stewart continues to like about this guy?

    (Probably the amount of respect McCain has for "the Islam.")

    They're pretty impressive, those conservative bloggers.

    Hypocrisy is magnificent.

    Incidentally, I tend to agree with Greenwald's commenters (see the Update at the bottom of that article): the MoveOn vote was a disgrace and an embarrassment, and having a vote of our own (whether for Limbaugh or for someone else) isn't going to do anything to solve that. Greenwald's response is persuasive ("it is ... far preferable ... to ensure that [the] corrupt standard is applied equally rather than allow it to be applied by one political faction against another"), but at the end of the day, the Democrats would cheapen themselves by sinking to the Republicans' level. Don't surrender the high ground.

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    Edwards' decision to accept public funding has really pissed a lot of people off.

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    I don't know which part of this is funnier: the fact that many of the words in Bush's U.N. speech were written phonetically, or the fact that several of them were actually written wrong phonetically. (See Mauritania; Sarkozy.)

    (Link via Wonkette.)

    Atrios: "If Rudy is elected president we can rename apple pie as '9/11 pie' and apple pie a la mode as '9/11 pie with a side of Iraqi freedom.'"

    We can't get anything done on Iraq, but at least we're covering the important stuff.

    (In fairness, I can't imagine that bill will ever see the light of day. But it's pretty funny.)

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    It's important to properly feed and care for your Congress.

    Saturday, September 22, 2007

    Gail Collins on the women of the civil rights movement.

    Bill O'Reilly: Proudly progressing from "a caricature of himself" to "a caricature of a caricature of himself."

    The Edwards education plan, conveniently summarized by the New York Times:

    Speaking at Brody Middle School here, Mr. Edwards outlined a plan that he said would evaluate students more effectively, reduce class sizes and reward teachers who work in high-poverty schools with up to $15,000 in incentive pay, initiatives similar to those championed by education officials in New York City and elsewhere.

    He also called for universal preschool, the creation of a national university that would become a “West Point for teachers” and an initiative that uses what he described as “education SWAT teams” to sweep in and rebuild failing schools.
    I'm with him on everything except the SWAT team part, because I'm pretty sure Tom Berenger already tried that.

    Mark Shields, on Friday's NewsHour, finally illuminating his opposition to MoveOn's Petraeus ad:

    First of all, Americans do not like to have people's names made fun of. Everybody has had the experience him or herself at one time in life having their own name made fun of. And to do it in this unflattering, unfair fashion was beyond the pale.
    As you might imagine, I don't have any real problem with the ad, and I'd wondered why Shields had reacted to it the way he did. That quote sure seems to explain it, though: Mark Shields was emotionally scarred by name-calling elementary schoolers.

    An interesting point from a TPM reader:

    Contrast that to the (admittedly luried) [sic] tale of Norman Hsu, fronted by papers around the nation. That was a case of a major donor to Democratic figures who turned out (unbeknownst to the politicians to whom he donated) to be a crook and a fraud. That's big news. But when a businessman who is a major donor to Republican politicians turns out to be a crook and a fraud, and some of the nation's senior legislators are revealed to have knowingly accepted his bribes and funneled him earmarks in return, it's hardly worth mentioning.
    Emphasis mine.

    McCain, at the NRA's "Celebration of American Values" conference:

    Two women walked right in, making peace signs with hands and yelling for the troops to come home. After they were removed, McCain said, "Well, my friends, we beat you yesterday, we beat you the day before, and we'll best you today." He received a standing ovation.
    One wonders what it is about McCain that Jon Stewart continues to like so much.

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    To paraphrase Winston Churchill: George Bush is an immodest man with a great deal to be modest about.

    This guy is really quite funny.

    [I drafted this post two months ago, but the OMB language is sufficiently funny that I'll go ahead and post it now.]

    Via the Honolulu Advertiser comes this highly entertaining OMB explanation for the Bush administration's opposition to a 3.5% pay raise for the armed forces:

    Like the House, senators favor a 3.5 percent military pay raise for 2008 versus the administration's proposed 3 percent to match private sector wage growth as measured by the government's Employment Cost Index or ECI. The White House calls the extra half percentage point unnecessary and notes that basic pay has jumped by 33 percent since 2001. The added cost of the bigger raise, $2.2 billion through 2013, is money "that would otherwise be available to support our troops," said the OMB letter.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    John McCain, speaking for the Senate Republicans, on why the Webb amendment is a bad idea:

    The Constitution of the United States gives no authority for the Congress of the United States to set lengths of tour or lengths of duty in the military.
    A fine point, albeit confusingly said, except for the fact that it's plainly not true (Art. I, sec. 8: "The Congress shall have power... to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces."). In other words, as Harry Reid shot back,
    Anyone that suggests that the Webb amendment is unconstitutional either is not reading the law or no one's explained it to them very well.

    (Amusingly, the other major argument against the Webb amendment [an argument that made its way around the Sunday talk shows this weekend] is that it would force the military to tackle "a management nightmare: having to track the service in Iraq of each soldier." Because Lord knows we wouldn't want that.)

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Iranian state TV is running a miniseries (based on a true story, no less) about "an Iranian diplomat in Paris who helped Jews escape the Holocaust." Go figure.

    Saturday, September 15, 2007

    Thought of the day: could Lawrence Eagleburger be John Ashcroft's greatest enemy?

    Great news, loyal readers! The Purple State is on its way back. I swear.

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Not exactly a classic (in fact, I think that more than anything else it's just an indication of the writers' desire to burn off the leftovers from this piece from a couple of years ago), but it's from The Onion and it's about John Edwards, so I'd be derelict not to link to it:

    "Many bad things are not just bad—they're terrible," said a beaming Edwards, whose "Only the Good Things" proposal builds upon previous efforts to end poverty, outlaw startlingly loud noises, and offer tax breaks to those who smile frequently. "Other candidates have plans that would reduce some of the bad things, but I want all of them gone completely."

    Saturday, July 14, 2007


    (This is pretty much everywhere at this point, but I first saw it here.)

    Sunday, July 08, 2007

    Oliver Stone, on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

    "I wish the Iranian people well, and only hope their experience with an inept, rigid ideologue president goes better than ours."

    (Thanks to AMERICAblog.)

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    Matt Bai's New York Times Magazine profile of John Edwards (which I meant to link to a couple of weeks ago, but apparently didn't) ends like this:

    It took 40 years after Robert Kennedy's death for another establishment Democract to summon the courage to build a campaign around economic injustice. If Edwards should win the nomination but lose the White House, it might well be another 40 years before anyone tries again.
    That's reason enough to vote for him right there.

    Not up my usual alley at all, but worth noting all the same: Lawrence Lessig is leaving the IP world and embarking on a quest to save politics. Really truly.

    Joe Biden drinks Republican-flavored Kool-Aid? (I can't find a [This Week] transcript to link to, so I'm just copy-and-pasting from Lexis.)

    Stephanopoulos: After the president's veto of the funding bill, you voted to fund the troops. Your colleague, Senator Obama, opponents, as well, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton voted the other way. I know you don't want to criticize your opponents but it's clear you believe that a no-vote puts the troops at additional risk, correct?
    Biden: Absolutely, positively, unquestionably it would have delayed - let's say we had 51 no votes, it would have kicked the can down the road another week, month, month and a half and in the meantime, George, we would have built 300, 500, 1,000 less of the mine-resistant vehicles that are taking 70% of the lives and 70% of the injuries. It would have just delayed that with no possibility, emphasize, no possibility of overriding the presidential veto. I wasn't prepared to play chicken with the lives of the American troops. Bush maybe, not me.
    Now, look. I understand the need to separate yourself from your primary opponents, I really do. But to do so by buying into the laughable GOP premise that it was Congress holding the strings here, and that it was Congress who would bear the responsibility for placing the troops in harm's way... give me a break. I hope Obama elbows you in the mouth.

    Update: Still no transcript, but here's a post about it from The USA Today's politics blog (...).

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Mike Gravel is also a hoot, though perhaps in a slightly more intentional way than Lurita Doan.

    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    Lurita Doan is a hoot.

    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    TPM points to this essay, in which FindLaw columnist Vikram Amar argues that the Wisconsin statute directing the governor to keep Craig Thomas's Senate seat in GOP hands is quite possibly unconstitutional.

    There is a very strong textual argument that the Seventeenth Amendment prevents the Wyoming legislature from dictating the Governor's choices in making a temporary appointment: The Amendment's language differentiates between a state "legislature" and a state "executive" authority, and allows a state legislature not to make or constrain any temporary appointments itself, but rather only to "empower the [state] executive to make [the] appointment."
    The essay's a bit boring (in the grand tradition of law professors), but it makes a pretty compelling point.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Those pesky former generals are giving Bush all manner of trouble.

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    Creationists are funny.

    Fox News doesn't actually know who Bill Jefferson is.

    Sunday, May 27, 2007

    Andy Card visits Amherst. Awesome.

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    Righteous indignation abounds. Kos has been great all day; AMERICAblog has been great, too, and linked to an excellent commentary by Keith Olbermann; and TAPPED, though strangely silent so far, did at least point to a good post at MyDD.

    On the real-people front, John Edwards came out in a hurry, and Chris Dodd was right on his heels. No word yet from most of the rest.

    So if a picture tells a thousand words, and a sound tells a thousand pictures, then what happens when the sound is a recording of a single word? Does the world end?

    AMERICAblog's John Aravosis nicely summarizes the Democrats' capitulation on timetables:

    Sure, this time we caved, but next time boy that President Bush better watch out.

    TPM notices that the New York Times has been paying less attention to Edwards than to Hillary or Obama.

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    This is a couple of weeks old, but it's a pretty great story, so I'll go ahead and post it anyway. According to former U.S. Attorney John McKay (who does admittedly have an ax to grind), one of Gonzales's first appearances before the assembled U.S. Attorneys was a speech that went like this:

    "His first speech to us was a 'you work for the White House' speech," McKay recalled. "'I work for the White House, you work for the White House.'" ...

    [McKay] looked around the meeting room and caught the eyes of his colleagues, who gave him looks of surprise at Gonzales' remarks. "We were stunned at what he was saying."
    "Stunned," of course, because they'd all watched Gonzales's confirmation hearing a few weeks earlier, during which he'd said this:
    And I feel a special obligation, maybe an additional burden coming from the White House to reassure the career people at the department, and to reassure the American people that that I'm not going to politicize the Department of Justice.
    That's some good reassury.

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Wolfowitz ha resignado!*

    Update: Replacement speculation is running wild. Yesterday, the hot rumor was Tony Blair; today, Atrios thinks it'll be this guy.

    * - Spanish for "I am the niƱo."

    This is really neat:

    Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) stood before the refrigerated section of the Safeway on Capitol Hill yesterday and looked longingly at the eggs.

    At $1.29 for a half-dozen, he couldn't afford them.

    Ryan and three other members of Congress have pledged to live for one week on $21 worth of food, the amount the average food stamp recipient receives in federal assistance. That's $3 a day or $1 a meal. They started yesterday.
    It's a shame that only four Members were willing to try it, but it sure makes those four look pretty good. A tip of the hat to Jim McGovern, Jo Ann Emerson, Tim Ryan, and Jan Schakowsky.

    Update: Ryan didn't make it the full week.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    MSNBC on Falwell's importance to the White House, courtesy of the fine folks at TPM:

    For some reason, this struck me as very funny:

    In a one-page letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, McNulty said he will leave his post in late summer because of the "financial realities" brought on by "college-age children and two decades of public service."

    McNulty, 49, said in an interview that the political tumult over the prosecutor dismissals -- including his role in providing inaccurate information to Congress -- did not play a part in his decision. He said he has not lined up a job but is considering his options<.
    If you're going to lie about why you're resigning, at least take the time to come up with a logically consistent excuse.

    Update: Jon Stewart caught it, too.

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    I'll tell you what: this John Edwards fellow, I think he's going places.

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    This afternoon's Judiciary hearing featured the following exchange:

    Rep. Linda Sanchez: Are you aware that one month before [Debra] Yang resigned her post, White House Counsel Harriet Miers had asked Kyle Sampson if Ms. Yang planned to keep her post, or if, in Mr. Sampson's words to our investigators, "whether a vacancy could be created there in Los Angeles"? Were you aware of that?


    Alberto Gonzalez: I think I'm... I think I may be aware of that.
    It was such a ridiculous answer that he made himself laugh. I love it.

    CongressDaily (et al) is reporting that Nancy Pelosi is going to allow the party progressives a pretty big -- albeit basically ceremonial -- vote this evening:

    In a change of plans, House Democratic leaders today plan to bring up legislation that would begin redeployment of U.S. forces and contractors from Iraq not later than 90 days after enactment and to be completed within 180 days before turning to a second Iraq war supplemental. The bill was introduced Wednesday night by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., a prominent member of the Out of Iraq Caucus, after discussions with Speaker Pelosi. The vote on the McGovern bill is a concession to antiwar members of the Democratic Caucus who are concerned that supplemental proposed by Appropriations Chairman Obey would not permit until July an up-or-down vote on removing troops from combat zones.
    It'll fail, obviously, but the roll call should be interesting.

    [Sadly, this is likely to signal an end to any organized liberal opposition to the leadership's milquetoast supplemental. Way to be, guys!]

    Update: 171-255 on the McGovern bill (which is quite a few more yeas than I would have expected); 221-205 on the supplemental (which, of course, will be inexplicably vetoed).

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    Three years ago, a senior researcher at the Department of Education distributed a memo blowing the whistle on a pretty major student-loan loophole. For his trouble, he received a hastily rewritten job description ("barring him from further research into the subsidies") and a pretty harsh rebuke ("In the 18 months you have remaining, I will expect your time and talents to be directed primarily to our business of conceptualizing, competing and monitoring research grants," his boss wrote).

    Three years later, the researcher's retired, the memo's been proven entirely correct, and the boss is backpedaling:

    "Plus, I didn’t understand the issues," Mr. Whitehurst said recently. "In retrospect, it looks like he identified an important issue and came up with a reasonable solution. But it was Greek to me at the time — preferential interest rates on bonds? I didn’t know what he was doing, except that he wasn’t supposed to be doing it."
    Wherefore dost thou stop, buck?

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    On tonight's NewsHour, Judy Woodruff moderated a frustrating debate between VoteVets.org founder Jon Soltz and vile Move America Forward chair Melanie Morgan (who, without going too deep into the ad hominems, has clearly spent some time with the drunken plastic surgeon responsible for Jennifer Coolidge's lips).

    Somewhat inevitably, Soltz came off as reasonable, considerate, and intelligent; and Morgan came off as a walking talking point who hums with her mouth open.* But read that debate transcript (or listen to the audio), and let me know if you can get to the end without losing a bit of respect for Judy Woodruff. To grant someone like Melanie Morgan the gift of NewsHour airtime, and then completely fail to call her on any of her ridiculous bullshit ("Well, it's nice to know that you [former Army captain Jon Soltz] really believe in the fearsome firepower of al-Qaida and in their ability to win a war. And I think what you [former Army captain Jon Soltz] are saying is shameful and really disrespectful to our troops.")... well, you can take the girl out of CNN, but you can't take the CNN out of the girl.

    * - I would have liked to include a link to the scene from A Mighty Wind that I'm referring to, but I couldn't find it online. So I'm afraid you'll have to imagine it. Also, this still only counts as one ad hominem, since I'm basically just repeating the Jennifer Coolidge joke from the first paragraph.

    A whole mess o' catchuppery:

    • Wired reported about a week ago that the Army has quietly changed its regulations to forbid soldiers to send email without first "clearing the content" with their superiors. Practically speaking, I'm guessing this'll go mostly unenforced, but for those few whom it does affect, it seems awfully extreme. (And am I the only one who's surprised that none of the big liberal blogs picked this up?)
    • Over at TAPPED, Ezra Klein took a pretty amusing swing at Roger Simon's latest $400-haircut piece.
    • An article in Monday's Washington Post ripped John Edwards for failing to bring more to the table on poverty issues, prompting TPM wonks-in-residence Jared Bernstein and Greg Anrig to rip the Post right back.
    • And finally, things are not looking good for Wolfowitz, are they?

    The Wolfers/Price referee study was pretty interesting all by itself, but the responses it provoked from frightened basketball cognoscenti* were absolutely priceless. From the NBA, you got:

    "The study that is cited in the New York Times article is wrong," president of league and basketball operations Joel Litvin told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. "The fact is there is no evidence of racial bias in foul calls made by NBA officials and that is based on a study conducted by our experts who looked at data that was far more robust and current than the data relied upon by Professor Wolfers" [emphasis added]. ... The NBA denied a request by Wolfers and Price to obtain that information, citing its confidentiality agreement with the officials.
    In other words, "Your study is wrong, but we can't tell you why. So shut up." (There was also a weird passage in which Litvin attempted to use an earlier draft of the study to discredit its findings. What the hell?)

    And on SportsCenter later that evening, NBA "analyst" and noted statistician Kiki Vandeweghe sounded off on the study's methodology:
    Well, I took statistics in college, and I can tell you, you can make statistics say whatever you want them to say. That's the first thing. Second thing is, you know, when you get right down to it, they looked at box scores, which list three referees across the bottom. They can't tell, the researchers can't tell who actually made those calls, so they have no idea, so I don't know how they were deciding, you know, if it was an African-American or a white official or Hispanic... who made the call.
    Because I guess despite all that statistics experience, he never made it as far as "Introductory Regression."

    * - Ahem.

    I'm not really sure I fully understand how the GOP leadership is internally justifying its current push for timetables (a strategy that, if you'll recall, they decried pretty vehemently and derisively a week ago). Can anyone explain that to me?

    Friday, May 04, 2007

    Tonight's Republican debate was phenomenal. Sadly, MSNBC is being as draconian about the footage of this one as they were about the footage of the Democrats' debate a week ago, so if you missed it, you're probably out of luck. But be sure to check out Wonkette's liveblog (Part I, Part II). It's terrific.

    Update: The Daily Show's coverage (aired on May 7) is also excellent.

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Happy anniversary.

    May 1, 2003

    Monday, April 30, 2007

    Who doesn't love to see Fox News looking stupid?

    Friday, April 27, 2007

    Tom Tomorrow compiles a sort of greatest-hits list of pre-war Republican talking points. I think my favorite is a Bill O'Reilly:

    "I will bet you the best dinner in the Gaslight District [sic] of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week." (January 29, 2003)

    If you have a few free minutes, I'd highly recommend Wonkette's liveblog of tonight's debate (Part I, Part II).

    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    Chris Cilizza knows the difference between a gantlet and a gauntlet, goddammit, and he'd like to make sure that you know that Sam Waterston doesn't:

    Actor Sam Waterston praised the personal attributes of "Law and Order" co-star Fred Thompson but warned that if the former Tennessee Senator enters the Republican presidential field he will be forced to run the "gauntlet" of conservative interest groups to win the nomination.
    Don't get me wrong, I understand where he's coming from. But come on, to call it out like that in the middle of the paragraph? That's cold.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    Henry Waxman's Tillman/Lynch hearing this afternoon was chock-friggin'-full of quotable indignation. Nancy Pelosi's blog has clips.

    [And a Kossack reminds us that it's only six more days until the anniversary of Mission Accomplished.]

    (Thanks to Atrios.)

    This is extraordinarily fishy, even given the already-fishy context (quoting The Hill, by way of TPM):

    Former White House Counsel Harriet Miers discussed firing ex-U.S. Attorney Debra Yang, who was leading an investigation into lucrative ties between Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) and a lobbying firm before she left her government post voluntarily last fall, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) charged in a hearing last week.

    Yang resigned last October, months before Democrats began reviewing the Justice Department’s decision to fire eight other federal prosecutors. According to a report in the American Lawyer, she was lured away by a $1.5 million-plus offer to become a partner* at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher LLP, which is defending Lewis in the probe.
    And Yang isn't wasn't even one of the scandal-ridden ones!

    * - Model Rule 1.10, anyone? (Finally, those Ethics classes pay off!)

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    An intriguing suggestion from an Army sergeant in Afghanistan:

    When we honor the flag by saluting it, we are honoring what it stands for. We honor freedom, the people it represents and a way of life.

    Isn’t it time our flag saluted back when a person makes the ultimate sacrifice? Shouldn’t the flag, which represents our society, tip its hat when someone dies to ensure it will fly another day?

    If the flags on our [forward operating bases] were lowered for just one day after the death of a servicemember, it would show the people who knew the person that society cared, the American people care.
    Seems a perfectly valid point.

    (Thanks to AMERICAblog for the link.)

    Why mascots don't make particularly good memorial service attendees:

    The pros and cons of the top twenty Democratic presidential candidates, courtesy of regular McSweeney's contributor John Moe.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    Quoting a poll out this week from Harvard's Institute of Politics:

    [M]ore than one-third (35%) of likely 18-24 year-old Democratic voters say Senator Obama would be their first choice for President in 2008, followed by Senators Clinton (29%) and Edwards (9%).
    Nine percent? Nine percent? Come on, America's Youth. Wake up and smell the Two Americas!

    Monday, April 16, 2007

    In response to the Virginia Tech shooting:

    "The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
    Good to know he has his priorities in order.

    I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else, so I have nothing to link to (sorry, loyal readers [ha!]), but here's a thought: Gonzales testifies on Tuesday, and by all accounts, it's going to be brutal. Is it a coincidence, then, that Bush will be spending Wednesday parleying with Congress at the White House? Or was that deliberately calculated to knock Gonzales off of Thursday's front pages? Just wondering.

    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    Happy Jackie Robinson Day.

    Saturday, April 14, 2007

    I tend to be pretty skeptical of the the whole "cost of a gallon of milk" question (mostly because, despite the fact that I buy milk at least once a week, I couldn't answer the question myself), so I've been glad to see that a lot of the response to Giuliani's recent bungling has been along those same lines. The best response I've seen, though, is definitely this one, in which Michael Tomasky suggests replacing the fairly arbitrary "price of milk" with a list of ten numbers that really would demonstrate political in-touchitude.

    If any of my loyal readers (ha!) are BloggingHeads fans, riddle me this: why does Ann Althouse keep showing up?

    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    The Onion solves a Masters mystery.

    With all the other shenanigans going on these days (the U.S. Attorneys, the missing White House emails, the arbitrary lengthening of troop deployments [which the affected troops found out about by watching a Pentagon press conference]), I hope the Congress has the time to focus on this:

    Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.

    Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year.

    Most of those charged have been Democrats, voting records show. Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show.

    Monday, April 09, 2007

    In an interesting experiment, the Washington Post's Gene Weingarten sent classical violinist Joshua Bell into the L'Enfant Metro station for an incognito street-performance. Weingarten's article on the result is well worth a read.

    (And for more great long-form Weingarten, be sure to check out Doonesbury's War.)

    Update: In the interest of fairness, it would appear that there are plenty of people who aren't quite as impressed as I am. To the extent that those people object to Weingarten's occasionally-purple prose ["Tall and handsome, he's got a Donny Osmond-like dose of the cutes, and, onstage, cute elides into hott."], they'll find no argument here. But to the extent that they attack the story's scientific bona fides and read into it a sanctimonious rant on the cultural cluelessness of Washington's Metro riders, I think their indignation is misplaced. To quote Weingarten's online chat:

    [Generic Questioner]: Was this story intended to be an indictment of the soul of the federal bureaucrat?

    Weingarten: The simple answer is, no. It was not my intent, nor could anyone reasonably draw that inference from the story. We didn't have a control group; we had only one shot at the experiment, and you just can't fairly generalize one way or another. I really believe this.

    Saturday, March 31, 2007

    Former Bush campaign strategist Matt Dowd, er... changes his mind.

    In a wide-ranging interview here, Mr. Dowd called for a withdrawal from Iraq and expressed his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s leadership.

    He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a “my way or the highway” mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.

    Friday, March 30, 2007

    So this can't help his chances...

    Asked by Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, about Mr. Gonzales’s statements at a March 13 news conference that he had not participated in any discussions about the dismissals, Mr. Sampson [Alberto Gonzales's former chief-of-staff] replied, "I don’t think the attorney general’s statement that he was not involved in any discussions about U.S. attorney removals is accurate."

    Thursday, March 29, 2007

    I'm a bit distracted, so I've been paying only moderate attention to the Kyle Sampson testimony that's going on right now, but my ears perked up for a few seconds just now as I heard Sampson say to Sheldon Whitehouse, "Senator, the decision-makers in this case were the Attorney General and the counsel to the President." Not exactly falling on his sword, is he?

    Tuesday, March 27, 2007

    You know what's great about this blog? Its consistency.

    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Well that was... good? The gist of the Edwards press conference was that Elizabeth Edwards's cancer has returned, but in a very treatable (albeit not curable) way. She feels great, she's had no symptoms, and they were lucky to have caught it this early.

    Oh yeah, and the campaign will go on. "Strongly."

    A couple of things that I found odd:

    • They didn't address the future of the campaign until they were asked about it. Maybe I can see the motivation there, maybe ("This press conference is about Elizabeth; that's what really matters here. Elizabeth Elizabeth Elizabeth. ... Wait, you want to talk about the presidential campaign? At a time like this? Have you no shame? Have you no decency? ... Oh, very well, if you insist."), but come on. Give me a break.
    • And speaking of breaks! (I am the segue master!) The cancer was discovered when Elizabeth, while seeking treatment for a broken rib, had a set of X-rays that happened to show an irregularity on the other side of her body. So, obvious question, "how did you break your rib?" "Well, see, I was moving this chest of drawers...." I'm not a journalist, and I don't have a journalist's instincts, but that explanation seemed awfully contrived. I don't mean to imply anything, but she's a near-60-year-old woman with two young children. How is the explanation not, "I was playing with the kids"?

    This could be pretty big:

    ABC News is reporting breaking news that John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, are holding a press conference Thursday at noon. No one yet knows why, but you don't mysteriously announce a press conference with your wife if it's good news. This comes on the heels of Edwards canceling a campaign appearance recently in order to attend a doctor's appointment with his wife, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004.
    It's probably true that you don't mysteriously call a press conference to announce good news, but it's important to remember that sometimes you do mysteriously call a press conference to announce nothing at all.

    Update: Ezra Klein hears rumors that Edwards is planning to drop out. Say it ain't so, Jo[hn]!

    Update #2: The big papers have joined the party, with a somewhat disheartening message: the Times quotes one "close family friend" as saying that the announcement "would affect, at least temporarily, the future of the campaign." While I suppose that's better than nothing ("at least temporarily" clearly suggests, if nothing else, the possibility that the campaign will continue in the long-term), it does seem uncomfortably likely that we're dealing with an announcement in the neighborhood of Aravosis Paradigm 3.

    On the other hand, in an encouraging sign, Ezra Klein follows up his earlier post with this: "I am, happily, hearing more contradictory things now, as the campaign is apparently telling folks not to assume the worst." (How encouraging a sign that really is depends pretty heavily on how you define "the worst." If the worst is "Elizabeth has cancer," then we're in good shape; but if the worst is "I'm withdrawing from the race," then "not assum[ing] the worst" is entirely consistent with "I'm suspending the campaign indefinitely in order to take care of my wife.")

    Wednesday, March 21, 2007

    An Australian fake-news show (CNNNN) sends its U.S. correspondent on a mission to demonstrate to the world that Americans aren't as stupid as people think they are. Needless to say, he fails spectacularly. My favorite exchange:

      Morrow: "Which countries are in the axis of evil?"
      Woman 1: "Jerusalem?"
      Morrow: "Right...."
      Woman 2: "Jerusalem?"
      Morrow: "Okay... there's, there's more than one."

    The Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva digs up an old column of Tony Snow's that, to put it mildly, makes Snow look a little silly now.

    (Thanks to every blogger in the world.)

    The House Democratic leadership picked up a couple of big Iraq votes yesterday (Jan Schakowsky and John Tanner), but they remain on shaky ground: Maxine Waters is still a no, Lynn Woolsey is still a no, and John Lewis... well, as he put it:

    As a nation, can we hear the words of Gandhi, so simple, so true -- that it's either nonviolence or nonexistence? Can we hear the words of Martin Luther King Jr., saying that we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish as fools? Tonight, I must make it plain and clear, that as a human being, as a citizen of the world, as a citizen of America, as a member of Congress, and as an individual committed to a world at peace with itself, I will not and cannot vote for another dollar or another dime to support this war.
    In other words, the next twenty-four hours are going to be an uphill battle.

    I have to say, though: considering that this vote is largely symbolic (at best, it'll pass both chambers and be firmly and immediately vetoed; at worst, it won't even get a vote in the House), it's frustrating that the best the Democrats are able to do is commit to a withdrawal date sixteen months from now. As I'm sure someone famous once said: if you're going to lose, you may as well lose on something worth losing. The Democrats get beaten on some crazy, left-wing, latte-drinking, out-of-Iraq-tomorrow plan? Fine; they fought the good fight. But they get beaten on a relatively milquetoast, meet-you-halfway compromise measure*? That seems strategically unwise.

    Incidentally, that Post article seems to suggest that the outcome of this vote will bear heavily on perceptions of Clyburn's effectiveness as whip ("the failings of his organization are resurrecting fears that the courtly Southern gentleman is simply too nice for a job known for head-banging, punishment and retribution"). I don't think that's actually the case, but if it is, it's startlingly unfair. That Clyburn bears some responsibility as a member of the leadership is unquestionable; but for the rest of the leadership to slough off blame for their collective miscalculation on some imagined failure of Clyburn's to deliver votes that they could otherwise have gotten would be ludicrous. Read that John Lewis excerpt again, and tell me honestly if you think there's anyone short of Lyndon Johnson who could have delivered Lewis's vote, or the vote of anyone who agrees with him. At the end of the day, on an issue as important and volatile as this one, Members are going to vote their consciences. It'd be foolish to take that out on James Clyburn.

    * - If this was a price negotiation, here's where it would stand:
      Democrats: We'll give you $2.
      Republicans: We'll take nothing less than $100.
      Democrats: Okay, fine, we'll give you $10.
      Republicans: Sorry. Nothing less than $100.
      Democrats: Alright, $35.
      Republicans: $100.
      Democrats: $60?
      Republicans: $100.
      Democrats: Alright, fine. $85. But that's our final offer.

    The D.C. chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War staged an interesting protest on Monday, running a mock patrol through downtown Washington carrying "imaginary assault rifles" and "taking imaginary sniper fire and casualties on the grounds of the Capitol and the Washington Monument." The video attached to the story is worth a watch.

    This is amusing: TrueMajority, a lefty non-profit founded by Ben & Jerry's Ben Cohen, launched an Alberto Gonzales resignation pool this morning. If you can accurately predict the date and time of Gonzales's resignation, you win a year's supply of ice cream.

    (And with the Politico reporting that a resignation could come any day, you might want to make your guess in a hurry.)

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    "Mean-spirited. Fundamentally inaccurate. Coulter." (Thanks to AMERICAblog for the link.)

    (Shrewd readers will note that this is my first embedded video. How high-tech!)

    If you haven't seen this yet (it's about a week old), I'd highly encourage you to check out this fantastic Wonkette post, Jesus-Loving Americans Totally Ignorant of Jesus, Religion. (It's like an Onion article, only real!)

    [T]he way people go on about Jesus and how the Terrorist Muslims are coming to take away our precious freedoms guaranteed by Jesus to each American, you’d think they at least knew some goddamned simple bible stories. No. They actually don’t know anything about anything.
    The sixteen-point list that is the crux of the post is almost guaranteed to make you chuckle. Here are two of my favorites:
    • 98% of Americans profess belief in a monotheistic God, with 81% claiming to be "Christian." And...
    • Only one in three Americans can name the four Gospels, while less than half can even name one of them.
    In other words, at least 40% of the people who self-identify as Christian can't name any of the Gospels. 40%! I love the Christian right.

    (Cautionary note: a few of the sources cited in the Wonkette piece are less than ideal; I recognize that, and I wouldn't recommend citing them in an academic article on religious hypocrisy. But I've seen enough polling data on religion to know that the numbers Wonkette's quoting are, at the very worst, not far off base. Should you rely on them as scientifically accurate? No, probably not. But can you rely on them as anecdotally accurate? Absolutely. It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world.)

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    I've been a terrible blogger lately. I have plenty of excuses, sure: I was in and out of town; I had a catastrophic motherboard failure; I felt obligated to watch about six hundred NCAA basketball games. But none of that makes me feel any less guilty about failing you, my loyal readers (ha!). I've been keeping up with the news, mind you; I just haven't actually be posting any of it. So here's a lengthy rundown* of the notable news articles and blog posts that I've read in the past week and a half, organized roughly by topic. And now that I'm back in town full-time; now that I've constructed an acceptable workaround until my new motherboard arrives; now that the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament are over... I'll try to spend some time here more regularly.

    • Richardson
    • Walter Reed
      • 3.8. AMERICAblog on the CQ article indicating that senior Republicans knew about the situation at Walter Reed long before they let on.
    • Environment
      • 3.8. There was a lot of talk amongst the big lefty bloggers about this article, which reports on government scientists who were told not to discuss climate change (or polar bears).
    • Libby
      • 3.8. One of Kos's contributing editors makes a good point regarding the feasibility of a Scooter Libby pardon: you usually have to wait five years.
    • Edwards
      • 3.8. Ezra Klein at TAPPED points out that while Edwards's coming out against the FNC Nevada debate was a "good thing," it probably wasn't a smart move for Edwards personally, since it's likely to set him up as a pretty severe Fox punching bag if he makes it far enough that it becomes worthwhile for them to start punching him. (I think this is probably slightly less true now that the debate has collapsed so spectacularly. But they have long memories, those elephants.)
    • U.S. Attorneys
      • 3.8. Arlen Specter becomes the first Republican to rake the Attorney General across the coals.
      • 3.12. Chuck Schumer wants Karl Rove to testify.
      • 3.13. Dan Bartlett: "The White House did not play a role in the list of the seven U.S. Attorneys."
      • 3.16. TPM has put together a great timeline of the whole U.S. Attorney thing. (They also ask what Rove knew when.)
    • Military
      • 3.9. The American Prospect writes about military reservists and the Montgomery GI Bill.
      • 3.13. The fact that Gen. Peter Pace thinks homosexuality is immoral did not surprise me. The fact that Sen. John Warner thinks it's not, did.
    • Coulter
      • 3.9. A great editorial on Coulter from a small paper in DeKalb, Illinois. One of the things that annoyed me most about the initial responses from the major political campaigns (on both sides of the aisle) is that they were all framed in terms of "that kind of language has no place in political discourse." That's undeniably true, but it seems like we ought to go further than that; as the editorial above notes, "What she said was wrong and hurtful and stepped way beyond the line of human decency, much less political commentary."
    • Abortion
      • 3.12. A good post from TAPPED on a major logic problem for the pro-life right: "But as John Paul Stevens has pointed out, this position is completely nonsensical; it's absurd to argue that a woman has a fundamental right in choosing to become pregnant before the fact but only a trivial interest in choosing whether to become pregnant after the fact. The state's interest is greater after the fact, but the way abortion laws are written and enforced makes it almost impossible to argue that this interest could trump a fundamental right, which is why most opponents of Roe deny that a woman's right to choose an abortion is a fundamental right at all."
    • Hagel
      • 3.9. Interesting fact: Chuck Hagel promised during his 1996 Senate campaign to term-limit himself to 12 years.
      • 3.12. Chuck Hagel announces... nothing. Pundits agree: that was quite a waste of time.
    • Plame
      • 3.16. Valerie Plame testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I didn't get to watch it, but everything I read seems to indicate that she was quite damning. (AMERICAblog has an assortment of clips.)
    * - Color-coded expression of the danger that The Purple State is becoming more of a disjointed series of links than a blog: Orange (Elevated).

    Thursday, March 08, 2007

    David Gergen refers to the Bush administration as "mostly free of scandal." Wonkette responds incredulously ("David Gergen is mentally retarded"), and makes a list:

    Mostly free of scandal? Jesus Christ, it’s the most corrupt, incompetent kleptocracy in American History. The election itself was an international scandal. How about Cheney’s secret "Energy task force," Jack Abramoff, Halliburton’s no-bid contracts, Chalabi, Cheney hunting humans, Cheney’s unmarried pregnant lesbian daughter, the invasion of Iraq, Mission Accomplished, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, Katrina, FEMA, Nigerian uranium, Armstrong Williams, Jessica Lynch, Pat Tillman, Jeff Gannon, Dubai Ports, blocking the 9/11 Commission, anthrax, WMDs... nope, no scandals there.
    (A Kos diarist has a list of his own.)

    Sen. Pete Domenici has hired a lawyer. Specifically, Duke Cunningham's lawyer, K. Lee Blalack. Kos points out the obvious ("Blalack may well be a good lawyer, but is it in Domenici's best interest that every time this story is covered, he is linked to Duke Cunningham?").

    Everyone in the world thinks Chuck Hagel's going to announce on Monday.

    And TAPPED thinks Newt Gingrich is laying the groundwork for an announcement of his own. [TAPPED also points out that Newt's website, Newt.org (naturally), hosts a group of podcasts called "iNewts," which is amusing.]

    I think the Newt speculation is dead-on, but I'm not buying the Hagel thing. 2:1 says he announces on Monday that he's running for reelection in 2008.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    Loyal readers! This past weekend's travels made it difficult to get anything done 'round these parts. After twenty-four hours of extensive news consumption, I think I'm finally caught up with the world, but it's left me with a blog backlog (backblog?) several stories deep; and rather than wait until I have time to write about each of them individually, I figured I'd just lump the whole mess of 'em them into one link-heavy post that you can browse at your leisure. (Notice my folksy patois. I think that means that I need to go to bed.) Here goes:

    • Coulter
      • TPM Cafe notes that the Lancaster (PA) New Era has dropped Ann Coulter's column, writing in explanation that Coulter "no longer provides" the "intelligent discussion" the paper's readers deserve.
      • And Kos provides a lengthy list of advertisers that have pulled their ads from Coulter's site since the the CPAC incident. Highlights include Verizon, AT&T, Washington Mutual, Sallie Mae, and the perpetually annoying Classmates.com.
    • U.S. Attorneys
      • An anonymous AUSA emails TPM to thank the site for its work on the U.S. Attorney story.
      • Fired USA David Iglesias confirms that he received uncomfortable, "pressuring" phone calls from Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson.
        • Domenici says his complaints about Iglesias arose out of Iglesias's "inability to move quickly," but a bit of research indicates that Iglesias has actually moved significantly faster, on average, than his predecessor.
      • One of the fired U.S. Attorneys emails the other five regarding a very questionable call he received a couple of weeks ago from Mike Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.
      • And Mike Battle, the Justice official who did the actual firing of the various fired U.S. Attorneys, resigns. (Kos figures he just wanted to spend more time with his family.)
    • FNC
      • A Fox News anchor behaves tolerantly.
      • And in unrelated news (...), John Edwards becomes the first candidate to announce that he'll skip the FNC-hosted Nevada Democratic debate.
    • Op-Eds
      • Tom DeLay demonstrates that he is still a dick.
      • And Walter Mondale warns against a runaway vice presidency, noting "the dangers of the Cheney precedent."

    Don Spagnolo, editor of Mondesi's House, previews the Pirates' upcoming season with a list of 79 reasons why it's hard to be a Pirate fan. A bit of a departure from my normal subject matter, I know, but worth a read all the same.

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007


    Monday, March 05, 2007

    From Sunday's New York Times comes this editorial, a non-comprehensive list of "things that need to be done to reverse the unwise and lawless policies of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney." Entitled "The Must-Do List," the article lays out a sort of bare-minimum twelve-step program to set the country on a road to post-Republican-rule recovery.*

    Five years of presidential overreaching and Congressional collaboration continue to exact a high toll in human lives, America’s global reputation and the architecture of democracy. Brutality toward prisoners, and the denial of their human rights, have been institutionalized; unlawful spying on Americans continues; and the courts are being closed to legal challenges of these practices.

    It will require forceful steps by this Congress to undo the damage. A few lawmakers are offering bills intended to do just that, but they are only a start. Taking on this task is a moral imperative that will show the world the United States can be tough on terrorism without sacrificing its humanity and the rule of law.
    The whole article is worth reading, but in the interest of full service to my loyal readers (ha!), here's a quick list of the twelve steps:
    • Restore Habeas Corpus; Stop Illegal Spying; Ban Torture, Really; Close the C.I.A. Prisons; Account for "Ghost Prisoners"; Ban Extraordinary Rendition; Tighten the Definition of Combatant; Screen Prisoners Fairly and Effectively; Ban Tainted Evidence; Ban Secret Evidence; Better Define "Classified" Evidence; and Respect the Right to Counsel.
    Hard to argue with any of those.

    * - Obviously, that's not how they frame it. But this is the liberal media we're dealing with. That's clearly what they meant.

    Saturday, March 03, 2007

    Lincoln Chafee wrote an op-ed in Thursday's New York Times pointing out the existence, pre-AUMF, of a now-frequently-overlooked "third way":

    As someone who was in the Senate at the time, I have been struck by the contours of the debate. The situation facing the candidates who cast war votes has, to my surprise, often been presented as a binary one — they could either vote for the war, or not. There was no middle ground.

    On the contrary. There was indeed a third way, which Senator James Jeffords, independent of Vermont, hailed at the time as "one of the most important votes we will cast in this process." And it was opposed by every single senator at the time who now seeks higher office.
    The third way in question was the Levin amendment to S.J. Res. 45 (which was later abandoned in favor of the identical H.J. Res. 114 [which is now Public Law 107-243 {which is better known as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq}]). Essentially, the amendment encouraged the president to exercise a bit of diplomatic restraint; it didn't bind him to the U.N., exactly, but it certainly reinforced the value of acknowledging the international community. Needless to say, the amendment failed (24-75), and here we are four years later.

    As the block quote notes, every senator now running for the White House voted against the Levin amendment four years ago. In fact, a list of the highlights from the "75" side of that vote would include (and this is just a sample): Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle, Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, Bob Graham, Chuck Hagel, Joe Lieberman, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and, alas, my buddy John Edwards. It's entirely possible that each of those guys has an excellent and principled explanation for his or her opposition. Maybe, for instance, the amendment contained some sort of preposterous earmark, or perhaps an egregious spelling error. But as The Linc points out, there's no way to be sure, because none of those guys has ever really been asked about it. And that seems a pity.

    John Aravosis at AMERICAblog points out the unsettling lack of media response to Ann Coulter's thoughtful, level-headed critique of John Edwards.

    Four of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys have been subpoenaed by the House, and will testify this coming Tuesday.

    The Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law approved the subpoenas for former prosecutors in Arkansas, New Mexico, Seattle and San Diego -- all of whom will be required to appear for testimony at a hearing Tuesday. The Senate Judiciary Committee announced plans for a similar hearing on the same day.

    The moves mark the latest escalation in the battle between congressional Democrats and the Justice Department over the controversial dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys, at least five of whom were presiding over public corruption probes when they were fired.
    Meanwhile, the White House is being unusually candid about its (indifference to? acceptance of? desire for?) the firings.
    "If any agency wants to make a change regarding a presidential appointee, they run that change by the White House counsel's office," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "That is standard operating procedure, and that is what happened here. The White House did not object to the Justice Department decision."
    As usual, the muckrakers are raking muck.

    (Fun with analogies! TPMmuckraker : U.S. Attorneys :: firedoglake : Scooter Libby.)