Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Crystal ball failure

OK, I'll admit that I wouldn't have predicted this, from the AP.

President Bush took aim Wednesday at lavish salaries and bonuses for corporate executives, standing on Wall Street to issue a sharp warning for corporate boards to "step up to their responsibilities" and tie compensation packages to performance.

... The president acknowledged people's continuing nervousness about their financial picture, despite a string of similar reports that provide some reason for optimism. He said some workers are being left behind in the booming economy and the disparity between the rich and the poor is growing.

"The fact is that income inequality is real. It has been rising for more than 25 years," the president said. "The earnings gap is now twice as wide as it was in 1980," Bush said, adding that more education and training can lift peoples' salaries.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Comity, Comity, Uber Alles

David Broder is shocked, shocked, that a senator would give a speech during a hearing. Joe Klein comes to his defense, praising Broder's common-man character. It's the Komity Korps in full effect.

Civility is good, and all, but it's not the only virtue under the sun. "Civility" has become a code word for "the determined, and by definition unprincipled, obsequeousness to whatever line the two parties are peddling."

Klein seems to have some resentment towards the blogosphere. A big part of the reason that the blogosphere has greatly different views on civility, I think, is that younger bloggers remember no GOP but the GOP of Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Mitch McConnell, Grover Norquist, Jack Abramoff, et al.

I don't doubt that, say, Everett Dirksen was a lovely man with whom Democrats justifiably loved to compromise. But that's NOT WHAT WE'RE FACING TODAY.

Today's GOP that gives a fond hearing to radical and unpopular ideas-- replacing Social Security, engaging in a democracy jihad, eliminating environmental laws, banning all abortions, ignoring the Eighth and Fourth Amendments, accusing those who express doubt about the efficacy of our foreign policy as "emboldening the enemy," etc.

Their message machine was until recently led by Frank Luntz, a man who literally tried to REDEFINE "ORWELLIAN" AS A POSITIVE ATTRIBUTE. I mean, life just keeps on imitating satire with these guys.

The Democrats are a much, much less radical, more moderate party. This is not an eternal principle; it's just how things happen to be right now.

So we're faced with a radical right wing party and a centrist party. In that context, people like David Broder who preach comity, comity uber alles are MISSING THE POINT.

By treating Frank Luntz and Peter Beinart as the two opposite poles of Respectable Opinion, people like Klein and Broder are (1) way outside the mainstream of what most Americans think and (2) enabling the consistently wrong, counterproductive, and amoral views of the Bill Kristols of the world.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Chicks aren't serious

Surely there's some rational explanation for what Andrew Sullivan is trying to say here about Sen. Webb's response to the State of the Union, but this doesn't sound too different from Biden's take on Obama:
[The Democrats are] Their choice of Webb proved it. Yes, they have the first woman Speaker in American history. But they gave the response to a navy man from the South. They know what they’re doing. Which is more than can currently be said for the White House.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Shocking GOP stonewalling tidbit

Sen. Rockefeller is claiming that Vice President Cheney exerted "constant" pressure on then-Intel Committee chair Sen. Pat Roberts to avoid completing Phase II of the investigation into the administration's use and abuse of the intelligence available to it.

This is an astonishing bit of information.

Who would have thought that it would have taken constant pressure to get Pat Roberts to roll over for the administration?

You'd've thought that "a polite suggestion," or "a knowing glance," or "promises of fresh baked goods" would have sufficed.


Right up there with old sitcoms as a bottomless source of inspiration for Hollywood...

Just saw a poster for a movie called "Blood and Chocolate." In light of this, we've got a trend going here. Can we expect to see a "Honey Are You Straight or Are You Blind" movie in the next few years?

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Sometimes it's easier to feign outrage than to defend your children against personal attacks

Dick Cheney stares down Wolf Blitzer, pretending that it's "out of line" to ask for his reaction to conservative criticism of his (gay) daughter's pregnancy.

He's either lying or deluding himself, of course.

Mary Cheney is a public figure. She worked for the Cheney-Bush campaign and for gay Republican organizations. She wrote a book. Just recently, the citizens of her home state, Virginia, have amended the constitution to curtail the legal rights of Mary Cheney and her partner. Reports of-- and reactions to-- her pregnancy have been widely available public knowledge for over a month.

Despite all these inconvenient facts, "If It Feels Good Do It" Dick knew that it was more politically beneficial to feign outrage than to defend his own daughter against personal attacks from his political allies.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007


death by caricatures

Interesting post on the Corner just now, dealing with Sen. Webb's statement that “the majority of our military” does not support “the way this war is being fought,” and addressing his past statements about the lack of public support for the Vietnam War.

The “professional GOP web toiler” quoted in the post has the better of the argument versus Sen. Webb on the "majority" point. The poll showed a small level of support for the way the war is being fought, but it was non-scientific, and didn't show majority opposition.

The interesting part of the discussion comes in Sen. Webb's discussion of opposition to the Vietnam War. Webb wrote:
The majority of the American people never truly bought the antiwar movement’s logic. While it is correct to say many wearied of an ineffective national strategy as the war dragged on, they never stopped supporting the actual goals for which the United States and South Vietnam fought... [In Sept. 1972,] By a margin of 74 percent to 11 percent, those polled also agreed that “it is important that South Vietnam not fall into the control of the communists.”
This cannot be a surprise. Of course we would rather that South Vietnam not fall to communists-- they were our allies, and communism was bad. We'd all rather win than lose in Iraq, too. But you don't get to just check a box and win. The relevant issues are, (1) is our presence making things better for most Vietnamese/Iraqis, and, (2) is the cost that we are paying proportionate to the benefit to our national interests and the security situation in Iraq.

One common path to misguided opinions is to ground your own views in opposition to a straw man version of what you perceive your political opponents to believe. Another is to learn one lesson from one moment in history, and perceive every single moment thereafter as a reenactment of that precise moment.

The fact that some people opposed the Iraq War or the Vietnam War for unsound reasons (ie, anything the US does is always wrong, or Bush is just as bad as Saddam, or the Magic 8-Ball said so) does not mean that the best arguments against the war should not be engaged. Who cares what the noisy, or fantasized, or caricatured antiwar activists have to say? They have roughly zero public impact in this country.

All that administration apologists want to talk about now is the downside of failure. Woulda been worth considering five years ago.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Why does it matter?

So, Scooter Libby is arguing that he is just a scapegoat, as the White House defended Karl Rove but not him.

Why doesn't this fall into the "bitch set me up" category of external circumstances that, while unfortunate, do not amount to a valid legal defense?

Is the theory that all of the government witnesses the prosecution is going to call who are going to say that Libby knew of Plame's status long before he told the FBI he did are all lying to protect Rove? That's quite a theory.

UPDATE: Here's another theory.

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