Monthly Archives: December 2007

Good Questions

FromOyster

In October, Senator Vitter said400units were available “right now”. Then the T-P reported as “fact” that“hundreds” of units were available “right now”. Days later, the number of available units “right now” was down to154.Does even that number hold water,
especially in light of DNOPH’s claim that last year HUD acknowledged
that the “250 prepared units…never existed”? Neither the T-P nor the
activists were willing to find out for sure.


Why didn’t
activists press hard on this dubious, evolving HUD number upon which
the T-P based so much of its reporting and editorial opinion? Wasn’t
this a politically exploitable “soft spot”? If the T-P was forced to
retract its false subheading about the “fact” that “hundreds” of units
were available “right now”, and if HUD was shown to be lying about the
154 unit number– a distinct possibility in my view– wouldn’t the
activists be in a very strong position to demand a second opinion on,
say, HUD’s rehab vs. redevelop cost numbers? Couldn’t any HUD number be
credibly disputed at that point? What if the activists presented 154
displaced families who were willing to fill up the available units, and
what if HUD was unable to come up with the 154 units that they claimed?
How would that look? How would the T-P look? Wouldn’t that be a
political winner?

Friday Ferretblogging: War on Christmas Edition

Riot saddles up to do battle in the snow. Note ginormous tail.

Puck would like to know if those comic books are his presents.

A.

Fruit of the “Ownership Society”

Krugman:

With millions more foreclosures likely, it’s a good bet that homeownership will be lower at the Bush administration’s end than it was at the start.

Heckuva job.

Just…

I found what happened in New Orleans today–the process–to be just depressing.

I’ve struggled with what to say but foundWhat Adrastos Says sums it up well I think.

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Tony Farto Says The President Doesn’t Know What He Is Talking About

Q At the risk of getting lost in the weeds here, what is the White House position on the argument that earmarks that are contained in committee reports do not have the force of law?

MR. FRATTO: That’s something that the OMB Director will have an opinion on, and we’ll get an answer for you on that.

Q The White House does not have —

MR. FRATTO: I don’t have an answer for you on that. I don’t have an answer for you on that right now. Are you asking, in terms of a constitutional question or a policy question — and I don’t have a clear answer for you on that right now.

States’ Rights, Bitches!

Q Under what authority can the President tell California it can’t have tougher global warming levels than the national strategy that he said he wanted?

MR. FRATTO: I mean, the President didn’t tell California that, but the EPA Administrator made his independent decision on whether to approve or not approve that waiver. He made a decision not to approve the California waiver, and as he explained, I think, he made that based on what he thought was best for the nation in addressing this issue. And he pointed to the really significant policy changes that are going to come through from the energy bill that we signed last week.

Q — no longer supports the kind of states’ rights that he did when he was governor?

MR. FRATTO: There’s always a balance. And he does support — he does have a healthy respect for states’ rights. But these decisions need to be made in terms of what is best for the country. We support EPA Administrator Johnson’s decision, but it was his decision to make.

Les On The Goose And The Gander

Q I will. Could you explain to us why the President refuses to commute these men who shot an escaping Mexican drug smuggler —

MR. FRATTO: No.

Q — as the President commuted the prison sentence of his friend, Scooter Libby.

MR. FRATTO: No.

New Crush Blogging: Lucky Woman

Mrs. Democratic Hotness:

Jackie Clegg Dodd, wife of Democratic candidate and Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, moved with her family to Iowa for the presidential campaign.

Clegg Dodd says that finding doctors, hair stylists, and schools for her two daughters has helped put her in touch with the concerns of Iowans.

“When you’re living in a place, versus coming in and spending time in hotels, you actually get to know a little bit more about it,” she tells Michele Norris. “There are some candidates who fly in and fly out again.”

She says that it took a period of years — “when he was watching [the Bush administration] trample on the Constitution” — for her husband to decide to enter the presidential race.

“I really feel like he did this because he was deeply concerned about the direction of the country, both in foreign policy and in domestic policy.”

I feel it’s my duty to warn you this may be the Happy Dodd Blog for the forseeable future, until he either drops out of the race, wins the whole shebang, or becomes somebody’s VP pick (please, Edwards/Obama, please). I realized at a party tonight that I have become that annoying girl who gets a new boyfriend and can’t shut the fuck up about how awesome he is and how cute and how he drives this great car, and let me tell you about his plan for women’s health care.

A.

News, Good and Bad — Mostly Bad

TheAP has some great news about the US economy!

The Commerce Department reported Friday that consumer spending surged by 1.1 percent last month, nearly triple the October gain.

[snip]

The November advance was the biggest one-month jump since a 1.2 percent rise in May 2004 and was significantly above the 0.7 percent analysts had expected.

Isn’t that just fantastic! Wait, there’s more!

Incomes were also up last month, rising by 0.4 percent, double the October increase but slightly below the advance that had been expected.

Hold on, what’s this?

An inflation gauge tied to spending showed a 0.6 percent increase in November, the biggest jump in more than two years, reflecting last month’s big surge in gasoline prices. Excluding energy and food, prices were up 0.2 percent. Core inflation is up 2.2 percent over the past 12 months, above the upper range of the Federal Reserve’s comfort zone of 1 percent to 2 percent.

Hmmmm… and this?

After-tax incomes were up 0.3 percent in November, but after adjusting for inflation, incomes actually fell by 0.3 percent after a 0.2 percent drop in October.

Oh crap!

With spending rising at a faster rate than savings, the nation’s savings rate dipped into negative territory in November at 0.5 percent. That meant thathouseholds spent all of their incomes and either dipped into savings or borrowed to finance the higher level of spending last month.

In Case You Missed It

I love the Internet.Here is a transcript of every speech given during Monday’s Doddsmack (tm Sinfonian). Just mouse over the names to see the awesome (Dodd, Feingold, et al) and the tooliness (McConnell, Sessions, anything else with an R after its name).

A.

“Talk About Reconciliation”

Oy.

When Leila Nasser was six months pregnant, U.S. soldiers burst into her house and wrestled away her husband, Mohammed Amin, who was asleep on the roof, trying to escape the summer heat.

This week, Nasser waited outside what’s now called the “reconciliation hall” in Baghdad’s Jihad neighborhood for Amin to appear. In her arms she cradled her year-old son, whom she’d named Moubin, the Iraqi word for apparent.

[snip]

More than 25,000 Iraqis are now in U.S. detention facilities. The Jihad reconciliation committee of Sunni and Shiite Muslims had requested that 562 men be released. Last month, 48 people were released, but 40 more were detained.

Most of those held are never charged with crimes. Sometimes Iraqis are detained because of a tip from a neighbor or because a few cables and cleaning agents are mistaken for bomb-making material.

Nasser said that there was no evidence linking her husband to Shiite Muslim militias. “They destroyed the house with us in it,” she said of the U.S. soldiers. “The reason? Because he has a revolver, a revolver that he puts under his pillow to defend me and my daughter.”

A member of the reconciliation committee, eavesdropping interrupted her.

“Talk about reconciliation,” he instructed.

“Reconciliation? Which reconciliation? What did we understand from the reconciliation?” Nasser asked. “It’s been one year and three months and he did nothing.”

Your President Speaks!

Today, at theWhite House, during this morning’s surprise presser.

Recent Days Have Been A Moment

I think recent days have been a moment that the country can be proud of.

That Is My Hopes

My hope, of course, is that Russia is a country which understands there needs to be checks and balances, and free and fair elections, and a vibrant press; that they understand Western values based upon human rights and human dignity are values that will lead to a better country. That’s my hopes.

Met What Now?

I think it’s good that we ended up with a spending bill that met 933 [sic]*, but also dealt with some emergencies.
* bill that met 9800

What We Got

And we got a lot of priorities for next year.

There Is Some Areas

There’s some areas where we can work together, like reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, although I will warn Congress that — in that the current bill doesn’t expire, if they try to weaken the current bill, I’ll veto any attempt to weaken it.

Passing Resolutions And Sentiment

One of the — one of my concerns from the last year was that Congress initially spent a lot of time on passing resolutions and sentiment and trying to put — trying to tell our commanders how to conduct the war.

There Is No Politics

Well, first of all, I don’t agree with your premise that there’s no politics taking place in Iraq.

Get Bills Done

Well, Bill, I mean, if your standard is — if you’re trying to judge the Iraqi parliament based upon our own Congress’s ability to get bills done, is that what you’re saying?

The De-Baath Law

And so, therefore — and therefore, we will continue to press them on de-Baath law, provincial election laws, power sharing with the central government and the provinces, and oil law.

Who Are You Going To Surround Yourself?

And secondly I would say, how do you intend to get advice from people you surround yourself — who are you going to surround yourself, and what process will you have in place to ensure that you get the unvarnished opinion of advisors?

Brainwreck

Part of the review is to — is to assess how best to make sure our coalition partners realize there is a coherent strategy of which they are an integral part, all aiming to make sure that there is a presence that will assure the Afghan government and the Afghan people that people will be trying to help them with their security.

Waiting A Year Is Essential To Good Governance

That’s what — that’s what good governance is: You analyze the situation a year after the previous strategy to determine whether or not — what worked and what didn’t work.

Go Team!

What did work was the — you might remember last year, I guess there was a lot of talk about the Taliban surge or the Taliban offensive. And General McNeill informed us that the only team that’s going to be on the offense is American and NATO allies and other allies.

Is Life Changing Better?

In other words, is life changing better for the average citizen? That’s the question that we all got to be looking at.

Much Good Health Care

You know, it was, like, they called it a hospital, it was just kind of a rundown place where a person couldn’t get much good health care.

Thanks For The Shooters

Well, I would like to praise the Brits, the Canadians, the Dutch, the Danes and other countries for their contribution — the Aussies — for their contribution of shooters, fighters, people that are willing to be on the front line of this battle.

Fighting The Taliban In Iraq

And so the question is, are we able to leverage their position in Iraq in such a way that enables us to stay on the offense against the Taliban, help the Afghans to do so?

Mr. Strawman, Please Pick Up The White Courtesy Phone

I believe if people are given a chance to be free, they will do so. Now, I understand some don’t believe that. It’s kind of like we’re the only ones that can be free; it’s kind of the ultimate isolationism, isn’t it?

We Got Flexible Workplace

My view of the economy is that the fundamentals are strong, that we’ve had strong growth for a reason; that we’re competitive, we got flexible workplace, that we kept taxes low, exports are up.

It’s A Sicness

Director Johnson made a decision based upon the fact that we passed a piece of legislation that enables us to have a national strategy, which is the — increasing CAFE standards to 35 miles an hour [sic] by 2020, and a substantial increase of alternative fuels, 36 billion gallons by 2022.

A Lot Of Variety

And — look, we get criticized a lot for a variety of reasons.

There Is Isolationist Tendancies

And there’s isolationist tendencies in this world.

What We Got In Our Own Country

We got people like that in our own country.

Return Of The Suiciders

No, it wasn’t coordinated with me, and my patience ran out on President Assad a long time ago. And the reason why is, is because he houses Hamas, he facilitates Hezbollah, suiciders go from his country to Iraq, and he destabilizes Lebanon.

All Hail The Thought Police

And I will continue to remind the American people that our professionals need to have the tools necessary to make sure that we find out who’s thinking about attacking us, and if they are, do something about it.

Because Journalists Are Rich

We’re also the party that understands that you can spend your money, Michael, all that money they pay you, you can spend it better than the government can spend it.

Policies Has Worked

Pro-growth economic policies has worked.

Off-Balance SheetThis!

My attitude is, is that Wall Street needs to put all their — put it all out there for everybody to see. They need to have the — off-balance sheet this and put out there for investors to take a look at.

Happy Democrat Photo: Edwards Edition

His statement on the NOLA housing sitch:

Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Today, Senator Edwards released the following statement on the New Orleans City Council’s approval of the HUD plan to begin demolishing public housing in New Orleans :

“I am disappointed in the decision today by the New Orleans City Council to approve the demolition permits that HUD needs to begin demolition of public housing in New Orleans . As I’ve said before, knocking down historic and livable housing that withstood the winds of Katrina is counterproductive to the goal of giving residents a home to which to return. Decentralizing poverty by encouraging new mixed-income income makes a lot of sense – I’ve proposed creating 1 million new housing vouchers to do exactly that. But eliminating housing where people could live – in a city with a desperate shortage of shelter – makes no sense at all.”

A.

“something ugly came to pass”

Via Oyster is anaccount of what occured today at NOLA city hall (inside) from New Orleans Nation blog.

 

UPDATE:Dangerblond who was outside City Hall descibes what occured there

NOLA Housing Vote

The New Orleans City Council will be voting on the demolition of several public housing developments today.

The meeting can be seenLIVE HERE.

Right now the meeting has not begun as protestors are standing and chanting and the Council head is asking security to the enforce council’s rules.

UPDATE: They are still trying to start the meeting. Asking for people to take their seats according to council rules or they will be escorted out of the council chambers. Continued calls for sherrifs to enforce those rules and take people out so they can begin the council meeting.

FYI–The live feed is coming and going

UPDATE: Meeting is now beginning

UPDATE: More info on what occurred prior to meeting and some background on the voteavailable HERE

UPDATE:Video feed gone. Nola.com is liveblogging the meetingHERE

UPDATE: Video up againHERE. CNN and MSNBC now covering the protests outside City Hall

New post here for UPDATES on the votes

Columnwhoring: Election-Year Resolutions

Link:

3. Avoid entirely any mention of various candidates’ sex lives.

Mostly so as to avoid having to dip my brain in bleach.

I know there are people out there who find Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney physically attractive, but I’m not one of them, and if I have to ponder too much on the conduct of their privates, I might go blind.

Unless the candidate’s diddling ended up on the public dime (as it did with Rudy Giuliani, who used taxpayer money to pay a cop to chauffer his mistress around), I say find yourself a fellow consenting adult and do what you like, and allow for the same in others. Preferably out of earshot. In the dark.

A.

Newspapers are failing, running out of money, and being devastated by the Internet

But you couldn’t pay anybody currently blathering on about that on insider panels to talk about this:

Tribune Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Dennis J. FitzSimons is expected to announce his resignation as early as today, a person close to the company said Tuesday. The resignation would be the first departure of a top Tribune executive as the company prepares to go private under the leadership of Chicago businessman Sam Zell.

FitzSimons, 57, a 25-year veteran of Tribune, is in line to walk away with as much as $40 million, depending on the date on which he chooses to depart, according to corporate disclosure statements.

[snip]

FitzSimons’ potential payout could include severance of $10.7 million, stock options and restricted stock worth $6.9 million and a $4-million “gross-up,” an additional payment designed to cover his taxes on the rest of the package. FitzSimons also owned 498,202 shares as of March 31, according to company documents. Those are worth $16.9 million at the price of $34 a share under the Zell buyout.

Forty million dollars. And we look at A-Rod’s paychecks and shake our heads. At least he swings for the fences now and then. Jesus tits. Talk to me some more, newspaper industry, about the utter lack of choices you have in gutting newsrooms and eliminating marketing departments. Tell me some more about how you had no choice in the matter.

A.

Your President Speaks!

Today, at theWhite House.

He Who Smelt It

Because this dependence harms us economically through high and volatile prices at the gas pump; dependence creates pollution and contributes to greenhouse gas admissions [sic].

The Global War On Subjects Continues

Proposed an alternative fuel standard earlier this year.

What We Have Got To Expand

If we’re serious about making sure we grow our economy and deal with greenhouse gases, we have got to expand nuclear power.

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Dana Felt Compelled To Respond To Her Misreading OfThe Times

Q Dana, can you tell us why you decided to put out this statement this morning about The New York Times story? Why did you feel compelled to respond?

MS. PERINO: Well, the subhead of the newspaper indicated that the White House — well, it says the White House role was wider than it said, implying that I had either changed my story, or I or somebody else at the White House had misled the public. And that is not true. And I heard now from The New York Times that they will retract that headline, and they are going to run a correction tomorrow.

Q But the underlying facts, four White House lawyers who are named knew about the destruction or the intent to destroy the tapes beforehand. Are you disputing that?

MS. PERINO: I have not commented on that — and when we are in that —

Q (Inaudible.)

MS. PERINO: Helen, I’m going to finish this answer. The White House has not commented on anybody’s involvement or knowledge, save for me telling everybody that the President had no recollection of being briefed on the existence or the destruction of the tapes before he was briefed by General Hayden. After that, I did not comment on anybody’s knowledge or involvement. So if somebody has information that contradicts the one thing that I’ve said, then this would be true — but it’s not. And that is why I asked for a correction and The New York Times is going to correct it.

Q So you’re disputing the characterization in that —

MS. PERINO: Absolutely, it’s wrong.

Q — not the underlying facts of the story.

MS. PERINO: I’m not commenting on the underlying facts of the story.

[snip]

Q You’re the one who’s drawing the implication. Would you have been happy if the subhead had read, “White House role was lighter than previously understood”?

MS. PERINO: I have not — what it says is that I had changed my story, and I have not.

Q It doesn’t say that.

MS. PERINO: It — that’s how I took it, and I am not —

Q It does not say —

MS. PERINO: — the only one.

Q It simply says that the White House does not comment on this, then it goes on to —

MS. PERINO: That is not — that’s not what it says in its headline, Bill. And there was editorial decision that led to this subheadline, because if they didn’t want to make this point to try to say that the White House had misled the public, why would they put it in bold face above the fold, and then not — and then it’s not supported by any of the facts or the contradictory statements in the article.

Q But that’s very difficult to judge when you won’t give us the facts.

Continue reading

Iraqis United By Hatred Of America

Good news from Iraq, viaDan Froomkin.

Karen DeYoung writes in The Washington Post: “Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of ‘occupying forces’ as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month.

“That is good news, according to a military analysis of the results. At the very least, analysts optimistically concluded, the findings indicate that Iraqis hold some ‘shared beliefs’ that may eventually allow them to surmount the divisions that have led to a civil war…

FEMA and transparency

This is not surprising…

A week after
Hurricane Katrina, a senior official with the Federal Emergency
Management Agency in charge of streamlining the flow of disaster aid
issued a directive that would have helped a staggering 1,029 rebuilding
projects and $5.3 billion in funds cut through the agency’s infamous
red tape.

But in a
decision critics say led to losing precious time in the post-storm
recovery, her three-day deadline to clear projects through a final
bureaucratic hurdle was rejected. The rebuilding of schools, roads,
hospitals, firehouses and other desperately needed infrastructure was
stalled for months of interagency reviews that ended at the White House
Office of Management and Budget.

Gil Jamieson,
FEMA’s head of Gulf Coast recovery and one of the officials who
dismissed the directive of colleague Nancy Ward, said her order would
have given federal agencies too little time to check for funding
duplication.

The article goes on to descibe a “queue” to which projects go and then reports this…

DHS failed to
answer a Freedom of Information Act request on the queue, citing
regulations that can give it nearly a year to respond. OMB, in a FOIA
response, said 95 pages of interoffice e-mails and statements about the
queue exist, but it released only 12, with all contents redacted.

OMB said making the information public would “inhibit the frank and
candid exchange of views that is necessary for effective government.”

WOW can’t have the public screwing up our effective government agencies like FEMA