Saturday, November 17, 2007


Shut up and act.

A World Without Writers

Oh Well

Two years ago dirty fucking hippie John Murtha began the process of making it acceptable within our mainstream discourse to suggest that getting out of Iraq might be a good idea.

Since that long-haired dope-smoking patchouli-scented freak made his statement, approx. 1786 US troops have died because a bunch of vain old men in Washington confuse courage with cowardice and think their personal reputations are more important than those they send off to die for them.

Fantasyland Press

Tweety edition:

Matthews’ favorite story concerned Willey’s claim that she was intimidated by an unknown jogger near her home. After Willey told the treasured tale, Matthews asked who this jogger might be:

MATTHEWS: Who do you think this was? Do you recognize him from any pictures you’ve seen? Have you ever seen a picture of a person who looks like this person who accosted you this morning?

Willey had identified a picture, she said, but she didn’t want to say who it was. She repeatedly declined to name any names, saying the event was still under investigation. But Matthews knew who Willey had named. He went ahead and named names for his lady:

MATTHEWS: Who showed you the picture of the person that you think might have been him?

WILLEY: Jackie Judd.

MATTHEWS: From ABC. And did you identify it positively?


MATTHEWS: So it’s Cody Shearer.

WILLEY: I can’t tell you.

MATTHEWS: OK, but you identified it positively.

The exchange provides a classic example of Hardball’s oddball logic. Willey identified it positively--so it’s Cody Shearer! The analysts roared, here at DAILY HOWLER World Headquarters, at the latest exhibition of the talker’s strange arts.

We now know that, if there was such a jogger, it surely wasn’t Cody Shearer, brother-in-law of a White House official. Matthews opened his show this past Monday night with an apology for having named Shearer (Matthews spent several nights, after May 11, bravely pretending that Willey had named Shearer). Matthews said that Shearer (and his lawyer) had convinced him that Shearer was nowhere near the alleged crime. Joe Conason, in Salon, filled in the facts about the day in question:

CONASON: I did what Matthews should have done and called Shearer. He told me that on the date cited by Willey, Jan. 8, 1998, he was far from her house in the leafy suburbs of Richmond, Va. He can prove that he stayed at the Hyatt Regency hotel in San Francisco on the night of Jan. 7 and that at 2:53 p.m. on Jan. 8, he withdrew money from a cash machine at the Embarcadero Center in that same city.

And why don’t real journalists make reckless accusations? We’ve learned part of the reason in the past several days. Conason reported that Shearer has received death threats in the wake of the Matthews accusation; and this morning, a warrant has been issued for a Washington man’s arrest. Over the weekend, the man appeared at Shearer’s home, slashed his tires, and threatened guests with a shotgun.

"The man" was Pat Buchanan's brother, Hank.

But Joe Klein, frequent Chris Matthews Show guest, tells me "Rumors only become news when they are confirmed, cross-checked and responded to by the target of the attack."

Everybody Go Away

Is there a reason the entire world decided to visit my city today?

Speaking of Deliberate Obtuseness

Joe Klein:

Journalists are continually bombarded with rumors, often scurrilous. They are not news. Rumors only become news when they are confirmed, cross-checked and responded to by the target of the attack.

Perhaps in the fantasyland version of journalism.

I mean, maybe this is what "good" journalists do, and plenty of them still exist, but it isn't the way things work for Mickey Kaus and Tweety and Politico and all sorts of other "respectable" players in the news media. And Matt Drudge rules all their worlds.

...adding that unlike some I never really thought Klein was to blame for this. Primary Colors was satirical fiction, and if other Villagers decided the things in there were true that wasn't his fault. But, nonetheless, who can forget the Clinton love child.

December 31, 1998 -- Matt Drudge entices guests at The Weekend, a gathering of conservative heavy hitters, by promising a story that will rock official Washington.

January 1, 1999 -- Drudge reports a "world exclusive" (not true) headlined, "White House Hit With New DNA Terror; Teen Tested for Clinton Paternity." Citing the Star magazine, Drudge writes, "Word of the shocking new DNA showdown spread through the ranks inside of the White House on Friday, causing near blind chaos!"

January 2, 1999 -- Discussion of the alleged "scandal" on various talk radio stations.

January 3, 1999 -- "CLINTON PATERNITY BOMBSHELL," screams the front page of the New York Post, owned by Murdoch.

Fox TV News -- owned by Murdoch's News Corp. -- carries an account of Drudge's story, claiming he'd broken it on his Fox show and adding that it was being picked up by such mainstream papers as the New York Post.

The New York Daily News leads its Daily Dish gossip column with the headline, "Tab Probes Clinton Love-Child Rumor."

January 4, 1999 -- At a White House press briefing, press secretary Joe Lockhart refuses to comment on the affair. To a question about the president's resemblance to the Williams boy on the Internet, Lockhart responds, "And I'm an alien space baby."

The Fox News Web site carries a story on the DNA paternity testing in a bylined story from the Times of London.

The BBC and its Web site run a story, "New sex scandal for Clinton."

January 5, 1999 -- The Hotline, a daily summary of political reporting widely read by Beltway journalists, reports that the affair has become fodder for the late-night talk shows. "Only President Clinton could distract people from a sex scandal with another sex scandal," Jay Leno says in his monologue.

January 6, 1999 -- Drudge reveals that he has seen "a shocking new videotaped confession" by the Arkansas woman, who reveals intimate details about her "relationship" with Clinton. The video was taped by "Hard Copy."

The Washington Times runs a story, "Media Abuzz With Rumors That Clinton Fathered Boy," citing only the Star and the Drudge Report. The Times reports that the Star had paid Bobbie Ann Williams a sum "in the low six figures" for her cooperation (which apparently included turning over DNA samples to the Star for testing)., a compendium of major media outlets online, links to the Washington Times, BBC and New York Post in its roundup of "Clinton's Crisis" stories.

Blogger Ethics Panel

The other issue is that 4 years later you'll still find stories with journalists wringing their hands about the awful nasty blogger Markos once worked with the Dean campaign! And disclosed it!

I really cannot understand the deliberate obtuseness with which journalists approach their own profession.

ZOMG College Students Were Drinking!

I don't even understand why this is news.


Six out of the seven college students killed last month in a beach house fire had alcohol in their systems, although a prosecutor said he doesn't believe drinking played a role in the deaths.

The blood-alcohol levels ranged from .16 percent to .29 percent, Dr. John Butts, the state's chief medical examiner, said Friday. The legal limit for driving in North Carolina is .08 percent, and Butts said the alcohol levels may have affected the students' coordination and "their ability to respond."

They weren't driving and there's no suggestion the drinking had anything to do with the fire.

Millions and Billions

Our elite press. Dean Baker:

Editorials in the NYT and Post today give us excellent examples of why the current method of expressing these numbers is such bad reporting. The NYT editorial praised congressional Democrats for standing up to President Bush on the war in Iraq: "house Democrats distinguished themselves this week when they stood up to the White House’s latest military funding steamroller: approving only $50 million of the additional $196 million the president requested for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

That's right folks, the editorial said "millions." They meant "billions." Oh well, we all knew that.


It isn't my world, but I've never been able to understand the degree and ease with which large investments can be leveraged.

Morning Thread

Where's my coffee.

Wingnut Humor

When I was 11 or so, a friend and I were engaging in whatever passed for 11 year old trash talking of each other. It escalated, and at some point my friend upped the ante a wee bit by spitting directly into my face at close range. Realizing he'd perhaps crossed the line, he tried to play it down by saying, "I was just kidding!"

Wingnut humor's always kind of like that.

Late Night

Friday, November 16, 2007


Have some code from my blogroll:

The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Anger Management
Seeing The Forest

Not Atrios


Thank God our political discourse among our elite chatterers is so elevated above what you find in blogs.

Evening Thread



Maybe it'll all end happily, but Roubini's not feeling very happy.

It is increasingly clear that by now that a severe U.S. recession is inevitable in next few months. Those of us who warned for the last 12 months about a combination of a worsening housing recession, a severe credit crunch and financial meltdown, high oil prices and a saving-less and debt-burdened consumers being on the ropes causing an economy-wide recession were repeatedly rebuffed the consensus view about a soft landing given the presumed resilience of the US consumer.

But the evidence is now building that an ugly recession is inevitable. Thus, the repeated statements by Fed officials that they may be done with cutting the Fed Funds rate are both hollow and utterly disingenuous. The Fed Funds rate will be down to 4% by January and below 3% by the end of 2008.

Severe or not, I really worry about any nontrivial recession. There really hasn't been one since early in the Reagan administration. Both the Bush (I+II) recessions were mild, with some regional exceptions. They've sort of vanished from our cultural experience.

Pokey and Gumby

From Waxman's oversight committee


November 16, 2007

To: Members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Fr: Chairman Henry A. Waxman

Re: Testimony of Howard J. Krongard

On Wednesday, November 14, 2007, the full Committee held a hearing entitled, “Assessing the State Department Inspector General.” At this hearing, Inspector General Howard J. Krongard testified that his brother, Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard, told him that he was not on the board of Blackwater USA and had no connections to Blackwater. Yesterday, in response to a letter from the Committee, Buzzy Krongard called the Committee staff and said that contrary to Howard Krongard’s testimony, he did tell his brother about his relationship with Blackwater.

The information from Buzzy Krongard raises serious questions about the veracity of Howard Krongard’s testimony before the Committee. To help answer these questions, I expect the Committee to hold a hearing immediately after the Thanksgiving recess at which Howard Krongard and Buzzy Krongard will be invited to testify.

$900K For Vacaville?

No offense to the fine people of Vacaville, but it's a bit far out there.

Larry St. John, owner of an insurance brokerage, bought a home for more than $900,000 early this year in a new development on the city's northwest side. This weekend, St. John said the builder - DeNova Homes - is planning an auction of more than a dozen similar homes, with starting bids about $300,000 less than what recent buyers paid.

"This is huge, this is our biggest investment," said St. John, 32, who has lived in Solano County his entire life. "I can understand a corporation taking losses to stay in business, but an individual taking a $300,000 hit is not something I have the capacity to do."

As a homeowner in the Bay Area, "every couple of years you have an opportunity to refinance and do some improvements and still have equity," St. John added. "That doesn't happen month to month, but every few years. If you're starting off from a position of negative $300,000, that takes more than a few years to rectify."

The perpetual refinance attitude is truly weird.


Bet Rahmbo didn't see that one coming.

Superhero Hell


(via Mithras).

Spot The Bouncing Bullshit

On my CNBC teevee screen:


4,434 Hollywood guild writers worked full-time last year.

Average salary: $204,000

Many earned $1 million or more

Certainly $204,000 isn't chump change (no idea how close it is to the median which is more informative), but it's completely irrelevant to the question of whether the studios should be able to take their work and put it on the internet for free.

But more to the point, the majority of guild members don't work full time.



Shitpile Memories

Ah, remember this, back in August when people still smelled the roses in the shitpile?

Bank of America knows when it's time to buy.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank is making a $2 billion equity investment in the beleaguered Countrywide Financial (nyse: CFC - news - people ), the companies said Wednesday evening.

Bank of America (nyse: BAC - news - people ) will purchase $2 billion worth of preferred Countrywide stock yielding 7.3%, and that can be converted into common stock at $18 per share, giving the mortgage lender a much-needed cash infusion amid a crippling credit crunch.

Countrywide shares soared 20.01%, or $4.37, to $26.19 after hours Wednesday on the news. Bank of America shares rose 1.9%, or 98 cents, to $52.63.

Bank of America is buying low, and Peter Slatin, founder of the Slatin Real Estate Report, believes it’s a good bet on Countrywide, which he said has been an aggressive lender, not a stupid one.

“It’s not just propping up a bad company, but showing faith in a reasonable company,” Slatin said, “and I think the future of the American housing market, if not the immediate future.”

Countrywide's now trading just above 12 bucks per share.

Bank of America knows when it's time to buy!

Deep Thought of the Day

Wolf Blitzer watched the last debate and thought that Tim Russert did an awesome job.

Your Most Trusted Name In News


Maria Luisa, the UNLV student who asked Hillary Clinton whether she preferred "diamonds or pearls" at last night's debate wrote on her MySpace page this morning that CNN forced her to ask the frilly question instead of a pre-approved query about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

"Every single question asked during the debate by the audience had to be approved by CNN," Luisa writes. "I was asked to submit questions including "lighthearted/fun" questions. I submitted more than five questions on issues important to me. I did a policy memo on Yucca Mountain a year ago and was the finalist for the Truman Scholarship. For sure, I thought I would get to ask the Yucca question that was APPROVED by CNN days in advance."

No Recess Appointments

Reid gonna keep the Senate in session.

Wanker of the Day

Spite Girl Kit Seelye.

Proving The Point

Someone showed up at the end of the Social Security thread to write this:

So math isn't one of your skills, then? The system goes into the red around 2017 - a decade from now. At that point, money that would otherwise flow towards discretionary programs will start bleeding to Social Security and Medicare. It will get worse over the course of the following 2 decades, until eventually, there won't be any money left for discretionary spending at all.

Essentially this is the prefunding con job. Since FICA revenues will cease to support general expenditures in the near future what we must do is... increase the FICA tax so it continues to support general expenditures. In other words, we need to increase the regressive payroll tax so that we don't need to raise other taxes. And we're doing it to "save" social security.

This is the con, laid out clearly for all to see. This has nothing to do with "saving Social security" and everything to do with increasing the regressivity of the tax code.

Someone had an idea for a lockbox, but the Village Elders decided that was a very silly idea.

Part of the Problem


In early September, a senior Moody's a small private dinner....said, "Moody's would never lower the credit ratings of a financial guarantor, because that would put the guarantors out of business."

Obviously one way to see this is that it's an issue of cozy crony corruption - and it's that too, of course - but also it's clear that there are structural problems in the financial industry. Lowering the credit rating of certain entities should be a perfectly mundane thing, a minor hit but nothing more. But for a variety of reasons it's actually more like dropping a nuke on the firm. Instead of being an additional signal to investors, a better reflection of the underlying reality, the act of lowering a credit rating can pretty much destroy these companies. Of course over time this is self-reinforcing, as everyone knows that there's a great resistance by the rating agencies to lower credit ratings for certain types of firms, which increases their reaction if it ever does happen, which leads to further resistance to cutting the ratings, etc...

Big Shitpile

Big Shitpile, the pillars of the financial community, are paying higher rates to borrow than Big Auto.

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- For the first time in at least a decade, the world's biggest financial institutions are paying more to borrow in the corporate bond market than industrial companies.

Bonds of banks, brokerages and insurance companies yield 1.49 percentage points more than U.S. Treasuries, matching a record high set in October 2002, according to indexes compiled by New York-based Merrill Lynch & Co. The average industrial bond trades at a yield premium of 1.34 percentage points.

Repeat. After. Me.

There. Is. No. Crisis.

It isn't a framing issue. The crisis "frame" was one imposed by the Villagers on the entire debate during the 2005 debate, but it's also a factual claim with no basis in reality.

More than that, any politician who really thinks that "fixing" Social Security is some sort of top priority is completely wrong. This isn't a Right/Left thing, it's a reality thing.

Even if it makes David Broder coo with delight.

Morning Thread

Gotta make some coffee.

Morning Thread

Who's The Boss?

Chuck Todd knows.

It isn't this gal.

Or this guy.

Or even this gal.

It's this one.



But Social Security isn’t a big problem that demands a solution; it’s a small problem, way down the list of major issues facing America, that has nonetheless become an obsession of Beltway insiders. And on Social Security, as on many other issues, what Washington means by bipartisanship is mainly that everyone should come together to give conservatives what they want.

We all wish that American politics weren’t so bitter and partisan. But if you try to find common ground where none exists — which is the case for many issues today — you end up being played for a fool. And that’s what has just happened to Mr. Obama.

On the other hand, while I don't agree with raising the income cap, I also don't like Democrats adopting scary "tax increase" rhetoric either.

Maybe I'll vote for the pony.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I didn't see it, but it does seem a bit inappropriate for CNN's post-debate coverage to consist of James Carville ("The Left," former Bill Clinton employee and current Clinton supporter), David Gergen ("Sensible Republican" and former Bill Clinton employee), and JC Watts (Semi-Crazy Republican).


House passes decent FISA legislation.

Current Senate Bill has no retroactive immunity. Just need for it to survive amendments, then get a decent bill out of conference, then Bush's inevitable veto, and then Democrats not caving in to Mr 24%.

Maybe I should just ask for a pony instead.

Even More Thread

More Thread

Whatever you do, do not look into the beard.

I Hear There's a Debate On

I'll be out. Remember: every time Wolf asks them to raise their hands the baby Jesus cries.

My Second Favorite Type of Daily Kos Diary

The ones which argue that Markos has an obligation to not express opinions.

Big Shitpile


The risk of Residential Capital LLC defaulting on its debt soared on concern the biggest privately held U.S. mortgage lender may violate bank loan agreements, trading in credit-default swaps show.

Traders are speculating that Cerberus Capital Management LP and General Motors Corp. may allow the Minneapolis-based mortgage unit of GMAC LLC to fall into bankruptcy as the U.S. housing slump continues to deepen.

``As we continue to see conditions get worse and worse, the company clearly at some point has to reevaluate,'' Kathleen Shanley, an analyst at Gimme Credit Publications Inc. in Chicago, said in an interview. ``ResCap has an awful lot of secured debt, which raises the issue of `is it worth it.'''


ResCap's agreements under $3.9 billion in bank loans required the company as of Sept. 30 to maintain a tangible net worth of at least $5.4 billion, according to a Nov. 8 regulatory filing. The company's net worth as of the same date was $6.2 billion, leaving it with an $800 million cushion.

GMAC posted the largest loss in its 88-year history this month because of $2.3 billion in losses at ResCap.

Guess I'll Finally Get To Go to Austin

So I can see for myself that those claims of a nice place in Texas are LIES.

Only One More Friedman?

And on and on.

As Ricks puts it, ever so understatedly: "The lack of political progress calls into question the core rationale behind the troop buildup President Bush announced in January, which was premised on the notion that improved security would create space for Iraqis to arrive at new power-sharing arrangements. And what if there is no such breakthrough by next summer? 'If that doesn't happen,' Odierno said, 'we're going to have to review our strategy.'"

Ricks points out that those who say that Bush has already started pulling troops out are jumping the gun: "The latest news of declining violence comes as the U.S. troop contingent in Iraq has reached an all-time high. This week, the U.S. troop number will hit 175,000 -- the largest presence so far in the 4 1/2 -year war -- as units that are rotating in and out overlap briefly. But those numbers are scheduled to come down rapidly over the next several months, which will place an increasing burden on Iraqi security forces and an Iraqi government that has yet to demonstrate it is up to the challenge, senior military officials said."

And despite Bush's public rejection of de jure timetables, there appears to be a de facto one on the ground: "On the diplomatic side of the Iraq equation, U.S. officials said they realize time is short," Ricks writes. "'We've got six months because the military is leaving,' said one official."

Meanwhile, the finger pointing is fast and furious. Diplomatic officials have apparently "expressed irritation with the military's negativity toward the Iraqi government -- which they interpret as blaming the State Department for not speeding reconciliation.

"'That's their out,' the official said of the military. 'It's convenient, and I know plenty of them have been helping that story around.'"

Falling Homeownership Rate

Dean Baker points out that the homeownership rate has been falling, and is now at 2003 levels. It'll be interesting to see how much this falls. Aside from everything else, this recent housing boom probably convinced lots of people who shouldn't have really wanted to own a home, absent the belief in incredible investment returns, that they had to buy. Renting is a wise choice for lots of people, especially those who are relatively mobile and don't have strong expectations of staying in one place for more than a couple of years.


I do not think that word means what David Broder thinks it means.

Oh, Juan?

I look forward to your commentary on how the hiring of Karl Rove by Newsweek is a reflects badly on your profession, blah blah blah.

Actual Good News No Good News Yet

House passes not disgusting FISA bill.

The bill does not include a provision to grant legal immunity to telecommunications companies that the Bush administration has demanded and it restores the role of the FISA court in approving surveillance methods used by the National Security Agency that could ensnare Americans.

Pat your Rep. on the head today, assuming they're one of the good ones.

Never mind. That was just a vote on the rules, not the actual vote on the bill. Story bad.


Is there any other profession whose members are so lacking in any kind of self-awareness of just what it is they do?

It's truly bizarre.

My Favorite Type Of Daily Kos Diary

Something like this:


And now you must listen to my very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care.

And Another One Biting The Dust


Home builder TOUSA Inc.'s third-quarter results "strongly indicate existing shareholders will be completely wiped out, or at the very least diluted to almost nothing," wrote Morningstar Inc. analyst Eric Landry in a research note Thursday. The troubled company, which operates mostly in Florida, late Wednesday said its quarterly loss widened and that it may be forced to file for Chapter 11 due to the housing slump. Landry estimated the company's book value is now less than zero.

I don't think this part of the housing slide has even begun. You've got the builders going under, their employees being laid off, and of course all of their subcontractors and suppliers not being paid.

But It's Just a File Cabinet Filled With Paper!

Nothing will stop the "anti-entitlement" gang, otherwise known as the Villagers, from trying to destroy Social Security. They've spent years telling you that the trust fund isn't real, that Social Security's "problems" begin the instant that general fund has to start paying back into the Trust Fund. Journalists regularly convey this message. And why on Earth would you want to cut benefits? They should be increased, if anything.

Is Saddam Still Available?

Lindsey continues the clown show.

Graham said he is disappointed with the political reconciliation efforts in Iraq and is considering influencing alternatives to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government if the country does not make strides toward that goal.

“If his government has not delivered meaningful political reconciliation by the end of the year, given the success of the surge and better security, I will consider [Maliki’s] government a failure,” Graham told The Hill. “And then we look for other horses to support.

“It would be foolhardy to continue to throw money at a group of people who have had an opportunity to produce and have not,” he said. He added that he is “not going to sit on the side” if the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions fail to implement reconciliation measures that could bring the country together.

Graham, who is up for reelection in 2008 and will likely face a primary challenge from the right, has been in discussions with the White House about his possible move, said a source familiar with Graham’s plan. “They are familiar with his line of thinking,” said the source. “The White House has its own problems with the Maliki government.”

Previously Lindsey gave them "90 days," causing David Broder to have an orgasm. That 90 days comes due on mid-December, a bit before the end of the year.

Of course that was after Lindsey promised at the beginning of September (formerly known as The Month That Would Change Everything):

In a matter of weeks, we're going to have a major breakthrough in Baghdad on items of political reconciliation -- the benchmarks -- because the Iraqi people are putting pressure on their politicians.

"Blessed Rain?"

Atlanta got a little bit of rain after all, CNN informs me. Now the Atlanta drought problem is solved!

Well, except that it isn't.

Either Sonny's God isn't too mighty, or He's a bit of a joker.

We Don't Need No Stinking Transparency

Apparently Merrill is unwilling to figure out what's in their shitpile.

Sad, Even By Drudgico's Standards

Credits Republicans for fewer earmarks in 2006... because the Republicans didn't pass most of the spending bills in 2006.

Wanker of the Day

David Broder.

More here.

Dude, where's my Bush rebound?

...and, yes, I know I made him wanker emeritus at some point but he didn't take the hint and he keeps on wanking.

Make him stop! Think of the children!


It's a week old, but have a press release for the National Lawyers' Guild's resolution to impeach George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney.

And, for the record, I hate .PDFs.

Not Atrios

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh My


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is investigating whether an Alaska oil contractor used golf tournaments to funnel cash to Rep. Don Young, people close to the corruption investigation said.

The contractor, Rick Smith, told investigators that Young personally received cash at the events. Once an important ally who helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for Young's election committee, Smith has become a key government informant.

Late Night

Rock on.

Cheering Disaster

This is pretty funny.

Ironically, or rather idiotically, traders poured into stocks on Blankfein’s assertion that Goldie is doing well because Goldie is short mortgage-backed securities and CDOs. Blankfein believes the financial situation will worsen: ...many institutions don’t understand what the credit crunch is going to do to earnings and their balance sheets.

So what we have is a huge rally because Goldie will profit from the US economy and financial system going to hell. And people pay fortunes to go to Ivy League schools and B-schools to learn how to play the new economy!?!?! Apparently a critical mass of traders believes that not only what is good for Goldman is good for America but as long as Goldman profits everything else is immaterial...

In other words they were cheering on the fact that Goldman Sachs claimed to have made the right bet - they're short on the shitpile - even though if they win the bet Big Shitpile comes crashing down.

More Thread

Rock on

Buck Breaking

This isn't actually a money market fund, but it's pretty damn close.

Investors in a $5 billion cash management fund run by General Electric have become the latest victims of the subprime mortgage meltdown.

CNBC has confirmed that a short-term cash management fund, which attempts to keep the value of each share at one dollar ... and offer enhanced returns above money market rates, is instead offering investors just 96 cents on the dollar.

The fund is not a money market fund, which is subject to much more stringent regulations than a cash management fund.


In recent days, several asset managers, whose funds were infected by bad subprime paper, have injected cash into their money funds to avoid breaking the buck. You may have heard that phrase on CNBC today: It's when an asset management fund offers less than one dollar per share.

Pukie and Sticky

I'm sure they'll get on those perjury charges as soon as they finish up with those contempt of Congress charges...

Blogs for Victory!

That'll work out about as well as that whole Blogs for Bush thing.

1 in 43

At a party recently I was chatting (probably annoying) a transplant from Riverside, CA about the housing market. He was trying to get a handle on the magnitude of the foreclosure problem and wanted a sense of just what share of homes were under foreclosure. I didn't have a number and didn't want to make one up.

CNBC just told me that Riverside had 1 foreclosure for every 43 homes.

Quite a few.

Almost Hope it Passes

So the people of Colorado can spend the rest of their lives going insane because of all of the ramifications.


Jane has more on the WGA strike.

It's useful opportunity to remind people that while residuals for writers are a matter of fairness and appropriate compensation, residuals for actors - something the SAG will deal with - are even more critical. Image is important for an actor, and continuing to show and reshow your previous work can impact your ability to find new work. Think Ed O'Neill (Al Bundy) trying to get "serious" - or any - roles with Married With Children repeats on 24/7. Residuals at least provide some compensation for that.


Someone let some truth slip. Martha Raddatz:

"I'd probably go crazy if I had to stay every second at the White House and not go out and be a reporter," she says by phone from Pakistan. "I don't want to be a stenographer.”


Presumably Mike Allen's a voter, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do we beat the bitch?

JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: May I give the translation?

The way that...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John, I thought she was talking about by ex- wife.

MCCAIN: Right. But that's an excellent question. I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the democratic party.


CHETRY: All right, Mike, does that hurt McCain?

ALLEN: Oh, give me a break. Of course not. First of all, I think it's kind of funny. If you watch that tape, he was -- it clear to him who she was referring to. He could have said, whoever were you talking about, which might have been the deftest way to handle it.

CHETRY: But he said, that's an excellent question.

ALLEN: But what Republican voter hasn't thought that? What voter in general hasn't thought that and what people like about McCain is his straight talk, his candor.

Your modern political press.

Cookie and Buzzy

What a delightful pair.

Matt Drudge Rules Their World

You know, I can actually remember a time when "saw it on the Drudge report" wasn't an automatic license to run with just any unsourced horseshit.


The bankruptcy of Levitt and Sons is screwing people.

The move leaves some residents of Seasons at Prince Creek West, a community for people ages 55 and older, wondering whether they will get the amenities and services they paid for.

"We're in a community that looks like a ghost town almost, as far as things not being finished," said Donna Jones, who lives in Seasons with her husband in a home that she bought in July.


It left many plots in Seasons at Prince Creek vacant or in mid-construction, and residents worry that plans to build 460 houses and a 27,000 square-foot clubhouse won't materialize.

Only 80 homes have been finished and another 100 or so are in various stages of construction, said resident Nancy Darr.


Residents also have been told that security in the development would be scaled back and that their home warranties aren't any good.


On top of that, contractors and subcontractors have filed liens against Levitt and Sons and against individual homeowners in efforts to get payment for work they did at Seasons.

What's Wrong With These People?

Gene Lyons:

What’s wrong with these people ? It’s common to compare Washington’s self-infatuated media celebrities to high school kids. But even high school was never like this. Adolescents normally try to conceal their neuroses. These jokers mistake them for insights.

My Collection of Multisided Dice

When one spends a few weeks seeing the various things Swamplanders obsess about, or read the bits of WaPo chats with journalists where they let it hang out a bit, one realizes that the Villagers are having this conversation amongst themselves which is almost entirely detached from any substantive policy issues. Politics is just a role playing game, candidates lunge and counterstrike, and an "RNC press release" is a +12 Vorpal Sword.

The Devil Has Her Favorites

Shailagh Murray hearts Senator Cochran.

But It's Still Ass Backwards

The whole personal mandate idea doesn't make any sense. Just sign everyone up.

Lede Burying

This, if true, is kinda-sorta newsworthy on its own:

So the government is in the process of twisting the arms of Federal Reserve Board members to lower interest rates by as much as 2 percentage points over the next year, including potentially a whopping half-point cut next week. That will allow banks to go back to one of their favorite recession-delaying ploys: encouraging debt-strapped consumers to refinance their loans at lower rates.

If that doesn't work, the government has been making noises about creating something like a Marshall Plan for home foreclosures -- a giant bailout fund similar to one used during previous housing crises. Just for good measure, analyst Bove notes, the administration is engaged in other types of powerful job-creating fiscal stimuli as well, such as ramping up spending on defense, infrastructure and transportation construction. "The administration in power is not going to go into an election year in a recession," he insists.

While there's no real firewall between the Fed and the "government," its general independence - and belief in that independence - is thought to be rather important.

(ht Americablog)

A New Political Era

Do pundits wake up every day completely oblivious to even recent history? Robert "Not the son of Paul" Samuelson:

Oil is flirting with $100 a barrel. Do not think this just another price spike. It suggests a new geopolitical era when energy increasingly serves as a political weapon. Producers (or some of them) will use it to advance national agendas; consumers (or some of them) will seek preferential treatment.

A new era! New new new!


Here, have a couple links.

Not Atrios

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Policy and Market

Can we have both at the same time

Asked whether he was satisfied with current exchange rates, Bush replied: "I am satisfied with the fact that we have a strong dollar policy and know that the market ought to be setting the exchange rate."

So we have a strong dollar policy, Bush is satisfied with this, and he knows "that the market ought to be setting the exchange rate."

Does any of this make any sense?

Occasionally Drudge Rules My World


More Thread

And They Arrived At That Conclusion All By Themselves

Majority says Bush has committed impeachable offenses.

And while that majority doesn't actually want to impeach, I think it says a lot about the Merkin People that they actually have managed to figure this out despite the fact that there are no prominent mainstream voices even trying to make the case.

It's certainly the case that the general public don't always come to the right conclusions, but it's important to recognize that they usually come to them a bit faster than Washington insiders do.

Of Bednobs & Broomsticks

Pass the Popcorn:

Judith Regan, the book publisher who was fired by the News Corporation last year, asserts in a lawsuit filed today that a senior executive at the media conglomerate encouraged her to mislead federal investigators about her relationship with Bernard B. Kerik during his bid to become homeland security secretary in late 2004.

The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik’s mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post.

The Smoking Gun has the Petition in all its glory.

Evening Thread

Off to drink liberally.

They Do Not Understand What That Word Means

Yes, I've long been amazed at their failure to understand the concept of "consent."


While my brain hopes that the primary voting season actually lasts longer than a state or two, I admit that part of me would be quite happy to just give it to whoever wins Iowa. I'm sorta kidding, but I really hate primary season.

Crass Commercialism

Just in case anyone was considering joining Netflix, do so through the link below and I get a kickback.

Netflix, Inc.

Otherwise, open thread!

...oh, and while I'm being crass...

Join emusic!

Buy a Tivo!

tut tut

I suppose it would be constitutional to waterboard members of Congress until they voluntarily gave up their health benefits.

Why Does God Hate Atlanta?

Ignored prayer for rain.

You Get Used To It

Bowers, writing about the Clinton question planting:

. Second, as a figures of some public visibility, prominent bloggers such as myself have been accused of a myriad number of schemes like this. We are regularly accused of being paid off by campaigns, of being paid off by the DLC, of conspiring to not write about 2004 election irregularities, of not endorsing candidates out of fear of losing traffic and / or some sort of conspiracy, of all being Jerome Armstrong, and various other sundry acts. When I ran the liberal blog advertising network and running for Democratic Party office, I was accused of all sorts of conspiracies, including by reporters in supposedly trustworthy magazines. What really irritates me about these accusations is how frequently the people making them assume they know what I am thinking, and what my motivations are as a person.

I have gotten used to it, but it is that last bit that was most likely to get to me. Strangely being accused of various nefarious corrupt deeds never really bothered me too much, but all of the assumptions about my motivations did.

Fox Attacks

While Fox's assholery is unsurprising, I did think Larry Sabato "sharing" an email from Mike Stark was a pretty dickish thing to do as well.

Wankers of the Day

Pool Boy and Harris

Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007

It's one of those below the radar things, but there's a fight brewing between mortgage brokers and the rest of us over legislation. There's legislation to outlaw something called "yield spread premiums" in which brokers are given a cut if they give borrowers crappier loans than the ones they qualify for. The thing is that most people don't understand that their mortgage broker isn't their pal who simply runs their credit score and gives them the best mortgage they qualify for, but is in fact someone who benefits from screwing them as much as possible. People just don't think of their mortgage broker in the way they think about used car salesmen even though they obviously should.

Anyway, if you have a moment write or call your representative in support of HR 3915.



One big reason why making fun of conservative bloggers is, in some quarters, a popular pastime is that they've been so inflated for so long. After 9/11, when irony was alleged to have died and Republicanism was decreed a unipolar superpower, "warbloggers" and "anti-idiotarians" began dreaming of domination. They were going to take down the MSM, reduce the Democrats to a rump, and remake America and the world in their own, suburban image.

While wimpy-assed liberal columnists deferred meekly to the War Party, mainstream conservatives praised and elevated their digital proteges, and such gibberish was published as would make Mencken blush. To argue with it was to be shouted down as a traitor, a Fifth Columnist, a pre-9/11ist. All a sane man could do was laugh.

Now the bloom is a little off the rose. Iraq's a looted shell, Arabia is not yet the 51st state, and the citizens are asking for health care. The mad mostly remain mad, but they're trying -- more modestly, of necessity -- to shift the grounds of debate. A more muscular occupation replaces dreams of Iraqi democracy, Iran offers new hope of revivifying bloodshed, and the next crop of Republicans promise not to embroil themselves in scandals and patronage.

When we laughed at them before, they were roaring so loudly they couldn't hear us. Now they can't help but notice. And they want us to stop. After all, we're only hurting ourselves! I may indeed bust a gut, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.

"Liquidity Support"

Otherwise known as throwing good money after bad.

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp., the nation's second-largest bank, will need to write down $3.3 billion in debt securities that have lost value because of defaults on subprime mortgages, Citi Investment Research analyst Keith Horowitz said.


The biggest part of the expected writedowns this quarter relate to $15.5 billion in ``liquidity support'' that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America provided to asset managers on short-term funding for CDOs, Horowitz said. The bank disclosed its holdings of CDOS in a Nov. 9 regulatory filing.

This has never been a simple liquidity crisis. People can't pay their mortgages and home prices are falling. The financial institutions are sitting on shitpiles.


While it isn't always the case, quite often opposition to labor demands isn't based on any genuine financial concern but is simply due to the widespread existence of assholes.

When Tom Freston was fired from Viacom in 2006 he received $60 million in severance pay, more than all of the DVD residuals paid to WGA members that year.

Chastity Fest

Because Laura Sessions Stepp, Wendy Shallit, Dawn Eden, and Dr. Miriam Grossman all saved it until marriage.

Breaking the Buck

WSJ reports that some money market funds are concerned that their exposure to big shitpile will reduce their share price below a buck a share (eroding the principal, something people don't expect will happen with money market funds). At the moment they're figuring out how to make sure that does't happen.

Money-market funds aim to maintain a $1-per-share price and losses on any investments that drive their share price below that mark -- known as "breaking the buck" -- could send investors running for the door. That's a possibility facing a number of money-market funds that hold troubled investments called structured investment vehicles -- or SIVs, complex investments that have come under selling pressure amid bond-market turmoil.


Some funds have approached the Securities and Exchange Commission for guidance and some have already taken action. Yesterday, money manager SEI Investments -- facing worries of ratings downgrades on its $6.1 billion SEI Daily Income Trust Prime Obligation Fund and $1.4 billion SEI Daily Income Trust Money Market Fund -- said it would provide financial guarantees for some of the funds' holdings of SIVs.


[cranky post redacted]

Minty Fresh Testostogel

We all have microphones now.

Herbert to Brooks

Suck. On. This.

BSG: Razor

Pretty good. Coming soon to a television near you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Evening Thread

Do you like my threads?








Monday Night Thread


Leaving it Alone

Most likely Dean Broder won't stick to that promise, either.

Protecting Your Portfolio

Jim Cramer just told me to make sure to have at least 10% (!!) of my portfolio in cash.

On Friday the CNBC bobbleheads were talking about how awesome it was that volatility was back baby!

This is all eerily familiar.


From AAA to Junk with one stroke of the pen.


What You Also Find On The Yahoo Stock Boards

Is an immense amount of awful racism, misogyny, a surprising lack of basic literacy, and of course the kind of batshit craziness and violent anger which could only come from aggrieved white males who imagined they were going to get rich day trading.

Ladies and gentleman, the serious civility of the respectable investor class.

Not Over

While I've been beating this dead housing horse for some time now, I would be quite shocked if the mortgage and financial market crisis was close to being "over." Unlike other asset bubbles, for a variety of reasons the housing bubble is going to unwind slowly. And while the financial assets related to the mortgage market can certainly (and perhaps have) see their bubble shrink much more quickly, it's quite probable that their story will also play out in slow motion.


E*Trade Only Down 58.32%

It will live on to fight another day...

The Julian Casablancas Award for High Wankery

Goes to Berman for this Slate post.

Truly a masterpiece of the genre.

Wanker of the Day

Paul Berman.

I hate these pricks.

Which Liberals?

I'm sure there are "some" liberals who are on board the Ron Paul train, but there isn't some big liberals-for-Ron-Paul movement.

I find the Ron Paul candidacy interesting, but that has nothing to do with support. It's interesting because I don't quite understand it. It's interesting because he highlights the unacknowledged-by-the-Villagers fact that anti-war sentiment has long since spread from dirty fucking hippies like me into other parts of the population. It's interesting because despite having significant fundraising and some early poll (New Hampshire) showing, his candidacy is largely ignored by the Village. It's interesting because Ron Paul is crazy but Norman Podhoretz and Rudy Giuliani are very serious (that is, there are certain types of crazy that the Village loves and certain kinds of crazy they marginalize).

"National Consensus"

I'm always puzzled when this phrase is thrown around, as Andy Sullivan and others do. I don't know why it's assumed to be a good thing. I don't know how we'd know if we had it when we did. I don't know why Andy and the gang imagine they'd feel better if such a thing were achieved, or why it seems to be important to them.

It's just weird. People disagree about stuff. They always will. So what?

...I mean, I guess I do basically understand - it's the need of the narcissist for the world to line up completely with their views, along with the ego to be convinced that one's rightness transcends all. In Sully's case I was talking about this line from his Obama piece:

With 9/11, Bush had a reset moment—a chance to reunite the country in a way that would marginalize the extreme haters on both sides and forge a national consensus.

In other words, there's a sensible middle just waiting to be united around stuff... stuff Andy Sullivan believes! It's the "extreme haters on both sides" - those who don't agree with Andy Sullivan about stuff - who prevent the national unity torch from growing large. And if only there were a charismatic candidate who Andy could project all his hopes and dreams into then that candidate would be the uniter! Until he disappoints, and Andy gets a new crush.

He's a Principled Straight-Shooting Maverick!!!

Is Jay Carney this naive?

The Joy and Fun of Yahoo Stock Boards

Whenever a stock is completely tanking I get endless hours of amusement by reading the yahoo stock boards. They always contain a fascinating mix of hilarious schadenfraude, sweaty desperation, denial, and blame.

...oh, and also a healthy dose of misinformation/rumor.

I could read it all day.

The Pundit's Lament

Wouldn't the world be better if everybody agreed with me about everything.


I do not think that word means what Cass Sunstein thinks it means.

And Another Member of Big Shitpile Going Down

Etrade shares down 45%...

Black Man Talk Smart

The absurdity of Andrew Sullivan, and those who publish him.

So Many Possibilties

As long as she keeps her job I suppose it's fine if the Inqy wants to run multiple responses to an architecture critic, and I'm sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the importance of real estate ads for the newspaper business or the fact that one of our new newspaper overlords has the last name of Toll.

But I love the response of the developer which deftly pivots and deflects criticism of his ugly building onto the people who bought units there.

Am I to imagine that all of the many sophisticated buyers at Symphony House have bad taste? Should I assume that the zoning officials, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. selections committee, our neighbors along the Avenue of the Arts, our governor, senators, mayor and other high-placed civic officials who have called the project "visionary," "brilliant" and "magnificent" also all have bad taste?


The building is rather prominent in my view. It is pretty ugly and I certainly hope it isn't seen as something to duplicate. I'm generally less concerned about style and more about urban function, and on that note it gets a mixed grade. It gets points for actually having ground level retail and a new theater. It loses points because of the poorly placed parking garage entrances and the extremely gaudy theater marquee. It certainly could have been worse.

The Trouble With Sweeney

I'm not quite sure when it becomes simply gratuitous to beat up on ex-members of Congress after they've largely dropped out of national public life, but what the hell.

CLIFTON PARK -- Former U.S. Rep. John Sweeney was charged with drunken driving early this morning after a traffic stop on the Northway, State Police said.

The arrest was the latest embarrassment for a one-time Congressional rising star whose re-election campaign was derailed last year by allegations of domestic violence.

And then I also lost any sympathy after reading this.

"He is a private citizen," Jones said. "This is a private matter."

Well not really. It's true he's a private citizen which diminishes the degree to which it's appropriate to make the story prominent, but once you get arrested it ceases to be a "private matter."


Have fun

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Truly Bizarre

Countries which loaded up on foreign (US) reserves to in part defend the respectability of their own currencies are instituting various forms of currency controls in order to try to defend the respectability of... the dollar to prevent the value of their reserves from plummeting and their currencies from becoming too respectable.

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Central banks from Bogota to Mumbai are imposing foreign-exchange curbs to take control of their soaring currencies from traders dumping the dollar.

In Colombia, international investors buying stocks and bonds must leave a 40 percent deposit at Banco de la Republica for six months. The Reserve Bank of India created a bureaucratic thicket to curb speculation by foreign money managers. The Bank of Korea is investigating trading of currency forward contracts to limit gains in the won, now at a 10-year high.

Instead of using currency reserves or interest rates to influence foreign exchange markets, central banks and finance ministries are setting up obstacles to keep the falling dollar from threatening company profits and economic growth. The U.S. currency slumped 10 percent this year against its biggest trading partners, the steepest decline since 2003, while Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has reiterated that the U.S. supports a ``strong'' dollar.

``Central banks are struggling to find new ways to intervene against their currencies and some of the proposals simply can't work,'' said Mirza Baig, an analyst in Singapore at Deutsche Bank AG, the world's biggest currency trader. Some plans are ``truly bizarre,'' he wrote in a report.

Hideous Thoughts of the Future

They got one war memorial right, but when the Iraq War Memorial of the future is built it will inevitably prominently feature burning twin towers.

War is bad. A remarkably simple idea which we seem to have forgotten.

Pumpkinhead and the Villagers

By their idols you shall know them.

The reason, of course, is that Russert doesn't care -- at all -- about whether or not his actions inform the American electorate. Rather, he cares about creating a "news-making" event -- likely something embarrassing for the politician -- and about burnishing his reputation for toughness. He attracts a circle of admirers who share his perverse and unethical lack of concern for whether or not his work helps produce an informed public, gobs of less-prominent television journalists seek to emulate his lack of concern with informing the public, print journalists eagerly court opportunities to appear on the non-informative shows hosted by Russert and his emulators, and down the rabbit hole we go.


Exciting financial times in Asia!!

Quote Cropping Is Fun!

Tim Russert likes it!!

Fresh Thread

effing blogger.

Learning Nothing

Anyone else want to bet that the OC median home price will roughly double in real terms over the next 9 years?

A "Long-time market watcher" revises previous estimate of the median home price in Orange County, CA reaching $1.4 million by median home price reaching $1.4 million by 2016.

Current media home price is $570,000. Assuming he means in nominal terms, in real terms he's predicting it jumps (given a guess at inflation rates) to bit over a million.

His prior prediction:

"And that's conservative," he says of his forecast.

This isn't some local broker rallying his industry. This opinion comes from somebody who played a major role in top real-estate consultancies for more than two decades.

How does Hahn explain his brash forecast?

It's light years from the "Bubble or not?" risk debate. It's a sharp contrast with, say, that of Wells Fargo Bank's chief economist, who sees flat prices the next decade or so.

Hahn makes it simple: "A basic reason: the economy."

And: "There is no housing bubble. It just doesn't exist."

Hahn's betting that too many new jobs in this technology hub will chase too few homes for sale. He thinks builders won't provide much help because the region lacks enough vacant land for new homes.

It's a gaudy formula. One that makes me gulp.

"My homebuilder clients don't gulp," Hahn says.

One client who buys Hahn's theory is Miami builder Lennar. Hahn was one of many advisers on its winning billion-dollar bid made earlier this year for land at the old El Toro military air base.

Oh boy.

Almost Time For Another Week To Start Already?

What fresh hell awaits...

Hostile Press

Though journalists are often quite in love with their own unions.

Big Shitpile Blames Minorities

Hilarious. Countrywide:

To this day, he says his beleaguered company did nothing wrong during the loose-lending craze that is now unraveling nationwide with record foreclosures and mountainous losses. Instead, Mr. Mozilo considers himself and his company to be victims of financial forces beyond their control.

At a conference sponsored by the Milken Institute about two weeks ago, for example, he explained that borrowers forced lenders like Countrywide to lower their mortgage standards. The industry faced special pressure from minority advocates to help people buy homes, he said. Now, the government must help by increasing loan limits at government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he added.

Krugman to Brooks

Suck. On. This.

Hell is the WaPo Opinion Page

Bailing Themselves Out

It appears that Big Shitpile has succeeded in putting together a bunch of money they can use to buy their own assets at inflated prices so they can go on pretending that there are ponies in the pile.

That's one interpretation anyway.

Bobblehead Thread

Document the atrocities.
C-Span’s Washington Journal — 7:45am - Jan Scruggs, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, President & Founder; 8:30am - Newspaper Article & Viewer Calls; 9am - Brian Freil, National Journal, Reporter | Article; 9:30am - Caroline Wadhams, Center for American Progress, National Security Analyst | Report.

ABC’s “This Week” — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT); architect Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

CNN’s “Late Edition” — Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of State; John Bolton and Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations; Sen. Joe Biden, (D-DE); Army Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill and Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola.

“Fox News Sunday” — Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

--Molly I.

Some People Say

It's time to light a candle.