Saturday, December 01, 2007

Late Night

Rock on.

Exporting Big Shitpile

Those gullible local officials weren't just ones from this country.

Not Just Atlanta

Durham has water problems too.

DURHAM - With central North Carolina suffering through the worst drought on record and a projected dry winter ahead, the Triangle is as close as it has ever been to severe restrictions limiting water use to hygiene and extinguishing fires.

Durham, with just 59 days left in its main water supply, could be on the front lines of this worst-case scenario.

Up to now, the prospect has been too far-fetched to entertain in detail, which is why there are few specifics in Durham ordinances about what would happen if the drought doesn't let up. Raleigh also lacks a set plan for an end-times-type drought.

Fresh Thread



Of course, a known and unrepentant liar is just the man to write columns for Newsweek.

Florida Exceptionalism

Sadly, being a Floridian doesn't make you immune from the consequences of bad investment decisions.

TALLAHASSEE -- School officials angrily said Friday that they expect Gov. Charlie Crist and others to prevent losses due to sour state investments related to the national mortgage crisis.

"I believe that someone with some authority needs to stand up and say, 'This is Florida, not some Third World country. We'll get through this problem,'" said Bill Montford, the CEO of Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

I'm beginning to suspect that Big Shitpile spent much of 2006-2007 selling their magic beans to gullible and/or corrupt local officials. Unlike Jack's beans, however, they didn't grow.

Renter Worries

I'd be a bit careful about renting from "amateur" landlords (or, perhaps, anyone at this point), people with just a couple of rental properties who appear to have gotten into the game recently.

Then in July, Mills got a rude surprise when she came home from a hospital stay to find a sheriff's notice on the door, saying the house had been foreclosed and she must call about being evicted.

Mills says her landlord told her not to worry because he would "take care of it," so she ignored other letters and notices that came to the apartment. Not until a sheriff's deputy showed up on November 13 did Mills take the eviction notices seriously. He told her she had to be out of the house the next day.

Mills is one of a growing number of renters who are being caught up in the nation's foreclosure crisis. According to RealtyTrac, a company that tracks foreclosures across the country, 1,785,596 foreclosures have been filed nationwide so far this year, a dramatic increase over a year ago. RealtyTrac say October foreclosures this year were up 94 percent over last October.

In many areas, mortgage payments for anyone who got into the property game in the last five years or so are way above market rental rates. Rent does not come close to covering the mortgage payment, especially those "exotic" mortgages. Landlords didn't get into the property game for the rental income, they got into the game because God and Nature have determined that home prices will go up 20% per year until the end of time and they were planning to cash out.

Rent from one of them, and you may get evicted.


I had no idea that there was such a push to get older people to pull all their equity out of their homes.

Sex on the City

I certainly don't claim to have coined it, though I couldn't tell you where I saw it. One thing about reading a lot on the internets - blogs, messages boards, comments sections - is that a lot of bits float through your mind and by the time you write about it you forget where it came from.

Maybe if someone on the internet made this story up completely the Washington Post would spend more time covering it. They aren't much interested in the non-fiction version.

New York's Finest

Rudy turned them into dogwalkers.


It isn't quite clear how much the Florida fund was exposed to Big Shitpile per se, but it obviously wasn't investing in the things it should have been.

The pool is a sort of supercharged money market fund where governments park money that they intend to use for various reasons, including operating expenses such as payroll. Most money market funds put sizable chunks of their deposits into Treasury bills, Treasury notes, federal government agency notes and certificates of deposit.

But the state investment pool had almost none of its portfolio in those super-safe investments. Instead, most of its money is in so-called corporate and commercial paper.

Bye Bye Money

Fun in Florida:

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- A newly formed advisory panel composed of Florida school and local government officials with money frozen in a state-run investment pool said they won't accept a return of less than 100 percent of their investment.

Members of the new panel, on a conference call late yesterday with officials from the agency that runs the fund, rejected a proposal to survey pool participants to determine whether they would accept as little as 90 cents on the dollar of their deposits in order to access their money in December.


School districts, towns and cities across Florida were cut off from their money after the State Board of Administration, manager of the Local Government Investment Pool, halted withdrawals Nov. 29 to stem a run on the fund. Participants pulled out almost half the pool's $27 billion in assets after learning it held $1.5 billion of downgraded and defaulted debt tainted by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.

Fun in Montana too!

The question is - how many of these suckers were there?

...and suckers in Maine:

In August, the state invested $20 million in a commercial paper fund -- an unsecured, short-term promissory note -- with hopes of earning 5.45 percent interest over 23 days.

Midway through the investment, the Bank of New York froze the assets, tying up the state's money indefinitely.

If this is reported accurately, they were promised an annual return of around 90%!


Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Let it be a challenge to you

I don't see why the Republicans are so upset about being asked questions by a Democrat. After all, the Democrats let Tim Russert ask them questions.

Not Atrios


Rock softer.

Late Night Thread

Rock on.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Man from Fallujah

Ha, no?


And in other classy right blog news...


Yglesias gives David Broder a stroke:

Meanwhile, both whatever degree of climate change can't be prevented and whatever prevention measures we adopt will all have different kinds of costs and benefits. Different policies will allocate these costs to different people. The mechanism by which we decide what to do is called "politics" and it exists so that individuals and organizations with somewhat divergent interests and ideas can make collective decisions about how to tackle common problems. The rhetoric of anti-politics isn't just an analytic mistake, it's part of the problem. A public that doesn't believe divergent interests can be reconciled and common solutions devised for common problems -- a public that doesn't believe in politics -- is going to be a public that doesn't believe there's anything that can or should be done to prevent catastrophic climate change.

That so many Villagers have determined that politics is just some nasty posturing which gets in the way of their cozy social cliques is truly bizarre. They're the very serious insiders who know how things really work, after all.

Fresh Thread


Still a Hostage

It seems they now think there's still a hostage.

...or not... saying no one knows who the guy is.

Anyway, all kinds of mixed reports floating around.

More Thread


...elderly man known locally who had a history of mental illness and who had earlier told his son to watch the teevee.

Clinton Headquarters Hostages

Well this is creepy.

...hostage taker reported to be demanding to speak to Clinton.

...two hostages released (believed to be all).

The Real Rudy

Now that they're actually confronting him instead of drooling over "America's Mayor," the real Rudy comes out.

Giuliani refused to take questions here today about allegations that travel expenses were picked up obscure city offices when he was mayor of New York City.

“We’ve already explained it,” he said, walking past reporters after a town hall meeting.

Giuliani, who is normally friendly to reporters, bristled past them, and campaign staffers were unusually physical in keeping the press away. Several campaign aides told campaign reporters to return to the press area, and some of his security detail manhandled reporters. On other occasions, reporters have been free to video Giuliani as he is shaking hands and signing autographs after events, and he often informally takes questions from reporters.


At first glance the plan to freeze rates on some subprime mortgages actually seems sound.

I doubt it'll be enough, as the problem is much more widespread, but it at least might help some people.

More Fare Card

Basically, any transit fare system needs to be convenient and beneficial for both regular and occasional riders. The system should be as broad as possible - working for all modes of public transit - and should be as transparent as possible. A comprehensive fare card system for regular riders shouldn't displace easy single ticket sales for occasional or poorer riders. The card system should incorporate daily/weekly/monthly passes of all types within the system, as well as including cash for additional tickets outside any pass. It should be easy to add money to a pass with cash or credit - ticket machines, online, ticket windows. In Philadelphia the system would ideally be compatible with PATCO (important) and NJ Transit (nice, but less important).

This isn't rocket science.

We Can Applaud Italy


Oy, They'll Screw This Up

So apparently the brain trust at SEPTA may be kinda-sorta-ready to move to some sort of fare card system. And they're very excited about a credit card-based system, instead of something actually sane, because it's "next generation" or something.

One day I hope that our transit agency has some input from people who occasionally actually ride public transit.

A real "next generation" fare card would be like the Oyster card they have in London, which keeps track of any passes you have, along with automatically capping costs at whatever the applicable daily rate is (meaning, if you take several bus trips which exceed the daily pass rate you only get charged the daily rate). You can set it to automatically top it up if you fall below a certain level if you want, and you can refill it online.

But using your Visa card is... revolutionary! not.


I do wish he'd address the swirling controversy surrounding Perry Bacon Jr.'s rumored multiple child rape convictions, but it's a start.


George W. Bush, last January:

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November.

Time to get out then, no?

Sex on the City

You know, aside from the corruption and potential criminality of all of this it's provided an excuse (if they take it) to remind the public that Rudy was having an affair with his 3rd wife while living with his 2nd wife in the Mayor's residence. One would think that given the standard rules of such things they wouldn't need an excuse to bring this minor fact up, but there you go.

Even at the time Rudy's activities were downplayed everywhere but the New York press, with suggestions that his affair wasn't really an affair because his battle with prostate cancer made consummating the relationship impossible.

But it seems to me that while the "hide the money" system Rudy apparently used to keep things quiet is something to investigate, ultimately the "give your secret mistress a police car and police driver as a taxi" is pretty much the nail in the coffin anyway.

Morning Thread

Maintains regularity.

Thursday, November 29, 2007



Thread, Wonderful Thread

Not A Klein Post

But another Kline post. Such the liar.


Jim Cramer is interviewing Rudy. I don't have the sound on, but the captions are funny. First one.

Giuliani: The US Should Increase Its Coal Supply Through Government Subsidies

About 4 minutes later:

Giuliani: Business And Government Are Separate - And That's Non-Negotiable

Grand Convergence

Could Big Shitpile be merging with the Dukestir?

Fresh Thread

Wonder when Joe's gonna publish Hoekstra's scoop about terrorist moles in the CIA.

Oh My


Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on

"She used the PD as her personal taxi service," said one former city official who worked for Giuliani.

I'm sure Joe will give us his take as soon as Hoekstra gets his hand back up his ass.

(pic from watertiger)

The Way of the Warrior

Been amusing myself by reading the yahoo stock boards again. The prose stylings of the people who post there are pretty fascinating. While presumably these are mostly people who spend a significant amount of their time (and family's money) day trading, they quite often come across as being only marginally literate, both in terms of their ability to communicate and in terms of their understanding of The Exciting World of High Finance.

More than that, the rhetoric they invoke is very similar to that invoked by warblogger types at Redstate. Investing in the markets requires a great deal of courage and resolve - where courage usually involves holding on to tanking stocks as they tank - and words like "strategy," devoid of any actual meaning, are thrown around. People who know nothing position themselves as "experts" and snidely talk down to "beginners." And there are, of course, plenty of beginners, people who really shouldn't be day trading or God forbid have access to a margin account.

More than that there's this underlying belief that typing away on a Yahoo message board can really swing the stock price, as there's a constant pissing contest between "shorts" and "longs" in attempts to push the stock up or down.

Unlike most conservative warbloggers, at least the amateur stock touts actually have some skin in the game.

Deep Thoughts From David Ignatius

After invading Iraq and occupying it for almost 5 years, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and millions displaced, David Ignatius tells us:

The idea that we can butt in and give orders over there and be successful—-



Early Birds Got Out

Florida has a state investment pool into which a lot of municipalities put their money. When word got out that they'd taken on a heap of Big Shitpile, they started to pull out.

It shrunk from $27 billion to $15 billion before they voted to stop allowing withdrawals.

Problem is that this isn't just some long term investment pool, it's a short term place to park funds before they're needed for teachers' salaries and whatnot.

Mrs. Dan Senor

Behaving as expected.


A Swampland commenter dug up this WSJ column... from 2006... talking about Iraq's WMD, written by Joe's BFF and Senator Man on Dog.

This is the person Joe trusts to explain things he doesn't understand, and who he sympathizes with because he dreams of a return to the glory days of bipartisan love.


Apparently the Chicago Tribune has the time and ability.

We all make mistakes. The important thing is to fix them.


Joe Klein likes when Pete Hoekstra whispers in his ear and makes his fingers write the words.

I Know, Rox

But I didn't really understand that one either.

Nobody Could Have Predicted

Oh never mind.

BAGHDAD — The American campaign to turn Sunni Muslims against Islamic extremists is growing so quickly that Iraq's Shiite Muslim leaders fear that it's out of control and threatens to create a potent armed force that will turn against the government one day.

The United States, which credits much of the drop in violence to the campaign, is enrolling hundreds of people daily in "concerned local citizens" groups. More than 5,000 have been sworn in in the last eight days, for a total of 77,542 as of Tuesday. As many as 10 groups were created in the past week, bringing the total number to 192, according to the American military.


"There is a danger here that we are going to have armed all three sides: the Kurds in the north, the Shiite and now the Sunni militias," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst who's now at The Brookings Institution, a center-left policy organization in Washington, D.C.

Ah. "center-left" Brookings.

35 Month Supply

Condo builders went nuts in Palm Beach.

Prices of existing condos in Palm Beach County plunged 30 percent in October - the sharpest annual decline since the Florida Association of Realtors started tracking them in January 2006.

The median price of an existing condo in Palm Beach County was $158,900 in October, the association said Wednesday, down from $225,500 in the same month last year.

"Individual sellers are becoming more realistic and lowering prices," said Jack McCabe, a Deerfield Beach real estate consultant specializing in the condo market. Seller incentives have failed, he said, and appraisers have "returned to fundamentals."

Palm Beach County has a 35-month supply of existing condo units, McCabe noted.

These are existing condo units, so what's likely going on here is that speculators snapped a bunch of new development and are now watching their money disappear. Or, more likely, the banks who lent them money are watching their money disappear.

New Home Sales Up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's what CNBC just told me. Up 1.7%!!!!

And, yes, it is true that 728K is 1.7% higher than 716K, the number from last month.

It's also true that the number from last month, 716K, was revised downward from... 770K.

You know, I don't exactly do business stuff for a living but the CNBC people presented this as good news, and there was audible cheering on the trading floor, until about 4 minutes later when it dawned on them that maybe this wasn't actually good news.


It's shocking that the Washington Post continues to publish the work of Perry Bacon Jr., despite the fact that rumors continue to swirl about his multiple child rape convictions.

Citi's Shitpile


Citi is disputing an earlier characterization on CNBC about their SIVs - special investment vehicles they and other banks use to hold securities - Citi says it has just $70 million indirect exposure to subprime assets, that all of its SIV assets are rated A or above, 80-90% are rated AA or above, and approximately 50% are rated AAA.

The anchors dutifully read this and then started laughing at it. It may even be technically true, though whether or not that takes into account Citi's so-called "liquidity puts" I do not know, but in any case the real point is that a lot of the shitty loans and foreclosures aren't technically subprime even though the subprime term is thrown around as general shorthand for shitty loans.

Stopped Clock

I was about to remark that David Broder actually wrote a good column for once, and then I realized I'd clicked the wrong link and it was actually by Harold Meyerson.

Better luck next time, David.

Two Friedmans Ago

Two Friedmans Ago when Iraq Study Group fever was gripping the nation, and the very serious Time Magazine was telling us that Bush was ready to leave Iraq, I wrote:

Two Friedmans from now there will be 120,000+ US troops in Iraq.

Big Shitpile

Etrade sells its bit of big shitpile for about 25 cents on the dollar.

TEL AVIV (MarketWatch) -- In a top-down shakeup at E-Trade Financial Corp., the New York online brokerage said it would receive a $2.55 billion infusion from Citadel Investment Group as its chairman and chief executive both step down.
The deal, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, gives Citadel a nearly 20% stake in E-Trade
E-Trade's shares advanced 23% to $6.49 in pre-market trading.
Under the terms, Chicago-based Citadel acquired E-Trade's $3 billion of asset-backed securities for about $800 million.
It will immediately buy $1.6 billion of notes paying annual interest of 12.5%. This includes an investment by funds managed by BlackRock.

Morning Thread

When in doubt, assume that racism is the unspoken motivator for all Republican behavior. It works almost all the time.

--Molly I.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


You know, when Saletan went down his courageous racist road it at first didn't even occur to me to bother to revisit the racism of his new patron saint, Rushton, because I thought this was something that everyone already knew about. I mean, not everyone, of course, but everyone who had spent a bit of time reading about this stuff. I've been around this block several times, from when the Bell Curve came out, to when it was sliced and diced by reputable economists, to the multiple times the "Teh Science Says Black People Are Stupid" conversation has erupted in the blogosphere.

Better racism dabblers, please.

...adding, the obvious point is that if you want to declare that TEH SCIENCE says black people are stupid and that anyone who disagrees is the equivalent to a young Earth creationist a prudent step before doing so might be... having some fucking clue what you're talking about.

Maybe if Saletan wrote about how black people enjoyed monkeyfishing, or about how George Bush was full of shit about his tax plans, then he could get fired.

...and shoot me in the face for not going for the obvious joke:

Will Saletan has neither the time nor background to figure out who's right.


So Many Possible Reasons For Trent's Resignation

One being the indictment of his brother-in-law.

Did I Miss a Debate?

Sorry, was out seeing Erin.

...oy, killed the site. C&P instead:

Joe Klein do anything stupid while I was out?

Howler Monkeys

If one of the "base" interest groups the GOP candidates had to pander to were tribes of meth-addled howler monkeys, could they have looked any more demented than they did during that debate?



Watching this debate, I hereby predict that the winner of the GOP nomination will be a total asshole.

Does Matt Drudge Rule Their World?

Sometimes he does. Usually when Drudge pushes a big story from Politico it starts coming out of the cable news blabbers' mouths in about 5 seconds.

Haven't yet seen the Rudy story on CNN, though maybe they have an excuse with Wolf Blitzer's stunning interview with Mr. 24% and the debate tonight.

But somehow Republican scandals just aren't interesting. Even the Swamplanders, desperate to talk about anything other than Joe Klein, haven't touched it yet.

...okay, the Beard's on it now.

...Cafferty's going pretty nuclear.

Wanker of the Day

Fred Hiatt.

Fresh Thread



One of the enduring mysteries is how Pat Buchanan, who every few years or so comes out and makes sure we know he's a racist just in case we'd forgotten, manages to be a very important pundit in good standing in our liberal media.

Or maybe it isn't such a mystery.

Silly Think Progress

Suggesting that McCain has ever been anything but completely consistent on Iraq.

It wasn't that long ago that Joe Klein told me:

McCain, whether you agree with him or not, has been entirely consistent about the war.

And John McCain says John McCain is consistent:

John McCain has mainted [sic] a consistent record on Iraq since the very beginning.

Going to War

I'm not entirely unsympathetic to politicians who voted for the AUMF. But there were many moments between then and when the war started when they had opportunities to cry bullshit. And, no, "I wish the inspectors had been allowed to complete their jobs," blah blah blah, doesn't cut it.

Attack Biden

There's nothing especially unique about what Biden's saying, they just come across slightly differently because Biden's a Very Serious Foreign Policy Person in good standing.

Rape Toys

Is it funny or ha ha funny?



Dodd's going to push for some reform of the crappy Bankruptcy reform. Looks good. Let's hope some other presidential candidates use their soapboxes to help support it.

Zombie Bullshit Travels

Glenn informs us that this was reprinted in the Chicago Tribune today.

The Democratic strategy on the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] legislation in the House is equally foolish. There is broad, bipartisan agreement on how to legalize the surveillance of phone calls and e-mails of foreign intelligence targets. ... Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi quashed the House Intelligence Committee's bipartisan effort and supported a Democratic bill that -- [Rush] Limbaugh is salivating -- would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court, an institution founded to protect the rights of U.S. citizens only.

In the lethal shorthand of political advertising, it would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans. That is well beyond stupid. ...

[W]hen the president takes the oath of office, he (or she) promises two things: to protect the Constitution and to protect the nation against enemies, foreign and domestic. If the Democrats can't find the proper balance between those two, they simply will not win the presidency.

Joe Klein, Time

My nominee for Time's Man of the Year is Joe Klein, who so represents everything wrong with the corrupt ecosystem of the Village.

Who Can Afford These Prices?

Over the past few years I've been quite puzzled over who could actually be paying typical prices in some housing markets. Who could afford them? We know now that part of the answer to that question is that plenty of people were buying houses they couldn't afford, over the long run at least, because they were getting loans with ridiculous terms.

A second group were people who were trading in a previous home in which they'd built up some equity.

A third group were people who got some sort of economic windfall - an inheritance for example - that allowed them to buy.

A fourth group were those people who actually had the household income to cover a $2500-$3000/month mortgage.

Groups one and two are drying up. I'm not sure how many people there really are in groups three and four.

Economic News

New home sales fall again.

The pace of U.S. existing home sales in the United States fell 1.2 percent in October to
a record low 4.97 million-unit pace, the National Association of Realtors said, amid a nationwide credit crunch and a spike in failing home loans.

The median existing home price of $207,800 was a decline of 5.1 percent from a year ago, a record drop.

Durable goods orders fall.

New orders for long-lasting U.S.-made manufactured goods dropped for a third straight month during October and companies seemed wary about making new investments, a Commerce Department report on Wednesday showed.

Orders for durable goods fell 0.4 percent last month after declining 1.4 percent in September and 5.3 percent in August. Excluding transportation items, orders were down more sharply by 0.7 percent.

And stocks soar on increased belief that Ben is warming up the helicopter.


Unlike, say, for Joe Klein* or numerous others who kept their traps shut during the run-up to the war, I think it would be quite possible for Bill Clinton to have opposed the Iraq war in his heart but to have kept his trap shut due to the inconsistently observed but somewhat valid tradition that ex-presidents pull back a bit from politics.

But the quote below demonstrates that Clinton was proud of his role in opposing the opposers, in battling the Fearsome Left.

*Except that time when Joe said he supported the war, of course.

Bill Clinton's War Against Norbziness

Aside from this, we also have: (from '04)

(CNN) -- Former President Clinton has revealed that he continues to support President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq but chastised the administration over the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.

"I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over," Clinton said in a Time magazine interview that will hit newsstands Monday, a day before the publication of his book "My Life."

Clinton, who was interviewed Thursday, said he did not believe that Bush went to war in Iraq over oil or for imperialist reasons but out of a genuine belief that large quantities of weapons of mass destruction remained unaccounted for.


"So I thought the president had an absolute responsibility to go to the U.N. and say, 'Look, guys, after 9/11, you have got to demand that Saddam Hussein lets us finish the inspection process.' You couldn't responsibly ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these stocks," Clinton said.

Pressed on whether the Iraq war was worth the cost to the United States, Clinton said he would not have undertaken the war until after U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix "finished his job."


"I want it to have been worth it, even though I didn't agree with the timing of the attack," Clinton said.

This is pretty much gibberish. If Blix had "finished his job," he still wouldn't have found any weapons, but all Clinton had a problem with was "the timing of the attack." I guess June would have been better?

Still we appreciate Bill Clinton's service to the country, defending the honorable President Bush against the all-powerful Left and their crazy beliefs that Saddam Hussein was not a threat to this country and that giving Bush authorization to go to war meant inevitable war. Someone must battle The Left to prevent them from assuming power and doing crazy things like not going to war against Iraq.

Early Morning Thread

Bush invites "Eemee" and "Moo-moo" to the White House, no doubt to discuss the awesomeness of his rug.

Much like a Lott family reunion, but more utilitarian.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Late Night

Rock on.

A Major Recession Would Be Great News For Republicans

It's definitely true, though perhaps not quite as good news for them as would be a landslide victory for Democrats.


Wikipedia says Rick Stengel has multiple child rape convictions. While I have neither the time nor legal background to verify this allegation, it's well beyond stupid for Time to employ such a person.

Fresh Thread

According to sources, Rick Stengel has 32 child rape convictions. Stengel has yet to comment on these allegations, and I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out if they are true.

Modern Journalism

The correction.

In the original version of this story, Joe Klein wrote that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow a court review of individual foreign surveillance targets. Republicans believe the bill can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't.

Democrats believe that Rick Stengel ( and Mickey Kaus have regular threesomes with a goat, while Republicans believe Mickey has a strictly monogamous relationship with his goat.

Glennzilla has more.

Your Liberal Media

Still not liberal.

They left out my favorite from Suzanne Malveaux:

And, Nancy Pelosi in Syria and in the crosshairs of Vice President Cheney. Is she on her way to becoming the most controversial House Speaker yet?

Wanker of the Day

Hillary Clinton.


Can't wait to see the questions CNN chooses for the Republican YouTube debate.

Wingnut Terrorism Porn

This stuff doesn't even pass the giggle test.

A plot by dozens of foreign terrorists who purportedly planned to attack Fort Huachuca with rocket propelled grenades and mines has proved unfounded, an FBI spokesman said Monday.
The threat, detailed by a local television station and The Washington Times after information was recently leaked to them, involved Iraqi and Afghan terrorists working with a Mexican drug cartel to smuggle themselves and weapons across the U.S. border.


But the attack never occurred and was the result of bad information, said Manuel Johnson, an FBI spokesman based in Phoenix.
“A thorough investigation was conducted and there is no evidence showing that the threat was credible,” he said.


From CNBC: "Citigroup will not be bringing its SIV assets onto their balance sheet."

Oh boy.

Faux Business News


Fox dispatched a reporter to an ESPN Zone in Washington, DC, where they were lucky to find "online shopper" Peter Perweiler, who did indeed have big online shopping plans. "I'm looking at some big-ticket items this year," he said, "so I really want to know what other people - problems they're having with items, things of that nature."

Good to know. What would also have been good to know: Peter is also the marketing manager at the National Retail Federation.

Not A Klein Post

....a Kline post! Seems like panty sniffer Phill Kline has some problems.


Rush Holt schools Joe.

I was pleased to see Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein acknowledge that he "may have made a mistake" in his column attacking the House Majority ("The Tone Deaf Democrats") and misrepresenting the RESTORE Act. Unfortunately, Mr. Klein still professes confusion toward the bill's contents and continues to question whether the House should have passed it in the first place.

As one of the bill's authors, I want to set the record straight about what's in the RESTORE Act, why it's needed to safeguard Americans from unwarranted surveillance, and ultimately, why it will lead to better intelligence gathering.

In his original column, Mr. Klein incorrectly wrote, "Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi quashed the House Intelligence Committee's bipartisan effort and supported a Democratic bill that - Limbaugh is salivating - would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court, an institution founded to protect the rights of U.S. citizens only." It contains no such provision.

(Also, as someone closely involved in trying to produce a good bill, I cannot figure out what bipartisan House Intelligence Committee effort Speaker Pelosi "quashed" that Mr. Klein could possibly be talking about. Several Republicans proposed something close to last August's Protect America Act, but that never got anywhere.)

Joe Klein In A Nutshell

Stoller on Time's journamalism:

Everyone makes mistakes, even big ones. But Klein's meltdown has been epic. He first denied the problem, then conceded it, then argued it wasn't a big deal, and then concluded he couldn't figure out if he got it wrong or right and it wasn't a big deal anyway.


I'm just going to recycle this post.

Why We Say "Fuck" A Lot

Jane has more on the latest nonsense from the Post. The problem really is that no matter how many times we try to kill right wing horseshit (or as Media Matters delicately calls it, "conservative misinformation") it keeps coming back to haunt us. It infects the media bloodstream. We politely ask for corrections. They don't happen. We start screaming for corrections. They still don't happen. Eventually some half-assed weaselly blame-the-uncivil-critics statement is released. We scream louder. And, then, the horeshit pops up again on CNN.

As we were talking about on Air America last night, this whole situation is really reminiscent of the 2004 Adam Nagourney incident. Rough version: Nagourney wrote an article which passed on Bush administration peddled horeshit about how after the handover to the transitional government in Iraq U.S. casualties had declined. But they didn't. No matter how one squinted at the data, casualties hadn't declined. There was no way to slice it and dice it to make it so. Many angry exchanges between people and Nagourney and the useless Okrent. Many denials from them. Finally half-assed correction and an Okrent column which revealed the name and hometown of a rather "uncivil" reader because of his dastardly incivility.

Major newspaper has big megaphone. Readers generally have no megaphone. Journalists have responsibilities and these ethics I keep hearing about, including the responsibility not to be as factfree as they keep claiming blogs are. When you explain, calmly and repeatedly, that 2+2=4 and they keep denying it you get a little mad. Civil behavior isn't about restraining from using insults or obscenities, it's about behaving like a fucking decent human being.


Now this is the kind of accountability we've come to expect!

Mitt Hearts Religion Quotas

While I was turning this one over in my mind everyone already said probably everything which needs to be said about this.

But there are certain kinds of bigotry which are perfectly acceptable in our mainstream discourse, and kinds which are not.

Speaking of Journalists

They always tell me this nice story about how they have "editors" which prevent horseshit from slipping through and "accountability" when people screw up somehow.

Still waiting for one of those accountability moments.

That's A Lot Of Simoleans

So apparently Countrywide, a big contributor to big shitpile, has gotten the Atlanta Federal Home Loan Bank to lend them $25 billion over the last few months, on top of the $25 billion they'd already gotten. The collateral for these loans is... you guessed it... Countrywide's portion of big shitpile.

This is about 37% of the Atlanta FHLB's entire loan portfolio.

FHLB's are government sponsored enterprises but are not explicitly taxpayer financed. One can imagine who might get left holding the bag.

Objectivity Rules

Journalists really see the world in a very strange way.

Down, Down, Down

Home prices sinking.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prices of existing U.S. single-family homes slumped 4.5 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, matching a record decline from the previous period as the housing downturn deepened, according to a national home price index on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index fell 1.7 percent since June, marking the largest quarterly decline in the index's 21-year history, S&P said in a statement.

But Citi managed to secure billions of financing...
at 11% ... so everything is ok.

Open threat

Who are our Robot Overlords? Maybe these people.

Oh, yeah, I hate this, too.

Not Atrios

Monday, November 26, 2007

Late Night Thread

Rock on.

Wanker of the Day

Joe Klein.

This is like Richard Cohen level wanking.

Open Thread

Try not to waste this opportunity.

Fascinating Advice

It isn't so much that the advice is wrong, it's that it's in part based on the notion that life is miserable and meaningless and essentially not even happening unless you own a home. And, yes, I recognize that a real estate agent has a bit of an interest in perpetuating this idea.

I certainly understand why home ownership appeals to people, and I may get around to it myself one of these days, but renting isn't so bad.


They are stupid things.


Another exciting day on the street.

Dow down 232...

It's Raining Money

Helicopter Ben to the rescue!

NEW YORK — The New York Federal Reserve announced Monday it was implementing several measures to increase liquidity in the parched credit markets ahead of the year's end.

The New York Fed's moves included increasing the amount of funds that dealers can tap through the bank's open market account securities lending program and making an unusual long agreement to buy back securities to cover the year end.

The changes will allow dealers to tap the New York Fed's System Open Market Account program to borrow up to $750 million per issue _ up from a prior cap of $500 million per issue. The New York Fed carries out monetary policy for the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Someone on CNBC discussing the possibility of a major financial institution going down:

There are certain things that are so bad they almost can't be allowed to happen. There's never been a famine in a Democracy because people just won't let it happen and I think that's what the Fed's for.


Car Share Everywhere

For the 8 of you who like this stuff, Jasone Fagone has long feature on Philly CarShare in Philadelphia Magazine.

But It Worked For Me!

Inevitably when discussing mortgages there are people who made decisions they stand by because either they worked out for them or they expect them to. And, yes, for people who got sensible ARMs at the right time and who either expected to and did sell within a short period of time or had low or no prepayment penalties so that they could refinance and did so before the market started to tank, your mortgage may have worked out perfectly for you. Yay you!

So, yes, basically people who got ARMs with sensible terms in a period when home prices were rising, not falling, you might have saved a lot of money. But lots of people didn't get loans with anything resembling sensible terms, have giant prepayment penalties, cannot afford their mortgages, and are unable to refinance because they're currently underwater. Bummer for them! That's the point.

Crazy Talk

There have frequently been moments in the discourse surrounding our unfolding Iraq disaster when "only crazy people think that" magically transforms into "of course everyone always knew that" in an instant.

And we're there again. Iraq 4evah!

Inside Big Shitpile

As I've said a few times, while I've long thought that the housing bubble was indeed a bubble and I knew that people were taking out really stupid mortgages that would come back and bite them in the ass, I really had no idea that lending standards had gotten so bad. Irvine Housing Blog gives us an example.

The property was purchased in January 2005 for $1,157,000. The combined first and second mortgages totalled $1,156,730 leaving a downpayment of $270. Let’s just call it 100% financing.

By April, they owners were able to find refinancing through Countrywide with a $999,999 first mortgage. This mortgage was an Option ARM with a 1% teaser rate. The minimum payment would be $3,216 per month.

Also in April of 2005, they took out a simultaneous second mortgage for $215,000 pulling out their first $58,000.

So look at their situation: They are living in a million dollar plus home in Turtle Ridge making payments less than those renting, and they “made” $58,000 in their first 4 months of ownership.

Apparently, these owners liked how hard their house was working for them, so they opened a revolving line of credit (HELOC) in August 2005 for $293,000. Did they spend it all? I can’t be sure, but the following certainly suggests they did.

In December of 2005, they extended their HELOC to $397,990.

In June of 2006, they extended their HELOC to $485,000.

In April of 2007, the well ran dry as they did their final HELOC of $491,000. I bet they were pissed when they couldn’t get more money.

So by April 2007, they have a first mortgage (Option ARM with a 1% teaser rate) for $999,999, and a HELOC for $491,000. These owners pulled $333,000 in HELOC money to fuel consumer spending.

Assuming they spent the entire HELOC (does anyone think they didn’t?), and assuming the negative amortization on the first mortgage has increased the loan balance, the total debt on the property exceeds $1,500,000. The asking price of $1,249,000 does not look like a rollback, but if the property actually sells at this price, the lender on the HELOC (Washington Mutual) will lose over $300,000.

I think it's a mistake to assume you know they were just pulling the cash out to support a fun lifestyle. For all we know they were dealing with expensive family emergencies or something. But nonetheless they had no problem pulling out their entire household equity, taking on obviously unsupportable levels of debt, because God and Nature determined that housing prices can only go up and therefore the lender would be sure to get it back if only through foreclosure.

And this illustrates that this isn't just a "subprime" problem. Million+ mortgages aren't subprime.


Still wondering what this is about.

Larry Flynt, editor and publisher of Hustler magazine, just told FOX Business Network’s Neil Cavuto that he’s “hoping to expose a bombshell” that will stand “Washington and the country on its head.” Within the next week or two, he says his magazine will expose a sex scandal of huge proportions involving a prominent United States Senator. Flynt refused to comment on the Senator’s political affiliation, but alluded that he or she is a Republican.

Et Tu, Ben?

Apparently Helicopter Ben has joined with Paulson in trying to encourage big financial institutions to sign up for Super Shitpile, the effort to set up a big fund to try to maintain the illusion that the assets that no one wants to buy are actually worth something.

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp., the nation's second-largest bank, will lead efforts by Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to convince smaller competitors to help finance an $80 billion bailout of short-term debt markets.


Loomis Sayles & Co. declined to invest after receiving one of 16 invitations for a personal meeting last week with current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, said Daniel Fuss, who oversees $22 billion as chief investment officer at the Boston-based firm.

``It's so nice to get a personal invitation to go to Washington and have a one-hour visit with Ben Bernanke,'' said Fuss, who decided participating wasn't worth the risk to his firm. ``Oh, boy, did I feel important for about 27 seconds, and then you smell a rat.''

The Grand Era of Bipartisanship

It was, as we all know, due to a messed up Democratic coalition which contained significant numbers of racist assholes until they retired, died, or became Republicans. That the Villagers miss these people says much about them.

Big Shitpile

E*Trade owns a big chunk of big shitpile. E*Trade is trying to get someone to buy it, and its portion of big shitpile. Prospective buyers want to know just how much big shitpile is worth.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prospective buyers of online brokerage E*Trade Financial Corp (NasdaqGS:ETFC - News) are haggling over the value of its weakening mortgage portfolio, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday in its online edition, citing sources familiar with the matter.

According to the Journal, rivals looking at its books recently are concerned that some of the assets haven't been marked to current values, people familiar with the matter said.

Of course a lot of the problem with big shitpile is that no one wants to actually own up to what "current values" are for obvious reasons.

Miss Havisham

All we can do is laugh at them.

Are There Any Republicans Left?

We won't have Trent Lott to kick around anymore.

Morning Thread

Ooo, this is going to be more uncomfortable than an ex at your wedding.

--Molly I.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oh Well

It was almost really exciting, but nonetheless.

Suck. On. It.

Iggles Spread Watch

still -3.

Financial Catastrophe Porn

If that's the kind of thing that turns you on.

The decision to use derivatives to short, or bet against, low-quality US home loans taken by a select group of hedge funds last year appears to have become the most profitable single trade of all time, making well over $20bn in total so far this year. John Paulson’s New York-based Paulson & Co, the biggest of the group with $28bn under management, is said by investors to have made $12bn profit from the trade already.

However, Mr Lahde, whose fund is one of the smallest specialists shorting subprime, has now begun to return money to investors, telling them in a letter: “The risk/return characteristics are far less attractive than in the past.”

In his letter, Mr Lahde said he expected the collapse in value of subprime mortgage-linked securities to be repeated for bonds backed by commercial property loans in a deep recession – which he also predicts.

“Our entire banking system is a complete disaster,” he wrote. “In my opinion, nearly every major bank would be insolvent if they marked their assets to market.” He also said he would be putting some of his own profits into gold and other precious metals.

Iggles Spread Watch

"AJ Feeley makes a perfect pass" (no one listens to Atrios)


It must be remembered that elite print journalism, a profession of namby pamby arty farty posers, is a heavily unionized profession.

Evening Thread



I don't know why Joe Klein is the way he is.

The more interesting question is why he has managed to be more or less continuously employed by our elite media outlets for so many years. But that's true of a lot of people.

New Train

New light rail system in Charlotte. Seems to be popular as a novelty at least for the moment. I don't know Charlotte at all so I can't even make a half-assed determination about whether it'll work more generally there in the short run. Longer term it seems to be a fairly ambitious and comprehensive plan, and if development around the system is allowed to happen in a sensible fashion it certainly could be good.

Conspiracy Theories

What, you mean like this conspiracy theory?

Bizarro World

If conservatives seized on a mirror image of the journalistic clusterfuckery of Joe Klein it wouldn't stop at Glennzilla beating up on him and the rest of us laughing at him. Drudge would put up a big siren. Limbaugh would spend a week turning Joe Klein into public enemy #1 for his dittoheads. Howie Kurtz would devote several columns to the "controversy" and devote his show to the topic, likely with commentary from Laura Ingraham. Instapundit would suggest that Joe Klein was working for "the other side." Bill O'Reilly would send a Fox News camera crew to his house. The New York Post would run his mug on the front page with a nice big cruel headline. The conservative blogosphere would unearth a picture of Joe Klein with his children (no idea if he has any, but if he does) and declare that they are now "fair game," digging up and publicizing as many personal details about them as they could find. All of this would continue until Joe was fired and Rick Stengel and Jay Carney apologized to Hugh Hewitt.

Just sayin'.


I will make the bold prediction that the Eagles will beat... the spread (okay, it wasn't that bold of a prediction) due to the awesomeness of AJ Feeley.

Wingnut Fight

Frederick of Hollywood says Fox has been mean to him.

He Is Small

Glennzilla beats up on Joke Line.

Wanker of the Day

Mark Halperin.

Better Reporting

There's nothing especially pernicious here but still it's probably time to push back more strongly on bad housing market reporting.

First, it's this kind of thinking about housing which helped cause the bubble in the first place.

Home prices will keep falling and foreclosure rates nationally will keep rising at least until the end of next year, they said. And some predictions contend that the market won't right itself until 2010.

Implicit is the idea that when the market manages to "right itself" that housing prices will, as dictated by God and Nature, continue to appreciate. It's more appropriate to think of the market as righting itself now, as sticky too high prices finally begin to fall.

And this is just silly.

Government officials have offered many proposals to help struggling homeowners with subprime loans whose rates are scheduled to increase. Some industry observers, however, question how useful these measures will be, noting much of the legislation is bogged down in Congress. Before they take effect, some borrowers likely will have to give up their homes because they can't keep up with the payments, experts say.

We don't need any "experts" to predict something which is happening right now.
Lots of borrowers have already lost their homes - and their investment properties - and many more will do so over the coming months and years.

And this:

Subprime adjustable-rate mortgages are largely to blame for the current housing mess. Borrowers were able to purchase homes because these ARMs carried super-low interest rates at first. When they adjust, many homeowners may not be able to afford the higher monthly payments, leading to a spike in defaults and foreclosures.

Nearly 150,000 subprime mortgages are scheduled to reset each month through the end of next year, according to the Federal Reserve, causing the typical monthly payment to rise about $350, or 25 percent. Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, predicts that losses on outstanding loans could balloon to $400 billion, though some experts feel that number is too high.

While subprime has become a general term for "shitty loans," the fact is the problem isn't the subprime market specifically - buyers with poor credit - but all of the shitty loans with crazy terms that were being handed out to everybody. And while the coming reset wave - again, not just on subprime loans but on lots of shitty loans - isn't going to help things, a lot of the foreclosures are happening even before the resets occur. People were being given loans they couldn't afford from day 1.

The point is that a lot of the shitty loans weren't actually in the "subprime" category. They were given to people with perfectly decent incomes and credit at terms they couldn't possibly afford over the long run because the loan balances were too large and the interest rates, especially but not only once the teaser rates and payment schedules expired, were absurd.

(ht reader m)


I can't tell if Joe Klein is still completely in the dark about the FISA legislation that he perpetually is incapable of understanding or if this is just some incredibly sloppy writing (he keeps confusing basket warrants with any kind of oversight of those warrants), but we have learned who Joe's sources on these issues are.

It's All High School

It's so depressing that genuinely serious issues are, to the Villagers, nothing more than who's up/who's down. Achieving peace isn't important, but Condi Rice's "legacy" is.

Rice Reaches for Legacy in Mideast Talks

The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 20, 2007; 9:12 AM

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump says she can't close a deal. The pope politely declined to meet with her, saying he was on vacation.

When Condoleezza Rice travels overseas, the local papers don't do big photo spreads anymore. At home, Rice is feuding with congressional Democrats and scrambling to counter recent embarrassments including the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians by the State Department's hired bodyguards.

The rock star diplomat has become the workaday American secretary of state, with all the advantages and all the baggage that the title and Rice's long association with President Bush and the Iraq war entail.

Rock star diplomat? Where do they find these people? And it isn't just the AP. This "Condi's legacy" theme is everywhere.

While the Bush administration has worked to suppress expectations for the Middle East peace conference Tuesday in Annapolis, observers say the professional and political stakes for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are much harder to minimize.

An outcome resembling success could restore some of the former Stanford professor's diplomatic credibility, they say, and perhaps add a line to her career's postscript that doesn't contain the word "Iraq."

Something less than success could extinguish whatever progress she has fostered as the president's top diplomat in the past three years, and perhaps worsen relations with a part of the world considered vital to American security and foreign policy.

"She's about a year or so away from being judged as a kind of inconsequential secretary of state," said Aaron David Miller, a Middle East expert and adviser to six secretaries of state, and a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

A year or so away? My God.

And even here.

An ardent football fan, Rice is hoping to rewrite her legacy in the next 14 months, beginning with what amounts to a Hail Mary pass this week at a Mideast peace conference that she has organized in Annapolis, Md.

More than any other Bush administration initiative, the conference to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace is Rice's, with Bush mostly supporting from the sidelines. Rice has traveled to the Middle East eight times this year to assemble the conference and has staked her reputation on its outcome.

''This is basically her baby,'' said William Quandt, a University of Virginia scholar who worked on the first Camp David peace talks under President Jimmy Carter.

Rice's effort got a boost Friday, when Saudi Arabia and several other Arab countries grudgingly said they would attend the meeting. That could give Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, both of whom are weak politically, some cover to make compromises.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Guests: Mary Matalin and Mike Murphy, Republican strategists; Bob Shrum and James Carville, Democratic strategists.

•“Fox News Sunday,” Guests: former Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican; Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican; Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat.

•ABC’s “This Week,” Guests: Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat.

•CBS’ “Face the Nation,” 9:30 a.m. on Channel 13; 1 a.m. Monday on Channel 5 — Guest: retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni.

•CNN’s“Late Edition,” Guests: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican; former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi; Saeb Erekat, Palestinian envoy; Miri Eisen, spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.


Rock on.