Saturday, March 22, 2008


Saturday Night Thread


Deep Thought

The internets have been with us for quite awhile now, and still there are people who think that the generous use of capital letters is an effective debating tactic.

Oh My

I believe the YouTube era begins the age when it is impossible to tell parody/irony/performance art from completely sincere product.


Enjoying your basketball, are you?

Local Activity

Saw a lot of Clinton supporters out on the streets today and not so many Obama supporters, though whether my route through the city was representative of anything I have no idea. Obama people did have a registration table at the Reading Terminal Market and I didn't see one from Clinton people.

No Dirty Fucking Hippies Allowed

It's absurd but nonetheless completely normal that 5 years later, anti-war voices are almost completely missing from our mainstream public discourse and all of the idiots who cheered this thing on are given platform after platform to describe their intellectual journey or whatever. I don't really understand the degree of narcissism that many of them exhibit, unable to recognize that what the world really needs is for them to shut the fuck up and turn their microphones over to people who didn't cheer on this horrible disaster.

Wanker of the Day

Jeffrey Goldberg.



The reaction of some of Mr. Clinton’s allies suggests that might have been a wise decision. “An act of betrayal,” said James Carville, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton and a friend of Mr. Clinton.

“Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic,” Mr. Carville said, referring to Holy Week.

(ht reader r)


Over there.

Four more US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, bringing the death toll since the invasion in 2003 close to 4,000.

The US military said that in the latest incident on Saturday, three soldiers died when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb north-west of Baghdad.

Another soldier died from injuries sustained in an attack south on Friday.

Morning Thread

See, a person could waste a whole day doing this sort of thing.

I blame Atrios.

--Molly I.

Overnight Thread

Friday, March 21, 2008

More Thready Goodness

Friday Night Thread

You're on your own.

No flirting.


Fun in the California sun.

Indio, with nearly 1,500 homes in foreclosure in the city's limits, is leading valley cities in taking a stand.

A new law goes into effect April 4 targeting abandoned homes with overgrown landscaping, stagnant pools and other eyesores that scream "empty" to squatters.

The law requires that abandoned properties be registered with the city and maintained. If not, the owner - usually the bank in foreclosed situations - could face fines or criminal prosecution.


In Desert Hot Springs, where abandoned homes also are being used for unsupervised parties by youths, a similar ordinance was approved Tuesday by its City Council.

In Palm Springs, the subject of abandoned buildings including homes was discussed at a recent City Council study session.

The problem Indio and other cities face with foreclosed homes is not knowing who the owner of a home is and who is responsible for its maintenance.

Homeowners are walking away from their homes without notifying their lenders, Meadows said.

And banks in some cases won't take responsibility for properties until more than six months into the foreclosure process, he said.

Deep Thought

This is all excellent news for Rudy Giuliani.

Noted Without Comment

Bill Clinton, today:

It'd be a great thing if we had an election where you had two people who love this country, who were devoted to the interest of the country and people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues instead of all this other stuff which always seems to intrude on our politics.


Nice scam.

LOS ANGELES — In August 2007, investigator Eric Bremner found evidence in a shredder at Olympic Escrow that he says confirmed borrowers' complaints that they had never signed the mortgage documents that pushed them into a financial hell.

Bremner found pieces of documents that had been cut to remove signatures and notary seals. Loan applications, escrow agreements and other documents had signatures that had been taped on, he said.


The group is accused of targeting unknowing homeowners whose homes had escalated in value by offering dreamlike mortgage refinancing offers, with promises of cash back and lower monthly payments, Bremner said.

Victims later learned they had been locked into high-interest rate loans, excessive fees and unfavorable terms. In some cases, the cash back never materialized.

Late Tuesday, the alleged ringleader in the scam, 25-year-old Eric Pony, and his sister, Paulette Pony, 23, turned themselves in to police to face charges including conspiracy, grand theft, forgery and elder abuse. Five other suspects were also arrested.


For Tracylyn Sharrit, 40, the regulations would be too late. After meeting with Eric Pony, she said she found her signature forged on loan documents and the monthly payments on her three-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot home in San Bernardino jumped from $1,070 to $1,868.

The money promised to her in an equity cash-out has been whittled away on fees, and her loan amount ballooned from $167,000 to more than $260,000.

Sounds like they conned some people into signing up for shitty mortgages with bait and switch tactics, and just went ahead and forged documents for others.

Wanker of the Day

Anne-Marie Slaughter.

The Press And Clinton

As I wrote before, while it would be absurd to claim that Clinton is treated well be the press - she's treated horribly in general - it's also the case that anyone else would be subjected to a louder and increasingly derisive drumbeat for her to get out of the race.

I'm not saying that would be right, either, but that's the way it would be.


Andy Sullivan confirms what I'd long thought: he thought Iraq was a terrific idea because he hates hippies.

He is a Very Serious Person.

And Around And Around

Clinton campaign sez Rice told them her passport file was accessed in 2007.

Fresh Thread

Got some errands to run. Life sure is a pain sometimes.


So the State Department realized they had a problem with Obama's passport file when a reporter started asking questions?

Who told the reporter?

Oh Well

You know, it's their job to try to make sense of the news and explain it to the rest of us. David Gregory, 7/22/07:

Mr. KARL ROVE: (July 8) I think Iraq may or may not be the big issue. It
depends on where Iraq is by March or April or May of next year. I think it's
likely not to be the dominant issue because I think--I--because of my
assumptions about where it is--where I think it's likely to be.

MATTHEWS: Where they serving Kool-Aid out there in Aspen or what? `It may
not be the big issue.'

What's he know that you know?

Mr. DAVID GREGORY: (NBC News Chief White House Correspondent): Well, that's
the question. I mean, how can Karl Rove possibly know where things are going
to be? Either he knows that the president's going to pull out, you know, a
lot faster than people think and the president's saying or that somehow things
are going to improve in a way that people can anticipate.

MATTHEWS: Mm. OK, report, David. What do you think it is? Do you think
there's a chance there is a secret plan to yank?

Mr. GREGORY: Well, yeah, I don't know there's a secret plan. I think
there's no question that Bush wants to change the footprint. In other words,
bring troops home. And I think by next spring, we're not going to be at
160,000 troops. Maybe it's less than 100,000. Our role is redefined.


Broder's boy bounces all the way to 30% in latest Fox poll.

(ht pony boy)

The Stupidest People In The World

I was going to let this go, but I just can't. Will "Too Stupid To Tie Shoes" Saletan wrote his little "How a supergenius like me helped cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people" piece for Slate as a list of "lessons learned." All relatively innocuous until you get to the last one.

8. Consider the opportunity cost. The problem with dumb war isn't that it's war. The problem is that it costs you the military, economic, and political resources to fight a smart war. Everything Bush wrongly attributed to Iraq turns out to be true of Iran. But we can't confront Iran with the force it probably requires, because we wasted our resources in Iraq. Americans, having been suckered in Iraq, won't accept evidence of Iran's nuclear program. Countries that might have supported us in a strike on Iran won't do so now, since we led them astray. Our coffers have been emptied to pay for the Iraq occupation. Our troops are physically and spiritually exhausted. In the name of strength, Bush has made us weak.

In other words, the real problem with the Iraq war is that it's made it impossible to... repeat the mistake with Iran.

Our discourse is ruled by monstrous fools. Why can't Saletan just go back to telling women how they're supposed to feel when they have abortions?

Richardson Endorses Obama

Sez CNN. Surprises me, anyway.

Deep Thought


Thursday, March 20, 2008

2008: An Internet Odyssey

My God! It's full of stupid!


Bill O'Reilly wants to have me be deported.

And Around We Go

Maybe they can hire Joe DiGenova to defend them.
Two contract employees of the State Department were fired and a third person was disciplined for inappropriately looking at Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's passport file.

Spokesman Sean McCormack Thursday night confirmed instances of what he called "imprudent curiosity" by the State Department employees.

McCormack said the department itself detected the breaches, which occurred separately on Jan. 9, Feb. 21 and March 14.


Talk talk talk.

Evening Thread



They really are stupid things.

Nice One, Joe

Joe Klein on CNN just now:

Maybe the operative metaphor here isn't drowning but a giant stingray landing in Obama's boat.

Always classy, that one.

...For those not living in cable news hell, the big story of the day is a stingray leaping onto a boat and killing a woman.

Who Cares What They Think?

Glenn correctly mocks Slate doing yet another round of "how could all of you intellectual and moral superhuman liberal hawks have fucked the whole world up."

But in the credit where credit is due file, we have Tim Noah.

A larger question, though: Why should you waste your time, at this late date, ingesting the opinions of people who were wrong about Iraq? Wouldn't you benefit more from considering the views of people who were right? Five years after this terrible war began, it remains true that respectable mainstream discussion about its lessons is nearly exclusively confined to people who supported the war, even though that same mainstream acknowledges, for the most part, that the war was a mistake. That's true of Slate's symposium, and it was true of a similar symposium that appeared March 16 on the New York Times' op-ed pages. The people who opposed U.S. entry into the Iraq war, it would appear, are insufficiently "serious" to explain why they were right.

Not A Choice

Rick Perlstein:

The right has thrown down the gauntlet: rehabilitate Bush, to rehabilitate conservatism, and if they can't do that, sever Bush from conservatism.

The thing is, they just can't "sever Bush from conservatism." The entire conservative movement hung it all on Iraq. Huggy Bear is hanging it all on Iraq. At the moment Iraq is the conservative movement. There's nothing else. The only way to sever bush from conservatism is to sever conservatism from Iraq. And they can't.

Summer of the Stingray


Campaigns and Bloggers

For the 5 people who care about this stuff, neither the Obama campaign nor the Clinton campaign have been super awesome about reaching out to people like me in a general sense, though they may be doing so in a more targeted way which I'm not party to, but the Obama campaign has been significantly better.

By reaching out I don't mean kissing up to, just distributing speeches and appearance info and general information like that.

This post isn't meant as criticism, just observation.

Oddly Quiet

The campaigns haven't descended into PA the way I had expected. Not yet, anyway. But there is some more under the radar stuff.

Sen. Barack Obama called into sports radio 610 WIP this morning, charming the usually rambuctious morning talk show hosts and winning their endorsements.

"People are really swept up [by this candidate]," said host Al Morganti. "It's almost like teenaged girls at a concert. It's goofy"

Before Obama's interview even began at 8 a.m., jocks Angelo Cataldi and Morganti greeted the Democratic presidential hopeful with a scatted, and offkey, rendition of "Hail to the Chief."

Obama's five-minute appearance didn't even touch on sports. The hosts, both entralled by the candidate's charisma, addressed him as if he were a rock star. It was more love fest than Meet The Press.

Both Obama and Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the April 22 Pennsylvania primary, are using the radio to connect with potential voters. Clinton was a guest on Chris Booker's Q102 morning show March 11.

Complete Wankery Perhaps

But...oddly possible.

Doesn't Know Anything About Anything

But McCain has strong foreign policy experience, though what that experience is no one can actually explain.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Definitely at sustained higher levels.

The number of US workers filing initial claims for unemployment aid climbed 22,000 last week, while the overall number on the benefit rolls hit a 3-1/2 year high a week earlier, the government said Thursday.


The Labor Department said 378,000 initial claims for jobless benefits were filed in the week ended March 15, up from 356,000 in the prior week. Economists had expected a rise to just 360,000.

The increase pushed a four-week moving average of claims, which gives a better underlying signal on the state of the labor market, to 365,250, the highest level since October 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Are There Any Republicans Left?

Apparently not.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Five-term western New York Congressman Thomas Reynolds is not seeking re-election this year.

The 57-year-old Republican lawmaker from Erie County will make the announcement at a news conference scheduled for noon Thursday in his Buffalo-area district, according someone familiar with Reynolds' decision. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement hasn't been made yet.

Already, 30 Republicans who started in the 110th Congress won't be in the 11th. Even aside from the party issue that's something to be cheered. I don't like term limits, but it's still good when there's some new blood in Congress.

They Write Letters

Patricia Ward Kelly writes to the New York Times:

Re “Soft Shoe in Hard Times” (column, March 16):

Surely it must have been a slip for Maureen Dowd to align the artistry of my late husband, Gene Kelly, with the president’s clumsy performances. To suggest that “George Bush has turned into Gene Kelly” represents not only an implausible transformation but a considerable slight. If Gene were in a grave, he would have turned over in it.

When Gene was compared to the grace and agility of Jack Dempsey, Wayne Gretzky and Willie Mays, he was delighted. But to be linked with a clunker — particularly one he would consider inept and demoralizing — would have sent him reeling.

Graduated with a degree in economics from Pitt, Gene was not only a gifted dancer, director and choreographer, he was also a most civilized man. He spoke multiple languages; wrote poetry; studied history; understood the projections of Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes. He did the Sunday Times crossword in ink. Exceedingly articulate, Gene often conveyed more through movement than others manage with words.

Sadly, President Bush fails to communicate meaningfully with either. For George Bush to become Gene Kelly would require impossible leaps in creativity, erudition and humility.

Patricia Ward Kelly
Los Angeles, March 16, 2008

Morning thread subject:


Not Atrios

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No, Really?

The catchup is getting old.

They took out adjustable-rate mortgages at the peak of the housing bubble to buy homes they would otherwise not be able to afford. Or they refinanced existing mortgages to take cash out. And now, two or three years later, the day of reckoning is here.

These are not lower- and middle-income borrowers, but more affluent consumers with annual incomes of $100,000 or more who are increasingly being ensnared in the home mortgage crisis.


According to Loan Performance, a unit of First American CoreLogic, a real estate information company based in Santa Ana, Calif., about 870,000 borrowers took jumbo ARMs — mortgages of $417,000 or more — from 2005 to 2007.

As some of us have been trying to explain for a long time, "subprime" was a category of borrower, and ARMs and other types of "exotic" mortgages were loan types. While in some areas subprime borrowers were probably more vulnerable to predatory loan tactics, this has never been a "subprime" problem. If I had to describe simply if imperfectly what the problem was, I'd say it was a lax lending standards problem. Years ago I said these stupid loan terms were a bad idea, but I had no idea then that not only were stupid loans being given out but that they were being given out to people who had no hope of repaying them.

Snip Snip

If they have to edit the videos to fit their story, they'll do it.

I'm under no illusions that there ever was some golden age of journalism, but it'd be nice if more actual journalists who imagine such a thing would speak up now and then.

The Two Johns

Iraqi Oil edition.


Jane Harman, Joe Klein's favorite Democrat, is awesome.

I approached Harman with notepad in hand and told her that I’d been involved in our reporting the year before on the NSA eavesdropping program. “I’m trying to square what I heard in there,” I said, “with what we know about that program.” Harman’s golden California tan turned a brighter shade of red. She knew exactly what I was talking about. Shooing away her aides, she grabbed me by the arm and drew me a few feet away to a more remote section of the Capitol corridor.

“You should not be talking about that here,” she scolded me in a whisper. “They don’t even know about that,” she said, gesturing to her aides, who were now looking on at the conversation with obvious befuddlement. “The Times did the right thing by not publishing that story,” she continued. I wanted to understand her position. What intelligence capabilities would be lost by informing the public about something the terrorists already knew – namely, that the government was listening to them? I asked her. Harman wouldn’t bite. “This is a valuable program, and it would be compromised,” she said. I tried to get into some of the details of the program and get a better understanding of why the administration asserted that it couldn’t be operated within the confines of the courts. Harman wouldn’t go there either. “This is a valuable program,” she repeated. This was clearly as far as she was willing to take the conversation, and we didn’t speak again until months later, after the NSA story had already run. By then, Harman’s position had undergone a dramatic transformation. When the story broke publicly, she was among the first in line on Capitol Hill to denounce the administration’s handling of the wiretapping program, declaring that what the NSA was doing could have been done under the existing FISA law.


It doesn't quite come through in the transcript, but the disgust was palpable.

CAFFERTY: Interesting, isn't it, all those 11,000, 12,000 pages of documents released today. What's the first thing that the press corps satisfied their curiosity about? The fact that Hillary Clinton was in the White House the day Monica Lewinsky got the stain on her dress. That moved on one of the wires that I read about at 3:00 this afternoon. Amazing.

Proud of Yourself ABC?

Now that's journamalism!

Truly the Mickey Mouse Network.

Susie Madrak has some ideas.

[Atrios adding that Cafferty had some unkind things to say about this on CNN earlier. Will get transcript when available]


Broder's boy bounces all the way to 31%.

Deep Thought

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."

Wanker of the Day

Dear Abby.

Never Mind

The war is super awesome popular now, with a new poll only showing that people who think it was worth it has surged (ha ha!) to 29%, from a recent low of 25%.

Shocked And Awed

5 years on. While the horror that has been makes this obvious enough, we should never forget that our elites are arrogant and ignorant and feel little responsibility for the problems they create.

Chuck Schumer, over a year ago:

Sen. Charles Schumer, architect of the new Democratic Senate majority, argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the 2008 elections will not center on Iraq.

"I think Iraq will not be as strong an issue in the 2008 elections," said the senior senator from New York, as he enters his second straight cycle as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "I think the surge will fail and the president will have no choice but to begin removing troops."

It's quite possible that there will be enough of a domestic clusterfuck that the election won't "center" on Iraq, though there's certainly evidence that the public is linking the domestic situation with the war.

But, no, there was no chance Bush would ever remove troops unless he was forced to do so.

McCain's Media Defenders

The Weekly Standard and Wall Street Journal are actively running interference for him now.

But the McCain campaign themselves had released this statement:

In a press conference today, John McCain misspoke and immediately corrected himself by stating that Iran is in fact supporting radical Islamic extremists in Iraq, not al-Qaeda – as the transcript shows. Democrats have launched political attacks today because they know the American people have deep concerns about their candidates’ judgment and readiness to lead as commander in chief.


Of course it isn't just Bush, but also almost the entire political-media-industrial complex.

The light's at the end of the tunnel. It always has been.

The Media And St. McCain

He can do no wrong.

TODD: -- this was not a one-time slip and so, you know, this just shows you how much bank -- how much of the foreign policy experience stuff he's got in the bank, because had Clinton or Obama done something like this, this would have been played on a loop, over and over, and would have absolutely hurt them politically.

He's honest, so he cannot lie, he's supporter of reform, so he cannot be corrupt, and he has "foreign policy experience," so he cannot be wrong.

Welcome to campaign '08.


Broder's boy bounces all the way to 26%.

Genuinely Clueless


Hillary Clinton has stipulated to McCain's qualifications as Commander-in-Chief; and Obama, implicitly, does the same. But his record actually shows he's one of the most dangerous people we could have in the Oval Office in coming years -- not just because he's a hothead in using the military, but more because he seems genuinely clueless about the real challenges and dangers the country is facing. He's too busy living in the fantasy world where our future as a great power and our very safety are all bound up in Iraq.

Increasingly I think McCain is genuinely clueless about pretty much everything, and the press just gives him pass after pass. Unlike most of us, they've apparently enjoyed the last 8 years and the fruits of the last time they gave the clueless fantasyland idiot a pass.

Supporting The Troops

Not really the best way to do it.

Earlier this morning, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) sent Defense Secretary Robert Gates a letter requesting documents about the military’s management of contracts for maintenance of electrical systems in U.S. military facilities in Iraq.

The reason: Because he found out that 12 Army and Marine servicemen have died as a result of electrocution since 2003.

The latest casualty: Staff Sergeant Ryan D. Maseth (pictured), a Special Forces soldier from Pennsylvania, who was electrocuted while taking a shower in his living quarters in Radwaniyeh Palace Complex in Baghdad on January 2.


Had some errands to run this morning, took longer than expected...

Well Okay Then

For you dial uppers.

More Thread

Atrios must have slept in on this grey day. And honestly, can you blame him?

--Molly I.


What's been going on?

Not Atrios

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Two Johns

Since I haven't yet posted this.

...and here's another.

Late Night

I'm sleepy.

Arthur C. Clarke RIP

Dead at 90.

Evening Thread


Deep Thought

I wonder why Comcast replaced the Cable News Network with the Obama's Pastor Problem network.


Your candidate still sucks, but let's remember the Republicans have chosen a deranged fossil who wants everyone to die in eternal war, doesn't understand or care about the economy or healthcare, and can't tell his pruny old ass from Iran or Al Qaeda. Oh, and who for utterly cynical political reasons cavorts with religious maniacs who hate gays and Catholics and are openly cheering for the end of the world.

From Dreams to Nightmares

I suppose that not long ago most political junkies would have been excited by the possibility of an actual convention floor fight instead of the scripted fake convention we've had in recent years.

But now I imagine most of those same junkies are rather frightened by the prospect.

Be careful what you wish for!

Deep Thought

It suddenly occurs to me that Republicans, conservatives, and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media might say mean and untrue things about the Democratic presidential candidate this year.


Helicopter Ben drops Fed Funds target rate 3/4 point to 2.25%, discount rate drops 3/4 point to 2.5%.

Deep Thought

I had no idea Barack Obama was black until he told us.

Financial Mysteries

Despite a deal selling it to JPMorgan at $2/share, Bear stock is currently trading at close to $7/share.


A few people wrote in wondering where they could see/hear the speech online.

Here you go.

Deep Thought

I wonder why MSNBC has no Democrats on to discuss a speech given during the Democratic primary season.

White and Black, Right and Left

For various reasons I've been rather uninterested in getting into the weeds of the Wright issue, though obviously it's the case that we've had decades of prominent and popular white conservative preachers blasting the evils of America and no one has much cared.

Aside from disparate treatment of left and right and black and white in our mainstream discourse, there's also a difference in the basic narrative provided. The narrative from the Right - and its representatives in the conservative religious community - is of an America which was once the garden of Eden, until its tragic fall at the hands of (feminists, liberals, civil rights movement, whatever), and they wish to bring the country back to its former state. Thus they can hate the America that is while dreaming of the perfect America that was. Thus there's no conflict between their unquestioned patriotism and their hatred of the country, as their patriotism is for the True America that was, not its current corrupted incarnation

While the mirror image rhetoric from the Left is about a country which was flawed, often tragically so, but which has the capacity for improvement. Be disgusted with the country as it was and is, while hoping for an evolution to a better country.

Don't Know Nothing

Not having spent time around the man I can't say for sure, but given some hints here and there in the press and elsewhere I think I've figured out how John McCain operates. Despite his reputation for "straight talk" he's just the ultimate pandering politician, and this isn't simply cynical politics but something woven deep into his persona. He likes to please! And how better to please the chattering classes, enamored as they are of their own smarts, than to agree with them! About everything! All the time! That's how they know he's a straight talking smart dude, because he just throws what they say to him back at them with a knowing nod.

So you get these Joe Klein contortions.

Matt Yglesias notices that John McCain has gone back to his old, irresponsible, incendiary baloney-slicing on Iraq. You may recall that on the night McCain won the Republican nomination, he--accurately--emphasized sectarian violence as the major threat if the U.S. didn't leave Iraq carefully. Now he's back to his utterly bogus "victory" or "defeat" in the war against Al Qaeda.

Joe Klein knows what the "real" John McCain thinks! That real McCain is the one that sat down and chatted with Joe, or someone Joe knows and trusts, and said some stuff that Joe is more likely to agree with. Then poor John McCain has to go face those stupid voters and tell them some other stuff and it's all so sad.

My question for our press corps on the sainted John McCain - has he ever shown any core understanding on any serious issue? Yes we know he spent time in a POW camp - awful - but that doesn't mean he has any clue or expertise about what's, you know, actually going on in Iraq.

Nobody Could Have Predicted...

That Chris Cox would be an ineffective hack.

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox was asked on March 11 if he was concerned about the financial condition of Bear Stearns Cos.

``We have a good deal of comfort about the capital cushions at these firms at the moment,'' Cox told reporters.

Three days later, the Federal Reserve said it was pumping emergency funds into the 85-year-old securities firm through JPMorgan Chase & Co., the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets. On March 16, JPMorgan announced it was buying Bear Stearns for $2 a share, or $240 million in stock, 90 percent less than the company's market value last week.


Here's Obama's speech.

"That Can't Be Good For the Economy..."

Sez CNBC talker about the falling dollar. While for those of us who like to take the occasional trip to that socialist fascist caliphate known as Old Yurp it isn't good, count me among those who think the falling dollar is probably long overdue and necessary. We've been running that supposedly "unsustainable" trade deficit for years.

Not All Big Guys

Adding to the post below that of course I realize that not all Bear employees were "big guys." Many were just cube rats.

Weep for the Big Guys

Would it be possible to occasionally write one of these weepies when, say, an auto plant shuts down?

For James E. Cayne, the firm’s chairman and former chief executive, holding on to his Bear stock was a point of pride, and he rarely, if ever, sold. A billionaire just over a year ago when Bear’s stock soared past $160, his 5.8 million shares are now worth about $28 million at Monday’s closing price of $4.81.

Mr. Schwartz has 1.02 million shares, according to Bloomberg News.

Across the firm, executives and employees declined to speak publicly, a reflection of the fluid events as well as a reluctance to anger their prospective bosses from JPMorgan who were already on the premises Monday, appraising their new investment.

But privately they expressed raw dismay, their voices heavy with sadness and shock.

“My life has been flushed down the drain,” said one person. There was talk Monday that with their life savings nearly depleted, some executives had moved quickly, putting their weekend homes on the market.

Morning Thread

Hey, kids.

--Molly I.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Rock on.

Fresh Thread


The Puke Funnel

So nice of the NYT to employ its spout.


Tom Weber:

If you’re paying attention to the economy, television ads these days can have a “Pleasantville” quality. In that movie, Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon play teenagers magically transported to a fictional town from a ’50s sitcom. Pleasantville is an innocent place, free of worry until the future kids arrive.

In TV ads at the moment, some of the fictional characters seem trapped in a yesteryear, too. It’s a time when the stock market was climbing or at least holding its own, and recession seemed like a distant possibility. In this world of ads, most people are still living it up–though a few seem aware that not all is right.

As I've written several times before, it's been a long time since there's been a severe downturn and much of the country has lost any psychological connection to the possibility. Yes there have been regions which have done badly and of course individuals have had personal financial hardships, but there hasn't been an extended national moderate-to-severe downturn since the early Reagan years.

Things could be weird.

No Florida Do-Over

So sez various news outlets.

And on it goes.

Ending the War

A plan.

Darcy Burner (WA-8), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Donna Edwards (MD-4), Jared Polis (CO-2), Tom Perriello (VA-5) and Sam Bennett (PA-15) will be in attendance at the unveiling of a detailed strategy document at the Take Back America Conference in Washington, DC. The release of the document will take place at:

Palladian Room
Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert St. NW Washington, DC
5:30 pm EST

Other challengers .participating in the effort but unable to attend include Eric Massa (NY-29), Larry Byrnes (FL-14), George Fearing (WA-4), and Steve Harrison (NY-13).

Originating outside the Beltway and based on consultations with retired generals and other national security experts on a path forward to end the war, the challengers' document lays out a series of actions for Congress to take to end United States military involvement in Iraq, strengthen America and improve our standing around the world, restore accountability and checks and balances to our government and work toward energy independence.

"I wholeheartedly endorse this plan as a responsible and forward looking plan for ending the war in Iraq. As Burner and her colleagues correctly note, bringing our troops home is the first, but not the only step that must be taken to ensure a debacle like Iraq never happens again," said Dr. Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. "This plan addresses the root causes that allowed the Bush Administration to lead this country into this mess, and sets us in the right direction. I applaud their efforts on this ambitious and sound strategy. This is progressive strength on national security in action."

Presentation should start in a couple of minutes. Watch it here.

Full plan here.

Fresh Thread


Because It's Time For a New Surrogate Controversy

Elton John.

Sir Elton John has a new Candle in the Wind.

Mr. John, the legendary British pop crooner who memorialized the late Princess Diana by rewriting the lyrics to his song, “Candle in the Wind,” will be holding a “one night only” solo concert on behalf of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign on April 9 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

John on religion:

LONDON - Organized religion fuels anti-gay discrimination and other forms of bias, pop star Elton John said in an interview published Saturday.

“I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people,” John said in the Observer newspaper’s Music Monthly Magazine. “Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays.”

“But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion,” he said. “From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.”

Let the denouncing and renouncing begin!

A Floor Wax And A Dessert Topping

JMM on why the Fed could "make" Bear sell at a price which some think is actually a bit on the cheap side.

One, that Bear Stearns execs were unwilling to go into bankruptcy because of a various forms of criminal liability they would face -- and that everyone would be so pissed about the collateral damage of the bank's collapse that everyone would want to not only execute them but also have them drawn and quartered (in case you only know the phrase and not what it actually means: not pretty). Two, there's so much crap on Bear Stearns' books that $2 per share is just a fair price, even with the Fed assuming a lot of the potential liability.

I'd say it's probably a bit of both. The execs just want to wash their hands and run away before it comes out just how bad they screwed things up (whether criminal acts or not), and they did screw up so much that Bear really wasn't worth all that much, especially if they did just collapse and start bringing down other bits of the system with them.

Pretty Tall

Philly grows up.

The American Commerce Center, at a proposed 1,500 feet, would be 525 feet higher than the Comcast Center, now Philly's tallest building at 975 feet, a block away.

It would surpass the Empire State Building's 1,250 feet.
waxed poetic in its description of what's happening:

"Your Philly skyline is about to change. About to incur a growth spurt. About to shatter any notion of Philadelphian reservedness, about to take A New Day A New Way to a whole other level."

Generating this excitement is the proposal to construct what would be a mix of retail, hotel and office space - and even a movie theater - in an $800 million, 2.2-million-square-foot skyscraper on what is now a parking lot.

Initial looks suggests this is a good urban project, with the appropriate street level retail.

Nacchio Conviction Overturned

Next trial could be more interesting.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Nottingham presided over the District Court trial.

Nacchio, 58, argued on appeal that he should be granted a new trial because of flawed jury instructions, the wrongful exclusion of a defense expert witness and rulings related to his classified information defense. He also contended that the case should be thrown out because there was insufficient evidence for conviction.


The first key point here is that there are massive and varied financial institutions which behave pretty much like banks do but aren't under the regulatory thumb that banks are, and now the Fed has given them access to the cookie jar without bringing them under the regulatory framework.

The second key point is that it seems that there's still a failure to understand just what a pile of shit Big Shitpile actually is. Steve Forbes was on my teevee this morning saying that we just need to get rid of mark to market accounting, as that was scaring people due to the writedowns. Essentially he was arguing that Big Shitpile wasn't as bad as people thought, but panic has made the assets illiquid.

Unsurprisingly, he's wrong.

Wanker of the Day

Bill Kristol.

As the man says..."Meanwhile"

Something dedicated to the tourists I suppose:

A female suicide bomber attacked a group of Shiite worshippers near a mosque in Karbala on Monday, killing at least 32 people and wounding 51, officials said.

The worshippers were gathered about half a mile from the Imam Hussein shrine, one of the holiest sites for Shiites.

More Thread

Dunno where Dad is, but that one was getting long.

What's for lunch?

--Molly I.

Chicken Game

Playing it.

“A Discovery Bay man who asked not to be identified said he is ‘upside down’ on his house by about $260,000. Instead of bemoaning the situation, he plans to capitalize on it.”

“‘I refinanced a couple of years ago and pulled out $100,000 and put in a fabulous pool,’ he said. ‘Now I’ve got this fabulous pool and fabulous house, but it’s not worth anything. Why shouldn’t I be building equity over the next four to five years instead of playing catch-up?’”

“The man said he has not made a mortgage payment for five months.”

“‘I’m playing the bank game,’ he said. ‘I’m playing chicken with them. I already got them to agree to put (the unpaid) payments on the tail end of the loan. What I’m really pushing them to do is to (adjust my mortgage) for the current market value and write off the rest. I’d love (to have it) lopped down to a $450,000 basis rather than $710,000.’”

“If the bank won’t negotiate, he’ll walk away, the man said.”


This will help.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush will make a statement on the economy on Monday following a morning meeting with top economic advisers, the White House said.

Deep Thought

More people read this site every day than go to Rick Warren's church every week, but I don't expect Terry MacAuliffe to know who the hell I am. And I've met him.


Alan Greenspan goes for another round of "IT'S NOT MY FAULT WAHHH." And, of course, in our current corrupt and depraved system, nobody "serious" will try to hold him or anyone else accountable. Poor Uncle Alan, he couldn't have known and he couldn't have done anything if he did.

I was thinking about the housing bubble and why most of the "experts" failed to see that there was a problem, and I realized it's because they're all rich. There was one unavoidable and obvious fact that was apparent to anyone who isn't especially rich, and that's that there was no possible way that many households in this country had large enough incomes to be able to afford the monthly mortgage payments they were supposed to be paying, even without ridiculous interest rate resets. There just aren't enough people who make enough money to support that many $800,000 homes.

And That's Why They Paid Him The Big Bucks

Nice work:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bear Stearns Cos Inc (BSC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) Chairman Jimmy Cayne was playing cards in a tournament late last week while his company's future appeared to be at risk, according a published report.

As the bank hammered out an emergency funding deal on Thursday with the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), which resulted in Bear's shares falling by as much as half, Cayne was playing in the North American Bridge Championship in Detroit, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site on Friday.

Cayne, who in January stepped down as Bear Stearns' long-time chief executive, is no stranger to controversy about his hobbies. Last year he was criticized for spending too much time playing bridge and golf while Bear stumbled on wrong-way bets on subprime mortgages.

Morning Thread

I learned last night on HBO's John Adams that the Declaration of Independence was written by Vikings and that John Dickenson was the original "heh and/or indeed" guy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


This is probably more appropriate.

Invasion Strategy

June 2002.

Col. John Agoglia, who served as a war planner for Gen. Tommy Franks at the United States Central Command, said the idea of using the Iraqi Army had long been an element of the invasion strategy.

“Before the campaign started we already had it as a premise of our planning,” said Colonel Agoglia, who serves as the director of the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute of the Army. “Starting in June 2002 we conducted targeted psychological operations using pamphlet drops, broadcasts and all sort of means to get the message to the regular army troops that they should surrender or desert and that if they did we would bring them back as part of a new Iraq without Saddam.”

June 2002.

Us dirty fucking hippies should sleep easy. The rest of you can have your Ambien.

Late Night

Rock on.

More Lucky Duckies


Many well-known investors, from billionaire Joe Lewis to Bruce Sherman, the head of Legg Mason Inc.'s Private Capital Management Inc. money-management firm, have seen the value of their stakes in Bear Stearns plummet. The pain could be most acute for Bear Stearns's employees, who are steeped in a culture of personal ownership -- and hold about a third of the firm's shares outstanding.

Bear has over 14,000 employees.


Perhaps moreso than any other major investment securities firm, Bear promoted a culture of circled wagons, an us-against-the world camaraderie. As part of that effort, the investment bank paid a significant portion of its employees’ compensation in stock. On its Web site, Bear says that its employees own about one-third of the firm. That translates into about a $5.23 billion loss on paper for Bear’s employees over the last year, as the firm’s stock plunged 79.4 percent.

While presumably not evenly distributed across employees, that amounts to about $375K per employee.


Holy crap.

Bear Stearns Cos. reached an agreement to sell itself to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., as worries grew that failing to find a buyer for the beleaguered investment bank could cause the crisis of confidence gripping Wall Street to worsen.

The deal calls for J.P. Morgan to pay $2 a share in a stock-swap transaction, with J.P. Morgan Chase exchanging 0.05473 share of its common stock for each Bear Stearns share. Both companies' boards have approved the transaction, which values Bear Stearns at just $236 million based on the number of shares outstanding as of Feb. 16. At Friday's close, Bear Stearns's stock-market value was about $3.54 billion. It finished at $30 a share in 4 p.m. New York Stock Exchange composite trading Friday.

On Dec. 31 Bear Stearns closed at $88.25/share.

...and the Fed's in for another $30 billion.

In addition to the financing the Federal Reserve ordinarily provides through its Discount Window, the Fed will provide special financing in connection with this transaction. The Fed has agreed to fund up to $30 billion of Bear Stearns’ less liquid assets.

Capitalism rawks!

...misty watercolored...

Buy Bear Stearns (BSC - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) despite all the toxic hedge fund handwringing, Jim Cramer said Friday on CNBC's "Stop Trading!" segment.

Cramer said that on June 22, 2007, when Bear closed at $143.75/share.

They bought it for $270 million.


Helicopter Ben to the rescue.

March 16 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve reduced the rate on direct loans to commercial banks by a quarter-point and said it will allow primary dealers to borrow at the rate in exchange for a ``broad range'' of investment-grade collateral.

The central bank, in a statement today in Washington, also extended the maximum term of discount-window loans to 90 days from 30 days. The Fed approved the financing arrangement announced by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bear Stearns Cos. JPMorgan separately agreed to buy Bear Stearns for about $2 a share.


Scott Horton:

The Administration attempted to sell the event as a routine personnel turn-over. But Congress and the public weren’t buying. After a series of hearings at which senior members of the Administration committed acts of perjury, there was a public uproar. In its wake the entire senior echelon of political appointees at the Justice Department were forced to leave office under a cloud and subject to an investigation into potentially criminal misconduct, as were a number of senior White House figures, most prominently including Bush’s senior political advisor, Karl Rove.

The storm has died down a bit now as the Justice Department completes its own internal investigation of what happened. This has been led by Inspector General Glenn Fine and by the Office of Professional Responsibility. I understand that this investigation is approaching its conclusion now, and that a report is likely in the course of the spring. The report will almost certainly be explosive.

JPM To The Rescue


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bear Stearns Cos Inc is hoping to announce a deal to sell itself to JPMorgan Chase & Co before Asian markets open on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, as the investment bank struggles to save itself.

Bear Stearns, the fifth-largest U.S. investment bank, could sell itself for around $2.2 billion, the newspaper reported. That would amount to less than $20 a share.

The low sale price, equal to about two-thirds the company's $30.85 closing share price on Friday, signals just how dire the situation is for the 85-year-old investment bank.

Very Serious People

Danielle Pletka, last seen accusing Michael Moore of treason, is one of them.

Radical Action


So the question is: if Bear Stearns screwed up big time - as it did - with huge leverage, reckless investments, lousy risk management and massive underestimation of liquidity risk why should the US taxpayer bail out this firm and its shareholders? First fully wipe out those shareholders, then fire all the senior management and have the government take over such a bankrupt institution before a penny of public money is wasted in bailing it out. Instead now the use of public money to bail out financial institutions is spreading from banking ones to non banking ones. The Fed should at least give a clear and public explanation of why such extremely exceptional - and almost never used - intervention was justified.

Unless public money is used on a very temporary basis to achieve an orderly wind-down or merger of Bear Stearns this is another case where profits are privatized and losses are socialized. By having thrown down the drain the decades old doctrine and rule that the Fed should not lend or bail out non-bank financial institutions the Fed has created an extremely dangerous precedent that seriously aggravates the moral hazard of its lender of last resort support role. If the Fed starts on the slippery slope of providing massive liquidity support to non-bank financial institutions that have recklessly managed their risks it enters into uncharted territory that radically changes its mandate and formal role. Breaking decades-old rules and practices is a radical action that seriously requires a clear public explanation and justification.

No Market for McCain

Still it's been an awesome surge.


30 hours away from a computer. I think that's pretty much a record for me since I started doing this.

"Oh fiddle-dee-dee"

Dana Perino:

The type of missiles that are out there: patriots and scuds and cruise missiles and tomahawk missiles. And I think that men just by osmosis understand all of these things...

Yes, it's called "overcompensating by blowing shit up". That's why they're all phallic.



[there may be some sarcasm in this post]

Dial-up rescue thread

Have at it.

Not Atrios

Bobblehead Thread

Document the atrocities.

ABC's This Week: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Roundtable: Ruth Marcus, Washington Post; Mark Halperin, Time Magazine; Donna Brazile; George Will.

CBS' Face The Nation: Leon Panetta, Clinton Supporter v Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA), Obama Supporter. David Brooks, New York Times; Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune.

CNN's Late Edition: U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Gene Sperling, Clinton Economic Adviser; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain Economic Adviser. Robin Wright, Washington Post. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Clinton Campaign v Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Obama Campaign.

Fox News Sunday: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Clinton supporter v Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Obama supporter. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

NBC's Meet The Press: Bill Bradley, Obama supporter v Nita Lowey (D-NY), Clinton Supporter. David Broder, Washington Post; David Gregory, NBC News; Michele Norris, NPR.

Chris Matthews: Rick Stengel, Time Magazine; Andrea Mitchell, NBC News; Michelle Cottle, The New Republic; Eugene Robinson, Washington Post.

Seven women, and Jeebus only knows how many Dems! Noice!

--Molly I.


Why, you’d almost think this election actually means something.

Not Atrios


Rock on.