Saturday, May 10, 2008


Just to hasten Simels' aneurysm.

Siberian Sex Toys

Because we haven't had any gypsy shit in awhile.

Saturday Night

Rock on.

Battlestar Galactica Spoiler

Laura Roslin's mother is Barbara Bush.


Kick'Em When They're Down

Life's rough.

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. — The foreclosure crisis is hitting yet another American locale: the self-storage center.

As they lose their homes, people are turning to these humble cinderblock and sheet-metal boxes to store their stuff. But some people cannot keep up with their storage bills any better than they could handle their mortgage payments, and storage companies are auctioning off their property for a pittance.

A cottage industry has developed to profit from these lost and abandoned items. The other day in this Chicago suburb, Stephanie Donahou and her son Marcus had only a moment to decide whether to bid on a unit in default. They could see a couch, a sewing machine, a fish tank, a washer and dryer, lots of Christmas wrapping paper, a television and other trappings of daily life.

Fresh Thread


Not Sanctimonious

Just echoing Amanda, I think very often that when you discuss lifestyle choices you've made people assume that there's a level of sanctimony and moral superiority about those choices. You know, I've Made The Right And Good Choices instead of I'm just trying to make the right choices for me. People can be like that but quite often it just isn't the case. I don't own a car because I don't need one and don't like driving. I don't look down on people who buy SUVs, except those assholes who think that a green light plus their giant vehicle penis gives them the right to make a turn into the pedestrian crosswalk without paying attention to the existence of pedestrians. They're useful for some people and even if they're just toys or conspicuous consumption, who cares? I have toys too.

All that is different from criticizing bad policies which encourage people to consume more gas or zoning regulations and government established land use patterns which create incentives which lead people to behave certain ways that are less than ideal in the bigger picture.

...adding I'm not knocking the virtues of personal conservation, just saying that for most of us there probably isn't much room to get all judgmental. SUVs have become a symbol, but how many more jet trips do I get to take every year because I don't have one?

People Are Fascinated

Like BooMan, I read this dispatch from another universe about Jenna's wedding with some puzzlement. To their - and the media's - credit, the Bush twins have been mostly out of the national press for the past 8 years. They didn't "grow up" in the White House, they went off to college. There is no mass public interest in them because there hasn't been sustained coverage of them.

Again, that's not any kind of criticism of them, but let's not pretend they're America's Sweethearts when they just aren't.

Bring'em On

We are ruled by a not very bright child.

Thanks, Villagers!

Barack Obama is Jesus

Just kidding. Anyway, just so people know where I stand on this, it really never mattered much to me who won this nomination, at least once Kodos faded. I leaned various ways at various times, and I became more and more annoyed at the Clinton campaign over time. Obama did a bunch of things that annoyed me too, but not as much recently. I'm sure Hillary Clinton would be a decent president. "Electability" arguments for either of them aren't very persuasive, though smart people on both sides are pretty convinced that their candidate will win and the other will flame out spectacularly.

At this point, however, Obama's won. There's no nomination path for her which doesn't involve rewriting the rules in a way which would never be seen as legitimate, or a massive shift in superdelegates which would likewise be problematic, and even those paths range from unlikely to impossible. I don't think Clinton has to drop out. She can continue to campaign through to the last contest if she wants (she doesn't need my permission to do so), though hopefully this article is correct and the, uh, emphasis of the campaign shifts away from Obama's supposed lack of appeal to real Americans.

One wishes we could've rewound things to about March 4 and had a more substantive campaign, instead of the identity politics-based Freak Show campaign we've had since then. It isn't all the candidates' fault, of course, as you go to campaign with the media you have and not the media you want. But I've never bought into the excuse that there aren't enough policy differences between the two candidates for that conversation to matter.

Troubles for Liddy

I don't really know anything about Kay Hagan, but it appears Liddy Dole might have a wee fight in November.

"Stuck It Out"

Inqy real estate columnist.

We decided to pretend we were sitting in a rowhouse living room in the city's Fairmount neighborhood.

That in itself was a stretch, first because we were assembled that April 23 afternoon in the spacious community room of PNC Bank's Market Street headquarters, and second, well, I once owned a city rowhouse, and you couldn't get 80 or so people into it even if you stacked them.

I do own a city rowhouse, and I could easily fit 80 people into it.

One of the things I "get" is that appearances can be deceiving.

Some suburbanites might not easily understand what has made John and Flossie Gallagher stay in their Harper Street rowhouse for more than 40 years. Or why 30-year resident Pat Hill spends a good part of her time tending the corner garden oasis she and other volunteers rescued from "dump" status.

They might understand why the Gallaghers and Hill have stuck it out, but it would be harder to comprehend why Suzi Nash or Kendra Gaeta or Matt Wanamaker or Evelyn Sheared - all of whom are young enough to be my children - would choose to live in a rowhouse neighborhood where nonresidents think it's OK to relieve themselves wherever they choose.


City living isn't easy. It never has been.

I think it's pretty easy. Obviously some neighborhoods are more problematic than others, but still.

More Sensitive Than I Thought?

Mass transit ridership up:

DENVER — With the price of gas approaching $4 a gallon, more commuters are abandoning their cars and taking the train or bus instead.

Mass transit systems around the country are seeing standing-room-only crowds on bus lines where seats were once easy to come by. Parking lots at many bus and light rail stations are suddenly overflowing, with commuters in some towns risking a ticket or tow by parking on nearby grassy areas and in vacant lots.

“In almost every transit system I talk to, we’re seeing very high rates of growth the last few months,” said William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association.

A Retrospective

The video below is pretty much a documentary account of the early years of the Left Blogosphere. Chilling, really.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Missed A Bday

I've been doing this for over 6 years.

That's a lot of suck.

Friday Night

Rock on.

Deep Thought

Is Lamar Alexander still alive?

In Our Name


But it's not on the teevee, so it isn't really happening.

Evening Thread

You people talk too much.

Bye Vito

MSNBC tells me Vito Fossella (R-NY) will likely resign soon, presumably so he can spend more time with his families.

Um, Ew?

The Amazing League of Pundits

Episode 1.

Politics, Not Just For Overpaid TV Anchors

Norah O'Donnell, talking with Charles Pierce about this article.

One of the pictures that is in the piece really struck me and it was Barack Obama speaking and there were a number of young African-American hotel workers who had gathered on the floor and with their cell phones were taking pictures of Barack Obama.

I mean even the (giggle) people working in hotel rooms are sort of inspired by his candidacy and want to get a picture of him.

Even More Thread

I have no idea why that posted twice, and blogger won't let me kill one of them.


This is pretty crazy.

Less than a year after taking office, Garrison is struggling to hold on to his job and contain a scandal, after the university granted an unearned degree to a longtime friend, the daughter of the West Virginia governor. On Monday, the Faculty Senate voted 77 to 19 in favor of a resolution of no-confidence in Garrison and demanded his resignation.


The report, released April 23, did not cite evidence that Garrison directly interfered with decision-making but said the presence of some of his top staff members at the meeting where administrators decided to issue the degree created "palpable" pressure.

It concluded that the business school gave Bresch credit for classes she didn't take and assigned grades "simply pulled from thin air." The degree, an executive master's of business administration, was rescinded.


This is pretty crazy.

Less than a year after taking office, Garrison is struggling to hold on to his job and contain a scandal, after the university granted an unearned degree to a longtime friend, the daughter of the West Virginia governor. On Monday, the Faculty Senate voted 77 to 19 in favor of a resolution of no-confidence in Garrison and demanded his resignation.


he report, released April 23, did not cite evidence that Garrison directly interfered with decision-making but said the presence of some of his top staff members at the meeting where administrators decided to issue the degree created "palpable" pressure.

It concluded that the business school gave Bresch credit for classes she didn't take and assigned grades "simply pulled from thin air." The degree, an executive master's of business administration, was rescinded.

Assholes, Assholes, Everywhere

While I said this in comments, I just want to write on the front page that at this point in the campaign it should go without saying that every candidate has their asshole supporters, and generally neither the candidate nor their non-asshole supporters should be judged by them. Anti-Clinton assholes (again, not anti-Clinton people, but anti-Clinton assholes) frequently throw a bit of misogyny into the mix, while apparently Obama supporters are naive idiots.

And, look, it's the internets. I'm not sure why people should be surprised that people are assholes or take it so personally, though we perhaps don't expect so much misogyny from those on "our side" so that can be a bit hurtful.

As someone who was honestly relatively neutral for a lot of this race, I've thought the assholes were pretty evenly distributed, though we're getting into the sore winner/sore loser period which changes things a bit. Still it's important to remember that the outcome of the Internet Asshole Olympics really shouldn't have much bearing on who you vote for either now or in November.

Never Mind

Weapon from Iran not actually from Iran.

Primary And General

One thing I'm looking forwarded to is not being bombarded by transparently stupid arguments about how performance in a state primary has some meaningful mapping to performance in the general election. The latest is the Clinton campaign suggesting that West Virginia is an important "test" because Democrats since Wilson have only become president if they've manged to win there. I assume that's true, but that's about winning that state's electoral college votes in the general election and not about getting primary voters to vote for you. And as Mark Penn helpfully reminds me, Jimmy Carter did not win the West Virginia primary.

I imagine over the past month or so people in the Clinton campaign have been marveling at their ability to manipulate the freak show, to introduce stupid narratives and bogus arguments into our discourse. And they have been amazingly good at it. I'd even admire it if they actually managed to, you know, win the elections instead of just making our discourse stupider.

I'm not sure why so many online Clinton supporters seem to be lashing out angrily at Obama supporters, instead of at the people who ran Clinton's campaign. If they'd just done things a little bit differently in February they'd have won this.


I guess that's a tell.

We're All Subprime Now

Nobody could have predicted, yada yada.

About 2.3% of prime loans were 60 days' past due in February, the highest level in at least a decade, according to data from FirstAmerican CoreLogic LoanPerformance. That's up from 1.4% a year ago.

Some economists, such as Brian Bethune of Global Insight and Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, say they think delinquencies on prime loans have likely risen further since then.


This reflects, I believe, an incredibly damaging mindset that's been crippling the Democratic Party for years and the prospect of excising this mindset is the single most appealing thing about the prospect of Obama being the nominee. Clinton's "street cred" on national security consists, of course, of being massively wrong on the most important national security issue of her career. Paradoxically, a lot of folks find her massive wrongness on this hugely important issue reassuring because they and their friends were also wrong and they view having made the right call to be a suspicious quality. After all, the Iraq War may have led to thousands of U.S. deaths, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and millions of Iraqi refugees all at a cost of over $1 trillion and in ways that's damaged the strategic position of the United States, but war opponents were all a bunch of hippies.

Going to Auction

I really didn't like this development.

THE TROUBLED real- estate market has taken its toll on the city's noble experiment in public-private housing that made neighbors of rich and poor in East Falls.

Eleven townhouses at Hilltop at Falls Ridge, privately built luxury units adjacent to a subsidized development built by the Philadelphia Housing Authority, are being auctioned next month.

Units that ranged in price from the mid $300,000s to the low $700,000s will be auctioned for minimum bids of $125,000 to $250,000, respectively.

While it was billed as "combining the best of urban and suburban living" or something like that, I'd say it did more combining of the worst than the best.

Tweety No More

Henceforth Tweety shall be known as...


(suggestion from reader m)


Oil keeps going up.

Oil prices surged past $125 per barrel Friday on the eve of the U.S. driving season as a weakening U.S. dollar drove investors to snap up commodities.

Light, sweet crude for June delivery rose as high as $125.12 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at midday before falling back to $124.86 by early afternoon in Europe.

SUVs Underwater

The price of used SUVs is plummeting.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


You're free!

Not Atrios


Early bed for me.

Wanker of the Day

Donald Rumsfeld.

Free Ride Extra

Because life goes on, on this page you can get a free extra chapter of Free Ride.

Deep Thought

Chris Matthews has red hair. I guess it's time for a new nickname.

Longer Game

It's true that builders made money from selling homes at inflated prices, but many of them also had a lot more in the pipeline to build. Short-term profits, yes, but at the expense of potentially bankrupting losses through carrying costs on unsold homes and land.

Deep Thought

Is it just me, or are things getting a bit stupider every day?

Fresh Thread



Houses. Cheap.

Back in 2005, "If I listed a home, I would have two or three offers on it within the same day," real estate broker Susan Abdallah said.

But on a recent day she showed a home, which originally sold for $225,000, that had been re-possessed by the bank. After reducing the price to $105,000, she still had no offers and was preparing to put the house up for auction. Abdallah has 60 bank-owned properties to sell.

As many as one in 10 houses in Maricopa are for sale, even while new houses continue to be built. Homeowners, banks and builders all are competing to sell at ever-lower prices.

New Team

One reason for my Obama leaning ways is that it's time to get some new blood into the Washington permanent floating ruling class system. I was never bothered by the personal element of the Clinton "dynasty." That is, I wasn't bothered by having another Clinton in office. But I was concerned with the ossification of the elite class structure in Washington. I was bothered not by the return to power of the Clintons, but by the return to power of Clintonites. I'm tired of seeing the same damn people on the teevee.

It isn't as if Obama's going to bypass official Washington entirely, of course. But he'll reshuffle the deck a bit. The Village won't change as much as I'd like, but it will change a bit.

What's It All About Then Ricky?

Little Ricky Santorum who keeps appearing in my newspaper.

Our government in this memo is teaching us a politically correct version of the truth. For example, it tells us that democracy and Islam are compatible. But Islam is less compatible with democracy than is Christianity.

Little Ricky Santorum in 2005:

The road has not been easy -- America has lost many fine military personnel -- but it is critical that we stay the course and give our people the support and recognition to enable them to spread democracy around the world.

And again:

The President has been clear, we will stay the course in Iraq to send a message to those who seek to destroy democracy and hurt innocent people.

Are There Any Republicans Left?

Vito's holding on, but not for much longer.

I haven't mentioned this story yet because I haven't had a chance to see if he's on the record as being a big family values hypocrite, or if he's just one due to his membership in the Republican party. Though the way over the limit DUI is rather problematic in itself. I'm somewhat sympathetic to those who get a DUI who are just flirting with the legal limit, but really driving drunk is a bad thing to do.

We're All Hacks

It's important to remember that none of us are above the fray, that we all have hackish tendencies to suppress information which doesn't fit our worldview and privilege information that does. We're more likely to excuse behavior from people we like and exaggerate the ills of people we don't like. I try to fight hackish tendencies especially during this intra-Dem battle, but I don't claim to have superhuman Nonhack powers.

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Gail Collins:

Has anyone else noticed how much the presidential campaign and the Olympics are starting to resemble one another?


This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

Oil - Still High

As I wrote before, some of the oil price appreciation in recent months has been related to the falling dollar. But the dollar has gained recently, and oil prices continue to creep up.

Behind the Numbers

CR notes that continuing unemployment claims have reached a 4-year high.

Is This Actually Possible?

I have a hard time believing it.

That became abundantly clear in a strategy session last year, according to two people who were there. As aides looked over the campaign calendar, chief strategist Mark Penn confidently predicted that an early win in California would put her over the top because she would pick up all the state's 370 delegates.

It sounded smart, but as every high school civics student now knows, Penn was wrong: Democrats, unlike the Republicans, apportion their delegates according to vote totals, rather than allowing any state to award them winner-take-all.

(via tpm)

Thursday is New Jobless Day

+365K. Still pretty high.

Working, Hard-Working

Make it stop.

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

In the Middle of Darkness Thread

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Rock on.

What Happened to the Future?

It's occurred to me recently that all the whiz-bang gadgets predicted either already exist in some form, or are unlikely to exist anytime soon. If one were to write a technology-centric non-dystopian novel about, say, the year 2040, what neato things would we imagine?

I can't come up with much.


Fellow Media Matterer Paul Waldman:

It's no accident that this is coming from the Arizona Republic. While the Republic is generally considered a pretty conservative paper, they have tangled with McCain a great deal over the years, mostly because they haven't been particularly inclined to simply repeat over and over that he's a StraightTalkingMaverickReformer. As a consequence, McCain has always acted as though he pretty much hates their guts. (In 2000, he wouldn't even let the Republic's reporter have a seat on the Straight Talk Express. So while the national media were whooping it up on board the party bus, she had to follow along in a rental car. And this is the largest paper in his home state.)

One thing I've noticed lately is that there are a bunch of Chicago reporters (like Lynn Sweet and Jim Warren, for instance) who have become regulars on cable TV, presumably because they know a lot about Barack Obama. But the reporters who have known John McCain the longest and know him the best -- the ones from Arizona -- are nowhere to be seen. Why do you think that is?


Not Mind Reading

On MSNBC, Clinton aide Lisa Caputo is... well... certainly not closing the door on the Clinton as VP idea.

Wanker of the Day

Jamie Kirchik.

The Weather's Nice, Stay Indoors

I always found it truly bizarre how nice the weather is but how difficult it was to enjoy it.

Of course you can enjoy it, in the planned physical activity sense. Go hiking! Go to the beach! But it isn't integrated in your day to day life in any sense because you're in your car.

Mind Reading

The gang on Hardball are trying to figure out if Clinton wants to be Vice President.

Deep Thought

Is West Virginia a big state?

Bush Era Entrepreneurs

Nice work.

The U.S. Attorney's Office accuses Berry Louidort and Ralph Michel (also known as Ralph Duverneau) of putting together deals for two dozen homes in Palm Beach County, persuading banks to loan far more than the properties actually sold for, then pocketing the difference and letting many of the homes lapse into foreclosure.


There are straw buyers, such as the part-time Publix cashier whose income on loan applications was inflated from $13,000 to $344,000 so she could qualify for $1.3 million in loans on a palatial home in a gated community in Boca Raton.

(The borrowers haven't been charged. Property records list the Publix cashier as Marie Saint-Fleur, although she is identified in court documents only by the initials "M.S.")

There's Jasky saying she doesn't want to know the unsavory details of the loans she's shopping to lenders. Meanwhile, her mother is acting as the Realtor on some of the deals.

And there are some of the world's most sophisticated financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of New York, making loans on these properties for twice what they were worth. The Wall Street giants approved these mortgages in 2007 for much more than the properties sold for in 2005 and 2006, despite the steep downturn in home prices in Palm Beach County.

Politically Doable

I gather that it's conventional wisdom that there would be some tremendous backlash if Congress tried to do away with the penny, but I find that a bit puzzling. Do people love amassing large amounts of almost worthless spare change? Is it resistance from the dreaded Big Penny lobby?

Get rid of the penny? The proposals are alternatives to what many consider a more pragmatic, but politically impossible solution to the penny problem: getting rid of the penny altogether.

"People still want pennies, which is why we're still making them," Moy said.

Even Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged in a radio interview earlier this year that getting rid of the penny made sense but wasn't politically doable -- and certainly nothing he is planning to tackle during the Bush team's final months in office.

While we're at it, can we get rid of one and five dollar bills and make it possible to actually use a bill worth more than a twenty?

Pending Home Sales Down

There were also downward revisions to the data from prior months.

The National Association of Realtors' Pending-Sale Index, based on agreements of sale signed for existing homes during a month, fell 20.1 percent in March from the same month in the 2007.

The February to March decline was just 1 percent, the NAR said today.


Let me make it a bit more clear. There's nothing wrong with acknowledging the reality of race and politics, and there's nothing wrong with politicians targeting their campaigns and messaging towards various subgroups.

What the Clinton campaign is doing is saying that Obama has electability problems, and using their support from white voters as evidence of that. That's a wee bit problematic, and not just because it doesn't follow logically any more than the other electability arguments such as Obama can't win the election because he can't win the primary in big states.

It's All About White People

I've been saddened as this line of argument has been slowly but surely coalescing from the Clinton campaign. It's been there a long time, but with each round it gets a little more explicit.

The Ultimate Irvine Housing Blog Post

Indeed it is, though I expect it may be topped in the future.

That's When Things Begin To Change

I've long been skeptical that even fairly substantial increases in gas prices would have a big impact on behavior and policy. $3.75 gas sucks, and gas is a big enough part of required expenditures for some people that it can cause economic pain, but I don't see that price level, or even $5-6/gallon, really shifting things. But $7.50? Yeah, things would start to change.

And The War Is Over

Pacification through better killing.

Fighting between government and US troops on one side, and Shia militia on the other, has intensified recently.

Two football stadiums are on stand-by to receive residents from two neighbourhoods in the Sadr City area.

The government has warned of an imminent push to clear the areas of members of the Mehdi Army, loyal to the anti-American cleric, Moqtada Sadr.

In the last seven weeks around 1,000 people have died, and more than 2,500 others have been injured, most of them civilians.

Strange Dealings

This is precisely the type of thing which one can never tell if it's "pulled out of Tim Russert's ass" or actually sourced.

Tim Russert even suggested this morning that Sen. Barack Obama may offer to retire her campaign debt as part of an exit deal.

In any case, onward to West Virginia!

Running Out Of Cash


California is facing a cash crisis this summer, putting pressure on elected officials to submit an on-time state budget or risk asking taxpayers to pay a premium on loans.

In the past, the state has been able to pay its bills despite projected deficits by borrowing money internally from some state special funds and by selling short-term notes on Wall Street.

But a lack of cash reserves this year combined with lagging revenues has led officials to predict that the state will run out of cash as early as August, giving lawmakers a smaller-than-expected window to strike a budget deal.

One Additional Thing To Hate About The Extended Primary

I admit to occasionally reading Mark Halperin.



While I do my best to resist the temptation to make predictions, I did expect Obama to underform in Indiana. Guess that didn't happen.

Are we done pretending this race is still going?

Even More Overnight Thread

Overnight Thread

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Muting Brian Willians

So satisfying.

Anyway, I'm going to bed. The Kodos counties haven't yet been counted...


The audible laughter from fellow panelists when Lanny Davis was talking...

...even funnier.

Um, I Did?

I mean, not nuns specifically, but everyone who pays attention to this stuff knows that the elderly are less likely to hold valid IDs given that many of them tend to, you know, stop driving.


God our discourse is stupid. Poor Jeffrey Toobin having to pretend that what Gloria Borger says makes any sense.

...Obama congratulates Clinton on "what appears to be her victory in Indiana."



North Carolina.

October Surprise?

Make. It. Stop.

Evening Thread

Off to drink liberally with liberal elitists.

Our Stupid Discourse

Candy Crowley: What he needs tonight is not so much a game changer, he badly needs a mood changer.

Does anyone have any idea what that means?

The Other Primary Day Ritual

Is people on the internets reporting minor shenanigans at polling places such as overzealous supporters, campaign material where it shouldn't be, minor ballot or voting machine cockups, and transmuting those things into an elaborate plot by one candidate or the other to "steal" the election.

That isn't to say that there can't be genuine polling issues, but they usually are not part of some grand conspiracy.

Deep Thought

Do you really want a commander-in-chief who is shitfaced at 3AM?*

*Just a joke, Clinton supporters.

Primary Day Ritual

It's funny because it's true.

Urban Markets

Losing them in New York.

A continuing decline in the number of neighborhood supermarkets has made it harder for millions of New Yorkers to find fresh and affordable food within walking distance of their homes, according to a recent city study. The dearth of nearby supermarkets is most severe in minority and poor neighborhoods already beset by obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

According to the food workers union, only 550 decently sized supermarkets — each occupying at least 10,000 square feet — remain in the city.

In one corner of southeast Queens, four supermarkets have closed in the last two years. Over a similar period in East Harlem, six small supermarkets have closed, and two more are on the brink, local officials said. In some cases, the old storefronts have been converted to drug stores that stand to make money coming and going — first selling processed foods and sodas, then selling medicines for illnesses that could have been prevented by a better diet.

The supermarket closings — not confined to poor neighborhoods — result from rising rents and slim profit margins, among other causes. They have forced residents to take buses or cabs to the closest supermarkets in some areas. Those with cars can drive, but the price of gasoline is making some think twice about that option. In many places, residents said the lack of competition has led to rising prices in the remaining stores.

I imagine pretty much anyone who lives in a walkable urban neighborhood thinks that the presence of a decent sized supermarket within reasonable proximity is a make or break must have neighborhood amenity. So much so that I'd support city rent subsidies to encourage their presence.

Oh My


A multi-year investigation leads federal agents to search the Office of Special Counsel's building. Employees have alleged the agency was misused for political purposes.

Neither Office of Special Counsel head Scott Bloch nor anyone else has officially been charged with a crime. But the FBI secured a separate subpoena for Bloch's home.

According to an article from The Wall Street Journal from last year, Bloch used a private tech company — Geeks on Call — to delete e-mails instead of using his office's federal technicians.


Wanker of the Day

Michael Wolff.

Clinton Supporters

I'm quite sure this would be true of Obama supporters if the situation were reversed, but I'm increasingly being added to email lists of Clinton supporters making incoherent and often angry arguments in favor of their candidate (or against Obama). It's getting a little weird.


I think I'm going to jab a stake into my own heart.

Torture Yoo

Apparently Yoo is going to testify after all. Interesting.

More generally, a big question is next year if there's a Democratic Attorney General will there be an appetite in Congress to continue all of these investigations with actual enforceable subpoena power. Given the ways of Washington all signs probably point to no, but maybe I'll be surprised.


This is an interesting read.

"As far as I'm concerned, the Republicans have turned things to [expletive]," he says. "I'm working two jobs now just so I can put gas in my van."

Cantrell talks about what it was like when his dad came up from the South, like so many others, to work in the parts plants in Muncie. How the city was thriving then. If people think this is Middle America, he says, they're wrong. Muncie doesn't represent Middle America anymore.


"Well, I hope Middle America is a little better than what's around here," he says. "Otherwise, that's depressing."

Housing Bust/Newspaper Boom

The requirement to put foreclosure notices in newspapers is providing them with a bit of additional revenue.

As for newspapers, it occurred to me yesterday that I wish we had something like London's Evening Standard. It's a flawed somewhat tabloidy beast, but it was always fun to read!

Fannie and Freddie

They've got trouble, my friends...

The companies, which say fears that they might falter are baseless, have recently received broad new powers and billions of dollars of investing authority from the federal government. And as Wall Street all but abandons the mortgage business, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now overwhelmingly dominate it, handling more than 80 percent of all mortgages bought by investors in the first quarter of this year. That is more than double their market share in 2006.

But some financial experts worry that the companies are dangerously close to the edge, especially if home prices go through another steep decline. Their combined cushion of $83 billion — the capital that their regulator requires them to hold — underpins a colossal $5 trillion in debt and other financial commitments.

Overnight Thread

Monday, May 05, 2008

Deep Thought

Does a nuclear winter follow the nuclear option?

More Thread

Scott Kleeb needs turkee. Badly.


Just to make clear earlier what I meant about the gas tax and being at capacity, here's our friend the supply/demand curve.

The markets for oil and gas aren't the same, but this graph can provide a representation of both.

Basically over the flat horizontal part of the supply curve (S), increases in demand (represented by rightward shifts of the demand curve, reflecting a greater quantity demanded at any given price) lead to an increase in quantity supplied by oil firms or gas refineries without much increase in the price. This is because they're operating at levels such that they can pull a bit more oil out of the ground, or refine a bit more oil into gas, without any significant increase in cost.

But these are both capital intensive industries, and oil requires exploration and discovery as well, so the capacity to keep cranking out product at the same or similar cost is limited. At some point, as the demand curve continues shifting to the right (remember this is the world market, so with more and more Chinese consuming...), we reach the a point where the curve tilts upwards. Over some range, more oil/gas capacity can be provided without costs going too much: perhaps increased 3rd shifts or shifting focus of refineries, or tapping known but more costly oil wells, but at some point you hit capacity. There is no more oil to be pumped out of the ground at any price, at least over the short run, and US oil refineries can't crank out an extra gallon at any cost. At that point, continued increases in demand simply raise the price without resulting in any additional quantity supplied. Prices go up to equate supply and demand, while output and consumption remain the same.

I won't do the full lecture on tax incidence (who actually pays a tax, buyer or seller, when it's levied on a transaction), but it depends on the shape of the supply/demand curves. And when we're in the verticalish region of the supply curve, any sales tax levied is almost entirely paid by the seller. Increasing the gas tax cuts into profits without increasing the price consumers pay (though causing them to consume less). Decreasing the gas tax increases profits without decreasing the price consumers pay (though leading them to consume more).

And this has been your Econ 101 lecture of the day!


It's been quite some time since I've nudged you all for candidate donations. Consider throwing some pennies to Scott Kleeb.

McJoan explains.

Here's the candidate website.

An update on others on the fundraising page:

Donna Edwards is officially the candidate for the June 17 special election, as well as the candidate for the November regular election.

Darcy Burner spearheaded the movement to create A Responsible Plan to End the War. Quite a few people liked it.


Whether it's going to happen or not, people think the price of gas is going to keep going up.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found that 94% of respondents expect they will have to pay $4 a gallon sometime this year - and 78% said they figure it will hit $5.

The national average for gasoline was $3.61 on Monday, according to motorist group AAA.

Consumers' fears that they will have to pay more have intensified. A year ago, 79% thought gas would cost $4 by the end of 2007 and only 28% feared $5 gas.

Evening Thread


Gas Tax Follies

I'm not even sure if I've waded in on this one, but yes it's a dumb idea to have a gas tax holiday. Tax incidence on the gas tax in more normal times is roughly split between buyers and sellers, but if gas prices are going up because we've hit capacity then sellers are basically paying the tax, and if you remove the tax you're just giving oil companies a windfall as gas prices will just increase to what they were when the tax was in place. I also think it's dumb politically as it's something you promise and then when it happens people realize that you didn't give them anything. The only decent argument against raising the gas tax (nonpolitical argument anyway) is that it's regressive, but that can be offset by, say, giving everyone a couple hundred dollar tax credit on their income taxes. put it another way, if you think people should get an extra $40 this summer (an extremely optimistic view of what a gas tax holiday might save them), then give them an extra $40.

People Vote Too Often

Apparently there are a couple more of these electoral contest thingies tomorrow.

My Kodos write-in campaign victory has yet to materialize, but one can still dream.

What's With the Word "Vulgar"?

It's just weird.

Seder on the Radio

Guest hosting now.

Everything is Progress

Less killing is progress. More killing is progress. Roughly the same amount of killing is progress.

Okay, I lied. Apparently there's one thing which isn't progress: leaving.

Those Wacky Iraqis

It is indeed amazing how perfectly normal human behavior is presented as completely alien crazy talk.

My favorite has always been "Arab Street conspiracy theories," suggesting an irrational attachment to false explanations for events. Because, you know, nobody in this country had the crazy notion that secular dictator Saddam Hussein was in league with Osama bin Laden. And you never heard about how Iran is propping up Sunni insurgents against Shiites in Iraq!

...noz directs us to this Onion piece.


Maybe in another 50 years it'll finally sink in to our mainstream media and professional abortion concern trolls like Will Saletan that the anti-choice movement has little do with abortion and a lot to do with going back to the days when women had little control over their fertility.

It isn't true that every anti-choice person out there feels this way, but the professional movement groups are on board with it.

"Real People"

Please just make it stop.

Drunk The Milkshake

While fairly volatile so one shouldn't make too much of day to day fluctuations, I'd say the oil price spike is notable because it's happening in a time when the dollar has been rising a bit. Normally quite a lot of the oil price fluctuations (and "quite a lot" is an imprecise blogger term) can be explained by fluctuations in the dollar, with oil prices rising as the dollar declines relative to other currencies, but this time they're moving apart.


When things like this happen there's usually little more to say than, "how horrible." But really, how horrible.

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Myanmar's military government has a provisional death toll of 10,000 from this weekend's devastating cyclone, with another 3,000 missing, a diplomat said on Monday after a briefing from Foreign Minister Nyan Win.


People always justify their high local real estate prices by imagining there's something unique, special, and different about their location. And there are indeed places which are special without many substitutes (Manhattan, certain beach communities, some resort towns, some others we can think of). But I've been to Turtle Rock in Irvine, and it just isn't special.

Faux Elitist Sneering

Let me 3rd the condemnation of that dumb NY Times article about Real Live Suburbanites In Their Native Habitats.

I think it's a bit of a shame that for whatever reason in many locations certain types of chain restaurants are predominant, but this "I'm the anthropologist visiting the natives" approach to the subject is just annoying and insulting.

Nobody Could Have Predicted...

That this deal would never actually happen as planned.

(Reuters) - Bank of America Corp (BAC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) is likely to renegotiate its deal to buy Countrywide Financial Corp (CFC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) down to the $0 to $2 level or completely walk away from it, said Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, which downgraded Countrywide to "underperform" from "market perform."

Countrywide's loan portfolio has deteriorated so rapidly that it currently has negative equity and the proposed takeover of the company will be a drag on Bank of America's earnings due to the elevated credit expenses at Countrywide, analyst Paul Miller wrote in a note to clients.

"Bank of America announced that it might not guarantee Countrywide's debt, which is most likely the first step in renegotiating the entire deal," Miller said.

No Liberals Allowed

Desperately angling for a job in a Democratic administration does not make Anne-Marie Slaughter a liberal.

Good morning

The Great Derangement

Not Atrios

Sunday, May 04, 2008



Local Notes

Local peeps should check out Azuka Theatre's production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.


Hell is for Hanson.


The war is still over.

BAGHDAD — Four marines died in Anbar Province when an improvised explosive device exploded near the vehicle they were driving and in the capitol the Iraqi president’s wife narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.

Hiro Ibrahim Ahmed, the wife of President Jalal Talabani, was in a motorcade heading to the National Theatre, where a cultural festival is going on this week, when an improvised explosive device hit the car carrying four of her bodyguards. She was not wounded but four of her bodyguards were injured when the car was struck in the Karrada district.

And A Giant Golden Pony

The imperial palace grows.

BAGHDAD - Forget the rocket attacks, concrete blast walls and lack of a sewer system. Now try to imagine luxury hotels, a shopping center and even condos in the heart of Baghdad.

That's all part of a five-year development "dream list" — or what some dub an improbable fantasy — to transform the U.S.-protected Green Zone from a walled fortress into a centerpiece for Baghdad's future.

But the $5 billion plan has the backing of the Pentagon and apparently the interest of some deep pockets in the world of international hotels and development, the lead military liaison for the project told The Associated Press.

Deep Thought

My mp3 player drank a bit too much gatorade today.

And The Kool Aid Has Been Resupplied


After complimentary coffee and introductions Saturday morning, the area's first official "foreclosure tour" headed on its way.

Roughly 25 people - the bulk of them investors - attended the tour on a small chartered bus that made stops in east Manatee County. Neighborhoods on the tour included University Park, Fairway Lakes, Harbourage on Bradenton River and The Inlets at Riverdale.


The first of eight houses visited during the tour was a three-bedroom, two-bath home in University Park being offered by the bank for $249,000. The home sold for exactly $100,000 more two years ago, according to Manatee County property records.

Another 2,749-square-foot home on a freshwater canal in the Inlets at Riverdale off State Road 64 East, the most expensive on the tour, was selling for $439,900 - $265,000 down from what it sold for just two years ago.


Dan Delzer of Lakewood Ranch took the roughly four-hour tour Saturday in order to work on what he calls his "10-year-plan." That plan involves becoming wealthy through investing in real estate.

"I have a goal of 10 years, being financially free, and it doesn't come from bringing home a paycheck," Delzer said. "I think anyone in Sarasota or Bradenton, you have to get in right now. I don't think we're going to see prices this low again. Anybody that's waiting, I don't know what they're waiting on."

This housing market is, at best, going to remain in neutral for 4-5 years. After that prices may start to rise, though in keeping with historical trends unlikely to rise faster than inflation. And houses require a lot of care and maintenance to keep current. Longer term, local demographic factors may drive increases in regional markets.

Though who knows, maybe I'm the stupid one who should be scooping up properties in Florida.

Deep Thought

I am tired.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week" — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.; Richmond Mayor and former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Govs. Mike Easley, D-N.C., and Bill Richardson, D-N.M; Robert Reich, former labor secretary; Gene Sperling, adviser for the Clinton campaign; Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.


Off to waddle down Broad Street for a few hours.

Bite Me