Saturday, July 12, 2008
Q: But do you go on line for yourself?
Mr. McCain: They go on for me. I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need – including going to my daughter’s blog first, before anything else.
Q: Do you use a blackberry or email?
Mr. McCain: No
Not intending to pick on the person quoted. Don't care what she does with her money.
"I'm not going to get an E-ZPass. I'll just have to pay the $4," said Angie Stanisci, 69, a South Philadelphia legal secretary who uses the senior discount for trips across the Walt Whitman Bridge to visit friends in South Jersey and to go to Atlantic City casinos.
The Rev. Tony Evans, director of Camden's Health and Human Services Department, predicted that the higher tolls for seniors would "have an effect, but we don't yet know the full impact."
``IndyMac is the vanguard, the precursor of more stuff coming,'' said Christopher Whalen, managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, a market research company in Torrance, California. ``It's not surprising to see IndyMac resolved. What you have to ask is what's coming next. It's going to be a wave of medium to bigger-than-medium institutions.''
Washington elites are so awesome. Oh, and in touch with regular folk.
Normally I get annoyed when Fred Hiatt publishes this crap, but today I think he's done us all a service.
It'd be nice if people finally started to see through this scam.
Update from Philly Boy in comments:
Avedon leaves out one component. Conservatives blame all problems on liberals, so when their (conservatives') policies make a situation worse, their response is to blame the deterioration on liberals and try to implement even dumber versions of their policies.
It's a perfect feedback loop for conservatives — they implement policies, the policies fail, they blame liberals and implement even dumber policies, the policies fail even worse, they blame liberals even more, etc.
The end result of global warming will be Rush Limbaugh on a Colorado mountain peak surrounded by oceans blaming the entire situation on Al Gore.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Since the time my twins and their younger brother, Adam, entered the army, I always lived with the fear that I may face the news that one of my sons had been killed in the line of duty. On January 2, 2008, that fear was realized. What I did not expect to hear, though, was the manner of death that my son, Ryan, a decorated Army Ranger and Green Beret, experienced. While I had always been prepared to hear that one of my sons died by way of a firefight or a roadside bomb, I was dumbstruck to hear in the days following the news of my son’s death that he was electrocuted while taking a shower in his living quarters on his Army base at the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad....Via Susie.
I have also learned that Kellogg Brown & Root knew of this very hazard since at least February 10, 2007 – 11 months before Ryan’s death – when they conducted an inspection of the facilities where Ryan lived. The deficiencies KBR noted on that date included, among others, the fact that the building’s main circuit panel, the secondary feeder panel, and the water tank were not grounded. The wiring leading into the secondary electrical panel was not sized properly for the main breakers, did not have proper thermal coating, and did not meet either U.S. or British electrical standards.
..and we have a story.
IndyMac Bancorp Inc., a prolific mortgage specialist that helped fuel the housing boom, was seized Friday by federal regulators in one of the largest bank failures in U.S. history.
The Pasadena, Calif. thrift was one of the largest savings and loans in the country with about $32 billion in assets. It now joins an infamous list of collapsed banks, topped by Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Co., which failed in 1984 with $40 billion of assets.
Their specialty was Alt-A loans, which is the category where many "liar loans" found their home.
And Paulson is being clear as mud.
Mounting doubts over the ability of the companies led Deutsche Bank analyst Mustafa Chowdhury, a former Freddie Mac executive, on a Wednesday conference call to float the possibility that share prices could go below $5.
For the debt, much depends on the continued support of foreign central banks that have been loading up on the companies' $1.6 trillion in outstanding debt, a Deutsche Bank trader said on the call.
Yields on 10-year bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ballooned 10 basis points to more than 1 percentage point above government debt. They had been quoted as much as 12 basis points wider than late Wednesday.
And the market is crashing.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday that he would recommend that Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, be punished for violating agency principles that guarantee customers open access to the Internet.
The potentially precedent-setting move stems from a complaint that Comcast had blocked Internet traffic among users of a certain type of file-sharing software that allowed them to exchange large amounts of data.
Mr. Martin’s order would require Comcast to stop its practice of blocking, provide details to the commission on the extent and manner in which the practice was used and give consumers detailed information on how it planned to manage its network in the future.
And, look, I don't really care about anything other than the usual IOKIYAR. I remember watching some game show (The Weakest Link I think) where the question was "Who was the the first divorced president?" The answer, of course, was Saint Ronald Reagan and when it was revealed there were audible gasps in the audience. You can understand their surprise, as during the funeral of Maureen Reagan the camera remain fixed on... Nancy Reagan and not her actual mother.
But only the personal lives and pasts of Democrats will ever matter.
It's weird. I get the sense that every time it goes down a few bucks there's this kind of "oh, ok, gas is going to get cheap again" sentiment around. The price is going to fluctuate, and it could even fall by a nontrivial amount, but it's difficult to see it falling below, say, $100/barrel ever again. And it wasn't that long ago that $100 was crazy talk, the other way.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
WASHINGTON — Alarmed by the growing financial stress at the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies, senior Bush administration officials are considering a plan to have the government take over one or both of the companies and place them in a conservatorship if their problems worsen, people briefed about the plan said on Thursday.
The companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have been hit hard by the mortgage foreclosure crisis. Their shares are plummeting and their borrowing costs are rising as investors worry that the companies will suffer losses far larger than the $11 billion they have already lost in recent months. Now, as housing prices decline further and foreclosures grow, the markets are worried that Fannie and Freddie themselves may default on their debt.
Under a conservatorship, the shares of Fannie and Freddie would be worth little or nothing, and any losses on mortgages they own or guarantee — which could be staggering — would be paid by taxpayers.
Officials have also been concerned that the difficulties of the two companies, if not fixed, could damage economies worldwide. The securities of Fannie and Freddie are held by numerous overseas financial institutions, central banks and investors.
All the smartest boys in the room bet on big shitpile, lost, and now we're going to pay for it.
Federal prosecutors have filed a criminal case against state Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage. No other information is available at this time, check adn.com throughout the morning for more updates.
...presumably stems from this.
Former Veco executive Rick Smith just said he bribed former Sen. Ben Stevens and sitting Anchorage Sen. John Cowdery.
His comment came as prosecutor Nicholas Marsh asked Smith who he’d pleaded guilty to bribing.
Aside from a bit of schadenfreude over people who should've known better regarding mortgages and HELOCs (and, no, this isn't most people affected by the housing/mortgage crisis, just some), I'm really not cheering on anything. I don't like it when people lose their jobs, or when people can't fill their gas tank, or when people see their 401Ks shrink. I've never been one to hope the system collapses so that we can rebuild it anew.
Yes, there's a tone of levity at times, but it's of the "downing the last bottle of scotch as the ship sinks into the water" variety. A morbid laugh, not a happy one.
In an interview with the Washington Times, Phil Gramm, a former Texas senator who is now vice chairman of UBS, the giant Swiss bank, said he expects Mr. McCain to inherit a sluggish economy if he wins the presidency, weighed down above all by the conviction of many Americans that economic conditions are the worst in two or three decades and that America is in decline.
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," he said, noting that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."
"We have sort of become a nation of whiners," he said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline" despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.
Asked when Iraqi ground forces could handle security so U.S. troops would not have to, Lt. Gen. James Dubik told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the strength of Iraq's ground forces had grown significantly. "The ground forces will mostly be done by middle of next year; their divisions, brigades and battalions are on a good timeline," Dubik said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. "Could be as early as April. Could be as late as August," said Dubik, who until last week led the effort to train Iraqi forces.
While U.S. commanders' predictions on Iraqi security forces have proven excessively optimistic in the past, the general's assessment is central to the debates in Washington and Baghdad over a timeline for when Iraqi forces can take charge of security, allowing the bulk of the approximately 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq to withdraw.
July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Borrowing at Fannie Mae, the U.S. government-sponsored mortgage company, has never been so expensive and it may not get better any time soon.
Chances are increasing that the U.S. may need to bail out Fannie Mae and the smaller Freddie Mac, former St. Louis Federal Reserve President William Poole said in an interview. Freddie Mac owed $5.2 billion more than its assets were worth in the first quarter, making it insolvent under fair value accounting rules, he said. The fair value of Fannie Mae's assets fell 66 percent to $12.2 billion, data provided by the Washington-based company show, and may be negative next quarter, Poole said.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Reliable sources tell Channel 2 News that a grand jury has handed up a new indictment this evening in the ongoing public corruption probe.
There is no word yet who has been charged.
One current state senator, John Cowdery, and one former state senator, Ben Stevens, had their offices raided by federal agents in 2006.
Though, oddly, they can be given credit for the 27th.
(ht reader p)
MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) — At least 14 people were killed in bomb attacks on Wednesday, including a suicide bombing against an Iraqi general who escaped unharmed, the officer and security officials said.
A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-filled car against the convoy of General Riyadh Jalal Tauffiq, the head of the security operations in Iraq's main northern city of Mosul and its surrounding province of Nineveh.
A banner slogan on the Pemberton Republican Club's Web site that said, "Obama loves America like O.J. loved Nicole," disappeared yesterday after local Democrats alleged racist campaign tactics.
The Web master, Ed Kuck, a recently elected Republican County committeeman, said he had seen the slogan on an Internet site and copied it onto the club's Web page about a month ago as "a joke."
...you can see it here.
“People are wanting to live closer to where they work,” White said. “To build street-level retail, you need residences. To attract residences, you need street-level retail.”
It's why it can be hard to jumpstart a neighborhood. People aren't going to live in an urban area which doesn't have the kind of retail you need to make an urban area attractive, but you can't support that kind of retail until you have the people.
With sufficient local population you have a viable local urban economy and a walkable neighborhood which then makes mass transit more viable as well.
But when it comes to joking about killing Iranians... just what is the joke? I appreciate that it was a failed attempt at a joke, but the underlying premise is...it would be funny to kill Iranians.
That's some straight talk we can believe in, my friends.
But I was struck by this.
Williams, the department's commissioner, said that Philadelphia would likely save money if it recycled more waste. He said that the city currently pays $62 to dispose of a ton of rubbish - typically to a landfill or an incinerator.
Meanwhile, the city earns $38 for every ton that is recycled.
If the goal really is to encourage more recycling - and it really does make money for the city (something I hadn't realized) - the can do a lot more in the carrot department before they bring out the stick. It's gotten a bit better, and the move to citywide single stream has been an improvement (as will citywide once per week recycling when it happens), but generally the public education and distribution of recycling bins has been rather poor.
...adding, and they could certainly start with public recycling receptacles which are pretty much (totally?) nonexistent.
PIKESVILLE, Md. — If Senator John McCain’s radical plan for remaking American health care is to work, he will have to find a way to cover people like Chaim Benamor, 52, a self-employed renovator in this Baltimore suburb. Mr. Benamor never found it necessary to buy insurance before having a mild heart attack last year and now, 13 years shy of Medicare, has little hope of doing so.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
McCain was also asked about an Associated Press report indicating that exports to Iran have increased largely on the basis of cigarette sales, to which he quipped:
McCain's Response: Maybe that's a way of killing them.
McCain's also having trouble explaining Iraq...but then again he's only had this problem once, and that is continuously.
The SEC report details an e-mail in which an analyst at an unidentified credit-rating company refers to the market for collateralized debt obligations as a ``monster.''The ratings firms' clients are the people who have an interest in getting a high rating. Obvious conflict.
``Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters,'' said the e-mail, which was sent Dec. 15, 2006, to another analyst at the same firm.
Question: "What would or should we do if, in the post-June 30th period, a so-called sovereign Iraqi government asks us to leave, even if we are unhappy about the security situation there?"
McCain's Answer: "Well, if that scenario evolves than I think it's obvious that we would have to leave because -- if it was an elected government of Iraq, and we've been asked to leave other places in the world. If it were an extremist government then I think we would have other challenges, but I don't see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people."
Does the John McCain of 2008 agree with this assessment?
And no, asking him about this would not be insulting his service in Vietnam.
LEAVE JOHN MCCAIN ALOOOOOOOOOOONE!!!!!
The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.
The work of Health Care For America Now was first made public late last week. But the group, with Elizabeth Edwards as a figurehead, offered expanded insight into the details of its campaign during a meeting on Monday. In addition to spending $40 million -- $1.5 million of which will be put behind an initial ad buy (national TV, print, and online) -- the group will be sending organizers to 52 cities, blasting out emails to 5 million households, airing spots on MSNBC and CNN and submitting op-eds to major papers (officials hinted at the New York Times piece to come).
In addition, the campaign is going to take advantage of Moveon.org's massive data files to reach out to like-minded supporters and officials promised to work in Democratic and Republican districts alike.
"We'll have an organizer in the district of every Blue Dog Democrat," said HCAN campaign manager Richard Kirsch of the conservative Democrats.
Strip malls, which are usually anchored by grocery or drug stores, saw average vacancies spike 0.5 percentage points to 8.2 percent, a level unseen since 1995, according to the report released on Monday.
Vacancies at regional malls rose 0.4 percentage points to 6.3 percent, the highest level since the first quarter of 2002, according to the preliminary results.
WASHINGTON — The package of spending and tax cuts proposed by Senator John McCain is unlikely to achieve his goal of balancing the federal budget by 2013, economists and fiscal experts said Monday.
“It would be very difficult to achieve in the best of circumstances, and even more difficult under the policies that Senator McCain has proposed,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group
Last month, CNN revealed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had stored $85 million worth of household items in warehouses for two years. Instead of giving the supplies to victims of the 2005 hurricane, FEMA declared them surplus and gave them all away to federal agencies and 16 states in February.
The state of Louisiana -- the most hard-hit by the storm -- had not asked for any of the supplies, prompting outrage in the community after the original CNN report.
CNN's investigation showed that Mississippi was one of the 16 states that took the FEMA supplies, but it did not distribute them to Katrina victims.
But Joe is too busy sitting next to the "Captain's Chair" wiggling his feet with joy.
McCain's press corps cannot even summon the courage to question the Presidential Candidate's statements and policies, you know Holy Joe will get a pass. Those who earn their way into McCain's presence will not dare risk their dearly won plane seats with impertinence. To the victor go the sprinkles.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Julian Epstein roughly made the same point as I was typing this. During the Clinton administration, anything was labeled "obstruction of justice" and caused weeks of hyperventilating in editorial pages and on cable news.
Now? Pretty much silence.
I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood . . . .
This has long been my take, especially with respect to those who proudly wear the journalist cap and tell me that it's their job to be superhuman truth tellers and who adopt the authority of their respected news outlets as their own.
That isn't to say that every "stupid thing that comes out of someone's mouth on live tv" is actually a lie, but it's wrong to simply forgive them all as "mistakes."
July 7 (Bloomberg) -- Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae plunged in New York Stock Exchange composite trading on concern the two largest mortgage-finance companies may need to raise more capital.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. analysts said in a report today that an accounting change may force Fannie Mae to add $46 billion of capital and Freddie Mac to add $29 billion. Speculation that the companies may need to make further writedowns also weighed on the stock, said John Tierney, a credit strategist at Deutsche Bank AG in New York.
She could have - and almost did! - win anyway, but without that there would have been no opening. In some ways we've gone backwards. Our elite press did understand in 2004 that the only reason someone like Howard Dean had an opening was because of his Iraq war position. Of course, they also saw his potential win as proof the Democratic voters were all dirty fucking hippies who would doom the party for eternity and believed the only way for the party to recover was to essentially expel all registered Democrats from it. But they're hideously stupid people who are wrong about everything.
We have a problem.
Another existential threat to US:
- The McCain campaign also sent out a memo, reinforcing the point. "This year, Barack Obama returned to the United States Senate twice to vote in favor of a budget resolution which raises income tax rates by three percentage points for the 25, 28 and 33 percent tax brackets," Holtz-Eakin writes in the memo. "This would mean a tax increase for those earning as little as $32,000. While Barack Obama campaigns on a promise of no tax hikes for anyone but the rich, we once again find that his words are empty when it comes time to act. In both March and June, Barack Obama could have put the force of his vote behind his words. Instead, he decided that 'rich' now means those making just $32,000 per year."
But NBC’s Ken Strickland spoke with a Democratic aide at the Senate Budget Committee who said there was never a budget vote that said: Let's raise taxes. What the budget vote did do was estimate how much additional revenue would be needed, and then it would go to the Finance Committee to determine how to raise that amount (raise taxes, close loopholes, etc).
So this was a vote to basically have the committee score the various possibilities.
KOPPEL: You know, honestly, it turns my brains to mush. I can't pretend for a minute that I'm really able to follow the argument of the debates. Parts of it, yes. Parts of it, I haven't a clue what they're talking about.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan this morning told his staff that he is stepping down as the top federal prosecutor for the eastern part of Pennsylvania.
Meehan, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) and former Delaware County District Attorney, will hold a news conference this afternoon to formally announce his plans.
Even the fine scrutiny of Obama's language threads back to the last five years of policy by deliberate lying, which McCain is now carrying on.
But it's important to remember that the "scrutiny" has come from those nonpartisan truthtellers, TEH AWSUM JOURNAMALISTS. Politicians lie and journalists supposedly don't. But, of course, they do. And they enable politicians - McCain now, Bush in 2000, Bush 2001-2008 - to lie.
McCain's joke budget is horseshit, but as we know Republicans cut taxes and cut spending and balance the budget, just like the most popular preznit EVAH Ronald Reagan did, even when they, you know, don't, and so their budgets don't actually have to make sense. Tax cuts are free and wars are free. Only Democrats need to "pay for" any of their proposals, it's just understood that Republicans are "fiscal conservatives."
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki raised the prospect on Monday of setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops as part of negotiations over a new security agreement with Washington.
It was the first time the U.S.-backed Shi'ite-led government has floated the idea of a timetable for the removal of American forces from Iraq. The Bush administration has always opposed such a move, saying it would give militant groups an advantage.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss authorities could require UBS <UBSN.VX> and Credit Suisse <CSGN.VX> to set aside an additional 70 billion Swiss francs ($68.29 billion) in capital, a newspaper reported on Sunday, citing lawmakers.
"40 billion for UBS, 30 billion francs for CS," parliamentarian Hans Kaufmann told Swiss weekly Sonntag, referring to the additional capital the banks would have to put aside under the proposal.
High-speed rail won the pole position on the November ballot -- it was named Proposition 1 when the secretary of state assigned numbers to the 11 initiatives voters will consider. That's no guarantee of victory, but the momentum is clearly building.
The proposal to build an 800-mile system of 200-mph trains linking Southern and Northern California, by way of the Valley, has made a great deal of sense throughout its two-decade gestation. Proposition 1, the $9.95 billion bond measure, is the necessary first step.
LA-SF is exactly the kind of route which should be served by high speed rail. Here's more info about the potential project.
Facing bad publicity and a dwindling campaign account, U.S. Rep. Don Young last year turned to the "AK Wolfpack," a group of more than 20 lobbyists, including former Young staffers and retired former congressmen, with close ties to the Alaska Republican.
Young's chief of staff, Mike Anderson, sent the Wolfpack an e-mail to tell them that national Democrats planned aggressive fundraising and claims of misconduct by Young to topple the 35-year incumbent congressman and his fellow Alaska Republican, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.
If they succeed, Anderson warned, "you and your clients will be impacted."
And we're going to have to start creating 360 degree shitstorms around them when they do.
BAGHDAD (AFP)--At least 15 people were killed across Iraq Sunday, including seven by a bomb targeting a local leader of President Jalal Talabani's political party, officials said.
The bomb exploded in the town of Qara Tappa in the restive province of Diyala outside the house of Mohammed Ramadan Eisa, a local leader of Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the town's mayor Sherwan Shukra said.
"Eisa was seriously wounded in the blast but his wife, mother-in-law, his two children, one brother and two of his guards were killed," Shukra told AFP.
Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace An all-star panel that includes Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson and Juan Williams of National Public Radio.
This Week With George Stephanopoulos Topic: Obama vice presidential selection process. Guests: Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Jack Reed of Rhode Island; Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr.
Face the Nation With Bob Schieffer Topic: politics. Guests: Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Meet the Press The program will be preempted by Wimbledon tennis coverage.
Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer Two-hour special marking the 10th anniversary of the program, with selected interviews from the past.