Saturday, December 20, 2008

Late Night


Saturday Night Thread


They Fucked The Whole Thing Up

This NYT article about the mortgage/housing market issues is pretty good for what it is, thought it overemphasizes the role of Fannie and Freddie and completely ignores the finance/securitization side (not necessarily a big flaw, given the focus on White House policy influence).

Anyway, as I've said many times... all you had to do was look at home prices, look at incomes, and realize that not enough people actually made enough money to afford those mortgages. If you wanted some confirmation you could look at rent-to-own ratios, as someone did in the Bush White House (and was ignored), and look at what was happening to Option ARM mortgages (negative amortization). Those things were up front and obvious, even if not everything was.

Anything Going On?

I got nothin'.

Saturday Thread


One Good Thing

The pro-Prop H8 movement now has a face.

Still Wanking

The three stooges, John, Joe, and Lindsey, go to the Washington Post to tell us that what's important that we find "consensus" on Iraq.

This Washington fetishization of everyone agreeing with each other is just weird. People disagree about stuff. I'd think people in politics would understand that.


Looks like the source of Tom Friedman's wife's wealth needs some cash.

New York brokerage DTZ Rockwood LLC said on its Web site Thursday it has been retained to market the Festival Marketplace portfolio, which includes Baltimore's Harborplace & The Gallery, New York's South Street Seaport and Boston's Faneuil Hall.

On Wednesday, GGP said lenders had agreed to a two-month extension on $900 million of debt service.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Morning Thread

Freaking bastidges.

--Molly I.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Go to sleep.

Deep Thoughts

Obviously Josh's Deep Thoughts are generally done in the spirit that mine are, with a healthy dose of stupidity irony, but it's still important to understand that it's really really hard to make a truly rich person poor, absent hauling them off in shackles. There's a big difference between falling down a few social classes and, you know, being homeless. I'll even be a bit sympathetic and acknowledge that anyone who finds their socioeconomic status in jeopardy is experiencing a great degree of distress. But distress is not poverty. Even if Mrs. Tom Friedman's mall company goes bankrupt, the mustache of understanding will still not have to suck on anything it doesn't want to. Though, sadly, he'll still be making us suck on it!

Give 'em Enough Rope

Friday Thread


Happy Hour Thread



Things are not going well there.

Unemployment in California, fueled by a weak economy and lackluster holiday season retail hiring, rose to 8.4% in November from 8.2% the month before.

Mass Transit Not Good For Everything


The Route 101 trolley served as a get-away vehicle for the two bank robbers arrested by SEPTA Police at the 69th Street terminal at 10 am today.

The two men are suspected of robbing the Sovereign Bank located at Providence Road and Baltimore Pike in Media.
After fleeing the bank, they were seen boarding the Route 101 trolley for the 25 minute ride into Upper Darby . SEPTA Police Sergeant Don Wagner and SEPTA Officer James Hoback overheard a police scanner broadcast about the robbery and were waiting for the alleged robbers when the trolley arrived at the 69th Street Terminal.

Afternoon Thread


Indulging My Guilty Pleasue

Which is reading the comments in local newspaper articles like these. Anyway, SWCC, formerly Graduate Hospital or G-Ho until Tenet sold the hospital to help pay a bunch of Medicare fraud fines, was my old neighborhood, though I lived at the very Northern end of it, closer in character to the neighboring wealthy neighborhood of Rittenhouse Square. It was a pretty marginal neighborhood when I first got to Philly, though it has improved a lot since then. It was an area where, for better or for worse, developer frenzy existed and plenty of them didn't/aren't going to get nearly as much cash for their houses as they thought. Still the housing stock has been greatly improved over the past 7 years or so.

Urban Hellholes

Because no matter how many times I write it that I am not talking about the city, I am talking about slightly different suburbs than the prevailing model, people feel the need to explain to me that not everyone likes the city. I know!

Since reading comprehension can't be that poor, I assume that some people just lack the model. They don't know what I'm talking about because they haven't seen it. So, I'm talking about places like Narberth, where once you get a couple blocks away from the main street it's suburban, just not typical 1990s-era suburban.

The Pub's (Mostly) A Metaphor

In case it wasn't obvious.

Local Pub

One of the enduring mysteries to me is how so much of our population voluntarily chooses to live in places where walking - or even taking a cab - home from a bar, any bar, really isn't an option. While I believe there is a shortage of walkable communities in many parts of the country, with many people being priced out of what little good urban living is available, I also believe that many people really like the archetypal American suburban neighborhood. This desire for complete separation of residential/retail is just weird to me.

...adding, I don't mean that I find it weird that people want to live in suburbs, I mean that I find it weird that so many people want to live in the post-1950s style suburbs which are prevalent in many places, instead of places which more resemble older inner ring suburbs or European-style suburbs. Still very suburban, but with walkable access to retail at least in parts.

Gonna Steal It All

Nobody could have predicted.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says Congress will need to release the last half of the $700 billion rescue fund because the first $350 billion has been committed.


It is an odious rule, and absurd, and women will suffer or even die because of it. I've been around members of the "religious left" for whom "conscience clauses" are considered to be nonnegotiable. Be careful how big you make that tent.


They lied. Hundreds of thousands of people died. Then they lied about lying.

How they live with themselves I do not know. How the Villagers get more upset about, say, John Edwards' big house than this stuff I do not know.

Dirty Hippies

The divide between Dirty Fucking Hippie and Serious Person really turns on whether you are on board with what I call the  Great American Hegemony Project. 

Domestic policy issues, not so important.  


You people talk too much.  

Thursday, December 18, 2008

deep thought

71 is a pretty good bowling score.

Even More Thread

Enjoy it even more.

Evening Thread


Why Not Him?

Franken gonna pull ahead any minute now...

Happy Hour Thread


Wrecked and Ruined

never mind, reporter misread data completely. story down

Liars And Their Enablers

Nobody dare question the claims of America's Pastor.

Strange Days

Pound and Euro almost at parity.

A Liar And A Hater

Perhaps that is an appropriate person to be America's Pastor.

Our Bigoted Media-Industrial Complex

Being anti-gay is perfectly acceptable, and nothing pleases The Villagers more than punching hippies in the face, so it's a two-fer. Greg Sargent:

Such a decision would be met not just with screams from the right, but outrage from middle-of-the-road pols and pundits all over the country. But the pick of Warren is only generating outrage from the left, so it doesn't matter, and indeed, it's good for Obama politically, we're told.

I don't actually think it was a good step politically, even though I agree that often punching hippies in the face is, sadly, politically smart. But it would be nice if someone like, say, EJ Dionne, would confront Warren's bigotry and suggest it isn't the change we can believe in. But I assume it'll just be the dirty fucking hippies and Teh Gay. Because anti-gay bigotry is very centrist!

America's Pastor

Doesn't believe in evolution, equates gay marriage with child rape, and, frankly, is a fucking idiot. Thanks Faith In Public Life! Thanks Obama!

Barack Obama has selected the Rev. Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor and author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, a role that positions Mr. Warren to succeed Billy Graham as the nation’s pre-eminent minister and reflects the generational changes in the evangelical Christian movement.

Madoff Fallout

This NYT article suggests Madoff fallout could further impact many in Big Real Estate because they used their investments with him as collateral for their projects.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Still high.

The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week, easing from a 26-year peak, government data showed Thursday, but stayed at levels consistent with a distressed economy.

Jobless claims are still more than 200,000 higher than a year ago. Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits fell 21,000, to a seasonally adjusted 554,000 in the week ended Dec. 13 from an upwardly revised 575,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said.

Crack of Dawn

More thread.  Coffee later.


Rock on.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Late Night

I started to write a jargony econ post but, ah, who cares.


Turn Your Backs

I won't be in DC, but let me suggest that the appropriate way to deal with Warren's appearance for those who are there is to turn your backs to him.

Deep Thought

I hope he uses his time to pray the gay away.

Fresh Thread

For you filthy Marxists.

Old Time Religion

Who would Jesus assassinate? should be obvious, but in case it isn't, imagine the headlines here if a prominent cleric who had called for the assassination of Bush spoke at an equivalent Iranian event? That's some diplomacy we can believe in, my friends!

Dinner Thread


Lever Up!

I really don't think it's appropriate for state pension funds to be making leveraged investments.

Liars For Jesus

Aside from the bigot part, Rick Warren is, you know, a liar.

Warren claimed he supported Proposition 8 because of a free-speech issue -- asserting that "any pastor could be considered doing hate speech . . . if he shared his views that homosexuality wasn't the most natural way for relationships."

That's some lying we can believe in, my friends.

...more complete quote:

And the reason I supported Prop 8 really, was a free speech issue. Because if it had…. First, the court overid the will of the people. But second, is, there were all kinds of threats that if you… that did not pass, then any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn’t think homosexuality was the most natural way for relationships. And that would be hate speech. To me, we should have freedom of speech. And you should be able to have freedom of speech to make your position, and I should be able to have freedom of speech to make my position. And can we do this in a civil way?

Wanker of the Day

Barack Obama.

Afternoon Thread



I know we're in crazy economic times here, but it's still a bit weird seeing economists suggesting that our government get into the mortgage business at below market rates. Something else to consider is that substantial numbers of marginal homeowners, people who are notionally roughly on the fence between renting or buying, are the very people who have been or soon will be in foreclosure. These are the people who were lured into becoming buyers instead of renters by the availability of cheap credit. Going to offer them low interest loans given the hit their credit rating just took? Home ownership rates are still quite high by historic standards.


I know that dude.

Not sure I really want to see his mug on every Philadelphia street corner, tho.


Thanks, Oh Wise Men Of Washington. Heckuva job!

BAGHDAD — A bomb planted in a minibus exploded near a parking lot of the Iraqi traffic police in a market neighborhood of northeastern Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 18 people and injuring 52, Ministry of Interior and police officials said.

Is That You, Ben?

CNN's telling me about someone wandering around handing out free money to people. For a second I thought it might be Helicopter Ben Bernanke engaging in some creative monetary policy, but some of the people look kinda poor so I doubt it.

You Forgot Murkowski!

I'm not a fan of political dynasties, but the Villagers have decided this was a recent invention by Democrats which is absurd.

Even Worse

I can remember when Irvine Renter was making his "crazy" predictions about falling home prices.

I don't think I had a strong belief back then about whether home prices would level off/decline a bit or go bust. The reason was that I had no idea that lending standards had gotten so bad. I knew people were taking out loans with shitty terms which would come back and bite them in the ass, but I didn't know banks had basically tossed out "ability to repay" as something to be concerned about. I did know that there was no way continued appreciation was sustainable because I knew that not enough people in the country had that much money.

Back to the 90s

I'm not surprised that Congressional Republicans want to go back there. It was truly their time. They were the stars of Washington, and all they had to do was make some shit up and cable news would give them a platform to spew it. Truly fun times.

Nobody Could Have Predicted

Criminal incompetence.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Steve Preston said the centerpiece of the federal government's effort to help struggling homeowners has been a failure and he's blaming Congress.

The three-year program was supposed to help 400,000 borrowers avoid foreclosure. But it has attracted only 312 applications since its October launch because it is too expensive and onerous for lenders and borrowers alike, Preston said in an interview.


Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who helped steer the HUD program through Congress, said some of the federal bailout money should be used to revamp it. Frank acknowledged the initiative has its problems, but he blamed them on the Bush administration.

"That's partly their fault," said Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. "The administration was critical of the program and kept putting pressure on us to make it cheaper and more restrictive. . . . If it hadn't been for the Bush administration's opposition, we would have written it in a better way in the first place."

Of course our boy Steve was all positive when the bill was passed.

This program starts today and ends September 30, 2011. The HOPE for Homeowners program was passed by Congress and signed by the President at the end of July. The legislation allows FHA to kick off the program no earlier than October 1.

We wanted the program implemented by October 1. We moved quickly. Many said it couldn't be done. We knew it would be tough.

* We needed extensive coordination with other federal agencies.
* Our teams needed to reprogram and expand systems and hire staff.

Well, we did it.

I thank everyone involved for their hard work and dedication. I especially want to thank all of the HOPE for Homeowners Board designees including Brian Montgomery, the FHA Commissioner; Phil Swagel, Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy; Governor Betsy Duke from the Federal Reserve Board; and the Director of FDIC, Tom Curry, for their public service to the nation during these trying times.

This program is one more tool in the toolbox for homeowners and lenders. It is yet one more way that families may be helped to weather the current turbulence in the housing market. For the past two years, HUD has offered other ways to help homeowners find the right mortgage and stay in their homes. FHASecure is what we call our refinancing program.

Morning Thread

by Molly Ivors

Another ice storm in the Liberal Mountain region: feh.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Late Night Thread

Tuesday Night Thread


Evening Thread

I'm out drinking liberally.


I guess it goes up, too!

Helicopter Ben dropped rates to basically zero. Free money!

Afternoon Thread


The Rules For Democrats

As Jamo notes, Obama has two choices: 1) honor Fitzgerald's request and delay the release of his internal investigation, and 2) fail to honor Fitzgerald's request and potentially undermine parts of his corruption investigation. Obviously #2 would be the more suspicious course of action and would rightly raise the eyebrows of reporters. But fortunately our reporters know the rules of the new game, so #1 is a problem too!


A theme which has been with us since the beginning.

One wonders why we didn't respond to this lack of gratitude by, you know, leaving.

Ah, memories.

Act Of An Ingrate

I don't expect everyone to approve of shoe throwing as appropriate political protest, but only our sick and corrupt elites could literally be unable to comprehend what might motivate such a thing. It's one thing to condemn the act, but something else to deny legitimate motivation. We blew up their country, hundreds of thousands of people died, and millions were displaced. Ungrateful wogs!

Do The WaPo Editors Let Just Anything Through

Richard Cohen doesn't think Michelle Obama will be worrying her beautiful mind about "hard news."


I think I'd misunderstood when I first heard about this and thought they were discontinuing all paper copies most days. Regarding the Detroit papers:

Expanding digital information channels that provide news and information to a variety of audiences when, where and how they want it.
Limiting newspaper home delivery to Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays while selling printed copies at newsstand seven days a week.
Providing subscribers daily access to electronic editions, exact copies of each day’s printed newspapers.

I don't know enough about the various costs of doing business, but one imagines suburban (especially) home delivery is quite expensive. And I wonder why the free tabloid format seems to work well for things like the Metro but hasn't been as embraced by "real" newspapers.

Unconcerned With The Consequences


The harsh reality is that this was not a noble undertaking done for good reasons. It was a criminal enterprise launched by madmen cheered on by a chorus of fools and cowards. And it’s seen as such by virtually everyone all around the world — including but by no means limited to the Arab world. But it’s impolitic to point this out in the United States, and it’s clear that even a president-elect who had the wisdom not to be suckered in by the War Fever of 2002 has no intention of really acting to marginalize the bad actors. Which, I think, makes sense for his political objectives. But if Americans want to play a constructive role in world affairs, it’s vitally important for us to get in touch with the reality of what the past eight years of US foreign policy have been and how they’re seen and understood by people who aren’t stirred by the shibboleths of American patriotism.

I don't expect Cheney's gang to ever care about the hell they unleashed in that country, but they were enabled by almost the entire population of Elite Washington. Even now simple inconvenient facts of that time are brushed aside in favor of the Official Narrative. The complete lack of repentance or honest accounting by our elites is a continuing reminder of just how corrupt and sick elite Washington is. I don't know how they live with themselves. They're obviously not like me or most of the people I know.


I find the whole unfolding Caroline Kennedy saga to be rather depressing. Not just that she's being considered (in the press if not elsewhere), but that she's running a public campaign which involves reaching out to elites. The whole thing is just weird and feeds into the politics as personality soap opera that the press loves to focus on.

Americans Are Deeply Unserious

We're supposed to stay 4evah!

Americans are more upbeat about U.S. prospects in Iraq than at any time in the past five years, but nearly two-thirds continue to believe the war is not worth fighting and 70 percent say President-elect Barack Obama should fulfill his campaign promise to withdraw U.S. forces from the country within 16 months, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

This Is Excellent News For Republicans

Somehow, it always is.

CO-Senate: Salazar Departure Creates GOP Opportunity


Home building industry not going to turn around for awhile.

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. builders broke ground in November on the fewest new homes since record-keeping began, signaling the housing slump will extend into a fourth year.

Construction starts on housing fell 18.9 percent last month to an annual rate of 625,000 that was the lowest since the government started compiling statistics in 1959, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The annual rate was lower than all 70 estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Shoes Go Viral

Blame Ntodd



Monday, December 15, 2008


Aside from the obvious "gee it was nice to win" bit, it was a bit of a relief that this election wasn't a close-enough-to-be-disputed one as the last two were.

I always expected Obama to win, though that didn't prevent me from worrying about the horror of the alternative, but I didn't expect him to win that big. Indiana, bitches!

Nobody Could've Predicted

That Chris Cox would suck ass.

The latest black eye for the commission came when inspectors and agency lawyers missed a series of red flags at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. If it had checked out the warnings, the commission might well have discovered years ago that the firm was concealing its losses by using billions of dollars from some investors to pay others.

The firm was the subject of several inquiries over the years, including one last year that was closed by the agency’s New York office after it received a referral of potentially significant problems from the Boston office.

Similarly, the agency’s chairman, Christopher Cox, assured investors nine months ago that all was well at Bear Stearns. It collapsed three days later.

Between those two events, H. David Kotz, the commission’s new inspector general, has documented several major botched investigations. He has told lawmakers of one case in which the commission’s enforcement chief improperly tipped off a private lawyer about an insider-trading inquiry.

Monday Night Thread


Salazar To Interior

I have no opinion on whether he's a good choice for that job, but don't mind the idea that he's leaving the Senate hopefully to be replaced by a better Democrat.

Due Diligence

But you forgot to look inside the magical money box!

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Tremont Group Holdings Inc., a hedge- fund firm owned by OppenheimerFunds Inc., had $3.3 billion invested with Bernard Madoff, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Tremont’s Rye Investment Management unit had $3.1 billion, virtually all of its assets, invested with Madoff, said the person, who declined to be identified because the information is private. Tremont had another $200 million invested through its fund of funds group, Tremont Capital Management.

“We believe Tremont exercised appropriate due diligence in connection with the Madoff investments,” the company said in a statement.

Nice work!!

Deep Thought

Why haven't impeachment proceedings against President-Elect Obama started yet?

Rick Warren

Can Democrats go back to staying away from this horrible creep?

When I Forget To Finish A Thought

Yes, there's a difference state speech and private speech on public property. Religious stuff is fine in the latter case as long as it's nondiscriminatory. But, in practice, that's going to be problematic. So put up some nonreligious holiday displays and leave it at that!


Business bankruptcies soaring, which isn't just bad news for the business owners but also all the people they owe money to.

Afternoon Thread


Teh Google

A bunch of people have sent in complaints about the WSJ Google article. I think this Wired analysis, sent in by reader b, is the best. The WSJ was wrong that Google had changed their position, but there is nonetheless reason for concern about the edge caching they're engaging in. On the margin there's nothing wrong with it as it speeds up the internets. But if content providers continue to do this they'll effectively privilege their own content over others, and if the main tubes get clogged while their content flows more freely it will in effect be an erosion of net neutrality even if it wasn't their evil intention.


Matt's correct that while you can just start putting down track for SUPERTRAINS everywhere, there are plenty of mass transit-related projects that can be implemented fairly quickly. Some of them are pretty unsexy, such as station refurbishment, and some of them, such as buying new SUPERTRAIN capital stock, wouldn't see results right away but would still act as an economic stimulus.

Historical Accident

I didn't mean to suggest that it was a "historical accident" in the sense that it happened magically without any human beings directing it. What I mean is that the internet as we know it was not simply a neat technological development which would have inevitably happened. We got lucky! Lucky that smart people were in the right places doing the right things at the right time, and lucky that other relatively powerful actors (Compuserve, AOL, etc...) weren't aware that their existing business models were about to take a severe beating. Lucky that few understood the potential and didn't try to legislate or regulate it out of existence before it took off. Imagine telling senators in 1992 that soon every 13 year old would have a porn machine on his/her desk.


If members of Congress can't get outraged when they're lied to, I'm kinda starting to wonder why I should bother getting outraged on their behalf.

The accountability-free era.

Secular Christmas

As someone who grew up in a religion-free home, but nonetheless celebrated Christmas and Easter, I've long been puzzled by the difficulty many - even fairly nonreligious people - have in seeing them as secular holidays grafted onto religious ones. Christmas was about trees and Santa and presents. Easter was about chocolate bunnies and colored eggs. While both have their roots in religious traditions, the secular traditions easily exist independently. So, for holiday displays on public property, trees and lights are fine but nativity scenes and crosses aren't. It really isn't that complicated.

Their Job

Nice to see someone make the obvious but important point.

The $7.3 billion Fairfield Sentry Fund invested solely with Madoff, taking a cut of 1 percent of assets and 20 percent of gains, which averaged about 11 percent annually in the past 15 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Fairfield Greenwich is one of at least 15 hedge-fund firms and private banks, including Tremont Holdings Group Inc. and Banco Santander SA, that earned similar fees for sending customers’ cash to the 70-year-old money manager.

“It’s mind-boggling that people like Tremont and Fairfield Greenwich had been doing this for so long,” said Brad Alford, who runs Alpha Capital Management LLC in Atlanta, which helps clients choose hedge funds. “It’s the job of these funds of funds to be doing due diligence. That’s why they get paid.”

I've seen some around the internets ask why people would invest in a fund which did little other than invest in another fund and take a cut. The only reason is because you're paying them to do due diligence. Which they weren't because Madoff's investment strategy was the "secret magic box" that no one was allowed to look inside. Nice work!!

Nobody Could Have Predicted

Well, you know, except everyone.

But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision, congressional aides said. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money.

Now, however, the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts. In a reversal, the Bush administration has not used auctions for any of the $335 billion committed so far from the rescue package, nor does it plan to use them in the future. Lawmakers and legal experts say the change has effectively repealed the only enforcement mechanism in the law dealing with lavish pay for top executives.

The great $700 billion theft.

High Threadcount

Need bandwidth. And coffee.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

First, Do Evil


The celebrated openness of the Internet -- network providers are not supposed to give preferential treatment to any traffic -- is quietly losing powerful defenders.

Google Inc. has approached major cable and phone companies that carry Internet traffic with a proposal to create a fast lane for its own content, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Google has traditionally been one of the loudest advocates of equal network access for all content providers.

The open internets was a bizarre historical accident, necessary to defend and unlikely to be repeated. People always object when I say this, but they're wrong.

No Mo Money

All going bad.

With unemployment claims reaching their highest levels in decades, states are running out of money to pay benefits, and some are turning to the federal government for loans or increasing taxes on businesses to make the payments.

Thirty states are at risk of having the funds that pay out unemployment benefits become insolvent over the next few months, according to the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Funds in two states, Indiana and Michigan, have already dried up, and both states are borrowing from the federal government to make payments to the unemployed.

Sunday Night


At Least

Given the list that's already out, I'm guessing $50 billion isn't going to to be the full amount EATED by Madoff. Might have notionally been a fund with $50 billion in assets, but he'd been taking money from new investors and giving it to existing ones so who knows just how many people got screwed.

And someone wrote me to point out that there's a lot of collateral damage here. Charitable foundations and similar are being destroyed by this and laying off workers.

The Whole Thing Has Been A Giant Ponzi Scheme

Josh is right that there's less difference between the Madoff case and the financial sector generally over the past few years than will generally be acknowledged. There are differences, especially in that it was a kind of decentralized Ponzi scheme within and between organizations, and no one person could have stopped it or given up the game. But for years the housing, mortgage, mortgage backed securities, and everyone's favorite, the synthetic MBS, markets all depended on getting new suckers to throw cash into the system. And it wasn't as if nobody noticed.

The question we've been asking for some time is who gets left holding the bag. Unsurprisingly, it'll largely be taxpayers. Apparently we're the ultimate suckers!

None Of Those Things Are Actually True

80 years or so from now when they finally get around to teaching this time period in high school, I really do wonder how they'll try to answer that simple unanswerable question... why did we invade Iraq?

BAGHDAD, Dec. 14 -- Arriving in Baghdad today for a farewell visit, President Bush staunchly defended a war that has taken far more time, money and lives than anticipated, saying the conflict "has not been easy" but was necessary for U.S. security, Iraqi stability and "world peace."

More Thread

For posting scores of local sporting contests.

Afternoon Thread


Smash and Destroy

I'm so old I can remember Gray Davis's budget deficit made him a laughingstock in the national press, which also kept just making up exaggerated numbers.

California is bleeding Republican red as the state's minority party tries to squeeze a spending cap and pro-business policies from fiscal chaos.

Badly outnumbered and often ignored by the Democratic-dominated Legislature, the GOP is not getting sand kicked in its face these days.

California is hurtling toward a financial abyss, projecting a $40 billion shortfall by July 2010, and no deal can be struck without at least three Republican votes in both the Assembly and Senate.

Still Riding

Variety of articles about how people mass transit ridership is still up despite falling gas prices. In the past this pattern hasn't held up, with people returning to their cars once prices fell.

Now if only more places would encourage allow the kind of development which would allow people to get away from the one car needed for every 16+ household member situation that exists in so many places in the country.

War Lords

Thanks, Oh Wise Men Of Washington, for the last 8 years.

Boring Stuff

As I suggested before, much of any stimulus bill would likely be first focused on boring stuff like deferred maintenance. We need a massive public works project for its own sake - one that isn't meant to be a short run stimulus - but we need the stimulus too.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.
•“Fox News Sunday,” — Guests: Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat; Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican.

•NBC’s “Meet the Press,” — Guest: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan; Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, Democrat; Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Democrat; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Republican; former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina; Wal-Mart President & CEO Lee Scott; Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

•ABC’s “This Week,” — Guest: Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

•CBS’ “Face the Nation,” — Guests: Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat; Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican; Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat; Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Democrat; Michael Eric Dyson, sociology professor at Georgetown University.

•CNN’s“Late Edition,” 10 a.m. — Guests: Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican; Sen. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat; Gene Sperling, former Hillary Clinton economic adviser; Ron Gettelfinger, president of United Auto Workers.

If it's Sunday, it still sucks.

No Combat Troops

Little item on the front page of the NYT:

The top American commander in Iraq said some America troops would remain in a support role in cities past a summer 2009 deadlime.

Bumiller on page 28.



Here's a picture of me from my under-appreciated emo phase.