Saturday, August 11, 2007

Evening Thread

Rock on.

Fake Events, Lunatic Politicians

I wonder if anyone in our mainstream media will notice that these people are, uh, pretty nuts.

...for example, Brownback:

"We should be able to say one nation Under God and the flag salute and not be worried about anybody suing us."

Well, unless your idea of the "flag salute" is, say, shooting a child in the face with a shotgun, you're unlikely to be sued for that. As for the "Under God" thing, about the only time that might happen is if you have a custodial role in public schools. Unlikely even then.

I'm sure few of the fine folks of Iowa who gave him his "biggest applause line" have ever actually held off saying "Under God" or saluting the flag because they feared some dirty liberal was going to sue them for it. Still it's very exciting!

Undisclosed Location Blogging


Sorry Mitt

Because you said this:

Let me, uh, let me offer just a thought. And that is, uh, one of the great things about this great land, is we have people of different faiths and different persuasions. And uh, I'm convinced that the nation, that the nation does need, the nation does need to have people of different faiths but we need to have a person of faith lead the country.

You're fair game for this:

Romney's Mormon faith, which has been a central topic of discussion here in recent days, is yet again playing a prominent role. A flyer being distributed by the U.S. Christians for Truth asks, "Would Jesus Christ vote for Mitt Romney?" It urges attendees to "join us to spread the truth about Mitt Romney and save America from his Mormon cult values."

Matt Rhoades, communications director for Romney, condemned the flyer. "Attacks of religious bigotry have absolutely no place in politics today. It's unfortunate other camps stoop to such levels." (It's not clear, however, that the group has ANY affiliation to any other GOP campaign.)

Mitt thinks religious beliefs are a fair thing to judge political candidates by. And he's being judged. I don't particularly have an opinion about whether Mormonism is cult-like or whether Jesus Christ would endorse the Mittster, but Mitt certainly has an opinion about my fitness for higher office.

Wanker of the Day


More like this...

Put together by these folks.

By Undisclosed Location Non-Atrios.

Stu and The Terrorists - BFFs!

The obvious logical conclusion is that if Philadelphia's shame (And, yes, we're to blame for Smerconish and Beck as well) Stu Bykofsky could prevent a massive terrorist attack, he wouldn't.

That's patriotism, conservative style.

Undisclosed Location Blogging


Everyone Must Agree

The conservative cult's mass death wish is obviously based on a faulty premise, that if there's a terrorist attack they and Dear Leader will somehow be vindicated. Of course the reverse is true. When it comes to "the war on terra," George Bush and the conservative movement have pretty much gotten everything they've wanted. Democrats and dirty fucking hippie bloggers, despite complaints, haven't managed to stop the Bush administration from doing what they think is important.

So if a massive terrorist attack happened, it wouldn't be a vindication of what they've been doing, it would be proof that they failed to do what George Bush claims is his most important job.

All of these calls for "unity" and prayers that thousands of people die so that people "wake up" have nothing to do with anyone preventing the Bush administration from doing what they want. They're simply expressing a deep anger that the dirty fucking hippies don't agree with everything they say. Ultimately, they're angry that their pet war isn't going well and angry that the dirty fucking hippies don't rely on quite as many adult undergarments as they do.

But if some sort of terrorist attack happens, it's their people who will have failed to stop it. Despite our best efforts, we haven't managed to impact Bush administration policy on this stuff at all.

They Hope for Dead People

The truly sick conservative movement. At least they're being honest.

When September Comes

Well, it's depressing to point out the obvious, that when September comes the Republicans will declare the surge a success, the Wise Old Men will nod in agreement, and the Dems won't be able to hold any coalition together to try to stop this war thanks to the hideous cowards known as the "Blue Dogs."

Undisclosed Location Blogging


Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Earth Tones in the Swampland edition.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Late Night Thread


Evening Thread

Rock on.

Not Normal

Brad DeLong confirms that the Fed playing around in the mortgage-backed securities market is indeed a not normal thing. I said as much earlier, but monetary policy - especially the reality of Fed action - was never really my thing. Sure I taught plenty of students that the Fed engaged in the buying of selling of government debt. But, hey, what do I know. Maybe all the textbooks lied.

Here's hoping for a major Fed buy in the FCOJ-backed securities market over the weekend. Baby needs a new pair of shoes!


Republicans often seem to have a problem with the concept. In Rudy!'s case, it's that he confuses his narcissistic appropriation with empathy.

Dude, you don't own what they went through. Obviously you can't even empathize.

Afternoon Thread

A useful read on the financial markets and their current problems is this one. Or you can listen to this MP3 (thanks to res ipsa loquitur)

Not Atrios, either.


Nothing's too low for 'em.

Not Atrios

Dig those threads

Rudy is such a fraud.

Not Atrios

Krauthammer Attacks TNR!

Awesome. As Yglesias says:

At any rate, I've been torn by two contending impulses throughout this saga, and Krauthammer's attack leaves me shifting back toward my initial one, which was to find it amusing to see TNR ripped to shreds by the same pack of attack dogs they spent years egging on.

Oh Boy

Fed to the rescue.

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve added $19 billion in temporary funds to the banking system through the purchase of mortgage-backed securities to help meet demand for cash amid a rout in bonds backed by home loans to riskier borrowers.

The Fed accepted only mortgage-backed debt as collateral for this morning's weekend repurchase agreement. Losses in U.S. subprime mortgage investments have been rippling through global credit markets, driving interest rates higher and sinking share prices. The Fed also added $24 billion yesterday, the most since April, as demand for cash increased.

The New York Fed's additions lowered the Federal funds rate to 5.375 percent, according to ICAP Plc, after it began trading at 6 percent, the highest opening rate since January 2001. The Fed's benchmark overnight rate is currently 5.25 percent.

Nothing wrong with putting money into the system to lower the federal funds rate, but this is bailing out investors in a certain kind of specific and troubled asset.


Blog Haters

As I've said before, I appreciate discussions about racial and gender diversity in the blogosphere. However, those who ignore the very real accomplishments of female bloggers in order to make their case have other agendas in mind.

If Goodman was actually interested in female bloggers she wouldn't ignore the many popular ones which exist or marginalize the one she does point to as one merely about "women's issues."

Consider reading some of the many fine blogs run by women, some of which aren't only about dealing with PMS, and promote them in your column.

On a glass houses note, listed male Editorial / Op-Ed columnists at the Globe get 6 columns per week; women get only 3.

There are six men
on the Boston Globe editorial board. There are 2 women.

Can We Have a Follow Up?

It's a little gross regardless, but Giuiliani is making an empirical claim here which could be verified with a little reporting.

ABC News' Jan Simmonds Reports: In Ohio on Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani R-NY handed his critics new ammunition regarding his role surrounding 9/11.

Speaking to reporters in Cincinnati, Giuliani said: "I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. ... I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them."

Michael Palladino, head of the Detectives Endowment Association, the union of NYPD detectives, told the Associated Press that the mayor's record can't compare to those who spent 12 months sifting through toxic debris for evidence and human remains.

"As a result of their hard work, many are sick and injured. The mayor, although he did a fine job with 9/11, I don't think he rises to the level of being an equal with those men and women who were involved in the rescue, recovery and cleanup," Palladino said.

I highly doubt Rudy! was really "sifting through toxic debris" 40 hours a week for a year, or even too close to those who were, but someone can go back and check the mayor's public schedule...

Liquidity and Insolvency

Krugman's right that this is a liquidity crisis and those are bad things, but Roubini also makes the important point that it's wrong to see this as just a liquidity crisis.

Advantage: Me!

Disadvantage: Democrats, the country, etc. Me, back in March:

I do hope Democrats show the foresight to get out in front of the looming mortgage crisis.

Bad Politicians

This NYT editorial is pretty good on policies to ease the foreclosure crisis. There can be some justifications for lender-side help, but only if the emphasis is on those homeowners who were victimized by bad and predatory lending practices. But those lenders are precisely the ones who shouldn't have any kind of bailout.

Big first step is finding ways to get rid of the prepayment penalties and easing people into reasonable fixed rate loans.

Christ, Focus On The Record

Not having seen it I offer up no opinion on what Richardson did or should have said, and I don't offer this up as any kind of defense.

But in general terms, focusing on the record is something we should do more instead of trying to divine what's in the souls of candidates. There are reasons for doing the latter, as past performance is no guarantee of future returns, but ultimately it doesn't really matter what politicians think about things deep in their hearts. Bill Richardson can think (not saying he does) that homosexuality is an abomination which will be punished by an eternity in hell, as long as he's pushing for policies which provide gays and lesbians with equal rights.


Everything else aside, I don't understand this yearning for a time of "unity." Its basic translation is a time when everyone who disagreed with me decided it was best to shut the hell up for awhile and when the patriot police had a good time hunting for dissidents.

That's an unhealthy state of affairs, not a healthy one.

21st Century Vole

Spain is overrun by voles. The Spanish government plans to respond by setting all the voles on fire.

I wonder what charred vole smells like. Delicious, I bet.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Great Neoconservative Mind

Tweety thinks that George Bush sounds like one.

Philly Columnist Hopes for Death of 3000+ Americans

I appreciate the honesty.

ONE MONTH from The Anniversary, I'm thinking another 9/11 would help America.

Big, Beefy

Please someone get Tweety some counseling.

So Predictable

Sometimes it's enough to make one a conspiracy theorist.

The 6th Son

Mitt's 6th son breaks his silence.

Our Awesome Elite Discourse

Chris Mathews, Ph.D, Ph. D, Ph. D, Ph.D, Ph. D, Ph. D, Ph.D, Ph. D, Ph. D, Ph.D, Ph. D, Ph. D, Ph.D, Ph. D, Ph. D, Ph.D, Ph. D, Ph. D,

Time Shift

I woke up this morning in my undisclosed location and realized I was....POSTING FROM THE FUTURE!

So, posting schedule might be a bit out of whack for your mere mortals existing in NORMAL TIME.

Atrios in his undisclosed location, artist's conception

Typical meal in undisclosed location, artist's conception

Afternoon thread

Ride the wild securities market. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


The conceit of the "community" is the same as the conceit of the general permanent floating Washington class, that they are dedicated servants who float above crass politics for the good of the country and the world.

And the Problem Is?

What the hell are we staying for?

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A US withdrawal from Iraq may be "impossible to resist" unless violence against civilians falls substantially, a study funded by the US Air Force warned Wednesday.


"If the number of Iraqis who die violently does not fall substantially by the summer of 2007, domestic political pressure to withdraw US forces may become impossible to resist," the report said.

Makes it sound like "leaving Iraq" is some evil irresistible temptress.

Lyme Disease

That should've been disclosed.

WASHINGTON - President Bush was treated for Lyme disease a year ago after developing a circular rash characteristic of the ailment, the White House announced yesterday.

More Mortgage Meltdown

Mon Dieu!:

PARIS (AP) -- BNP Paribas SA, France's largest bank by market value, announced Thursday that one of its units was suspending three of its asset-backed securities funds, saying it could not value them accurately because of problems in the U.S. subprime mortgage market.

The announcement by BNP Paribas Investment Partners sent further shock waves through an already sensitive money market.

The bank said it was suspending three funds worth a total of euro2 billion ($2.75 billion): Parvest Dynamic ABS, BNP Paribas ABS Euribor and BNP Paribas ABS Eonia. All funds combined at BNP Paribas Investment Partners are worth more than euro350 billion ($482.79 billion).

"The complete evaporation of liquidity in certain market segments of the U.S. securitization market has made it impossible to value certain assets fairly regardless of their quality or credit rating," BNP Paribas said in a statement.

Translation: when you've got something that no one will buy, it's pretty hard to say what it's worth.

Game Time

Three months ago today, the 4th branch of government said that it was "game time" in Iraq.

Since then, approximately 177 277 US troops have died in Cheney's game.

Note to Self

Contrary to expectations, Terminal A at Philadelphia airport does not have any wireless.

Late Night Thread

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

'Nother thread

Dear Al....

Not Atrios

Newer Thread

Brought to you by the memory of 5 Brothers who didn't drive a Winnebago.

New Thread

Go fight with Chris Clarke's BlogWarBot. Blogwars 2.0.

Fresh Thread


The Community

Greenwald discusses nicely something I was kicking around with various people at Yearly Kos.

It's important to remind ourselves, and everyone, what these very serious people have been responsible for over the past few years. It's one thing to have unelected secretive Wise Old People having such tremendous influence when they're not doing such a bad job. But they did a bad job. There were consequences of that. Hundreds of thousands of people have died and there's an unimaginable level of pain and suffering. Still the very wise people of Washington do little but try to hold on to their reputations and the power and status of their class.

Friedman Forever

With pretty pictures and everything.

Wanker of the Day

Mitt Romney.

And For Your Happy Housing News


Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. home sales will tumble to a five-year low this year as a widening credit crunch reduces the number of buyers who can get mortgages, the National Association of Realtors said today.

Sales of previously owned homes probably will fall 6.8 percent to 6.04 million in 2007, the lowest since 5.63 million in 2002, the real estate trade group said today in its monthly forecast, lowering its outlook for the eighth time this year. New-home sales, which account for about 15 percent of the housing market, probably will fall 19 percent to 852,000, a 10- year low, the group said.

``Mortgage disruptions will hold back sales over the short term,'' Lawrence Yun, an economist for the association, said in the report.

These are their estimates. Government data out in 2 weeks.


Over there:

The U.S. military tells that 26 American service members have been killed in action in Iraq in the past week alone, including three soldiers who were killed by a single roadside bomb attack reported Tuesday.



Hillary on Mortgages

This seems like a pretty good set of policies. Let's hope that she makes a real effort to get through Congress sooner rather than later, as later will be too late. Eliminating early payment penalties is a key step.


The typo is kind of appropriate.

Dobbs' Heroes

I, too, had never really known the facts of this case despite watching Lou Dobbs tell me about it most nights.

CNN, the most trusted name in news.


I used to get mad at Salon for publishing Camille Paglia. They were the only game in town, and it was a disappointing use of limited resources. It's nice that there are plenty of other places now.

It's still a big middle finger to their base readers, however.

Because the People Demand A Thread

Young Republican National Federation prez resigns and is being investigated for "alleged criminal deviate conduct."

Innocent until proven guilty, yada yada.

Morning Thread

Wakey, wakey!
Eggs and Bakey!

I got nothin'.

Oh, here's something. On Populism.

--Molly I.

Don't Fuck Us Over

Rock harder.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Late Night

Rock on.

And Another Michael Gordon Special

Leaked to Drudge early, of course.

BAGHDAD, Aug. 7 — Attacks on American-led forces using a lethal type of roadside bomb said to be supplied by Iran reached a new high in July, according to the American military.

The devices, known as explosively formed penetrators, were used to carry out 99 attacks last month and accounted for a third of the combat deaths suffered by the American-led forces, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, said in an interview.

Those of us who stayed awake the past couple of years remember the claims that those caveman Iraqis, once so sophisticated that they were going to DESTROY US ALL WITH THEIR DEATH RAYS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, were now such losers that they couldn't possibly build the incredibly advanced EFPs.

Until they found a factory. In Iraq.

Bleichwehl said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced "explosively formed penetrators" (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.

Still Michael Gordon keeps cranking out these stories. In the New York Times.

Thanks, Pinch.

Fresh Thread


Terry Mac

I think the only time I met Terry McAuliffe was when he wandered by at the Palm when I was having lunch with Begala and Carville. Yes that's a jokey namedropping thing. But more to the point, when I see him on the teevee I realize my resistance to Clinton is largely due to a desire to flush out the Clintonite shadow government and move on to the new. It isn't that I'm strongly opposed to these people, it's that I'm opposed to the permanent Washington floating world and my belief that anything which disrupts the permanent class is, in and of itself, a good thing.

Because they're very serious.

Don't Quiet The Crowd

As I already said I didn't see most of the debate, though I've told the Tivo to record the repeat, but one feature of the Yearly Kos debate was the crowd. And it was much better. K.O. just mentioned that he couldn't quiet this crowd, and while I don't know how it came across on the teevee, it certainly seems to be a big improvement over the sterile "shush shush let the serious journalists only speak" debate format we're used to. The format in general is flawed in many ways, but it's definitely improved upon by embracing crowd response.

Campaign Spokespersons

At some point I wish Democratic campaigns would learn that the talents which make you wonderful "senior advisers" or whatever don't necessarily make you a great spokesperson. Find some really smart and beautiful people and train them. It's an acting job.


I was out Drinking Liberally, so I'm just catching a bit of the AFL-CIO forum now. Completely leaving aside any substance, I'm struck by how much better Hillary Clinton comes across in person than on the teevee. While Clinton took some hits at the Yearly Kos forum, my bet is that any negatives were vastly overwhelmed by the fact that when people see Clinton in person they're shocked that she doesn't come across as her cold and uncaring caricature. Oddly, she does come across that way on the teevee. It's weird.

...adding, just realized I overstated the case a bit. I don't think Clinton comes across horribly on teevee, but the fact is that in person she's actually really good. And this surprises people.

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Greg asks:

Will Cordesman's conclusions get anywhere near the same level of media attention that the big news orgs lavished on O'Hanlon and Pollack?


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

By Grapthar's Krauthammer

When these kinds of things happen you wonder if he's lying or misinformed. If he's lying, why does the Post continue to employ him? If he's misinformed, don't you think it hurts the Post's brand by having clueless people associated with it?


What the hell is this creepy PSA I just saw on CNN trying to scare kids away from THE CHAT ROOM.

I learned "1 in 5 kids ages 5 to 17 have been sexually solicited online" and that 89% of those solicitations happened IN CHAT ROOMS.

It's such a weird statistic, especially since it lumps 5 year olds in with 17 year olds. Frankly I'd be a bit worried if 9 out of 10 teens age 17 hadn't been sexually solicited online. I don't mean by dirty old men like me, but by, you know, their peers and friends online. Can we acknowledge that plenty of teens probably wouldn't mind being "sexually solicited" which is why online sexual predators manage to find victims?

I'm not saying there are no real concerns here, just saying creepy ass scare PSAs aren't exactly going to address any of them.


There are people I just do not understand.

Get Your Ignatieff On

David Rees tries to cheer me up with some funny.*

*Not actually his motivation for writing it.

Return to Korematsu

Michelle Malkin is excited.

...quote was from 2002. I thought it was familiar. So much to forget.


Okay, I'm having an angry day as I got sucked into reading a bunch of liberal hawk horseshit from back in the day. Aside from the arguments they were making, what's infuriating is the endless preening. So often they would put themselves at the center of the narrative, as if anyone does or should give a rat's ass about their intellectual journey, or deep internal struggle, or whatever the fuck. As if any of that mattered.

And now a lot of people are dead, have holes in their heads, can't move, don't have legs, are suicidal, etc... because a bunch of self-important narcissists got off on the idea that they played a central role in creating history, or some such crap.



Re-reading things like Packer's piece it occurs to me that the worst people of all in this Iraq debacle were, in fact, the community of "liberal hawks" who spent their days patting themselves on the back for their moral and intellectual superiority.

Hideous people.

Where Is He Now?

People wondered what Makiya is up to:

Last summer, Makiya, who studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proposed a sweeping urban renewal project to Iraqi officials on a trip to Baghdad. The idea was to create, in the heart of the city, a pedestrians-only green space.

"You're talking about a massive rethinking of the city," Makiya said, waving his hand across a satellite map of Baghdad hanging on one wall. "Someone has to keep dreaming."


Talk turned to the U.S. presidential campaign. Morse mentioned the pressure that Hillary Rodham Clinton was facing to apologize for her Senate vote authorizing Bush to go to war.

Makiya stared into his glass of red wine. "That's so Maoist," he said.

"People shouldn't feel the need to apologize. What is there to apologize for?"

We Didn't Exist

Just thought I'd dig out an old gem. George Packer's Dec. 8, 2002 article entitled "The Liberal Quandary Over Iraq."


If you're a liberal, why haven't you joined the antiwar movement? More to the point, why is there no antiwar movement that you'd want to join? Troops and equipment are pouring into the Persian Gulf region in preparation for what could be the largest, riskiest, most controversial American military venture since Vietnam. According to a poll released the first week of December, 40 percent of Democrats oppose a war that has been all but scheduled for sometime in the next two months. So where are the antiwarriors?

In fact, a small, scattered movement is beginning to stir. On Oct. 26, tens of thousands of people turned out in San Francisco, Washington and other cities to protest against a war. Other demonstrations are planned for Jan. 18 and 19. By then an invasion could be under way, and if it gets bogged down around Baghdad with heavy American and Iraqi civilian casualties, or if it sets off a chain reaction of regional conflicts, antiwar protests could grow. But this movement has a serious liability, one that will just about guarantee its impotence: it's controlled by the furthest reaches of the American left. Speakers at the demonstrations voice unnuanced slogans like "No Sanctions, No Bombing" and "No Blood for Oil." As for what should be done to keep this mass murderer and his weapons in check, they have nothing to say at all. This is not a constructive liberal antiwar movement.

So let me rephrase the question. Why there is no organized liberal opposition to the war?

...adding, that this very serious person's article profiled some very serious "liberals," each with a very serious descriptor.

"The Theorist" was Michael Walzer, described as an "ambivalent opponent of war."

"The Romantic" was Christopher Hitchens.

"The Skeptic" was David Rieff, who did actually oppose the war.

"The Secularist" was Wieseltier, whose tremendous contribution to the field of advanced wankery must be documented here;

Wieseltier says he believes that Saddam's weapons and fondness for using them will probably necessitate a war, but unlike some other editors at The New Republic, he is not eager to start one. "We will certainly win," Wieseltier says, "but it is a war in which we are truly playing with fire."

"The Idealist" was Paul Berman, who wanted war but not George Bush's war.

These were all panelists. Packer concluded, discussing a panel at NYU:

Then the last panelist spoke. He was an Iraqi dissident named Kanan Makiya, and he said, "I'm afraid I'm going to strike a discordant note." He pointed out that Iraqis, who will pay the highest price in the event of an invasion, "overwhelmingly want this war." He outlined a vision of postwar Iraq as a secular democracy with equal rights for all of its citizens. This vision would be new to the Arab world. "It can be encouraged, or it can be crushed just like that. But think about what you're doing if you crush it." Makiya's voice rose as he came to an end. "I rest my moral case on the following: if there's a sliver of a chance of it happening, a 5 to 10 percent chance, you have a moral obligation, I say, to do it."

The effect was electrifying. The room, which just minutes earlier had settled into a sober and comfortable rejection of war, exploded in applause. The other panelists looked startled, and their reasonable arguments suddenly lay deflated on the table before them.

Michael Walzer, who was on the panel, smiled wanly. "It's very hard to respond," he said.

It was hard, I thought, because Makiya had spoken the language beloved by liberal hawks. He had met their hope of avoiding a war with an even greater hope. He had given the people in the room an image of their own ideals.

Wanker of the Day

George Packer.

September Soon

Well, it's almost here. Amazing how a Friedman Unit seems like a long period of time and then suddenly it's almost over. I've long documented how the Wise People of Washington were convinced that September was some sort of magic change date on Iraq. I think I even pegged it at 20% chance that they were actually right. But as we know, September will come and go and nothing will change because of cowardly old men with large egos.

Fresh Thread

For some reason I got nothin'.

New thread

Have another trip through some of my blogroll code:

Bear Left
Lean Left
Left i
The Left Coaster
Upper Left
Left End of the Dial
Here's What's Left
Left in the West
Talk Left

Not Atrios

Insert Your Commentary Here

High finance fun.

Aug. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Bear Stearns Cos.' decision to liquidate two bankrupt hedge funds in the Cayman Islands instead of New York may limit creditors' and investors' ability to get their money back.

While most of their assets are in New York, the funds filed for bankruptcy protection July 31 in a court in the Caymans, where they are incorporated. The bank also used a 2005 bankruptcy law to ask a U.S. judge in Manhattan to block all lawsuits against the funds and protect their U.S. assets during the Caymans proceedings.

The Bear Stearns cases may establish a precedent that would let other failed hedge funds liquidate in the Caymans, where judges have a track record of favoring management. The local monetary authority estimates that three out of four hedge funds globally are incorporated in the islands.

``This is definitely going to be closely watched,'' said Evan Flaschen, a lawyer with Bracewell & Giuliani in New York, who has represented companies and creditors in international bankruptcy cases. ``Other hedge funds might do the same thing.''

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hope for the Foer Family

After I posted less than flattering comments about Everything is Illuminated, a few people suggested that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was much better. It was. Not phenomenal, but pretty good.

The Triumphant Return of Jesse Taylor

Pandagon goes old school.


It's been awhile since I've taken a cat picture. At some point one tires of taking pictures of them sleeping, good action shots are hard to get, and any action state between those two extremes are relatively rare.

But I'll provide a narrative update. Gizmo who along with Wiley rarely meowed in his first few years of life has decided that making deep gravelly meows constantly, especially when we are asleep, is an immense amount of fun.

Wiley's semi-recent obsession has been to sit on my lap while I'm at my workplace, which is one corner of our couch. Sitting there passively isn't enough as constant petting is demanded. This makes typing rather difficult, and when I try to type he responds by licking my arm with his little slice of sandpaper. Also it's summer so I'm left with the giant tufts of hair that he's constantly shedding.

Maybe dogs would've been easier.

Evening Thread

Rock on.

More Than A Simple Sentence

It's true that rebuilding a bridge takes more than a simple sentence. Somehow I imagine the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota might provide the "more."

Or, who knows, he's not up for re-election. Maybe he'll poop in the punchbowl on his way out.

The Stupids

Shorter Rudy, Mitt, and the media:

Of course we might strike at targets in Pakistan but serious people don't say that.

Bloody Stupid


I mean, come on. In general terms Rudy!'s family situation is fair game to the extent that the media generally makes such things fair game (rightly or wrongly), combined with the fact that he's running to be on the ticket of the family values party. But the political views of his young estranged daughter are utterly irrelevant. Just stop it.

...adding, if his daughter decides to jump into the fray and genuinely go public with her views that'd be one thing, but she didn't. A Facebook page, while "public," isn't really "going public," any more than expressing something at a party where a bunch of people could potentially overhear you and run to Howard Kurtz with the information would be "going public."

Who Do You Negotiate With?

The other part of the housing/mortgage meltdown is coming out - when your loans are bundled up and resold there's no one to negotiate with.

In 2003, Dianne Brimmage refinanced the mortgage on her home in Alton, Ill., to consolidate her car and medical bills. Now, struggling with a much higher interest rate and in foreclosure, she wants to modify the terms of the loan.

Lenders have often agreed to such steps in the past because it was in everyone’s interest to avoid foreclosure costs and possibly greater losses. But that was back when local banks held the loans and the bankers knew the homeowners, as well as the value of the properties.

Ms. Brimmage got her loan through a mortgage broker, just the first link in a financial merry-go-round. The mortgage itself was pooled with others and sold to investors — insurance companies, mutual funds and pension funds. A different company processes her loan payments. Yet another company represents the investors as the trustee.

She has gotten nowhere with any of the parties, despite her lawyer’s belief that fraud was involved in the mortgage. Like many other Americans, Ms. Brimmage is a homeowner stuck in foreclosure limbo, at risk of losing the home she has lived in since 1998.


“Securitization led to this explosion of bad loans, and now it is harder to unwind and modify them even where it is in the best interests of both the borrower and the investors,” Kurt Eggert, an associate professor at the Chapman University School of Law in Orange, Calif., said in an interview. “The thing that caused the problem is making it harder to solve the problem.”

Not a Lawyer

I don't really care if Jeri Thompson is a lawyer, astronaut, plumber, or blackjack dealer, but I've trying figure out exactly how and why that little factoid was perpetuated for so long.

And supporters of the Thompsons have repeatedly invoked Jeri Thompson's status as an attorney to challenge insinuations that the 40-year-old mother of two is a mere "trophy wife" for the 64-year-old actor and former Tennessee senator. On Fox News last week, host Chris Wallace quoted a letter from a viewer attacking NPR's Juan Williams for having previously used the 'tw' phrase in reference to Thompson: "You chauvinist pig. Jeri Thompson is an intelligent, accomplished woman. She is a lawyer. And she has worked in the public policy arena." Added conservative blogger Ed Morrissey last month: "Anyone with access to Google knows that Mrs. Thompson worked as an attorney and media consultant in DC."

Well, presumptuous as it may be to challenge the holy writ that is Google, the hard fact is that Jeri Thompson is not a lawyer. There is no trace in public records of Thompson holding a license to practice law in D.C. or any of the states in which she has resided. And today, campaign spokeswoman Linda Rozett said conclusively, "Jeri Thompson does not have a law degree."

The AP said she was a lawyer just a couple of weeks ago.

Mary Ann Akers told me she was a lawyer.


It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that once upon a time sci fi geeks (not a pejorative) dreamed of being Captain Kirk. Now they dream of spending their lives in the holodeck.

I think this says something, though I'm not quite sure what.


Glenn discusses ooga booga politics and FISA. It occurred to me today that I'd like someone in the Bush administration who's in the know to be asked a few simple questions along the lines of:

Have the phone and email conversations of any American journalists, US federal officeholders, or federal campaign workers ever been intercepted without a warrant?


At the Yearly Kos panel where Glenn Greenwald beat up on the media and Jay Carney offered up memorable lines such as saying that Time's Iraq coverage was "not awful," I realized that Carney didn't understand the source of the ire about his post which asserted that in January of 1995 Clinton's poll numbers were in the 30s, similar to Bush, when in fact at the time they were in the high 40s.

To Carney this, while admittedly an error, was not especially important because he was comparing what he perceived to be the climate among presidential aides at the time. The poll wasn't really the point, it was the similarity of attitudes of insiders. That was his focus.

I understood his take, but it missed why people are pissed off about this issue. The mainstream media narrative constantly exaggerates the degree to which Clinton was unpopular. Aside from a chunk of the pre-1995 period, Clinton was a wildly popular president. During the Clinton impeachment period, which his poll numbers were skyrocketing, the media focused on his personal favorability number instead of his job approval. But even that number remained quite high, in the 40s and 50s depending on the pollster.

The point is that in Washingtonland Bush is always popular and Clinton was dreadfully unpopular.

Things I'm Already Tired Of

"Why wasn't more attention paid to issue X at Yearly Kos..."

"Why was Yearly Kos all white males..."

The diversity issue is a real one, but I think a lot of critics have really overstated the case. First of all women were very well represented, both in the audience and on panels. I'm not going to guess at the precise proportions, but the gender balance seemed to be actually pretty good. Second, often the discussion of the issue neglects that fact that the great orange Satan himself is probably not best described as a "white male." His existence doesn't negate or minimize the importance of the general issue, but it should at least be acknowledged. Third, there's a tendency to talk about it as if the relative lack of diversity is a reason to fault a specific individual or group, rather than seeing it within the broader context of diversity issues.

...ah, I see Jane was here first.

Tbogg Worthy Snark

In Esquire:

The Politico, a brand-new political fanzine that combines the biting wit of a high school slam book with the nuanced policy analysis of Tiger Beat.

...ah, didn't even realize it was Charlie Pierce, which makes it "Pierce worthy snark" from the man himself.

F.U. Forever

Michael O'Hanlon keeps rebooting his F.U.s.

But he's very serious!

Privacy on the Internets

I know there's no way I'm going to win this battle, but I would like to suggest that journalists shouldn't be quick to publicize information from facebook pages and spaces on the internets about people, especially minors, who aren't really public figures.

I've made mistakes along this line before, but the internet is really redefining our concepts of public and private spaces. The fact that something is, in a sense, "public" on the internet doesn't mean that it should automatically be seen as "fair game" by every news organization.

Shocking News

Iraq war supporters write joint op-ed, and other war supporters find it significant.


Bill Poole, who I used to TA for back in the day:

July 20 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President William Poole said investors who lost money buying subprime mortgage-linked securities got what they deserved.

Poole criticized the underwriting standards and interest- rate assessments of Wall Street and endorsed the Fed's steps to strengthen consumer safeguards. His remarks come after Chairman Ben S. Bernanke committed to tougher rules to protect consumers during his semiannual monetary policy testimony this week.

``The punishment has been meted out to those who have done misdeeds and made bad judgments,'' Poole told reporters in St. Louis after a speech on the market for mortgages to borrowers with sketchy or weak credit histories. ``We are getting good evidence that the companies and hedge funds that are being hit are the ones who deserve it.''

I certainly don't think we should be quick to shed too many tears for large institutional investors and others who should know better, but I don't think "the system is fine but some players were morons" really captures the full situation here. I don't know much about credit ratings agencies, but it's their job to not be morons and it seems like they were. And, more than that, if this stuff spreads more widely then there clearly is something wrong with the system.

More Bad Mortage News

American Home:

Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection, becoming the second- biggest residential lender in the U.S. to close down this year.

The filing adds to signs that late payments have spread to homeowners with good credit records. American Home sought federal court protection today in Wilmington, Delaware, with assets of more than $20.6 billion and debt of more than $19.3 billion. The company said Aug. 2 it would halt operations and slash its staff.

American Home specialized in mortgages for people who fall just short of top credit scores. More than half a dozen competitors have declared bankruptcy this year as defaults spilled over from ``subprime'' borrowers with the worst repayment records to those with more reliable payment histories.

``Their sources of funding have all dried up,'' said Mark Power, a lawyer advising some of the more than 100,000 creditors. ``This case is going to be very similar to New Century.''

Life Among the Econ

Dani Rodrik expresses something I've taken a whack at a couple of times much better than I ever did:

You can tell what kind of an economist someone is by the nature of the response s/he offers when confronted with a policy issue. The gut instinct of the members of the first group is to apply a simple supply-demand framework to the question at hand. In this world, every tax has an economic deadweight loss, every restriction on individual behavior reduces the size of the economic pie, distribution and efficiency can be neatly separated, market failures are presumed non-existent unless proved otherwise (and to be addressed only by the appropriate Pigovian tax or subsidy), people are rational and forward-looking to the first order of approximation, demand curves always slope down (and supply curves up), and general-equilibrium interactions do not overturn partial-equilibrium logic. The First Fundamental Theorem of Welfare Economics is proof that unfettered markets work best. No matter how technical, complex, and full of surprises these economists' own research might be, their take on the issues of the day are driven by a straightforward, almost knee-jerk logic.

Those in the second group are inclined to see all kinds of complications, which make the textbook answers inappropriate. In their world, the economy is full of market imperfections (going well beyond environmental spillovers), distribution and efficiency cannot be neatly separated, people do not always behave rationally and they over-discount the future, some otherwise undesirable policy interventions can generate positive outcomes, and general-equilibrium complications render partial-equilibrium reasoning suspect. The First Fundamental Theorem of Welfare Economics is proof, in view of its long list of prerequisites, that market outcome can be improved by well-designed interventions. Since they have given up on the textbook model, members of this group have an almost-infinite variety of "models" to choose from as they think of public-policy issues.

Adding a bit of explanation, Rodrik's categories of first and second best aren't a ranking of quality, they're referencing concepts. A first best world is, mathematically, one in which every other condition presumed to be satisfied optimally, so any deviation from optimality is automatically "bad." So anything like the imposition of a tax, or the setting of floor on wages, or whatever, will have efficiency losses.

In a second best world, there are existing deviations from optimality, and so any policy intervention such as a tax or minimum wage can lead to efficiency gains. Two wrongs can make a right, in other words.

But the real issue isn't the technical econ stuff, it's the gap between what academic economists do as their research and how they engage the public discourse. In their public discourse we're perpetually in the first month of Econ 101, even though in their academic research the world is quite a bit more complicated than that.

Culturally I think there's a large bias favoring "first best economists," both within the economic profession and of course in our media generally. Those within the profession should think a bit more about why this is and what the consequences are.

(via crooked timber)

Your Liberal Media

A Howard Fineman flashback. David Frum writing in 1998:

You almost have to be in Washington to appreciate the seriousness of what happened here last week. After years -- years -- of being lied to and manipulated by U.S. President Bill Clinton, the Washington press has sickened of the man. On Friday, I heard something that caused me to pull my car over to the side of the road in surprise: Howard Fineman, editor of Newsweek, on the Rush Limbaugh show, thanked Limbaugh for his work over the past five years keeping public indignation against Clinton boiling. We have to wonder, Fineman said, whether we can continue to respect ourselves as a people if a man like this remains president.

How Old Is This Guy?

Nine is too generous.

He's a toddler.

Don't Talk About China

I kind of sympathize with Jim's take. It is important to know what the candidates think about China, the country that will be the shiny new enemy as soon as the usual suspects tired of their Middle East chew toy, but it's also best to not inject China as a Big Major Issue to Worry About in the minds of people.


Haven't said much because I was traveling and sometimes things are just too depressing. But it was wrong for reasons that apparently even Fred Hiatt can understand. These people just don't deserve our support, so we'll focus on supporting the ones who do.


Over there.

BAGHDAD (AP) - A suicide bomber slammed his truck into a densely populated residential area in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar on Monday, killing at least 28 people, including 19 children, local authorities said.

Morning Thread

Just curious: what would folks think of an EschaCon 2 to be held in Philly in early April 08? (The Pennsylvania primary is April 22.)

--Molly I.

I Get Emails

I missed Duncan's stuff today due to a family gathering. I just read his most unfortunate and irresponsible dissing of O'Hare.I live in Milwaukee and recently took a trip from O'Hare. Just prior to takeoff there was a mechanical problem with the plane.

So, we unboarded and got on another plane. Total delay... about 45 minutes. Only in O'Hare could this be done. It's because it is so big an operation it can quickly handle these problems.
In just about any other airport I would be required to cancel or come back the next day to reach my destination.

It's the things that "don't" delay you at O'Hare that makes it the greatest and best air facility in the entire world. You never hear about those because... well they "don't" delay you.

So, with my Midwest civic pride and in the best Chicago tradition I don't know who he thinks he is, but I would suggest Duncan Black STFU about O'Hare and just stay out east and eat Philly steak crap and try to find peace getting wino blasted on his rooftop.

We don't need him in Chicago anyhow (with apologies to Lynyrd Skynard).

Thank you for your time.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Over there.

BAGHDAD - The bodies of 18 people, including two women, were found dumped across Baghdad in the past 24 hours, police said. Most of the bodies were found in Baghdad's predominantly Sunni Arab western Karkh side.

BAGHDAD - A barrage of mortar rounds at a petrol station killed 11 people lining up to fill their vehicles and wounded 15 others in eastern Baghdad, police said. Six people were wounded by mortar rounds at another petrol station in a nearby district.

* BAGHDAD - Two U.S. soldiers were killed in combat in Baghdad on Sunday, the U.S. military said.

Late Night

Rock on.


Fred Barnes, six months ago:

If Petraeus achieves a breakthrough in pacifying Baghdad and then in controlling insurgent-dominated Anbar province, the war opponents must stand down. If they refuse to acknowledge success and cause a repeat of the Vietnam calamity, they should be held accountable. This time, self-inflicted defeat should not be met with silence.


Darcy Burner.

You can help her campaign here.


Over there.

BAGHDAD, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Iraqi police said on Sunday they had found 60 decomposed bodies dumped in thick grass in Baquba, north of Baghdad.

There was no indication of how the 60 people had been killed, police said. Baquba is the capital of volatile Diyala province, where thousands of extra U.S. and Iraqi soldiers have been sent to stem growing violence.

Crazy Speech Person

I didn't witness this event, and haven't followed the wingnuttia "controversy" at all, but the general issue is indeed a problem at conferences. I'm actually quite sympathetic - more than I should be perhaps - to the fact that many people feel voiceless and these events provide themselves a rare opportunity to be heard. I have a sucky blog, so I get to be heard all the time. And sometimes a "comment" is as useful a way to start a discussion as a question is.

I just wished they'd recognize that if they could manage to keep it under 45 seconds or so people might appreciate their contributions instead of being seriously annoyed by them.

Remember the Alamo

Maybe I'm just an out of touch liberal blogger, but I really think even the lizardbrains of Iowa are a bit tired of hearing about 9/11.


A very unpleasant airport.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

NBC’s “Meet the Press,” — Guest: Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

•“Fox News Sunday,” — Guests: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

•ABC’s “This Week,” — Guests: Republican presidential candidates Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson.

•CBS’ “Face the Nation,” — Guests: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat.

•CNN’s “Late Edition,” Guests: Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat; President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan; former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The terrorists won

That's my perspective.

Not Atrios

Late Night

Liberals smell like dirty hippies.