Saturday, December 15, 2007

Overnight Funky Fun With Dirk Diggler

The Way Forward

We need a Democratic president so that the Republicans and their Blue Dog allies in Congress are finally inspired to take back the executive power grabs that they temporarily thought were necessary for the survival of the nation.

What this will mean in practice is that Democratic president will face a firestorm of "scandal" which will make Monica Madness pale in comparison. The powers that Bush claimed will be turned against a Democratic president and will likely be their undoing.

And this scenario is much better than the alternative.

Saturday Night Thread

Party on.

One Degree of Kevin Bacon

I see Kevin Bacon is campaigning for Edwards, which provides an opportunity to share this story.

Was in a cab in Boston during the DNC in 2004. I believe Ezra Klein, then age 12, and some other similarly young people were in the car. Someone said something along the lines of, "Check out that old dude in the next car who's trying to look like a rock star."

I looked over and said, "Actually, he looks like Kevin Bacon." Then, noticing the woman driving the car was Kyra Sedgwick, I said, "Actually, that is Kevin Bacon."

At which point we all turned and stared and the poor guy felt the need to pull his hat down lower over his face.

The Surveillance State

I guess we lost the cold war after all.

But the battle is really about something much bigger. At stake is the federal government’s extensive but uneasy partnership with industry to conduct a wide range of secret surveillance operations in fighting terrorism and crime. The N.S.A.’s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before, according to government and industry officials, yet that alliance is strained by legal worries and the fear of public exposure.

To detect narcotics trafficking, for example, the government has been collecting the phone records of thousands of Americans and others inside the United States who call people in Latin America, according to several government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the program remains classified. But in 2004, one major phone carrier balked at turning over its customers’ records. Worried about possible privacy violations or public relations problems, company executives declined to help the operation, which has not been previously disclosed.

In a separate N.S.A. project, executives at a Denver phone carrier, Qwest, refused in early 2001 to give the agency access to their most localized communications switches, which primarily carry domestic calls, according to people aware of the request, which has not been previously reported. They say the arrangement could have permitted neighborhood-by-neighborhood surveillance of phone traffic without a court order, which alarmed them.


Was good.

Here endeth the review.

Afternoon Thread

Rock on.

Conservative Romance and Sex

I think these people are just broken.

Stupid or Lying

I know I'm an opinionated hyperpartisan propaganda-pushing blogger, and Fred Hiatt and Ben Wittes are High Scribes of Journalism dedicated to the cause of truth-telling above all else, but at some point one just has to conclude that they are not interested in telling the truth, but they are instead interested in pushing an agenda. That's fine. I'm not against pushing agendas. The problem is that very often the agenda they're actually pushing is the precise opposite of the one they're claiming to be pushing.

Either that or they're too stupid to tie their shoes. But I really don't believe that.

They Hate Huckabee

I have to admit I don't really get it. I mean, I understand why the Villagers are freaked by Huckabee, but I don't understand why all of the idiot conservative bloggers are freaking out too. They're using the kind of language to describe the religious right that I steer clear of personally.

Investment Properties

Creative financing.

Sheriff's Office narcotics detectives reported raiding three houses where hundreds of marijuana plants were being grown.


The investigation, which started 18 months ago, has led to a total of six raids at five addresses -- including the houses searched Thursday -- Carney said. Detectives have confiscated almost 2,000 plants, worth $2.4 million to $3.6 million on the street. The other houses are in South County and one has been busted twice by drug officers, Carney said.

The same group of people bought all the houses in 2005 and allegedly set up the grows, according to detectives. Investigators think the owners were using the marijuana grows to pay the mortgages on the homes.

National Security Democrats

Are people who don't think war is bad. Awesome.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Morning Thread

I see Dad's still playing with his geeky Potato Heads.

Click my name for EschaCon news.

Molly I.


Friday catblogging.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Great Moments in Big Shitpile


Bankrupt New Century Financial Corp. says its debtors have submitted $32 billion in claims, meaning that the company has nothing left for shareholders.


New Century has 55 million outstanding shares. The stock of the company that called itself “A New Shade of Blue Chip,” peaked Dec. 15, 2004, at $65.95 a share. Now traded over the counter, New Century closed Friday at 1.7 cents a share, down 0.05 cent.

Assuming the number of shares was the same at the peak, the company then had a market cap of over $3.5 billion.

Now zero.


Harry Reid supports holds, as long as they're put forward by Republicans and they're there in service of perpetuating torture as official American policy.


TBogg's evil plot for world domination.

Friday Star Wars Potato Head Blogging

Occasionally one does get something awesome at a white elephant party.

California Scheming

Always a good time when California has fiscal problems.

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will declare a state of fiscal emergency under never-before-used rules that would force lawmakers into a special session to address a $14 billion deficit.

The governor, touring a hospital in Long Beach, said he will declare the emergency in January when lawmakers return from recess. Under the action, the Legislature would have 45 days to find ways to plug the shortfall. If they fail to find a solution in that time, they are barred from doing any other legislative work or adjourn until they do.

Cable News Makes Me Stupid

Blitzer: "How she deals with this crisis could help us better understand how she'd deal with crises if she were president of the United States."

The "crisis" being the latest round of polls.

Savage Nation

Just dandy.


Like John McCain, his early state poll numbers are awful, though unlike McCain his national numbers are still decent.

Fair and Balanced

So I can't be accused of being one-sided, here's the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers view on the strike by the writers.


While there are a lot of other reasons, at its root the Village freakout about Mike Huckabee is about class.

In It To Win It

Because even I can't resist the occasional horse race post. Consider this my discussion of all of the secondary issues which don't really matter all that much relative to the important stuff.

Aside from any personal thoughts about what kind of president any of them would make (and I desperately try to not engage in "electability" arguments), I tend to root for the underdog most of the time. In this type of contest it's not quite clear who the underdog is, so that basically means rooting for someone to take down the frontrunner. Recognizing that the primary purpose of politics isn't to entertain and amuse me (something I wish more political journalists understood too), it would still make it a more interesting story. I have objections to the dynasty issue, not so much because I mind another Clinton in office, but because I think it's time to move on from the vast political-industrial machine known as the Clintonites.

But, as I said, these concerns are all pretty unimportant and I don't have especially strong opinions about who would make the better president.

Whoever does become the Democratic nominee had better plan to win the general election. If they screw it up, they will become the most hated political figure in Democratic circles for years, like Mike Dukakis only 1000x times worse. If you can't manage beat one of these clowns in the wake of Mr. 24%'s reign of error....

Late '09

At the earliest.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fannie Mae's CEO told shareholders Friday he does not expect a housing market recovery until late 2009, "at the earliest," and that the mortgage-finance company is strong enough to ride out the downturn.

This should only be surprising if you believe that God and Nature have determined that home prices rise every year. Home prices were pretty much flat through much of the 90s, not returning to their earlier peak until '00 or so

It's Always 1968

What is wrong with that generation? And, no, I don't mean everyone in that generation, just all of its members in our elite discourse who are still frightened of the hippies who live under their bed.

It's something I'll never understand.

Can't Wish It Away

Krugman does a good job explaining why Big Shitpile can't just be wished away.

And there's even a bonus sentence at the end:

David Brooks is off today.

Damn Dirty Hippies

Aside from everything else, 1968 was not the year which began 40 years of uninterrupted Republican rule because that, you know, never happened.


Harry Reid likes Tom Coburn's holds, especially when it prevents prosecutions of civil rights-era murders.

The bill is named after Emmett Till, a black teenager who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman. His killers were never convicted.

The legislation would authorize $10-million annually over 10 years for the Justice Department to rejuvenate its prosecutions of pre-1970 civil rights murders. It calls for another $3.5-million annually for Justice to provide grants and other help to local law enforcement agencies.

The man most responsible for obstructing the measure is Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican. Coburn says he supports the cause but feels the FBI can pursue the cases with existing resources.

A spending hawk, Coburn has put a hold on the legislation and dozens of other bills that would increase the federal budget without offsetting costs elsewhere.

"It's absolutely outrageous that one senator and one senator only appears to be blocking us from passing this piece of legislation," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Of course, as we're learning, these holds only have power when Harry Reid lets them have power. The only person blocking this legislation is Harry Reid, who likes Tom Coburn's holds. Any protestations by Jim Manley are simply theater, little lies for those of us in the peanut gallery.

Reid will, of course, not honor Chris Dodd's hold. Because he doesn't have to.

Housing Bear Threat-O-Graph



ACA Capital, which insures a bunch of big shitpile, has been delisted by the NYSE.

Earlier story from FT:

ACA Financial Guaranty could default on insurance agreements if Standard and Poor’s chooses to downgrade the bond insurer’s rating, a credit derivatives lawyer and a market participant told Debtwire. Late on Friday S&P placed ACA’s rating on negative watch.

In total, ACA Financial insures USD 69bn of asset backed and corporate bonds for 31 counterparties through the use of credit default swap contracts, according to SEC filings. Those contracts include coverage of USD 25.7bn in AAA rated ABS CDO notes backed by subprime RMBS, many of which are held on the balance sheets of investment banks.

If they go under, a lot more big shitpile goes on the books as it'll no longer be insured. Though it's reasonable to assume that the insurance is pretty much phantom at this point anyway.

(ht reader w)


One of the frustrating things during the Kerry campaign was that they never seemed to give much thought to who they put on the teeevee. Being good on teevee requires a specific skill set and a modest degree of charisma. Charisma doesn't mean hotness, but some sort of general appeal. Maybe Mark Penn is the most brilliant campaign person in the universe, but that doesn't mean his mug should be on teevee.

To The Confessional

Citigroup is apparently being honest about its shitpile. Perhaps, anyway.

US bank Citigroup has said it will take control of seven investment funds worth $49bn (£24bn) as it continues to ride out problems in the financial markets.

By taking control of seven structured investment vehicles (SIVs), it hopes to help the funds pay off debts without having to sell off assets cheaply.

Since the summer's credit crisis SIVs have been in the spotlight after they saw many investments plummet in value.



Thursday, December 13, 2007


George! Paul! Ringo! John!

Not Atrios

Fresher Thread



Somebody needs to tell the TPM folks that Lake Wobegon isn't in Iowa.

Fresh Thread

Al Gore's saying stuff about global warming but it's cold out!!!

That one never gets old either.

Terrorists of Doom

Oh well.

MIAMI (AP) - One of seven Miami men accused of plotting to join forces with al-Qaida to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower was acquitted Thursday, and a mistrial was declared for the six others after the federal jury deadlocked.

The mistrial means prosecutors will have to decide whether to retry the six men.

The outcome was a setback for the Bush administration, which had seized on the case to illustrate the dangers of homegrown terrorism and trumpet the government's post-Sept. 11 success in infiltrating and smashing terror plots in their earliest stages.

Lyglenson Lemorin, who was not the alleged ringleader, was acquitted.

The Way of the Warrior

yahoo stock board post:
I know when the Buyout is Coming 13-Dec-07 11:48 am
It will occur approximately 5 minutes after I press the sell button!

What I do not understand is how the whole market can be against me? What have I done to deserve this?

Oh yeah... I put all my eggs in 1 basket. I even bought more today. I am at maximum margin... Actually, I have to sell some at the end of the day just to avoid a margin call. If I remember correctly, if your account gets a margin call they sell stocks for you... However, they charge like 50 bucks commission!

Isn't that funny? I am down like 100K and I am worried about 50 bucks! I think they write books about people like me. STUPID PEOPLE AND THE HUGE MONEY MISTAKES THEY MAKE!

Sentiment: I am only on the 3rd floor. A jump will just make things worse!

Hating on Builders

Sort of amusing.

One mid-sized private builder told a friend of mine that potential customers coming through their model-home doors are openly hostile. They’re not just looking for good deals; they’re looking for payback.

Apparently some of today’s new homebuyers blame the builders outright for the current housing predicament. They are telling unwitting sales reps that they are to blame for running up prices and foisting untenable loans on clients during the latest housing boom. Buyers are telling the sales people stories of how rudely they were treated during the boom, how they were told that if they didn’t want to take the deal they could stick it, because there was a line of buyers right behind them.

It's not obvious to me that builders are the biggest villains in this tale. They can certainly be evil for other reasons, but I think real estate agents and mortgage brokers come ahead of them in this story. Still I imagine that they're the ones that home buyers can express a bit of hate to.

A Priest and a Rabbi Walk Into a Bar

Of course what the religion discussion really needs is more humor!


Let's be frank. It all sounds a bit weird once you get into the weeds, and most people don't know much about whatever specific religion they adhere to let alone other "weird" religions.

One thing I find fascinating - aside from the fact that it's so often completely vapid - is just how devoid of any theological discussion or debate the Washington Post's "On Faith" section is. That could be both educational and provide interesting reading. But then people would have to disagree, and that would make everything uncomfortable.

And Mormon heaven sounds much more heavenly than the whole choir and harp thing.

How to Lose

I understand that given the makeup of the Senate and the presence of a lot of bad Democrats in the House the Democrats are frequently going to fail to advance a decent legislative agenda. But could they at least make an effort to lose well? You know, lemons into lemonade and all that?

Is It Over Yet?

I suppose from my perspective the best thing that could happen in this awful primary race, barring some completely weird upset, is that John Edwards wins the Iowa caucus. It isn't necessarily because I support him, but because he's consistently received the worst press from the Villagers, who swing from outright hostility to ignoring his campaign. If nothing else it'd force them to write a new storyline.

The Horror

I imagine the suicide rate for everyone involved with this will hit 100%.

Zombie Racism

Amanda writes:

It’s quite timely now that the racists are trotting out their favorite theory that gets trotted out every few years, smacked down, and then trotted out again once they figure everyone has forgotten the last smackdown, the theory that the IQ gap between whites and blacks must reflect fundamental, immutable, genetic traits, ergo a racist caste system is organic and not the product of oppression. Lord Saletan played the racist sucker for this go-round, making ridiculous claims about having poured over the evidence and having to accept (with a supposedly heavy heart) that the IQ fundamentalist, KKK-propaganda generators were right. Gladwell politely and semi-obliquely calls bullshit on Saletan’s claims of heavy research.

I suppose this round is over, but let me just finish it off with a hearty simelsesque "blow me" to all the people who excuse Saletan's racism by pretending it's merely knee-jerk contrarianism. If you make the claim that black people are stupid, assert that anyone who denies this is equivalent to a creationist, rely on the junk science of explicit racists to make your claims, and manage to studiously avoid the vast numbers of very smart people who have repeatedly pointed out that this stuff is bunk, then the conclusion is unavoidable. Will Saletan may be a perfectly lovely person who has lots of black friends, but his only "contrarianism" here was his eagerness to embrace junk theories of racial superiority. While issues of race and racism manifest themselves in complex ways in our society, the belief in the innate inferiority of one culturally defined racial subgroup relative to another pretty much is the root definition of racist thinking.

New Unemployment Claims

New jobless claims have crept up a bit in recent months, though not by a hugely significant amount. However, from what I understand a lot of real estate-related employees are 1099 employees, technically self-employed, and aren't eligible for unemployment insurance generally.

Baseball and Steroids

I don't care.

Wankers of the Day

Congressional Democrats.

The Campaign to Make Us Stupid

CNN just pointed out the delicious irony of senators voting on an energy bill designed to reduce carbon emissions...and then... get this... getting on charter planes! Oh that one never gets old...

Morning Thread

Bob Wexler has a way to get past the SCHIP veto.

--Molly I.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jonah's Ad Campaign

Someone involved with
his PR leaked this to me.

Spidey 3

While the much-maligned Spiderman 3 movie (which I just saw recently) wasn't very good, I actually thought the most maligned scene - Peter Parker's little song and dance routine - was pretty good. The movie had a lot of problems, but its portrayal of how a pretty dorky dude who got a little full of himself might act up was, if not perfect, not all that off.

Wanker of the Day

Ward Harkavy.

Jonah's Girls

Apparently this fine pair:

are serving as Jonah's backup band on his book tour.

Evening Thread


Fresh Thread

Sources tell Robert Novak that the Clinton campaign has discovered Obama's porn name.

Bad For Religion

I suppose what's driven me nuts all of these years is the fact that my opposition to the religion creep in political rhetoric has probably been much more motivated by my concern that bringing the God Wars into the public square would be bad for religion than concerns about it being somehow bad for politics or policy. I don't much care if people are religious or not, but without religious freedom, which really encompasses much more than who you pray to, you don't have freedom in any meaningful sense at all.

Cranky Season

I don't know if it's winter or the holidays, but I do request that people occasionally pause for a minute before they post a comment. I don't have time to be babysitter.

32,000 Here, 32,000 There

Citigroup to can up to 32,000 people.

Everyone Hates Huckabee

Maybe we'll finally have something to united the left and right blogosphere, because I sure love that unity stuff and can't wait until Michelle Malkin and I are pals again.

Okay, it's true that not everybody hates Huckabee. A bunch of Republican primary voters like him. Today at least.

And David Broder.

Stupid FEC Tricks

Nothing to add to this, but you should please consider submitting comments to the FEC yourself if you think they're being stupid.

Real Men

CNBC: "Well there's a lotta guys at trading desks whose positions were just totally thrown into disarray. You know, at some point you have to think about them as well."

This is in response to the fact that Helicopter Ben delivered the widely expected - and correctly bet on by participants in the bond market - 1/4 point rate cut instead of something more and then waited an entire 12 hours or so to say that they would be handing out more free money in other ways.

Gotta think about the poor guys at the trading desks.

Thanks for the Deposits, We're Keeping Them

The Florida municipal investment pool is only letting municipalities withdraw 1/4 of the money they put into it.

Bailing Out The Shitpile

Floyd Norris:

How much will the Fed lend against illiquid assets? It has a public list, already in use in discount window lending. You will note that it allows the lending of up to 85 percent of the face value of AAA-rated collateralized mortgage obligations, if there is no observable market value. There are some C.M.O.’s out there that have not yet been downgraded but that might not bring that much in a sale.

I’d love to see which assets are pledged, and how much the Fed lends against them. But the Fed won’t disclose those facts. Nor will it let us know which banks borrow using the new facility.

That definitely is rewarding bad behavior. Put up your chunk of Big Shitpile as collateral, pretend it's worth face value instead of, you know, nothing, and laugh... all the way to the bank.

Oh Happy Day

My courtesy copy of Jonah Goldberg's book arrived.

Lombard Street

I don't claim to be an expert on the mysterious world of high finance, but it's hard not to perceive that this latest Fed action is rewarding bad behavior.

Auctioning Money

So Helicopter Ben's new exciting plan is to auction money to banks.

I'll bid $1 for that $20 billion.

The Man Who Will Save the GOP

Enter Alan Keyes.



I don't really think that a political campaign should involve a debate over whether Mormons believe that Satan was Jesus's brother, but that's where all the "put the God back in politics" has taken us.

If belief has meaning, then surely the substance of those beliefs matter. Otherwise why do people keep yammering on about them?

And it's funny watching Romney, whose religion strategy seems to involve communicating to conservative Christians that he hates secular people more than any other candidate, crying about "attacks" on his religion.


Indeed, this guy is good.


I'm not sure this says anything about Bill Clinton's mojo, but it does say something about the organization of the Clinton campaign, at least with respect to this event. I kinda pay attention to this stuff, and I had no idea Bill Clinton was having a big campaign event in town.


I think it's true that immigration isn't all that important an issue even to Republican voters, but that doesn't mean that your position on immigration isn't incredibly important. Hating the other is very popular among Republicans even if immigration per se isn't so important. So Republican primary candidates have to signal they've got a sufficient amount of hate, and they do that by wanting to "double Guantanamo," invade several more countries filled with scary Brown people, enacting punitive measures against immigrants, etc.

Immigration isn't the issue. Hating immigrants is the issue.


Dow soars on all the new information the market has had since it tanked yesterday.

I was noticing yesterday how much the rhetoric of CNBC babblers was similar to Iraq war supporters, and whiny frightened conservatives generally. There was a complete detachment from anything real, and a complete focus on rhetoric. The problem with Bernanke's "too small" rate cut was that he failed to assure them that he was a leader with resolve. He needed to be a big daddy who gave them confidence. It was all about theater and rhetoric, and nothing about the actual economy. Was truly weird.


Over there:

AMARA, Iraq (Reuters) - Forty people were killed and more than 125 wounded when three car bombs exploded in quick succession in the Shi'ite city of Amara in southern Iraq on Wednesday, police said.

Morning Thread

As Atrios notes, as liberals we are compelled to pat blind pigs on the head when they do well. And so I note: MoDo doesn't suck nearly as much as usual today. There's even actual discussion of issues (though she does get in a dig at Wolfowitz's girl).

--Molly I.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seder on Olbermann


Rock on.

Iraq 36,000

As with most things the administration does, the desired impact is domestic, not foreign. You don't hire Jim Glassman for his awesome rapport with the Arab world. You hire him for his ability to launder horseshit through the American PR-journalism circuit.

Mad Men

Agree with Tom. Not yet all the way through the first season, but so far Mad Men is pretty awesome. Though I'm wondering when it's going to be revealed that the character Pete Campbell spent most of his formative years in a demon dimension.

More Thread

You people talk too much.

More Casualties in the War on Christmas

War's messy.

Four Jewish subway riders who wished other people Happy Hanukkah were
pelted with anti-Semitic remarks before being beaten, New York police and prosecutors said. The incident was being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The four were on a train in Manhattan on Friday night, during the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, when they were approached by a group of 10 people who offered holiday greetings. The victims responded, Happy Hanukkah and were assaulted by the larger group, police said Tuesday.

Police caught up with the train in Brooklyn and arrested eight men and two women, ages 19 and 20. They were arraigned Saturday on charges of assault, menacing, riot, harassment and disorderly conduct, the Brooklyn district attorney's office said.

Let's hope the victims get fixed up and get back on the front lines soon.

How's That Strike Working Out?

Not so well.

NEW YORK (Media Week) - Fourth-ranked broadcaster NBC has quietly begun reimbursing advertisers an average of $500,000 each for failing to reach guaranteed ratings levels, the first time a network has taken such a step in years, media buyers said.

Networks usually offer make-goods -- free advertising slots -- in the event of such shortfalls. But NBC has none to give. In fact, no broadcast network has much ad inventory left between now and year's end -- except for, perhaps, a handful of units the week between Christmas and New Year's, and that doesn't do much for advertisers chasing holiday shoppers.

CBS, ABC and Fox also are doling out make-goods, primarily for the first quarter. They have blamed softness on a new ratings formula, but media agencies disagree. None of the networks would comment.

While there are certainly rational economic actor arguments for why companies oppose any labor concessions, I'm increasingly convinced they (and the "they" are not abstract profit maximizing entities, but people who run them) frequently do so simply because they're assholes, and they're competitive assholes, and they see it as a competition they need to win no matter what the cost.

Evening Thread


Suburban Blight

I really want to pay a visit to one of these areas, though I haven't yet read anything about anything near to me.

Brown, unwatered lawns of foreclosed homes compete with the green grass of neighbors still hanging on. Some of the structures, although new, are missing outdoor equipment like air conditioners, taken by metal thieves. One in 4 houses of the neighborhood stands empty, and mortgage defaults are certain to push even more residents, mostly Hispanic immigrants, out of their homes.

It's a sign of the home-loan crisis' uneven impact: light in some areas, heavy in others – often those populated by minorities or the lower-middle class. The concern now is that the woes concentrated in these pockets of foreclosure will spread outward, causing home prices to spiral down rapidly and broadly.

And the moment anyone became aware of this fact should've been the moment we all knew the game was over:

In Modesto, investors made up roughly a third of buyers in recent years, says John Hillas, a local appraiser. That's bad news for the city, since investors are more likely to default than live-in owners, according to Mr. Gabriel.

For 3+ years in much of the country, the amount of money one could expect to receive in rent was much lower than mortgage and maintenance on the house.

Business News Make Me Laugh

CNBC: "Cranky Bernanke blew it, and the market booed him off the stage."

It's so similar to politcal coverage, really, just less consequential.

Calculated Cackle or Good-Natured Giggle?

Drudgico is so predictable.


Fed cuts 1/4 point, MARKET SMASH.

While bond players thought this is what would happen, the stock players thought there'd be more.

...CNBC: "The Fed ruined the day."

Strange Days

I just saw this commercial and found it weird and disturbing for so many reasons.

It's Just A Bar-B-Q

Fun for the whole family.

"I honestly think it's going to get tougher before it gets better," Richard Syron, the company's chairman and CEO, said in a discussion with financial analysts in New York.

Freddie's shares fell $1.80, or more than 5 percent, to $33.24 in morning trading.

While the mortgage crisis has brought a rising wave of foreclosure notices into public view, less evident have been "pictures of people standing with furniture on the lawn" after being forcibly evicted from their homes, Syron said. "As that begins to happen, and it will happen, I am afraid of the impact that this has."

Bad Wind Blowing

Roubini writes:

So it is time to move away from the soft landing vs. hard landing discussion and start considering seriously how deep the coming recession will be; in the view of this authors the 2008 recession will be more deep, protracted and painful than the short recessions of 1990-1991 and 2001; this time around – unlike 2001 when only tech investment faltered - most components of aggregate demand are under threat: falling residential investment, falling capex spending by the corporate sector and now evidence of a sharp slowdown and near stall of private consumption that accounts for 70% of GDP. When the US saving-less and debt burdened US consumer is now under threat the risk of a more protracted and severe recession than the mild one of 2001 are significant.

As I've written before, I think the country has lost its cultural memory of serious economic downturns and it's hard to imagine the broader impact of longer term economic pain. While there were harder hit regions, overall the two prior recessions were relatively short and painless. Whenever I write that people email me recounting a personal experience which was neither short nor painless, or point to areas which were harder hit. I know! But overall the recessions weren't that big of a deal.

Still we live in a world of easy credit, and even when people are already saddled with debt and there's a relative credit crunch, the existence of it might prevent the collapse of consumer demand.

Or not.


Wanker of the Day

BoBo Brooks.

Has It Been A Year Already?

It's been one year since Broder's comeback kid hit 40% approval in any poll tracked by

Randy Brinson

As Bowers notes, he's built up a pretty remarkable operation to support Mike Huckabee.

Wasn't that long ago that Randy Brinson was the future of the Democratic party, or something.

Casual Observation of the Day

Matt Drudge no likey Huckabee.

Budget Games

Although it's always a bit hard from the outside to really know what's going on, it seems like Obey has the right idea here. Bush and the gang are playing a game, not negotiating. They march the Democrats towards a "compromise" then pull the football away, demanding that they give Dear Leader everything he wants, making the Democrats look like complete losers in the process.

Bye Chris

Hey, an accountability moment. Chris Lehane's work as strike buster causes other unions to can him. Why they hired him in the first place I do not know, but...


There is a new mini-trend in big shitpile articles, with this one being a good example.

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The tumor in the financial markets known as structured investment vehicles is shrinking, reducing the urgency for a bailout sponsored by the U.S. Treasury.

SIVs, which sell short-term debt and invest the proceeds in higher-yielding securities such as bank bonds and mortgage- backed securities, reduced their holdings by more than 25 percent since August to $298 billion, according to Moody's Investors Service. At least $84 billion more is being restructured by banks that set up the funds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson spends a third month gathering support for a ``SuperSIV'' that would buy assets from troubled funds, HSBC Holdings Plc, bond insurer MBIA Inc. and other companies are arranging their own rescues. The steps are diminishing the threat that SIVs will dump holdings and further roil credit markets contaminated by losses in securities related to subprime mortgages.

``Every day that goes by we are seeing more SIVs being reorganized to avoid a fire sale,'' said Priya Shah, a credit analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Group Ltd. in London. ``The longer the SuperSIV takes, the less of a need there will be for it.''

Maybe I'm stupid, but reading this we come away with the following ideas. First, we all know that all of these assets are illiquid so we can't possibly put a price on them. Second we find that somehow these SIVs have "reduced their holdings." And they're "being restructured!" So somehow they're getting rid of the manure, but no one can put a price on it? Restructuring magically makes assets worth more money somehow?

All very strange.

America on my mind

Weldon Berger says:
Bush and Cheney have broken the law consistently throughout their reign, often openly, and to the great detriment of our own country and others; when they obey it, they do so more as a matter of convenience than from any fealty to it or any fear of retribution. They're pleased to use the legislature to achieve their ends when they can - as when Congress obligingly immunized administration personnel from prosecution under the War Crimes Act - and to ignore it when they can't. Former Justice Department official Jack Goldsmith explains the dynamic as described to him by Dick Cheney's current number two, torture maven David Addington: "We're going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop." They have, and that larger force has not materialized - and the administration have been at pains to ensure that the force, if it ever arrives, won't do so in the person of the courts - and the result is a constitutional republic with its framework intact and its guts eviscerated. There is only one remedy, and that's impeachment.
Not Atrios


Rock on.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Never read the book, but just saw the movie and it was pretty good.

Here endeth the review.

Torture confession

CIA torturer incriminates self during interview with ABC.

Wow, it's like a Perry Mason moment.

Not Atrios

3100 Jobs Here, 3100 Jobs There

Washington Mutual bloodbath.

SEATTLE (AP) -- Washington Mutual Inc., the nation's largest savings and loan, said Monday problems in the mortgage and credit markets are forcing it to close offices, slash over 3,100 jobs, and set aside far more than expected for loan losses in its fourth quarter.

The company also said it was slashing its dividend 73 percent.

Additionally, WaMu announced a $2.5 billion offering of convertible preferred stock.

The company said it now expects to set aside between $1.5 billion and $1.6 billion for loan losses in its fourth quarter. That estimate is about twice the level of expected fourth quarter net charge-offs, WaMu added.


It is pretty damn creepy.

But this is what Chris Cillizza thought:

Ever since former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani announced he was running for president, questions have lingered about his ability to withstand an extended look at his public and private life.

In an appearance yesterday on "Meet the Press," Giuliani went a long way toward answering those questions with a virtuoso performance against -- to our mind -- the toughest questioner in the business: Tim Russert.

Please kill me.

Can't Get the Spot Out, Petey

Greg Mitchell:

The most idiotic campaign punditry in recent days has been the assertion that the Iraq war as an issue is so over. Like, so last summer. It started with Peter Beinart’s absurd, self-seving column in The Washington Post, which took as its main evidence the fact questions about the war were not being asked all that much at the Democratic and Republican debates...


Now, today, comes a new Gallup poll which, of course, reveals, as Gallup puts it, that when “asked which issues will be most important in determining their vote for president in next year's election, Americans by a wide margin say the war in Iraq, with more than one in three mentioning the war...

Stabbed in the Back - Economy Version

CNBC has spent a big chunk of the day putting forward the idea that the "media" is overhyping the possibility of a recession and will therefore be to blame if a recession does happen.

Obama Update

Bowers revises:
It is certainly disturbing that Obama is attacking a leading progressive voice in a media system where progressive opinion journalists are few are far between. What is even more disturbing is that this is not the first time the Obama campaign has considered doing this. Back during the Donnie McClurkin fiasco, it has been confirmed to me from multiple sources that the Obama campaign was preparing opposition research papers of this sort against some one of the progressive bloggers who were speaking ill of him at the time (Update: I have edited the previous sentence for the sake of clarity and accuracy. I know two separate things, and conflating them is a bit of speculation on my part. First, I know that about a year ago, someone was conducting oppo research on most major progressive bloggers, but I don't know who. After I heard about oppo being prepared against one blogger a couple months ago, I speculated that meant the earlier oppo was conducted by the Obama campaign as well. That is purely speculation on my part. Take it for what it is worth).


Broder's boy bounces all the way to new low of 33% in LA Times/Bloomberg poll.

Here's a pony for pony boy so he stops sending me hysterical emails.

6.5 Years

Conrad in the slammer for 6 and a half.

Chris Bowers Once Shot a Man Just To Watch Him Die

This is pretty amusing.

Back during the Donnie McClurkin fiasco, it has been confirmed to me from multiple sources that the Obama campaign was preparing opposition research papers of this sort against some of the progressive bloggers who were speaking ill of him at the time.

As I said before, I appreciate it when Democrats attack the media, but the choice of targets is a bit odd here.

...Updated version:

It is certainly disturbing that Obama is attacking a leading progressive voice in a media system where progressive opinion journalists are few are far between. What is even more disturbing is that this is not the first time the Obama campaign has considered doing this. Back during the Donnie McClurkin fiasco, it has been confirmed to me from multiple sources that the Obama campaign was preparing opposition research papers of this sort against some one of the progressive bloggers who were speaking ill of him at the time (Update: I have edited the previous sentence for the sake of clarity and accuracy. I know two separate things, and conflating them is a bit of speculation on my part. First, I know that about a year ago, someone was conducting oppo research on most major progressive bloggers, but I don't know who. After I heard about oppo being prepared against one blogger a couple months ago, I speculated that meant the earlier oppo was conducted by the Obama campaign as well. That is purely speculation on my part. Take it for what it is worth).


I do hope that one day Democrats stop obsessing about how to appeal to the people least likely to vote for them.

Oh My

Bye Conrad.

Former media mogul Conrad Black given prison sentence of 78 to 97 months 11:58am EST

This Looks Like A Job For Talking Points Memo

Hey, how about getting that crack video editing team to create a Rudy Giggle Clip.




$12 billion in assets. No one can take any money out. No small retail investors, supposedly.

The Freedom Agenda

KBR's Iraq.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job


In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.

"It felt like prison," says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming "20/20" investigation. "I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened."


A big problem with the shallow, vapid, navel-gazing personality driven politics-as-theater and political-journalism-as-theater-criticism coverage that we get from the likes of Maureen Dowd is that it lures many people into thinking that this is how politics should be thought about. After all, Maureen Dowd is a premier columnist in the premier newspaper in the country. Some people pride themselves on the fact that they take the time to follow "serious" news - the New York Times and NPR - and thus over time become convinced that this is exactly what "serious" news is. They probably didn't start there, but over time they become convinced that this is exactly how very smart people should think about politics.

The Dowd Crowd

Ailes (the good one):

The Dowd crowd isn't really into God, though. They just like wallow in the nostalgia of their re-imagined childhoods, delusionally elevate their parents to sainthood and sniff at the shortcomings of their social inferiors. That's close enough to heaven for them.


There are some almost fetishistic obsessions which I like to assume have a generational component to them, meaning they will eventually fade away. Maybe it's because fashion isn't my number one concern, or that I've surrounded myself with liberal elitist friends, but does anyone under 30 give a shit about the "pants or skirt" question?

Billion Here, Billion There

UBS finds its piece of Big Shitpile.

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- UBS AG will write down U.S. subprime mortgage investments by $10 billion, the biggest such loss by a European bank, and replenish capital by selling stakes to investors in Singapore and the Middle East.

Europe's largest bank by assets plans to raise 13 billion Swiss francs ($11.5 billion) selling bonds that will convert into shares to Government of Singapore Investment Corp. and an unidentified Middle Eastern investor, Chairman Marcel Ospel said on a conference call with reporters today.

Morning Thread

Here's some romance for you goofballs!

--Molly I.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Rock on.


More news from Big Shitpile.

Sunday Thread

Stitch away.

Don't Wanna Miss My Stories

As others have pointed out, the fact that the studios have hired leeches like Chris Lehane and walking away from the bargaining table means that they're in for the long haul. No more Battlestar Galactica for you! Now that show is never going to end.

Tell them what you think.

Deep Thought of the Day

I'm wondering where the not "thinking clearly" exception to law, constitution, and international treaty exists.

Afternoon Thread


Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week" — Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.; actor John Cusack.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"Fox News Sunday" _ Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Aiding and abetting

Even DFH Atrios himself does not use language strong enough for these people:

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.


With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).
Lambert says: Well, I guess now I know why impeachment was "off the table."

They have damned us all.

Not Atrios