Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dick, Eddie, and Dave

It's true. This is pretty funny.

House Swap

With just a little bit of coordination, everyone can just move one house to the left and leave the banks holding the bag.


...adding, to make it clearer: Someone owns a house with a mortgage they either can't afford or don't want to keep paying (maybe it's about to go up, or maybe they just don't want to keep paying it). They plan to buy the now much cheaper house across the street, and since they have good enough credit someone might be happy to lend them the money. After moving to the reduced rate home across the street, they plan to mail the keys of their old house to the bank.


No, Mr. Rosenthal, we're not intolerant. We just have a lot more respect for the importance of the product you put out - and journalism generally - than you do.

Fox Ousts Ron Paul

He's raised lots of money and he's outpolling Frederick of Hollywood in New Hampshire. Oh well.

All The Crap That's Fit To Print

Such standards.


From the publicity material of Jacob Heilbrunn's book which is subtitled "The Rise of the Neocons":

Heilbrunn argues that neoconservatism has been unfairly demonized. Indeed, their ambitious vision of a democratic Iraq has born fruit with a spectacular wave of democratic upheaval across the Middle East.

We found the pony and no one told me?

Hey, Whaddya Know

OBL still alive apparently.

Freedom of the Press

So nice for the NYT to hire someone with such a commitment to it.


I suppose it's somehow fitting that in writing about him the NYT doesn't get it right.

So Many Strands of Wingnuttery

The fact that they're all always wrong about everything never seems to deter them or their enablers.

And We Meddle

Because that's what we do.

It was a decidedly odd moment. On Thursday, within hours of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters in Washington that his boss, Condoleezza Rice, had quickly made two calls. One was to Bhutto's bereaved husband, Asif Ali Zardari. Rice's other call, Casey said, was to the man he called Bhutto's "successor," Amin Fahim, the vice chairman of her Pakistan People's Party. Casey couldn't even quite master this obscure politician's name, but he said, "I'll leave it up to Mr. Amin Fahir—Fahim—as the new head of the Pakistan People's Party to determine how that party is going to participate in the electoral process."

The problem is, nobody but the State Department—especially not the political elites in Pakistan, even those within Bhutto's own party—sees Fahim in such a role, and certainly not so soon. Critics suggest that the administration is so eager to graft legitimacy onto President Pervez Musharraf, its ever-more-unpopular ally in the war on terror, that it is pressing too hard to move past Bhutto and continue with scheduled Jan. 8 parliamentary elections, even though riots are paralyzing the country. "They're trying to rush everything. This is a disaster," says Marvin Weinbaum, a former State Depratment official and current scholar at the Middle East Institute. "This is now our new game plan: We're working out a deal between Fahim and Musharraf after the election. They mention Fahim because they don't know any better. The fact is, she [Bhutto] didn't trust him."

I Suppose A Journalist Could Ask Him

What now, Lindsey?

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a pivotal Republican vote in the U.S. Senate on Iraq policy, is willing to give the government of Iraq until Christmas to get its act together.

But not much more.

Graham told TIME Wednesday that the Iraqi leaders have 90 days to start resolving their political differences with real legislative agreements or face a change in strategy by the U.S. "If they can't do it in 90 days," he said, "it means the major players don't want to."

Graham, who has been to Iraq nearly a dozen times, including spending 11 days in August on duty as a reserve Air Force officer, pointed out that Washington has spent the last few weeks debating Iraq policy and emerged with a commitment to continuing the surge through the spring. That commitment, he said, is the green light for the Iraqis to finally take action on resolving their disagreements.

But Graham, who is up for re-election in 2008, said he will not wait forever. "If they can't pull it together in the next 90 days," he said, "I don't think they are ever gonna do it." He followed that prediction with a promise: "If they don't deliver in 90 days, I will openly say the chances for political reconciliation are remote."

And on and on...

Can't Pay Won't Pay


Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Drake Management LLC suspended most redemptions from its largest hedge fund after losing 23.7 percent through November, according to a letter sent to investors of the New York-based firm.

Drake will meet about 25 percent of requested withdrawals from its $3 billion Global Opportunities Fund, which tries to profit from macroeconomic trends by trading bonds, stocks, currencies and commodities. The letter didn't disclose how much investors had asked to withdraw at the end of the year.

``This decision was made only after we attempted to convince redeeming investors to voluntarily rescind their redemption requests,'' said the letter, signed by Drake Management and sent out today.

Deep Thought of the Day

The country lost its innocence when Bill met Monica.

New threads

Big Tent Democrat and Lambert are both a bit worried about Obama's schtick.

Not Atrios

Cartoon Music

Friday, December 28, 2007

Won't Fuck Us Over

Rock on.

...adding that this is best straight out rock song I've heard in years.


Adding that I think the whole "experience" debate is a stupid one. There is no job like the presidency, and candidates should be mostly evaluated on what they say they'll do. That isn't to say that there is no information about a candidate that can be derived from their past experiences, just that "experience" doesn't really convey much information. I personally have no experience in government, but I'd surely have been a better president than George Bush! Still his "governor of Texas" resume would've trumped my "no experience in government at all" resume in the experience wars.

And don't get me started on Rudy!'s foreign policy "experience"...

Because This Blog Can't Be Entirely Primary Free

Though he isn't perfect I do like Chris Dodd for a variety of reasons. Still it's hard to quite know what he's up to.

At the launch of his “Caucus For Results” bus tour, the Connecticut senator told a crowd at his Iowa campaign headquarters that “it’s not just enough sitting on the sidelines and watching your husband deal with problems over the years,” to argue that his 26 years in the Senate are better suited to bring people together and deal with unexpected events like the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Dodd said the New York senator’s claim that her time as First Lady was experience would be like his wife Jackie taking credit for his Family Medical Leave Act, adding, “The experience of having witnessed history is not the same as having helped create it.”

Leaving aside the merit of this criticism, he is making it. Against a fellow senator from a neighboring state and a likely (though far from certain) nominee.

I guess given this, and everything else he's done, it's hard to conclude anything other than Dodd is simply playing to win. That doesn't mean he will win, or even get close, but it does mean he isn't thinking about how to be spoiler for candidate X against Y.

Anyway, maybe I'm wrong. And, frankly, I don't even care all that much. But whenever longer shot candidates run you wonder what their angle is and from what I've been able to see Dodd hasn't had one.

Pinch Sulzberger Has A Tiny Penis

According to sources. Developing...

Deep Thought of the Day

Justice League Superman is really wimpy.

Your Liberal Media

Publishing lying conservative psychopaths since I can remember.

And What Army

Destroying our constitutional government, a little bit at a time.

Letterman Deal

Good for them.

David Letterman has secured a deal with the striking Writers Guild of America that will allow him to resume his late-night show on CBS next Wednesday with his team of writers on board, executives of several late-night shows said today.

Most of television’s late-night shows are scheduled to return to the air that night after being off for two months due to the strike, but it is likely that only Mr. Letterman, and the show that follows him on CBS hosted by Craig Ferguson, will be supported by material from writers.

The reason is that Mr. Letterman’s company World Wide Pants, owns both those shows. The company announced two weeks ago that it was seeking a separate deal with the guild that would permit the two World Wide Pants show to return to the air. The talks seemed to be at an impasse until today when the deal was completed.

A Thanks To My Glorious Commenters

Who unlike everyone else on the political internets don't spend all of their time arguing about who is the awesomest candidate.

Narcissism As Foreign Policy

It's almost impossible for our news media to report on any world events without somehow putting our country at the center of it. If we aren't at the center of it, it doesn't happen. One exception is the one hour per day that CNN show from CNN International where you actually get a bit of reporting on world events from a different perspective.

I suppose that similarly, if something important is happening then by definition we must be a part of it. So we meddle.



More Thread

Atrios must be getting his chest waxed.

--Molly I.

Afternoon Thread

Off to run some errands..

"Vital Interests"

It's not a term which is ever defined and is therefore meaningless except as a useful propaganda trick. I'm not saying all people who use the phrase do so for that purpose, but it's basically a blank slate onto which the reader or listener can project anything they want.


brownsox on Romney:

He thought he could win as a conservative, so he became one. If he thought he could win as a pirate, he would have become a pirate.


Propping up dictators is probably a bad idea, as is actively undermining them. "US interests" are rarely actually that, and one only needs to look at the geniuses who are running our foreign policy (Rice, Cheney, Bush) to understand that one should not enable them to do anything.


Contrary to the prevailing views of our political and media elite -- virtually all of whom seem eager to debate how we should best resolve Pakistan's problems: demand elections? get rid of Musharraf? find a replacement for Bhutto? -- that country isn't our protectorate or our colony and I doubt that the average American voter wants candidates to prove that they can best manage Pakistan's internal political mess. We have substantial messes of our own to manage and I suspect voters are more interested in how candidates will manage those.

New Home Sales

Not good.

Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Sales of new homes in the U.S. fell to a 12-year low in November, portending bigger declines in construction that will hobble economic growth throughout 2008.

Purchases dropped 9 percent to an annual pace of 647,000 that was weaker than the lowest forecast, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. October sales were revised down to a 711,000 pace.


A Bloomberg survey of 68 economists forecast sales would fall to an annual pace of 717,000 from a previously reported 728,000 rate in October, according to the median estimate. Economists' forecasts ranged from a low of 685,000 to a high of 750,000.

The number of homes for sale at the end of November decreased 1.8 percent to 505,000, the fewest in two years. Still, because sales dropped even more, the inventory of unsold homes at the current sales pace jumped to 9.3 months from 8.8 months in October.

Think Again

The subprime crisis never had much to do with subprime. The ride is just beginning.

Thought the mortgage meltdown was just a sub-prime affair? Think again. There's another time bomb waiting to explode, experts say: risky loans made to people with good credit.

So-called pay-option adjustable-rate mortgages, or option ARMs, were the easiest and most profitable home loans for lenders and brokers to make for much of this decade. Last year, they accounted for about 9% of the volume of all mortgages made in the U.S. and were especially popular in California, Florida and Nevada -- states where home prices rose the most during the housing boom and are now falling most sharply.

An option ARM loan gives a borrower the option of paying less than the interest due, causing the loan balance to rise. If it rises too much -- say, by 10% or 15% -- the opportunity to make a low payment vanishes and the required payment skyrockets.


One upshot could be foreclosures growing more common in affluent neighborhoods.


I know I'm just a dumb little blogger, but I'm actually quite puzzled that auto execs are so opposed to emission regulation. I really think I have to put this in the "they're just assholes who don't like to be told what to do" category instead of the "rational economic actor" category, though perhaps someone can convince me otherwise...


Congratulations to our well-deserving fellow blogistas!

Not Atrios

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Rock on.

The National - Alligator

Late Night

Rock on.

The New Pornographers - Challengers

Flip This House

There's a point when investing becomes mass entertainment - think CNBC on in bars during the tech bubble - that it should be apparent to all that it's about to crash.

"We looked at it and said, 'That's the way Sacramento is growing, people will be wanting to move out there,' " said Evan Weinzinger, a data-center manager from Vacaville who bought a home for $508,000 in Lincoln two years ago as an investment with his wife, Angela.

Some 14 percent of the homes sold in Lincoln in 2005 were purchased by investors like the Weinzingers, who schooled themselves by attending real estate seminars and watching cable-TV reality shows like "Flip This House." They bought a home in Texas and one on Keswick Court in Lincoln Crossing.

The Texas property is doing well. But the four-bedroom home on Keswick is another matter. The Weinzingers never found a tenant for it, maxed out their credit cards to meet the $2,900 monthly mortgage payments and lost the place to foreclosure in March. It's listed for $389,900.

"It's brand new," Weinzinger said. "No one's ever lived in it."

I've caught about 3 relatively recent episodes of Flip This House, and none of the houses sold.

Liberal Fascism: The Dumbening

A tale told by an idiot, to another idiot.

Favorite CDs of '07

Anything added to my Ipod since last December, being new to me, included. No particular order.

Thao Nguyen - We Brave Bee Stings And All.

The National - Boxer

Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

The New Pornographers - Challengers

The 1900s - Cold&Kind

New Ruins - The Sound They Make

Maria Taylor - Lynn Teeter Flower

Immaculate Machine - Fables

Bishop Allen
- The Broken String


That's a lot of shit.
Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co. may write down an additional $34 billion in securities linked to the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Citigroup, the biggest U.S. bank, may reduce the value of its holdings by $18.7 billion in the fourth quarter and cut its dividend 40 percent, Goldman analyst William Tanona said in a Dec. 26 report on the New York-based companies. JPMorgan Chase & Co., the third-largest U.S. bank, may write off $3.4 billion, double Goldman's previous estimate. Merrill Lynch & Co. may reduce its holdings by $11.5 billion, he wrote.


When your first reaction to an event like this is to tell voters what you think it says about you, it's time to get off the campaign trail for a few minutes.

And I recognize that these are surrogates, and not the candidates themselves, but at this point in the game the former are just extensions of the latter.


I really don't have anything particularly insightful to say about Bhutto or the situation in Pakistan generally, but I do think it's important to understand that she was our woman in Pakistan.

And, unsurprisingly, the know-nothings and the OVP were behind it all.

I Do Not Understand

Only Villagers could dream of a politics that lacked partisanship.

....ah, the good old days when there were still a bunch of conservative racists in the Democratic party.

And the middle of the 20th century was a bit better on the question of cooperation. Back then the political parties tried to be big tents. The Democrats numbered conservative Southerners as well as liberal Northerners.

Such an awesome big tent that was.

McCain: Crazy Warmonger For A Long Time

Even I occasionally get suckered into thinking that McCain might not be so bad, so it's useful to remind ourselves that he was really into going to war with everyone before it was cool. He was Bill "WAR EVERYWHERE" Kristol's boy in 2000. He really likes war.

Bootie Beer and Norma

This WSJ article about one chunk of big shitpile is pretty fascinating. A reasonably accurate shorter version is that they took a several pieces of shit and made a pile, convinced the ratings agencies that the pile of shit was much less risky than the individual pieces of shit were, and then sold the pile again and again using the magic of derivatives.

So Fun Watching Them All Lose

Looking over all the pretty pictures, I can't quite decide which losing Republican will give me more joy. Amazingly, one of them must win. Here's my very personal take on them and their fortunes.

Huckabee - The honest choice. It's his party now. Would drive Villagers insane.
Giuliani - A bad Republican, a bad politician, and an awful person. Would make the worst possible president. Would make the Villagers happy.
McCain - Would make the Villagers squeal with pleasure.
Romney - No one lies like the Mittster lies. Another choice of the Villagers, though decreasingly so it seems. Spent a lot of Tagg's inheritance.
Thompson - who?
Paul - I'm no fan, but it'd be fun to see him at least do well in New Hampshire.

Where's Condi?

MIA so far. Probably for the best, but still puzzling.

Every Disaster Justifies The Policies

Greg Sargent:

It's also worth considering Scarborough's claim that the Bhutto assassination automatically benefits Hillary. Whatever you think of Hillary, he is obviously basing this diagnosis on the presumption that voters automatically look to presumed hawkish candidates in times of peril and confusion. According to this reading, voters will automatically conclude in such situations that they want the candidate who is imagined to be "more willing to use force," whatever that means. There's no chance that voters could be actually evaluating each candidate's foreign policy ideas.

But there's no earthly reason, as Ben Smith notes, to discount the possibility that the assassination could make people more receptive to Obama's argument that "the Clinton/Bush status quo has produced disaster after disaster, and it's time for a change."

Look, I don't have any idea who will benefit politically from Bhutto's assassination. But the point is, neither does Scarborough -- yet he goes right ahead and tells us that it's Rudy and Hillary, anyway. This is just punditry on auto-pilot, the reflexive serving up of diagnoses based on the same old flawed assumptions that have under-girded establishment punditry for well over a decade now, unchanged by external events or all evidence to the contrary. And we'll undoubtedly be hearing lots more of this in the days ahead.

And thank God MSNBC is going to give us the "insight" of Chris Matthews.

...from the credit where credit is due file, Matthews wore his sensible hat today and was fairly reasonable.


Mortgage apps:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage application volume dropped 7.6 percent during the week ending Dec. 21, despite a drop in interest rates, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly application survey.

The MBA's application index fell to 603.8 from 653.8 the previous week.

In a lot of areas, home prices are going to fall to 2002 levels.

This Is Good News For Rudy Giuliani

According to Joe Scar. I couldn't possibly communicate the logic to you.

Bhutto Killed

Local news sez AP is reporting the Benazir Bhutto was killed in this attack.

...appears she was shot before the bomb.

Bhutto was apparently shot at close range as she was leaving the rally in this garrison city south of Islamabad. Immediately after the shooting, a suicide bomber detonated explosives near her car, killing at least 15 other people.

Another Trip to the Confessional

Citigroup to admit it has more of Big Shitpile.

Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc., the biggest U.S. bank, may cut its dividend by 40 percent to preserve capital and write down more fixed-income securities than it has told investors to expect, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The New York-based bank may write off $18.7 billion in collateralized debt obligations such as subprime mortgages, up from its Nov. 4 estimate of as much as $11 billion, Goldman's William F. Tanona wrote in a note dated Dec. 26. Citigroup, which paid out 54 cents each quarter this year, will have to raise $6.2 billion in extra capital to reach its target, they wrote.


Rock on.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Deep Thought of the Day

  i * pi
e = -1


Another piece is pulled.


Fitch Ratings said late Wednesday it placed credit ratings on residential mortgage-backed securities backed by bond insurers MBIA, Ambac, Financial Guaranty and Security Capital on watch for possible downgrade.

Among those affected are 87 RMBSs insured by MBIA Inc. (nyse: MBE - news - people ), 64 by Ambac Financial Group (nyse: ABK - news - people ) Inc., 35 RMBSs insured by Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. and 19 backed by Security Capital Assurance Ltd. (nyse: SCA - news - people )

Last week, Fitch put the nation's two largest bond insurers, Ambac and MBIA, on warning that the insurers must raise fresh capital or face downgrades. The warning implies the firms' capital cushions aren't deep enough to support the companies if the credit markets continue to deteriorate.

The RMBS classes will remain on rating watch negative while Fitch assesses whether they offer investors enough guarantee of payment on their own, apart from relying on bond insurance.

Basically Fitch is saying the insurance is crap and the assets are probably crap. If one side of the deal, at least, doesn't pull it together it's all gonna come crashing down.


What's Normal?

In all the talk about the housing market meltdown there seems to be this implicit belief that a "normal" housing market has significant annual price appreciation, if not quite as crazy as the past few years. So a return to normality is thought to be a return to rising prices. But it just isn't the case the home prices go up every year, and after past burst bubbles prices stayed flat for several years.

Home prices are going to fall to a level which makes sense if you aren't factoring in an expected x% appreciation every year. I try to avoid making too many predictions, but I don't think we're anywhere close to that level.

That Daddy

The Village horror show year-in-review.

Over Soon

The primary season is quite possibly almost over. Though I think it's ridiculously early, I'm glad it won't be bothering us for much longer. There are certainly differences between the candidates, but those differences are either largely unknowable or just not strong enough for me to have ever felt invested in a candidate.

As I wrote before, whoever does get the nomination had better plan to win or they will deservedly become the most hated figure in Democratic politics.

Old Time Religion

I am curious about religious trends in this country and it isn't easy to find good information about it.

I imagine that for quite a long time cultural/ethnic identity was difficult to separate from the religion which was attached to it, but as "white ethnics" become increasingly detached from their roots the religion stuff starts to get chucked out the window. That's my good enough for a blog post theory, anyway.

I don't believe 41% of people in this country are regular churchgoers, though of course that could be an "I don't know anybody who voted for Nixon" thing. Curious what the real number is.

His Party

Slate had long been one of those many "center left reputation makes it more effective at pushing its center right agenda" institutions that plague our political landscape. And its ex-publisher has found his new calling.

The GOP Web site is more interactive and user friendly thanks to the Republican National Committee’s new Internet guru Cyrus Krohn.


“I just came to the call of my party,” Krohn tells Newsmax. “It struck me that this is a critical year in terms of electing another Republican to be president. What greater way to serve the country than to come and apply my experience to the party I’m such a strong believer in.”

Krohn began his career as an intern for then Vice President Dan Quayle and worked at CNN as a producer on “Larry King Live” and later “Crossfire.”

(ht brian in seattle)

From The Credit Where Credit Is Due File

Sally Quinn:

How could this happen, in what will soon be 2008, in a pluralistic, multicultural, multireligious society, a society based on the concepts of religious freedom and separation of church and state? What were they thinking?

This resolution was as anti-American as anything Congress has ever passed. It disenfranchised and marginalized millions and millions of men and women, reducing them to second-class citizens.

Times Change

Krugman in Slate.

Slate memories:

Dear Brad:

As per my voicemail earlier today, I would like to bring to your attention an ongoing problem we're experiencing at Slate.

A prominent East Coast newspaper, The New York Times, has been poaching from Slate, taking key writers and editors invaluable to our evolving franchise. Several years ago I viewed these departures as testament to Slate's reputation within our industry. Being recognized by the media establishment as a breeding ground of top journalists was rewarding. But no longer do I hold these egress offenders in such high regard.

Granted the New York Times has been experiencing talent problems of their own lately, but that's no excuse to "brain drain" us. In my seven years with Slate, I've seen the Times make off with no fewer than five Slatesters. And just last week, they tried to hire away our esteemed editor-in-chief, Jacob Weisberg, according to this item in the New York Post. While the opportunity offered Weisberg was beneath his abilities, I'm thankful he didn't follow his former colleagues.

Our mantra at Slate is to support budding journalists growing in their profession. Should a better opportunity present itself, by all means go forward. But this trend must cease. Our staff are bound by the non-compete clause they signed upon employment, and I was wondering if you could spare some time for Slate now that the DOJ case is behind us? This tortuous contractual interference is beginning to have adverse effects on us.

It's improbable we'll be able to recoup our losses. But just in case, we'd like all of them back except for Paul Krugman.

I appreciate your help and look forward to hearing from you.



That was written in 2003 by Cyrus Krohn who was the publisher of Slate at the time.

Big Dig Done

Yes it was overbudget and there were delays and corruption.

But whatever the merits of that particular project, it cost less than two months in Iraq, a pointless war which has done nothing but kill huge numbers of people. Oh, and the freedom, the sweet sweet freedom.

Retail Stories

I try not to get sucked into following holiday retail sales. It seems (could be wrong) that every year we get initial reports of cautious optimism by retailers followed by stories of doom and gloom capped off with the final it was pretty good after all narrative.

For those concerned about the fortunes of retailers, the sales data don't mean much anyway as they don't tell us anything about just how low prices were cut to get those sales.

Still if this data is to be believed, sales fell in real terms this year. Perhaps we're winning the war on Christmas after all!



Not the Bottom

Home prices still falling.

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. home prices fell in October for the 10th consecutive month, posting their biggest monthly decline since early 1991, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index.

The record 6.7 percent drop marked the 23rd consecutive month of price deceleration.

There are big regional variations unsurprisingly.


Apparently problems in the commercial real estate market may be beginning.

Morning Thread

Who goes to the zoo on Christmas?

--Molly I.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Gin Fire

Utter Crap!

The loveliest of all Christmas carols.

Ed Henry Can't Stop Fluffing

I really just don't comprehend these people.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – It's hard to imagine a tough guy from Texas shopping for a pocketbook, but President Bush gave his wife a new purse and a silver tray for Christmas, according to an aide to First Lady Laura Bush.

Afternoon Thread

Some Happy Xmas News

California court makes it harder for insurance companies to rescind policies.

California health insurers have a duty to check the accuracy of applications for coverage before issuing policies -- and should not wait until patients run up big medical bills, a state appeals court ruled Monday.

The court also said insurers could not cancel a medical policy unless they showed that the policyholder willfully misrepresented his health or that the company had investigated the application before it issued coverage.


The court also highlighted the testimony of Blue Shield's underwriting investigator that the company referred about 1,000 claims a year to her for investigations of possible application omissions and misstatements. Yet, the court wrote, the investigator said she rescinded less than 1% of them.

"These facts raise the specter that Blue Shield does not immediately rescind health care contracts upon learning of potential grounds for rescission, but waits until after the claims submitted under that contract exceed the monthly premiums being collected," the court wrote.

A health plan, the court went on, "may not adopt a 'wait and see' attitude after learning of facts justifying rescission." The court said companies could not continue to "collect premiums while keeping open its rescission option if the subscriber later experiences a serious accident or illness that generates large medical expenses."

Basically they were using accusations of fraud to rescind policies, but only after people got sick.

If I were a progressive activist with a few bucks looking for a mission I'd set up a foundation for the purpose of finding people getting fucked over by their insurance companies and to giving every case the full PR treatment.

Merry Christmas

May you enjoy yours more than Bill O'Reilly is enjoying his.

Morning Thread

When I was a kid, we would have been decently up and clamoring for our gifts for two hours by now.

Kids today.

--Molly I.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Watching Seinfeld Repeats

The English Patient really was awful.

Another Deep Thought of The Day

The Chevy Suburban is a hilariously perfect name for that vehicle.


Indeed. I wish everyone knew this history as it's a rather simple story not often well told by Villagers who both ignore racism and miss the good old bipartisan racist days. The Democratic party was the racism party for quite some time! Guilty as charged! Then the racists retired, died, or became Republicans!

Wanker of the Day

Francis Townsend.

More Thread

Afternoon Thread

Put your own deep thoughts in the comments. Be home tonight.

Third Deep Thought of the Day

It appears the war on Christmas failed again. Better luck next year!

Second Deep Thought of the Day

I'm starting to think that all of the God talk by conservatives was just yet another cynical ruse to gain and maintain power.

Deep Thought of The Day

It's odd that the Clintons use their mind-control powers to force our very serious press corps to write about their relationship all the time.

So Phony

There's at least a 2-camera film crew at this family meeting.


More Thread

Aauuuugh! Must shop!


Molly I.


Rock on.

Fun Free Stuff On The Intertubes

Just in case people aren't aware, has the live music archive compilation of live music recordings. It's artist opt-in, so it's all legal.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Another Great Success

Nobody could've predicted...

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — After the United States has spent more than $5 billion in a largely failed effort to bolster the Pakistani military effort against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, some American officials now acknowledge that there were too few controls over the money. The strategy to improve the Pakistani military, they said, needs to be completely revamped.

In interviews in Islamabad and Washington, Bush administration and military officials said they believed that much of the American money was not making its way to frontline Pakistani units. Money has been diverted to help finance weapons systems designed to counter India, not Al Qaeda or the Taliban, the officials said, adding that the United States has paid tens of millions of dollars in inflated Pakistani reimbursement claims for fuel, ammunition and other costs.

“I personally believe there is exaggeration and inflation,” said a senior American military official who has reviewed the program, referring to Pakistani requests for reimbursement. “Then, I point back to the United States and say we didn’t have to give them money this way.”


I have no near-drowning experience, and don't have any knowledge or opinion of the aquatic ape theory. However I did for a few months after an illness have a period when I'd experience relatively minor asthma-like episodes. And even with those relatively minor episodes which were very far removed from actually inhaling a bunch of water, there would sometimes be a point where there was a deep primal feeling of panic over the (very temporary) inability to breathe.

Yes waterboarding is torture.


This amused me.

Not Atrios

Fresh Thread


Short Sales

Florida fun.

At Selling Paradise Realty, a sign seeks customers with a free list of properties facing foreclosure and “short sales,” meaning the price is less than the owner owes the bank. Inside, Eileen Rodriguez, the receptionist, said the firm could no longer hand out the list. “We can’t print it anymore,” she says. “It’s too long.”

In late November, more than 2,600 of the 5,500 properties for sale in Cape Coral were short sales, says Bobby Mahan, the firm’s owner and broker. Most people who bought in 2004 and 2005 owe more than they paid, he says. “Greed and speculation created the monster.”

As much as anything, the short sales are responsible for the market logjam. To complete a deal, the lender holding the mortgage must be persuaded to share in the loss and write off some of what is due. “A short sale is a long and arduous process,” Mr. Mahan says. “Battling the banks is horrendous.”

Many Sides to Every Deal

I think one part of the housing story which hasn't quite been emphasized enough is the simple fact that buying a house is a complex transaction involving many parties. Economists are aware of transaction costs, but like so many complicating factors they tend to assume them away when they start talking about the issue.

Also, many housing deals involve a party which much sell their old house before they move to a new one, especially as no money down financing dries up. Even if someone can afford to hold two mortgages temporarily, often people have their down payment in their old house.

Missoula builder Joe Stanford doesn't need fancy statistics or color-coded foreclosure maps to tell him America's subprime mortgage crisis has arrived here.

Like other builders and real estate agents, his deals have been scotched or delayed by buyers who first must sell their homes in stagnant markets.

He's stuck when out-of-state buyers who want to relocate to his Lolo and Missoula residences can't sell their houses in Denver, Chicago and Los Angeles.
“We've put deals together here, but everything is contingent on them selling their homes. They got into subprime loans and bought houses they couldn't afford unless they financed it with those. When the market dropped, they lost their chance to sell,” he said.

In the best of times the housing market has a lot of friction. And now...

Wanker of the Day

Rudy Giuliani.


I didn't do any update on the Martin Luther Mitt story because I thought it a bit weird that a new org. (okay, it's The Politico, but still) was actually relying on eyewitness accounts from 44 years go to "debunk" the debunking. Unsurprisingly, Drudgico got punk'd.

As I've said several times, contra some I worry about Mitt as a candidate despite the Mormonism because of his willingness to lie about literally everything. It's a powerful skill, made even more powerful when you have media allies who will launder those lies for you.

Exporting Wingnuttery

Why does Christmas make people so angry? I'm an atheist, and I somehow manage to enjoy it!

Sunday Bobblehead Thread

Document the atrocities:

C-Span's Washington Journal: 7:30am Jeffrey Bell, Weekly Standard; 8:30am Peter Beinart, Council on Foreign Relations.

ABC's This Week: Rudy Giuliani; Roundtable:EJ Dionne, Torie Clarke, Cokie Roberts, and George Will; "Voice" Caroline Kennedy on her new book "A Family Christmas."

CNN Late Edition: Excerpts of previous interviews are featured in an end-of-year special.

CBS' Face The Nation: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Fox News Sunday: Gen. David Petraeus; Joel Osteen.

NBC's Meet The Press: Ron Paul (R). John Harwood and Chuck Todd.

Chris Matthews Show: Katty Kay, BBC Washington Correspondent; Dan Rather, HD Net Global Correspondent; Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic Senior Editor; Norah O'Donnell, MSNBC.

Sixty Minutes: Joel Osteen; Genetic Genealogy; Tom Brady, NE Patriots quarterback.

At least Hecate will be pleased: five women!
--Molly I.