Saturday, January 17, 2009

Late Night

Rock on.

Bloggy Love Claims Two More Victims

Congratulations to the happy couple.

Saturday Evening Thread

I got nothin'.

Evening Thread



Looks like the new Hudson tunnel will finally be built.

The prospects for a second rail tunnel under the Hudson River to Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan received a major boost on Wednesday when federal authorities approved an environmental assessment for a $9 billion tunnel planned by New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority.


The new service also would allow more New Jersey Transit riders to reach New York without having to change trains in Newark or Secaucus. A second tunnel would also relieve pressure on the century-old tunnel that New Jersey Transit shares with Amtrak. The project’s six new tracks in Manhattan, which would terminate beneath 34th Street, would also allow commuters to connect underground to the subways and PATH trains at Avenue of the Americas.

It Took A Couple Of Years

But suddenly our great newspapers are discovering the "stereotypes" they helped to perpetuate weren't, you know, true. Subprime loans were never the problem, just an early warning signal about shoddy and predatory lending practices.

But interviews and a Washington Post analysis of available data show that the foreclosure crisis knows no class or income boundaries. Many borrowers ensnared in the evolving mortgage mess do not fit neatly into the stereotypes that surfaced by early 2007 when delinquency rates shot up. They don't have subprime loans, the lending industry's jargon for the higher-rate mortgages made to borrowers with shaky credit or without enough cash for a down payment.

The wave of subprime delinquencies appears to have crested. But in October, for the first time, the number of prime mortgages in delinquency exceeded the subprime loans in danger of default, according to The Post's analysis.

Scene From A Philly Train Station

72 hours to go...



Obviously, though, what’s available in the city isn’t going to be enough for many people. And personally while I recognize a lot of virtues to New York City, I prefer living in a smaller city. And others will prefer small towns or rural areas or suburbs. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Getting planning policy right isn’t about saying that there’s one kind of neighborhood that people ought to live in. Indeed, just the reverse. It’s about saying that public policy shouldn’t be aimed at exclusively promoting a particular vision of car-only suburbanism. If we had the mirror-image of our current policies—it’s illegal to build parking lots or garages, there’s no money available for work on roads, no structure can occupy less than 90 percent of its lot, no building can be shorter than six stories, no home can have more than 2,000 square feet—that would be stupid and bad.

While many things in my posts about this stuff are often misunderstood by people, the thing that people seem to most fail to grasp is the basic point that in almost all of the country it is illegal to build a neighborhood like mine. This is even true in my neighborhood!


Some alien force is kidnapping all of our hedge fund managers.

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Arthur Nadel, a hedge-fund manager in Sarasota, Florida, has disappeared and clients are concerned they may have lost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to law enforcement officials.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.


Ethiopian this morning.

Early Morning

You people talk too much.



Friday, January 16, 2009


Bank of Clark County, Vancouver, WA, and National Bank of Commerce, Berkeley, IL, get EATED.

Glenn and Jay

Rosen that is.  

Glenn talks to Jay about the media.  Much insight, even wisdom.


I do not think that word means what Fox News thinks it means.

The Mustache of Greenderstanding

From David Rees.

This Will Work Out Well

LA Times:
Reporting from Sacramento -- State Controller John Chiang announced today that his office would suspend tax refunds, welfare checks, student grants and other payments owed to Californians starting Feb. 1, as a result of the state's cash crisis. ... The payments to be frozen include nearly $2 billion in tax refunds; $300 million in cash grants for needy families and the aged, blind and disabled; and $13 million in grants for college students.

(via cr)

Happy Hour Thread

A bit early, but it's Friday.


People expect Bush to be thought of as worse than Nixon.

We've come a long way since "Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left -- I mean -- like him personally.

Already Out $64 Billion

I'm so old I can remember when such a number would cause the Villagers to faint. Of course, it still would if you spent it on doctors' appointments for sick poor kids.

Local Notes

For those who want to mix their politics with their sports, come watch the Iggles on Sunday with the Philadelphia Drinking Liberally crowd.

Sunday, January 18, 2009
2:30pm - 7:00pm
Triumph Brewing Co., upstairs bar
117 Chestnut St.

Doesn't Anybody Remember Anthrax?

Apparently not.

Waiting Sucks

But I think what sucks about it is the uncertainty. I mind waiting for the metro in DC much less than I mind waiting for the subway in my local transit system because the former has reasonably accurate time until arrival estimates displayed. I mind waiting for the bus even more because while I know that the subway runs at regular intervals, buses can easily have their schedules screwed up by traffic, necessary detours, etc.

Point being: more information=much more rider happiness.

The End Of The Error

It is admittedly quite difficult to contemplate reality without George Bush as president. I wish I had some actual deep thoughts on this subject, but it's hard to actually digest.

Like Lincoln But Not Like Lincoln


And The Hits Keep Coming

Industrial production down 2% in December. November revised figure of -1.3%, originally reported as +.6%.



Electronics Retailer Circuit City to Be Liquidated, CNBC Has Learned. (story developing)

It's Cold

I bet Al Gore feels pretty stupid now.

And fat. Don't forget fat.

Lighting A Pile Of Money On Fire

Throw it on the bonfire, quick!

Bank of America [BAC 8.32 --- UNCH (0) ], the largest U.S. bank, lost $1.79 billion, or 48 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, compared with a year-earlier profit of $268 million, or 5 cents. Net revenue increased 22 percent to $15.68 billion.

At Merrill, the loss was $9.62 per share, driven by significant writedowns of troubled assets.

Bank of America announced the results hours after it won $20 billion in new capital from the government's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

...though the $20 billion is just the appetizer:

The government said earlier today it will invest $20 billion in Bank of America and guarantee $118 billion of assets to help the company absorb Merrill and prevent the financial crisis from deepening.

So absurd.
Krugman says we can't be so ready to make nice.

He's right.


Not Atrios

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Late Night Thread

Discuss better uses of $200 billion.


Suck on this, America!

The government is near a deal to give Bank of America a $20 billion capital injection and potentially absorb about $100 billion in losses on toxic assets, people involved in the transaction said Thursday.

Ladyfingers Thread

Coffee and tea on the side.

Dinner Thread


Sam Alito: Classy Guy

Nobody could have predicted...

Afternoon Thread


Lighting A Pile Of Money On Fire


Government Guarantees for Bank of America to Be Between $100 Billion-$200 Billion, CNBC Has Learned (story developing)

"How could we let something like that happen?"

Um, I dunno Arnold, how could you?

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- With the state facing fiscal collapse, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will urge lawmakers today to put aside partisan differences to close the state's ballooning budget gap.


"This disruption has stopped work on levees, schools, roads, everything," Mr. Schwarzenegger plans to say. "It has thrown thousands and thousands of people out of work at a time when our unemployment rate is rising. How could we let something like that happen? I know that everyone in this room wants to hear again the sound of construction. No one wants unemployment checks replacing paychecks."

2/3 vote requirement for a budget is a big part of the problem. A California news media that keeps its citizens blissfully unaware of what goes on in Sacramento, and who is to blame (Republicans) is another part. And, of course, pretending that government is freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee for so long hasn't helped.

(via CR)

Reverse Midas

Froomkin sums up the Bush legacy pretty well.

He took the nation to a war of choice under false pretenses -- and left troops in harm's way on two fields of battle. He embraced torture as an interrogation tactic and turned the world's champion of human dignity into an outlaw nation and international pariah. He watched with detachment as a major American city went under water. He was ostensibly at the helm as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression took hold. He went from being the most popular to the most disappointing president, having squandered a unique opportunity to unite the country and even the world behind a shared agenda after Sept. 11. He set a new precedent for avoiding the general public in favor of screened audiences and seemed to occupy an alternate reality. He took his own political party from seeming permanent majority status to where it is today. And he deliberately politicized the federal government, circumvented the traditional policymaking process, ignored expert advice and suppressed dissent, leaving behind a broken government.

The Schloz

Keep on running!

WASHINGTON (AP) — If confirmed as attorney general, Eric Holder says he'll review the decision not to prosecute a former Justice Department official for making false statements to Congress.

An inspector general report this week found that Bradley Schlozman, the former head of the civil rights division, misled lawmakers about whether he politicized hiring decisions.

It Is The Bank of AMERICA After All

Just nationalize the lot of them and end this.

Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank, is seeking billions of dollars of government aid after it realized that credit losses at Merrill Lynch & Co, which it bought on January 1, were much higher than expected, a person familiar with the matter said.

A spokesman for the bank declined to comment. Bank of America has already received $25 billion under the U.S. Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program. The bank is scheduled to report its quarterly results on January 20.

"Bank of America appears to be in meltdown," said Anton Schutz, president of Mendon Capital Advisors in Rochester, New York, which owns the bank's shares. "But what is the government going to do, and how big will it be? Everybody's assuming the worst."

Keith Davis, a bank analyst at Farr, Miller & Washington in Washington, expressed concern that Bank of America may have grown too fast, buying Merrill and the nation's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial Corp, since June.

Destroy The Country, Save The Citi

Bailouts might be justifiable if common stockholders were wiped out and the gov't had voting shares. Otherwise, just a big bonfire of cash! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc. plunged as much as 25 percent in New York trading on concern the bank may be forced to seek more government assistance on top of the $45 billion of U.S. funds that it already received.

“Citi’s got their hand out from now ‘til the end of time,” said Peter Kenny, a managing director in institutional sales at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Fear Of Blackmailing The Gay

That excuse unraveled when Michelangelo Signorile reported that NBC's Pete Williams, then Dick Cheney's Assistant Secretary of Defense, was gay. This helped lead to the push to overturn the ban until Sam Nunn sabotaged it and left us with DADT...

Better Light More Money On Fire

It's the only thing we can do.

A new wave of bank losses is overwhelming the federal government's emergency response, as financial firms struggle with the souring U.S. economy, the rapid deterioration of global markets and the unexpectedly high costs of shotgun mergers arranged by federal officials last year.

The problems are intensifying the pressure on the incoming Obama administration to allocate more of the $700 billion rescue program to financial firms even as Democratic leaders have urged more help for distressed homeowners, small businesses and municipalities. Senior Federal Reserve officials said this week that the bulk of the money should go to banks.

Some Fed officials suggested that even more than $700 billion may be required, and financial analysts at Goldman Sachs and elsewhere say banks will have to raise hundreds of billions of dollars from public or private sources.

White Guys

Will no one give them a chance?

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Still high.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose 54,000 to a seasonally adjusted 524,000 in the week ended Jan. 10 from an upwardly revised 470,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.


...The four-week moving average for continuing claims, at 4.498 million, was the highest in 26 years.

More Thread

By request.


If you are in the ultimate SUPERTRAIN zone of the NYC metropolitan area, you should know about some pre-inaugural events: Living Liberally Ball on the 18th, and the Planned Parenthood Bon Voyage Bush event on the 19th.

Otherwise, morning thread.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Rock on.

Wanker of the Day

Evan Thomas.

Even More Thread

I got nothin'.

Evening Thread


Worth It

Monstrous liar until the end.

Afternoon Thread


Big Poker

I do love the internets. Check out the #2 most popular idea at

I Guess There's Still Time?

This isn't on CNN's site anymore, but it was there on 1/10/08.

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- President Bush met with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank on Thursday, predicting that a Middle East peace treaty would be signed by the time he leaves office in 2009.


Look, a route between any cities under about 500 miles apart is a candidate for a high speed rail route. That isn't to say all such routes should be built, depending on cost, difficulties of assembling rights of way, populations in the cities and expected ridership, etc.., but for such distances such routes are easily competitive with air travel in terms of customer preference.

The limited stop train makes it from Barcelona to Madrid, about 385 miles, in 2:35. That's city center to city center, no need to travel to/from the airports, no need to show up to the station an hour and a half beforehand, etc.

Elevating Conservatives To Positions Of High Influence

Thanks again, TNR!

Saving Shitty Companies And Their Shitty Executives

Perhaps that wasn't such a good idea after all. Nobody could have predicted, yada yada...

Lunch Thread


Deep Thought

Stock market's down today, I guess we'd better light some more piles of money on fire.


In case you were curious about what your new senator got.

Related, it appears Reid outboxed McConnell for once and managed to get +3 Dems on most committees.

I Know That Store

Supermarket troubles.

Acme markets will close three area supermarkets following news that its parent company, Supervalu Inc., lost nearly $3 billion during the last quarter.

Stores in Ambler, West Chester, and Collegeville will be shut down during the next two months, according to a report on KYW Newsradio. A fourth store in Newton, NJ, will also be shuttered.

Retail Bloodbath

Not pretty.

Sales at U.S. retailers fell at a steeper-than-expected rate in December, government data showed on Wednesday, as a deteriorating economic environment forced consumers to cut back on spending during the key holiday period.

The Commerce Department said total retail sales fell 2.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted $343.2 billion last month following a revised 2.1 percent drop in November, previously reported as a 1.8 percent decline.

Morning Thread

Oh hey, there's a new Bin Laden audio tape.

I hear he's now saying "death to LOL Cats".



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Fiction

Our discourse is ruled by tremendously stupid people.

The Tears of Instapundit


The mood in the hall of the General Assembly Tuesday morning oozed with anxious anticipation.

Republicans stood poised to take control of the Tennessee General Assembly for the first time in nearly 140 years. Even Gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp roamed the halls. "What I say to all my new colleages here in the state house and state senate is with this new majority, is you cant just be the opposition party now because the burden is on you to govern."


What happened next some may describe as the political play of the decade as all 49 Democrats backed Kent Williams, a Sophomore Republican from Carter County, a district just miles from Mumpower's hometown.

During the voice vote on the Speaker's position, the House clerk called every Democrat first, then every Republican, except Williams. The 49 to 49 split was then decided by Williams.

Williams accepted the position amid cheers and boos, prompting state troopers to enter the House chambers ready to respond to an outburst.

Grumpy Hour Thread

Or whatever.

Even More Booze Trains

Readers say MARC and Caltrain trains generally allow booze on trains.

Happy Hour Thread


Estate Tax

Yes, it's good news that the Dems are aiming for a reasonable estate tax exemption while also not having the final year of what Krugman called the "Throw Momma From The Train Act," during which the estate tax is completely repealed before reverting back to what it was previously.

Scary Vagina

Michael Savage is a fascinating one.

Encouraging Ridership

Reader J writes in:

My two experiences with booze on a train:

In Chicago (lived there '98-'07), the western suburban commuter trains allow you to BYO alcohol as long as it's not in a glass bottle. As a result, the train station is filled with little bodegas selling beer cans and single serving plastic wine bottles. Also as a result, the experience at my office was that 75%+ of the western suburban commuters took the train. The dry northern and NWern burbs ran at roughly a 25% commuter rate.

In Denver, the ski train (lived here '07-present) to/from Winter Park serves beer and wine on the return trip. It is essentially impossible to book a ticket less than a month in advance -- and the trip is both expensive ($59 round trip) and long (2.25 hours, compared to 1.5 hours driving under normal conditions). It is a gorgeous ride, though.

Obviously booze on the train has potential problems, but especially when we're talking about the general post-work period during which few people will have had a chance to drink too much before they get in the train it isn't that big of a deal. A couple drunks on the train is preferable to a bunch of drunks on the road.

Booze On The Train

A few people have written in suggesting that they should just sell booze on the train. Amtrak does, and you can also get it on some Long Island Railroad and Metro North trains, where I also think they have a "BYO" policy just in case you come prepared.

Deep Thought

I don't post about Congo nearly as often as I should.

The Beer Train

Someone in Phoenix has the right idea.

Asymmetrical Incentives

The other thing, of course, is what happens when journalists screw up. They screw up all the time! That's fine. We all screw up, and most non-malicious screwups shouldn't be hanging offenses. Still, as we know, some journalists have their careers and reputations destroyed for relatively harmless screwups. Some, like Jeffrey Goldberg, continue to have illustrious careers in elite magazines like Atlantic Monthly. Looking at the pattern, if you screw up in a way which attacks the powerful and elite interests, which quite often are aligned with conservative/Republican governance, you're ruined. If you screw up in a way which leads to hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis...bygones!

Along Those Lines

Some things are accepted as fact even though they are completely false, such as the fact that entitlement spending in the US needs to be curtailed. Now it's true that health care spending, including Medicare spending, is out of control and should be curtailed. That isn't a problem with Medicare, but instead it's a problem with our ridiculous health care system. Every sentient being knows this is true, along with the related point that there's absolutely nothing wrong with Social Security, but the Villagers just "know" that the richest country in the history of the world can't possible afford to pay for your parents' health care. And they repeat it over and over and over.

Consensus and Deviancy

Jay Rosen discusses the conventional wisdom generation and status quo perpetuation machine that is our elite political-media industrial complex.

I think the most fascinating thing is how willfully blind many journalists are about this stuff. I don't know if they really can't see it, or if it's in their interest to pretend to not to see it. Either way.

Local Notes

We seemed to have settled in permanently to the new Philadelphia Center City Drinking Liberally, Triumph Brewing Co., 117 Chestnut St., every Tuesday 6-9pm. Conveniently located by the 2nd st. stop on the Market-Frankford subway/El. $3 beer (all kinds), $4 wine, etc. I haven't been in a couple of weeks, but last I was there we were upstairs so look for us there if you can't find us downstairs.


Since over time the sources of my little inside jokes get a bit obscure, SUPERTRAIN is not actually a reference to the one time most expensive television show ever produced, but instead the derailed (ha ha) commuter rail project that Campbell Scott's character was working on in the movie Singles.


As I said yesterday, with America's new honesty at least now the monsters can be named.


All good people should register at and vote up the SUPERTRAINS.

Prosecuting The Schloz

Obviously he should be prosecuted, though it's unlikely given that we live in the post-accountability era. Still I'm curious. If the prosecutions come will Ruth Marcus and the gang write hand-wringing articles about how horrible this is, or are such treatises reserved for people of higher pay grades.

Just Obeying Orders

What's absurd isn't that the National Association of Realtors tended to be publicly optimistic about housing prices, what's absurd is that journalists regularly went to them fore quotes and forecasting as if they didn't have any skin in the game.

Record Import Plunge

As all good economists "know," one day our trade gap will have to shrink. But hopefully it shrinks, in part, because exports increase, not because imports plunge and exports fall.

The U.S. trade deficit shrank 28.7 percent in November, the biggest contraction in 12 years, as weak consumer demand and plummeting oil prices caused a record drop in imports, a U.S. Commerce Department report showed Tuesday.

The $40.4 billion trade gap in November was the lowest in five years and much lower than expected. Wall Street analyst had expected the trade gap to narrow to around $51.3 billion, from a downwardly revised $56.7 billion in October.

U.S. imports in November fell a record 12 percent to $183.2 billion, as the global financial crisis scared businesses and consumers into cutting their spending.

Morning Coffee Thread

Monday, January 12, 2009

Late Night

Rock on.

Occasionally Something Brings Me Back

Email Storms

When this happens you want to kill people, especially when the list is filled with academics who think the world needs to hear their repeated thoughts on why this is a bad thing.

Even More Thread


Dinner Thread


And A Weary Nation Cheered

Good riddance, asshat.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush will deliver a televised farewell address to the American people on Thursday night, the White House said.

Apologies to finer asshats everywhere.

Still Not Sure What That Was All About

Oh well.

Democratic Senate Officials Certify Roland Burris, Will Be Seated Later This Week

Maybe Set Off Some Fireworks?

8 days left of this absurd tiny man.

One thing Bush hadn't shared previously was his thinking about Hurricane Katrina, which up until the financial crisis was seen as his biggest domestic failure.

"I've thought long and hard about Katrina; you know, could I have done something differently," he said. Like what? "[L]ike land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge."

Wanker of the Day

Arlen Specter.

Lunch Thread


Obama's Money Now

Maybe they can spend some of it to find out what happened to the first $350 billion.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says President George W. Bush has asked Congress to release the remaining $350 billion intended to help the nation deal with its financial crisis.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said Bush acted on a request of President-elect Barack Obama. She said the Bush White House will continue working with Obama's transition team and with Congress on how best to proceed on the release of the money.

The idea is to make the money available to the new administration shortly after Obama takes office Jan. 20. The unpopular bailout has featured unconditional infusions of money into financial institutions that have done little to account for it.

'Joe' The 'Plumber'

Conservatives persist with him because they wrongly believe he pisses liberals off. As with many such things, Joe the Plumber never pissed off liberals. What did piss off liberals was a mainstream news media who allowed some random dude who would benefit from Obama's proposed economic plan to become some sort of stand in for the everyman who Obama would be keeping from achieving success somehow.

Now? We're just laughing at you, clowns.

Your Modern GOP

Pretty much the same as last week's version.

Deep Thought

8 days is a long time.

Suburban Reuse

I really highly doubt much of the kind of reuse this author imagines will ever happen, especially in residential neighborhoods.


Starting soon...
Drained by the worst consumer-spending slump in decades and burdened by debt, U.S. retailers are expected to begin a wave of post-holiday bankruptcy filings, altering the landscape at malls and on main streets across the country.

Ken Starr: Still a Dick

Ken Starr, not surprisingly, is still a dick.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Night Thread Vol. II

Pajamas Media Contemplates Journalism

Sunday Night Thread


How Strange

It appears my local sports franchise has won a playoff game.

We've Always Done Bad Things

I suppose there's something to be said for the new honesty, but it makes me a bit sick inside. At least I know who the monsters are now, I guess.

Uh, Local Fox Affiliate?

Please stop cutting to commercial mid-game.


That's more like it.


What kind of score is that?

Crazy Amanda

Thinks her irresponsible unhealthy habits should have an impact on public policy.

Pre-Iggles Thread

Gonna go buy some tasty meat products at the Italian Market.

...procured sausages, rolls, pepperoni bread. Now for the beer.


I've known quite a few smart people who were Bill Bradley fans, but to me he's always been in the Bob Kerrey category.


Along the train route the other day, I saw a few examples of what I consider to be the truly weirdest form of contemporary residential development, the "townhome" development on a giant plot of land. That is, sets of attached homes with ample parking and even more ample but mostly pointless green space. I assume this is mostly driven by zoning laws, with developers getting in just as much density as they are allowed to, but it really is the worst of all worlds development. It's got features of density that people don't like (attached homes), but no retail or real walkability that a genuinely dense neighborhood would allow.

Truly awful.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

ABC's "This Week" — President-elect Barack Obama


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Former Illinois Attorney General (and Senate appointee) Roland Burris, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Comedian and author Bill Cosby, author Alvin Poussaint, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and former Mich. Rep. David Bonior.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"Fox News Sunday" _ President Bush and former President George H.W. Bush.


Just thread.


Rock on.