Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Night Thread


Tales of Big Shitpile

This article does a good job of explaining what AIG and its enablers were up to.

Fight The Power

I've long thought the general libertarian preference for state/local versus federal power to be somewhat weird. It isn't that there aren't some good arguments for local control, it's that those arguments aren't especially libertarian unless you see Tiebout-style local government as sort of indistinguishable from the magical free market in action.

I'd cheer on my libertarian pals if they focused more attention on the abuses and bad policies of state and local governments, which really do impact the "economic freedom" they obsess about far more than does the federal minimum wage law.


August: Osage County. Two thumbs up!

Stupid, Ugly, Disliked

Gosh, CPAC seems so cutting edge and fun, it's so hard to see why the kids don't want to be Republicans anymore.

Afternoon Thread


The Mall Is Flat

Stories like this everywhere.
Lawsuits and debt continue to pile up against General Growth Properties Inc., the developer of the unfinished mall whose promise and money gave Elk Grove a push from bedroom community to incorporation in 2000. As recently as two years ago, General Growth appeared ready to deliver on its promise. Confident City Council members debated whether stores such as Target and JCPenney would be good enough for the upscale mall they envisioned.


Sadly I think that Buffett is correct. It's also important to remember that Geithner is putting his trust in the Banksters, the people who created the problem and who were in denial about it for so long. Crazy people on blogs like me have, for some time, been pointing out that the real problem is that they lost a lot of fucking money as the Banksters were pretending that this was just some temporary liquidity thing which could be fixed by the government giving them trillions in free money.

If our elites had acted over a year ago the economy might not be in such a mess. But, hey, nobody could have predicted...


It seems like US regions regularly get very close to having a major water emergency but then luckily manage to avoid it. Curious what will happen when it actually happens.

Tea Bag

Oh my.

...good excuse to rerun this.

Too Late

One of the bits of wrong conventional wisdom going into 2008 was that at some point the Republican presidential candidate and conservatives generally would break up with Bush somehow. I never believed this because for 8 years the entire identity of the conservative movement was George Bush. There was no way to do it.

I'm not sure why they're bothering to try now.


Security Savings Bank, Henderson, NV and Heritage Community Bank, Glenwood, IL get EATED by the FDIC.

Media Matters

From Jamison Foser.

Crap I Read

Mac from Portastatic & Superchunk I read because he often has good recs for offbeat music listening and because I admire how he's made a career out of being an artist. Eschaton comments regular Phila I read because he writes very well. Steve M I read because he annoys me by being there first, usually, with what I was going to say.

And you?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Evening Thread

Haloscan seems to be sorta working. I've got stuff to do, so you're on your own!

Comment Hell

I haven't been able to find a fix, temporary or otherwise, and I don't have time at the moment to find one. So hopefully haloscan returns! If not, hopefully I can fix it over the weekend...

Can't Run Away!

US taxes worldwide income of citizens, so Jonah can't run away from his taxes!


It appears to have been EATED. Hopefully it returns to life...if not, plan B..

Box Turtle Ben!

Missed him!

Oh Boy

Wolf Blitzer is going to interview John McCain again.

This is such a surprising development that they sent out a press release about it.

They're All Awesome

I admit I have a soft spot for Mittens, but frankly I love them all!!!

Sheinhardt Wig Company Cuts Dividend

GE cutting dividend from $.31 to $.10...

Where Are All The Women Op-Ed Writers?

Fred Hiatt can't find them.

Marginal Cost

I think it is true that people often don't properly perceive the marginal cost of driving and related (parking). Making parking costs explicit and having pay-at-the-pump pay as you go insurance would help do this without increasing the actual cost in any way, and of course increasing costs so that drivers would internalize certain external costs would as well.

That still leaves vehicle depreciation which I don't think people really factor in either.


Illinois might get rid of free ride for seniors.

The free rides offered to seniors using public transit—the brainstorm of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich—would end under a measure being considered by the state legislature.

With the freebies for those 65 and older costing Chicago area transit agencies an estimated $58 million this year, some legislators in Springfield want to ensure that only the truly needy get free trips on buses and trains.

You Be Da Man

They're incapable of being embarrassed.


At first pass, the Citi plan sounds better than expected (not good, but better). The government is going to convert preferred shares into common in a kind of matching program, to the extent that Citi can convince other preferred shareholders to do the same. The US will end up owning about 36% of Citi.

This doesn't, at the moment, add any more government money. It does make the investment more risky, though to the extent that you believe Citi's dead anyway it doesn't make all that much difference.

Basically it's just a continuation of "let's make it up as we go along" which isn't really a good way to handle this stuff. I think I heard a snippet of Pandit claiming that Citi's all better now. I doubt it.

...Their CFO says they don't know if they'll need more capital, and tries to blame regulatory uncertainty.

Big Shitpile: It's Really Really Shitty

It shouldn't be of any surprise to people who read this blog, but, no, it's never been a liquidity problem it's been a solvency problem. They bet on big shitpile, and it was a really really bad bet.


-6.2% (annualized).



The Commerce Department said gross domestic product, which measures the total output of goods and services within U.S. borders, fell at an annual rate of 6.2 percent in the October-December quarter, the deepest slide since the first quarter of 1982. The government last month estimated the drop in fourth-quarter GDP at 3.8 percent.

The weaker GDP estimate reflected downward revisions to inventories and exports by the department.

The decline was worse than analysts' expectations for a 5.4 percent contraction in fourth-quarter GDP. The economy expanded 1.1 percent in 2008, the slowest pace since 2001, the department said.

Deep Thought

I really think we should ask Newt what he thinks about all of this.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Late Night Thread


Thursday Evening Thread


Posties Agree

Minnesota revote. Just, you know, because.

What Might Have Been

If only Citi had gone with this business model.

Watch more Saturday Night Live videos on AOL Video

A Very Hungry FDIC

And these are just the banks that don't employ Geithner's pals!

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Thursday that U.S. banks and thrifts also more than doubled the amount they set aside to cover potential loan losses, to $69.3 billion in the fourth quarter from $32.1 billion a year earlier.

Regulators said there were 252 banks in trouble at the end of 2008, up from 171 in the third quarter.


The FDIC now believes U.S. bank failures will cost the deposit insurance fund more than $40 billion over the next four years amid the ravages of rising unemployment and falling home prices that have sent loan defaults soaring.

Revenue And Income

Not actually the same thing. That knowledge makes me too intelligent to be a CNBC host.

"These Institutions"

I know they're your pals, Geithner, but in case you haven't noticed these institutions fucked everything up.

Joe the Plumber

Really? Still?

The Wanker Caucus

They're very serious.

House Democratic leaders have abruptly canceled votes on legislation to let bankruptcy judges reduce the principal and interest rate on mortgages for debt-strapped homeowners.


It hit a snag after a group of moderates expressed concerns in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats about how the bill would affect homeowners who are still struggling to make their mortgage payments.

The banking industry has lobbied hard against the measure, mounting a successful multimillion-dollar effort last year to kill it. The House is debating the measure and leaders hope to reschedule votes for next week.

mmmmm...moderatey goodness...

Cunning Plan

I wanted to believe, as some have, that Geithner/Summers/Obama/Bernanke were just slow-walking the process of EATING the big financial institutions. Increasingly, however, it just looks like Bernanke doesn't want his beautiful mind disturbed and Geithner doesn' want to make his pals cry.

Very depressing.

Does Not Compute

Read this story from the NYT about Accountability Now and then read the Sam Stein story on the same subject. The latter is much more accurate.

There's a difference between Democrats from more conservative districts who, while not representing my political views, do manage to represent their constituents' views, and Democrats who engage in "centrist" wankery despite representing liberal districts, or Democrats who use the conservative tilt of their district as an excuse to get on board with anything the Chamber of Commerce supports.

Volcano Monitoring: Public Good

This Krugman post is worth reading to understand just how absurd Jindal's random attack against volcano monitoring was. It isn't simply that volcano monitoring might be a somewhat reasonable thing to do, it's also something that the private sector is not going to do because volcano monitoring is a public good, something with a precise definition in the world of economics (as opposed to a publicly provided good, which is just anything the government happens to fund).

Wanker of the Day

John McCain.

Deep Thought

Was a little disappointed that Barack Obama failed to mention Manimal in his speech the other day.

Humor In Politics

Once you turn someone into a punchline, it's just about over.

See Santorum, Rick.

And Speaking Of Lighting Money On Fire

Burn, baby, burn!

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s first budget request would provide as much as $750 billion in new aid to the financial industry, as well as overhaul the U.S. health-care system and launch a program to cut carbon-dioxide emissions.


The official said the aid would appear in the budget as about $250 billion because the rules require policy makers to record the plan’s net cost to taxpayers. The government anticipates it would eventually recoup some, though not all, of the money expended to help financial companies.

Lighting A Pile Of Money On Fie

UK has seen how much fun we're having doing it, so they're getting in on the action.

LONDON — Reporting the biggest annual loss in British corporate history, the Royal Bank of Scotland on Thursday became the first bank to sign up to the British government’s asset protection plan, intended to repair the economy and revive lending by helping banks to set aside illiquid assets.

The bank, which is up to 70 percent owned by the British government, said it would insure assets worth £325 billion, or $462 billion, with the government as it created a separate division. In exchange, the bank will pay a fee of £6.5 billion, or $9.23 billion, in preference shares to the government and commit to increase lending. Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays might also join the scheme.

Under the agreement, R.B.S. would bear the first loss on the insured assets of up to £19.5 billion, or $27.69 billion. Any loss after that would be borne 90 percent by the taxpayer and 10 percent by R.B.S., the bank said in a statement. The Treasury will also buy £13 billion, or $18.46 billion, of the preference shares. R.B.S. plans to run off or dispose the assets in the next three to five years.

And Now with Pretty Pictures

CR provides more information about the new jobless claims.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Holy crap:

Jobless Claims Rise 36,000 to 667,000; Durable Goods Orders Fall More Than Expected Down 5.2% (story developing)

Stupid Dumb II: The Dumbening

Here is the advice of a Serious and Indeed Cutting-Edge Young Conservative Thinker on the Issue of Making Conservatism Once More Relevant.

In these serious times, conservatives need to get serious and ditch the gimmicks and the self-referential credentializing and talk to the entire country. If the average apolitical American walked into CPAC or any movement conservative gathering would they feel like they learned something new or that we presented a vision compelling to them in their daily lives? Or would it all be talk of a President from 25 years ago and Adam Smith lapel pins? This is why I love Newt's emphasis on finding 80/20 issues and defining them in completely non-ideological terms.

This stuff is coming pre-parodied. The last sentence especially is not fair, as it could not be made up.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Obama faces the TRUTH.

Evening Thread


I Hope The Baby Has AIDS So The Mother Feels Guilty

The Lord Saletans of the world think we're crazy when we try to explain to them that the pro-life movement (not all pro-lifers, but the movement) is all about punishing women who have sex they disapprove of. Not much about life when you're bestowing a death sentence.
"What I'm hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that," he said. "The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior."

(ht SPO)

Happy Hour Thread


Negative Consequences

I don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with sexual promiscuity, but if I did I'd be a tremendous tool for thinking that "negative consequences" of it should include a stronger likelihood of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Schultheis is, unsurprisingly, "pro-life," which just means he wants women (and their children) to suffer "negative consequences" if they have sex.

Time Passes

Students who are going to begin college this fall after graduating high school were about 10 years old on September 11, 2001.

Geithner's Cunning Plan

Taxpayers eat Big Shitpile without even a scoop of ice cream to accompany it.


Making the right noises.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to pass strong financial sector regulation and oversight to prevent future crises and restore "accountability, transparency and trust in our financial markets."

In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday afternoon, the president offers no specific regulatory framework, but calls for "core principles." Among them are consumer protections, accountability for executives and a regulatory plan that covers a broad series of financial transactions that have escaped regulation in the past.

"We're Not Completely In The Dark"

That's reassuring.

Deep Thought

Why is John McCain always on my teevee?

Wingnut Mythology

I've written before that I think part of the problem that conservatives/Republicans face is that their mythology has become a bit too complex for mere mortals (people who don't listen to Limbaugh and read The Corner obsessively) to comprehend. They reference rogues' gallery of enemies and various "bad things" that most people have never heard of. Simply trying to navigate through the various wingnutty minefields while throwing out the appropriate red meat has become difficult to do, and the result is incomprehensible to most of the country.

Volcano monitoring! High speed rail!

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

The sad part is that I bet that even after last night's performance by Jindal, Gerson feels no regret about this absurd column.

...Athenae has more.

Still Not Over


Existing Home Sales Fell 5.3% in January to the Lowest Level in 12 Years (story developing)

Volcanoes Are Kinda Scary

What struck me about Jindal's complaint about spending money monitoring volcanoes was that it was really the best they can come up with. As he was.

The Dude's Got Issues

George Will is weird.

Early threading

I worry about this stuff. There's no place in the Constitution that says the United States government can ignore anyone's inalienable rights.

Not Atrios

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

To Be Fair And Balanced

Tim Kaine's SOTU response also sucked ass.

Really Weird

Watching the speech on MSNBC at the bar I was joking all night about how the Republican viewer response graph red line was usually above the Democratic one and frequently literally off the chart. Very strange times. From email, CNN/ORC poll of people who watched speech.
1.         What was your overall reaction to President Obama’s speech tonight – very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative or very negative?
                                                            Feb. 24
      Very positive                                     68%
      Somewhat positive                             24%
      Somewhat negative                            6%
      Very negative                                    2%
      Both/mixed                                          *
      No opinion                                          *

Slightly More Seriously

I saw only about 40% of Jindal's speech but...

Ha Ha [/muntz]

Deep Thought

MSNBC's "McCain Voter" 4 hour Obama erection was cured by Bobby Jindal.

Speechifying Thread


Evening Thread

I'm out drinking liberally. It's Tuesday!

2010 Or Later

Gonna be a long recession.

“If actions taken by the administration, the Congress, and the Federal Reserve are successful in restoring some measure of financial stability — and only if that is the case, in my view — there is a reasonable prospect that the current recession will end in 2009 and that 2010 will be a year of recovery,” Mr. Bernanke said.

Two years or more.

Happy Hour Thread


Afternoon Thread


Great Moments On CNBC

[Plenty of] banks took TARP money as a favor to the US government.

Great Moments on CNBC

Rick Santelli:

I'm not saying I'm right, I'm not saying I'm wrong. It's just my opinion.

The 2nd Derivative Is Positive!!!

I guess that's something to cheer...

Good News

It seems Obama does have his limits.

Privileging Horseshit

I do not know why editors apparently feel the need to pass on Republican horseshit without any challenge.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

I've long been sorta against getting rid of the mortgage interest deduction on the basis that it's the one real gift that middle class people get. Still, it is a bad deduction. I'd definitely support reducing the amount you can deduct over time. Long run, we should replace it, along with lots of other little potential deductions, with a big increase in the standard deduction.

Sprinkles Sidoti Strikes Again

And speaking of absurd Villagers.

In a February 23 Associated Press article, Liz Sidoti falsely reported that at his fiscal responsibility summit, President Obama "called the long-term solvency of Social Security 'the single most pressing fiscal challenge we face by far.' " In fact, as blogger Kovie at has noted, Obama did not call the long-term solvency of Social Security "the single most pressing fiscal challenge we face by far"; rather, in delivering the summit's opening remarks, Obama made that comment in reference to "the rising cost of health care":

Nobody Could Have Predicted

That Rick Santelli doesn't have his finger on the pulse of America.

Only our utterly absurd Villagers could've thought his rant represented some sort of "populist uprising."

Heckuva Job

Our system continues to reward failures.

As the parent company of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News slid toward the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing it made over the weekend, one employee did well on the pay front: CEO Brian P. Tierney.

Documents filed Sunday by Philadelphia Newspapers LLC and seven affiliates said that the pay of Tierney, a public relations executive who put together the investment group that bought the paper from McClatchy (nyse: MNI - news - people ) in June 2006 for $562 million, was boosted just two months ago by 38% to $850,000.
Article Controls

But an affidavit by Richard R. Thayer, executive vice president, finance, said the company was still saving money because Tierney "without an increase in compensation" became publisher of both papers in the fall of 2006 after the $565,000-a-year incumbent resigned. Even though Tierney in January 2008 demanded a 10% cost concession from workers, his own pay was bumped up 3% in May 2008 to $618,000. Then came the big boost around Christmas.

Simple Answers To Simple Questions

Glennzilla asks:

Is it even theoretically possible to have a worse, more deceitful and more moronic press than the one we have?

Sadly, yes.

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

Punking WATB McCain

This was a funny moment.

Deep Thought

You know who's really worth listening to? People who spend all day on blogs who complain about people who spend all day on Facebook.

Still Falling

Nobody could have predicted...

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Home prices in 20 U.S. cities declined 18.5 percent in December from a year earlier, the fastest drop on record, as foreclosures climbed and sales sank.

The decrease in the S&P/Case-Shiller index was more than forecast and followed an 18.2 percent drop in November. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007, and year-over- year records began in 2001.

Morning Thread

by Molly Ivors

I, for one, am ready for spring.


Really just crazy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Deep Thought

Bobby Jindal is the sexiest man alive.


That's where Mrs. Thomas Friedman got her money.

Monday Evening Thread


They're Really Bad At What They're Supposed To Do

We can debate the various reasons why - poor regulation, messed up incentive structures, etc... - but the fact is that the Banksters fucked everything up. Geithner's gang seems to think preserving the banking system means preserving the Banksters' jobs. But right now we have a really horrible banking system that has proven itself incapable of fulfilling its role properly.


Wanker of the Day

Rick Santelli.

Early Evening Thread

by Molly Ivors

Just to keep things moving for you all....


And another exciting day at the dog track.


Just making stuff up.

Mo Money

CNBC says AIG, 80% owned by gov't, will report $60 billion loss on Monday.

Oh, and ask for more free money.


Missing the Point

CNBC guy just asked why Obama didn't embrace PayGo before passing the stimulus package.

Our discourse is so stupid.


I don't know what the chances of this getting through the Senate are. Obama supports it, though I'm not sure how much he'll push for it to pass. It really is the best "solution" for the foreclosure crisis. It isn't painless for either side, and it gets around concerns by mortgage servicers about how much authority they have to renegotiate loan terms.

WASHINGTON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday Democratic leaders hoped to bring mortgage bankruptcy legislation known as the "cramdown" bill to the House floor on Thursday.

They Still Don't Get It

Some Dems think that if they can just tweak Social Security they can take it off the table 4evah. It doesn't work like that. The Republicans and Fred Hiatt's gang will screech about it anyway, especially once the general fund starts repaying all the money it has borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund. Remember, it's just a file cabinet!


Headlines We Can Believe In

"Citigroup's Clever Plan to Screw Taxpayers Again"

Well Managed

This might be true, but there's a wee problem.

The Capital Assistance Program aims to ensure that they have sufficient capital to support economic recovery, even if conditions worsen.

"Because our economy functions better when financial institutions are well managed in the private sector, the strong presumption of the Capital Assistance Program is that banks should remain in private hands," the regulators said.

Obviously the Banksters didn't run their banks well. The same clowns are running the show. There's little reason to imagine that this state of affairs will change.


I'm glad it's been shelved, but this just isn't true.

Mr. Obama considered announcing the formation of a Social Security task force at a White House “fiscal responsibility summit” that he will convene on Monday. But several Democrats said that idea had been shelved, partly because of objections from House and Senate leaders.

The president signaled in his campaign that he would support addressing the retirement system’s looming financing shortfall, in part by applying payroll taxes to incomes above $250,000. But that would ignite intense opposition from Republicans, especially with the economy deep in recession.

Liberal Democrats are already serving notice that they will be equally vehement in opposing any reductions in scheduled benefits for future retirees. But any solution, budget analysts said, must include a mix of both approaches, though current beneficiaries would see no change.

I don't know who this mystery "budget analysts" are, but if you really thought it was important to have some budget model make Social Security be "solvent" for all eternity, it could easily be accomplished with a payroll tax increase. No mix necessary.

Lied To

I've found journalists, and those like Joe who pretend to play them on teevee, have this weird belief that sources won't lie to them because if they do they'll reveal them as liars to the world and that would so totally destroy them. But of course they never actually do that. So they get lied to.

Eating Shitpile

Pay it back? Nah, just give us common stock instead.

In exchange for its investments, the government required the banks to issue preferred shares that pay interest and are designed to encourage repayment after a few years. Under the changes announced this morning, companies instead can give the government preferred shares that can be converted into shares of the company's common stock.

Not enough details, but this sounds like we're just overpaying for shitpile.

Wake up call

This is right, except for one thing. Baby-Boomers didn't just pay for their parents' retirement during their working lives, but also for their own, thanks to Ronald Reagan giving us the biggest tax hike in American history - on payroll taxes.

Not Atrios


Inqy and DN go for bankruptcy.

Deep Thought

I really did expect Anna Paquin to win everything.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Late Night Talk Show

Sunday Evening Thread


Deep Thought

The fate of the nation depends on how many people watch the Oscars this evening.

Afternoon Thread



I really don't understand why this story buys into the notion that there would be something wrong with a train from SoCal to Las Vegas. They're population centers with substantial traffic between them and they're the right distance apart.

Lord Saletan

What a buffoon.


It is, of course, true that any government program may provide a benefit to someone who "we" think is "undeserving." That could be because of corruption, poor program design, mistake, gaming of the system, etc. But as Hilzoy suggests, setting up some elaborate system to weed out undesirables is costly and intrusive and often more trouble than it's worth. Even simple means testing, very common of course, sets up perverse incentives for people.

But one day I hope this country grows up and recognizes that the fear that maybe someone is getting something I'm not and they don't deserve shouldn't be the primary philosophy of governance.


I'm a bit morbidly fascinated by people who are freaked out by people having sex just...well, you know, because (comments section, not post).

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.
ABC's "This Week" — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif.

CBS' "Face the Nation" — Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan; Govs. Jon S. Corzine, D-N.J., Mitch Daniels, R-Ind., and Ted Strickland, D-Ohio.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Govs. Bobby Jindal, R-La., and Charlie Crist, R-Fla.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Govs. Haley Barbour, R-Miss., Deval Patrick, D-Mass., and Schwarzenegger; Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Donovan.

"Fox News Sunday" Govs. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich., Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn.

9 Republican spots, 7 Democratic spots. Makes sense.

Thread again

Have I mentioned lately that the only danger facing Social Security is politicians who want to "reform" it?

Not Atrios