Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hope and Glory

Hope. Glory. (Lots of good links in the, uh, links.)

And, via AguaTigre, whatever the hell this is. It appears that perhaps a major corporation has discovered a new way to make money by making women ashamed of their bodies. Ingenious, in a way so stupid it might make you just want to kill yourself. See if you can detect the clever play on words. Gah, humbug.

Email's Back

But this will be a light blogging Saturday evening.

Comcast Fail

Their email system, or at least which ever part I'm on, has been down all I can't receive email!

Afternoon Thread

Sunny but damn windy here.

The Bayh Dogs

But of course it's a "a crude power bloc looking to shake down the administration and the congressional leadership for personal, ideological, and special-interest favors." Bayh already announced that he and the rest of the Bayh Dogs have no agenda, which means he gathered a bunch of people together and said, "Here's my plan to make us more powerful and give us more leverage." Maybe they'll figure out an actual agenda eventually, but for the moment the agenda is whatever Bayh says it is. Whether his yapping puppies follow along on a regular basis remains to be seen...

(via my)

Beat Sweetener

I recently learned what is apparently a term of art in the world of elite pristine journalism. It describes the standard and accepted - and well understood by all involved except the readers - practice of writing sycophantic source-favoring articles based on the idea that such things will buy you access so that later you might be able to be the one to share actual important information with readers. Never fear, dear readers, no blogger ethics panel is necessary for this journalist-approved practice, even if certain uncomfortable facts never quite make to readers...

(via glennzilla)

Taking The Train To The Beach

Will this actually happen? I don't remember L.A. in detail enough to have an informed opinion about the various alignment possibilities, but Santa Monica/Venice will be much nicer places if the amount of parking/driving is reduced.

Always enjoyed taking the subway home from the beach in Barceloneta when I was staying in Barcelona.

Hopey Changey

Ah well.

The Obama administration is engineering its new bailout initiatives in a way that it believes will allow firms benefiting from the programs to avoid restrictions imposed by Congress, including limits on lavish executive pay, according to government officials.


The administration believes it can sidestep the rules because, in many cases, it has decided not to provide federal aid directly to financial companies, the sources said. Instead, the government has set up special entities that act as middlemen, channeling the bailout funds to the firms and, via this two-step process, stripping away the requirement that the restrictions be imposed, according to officials.

It's the banksters' country. We just live in it.

Heroes and villains thread

Here, watch some good TV.

Oh, here's more.

Not Atrios

Saving Your Local Newspaper

I do wonder where the problem is.

The New York Times Co. has threatened to shut the Boston Globe unless the newspaper's unions swiftly agree to $20 million in concessions, union leaders said.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Important Facts

Street Meat Schlussel has them.

More Thread

You can rock a bit on this one.

Friday Night Thread

Be excellent to each other.

A Cunning Plan

We can solve a problem caused by large financial institutions trading leveraged assets with each other at inflated prices by encouraging them to trade leveraged assets with each other at inflated prices.

Mouse Troubles

And on and on...

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Walt Disney Co. said Friday it had cut 1,900 positions at its U.S. theme parks as part of an earlier announced reorganization, representing about 11 percent of salaried employees in the division.

Deep Thought

You know who we haven't heard enough from lately? Bob Kerrey.

The Absurdity Of Local Transit Governance

I hope the problem is obvious.

The SEPTA board has two representatives from each of the five-county service area plus five others appointed by various Harrisburg politicos.


What's so amusing about the absurdity that is Evan Byah is that he doesn't realize that it isn't 1994 anymore. While I agree that this doesn't have much to do with pleasing the voters of Indiana, I also think he believes it's a way to increase his relevance and importance.


This is pretty stunning.

Over the month, the employment-population ratio slipped to 59.9 percent, 2.8 percentage points lower than at the beginning of the recession and the lowest level since July 1985. Among the employed, the number of persons working part time who would prefer to be working full time increased by 423,000 over the month to 9.0 million. Since December 2007, this measure has risen by 4.4 million.

The emp-pop ratio peaked in 2000 at 64.7.

The Good News

If you ignore the revisions to the data, the chocolate rations are up.

Not Coming Back

Despite this blog's name, I generally resist the temptation to think in apocalyptic terms or to suddenly decide Everything's Different Now, but I really am seriously worried about the economy going forward. Aside from the lost wealth in housing and elsewhere, we have lots of lost jobs, and it's hard to see a lot of those jobs coming back any time soon. The construction industry is going to be dead for awhile for obvious reasons. A lot of bubble jobs in the mortgage industry aren't coming back any time soon. Not quite sure what's going on with the auto industry, long term.

The worry is that there isn't just some weak demand in certain sectors which a bit of adjustment will sort out eventually, but that instead there's a structural shift which will require a much longer transition period before things get better. I'm worried, anyway.

Wanker of the Day

Blanche Lincoln.


And Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Supreme Court announced its ruling in a landmark same-sex marriage case Friday morning.

The court's written ruling was to be issued on the Iowa Supreme Court's Web site , but traffic to the site crashed the server and took down the Web site.

The court ruled in favor of six same-sex couples who sought to get marriage licenses, but were denied. The ruling means same-sex couples in Iowa can now get married under state law.

Holy Crap

Unders win again.

The nation's unemployment rate jumped to 8.5 percent in March, the highest since late 1983, as a wide range of employers eliminated a net total of 663,000 jobs.

...about half of jobs lost are in construction and manufacturing.

...U6, the broadest measure of unemployment, is up to 15.6%, up from 9.3% a year ago.

Morning Thread

by Molly Ivors

Am I the only one who thinks that having Andrea Mitchell sit in for Rachel Maddow is a little like having Dick Cheney sit in for Barack Obama?



Thursday, April 02, 2009

I Dunno

I bet Henry VIII might have found something like an iPod to be pretty neato.



WASHINGTON — Gov. Mark Sanford will comply with a midnight Friday stimulus deadline and become the last governor in the nation to seek millions of dollars in federal economic-recovery funds for his state, aides said late Thursday.

Mark Sanford, artist's conception

Thursday Night Thread

Jobs report comes out tomorrow. Consensus forecast is -650K. I'll take the under, as usual.


Wee problems.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his brother Rob and Christopher Kelly, a former top fundraiser for Blagojevich, were all indicted today on corruption charges, the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago announced.

Also charged in the indictment were Lon Monk, a lobbyist and former Blagojevich chief of staff; John Harris, also a former chief of staff to Blagojevich; and William Cellini, a Springfield insider for decades.

Driving Is Dangerous

Just in case you've forgotten.

Highway deaths in Pennsylvania dropped to 1,468 last year, the fewest since 1994, when 1,440 traffic deaths were reported, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said today.


PennDot reported 64 fatalities involving 16- or 17-year-old drivers, compared with 101 in 2007. Fatalities involving drivers over 65 dropped to 259 from 268.

Afternoon Thread


TARP Repayment Is Lucy's Football

Last week:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis said the largest U.S. bank wants to start repaying $45 billion of federal bailout money next month, after completing a government stress test, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

Lewis had previously said he hoped to pay back all of the money Bank of America took from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program as soon as later this year, without saying when repayment would begin.


Ken Lewis from Bank of America (BAC) doesn’t seem to be able to run away from last month’s promise to repay TARP funds fast enough.

In his latest media appearances, including an interview on CNBC, Lewis said that BofA would repay taxpayers for the $45 billion in TARP proceeds his bank received. Eventually. (Lewis also said he ”regrets” having taken that much, saying the bank took more than it needed, describing the total as ”his mistake.” From this vantage, seems like the government’s … but po-tay-to, po-tah-to, right?)

But he quickly added that the economy will have to rebound. And then several quarters will have to pass.


I fully understand that journalists don't feel responsible for all of the sins in their profession much in the same way that I don't like being held responsible for every diary written on the Great Orange Satan's site. Still, the various parts of the journalism ecosystem are interconnected. Print journalists go on the cable teevee networks, which increases their credibility. Fox personalities are treated with a degree of respect. If Markos turned his site into a lunatic conspiracy theory site I would, at some point, feel inclined to say something about it. And while I don't think they should be spending all of their time swatting down wingnuttery - sometimes it is just best to ignore it - there are times when it is their role to address the horseshit.

Lunch Thread


Stupid Or Corrupt?

Josh flags this post at Big Picture. A fundamental question is whether all parties knew these transactions weren't real, that the insurance they were buying was fake.

But, to some degree, it doesn't really matter except for those of us who like to get outraged by these things. However this situation came about, the powers that be are most interested in preserving the institutions most responsible for it. Why that is I do not know, but that's where we are.

Imaginary Etiquette

I haven't been able to figure out what's been more amusing about all of the tut-tutting of the Obama trip to England. Was it the general tendency to just manufacture rules of etiquette? The racism-tinged "of course those people won't know how to behave?" The irony of tea party fetishists caring what the English monarch might think about anything? The general tendency to portray foreigners as alien children?

Our discourse is so stupid.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Holy crap.

Jobless Claims Rise by 12,000 to 669,000; Puts Jobless Claims at Highest Level Since October 1982. (story developing)


You know, I just can't help questioning Eric Holder's priorities.

I'm not saying the prosecution in question wasn't dirty. What I want to know is why it was at the top of the list. As Scott Horton says:
The misconduct by prosecutors in the Stevens case, bad as it was, is trivial compared to what went on in a number of other political prosecutions which have been profiled here–the Siegelman case, the prosecutions of Paul Minor and two Mississippi judges, and the prosecution of Cyril Wecht.

Not Atrios

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Late Night

Rock on.

A Tea Bagging Manifesto

Yes, we're still laughing at you, not with you.

Big Government Conservatives

Yes, it's long been a mystery why conservatives dream of growing the government through tax cuts. Actually the mystery is that this type of nonsense and the people who spout it are given a platform, that these obvious absurdities are given a "fair" hearing.

Deep Thought

I am glad I do not have a job in tech support.

Anal Poisoning

The mind of Rush Limbaugh.

...not a new phrase.

Wolcott On The Village

An amusing if also somewhat scary read.

Only within the Beltway popcorn popper could Gingrich, whose serpent tongue and ogre ego did so much to polarize discourse in the 1990s and abort reform, be considered a foxy catch. Only in Washington, D.C., could Gingrich, a magpie of futurist jargon and a bumptious opportunist, pass himself off as an iconoclastic force and centrifuge of ideas, a cross between Buckminster Fuller and Che Guevara leading a commando raid on the buffet table. And only within the punditocracy could “hyper-bipartisan” be bandied about as an aphrodisiac.

Funny But Scary Too

Red State comments thread:

The Key Is Not To Fire The First Shot
IJB Wednesday, April 1st at 12:52AM EDT (link)

The Other Side will have to do that.

It probably means a nice family somewhere, or maybe even a whole town, will have to get mowed down by the Obamabots.

But, and this key - if they fire the first shot, we make sure we fire the last shot.
Log in to Reply

Tobacco Tax Increase

Somehow I don't remember ever being aware of this.

Smokers are digging deeper for the price of a pack of cigarettes today as the largest increase ever in the federal tobacco excise tax goes into effect.

The new federal tax is $1.01 per pack, up from 39 cents.

We're All Subprime Now

Ah, I do miss those early days when all the very serious people were talking about the "subprime crisis." It was obvious then that aside from being an early warning, it had nothing to do with subprime...

Nobody listens to Atrios...

Lunch Thread


Trash Out


Armchair Revolutionaries

I've long rolled my eyes about armchair revolutionaries, the ones who dream of revolution but can't quite manage to get out of their chairs. We do have people on our "side" who express such sentiments, but they're limited to anonymous people in comments sections and not, you know, prominent bloggers and commentators.

Goodbye Pajamas Media

Today is the day that all that wingnut welfare ends. I went to see what's currently at the site, which is now focused on video, and came across what I assume is not an April Fool's joke:

Introducing TCOT on PJTV

Don’t miss the new daily show about top conservatives on Twitter, hosted by Michael Patrick Leahy.

Still Very Bad

The official jobs report comes out Friday, but the private estimate of that number is out today.

Job losses in the U.S. private sector accelerated in March, more than economists' expectations, according to a report by ADP Employer Services Wednesday.

Private employers cut jobs by a record 742,000 in March versus a 706,000 revised cut in February that was originally reported at 697,000 jobs, said ADP, which has been carrying out the survey since 2001.

Morning Thread

Dear World,

It was like that when I got here.




Rock on.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Walking Away

Boats, too.

City Living

My observation of the Philly housing market is that yes, some people bought for absurd prices, and more than that plenty of flippers thought they might be able to charge absurd prices, but in center city and nearby at least prices have been relatively stable.

For those wishing to choose a bias, it's not "my house is worth what I paid for it!!!" but rather "people love living in an urban hellhole."

DC too.

Evening Thread

I'm out drinking liberally, as is the Tuesday custom.

Everybody Hates Yurp

It is bizarre how every single little bit of the wingnut mindset gets projected onto the entire country.

An image from hell.

Tedisco in NY20: Panic?

Hilarious, via FDL:

Republican Jim Tedisco may be running for the House in a district where Republicans outnumber Democratic voters by some 70,000, but with the polls closing in a matter of hours, Tedisco’s campaign is prepping for a loss.

An electoral loss, anyway.

The Dutchess County Clerk’s Office has confirmed to FDL that Tedisco’s people have filed an ex parte motion in order, the effect of which would be to investigate and overturn today’s election results, should the outcome not be to Republicans’ liking.

... adding, the polls, of course, are still open. Amazing.


County is drowning.

There's nowhere tougher in America to be paying a mortgage than Yuba County, says a new lending industry study released Monday.

Nearly 78 percent of the county's mortgage debt is tied to houses that have lost value and are worth less than what's owed on them, said New Jersey-based SMR Research in its yearly "Giants of the Mortgage Industry" study.

60% of those holding mortgages.

Fresh Thread

My tubes are clogged again.


A quality rant from Athenae.

Too often what's left out of the conversation about newspaper declines is the simple fact that owners have made some really shitty business decisions. I don't mean in terms of failing to innovate or whatever, I mean basic financial decisions. In the worst cases they've just looted the place, in other cases they've taken on unsustainable amounts of debt.

I certainly think that it's true that the business model for print journalism is threatened, but in some cases it's simply the businesses that are threatened because they were poorly run.

Kinda Missing The Point

High density development can have an appeal because it can support a desirable walkable neighborhood. Without that, not so much appeal.

A local equivalent is Waterfront Square, condo towers which aren't integrated with local neighborhoods. I have no idea why anyone would want to live in them. Downsides of urban living without the positives.

Better Information

I've said before that transit agencies should elevate certain high frequency bus routes and publicize them more widely. A simple and obvious way to do this is to include them on the standard rail/subway maps.

Still Falling

I really don't think the people in charge (Obama, Larry, Timmeh) understand the reality of the economic situation. It isn't about turning the machines back on.

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Home prices in 20 U.S. cities fell 19 percent in January from a year earlier, the fastest drop on record, as demand plummeted and foreclosures rose.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index’s decrease was more than forecast and compares with an 18.6 percent decrease in December. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007, and year- over-year records began in 2001.

I have no idea why pumping massive amounts of money into a banking sector which proved that it was horribly bad at its supposed role - allocating capital efficiently - is a good idea. Who are they supposed to lend to?

There's still a big wave of ARM resets* coming, and the CRE implosion has just begun.

*Regarding ARM resets, some suggest this won't be a problem because interests rates are so low. But the issue is option ARMS ("pick a payment!") loans, where people have been making interest-only or even neg-am payments on the loans.

Strange Times


Welcome to life in Mendota — the unemployment capital of California. With a 41 percent jobless rate, the town's social fabric is tearing at the seams. Alcoholism and crime are on the rise. To save money, some mothers wash and re-use disposable diapers. Unemployed men with nothing to do wander the streets and sit on benches.

Good Morning Thread

Coffee and bagels



Monday, March 30, 2009


Suck on this, panty sniffer.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked a prosecutor from filing child pornography charges against three northeastern Pennsylvania teenagers who appeared in racy photos that turned up on classmates' cell phones.

U.S. District Judge James Munley ruled against Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick Jr., who has threatened to pursue felony charges against the girls unless they agree to participate in a five-week after-school program.

One picture showed two of the girls in their bras. The second photo showed another girl just out of the shower and topless, with a towel wrapped around her waist.

Even More Thread

Now I am drinking Belgian beer and am about to be served dinner. Talk amongst yourselves.

What Digby Said

Froomkin wrote about this, as Atrios noted. But digby has more.

Monday Evening Thread

I'm at at movie, you're on your own.

They Write Letters

Philly Guild writes to its members:

Dear Guild member,

Three months after Philadelphia Newspapers pressured the Guild and its other unions to postpone a $25 raise, its three most senior executives received a total of $650,000 in bonuses, Philadelphia magazine reported over the weekend. In December, Brian Tierney, Philadelphia Media Holdings CEO, received a holiday bonus of $350,000, while Daily News Publisher Mark Frisby and Richard Thayer, vice president of finance, both received payments of $150,000 the magazine reports. PMH Chairman Bruce Toll confirmed the bonuses for the magazine. The Guild has learned that other senior managers also received year-end bonuses and is working to uncover more information.

Surely by December PMH knew the company would soon declare bankruptcy, as it did last month, so the year-end cash rewards are shocking.

Last summer your Guild officers stood before the membership and encouraged members to vote to delay a $25 raise we had bargained in 2006. The company laid out a dire financial picture which painted any savings as vital to the future of the organization. We asked you to sacrifice what you had earned in the belief that it was for the good of the company. Clearly we were more concerned about the company than the senior management who rewarded themselves with increases totaling more than $400,000 (The three agreed last month in bankruptcy court to roll their salaries back) and as we have now learned, cash bonuses of at least $650,000.

Afternoon Thread

Slow day.

Yelling At Clouds

I do wish someone would tell the celebrity political press that John McCain lost the election. Actually, he got creamed. By Barack Hussein Obama.

Deep Thought

We're the awesomest country in the history of the universe, and the act of building a simple subway tunnel is thought to be practically unfathomably expensive.

Afternoon Thread

I got nothin'.

The Mall Is Flat


NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. mall owner General Growth Properties Inc GGP.N, which is struggling to avoid filing for bankruptcy protection, on Monday said a plan to defray payment on five series of bonds failed to secure sufficient bondholder support, sending its stock down as much as 10 percent.

The second largest U.S. mall owner said that after two extensions it still had not garnered enough support from holders of $2.25 billion of bonds of Rouse Cos, the developer General Growth bought in 2004.

Plunge Protection Team

Pretty sure that's what this was about.

Number 3

For years we were ruled by moral monsters, and only a few, like Froomkin, will even acknowledge the facts.

Walking Away

Banks are apparently starting to walk away from foreclosed properties, though often not before people move out thinking they've lost their homes only to discover that their now vandalized and worthless properties are still theirs.

The free market is a remarkable thing.

The Audience

Living in the mirror universe of a place like Indiana, I get what the "moderates" might be trying to do. It isn't really about reaching voters directly, it's about reaching the elite intermediaries - local press and similar - and getting them to sell this storyline. Here in PA, Arlen Specter doesn't need to be a moderate Republican in any meaningful way, he just has to provide a plausible storyline to the Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board so they can sell him to voters as one. Whether they're in on the con or just too stupid to notice I don't know.

What's The Point Of Mass Transit

I do think the popular conception of mass transit is slowly changing. It isn't simply a way to get people from A to B, from population centers to employment centers, but instead a way to reshape development patterns.

NJ-1 would run down the median of Route 42 and the Atlantic City Expressway to Williamstown. NJ-2 would run down the median of Route 55 to Glassboro. Both of these alignments may or may not relieve congestion along these highways, but they would almost certainly have another, less desirable impact -- increasing pressure to convert open space and fertile farmland into sprawling development, much of it in environmentally sensitive areas.

Only NJ-3, which would run along an established rail line through the center of several historic Gloucester County towns, along the Conrail right-of-way, would be a win-win for the region and its residents. Not only would this routing relieve traffic congestion on area highways, but it would promote the revitalization of these historic centers by encouraging walkable, mixed-use development around the stations.

It's generally a bad idea to run train lines down highway median strips as it doesn't do much to change land use patterns.

Shorter Dick Polman

Thank God Obama is listening to Max Boot, William Kristol, and Robert Kagan, instead of a bunch of dirty fucking hippies.

Tough Love

I don't have strong opinions about what should be done about the US auto industry, but apparently the real economy is less important than the paper one.

Just who are the banksters supposed to lend to?

Drug War

So I work my through this article   about the terrifying drug wars in Mexico, part of a series. It struck me, in a previous article, that they never mentioned what drug was involved.  This time, in the third to last paragraph, in a long piece, they do, obliquely:

One of Mr. Calderón’s predecessors, Mr. Zedillo, recently joined two other former heads of state from Latin America in pushing for a complete rethinking of the drug war, including the legalization of marijuana, which is considered the top revenue generator for Mexican drug cartels.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Late Night

Rock on.

Deep Thought

Sunday night, eh? So this crap starts all over again tomorrow.

Really Awesome Public Policy

A bunch of people are going to lose their jobs probably.

Starting Monday, St. Louis' mass transit system will reduce service radically. The service area for this multibillion-dollar regional asset will shrink by two thirds, literally overnight.

The Metro transit agency faces an operating deficit of $45 million this year, which is expected to reach $50 million next year. Nearly one in every four of its 2,300 employees will be laid off in the coming weeks. Many highly skilled and productive employees already are being poached by transit systems in other regions.

Service will end at 2,300 of the 9,000 bus stops and shelters on Missouri's side of the system; service in Illinois, which is fully funded, won't be affected. A bus fleet of 320 will shrink to about 140. MetroLink light rail riders will see one-third fewer trains during rush hour. Call-A-Ride service for the disabled will be slashed.


GM CEO out.

The Little Guy

I don't think anything about David Gregory's background, but we do know that at this point in his life he is a well paid teevee personality. And as a teevee personality he knows his job is not precisely what those of us who read the endless tributes to the majesty of American Journalism might think it is. Part of his job is to play a role, and following in the footsteps of masters like Brian Williams, he knows he must as often as possible identify with the imagined "little guy" despite the fact that his current wealth and status makes him utterly immune from ill effects of an economic downturn.

Socialize The Losses

Privatize the "profits."

That's the summary of American economic policy post 1980.

Afternoon Thread


The Shrill One

Boehlert's right that Krugman's getting much more attention now than he did in the Bush years, though I still find it refreshing that the self-described establishment is finally acknowledging that a Democratic president actually has criticism from the left which doesn't just come from (in their eyes) crazy people.

Though I haven't even read the article yet, admittedly.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

Face the Nation President Obama.

Meet the Press The economy: Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner. The economy; U.S. foreign policy: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Moderator David Gregory.

This Week With George Stephanopoulos The economy: Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner. Panel: Matthew Dowd; Paul Krugman, the New York Times; Cokie Roberts; George Will.

Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace Afghanistan: Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. G20 Summit: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Panel: Bill Sammon; Nina Easton; William Kristol; Juan Williams.

I hope John McCain gives us some mavericky straight talk.

Good Morning Thread