Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
gozz@gozz.com

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Conversation with a non-lberal 

I recently had a fascinating Facebook conversation with a friend of a friend, David, seemingly aligned with Republican Ron Paul.

I'm rather sympathetic to Paulites as they seem to want the best for everybody, but their commendable idealism is mired in the fact that there's a lot more natural born assholes in the would than they admit. We need a government to regulate these people before they destroy the banking system again.

My friend's freind may take issue with being introduced as anything other than "Pro Liberty," so I'll repost without further comment our exchange on Facebook. I'm in blue, he's in red.

There are lots of people at these rallies today protesting the bailout. Which did bailout large corporations ... Fox news is not the pro liberty movement.

So David, teabaggers like you strategically waited half a year after TARP became law to protest it? Tee hee!

Half a year? These types of protest have been occurring for a year or more. Ah David, why don't you explain to me why Obama is expanding the war in the Middle East, expanding the government's ability to use wiretaps on American citizens, why Obama supported H.R.1955 and why Obama pretended this collapse was a surprise and the bailout bill needed to passed ... this is about your love for the man Obama and his manufactured mythology.

Hardly, David. I'm only a fan of Obama as far as his presidency is a reasonable stepping stone on the way to Sharia law. A salaam alaykum.

Here is a video showing a CNN reporter skipping over folks at one Tea Party, holding "Republicans Suck! End the Fed" signs so she could spew the "these events are anti-Obama" nonsense. It's all right here. Watch what happens after her camera shuts off. Lets call a truce and work together http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd2tg8gxCDU

A "truce"? I don't see anybody fighting other than a few thousand loony right wingers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eMkth8FWno

Of course you do, because that's what CNN told you to think/see :) I think we all get that now. Those damn cell phone cameras!

Sorry, no TV. I formed my impression from flickr. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=72248&id=676374106&ref=mf Is flickr in on the conspiracy to cover up the troof? Clearly, there were few teabaggers other than low intelligence, conspiracy minded and uninformed right wingers. I don't think I understand what you're saying the troof is.

I suggest you use a better research tool. Flickr doesn't cut it. Lets hear about those conspiracies. Federal Reserve being a private bank? Global currency? New World Order? H.R. 1955? Expanding war in the Middle East? New operations in Africa? Bailout money saving bankers? Hundreds of expert economists predicting this collapse and disagreeing with Obama on the solution? Which one? I suggest you research these before you comment. I wouldn't start with flickr or CNN.

or you could just accept Americans are angry ... To think you can place millions of Americans who started feeling this way under Bush in a little "anti-obama" box is silly. This is much, much bigger than Obama, Democrats or Republicans.

I believe if you review, you're the one claim I'm saying the protests were primarily anti-Obama. I'm stating the obvious: the majority of participants were carrying signs saying some variation of "I'm so stupid, I'm out here protesting my tax cut," or "the USSR still scares me." Most of the rest were equally split between "stop deficit spending," "democrats suck," "government sucks", "God and the Constitution are awesome!" or "Obama is a Muslim from Cuba." You seem to be casting your lot of grievances into a pool with these people and in turn feeling like I'm dismissing your grievances as loony conspiracy theories. You only list two or so loony conspiracy theories!

Sorry Erik, you are wrong. You are protecting the image of a man. Obama. You have cast aside reality. You can't address the issues I posted. Either you don't understand them or they tarnish the image of Obama. There are millions of Americans who don't care about Obama or Bush, they care about their families and their freedom. This movement, made up... Read More of all parties, started years ago. This is easy to verify. You obviously have been afraid to do that. If you think, the democratic party can contain the growing rage in this country, you are mistaken. For that rage is growing in democrats also.Good luck, Erik. As the wars expand, the bailouts continue, the Federal Reserve operates without any oversight and our taxes rise, you will see the hostility grow. You can sit back and make fun of the crazy "right wingers" all you want. That will still be delusional. I predict, in the next six months, you, Erik, will feel this rage. Then you will understand, it never had anything to do with Obama.

Uh, I'm not talking about Obama, you are. The tea parties are hardy a sign of anything new or growing - if you want to show me how these freaks afraid of the USSR, taunting the ATF to grab their military weapons or protesting their tax cuts are somehow enlightened, are something new have at it. If you want to talk about your own hot button issues, maybe another thread or by email would be appropriate.

You're not making much sense, Erik. Over two hundred and fifty thousand people protested yesterday. The majority were NOT right wing. Angry at some of Obama's policies, yes. That doesn't make them "crazy" or "freaks". That sounds like Bush era talk. How ironic. It seems you have to believe "we" are fanatics, gun lovers, etc. How absurd. Lets talk in six months, Erik. I'll be curious to see how you feel.

I've no response to your litany of issues because they're only tangentially related to the topic, which is that yesterday a bunch of lunatic numskulls protested against their own tax cuts and for the rich getting richer, bringing along to them their pet right wing issues, be they anti-immigrant, pro-God n guns, anti-USSR ... that you brought your own set of issues, reasonable as some may be, speaks nothing to the idiocy of the protest in general.

Erik, I think you're missing the big picture. Who do you think pays for the expanding war in the Middle East and Africa? Over a billion dollars a month. We do, Erik. Our taxes. How about the bailouts? A historic amount of money that was borrowed by the US government and given to private banks. Who will pay that back? We will and our children. See, ... Read Morethis is reality, Erik. Your fantasy of this pro liberty movement being a bunch of red necks in the back of a pick up, is just that, a fantasy. Where do you think Obama will get the money to create national health care? America is bankrupt.Yet, we continue to spread our empire across the globe. Stop cowering behind a mythological figure and challenge your candidate. Stop sitting on the sidelines heckling the individuals that aren't enamored by his party or color.The Obama administration is supporting and creating real policies. All the "pet issues" I listed for you are REAL. Do something. Oh and Erik, answer me this. Are we in the Middle East fighting "terrorists" or securing natural resources and pipelines?

David, there were a sizable number of people complaining about the bailouts, but not as many as were there to protest any and all taxes. That's a fact. Anyway, I'm simply not gong to engage you on all these non-related questions/challenges here. I'll send a friend request and t can happen elsewhere.

"any and all taxes"? again, that is not accurate. Erik, you will NEVER have the funding for the social programs you want if the Obama administration continues to expand the wars in the Middle East and now Africa. America is already bankrupt now. I guess we will just have wait a few months, Erik. This will become clearer. You keep being a Patriot and pay those taxes. Lets just end with you not answering my questions. I get it.

National Tax Day Tea Parties
Source: www.youtube.com
Thom confronts Andrew Langer of the Institute for Liberty about the anti-Obama conservative protests www.instituteforliberty.org Check out www.thomhartmann.com.

5:23 is exactly why you have individuals from all parties coming to these tea parties. To cherry pick some nuts that showed up is silly and the CNN video proved what the media was up to. Hartman knows these tea parties started years ago, lead by Libertarians and Independents. They are trying to divide the American population and it's a shame. Does anyone else notice how quiet the Democrats have become on the expanding wars? Do they consider how much money these wars cost? Is this where they want their tax money to go? Or are they going to defend policies they would have protested under Bush?

A "truce"? I don't see anybody fighting other than a few thousand loony right wingers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eMkth8FWno.

Of course you do[n't], because that's what CNN told you to think/see :) I think we all get that now. Those damn cell phone cameras!

Sorry, no TV. I formed my impression from flickr. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=72248&id=676374106&ref=mf Is flickr in on the conspiracy to cover up the troof? Clearly, there were few teabaggers other than low intelligence, conspiracy minded and uninformed right wingers. I don't think I understand what you're saying the troof is.

I suggest you use a better research tool. Flickr doesn't cut it. Lets hear about those conspiracies. Federal Reserve being a private bank? Global currency? New World Order? H.R. 1955? Expanding war in the Middle East? New operations in Africa? Bailout money saving bankers? Hundreds of expert economists predicting this collapse and disagreeing with Obama on the solution? Which one? I suggest you research these before you comment. I wouldn't start with flickr or CNN.

Or you could just accept Americans are angry. Angry because their money is paying for a perpetual war. Angry because a central bank created a flawed monetary system, which started this collapse and now they get to create another one that still serves "them" and we paid for it. To think you can place millions of Americans who started feeling this ... Read Moreway under Bush in a little "anti-obama" box is silly. This is much, much bigger than Obama, Democrats or Republicans.

I believe if you review, you're the one claim I'm saying the protests were primarily anti-Obama. I'm stating the obvious: the majority of participants were carrying signs saying some variation of "I'm so stupid, I'm out here protesting my tax cut," or "the USSR still scares me." Most of the rest were equally split between "stop deficit spending," "... Read Moredemocrats suck," "government sucks", "God and the Constitution are awesome!" or "Obama is a Muslim from Cuba." You seem to be casting your lot of grievances into a pool with these people and in turn feeling like I'm dismissing your grievances as loony conspiracy theories. You only list two or so loony conspiracy theories!

Sorry Erik, you are wrong. You are protecting the image of a man. Obama. You have cast aside reality. You can't address the issues I posted. Either you don't understand them or they tarnish the image of Obama.

There are millions of Americans who don't care about Obama or Bush, they care about their families and their freedom. This movement, made up of all parties, started years ago. This is easy to verify. You obviously have been afraid to do that. If you think, the democratic party can contain the growing rage in this country, you are mistaken. For that rage is growing in democrats also. Good luck, Erik. As the wars expand, the bailouts continue, the Federal Reserve operates without any oversight and our taxes rise, you will see the hostility grow. You can sit back and make fun of the crazy "right wingers" all you want. That will still be delusional. I predict, in the next six months, you, Erik, will feel this rage. Then you will understand, it never had anything to do with Obama.

Uh, I'm not talking about Obama, you are. The tea parties are hardy a sign of anything new or growing - if you want to show me how these freaks afraid of the USSR, taunting the ATF to grab their military weapons or protesting their tax cuts are somehow enlightened, have at it. If you want to talk about your own hot button issues, maybe another thread or by email would be appropriate.

You're not making much sense, Erik. Over two hundred and fifty thousand people protested yesterday. The majority were NOT right wing. Angry at some of Obama's policies, yes. That doesn't make them "crazy" or "freaks". That sounds like Bush era talk. How ironic. It seems you have to believe "we" are fanatics, gun lovers, etc. How absurd. Lets talk in six months, Erik. I'll be curious to see how you feel. Oh and I noticed you had no response to the very real issues I listed. I find that interesting. Fantasy is such a fickle medium. When reality enters, poof, it disappears.

I've no response to your litany of issues because they're only tangentially related to the topic, which is that yesterday a bunch of lunatic numskulls protested against their own tax cuts and for the rich getting richer, bringing along to them their pet right wing issues, be they anti-immigrant, pro-God n guns, anti-USSR ... that you brought your own set of issues, reasonable as some may be, speaks nothing to the idiocy of the protest in general.

Erik, I think you're missing the big picture. Who do you think pays for the expanding war in the Middle East and Africa? Over a billion dollars a month. We do, Erik. Our taxes. How about the bailouts? A historic amount of money that was borrowed by the US government and given to private banks. Who will pay that back? We will and our children. See, this is reality, Erik. Your fantasy of this pro liberty movement being a bunch of red necks in the back of a pick up, is just that, a fantasy. Where do you think Obama will get the money ... Stop cowering behind a mythological figure and challenge your candidate. Stop sitting on the sidelines heckling the individuals that aren't enamored by his party or color.

David, there were a sizable number of people complaining about the bailouts, but not as many as were there to protest any and all taxes. That's a fact. Anyway, I'm simply not gong to engage you on all these non-related questions/challenges here. I'll send a friend request and t can happen elsewhere.

"any and all taxes"? again, that is not accurate. Erik, you will NEVER have the funding for the social programs you want if the Obama administration continues to expand the wars in the Middle East and now Africa. America is already bankrupt. The government needs every tax dollar it gets and then some, just to keep it's bloated bureaucracy afloat now. I guess we will just have wait a few months, Erik. This will become clearer. You keep being a Patriot and pay those taxes. I'm sure the women and children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan appreciate the bombs and bullets you help purchase and create. There is nothing to debate, Erik. Lets just end with you not answering my questions. I get it.

National Tax Day Tea Parties

... To cherry pick some nuts that showed up is silly and the CNN video proved what the media was up to. Hartman knows these tea parties started years ago, lead by Libertarians and Independents ...

David, you just accused someone of "cherry picking" in the same sentence you claim one video segment "proves" what every news outlet was up to. I commend your lack of self awareness, it's very charming!

I'm glad you think it's charming. Of course, you still haven't answered my questions. Again, in six months, Erik, as the collapse worsens, Pakistan falls into chaos, unemployment hits historic numbers, the bailouts fail and taxes begin to rise, lets talk. I'd like to see how far the arrogance of the liberals has taken them. How many Americans the Democrats have attracted to their party. You and your party are making a monumental mistake. I am not "right wing" and I have been to rallies with thousands of people and the majority were not "right wing". The pro Liberty movement is real and it will explode in this environment. Good Luck and let me know when you think Obama should stop expanding the bloodshed/wars in the Middle East and Africa. I'd like to know when a liberal Democrat has had enough.

Why would we need to talk about current events in six months when today you can both see the future and know my opinion on everything before I give it? Is it some sort of Jedi mind trick? Tell me now, because if I find out later, I'm going to be real pissed.

Conservative Republican Congressman being Booed at Tea Party in Greenville. This is not about Obama.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QsY2r7HbTM

David, Paulites are the same phenomenon as extreme right wngers- they are few in number but very loud and never let facts get in the way of their ideology. Per example, you were so excited to find an instance of a Republican being booed at a tea party, you hurried to post it here before googling. The reason the winger Republicans were booing was because unlike 99% of his Republican colleagues ... (drumroll) ... http://www.palmettoscoop.com/2009/04/07/obamas-stimulus-gets-new-champion-in-barrett/

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Post election olling 

Just wanted to chime in here about the post-election polls. Given the extraordinarily high post-election numbers for Obama, the desire for change has been proven by numbers but the impatience of the American electorate combined with two unpopular wars and an collapsing economy, Obama is going to have to absolutely charm America to avoid collapsing approval ratings.

I hope he can do it. The best thing we can hoe for is hope.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Shit damn 

As a rabid American-style leftist, I believe we should take a controlling stake in any company we bail out, but this letter to TPM was an eye-opener. Given the $billions we've granted the financial industry, denying the auto industry a fraction of that would be obscene.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Christians pray to golden calf 

Oh the stupid. Via apostropher.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

UPDATE: Me & McCain & his once thoughtful idea 

A while ago, I commended McCain for promulgating a policy on the mortgage/credit crisis that was,

to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes -- at the diminished value of those homes.

Ends up what McCain meant was he wanted to pay banks for the face value of mortgages before renegotiating with the mortgage holder at the diminished value.

I incorrectly interpreted McCain's meaning of "mortgage holder" - the mortgage holder is the bank and not the homeowner as I understood.

It's the opposite of a good plan: reward the banks for issuing shaky mortgages and renegotiate terms with homeowners for somewhere between the current value of their house and what they borrowed for it.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fear and panic on Wall Street 

Although I've been avidly watching American and World stocks tumble, I've already noted that daily ups and downs are driven by investors concerned whether they'll make or lose money in the immediate future - as in days or weeks. Certainly, there's a sharply pronounced downward trend, but as it's been so short lived so far, all one can gather is that the collective opinion of large investors is that we have rough months ahead of us.

Still, while sharing that perception I'm personally seeing this as a time when stocks are "on sale" for people like me who plan on cashing in in 25-30 years instead of a few weeks or months. If anything, I'll increase my contribution to my 401K - which is entirely stocks. I think about it this way: in 25-30 years, an investment I make today in an index fund will have gained the same value as if I'd bought it in early 1999 or early 2003.

At the same time, economic problems are quickly bleeding into just about every part of the financial sector, it may be a long, tough ride. The worst-case scenario that rolls through my mind concerned how interconnected all sectors of the economy are. Things we need for survival like dairy farms, power plants, and modern medicine rely on computers and machines made and maintained by companies that depend on dozens or hundreds of of other companies. If one link in the chain fails, the whole system collapses and I'll move to rural Kentucky and grow my own beans and potatoes. I do wish people other than Bush appointees were guiding the ship.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Agree with McCain on this - sort of 

I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes -- at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those -- be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.

Is it expensive? Yes. But we all know, my friends, until we stabilize home values in America, we're never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing our economy.

However, this was the proposal I supported - as proposed and explained by two Yale economists two weeks ago before the Wall Street bailout was enacted - as an alternative to the Wall Street bailout.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Anecdote on housing 

I moved into a new apartment today. While signing the lease and other documents, I asked the manager how the housing crisis had affected their vacancy rate. The apartment is managed by a real estate company that manages somewhere around a gross of apartments. She said the vacancy rate was good and added that several former tenants had bought houses. I would have expected the gush of foreclosures to notably increase the demand for rentals.

This is just an anecdote, however I viewed several properties managed by this company in my apartment search and all were well kept up and otherwise desirable, so would think families moving from houses to rentals would be particularly drawn to apartments this company manages.

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Go shopping, or Party's over? 

Adding to my claim that the Bush policy to increase home ownership contributed to this crisis, I'll reference a wider observation on how other Bush policies got us to where we are now economically. Andrew J. Bacevich writes.

From the very outset [of Bush's"War on Terror], the president described the "war on terror" as a vast undertaking of paramount importance. But he simultaneously urged Americans to carry on as if there were no war. "Get down to Disney World in Florida," he urged just over two weeks after 9/11. "Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed." Bush certainly wanted citizens to support his war -- he just wasn't going to require them actually to do anything. The support he sought was not active but passive. It entailed not popular engagement but popular deference.

...[The Bush Administration] sought no additional revenue to cover the costs of waging a protracted conflict. It left the nation's economic priorities unchanged. Instead of sacrifices, it offered tax cuts. So as the American soldier fought, the American consumer binged, encouraged by American banks offering easy credit.

... Bush seems to have calculated -- cynically but correctly -- that prolonging the credit-fueled consumer binge could help keep complaints about his performance as commander in chief from becoming more than a nuisance. Members of Congress calculated -- again correctly -- that their constituents were looking to Capitol Hill for largesse, not lessons in austerity. In this sense, recklessness on Main Street, on Wall Street and at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue proved mutually reinforcing.

The laissez-faire economy can do no wrong ideology which has engulfed the Republican Party for three decades has quite possibly lead our country on a road to ruin --- and it seems for now the Party itself. For decades, fueled by anti-government and anti-regulation big money sponsors, conservatives have groomed their new leaders from every avenue - from campus organizations to local politicians' campaigns to K Street lobbyists into embracing the ideology of laissez-faire economics.

The current economic crisis seems to have undone in just a few weeks the decades-long effort by GOP patrons to turn our nation's economy into an naked aristocracy with big business at the helm. Party's over?

To unlock the mystery of the earlier [Wall Street bailout] bill's stunning rejection, consider two numbers: 82 and 0. The first is the percentage of retiring Republican representatives who voted for the bill. The second is the percentage of Republican freshmen who did.

... The new guard is fiercely stubborn, gutsily insubordinate, drama-loving and -- compared with the 82-percent-for-compromise old guard -- unadulteratedly ideological. And it could take the GOP off an even higher cliff than the one the party lurched off two years ago.

The 2007 presidential primary promised to provide a swift survival-of-the-fittest test for the competing new visions. When Sen. John McCain prevailed, it seemed that the winning philosophy was one that, in the main, dumped Republican orthodoxy in favor of solutions-oriented practicality. (In case you've been living in a spider hole this year and haven't heard, McCain likes calling himself a maverick, a doer, a wooer of independents, a post-partisan.)

But McCain's triumph actually hid the fact that, at the lower levels of the party, the emerging center of gravity is more conservative, not less. In the House, such young members as Jeb Hensarling (Tex.), Mike Pence (Ind.) and their ideologically purist soulmates on the Republican Study Committee (which absorbed most of the GOP freshmen) began to influence the party's agenda from the right, clamoring to make pork-busting the GOP's focus, demanding legislation to lower taxes and even mounting a prank revolt on a war-funding bill in May, just to flex their muscles. "The American people thought Republicans weren't acting like Republicans," Hensarling explained.

Yes, I agreed with House Republicans on their "NO" vote, but upon completely different reasoning. And yes, the blogosphere is rife with bloggers who worship big business as the new messiah, but then again somewhere around a quarter of Americans still approve of Bush's job performance.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A time for Congress to drag its feet 

In the hastily arranged 2002 Minnesota senatorial debate, Walt Mondale responded to Norm Coleman's claim to know how to get things done, "You said, 'Get it done.' I don't think your bill should get done."

As I've absorbed more information and opinion (Here's an article that brilliantly analogizes the problem in terms of marbles) I've changed my prior evaluation - this is a momentous and urgent crisis. However, because of its huge and deteriorating-by-the-day nature we can't shoot from the hip as we're doing - it's far more important to get it right the first time, as it's perhaps our only chance.

For far less important issues, Congress habitually holds many hearings and digests the opinions of many experts. As far as I know, and I think I'm right, Congress has taken testimony on the Paulson bill from zero experts aside from those in the Treasury Department and Fed - who played more than their fair share of a role in creating the conditions that allowed this crisis in the first place.

The strength of an idea is best tested by putting it up against competing ideas. Yes, the bill becomes more palatable each time through the sausage grinder, but by addition, not by modification or validation of the main ingredient. That the bill has "improved" speaks nothing to whether the fundamental concept of buying toxic assets from banks is the solution, a solution, part of a solution, or a hair-brained non-solution. From the expert opinion I've absorbed I'm judging it as one of the latter two possibilities.

Paulson has told negotiators he could only use about $50 billion (heh, "only") a month from the proposed fund (sorry, can't find link at the moment). $100 billion would get his plan as requested through the election, after which cooler heads may be more available to prevail. Or at least make cooler heads more available in general on Capitol Hill. The added wisdom to parcel out the appropriations over time is only equaled by the addition of congressional oversight, but again, good spices added to meat of unsure quality doesn't enhance flavor but masks it.

This is not the first time the Bush Administration has warned Congress of a can't-wait-must-act emergency shortly before an election. I hope this time we fail to act decisively before its too late to fail to act on a possibly devastating idea originating from Bush's bad idea factory.

This sentiment was stated most eloquently by Jeff Sessions (Republican of Alabama) during the hour and a half of the Senate floor debate I caught. Enthusiastically agreeing with with Jeff Sessions makes me feel creepily violated when I think about it but at the same time heightens my sense that the middle most "sensible" majority in Congress are being swept upstream by the frantic noises made by the White House.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Trickle-Up Bailout - the solution starts here 

The economic crisis didn't start two weeks ago but is serious. The plans being bandied about Washington all center upon gambling an unfathomable amount of money buying "toxic assets" from banks that are maybe worth something, maybe worth nothing. Nobody knows. If someone knew what they're worth, that someone would be buying them up. That nobody wants to buy them at any price is testament to their potential worthlessness. Besides, who in their sane mind would pay good money for a toxic asset?

This essay appears in today's Washington Post. Shorter: instead of bailing out the banks that got us to where we are, buy mortgages directly from troubled mortgage holders on 6% 30 year terms; if the mortgage holders still can't keep up, take a like claim in the future value of the house.

The financial crisis is a liquidity crisis, yes, but it is ultimately a product of homeowner failures to pay. Unless this fundamental problem is fixed, we will continue to see -- and need to treat -- the symptoms. The proposed bailout ignores this. Yet the sum being demanded from taxpayers is almost certainly more than sufficient to pay off all currently delinquent mortgages.

... Some will argue that it is grossly unfair to pay off the mortgages of borrowers who took risks and lost. In other words, why should my profligate neighbor be rewarded for overleveraging himself?

Because such unfairness is a small price to pay to avoid a rapid transition to a socialist economy, the collapse of our financial system (and its related global implications) and a frightening shift of economic power toward the executive branch. Why shell out $700 billion to Wall Street dealmakers and the companies they managed into this mess? Wouldn't it be preferable for individual homeowners to benefit directly?

... When Congress returns, lawmakers are likely to modify and then pass the administration's bailout proposal. They should consider ways to implement this bottom-up solution. Combining this approach with the government's proposal could greatly benefit taxpayers. Yes, the government's swift purchase of illiquid securities would stabilize compromised financial institutions and the credit markets. But the notion that taxpayers would benefit in the long run is pure speculation, particularly if the government overpaid for the securities. On the other hand, once a government-sponsored refinancing wave kicked in, the full value of the securities in the government's portfolio would be restored, and they could be sold off in an orderly manner, with Uncle Sam taking profits that would cover the cost of the bailout.

-- William N. Goetzmann, Director, International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management and Jonathan G.S. Koppell, Associate Professor of Politics and Management, Yale School of Management & Director of the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance

If you feel so moved, print and fax (find fax number here) the essay to your Senators and Representative or call and say "trickle up"! As always start the communication with your name and address so it's known you're a voting constituent.

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Stock market, Rupublicans erratic: humorists lament the impossiblity to write satire about the McCain campaign 

The tumult in the stock market should come as no surprise to those who realize exceptionally good or bad days are driven by the psychological perceptions of those hoping to make a gain in the sort term, but I think everyone regardless of stripes is shocked by the erratic behavior of the GOP over the last few days. Politics is now finnier than political satire could ever be. Just a few examples follow.

Today, the RNC introduced an ad blaming Democrats for the passage of the Wall Street bailout bill, which of course didn't pass,

They must not have caught wind of McCain campaign's claims of taking credit for the sure passage of the same bill,

McCain attempted to blame Barak and Democrats for shooting down the widely unpopular piece of legislation - who exactly is McCain expecting to appeal to here? Undecideds who were both for the legislation and against the Democrats on the same side of the legislation as McCain? It's too confusing to ponder for very long.

Even better, McCain and Palin attempt to couch a real-time debate between them as ... uh, a "Gotcha" question from a Palin supporter at a rally,

Then again, that's nothing compared to McCain's short debate with himself.

Here's Palin contrasting the choice before voters this presidential election, "I'm the new energy, the new face, the new ideas [vs] ... experience."

If an anonymously penned book about this election got zapped back to, say - July, it would be an immediate best seller --- in the vein of Being There and Dr. Strangelove.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Duh 

Voluntary regulation,

The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work.
- SEC Chairman Christopher Cox

Also breaking: Disarmed bomb fails to explode, engineless car won't start.

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Viva la Capitalism! 

There are many solvent banks looking forward to benefiting from the failure of stupid New York investment banks that played their cards wrong.

As I see it, having read more since my first post on the subject, the situation is not as much a crisis as a failure of judgment by formerly sane and sober financial institutions. Let the lending institutions that remained sane and sober benefit from the demise of the insane institutions.

That some banks have enjoyed a phenomenal 20-30% jump in stock prices in reaction to the alleged "Wall Street meltdown" says to be there is no meltdown, just a realization that some banks, but not all, busted themselves.

From my home town newspaper's article, linked above,

The biggest winner: TCF Financial Corp. Shares of the regional consumer bank jumped nearly 30 percent this week and are up 96 percent since their July low.

"TCF was heavily shorted, and because it had many home-equity loans it got killed in the selloff of bank stocks," said veteran regional bank analyst Ben Crabtree of Steifel Nicholaus. "TCF is not out of line with other banks I follow. I've got stocks up by 100 percent this month."

U.S. Bancorp is up 36 percent since July 1, and 20 percent so far this year. USB has minimal exposure to the subprime mortgage virus that has brought down so many money center banks and investment houses from New York to London.

"This is Wall Street vs. Main Street, and Main Street is winning," said Keith Tufte, a veteran equity analyst and portfolio manager who now runs Longview Capital Management in Eden Prairie.

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No bailout! 

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No bailout for shithead bigwigs 

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Idea 

$700 billion dollars would buy 3.5 million $200,000 homes. There's 4 million new, unoccupied homes on the market. Instead of buying shitty bank debt, what if we buy 3.5 million homes, give them to the stupid banks and split the profits on the mortgages once they sell?

This would give the failing investment banks equity to work with.

Anyway, this puts $700 billion dollars into a more humanly graspable idea. 3.5 million new homes.

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$700B bailout doesn't sit pretty with me 

Having only read the main articles in the NYT and WaPo for over a week, it seems to me a really shitty bad idea to buy $700B in shitty investments from the banks who made the shitty investments. I appear to mostly agree with Republicans in the House at the moment - as far as that the bailout is a bad idea. Their offered alternative that tax cuts are the solution is baldly ludicrous, but predictable. I can think of a number of better ways to spend $700 billion and government is still sort of by the people so I think my government should come up with a better idea.

Among my better ideas of what to do with $700 billion would be creating a single-payer health care plan available to all Americans, paying off 7% of our national debt, or even giving it to the banks who haven't gotten themselves in deep trouble by acting like imbeciles.

The roots of the problem are the mortgages that shouldn't have been issued and the banks that made those mortgages possible. These banks aren't Krugman's "marble building" banks, but investment banks - banks that have an army of actuaries that certainly could (and maybe did) advise that such-and-such a percentage the mortgages their employers were investing in would go into foreclosure. And these are the banks the proposal mainly aims at bailing out.

Secondly, the administration claimed we had to bail out Bear-Stearns to avoid something like this happening, then that we had to seize Freddie and Fannie to avoid something like this happening, yet it happened. I certainly wouldn't want a doctor who had two failed plans to prevent a catastrophic illness to do emergency surgery on me once the illness came.

Thirdly, there are a lot of homeowners currently behind in mortgages or in foreclosure; assuming the risk of the bad debt banks currently hold isn't going to do anything about the bad debt coming down the pipe. I find it dubious that the bailout would prevent an extended recession or depression.

I would support legislation allowing judges to rewrite the terms of mortgages along lines laid out in the legislation. I may also support creating a special fund and allowing investment banks offer debt to the government that the government could accept or reject - and some on the Hill are suggesting something along those lines. Making this $700 billion available "as widely as possible" as the White House is pushing appears ripe for abuse and smacks of free money for bankers who screwed up.

Almost forgot: we need to reinstate the regulation of banks that's been dismantled over the decades of Republican ascendancy in Washington.

So that's that I think now based on the limited reading I've done since the crisis exploded.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How many mortgages does $85 billion make? 

It could buy outright half a million $175K homes. The number of defaulted mortgages $85 billion could have prevented is beyond my guesstimating more accurately than being sure it's at or beyond the metaphor "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Reposting an excerpt from my excerpt from the NYT Editorial Board's editorial yesterday,

Preventing foreclosures is the key to stanching the crisis, but policy makers have been unconscionably slow to address that aspect of the crisis.

Hindsight is a lot better than Dick Cheney's aim.

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GOP embraces socialism in a big, big way 

According to my math, the FED just spent about $5000 per taxpayer on a gambit to save our asses in exchange for 80% of a company whose worth nobody knows. If you pray, pray now that this is the first crisis Bush/Cheney, Inc. gets right for the whole country. That said, the damage done may be beyond divine intervention.

I don't want my promised tally to be a running tally, so I'm indefinitely postponing it as events unfold.

ADDENDUM:

[AIG's] management will be replaced, though Fed staffers did not name the new executives.

Who has Sarah Palin's number?!?!?!?!

PRIVATIZE THE PROFITS
SOCIALIZE THE RISK

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Two from the NYT 

An "editorial" from some old guy in Boca Raton that makes sense what we're read about the sub-prime crisis, bail-out of Bear Stearns and the past three days' whirlwind. Sort of like a Cliff Notes of 6 months of financial headlines.

And from the editorial board (which at some point in the recent past applauded deregulation of the financial industry, I'm sure),

As long as foreclosures continue, housing prices will continue to decline and banks and other financial firms will continue to suffer losses. Continuing losses, in turn, could force more taxpayer bailouts, by reigniting fears that ongoing failures may threaten the entire financial system. Preventing foreclosures is the key to stanching the crisis, but policy makers have been unconscionably slow to address that aspect of the crisis.

It will require political will, but is not too late to try to decrease foreclosures by allowing homeowners to restructure their unaffordable mortgages in bankruptcy court. It is also not too late to stimulate the economy with intelligent government support, like aid to state and local governments, rather than campaign-year gestures like the tax rebates for virtually everyone that dominated the first stimulus package.

And it is certainly not too soon to look beyond the current crisis to the flaws and fallacies of the anti-regulatory ideology that has held Washington in its grip since the Reagan years and allowed the financial excesses that are now stressing the system to the breaking point.

Making and enforcing new rules is necessary, but that will not be enough. The nation needs a new perspective on the markets, one that acknowledges the self-destructive bent of unfettered capitalism and its ability, unchecked, to wreak havoc far beyond Wall Street.

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What time is it in Alaska? 

I'm sure Sarah Palin wouldn't blink before diving right in and fixing everything.

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Chickens coming home to roost in a big way 

We want -- we want money being spent to help people buy homes. That's what we want ... Or if you're a consumer, maybe thinking about buying a house, if you look on your TV screens that say "March to War", you're not so sure you want to buy the house then, because you're not sure what the consequences of marching to war will be. Now we're marching to peace. We're marching to peace and the world is better off. We've overcome that obstacle ... Our nation's 68 percent home-ownership rate is the highest ever. More people own homes now than ever before in the country's history, and that's exciting for the future of America ... I set a good goal, which is adding 5.5 million new minority homeowners in America by the end of the decade.

- George Bush 3/26/2004

The Federal Reserve peeled out $300 Billion to bolster financial markets in the days after the 9/11 attacks. Maybe tomorrow I'll make a gruesome tally of what's been doled out since March in the last-second veer to avoid the impact of the GOP's attack on our economy under the flag of supply-side laissez-fair economics.

Here's an article mentioning the "d" word.

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