Monday, March 31, 2008

"My take on it is a lot of Senator Obama's supporters want to end this race because they don't want people to keep voting," [Hillary Clinton] told CBS affiliate KTVQ in Billings, Mont. "That's just the opposite of what I believe. We want people to vote. I want the people of Montana to vote, don't you?"


Saturday, March 29, 2008

What are Democrats supposed to think about this?
Clinton Praises "Moderate" McCain

ABC's Z. Byron Wolf Reports: At a stop in rural Pennsylvania, over winding roads and through rolling hills in small Lewistown, PA, where people lined the streets to watch his motorcade approach, former President Bill Clinton had high praise for the man who has clinched the nomination for the other party.Mr. Clinton said all three major candidates remaining in the race are talented and special people.

He did not go into detail on Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Senator still locked in political combat with Sen. Clinton's wife for the Democratic nomination. Their next battle takes place next month in Pennsylvania.

But McCain, who Mr. Clinton said is a "moderate", "has given about all you can give for this country without dyin' for it."

He said McCain was on the right side of issues like being against torture of enemy combatants and global warming, which "just about crosses the bridge for them (Republicans)."

The praise from Clinton comes as McCain, with the Republican nomination locked up and trying to rebrand his Maverick label, has tried to distance himself from President Bush, most notably on foreign policy. In a speech this week McCain talked about the need for more diplomacy.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Size matters:

Over at TAPPED, they've got McCain's first national television ad. It's pointed out that the ad "in a single minute manages to refer to the U.S. as a 'she' that must be protected", presumably by a manly-man. And what a man! Take a look at this frame where McCain flaunts his tie. Huge and hanging.
There's an old joke along those lines (heard on Letterman a decade ago). Goes like this:
PERSON A: I saw you out last night and you were disgusting. That big pink thing hanging out below your belt.

PERSON B: Hey, stop complaining, that was my tie!
Also, that frame has the words "McCain: Ready On Day One", which is also Clinton's slogan. What's so special about Day One, and what are either candidate planning to do in the first 24 hours?


Or wrong:

At Yglesis, a post about a poll by Pew on attitudes towards Obama (and other things). One item that is attention-catching is this statement presented to white Democrats:
We should be willing to fight for our country whether it is right or wrong.
The response:
AGREE: 50%
Democrats are nearly equally divided over the statement that "we should be willing to fight for our country whether it is right or wrong" (50% agree and 46% disagree). However, 52% of Democrats who have attended college disagree with this view, compared with 37% of non-college Democrats. There are no significant age differences on this question.
Got that? Even if the country is "wrong" (which could include wars that are "illegal", "unnecessary", or "mistakenly engaged") half the country's white Democrats say we should fight it out. You know that percentage is higher for Republicans (of all colors).


Thursday, March 27, 2008

This might actually help Obama:

In the news (Reuters): (excerpts)
Obama weathers Wright storm as new details emerge

... Trumpet Newsmagazine, of which Wright is the chief executive officer, published an article written by Wright in which he described the crucifixion of Jesus as "public lynching Italian style."

"(Jesus') enemies had their opinion about Him," Wright wrote in a eulogy of the late scholar Asa Hilliard in the November/December 2007 issue, according to "The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans."
First things first. is not the place you want to go for news. However, this is a Reuters story and it's presumably been checked out, although confirmation would be helpful. UPDATE: It has.

Second, and more important, is the fact that the more that Rev. Wright looks like a nutcase, which he does here, the less attention is given to his hostile-to-whites rhetoric.

Wright is also historically ignorant. The Roman Empire was not a purely "Italian" concern. Many of the emperors and high officials came from the East (present day Syria and Greece). Some were from North Africa. Etc.


From the Brad "Free trade is great" DeLong files:
Gone are the days when AT&T and other U.S. companies had to hire locally, [Chief Executive Randall Stephenson] said.

"We're able to do new product engineering in Bangalore as easily as we're able to do it in Austin, Texas," he said, referring to the Indian city where many international companies have "outsourced" technical and customer support workers.

"I know you don't like hearing that, but that's the way it is," he said.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

They've already been ordered:


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Comment over at The Big Picture:
So sick of reading about why the system is broken due to the lack of liquidity and insolvency of Wall Street. The system is broken because American's don't make enough money due to globalization, expensive education and expensive health care but were encouraged to live the American Dream beyond their declining means. Taking on debt was the last gasp of the consumer who could not otherwise raise their standard of living. Real wages have been declining for 20 years. First the wife went to work to augment their income and then they borrowed against their house. Now it's game over for the 75% of the population who have no savings and are buried in debt.
Sounds about right.


There is talk about a truckers' strike:
  • It's in reaction to high diesel prices.
  • Set for April 1 (next Tuesday)
  • Will it really happen?
  • If it does, how much of an impact will it make?
  • Will it further our national discussion about inflation?
  • What might Bush say in response?


Monday, March 24, 2008

A nickel will get you a dollar:

At least at the Fed. Some paper, which is part of the mix that the Fed has indicated a willingness to purchase, is, according to price estimates, almost worthless:
The first public price estimates for specific structured credit securities to have emerged since the start of the credit crisis show that values have fallen sharply.

Some securities have lost almost a third of their value – even though many were considered to be so safe that they carried top-notch ratings from the credit ratings agencies.

Meanwhile, some subprime mortgage-linked securities issued by groups such as UBS have lost almost 95 per cent of their value.

The price estimates were made in a legal filing following a decision by JPMorgan Chase to publish detailed securities valuations in a Canadian court. The securities are linked to commercial loans and medium-grade mortgages.
So, a security that is worth five cents but has a "pretend" value of a dollar, will be treated as worth a dollar by the Fed. The Fed is giving money to con men.


Jumped the shark:

This is just silly. Hillary Clinton:
We need a president who is ready on day one to be Commander-in-Chief of our economy.
Coming soon:
  • Commander-in-Chief of our environment.
  • Commander-in-Chief of our schools.
  • Commander-in-Chief of our highways.
  • Commander-in-Chief of early childhood vaccinations.
Oh, I get it. Hillary has "crossed the threshold" for becoming Commander-in-Chief (regular style) along with McCain, or so she asserts. Therefore, she's free to prepend that title to whatever issue is hot on a given day, and gain politically.


Brad DeLong's newest argument for free trade:

After years of denial, NAFTA-supporting Brad DeLong finally admits that free trade with selected countries can create problems when it comes to wages:
The question of trade and wages remains: To what extent are rich countries obligated to open their markets to poor countries when the consequence is falling wages for the poor in the rich [countries] --bearing in mind that the poor in the rich are often wealthier and have more opporunity than the rich in the poor? To what extent do rich countries do themselves well--serve their national interest--by opening their markets to poor countries even when the consequence is falling wages for the poor in the rich?
Of course, internationally-minded Brad has to say that even if the poor in a rich country (e.g. United States) suffer falling wages, hey, don't fret because "the poor in the rich [countries] are often wealthier ... than the rich in the poor", which seems to imply that as long as domestic poor are better off than the rich in Papua New Guinea, everybody should chill out. Try telling that to Rev. Wright!

But that aside, Brad DeLong has a new reason to support free trade even if it causes falling wages for the poor. Get this:
... across the ocean is another country [China] -- a country with more resources in the long-run, a country that looks likely to in the end supplant the current superpower. What should the [current] superpower's long-run national security strategy be?

I think the answer is clear: if possible, the current superpower [the United States] should embrace its possible successor. It should bind it as closely as possible with ties of blood, commerce, and culture--so that should the emerging superpower come to its full strength, it will to as great an extent possible share the world view of and regard itself as part of the same civilization as its predecessor: Romans to their Greeks.
We should have free trade with China, because the trade off, lower domestic wages, is worth paying so that strong ties can be forged with the Middle Kingdom. It's not just economics any more, it's a "security strategy". Spoken like a neocon (we must play ball with middle-east dicators in order to secure the oil supply, etc). Also, does that mean we can raise tariffs for other countries? He doesn't say, although it's probably a good bet that he'd argue that we must trade with India because they control the Palk Strait.

Then DeLong goes on to cite Britain's glomming on to the United States (after it handed the Global Leadership baton to the Americans around 1910) as if that was somehow good for England. That is highly debatable. Britain had an empire which complicates the analysis and in any event, at least today, isn't as well off economically compared to the Scandinavian countries that charted a different path.

In addition, DeLong plays the War Card:
Throughout the twentieth century it has been greatly to Britain's economic benefit that America has regarded it as a trading partner--a source of opportunities--rather than a politico-military-industrial competitor to be isolated and squashed. And in 1917 and again in 1941 it was to Britain's immeasurable benefit--its very soul was on the line--that America regarded it as a friend and an ally rather than as a competitor and an enemy.
More can be said about DeLong's recent post, including discussion the historical realities behind the U.S./Britain economic ties: In the 19th century Britain wanted free trade with the "low wage" slave states (!), the United States labor force was never much poorer than Britain's (and in fact was equal or better in many instances), but that's for another time.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

4000 dots:
On 6 June 2007, there were 3500 dots.


That's a lot of money!

The New York Times has a financial story that includes this graphic: (reduced 25% in size from the original)
Even if you don't know much about Credit Default Swaps (I sure don't) look at the size and enormous growth in the "value" of the CDSs.

When fretting about losses these days, mere billions of dollars are punk. Even a trillion or two doesn't cut it. But gaze upon the bar chart that exceeds $40 trillion dollars.

Yes, some of them may offset each other. Yes, some are never going to be called upon. But it's still a good indicator of how much debt (risky and not so risky) has been created in recent years. It's staggering.


Weird vibes:

Even though the market ended up on a high note Thursday, and MarketWatch says look for further advances next week, it seems as if all is not well in Denmark (hat tip, Shakespeare).

Calculated Risk is pointing to DeLong's "sounding the alarm". Barry Ritholtz wonders when people will come to grips with reality. Paul Krugman notes "weird interest rates" (always a good thing, right?)   This blog sees inflation in unexpected "hidden" forms.

What the hell is going on?

UPDATE: Wanna get scared? Read this.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hidden inflation:

Actually, hidden in plain sight.

On Friday I go to the grocery store because I need a large jar of mayonnaise. The house brand is sold out, so I look to the left where there are plenty of jars of Best Foods mayo (this is on the west coast). But I notice that it's 30 ounces, which seemed "wrong". Close examination of the store-brand price label shows that the out-of-stock jar was 32 ounces - which was what I thought was the standard size for a large jar of mayonnaise. I get the Best Foods mayonnaise, and don't think more of it.

Later that night on ABC's World News Tonight they have a short report that begins by noting that the size of Cadbury's Easter Egg has shrunk over the years. Then it's pointed out that Hellmann's mayonnaise (the east coast version of Best Foods) was reduced from 32 to 30 ounces! (So I was right to suspect something had changed.) Other items, like bar soap, have also shrunk in size - because the prices for the raw materials has jumped and companies are loath to raise prices, so they reduce the quantity instead.

Today I visit a friend at a local cafe. I always get the large Coke, a 24 ounce cup, for $1.89 (tax included). But this time the cup is smaller, 16 ounces, and a refill is 50 cents. Another example of a shrunken product size. Observing such a change in two consecutive days (with a national news report to boot) certainly makes it look like something is going on.

Is inflation gaining? Will these (in effect) price increases show up in the government CPI statistics?* Will the Fed dismiss them since food and energy isn't "core"? Will this inflation cause further distress for the typical consumer?

* UPDATE: Barry Ritholtz has remarked about similar "hidden" realities:
Many of the stated economic gains have been a false ghost. Whether it was overstated job creation (NFP), understated inflation (CPI) or "inflated" growth (GDP), a shocking amount of the debate about the economic expansion has been primarily spin.


If Obama gets the nomination, the Clintons want McCain to win:

That seems pretty obvious, dispite what Kevin Drum thinks. We've already heard Hillary say that she and McCain are qualified to be Commander-in-Chief, and Obama maybe not. Now Bill Clinton says:
“I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country. And people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics.”
The Obama camp are crying foul, saying that Bill is implying (through omission) that Obama doesn't love his country. That's looking for the worst in a statement, and isn't particularly convincing. What is convincing, and real, is that Bill Clinton is saying nice things about John McCain - in an election year when McCain is going to be the Republican candidate in November. He's also putting Hillary on the same plane ("two people"), just as she did regarding the C-i-C "threshold".

Can anybody point to a situation in previous elections where a leading candidate and the surrogates were promoting the other party's nominee? (Presumably only happening prior to that candidate's party nominee being chosen.)


Friday, March 21, 2008

Next weekend:
Wright to deliver 3 sermons at Wheeler
Obama's retired pastor has often preached at local Baptist church

Just weeks after publicity over his controversial sermons rocked Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright will preach three guest sermons at Houston's Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.

Wright, who until February was minister of Obama's church, Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, will preach March 30.



If, in the wake of Wright's statements, these issues (black resentment for past injustices) are said to be relevant, then why weren't they part of the 2008 campaign discussion before then?

If it turns out that, say, a Hispanic Hillary Clinton supporter - someone she's been close to for years, etc. - expresses hostility to "white America" for being treated miserably, are people going to defend it by saying that, yes, we've been needing to discuss that as well?

I guess I'm asking a political question. How convincing is it to (skeptical) whites to be told that Wright's comments are not to be condemned, but to be used as a starting point in a national discussion - when hardly anybody was talking about it until just now? The issues this election year have been Iraq, global warming, the economy, some civil liberties, and a widening gap between rich and poor. Maybe race relations should have been in that mix, but they weren't. So it's not hard to see why people are puzzled when Wright's statements are defended by saying we should subsume them beneath what appears to be a "just revealed" serious social problem. It doesn't look like moving the goalposts. It looks like new goalposts have suddenly appeared.

On the other hand, the "Wright issue" seems to be fading (although it's too early to tell). But if it fades, then shouldn't those currently defending Obama by saying race relations are important, resist that trend?


Barbara Ehrenreich's character assisination:

Of Hillary Clinton. Virtually all of it garbage:
Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the "Fellowship" ...

The Family's most visible activity is its blandly innocuous National Prayer Breakfast ...

When she ascended to the senate, she was promoted to ... the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, which included, until his downfall, Virginia's notoriously racist Senator George Allen. This has not been a casual connection for Clinton.
Kevin Drum makes some brief remarks.

Ehrenreich crafted a pure propaganda piece. If you read it, you will see various classic techniques employed ("scare quotes", guilt by very-distant association, repeated assertions that someone is hiding something: "secretive Capitol Hill group", "publicity-averse leader").

The strongest charge is:
In the 1940s, The [Fellowship] reached out to former and not-so-former Nazis, and its fascination with that exemplary leader, Adolph Hitler, has continued ...
Barbara better be careful here, especially since her last name is Ehrenreich.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

The plush comfy couch:

From an amazing Weekly Standard essay: (excerpts, emp add)
Club Gitmo
What it's really like behind the wire.
by Jacob Laksin
  • Of the camps currently in use, none come close to justifying the concerns of the Gitmo's critics ...     Visiting Camp 4, Gitmo's medium-security compound, one can see detainees walking about freely.

    Detainees can ... check out DVDs--nature documentaries and international soccer matches ...

    A kit of provisions issued to Camp 4 inmates includes not only bare necessities like a toothbrush and a uniform, as well as luxuries like prescription glasses and electric razors on selected days ...

  • Less hospitable conditions might be expected in camps 5 and 6, Gitmo's maximum-security complexes. To some extent, that is the case. With a narrow bed, a metal sink, and a small slit for a window, the cells in Camp 5 are no one's idea of paradise. Within those confines, however, the detainees are granted substantial privileges. Climate controlled, the cells come equipped with a communications system that allows detainees to talk to the guards. Beneath the beds, one finds stenciled arrows pointing to Mecca ...

    Perhaps the most curious room at Camp 5 is furnished with a plush blue couch for the detainees. Were it not for the leg restraints at its foot, one might never guess that this is where interrogations take place. Of the steel-floored cells where detainees are alleged to be beaten for information there is not a trace of violence.

  • Out of consideration for the detainees' religious practices, interrogations cease and Gitmo's guards honor a silence throughout the camps during prayer times.

  • This is not to deny that abuse is a problem Gitmo. It's just that most of it is done by the detainees.     ... many of the detainees have been here for five to six years, more than enough time to discover the best way to harass their captors, many of the guards are just weeks or months into their post. "For a while there, it's an unfair match" ...
Those who know their history are familiar with other glowing reports about how nice it was for camp inmates.


Treasury securities in exchange for even crappier paper:

From Excite Money /, perhaps also a reason for the second surge in the Dow today:
14:35 ET Dow +202.60 Nasdaq +36.41 S&P +21.77 [BRIEFING.COM] The major indices climb to their best levels of the session. The New York Fed has announced modifications to its new Term Securities Lending Facility (TSFL). The TSFL auctions will now allow schedule 2 collateral, instead of the schedule 1 collateral previously proposed. Schedule 2 collateral will now include collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs) and AAA rated commercial mortgage-backed securities

In other words, the Fed will be lending banks highly liquid Treasury securities in exchange for less liquid assets. Banks will now be able to use a wider range of collateral than previously announced. The first auction will take place on March 27.


Here's the plan:

A way to resolve the bitterness and pessimism:
  • Clinton and Obama run on a joint ticket. Doesn't matter who is the presidential nominee, but for the sake of argument, let's say it's a Clinton/Obama ticket.
  • Democrats win in November.
  • Upon assuming office in 2009, Hillary Clinton resigns. Obama becomes president.
  • Obama selects Al Gore as the replacement for VP. It's approved by Congress.
  • Obama resigns, Gore becomes president.
  • Gore selects John Edwards as the replacement for VP. It's approved by Congress.
  • Americs gets to work.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008


This is the five-year anniversary of the Iraq War. But instead of focusing on that event, let's examine what led to it: the attacks on September 11. The problem was that following those attacks in New York and Washington D.C. there was a complete failure to properly analyze what happened.

Virtually everybody thought that al Qaeda was a big threat. It wasn't. What al Qaeda had managed to do was exploit a vulnerability (access to airline cockpit doors) which enabled them to briefly have an air force.

But al Qaeda, sans that unique event, never was a threat in conventional terms (i.e. having an army) or even as a terrorist group (there is very little suicide bombing they could inflict on the U.S., countries are not going to give WMD to outside groups*).

This failure of analysis was on all sides of the political spectrum. Why was an "engineer's perspective" (vulnerability exploits) ignored? And why, after the vulnerability was closed, were people still fearful that al Qaeda would strike as it did on 9/11?

It's legitimate to go into a failed state (Afghanistan) and round up the perpetrators, but to foster the notion that there was a near- Clash of Civilizations (which is what Bush did) was completely irresponsible.

Way back, this blog asserted that 9/11 was a unique event, not indicative of real power, and that it was nothing more than an exploitation of a vulnerability. This blog also predicted that there would be no further big attacks. The evidence is in. Al Qaeda had its one day of glory, but none further, and should not have been the proximate reason the United States went to war in Iraq.

Even now, five years later, most people still do not see the events of 9/11 for what they were: not a sign of a serious threat, but a day when a very few people managed to trick the system. It's sad.

* - the anthrax attacks remain a serious issue demanding resolution. It clearly came from a U.S. Defense facility or a university working with the DoD. That rules out al Qaeda.


Can we cut the nonsense?

Yesterday the Dow soars 420 points. Today it's down almost 300. Enough already!


Jim Cramer and Bear Stearns (revisited):

There has been some debate about what Cramer was extolling on March 11 (BSC stock or Bear paper?). This blog post has a timeline and sensible analysis of what happened. Verdict: Cramer messed up and you can't trust CNBC ("Cramer was right about Bear Stearns").


Are you reading Dick Polman?

He's a very good blogger, with a daily post (long form - he's a real journalist). Today he examines McCain and his relationship to Bush's Iraq policies.


Five year anniversary of invasion of Iraq:

Yes, it was a mistake. Yes, it was unwarranted. Yes, it was the result of lies (WMD, al Qaeda connection).

But the striking fact at this point is that there is no exit plan. None whatsoever. It's been 130,000 (or more) troops in there "keeping the peace" while there has been no significant political progress. It's true that violence is down in the last six months, but that's often the case when occupying armies stick around, and it does not indicate that the underlying tensions are vanquished.

While attacking Bush for his actions leading to this point is enrirely valid, it might be mose useful (politically) to demand that he outline a credible plan to get out. He can't, of course, since invading Iraq was essentially hitting a hornet's nest. But for all the legitimate criticism of Bush taking the country to war, an even bigger one is his failure to end it.


Michael Gerson is right:

No pleasure in writing that title. Gerson has been wrong on many counts, and helped promote the Iraq War. Up until now, I've disagreed with every essay he's written in the Washington Post. But his Op Ed about Rev. Jeremiah Wright is correct on virtually all counts.

I write this as someone who would like to see Obama get the Democratic nomination and win the presidency. But I can't remain silent when a serious problem arises for any candidate.

As I see it, Obama is a fine candidate. This recent Wright flap has been a test for him, and as a test, he's performed extremely well. But the fact remains that his past association with Wright is a serious demerit.

It's puzzling. It's disheartening. But it's a fact.

CODA: I'm sure this blog has pissed off lots of Obama-fans in the last couple of days. Sorry about that. But what's a blogger to do when a politician has done something that's worrysome? Remain silent and pretend it didn't happen? Play the spin game? Or be frank with the blog audience? I prefer the latter.

IN FOR A PENNY, IN FOR A POUND: As long as I'm riffing on this topic, get this comment from Obama-supporter, and atheist, Mark Kleiman: (emp add)
Those who have described Obama's failure to pre-emptively trash Wright as "political malpractice," and who have even compared Obama's decision not to leave Trinity to the decision of a white politician not to quit a racially-restricted country club, never seem to have considered the possibility that Obama might have scruples about holding up to national ridicule the man responsible for his conversion experience, or non-political reasons for staying in his home church.
A "conversion experience" is now an excuse for hanging with a rad dude. What is Wright, a 21st century Rasputin? C'mon, can we get away from wishful thinking - up until now, a George Bush modality - and look at the world rationally? Take science seriously when it warns of climate change. Not fall for the Social Security privatization hokum. Allow religion to operate in the private sphere, but not become an excuse for this-or-that bizarreness? (by the right or the left)

Somewhat related: Remember the grief Mel Gibson was getting for being the son of holocaust-denier Hutton Gibson? Mel's was called upon to denounce his dad. He didn't, and was pilloried as a result.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

U.S. of KKK A


Obama, the speech, and Rev. Wright:

Obama's speech was a good one, about as good as could be hoped for given the situation. It might do the trick, as long as there are no new (i.e. post today) inflammatory words from Wright. That may not be fair, but it's the way politics is.


Even better than last week!

On Tuesday, March 11, the Dow soared 415 points.

Today, exactly one week later, the Dow soars 420 points.

Clearly, we are headed to financial nirvana.


Speech reaction:

Screenshot of Huffington Post:
Let's see:
  • Ben Smith - neutral? (many say he tilts towards Obama)
  • Josh Marshall - liberal blogger
  • Chris Durang - Obama supporter
  • Jesse Jackson - certainly pro-Obama in this matter
  • David Corn - liberal blogger
  • Andrew Sullivan - Obama supporter
This does not indicate that the center will be persuaded. It might, but only citing liberals and pro-Obama people is not reassuring.


Over at MyDD:

There is a post + comments on the Obama/Wright controversy. What's interesting are those (few) comments from Obama supporters who remain concerned, and are also not confident that a speech (or any speech) can put the matter to rest. E.g.
As someone supporting Obama, I am glad it came out now instead of later on. Obama has work to do to repair the damage. ... [Wright] is out of control on some issues and since Obama puts heavy emphasis on his religion and church, Obama has to make sure public knows how he reconciles that with the overall record of Wright.


Fed statement:

Inflation has been elevated, and some indicators of inflation expectations have risen. The Committee expects inflation to moderate in coming quarters, reflecting a projected leveling-out of energy and other commodity prices and an easing of pressures on resource utilization. Still, uncertainty about the inflation outlook has increased. It will be necessary to continue to monitor inflation developments carefully.
Inflation has been up. Inflation is up. Yet the Fed expects it to moderate. How very convenient.

The Committee will act in a timely manner as needed to promote sustainable economic growth and price stability.
They've already failed on that count.


When Jeremiah Wright says "God Damn America"

Most people hear "God Damn White America".

Hard to see how a speech by Obama can erase that. And it doesn't help when Obama says "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community".

Andrew Sullivan has entertained the view (via reader mail) that Obama had a born-again experience that cemented a bond between himself and Wright. That might be so, but it won't make the controversy go away.

Wright may turn out to be the factor that allows Hillary Clinton to win the nomination, it's that serious.


Free money!

Isn't that what you call cash you can borrow at a rate well under inflation? That's what Wall Street expects. Take a look at today's Fed Funds Probabilities for April:
Just about everyone is anticipating a rate of one and a half percent.


Two degrees of separation:

That's the Weekly Standard's new test to determine if you have a "link" with al Qaeda (it's also Cheney's criteria). From Bill Kristol's essay, Gunsmoke:
Late last week, the Defense Department released an analysis of 600,000 documents captured in Iraq prepared by the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded think tank. Here's the attention-grabbing sentence from the report's executive summary: "This study found no 'smoking gun' (i.e. direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda."


But here's the truth. The executive summary of the report is extraordinarily misleading. The full report, released Thursday night, states, for example, on page 42: "Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives." In fact, as Stephen F. Hayes reports in this issue, the study outlines a startling range of connections between Saddam and various organizations associated with al Qaeda and other terror groups.
According to Kristol, if Saddam had a connection to an outfit that had a connection to al Qaeda, then Saddam has a connection to al Qaeda. By that logic, just about everybody in the Middle East has a connection to al Qaeda, which makes it easy to advocate war against Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, et al.

Actually, Kristol allows for a "connection" even if nobody from a given group has any contacts with al Qaeda, as long as it shares "al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives". Instead of hard facts like contacts and money transfers to determine a connection, it now hinges on Kristol's evaluation of what is "shared". That's lowering the bar to the ground. If al Qaeda comes out for vaccinations, does that mean Bill Gates is a fellow traveler?


Monday, March 17, 2008

Today's market panic has been postponed:

Until sometime in the near future.



WSJ report which includes:
For the first time securities dealers, effective today and for at least the next six months, may borrow from the Fed on much the same terms as banks. The Fed also lowered the rate charged on such borrowings from what's known as its discount window by a quarter of a percentage point, to 3.25%, and extended the maximum term to 90 days from 30.

It took a unanimous vote by the Fed's five governors yesterday to invoke a Depression-era clause in the Federal Reserve Act to waive the usual prohibition on Fed loans to nonbanks.

Last Tuesday, it announced what Wall Street called its most creative initiative yet: It lent up to $200 billion of its much-sought Treasurys to investment banks starting March 27 in return for a like amount of now-shunned mortgage backed securities for up to 28 days. The announcement led to a huge rally in stocks. But within days dealers were telling the Fed it didn't go far enough. They wanted longer term, more immediate funding against a broader range of collateral.
And the Fed complied.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Read this closely: (emp added throughout)
The following is the text of the Federal Reserve statement issued March 16.

The Federal Reserve on Sunday announced two initiatives designed to bolster market liquidity and promote orderly market functioning. Liquid, well-functioning markets are essential for the promotion of economic growth.

First, the Federal Reserve Board voted unanimously to authorize the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to create a lending facility to improve the ability of primary dealers to provide financing to participants in securitization markets. This facility will be available for business on Monday, March 17. It will be in place for at least six months and may be extended as conditions warrant. Credit extended to primary dealers under this facility may be collateralized by a broad range of investment-grade debt securities. The interest rate charged on such credit will be the same as the primary credit rate, or discount rate, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Second, the Federal Reserve Board unanimously approved a request by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to decrease the primary credit rate from 3-1/2 percent to 3-1/4 percent, effective immediately. This step lowers the spread of the primary credit rate over the Federal Open Market Committee's target federal funds rate to 1/4 percentage point. The Board also approved an increase in the maximum maturity of primary credit loans to 90 days from 30 days.

The Board also approved the financing arrangement announced by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and The Bear Stearns Companies Inc.
Just about every sentence in there is a sign of big trouble with the markets.

A new lending facility ready tomorrow to lend at a lowered primary rate, with a maturity that's been tripled, in exchange for investment-grade* debt securities in order to keep the markets going. And this when the dollar is under attack and inflation is a concern.

* BBB- or higher by Standard & Poor's or Baa3 or higher by Moody's or BBB(low) or higher by DBRS


Jim Cramer on Bear Stearns:

Stocks discussed in the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV program, Tuesday March 11.

Mad Mail: Textron (TXT), Bear Stearns (BSC)

Although TXT is down from $70 to $50, Cramer likes Textron and is not worried about its financing. Cramer told one writer who was concerned about Bear Stearns; “No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble. If anything, they’re more likely to be taken over. Don’t move your money from Bear… Don’t be Silly”
On Friday it went from $50 to $30.

On Sunday it was worth $2.

UPDATE: This anti-Jim Cramer YouTube video is worth watching (at least the first half, but then it moves into Ron Paul terrory). It has the complete version of what Cramer said. Bear was trading for $63 at the time. It went this way:
READER MAIL: Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there?

CRAMER: No! No! No!   Bear Stearns is fine. Do not take your money out.   If there's one take away (other than this up 400 [day]) ...   Bear Stearns is not in trouble. If anything they're more likely to be taken over.   Don't move your money from Bear. That's just being silly! Don't be silly!


The big story:

The focus this year will not be the Iraq War, civil liberties, global warming, or any of a multitude of issues that have been debated during Bush's term of office. It will be the economy, both domestic and global.


St. Patrick's Day Massacre:

March 17, 2008.


Not a good headline:

Market Watch:
Fed acts Sunday to prevent global bank run Monday


Saturday, March 15, 2008

supporter vs. surrogate:

Fox News Sunday: (screenshot)
What's the difference?


Bush is least convincing ...

... when he talks about the economy. With foreign affairs (e.g. Iraq) it's something far away and frequently dependent on "experts" to give people an impression of what's happening (true or false).

But people have their own experiences with the economy that no amount of "but the statistics show" can gainsay. Gail Collins has a good run-down of Bush's pathetic performance on Friday.


Friday, March 14, 2008

So soon?

In early December, this blog predicted a 2% (eventual) Fed rate, but didn't expect to read this so soon:
Likelihood of 100 basis-point rate cut gaining a following
Bear Stearns shocker triggers forecasts for whopper cut to 2%

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Expectations that Federal Reserve next week will cut rates by a full percentage point, to 2%, gained traction among economists and traders Friday after a bailout of Bear Stearns Cos. revealed more fault lines in the U.S. financial system.
But get this quote from the story: (emp add)
Citigroup economists said they anticipate Fed policy-makers will lower the federal funds rate by a point to 2% next week from the current 3%, "and more cannot be ruled out."
There is very little room between 2% and 0%, and yet there is talk of "more" of a cut than one percent! That would cause the dollar to crater.


Helicopter Ben to the rescue!
There will be more of this in the months to come.


Bailout, pure and simple:

If you're puzzled about today's Fed/JPMorgan/Bear action, here's Barry Ritholtz:
10:33: If you are wondering WTF a non-recourse, back-to-back financing is, pull up a chair:

JPM gets to go the the Discount Window and borrow all the greenbacks they want; Then they loan that to Bear. In the event that Bear defaults, the NY Fed cannot go back to recover from JPM -- hence, non-recourse.
Liveblogging (!) the Bear meltdown.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Obama's got a big problem:

Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright. What's somewhat surprising is that this moron trash-talked as recently as this January. There are people like that whose ego is so big that they actually revel in being the focus of attention, even if it hurts lots of folks.



Greg Sargent writes:
[There] is the difficult (or perhaps impossible) balancing act the Hillary camp is trying to strike between portraying Obama as unfit for the general election to sow doubts among super-delegates while maintaining a posture of loyalty to the larger Democratic cause.
Seems like loyalty to the larger Democratic cause (winning in November) has already been violated.


That's the standard:

In an interview on NPR today, we learn:
Hillary Clinton says the results of Michigan's Democratic presidential primary should count, even if Barack Obama's name did not appear on the ballot.

"That was his choice," she says in an interview with Steve Inskeep. "There was no rule or requirement that he take his name off the ballot.
Okay, then. A candidate's "choice" is the final say on the matter - in this case Obama's not being on the ballot. Well, it was Clinton' "choice" to agree with the rules that said Florida and Michigan delegates don't count if they held their primaries early, which they did. End of discussion - using Clinton rules.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Now what?

Next primary is six weeks away. The campaigns (Obama/Clinton) will probably take a break, at least for two or three weeks. If so, then things will be pretty boring in blog-land.

Which might be a good thing.



Comments at Taylor Marsh in the wake of the Ferraro statements:
  • Nothing wrong with what Ferraro said. you go girl. say it again!
  • This is a former VP candidate of the democratic party that Obama is calling divisive. Obama needs to realize that the world was spinning before he became a candidate.
  • I love Geraldine. I know some do not like what she said. But unfortunately it HAD to be said. She said what many others have thought.
  • I admire her for not backing down. She's a good role model for women.
  • Thank God somebody's standing by their comments. Personally, I don't feel offended by what she said. There is some truth to it. I know Geraldine Ferraro is no racist.
  • I just watched the GMA interview myself...she is quite good. How dare they! is right.
  • Ferraro to Obama camp: stop talking shit
  • I applaud Geraldine Ferraro for refusing to be scapegoated by the Obama campaign and the media for her comments.
  • I think GF has the right to speak her mind, and there was nothing she said that was racist, it was the truth.
  • I've now read Ferraro's statements several times and I don't see the racism.
  • I too applaud Ferraro. She put to words what everyone else is afraid to say. I'm glad that on that interview with Diane Sawyers, she did not let Diane control the interview to cast it in a bad light against Ferraro and Clinton. [...] Obama inflames black people, and then blames Clinton as a race baiter. He wants to dupe whites while getting blacks. This man is disgusting.
  • Geraldine Ferraro is one tough woman who spoke the truth and the pundits can't stand it. She has reiterated what many of us have felt for a long time with this campaign and BO.
  • I think Ferraro was right. More than right. She should stick to her guns. It's time for women to stop being intimidated by these race card bullies. For that's all they are - bullies.
  • Obama has no respect for the Democrats that came before him. His nonsense about Ferarro is still more proof.
  • GO FERRARO GO! I hope she goes on every damn freaking show that will have her...coz she's right on this one and everyone will see that.


From ABC News: (lead sentence)
The Clinton campaign plans to use the coming six-week gap in primary voting to aggressively push its case that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., lacks the necessary experience to be president as the superdelegates loom by far as the most important voters in the race.
If that is true, and the ABC report supports it (as do other catches at TPM Election Central) then what the Clinton campaign is doing is:
Asserting that a Democratic presidential candidate should not be elected in the general.
As Bill Clinton put it in a recent fund-raising letter:
We have a strategy in place and a clear path to the nomination.
No kidding.

How can the party regulars let this happen?


Words matter:

Ferraro, in a letter to Clinton announcing her resignation from the campaign:
The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you.
Of (limited) interest: When Samantha Power left, her resignation statement went out of the way to say something positive about Hillary Clinton:
“I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign.”
Which makes it pretty clear that the Obama campaign has deliberately decided on a "classy" approach to these kind of incidents. It carries the risk, in the short term, of looking weak (i.e. not a "fighter"), but over time makes his campaign style very appealing.


Using Joe Biden:

A number of blogs have remained silent (or nearly so) in the wake of Ferraro saying that Obama has an "advantage" because he's being black. But remember a year ago (Jan '07) when Joe Biden was taken to the woodshed because he said that Obama was "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy"?

Well, some bloggers condemned Biden back then but have withheld comment regarding Ferraro's much more offensive remarks. I won't embarass these bloggers, some of whom are pretty big names. You can google search on your own (google "biden articulate") to see who threw a dart at Biden back in the day.


I didn't know that:

Over at MyDD, the following statement:
... Florida and Michigan are the only states in which Republican turnout exceeded Democratic turnout ...


Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Geraldine Ferraro:

If Barack Obama is the candidate, he shouldn't really antagonize
people like me. Because he's going to come to me and ask me to
raise money for Barack Obama. And I would do it for him too, if
he STOPS doing this kind of horrendous attacks. (sic)
FWIW: That screen capture above is from the moment(s) when Ferraro was saying the words quoted above and accurately portrays here demeanor.

UPDATE: On this recent series of Ferraro remarks, a self-proclaimed 'brown woman' weighs in (UnCapitalist Journal). Also, Bitch Ph.D., Welcome to the Slapfest, Nick Ragone, latinopoliticsblog, Huffington Post, Happy Nappy Head (a self-proclaimed 'black woman' blog), Staycspits.

Other observations:
  • Limbaugh said similar things about quarterback McNabb, and got his ass handed to him.
  • There is a resonance that Hillary should be concerned about. Ferraro is no ordinary supporter.
    She was the first female vice presidential candidate (of a major party).
    Hillary aspires to be the first female presidential candidate - so there's a sense of connectiveness, which her extremly mild distancing from Ferraro's remarks won't erase.
And keep an eye on this growing meme: "racist white woman feminist Clinton supporters", which has been spotted on a number of centrist (and liberal) blogs. It's also something that most people aren't familar with. Hard-to-classify, but conservatively inclined Stanley Crouch has written about a period in the 60's when some feminists would hook up with blacks, presumably as part of a radical stance against society, but were often disappointed when the male was less "liberated" than hoped for, leading to considerable resentment. Ferraro is of that generation (born in 1935, age 30 in 1965). An observer if not a participant. I'm not saying this is true, or that it was anything other than a small subset of the culture at the time, but it is a meme of sorts, and one that may be re-ignited by Ferraro's comments.

Clinton supporters are infuriated at the race comments and charges coming from the Obama camp and his supporters, while they feel wounded over comments made by Ferraro and others. Clinton supporters feel a double standard happening, which is made worse with Obama's rhetoric using "hoodwink," as well as shameful op-eds like the one yesterday in the Times, both of which are being ignored compared to Ferraro. [...]

The sexism and misogyny in this campaign has been ugly and widespread. [...]

... the charges of racism towards Clinton and her supporters are now being met with blind rage, while Ferraro's comments are made out of frustration over the coverage Clinton has received over time, starting with Jesse Jackson Jr. stoking those fires, as well as the threats to African American lawmakers for supporting Clinton.
It's total war.


Comment at TPM Election Central:
Geraldine Ferraro is comparing her selection to be the VP candidate to where Senator Obama is today, and claiming that she was only the VP candidate because she is a Woman, and that Senator Obama is only where he is because he is a black man.

Here is the difference, and it is a huge one.

Voters did not elect Geraldine Ferraro into the VP slot. She did not run in any primaries, so yes she got picked without having to earn it.

Senator Obama has had to run a fifty state national campaign and earn ever vote and delegate that he has obtained. He started out as a huge underdog against a very tough slate of opponents, including Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton who was dominating all the polls.

He earned every vote that he has received.

No one ever got to cast a vote to make Geraldine Ferraro the VP candidate.



If you've been reading the reader comments to posts at TPM Election Central, you've probably encountered entries by someone going by the name of Sinbad (the actor/comedian). What got this started was Hillary's claim to foreign policy expertise, in part due to a visit to Bosnia that also included Sinbad. So "Sinbad" starts touting his own foreign policy cred and demands that people pay attention. A typical comment:
Sinbad has a feeling that Hillary's numbers will rebound once the press finally does a little digging and reveals the fact that HILLARY AND SINBAD SOLVED THE CRISIS IN KOSOVO!

Come on TPM! Scoop the MSM on this one, and give Sinbad some LOVE!

Clinton/Sinbad '08 - Pandering to African-American voters by putting a black guy on the ticket so as not to anger Obama supporters because that's how cynically we view the political process ON DAY ONE!
And reader comments are playing along with it, often with the remark:
Which is a play on another running gag by commentor idiotic (who now has his own blog). In addition to three reader posts by "Sinbad" (1, 2, 3 - all recommended) the real Sinbad appeared today in a Washington Post blog where we read:
In an interview with the Sleuth Monday, he said the "scariest" part of the trip was wondering where he'd eat next. "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place.'"
Which triggers the inevitable:
Clinton/Sinbad '08 - DO WE EAT HERE OR AT THE NEXT PLACE!?!?!!
And now Daily Kos is involved with a short post (long load, 600+ comments), but as the update puts it:
THANKS for making this a top rec! But as far as I'm concerned the rec's for this are for the comments, which have been crazy-hilarious!
In my view the reader comments are more amusing at TPM Election Center, but the interesting points are these:
  • There is much more levity with the Obama supporters regarding the Clinton claims than the other way around.
  • There is a dismissive attitude towards the Clinton campaign by Obama-fans.
Does that speak to the candidates' respective chances? It would seem so. Even though Clinton is being very aggressive right now, one gets the sense that her chances are fading and that at a subconscious level everybody knows it. Otherwise there would be less joking around by "Sinbad" and his fans.


The end of bad times?

Here's a direct quote from Betsy Stark's report tonight on ABC's nightly news that covered today's monster rally:
"Analysts say it could mark the bottom of what has been a wrenching decline in stocks."
So all you regular folks out there, start buying stocks as fast as you can. What could possibly go wrong?


Today's mariket action:

Anybody thinking that today's rally is a sign of strength is kidding themselves.


Who cares?

Let's examine Michael O'Hanlon's latest USA Today essay. It's actually quite thin in substance. Here are the negatives he says might occur if the United States pulls out of Iraq:
  1. [It wouldn't be] "supported by most leaders — American or Iraqi — on the ground in Iraq."
  2. "The odds are" "we will lose"
  3. "The odds are" "Iraq will descend into all-out civil war"
  4. "risk regional turmoil"
  5. "some al-Qaeda strongholds being re-established in key Iraqi cities"
That's it. Not much, and not much to care about. Let's address them, item by item:
  1. We shouldn't get out of Iraq because American or Iraqi leaders don't support it? Without saying why "leaders" take that view (which may not even be true) the argument is nothing more than an Appeal to Authority.
  2. O'Hanlon's personal definition of losing is pulling out, a propaganda technique known as Victory by Definition.
  3. Iraqi civil war. But is it in America's interest to stop it, should it happen? It would make Iraq much weaker than when it was a "threat" under Saddam. Maybe a civil war is in the interests of America. Of interest, O'Hanlon mentions the U.S. Civil War and wasn't that a necessary step towards a better world? For the most part though, O'Hanlon's raising the spectre of civil war is an Appeal to Emotion.
  4. "Regional turmoil" threatens who? Not Kuwait. Not Saudi Arabia. Not any of the oil-rich Gulf States. They can be defended very easily. O'Hanlon has to provide plausible scenarios where "regional turmoil" creates problems. Instead he engages in Vagueness,
  5. The al-Qaeda bogeyman. Al-Qaeda is not a serious threat to the United States, and not a threat that justifies military occupation of a state. Also, al-Qaeda never was established in Iraq, so O'Hanlon's concern that it will be "re-established" is nonsense. But al-Qaeda is scary, in many people's minds, so we see another instance of Appeal to Emotion.
If you've ever read a book on logic or propaganda, you will recognize that O'Hanlon uses many well known techniques (Appeal to Authority, Victory by Definition, Appeal to Emotion, Vagueness). He did that in the USA Today piece. O'Hanlon cannot be trusted.

WORD COUNT: Of interest, the essay is 1004 words. Only 64 words (3 sentences) are devoted to the alleged downside of withdrawal.
But neither candidate's approach would be supported by most leaders — American or Iraqi — on the ground in Iraq. [...] The odds are that if we leave soon, we will lose, and Iraq will descend into all-out civil war far worse than what occurred in 2006. This will in turn risk regional turmoil and the likelihood of some al-Qaeda strongholds being re-established in key Iraqi cities.
The rest of the essay is talk about progress, hoped-for progress, and complaints about Democrats. But progress, even if it is real, is not an argument for staying. An argument for staying has to make the case that leaving will lead to (significant) problems. On that score, O'Hanlon provides the most minimal, and propaganda-laden, content.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Prominent Hillary Clinton supporters:From Slate, this remark:
... prominent men caught in sex scandals isn't a new one for Hillary. How she handles [the Spitzer story] will tell us something, perhaps, ... about how's she's come to define herself ... as a woman in a world where a few too many of the prominent men around still think it's OK to do this kind of thing.
Now this looks more like random events than any pattern with an underlying cause (or correlation). Even so, it is currently a political issue, and seeing how Hillary Clinton handles it will demonstrate what skills she has in addressing this kind of unexpected surprise.

Clinton: My thoughts are with Spitzer

Posted: 05:29 PM ET

OLD FORGE, Pennsylvania (CNN) — Sen. Hillary Clinton said she had no comment on New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's possible involvement in a prostitution ring.

"I obviously am sending my best wishes and thoughts to the governor and to his family," she told reporters after visiting with reporters in a local pizza parlor.

When asked whether Gov. Spitzer could survive politically she said "let's wait and see what comes out of the next few days. Right now I don't have any comment. I think it's appropriate to wish his family well and see how things develop."
It would appear that Hillary, fairly or not, is going to be connected with this story. Watch for follow-through commentary about Bill being in the White House again.


One hell of a stupid Democrat:

Who? Ed Markey. In a press release, we read:
Here Comes the Sun: Markey Daylight Saving Time Bill Brightens Spring, Reduces Energy Use, Cuts Warming Pollution

WASHINGTON (March 7, 2008) – Spring will spring earlier this year, or at least it will seem that way. Early this Sunday, most Americans will set their clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Saving Time (DST), and do it several weeks earlier than in years past, thanks to a bill authored by Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.). The earlier DST will save energy, cut global warming pollution, and give the entire country an early exit from the too-soon sunsets of a long winter.

“An hour of extra sunlight in the evening is welcome news for those of us who are ready for spring,” said Markey, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “Saving energy and decreasing crime help to justify this effort, and the extra evening light will make our towns, cities, front stoops and porches livelier as winter begins to wind down and we look forward to spring.” [...]
But wait! In a decisive study:
... a unique situation in Indiana provides evidence challenging that view: Springing forward may actually waste energy.

Using more than seven million monthly meter readings from Duke Energy Corp., covering nearly all the households in southern Indiana for three years, they were able to compare energy consumption before and after counties began observing daylight-saving time. Readings from counties that had already adopted daylight-saving time provided a control group that helped them to adjust for changes in weather from one year to the next.

Their finding: Having the entire state switch to daylight-saving time each year, rather than stay on standard time, costs Indiana households an additional $8.6 million in electricity bills. They conclude that the reduced cost of lighting in afternoons during daylight-saving time is more than offset by the higher air-conditioning costs on hot afternoons and increased heating costs on cool mornings.

"I've never had a paper with such a clear and unambiguous finding as this," says Mr. Kotchen, who presented the paper at a National Bureau of Economic Research conference this month.

A 2007 study by economists Hendrik Wolff and Ryan Kellogg of the temporary extension of daylight-saving in two Australian territories for the 2000 Summer Olympics also suggested the clock change increases energy use.... a 1976 report to Congress evaluating that analysis, the National Bureau of Standards concluded that there were no significant energy savings.

"In an inland state like Indiana, it gets hot in the summer," says Steve Gustafsen, a lawyer in New Albany, Ind., who filed a suit in 2000 in an effort to get his county to abandon daylight-saving time. "Daylight saving means running the air conditioner more."

That was borne out by the study by Mr. Kotchen and Ms. Grant. Their research showed that while an extra hour of daylight in the evenings may mean less electricity is spent on lights, it also means that houses are warmer in the summer when people come home from work. Conversely, during daylight-saving time's cooler months, people may crank up the thermostats more in the morning.
Stop the madness!


No subtly at all:

Clinton campaign says that Obama is currently not qualified to be president. TPM:
Hillary spokesperson Howard Wolfson ... said that the possibility of Obama as veep is not something that [Clinton] is "prepared to rule out at this point," adding: "At the same time we continued to believe that Senator Obama has not passed the key commander-in-chief test at least at this point."


Like, wow:

Michael O'Hanlon's new Iraq progress scorecard goes up to eleven.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

It's one gambit after another:

In the span of less than two weeks we've seen:
  • Clinton's Communication Director promote a story about Obama's connections to "terrorists" (Wolfson's rewriting of a Politico headline, replacing the word "radicals" - end even then it was a guilt-by-association charge)
  • Clinton say she and McCain are qualified to be president, but hints that Obama is not
  • Hillary and Bill suggest a Clinton/Obama ticket would be awsome (Hillary saying Ohio "thinks" she should be on top.)
    To which a commentor at Carpetbagger remarked:

    Clinton launches new rounds of attacks on Obama’s character, judgment, and capacity, she also launches a round of positive warm hugs about his wonderful capacity to be her running mate. Both messages are out there in the political swirl with the ever-deficient media unable to sort it out and force it to make sense (or nonsense). The result is that those who want nice HIllary have a storyline to follow, while the trashing goes on unimpeded.
  • Continued pressure to seat Florida and Michigan with the delegates already chosen
  • Clinton Campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe charging that Samantha Power's private utterance of the "monster" word is, "the usual attack style politics that we have seen time and time again."
And now this:
Hillary: Pledged Delegates Can Switch Candidates

A few weeks ago the Clinton campaign shot down a report that they would seek to entice Barack Obama's pledged delegates into flipping over. Now the idea is being floated again — by Hillary herself.

"There are elected delegates, caucus delegates and super-delegates, all for different reasons, and they're all equal in their ability to cast their vote for whomever they choose," Hillary told Newsweek, when asked how she can win the nomination despite the current delegate math.

"Even elected and caucus delegates are not required to stay with whomever they are pledged to. This is a very carefully constructed process that goes back years, and we're going to follow the process."
Just "following the process", which, if memory serves was what the Republicans were doing when they impeached Clinton. Never mind if it was justified. If the process allows for an action, Clinton will take it if it benefits her.

She's violating what few norms still exist. And that's what the Republicans did: abuse the House-Senate reconciliation process with last-minute additions, shut out the Democrats while writing bills, pressuring K-street to abandon Democrats, abuse the filibuster (first by trying to deny it for Supreme Court nominees, then as a minority filibustering just about everything), implementation of the "unitary executive" to override professionalism within government agencies, etc. All technically allowable, but a rejection of long-standing traditions that were established to facilitate compromise and progress.


The proof that will silence the doubters:

Foreign Policy Expert Hillary Clinton (center) in a 1996 trip to Bosnia
Clinton's mission to Bosnia was a one-day visit in which she was accompanied by performers Sheryl Crow and Sinbad, as well as her daughter, Chelsea, according to the commanding general who hosted her.

(See also, additional Sinbad comments 1, 2, 3)



Story: (excerpts, emp add)
Clintons push a Hillary/Obama ticket

Hillary and Bill Clinton are again teaming up on Barack Obama -- this time saying the first-term U.S. lawmaker, whom they have derided as inexperienced, would be a strong running mate on a Democratic presidential ticket headed by the former first lady.

In talking up a joint ticket, the Clintons may be seeking the upper hand, attempting to put her in consideration for the top of the ticket when she so far has failed to win the votes necessary ...

The maneuver may also be aimed at countering an image in voters' minds of Obama as presidential material ...

"The Clintons are in a difficult position," said Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University in Iowa, who has tracked the presidential race.

"If she wins the Democratic presidential nomination, she would need Obama's supporters. But she needs to be careful. If this talk of him on the ticket is seen as a cynical maneuver, it could backfire and hurt her," Goldford said.


Leap forward:

Let's see, did I do them all?
  1. Car clock
  2. Bedroom clock
  3. Bedside alarm clock
  4. Bedroom TV/VCR
  5. Bedroom mini-stereo
  6. Small handheld game clock
  7. Desk clock
  8. Small clock near computers
  9. Windows 98 PC
  10. Windows 2000 PC (unlike XP, no fix - and yes, I tried using a utility that is supposed to do the job, but it didn't)
  11. Main room clock
  12. VCR 1
  13. VCR 2
  14. Television
  15. Sports wristwatch
  16. Backup sports wristwatch
  17. Nerd wristwatch (displays elevation, barometric pressure, etc)
  18. Everyday wristwatch
  19. "Prestige" wristwatch
  20. Microwave oven
  21. Shower clock (on one of those radios)


The Democratic Party is worse than the Senate:

Lots of people are griping that in order for the Democrats to get anything done in the Senate, they have to have a 60-seat "super majority" (in order to shut down a filibuster by Republicans). 60%.

What's going on with the race for the nomination to be the candidate for president?

There are a total of 4,048 delegates involved. But 3,253 are "pledged delegates", chosen through the primary process (election or caucus). The remaining 795 are superdelegates.

To get the nomination (a majority of all delegates) 2025 are needed. But to get that number with pledged delegates only, a candidate needs to get 62% of them (2025/3253).

It's even worse than that, since the granularity at lower levels results in many even splits when delegates are assigned, erasing many 5% to 15% margins. Earlier this year people were wondering if John Edwards would become a kingmaker, using his delegates to pick the nominee. That never happened, but instead, the Democrats turned out to already have a kingmaker of sorts. The superdelegates.


More head games:

TPM reports:
Bill Clinton: Hillary-Obama Ticket Would Be "Almost Unstoppable Force"
This in the same week when Hillary Clinton suggested Obama isn't qualified to be president.

The Clintons are engaging in head games. Not only to discombobulate Obama, but the primary electorates as well. It's so confusing, you know, that maybe I should vote for Hillary because then all my troubles are solved (anxiety over Obama assuaged by voting for "experienced" Hillary, yet not wanting to see him out of the race).

The Clinton campaign is pulling trick after trick. Most of them are fair political stunts (although not the CIC gambit), but the frequency is much higher than you'd see in most campaigns, and the messengers - the candidate herself, the former president (!) - are higher-ranking than usual.

They sure are fighters, no mistake about that. Sadly, this fighting and focus is only showing up now on behalf of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Some of that energy would have been useful earlier in Bush's term, when critical issues were being debated. But that would have only benefited the nation.


Taking that seat:

One election result this weekend:
Nearly two years after taking control of Congress, the Democrats have claimed another prize by capturing former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert's seat — a development that Republicans say is not a harbinger of things to come.
It's not a perfect match, since Hastert is out of the picture, but in 1994:
In a historic election, House Speaker Tom Foley (D-Washington) was defeated for re-election in his district, becoming the first Speaker of the House to fail to win re-election since the era of the American Civil War. Other major upsets included the defeat of powerful long-serving Representatives such as Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Illinois) and Judiciary Chairman Jack Brooks (D-Texas).


Friday, March 07, 2008

More fear/Commander-in-Chief talk from Hillary Clinton:

At the news conference, Clinton cited the explosion of a small bomb in Times Square early Thursday to highlight her claim that she is the candidate most prepared to lead in a crisis.
The small bomb was "not a particularly sophisticated device", left at a military recruiting station at 3:40 AM (!) by one guy on a bicycle. It could have been lethal, but clearly was not the work of a foreign entity. It was detonated as an act of vandalism, not deliberately to injure or kill. Glass was broken, and a door badly damaged, as shown in this picture:


When will David Broder ...

write a column suggesting that there be a "unity" ticket of John McCain / Hillary Clinton? Recent positive comments by Clinton about McCain must surely have gotten The Dean excited. It's what he's been pining for for years.

Seriously though, Broder is likely to pen a column about experience and why older folks are more qualified, etc.


It keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?

The latest from Hillary Clinton:
... I think it’s important to look at what she and his other advisors say behind closed doors, particularly when they’re talking to foreign governments and foreign press. It raises disturbing questions about what the real planning and policy positions inside the Obama campaign happen to be.
The "foundation" for part of this charge this is that Samantha Power blabbed to a foreign newspaper, The Scotsman. The recent Canada/NAFTA/Goolsbee fracas is also an element.

Hillary is suggesting that Obama has a secret plan, shared only with foreigners, for the future of the U.S.A.

Barack Hussein Obama, the Manchurian Candidate, 21st Century style.

This fight is getting amped up by the hour. My sense is that we will reach a breaking point (most likely against Clinton) within a week.


Gary Hart:
It will come as a surprise to many people that there are rules in politics. ... One of those rules is this: Do not provide ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee. This is a hyper-truth where the presidential contest is concerned.

By saying that only she and John McCain are qualified to lead the country, particularly in times of crisis, Hillary Clinton has broken that rule, severely damaged the Democratic candidate who may well be the party's nominee, and, perhaps most ominously, revealed the unlimited lengths to which she will go to achieve power. She has essentially said that the Democratic party deserves to lose unless it nominates her. ...

For her now to claim that Senator Obama is not qualified to answer the crisis phone is the height of irony if not chutzpah, and calls into question whether her primary loyalty is to the Democratic party and the nation or to her own ambition.



Obama advisor calls Hillary a "monster". Others disagree. What's your take?


Joe Lieberman, 17 December 2007:
"When it comes to keeping America safe in this time of war, John [McCain] has proven that he has the experience, the strength, and the character, to be our commander-in-chief from day one."
That is a statement that Hillary Clinton would vigorously agree with. Although maybe not with his full statement, since Lieberman at no point said that Democrats, or a particular Democrat, was unsuited to be president.


What Hillary Clinton is doing:

She says:
“I think that since we now know Sen. (John) McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold.”

“I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy,”
Hillary is not saying that she's better than Obama in this regard (i.e. competent to be CIC).

Hillary is suggesting that Obama is not qualified to be president. If you accept that claim, then he should lose in November if he becomes the nominee. Not only because he's unqualified, but because the opponent (McCain) is qualified. It's the "3:00 AM phone call" argument on steroids. If Clinton doesn't get the nomination, vote Republican this fall.

That's way out of line. In recent times, has there been any candidate for president from either party that, during the race for the nomination, said an opponent may not be qualified to be president? (serious candidates only, not fringe)

This is not campaigning to win. It's campaigning to destroy. It's also the clearest example of Clinton putting her own prospects ahead of the Democratic party and the policies she ostensibly supports. I suspect that these remarks by Clinton will cause enormous damage within the party. There will be the inevitable comparisons to Joe Lieberman (McCan fan) and Zell Miller (dissing John Kerry). Already some people are calling for Al Gore to step in on Obama's side to end the nonsense (Gore being a deus ex machina - although, to be frank, his somewhat rigid personality is more machina than deus)

Some bloggers are saying the Clinton will have to address this statement of hers. But how? She's made this assertion that she and McCain are suitable, and Obama maybe not, three times already. Judging from her body language and how the statements were orchestrated (most recently with lots of brass hats in the room), it would appear that she'll be unapologetic and not recind her remarks. It would also appear that she's doing this as a direct result of the perceived success of the "national security" pitch last week, along with a sense that it must not be allowed to fade (although the early amping-up of the charge and the resulting uproar may turn it into an albatross by the time Pennsylvania votes). And it feeds the suspicion that her plan is: Clinton in 2008 or, failing that, McCain defeating Obama - which would result in huge advantages and a second chance for her in 2012.

Nader said there was no difference between Bush and Gore. Now we have Clinton is saying McCain is better than Obama. It's never good when Ralph is your preferred commentator on the Democratic race.

Also, it's useful to note that, structurally, Hillary is arguing exactly like Jonah Goldberg, if you can believe it. Last week in the Los Angeles Times, Goldgerg wrote:
... reported Friday that Barack Obama has loose ties to [William Ayers, once a leader in the Weather Underground]...

I don't think Obama supports domestic terrorism, and I'm sure he can offer eloquent explanations for why he shouldn't suffer any guilt by association.
Both Hillary Clinton and Jonah Goldberg:
  • Hint of some problem with Obama:
    • CLINTON: He's unfit to be CIC
    • GOLDBERG: He pals around with terrorists
  • Don't say with conviction that the alleged problem is bogus:
    • CLINTON: Only refers to herself with, "I believe that I've done that" (crossed the threshold)
    • GOLDBERG: "I don't think Obama supports domestic terrorism"
  • Put the onus on Obama to defend himself
    • CLINTON: "you'll have to ask Sen. Obama"
    • GOLDBERG: "I'm sure he can offer eloquent explanations"
    which allows the charge to linger until he gets around to addressing it.
MINOR POINT: Hillary is saying that just because McCain is the Republican candidate, that therefore national security will be a big issue this election. Clinton can assert that, but it's not an established fact. McCain is big on Indian Affairs (being a senator from Arizona). Does that mean the plight of Native Americans "will be front and center in this election"? This is 100% prime BS. The eonomy is much more likely to be the number one issue.

OTHER COMMENTARY ON THIS TOPIC: Open Left, MyDD, Josh Marshall, TPM Election Central, Yglesias, American Dash, Hilzoy, Carpetbagger Report,, SLANTblog, DailyKos, The Moderate Voice (recommended), Quixotic Journal, Mahablog, Liberal College Kid, Comments from Left Field, The Reaction, The Swamp (Chicago Tribune story + reader comments), AMERICAblog video of Olbermann. Also, Steve Soto at Left Coaster has a short statement:
I’ve had enough of the Clinton fluffing of McCain, and I’m done with her. Frankly I’ve looked foolish trying to defend her and her campaign’s burn-the-house-down-to-get-the-nomination strategy, and I’m tired of seeing this message and these tactics. Politics at this level is not softball, but as I have said before, being an arsonist does not recommend one for the party’s nomination.
FINALLY: Obama gets taken to the woodshed for mumbling stuff about the late Ronald Reagan being a good politician, yet here is Clinton blowing kisses at the guaranteed Republican candidate for 2008.

[Corrected unintentional spelling error. Thanks for pointing it out, J. Goodwin!)