Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hugh Hewitt interviews Sarah Palin:

Transcript on his blog. Excerpt: (emp add)
HH: Governor, you mentioned the people who are struggling right now. Have you and your husband, Todd, ever faced tough economic times where you had to sit around a kitchen table and make tough choices?

SP: Oh my goodness, yes, Hugh. I know what Americans are going through. Todd and I, heck, we’re going through that right now even as we speak, which may put me again kind of on the outs of those Washington elite who don’t like the idea of just an everyday working class American running for such an office.

But yeah, there’s been a lot of times that Todd and I have had to figure out how we were going to pay for health insurance. We’ve gone through periods of our life here with paying out of pocket for health coverage until Todd and I both landed a couple of good union jobs.

Early on in our marriage, we didn’t have health insurance, and we had to either make the choice of paying out of pocket for catastrophic coverage or just crossing our fingers, hoping that nobody would get hurt, nobody would get sick.
UPDATE: Of course, "good union jobs" typically means:
  • Employer-paid health care.
  • Defined pensions, managed by professionals.
  • Wage and job security, which includes support for protectionist trade policies.
Republicans, like John McCain, prefer:
  • Scrapping employer-paid health coverage.
  • You're on your own retirement plans (401K).
  • Free-trade.


? sandwich:

In the news:
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, called this Wall Street bailout bill a "crap sandwich." And then later, on C-SPAN, a "mud sandwich."

Rep. Paul Braun, R-Georgia ... called the bill "a huge cow patty with a piece of marshmallow stuck in the middle, and I'm not going to eat that cow patty."
From This is Spinal Tap:
[reading a review of the album "Shark Sandwich"]

Marty: The review you had on 'Shark Sandwich'...which was merely a two word review - just said "shit sandwich." Umm....

Derek: Where'd they print that, where'd they print that?

David: Where did that appear?

Nigel: That's not real, is it?

Derek: You can't print that.


Why not a voice vote?

Isn't it possible to have legislation pass on a voice vote (as determined by the Speaker or President pro tempore) thus making the modified Paulson Plan law, while allowing any politician to go home and say to constituents that they voted against it?

UPDATE: I was joking, but apparently there may be a voice vote in the Senata on a Bernie Sander's amendment.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Cary Tennis on Sarah Palin:

An interesting take over at Salon. A mini-psychological analysis.


In the year 2011:

According to the Washington Post:
"the [budget] crunch actually begins much sooner than that -- in 2011, when Social Security's cash flow turns negative, because of the first wave of baby-boom retirements."
As Dean Baker, and people in the comments section, point out, that 2011 figure it totally bogus:
2011? Hmmm - that's a number Don Luskin once used. It's when the Soc. Sec. surplus peaks. Yes - when the 2nd derivative of the amount in the Soc. Sec. Trust Fund hits zero, then we're bankrupt! What a hoot!
In non-calculus terms:
Ths Social Security surplus will continue up until 2017*. The amount of that surplus varies from year-to-year, with the peak annual-surplus occuring in 2011. From 2012 to 2017, there will still be more SS tax money coming in than being spent.
* 2017 is the break-even point of SS taxes vs. SS outlays, but there is additional income from interest on the bonds, which means that input = output takes place a couple of years later.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thinking it over:

Fareed Zakaria writes about Palin and concludes that she is "utterly" unqualified to be Vide-President. He points to this exchange, which is truly remarkable:
COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.
If you read Palin's reply, and study it closely, it is clear that there is no underlying concept. It's just Talking Point A, Talking Point B, Talking Point C, ...

The talk about "health care reform" is related to the bailout bill in ... in what way?

It's incomprehensible.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

John McCain shows you a blacker Obama:

Watching the "Obama says McCain is right" ad that's embedded on the McCain campaign Debate Page, it sure seems like they deliberately reduced the brightness (throughout) because I never saw Obama look so black - compared to my viewing on television and, as seen in the bottom screen grap, compared to CNN's own web offering (button/item 2).

This darkening can actually be calibrated since there is a reference here - the blue background with lettering - which is without a doubt darker in the McCain ad. My software shows that applying a brightness correction of -40 (whatever that means, but it is substantial) to CNN's image gets you close to the McCain ad levels.

TECH NOTE: To be clear, these images are from McCain's website and CNN. No freelance YouTube videos were considered since there is no way to be sure how they were processed. But CNN's video is guaranteed solid, and the McCain camp's video (on YouTube) is their own.


From the McCain campaign website:

On their Debate Page, this:
National Review says John McCain did good. How unexpected!


Back to the bailout:

Check out this recent comment by Dean Baker: (emp add)
How Does the NYT Know That the Bailout Is Intended to Prevent an Economic Collapse?

The NYT told readers that the Bush administration requested the $700 billion bailout "to prevent an economic collapse."

Is that so? Do we know for sure that this is not a trumped up crisis designed to help the Wall Street fat cats? I don't know the answer to that one. If the NYT does they really should share this information with their readers.

--Dean Baker
There is, even now, far too little information out there, regarding the crisis and the mechanism for solving it. But we are beginning to read about alternatives that certainly look like they address a real problem while not wasting money on Wall Street crap paper (Calculated Risk, Bill King)


You know it's bad ...

... when after the first presidential debate, your running mate isn't around to talk you up on the news programs.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Enter the vortex:
It can't be weirder than this week.


21st century detective:
Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"

Holmes: "To the curious incident of corporate America during the last week."

Gregory: "Corporate America said nothing during the last week."

Holmes: "That was the curious incident."
If the Wall Street crisis is as serious as some people say - especially regarding the ability of companies to borrow - why haven't we heard significant noises from Home Depot, McDonald's, Kraft Foods, Merck, et al?


Thursday, September 25, 2008

You must take a look at this picture: (source)


Here it is:

While not perfect - since it doesn't go into the details of what's meant by "financial system is short of capital owing to massive asset depreciation" (and which assets are or should be involved) - an extended excerpt of an analysis of the crisis, and two different rescue approaches, can be found at Economist's View.



Over at TPM, we read:
McCain: Pressure On Us To Have Debate Tomorrow Is Obama's Fault
By Greg Sargent - September 25, 2008, 7:02PM

John McCain is doing a round of network news interviews tonight (how that gels with the suspension of his campaign is a question for the ages). And in his interview with ABC News' Charlie Gibson, McCain places the blame for the public pressure on them to go through with their debate squarely on...Barack Obama.

From the transcript:
GIBSON: Do we have a debate tomorrow night?
MCCAIN: Well I'm hopeful, very hopeful that we can. I believe that it's very possible that we can get an agreement so that --- in time for me to fly to Mississippi. I understand that there is a lot of attention on this but I also wish Senator Obama had agreed to ten or more town hall meetings that I had asked him to attend with me. Wouldn't be quite that much urgency if he agreed to do that, instead he refused to do it.
In the comments thread for that post, there was this exchange:


Blue ribbon!

Reacting to John McCain's call for a 9/11-style commission to look at the recent financial problems, Steve Benen wrote on September 16: (emp in original)
MCCAIN WANTS A COMMISSION.... There was a great episode of "The Simpsons" a few years ago, in which the city of Springfield was looking to local officials to address a crisis. Mayor Joe Quimby, anxious to give the appearance of action without actually doing anything, announced the creation of a "blue-ribbon commission." Lenny responds earnestly, "Did he say a blue-ribbon commission?" -- prompting Carl to say, "Well, you can't do any better than that!"
With that in mind, here's the last line from the just-released Republican proposal (pdf) to deal with the crisis:
Create a blue ribbon panel with representatives of Treasury, SEC, and the Fed to make recommendations to Congress for reforms of the financial sector by January 1, 2009.


Today's outlook:

My problem with this whole affair is the complete lack of any meaningful explanation of why Wall Street (or the banks) are in trouble, and how the bailout money would be spent.

For instance. An investment bank bundles and slices and dices mortgages and packages them as an MBS. But then it sells it to someone else. So how is the investment bank impacted if the mortgages go bust?

As far as bailout money is concerned, will it purchase MBS, and from who? Is the investment bank effectively an intermediate who will bail out the purchaser of the MBS?

That goes double for Credit Default Swaps. As I understand it, those are insurances against problems with the MBS. So they default. How does that affect the credit market?

It's smelling more like the bailout isn't to actually rectify balance sheets, but more as a psychological salve for the credit market.

I do not want federal dollars spent for psychological reasons.

If anybody can provide a link to a solid report on the situation, I'm eager to read it. But it had better not have bromides about how "Wall Street can't function".

Over at Calculated Risk, I see that the TED spread (and the A2/P2 spread) is off the charts, and that the credit market is therefore frozen. Let me be clear:

That spread is not in any way the result calculations of numbers on balance sheets. The "spread number" is simply market mood.

If market mood is the problem, then Prozac is the solution. Not tons of money.

(I'm aware of the irony of inserting an Unhappy Face in a post ranting about how billions of dollars are going to spent so that investor confidence gets a boost.)



Some people are now saying that the bailout plan will cost $1.2 trillion.

At what point does the cost of the bailout exceed a "let everything fail*, start-from-scratch" alternative?

Seems like we're getting close to it.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

President Bush to reassure nation and world about financial crisis:

In a speech tonight.


Buddy, can you spare $5 trillion?

Bloomberg: (emp add)
$5 Trillion Cash Pool Needed to Stop Rout, Ohmae Says

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $700 billion plan to buy devalued assets from financial companies is ``a joke'' because it doesn't go far enough to calm markets, said Kenichi Ohmae, president of Business Breakthrough Inc.

Ohmae, nicknamed ``Mr. Strategy'' during his 23 years as a McKinsey & Co. partner, called for a $5 trillion ``international facility'' to be made available to financial institutions. The system could be modeled on one used by Sweden during its banking crisis in the early 1990s, he said.


One way of funding the $5 trillion facility would be through contributions from foreign exchange reserves in China, Japan, Taiwan, the Gulf states, the European Union and Russia, Ohmae said.

An international relief effort on that scale might be difficult to coordinate
, said Robert Howe, founder of Hong Kong- based hedge fund manager Geomatrix (HK) Ltd., which oversees $32 million. ``I doubt the practicality of getting international cooperation on something like this,'' he said.
Five trillion dollars is never going to happen, but the fact people are even talking about it shows how wild these times are.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Wake me up when it's over.


Monday, September 22, 2008

In Krugman I trust:

I'm extremely skeptical that the Paulson Plan, or any variants therof, will do any good. It seems like a waste of money that will cripple any initiatives the next administration would like to pursue. But some sort of bill will probably emerge and while early modifications of the Paulson Plan were tepid, it appears that much better legislation is in the works. But is it good on the merits or merely less-bad than the Paulson original? (see John Cole)

How does one judge the proposals?

I'm going to sit back and let Paul Krugman evaluate them and if he gives one of them the A-OK, then I'm on board.


Don't be fooled:

In the news:
The administration agreed to allow tougher oversight over the cleanup and provide fresh assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure, two Democratic priorities. In addition, negotiators neared agreement on allowing the government to take equity stakes in companies that participate in the rescue, a measure Treasury had wanted to avoid.

But differences remain on two big items: possible limits on executive compensation at firms taking advantage of the bailout; and changes to bankruptcy law that would let judges adjust the terms of mortgages.
Limits on executive compensation is a distraction. In no way does it offset the hundreds of billions that will be wasted paying for junk paper. This is an example of dangling a popular "feel good" item in front of people in order to obscure the real issue: increasing the debt to bail out Wall Street.

The White House (and Paulson) are balking at the executive compensation provision in order to make it appear more meaningful than it actually is. If the Democrats fall for this gambit, then they are idiots.


O.T.     That nearly 500 carat diamond:
It looks so nice in its natural state. It would be a shame to cut it up.



Just heard Hannity blame the entire financial mess on the Democrats. He said former Fannie Mae honchos Raines and Johnson were Obama's financial advisors - which is false. And the McCain's Fannie reform bill was stopped in 2005 by the Democrats (who were in the minority). But best of all was the list of people responsible. Schumer, Clinton, and ... Carter!

That's because the CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) was passed in 1977.

Somehow I always suspected that Jimmy Carter was the evil genius behind today's problems.


Strange times:

I find myself in the odd position of supporting those paleo-conservative Republicans who are opposed to the Paulson Plan, and hope that they succeed in stopping it (by filibuster or other means).


F*ck this:
NYSE Expands Short Selling Ban to 30 Additional Companies

The SEC has delegated to each national securities exchange the authority to identify additional listed companies that qualify for inclusion in the list of companies covered by the revised prohibition.
List of companies includes GE (General Electric Co.), GM (General Motors Corp.), and MCO (Moody's Corp.)


Prove it:

Paulson and Bernanke say if there's no bail-out of Wall Street, then we're headed for a depression.

Prove it.

What's remarkable in the last week is that there has been no detailed scenario presented to make the case of Paulson & Co.

It doesn't even have to involve the entire banking and securities business. And with Paulson and Bernanke's track record of failing to see, warn, and protect against the credit crisis, they deserve no deference in this matter.

What's absolutely necessary is a basic step-by-step explanation of why, for example, Hewlett Packard can't get a loan. We're told that there will be a freeze-up of credit. In what particular way? And even if a bank can't provide a loan, why is buying crap paper from the bank necessary? Why isn't a separate loan facility (e.g. another bank with better balance sheets, or a newly created bank) the solution?

For contrast, look at global warming. The science can be complicated, but it can be explained in a few broad strokes: More CO2 in the atmosphere traps more light-energy from the sun. Yes, there are other factors (soot, sulphur compounds, cloud formation), but the basic thrust is clear. We're not seeing anything like that with the financial situation.

Until a credible case, with fact and figures, can be made that bailing out the banks is necessary, then the $700 billion bailout should not be even considered.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

What & why:

The Federal Reserve said Sunday it had granted a request by the country's last two major investment banks — Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — to change their status to bank holding companies.

The Fed announced that it had approved the request of the two investment banks. The change in status will allow them to create commercial banks that will be able to take deposits, bolstering the resources of both institutions.
The decision means that the Goldman and Morgan Stanley will be able not only to set up commercial bank subsidiaries to take deposits, giving them a major resource base, but they will also have the same access as other commercial banks to the Fed's emergency loan program.
The move by Goldman and Morgan Stanley is not in order to take deposits (at least not in the short term), but to be able to get money from the Fed.

The system is broken. It probably should be allowed to crumble under its own weight at this point. Let's have a lock-up of the financial system for, what, one month? Countries have recovered from worse (e.g war). Propping up a rotten system is no cure.

You want a bank? Then charter the Bank of the United States for five years. Make that the entity that grants loans to manufacturers and retailers and importers. Face it, some banks are totally insolvent and should just go away. Others, like Wells Fargo, are well managed (WFC is the only bank with an AAA rating) and will continue.


Treasury to purchase car loans:

Something's fishy:
The U.S. Treasury submitted revised guidance to Congress on its plan a day after first submitting it, as lawmakers and lobbyists push their own ideas. Officials now propose buying what they term troubled assets, without specifying the type, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News and confirmed by a congressional aide.

The change suggests the inclusion of instruments such as car and student loans, credit-card debt and any other troubled asset. That may force an eventual increase in the size of the package as Democrats and Republicans in Congress negotiate the final legislation with the Bush administration, analysts said.
Why not just purchase all outstanding loans. You know, take them off the banks' books so that they can start free and totally clear of everything they've done the last decade.


Floyd Norris: (emp add)
2. It is unsettling to see Wall Street firms that only a week ago feared for their survival hoping to get rich off this program. It needs to be carefully monitored to keep it from becoming a scandal of its own.

5. This crisis is not so important that a bill really needs to be passed without time for the public to read it and study it. If Congress has to delay leaving to campaign for a few days, so be it.

11. Investors clearly think the shareholders of brokerage firms and banks are being bailed out — not just that failure is being avoided. That should not be allowed to happen.


Who wrote this?
Watching Washington rush to throw taxpayer money at Wall Street has been sobering and a little frightening.

We are being told Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has a plan which will shift $700 billion in obligations from private companies to the taxpayer.

We are being warned that this $700 billion bailout is the only answer to a crisis.

We are being reassured that we can trust Secretary Paulson "because he knows what he is doing".

Congress had better ask a lot of questions before it shifts this much burden to the taxpayer and shifts this much power to a Washington bureaucracy.

Imagine that the political balance of power in Washington were different.

If this were a Democratic administration the Republicans in the House and Senate would be demanding answers and would be organizing for a “no” vote. ...

It’s time to end the silence and clear up the confusion.

Congress has an obligation to protect the taxpayer.

Congress has an obligation to limit the executive branch to the rule of law.

Congress has an obligation to perform oversight.
Newt Gingrich


This is spinning out of control:

From Calculated Risk's post, Bailout Eligibility Expanded to Foreign Institutions: (emp add)
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Sunday that foreign banks will be able to unload bad financial assets under a $700 billion U.S. proposal aimed at restoring order during a devastating financial crisis.

"Yes, and they should. Because ... if a financial institution has business operations in the United States, hires people in the United States, if they are clogged with illiquid assets, they have the same impact on the American people as any other institution," Paulson said on ABC television's "This Week with George Stephanopolous."
That last highlighted part "if they are clogged with illiquid assets", presumably means illiquid assets of any kind from any part of the globe. It could be mortgage-backed securities based on real estate in Portugal.

So now Paulson is proposing to vacuum up all the crap paper in the world. You can be damn sure that foreign banks will adjust their books so that they can shovel as much junk as possible into the "business operations in the United States" tent. Who's going to check their books if they are headquartered abroad?


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Are the Democrats in Congress about to demonstrate that they are absolutely worthless?

Looks like it.


Mystery box:
First it was Sarah Palin.

Now it the Paulson Plan.


We could still see a financial collapse:

The peculiar nature of the "Paulson Plan" allows the Treasury Secretary to give money in exchange for any mortgate-related assets, free from any review.

It designed to give Paulson the ability to shove billions of dollars to banks as soon as possible in exchange for paper that cannot be properly evaluated - because that would take time, which cannot be spared.

If time is a critical factor - which it appears to be - then if Congress doesn't get it voted on fast enough, the financial system could lock up.

If it is going to lock up, I'd say it would be within the next 14 calendar days.


Giving all control to Paulson:

From the proposal: (emp add)
The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States. ...

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
"mortgage-related assets" means derivatives, many which are completely worthless.

A hint of the money involved:
The Secretary’s authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time.
Sec. 10. Increase in Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.

Subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $11,315,000,000,000.
The "taxpayer" won't be footing this, at least not in the near term. It will be paid through an increase in the debt (which requires foreign purchases of U.S. bonds). In subsequent years, that increased debt will make it harder to pay for lots of programs (education, health care, energy programs, infrastructure, etc).

It's not just residential:
Mortgage-Related Assets.--The term “mortgage-related assets” means residential or commercial mortgages and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008.


Connecting the dots - ten years after the fact:

McCain noted the Illinois senator had taken large campaign contributions from both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and that the one-time head of Obama's vice presidential search team, Jim Johnson, had received a $21 million severance deal after stepping down as Fannie Mae CEO. McCain's campaign released a new television ad Friday hitting Obama for his connection to Johnson.
James A. Johnson left Fannie Mae in 1998.

Johnson did have problems with his tenure at Fannie Mae, but he had nothing to do with the housing/mortgage problems that got started after the deregulation push of 1999 (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act), subsequent changes (William Donaldson at SEC), and lax regulation (Greenspan).


Friday, September 19, 2008

Cry-baby Capitalism:

Is what we are witnessing. Also, I just heard Naomi Klein say that last year $33 billion was paid out in bonuses on Wall Street. Sweet.

Other fallout: This will end up straining the Federal budget, which means down the road, lots of things won't be funded (infrastructure, safety-net programs, education).


$1.2 trillion:
Bloomberg News ... reported that the government is considering establishing an $800 billion fund to purchase so-called failed assets and a separate $400 billion pool at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to insure investors in money-market funds.
Plus we've got a war that's costing about $2 trillion.

Insanity. Pure insanity.

RELATED: Barry Ritholtz:
... for the past 8 years, a conservative was in the White House, with a very conservative agenda. For something like 16 of the past 18 years, the conservative dominated GOP has controlled Congress. Those are the facts.

We now see that the grand experiment of deregulation has ended, and ended badly. The deregulation movement is now an historical footnote, just another interest group, and once in power they turned into socialists.
UPDATE: John Cole is totally correct:
... folks spent years making billions upon billions of dollars on risky transactions, more money on the stock of companies that was artificially high based on those transactions, more money bundling all those transactions into more transactions, and made a killing, and when it turns out the whole thing is a big pile of shit, you and I get the god damned bill.

I do not ever want to hear another damned word about the free market. I don’t want to hear another thing about letting the market regulate itself. I don’t want to hear about the free flow of capital. I don’t want to hear about government getting out of our lives.

None of it. From superfunds to super-bailouts, I am tired of other people getting rich being irresponsible and then being told I have to pay to clean it up.
  • No more bullshit about how we don't have enough money for Medicaid.
  • No more bullshit about no funds for unemployment insurance.
  • No more bullshit about not having enough money for safety-net programs.
  • No more bullshit about "my tax money" going to other (alleged-by-the-right-wing as less-worthy) causes or people.


Bush bullshit:

From his statement this Friday:
The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued new rules temporarily suspending the practice of short selling on the stocks of financial institutions. This is intended to prevent investors from intentionally driving down particular stocks for their own personal gain.
We can't have people making financial moves for their own personal gain, can we?


Hank Paulson's bullshit:

He really said this:
These illiquid assets* are clogging up our financial system, and undermining the strength of our otherwise sound financial institutions.
Cut out the unsound activities and what's left is "sound". What a joke.

* "lax lending practices earlier this decade led to irresponsible lending and irresponsible borrowing"


Thursday, September 18, 2008

I agree with everything Barry Ritholtz says:

SEC intends to temporarily ban short selling, but it's not clear if the commission has approved the move. Cox is briefing congressional leaders. Separately, the government is seeking congressional authority to buy distressed assets.
BR comments: (emp add)
This is the ultimate bailout attempt, which will have repercussions far far beyond our imaginations:
1) We suffer a loss of Market Integrity; The US is now a Banana Republic

2) Blatant market manipulation: this is nothing more than an attempt to force markets higher;

3) 60 days prior to a presidential election? This is a none-too-subtle attempt to influence the elections -- especially coming on top of the Fannie/Freddie bailout;

4) The coming pop will create a huge air pocket, ultimately leading to us crashing much lower;

5) Expect a huge increase in volatility -- upwards first, then down;


This man:

William H. Donaldson
Was SEC chair from 2003 - 2005.

From commentary and a story excerpt at The Big Picture:
As we learn this morning via Julie Satow of the NY Sun, special exemptions from the SEC are in large part responsible for the huge build up in financial sector leverage over the past 4 years -- as well as the massive current unwind

Satow interviews [a] former SEC director, and he spits out the blunt truth: The current excess leverage now unwinding was the result of a purposeful SEC exemption given to five firms. ...

Who were the five that received this special exemption? You won't be surprised to learn that they were Goldman, Merrill, Lehman, Bear Stearns, and Morgan Stanley. ...

Here's an excerpt from The Sun:
"The Securities and Exchange Commission can blame itself for the current crisis. That is the allegation being made by a former SEC official, Lee Pickard, who says a rule change in 2004 led to the failure of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and Merrill Lynch.

The SEC allowed five firms — the three that have collapsed plus Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — to more than double the leverage they were allowed to keep on their balance sheets and remove discounts that had been applied to the assets they had been required to keep to protect them from defaults.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just askin'

Doesn't the United States have an elected official at the very top, that in times of financial crisis gets out there to reassure the nation and oversee and coordinate rescue efforts.

Because that would really be helpful.

UPDATE: From Bush says he's working hard on economic turmoil
With the financial markets in turmoil, President Bush said Thursday that he shares Americans' concerns and the government will act aggressively to avert a deepening crisis. ...

Aiming to be reassuring and to show that he is working on the problem, he said the markets are adjusting to the "extraordinary measures" that have been taken in recent days by the federal government.

"The American people can be sure we will continue to act to strengthen and stabilize our financial markets and improve investor confidence," Bush said in two minutes of remarks delivered outside the Oval Office.

He did not specify what actions would be taken. ...

His remarks Thursday were his first since Monday. And he has spurned every attempt by reporters to ask questions about the developments, including again on Thursday. As he finished his very brief statement and turned to walk back into the Oval Office, a reporter asked if he believed the economy was still sound. The president kept walking.


Is this reassuring?

From McCain says government 'forced' to bail out AIG: (emp add)
Although he is stepping up criticism of government regulators as he seeks the presidency, McCain has long favored a reduction in corporate regulation. A similar free-market thinker, former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, who led the Senate Banking Committee in Congress, has been an adviser to the campaign. ...

Elaborating on the charge of corruption, McCain said that many Wall Street executives had claimed "everything's fine, not to worry" and that Congress and regulators had paid no attention. "All of them were asleep at the switch," he said, and went on to blame special interests and lobbyists as well.

Asked for specific examples of corruption regarding AIG, senior McCain campaign adviser Steve Schmidt offered none.

... when asked by ABC for examples of what he would do to deal with the current problems, McCain cited only the proposals he offered well before the crisis emerged — no tax increases, affordable health care and energy alternatives among them. ...

In the ABC interview, McCain called the financial crisis "one of the most severe crises in modern times," yet on Monday morning he had maintained his oft-stated position that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." ...

In two new television ads Wednesday, McCain asserts that he is the right leader to keep Americans' savings safe.
Forget policies, McCain doesn't have a good message on this issue.


Sarah Palin to visit the United Nations:

Apparently EPCOT was already booked this month.


Terrorists on Wall Street:

Terrorists are everywhere! How else to explain McCain when he says, regarding the credit crisis:
"We're going to need a '9/11 Commission' to find out what happened and what needs to be fixed."
Maybe the Republicans should have nominated Giuliani instead. He's the most 9/11-ish candidate out there.

Should there be a crisis in other areas, McCain will surely advocate a '9/11 Commission'. Health care costs out of control? That's because there are terrorists in the hospital (or in the billing unit of an insurance company). Let's create a '9/11 Commision' to investigate.

Bottom line: Fear. 9/11. Terrorists. Elect John McCain and he'll bomb Wall Street. That'll solve the problem.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The closer we get to election day, the more we will be reading stories about why America isn't ready to elect a black man as president.

In particular, this will become evident as polling in blue states show weak Obama leads, or even ties.


Dick Polman on the politics of the credit crisis:

Solid. Clear. Honest (Bill Clinton is held to account.) Worth reading.


McCain claims Wall Street problems are the result of "corruption": (bumped up)

Did you watch any of the three network morning shows this morning? Each had an interview with McCain where he said that the credit crunch is the result of "corruption". In the longest interview, on NBC's Today show, McCain used that word about a dozen times. (Will try to find transcript and post it later.)

It's not corruption. For the most part, the credit problem is the result of a decades-long trend of accepting risk and over-leveraging. Will the public buy McCain's "corruption" argument? Especially since much of the reckless credit expansion was the result of many Americans participating, either by being one of those sub-prime borrowers or a person that took out money from their homes to purchase, for example, an SUV.

McCain never directly addressed the issues present in the questions. All he had to say was that the American worker is great! Rah! Rah!

For those people who are concerned about their situation, McCain's performance must have seemed off-key.

(Biden was also on CBS and wasn't perfect, but got more into the details of the credit crisis than McCain.)

McCain said in an interview that he didn't want the government to bail out AIG. "But there are literally millions of people whose retirement, whose investment, whose insurance were at risk here," he said in an interview with "Good Morning America" on ABC. "They were going to have their lives destroyed because of the greed and excess and corruption."

Elaborating on the charge of corruption, McCain said that many Wall Street executives had claimed "everything's fine, not to worry" and that Congress and regulators had paid no attention. "All of them were asleep at the switch," he said, and went on to blame special interests and lobbyists as well.

Asked for specific examples of corruption regarding AIG, senior McCain campaign adviser Steve Schmidt offered none.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Glenn Beck bio:

From a Los Angeles radio station (where he'll be replaced by Laura Ingraham this week - so this link may be bad soon):
Glenn Beck made his radio debut at the age of 13 in Seattle. After graduating high school, Beck pursued his career as a Top 40 DJ at stations across the country.

But at the age of 30, Beck lost his passion for radio - and everything else - as he was consumed by alcoholism and drug addiction. Struggling to find answers to his problem, Beck pursued higher education. Though he was accepted by Yale as a theology major, he lasted only one semester, faced with a divorce from his first wife and separation from his two daughters and a now-struggling radio career.

Coming to terms with his past and staying sober shifted his life direction. He found a new love (his second wife, Tania), religion (he was baptized Mormon in 2000), and a new vision of his career - he would pursue talk radio.


This just in from Limbaugh:

Regarding today's market meltdown (and the problems with AIG, Merrill, Lehman, Washington Mutual, et al):
"The free market is not responsible for this. Capitalism is not responsible for this."


Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & ... gone!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

May you live in interesting times


Friday, September 12, 2008

James Carville want McCain to win:

He knows what he's doing here.

UPDATE: On The View, McCain made it clear he's aware of the ads (pace Carville) and that "they are not lies".


Commander-in-chief Sarah Palin:

Feel better now?


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Have we reached critical mass?

I get the feeling that some sort of revolt is about to happen.


I am John McCain and I approve this message:
The McCain campaign ... has now made it more difficult to pass future legislation to fight child molestation. It now takes just a bit more political courage to author, promote and vote for legislation that protects kids from sexual predators. Because of the McCain campaign, politicians will now think they need to more carefully measure the political costs of similar legislation, lest they get attacked in a similar way.


Sarah Palin is The Mule:


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The press may be turning:

Joe Klein (Sep 3 Swampland)
There is a tendency in the media to kick ourselves, cringe and withdraw, when we are criticized. But I hope my colleagues stand strong in this case: it is important for the public to know that Palin raised taxes as governor, supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, pursued pork-barrel projects as mayor, tried to ban books at the local library and thinks the war in Iraq is "a task from God."
Barbara Walters (Sep 4, The View) Read out passage (above) from Klein's blog post.

Roger Simon (Sep 4) Why the media should apologize.

Elizabeth Bumiller (Sep 5, the Tavis Smiley show) McCain camp is falsely accusing the media of bias.

Jay Carney (Sep 5, the Tavis Smiley show) "It should be called it what it is, a lie."

Jeanne Cummings (Sep 5, Washington Week in Review):
... I don't have any sympathy for [the McCain camp]. I don't think there is any grievance that matters. John McCain put this woman - and she accepted - in a position to become president of the United States in the next 60 days. We don't have enough time to mess around with this. We need to know a lot more about this woman. And it's our job to find out everything we can about her, so the voters can make an educated decision about whether they want her that close to the presidency. (Applause.)
Sebastian Mallaby (Sep 8, Washington Post) McCain's Convenient Untruth

Mark Halperin (Sep 9, AC360) Says McCain camp is being dishonest.

[I have audio of Walters on The View and Carney and Bumiller on Tavis Smiley and may post MP3s at a later time.)



I do not want to read about lipstick on a pig, on a pit bull, on a barracuda, or on any other animal this year.


Rank amateur:

Stupid people try to sell jets on EBAY.


This pretty much says it all:
Hand-picked interviewer. That would be "journalist" Charlie Gibson.

Palin is pure symbolism. Just to be looked at, not to be questioned in any serious manner.


100% propaganda:

To see a classic example, check out Bill Kristol's essay at the Weekly Standard. Bashes Obama, and even more, the press. It's laced with tons of fanciful passages. For example: (loaded words in bold)
The astounding (even to me, after all these years!) smugness and mean-spiritedness of so many in the media engendered not just interest in but sympathy for Palin. It allowed Palin to speak not just to conservatives but to the many Americans who are repulsed by the media's prurient interest in and adolescent snickering about her family. It allowed the McCain-Palin ticket to become the populist standard-bearer against an Obama-Media ticket that has disdain for Middle America.
Okay, that's just Bill Kristol being Bill Kristol in the magazine he edits. And he's a complete hack for the Republicahs. Fine. But why the hell is he an opinion columnist at the New York Times?



Josh Marshall is showing the kind of feistiness that I haven't seen since he went to bat to defend Social Security in early 2005.

That's probably due to two things:
  • The seriousness of the matter (Palin unqualified and right-wing, McCain in neocon land; the supine press).
  • That there is a good chance the Republicans may win.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Jeffrey Goldberg is insane:

He writes in the New York Times:
On Nov. 4, Remember 9/11

THE next president must do one thing, and one thing only, if he is to be judged a success: He must prevent Al Qaeda, or a Qaeda imitator, from gaining control of a nuclear device and detonating it in America. ...

Many proliferation experts I have spoken to judge the chance of such a detonation to be as high as 50 percent in the next 10 years. I am an optimist, so I put the chance at 10 percent to 20 percent. Only technical complications prevent Al Qaeda from executing a nuclear attack today. The hard part is acquiring fissile material; an easier part is the smuggling itself ...
This is nonsense.
  • Terrorists have yet to obtain chemical or biological weapons (something that should be easier).
  • No state is going to give bombs to terrorists, or allow them to steal one.
  • And what's this about "fissile material"? Even if some was obtained, nobody outside of a government lab would be able to make a bomb (besides the difficulty of configuring the weapon, specialized detonators and other items - like neutron reflectors - would be needed).
Goldberg takes a wild number (50% chance of detonation in 10 years) and then "optimistically" lowers it to a still-high ten percent. But the general situation vis-a-vis terrorists and nuclear states has existed for three decades at least. So why hasn't there been an explosion? Because of the reasons listed above.

How about this line from Goldberg?
Only technical complications prevent Al Qaeda from executing a nuclear attack today.
Only technical complications prevent Hugo Chavez from executing a nuclear attack today. Only technical complications prevent Somali pirates from executing a nuclear attack today. Only technical complications prevent the Tamil Tigers from executing a nuclear attack today.

Goldberg is hysterical and peddling raw unthinking fear.


Good news everybody!

The Large Hadron Collider is set to start operating Wednesday, and if we're lucky, it'll generate a small black hole that will suck the earth into oblivion.

Which means we won't have to worry about this miserable presidential campaign.



From TPM:
McCain Campaign: No Palin Interviews Until She's Treated With "Deference"

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told Fox News this morning that Sarah Palin won't be doing any media interviews "until the point in time when she'll be treated with respect and deference," and when Palin would be "comfortable" doing it.
1. respectful submission or yielding to the judgment, opinion, will, etc., of another.
2. respectful or courteous regard
Do you think Charlie Gibson can show respectful submission to Palin?



I love the smell of a non-government-supported stock market in the morning.


The deciding factor in this presidential election:

According to Dick Polman, it's racism and it's not being mentioned in the press. He's right.

Oddly enough, many big-name liberal blogs (Ezra K, K-Drum, Benen, Digby, Anon Lib, Kleiman, et al) haven't discussed it much either. Why?


Sunday, September 07, 2008


Billmon is blogging regularly at Kos.



Andrew Sullivan: (emp orig)
I also think it is simply insane that a person who could be president next January and is a total unknown to the world should somehow require being shielded from a press conference.


Joe Klein is not happy:

In a good way. Klein sees the economy as the concern of most Americans (and "liberals"). But there's always the opposite view, promoted today by George Will, that economic concerns don't matter much at all:
Unfortunately, the phrase "better off" is generally understood as a reference to your salary, your bank balance, your IRA and the like. But wait. Are you better off being four years older? That depends.

If you are young, since 2004 you might have found romance, had children, learned to fly-fish and become a Tampa Bay Rays fan. In which case you emphatically are better off ...

If you are [very old], in the past four years your expected remaining years of life have declined. But that does not mean you cannot be better off.

Suppose in those years you read "Middlemarch," rediscovered Fred Astaire's movies, took up fly-fishing, saw Chartres and acquired grandchildren.   ... are you not decidedly better off?
Lesson people of all ages:
If you've lost your job, are struggling to pay for healthcare, or your home is in or near foreclosure, take up fly-fishing!


They should ask McCain (and Palin!) about this:

2008 REPUBLICAN PLATFORM: (via The Big Picture)
"We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all..."
But they never will.


Where's Hillary?

Anonymous Liberal writes: (emp add)
John McCain's decision to pick a running mate who is virtually unknown to most Americas and members of the media provided the Obama campaign with a rare opportunity. It's very seldom in politics that you get the chance to define your opponent at the ground floor level. Right now, the public image of Sarah Palin is still very much in flux. Opinions of her, both among voters and members of the media, are not fully formed. They're just impressions that haven't yet hardened.

But it doesn't take long for impressions to harden and once they do, they're very hard to budge.
So why has Hillary Clinton been so quiet these last 10 days?


McCain on the housing crisis:

From Slate:
"Our financial market approach should include encouraging increased capital in financial institutions by removing regulatory, accounting, and tax impediments to raising capital."
You can raise a lot of capital if you allow for fraud or incompetence.

Much was raised already (though it's now likely to be lost), thanks to the existing lax regulatory environment. McCain wan't more of that.


John McCain is not a celebrity:

While campaigning in New Mexico, which is shaping up to be another competitive state, Palin and McCain staged their own Hollywood-like entrance at a rally.

After a rousing introduction by actor Robert Duvall, McCain and Palin made their entrance by bounding off a "Straight Talk Express" bus that drove straight into the rally's convention hall, underneath a giant America flag that was raised like a curtain.

As a delighted crowd screamed its approval, the rally was clouded by either exhaust or stage smoke.


Dunce Broder:

"The Dean" writes: (emp add)
McCain -- like the heroes of FDR's and Truman's time -- disdains partisanship and searches for the national interest, wherever he can find it.

[Obama] has yet to demonstrate, as McCain has, the backbone to challenge the prevailing interest groups in his own party. ...

[McCain and Obama] are products of the Senate, but congressional recalcitrance will test them as much as any new president. One would have to give McCain the edge on both his willingness and ability to confront the demands of a Democratic Congress.
[Taking those remarks in reverse order]

How about that? A Republican president is more likely than a Democratic president to confront a Democratic Congress. And that is supposed to "give the edge" to McCain on the change issue. Plus the notion that more change is accomplished through confrontation than skillful negotiation. Broder, old as he is, has completely forgotten how much real change (e.g. civil rights, Medicare) that Lyndon Johnson pushed through Congress when he was president, largely through compromise and deals - as opposed to pissing everybody off.

The other thing is that for Broder, challenging interest groups in a party is all that matters, regardless of the policy positions of those groups. Which makes it very clear that David Broder doesn't care about policy.

Actually, all Broder cares about is getting a Republican in the White House this election year.

Finally, it's good to see Broder claim that McCain is like FDR and Truman. Yet somehow Broder forgot to show how McCain is a modern-day Lincoln, Sergeant York, George Washington, Pope John XXIII, Shakespeare and Sir Issac Newton. That'll probably be in his next column.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Beg to differ:

Glenn Greenwald writes:
... Sarah Palin isn't Dan Quayle. She is extremely smart -- much smarter than the average media star who will eventually be interviewing her -- and she is very politically skilled as well. She didn't go from obscure small-town city council member to Governor to Vice Presidential nominee by accident.
I don't think she's extremely smart.

Palin may be aggressive and sure-of-herself, but she hasn't exhibited "smart". She may be, but there's no evidence of it so far.

Up until now, she's demonstrated the same level of smartness equivalent to a run of mill press flack (think Tucker Bounds). Greenwald is suggesting that's enough to run the gauntlet of "tough" interviewers like Charlie Gibson and Larry King. That maybe true and she may get away with it before November, but I think that the greater probability is that she will stumble and reveal a mental void when it comes to understanding the issues of the day.


Vocabulary lession:

"palin" means "incompetent" in the Inuit language.


Palin claims to be on a par with Jesus?

The parallels:
From the NYTimes:
[Palin] suggested her work as governor would be hampered “if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God.”
From The Gospel of Mark 6:1, 5, 6:
Jesus left that place and went back to his hometown, followed by his disciples.

He was not able to perform any miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a few sick people and healed them. He was greatly surprised, because the people did not have faith.


I suspect ...

that "Where is Sarah Palin?" will be about as effective as "Where is Bin Laden?" has been for the last seven years.



Friday, September 05, 2008

Early prediction:

Sure, anything can happen and several key events are in the future (debates, press encounters, economy/war news), but the way things stand today after both conventions, it looks like Obama will win pretty easily (5% margin nationwide, 50 point advantage in the EC).

Obama has problems due to racism in the electorate and his slim resume. But he and Biden look competent and vigorous. The Palin selection is a pure base-energizer (and her personal appeal may be overrated) and McCain is starting to look tired and old (and short, which may be unfair but still is a negative). The Repubican ticket is way unbalanced. Palin is too young. McCain doesn't seem to be able to "connect" with voters on kitchen table issues. There is no rapport between McCain and Palin - did you see them on the stage after McCain's speech?

Anyway, this is my prediction. And I say that as someone genuinely concerned about a tight race just five days ago. But things seem to have clarified, especially as to Palin's strength and McCain's political skills.


Hiding Sarah Palin:

Here's a suggestion from Marc Armbinder:
Does Palin Need to Give Interviews?
04 Sep 2008 10:54 am

What harm would befall the McCain campaign if Palin sat for one major television interivew with, say, a gentle but probing Diane Sawyer... and then an interview with her local paper in Alaska... and then gave no press avails and held no press conferences. The media would complain a lot. Would people care?
This morning on the Don Imus show, historian Michael Beschloss suggested something similar, that Palin should be interviewed on Fox News Channel and then stay away from any other press encounters.



McCain says:
... we'll help make up part of the difference in wages between their old job and a temporary, lower paid one, while they receive re-training that will help them find secure new employment at a decent wage ...
which is great, since there won't be any bureaucracy or complex formulas involved. Because as free-traders everywhere agree, it's extremely easy to measure the impact on job status (employment, wages, benefits) that comes from things like NAFTA. It's much better than being protectionist, which has the unhappy result of making labor more valuable as a resource, empowering unions, and all the trouble for workers that result (better pay, pensions).

Bravo, John McCain - and all the economic neo-libs out there! (Hi, Brad DeLong!)


"Feel good"

From Ted Rall:
Two of Palin's opponents in the 2006 Alaska governor's race were baffled at Palin's lack of substance. "She wouldn't have articulated one coherent policy and people would just be fawning all over her," Republican-Independent Andrew Halcro told The Times. "[Democratic candidate Tony Knowles] and I looked at each other and it was, like, this isn't about policy or Alaska issues, this is about people's most basic instincts: 'I like you, and you make me feel good.'"


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Just sayin'

I like community organizers, but I wouldn't want my daughter to marry one.


Not surprising:

At Businessweek we learn:
There are fresh signs that financial firms won't find it so easy to replenish the capital on their balance sheets. Merrill Lynch & Co. (MER) has hit a snag in its talks to sell a significant portion of its bad loans to Korea Asset Management Corp. due to disagreement over price, the Korean firm's CEO told Bloomberg News
How about that, trouble selling "bad loans" to someone else. What did they expect, big demand?


Where they came from:

There have been a number of commentaries about the kind of people who are living in Alaska. Some are there to escape the "corruption" of modern life, and are likely to be conservative.

One writer noted that while some Americans are uneasy about the Deep South (for political/cultural reasons), they currently don't hold much of an opinion about Alaska. But that that may change.

One reason is that Alaska is more religious and conservative - more southern in other words - than you might expect. There's a reason for that.

At one point, "libertarian Alaska" legalized marijuana. That was in 1975 (and it was a state Supreme Court decision, and generally approved by the citizens). But since then, there has been a move to recriminalize it.


Because Alaska has changed. After the pipeline was completed in 1977, the oil business loomed large in Alaska's economy. And it needed workers. And many of those workers came from Texas. (I know, because I spent nearly a month in Alaska in 1989 and talked to whole bunches of former Texans who moved up to follow the oil.)

Alaska became Texas-ified.


Palin speech topic distribution:

From the transcript, here is what happened in sequence: (word count)

Open and close statements 110
pro McCain 180
Palin family bio 494
governing experience 87
anti Obama 83
anti Washington 130
good government + servant's heart 49
governing experience 468
oil + energy 240
anti obama 429
pro McCain 709

Total words: 2917

Grouping them together, we get:

Open and close statements 110
pro McCain 889
Palin family bio 494
governing experience 555
anti Obama 512
anti Washington 130
good government + servant's heart 49
oil + energy 240




Paul Mirengoff at Power Line: (who generally liked Palin)
Giuliani may have come across as over-the-top at times ... and Palin as a bit nasty.
Also, on Bill Bennett's radio show this morning, conservative Mona Charen said that she thought Palin should cut back on the sarcasm.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

TV scheduling:

In Los Angeles, immediately following Sara Palin's acceptance speech, NBC broadcast America's Got Talent, featuring host Jerry Springer.

Seems appropriate.


Sarah Palin:

I don't think she wears well. The first impression is not bad, which is to be expected (somewhat) from a former beauty contest entry. But after a while, Palin shows a rigidity and hardness in her attitude, which diminishes whatever initial "friendliness" vibe accompanied her.

That's not to say she's not a hit with the Christian conservatives. She is. But for independents, she's less likely to be a magnet.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008


In Salon: (emp add)
If you ask McCain's team, the skepticism about Palin's experience is totally unwarranted. "She's more qualified than Obama," senior advisor Mark Salter told Salon, citing her 13 years in elected office (including her time on the Wasilla, Alaska, city council). "He has no business being president."
Why discuss policies or even have a debate, if that's how the McCain camp sees Obama?

Further, why isn't the press (and Democrats) jumping on this kind of nonsense?


Monday, September 01, 2008

Meme Watch II:

Y'all love that expression "thrown under the bus", right?

Seriously though, we're beginning to read it more in the blogs vis-a-vis Palin. Using a very crude metric, a Google Blog search (of Palin "under the bus") has a score of 5,800. It's likely to increase.


I guess it makes sense:

That Palin would reveal her daughter's pregnancy on Labor Day.


Is it too early to say "It's all over" ?

There are lots of things that may happen before the November election, but boy, there is a feeling out there that this Palin pick could be a disaster.

From Power Line (John Hinderaker): (emp add)
How big a deal is this story? Some people are irate; others seem to think it's just fine. I think it makes both Sarah Palin and John McCain look like idiots, but perhaps only for the moment. No doubt today's Oprah moment will pass, but I can't help being nostalgic for the days when you could tell the difference between politics and a soap opera.
And a comment to that post: (emp add)
Most people still know almost nothing about Palin, but they are making up their minds, and fast. It has been over three days now, and instead of seeing her as a serious candidate, on the trail or giving interviews, we hear about her teenage daughter. This lost time will not be easy to make up. Instead of getting a first impression of a serious candidate talking about the issues, the first impression people are getting of Palin is of a mother who has a lot to deal with… ...

Time is not on our side.


Recent news:

Brings new meaning to the expression "supports drilling".


I have a personal complaint:

This 2008 presidential campaign is too staid, too predictable. Nothing totally bizarre has happened yet.


In a nutshell:

The Palin's take the view that there should be nothing done to restrict pregnancy and bringing a baby to term. No prevention education. No termination, even at an early stage.

The consequences can often be a significant lifetime burden to both the mother and the child.


The McCain campaign should worry about this:

From a 2006 Eagle Forum candidate questionnaire (Q11):
Q. Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

Sarah Palin: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.
This is the first insight in to how informed Palin is on stuff. When she was first announced, the reaction was along the lines of, "well, maybe she's smart" (the glasses helped a lot with that perception).

But now it's clear that Palin probably doesn't know a whole lot when it comes to the contemporary dialogue in politics. What, for example, political magazines had she read prior to being Alaska's governor. The Weekly Standard? National Review? The New Republic? Unlikely it's any of those. Even as a Buchanan supporter in 2000, it's unlikely she reads the American Conservative. The only thing you can be sure of is that Palin subscribes to the American Rifleman.

Palin comes off as someone who, when she feels wonky, gets a copy of Parade magazine for the in-depth analysis of a particular topic.

If this early glimpse of Palin's knowledge is accurate, she won't fare well in interviews and press encounters.


Palin's appeal to Appalachia:

Is that she and her family are Appalachia - in so many ways.
  • Guns.
  • Pentecostal.
  • Carbon-based economy (coal/oil).
  • Creationism.
  • The sister's messy divorce, with an aura of violence. Family feuds.
  • Hunting for your food.
  • No sex ed; instead, faith in abstinence education.
  • The consequences of that.


Start counting:

Surprise number one.


The experience comparison:

Conservatives like to say that Palin has had more "executive experience" than Obama, or Biden, or even McCain. But that's not much of a metric. The president of the local chess club, by virtue of being in an executive position, outranks Senators on that score.

The relevant question, at a minimum, is:
Who, among the nominees, have been part of the national discussion during Bush's second term?
The Senators. Also Romney. And Ron Paul. All sorts of folks.

Palin, not so much.