Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday revisited:

From Wikipedia: (emp add)
In late November 2005, the New York Times reported that "The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked."
Hasn't just about everybody now moved to a high-speed Internet connection? Sure, back in, say, 2002, that made sense, but does that apply today?

Aren't people more likely to go online just about any other day than Monday? Either on Black Friday, or during the weekend, or within the month of December?


Sarah Palin's X-factor:

There's been a lot of talk these days about Palin and, in the wake of her book and her followers, how she might possibly run for president in 2012.

They all assume that, overall, the situation then will be pretty much like they are today. So her "campaign", such as it might be, would be about what to do post 2012.

But one development could change that. What if John McCain becomes seriously ill in the next couple of years? At that point, contemplating a McCain win in 2008, people will naturally wonder how Vice President Palin, now elevated to President Palin, would handle the problems of the day. She'd be forced to address issues in a manner unlike today's FaceBook postings. It could seriously affect her public profile.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

"we may need to pursue scientific truth with a different set of scientists than the ones we have now"

So says the Discovery Institute. Check out this critical analysis of their most recent missive (which was inspired by "climate-gate").


Shorter George Will:
We shouldn't legalize marijuana because it will result in more identity theft.
Or something like that.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Site notice:

Light blogging today as I plan to go out and max out all my credit cards* with purchases of whatever is on sale at every store I visit.

You should too.

* - And when the bills come, I'll do what Dubai World did: ask for a six month delay in repayment.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Think Progress reports:
Palin fuels presidential rumors: ‘I like’ the sound of ‘President Palin.’

Yesterday, Sarah Palin was greeted by a throng of supporters in The Villages, Florida — a retirement community northwest of Orlando. (Glenn Beck visited the same town this past weekend.) There were shouts of “We love you Sarah!” and “We want you to be president!” from the crowd. And Palin did plenty to stoke their hopes:
“I addressed her as ‘President Palin,’ ” said Debbie McMillan of Orlando. “She said, ‘I like that very much — I could live with that.’” […]
I think we have to take seriously the verb "love". Not in the casual sense, such as "I love it when traffic is light when I drive to work", but in its strongest form; an unthinking devotion to a person.

I'd go further and say that, for the most part, liberals and progressives are more inclined towards reason and less inclined to include strong emotions in their mental outlook. Speaking for myself, I disagreed strongly with Bush on many, many issues. But I never hated the guy. Maybe it's me and my circle of friends, but I rarely encountered hate towards Bush or the Republicans. Yes, there was disgust, and outrage, but that was about as far as it went.

I'd say that the conservatives and Republicans are more inclined to get emotionally worked up - to love or hate - than other people. They hate Obama; they love Palin. (They also love Jesus, which not all Christians do.)

Perhaps that explains why they are impervious to reason. Reason isn't part of their world view, so why should they bother with facts, scientific consensus, or Palin's illogical statements? They love her, and that's all that matters.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The most insane anti-health care missive yet:

From the Gun Owners of America: (emp add)
Of course, all this increased spending – and taxes – means that you will have less money to spend on pursuing your real passions: like providing for your family and purchasing guns and ammunition!

The mandates in the legislation will most likely dump your gun-related health data into a government database that was created in section 13001 of the stimulus bill. This includes any firearms-related information your doctor has gleaned... or any determination of PTSD, or something similar, that can preclude you from owning firearms.
Paragraph one could apply to any federal program, including the Iraq War. Where was the GOA back then? Also, if purchasing hobby supplies is at risk with the health care bill (it isn't), then you'd expect to see the same argument from the United States Chess Federation.

Paragraph two: "gun-related health data" How many patients are there where the doctor knows whether you have a gun or not? Not if someone has been injured by a firearm, but if the doctor knows that you own a firearm.

Totally nuts.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Palin logic:

Recently Sarah Palin said something along the lines of:
We should support ____________ because more and more ____________ in the days and weeks and months ahead.
The issue she was talking about was settlements in Israel, and Yglesias thinks it's an End Times kind of thinking. (The full quote is "More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead".)

But while it may be a component of her thinking, there is still this standout element:
"in the days and weeks ... ahead"
Days and weeks ahead? That's not Millennial thinking at all. It's casual-lazy thinking. Which is her signature.

Can you imagine the following discussion at Intel:
We should build a new billion-dollar facility to manufacture a higher-speed computer chip because more and more people will want a faster laptop in the days and weeks ahead.


Something to look forward to:

At TAPPED, Tim Fernholz writes:
Why Not Withdraw Ben Bernanke's Nominantion?

I was talking to a colleague the other day about the lack of Federal Reserve attention given to unemployment, and noted that now more than ever, President Barack Obama's decision to nominate Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke for another five-year term seems like a bad one. But all is not lost! Bernanke hasn't had confirmation hearings yet -- they will likely begin next week -- and he certainly hasn't passed a confirmation vote yet.
There's a lot of pent-up anger at the Fed for a variety of reasons and the confirmation hearings could get lively. Ben will be asked (again) about what happened in 2008 (BofA, AIG, Goldman Sachs) and also the various moves this year which, while they may have an ameliorative impact, can't continue and ending them could cause lots of problems (e.g. the 1 1/4 trillion purchase of MBS).


Ezra Klein calls out David "the Dean" Broder:

On a failure to understand the CBO report.

The interesting question is, will Broder defend himself on this point or ignore Klein completely?


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Microsoft moves forward:

In the news:
Microsoft Offers To Pay News Corp To "De-List" Itself From Google

Microsoft wants to pay News Corp and other large publishers to de-list their Web sites from Google's search index, the Financial Times reports.

The idea is to force Google to pay for content, thinning its currently fat margins.
What's next? Perhaps Microsoft will try and make the same kind of deal with, and


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Here it is!

The much awaited column by the "Dean" of the Washington press corp, David Broder, who trashes the health care bill.

Broder is concerned about the impact on the budget.

Nobody should be surprised that Broder cites the Concord Coalition (founded by Pete Peterson) and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (which has Pete Peterson on the board of directors).

To be fair, Broder reaches out beyond those two "nonpartisan sources" and cites "Republican budget experts such as former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin" who - hold your breath! - is also on the board of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Kudos to David Broder for giving a well-rounded survey of opinions on health care legislation. Take a bow, David!


Friday, November 20, 2009

You know your image is bad when ...

Stories like this pop up:
Goldman Sachs to take out garbage at Thanksgiving

NEW YORK – The Salvation Army plans to serve 10,000 free dinners across the city this Thanksgiving — meals planned by a star chef, cooked by one of New York's ritziest caterers and cleaned up by employees of one of Wall Street's most vilified financial firms.

The number of meals is 10 times as many as last year and come at a time when more and more Americans are struggling to put food on the table. (...)

Three hundred employees of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Wall Street's richest firm, have volunteered for the holiday feast and will be tasked with taking out the garbage. (...)

The investment bank is enjoying skyrocketing profits, with angry critics pointing to huge employee bonuses expected at year's end as evidence of the kind of greed that triggered the recession. A year ago, the firm received billions in federal bailout money. So far this year, it has set aside $16.7 billion for compensation — or about $530,000 per employee — and has set aside $23 billion for bonuses.


Sarah Palliteration:

From her book:
It took years for Alaska to achieve victory. As governor, I directed our attorney general to write an amicus brief in the case, and, thanks to Alaska's able attorneys arguing in front of the highest court in the land, in 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the people.
More please.

UPDATE: According to Wikipedia, alliteration is a literary or rhetorical stylistic device that consists in repeating the same consonant sound at the beginning of several words in close succession.

So, if it involves the letter "a", which is not a consonant, is it not alliteration?

Could it be assonance? (Assonance is refrain of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences.)


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hutchinson in 2012:

Mark Kleiman has a post where he writes:
Right now, there look to be four Republican Presidential candidates for 2012: Palin, Huckabee, Romney, and Pawlenty.
And he analyzes it from there.

But who else might be running in 2012? Consider Kay Bailey Hutchinson. She's running next year against an incumbent for governor of Texas. Why?

Her Senate seat is secure. What's the appeal of being governor? Well, until Obama, the CW was that governors are more likely to do well in presidential politics. Executive experience. A distinct track record (senators rarely get headline treatment for bills passed unless they are in leadership positions). The ability to run "against Washington D.C.".

From the Establishment Republican point of view, she would be a strong candidate. Not crazy-conservative, so moderates and independents aren't scared away. And a woman, which would be potent, especially in light of Hilary Clinton's recent run.

Keep an eye on Hutchinson. She may have presidential ambitions.


Does it matter that Palin resigned from office?

Not according to David Gregory:
It's extraordinary ...
I mean, she's extraordinary ...
I mean, all this year, it's as if [Palin's] like a senator or something.
I mean, she issues statements and posts things on Facebook as if she's an incumbent or if she's a candidate for something.


Microsoft, always looking out for your best interests:

Microsoft has issued a security advisory to acknowledge a crippling denial-of-service flaw affecting its newest operating systems — Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Exploit code for the vulnerability was released by researcher Laurent Gaffié after failed attempts to get Microsoft’s security response center to acknowledge that this was an issue that needs to be patched.

Following the publication of Gaffié’s exploit, Microsoft swiftly released Security Advisory 977544 with pre-patch mitigations and a confirmation that the “detailed” code could provide a roadmap for hackers to cause Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 systems to stop responding until manually restarted.
And you know the customer base is totally able to do this:
In the absence of a patch, Microsoft recommends that affected users block TCP ports 139 and 445 at the firewall. Windows users should also block all SMB communications to and from the Internet to help prevent attacks.
NEW SLOGAN: "Windows 7 with security vulnerabilities was my idea."


Bill Mahr is a horse's ass:

He's insane on vaccines (and "Western medicine", where Bill Frist is the sensible one.).


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The complete and utter decline in music:

Watched that hot new show, Glee. Guess what, the end had a chorus singing the song Lean on Me.

Wow! Fresh, and only 37 years old.

Kudos to the grunge and rap "artists" of the last two decades that eschewed melody, harmony, and rhythm.

After New Wave died out in the late 80's there was this huge void, which, only now, seems to be getting filled with real music.

Rap fans: Sorry, it's poetry/spoken-word. Yes, they threw in a back beat at some point, but it lacks harmonic texture.

Grunge fans: That stuff ages so fast. You still like Nirvana?

Finally, as long as I'm opining. What's the big deal about U2? Is it the lyrics? Or Bono's celebrity aura? It certainly isn't the music, which has virtually no character.


What's the problem?

Over at Calculated Risk, this post title:
One million Workers to Exhaust Unemployment Benefits in January
Yeah. So?

This country is way over-concerned with jobs. I mean, the big action, profits, and bonuses are taking place on Wall Street. So everything is okay.


Explain this:

Michael Gerson, writing about Eric Holder, says: (emp add)
"In the end, Holder made a decision memorable for its incoherence. He declared American military tribunals constitutional and appropriate for some terrorists -- then awarded Sept. 11 mastermind [Khalid Sheik] Mohammed a presumption of innocence and the full O.J. Simpson treatment."
What is "the full O.J. Simpson treatment"?

When one encounters a sentence like that, it's hard not to notice that Holder and O.J. Simpson are both African-American. Why did Gerson pick O. J. Simpson's trial as a metaphor for that of KSM? There are no obvious parallels.

UPDATE: Ruth Marcus (!) at the Post challenges the "O. J. Simpson treatment" claim:
Unlike O.J.'s, federal trials, for better or worse, aren't televised, and federal judges are no Lance Ito. Any experienced federal judge can prevent Mohammed from using the trial as a soapbox ...


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You can change public opinion:

This chart of poll results is striking:
Is the movement in the last 18 months the result of Murdoch/McCaughey?

Maybe not all of it, but a hefty portion.

Messaging works. Also, Obama should be faulted for being so passive in the wake of various lies and distortions peddled this year by opponents of a national health care program.


Blog post title at the Big Picture:

Special Inspector General: NY Fed Screwed Up AIG Bailout

Yes, the NY Fed would have done the right thing except they somehow "screwed up". I mean, how about that? Could have gone the other way, don't you know. But somehow the screw up just got in the room, funneled billions to Goldman Sachs and, well, nobody could have stopped it.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Palin surprises:

There has been a lot of talk about Palin's statement on evolution in her book:
she “didn’t believe in the theory that human beings — thinking, loving beings — originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea” or from “monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees.”
But elsewhere in her book she raised eyebrows with this assertion:
"I don't think we will ever see the Higgs boson. There are no known fundamental scalar particles in nature and it's a fool's errand to look for a 180 GeV/c2 mass particle. The Standard Model cult is desperate to have their work valid at energy scales all the way up to the Planck scale. Give me a break! It's not going to happen. The geeks at CERN and Fermilab are wasting their time."


Sunday, November 15, 2009

This looks interesting:
Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The decline of the dollar and decisions in the U.S. not to raise interest rates have caused “huge” speculation in foreign exchange trading and seriously affected global asset prices, said Liu Mingkang, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission.

“The continuous depreciation in the dollar, and the U.S. government’s indication, that in order to resume growth and maintain public confidence, it basically won’t raise interest rates for the coming 12 to 18 months, has led to massive dollar arbitrage speculation,” he told reporters in Beijing today at the International Finance Forum.

Liu said this has “seriously affected global asset prices, fuelled speculation in stock and property markets, and created new, real and insurmountable risks to the recovery of the global economy, especially emerging-market economies.”

His view echoes that of Donald Tsang, the chief executive of Hong Kong, who said the Federal Reserve’s policy of keeping interest rates near zero is fueling a wave of speculative capital that may cause the next global crisis.

“I’m scared and leaders should look out,” Tsang said in Singapore Nov. 13. “America is doing exactly what Japan did last time,” he said, adding that Japan’s zero interest rate policy contributed to the 1997 Asian financial crisis and U.S. mortgage meltdown.
The question is, what does "massive dollar arbitrage speculation" mean here? Massive as in, we're headed for catastrophe?


Friday, November 13, 2009

David Broder doesn't read his own paper:

Broder writes on the health care bill: (h/t Balloon Juice)
While House Democrats spent the week congratulating themselves for squeezing out the midnight passage of their version of health-care reform, neutral observers were reminding them: You've left the job half done.

One of them speaks with special authority: David Walker, the former head of the Government Accountability Office ... now president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation,

An analysis by the Lewin Group shows ...

A separate Lewin Group study ... shows ...
You already know about the Peterson Foundation. But what about the Lewin Group? Are they "neutral observers"?

From the Washington Post article on the Lewin Group:
Research Firm Cited by GOP Is Owned by Health Insurer

The political battle over health-care reform is waged largely with numbers, and few number-crunchers have shaped the debate as much as the Lewin Group, a consulting firm whose research has been widely cited by opponents of a public insurance option.

To Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, it is "the nonpartisan Lewin Group." To Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, it is an "independent research firm." To Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the pivotal Finance Committee, it is "well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country."

Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest insurers.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Reaction to Frederic Mishkin:

I consider Mishkin's remarks that "pure irrational exuberance bubbles" are no big deal, to be one of the most significant statements ever made by a (former) Fed Governor (see this post). Mishkin is clearly sending a Bernanke-approved signal about how they judge these things. The blithe acceptance of non-credit bubbles tells you all you need to know about where their priorities are: it's the banks and only the banks. Bubbles mean poor allocation of capital and when they eventually pop, a significant number of people are hurt very badly.

Below is a collection of blog posts in reaction to Mishkin. All are negative.
  • Naked Capitalism (I think this is the best of the lot) Excerpts:
    The Fed is clearly involved in a concerted program to reflate distressed assets (most notably housing) that has spilled into just about every type of investment (and a few that have not traditionally been investments, namely commodities).

    By definition, a bubble is a massive price distortion in certain types of assets. That is already not a good thing. If you believe in markets, you believe in the value of price mechanisms because they lead to efficient allocation of goods and services and help channel investment funds to productive uses. At a minimum, bubbles are bad because they suck capital into seriously suboptimal uses at the expense of better ones. So ANY defense of bubbles has to be regarded with considerable skepticism. Bubbles are bad even when they fall short of the standard of wrecking an economy, which appears to be the base line Mishkin is using in his FT piece.

    What is truly disconcerting about Mishkin’s remarks is that, even though he is no longer at the Fed, they probably represent conventional wisdom there. And that means the officialdom has gained perilous little insight from this disaster.
  • Henry Blodget (somebody who knows about bubbles; he was a cheerleader in the era)
  • Interest Rate Roundup (short and angry)
  • Financial Post / National Post
  • Jesse's Café Américain
  • Seeking Alpha
  • Agnes Crane at Reuters
  • The Big Picture
  • Market Talk
  • Credit Writedowns


Monday, November 09, 2009

Hey Rupert Murdoch!

Put this little file (robots.txt) on all your websites:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /
The world will be a much better place.


The Fed is comfortable blowing bubbles:
“The second category of bubble, what I call the “pure irrational exuberance bubble”, is far less dangerous

Because the second category of bubble does not present the same dangers … as a credit boom bubble, the case for tightening monetary policy to restrain a pure irrational exuberance bubble is much weaker. …

But if bubbles are a possibility now, does it look like they are of the dangerous, credit boom variety? At least in the US and Europe, the answer is clearly no.

Tightening monetary policy in the US or Europe to restrain a possible bubble makes no sense… At this critical juncture, the Fed must not take its eye off the ball by focusing on possible asset-price bubbles that are not of the dangerous, credit boom variety.”
So said Fed Governor Frederic Mishkin. (CORRECTION: former Fed Governor)


DOW up 500 points in 5 days:

Apparently a reaction, in part, to the Fed's suggestion it will hold rates down for a very long time.


Revoke Goldman Sachs' bank status; take back the through-AIG-payments:



Do ya like tariffs?

I do. I think, especially with imports from low-wage countries, they give labor the economic power to negotiate with business for a portion of productivity growth. Tariffs also help manufacturers (most notably in the 19th century from British competition).

In any event, Paul Krugman has a chart showing tariffs over the last two centuries. Worth a look.


Snapshot of the economy:

Nov. 9 -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s investment bank, survivors of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, are set to pay record bonuses this year.

The firms -- the three biggest banks to exit the Troubled Asset Relief Program -- will hand out $29.7 billion in bonuses, according to analysts’ estimates. That’s up 60 percent from last year and more than the previous high of $26.8 billion in 2007. The money, split among 119,000 employees, equals $250,400 each, almost five times the $50,303 median household income in the U.S. last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
What this illustrates is the growth of the financial sector in the United States over the last 30 years. It's become it's own economic island, divorced from manufacturing and the service sector, both of which are where real economic prosperity are generated.

As Kevin Drum and others have asked, what are these financial institutions doing that's so valuable? To a certain extent, they are raising money for businesses and providing hedge insurance, but the overwhelming amount of activity appears to be in outright speculating. That bet-the-trend works well when you have an accommodating Fed (the Greenspan years) and when you screw up, your back is covered as well (Bernanke shoveling money via AIG). So it's win-win for a bloated sector of the economy.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Patrick at speaks out:
[Joseph Cao] is the RINO traitor that voted for the Bill, that flies in the face of liberty. (...)

I will be totally honest with you. I am seriously starting to distrust those of eastern decent. I mean, first we had John Yoo, who gave President George W. Bush some very horrible advice during the war on terror, then we had Obama’s Energy Secretary telling us, that we should pay China back. I mean, I hate to say it, we have Michelle Malkin; who honestly, at times, be-clowns the Conservative movement with her writings. How do we not know that it is some sort of a plot to take over America? I am not saying that I totally believe that, but there are times, when I do really wonder about it. I mean, some of us have not forgotten about what happened on December 7, 1941 and what Truman did to end the war. How do we know that this is not some sort of revenge thing by the eastern bloc to get back at us for what happened? Is it a moral crime to wonder about these things? If so, Why? Why do we, as Americans, just automatically trust what is fed to us by the corrupt and tainted Main Street Media; and yes, that does include Fox News.

Racist? Meh… Please, that card is worn out. This is just someone who sees things for what they are; and this guy is a traitor to America and to the Conservative movement, not to mention the G.O.P.
  • Michelle Malkin should definitely be investgated to see if she's part of a plot to take over this country. Her pretending to be a conservative was quite the deception, but the mask is slipping.
  • The next Tea Party rally should alert citizens to hee "revenge by the eastern block" threat.
  • Is there a potential split - evidenced by this blog post - between Fox News and the Conservative movement?



If we are going to prevent anyone receiving a federal subsidy from buying a health insurance plan that covers abortions, why not also prevent anyone receiving federal unemployment benefits from from buying a health insurance plan that covers abortions?



About the House bill:

From McClatchy (via Yahoo), this summary:
WASHINGTON — These are some of the changes in the way health insurance would work in the United States if the House bill were to become law:

1. Creates a government-run plan, or "public option," to offer insurance coverage to compete with private sector insurance companies.

2. Sets up health insurance "exchanges," or marketplaces, where consumers can easily compare coverage and rates.

3. Requires nearly everyone to obtain health insurance coverage starting in 2013.

4. Ends blanket exemption for insurers from anti-trust laws.

5. Provides federal financial help for lower and middle income consumers so they can obtain coverage.

6. Bars insurers from denying or limiting coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

7. Bars insurers from imposing lifetime limits on coverage.

8. Expands Medicaid coverage to more people.

9. Imposes a 5.4 percent surcharge on adjusted gross incomes of more than $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for joint filers.

10. Imposes penalties on people and businesses who fail to comply with the new law.
If this gets signed into law, there would be a new bracket and rate for income tax of 40%

It seems that people earning $500,000 to, say, a few million, are not anywhere like those making tens or hundreds of millions per year. Why are they all lumped together?


Why the Stupak amendment was necessary:

We need it to protect the souls of the unborn. When the soul enters the fetus is still a matter of debate: is it upon conception or at the first quickening? But that's for the theologians to decide, not us, nor our representatives.


Is this a good summary of the House bill?

From a commenter at FDL:
36 million more people will be insured or become eligible for Medicaid
There will be a trillion dollars raised to help subsidize this.
There will be multiple measures to help control the costs of Medicare
We will stop subsidizing private insurers in Medicare Advantage
Closes the donut hole
Allows Medicare negotiation for drugs
Includes the seeds of a public option
Prohibits denials based on prior conditions; ends rescissions except for fraud
Funds more education for doctors/nurses
Begins dozens of health prevention programs, pilots, surveys
Creates entities to evaluate and recommend better treatment, cost saving
I did not know about closing the donut hole, ending Medicare Advantage subsidies, and allowing Medicare negotiation for drugs. BTW, Medicaid is no day at the beach; it's a bureaucratic maze for those in it. And there is the Stupak restriction which is a huge bring-down for many at FDL. On the whole, it looks substantial and if trends continue - with employers withdrawing health care - this could be the start of a near-nationalization of basic health care.

BooMan is conflicted, and comments:
The difficulty of passing this bill in the House has surprised me more than anything I've seen in Washington since the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I am usually the one counseling progressives about how unrealistic their expectations are considering how conservative the Senate is. Now I learn that the House is just as conservative. There is no way anyone could pass a single-payer system through this Congress, even if we won oodles of new seats. It just won't happen. It's not a matter of leadership. Why does the entire South oppose even this lukewarm reform?
but notes:
... the insurance reform elements of the bill are rock-solid ...
Also, he's pissed at Kucinich.

CODA: I haven't seen anybody mention Teddy Kennedy tonight.


Which Democrats voted for the Stupak amendment, then voted no on the overall health care bill?

From the roll call on the amendment and roll call of final passage:
  1. John Adler (NJ)
  2. Jason Altmire (PA)
  3. John Barrow (GA)
  4. John Boccieri (OH)
  5. Dan Boren (OK)
  6. Bobby Bright (AL)
  7. Ben Chandler (KY)
  8. Travis Childers (MS)
  9. Artur Davis (AL)
  10. Lincoln Davis (TN)
  11. Bart Gordon (TN)
  12. Parker Griffith (AL)
  13. Tim Holden (PA)
  14. Daniel Lipinski (IL)
  15. Jim Marshall (GA)
  16. Jim Matheson(UT)
  17. Mike McIntyre (NC)
  18. Charlie Melancon (LA)
  19. Collin Peterson (MN)
  20. Mike Ross (AR)
  21. Heath Shuler (NC)
  22. Ike Skelton (MO)
  23. John Tanner (TN)
  24. Gene Taylor (MS)
  25. Harry Teague (NM)


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Barry Ritholtz of the Big Picture pens a scathing post about Warren Buffet:

Triggered, in part, by the recent attempt by Goldman Sachs and Berkshire Hathaway to purchase tax credits from Fannie Mae.


This may explain why reporting the recession is lacking the gloom-and-doom tone of prevous recessions:

NYTimes: (emp add)
One of the more striking aspects of the Great Recession is that most of its impact has fallen on a relatively narrow group of workers. This is evident primarily in two ways.

First, the number of people who have experienced any unemployment is surprisingly low, given the severity of the recession. The pace of layoffs has increased, but the peak layoff rate this year was the same as it was during the 2001 recession, which was a fairly mild downturn. The main reason that the unemployment rate has soared is the hiring rate has plummeted.

So fewer workers than might be expected have lost their jobs. (...)

Second, wages have continued to rise for most people who still have jobs. The average hourly wage for rank-and-file workers, who make up about four-fifths of the work force, actually accelerated in October, according to the new report. (...)

Even though some companies have cut the pay of workers, the average hourly wage has still risen 1.5 to 2.5 percent over the last year (...)

In the other two severe recessions in recent decades, workers with jobs fared considerably worse. At the same point in the mid-1970s downturn, real weekly pay had fallen 7 percent; in the early 1980s recession, it had fallen 4 percent.

It is a strange combination: workers who still have a job are doing better than in other deep recessions, but the unemployment and underemployment have risen to their highest level since the Depression.


ABC's This Week has hit rock bottom:

The latest change in the format is to ditch the "Roundtable" and replace it with a "Powerhouse Roundtable" which takes up more of the hour at the expense of interviews with government and policy figures.

And who will be sitting at the Powerhouse Roundtable this Sunday?
  • George Will
  • Cokie Roberts
  • Sam Donaldson
  • Donna Brazile
  • Frank Luntz
Do you expect anything thoughtful or informative from this group?

Oh yeah, the Powerhouse Roundtable is preceded by interviews with Republican Chairman Michael Steele and Democratic Chairman Tim Kaine. Gee, what do you think they are going to say? Will Steele tout the Republican wins in New Jersey and Virginia? Will Kaine talk about the Dem win in NY-23? Tune in to find out.


Getting tired of this stupid "one year" business:

From this weekend's Meet the Press webpage: (emp add)
... one year after President Obama was elected to the White House, what has his administration accomplished and what more needs to be done? We look back and ahead at all the challenges this president has faced over the past year, including Afghanistan, the economy, health care reform and more. Insights and analysis from our political roundtable: David Brooks, E.J. Dionne, Rachel Maddow and Ed Gillespie.
Yeah, let's look at the challenges President Obama faced in December of 2008, shall we?


Friday, November 06, 2009

Anybody watch Friday's edition of ABC's World News?

It was 100% about the Fort Hood shooting. Nothing else was covered.

On a day when unemployment hit hew highs and other events had taken place in Congress and throughout the nation.

A comprehensive news program should have covered several stories, not just one. If there is a lot to say about the Fort Hood shooting, that should be part of a special later that night (say in the 20/20 or Nightline slot).


Good comment:

Over at TNR's The Plank, in response to a Chait post on Obama (and Ben Nelson), this comment by raylward:
When an entire political party disbelieves Keynes' theory (Nixon, it turns out, was wrong when he said "we are all Keynesians now"), many if not most members of the other political party don't understand the theory, the Democratic leadership let the legislative process regarding the stimulus legislation devolve into an excuse for public funding of the members' favorite pet projects, the public either has never heard of Keynes or believes the General Theory has something to do with evolution, and a tepid president focuses his attention and by extension the attention of the public on give aways to big banks and car companies, is it any wonder there was/is little enthusiasm for more public spending as a way to avoid a high unemployment, low output equilibrium, especially, early in the year, when unemployment wasn't particularly high ...
Repeat after me, "Ben Nelson doesn't believe in Keynes' General Theory".


Brad DeLong recants his allegiance to Greenspanism:


Well, give the DeLong credit, he owned up to it.

He's on the run now. The next step is for him to recant his allegiance to free trade with low-wage nations.

He has already done an about-face on how recessions impact management-labor power relations.

Re Greenspan: He wasn't wrong on everything, but his tolerance for bubbles was completely irresponsible.


Good news everybody!

Remember, unemployment is a lagging indicator.

Also, the increase in unemployment is taking place at a slower rate (so we're assured by NPR).

In any event, this confirms that the Fed will hold rates down for much longer, forcing a steep yield curve, which means big profits for banks. Even non-banks like Goldman Sachs that masquerades as a bank. Big bonuses as far as the eye can see.

Break out the champagne!


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bad optics:
To the list of hundreds of schools, hospitals, and community health centers that have received limited allocations of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, you can now add some of New York’s largest employers. In the past week or so 13 companies, including Citigroup (C) and Goldman Sachs (GS), have begun receiving small quantities of the vaccine, according to city health authorities.


This is an actual Bloomberg story headline:
BOE May Expand Bond Plan as Officials ‘Throw Money’ at Economy


Shorter David Broder:

In reviewing this week's election results, I shall quote:
  • A leader of the moderate-conservative "Blue Dogs" from Tennessee
  • Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander
  • Democratic pollster Peter Hart
  • Former Republican congressman Vin Weber


Wednesday, November 04, 2009




The Fed hopes that eventually there will be a turn-around:

From today's statement:
The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.
They kind of sugar-coat it with two of the three reasons for the low rate being inflation ("trends" and "expectations").

It's good for the banks, but there is nothing much the Fed can do in a post-credit-bust environment short of spending money (which it has via Quantitative Easing) but that option is about to run out.

So here we are, basically at zero percent. It's not a position of strength.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Vulgarush Limbaugh:

I heard this this morning and was stunned: (emp add)
LIMBAUGH: Scozzafava has screwed every RINO in the coun -- we can say that she's guilty of widespread bestiality. She has screwed every RINO in the country. Everyone can see just see how phony and dangerous they are.
The NFL must surely, by now, regret their exclusion of Limbaugh from team ownership.

UPDATE: You can watch Limbaugh's rant here.

UPDATE 2: Proudly transcribed at Limbaugh's website.


They do it for the money:

Over at Politico, there is an article, The pro-Fox Democrats, which is about Democrats that show up on the Fox "News" Channel. Here are some excerpts: (emp add)
Democratic pundit Bob Beckel has been under contract with Fox News for six years. And in the midst of the White House war against the cable network, some of his liberal friends think that’s six years too many.

“It sucks,” says Democratic direct-mail consultant Liz Chadderdon, a regular on the network. “It is very, very tough to be a Democrat on Fox.”   ...   So why does she keep doing it? For pretty much the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks. Fox is where the viewers are ...  
[Sutton said "That's where the money is"]

Susan Estrich is perhaps the most identifiable Democratic pundit on the network. She’s been on the payroll for more than a decade ...

Chadderdon is skeptical that her Fox hits do much to advance the progressive cause. But she says they’re good for business.
In the article there are cases where these Democrats have an unpleasant experience while on Fox, yet they keep coming back. While they defend themselves by saying Fox has higher ratings and "therefore" they can get the message out, their real function is to be a punching bag and to make Democrats look like idiots. E.g.
More recently, Chadderdon has been invited to talk business with Fox’s Neil Cavuto — on the main network and on the two-year-old Fox Business Network — even though she readily admits that she has no background in economics.

“Speaking about those issues is not my forte,” said Chadderdon. “And I’m getting the tar kicked out of me.”
Another data point in the Fox "News" isn't a news organization: bringing on someone obviously unqualified to discuss economics. But that's Fox. It's all scripted.

Re Chadderdon: she may be getting the tar kicked out, but she's also receiving checks from Rupert Murdoch, so she'll be okay.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

I do not see how this guy can be a senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University:

Jeffrey A. Miron on health care policy (via MY). Sorry, this is a lazy post so I won't go into details. But the guy posits all sorts of scenarios that are unrealistic. E.g.
  • If individuals pay more for health care then they will consume it in an efficient manner. In other words, individuals are able to properly diagnose their condition by themselves.
  • It's mostly the patient's fault for getting sick.
  • In a totally unregulated situation, nobody would be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, they would simply be able to pay an appropriate higher premium.
It's full bore Libertarianism (which is great if you are rich and healthy). But that's an ideology which ignores economic reality or how health care is needed and accessed. What's he doing at Harvard?