Saturday, March 22, 2008

Least favorite Jeremiah Wright quotes 

Jeebus, this controversial Jeremiah Wright fellow has baggage.

Rev. Wright is Obama's radical lunatic former pastor from the Trinity United Church in Chicago. I've combed his sermons and found some of his most incendiary quotes that the GOP will likely seize upon. Most folks will find Wright's words anti-American and extremist, but I think it's better to get them out in the open now, rather than later. Even when I agree with the general point that Wright is making, he is prone to saying/yelling his statements in a way that is way over-the-top, and which will probably scare off many white voters who were considering Obama.

Why oh why did Obama have to get mixed up with this freak? This is going to really hurt him in the general election. In the passages below you'll hear Wright sympathize with our enemies, and with rioters and black criminals. He is soft on autocrats like Castro, and critiques American "imperialism" and "arrogance" and "big oil" from a viewpoint that borders on the Marxist. He raises the "reparations" issue in a hopeless way, and continually links the war with "God's judgment".

Yikes. This isn't good. See for yourself:

1. "I am convinced that [this] is one of the most unjust wars that has ever been fought in the history of the world... The judgment of God is upon us today."

2. "A riot is the language of the unheard."

3. "It is incontestable and deplorable that [African Americans] have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society."

4. "The question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be."

5. "All of America's wealth today could not adequately compensate [African Americans] for [their] centuries of exploitation and humiliation."

6. "God didn't call American to do what she's doing in the world now. God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war... And we are criminals in that war. We have committed more war crimes almost than any other nation in the world and we won't stop because of our pride, our arrogance as a nation"

7. "We must ask the question, 'Why are there forty million poor people in America?' And when you... ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question you begin to question the capitalistic economy.

"We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that [radical] questions must be raised.....'Who owns the oil'...'Who owns the iron'...'Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?'

8. "A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years [will]... exploit them, and poor people generally, economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have to have foreign investments and everything else, and will have to use its military might to protect [those investments]. All of these problems are tied together"

9. [Note: this one's a doozy-- it's all from the same sermon]

"While [our enemies] both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States...
"Then came the buildup [to war], and I watched... and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like [this war] continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.
"I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the [inner cities] without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government.
[quoting Langston Hughes]:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me...

"What then can I say to Castro... as a faithful minister of [God]? Can I threaten [him] with death or must I not share with [him] my life?

"Our government... again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.
"So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water... They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas... So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters... soliciting for their mothers.
"We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps...
"Here is the true meaning and value of compassion... when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.
"Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin... the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late."


Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution

2-6. link

Where Do We Go From Here?

Beyond Vietnam

Update: Correction here.


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Friday, March 21, 2008

Shuck more, bitch less 

Rarely do CityBusiness articles arouse me.


The Louisiana Oyster Jubilee March 22 will feature chefs, restaurants and oyster aficionados in the French Quarter competing in the longest oyster po-boy and the oyster shuck ‘n run.
The events at the [New Orleans Musical Legends Park], 311 Bourbon St., run from 11 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Last year, it took 12 restaurants more than 300 feet of bread and 5,200 oysters to build the colossal po-boy.

“People were crawling out of the French Quarter’s woodwork to grab a free piece,” said Lucien Gunter, Acme Oyster House chief operating officer.

title reference: *, **, ***

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Left side of mouth, right side of mouth, doesn't matter. Paulson's amphibious. 

The WSJ's David Wessel writes:

No matter the merits or intellectual distinctions, it is nearly impossible for a politician to explain the following: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson were willing to risk as much as $30 billion of taxpayer money -- without congressional approval -- so that J.P. Morgan Chase could buy Bear Stearns cheap at an auction in which it was the sole bidder. But a taxpayer-backed rescue of homeowners whose mortgages are worth more than their homes is unwise and unwarranted.

It's hard to fashion the sound bite that deflects the inevitable question: Why a "bailout" for Wall Street, and none for homeowners?

True, dat.

Mr. Paulson is losing his argument that the government response, so far, is sufficient -- even with all the Fed has done, all Mr. Paulson has done to prod mortgage servicers to voluntarily modify loans and his successful pummeling of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reluctantly raise capital so they can buy more mortgages. Preventing housing prices from falling will prolong the agony, he says. "We need the correction."

Butt, butt, butt... you said... And NOW we "NEED" the correction?

6/20/07 Hank Paulson: "We have had a major housing correction in this country. I do believe we are at or near the bottom."

3/16/08 Fox News Sunday:

CHRIS WALLACE: I think the growing concern is that you, the president, keep saying, "We're all over this." And then a few months down the road, things are worse. And so they wonder are you out ahead of these things, or are you always behind the curve?

HANK PAULSON: Well, Chris, there's a question what — when there are excesses, excesses we've seen in the housing market, a correction there is inevitable. You're going to see a correction.

Can we outlaw the forces of gravity? You know, how much can government do? But this administration has been focused on this, I think very early involved — very early, beginning in August, working very hard to avoid foreclosures that are preventable, putting in place programs that are making a difference, are working.

Are they going to prevent the inevitable correction in housing prices? No. But we're working hard on that. And again, I think we were early with the stimulus package.


Update: YRHT 2005 pre-flood flashback. And what the hell, for full disclosure purposes, I might as well link to this YRHT housing bubble post from a year earlier in August 2004.

Update #2: Jim Rogers discusses the weak dollar, Hank Paulson and Bear Stearns executives' Maseratis. As head researcher (and co-founder) of the Quantum Fund throughout the 1970's, Rogers has seen this all before-- and profited. He expects a 20 year bull market in commodities.

"Poor Hank Paulson. He had a reasonable education, a reasonable good career, head of Goldman Sachs, now he goes around the world making a fool of himself."
Update #2:

I'm really, really liking the "socialism for the rich" meme. From the 3/21 NYT editorial:

The ongoing bailout of the financial system by the Federal Reserve underscores the extent to which financial barons socialize the costs of private bets gone bad.


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Outsourced to Timshel this weak week.


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Here's a cheery little historical chestnut I came across from a 1992 National Review piece:

A visitor to the family quarters of the White House remarked to me of his surprise at the American President whose picture figured most prominently in the photos that surrounded Mr. Bush in his most intimate settings. Asked to guess, I could not, and neither could any of my friends who have made the study of politics their vocation. The right guess came finally from a friend in mathematics, who always sees politics from an odd angle. He said: LBJ. The story made me recall that, when Mr. Nixon was inaugurated in January 1969, George Bush went to the airport to pay his respects to Lyndon Johnson. Later, when Mr. Bush ran for the Senate in Texas, he paid his respects again. The story will one day be filled in, and we will learn more about the ties that connected George Bush to Lyndon Johnson.

Previous YRHT musings that might be relevant in explaining this mystery can be found here and here.

For more, you can go down a conspiracy wormhole here, which shows a Dealey Plaza photo of a man with a striking resemblance to GHWB. And, as we know, Dick "that whole Bay of Pigs thing" Nixon was also in Dallas that day.

Ahh, such seemingly simpler times.

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There's a call at 3am... 

Hopefully McCain won't grab his morning banana by mistake, and start talking into it.

But seriously, the insidious "McCain is 'confused'" construction is getting a fair amount of play. And it's not the last time you will hear that meme, either.

Here's the headline at Ben Smith's Politico blog, "Obama: Confused McCain has no strategy":

In his speech in North Carolina today, Obama noted McCain's confusion yesterday between Sunni and Shiites, and said that McCain is focused on tactics to the exclusion of strategy. In his sharpest passage, he suggested that McCain's misunderstanding of the Middle East is why he supported the war in the first place — a sharp jab, though not really a serious contention:

"Just yesterday, we heard Sen. McCain confuse Sunni and Shiite, Iran and Al Qaeda. Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no Al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades."

NY Sun:

But while the McCain campaign is backing away from the specific claims about Iranian training of Al Qaeda, it is asserting that Iran collaborates with Osama bin Laden's organization.

Mr. McCain's national security adviser, Randy Scheunemann, told The New York Sun, "There is ample documentation that Iran has provided many different forms of support to Sunni extremists, including Al Qaeda as well as Shi'ia extremists in Iraq. It would require a willing suspension of disbelief to deny Iran supports Al Qaeda in Iraq."

Responding to Mr. Scheunemann's remarks, a senior foreign policy adviser to Senator Obama, Susan Rice, yesterday told the Sun, "It's very bizarre." She noted that Mr. McCain had "made the same statement three times in as many days. Surely he must know, as Senator Lieberman reminded him, that Iran is not engaged with Al Qaeda in Iraq. I don't know if he is confused, or is he cynically trying to conflate Al Qaeda and Iran as Cheney and Bush did Al Qaeda and Iraq in 2002 and 2003?"


Let me follow up on this McCain gaffe in which he got confused...

This is a much more devastating narrative than it might appear at first glance to non-politicos. Quite simply, the "McCain is confused" meme feeds into voters' fears that he is too old to be President. So every time he makes a gaffe, the "confused" description can be used by the Dems, and-- most importantly-- can be repeated over and over again with plausible deniability. Back in February, McCain charged Obama with being "confused". That hardly made a dent. But when the tables are turned, it becomes a very insidious and effective play.

For the record, I don't believe age is an issue for McCain. He's not too old, he's too wrong. The man's incredibly energetic on the campaign trail. Hoss is spry-- don't underestimate him, because he will out-work you!

Update: Michael imagines a negative ad along these lines.

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Obama's speech on "race".

Was it the most effective use of a donkey's jawbone since... Samson?*

I don't know if Obama slayed "heaps and heaps" of undecided voters with his words, but I was impressed with Henry's reaction at Crooked Timber:

Before the speech, if you’d asked me which candidate I’d support if I could vote, I’d have said Obama. After the speech, it’s quite different.

I’ve lived in the US for the last four years as a permanent resident, and been quite happy here. Hearing Obama speak made me feel for the first time that I genuinely want to become a citizen of this country and a part of the larger project that he talked about, regardless of specific disagreements I might have. You hear a lot of guff in politicians’ speeches about how great America is; Obama seemed to me to be challenging America to be great, which is a very different and much riskier thing, as well as something I find much more compelling and attractive.

As for the conservatives, their reaction was a mixed bag. Shockingly, Charles "Bell Curve" Murray wrote:

Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one? As far as I'm concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant—rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we're used to from our pols...

But sadly, there was also the sudden conservative "concern" for how Obama treated his [communist? salafist?] Grammie. Balloon Juice has a humorous compilation.

* probably not

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Towards a more perfect union of justice and confidence 

Not only is it Holy Week, but it's also March Madness in the Year of Our Lord 2008.

Have you filled out your basketball brackets, yet? Better hurry. Here's the schedule:

The black regional is set for Maundy Thursday evening.

The hispanic regional is on Tuesday and Good Friday.

The white regional is on Monday and Holy Saturday.

But the winning teams from each bracket don't advance, and don't play one another. It's kind of weird.


Wait.. what the... HUH?! Just what the heck are you talking about, oyster?

Christian Love and basketball, that's all.

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Mac's Iraq 

Apologies to Nicole Belle, but her compilation of quotes at Crooks and Liars is too good not to pass along (my highlights):


Sen. John McCain has done it again.

For the third time in two days, the Arizona Republican has pushed the definitively false statement that the terrorist group Al-Qaeda was getting assistance from Iran, even though he was publicly ridiculed for the same false assertion on Tuesday.

This time, in a statement from his campaign honoring the fifth year anniversary of the war, McCain wrote:

“Today in Iraq, America and our allies stand on the precipice of winning a major victory against radical Islamic extremism. The security gains over the past year have been dramatic and undeniable. Al Qaeda and Shia extremists — with support from external powers such as Iran — are on the run but not defeated.”

On Tuesday, the senator, appearing in Israel, made a nearly identical assertion that al-Qaeda was leaving Iraq to retool and regroup in Iran.

So what is it? Is Mr. “National Security Over Radical Extremists Trumps Everything” not smart enough to actually know what’s going on or is it a series of senior moments? Either way, it doesn’t reflect well on him. Max Bergmann doesn’t think it’s a gaffe:

Many in the media seem willing to dismiss McCain’s statement that Iran is training Al Qaeda as a simple slip of the tongue. This is wrong. McCain did NOT misspeak. If he had simply made the statement once, he could perhaps expect to be given a pass.

But he didn’t just say Iran was training Al Qaeda once. He said it in his initial statement (watch it here). He was then asked about it in a follow up question where he repeated it. It is not a simple slip of the tongue if when challenged on the “slip” you then REPEAT IT. [He also repeated it on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show]

That is not a gaffe. That is called believing something that isn’t true. It is called being confused. And being confused about the differences between Shia and Sunni when claiming that you should be elected president of the United States on your foreign policy knowledge and experience, is simply not okay.


When McCain makes a gross misstatement, Dems would do well not to ever say "senior moments", or allude to age at all. However, repeatedly characterizing McCain's false claims as him likely being "confused" is defensible, and within the bounds of bare-knuckled political brawling. Still, it's a pretty insidious play.

The media has been slow to cover McCain's foreign policy "confusions", but they will, eventually. (The later the better, actually.) And you can be sure McCain will make more blunders. And when he does, watch how lathered up the Goops get if a few Democratic talking heads start saying "McCain is confused", over and over.

Trust me, that will touch a nerve.

Suddenly the innocent "What, now we can't say Obama's middle name?" crowd will be very quick to find "ageist" subtexts in Democratic talking points.

Update: And again!

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Happy Birthday to... 

Clarence "Frogman" Henry (71)

Ursula Andress (72)

and... The War in Iraq (5, going on 100)


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Obama's "A more perfect union" speech 

Barack Obama delivered a very strong speech on "race" today, which he wrote by himself. I think it's revealing how various bloggers and pundits are pulling so many different quotes from the speech to highlight. Truly, there's a lot to like.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Permission to link granted... for now. 

Under blinding pressure from the "wahoos" of the nolablogosphere, the Gambit's Blog of New Orleans has revised section G of its terms of use policy.

Instead of saying "Without Gambit Communications’ express consent, you may not: (a) link to this Site", the terms of use now states:

Gambit Communications grants you permission to link to this Site but may revoke this permission at any time.

I would graciously accept the Gambit's "permission", but I'm too busy doing nimble ollies on my stickered skateboard, listening to the Voodoo Glow Skulls sing "Insubordination".

Lyrics here.


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Heat turns up on Vitty-cent 

Conservative Republican radio host Jeff Crouere and conservative Republican Chris Tidmore have renewed their calls on Vitter to resign. Seven years ago, Chris Tidmore broke the story about Vitter and Wendy Cortez, a French Quarter prostitute. When he confronted Vitter with the information, Vitter screamed "It's a Fucking Lie!"

The LA Dems are having another go of it, as well:

In light of the resignation of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Chris Whittington, Chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party called for the immediate resignation of Louisiana Senator David Vitter.

"The people of New York have been shown today that their leaders will be held accountable," Whittington said. "And yet, the people of Louisiana have waited seven months for the same kind of demonstration and all they have gotten is arrogant silence from Mr. Vitter and Governor Jindal, who despite all his big talk of reform, maintains his allegiance to the disgraced Senator whose sins mirror those of former Governor Spitzer.

"David Vitter is a stain on our state's attempt to demonstrate that we have changed our ways," Whittington said. "He is a disgrace and a disappointment. And now he is a walking example that Louisiana continues to lag behind other states when it comes to holding its leaders accountable.

Bayou Buzz's Steven Sabludowsky also has called for Vitter's resignation. In today's column, he writes: "There are distinct differences between the Spitzer and Vitter affairs. Spitzer was man enough to resign."

The Gambit Weekly writes:

For his part, Vitter tries to distinguish his sin from Spitzer's. Last week, when questioned about Spitzer's resignation and [Ouachita Citizen Sam] Hanna's call for Vitter's resignation, the senator told the Lafayette Independent, "Anybody who looks at the two cases will see that there is an enormous difference between the two of them. The people that are trying to draw comparisons to the two cases are people who've never agreed with me on important issues like immigration and other things."

That "response" underscores why Vitter is of no use to Louisiana in the U.S. Senate. He completely ignored the question, and then he raised the unrelated issue of immigration in a lame attempt to dodge the real issue. If this is the best he can do, he can do Louisiana no good whatsoever in the Senate. Since the scandal broke, he has made almost no public appearances in Louisiana — depriving his constituents of important opportunities to meet with their senator — and he has gone to great lengths to hide from the press. Meanwhile, he pretends to be hard at work for Louisiana, but most of his "work" involves sending out news releases taking credit for successes that many had a hand in achieving.

To be fair, Vitter has been a credit-monger longer than he's been a whoremonger. His penchant for taking credit for things-- there's no "I" in team, but there is an "I" in "Vitter"-- is not a new tactic or defense mechanism. That's just Vitty being Vitty.

The national blogs have picked up the Independent Weekly story, via the T-P, (which was first blogged about at YRHT-- 5 days ago-- thanks again for the tip, Ricky). From memeorandum we find the following links:

Sadly, No!, Wonkette, Political Machine, Daily Kos, Matthew Yglesias

And Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington reminds everyone about the ethics Complaint that they filed with the Senate back in July.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

CP3 for MVP 

One of my favorite things in professional sports is watching a small point guard completely take over a basketball game and single-handedly lead his team to victory. I still get chills when I recall watching Isiah Thomas or Kevin Johnson* slice through taller opponents during crunch time, and find the open man beneath the basket, or make impossible shots over the outstretched arms of bigger defenders. It just seems more exciting when the small guys dominate.

Anyway, that's what happened tonight in New Orleans Arena. With about six and a half minutes left in the game, and the Hornets down seven, Chris Paul took over the game-- making daring drives, circus shots, sick passes, timely steals, clutch three pointers... It was a superstar 4th quarter performance. Paul finished the game with 37 pts (on 15/21 shooting), 13 assists, 3 steals.

No joke. Chris Paul-- 22 years old, 6'0"-- deserves serious MVP consideration.

Yes, I'll throw Imajayhawk a bone and note that there were three Kansas players on the court tonight. For the Bulls: Kirk "fundamentals" Hinrich, and Drew "shave that stupid Amish-looking beard" Gooden. For the Hornets: Julian "one day soon I'll realize my scary potential" Wright. Good luck in the 08 brackets, Jayhawks. You have a complete team. My (slumping) Hoosiers, on the other hand, are in trouble.

* granted, K.J. did it less often than Isiah.


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The price of green beer is eternal vigilance 

Drive By Blogger posted this alarming video, which I'll also share:

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Has Larry Kudlow suffered a relapse? 

Seriously. Kudlow is known to say kooky shite, like touting the "Bush Boom" as the "greatest story never told" for the past thousand days or so... but his latest post at the Corner is beyond daffy. CNBC should administer a drug test to see if Kudlow's back on coke.

Some selections:

Paulson and Bernanke have done exactly the right thing. It was a run on the bank. The Fed stopped it right there. No banking crisis.

No crisis?!?! Well, if you say so, Larry.

The big Wall Street banks are in good shape, even with earnings losses they're still well capitalized, profitable and solvent. Fed stopped it from spreading on Friday; JPMorgan takes them over tomorrow.

The Fed cut the discount rate today by a quarter point. It will reduce target the fed-funds rate on Tuesday. The banking system will function fine. That's the key.

I guess Lehman Bros can breathe a big sigh of relief with this declaration.

Paulson was good on the talkies today, emphasizing confidence in the banking system. He's a capable guy who is working the phones and is in touch with everyone This is how to stop a crisis.

I'm sure the economic historians will look back and marvel at how "everyone" was soothed by the "capable" Paulson. They'll be falling all over themselves to bet their "bottom" dollars on Paulson's credibility.

But the administration should be pushing for a strong dollar. That would help.

First of all, Bush has been "pushing" for a strong dollar. In a recent WSJ interview, he made himself clear:

Q: You mentioned that one of the reasons that’s driving up the price of oil is the dollar. You have said that you are for a strong dollar. Do we have a strong dollar now?

Bush: We have a dollar that’s adjusting, and I am for a strong dollar. One reason I am for a strong dollar is because I want, you know, people to — I think it helps deal with inflation....

Q: But the dollar is down against the euro, something like 45%, over the last six years. And today it hit a new low against the euro.

Bush: No, I know. And it’s not — those aren’t good tidings, if you’re for a strong dollar like I am....

See? Case closed. He's for it. And second of all, at this point, a strong dollar wouldn't necessarily "help".

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is the phrase "casino capitalism" an insult to casinos? 

Just asking.


Pretty wild stuff -- $200 Billion in Fed lending against junk paper, to bail out one mid-size investment bank.
Ain't Socialism grand?

In response to the recent news that "The Fed has agreed to fund up to $30 billion of Bear Stearns’ less liquid assets", Atrios writes "Capitalism rawks!".

Ritholtz notes: "This was not a bailout of any sort. What the NY Fed did was allow for an orderly liquidation. The Fed is providing the liquidity for JPM's Bear unwind, guaranteeing a good chunk of the debt."

Remember: "Capitalism without financial failure is not capitalism at all, but a kind of socialism for the rich."

Here are some quotes from an article in the WSJ weekend edition titled "Debt Reckoning: the U.S. receives a margin call".

The unfolding financial crisis -- one that began with bad bets on securities backed by subprime mortgages, then sparked a tightening of credit between big banks -- appears to be broadening further.
Recent days' cascade of bad news, culminating in yesterday's bailout of Bear Stearns Cos., is accelerating the erosion of trust in the longevity of some brand-name U.S. financial institutions. The growing crisis of confidence now extends to the credit-worthiness of borrowers across the spectrum -- touching American homeowners, who are seeing the value of their bedrock asset decline, and raising questions about the capacity of the Federal Reserve and U.S. government to rapidly repair the problems.
Hopes are fading fast that the U.S. economy was suffering from a thirst for liquidity that standard Fed remedies could quench. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, speaking in Washington yesterday, said he sees "an increasing risk that the principal policy tool on which we have relied -- the Federal Reserve lending to banks in one form or another" -- is like "fighting a virus with antibiotics."
President Bush, speaking in New York and in a television interview yesterday, showed little appetite for further action.

HA! Yeah, right! That's why Bush is going to meet with his Plunge Protection Team to prop up the markets tomorrow, and that's why the Fed guaranteed the Bear Stearns shitpile that JP Morgan helped "liquidate" at $2 dollars/share. Little appetite, my ass. This recession will thoroughly discredit Bushonomics, and will lead to a Democratic successor in the White House. Do you think he's not going to throw the kitchen sink at this thing, trying to somehow postpone the pain by bailing out Wall Street with easy, weak-ass dollars?

The response of the Republican White House, Democratic Congress and Federal Reserve have been substantial. President Bush and Congress, with remarkable speed, agreed to a $160 billion fiscal-stimulus package that will put money in consumers' wallets soon. The Fed already has cut interest rates by 1 1/4 percentage points this year, and markets anticipate another 3/4 point cut on Tuesday. The Fed has moved to buy $400 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities for its $800 billion total securities portfolio in an effort to jolt that crucial market back to life and prevent rising mortgage rates from further depressing the U.S. housing market.

While there is continued debate about how to treat the current disease, there is a consensus emerging on the causes. "Soaring delinquencies on U.S. subprime mortgages were the primary trigger," the heads of the Treasury, Federal Reserve and Securities and Exchange Commission said in a lessons-learned report. "However, that initial shock both uncovered and exacerbated other weaknesses in the global financial system."
The resulting blow to confidence threatens to further weaken lending, borrowing, spending and investment in the U.S. economy. "Hedge fund blowups have so far been one-off situations. One worry is that we'll cross some line and there'll be a systemic wave of fund failures. It's a reason why the market is so nervous," says John Tierney, credit derivatives strategist at Deutsche Bank.

Hank is there to provide "zero credibility when it's most needed".

Kunstler's quip from March 10 applies now more than ever: "A whole flock of black swans is flying in front of the sun. Don't expect to work on your tan this month."

Update: Thanks to the intrepid Athenae at First Draft for pointing me to a beautiful N. Roubini quote that I'd like to highlight, as well:

So the question is: if Bear Stearns screwed up big time - as it did - with huge leverage, reckless investments, lousy risk management and massive underestimation of liquidity risk why should the US taxpayer bail out this firm and its shareholders?
Unless public money is used on a very temporary basis to achieve an orderly wind-down or merger of Bear Stearns this is another case where profits are privatized and losses are socialized. By having thrown down the drain the decades old doctrine and rule that the Fed should not lend or bail out non-bank financial institutions the Fed has created an extremely dangerous precedent that seriously aggravates the moral hazard of its lender of last resort support role. If the Fed starts on the slippery slope of providing massive liquidity support to non-bank financial institutions that have recklessly managed their risks it enters into uncharted territory that radically changes its mandate and formal role. Breaking decades-old rules and practices is a radical action that seriously requires a clear public explanation and justification.

There was no public discussion or debate about this radical maneuver. The Fed is going to use all it's "ammo" in order to slow down and postpone the inevitable "reckoning". It probably won't work, but "socializing" the big boys' losses by saddling the American taxpayer with more debt, inflation, and a weaker dollar is a risk Bernanke and the Bushies are willing to take. They're willing to courageously risk our money when their legacies are on the line.

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Yaay, We're number two! 

Three years ago, I wrote:

What a sad f*cking day indeed if/when American troops return home from some costly, godforsaken overseas misadventure to find their homeland is no longer the #1 economy in the world.

Well, Mission Accomplished.

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Simple answers to simple questions 

The WSJ's Jeff Opdyke writes:

One of the joys of returning to Baton Rouge after 15 years away was the idea that I could instill in my son, 8 years old when we moved, my love of LSU athletics. My plan was to rekindle for my family the Saturday tradition I have known since I was a small kid.
Amy rarely attends games. And my son isn't interested in carousing with 92,000 of his closest friends. He has been to maybe three games in four years. That leaves me often alone in our seats, or sitting with my mother-in-law or random strangers who buy the other two tickets.

... while Saturday night in Tiger Stadium remains important to me, it has lost its luster, mainly because I don't have my son sitting next to me enjoying the same traditions I once adored as a kid.

Is it wrong for parents to expect their children to relish the same experiences that we once enjoyed as kids? Or should we accept that the apple often falls a lot farther from the tree than we'd like?

Yes, and yes.

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.


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Degenerate Matter phones Vitty-cent's office 

Degenerate Matter tries to get answers from Vitty-cent's staffers about the "enormous difference" between Vitter and Spitzer's affairs.

Young Jean-Paul Perrier, the lowly Vitter staffer charged with the thankless task of answering the phones, was a bit overwhelmed. During our conversation, he had to repeatedly put me on hold while other calls came in. “A lot of people have been calling about this,” he admitted.

Perrier admitted that the “illegal activities were similar” and suggested that the amount of money paid might be one difference.


Perrier suggested that the ongoing rebuilding in Louisiana was a far more important issue, and tried to steer the conversation towards Mr. Vitter’s “leadership” on such issues. But when I asked how anyone could take Mr. Vitter seriously as a leader when he hadn’t demonstrated any leadership in addressing his dalliances, Perrier had no substantive answer.

Read the whole thing. It's reprinted at DownWithTyranny!

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"You're doing it wrong" 


Baton Rouge lawyer Chris Whittington, who has served as chairman of the state Democratic Party for more than two years, was elected to a full four-year term Saturday, defeating a major rival who had the backing of some of the party's biggest names.

Whittington, who faced four opponents, was forced into a runoff by Vacherie lawyer Paul Aucoin, who had the support of Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon.

Why is Whittington so underwhelming? Well, here's a long explanation in written form.

And here's a humorous video explanation that is surprisingly applicable, as well:

Hat Tip to the Candyman


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