Saturday, August 11, 2007

Praying for Terror

Bykofsky: "Thank you, may we have another?"

If we let the GOP get away with sick, sadistic rhetorical crap like this then maybe we don't deserve any better. In fact, I wonder how many wingnuts, if given the opportunity, would go back and PREVENT 9/11.

You could almost certainly count them on one hand. And no, Rudy Giuliani wouldn't be on the list.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Beg to Differ, Mr. Mayor, But...

Brand names aside, there really IS such a thing as bad publicity...just sayin'.

Hiding the city's problems isn't the solution...but neither is glorifying them. New Orleans is precious and priceless in spite of its well known drawbacks, not because of them.
Scott Beauchamp LOVES Big Brother

OF COURSE he does...and only a fool or a communist would think otherwise.

Hey, sugar ration's been increased...doubleplusgood.
Either Way, It's Still Empty Calories

Mark Zandi spins the mortgage meltdown:

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's, had been loath to call it a "credit crunch." Instead, he called it a "liquidity squeeze," that had spread to corporate bond and other financial markets. The difference: In a crunch, nobody can get a loan; in a squeeze, only the riskier borrowers are cut out.

"I think it's still a liquidity squeeze," Zandi now says, "but it has elements of a credit crunch, affecting much of the mortgage market."

OK, so Mark's still learning the spin thing--a true neo-con would say everything's roses, and blame "the Democrat party" [sic] for "wanting to see mortgage brokers lose and Al Qaeda win." Still, as weird as "Liquidity squeeze" and "credit crunch" sound," I guess they're better than the alternative metaphor provided by Peter Schiff:

Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital Inc. and author of "Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse," has said the problem goes way beyond subprime.

"It's a mortgage problem," he said. "Subprime is like a little leak where the underlying problem is the integrity of the dam itself. Most of the mortgages taken out during the past few years will fail."

I don't think folks around here need to be reminded of dam/levee integrity issues, Peter.'s Krugman's take:

August 10, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Very Scary Things
In September 1998, the collapse of Long Term Capital Management, a giant hedge fund, led to a meltdown in the financial markets similar, in some ways, to what's happening now. During the crisis in '98, I attended a closed-door briefing given by a senior Federal Reserve official, who laid out the grim state of the markets. "What can we do about it?" asked one participant. "Pray," replied the Fed official.

Our prayers were answered. The Fed coordinated a rescue for L.T.C.M., while Robert Rubin, the Treasury secretary at the time, and Alan Greenspan, who was the Fed chairman, assured investors that everything would be all right. And the panic subsided.

Yesterday, President Bush, showing off his M.B.A. vocabulary, similarly tried to reassure the markets. But Mr. Bush is, let’s say, a bit lacking in credibility. On the other hand, it’s not clear that anyone could do the trick: right now we’re suffering from a serious shortage of saviors. And that’s too bad, because we might need one.

What’s been happening in financial markets over the past few days is something that truly scares monetary economists: liquidity has dried up. That is, markets in stuff that is normally traded all the time -- in particular, financial instruments backed by home mortgages -- have shut down because there are no buyers.

This could turn out to be nothing more than a brief scare. At worst, however, it could cause a chain reaction of debt defaults.

The origins of the current crunch lie in the financial follies of the last few years, which in retrospect were as irrational as the dot-com mania. The housing bubble was only part of it; across the board, people began acting as if risk had disappeared.

Everyone knows now about the explosion in subprime loans, which allowed people without the usual financial qualifications to buy houses, and the eagerness with which investors bought securities backed by these loans. But investors also snapped up high-yield corporate debt, a k a junk bonds, driving the spread between junk bond yields and U.S. Treasuries down to record lows.

Then reality hit -- not all at once, but in a series of blows. First, the housing bubble popped. Then subprime melted down. Then there was a surge in investor nervousness about junk bonds: two months ago the yield on corporate bonds rated B was only 2.45 percent higher than that on government bonds; now the spread is well over 4 percent.

Investors were rattled recently when the subprime meltdown caused the collapse of two hedge funds operated by Bear Stearns, the investment bank. Since then, markets have been manic-depressive, with triple-digit gains or losses in the Dow Jones industrial average -- the rule rather than the exception for the past two weeks.

But yesterday’s announcement by BNP Paribas, a large French bank, that it was suspending the operations of three of its own funds was, if anything, the most ominous news yet. The suspension was necessary, the bank said, because of “the complete evaporation of liquidity in certain market segments” -- that is, there are no buyers.

When liquidity dries up, as I said, it can produce a chain reaction of defaults. Financial institution A can’t sell its mortgage-backed securities, so it can’t raise enough cash to make the payment it owes to institution B, which then doesn’t have the cash to pay institution C -- and those who do have cash sit on it, because they don’t trust anyone else to repay a loan, which makes things even worse.

And here’s the truly scary thing about liquidity crises: it’s very hard for policy makers to do anything about them.

The Fed normally responds to economic problems by cutting interest rates -- and as of yesterday morning the futures markets put the probability of a rate cut by the Fed before the end of next month at almost 100 percent. It can also lend money to banks that are short of cash: yesterday the European Central Bank, the Fed’s trans-Atlantic counterpart, lent banks $130 billion, saying that it would provide unlimited cash if necessary, and the Fed pumped in $24 billion.

But when liquidity dries up, the normal tools of policy lose much of their effectiveness. Reducing the cost of money doesn’t do much for borrowers if nobody is willing to make loans. Ensuring that banks have plenty of cash doesn’t do much if the cash stays in the banks’ vaults.

There are other, more exotic things the Fed and, more important, the executive branch of the U.S. government could do to contain the crisis if the standard policies don’t work. But for a variety of reasons, not least the current administration’s record of incompetence, we’d really rather not go there.

Let’s hope, then, that this crisis blows over as quickly as that of 1998. But I wouldn’t count on it.

Another metapost--I can't claim credit for the title, but had some fun coming up with an illustration.

I swear, Bush makes Dan Quayle seem like a goddamned genius...
Giuliani: "I Was THERE"

Of course you were, Rudy.

"Thank God George Bush is our President."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Aiding and Abetting

Well, well, good old Bobby Jindal--teaching insurance companies how to bilk their customers. Why am I not surprised?

It's just Rethuglican family values.
You're Either With Us, or...It's Nuanced

Roadside bombings in Iraq reached an "all-time high last month," while a separate grim category--suicide bombings--have not only surpassed the global total "since the 1980's," but also provide a VERY sobering and damning indictment of the Team Bush/Wingnut position.

The largest contingent of suicide bombers are, as the graphic above notes, Saudi Arabian. As in King Abdullah's Saudi Arabia

OK, I indulged in a bit creative editing, but it's actually not difficult at all to find LOTS of photos featuring Abdullah, Shrub, and Dick in similar pose. Kinda puts the whole GWOT in perspective, don't it?
Watching a Bush Press Conference is Like...

...looking for something in the junk room from hell.

You're not going to find whatever it is, or even stumble across anything remotely interesting, but you ARE likely to be disgusted, and in need of a shower once you abandon the search.

Raving lunatics at a bus stop are capable of more logical trains of thought. And Shrubusto's innate sense of imperial privilege--along with his serial lying (next time, watch how he shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head whenever he lurches away from basic facts)--come through clear as a bell.

And yer media? Here's their latest "hard-hitting, adversarial analysis." Makes tripe look like filet mignon.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I swear, Shrub's worse than a trust fund baby who just found out where mommy and daddy keep all the high end credit cards.

Oh, and guess who's financing it all. Enjoy the debt peonage.
In Iraq, Surge=Sag

There's a lot worth reading in this Patrick Cockburn column, but if I was forced to choose just a couple of paragraphs to pass along...

A weakness of the US position in Iraq is that it has always exaggerated its own strength and underestimated that of its opponents. Outside Kurdistan, it has no dependable allies. Among Iraqi Arabs, both Shia and Sunni, the occupation is unpopular. A US military study recently examined the weapons used by guerrillas to kill American soldiers, and reached the unsettling conclusion that the most effective were high-quality American weapons supplied to the Iraqi army by the US, which were passed on or sold to insurgents.

US commanders are often cheery believers in their own propaganda, even as the ground is giving way beneath their feet. In Baquba, a provincial capital north-east of Baghdad, US and Iraqi army commanders praised their own achievements at a press conference held over a video link. Chiding media critics for their pessimism, the generals claimed: "The situation in Baquba is reassuring and is under control but there are some rumours circulated by bad people." Within hours Sunni insurgents, possibly irked by these self-congratulatory words, stormed Baquba, kidnapped the mayor and blew up his office.
"You DON'T KNOW What it was Like in The 'Nam The Shit Desert Storm Iraqi Freedom The Lower 40"

Knee-High-by-4th-of-July is HELL--just ask the Romney brothers:

Quote Of The Day II
By Greg Sargent
"One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."

-- Mitt Romney, explaining today why it's okay that none of his five sons enlisted in the military.

America thanks you, sons of Romney, for your brave and noble sacrifice on behalf of this great nation.
Grand Old Pervs

You know, in comparison, Diaper Dave demonstrates a fair degree of discretion and/or restraint: he wasn't trolling public restrooms, ignoring age of consent laws...or forcing himself on an unwilling partner, like Glenn Murphy, latest member, no pun intended, of the club.

Funny enough, Murphy seems to have violated what I've always heard referred to as the "Indiana Rule" of politics ("don't get caught in bed with a live boy or dead girl") in...Indiana.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Driving to "Fight" Terrorists is Sort of Like...

...fucking for virginity.

Original here, crude oil prices are here, and recent import statistics are here.

Short version: US soldiers continue to get killed, the Iraqi "government" is falling apart, "war spending" is just a nice way of saying "waste & fraud." ... oh, and over in Afghanistan, well...

If this were sports, it'd be long past time to fire the coach and look for leadership elsewhere.
I Got His Legacy Right Here

So, Chimperor Shrubusto the Lazy is once again considering his legacy. Figures...I never bought his "we'll all be dead when history judges us" crap. Like most insecure little men, Shrub desperately craves adulation. Sheez, that's one of the reasons why he invaded Iraq: outdo Poppy, bask in Mission Accomplished adoration ego trip, and prance the codpieced, flight-suited strut.

Gee...too bad that all turned out to be as empty as Shrub's cranium...or Babs's charity basket.

Legacy? Ha. Here's your fucking legacy...
Mount Rushmore

Mount Chickenshit

Hell, if you were a Taiwanese cop, you'd be adorned with more Hello Kitty crap than a 9 year old Osakan schoolgirl.
Serving His Country, GOP Style

All Bob Allen lacks at this point is...a sentence commutation and a Medal of Freedom

Show him how it's done, Senator Lieberman:

Monday, August 06, 2007

Black Hole Dick

Your tax dollars at work, although not actually accomplishing anything.
It Ain't Just London Bridge That's Falling Down

Here's an interactive graphic for the country, including more than a fair share of Gret Stet spans, as I noted on Friday.

Why should "the terrorists" (as if there's such a monolithic entity anyway) even bother attacking? They can bide their time while wingnuttia works themselves into periodic frenzy...and anything worth defending crumbles from a lack of maintenance.

Meanwhile, Iraq continues to demonstrate how fitting an example it is of fundamental wingnut, um policy, for lack of a better term...and, in New Jersey, four teenagers were tragically murdered, but not by terrorists, which means Rudy Giuliani can't exploit them and so doesn't care one bit.
A Second Interpretation

...of Scout Prime's link to the Bloomberg article about scam artists, I mean, insurance companies.
Actions Speak Volumes...

Scout and Watertiger point to textbook examples of Rethuglican values, which is another way of saying, "I've got mine, so fuck you." Check them out...and prepare to be outraged.

Maybe it's just be, but Condoleezza Rice and the insurance companies could BOTH stand to be knocked off their very undeserved high horses...and knocked down hard.
At This Point...

The only thing that surprises me when it comes to Maximium Leader Shrubusto is that he didn't turn the South Lawn into DC's own canefield/mosh pit for his golfcart ride with LauraBot and Hamid...while burning a copy of the Constitution.

Then again, Shrub's always been more play-act than action...

Oh, and thanks, Democrats. Nothing like rolling over and pissing yourself as thoroughly as a subordinate canine, especially on the 6th anniversary of what by any interpretation is proof that this administration sat flat on their collective ass when presented with everything short of the date and time of the 9/11 attack...which kind of undercuts ANY assertion that they've been "protecting the American people."