Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Obama spokesman Bill Button sent an e-mail to reporters quoting news stories indicating McCain was the stronger debater, particularly on foreign policy.Next up, insane amounts of spin! I can't wait!!!
"If he slips up, makes a mistake or fails to deliver a game-changing performance, it will be a serious blow to his campaign," Button said of McCain.
McCain, for his part, praised Obama's debate skills this week, suggesting his rival's performances against Hillary Rodham Clinton during the primaries had helped him win the Democratic nomination.
"The first thing to understand is that a bailout plan doesn’t have to cost anywhere close to $700 billion, so long as it’s designed well. The $700 billion number that you see everywhere is an estimate of how much the government would spend to buy deteriorating assets now held by banks. Eventually, the government will turn around and sell these assets, for a price almost certain to be greater than zero. So this $700 billion is very different from $700 billion spent on a war or on Medicare."
"Figuring out how much to pay for the assets is the first problem. The drop in house prices and rise in foreclosures have made it clear that these securities are worth considerably less than banks expected. But there is enormous uncertainty about how much less.
Based on the underlying fundamentals (like the current foreclosure rate and the one forecast for the future), many of the securities appear to be worth something on the order of 75 percent of their original value. But thanks to the fear now gripping the market — not necessarily an irrational fear, given that most forecasts have proven far too sunny over the last year — very, very few of those securities are trading hands. Among those that have, the sales price has been roughly 25 percent of the value."
This is a much better way of saying what I tried to explain in my last post. The Treasury (and more accurately, we, the taxpayers) doesn't want to overpay too much more than these assets are actually worth. If we do, we could very well end up losing a large chunk of that $700 billion when we sell these assets back to the market.
"It [The Government] clearly shouldn’t pay 75 cents on the dollar, or anything close to it. That would mean the Treasury Department — which, in the end, is really you and me — was assuming nearly all the risk. But it probably can’t pay 25 cents. That might fail to fix the credit markets, because it would do relatively little to improve financial firms’ balance sheets. Firms might then remain unwilling to lend money to businesses and households, which is the whole problem the bailout is meant to solve."
"The most obvious solution is to pay more than 25 cents on the dollar and then demand something in return for the premium — namely, a stake in any firm that participates in the bailout. Congressional Democrats have been pushing for such a provision this week, and it’s one of the most important things they have done.
The government would then be accomplishing three things at once. First, it would take possession of the bad assets now causing a panic on Wall Street. Second, it would inject cash into the financial system and help shore up firms’ balance sheets (which some economists think is actually a bigger problem than the bad assets). And, third, it would go a long way toward minimizing the ultimate cost to taxpayers.
Why? The more that the government overpays for the assets, the larger the subsidy it’s providing to Wall Street — and the more it is pushing up the share prices of Wall Street firms. As Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, notes, the equity stakes allow the government to recapture some of the subsidy down the road. It’s a self-correcting mechanism."
Or just cancel a debate. I know you don't want to embarrass yourself by speaking about economics, Johnny McCain. But this isn't the right way to go.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
- Less credit for homeowners to buy new homes or refinance current mortgages.
- Further decline in home prices, as people find it harder and harder to buy a home or keep their current one.
- Less credit to buy new cars, borrow money to fix old ones, and hence, get to work.
- Less credit for businesses to buy materials and produce goods.
- Less economic activity all around.
- Slower job growth, as people can't get to work, are busy fighting for their homes, lose their jobs because their employers go under, or a scary combinations of all three.
"The proposed rescue legislation accomplishes one simple goal: It provides a buyer (the Treasury) for financial assets that cannot be priced today because the market for such assets has temporarily frozen up, enabling financial institutions to stabilize their balance sheets, regain confidence in the system and one another, and start lending again....In the meantime, consumers [that's people like you and me*] will see value as money starts to flow, home prices stabilize, and the economy avoids what could otherwise be a deep -- and preventable -- recession.Overblown hype? Probably more than a little. But can we risk sitting on our hands and doing nothing, while we lose the means with which to make home loans, car loans, and business loans which make our jobs work and keep us working?
BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.
OBAMA Mr. President.
BARTLET You seem startled.
OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.
BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.
OBAMA Yes, sir.
BARTLET Come on in.
BARTLET leads OBAMA into his study.
BARTLET That was a hell of a convention.
OBAMA Thank you, I was proud of it.
BARTLET I meant the Republicans. The Us versus Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don’t like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I’ve been a little out of touch but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field dressing a moose —
OBAMA Look —
BARTLET — and selling Air Force Two on eBay?
OBAMA Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.
BARTLET Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?
OBAMA I’m interested in your advice.
BARTLET I can’t give it to you.
OBAMA Why not?
BARTLET I’m supporting McCain.
BARTLET He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.
OBAMA O.K. —
BARTLET And he’s surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” Can you spot the error in that statement?
OBAMA Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t funded by taxpayers.
BARTLET Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn’t a government program. He was only off by a little — Social Security is the largest government program.
OBAMA I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.
BARTLET Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.
OBAMA Which was?
BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.
BARTLET I was.
OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?
BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.
OBAMA What do you mean?
BARTLET I’m a fictional president. You’re dreaming right now, Senator.
OBAMA I’m asleep?
BARTLET Yes, and you’re losing a ton of white women.
OBAMA Yes, sir.
BARTLET I mean tons.
OBAMA I understand.
BARTLET I didn’t even think there were that many white women.
OBAMA I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?
BARTLET I’ve been married to a white woman for 40 years and I still don’t know what she wants from me.
OBAMA How did you do it?
BARTLET Well, I say I’m sorry a lot.
OBAMA I don’t mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?
BARTLET There again, I didn’t have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched “The West Wing.”
OBAMA That would make it easier.
BARTLET You’d do very well on NBC. Thursday nights in the old “ER” time slot with “30 Rock” as your lead-in, you’d get seven, seven-five in the demo with a 20, 22 share — you’d be selling $450,000 minutes.
OBAMA What the hell does that mean?
BARTLET TV talk. I thought you’d be interested.
OBAMA I’m not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?
BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.
OBAMA You’re saying race doesn’t have anything to do with it?
BARTLET I wouldn’t go that far. Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter —
OBAMA I have two.
BARTLET — who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with “Thug Life” inked across his chest, you’d come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus.
OBAMA You’re not cheering me up.
BARTLET Is that what you came here for?
OBAMA No, but it wouldn’t kill you.
BARTLET Have you tried doing a two-hour special or a really good Christmas show?
OBAMA Sir —
BARTLET Hang on. Home run. Right here. Is there any chance you could get Michelle pregnant before the fall sweeps?
OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?
BARTLET Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.
OBAMA What would you do?
BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!
OBAMA Good to get that off your chest?
BARTLET Am I keeping you from something?
OBAMA Well, it’s not as if I didn’t know all of that and it took you like 20 minutes to say.
BARTLET I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.
OBAMA What’s the second step?
BARTLET I don’t care.
OBAMA So what about hope? Chuck it for outrage and put-downs?
BARTLET No. You’re elite, you can do both. Four weeks ago you had the best week of your campaign, followed — granted, inexplicably — by the worst week of your campaign. And you’re still in a statistical dead heat. You’re a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren’t the same thing and you’re in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that’s what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.
OBAMA Wait, what is it you always used to say? When you hit a bump on the show and your people were down and frustrated? You’d give them a pep talk and then you’d always end it with something. What was it ...?
BARTLET “Break’s over.”
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
"One reason for both men’s sketchy records on financial issues is that neither has been a member of the Senate Banking Committee, which has oversight of the industry and its regulators. Under both parties’ leadership, the committee often has been a graveyard for proposals opposed by lobbyists for financial institutions, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which last week were forced into government conservatorships.This shouldn't surprise us. It's typical Washington-think: "If it's not up for a vote, why should I care?" McCain seems to be toeing the party line as closely as possible, allowing for greater regulation during times of crises, to be replaced by deregulation as soon as the market rights itself (with nary a thank you to Uncle Sam).
Industry lobbyists’ success in killing such regulations meant senators outside the banking panel did not have to take a stand on them."
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Tina Fey returned to SNL last night to play
Joe Biden Sarah Palin Tina Fey with-a-Canadian-accent. Hot!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
"I actually never thought there was a Bush doctrine...Indeed, I believe the assertion that there is such a doctrine lends greater coherence to the administration's policies than they deserve."
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Gloria Steinem, the founder of Ms magazine, says that “Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton”. Kim Gandy, the president of the National Organisation of Women, dismisses her as a “woman who opposes women’s rights”. Debbie Dingell, a leading Michigan Democrat, said that women felt insulted by the choice. Joe Biden says that, if Mrs Palin becomes the first female vice-president, it will be a “backward step for women”. “Eighteen million cracks”, says the New Republic, (referring to Mrs Clinton’s 18m votes and the glass ceiling) “and one crackpot.”Sometimes I think "the culture wars" are just lazy journalism. Americans agree more often than we disagree, right? We all bleed red, white and blue. We would never criticize someone simply because we don't understand them or their values, right?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Obama would give larger tax cuts to low- and moderate-income households and pay some of the cost by raising taxes on high-income taxpayers. In contrast, McCain would cut taxes across the board and give the biggest cuts to the highest-income households.To find out how you would benefit under Obama's plan, check out Obamataxcut.com, a neat-o tax-cut calculator based on three simple questions. And no, not those questions three.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
"The strongest message can be sent by rejecting the two party system," Paul said in prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press. "This can be accomplished by voting for one of the non-establishment, principled candidates.
He recommended Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party, former Georgia Republican Rep. Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party, former Georgia Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party and possibly others."I'm so fed if with the two-party crap-fest everyone else is gagga over that this kind of news makes me want to kiss Ron Paul on the mouth (chastely and platonicly, natch). Playing along for the moment, here are my thoughts on the aforementioned candidates.
Monday, September 08, 2008
That, of course, would put pollsters out of a job. Even by a more conservative estimate, Slate's Paul Maslin estimates the number of undecideds at around 10 percent, which means either candidate still has a good chance of pulling away from the statistical dead heat we're in right now."One can take a look, for example, at the recent Gallup Daily Tracking Poll. They asked the question - if the election were held today, who you would you vote for, you know, Barack Obama or John McCain? They find that somewhere around 95 percent of the people have made up their mind.
But, of course, the election’s not being held today, so it’s a hypothetical race. The way you could ask the question is, do you support Obama, do you support McCain, or haven't you made up your mind yet? Right now there are probably around 35 to 40 percent of voters who are undecided.
Well, I think the reason the media pollsters don't want to emphasize the undecided vote is that they think the media, the journalists, would not be interested in a poll that said there are 40 percent of the people undecided. They’d say - but gee, if people haven't begun to just make up their minds yet, or such a large segment, why don't we wait and start polling later?"
Sunday, September 07, 2008
What scares me the most about the abortion debate is that there is no more real debate on the issue. We've walled ourselves into two camps: those who believe in the right to choose, and those who believe there is really only one choice. We've stopped debating, and decided that shouting real loud is more cathartic and fun.There was one overlooked part of Sarah Palin's announcement of her daughter's pregnancy. She said that her daughter had decided to carry the child to term. She later remarked that no one had pressured her daughter to do so.
I take Sarah at her word. Is it not wonderful, and will this not be a happier baby and marital circumstance, that they all had these unpressured choices? The issue is not abortion vs carrying to term, it is who gets to make that choice. Sarah Palin would have the government choose. My vote is for Bristol Palin.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
O the plans! O the ruin! O my brakes are failing! O this blog sucks!
So little to say, so much to not care about.
The Straight Dope on Energy Policy in the Midst of Electioneering
On the Media, that bastion of media critique which airs while I ought to be at church, says great things. Why just last week, they said great things about energy independence. An excerpt from the oh-so-short piece follows in transcript form:
DAVID FIDERER: An example I wrote about in Huffington Post was John Harwood, who writes for The New York Times and is also a political correspondent for CNBC, talked about how the Democrats now are talking about building new nuclear plants because gasoline is selling at four dollars a gallon.
BOB GARFIELD: And there is no relationship between the price of oil at the pumps and nuclear anything, correct?
DAVID FIDERER: That’s correct. Nuclear is used for generating electricity. Oil is used in the United States primarily for transportation. And there’s no viable way of converting nuclear energy into fuel for transportation.
BOB GARFIELD: Now, since both John McCain and Barack Obama and every other national politician are talking about energy independence, can we just establish a few things about that premise?
DAVID FIDERER: Sure.
BOB GARFIELD: Like given the way petroleum deposits are distributed on Earth, is it reasonable to imagine the U.S. being fully independent of foreign oil, ever?
DAVID FIDERER: Not if we consume oil at anything close to the rate we have for the last 50 years. If we consumed oil at the rate we did in 1965, we would still be importing 40 percent of our oil.
BOB GARFIELD: Another contentious issue is that of offshore oil reserves.
DAVID FIDERER: Yes.
BOB GARFIELD: The Republicans want to start [LAUGHS] drilling tomorrow, and they portray those against more drilling as tree huggers willing to put our nation’s energy security at risk to save a few whales. At least that’s how the media has been framing the controversy.
DAVID FIDERER: Even if all the oil reserves were there that the most optimistic oil person says is off the coast of California or Florida, it still wouldn't have a major impact on the price of oil. It still would take at best five years to bring production to market and it still wouldn't change our dependence on foreign oil in any major way.
1. Nuclear energy, with plenty of long-term problems not discussed here, does nothing to curb our dependence on foreign oil (unless we all drove electric vehicles, which we don't, because we love blowing things up and NASCAR and driving up rugged mountaintops).
2. Unless we create a time machine, or harness the power of Einstein-Rosen bridges, we will never become dependent of foreign oil unless we drastically change the way we consume and produce energy.
2-a. Absolute best case scenario if we allowed offshore drilling? The price of gas would finally drop by 2013. Best. Case. Scenario.
This is why politicians are stupid, and stupid politicians are running for president.