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October 29, 2008

Charles Meets Barack Politics

Brought tears to my eyes:

[Via Digby]

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October 28, 2008

On The Road

My apologies for the sparse posts the last few days. I'm in LA on business through Friday. Normal schedule to resume after I get back home. Thanks.

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Maker Of Toy Cars Worth More Than General Motors Economy

Newsweek:

In the fad-driven fantasyland of toys, Hot Wheels has had an incredible ride. Those pocket rockets have been racing down their familiar orange tracks for four decades now and, unlike the real car market, show no signs of slowing down. Last year Hot Wheels set a record, as sales surged by 16 percent, and they continue to accelerate in 2008 even as the economy tanks. In fact, as Motown melts down, Hot Wheels is heating up. The tiny toy cars’ parent company, Mattel, now has a market capitalization that surpasses General Motors. That’s right—Wall Street thinks the maker of toy cars is worth more than the largest real carmaker in America.

[Via Cryptogon]

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Tuesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

Posted by Jonathan at 11:02 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Joke Humor & Fun

I for one appreciate the McCain campaign treating us like children. McCain will bring us back to a simpler time. A time when you could identify your neighbors’ jobs by the hats they wore. Like Sam the Fireman, Bill the Cowboy and Jose the stereotype. These are the people in your neighborhood. The people that you meet when you’re walking down the street. They’re the people that you meet each day. And what the people in your neighborhood, the Joe the Plumber, the Wendy the Waitress need are tax cuts for the wealthy and off shore drilling. They don’t need universal health care or last names. — Stephen Colbert

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October 24, 2008

Bad Night For Stocks Economy

Stock markets around the world are crashing overnight.

In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei index lost 9.60% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 8.30%.

In Europe, as I write this, London's FTSE index is down 7.01% and Paris' CAC is down 7.30%.

Yikes.

Update (4:50 AM) - FTSE down 8.70%, CAC down 9.80%.

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October 23, 2008

Polls: Obama Up Double Digits In Big Ten States Politics

I was about to do a post on this, but I see AmericaBlog already has one. So read it there.

Compare the two maps. What a difference a month makes.

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Amazing Factoid Politics

Hard to believe, but true.

When was the last time a Republican won the presidency without a Bush or a Nixon on the ticket?

Answer after the jump.

1928!

That's 80 years ago.

(Source)

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Thursday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

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Today's Joke Humor & Fun

The McCain campaign believes that Obama's plan for a middle class tax cut is socialism, and they won't stand for that! — most of the time [on screen: Fox's Chris Wallace pointing out to McCain that he voted for the $700 billion bank bailout, and asks if that is socialism. McCain answers, saying "that is reacting to a crisis that's due to greed and excess in Washington."] Oh! That's why you're socialist! I don't smoke, except when I drink. Which I don't do, unless I am thirsty. Or it's nighttime, or I need something to wash down my smoke. Seriously, don't smoke. McCain '08! — Jon Stewart

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October 20, 2008

It's Getting Ugly Out There Politics

Cause for alarm:

[Via Digby]

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Blocking The Vote Politics  Vote Fraud

Bobby Kennedy, Jr., and Greg Palast have an important article at Rolling Stone on Republican efforts to block millions of Democratic voters from casting their votes. Here's a video that tells a little of the story:

I've never understood why Democrats lie down for this stuff. Are they really that afraid of being called cry babies? Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004 — two Presidential elections stolen. Are Democrats too nice? Are they in on the fix? What? I just don't get it.

Posted by Jonathan at 11:15 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Krugman On The Real Plumbers Of Ohio Economy  Politics

Paul Krugman looks past Joe the Plumber to ask how the real plumbers of Ohio are making out. NYT:

[W]hat's really happening to the plumbers of Ohio, and to working Americans in general?

First of all, they aren't making a lot of money....[A]ccording to the May 2007 occupational earnings report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income of "plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters" in Ohio was $47,930.

Second, their real incomes have stagnated or fallen, even in supposedly good years. The Bush administration assured us that the economy was booming in 2007 — but the average Ohio plumber's income in that 2007 report was only 15.5 percent higher than in the 2000 report, not enough to keep up with the 17.7 percent rise in consumer prices in the Midwest. As Ohio plumbers went, so went the nation: median household income, adjusted for inflation, was lower in 2007 than it had been in 2000.

Third, Ohio plumbers have been having growing trouble getting health insurance, especially if, like many craftsmen, they work for small firms. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2007 only 45 percent of companies with fewer than 10 employees offered health benefits, down from 57 percent in 2000.

And bear in mind that all these data pertain to 2007 — which was as good as it got in recent years. Now that the "Bush boom," such as it was, is over, we can see that it achieved a dismal distinction: for the first time on record, an economic expansion failed to raise most Americans' incomes above their previous peak.

Since then, of course, things have gone rapidly downhill, as millions of working Americans have lost their jobs and their homes. And all indicators suggest that things will get much worse in the months and years ahead.

So what does all this say about the candidates? Who's really standing up for Ohio’s plumbers?

Mr. McCain claims that Mr. Obama's policies would lead to economic disaster. But President Bush's policies have already led to disaster — and whatever he may say, Mr. McCain proposes continuing Mr. Bush's policies in all essential respects, and he shares Mr. Bush's anti-government, anti-regulation philosophy.

What about the claim, based on Joe the Plumber’s complaint, that ordinary working Americans would face higher taxes under Mr. Obama?...[T]he typical plumber would pay lower, not higher, taxes under an Obama administration, and would have a much better chance of getting health insurance.

I don't want to suggest that everyone would be better off under the Obama tax plan. Joe the plumber would almost certainly be better off, but Richie the hedge fund manager would take a serious hit.

But that's the point. Whatever today's G.O.P. is, it isn't the party of working Americans.

The people who show up at McCain/Palin rallies are mostly the very people who would do better under Obama. But when McCain sneers that Obama "believes in redistributing wealth," the crowds erupt with outraged boos. Maybe they should stop for once and think.

McCain, too, believes in redistributing wealth. He just believes in redistributing it in the other direction, away from the people at his campain stops and toward the already wealthy — away from Joe the plumber and toward Richie the hedge fund manager.

And they boo Obama?

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Monday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

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Today's Joke Humor & Fun

Now come on, of all the weeks of the campaign, this was the weirdest. I mean, John McCain has a new BFF, Joe the Plumber. He said the words "Joe the plumber" 15 times in the debate the other night. And then we find out, because McCain is so good at vetting, as we found out with Sarah Palin, that Joe the plumber, turns out, really isn't a licensed plumber, he's in trouble for not paying the taxes that he does owe, he isn't really close to buying any sort of plumbing company, and his name isn't Joe. Or, as the McCain campaign explained it, "Who is Barack Obama?" — Bill Maher

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October 19, 2008

The Right On Colin Powell Politics

You've no doubt seen that lifelong Republican Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama.

How do people like George Will and Rush Limbaugh react? By writing it off as a race thing.

Deep thinkers.

Here's what Powell had to say about the McCain/Palin campaign:

Good for him.

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Sunday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

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Today's Joke Humor & Fun

From Gail Collins, NYT (via Calculated Risk):

George W. Bush showed up on TV Friday morning to reassure the nation. What could possibly be worse?

Everybody knows that anything our president says is very likely wrong, and certainly won’t happen. If he announced: “I’m sending government agents to Spokane to arrest the looters,” we would expect that the officials would get lost, nobody would be arrested, and the looters probably never existed in the first place.

So hearts sunk throughout the nation when Bush appeared at a Chamber of Commerce gathering to say that the economy would recover.

“America is the most attractive destination for investors around the globe. America is the home of the most talented and enterprising and creative workers in the world,” said the president, who also insisted that “democratic capitalism remains the greatest system ever devised.”

Which translates into: all the money is going to Asia, nobody will ever get a job again and Karl Marx was right after all.

Bummer.


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October 18, 2008

Somebody Finally Asks McCain About Gordon Liddy Politics

By the McCain campaign's own bogus standard, John McCain "pals around with terrorists."

McCain has a long-standing relationship with G. Gordon Liddy, who was sentenced to 20 years in Federal prison for his role in the Watergate break-in. Liddy also urged the Watergate conspirators to firebomb the Brookings Institution and assassinate columnist Jack Anderson.

In 1994, Liddy told listeners of his radio show, "Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests. ... Kill the sons of bitches."

Nodody asks McCain about his relationship with Liddy, though.

But finally somebody did. Media Matters:

Finally, for the first time this year, a prominent media figure asked John McCain about his relationship with G. Gordon Liddy last night.

The lack of media attention to the Liddy-McCain relationship is one of the clearest double standards in recent political history. McCain and the news media have devoted an extraordinary amount of attention to Barack Obama's ties to Bill Ayers, yet until last night, McCain hadn't been asked a single question about his ties to Liddy, a convicted felon who has instructed his listeners on how best to shoot law-enforcement agents. Liddy has held a fundraiser for McCain at his home and describes the Arizona senator as an "old friend"; McCain has said he is "proud" of Liddy.

Imagine for a moment that Barack Obama had said he was "proud" of an "old friend" who urged people to shoot law-enforcement agents in the head. Do you think maybe he would have been asked a question or three about it? Do you think maybe there would have been more than the occasional passing mention in the news of the relationship? Of course there would have been.

Yet McCain hasn't been questioned about Liddy. The media have largely ignored the relationship, even while working themselves into a frenzy about Obama and Ayers. McCain's relationship with Liddy is obviously newsworthy in its own right, but coupled with his attacks on Obama over Ayers, it's a textbook case of hypocrisy -- exactly the sort of thing that political reporters supposedly drool over. But not when it's John McCain. [...]

Until last night, when McCain was finally asked, point-blank, about his relationship to Liddy and the similarities between that relationship and the Obama-Ayers relationship he has attacked so harshly.

Who finally asked the question? The New York Times? The Washington Post? CNN's "best political team on television"?

Nope.

David Letterman asked McCain about Liddy, putting the nation's journalists to shame in the process.

Here's the video:

I love how McCain first tries to pretend Liddy is someone he's only met. When Letterman asks about the fundraiser at Liddy's house, McCain acts like it's news to him. Pretty much exactly what he keeps accusing Obama of: initially minimizing what turns out to be a more substantive relationship. Except in McCain's case, we're not talking about a guy (Liddy) whose actions occurred when McCain was only eight years old.

None of this has any real importance. But the double standard — that is just maddening.

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Freaking Amazing Politics

Go check out this photo of the crowd at Obama's speech today in St. Louis. Holy cow.

Obama is going to be here in Madison on Thursday. Can't wait.

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Why The ACORN Flap Is So Stupid Politics

Some of ACORN's voter registration workers put bogus names like "Mickey Mouse" on some of their lists of new registered voters. They did this, no doubt, because they got paid by the name.

The McCain campaign and the Right generally have been screaming that this is voter fraud and even a threat to democracy itself.

But think about it. The bogus names aren't names of people who are actually going to try to vote. Who's going to show up at the polls and claim to be Mickey Mouse?

ACORN got cheated out of some money. That's all. It will have absolutely no effect on votes cast. None.

Posted by Jonathan at 04:09 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Obama Tax Calculator Politics

Want an estimate of how you'd fare under the Obama and McCain tax plans? Go here.

If only paying taxes were that easy.

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Saturday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

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Today's Joke Humor & Fun

If you watched the debate the other night, you know John McCain kept talking about this guy Senator Obama met on the campaign trail named Joe the Plumber. Do you know the saddest part about the Joe the Plumber story? Last month he was an investment banker. — Jay Leno

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October 17, 2008

Friday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

Posted by Jonathan at 11:45 AM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Joke Humor & Fun
(Source)

(Source)

Nice to see.

[Thanks, Mark]

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October 16, 2008

I Wish Obama's Positions Were More Like Nader's Politics

I really hope Barack Obama wins. A McCain/Palin victory would be a nightmare. Literally.

That said, I wish Obama's positions were more like Ralph Nader's.

Nader's campaign website today points out a few important things about last night's debate. When McCain challenged Obama to name some occasions when he had stood up to the leaders of his own party, Obama said he voted for tort reform and clean coal technology. As Nader's people put it, by voting for tort reform Obama "stood with the National Association of Manufacturers against injured people." And by voting for clean coal technology, he "stood with the polluting coal industry against people who suffer the consequences." In both cases, he voted like a Republican, putting the interests of corporations over the interests of people.

They continue:

When McCain accused Obama of supporting a single payer, Canadian style national health insurance system, Obama said he didn’t.

And he doesn’t.

Despite the fact that a majority of doctors, nurses and the American people want it.

On national health insurance, Obama stands with the insurance industry and against the American people who are demanding single payer.

Over 5,000 U.S. physicians have signed an open letter calling on the candidates for president and Congress "to stand up for the health of the American people and implement a nonprofit, single-payer national health insurance system." (Here's the ad that ran in the New Yorker magazine.)

Obama says no.

I can't say I wish Ralph Nader would become president instead of Barack Obama. And I don't expect Obama — or anyone else — to be perfect. But I do wish Obama's positions were more like Nader's. That would be something.

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Unintended Consequence: Mortgage Rates Spike Economy

The financial crisis is like an air bubble under the linoleum: you push down on it here and it pops up over there. FT (via Across the Curve):

US mortgage rates have soared this week in an unexpected reaction to the latest Treasury financial rescue plan, which has prompted investors to buy bank debt and sell bonds backed by home loans.

Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages...rose to 6.38 per cent on Thursday from 5.87 per cent last week - before the Treasury said on Tuesday that it would take equity stakes in banks and guarantee new bank debt.

Investors responded to the new guarantee by buying existing bank debt, reckoning it could be refinanced with the new government-supported bonds. As they did so, they sold lower-yielding paper issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies put into government conservatorship last month.

The sales of Fannie and Freddie paper pushed up yields on their debt, which is backed by mortgages. This, in turn, pushed mortgage rates to levels not seen since the government took over Fannie and Freddie on September 7.

Fannie and Freddie had been taken into conservatorship by their regulator to help keep mortgage rates low and – it was hoped – revive the housing market.

However, the opposite is now happening, making it more difficult for struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages and for prospective homebuyers to get financing. As a result, house prices may fall further before they find a bottom.

Oops.

Still no free lunch.

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Thursday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

Posted by Jonathan at 10:41 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Joke Humor & Fun

As we speak, Barack Obama and John McCain have just finished their third and final debate. Now, in the latest New York Times poll, McCain trails by 14 points. So it is clear what this debate needed to be for him [on screen: people saying McCain needs a game-changer in the final debate]. Hopefully he can change that game to golf. That way the lowest score wins. — Stephen Colbert

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October 15, 2008

Rout In Asia Economy

Asian markets are crashing overnight. As I write this, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index is down 9.55% and China's Hang Seng Index is down 7.46%.

It just keeps coming.

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Grim Day Economy

That's the other thing about bear market rallies. They don't last long. Today: Dow down 7.9%, S&P down 9%, Nasdaq down 8.5%. More than 97% of the volume on the NYSE was in stocks that declined in price.

The frozen credit markets don't appear to be improving and may even be getting worse. But it's not just the financial crisis that's hammering the market. The real economy is tanking, too. Real retail sales in September (figures released today) are down 4.3% from a year ago. Consumer spending is something like 70% of GDP, so falling consumer spending confirms what we already know: we're in a recession. People have stopped taking out home equity loans, so they have less money to spend. And people are increasingly pessimistic about the economic future, so they're hanging on to what money they do have.

Except for the occasional short-covering rally, it's hard to see how stock prices don't continue to fall from here. Who's going to buy? And there are still lots of potential sellers. Most people have been hanging on to their stocks, hoping for a rebound. At some point, they'll start selling in earnest. Then look out.

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Wednesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

Posted by Jonathan at 05:27 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Joke Humor & Fun

President Bush, I think he said this in his weekly radio address, he said about the economic crisis, President Bush said, "It's a good thing I'm in charge." And I know that's what we're all thinking. But Bush says he's going to tweak the financial package. He's going to tweak the financial bailout. That's what he's doing now. He's tweaking that financial bailout. That's like the captain of the Titanic tweaking the brunch menu. — David Letterman

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October 14, 2008

Olbermann: McCain Campaign "Tacitly Inciting Lunatics To Violence" Politics

Keith Olbermann brings it:

(Source)

I hate to even mention the A-word, but if McCain and Palin keep on going like they're going it will be hard not to conclude that they're trying to get Obama killed. An outrageous accusation, I realize, but they're not idiots. They see what they are stirring up, and yet they continue. If they're not actually trying to get him killed, clearly they are at least willing to run that risk. It's beyond despicable.

If you're too young to remember the assassinations of the sixties, this may all sound like hysteria. But believe me, it's all too real. By labeling Obama a terrorist and a traitor, they've not only given tacit permission for him to be assassinated, they've made it so whoever does it will be a hero defending the homeland. If that's not an invitation to violence, I don't know what is.

Posted by Jonathan at 11:29 PM | Comments (2) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Backlash: Independents Deserting McCain/Palin Politics

A new CBS poll has Obama up by 14. The swing to Obama is due to a huge swing among independents, who've been turned off by McCain's negative campaigning and his choice of Sarah Palin. CBS:

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is entering the third and final presidential debate Wednesday with a wide lead over Republican rival John McCain nationally, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows.

The Obama-Biden ticket now leads the McCain-Palin ticket 53 percent to 39 percent among likely voters, a 14-point margin. One week ago, prior to the Town Hall debate that uncommitted voters saw as a win for Obama, that margin was just three points.

Among independents who are likely voters - a group that has swung back and forth between McCain and Obama over the course of the campaign - the Democratic ticket now leads by 18 points. McCain led among independents last week.

McCain's campaign strategy may be hurting hurt him: Twenty-one percent of voters say their opinion of the Republican has changed for the worse in the last few weeks. The top two reasons cited for the change of heart are McCain's attacks on Obama and his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate.

The hate message of the McCain/Palin campaign is hurting them enormously, but they continue. It's scorched earth, and it just may wind up getting somebody killed.

Posted by Jonathan at 10:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Bear Market Rallies Economy

Yesterday's stock market rally was impressive. The Dow rose almost a thousand points. That took it to levels it hadn't seen since, since — well, since Wednesday. Market breadth was impressive, too, with almost 20 stocks going up for every stock that went down.

But that's the thing about bear market rallies. They're explosive. Partly because so many people are desperate to recoup some of their losses, and partly because so many people have sold short. Short sellers need to buy stock to close their positions. When the market starts to rally and the short sellers start scrambling to get out, they add significantly to the frenzy of buying. Market breadth (advancers leading decliners) is typical, too, of bear market rallies. Some of the rallies with the greatest breadth in history occurred during the period from 1929 to 1932 when the Dow lost fully 89% of its value.

And what about today? If all you read were the closing averages, it seemed like a pretty tame day. Dow down 76 points. No biggee. But it was actually pretty wild. The Dow shot up 400 points at the open, extending yesterday's rally, and then proceeded to drop 700 points. In the final hour, it managed to regain about 225 points; hence, the tame number at the close. But if you weren't paying attention, you missed the 700 point drop. During normal times, a 700 point drop would be big news. Now it's just another day.

But even that doesn't tell the whole story. The Dow and S&P declines were pretty slight, but the Nasdaq declined more than 3.5%. The difference was that the Dow and S&P include a lot of banks and other financial stocks, which rallied huge after Paulson announced plans to "inject" them with $250 billion in capital. The rally in financials masked the weakness elsewhere. The Nasdaq is light on financials, so it gives a truer picture of what's going on. The financial house may be slowly getting in order, but the real economy is tanking. Recession is here and it's getting worse.

If I owned stocks — which I don't, not since about a year ago — I think I might have taken yesterday's rally and the surge at this morning's open as an opportunity to get out. But that's easy to say from the sidelines. I do think there's not going to be much upside to staying in, and there's potentially a whole lot of downside to not getting out. But that's just my opinion. I'm not giving investment advice. I'm not qualified. I'm just trying to put yesterday's rally and the rallies to come in some perspective. People see a rally and they get their hopes up. But every bear market has rallies.

Posted by Jonathan at 09:53 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Two Minutes Hate Politics

McCain/Palin rallies are invoking an ugly, Brownshirt vibe that is very, very dangerous.



This is an extremist brand of politics that should be shunned by all decent people. What they're stirring up isn't going to just evaporate come November 5th.

So much for Country First.

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Tuesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

Posted by Jonathan at 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Joke Humor & Fun

Naturally the smart thing to do to solve your economic woes is to demonize the Democrats. And of course, Sarah Palin is more than happy to oblige. She's been saying that Obama hangs out with terrorists. And you know, I think for the evangelical lady who's in a video getting blessed by a witch doctor, who's married to a secessionist, and can't name a newspaper -- she's right, Obama is scary. — Bill Maher

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October 10, 2008

Friday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

Posted by Jonathan at 06:15 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Gyrations Economy

Well that was interesting.

The Dow had a nice short-covering rally, climbing 900 points from the low.

And then proceeded to fall 500 points in about 6 minutes.

Wowza.

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Getaway Inner Tube Humor & Fun

Hilarious.

[Thanks, Kevin]

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Today's Joke Humor & Fun

I don't know, what did you think of the debate? Anything? Anything going on there? I'm not sure that John McCain actually helped himself. In fact, I think maybe he blew off the wrong show. — David Letterman

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"My Fellow Prisoners" Politics

WTF?

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October 09, 2008

Stocks Crash In Asia Economy

Tomorrow could be ugly. Bloomberg:

Asian stocks tumbled, driving Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average down as much 11 percent, and U.S. futures fell on concern the deepening credit crisis will push the global economy into recession. [...]

"It's a financial panic," said Choi Min Jai, who oversees the equivalent of $2.1 billion at KTB Asset Management Co. in Seoul. "The recession can only get worse. You can't find the link that will break the vicious cycle."

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 4.9 percent to 87.86 as of 10:33 a.m. in Tokyo. The measure is poised to drop 16 percent this week, the biggest slump since the index was created on Dec. 31, 1987. Only four stocks gained in the 990 member gauge. [...]

All Asian benchmark indexes dropped. Japan's Nikkei plunged 9.8 percent to 8,264.65. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index tumbled 5.7 percent. Today's slump left the Nikkei valued at 9.9 times earnings and the S&P/ASX 200 at 11 times profit, the lowest for both indexes since at least April 2000, when Bloomberg started keeping track of the data. [...]

MSCI's Asian index is down 42 percent this year as mounting mortgage-related losses at financial firms caused credit to dry up, toppling banks including Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and slowing global demand for Asia's exports.

U.S. stocks tumbled yesterday, wiping out almost $900 billion in market value, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing below 9,000 for the first time since 2003. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slid 7.6 percent to 909.92, capping a seven-day decline, the longest losing streak since 1996.

The article refers to today as yesterday, because in Asia it's tomorrow. If you see what I mean.

Today the US stock market wiped out $900 billion. In one day. In just the US. Gives you some perspective on the size of the forces at work. Paulson and his $700 billion fund really don't stand much of a chance.

If this keeps up, one day very soon we may see a day like October 19, 1987. There don't seem to be any buyers left.

Posted by Jonathan at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

"An Unfolding Debacle" Economy

I've just started following John Jansen's blog Across the Curve. He traded bonds for 30 years and seems to know his stuff. Most of it's way over my head, but even I can understand this, written after the market's close today:

I have said this before and risk redundancy but more and more it seems likely that the resolution of this crisis will be an historic financial calamity. Each and every step which central banks and regulators have taken to resolve the crisis has been met with failure. In the beginning, the steps would produce some brief stability. In the last several days, the US Congress (belatedly) passed a bailout bill, the Federal Reserve has guaranteed commercial paper and in unprecedented coordination central banks around the globe slash base lending rates. Listen to the markets respond.

The market scoffs as Libor rises, stocks plummet and IBM is forced to pay usurious rates to borrow. There is no stability and no hiatus from the pain. It continues unabated in spite of the best efforts of dedicated people to solve it.

We are in the midst of an unfolding debacle. It is happening about us. I am not sure how or when it ends, but the end, when it arrives, will radically alter the way we live for a long time.

Whoever wins the US election and takes office in January will need prayers and divine intervention.

And I thought I was bearish.

Posted by Jonathan at 06:38 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Bush To "Assure" The Country Economy  Politics

This should knock another thousand off the Dow (Bloomberg):

President George W. Bush will address the nation tomorrow to tell Americans they should remain "confident" amid falling stock markets and a worldwide credit crisis, administration spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

The president wants to "assure" the country that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and other administration officials are taking "every effort to stabilize our financial system," Perino said.

"Economic officials are aggressively taking every action," she said. "The Treasury is moving quickly to use new tools to improve liquidity, which is the root cause of this problem."

The timing of the statement, spurred by "volatility" in the U.S. markets today, hasn't been set, Perino said, adding that it likely will take place about 10 a.m.

"Volatility." Hah.

Pretty hilarious, actually, in the bitterest kind of way. Nothing says "assure" to the country like seeing Dubya on the teevee.

But maybe it's not such a good idea to keep reminding people of all the stunningly drastic steps government is taking. Not when people can see none of it's working. If this stuff isn't even making a dent, could be we're really up shit's creek.

Let's give Krugman the last word:

And by the way: liquidity is not the root cause of this problem. It's terrifying that the Bush administration still thinks it is.

Posted by Jonathan at 06:26 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Tracking Poll Politics

Gallup's daily tracking poll has Obama up 11.

Three day rolling average, so it doesn't yet fully reflect the last debate, nor, of course, today's rout in the stock market.

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Fear And The Stock Market Economy

This thing is far from over. There will be rallies — who knows, maybe even tomorrow — and some of them will be quite explosive because of short-sellers scrambling to cover their positions, but from today's action it looks like real fear has set in. We may have reached the recognition point, where people have realized they're up on a high wire without a net.

Warren Buffett once pointed out that the markets during a panic are like a crowded theatre during a fire — but with one crucial difference. In the stock market, you can't leave your seat to run for the exit until you find some other guy who's willing to buy it from you. When the theatre's filling up with smoke that's not easy, not without practically giving it away.

Like the old Wall Street adage says, bear markets move a lot faster than bull markets because panic is a lot stronger emotion than hope.

All of this is just my opinion. Please don't take it as investment advice.

Posted by Jonathan at 03:40 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Dow Breaks 9000 8900 8800 8700 8600 Economy

Today looked to be an up day in the market after rallies in Asia and Europe, and the Dow was up almost 200 points early. It has since fallen almost 500 points more than 600 700 800 850 points from the high.

Below 9000 8900 8800 8700 8600 now. Ouch.

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Credit Markets Remain Frozen Economy

With all of the extraordinary steps that have been taken, you might expect the credit market would be easing. But you'd be wrong. It's getting worse. Bloomberg:

The cost of borrowing in dollars for three months in London soared to the highest level this year as coordinated interest-rate reductions worldwide failed to revive lending among banks for any longer than a day.

Attempts by policy makers to restore confidence to money markets are being stymied by almost daily crises among financial institutions. Iceland's government took over the nation's biggest lender today to keep the country's banking system working. American International Group Inc., the insurer taken over by the U.S. government, may need $37.8 billion of extra funds, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said yesterday.

"To see little or no reaction in the fixings is very disappointing and reinforces the fact that Libor is broken and the transmission mechanism from central banks isn't working," said Barry Moran, a currency trader in Dublin at Bank of Ireland, the country's second-biggest bank. "Things are still very stressed and we don't know what's going to fix it."

The London interbank offered rate, or Libor, for three-month loans rose to 4.75 percent today, the highest level since Dec. 28. The Libor-OIS spread, a measure of cash scarcity, widened to a record. The overnight rate fell to 5.09 percent, still 359 basis points more than the Fed's 1.5 percent target rate. [...]

"I don't see a wave of liquidity coming into the market," said Alessandro Tentori, an interest-rate strategist in London at BNP Paribas SA. "People are still holding on to their cash because there's still a great deal of uncertainty out there." [...]

The Libor-OIS spread, the difference between the three-month dollar Libor and the overnight indexed swap rate, climbed 23 basis points to an all-time high of 348 basis points. The average was 8 basis points in the 12 months to July 31, 2007, before the credit squeeze began. The difference between what banks and the Treasury pay to borrow money for three months, the so-called TED spread, widened 5 basis points to 410 basis points, the most since Bloomberg records began.

"Libor spreads are still wide, which suggest offshore banks are not willing to take more risks lending to other banks," said Cezar Bayonito, a liquidity trader at Allied Banking Corp. in the Philippines. "Interest-rate cuts will be of little help in the near term because the issue is trust, not rates."

It certainly seems that the problem in the credit markets is just what Nouriel Roubini has been saying all along: nobody knows which apples are the good apples and which are the bad apples. That is, nobody knows which banks or companies are next to fail. So nobody wants to lend to anybody. The underlying problem is a lack of transparency. That, and the fact that it's impossible to give meaningful valuations to many of the trillions of dollars in derivatives that are out there (since there's no market where they're traded) so it's impossible to separate fact from fiction on many companies' balance sheets. The bottom line: nobody knows who to trust. As Roubini has been saying, there needs to be a program of triage, where the good apples are saved and the bad apples are shut down. Only then will people begin to trust counterparties enough to loan them money. My guess is that the crisis will have to get worse, though, before governments have the nerve to undertake something so radical.

Posted by Jonathan at 09:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Thursday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

Posted by Jonathan at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Joke Humor & Fun

John McCain looks like the guy who thinks he's the neighborhood sheriff, you know? One of those guys. "You better tie up those trash bags or we're gonna get racoons." — David Letterman

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October 08, 2008

"That One" Humor & Fun  Politics

Now in four sizes.

[Thanks, Kevin]

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Despite Rate Cuts, Credit Markets Remain Frozen Economy

Central banks around the world cut interest rates overnight. Has it helped? Not yet. Bloomberg:

Overnight corporate borrowing costs jumped, default risk increased and the bond market remained all but closed after central banks worldwide cut interest rates, showing unprecedented government intervention was failing to aid companies struggling to finance themselves.

Overnight rates on dealer-placed commercial paper rose 56 basis points to 3.5 percent, while the cost of protecting corporate bonds from default rose. Two issuers sold $750 million of U.S. company bonds this week, compared with the weekly average this year of $16.8 billion.

The coordinated rate cuts come as companies struggle to fund daily operations and economists say the world is already mired in a recession. The Federal Reserve joined the European Central Bank and four others today in lowering interest rates by as much as half a percentage point in a coordinated effort to unlock short-term credit markets frozen since Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for the biggest bankruptcy in history on Sept. 15.

"We've reached the point where so many of these government plans have fizzled that the reaction is reserved until we actually see the impact," said Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York. "They can't stop a recession. What they can do hopefully is prevent a really nasty recession." [...]

"The reality is there's no private sector balance sheet willing to step in so the Fed and the Treasury are becoming the only balance sheet," said Mark Kiesel, executive vice president at Pacific Investment Management Co., the manager of the world's biggest bond fund. "In a market that lacks trust and confidence the private sector is on the sidelines." [...]

Corporate borrowing options have dwindled as the investment-grade bond market remained all but closed for a fifth week. Companies from newspaper firm Gannett Co. to electricity producer Southern Co. have been forced to tap credit lines or forego raising debt because of the market's disruption. [...]

The difference between what banks and the Treasury pay to borrow money for three months, the so-called TED spread, widened to 3.87 percentage points, after widening to as much as 4.03, the most since Bloomberg began compiling the data in 1984.

"I do believe over time policy will work," said Kiesel, who oversees $180 billion of corporate bonds in Newport Beach, California. "The problem with all these measures is it operates with a lag and the deleveraging is real time. The deleveraging cycle is operating on a real time basis much faster than policy can overcome it."

The world economy has already fallen into its first recession since 2001, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. economists Bruce Kasman and David Hensley. The U.S. is "definitely in a recession," Low said.

Money-market funds, the biggest buyers of commercial paper, began to flee the market three weeks ago, pushing yields to the highest since January and persuading the Fed yesterday to backstop the market.

Prime money-market funds have pulled $200.3 billion of assets from commercial paper since Sept. 16, the day after Lehman filed for the biggest bankruptcy ever, and built up their safer government debt holdings instead, according to IMoneyNet Inc., a research firm based in Westborough, Massachusetts, that tracks money funds.

Big companies derive cash flow from sales of "commercial paper" — short-term IOUs that pay interest. When the IOUs reach maturity, the companies "roll them over" by selling new ones. Before long, if credit markets don't thaw, we are going to see a lot of commercial paper reaching maturity, and companies will be unable to find private sector buyers to roll them over. The Fed will have to buy them — something which was never part of the Fed's mandate, until yesterday. Otherwise, we'd see a lot of big companies going into default.

Posted by Jonathan at 03:41 PM | Comments (4) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Wednesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

(Rerun)

Posted by Jonathan at 03:19 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Joke Humor & Fun

Last night's presidential debate took place in Nashville, Tennessee, which is perfect, 'cause the economy right now is kind of like a bad country song, isn't it? "I lost my girl, I lost the house, the dog died, the trailer's gone." — Jay Leno

Posted by Jonathan at 03:14 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

October 07, 2008

Main Street Economy

Consumer spending is falling off a cliff. Here are some reasons why:

People feel poorer, and with good reason.

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He Knows, He Knows Politics

Debate drinking game: every time McCain says "I know how to..." — as in, "I know how to fix the economy" or "I know how to fix Social Security" or "I know how to win the war" — but then doesn't let us in on the magic formula.

He thinks we're morons.

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The Party Of Economic Growth Economy  Politics

I'm always interested in things that "everybody knows" that turn out to be flat wrong.

"Everybody knows" that the Republican Party is the party of economic growth, with Ronald Reagan as patron saint. But here are the last 13 presidents ranked by the rate of growth in per capita real GDP (via Angry Bear):

  1. FDR
  2. LBJ
  3. JFK
  4. Clinton
  5. Reagan
  6. Carter
  7. Nixon
  8. Eisenhower
  9. Dubya
  10. Ford
  11. Bush Sr.
  12. Truman
  13. Hoover

Notice anything?

FDR, bête noire of Republicans everywhere, tops the list and nobody else even comes close. From 1932 through 1944, real per capita GDP grew 8.05% per year. But maybe it was the war? From 1932 to 1940, the growth rate was 5.37% per year, more than twice Reagan's rate.

LBJ's rate was 3.98%, about 1.6 times Reagan's rate. JFK's rate was 2.65%, and so on.

FDR and LBJ, who increased the federal government's role in social programs more than any other presidents, by far, were the heavyweight champs of economic growth, by far.

But "everybody knows" social programs kill economic growth.

Posted by Jonathan at 09:57 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

A Rout Politics

Town hall format was supposed to be McCain's forte, but so far this thing is a rout. McCain sounds completely out of his depth; Obama is masterful.

No contest.

What do you all think?

Posted by Jonathan at 09:08 PM | Comments (4) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Finance You Can Understand Economy

Today the news is all about "commercial paper." What's that about? And Credit Default Swaps (CDSs). They have something to do with this whole mess, right? But what are they? And what about the Paulson plan? Was there an alternative?

For an absolutely superb explanation, go listen to this audio at This American Life. Nothing out there matches it for vividness and clarity.

And for an equally clear and vivid discussion of the whole mortgage bubble and the Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) that fueled it, go listen to their other audio from last May. Equally superb.

The team who put these shows together now have a daily podcast "Planet Money Podcast" that you can subscribe to for free at iTunes. (Update: They're also available at http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/)

I can't recommend them too highly. Listen and learn.

[Thanks, Miles]

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Polls Politics

My friend Maurice turned me on to fivethirtyeight.com, the best site I've seen for poll results/analysis for the 2008 election.

Today's numbers are outstanding for Obama: up 13 in New Hampshire, 12 in Virgina, 11 in Pennsylvania, 7 in Florida, 6 in Ohio, North Carolina, and Colorado, 3 in Missouri. If these numbers hold, Obama wins the electoral college in a landslide.

[Thanks, Maurice]

Posted by Jonathan at 10:39 AM | Comments (2) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Tuesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

(Rerun)

Posted by Jonathan at 10:08 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Joke Humor & Fun

During the debate, Palin winked, wrinkled her nose, and gave a shout-out to a third-grade class. Well, you know, that says commander-in-chief to me right there. You betcha! And she kept reaching out to Joe Sixpack. That's because her answers make more sense after six beers. — David Letterman

Posted by Jonathan at 10:05 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

October 06, 2008

Foreclosure Alley Economy

In Southern California, fully half of the houses being sold now are houses that were repossessed by the bank.

You can read a statistic like that, and it doesn't really hit home. But watch this video. Trust me. It's like nothing you've ever seen.

[Via Cryptogon]

Posted by Jonathan at 10:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

A Question Of Character Politics

Maybe you think of John McCain as basically a pretty heroic guy who only recently sold his soul, turning his back on a career as a straight-talking, reformist "maverick." If you live in America, it's hard not to have internalized the McCain brand, at least in part. But it's a load of bull. Tom Dickinson has a long article at Rolling Stone that's a real eye-opener. All his life, McCain, like Dubya, has used family connections to fail upward. But if Bush is Fredo Corleone, McCain is Sonny, a hot-headed, reckless, womanizing crook, violent, impulsive, and corrupt. The article traces McCain's personal history and there's too much to summarize here — you really need to go read it — but let me quote the initial anecdote:

At Fort McNair, an army base located along the Potomac River in the nation's capital, a chance reunion takes place one day between two former POWs. It's the spring of 1974, and Navy commander John Sidney McCain III has returned home from the experience in Hanoi that, according to legend, transformed him from a callow and reckless youth into a serious man of patriotism and purpose. Walking along the grounds at Fort McNair, McCain runs into John Dramesi, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.

McCain is studying at the National War College, a prestigious graduate program he had to pull strings with the Secretary of the Navy to get into. Dramesi is enrolled, on his own merit, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in the building next door.

There's a distance between the two men that belies their shared experience in North Vietnam — call it an honor gap. Like many American POWs, McCain broke down under torture and offered a "confession" to his North Vietnamese captors. Dramesi, in contrast, attempted two daring escapes. For the second he was brutalized for a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him. His partner in the escape, Lt. Col. Ed Atterberry, didn't survive the mistreatment. But Dramesi never said a disloyal word, and for his heroism was awarded two Air Force Crosses, one of the service's highest distinctions. McCain would later hail him as "one of the toughest guys I've ever met."

On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.

"I'm going to the Middle East," Dramesi says. "Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran."

"Why are you going to the Middle East?" McCain asks, dismissively.

"It's a place we're probably going to have some problems," Dramesi says. "Why? Where are you going to, John?"

"Oh, I'm going to Rio."

"What the hell are you going to Rio for?"

McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.

"I got a better chance of getting laid."

Dramesi, who went on to serve as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, was not surprised. "McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."

And the article's conclusion:

MR. FLIP-FLOP

In the end, the essential facts of John McCain's life and career — the pivotal experiences in which he demonstrated his true character — are important because of what they tell us about how he would govern as president. Far from the portrayal he presents of himself as an unflinching maverick with a consistent and reliable record, McCain has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to taking whatever position will advance his own career. He "is the classic opportunist," according to Ross Perot, who worked closely with McCain on POW issues. "He's always reaching for attention and glory."

McCain has worked hard to deny such charges. "They're drinking the Kool-Aid that somehow I have changed positions on the issues," he said of his critics at the end of August. The following month, when challenged on The View, McCain again defied those who accuse him of flip-flopping. "What specific area have I quote 'changed'?" he demanded. "Nobody can name it."

In fact, his own statements show that he has been on both sides of a host of vital issues: the Bush tax cuts, the estate tax, waterboarding, hunting down terrorists in Pakistan, kicking Russia out of the G-8, a surge of troops into Afghanistan, the GI Bill, storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, teaching intelligent design, fully funding No Child Left Behind, offshore drilling, his own immigration policy and withdrawal timelines for Iraq.

In March, McCain insisted to The Wall Street Journal that he is "always for less regulation." In September, with the government forced to bail out the nation's largest insurance companies and brokerage houses, McCain declared that he would regulate the financial industry and end the "casino culture on Wall Street." He did a similar about-face on Bush's tax cuts, opposing them when he planned to run against Bush in 2001, then declaring that he wants to make them larger — and permanent — when he needed to win the support of anti-tax conservatives this year. "It's a big flip-flop," conceded tax abolitionist Grover Norquist. "But I'm happy he's flopped."

In June of this year, McCain reversed his decades-long opposition to coastal drilling — shortly before cashing $28,500 from 13 donors linked to Hess Oil. And the senator, who only a decade ago tried to ban registered lobbyists from working on political campaigns, now deploys 170 lobbyists in key positions as fundraisers and advisers.

Then there's torture — the issue most related to McCain's own experience as a POW. In 2005, in a highly public fight, McCain battled the president to stop the torture of enemy combatants, winning a victory to require military personnel to abide by the Army Field Manual when interrogating prisoners. But barely a year later, as he prepared to launch his presidential campaign, McCain cut a deal with the White House that allows the Bush administration to imprison detainees indefinitely and to flout the Geneva Conventions' prohibitions against torture.

What his former allies in the anti-torture fight found most troubling was that McCain would not admit to his betrayal. Shortly after cutting the deal, McCain spoke to a group of retired military brass who had been working to ban torture. According to Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former deputy, McCain feigned outrage at Bush and Cheney, as though he too had had the rug pulled out from under him. "We all knew the opposite was the truth," recalls Wilkerson. "That's when I began to lose a little bit of my respect for the man and his bona fides as a straight shooter."

But perhaps the most revealing of McCain's flip-flops was his promise, made at the beginning of the year, that he would "raise the level of political dialogue in America." McCain pledged he would "treat my opponents with respect and demand that they treat me with respect." Instead, with Rove protégé Steve Schmidt at the helm, McCain has turned the campaign into a torrent of debasing negativity, misrepresenting Barack Obama's positions on everything from sex education for kindergarteners to middle-class taxes. In September, in one of his most blatant embraces of Rove-like tactics, McCain hired Tucker Eskew — one of Rove's campaign operatives who smeared the senator and his family during the 2000 campaign in South Carolina.

Throughout the campaign this year, McCain has tried to make the contest about honor and character. His own writing gives us the standard by which he should be judged. "Always telling the truth in a political campaign," he writes in Worth the Fighting For, "is a great test of character." He adds: "Patriotism that only serves and never risks one's self-interest isn't patriotism at all. It's selfishness. That's a lesson worth relearning from time to time." It's a lesson, it would appear, that the candidate himself could stand to relearn.

"I'm sure John McCain loves his country," says Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar under Bush. "But loving your country and lying to the American people are apparently not inconsistent in his view."

In other words, McCain is an inveterate liar.

In 2004, the Republicans attacked John Kerry at what seemed like his strongest point — his combat service in Vietnam, while Bush was too drunk and coked up to show up for his piss tests at the Air National Guard unit Daddy had gotten him into — and turned it into a weakness. In 2008, they're doing it again, attacking Obama's character and honor. But if character and honor counted for anything, McCain would have been run out of public life a long time ago.

The McCain brand is a myth. Read the article. Send it to your Republican brother-in-law.

Posted by Jonathan at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Monday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

(Rerun)

Posted by Jonathan at 10:26 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Joke Humor & Fun

McCain is still sinking in the polls. He's getting desperate. His new campaign slogan is "McCain: The White Obama." — Bill Maher

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October 05, 2008

Register To Vote Politics

Are you registered to vote?

If not, here's a site that tells you, state by state, what you need to do and by when. Here's another.

And here's some encouragement:

[Thanks, Erin]

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Metastasis Corporations, Globalization

Walmart's growth, visualized.

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Obama And Israel Palestine/Middle East  Politics

Yes, I know it's political advertising, but it's beautiful. Pass it on.

[Via AmericaBlog]

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Daily Tracking Polls Politics

Gallup's daily tracking poll has Obama up 8.

Kos's daily tracking poll has Obama up 12.

Posted by Jonathan at 01:25 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Homer Simpson Votes Humor & Fun  Politics  Vote Fraud

Video here.

Let's hope on November 5th we're still laughing.

[Thanks, Miles]

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Tina Fey Debates Humor & Fun  Politics

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Sunday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

Posted by Jonathan at 12:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Joke Humor & Fun

Political experts are saying that to succeed in the vice presidential debate, Sarah Palin needs to show that she has the same concerns as everyday Americans. For instance, Palin planned to start the debate by saying she's really troubled by John McCain's choice for vice president. — Conan O'Brien

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October 03, 2008

McCain Debates... McCain Humor & Fun  Politics

Great Jon Stewart bit. Watch especially McCain vs. McCain starting at the 1:45 mark. Unbelievable.

But McCain is the straight talker. I heard it on the teevee.

Posted by Jonathan at 03:48 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Buy The Rumor, Sell The News Economy

The House passed the bailout bill, after which the Dow dropped almost 300 points in 20 minutes.

Wheee!!

Update: The Dow finished the day down 157.47. That's a drop of 486 points from its peak shortly before the bill passed. A vote of no confidence from the market.

Posted by Jonathan at 12:45 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Sarah Palin Debate Flowchart Humor & Fun  Politics





Exactly.

(Source)

Posted by Jonathan at 11:25 AM | Comments (2) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Cardiac Arrest Economy

Nouriel Roubini, the NYU economist who predicted in detail pretty much everything we're seeing transpire in the financial system, writes today:

It is now clear that the US financial system - and now even the system of financing of the corporate sector - is now in cardiac arrest and at a risk of a systemic financial meltdown. I don’t use these words lightly but at this point we have reached the final 12th step of my February paper on The Risk of a Systemic Financial Meltdown: 12 Steps to a Financial Disaster (Step 9 or the collapse of the major broker dealers has already widely occurred).

Yesterday Thursday a senior market practitioner in a major financial institution wrote to me the following:

Situation Report: So far as I can tell by working the telephones this morning:

  • LIBOR bid only, no offer.
  • Commercial paper market shut down, little trading and no issuance.
  • Corporations have no access to long or short term credit markets -- hence they face massive rollover problems.
  • Brokers are increasingly not dealing with each other.
  • Even the inter-bank market is seizing up.

    This cannot continue for more than a few days. This is the economic equivalent to cardiac arrest. Then we debated what is necessary to restart the system.

    I believe that the government will do another Hail Mary pass, with massive guarantees to the short-term commercial credit system and wide open short-term lending by the Fed (2 or 3 times expansion of the Fed balance sheet). If done on a sufficient scale this action will probably work for a while. But none of these financial measures affects the accelerating recession -- which will in turn place more pressure on the financial sector.

  • Another senior professional in a major global financial institution wrote to me:

    Today, in our trading room, I could see the manifestations of a lending freeze, and the funding hiatus for banks and companies, with LIBOR bid only, the commercial paper market closed in effect, and a scramble for cash - really really scary.

    Do you think this is treatable without a) a massive coordinated liquidity boost and easing of monetary policy and b) widespread nationalisation of some banks, gtess to others AND a good bank/bad bank policy where some get wiped along with their investors? The Treasury TARP plan is an irrelevance if we are at a major funding crisis.

    And to confirm the near systemic collapse of the system of financing of both financial firms and corporate firms Warren Buffet declared yesterday, as reported by Bloomberg:

    the U.S. economy is "flat on the floor" after a cardiac arrest as companies struggle to secure funding and unemployment increases.

    "In my adult lifetime I don't think I've ever seen people as fearful, economically, as they are now," Buffett said today in an interview with Charlie Rose to be broadcast tonight on PBS. "The economy is going to be getting worse for a while." ...The credit freeze is "sucking blood" from the U.S. economy, Buffett said.

    We are indeed at the cardiac arrest stage and at risk of the mother of all bank and non-bank runs...

    There's a lot more in his paper, including suggested actions. Read it.

    The problem now is that nobody knows which banks, brokerage houses, hedge funds, etc., are insolvent because of toxic mortgage-related assets and which are not. (Non-bank entities — the so-called "shadow banking system" — are relatively unregulated, thanks to Republican policies, and so have minimal transparency, and many of the mortgage-related assets on their balance sheets are grossly overvalued. If they were marked down to their true market value, many more of these entities would be found to be insolvent. But because of the lack of transparency, nobody knows which ones are insolvent or which dominoes will knock down which other dominoes.) Roubini likens it to walking blind through a mine field. As a result, nobody wants to lend money to anyone else. The Fed and the Treasury can pump liquidity into the system, but it does no good because banks are hoarding whatever cash they can get their hands on. The American economy has been living on credit for some time. Now the credit window has slammed shut, so the economy is grinding to a halt. It's a self-reinforcing feedback loop, because the more things seize up the more scared people get, so the less willing they are to lend or invest, which makes things seize up even more.

    Don't think the House/Senate plan will fix this. It won't.

    Posted by Jonathan at 11:12 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Friday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:05 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Joke Humor & Fun

    What I wish Biden had said:

    Well, it's a very strange political campaign. I mean, out on the campaign trail, John McCain and Sarah Palin are talking about how they stood up to the Republican party. They fought the Republican establishment. They battled Republicans. And their message? Vote Republican. — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    October 02, 2008

    Obama On Jobs Politics

    This is good:

    Meanwhile, John McCain is selling one of his many homes. This one has:

    10 fireplaces (in the desert)
    13 bedrooms
    14.5 bathrooms
    15,000 square feet
    a wine tasting room
    an air conditioned playhouse for the kids
    6 car garage
    an extra second garage
    surrounding the pool, 3 ramadas with full size bars
    22 flat screen tvs

    But Obama is the elitist. I heard it on the teevee.

    Posted by Jonathan at 11:14 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Thursday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:59 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Joke Humor & Fun

    Now yesterday, John McCain said that Federal aid to Wall Street shouldn't be called a "bailout," but instead should be called a "rescue." Yeah. McCain also said he's not old, he's "geezerific." — Conan O'Brien

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    October 01, 2008

    Windchime Poetry

    Friend Jacqueline, architect, poetry lover, and mother of the enchanting Guinivere and the irrepressible Ophelia, the three of them living in the apartment downstairs, just sent me a most lovely poem. I hope you like it as much as I do:

    Windchime
    by Tony Hoagland

    She goes out to hang the windchime
    in her nightie and her work boots.
    It’s six-thirty in the morning
    and she's standing on the plastic ice chest
    tiptoe to reach the crossbeam of the porch,

    windchime in her left hand,
    hammer in her right, the nail
    gripped tight between her teeth
    but nothing happens next because
    she’s trying to figure out
    how to switch #1 with #3.

    She must have been standing in the kitchen,
    coffee in her hand, asleep,
    when she heard it — the wind blowing
    through the sound the windchime
    wasn't making
    because it wasn't there.

    No one, including me, especially anymore believes
    till death do us part,
    but I can see what I would miss in leaving —
    the way her ankles go into the work boots
    as she stands upon the ice chest;
    the problem scrunched into her forehead;
    the little kissable mouth
    with the nail in it.

    It's magic, the way good poetry can show us the world in a single, small moment. A kind of awakening.

    [Thanks, Jacqueline]

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:56 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Have You Changed Or Are You The Same? Activism  Politics

    The last eight years have changed us all, or should have.

    Sally Anthony reminds us of some of what has changed us — and why we desperately need change in our leadership — in this moving video. Go watch it.

    [Thanks, Maurice]

    Posted by Jonathan at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Wednesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 09:26 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Joke Humor & Fun

    One day after the worst day in the history of the stock market, the Dow surged almost 500 points, with one of the largest single day gains ever. But don't get too comfortable. The Dow is a little bit like Britney Spears, in a way. Yes, it made a nice comeback today, but at any moment, it could chug a Red Bull and shave its head and punch a photographer and we'll be right back where we started. — Jimmy Kimmel

    Posted by Jonathan at 09:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb