Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, June 22, 2009 8:02 pm

Eating their lunch, drinking their milkshake, kicking their …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 8:02 pm
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Huffington Post is starting to edge out The Washington Post’s Web site and may be about to make a run at as well.

If they want to accelerate the trend, I know of a guy they could hire.

Saturday, June 20, 2009 1:00 pm

A temper tantrum is pointless if there’s no one around to enjoy it

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 1:00 pm
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Via one of my Facebook friends, Best. Toddler. Tantrum. Ever.

Friday, June 19, 2009 8:20 pm

Teh Stoopid is making us sicker and poorer*

Last summer, I did a piece for the N&R that talked about how as much as a third of the $2.4 trillion or so Americans spend every year on health care goes toward drugs, devices or procedures for which there is insufficient, or even no, evidence of absolute or relative effectiveness.

So this year, HR 2502 was introduced to create a Comparative Effectiveness Institute that would research and report on how well drugs/devices/procedures, some of which generate huge amounts of revenue for health-care companies, work both in absolute terms and in comparison to one another. (As I noted in my article, a similar measure was introduced in the last Congress, but it didn’t get far.) Y0u would think that a rigorous program of checking the effectiveness of these things, given its potential to put a huge dent in health-care costs, would be a popular idea.

You would be wrong:

On Monday, Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced the “Preserving Access to Targeted, Individualized, and Effective New Treatments and Services (PATIENTS) Act of 2009,” a new bill prohibiting Medicare or Medicaid from using “comparative effectiveness research to deny coverage.”

And why would Jon Kyl do this? Three guesses, and the first two don’t count:

Pharmaceutical representatives currently instructs doctors on the effectiveness of medications, and the industry opposes research that would lead the government to eschew coverage for ineffective or unnecessary treatments. Fewer prescriptions translate into lower profits and the industry lobbied hard to pare down the cost effectiveness language in the House and Senate versions of the stimulus bill. In fact, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have donated $1,971,968 to Kyl’s career election efforts and ran ads on Kyl’s behalf in 2006. Moreover, according to recently released 2008 personal finance disclosures, Kyl invests heavily in pharmaceutical companies.

Substantively, opposition to this kind of research is awful public policy; politically, it shows breathtaking amounts of hypocrisy and chutzpah:

1. Politicians who rail against wasteful government spending are taking action to prevent the government from reining in … wasteful spending.

2. Politicians who warn that the burden of entitlements is killing the federal budget are stepping in to block … the single most painless route to reducing the growth of entitlements.

3. They’re doing it in the name of avoiding “rationing of health care” … but they’re specifically addressing taxpayer-funded care. If you want to go out and buy a medically useless treatment, Medicare won’t stop you.

4. These same politicians are, of course, opposed to efforts to expand coverage. In other words, it’s evil for government to “ration care” by only paying for things that work; it is, however, perfectly OK, indeed virtuous, to ration care by refusing to pay for any care at all.

It’s almost enough to make you wonder whether some people really want health-care reform.

*h/t to Shannon Brownlee for the title

“The squeaky wheel got greased.”

The Washington Post fires Dan Froomkin. Fred Hiatt still works there. And you still think there is a God?

Steven Benen comments:

The Politico says the move is “sure to ignite the left-wing blogosphere,” but Froomkin’s departure, if true, should disappoint anyone concerned with insightful political analysis. Indeed, far-right complaints notwithstanding, Froomkin has spent months scrutinizing the Obama White House, cutting the Democratic president no slack at all. Just over the past couple of days, Froomkin offered critical takes on the president’s proposed regulations of the financial industry, follow-through on gay rights, and foot-dragging on Bush-era torture revelations.

Froomkin was one of the media’s most important critics of the Bush White House, and conservative bashing notwithstanding, was poised to be just as valuable holding the Obama White House accountable for its decisions.

So Froomkin, whom I read frequently, was 1) holding Obama and Bush to the same standards on some major policy issues and 2) also holding Obama to the standards set by his own campaign rhetoric. No one else on the Post’s staff comes anywhere close to meeting that performance standard, so of course Froomkin’s the one who gets fired. The Post needs to check its HVAC system for aerosolized traces of Teh Stoopid.

I hope Froomkin lands on his feet. I’d like to say I trust he will — he’s one of the best analysts in the blogosphere and head and shoulders above every print competitor — but we don’t live in a fair world.

The Post’s ombudsman blogged about this, and readers are letting him have it. As well they should.

Journalism is dead.

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 6:06 pm
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Really. Just ask Fox.

Getting to the bottom?

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the mysterious dismissal by the Obama Justice Department of a suit against the New Black Panther Party regarding voter intimidation in Philadelphia during the 2008 general election. Now, by a unanimous vote with one abstention, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission has sent a letter to Loretta King, the acting assistant attorney general who oversees the civil rights division, pointing out that there appears to have been no good reason for the dismissal.

Good. Perhaps there’s a good explanation for the department’s decision in this case. But we’ve seen no evidence of that at this point. And political meddling in the decisions of the career professional staff, which was wrong when it happened in the Bush Justice Department, would be equally wrong here.

(h/t: Fred)

Thursday, June 18, 2009 9:14 pm

“First of all, generally speaking, when one apologizes for having done a bad thing (like for instance destroying the world economy), it is good form to wait at least until the end of the sentence to start bragging again.”

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 9:14 pm
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Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is really, really sorry that his company just somehow got swept up in the events that led to the current economic crisis. Really:

While we regret that we participated in the market euphoria and failed to raise a responsible voice, we are proud of the way our firm managed the risk it assumed on behalf of our clients before and during the financial crisis.

Tell it to my 401k, you schmuck.

Matt Taibbi brazenly dares to point out that Goldman’s role was actually, well, a little more involved than that:

Really, Lloyd? You “participated” in the market euphoria? You didn’t, I don’t know, cause the market euphoria? By almost any measurement, Goldman was a central, leading player in the subprime housing bubble story. Just yesterday I was talking to Guy Cecala at Inside Mortgage Finance, the trade publication that tracks statistics in the mortgage lending industry. He said that at the height of the boom, in 2006, Goldman Sachs underwrote $76.5 billion in mortgage-backed securities, or 7% of the entire market. Of that $76.5 billion, $29.3 billion was subprime, which is bad enough — but another $29.8 billion was what’s called “Alt-A” paper. Alt-A mortgages are characterized, mainly, by crappy documentation and lack of equity: no income verification, no asset verification, little-to-no cash down. So while “only” 38% of the mortgage-backed securities Goldman underwrote were subprime, more than three-fourths of their securities were what is called “non-prime,” i.e., either subprime or Alt-A. …

These [lousy] mortgages … would never have been possible had not someone devised a method for selling them off to secondary buyers. No local bank is going to keep millions of dollars worth of Alt-A mortgages on its books, because no sensible company lends out money to very risky customers and actually keeps those loans on its balance sheet.

So this system depended almost entirely on banks like Goldman finding ways to … chop the mortgages up into little bits, repackage them as mortgage-backed securities … and sell them to unsuspecting customers on the secondary market. … Next thing you know, a bunch of teachers in Holland are betting their retirement nest eggs on a bunch of meth-addicted “homeowners” in Texas and Arizona.

This isn’t really commerce, but much more like organized crime: it was a gigantic fraud perpetrated on the economy that wouldn’t have been possible without accomplices in the ratings agencies and regulators willing to turn a blind eye. …

I’ve been saying that last bit for some time. Glad to know that someone who knows significantly more about this than I do agrees with me.

But wait! There’s more!

Second of all, what is particularly obnoxious about this phrase is that Goldman is bragging about the fact that it actually made money while it was pumping the economy full of explosive leverage. … Goldman’s continual bragging about its mortgage hedges is one of the more obnoxious phenomena in the recent history of Wall Street, given that it was selling this [garbage] by the ton during that same period.

And it wasn’t just selling lousy mortgage-backed securities, either. It also was killing other companies and putting a screwing for the ages on the American taxpayer in the process:

AIG’s death spiral was triggered not so much by its bets going sour, but by companies like Goldman that demanded that AIG put up cash to show its ability to pay. These collateral calls were what killed AIG last September, and Goldman was one of those creditors pulling the trigger: what makes this fact even more obnoxious is that ex-Goldmanite Henry Paulson then stepped in and green-lighted an $80 billion taxpayer bailout. Ultimately another ex-Goldmanite named Ed Liddy was put in charge of AIG, and Goldman ended up getting paid 100 cents on the dollar for its AIG debt. So basically Goldman helped kill AIG, necessitating a federal bailout, after which time it got paid off handsomely for bets that it certainly would not have been paid off completely for had AIG simply been liquidated.

Go read the whole thing, not-safe-for-work language and all. And the Blankfeins of the world wonders why there’s still a small but persistent segment out there calling for the whole freakin’ finance industry to be nationalized….

Yeah, it’s almost EXACTLY like that …

I don’t know much about Rep. Pete Hoekstra, but this Twitter message of his doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in his analytical abilities.

Apparently I’m not the only one.

And, via Facebook, my friend Carroll comments: “Feeling Pete Hoekstra’s pain. I used a neti pot this a.m., which is JUST LIKE waterboarding yourself.”

And, wow, this didn’t take long.

UPDATE: John Culberson also boards the Stoopid Train.

Memo to the attorney general

TO: The Hon. Eric Holder, Attorney General
DATE: 18 June 2009
RE: The Bush administration’s illegal warrantless-wiretapping program

You may think there’s some meaningful distinction between “in contravention of” and “illegal,” or between “inconsistent with the dictates of — of FISA,” and “illegal.” But those of us who speak English know otherwise.

You weasel.

It was illegal. It was both a criminal and a civil violation of the law. In fact, the program constituted repeated violations because it was reauthorized every few weeks for quite a while.

But I guess you can’t use the word “illegal” because then you’d have to, well, do something about it.

Like, you know, your job.

A tip for comment spammers

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 8:54 pm
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If your comment comes from, even spam filters a lot less competent than mine will catch you. Just sayin’.

Not exactly a position of strength

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 8:37 pm

Gallup has a poll out, which, like most polls (unfortunately), focuses more on the politics of an issue than its substance. But it’s interesting: It says the public trusts insurance companies and Republican Congressional leaders less than anyone else to do the right thing on health-care reform.

Now, I can think of any number of reasons why, fairly or not, the public wouldn’t trust private health-insurance companies. For example, when you stand up and say under oath, “Yeah, we’re gonna keep screwing people,” it generally doesn’t help your image.

I’m a little less clear on why Republican leaders are graded so much lower than Democratic Congressional leaders. It’s not like the two parties’ positions are all that different: Congressional Dems took single-payer, which the GOP opposes, off the table before things even got started, for example, and as a group they’re not even solidly behind a public option. (My own state’s Democratic senator opposes it, for example.)

But whatever shape the GOP wants to give to whatever health-care reform bill emerges, they’re not in great shape: They’re in the minority in Congress, and if they want to go over the heads of the Dems and media to appeal directly to the public, there’ s not much public there for them to appeal to.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 8:38 pm

So, the report is accepted.

Three years after it was issued, the Greensboro City Council has, as recommended in the report from the Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation Commission, formally expressed regret for the 1979 killings of five Communist Workers Party members by Klansmen and Nazis. The council did so on the recommendation of the city’s Human Relations Commission.

I covered and blogged about the report and its aftermath from the release in May 2006 until early the following year. (Because that N&R blog was created on a system the N&R has since moved its blogs off of, you can’t word-search the blog anymore. But Teh Google may be of some help. Or you can start here and then peruse the archives month-by-month, if you’re that interested.)

A lot has been said about this report by a lot of people, including, as just noted, me, so I don’t have much to add. But my bottom line is:  It’s never OK to shoot people down in the street for what they say or believe. Despite its all-American-ness, this principle is not as widely shared in this community as I would like.

But … but … bloggers ruined journalism!

Well, something did:

So what were the costs to Jonathan Tepperman’s career for being so stupid, so willfully blind to reality? … Why, a regular gig at Newsweek , along with cameo appearances at the New York Times.

This is the caliber of far too many people who are permitted to report the news, and opine, in the mainstream media. …

It is simply sickening that the Teppermans of the world have national access while responsible voices on the blogs are ignored and sneered at.

None of the pundits who most know what they’re talking about works for a daily newspaper or TV/cable network. Not one. They’re all bloggers.

Monday, June 15, 2009 8:51 pm

Friday Random 10, Facebook Monday edition

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 8:51 pm

My bud Bernie Woodall tagged me with this Facebook meme: Write down the first 15 songs that come up in random shuffle mode on your iPod/MP3 player/PC. (I did the latter, using Winamp as per usual.) The results:

1) “Satellite,” Dave Matthews
2) “Never Mind,” Replacements
3) “Salt of the Earth,” Rolling Stones
4) “Runaway Train,” Soul Asylum
5) “Don’t Let It Break You Down,” Graham Parker
6) “Come Out Swinging,” Offspring
7) “Finishing Touches,” Warren Zevon
8) “Waiting in Queensland,” Pressure Boys
9) “It’s Your Thang,” Isley Bros.
10) “Highway Blues,” Ernie Watts et al.
11) “Tomorrow,” U2
12) “I, Me, We, Us, Them,” Chris Mars
13) “Bad Girl,” New York Dolls
14) “I Don’t Care,” Ramones
15) “Lover,” Flat Duo Jets

lagniappe: “Mohammed’s Radio,” Jackson Browne & Warren Zevon

Textbook rant

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 8:46 pm

… by which I mean a rant about textbooks (by Seth Godin), although the other meaning works just as well except for the part where he didn’t use enough cuss words.

(One of my Facebook friends posted this link, but now I can’t find which one.)

An apology from Ed Whelan

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 8:23 pm
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National Review blogger Ed Whelan, who outed the Obsidian Wings blogger heretofore known pseudonymously as Publius, has apologized for doing so, and Publius has accepted the apology.

The merits of pseudonymous blogging are a legitimate question. I happen to think that discussion of issues frequently is enriched by pseudonymous contributors; certainly the blogosphere would be a poorer place without them. And having put my name on my words in front of the public professionally for a quarter-century, and for more than a decade on my own time on the Intertubez, I understand and appreciate the value of putting one’s real name behind one’s arguments.

But outing a pseudonymous blogger/commenter without his/her permission, while not breaking any law, is in general an incredibly rude, discourteous and immature thing to do, IMHO. You can never know for sure what a person’s motives are for blogging under a pseudonym, and you can’t know in advance whether you might cause real-life harm to the blogger — or, worse, a blogger’s relative or employer who had nothing to do with the whole thing — by outing him/her.

That said, Publius and Whelan are moving on, so I am, too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009 8:02 pm

News wants, and now has permission, to be free

Filed under: Journalism — Lex @ 8:02 pm
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The nonprofit investigative-journalism outfit ProPublica is trying so hard to get its work in front of a wider audience — it posts its stuff with a Creative Commons license rather than relying on the more restrictive standard copyright — that it actually uses the slogan, “Steal our stories.”

The Associated Press is going to take them up on it:

The Associated Press today announced a program to promote non-profit investigative journalism, including articles from ProPublica, to its members for re-publication. The material will be distributed to AP members — including essentially all of the nation’s leading newspapers — through the Web-based delivery system AP Exchange. There will be no charge to AP members for using the stories, which, in addition to ProPublica, will come from the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Center for Public Integrity, and the Investigative Reporting Workshop. Announcement of the new program, described as a six-month pilot project, came at the annual convention of Investigative Reporters and Editors, held this year in Baltimore.

This move by AP should provide further impetus to the movement we’ve been pushing for editors and publishers to steal our stories under our Creative Commons license. We’ve been pleased recently to see ProPublica articles end up in the Orlando Sentinel and the Arizona Star, and on Web sites ranging from Huffington Post to RealClearPolitics to Keep those thefts coming.

As the newspaper industry, the source of the bulk of investigative reporting in America, continues to tank, a lot of people have been asking who will pick up the slack. ProPublica can’t do it all, of course, but it’s a good start.

Given the News & Record‘s focus on local news, it’ll be interesting to see whether ProPublica produces anything either so Greensboro-centric or so important-AND-uncovered-elsewhere that the N&R will pick it up. I wouldn’t bet on its happening anytime soon, but you never know.

Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:09 pm

The question is: What are we going to do about it?

Filed under: We're so screwed — Lex @ 3:09 pm
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“Memo to the Iranians: Dudes, if you’re going to steal an election, you gotta at least make it within the realm of possibility. Hell, Bush won Florida by, what, 700 votes in 2000? Now that’s a believable margin of victory. Giving your incumbent a lead of more than 30 points at a time when there’s massive inflation, unemployment and social unrest just ain’t credible. And especially don’t make it out that the opposition lost even in areas where he was considered the strong front runner. It’s like having John Kerry lose Massachusetts — no one’s buying it.”

— Brad at Sadly No

“… just as a first reaction, this post-election situation looks to me like a crime scene.”

— Juan Cole, Informed Comment

“The best evidence for the validity of the arguments of the three opponents of the President for rejecting the results declared by the Interior Ministry is the data the Ministry itself has issued. … Statistically and mathematically, it is impossible to maintain such perfect linear relations between the votes of any two candidates in any election — and at all stages of vote counting. [In plain English, the odds against the vote numbers lining up in this precise proportion in an honest election are millions, if not more, to one — Lex] This is particularly true about Iran, a large country with a variety of ethnic groups who usually vote for a candidate who is ethnically one of their own. … [A]ccording to the data released by Iran’s Interior Ministry, in both cases, Mr. Ahmadinejad has far outdone both candidates in their own provinces of birth and among their own ethnic populations.”

— Muhammad Sahimi, Tehran Bureau

This is not the outcome we wanted — in substance or in process. So now what?

Friday, June 12, 2009 8:29 pm

Talking points

Filed under: Quote Of The Day — Lex @ 8:29 pm

“‘Its just an opinion. Its just entertainment. Its harmless.’ No it’s not. Its the precursor to Radio Rwanda. And no, I do not advocate silencing them. But the news media doesn’t have to amplify it.”

commenter demkat620 at Balloon Juice, on right-wing extremist rhetoric.

And speaking of idiots …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:51 pm

… at least this once, Andrew Breitbart had the stones to admit publicly that he was wrong. All snark aside, props for that.

Stephen F. Hayes, pants-wetter

No, really.

I guess the idea of preserving the admissibility of evidence was anathema during the Bush years because of the amount of criminal activity the government was up to and its need to keep the population afraid of terrorists and therefore docile.

So it’s no surprise that Hayes is unhappy that we have people running the country who 1) might actually be able to put terrorists away, and 2) understand that the best way to defeat our enemies is to play to our strengths — e.g., the rule of law, due process — rather than become like them.

You see, Steve, if we do it your way, the terrorists really do win.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 10:09 pm

PAYGO: Yes, we’ll have to have it both ways — one way at a time

The president wants Congress to adopt a pay-as-you-go approach to the federal budget and says he hopes to halve the federal deficit by 2012. Republicans say there’s no way he is sincere about it. (PAYGO means you don’t propose a spending increase without an offsetting spending cut and/or tax increase to pay for it.)

Unfortunately, this ain’t a yes-or-no question, and as a longtime deficit hawk, I say that with great pain. But here’s the deal.

First, we’re in a bad way fiscally. The deficit for FY09 topped a trillion in May, with four months still to go in the year.

Second, not only are we going to have to live with that for a while, if we want to get people back to work we ought to make it even worse. Yes, really. That’s because the economy is doing so poorly at job creation right now that federal spending is going to have to help make up the difference. The amount of federal spending needed to make a serious dent in an unemployment rate of 9.4% would create a deficit more than twice as big as the one we’ve got, but some credible economists are arguing that that’s what we need to do anyway.

Politically, it won’t happen — long-term job creation is never a big winner on Capitol Hill — but hypothetically, if it did, it would help in the long run if that money were spent on things that would help boost future productivity and, thus, economic growth. Besides being a good thing in itself, the resulting prosperity could make reducing future deficits a lot easier. (Examples of such spending areas include education/training and upgrading our Internet infrastructure. At least a dozen fairly sizable countries have significantly better networks than ours.) But, of course, that money might not be spent, or at least not concentrated on, such productive targets.

But even with that political reality, the fiscal reality is that neither Obama nor anyone else is going to halve the deficit by 2012. Doing so, even if significant tax increases were enacted, would also require so many cuts in spending that 1) significant parts of the electorate would revolt and 2) the impact on the still-fragile economy likely would be disastrous. If the deficit is no larger in 2012 than it is in 2009, that’ll probably be about the best we can hope for, and that’s not even the most likely scenario.

So Obama is being disingenuous at best — and, I would in fact argue, consciously lying — when he suggests we can halve the deficit in four years.

But the Republicans absolutely do not come to this discussion with clean hands, either. The national party has a 30-year history of profligacy. (Republicans like to point out that Dems controlled the House for Reagan’s entire presidency, and controlled the Senate for two of Reagan’s eight years. They’re less eager to point out that every single budget enacted by Congress in that era had a smaller deficit than the ones Reagan originally proposed.) It is evidence of how debased our national discourse has become that House Republican Whip Eric Cantor is given a platform by CNN to criticize what Obama has done in five months when George W. Bush and a mostly (but not entirely) Republican-controlled Congress inherited a near-surplus (accounting for raids on the Social Security trust fund, the only recent year in which the government truly ran a surplus was FY99) and then spent eight years passing irresponsible tax cuts, running two wars off-budget, and looking the other way while fraud Treasury-looting on a breathtaking scale was taking place in every arena from rebuilding Iraq to providing prescriptions for seniors.

Then there are the less obvious agendas of some — though by no means all — of those who want us moving more quickly toward restoring fiscal stability.

The people who tried to partially privatize Social Security in 2005 are still out there. They hate SS on principle and are perfectly willing to use the deficit as an excuse to claim that the program is in much worse shape than it actually is. (In fact, the changes made in 1983 to cover the Baby Boomers’ retirement are doing exactly what they were supposed to do, and the program can be kept solvent over a 75-year horizon with only minor changes.)

And the Grover Norquists of the world — the people who, over the desires of a solid majority of the electorate, want to make government small enough to “drown it in a bathtub” — are out there, too. And if at least some of the people who want to cut SS are sincere but misinformed, the Norquist crowd is simply a bunch of liars. Their roots lie with the Reagan folks who, as David Stockman famously confessed, knew tax cuts wouldn’t really raise revenue to balance the budget, as they had claimed, but would in fact create deficits so great that discretionary spending would have to be butchered — which was their point.

So how do we get back toward a balanced budget?

For one thing, health-care costs are going to have to be reduced. And unfortunately, some of the biggest contributors to that problem aren’t being targeted for solutions. The more visible problems of Medicare and Medicaid will have to be addressed as well, and it will be imperative that those programs adopt some of the documented best practices of other organizations, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs.

For another, we’re going to have to cut the defense budget, big-time. And that will mean learning to work more cooperatively with our allies to protect and advance our national and shared interests. We haven’t done such a hot job of that in recent years.

And until we get back on track fiscally, we’re going to have to ask all Americans, but particularly the wealthy and large corporations, who have benefited so much from government policies in the past 30 years and particularly in the past eight, to contribute more.

It’ll take more than all that, too, but those will be the biggies. No one or two of them will fix the problem alone. But I agree with anyone, irrespective of their underlying motive, who says we need to get the fisc back in order. There will always be bad economic times when deficit spending is called for to stimulate the economy. But to be able to do that without creating long-term damage, we need to run balanced budgets or even surpluses when times are middlin’-to- good. And not enough politicians are willing to say that.

AP reporter busted for saying on Facebook that sun rises in East

Pretty much, anyway:

An Associated Press reporter’s official reprimand over an innocuous comment on his Facebook page has sparked the ire of union officials. They are now demanding that AP clarify its ethics guidelines and are also urging reporters to watch who they add to their friends lists.

“We have seen about six Facebook problems over the last two months, with employees — maybe managers you have as friends — reporting potential issues to management,” union guild chief Kevin Keane wrote in a memo to union members last week. “You must be careful who you allow on as friends.”

Richard Richtmyer, a Philadelphia-based newsman, set off Tuesday’s tempest with a seemingly harmless comment posted to his Facebook profile late last month criticizing the executive management of newspaper publisher McClatchy, whose stock plummeted following a 2006 acquisition of San Jose-based Knight Ridder.

“It seems like the ones who orchestrated the whole mess should be losing their jobs or getting pushed into smaller quarters,” Richtmyer wrote on May 28. “But they aren’t.”

McClatchy, like countless other newspaper publishers, happens to be a member of the AP’s newsgathering cooperative. Had the comment been uttered in real life, it likely would have dissipated into the rank air of a Philly journo bar. But Richtmyer had some 51 AP colleagues as Facebook friends, some of them higher up in the AP food chain. One turned out to be a “mole” — Richtmyer’s description — and the reporter was given a firm talking-to by AP management, who put a reprimand letter in his employment file.

Paul Colford, a spokesman for New York-based AP, declined in an e-mail to address Richtmyer’s case. But he said that “guidance offered to AP staff is that participation on Twitter and Facebook must conform with AP’s News Values and Principles.” That ethics policy says writers “must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news. They must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues in any public forum.”

Obviously, I need to get some disclaimers out of the way first.

One, posting online about your day job is really not a good idea. You just never know what kind of innocuous remark is going to set someone off. (Posting online about my day job was actually part of my day job for a while, and that was some of the most fun I had in a 30-year media career. But, kids, that kind of gig — although growing more common, as it should — remains almost lottery-type rare.)

Second, journalists, for better or worse (and I know people all along the political spectrum who think it’s for the worse), can’t really post online about issues they cover in any way that could be construed as taking a position on the merits of someone’s argument. (That doesn’t mean they can’t take issue with factual assertions that are objectively disprovable, even if a lot of the DC media appear to think that it does.) That’s not a great construct, and I’m pretty sure it won’t always be the one most journalism operates under, but it’s kind of the industry standard for now.

But in this case? We have a reporter saying that management that ran a company into the ground ought to have suffered some consequences for that. He’s saying management must be accountable for a corporation’s performance. And AP believes that this is a “contentious public issue”? I’d thought it had been one of the underlying principles of corporate governance since we’d had corporations.

And call me crazy, but I want my business journalists to understand that idea and be familiar and comfortable with its logical implications. Wait, “want”? I demand it. Anyone who invests in a corporation in any way, shape or form ought to feel the same way.

Reprimand Richard Richtmyer? Screw that. AP needs to not only un-reprimand the guy but also put him in charge of business-news coverage.

One other thing, AP: From a PR standpoint, you really should have just let this go.

An Associated Press reporter’s official reprimand over an innocuous comment on his Facebook page has sparked the ire of union officials. They are now demanding that AP clarify its ethics guidelines and are also urging reporters to watch who they add to their friends lists.

“We have seen about six Facebook problems over the last two months, with employees — maybe managers you have as friends — reporting potential issues to management,” union guild chief Kevin Keane wrote in a memo to union members last week. “You must be careful who you allow on as friends.”

The New York headquarters of the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)

The New York headquarters of The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)

Richard Richtmyer, a Philadelphia-based newsman, set off Tuesday’s tempest with a seemingly harmless comment posted to his Facebook profile late last month criticizing the executive management of newspaper publisher McClatchy, whose stock plummeted following a 2006 acquisition of San Jose-based Knight Ridder.

“It seems like the ones who orchestrated the whole mess should be losing their jobs or getting pushed into smaller quarters,” Richtmyer wrote on May 28. “But they aren’t.”

McClatchy, like countless other newspaper publishers, happens to be a member of the AP’s newsgathering cooperative. Had the comment been uttered in real life, it likely would have dissipated into the rank air of a Philly journo bar. But Richtmyer had some 51 AP colleagues as Facebook friends, some of them higher up in the AP food chain. One turned out to be a “mole” — Richtmyer’s description — and the reporter was given a firm talking-to by AP management, who put a reprimand letter in his employment file.

Paul Colford, a spokesman for New York-based AP, declined in an e-mail to address Richtmyer’s case. But he said that “guidance offered to AP staff is that participation on Twitter and Facebook must conform with AP’s News Values and Principles.” That ethics policy says writers “must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news. They must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues in any public forum.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 9:02 pm

New health hazard: zombie mimes

Filed under: Fun,Hooper — Lex @ 9:02 pm
Tags: , , ,

Setting: My study, a few nights ago. DADDY is doing banking and/or bill-paying, I can’t remember exactly. Enter HOOPER.

Hooper: Daddy, I had a nightmare. (crawls into my lap; snuggles)

Daddy: I’m sorry, buddy. Do you remember what it was about?

Hooper: Yes. (pause) Zombie mines.

Daddy: What? ‘Zombie mines’?

Hooper: Yeah. (pause) Not the mines like you dig. The other kind.

Daddy: The kind that blow up?

Hooper: No. The kind that wear makeup.

Daddy: (understanding slowly dawning) Oooooohhhh. Zombie mimes.

Hooper: Yes. Those. I was scared of them.

Daddy: Well, I would be, too, buddy. But it’s OK. They’re not real. It was just a dream. (trundles Hooper back off to bed)

* * *

Only here’s the thing.

First, if a mime was a zombie, how, at any safe distance, could you tell it from a normal mime? Is there some special mimetic gesture that’s the equivalent of droning, “BRRRRAAAAAAAIIIIIINNNNNNSSSSSSSS”? And if so, why haven’t we been warned?

Second, that night, I also dreamed of zombie mimes. And they were, indeed, scary.

3 chords and the truth

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:16 pm
Tags: ,

I didn’t get to see the English Beat in Chapel Hill because I suck, but not only did Tony get to, he got some darned good hand-held video. Here’s probably my favorite EB song, “Save It For Later”:

Rule 4a of Journalism: Always do the math

Filed under: Journalism — Lex @ 7:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

It is a commonplace not only among the public but even within the newspaper industry that Craigslist is killing newspapers by sucking away classified-advertising revenue,.

Here’s my question: How?

Craigslist revenue has only now topped $100 million a year.

Drop in newspaper classified-ad revenue in the most recent year? About $4 billion.

Someone want to explain this to me? Because even this English major knows that that math don’t add up.

(h/t: Tosczak)

UPDATE: My bud Jon Lowder e-mails a link to this Jeff Jarvis piece posted today, which may explain much of the discrepancy. It’s more about the big picture, although it uses newspapers-vs.-Craigslist as an example.

I need to think some more about whether I buy Jarvis’s argument. He argues that old economic metrics no longer apply. Problem is, we’ve heard several times in the past couple of decades that the old rules didn’t apply, only to find out, quite painfully, that they indeed still did. I’m not enough of an economist (at least, not yet) to figure whether there are holes in Jarvis’s thesis.

Shooting at the Holocaust Museum

Of all places. Good God.

My prayers go out to the family of the dead security guard, Stephen Tyrone Johns. My thanks go to the two other security guards who were able to wound suspect James von Brunn before he could hurt anyone else.

Here’s a little background on von Brunn. It ain’t pretty.

Here’s a Google cache of a page from what is purportedly von Brunn’s Web site.

I certainly hope von Brunn survives. If he’s guilty, I think it could be fun to watch how he does in prison.

And I also hope this incident will help the government get it through its thick skull that right-wing domestic terrorism, while obviously not comparable to what might happen if al Qaeda got a nuke, really is a clear and present danger. (And that’s not to say that right-wing domestic terrorists couldn’t get a nuke, either.)

That said, I’m reasonably sure that federal investigators know as much about von Brunn as the Southern Poverty Law Center seems to. I think it would probably make a lot of people feel better if they gave some indication of that.

UPDATE: Greetings to folks stopping by from CNN. Y’all make yourselves at home.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 9:52 pm

Another swing-and-a-miss in New York … and I ain’t talking baseball.

On Saturday, The New York Times published this story:

WASHINGTON — When Justice Department lawyers engaged in a sharp internal debate in 2005 over brutal interrogation techniques, even some who believed that using tough tactics was a serious mistake agreed on a basic point: the methods themselves were legal.

Previously undisclosed Justice Department e-mail messages, interviews and newly declassified documents show that some of the lawyers, including James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general who argued repeatedly that the United States would regret using harsh methods, went along with a 2005 legal opinion asserting that the techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency were lawful.

Only here’s the thing: The Times based its story in significant part on memos from Comey that actually show the opposite with respect to combining various forms of, as the phrase goes, enhanced interrogation techniques. Go on and read ’em yourself; it won’t take long.

What they actually show, among other things, is that both Comey and another Justice official, Pat Philbin, were raising serious concerns about the analysis that led to the conclusion that torture was legal; that Vice President Dick Cheney was putting pressure on Justice to provide legal cover — and to do it quickly; that Comey personally told then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez that the combined-effects memo “would come back to haunt him and the Department.” (Gonzalez even agreed with Comey that that memo was unacceptable as written.)

Comey also writes:

[Ted Ullyot, then chief of staff to Gonzalez] asked if I felt like I had had the chance to adequately air my views with the AG. I told him I had, so much so that the AG had agreed with me, which left me puzzled about the need to send the opinion now.

I told him that the people who were applying pressure now would not be there when the [   ] hit the fan. Rather, they would simply say that they had only asked for an opinion. It would be Alberto Gonzalez in the bullseye. I told him that my job was to protect the Departmwnt [sic] and the AG and that I could not agree to this because it was wrong.

Constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald provides more detailed analysis of how the memos undermine the Times’ thesis rather than supporting it.

So does Marcy Wheeler, a former federal prosecutor, at Firedoglake. One thing she finds in the memos that the Times somehow did not is that ” … the May 10, 2005 authorization to use combined techniques was designed to give legal cover for something that had already happened.” She also provides additional analysis, particularly in this post, although even someone not overly familiar with either Washington politics or the law can look at the plain meaning of the memos and understand that the Times article does not accurately represent their contents.

In particular, she points out that although the Times says Comey said individual torture techniques were “legal,” Comey in fact makes clear that he believes only that they do not violate one particular U.S. statute (which was all he actually was asked about). He specifically emphasizes that he is not considering whether they might violate the Geneva Conventions or the UN Convention Against Torture.

Here’s Greenwald’s summary:

It’s worth noting that all of the officials involved in these events — including Comey — are right-wing ideologues appointed by George Bush.  That’s why they were appointed.  The fact that Comey was willing to go along with approval of these tactics when used individually — just as is true of his willingness to endorse a modified version of Bush’s NSA warrantless eavesdropping program in the face of FISA — hardly proves that there was a good-faith basis for the view that these individual tactics were legal.

But the real story here is obvious — these DOJ memos authorizing torture were anything but the by-product of independent, good faith legal analysis.  Instead, those memos — just like the pre-war CIA reports about The Threat of Saddam — were coerced by White House officials eager for bureaucratic cover for what they had already ordered.  This was done precisely so that once this all became public, they could point to those memos and have the political and media establishment excuse what they did (“Oh, they only did what they DOJ told them was legal”‘/”Oh, they were only reacting to CIA warnings about Saddam’s weapons”).  These DOJ memos, like the CIA reports, were all engineered by the White House to give cover to what they wanted to do; they were not the precipitating events that led to and justified those decisions.  That is the critical point proven by the Comey emails, and it is completely obscured by the NYT article, which instead trumpets the opposite point (“Unanimity at DOJ that these tactics were legal”) because that’s the story their leaking sources wanted them to promote.

What’s most ironic about what the NYT did here is that on the very same day this article appears, there is a column from the NYT Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, excoriating the paper for having published a deeply misleading front page story by Elizabeth Bumiller, that claimed that 1 out of 7 Guantanamo detainees returned to “jihad” once they are released.  That happened because Bumiller followed the most common method of modern establishment reporting:  she mindlessly repeated what her government sources told her to say.  As Hoyt put it:

But the article on which he based that statement was seriously flawed and greatly overplayed. It demonstrated again the dangers when editors run with exclusive leaked material in politically charged circumstances and fail to push back skeptically. The lapse is especially unfortunate at The Times, given its history in covering the run-up to the Iraq war.

That is exactly what Shane and Johnston did with these Comey emails.

The first three rules of journalism are 1) follow the money, 2) follow the money and 3) follow the money. Rule No. 4 is: Always read the documents. The NYT article reads as if the people who wrote it didn’t read them. I don’t know whether that’s because, as Greenwald supposes, the reporters were merely parroting what their sources were telling them, or whether something else was going on. But the Times blew this one badly, as anyone who looks at the e-mails him/herself can plainly see.

“Losing the War”

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 9:28 pm
Tags: , ,

The major campaign [Marine Eugene B.] Sledge fought in was Okinawa, which took place toward the end of the war. It was expected to be quick: one more island recaptured from a defeated enemy. But the Japanese withdrew deep into Okinawa’s lush interior, where the rains and the dense foliage made the few roads impassable. The marines had to bring their supplies in on foot — carrying mortars and shells, water and food on their backs across miles of ravine-cut hills. Often they were so exhausted they couldn’t move when the enemy attacked. The battle lines, as so often happened in the war, soon froze in place. The quick campaign lasted for months.

Conditions on the front rapidly deteriorated. Soldiers were trapped in their foxholes by barrages that went on for days at a time. They were stupefied by the unbroken roar of the explosions and reduced to sick misery by the incessant rain and deepening mud. They had to use discarded grenade cans for latrines, then empty the contents into the mud outside their foxholes. The rain washed everything into the ravines; the urine and feces mixed with the blood and the shreds of rotting flesh blown by the shell bursts from the hundreds of unburied bodies scattered everywhere. The smell was so intolerable it took an act of supreme will for the soldiers to choke down their rations each day. Sledge calls it “an environment so degrading I believed we had been flung into hell’s own cesspool.”

He writes, “If a Marine slipped and slid down the back slope of the muddy ridge, he was apt to reach the bottom vomiting. I saw more than one man lose his footing and slip and slide all the way to the bottom only to stand up horror-stricken as he watched in disbelief while fat maggots tumbled out of his muddy dungaree pockets, cartridge belt, legging lacings, and the like. Then he and a buddy would shake or scrape them away with a piece of ammo box or a knife blade.”

The soldiers began to crack. As Sledge writes, “It is too preposterous to think that men could actually live and fight for days and nights on end under such terrible conditions and not be driven insane.” He catalogs the forms the insanity took: “from a state of dull detachment seemingly unaware of their surroundings, to quiet sobbing, or all the way to wild screaming and shouting.” Sledge himself began having hallucinations that the dead bodies were rising at night. “They got up slowly out of their waterlogged craters or off the mud and, with stooped shoulders and dragging feet, wandered around aimlessly, their lips moving as though trying to tell me something.” It was a relief to shake himself alert and find the corpses decomposing in their accustomed spots.

As we mark the 65th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, here’s a remarkable 1997 essay by Lee Sandlin on the meaning of World War II in particular and war in general. Set aside some time for this. It’s good.

(h/t: commenter whet moser at First Draft)

Well, if, by “national hero,” you mean “self-dealing jerkwad who got us into this mess in the first place” … and, by the way, does your mom know you’re smoking all that crack?

There actually is someone in the world, a guy named Evan Newmark at the Wall Street Journal, who considers former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson a national hero who has saved the economy.

I’ll wait a minute while you stop laughing.

OK. No, really:

I said it last October and I’m sticking by it. And now, there’s actual evidence to back me up. The TARP bailout worked. The Wall Street crisis is over.

At least, the market thinks so. At around 30, the VIX, the market’s volatility barometer, is trading at less than half the average level of last autumn. A share of Morgan Stanley is trading more than 400% higher than its October low.

And by this coming Sept. 15, the first anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers, five of the original eight TARP banks will have repaid the American taxpayer $50 billion plus interest.

Don’t get me wrong. The economy is still in crummy shape. But, at least it’s functioning. Not too long ago, we fretted over TARP banks collapsing. Now, we worry about getting full value for our warrants in the same banks.

In an excellent piece published today, my WSJ colleague Peter Eavis grumbles about the measly 5.6% returns earned by taxpayers off their investment in the top 16 TARP banks.

But Paulson’s intent for TARP wasn’t just to make money for the taxpayer. It was to stabilize the credit markets and save the banks at the lowest possible cost.

And that’s exactly what TARP has done. Who can doubt the amazing recovery of the credit markets? The best performing asset class so far in 2009 has been distressed debt, up by nearly 40%.

And the banking system? Investors are now throwing money at it. In May, $85 billion of fresh capital was raised by TARP banks. Bank of America alone has raised $33 billion in capital since the start of the year. …

Of course, everybody in Washington and on Wall Street, got all excited when Obama came to town. The collective wisdom was that both Paulson and his TARP were failures. And the incoming Treasury Secretary duly promised all sorts of new-fangled programs like the PPIP.

But what did Geithner end up doing?

Basically, what Paulson had done before. The TARP. Yes, the Treasury dressed the TARP up with the rigor of the “stress tests,” but at its core Geithner’s primary policy is the TARP.

Nothing wrong with that. If something works, it works. Just give credit where it’s due. And that would be with Hank Paulson, national hero.

Good God, where to start. Well, how ’bout with this: The fact that Geithner is doing the same thing Paulson is doing does not automatically mean that what Paulson was doing was right.

Second, the banks in general are not nearly as healthy as has been reported; they simply were able to game the system to make it look that way:

Analysts who have examined the quarterly profits and government tests say that accounting rule changes and rosy assumptions are making the institutions look healthier than they are.The government probably wants to win time for the banks, keeping them alive as they struggle to earn their way out of the mess, says economist Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University in New York. The danger is that weak banks will remain reluctant to lend, hobbling President Barack Obama’s efforts to pull the economy out of recession.

Citigroup’s $1.6 billion in first-quarter profit would vanish if accounting were more stringent, says Martin Weiss of Weiss Research Inc. in Jupiter, Florida. “The big banks’ profits were totally bogus,” says Weiss, whose 38-year-old firm rates financial companies. “The new accounting rules, the stress tests: They’re all part of a major effort to put lipstick on a pig.”

Further deterioration of loans will eventually force banks to recognize losses that their bookkeeping lets them ignore for now, says David Sherman, an accounting professor at Northeastern University in Boston. Janet Tavakoli, president of Tavakoli Structured Finance Inc. in Chicago, says the government stress scenarios underestimate how bad the economy may get.

(Then there’s the strong possibility that we could be seeing a new wave of residential foreclosures later this year when another big round of ARMS resets. And that doesn’t even get into the commercial real-estate market, which no one even seems to be talking about.)

Third, we knew even at the time that the stress tests were nowhere near as rigorous as they needed to be. They presumed, for one thing, a worst-case unemployment scenario in 2009 of 8.4 percent. And what was May’s unemployment figure? 9.4 percent. Whoops!

Fourth, yeah, banks are able to raise capital now, but only because investors are confident that if the banks run into any more trouble the feds will just bail them out again instead of nationalizing them, fixing them and selling them off again like they should. (Also, there’s reason to believe that at least in the specific case of Bank of America, that raising of capital wasn’t necessarily completely clean, although I’ll grant I’m not sure how relevant that is to the larger issue.)

Fifth, there’s the role of Paulson himself. Take it away, Matt Taibbi:

Exactly what part of Paulson’s record is heroic, Evan? The part where he called up SEC director William Donaldson in 2004 and quietly arranged to get the state to drop capital requirements for the country’s top five investment banks? … After that, it was party time! Bear Stearns in just a few years had a debt-to-equity ration of 33-1! Lehman’s went to 32-1. By an amazing coincidence, both of these companies exploded just a few years after that meeting, and all of the rest of us, Evan, ended up footing the bill, thanks to a state-sponsored rescue of Bear and a much larger massive bailout of Wall Street in general, necessitated in large part by the damage caused by the chaos surrounding Lehman’s collapse.

Meanwhile your own Goldman, Sachs ended up with a 22:1 debt-to-equity ratio a few years following that meeting, a number that would have been much higher if one didn’t count the hedges Goldman bought through a company called AIG. Thanks in large part to Paulson’s leadership in his last years as head of Goldman, the company was so massively over-leveraged that it would have gone under if AIG — which owed Goldman billions when it went into its death spiral last September — had been allowed to collapse. But thanks to Hank Paulson, who heroically stepped in and gave AIG $80 billion the same weekend he allowed one of Goldman’s last key competitors, Lehman, to collapse, Goldman didn’t have to go without that money; $13 billion of the AIG bailout went straight to Goldman. So I guess we have Paulson to thank for the fact that he used about $13 billion of our taxpayer money to essentially bail out his own [screw]ups. …

Maybe it was the way Paulson pronounced the subprime fallout “contained” in 2007 and called the economy the “strongest in decades?” Or maybe it was the way he remained calm last July, saying that it was a “very manageable situation” and “our regulators are on top of it?” Remember how he said all that [stuff], Evan, just about six weeks before the world exploded? Remember that Henry Paulson was actually in charge of regulating the financial environment during the last years of the crisis and did nothing as his buddies on Wall Street built one gigantic mountain of leverage after another, gashing underwriting standards across the board, saddling the country with a generation of toxic assets that all of the rest of us will be paying for in taxes (instead of, for instance, a health care program, which we can now no longer afford) for the next fifty … years? Do you remember that part? …

Maybe it was that. Or maybe it was the way Paulson got a $200 million tax deferral thanks to an obscure rule that allows executives who join the government to defer taxes on their holdings. That means that not only did Paulson use billions of our money to bail out his own mistakes, he managed to use a loophole to get out of paying his fair share of that same bailout.

Even if it weren’t about five years too early to make any kind of judgment at all about whether or not TARP helped, the notion that Henry Paulson is a hero is complete and utter madness because TARP would never have been necessary if someone, anyone, who wasn’t a greed-addled incompetent like Paulson had actually been regulating the economy in the last years of the Bush adminstration.

I understand that the WSJ op-ed pages and blogs are dedicated to propagating a wide variety of opinions (ahem). But is it asking too much that those opinions at least be based on facts that apply in this dimension?

Apparently so.

UPDATE: Taxpayers, the banks’ TARP repayments may well mean just another screwing:

Through cheap loans, debt guarantees and a promise that big banks will not be allowed to fail, these officials say the government has created an artificial environment in which profits and stock prices have rebounded, helping banks in recent weeks to raise about $50 billion from private investors.

The money allows the strongest banks to return federal aid provided at the peak of the fall financial crisis, but few banks have expressed eagerness for the government to end the other forms of support, creating concern that these programs will be habit-forming and more difficult to terminate.

As a result, independent experts warn that the government’s relationship with the industry is entering a precarious new phase. As with mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government will no longer share in the banks’ profits, but it still stands ready to absorb losses.

“It’s good from an individual investor point of view, it’s great for the banks, but from a system point of view it’s very dangerous,” said Simon Johnson, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.

See, the thing is, despite Paulson’s, um, heroism (and Newmark’s sycophancy), we’re still vulnerable if we don’t fix the things that got us here in the first place:

We have both spent large chunks of our lives working on Wall Street, absorbing its ethic and mores. We’re concerned that nothing has really been fixed. We’re doubly concerned that people appear to feel the worst of the storm is over — and in this, they are aided and abetted by a hugely popular and charismatic president and by the fact that the Dow has increased by 35 percent or so since Mr. Obama started to lay out his economic plans in March. But wishing for improvement and managing by the Dow’s swings are a fool’s game. …

The storm is not over, not by a long shot. Huge structural flaws remain in the architecture of our financial system, and many of the fixes that the Obama administration has proposed will do little to address them and may make them worse. …

Six months ago, nobody believed that our banking system was well designed, functioning smoothly or properly regulated — so why then are we so desperately anxious to restore that model as the status quo? Nearly every new program emanating these days from the Treasury Department — the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, the Public Private Investment Program, the “stress tests” of major banks — appears to have been designed to either paper over or to prop up a system that has clearly failed.

Instead of hauling out the new drywall to cover up the existing studs, let’s seriously consider ripping down the entire structure, dynamiting the foundation and building a new system that rewards taking prudent risks, allocates capital where it is needed, allows all investors to get accurate and timely financial information and increases value to shareholders and creditors.

Problem is, the Tim Geithners of the world are what got us here in the first place. And Barack Obama is what got Geithner here in the first place.

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