Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, January 28, 2010 9:14 pm

Odds and ends for 1/28

The ultimate Miller Time: Earlier this month, Harriet Ames turned 100 and then scratched the last item, getting her college diploma, off her bucket list. The next day, that sheepskin in her hand, she died.

To the best of my ability, I will never again say a bad word about the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Conflict of interest?: The New York Times isn’t commenting on a report that the son of its Jerusalem bureau chief is serving in the Israeli military. I understand the problems that publication of this fact, if fact it be, is likely to create for the editor and the paper, as well as the possible security threat for the son and his unit if in fact this is the case. But this isn’t something the Times can ignore or stonewall.

Sen. Judd Gregg: PWNED!!111!!: Gregg, who has been pimping this idea of a bipartisan deficit-reduction commission to shield Congress from the political liability of making tough decisions, shows why he needs the shield when MSNBC’s Melissa Francis, whose work will never keep the Peabody Award people up nights, asks him to name something he’d cut from the budget and he refuses to answer. (To say nothing of the fact that he hems and haws around the question of cutting education spending when that has practically been Job 1 for the GOP since Reagan. Brother, please.)

But you don’t want to reward them, either: Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz says we not only need a lot more stimulus spending, we need it targeted where it will provide a decent rate of return if we’re going to be able to reduce our debt long-term. And where would that be? Technology, infrastructure, education — all the things the Republicans have been trying, by and large, not to fund. Even a ROI of 6% will help pay off long-term debt. But the ROI on spending on banks is 0%. You listening, Mr. President?

Conservative victimization: Obama calls out the Supreme Court for its wrongheaded, wrongly reached ruling in a wrongly accepted case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and the wingnuts accuse the president of trying to “intimidate” the conservative activist wing of the Court. Questions, for the wingnuts (which is most of ’em) who spent eighth-grade civics out back smoking dope: How, exactly, do you go about intimidating someone who already has been confirmed to a lifetime appointment? And how easily intimidated do you have to be to hold such a job and still be intimidated by … well, pretty much anything?

The cops lied, and fortunately, 12 of 14 jurors were willing to do something about it. I’ll say it again: I have too much respect for good cops to have any tolerance for bad ones.

George Stephanopoulos asks a good question. NewsBusters has a hissy fit, spouts objectively false claims. (“Liberal media” = “They won’t tell the lies we WANT them to tell.”)

In many important ways, the United States sucks compared to other countries, and it is important to remind ourselves of that. On the other hand, we — alone, I believe, among industrialized countries, and I’d be sad to be wrong about that but not for the reason you probably think — have given corporations more rights and fewer freedoms than people, so we’ve got that going for us.

Bigotry in Malawi: A gay couple in that country are being held “for their own safety” in jail. Where they’re being beaten up.

“I’ve never actually played FarmVille, but any game worth playing has to have Pork Knights”: How to Suck at Facebook.

The Great American Interrogation Disaster, from the man who may know more about interrogation than anyone else alive.

Memo to Andrew Breitbart from the Universe: Payback’s a bitch.

You may be a mansplainer if …: Consider me warned.

Freeloaders: In Moscow, stray dogs use the subway. For free. For real.

Britain’s libel laws are much stricter than America’s. There’s just one problem.

America loves Brett Favre: How much? More than anything that wasn’t a Super Bowl since the “Seinfeld” finale in May 1998.

Huge loss: Journalist Joe Galloway is hanging up his notepad. In recent years, Americans who have worn the uniform and those who wear it still have had no better friend.

Huger loss: J.D. Salinger, RIP.

I have just found the one college course even cooler than my employer’s “Ten Greatest Pop Songs of the Past 50 Years”: ZDI.001: Introduction to Zombie Defense. I forwarded this to several friends, one of whom said she also would post it and added, “I’m also going to read closely for practical purposes.”

And in that vein, I love people who think like this: Seated with Michelle Obama during the State of the Union was 18-year-old high-school senior Li Boynton, who’s researching ways to test water for purity. After reading Life of Pi, a novel about a guy stranded in the middle of the ocean, Boynton designed a solar-distillation device in case the same thing ever happened to her. She was in fifth grade.

And, finally, this is genius: Dante’s Internet:

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:20 pm

Nobel Prize-winning economists agree …

… that the Geithner plan is a stinker. First Krugman, now Joseph Stiglitz:

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s plan to wipe up to US$1 trillion in bad debt off banks’ balance sheets, unveiled on Monday, offered “perverse incentives”, Stiglitz said.

The U.S. government is basically using the taxpayer to guarantee against downside risk on the value of these assets, while giving the upside, or potential profits, to private investors, he said.

“Quite frankly, this amounts to robbery of the American people. I don’t think it’s going to work because I think there’ll be a lot of anger about putting the losses so much on the shoulder of the American taxpayer.”

I know you’ll find this hard to believe because I don’t show it, but here at Chez Blog on the Run, there’s already a lot of anger.

This is Obama’s plan. Sort of makes you wonder what he’d be pushing if he hadn’t campaigned for “change you can believe in.”

Relatedly, it seems Wall Street is insisting that the White House play ball with them if it wants to advance its plan.

The administration “is adjusting to find the right balance” between politics and policy, says Thomas Nides, chief administrative officer at Morgan Stanley. “The White House understands that to have a healthy Main Street, you need a healthy Wall Street.”

Shockingly, Nides gets it precisely bass-ackwards: To have a healthy Wall Street, you need a healthy Main Street. Those stocks, and the mutual funds and derivatives and all those other byzantine securities based on them that got us into this mess, are based on Main Street homes and businesses, not the other way ’round. And it’s way beyond time more people on both Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue started remembering that.

UPDATE: The Rude Pundit, who is not, to my knowledge, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, also weighs in:

The first bailout under Bush was a gift to the financial institutions, like giving flowers to your rapist. In as simplistic an explanation as possible, the Obama plan is to keep playing the same hand, with a bit more oversight, a little more in the way of loans, and some cash tossed at homeowners, and that’s a failure to recognize that the game has changed from poker to Go Fish. It seems like Obama wants to get only to second base with nationalization, but abstinence never works, man, never.

And Doctor Housing Bubble ain’t at all thrilled, either:

I’ll get into the details of the plan later in this article but this application pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with this program.  First, participating institutions must have the capacity to raise $500 million of private capital.  This is great for bailout participants that are deemed too big to fail since they’ll have that money easily accessible.  Next, they’ll need a minimum of $10 billion in market value assets under management.  This is important to keep out the riff raff of “small time investors” since only the big boys know how to mange money.  Finally, the deadline for the PPIP application is get this, April 10, 2009 at 5:00pm Eastern Time.  Bwahahaha!  They already know who is going to get the bids!  So much for that “open” market place notion.  They spent such a long time devising this plan and now they expect solid plans to come out in a little over 2 weeks?  The Treasury already has an idea who is going to play in this game on taxpayer funds and it is the same institutions that created this mess.

If you want a sense of who stands to benefit just look who posted massive rallies today:

bigwinners

Even though the market posted a “broad” 7 percent rally, many of these firms tripled that in the same day.  And don’t think this rally was somehow spurred by the retail investor sitting on the sideline.  You mean the unemployed ran back in to gamble in the stock market?  You mean to tell me that 50 percent of those in our country that are 1 or 2 paychecks away from financial trouble knew to invest in these firms that stand to benefit the most from this poorly planned investment program (the real PPIP)?  Amazing isn’t it?  This was a major gift to Wall Street.

I’m still open to arguments that this plan is a good thing for average Americans. Really, I am. But I ain’t feeling that.

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