From Pine View Farm

2008 archive

The Republican Party Breaks New Ground in Stupid 0

(Yeah, I know this is going to be blogged to death and no one will notice my little rantings back here in the last row, but, as my mother would have said, “Honestly!“)

Lead* from The Hill:

RNC candidate Chip Saltsman’s Christmas greeting to committee members includes a music CD with lyrics from a song called “Barack the Magic Negro,” first played on Rush Limbaugh’s popular radio show.

Gunnar Myrdal said that “the Negro problem in America is a white man’s problem.”

Clearly, these Republicans do have quite a problem.

I will not pretend to understand the dynamics of contemporary race relations in the United States. I will claim to understand a lot of the history of them, because I’ve studied it. And I have lived through major changes in them, from growing up under Jim Crow to living, these days, thankfully, not under Jim Crow.

Anyone who would argue that racial prejudice–not to mention religious prejudice, sex (“gender,” by God! is a grammatical concept–it has to do with words, not persons) prejudice, and other types of prejudice are not part of American society is a fool or a self-justifying bigot or a combination thereof.

Now, I’m not arguing that the “Barack the Magic Negro” guy is personally a bigot. I don’t know the gentleman and, fortunately, hope never to meet him.

I will argue and have argued that the Republican Party made itself the party of bigotry with the odious “Southern strategy.” Whether or not individual party hacks leaders were personally bigots is immaterial; the party set out to take advantage of bigotry for electoral gain (in much the same way as it cynically recruited fundamentalist right-wing Christians with its phony-baloney “family values” rhetoric).

I will say this with great certainty: Anyone who’s lived through any part of the 60 years of the current civil rights struggle and hasn’t figured out what he can’t say (or do) in public without getting into trouble is too stupid for words.

(That, of course, eminently qualifies him for RNC Chairperson.)

Steve has more over at ASZ. A nugget:

It is still up in the air whether the Republicans will ever learn that civility is the new way to win campaigns.

(The Hill via Huffington Post.)


* It’s “lead,” as in the “lead into the story,” not “lede,” dammit. Misspelling a word does not make it more important or more special.


A New One for the “Not Gonna Happen” Dept. 2

Steve lays it out over at ASZ.


In the Clear Light of Day 0

The Booman explains why truth matters.


Spin Cycle 0

Wrapping up the year, from Fact Check dot org:

We’ve often said that the spin never stops in Washington. And the weeks since Nov. 4 offer further evidence of that.

Consider some of the bogus claims we’ve debunked just since Election Day:

  • It’s not true that unionized auto workers at Detroit’s Big Three make more than $70 an hour, as claimed by some opponents of federal aid.
  • And no, 3 million workers won’t be tossed out of work if aid is not forthcoming, as claimed by those favoring a taxpayer bailout.
  • President-elect Obama never promised to seek a ban on all semi-automatic weapons, as claimed by some fearful gun owners.
  • And no, Obama did not propose a Gestapo-like civilian security force as claimed by a Republican member of Congress from Georgia and any number of overwrought bloggers.
  • Democrats in Congress are not discussing any plan to confiscate the assets in 401(k) retirement accounts, another falsehood spread about by chain e-mails and Internet postings.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not demand a 757-size personal jet, a false claim resurrected when Democrats criticized Big Three executives for flying to D.C. on their own private jets to beg for aid.
  • And Pelosi’s husband doesn’t own a $17 million stake in a food company that she may (or may not) have tried to help with an exemption from a new minimum wage law.

For details, plus bonus features including video of misleading TV spots by the United Auto Workers and by auto dealers, please read on to the Analysis section.


How To Fill a Box of Stocks with Air . . . (Updated) 1

Bonddad explains “securitization”:

This is where securitization comes into play. Instead of making one big pool of mortgages we “carve up the cash flows” – meaning, we make a series of bonds that pay people at different times. For example, one bond will pay principal and interest to a specific bond holder for three years beginning 3 years from now and ending 5 years from. Another bond holder will get principal and interest payments for 7-10 years from etc…. That’s all that securitization is – pooling a group of mortgages with similar characteristic (interest rate, length of maturity) and directing the various cash flows to different people at different times. That’s all.

This process has been going on for the better part of 25-30 years now without much incident. So – what went wrong this time?

The biggest problem with securitization is no one has a vested interest performing due diligence on the borrowers – the people taking out the mortgage loans. The mortgage brokers write the loan and sell it to a large investment bank. The investment bank pools the mortgage and carves it up into different bonds. The bond holders don’t hold all the collateral, only pieces of it. As a result, no one really owns all the mortgages for an extended period of time. Instead, the most they own is a piece of a larger pool of mortgages.

Let’s go back to the first few paragraphs. Remember – we’re using collateral composed of residential mortgages. What if we’re writing a lot of mortgages to people who aren’t credit worthy? That’s the central problem with the mortgage securities market right now – mortgage brokers wrote a lot of loans to people who couldn’t afford them. In other words, the collateral used as the basis for mortgage backed bonds was bad collateral. No matter how you carve the cash flows, you’re still using collateral that will eventually default.

Addendum, That Evening:

Mithras thinks Bonddad isn’t clear on what is the cart and what is the horse.

Frankly, I think that Bonddad pretty much nailed the mechanics of the process; that’s what I was interested in when I put up the post this morning.

As to where it went wrong, well, we can argue over the mechanics of what went wrong, and everyone can be right and everyone can be wrong all at the same time.

Whether it started to go wrong on Main Street, with the mortgage lenders, or on Wall Street, with self-designated Masters of the Universe, is really not the issue.

It went wrong when financial types convinced themselves and their regulators that the “invisible hand of the market” (whatever that is) was somehow inherently moral.

It doesn’t matter whether the initial mistakes were made by lenders or by Wall Street.

For all practical purposes, they colluded. Main Street signalled it was willing to make junk loans. Wall Street signalled that it was willing to “securitize,” well, just about anything, as long as it could find marks buyers. Hell, they would have “securitized” free paper matches if they thought they could find buyers.

Chicken or egg? Egg or chicken?

Doesn’t matter.

What matters is that, when greed takes control, good sense and judgement and moral sense go out the window. The “invisible hand of the market” knows not morality, but worships wealth.

I must say, though, that, as far as I am concerned, Mithras has a better handle on a solution: Make sure that the box of stocks Wall Street is trying to sell is not a box of air.

That breaks the fraud.

All that matters for a solution is breaking the fraud at the most efficient possible location.


Foretelling the Future 0

Criswell predicts that the Bernie Madoff case will be the foundation of a Law and Order episode by March.


The House that Jack Built 0

A fable of our times.

Via Susie.


Seen on the Street 1

Bumper Sticker:

An Obedient Woman
was never remembered by history.


Too Stupid for Words (Updated) 0

Holy moly. Going out in a blaze of dumb.

Steve comments.

H/T Karen for the link.


Digby has a theory.


They Just Can’t Stop 0

More lies. It’s the only weapon they have.


Stray Thought 1

One of the benefits of having grown-up kids is quiet Christmas mornings.

One of the detriments of having grown-up kids is quiet Christmas mornings.


Merry Christmas 0

The season of hope.

Footnote here


Merry Christmas 0


Campaign Retrospective 0

TPM selects the five sleaziest commercials of the fall 2008 campaign:


Recap: Why, Indeed, the Republicans Are Responsible for This Mess 0

Here’s the Big Picture of How They Did It.

Back in the Olden Days, the United States suffered financial “panics” every 20 years or so.

Yes, that’s what they were called. “Panics.”

From 1929 through 1931 came the biggest panic of them all. It was termed the “Great Depression.” (The term “Depression” was adopted to avoid using the term “panic.”)

In its post mortem, it was discovered that the financial system of the 1920s was based on air.

Financiers were buying and selling air.

As long as no one noticed they were selling air, prices and “wealth” continued to increase.

Once the air was discovered (the stock market crash of 1929), the whole damn pile went to hell.

In response, the United States created watchdogs (“regulatory agencies”) to ensure that, when someone bought a box of “financial instruments” (aka, stocks and bonds), there was something in the box other than air.

Under regulated capitalism, the United States economy flourished. Yeah, there were speed bumps from time to time, but it was basically sound from the end of World War II until today. Well, yesterday. Well, a few years ago.

(By the way, the term “recession” was coined to avoid having to use the term “depression.” Recession = Depression = Panic.)

In the mid-1980s, the Republican Party began to castrate the regulatory agencies.

In the late 1990s, they accelerated their actions; in the early 2000s, they reached their political climax of releasing wolves in the hen house.

They used two primary strategies.

In some cases, they exempted certain types of “financial instruments” and financial organizations from regulation.

In other cases, they reduced the size of the agencies’ staffs and restricted their activities so that they were unable to discharge their duties.

Once again, air returned to the markets.

And, once again, this fall, persons finally opened their boxes of stocks and bonds and “securitized” “financial instruments” and found their boxes, well, full of air.

The Great Crash of 2008 is not an accident.

It did not result from some mystical inevitable “business cycle.”

Republicans did it.

And they did it to all of us.

And to the rest of the world. Q. E. D.


Also posted at the Great Orange Satan.


Nowhere To Go, Nothing To Do Dept. 0

Merry Christmas,

In the United States, consumers cut spending for a fifth successive month during November and their incomes shrank, according to a Commerce Department report that pointed to deepening recessionary pressures.

It said spending contracted by 0.6 percent after falling even more steeply by 1 percent in October. Incomes contracted by 0.2 percent after a slight 0.1 percent gain in October.

New U.S. orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fell 1 percent in November, a less severe drop than anticipated.

The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped by 30,000 to a 26-year peak last week. Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 586,000 in the week to December 20 from a revised 556,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.

(signed) George W. Bush and the Republican Party


Kennedelicious 0

Hard to disagree with this:

Caroline Kennedy apparently thinks that she is entitled to be appointed as the next junior Senator from New York.

She shouldn’t be. Think about it.

Her qualifications? Her name is Kennedy and she can raise a lot of fat-cat money for herself and for New York democrats who support her.

Her strategy? Ignore the voters and the press and meet with the political bosses behind closed doors to convince them to pressure Governor David Patterson to appoint her to Hillary Clinton’s seat.

Is there a more cynical message in the Age of Obama?

Who’s supporting her? Among her chief backers is New York City’s billionaire Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg who recently decided to ignore a legitimate and binding citywide referendum that prohibited him from seeking a third term. In one of the most appalling examples of an arrogant “the public be damned” attitude, Bloomberg convinced the City Council to overrule the will of the people so he could stay in City Hall. He’s a big contributor to many of the folks who supported this brazen move.

Legendary Tammany Hall boss Carmine De Sapio would love both Bloomberg and Caroline for bringing back the old “power to the bosses” style of politics.

The columnist goes on to point out that Kennedy has voted in only about half the contested elections in New York since 1988. She appears to have no political vision (as opposed to political leanings), not even a defective one.

The columnists suggest that Governor Patterson will likely name Andrew Cuomo, just to get him out of the political landscape of New York state and away from being in a position to oppose any future ambitions that Mr. Patterson may have.

Aside: One of the characteristics of the very rich is that they get used to getting things without working for them.

As an appointed Senator, Caroline Kennedy would probably be no worse than most elected Senators and better than many (can anyone say, “Norm Coleman”?), but jeez oh man.


Bushonomics 2

The future of your economy.


Breaktime 0

Off to drink liberally.


Moving Day 2

They’re headed for the Bushborough.