SocraticGadfly: 9/28/08 - 10/5/08

October 04, 2008

What MSM and poll aggregators won’t tell you — the ‘surge” of third parties

Why is Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr polling such high numbers as 11 percent in New Hampshire, 10 percent in Nevada and 8 percent in Ohio, even?

Well pollster Douglas Schoen, the author of "Declaring Independence: The Beginning of the End of the Two-Party System,” believes the mainstream media are missing something big:
There is widespread — and growing — dissatisfaction with the major parties in America. Even the initial rise of Obama was in large part attributable to frustration with the political system and response to his call for a nonpartisan outsider to change Washington. ….

However, Obama has had to go negative, McCain has flip-flopped time and again from the maverick of old to the GOP's status quo, and the Palin effect is wearing off as the governor’s politics appear to be no different from those inside the Beltway. Disenchanted voters are not fooled for long by rhetoric. As the major-party candidates show their true colors, many of these voters will start turning toward third-party alternatives.

Indeed, polling aggregate pundits such as FiveThirtyEight, Electoral-Vote, and Real Clear Politics, are not just missing the boat, but refusing to talk about it as well.

And Schoen knows his stuff. He was an advisor to President Clinton from 1994 to 2000.

For a good overview of ALL third parties, visit Third Party Watch.

Note to John Cornyn — shouldn’t you worry about winning an election first?

And maybe afterward worry about getting some GOP Senate post. Besides, aren’t you forgetting that Your Master’s Voice won’t be in the White House after Jan. 20 and that you’ll therefore be of less interest to other Senate Republicans?

Oh, and a sidebar — if the Senate race is within 7 percentage points, and the presidential race in Texas is now within 10, will either Obama or Biden start spending time here to do more than just big up some fat cats’ donors checks?

Atheists sue Bush!

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing Bush on the grounds that presidential “National Day of Prayer” proclamations are a government endorsement of religion.

And, the group is right.

Nader challenged Duopoly candidates to visit mosque

Boom! Put your First Amendment money where your mouth is, both McCain and Obama. Instead of visiting just churches and the occasional synagogue, visit a mosque, Ralph Nader says.

Now, actually, I’ll give Obama a pass on this until Nov. 5. Certainly, I’ll give him a pass on it unless McCain goes first, for reasons of all the rumor-mongering.

BLM sells out southern Utah

New Bureau of Land Management proposed resource management plans would severely lessen protection of both environmental and archaeological beauty in places like Cedar Mesa.

As drafted, per High Country News, the plans open about 80 percent of this land to energy development. Nearly half a million acres would lose their status as areas of critical environmental concern.

That means ORVs tearing up more fragile land. It means fragmenting wilderness study areas to deliberately make it harder to make them into protected wilderness. And it means more oil and gas drilling.
“It’s the Bush administration’s last stand to make sure Utah’s public lands are open for development,” says Liz Thomas, attorney at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

To make matters worse, the BLM is rushing the changes through.
“We really need to get these wrapped up because we’re running out of money,” explains Don Ogaard, lead planner for the Utah BLM. The fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, and the Utah BLM cannot suck any more money out of the national coffers for the plans, he says. All of the records of decision will be signed by the end of October.

Uhh, yeah, right. Nov. 4 is the date on your calendar, Mr. Ogaard.

Obama vs. McCain — the ground-war difference

It’s hard for McCain to run a “get out the vote” effort when you can’t get people out to get other people out to vote.

The Juice gets squeezed out in Vegas

But, how can O.J. Simpson find Ron Goldman’s and Nicole Brown Simpson’s real killers, when he’s likely to spend most his remaining life in jail?

Of course, the Goldman family ain’t gonna be collecting any more civil suit money, either.

October 03, 2008

Schadenfreude for rich Dallas homebuyers

In the $1 million range, a full 20 months of homes stand listed for sale.

Economy not so bad as Wells Fargo bids for Wachovia

Wells Fargo ups Citigroup’s bid for Wachovia, setting up an epic financial battle. Because the WF deal is a straight bank acquisition, rather than a government-arranged shotgun marriage, I think it’s preferable.

News of the deal bumped the Dow upward.

(Disclosure: I bank at WF.)

Krauthammer: It’s Obama

Despite his still shiving Obama on things like Ayers, I can only say “wow” if Krauthammer is throwing in the towel.

And, frankly, I agree with the rest of Krauthammer’s analysis, from Obama’s personality through his transition from primary to general election campaigns.

Right now, and anticipating this week’s Intrade of mine, I’ll give you 50-50 that he tops 300 electoral votes.

The heartless Sarah Palin on display

I hadn’t noticed this last night, but Salon’s Joan Walsh points out Palin’s heartless, stuck-on-talking-points blather right after Biden’s touching moment about being a single parent.

Riffing on Walsh, I’m guessing that plays really bad with independent/unaffiliated women, meaning McCain’s “PUMA” bid has finished cratering.

Walsh also gets at one of the most irksome of Palin’s many irksome actions of the night:
I can say for certain, though, that Sarah Palin was talking to — and winking at — her own private Idaho, and for long stretches of the debate.

Amen to that.

Per Walsh’s column, I think the “Can I call you Joe” introduction was staged, though the “kid in a candy store” post-debate antics of “Mom, it’s so swell to introduce you to Gwen Ifill” weren’t staged and were childlike.

Remember, all you GOPers trying to be sweetness and light on the outside — she’s running for president in four years. Have fun waiting.

California running out of money

California, like a number of states, relies on the governmental equivalent of commercial paper at many times, commonly known as bridge loans and similar devices.

Well, with the financial crisis, there’s no money for such loans, even as the state has an Oct. 31 deadline to pay public school districts $3 million.

Bailout load-o-crap passed

Bleech. In a 263-171 vote, the House passed the Senate’s loaded-up version of the financial bailout.

• Paulson still has pretty much a blank check
• We have an AMT fix that’s unpaid for, adding to the deficit
• We have tax cuts unpaid for, adding to the deficit.

No wonder Congress fights against any electoral opening third parties try to get.

Home slump spreading in Texas?

KB Homes CEO Jeffrey Metzger says the housing market is softening more in Austin and San Antonio.

AP tries to nail both Palin and Biden and largely fails

The post-Veep debate wrap-up piece gets nit-picky, and, even though not written by Ron Fournier, does some McCain tire swinging to boot.

For example, it’s NOT erroneous for Biden to talk about McCain’s planned $4 bil tax break for oil companies just because its part of a plan for larger, more broad-ranging corporate tax breaks.

The only “issue” on Biden’s side where the story is true is that Biden did support Gramm-Leach-Bliley. The story claims that President Clinton has said GLB has kept the financial world meltdown from being even worse.

I don’t know if that’s true, that Clinton said that. If so, it shows both that he’s still a clever liar and that he’s fixated on his “legacy.”

As for Palin, the story doesn’t even mention all her gaffes, errors and lies. The most egregious one that’s missing is her misstatement on Afghanistan, claiming Gen. McKiernan (not McClellan, gaffe No. 2) favors a “surge.”

On the Biden side, it missed his biggest lie of all — that you can be opposed to gay marriage and claim you’re not discriminating against gays — a lie shared by all four candidates of the duopoly.

Beyond that, and contra Josh Marshall at TPM, the REAL tire-swinging it that the MSM is in the tank for the duopoly.

Was McKinney, or Bob Barr for that matter, interviewed after the presidential debate?

So much for ‘middle class Sarah’

A family net worth of $1.2 million isn’t exactly sit around the dinner table middle class . Or, as the Daily News put it, “Joe Six-pack is in a champagne tax bracket.”

That said, I will allow that, for most the U.S. outside the "we don't want you 48" states' west and east coasts, Alaska has a high cost of living. Nonetheless, it's probably not too much higher than Dover, Del.,, and certainly not the despised New York City.

Post-Veep debate wrap part II with a Green twist

The Green Party would disagree with both duopoly parties on energy; one is moderately more serious than the other about alt energy, but hopelessly compromised on both clean slightly less dirty coal and ethanol. Neither party has offered tax breaks serious enough on alt-energy.

Obviously, the Green Party would massively disagree with both Prez and both Veep candidates on gay rights.

Opposing gay marriage is discrimination. To claim otherwise is a lie.

And, marriage in general is a civil not a church institution. I hope gay marriage rights remain standing in California after Nov. 4, and that Scalia, Roberts and Alito are prepared to put their decisions where their mouths are at when the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution hits the road of “originalism” jurisprudence.

Joe Biden “skated” pretty swiftly on his role in the 2005 bankruptcy bill, and on what that bill really means. Do they discuss THAT around Dover dinner tables, Joe?

Beyond the Green twist, both candidates were wrong on Iran vs. Pakistan. A seriously destabilized Pakistan is worse than a nuclear Iran. Two panders on that, because that’s sucking up to the hardest-core of the Israel is right crowd.

Even more so with Palin on making Jerusalem the capital.

Anyway, back to the Green twist.

With this debate in the bag, and the poll trends, Obama is the new Tom Dewey if he blows this election.

I can shout “Vote Green” even louder and not worry (unfortunately) that it’s hurting his chances one whit.

Bail out everybody with a zero-coupon bond?

Via Jon Markman, that’s another option to either version of the train wreck that’s passed through one house of Congress, per Brian Reynolds.

He says Paulson should give $500 billion in rebates to all Americans via Fannie Mae zero-coupon bonds maturing in 15 years.

John P. Hussman has a similar idea, not involving Fannie Mae, for a “superbond” to be issued, though not necessarily to every American citizen.

That all said, Markman thinks the bailout issue (in some festooned form or another) will pass, but probably won’t work.

McCain’s lawyers stiffed in Alaska on Troopergate

Alaska judge Peter Michalski says the investigastion is within the state legislature’s lawful scope.. He goes into detail:
Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg said he didn't know whether he'd appeal or if he'll now advise the subpoenaed state officals to cooperate with the investigation. He said he needed to consult with them.

And, here’s a smart decision:
Anchorage Democratic Sen. Hollis French, who is overseeing the investigation, said he would let investigator Steve Branchflower decide how to deal with potential testimony from anyone who previously defied the subpoenas but now wants to cooperate.

Well, we’ll see what talking points McCain’s attorneys give you, Mr. Colberg.

October 02, 2008

Some House GOP, Blue Dog Dems still iffy on bailout

As I predicted last night, at least some House GOP members and Blue Dog Democrats who voted Yes on the original house bailout may vote no on the Senate bill, either over its $100-billion plus of pork or it not going any further than the House bill at reining in Henry Paulson.

The question is, will Speaker Pelosi allow any amendments to the Senate bill?

Here’s another possibility: Blue Dog Dems could vote no on a procedural vote to keep the Senate bailout from ever coming to a vote.

Or, if not, House GOP members are going to push to strip the Senate tax breaks.
Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) filed an amendment with the House Rules Committee late Thursday, seeking to “strip egregious pork projects from [the bailout bill] and save taxpayers nearly half a trillion dollars,” according to a release from the lawmaker.

My prediction?

If a bill IS passed, it’s going to be Christmas-treed far more than the Senate bill.

If you’re a late nighter, watch the early market returns from Asia for their expectation on the vote here.

Post-Veep debate analysis

Otherwise known as David Brooks is from Mars, and we’re from Venus.

I watched PBS. Brooks, in the post-debate wrap-up, first claimed Palin did as well as Biden, then claimed that Biden almost never mentioned Obama vs. how much Palin mentioned McCain.

David, you know that a good Veep candidate is an attack dog, and Biden was busy pinning the

Karen Fitzpatrick agrees that the “folksy” angle of Palin was overdone.

Michael Beschloss cries major foul on Palin for the “white flag of surrender” comment. That said, she may have been trying to provoke Biden; he smartly ignored it.

Beschloss said Biden looked much more human.

Oh, on one specific issue of the debate, Afghanistan:

Oh, per Talking Points Memo, Gen. David McKiernan (not McClellan, we’re not at Antietam Creek), says “Iraq is no Afghanistan. He goes into detail:
During a news conference yesterday, McKiernan described Afghanistan as “a far more complex environment than I ever found in Iraq.” The country's mountainous terrain and rural population, its poverty and illiteracy, its 400 major tribal networks and history of civil war all make for unique challenges, he said.

“The word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge,' ” McKiernan emphasized, saying that what is required instead is a “sustained commitment” to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many more years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.

Vice presidential debate blogging

Biden definitely ahead in debate demeanor, engagement with camera, and more (as well as coherence, of course)

My overall grade? Biden B/B-plus. Palin C-minus/D-plus. Her post-debate demeanor makes her sound like she's a little-girl in a big candy store.

Oh, yes, Ifill gets a C. (Retrospectively, Jim Lehrer gets a B, and Tom Brokaw, given some of your recent comments, you are under scrutiny and on the clock right now for the next presidential debate.

8:06 Multiple Palin lies – suspended campaign, bipartisanship, etc.

8:07 Biden uses the Palin opening.

8:08 Oh my fucking god, Palin winked at the camera.
I call Reverse Sexism

8:10 Palin brings out every cliche short of "Hail Mary."

Then "darn right" ? is she running for sheriff? Later, "bless their hearts." Now, she's running for East Texas meemaw or waitress?

8:12 Palin lies again about Obama's tax plans.

8:14 Palin admits she's not going to answer questions straight up. That was coached, after Biden called her out on that.

8:18 Another Palin lie -- that Obama is mandating health care.

What do state lines have to do with health insurance? Close to jumping the shark.

"Redistribution" is her line not McCain's or her debate coaches.

8:20 Biden: "I don't know where to start."

8:21 Biden talks about McCain-Palin "ultimate bridge to nowhere." Wipe that smirk off your face, Palin, you just got punked.
Note: I like Biden going hardcore on her.

8:22 Biden does verbal judo on Ifill question.

8:23 Biden, I think has better camera presence.

8:25 Uhh, Palin? Mad Jack voted FOR the Senate bailout, which has no regulation of Wall Street.

8:26 Biden seems smart in speaking directly to the people, with Twisted Sister's continual smirk.

8:27 Biden glides by question about 2007 bankruptcy bill, with Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 slide. His first semi-truth of substance. But, he uses that to transition to foreclosure adjustment by judges.

8:30-32 Palin first shark jumper -- twice reverses cause and effect on climate change issues, then claims (cutting through MASSIVE gibberish) that you have to find a solution without finding the problem.

8:34. Palin lies more, indirectly, about the amount of hydrocarbons Alaska has.

8:35 Palin lies again, in not counting "alt energy" at a resource.

8:37 Gay rights -- Biden lies on gay rights. No gay marriage is still discrimination.

8:38 Palin lies much more. Telling a lesbian friend that she shouldn't be able to do everything Palin can is big discrimination. She then throws red meat to the Religious Right.

8:38 Biden panders. And lies. Gay marriage is not a church matter, as state laws decide marriage.

8:45 Both wrong on Iran vs. Pakistan. A seriously destabilized Pakistan is worse than a nuclear Iran. Two panders on that.

8:47 Palin mispronounces "nuclear." Then, goes into a whole mishmash of foreign policy stupidity and lies.
Obama never said he'd meet directly with anybody. As for psychoanalyzing foreign leaders, we could start with George W. Bush.
Then, the bullshit "they hate America" line. No, they hate America occupying Islamic holy places, or giving Zionism a blank check, or other things.

Sidebar on surge not transfering to Afghanistan:

Oh, per Talking Points Memo, Gen. David McKiernan (not McClellan, we’re not at Antietam Creek), says “Iraq is no Afghanistan. He goes into detail:
During a news conference yesterday, McKiernan described Afghanistan as “a far more complex environment than I ever found in Iraq.” The country's mountainous terrain and rural population, its poverty and illiteracy, its 400 major tribal networks and history of civil war all make for unique challenges, he said.

“The word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge,' ” McKiernan emphasized, saying that what is required instead is a “sustained commitment” to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many more years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.

8:49 Biden almost viscerally disparaging in response.

8:52 Palin lies about Israel. Peace-seeking? Not so much. Embassy in Jerusalem? Blatant pandering. At least she didn't talk about the red heifer needed to bring on the rapture.

8:55 Palin claims "finger-pointing" at BushCo undercuts claim of "politics of change."
Biden: "Past is prologue" in linking McCain to Bush.

8:59 Biden excellent stylistically on nuclear proliferation. Uses repetition for rhetorical value. Then transitions from what McCain is supposedly against to what Obama is for.

9:00 Biden "sigh" during Palin comment.... will that tell?

9:03ff Biden does her best to obscure "nuance" on Iraq. But, this is a risk Obama took in picking Biden. Palin's wrong, but, it was a good shot. And, with her "before it before you were against it" dig, referencing back to Kerry, she may carry some water on that issue.

9:09 Palin winked AGAIN! What next, hiking your skirt from behind the podium at the end at the debate.

9:11 THe "Main Street talk" from Palin is grating, at the least, to me. Don't know how it will play out in general.

9:13 Ifill asks "heartbeat away" question; why didn't she ask about McCain's unreleased medical records?

9:14?? "shout-out"? Trailer trash mom? Barbie mom? A younger Gennifer Flowers with tattoed-on lipliner?

9:16 WTF? Why is Gwen Ifill asking the Cheney vice presidential interpretation question? Gwen, you're getting graded tonight by me, just like both candiates, now.

9:21 Biden types Palin's "Main Street" claim.

9:22 Palin's "maverick" claim is wearing thin here, too.

9:23 Biden PERFECT in holding the "NO MAVERICK" riposte in his holster until near the end of the debate, where Palin has little chance to respond.

Southwest traffic falls; to fly to Great White North

Southwest Airlines’ traffic for September was off 6 percent compared to a year ago. Considering the amount of business travelers Southwest carries, and that summer’s over, that’s not a good sign of the state of the economy.

Meanwhile, Southwest is going to start flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul in March.

My professional take on the bailout — ‘billions blown daily’

In my newspaper column this week, I offer my take on the bailout we really need, starting with a bit of snark that the Federal Reserve could riff on McDonald’s slogan with the “billions blown daily” line.

From there, it goes into specifics, including saying somebody should ask Attorney General Mike Mukasey to appoint a special prosecutor in this whole mess. (Wouldn’t that make Paulson and Wall Street crap their collective pants?)

And, I add that the public is probably getting about what it should expect from Democrats and no more, including noting for public consumption this is why I’ll be voting Green again.

Anyway, here’s my full take.

And, NO, I ain’t euphemizing it as a “rescue.”

Where’s global warming? Not at the Snooze

It’s missing completely from a Dallas Morning News story about 14 straight months, and counting, of above-average temperatures here.

Given that 12 of those months were at least 2 full degrees above average, and 11 at least three degrees above average, I think Michael Young needed to discuss more than below-normal humidity/precipitation and urban heat islands as causes.

NYT pundits weigh in on House GOP — and Paulson-Bernanke

It’s the revolt of the nihilists

Oh, we have some choice comments out there!

• Tom Friedman says he suspects some of them “can’t balance their own checkbooks.”

OTOH, Friedman leans towards giving Paulson and Bernanke somewhat of a blank check, so his column overall is hit-and-miss.

• Dave Leonhardt digs into the trust issue further, saying:
But there is good reason for the public’s skepticism. The experts and policy makers who so desperately want to take action have failed to tell a compelling story about why they’re so afraid.

In essence, he’s accusing the Dynamic Duo of scare tactics:
Almost no economist thinks that even a terrible downturn would look like the Depression.

• David Brooks calls recent events “the revolt of the nihilsts”:
House Republicans led the way and will get most of the blame. It has been interesting to watch them on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago, they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support. Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most American minds.

That’s black-and-white thinking for you.

Cornyn lead over Noriega slipping

The latest Rasmussen poll puts the Senate battle at just 50-43. The Snooze speculates that just as the economic woes have hurt Schmuck Talk Express™, Big John is getting dinged, too.

Speaking of that, even the presidential race here has a visible horizon, now: McCain is up just 9 points.

October 01, 2008

Senate passes a possibly WORSE bailout bill

And, it may be WORSE than the House bill.

Upping the FDIC insurance level to $250K is only temporary and not permanent.

And, it extends some expiring corporate tax breaks to the tune of nearly $150 bil.

If I’m a progressive Democrat, the corporate tax breaks issue would have to stick in my craw. And, I can’t see where this has enough other tweaks to attract House GOP naysayers.

The other goodies include:
• Increasing the alternative minimum tax limit, apparently without funding that;
• Requiring mental health insurance parity
• Renewable fuels tax credits.

In other words, per McCain, it's "festooned."

The second and third will rub many in the House GO*P the wrong way; the second will alienate Blue Dog Democrats. No wonder Asian markets are down in early trading. That’s their take on how well this may do in the House.

Here’s your roll call; with a somewhat bigger party difference than in the House, the no votes split about 3-1 GOP.

DeFazio bailout alternative ain’t all that

As I read John Nichols’ description of the Pete DeFazio bailout alternative, I think —

“Where’s the beef?”

Let’s look at a few of Nichols’ touting points:
• SEIU endorsed it? Given Andy Stern, this could be a negative;
• As I’ve blogged elsewhere, former FDIC head Bill Isaac is on record as saying that the idea of an actual pool of FDIC insurance money is a myth without a lockbox;
• There’s no mention on how much, if at all, banks would be charged to expand FDIC insurance limits to $250K.

It’s better than the Pelosi plan, but nowhere near enough.

I’ll have a link to my professional take on this available later; hint: think “special prosecutor” as part of what we really need.

IOKIYAR applies to personal-public distinction on abortion

Boy, the hits just keep coming from the Katie Couric interview of Sarah Palin, don’t they?

In this case, hard-care anti-abortion candidate Palin refused to follow her stances to their logical conclusion.

First, Palin is on record as opposing abortion even in cases of rape. But, when Couric spells out how this would play in the real world, we get yet more Palin follies:
Couric asked, “If a 15-year-old is raped by her father, do you believe it should be illegal for her to get an abortion, and why?” Palin dodged, explaining that she’s “pro-life,” and wants to help “women who find themselves in circumstances that are absolutely less than ideal.” Couric asked again. Palin dodged again, before saying she’s uncomfortable with sending a woman to jail for having an abortion. “That’s nothing I would ever support,” she said.

But it gets better, as Couric moves to contraception:
Since Palin mentioned reducing the number of abortions, Couric asked about the morning-after pill. Palin dodged. Couric asked again, and Palin dodged again. Couric asked a third time, and Palin would only say, “[P]ersonally, I would not choose to participate in that kind of contraception.”

Every election, we see the Religious Right and its GOP handmaiden attack Democrats who claim they are “personally against” abortion, but support reproductive choice rights.

Well, now the shoe is on the other foot.

And, no, it’s NOT OK If You’re A Republican.

Sidebar: There's plenty of sexism at CBS for how it's handled Couric as its evening news anchor.

She has done an excellent job in these interviews, and CBS should be ashamed of itself for ever backing away from full support for her.

’Roo — it’s what’s for dinner in a hotter climate

Well, instead of beef, it should be, at least Down Under, Australian governmental climate change advisor Ross Garnaut says.

Why? The farting of European-origin livestock and their contribution to global warming, compared to the low-methane digestion of kangaroos.

Obama and McCain commercials BOTH unconnected to Street needs

McCain’s bashing of Obama’s nonexistent Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac ties AND Obama’s middle-class tax cut shibboleth commercial both have nothing to do with Wall Street’s worries and possible fixes, as Walter Shapiro notes. Unfortunately, as he also discusses, Americans may have their eyes glaze over at too much discussion of financial issues, despite middle-class investments in the Street through 401(k) and IRA accounts and more.

Pterosaurs didn’t fly

So says a Japanese researcher, claiming his studies of bird wing aerodymanics show the winged dinosaurs were just too heavy. While they might be able to glide, they were as much as 90 pounds too heavy to fly in windless conditions, Katsufumi Sato claims.

Pterosaur “fans” are up in arms, or wings, about the claim.

Smartest thing we can do in Afghanistan

If a leaked French cable is correct about the Afghanistan take of British ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles, give that man a cigar.

If President Hamid Karzai can’t hack it, find an “acceptable dictator” from the Northern Alliance or wherever, then pull out.

It’s called Realpolitik, folks.

Debate watchers notice ‘OLD’ John McCain

Pew asked registered voters who watched last Friday’s presidential debate for one-word impressions of both candidates. “Old” was the second-most common word for McCain, at 38 percent.

That said, the No. 1 word for McCain is “experienced,” which can at times, for better or worse, be the flip side of “old.”

Oh, and Mr. “Experienced,” we’re still waiting for your full medical records. As for Mayor Whazzup,
Trig Palin’s birth certificate would be a good starting point.

Possible fallout from Ifill broken ankle?

Maybe the broken ankle that vice presidential debate moderator Gwen Ifill suffered Monday will make her testier as a debate moderator, which could be bad news for Sarah Palin if she quickly wanders into Bizarro World.

Carpenter to avoid surgery

In what is definitely good news for Cardinal fans, Chris Carpenter will avoid surgery on his right elbow. Not only that, he’s hoping that simple rest will have him 100 percent ready to gear up at spring training.

Taliban spreads grip in Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and hundreds of miles away from Afghanistan, on the Indian Ocean, is coming more and more under the Taliban grip.

I’ve said it before — it’s stupid to commit a bunch of additional American troops to Afghanistan with the current situation in Pakistan.

Things are NOT going to change for the significant better in the near term, and by near term, I mean, within the next five years, minimum.

Maher says BOTH McCain and Obama are religious fakes

Hearing him make the claim above about both candidates (which I know is true about McCain and I’ve halfway suspected is true about Obama) makes me more interested yet.

Know where your salmonella came from

The new federal food source regulations do nothing to actually improve food safety, as they don’t mandate cleaner slaughterhouses, vegetable warehouses, or anything else. Still, being able to read the area of origin of most your unprocessed food may help something.

That said, per my first sentence, I’m worried too many Americans will assume their food now is magically safe.

Dems see Congressional openings

With McCain’s poll numbers fading like Wall Street on a Black Monday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting more House seats that were, until now, regared as safely Republican.

It makes sense, even if spending into debt.

As the story notes, the presidential party normally loses House seats in midterm elections. Assuming Obama is elected, and the economy, specifically, all the housing related issues, remains iffy to bad all the way through 2009, that midterm hit will probably be bigger than average.

In other words, Democrats need to pick up some “padding” this year.

Newt Gingrich running for Prez in four years?

The comic part of my political sense says “Bring it On.” Let’s see you as a serial philanderer pander to the Religious Right, and see it pander back.

The serious part of me says, doorknob, no, AND, does he really think the GOP will nominate him?

Anyway, supposedly he is serious enough about it to backstab House Minority Leader John Boehner over the House GOP vote on the bailout.

September 30, 2008

Hilzoy gets bailout all wrong — overlooks need for ‘tough’ tough love

Over at Washington Monthly, Hilzoy says, in essence, “Now is the time for all good liberals to come to the defense of their country Wall Street.

That includes disparaging a provocative, if too conservative-philosophy based, blog post about personal responsibility by

Here’s my response:
Hilz, further comment re Riehl — it’s credit-fueled greed on “Main Street” as well as Wall Street that got us into the mortgage related issues in the first place.

Many mortgages now gone sour were not by naive first-time buyers. Instead, they were by:
1. Second-time buyers wanting a McMansion, and in part for the myth of home equity;
2. People buying a second, third, fourth, etc. home for rental income;
3. People buying homes to “flip.”

We don't bail out stockholders (even in the earlier, individual company bailouts, bondholders kept their preferred positions over stockholders). Why should we bail out these types of mortgage owners?

Seriously, as Barack Obama and some other black leaders have talked about parental responsibility, why shouldn’t liberals talk about the need for fiscal responsibility, and the indulged fiscal irresponsibility of the past, even if the “tough love” message has a large measure of “tough”?

Brian Schweitzer closer in bed with King Coal

And, becoming a cheaper whore all the time.

You know, I first noticed this about the time I got the boot from Kos for being too liberal, too green and too much in Armando’s grille, all of which were needed, and none of which were solely my stances.

At about this same time, Kos himself was whoring for Schweitzer, about the same time he started talking about all the closet liberals in the CIA. ’Nuff said right there, right>

Anyway, Schweitzer is now claiming that even synfuels, i.e., coal gasification, is “clean coal.”

When the Democratic Party, at a national level, is so desperate that it parades people like this as future stars, well, that’s yet another reason I’m not a Democrat.

I’m a real progressive. And, I’m not alone:
With the resurgence of the Democratic Party in the West, many Democrats are reluctant to openly criticize their leaders. Although they squirm with every mention of “clean coal,” Montana Democrats remain positively giddy over the prospect of another sweeping Schweitzer victory this November against a weak Republican candidate. Unity, however, does not mean blind acceptance of misguided policies that will lead to economic and environmental disaster. Did anyone else notice that as soon as Obama said “clean coal” in his acceptance speech, half the audience sat down?

Yes, I did, Mr. Greg Gordon, yes I did.

Palin’s Indian problem

Yet another issue of her time as governor — she wants to emasculate Alaskan Natives’ subsistence rights to boost sport hunting and fishing.

Wait? Where’s her mythically “part-Eskimo” husband on this? (Leave it to GOPers to use the unaccepted term, anyway.)

McCain, Palin, play ‘gotcha journalism’ card

But Katie Couric, showing she deserves a long run honchoing CBS News, gives the pair a total smackdown:
“It wasn’t a gotcha,” Couric insisted. “She was talking to a voter.”

Then, Schmuck Talk shows himself to be the walking embodiment of brazenness in lying:
“No,” McCain insisted back, "”he was in a conversation with a group of people talking back and forth, and I'’l let Gov. Palin speak for herself.”

The story goes on, a few grafs later, to say, “McCain stepped in to defend his running mate.”

And, he spoke to cut her off more than once earlier.

The real reason McCain ‘parachuted in’ then back out

Two words: Sarah Palin

I think I’ve finally figured out why Schmuck Talk Express™ dropped in and chatted with House GOP members last Friday. Per this Slate column , it’s his latest attention-getting antic, or perhaps …

An attention-diverting antic to get the focus off Thursday’s Veep debate.

Or, even better, to parachute back into DC again sometime Wednesday night, then magically deliver a vote in the Senate for a tweaked version of the Pelosi package.

C’mon, now, you know it’s possible!

Bailout doesn’t address default swaps

They’re known as an “Ebola virus,” in the words of story author Nicholas Varchaver, “essentially the dark matter of the financial universe,” by quoted hedge fund manager Chris Wolf.

In essence, they’re an “Intrade” of sorts that propped up the various forms of mortgage-backed securities for several years now, and are at the heart of the current financial mess.

And, Crazy Uncle Henry’s Damaged Derivatives Dump does nothing about them.

Read the whole story to learn more about what’s at stake.

Bush can’t even carry his home state — and doesn’t understand politics

In Texas, 15 of 19 GOP Congressmen voted against the bailout.

At least that was better than John McCain. Schmuck Talk Express™ couldn’t deliver a single Arizona GOP Congressman.

And, no, they were NOT influence by
“They aren't pissed off at Pelosi,'”Darrell Issa said. “They are pissed off at Paulson, they are pissed off at Bernanke, they are pissed off at Cox.:

Here’s Pelosi’s alleged “well-poisoning” speech.

Besides, many non-liberal Dems voted against the bill. Why? (And more on the “more liberal Democrats” in a minute.)

They were all swing-state Congressmen in tight elections. That includes the 17 GOP freshmen, all who voted no.

And the Udall brothers, both running for Senate, voted no as well.

Among the members of the Progressive Caucus, meanwhile, a 46-29 yes split parallels to a T the entire House Democratic caucus.

Back to the swing staters, though.

Bush, Paulson and Bernanke are three caknuckleheads; Paulson and Bernanke should have figured out a “patch” to get to Nov. 5, stopped short-selling sooner than Paulson did, and leaned on Chris Cox to find a way to restrict trading at the NYSE. Maybe even declare a limited bank holiday.

Then, while canvassing electoral votes, let the lame-duck session deal with the issue, if possible.

Of course, in hindsight, Paulson should either have bailed out Lehman after all, or else been more ready for the consequences. Or, even better, let Bear fail earlier and bit the big bullet then.

Finally, leave it to the WSJ; behind the excellent news coverage, at least one op-ed writer is ina In Texas, 15 of 19 GOP Congressmen voted blame the Dems spin.

Cards overpay for Lohse

With Chris Carpenter’s return next year the matter of a lot of speculation, Mulder out the door, and not a lot in the starting pitcher cupboard in the minor leagues, the Redbirds offered a touch more than $10 mil a year on a four-year contract to a pitcher who had has first sub-4.00 ERA season ever this year.

Even in the years of his early promise and his only two previous 10-win seasons, his ERA was still pretty high.

Hubble telescope as dead as bailout?

NASA has scrubbed a long-awaited, long-planned Hubble rescue mission.

But, it didn’t plan for a totally unexpected problem. And, it’s a serious one.

Hubble has stopped sending data.

But, NASA’s Ed Weiler is right that it’s much better to have happened now than after the scheduled repair mission got there then returned home.

Read the whole story for possible causes and both temporary and longer-term fixes.

Progressive Dems may have alternative on bailout — if Pelosi allows it

But, it may have its own issues — namely, that FDIC insurance is more illusory than real

Here’s an interesting tidbit. Many Democratic “no” voters either decided on their vote, or had their resolve firmed, after talking to former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Bill Isaac.


Apparently Isaac had some ideas, but Pelosi had “locked down” the bill, so he couldn’t offer them.

Meanwhile, the Senate may jump-start the House with a Wednesday vote on a bill similar to, but not the same as, the House version. I don’t know if Senate deliberation is still subject to cloture rules or not.

Even more interesting:

The same story says many House Republicans want the FDIC more involved. Now, current and former FDIC heads may offer different sides of the aisle different advice. But, Bill Isaac’s 2008 cycle campaign contributions are all GOP, so he’s not bringing anything partisan to the table in favor of Democrats.

What’s Isaac’s take? He says the FDIC needs to be more involved with “backstopping” institutions at risk.

BUT, if you’re like me, I’ll bet you didn’t know the FDIC insurance pool is just a fiction — per Bill Isaac.

So, do you really WANT the FDIC more involved?

Final thought; the fact that at least some conservative Republicans and some progressive Dems are on the same page makes me wonder if Pelosi was playing political baseball — but, only after she realized Boehner couldn't deliver his votes.

September 29, 2008

Some Wall Street bailout perspective from 1987, please

As far as Wall Street crying over spilled melamine-laced milk to the tune of 778 points and $1.2 trillion, you have to look at percentage of drop to put the Street into perspective.

In terms of percentage, 1987 was far worse.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, here’s some talking points. In loose-floating numbers, the drop was “just” 508 points, but…

That was 22.7 percent of the 1987 Dow, more than three times today's fallout.

In response, the NYSE and other markets were placed on restricted trading.

NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer certainly has that option, either alone or in conjunction with London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Tokyo and a few other places, of doing the same tomorrow. Why he wasn’t already prepared to do that today is beyond me.

And, today wasn’t even the second-worst loss in terms of percentage, because 1987 wasn't the worst. That happened in December 1914, when the NYSE reopened after a long siesta at the start of WWI. The Dow fell more than 24 percent that day.

Second, as I said in mybailout alternative post, it’s now a “seller’s market,” or a “buyer’s market,” depending on how you define buyer and seller.

If the Street is really THAT worried, it will agree to new regulatory issues on the Democratic side. And, it will threaten, at least, GOP Congressmen with stopping the campaign check gravy train. THAT, more than potential public reaction, would get House GOP members’ attention with five weeks left until Election Day.

Finally, I said earlier that a real bailout bill would push for looking at possible criminality.

Pelosi and Reid, if you really want leverage, go up to AG Mukasey, since he just approved a special prosecutor on the attorney firings, and tell him you want a special prosecutor for this, too.

You will see Henry Paulson and Wall Street shit their collective pants.

So, let’s put this all into some perspective.

A tribute to Ed Abbey and 'Desert Solitaire'


Written within the mindset, and through the eyes and viewpoint of, Ed Abbey, as a reflection on the 40th anniversary of “Desert Solitaire.”

Goddam people.
Goddam stupid people questions.
Get the goddam fuck out of MY ARCHES.
I ought to shoot you.
Or sic one of my snakes on you.
Or bury you
Beneath blown-up rubble
From a destroyed Glen Canyon Dam.

Ahh, juniper.
Growing twisted and crazy,
Just like me.
That’s why I like you,
You slow-growing, stubbornly living
Anarchic bastard like me.

Ohh, the desert stars,
With a trace of moon,
And no goddam people.
Just enough waxing moon
For a nighttime hike
Through Fiery Furnace,
Then back home —
The red rock home, not the trailer one —
To bask in fading heat.

Goddam, Bates!
What’s this talk?
A National Park now?
Wasn’t Canyonlands enough?
I guess not.
Did Proudhon write about Park envy?

Maybe we need to blow up some park roads
When we blow up that goddam dam.

Moab, Utah, gateway to Arches National Park, or the former Arches National Monument Munnymint of Ed Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire,” will be the sight of the Confluence Literary Festival Oct. 14-19. The “confluence” comes from the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers in Canyonlands National Park, west and southwest of Moab and another favorite tramping ground of Abbey, given that Lake Powell almost laps at its southwest corner.

The conference will have some heavy Western literary hitters, including Doug Peacock, Abbey’s model for Hayduke in the “Monkey Wrench Gang,” official Abbey biographer Jack Loeffler, and Craig Childs.

Abbey wrote “Desert Solitaire” in 1968, based on his experiences as a seasonal ranger in Arches.

Don't speed in Frisco and pay for it with plastic

I am talking about the Collin County suburb of Dallas, not the wrongly used nickname for The City By the Bay.

Frisco, suburban Dallas, per a friend, has a $6.50 surcharge for paying for moving violations with debit or credit cards.


Smithsonian blows another story

This month’s gaffe?

Omitting hugely important relevant information about Judaism in its story on the alleged Hispanic Jews of the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado.

A bit of background.

For generations if not centuries, rumors have swirled that some Spanish the original territory of Mexico, including the Mexican Northwest or our Desert Southwest, actually were Marranos — descendents of Spanish Jews who were “passing” to avoid the Inquisition.

Per the story, I agree with Judith Neulander, an ethnographer and co-director of the Judaic Studies Program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland (and many others) and disagree with University of New Mexico prof Stanley M. Hordes. These are Spanish-Americans who picked up some type of Adventism, whether from today’s official Seventh-Day Adventist Chruch or elsewhere; they’re NOT marranos.

(Note to Mr. Hordes: Outside the American flag, two hundred or even one hundred years ago, six points was the normal way to make a star; that’s NOT the Magen David, necessarily, on tombs. At least some Adventists officially practice circumcision.

But, that’s an issue of interpretation, not the gaffe I’m going to talk about.

Here’s where the story blows it. And, if the author, Jeff Wheelwright, was that ignorant of Jewish groups and distinctions, he shouldn’t have been writing this story in the first place. And, if the Smithsonian can’t have an editor pick up on the difference between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, then the mag really is in trouble.

Because THAT’s the gaffe.

In a nutshell, the alleged marranos of San Luis have been found to have a higher-than-statistically probable rate of a breast cancer precursor gene, 185delAG. The story notes that “the genetic mutation that caused the virulent breast cancer had previously been found primarily in Jewish people whose ancestral home was Central or Eastern Europe.”

Well, beyond the bare bones of geographic separation, those Jews are Ashkenazi; the Jews of Spain are Sephardic.

Of course, there’s argument that the genetic mutatin is not limited to Ashkenazi. If that’s true, well, then the story is wrong in another way, and Wheelwright shouldn’t have written what he did.

In the title, I noted that Smithsonian blows another story. This has become a recent problem.

In recent months, on straight history it has claimed the Acoma Indians built their Sky City pueblo for protection from Navajos 400 years before Navajos arrived in the Southwest, and misidentified a Canyonlands National Park picture as coming from Arches. (It corrected the photo mistake, but did nothing about the far more egregious error.)

On news analysis, it picked the wrong 20th-century political conventions as the top four of the century, and so far, at least, hasn’t even deigned to look at 19th-century ones.

I had hoped things would get better with Lawrence Small finally getting a well-deserved boot as Smithsonian secretary.

Instead, the magazine, at least, gets worse, and the Institute has the gall to send me a fundraiser e-mail last week on top of this.

Bailout fallout — Boehner a titty baby, Pelosi a hypocritical idiot

After the now-dead bailout (roll call vote is here), we have now the red-hot spin battle.

So, you shouldn’t have been expecting more from Democrats in the first place. (That’s why I’ll be voting Green again this year, as in 2004.)

House Minority Leader John Boehner accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of well-poisoning within the House when he’s really mad she couldn’t deliver enough Democratic votes to cover for the massive GOP opposition.

Here’s the “well-poisoning” speech by Pelosi.

I do think Boehner was pouting.

At the same time, I do think Pelosi’s comments were inappropriate, especially when used to start the speech, rather than in the middle, or near but not quite at the end.

Also, given that Dems have had control of both houses of Congress for more than 18 months now, and haven’t pushed a single piece of financial oversight legislation of any major nature, Pelosi might want to read Matthew 5 about eyeballs, specks of dust and wood logs.

Beyond that, where was THIS Nancy Pelosi when Dennis Kucinich was pushing impeachment? Or on the FISA amendment legislation?

She was being political with her silence, just like she was being political with her noisemaking today.

Are you shocked?

Also, given the events of the weekend, for her to believe that, even without that face-slap at the start of her speech, Boehner was going to deliver 80 Republicans indicates a pretty high level of either naivete or self-delusion.

Finally, a SECOND vote? Not a snowball's chance, in my opinion. Repubs won't budget. Dems in iffy districts won't change their votes without more GOP cover. In fact, Dem no votes might go up.

I'll have a more detailed wrap tonight; Monday is normally my busiest work day in the weekly newspaper world.

The post-bailout spin is coming

After the now-dead bailout (roll call vote is here), we have now the red-hot spin battle.

So, you shouldn’t have been expecting more from Democrats in the first place. (That’s why I’ll be voting Green again this year, as in 2004.)

House Minority Leader John Boehner accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of well-poisoning within the House when he’s really mad she couldn’t deliver enough Democratic votes to cover for the massive GOP opposition.

Bailout killed — my alternative

In the current now-dead bailout (roll call vote is here), Congressional Democrats caved on the idea of giving bankruptcy judges flexibility to adjust mortgages in default.

And, the caps on CEO pay were more symbolic than legally enforceable, too, with things such as deferred compensation. And, from Obama on down, they kicked the idea of further regulatory reform down the road, claiming we didn't have time.

So, you shouldn’t have been expecting more from Democrats in the first place. (That’s why I’ll be voting Green again this year, as in 2004.)

But, of course, the GOP is worse; House Minority Leader John Boehner accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of well-poisoning within the House when he’s really mad she couldn’t deliver enough Democratic votes to cover for the massive GOP opposition.

That said, what SHOULD we be doing?

I offer a compendium of my own ideas and some gathered from other pundits and analysts.

(If the Dow is as “desperate” as it appears, as it appears, it will sign off on any deal that’s even close to being in its neighborhood; some Dow financial members could yank GOP House campaign contributions to send a message.)

First, have a bank holiday, similar to FDR’s in the Depression. It might not need to be as sweeping, but it would give Congress more working space. Don’t restrict it to Main Street deposit banks, either – make a whole range of financial institutions potentially And, if banks squawked about that, you’d realize that maybe this wasn’t so serious.

Second, reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act that was abolished in 1999
Third, tie interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages more closely to the Federal Reserve’s funds rate, the rate it charges banks to borrow money.

Fourth, we need to look at getting out of BOTH Iraq and Afghanistan; if this crisis really is that bad, we need the money here.

Fifth, completely nationalize failing banks. Sweden was in a similar situation in the 1990s, and that’s what it did. It actually made a profit when it later resold the banks it took over.

Those five all come from columnist Ted Rall.
I offer a few additional ideas.

First, look at tightening IRS regulations on home mortgage interest deductions. If either McMansions, or “flipped”/investment homes need some IRS wing clipping, well, that’s what needs to be done.

Second, rein in Henry Paulson even more. Given his conflicts of interest on the AIG bailout, we don't need him having that much power. Ditto since he may be held over in an Obama presidency.

Third, since the Treasury Department is supposed to take an equity stake in the banks and other institutions in which it bails out, mandate that it has to sell that stake back on the open market at a profit. If that means sitting on bank holdings for 20 years, rather than selling out to vultures in 18 months, so be it.

Fourth, instead of putting caps just on the salary of CEOs of bailed-out companies, maybe we ought to at least put a cap on the tax write-off amount for the salary of any CEO.

Fifth, make so-called “liar’s loans,” where would-be homeowners can state their own income, illegal — or at least illegal for financial institutions getting any sort of federal insurance backing. And, even though they have been legal, have the Department of Justice start investigations into exactly how they were marketed.

Who knows: a few fraud charges might pop up.

Schmuck Talk tells Ifill go easy on Schmuckette in debate

McCain supposedly asked Thursday night’s Veep debate moderator Gwen Ifill to go easy on Sarah Palin, especially on foreign policy questions.

According to Howie Kurtz, the media already has. He says CBS didn’t air the worst parts of its Katie Couric interview of Palin; just how bad can they be?

WaMu getting more creative with surcharges

I’m sure this is an effort to make up for frozen money not earning anything right now.

A friend said Washington Mutual has a new policy, and a price-gouging one.

It is starting a $5 surcharge if the person to whom you write the check does not cash or deposit it at your bank. Not to you, to the "presenter" of the check.

Geez o pete. Well, that will at least puff the bottom line for WaMu's eventual buyer, JPMorgan Chase.

September 28, 2008

Chavez wants nuclear power

And you thought Bush and the neocons were crapping bricks about Iran!

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he wants a nuclear reactor.

Add to the pants-crapping factor — Vlad the Impaler Putin has already offered Russian help, Chavez says.

Paulson has HUGE conflict of interest on AIG bailout

His former employer, Goldman Sachs, was AIG’s largest trading partner, allegedly on the hook for $20 billion of risk:
Goldman Sachs was a member of A.I.G.’s derivatives club, according to people familiar with the operation. It was a customer of A.I.G.’s credit insurance and also acted as an intermediary for trades between A.I.G. and its other clients.

What in the way of Goldman stock does Paulson currently own? Did Paulson ever broker any of these intermediary deals? Did he ever write any Goldman paper for AIG?

What does he own at other investment banks, hedge funds, etc.? During bailout negotiations, did Democrats ask for him to disclose more about his finances than he did during his conformation hearings?

Also, per what the story says, why aren’t Office of Thrift Supervision reports made public on this?

As for AIG, this one didn’t even start in America. The story notes its loonier investments came from its London office, under the oversight of a former Drexel Burnham Lambert executive.

The summer of 1969 and Cubs mythology

Last week, I blogged about this year’s list of long-ago players Major League Baseball’s Veterans Committee has trotted out as putatively worthy of the Hall of Fame.

First, let’s get rid of a myth, that of the “collapse of the Cubs.” The Cubs had back-to-back winning records in 1967-68 for the first time in more than decades. That said, their 92-70 record was the best in more than two decades.

Yes, the Cubs “slipped” in September. Did they choke? Probably not as much as the Mets, who won 100, got hot. (They went an incredible 39-11 in their last 50 games.)

If the Cubs had played the rest of their season based on their pace through Aug. 19, they still would have won just 101 games.

And, during the whole “swoon,” the Cubs only played the Mets four times, two of those times after the Mets had already clinched the division title. So, the Cubs didn’t totally have their destiny in their own hands.

So, the Cubs played over their heads the first five months of 1969, then slipped in September against a red-hot Mets team, and lost a number of their tough losses to a resurgent Pirates team that would win the World Series two years later.

Wikipedia notes that Chicago had a below-average summer, so all those day games did not cause the Cubs to “wilt.”

That said, how does this connect with Ron Santo?

More than any other member of that 1969 team, I think Ron Santo is its face.

Fergie Jenkins was just in his third full season with Chicago in 1969, and not a Cubs lifer. Ernie Banks, of course, was “Mr. Cub,” but he was near the end of his career.

I may be a little bit harsh in my psychoanalysis, but I do think Cub fans old enough to remember 1969 are trying to salve old wounds – either their own or Ron Santo’s – by getting Santo in the Hall of Fame.

That said, did Santo’s diabetes affect him, as a Type I/juvenile diabetic? I’m sure it did. But, unfortunately, we can’t take that into consideration.

On the original thread, for Kevin White to claim Santo was the second-best position player in the National League during the mid-1960s, behind only Mays but ahead of Clemente and McCovey, shows just how delusional the cult of Ron Santo can be.

If Bill James believes thast – and believes that Santo was a better 3B that Frank Robinson (he claims Santo is the sixth-best 3B of all time!!!) it shows that Bill James is either a Cubs “homer” like Kevin White, indoctrinated in the cult of Ron Santo, or worse.

It definitely shows he doesn’t practice what he preaches.

Sarah Palin — piggish political hack

What else would you say about a small-town politician like Mayor Whazzup, getting the city council to waive zoning violations at her own house, then not following through on her end of the deal, to boot.

Der Ahhnold hoist by own and GOP petard?

California state prison guards threaten a recall drive; conservative wing of California GOP considers supporting it.

McCain gambles on silence — literally

The NYT has an excellent story excellent story on both his monstrous, hypocritical ties to gambling AND his own monstrous gambling, which would probably appall many foot soldiers in the Religious Right, if they knew (not counting his gay chief of staff), and McCain declines to be interviewed.
In written answers to questions, his campaign staff said he was “justifiably proud” of his record on regulating Indian gambling. “Senator McCain has taken positions on policy issues because he believed they are in the public interest,” the campaign said.

Well, no wonder. He’s got plenty of history, and some possible personal issues, to not talk about.

Boycott Big Three if you’re an environmentalist

True environmental responsibility would be to PUNISH the Formerly Big Three for more than two decades of willful antienvironmentalism, rather than give them a bunch of subsidized interest loans as a reward for egregious behavior.

And, the AP story is kind of disingenuous, saying the Japanese Big Three of Toyota, Honda and Nissan didn’t lobby for this.

Of course not. Even thought all three have American plants, they knew that in one way or another, they would be squeezed out.

Proof? The legislation is targeted at plants more than 20 years old.

So, the Formerly Big Three will get subsidized loans to upgrade AND then take tax writeoffs for it.

So, if you’re an environmentalist, stop buying GM/Ford/Chrysler vehicles.

‘Horseshit’ John McCain

Did Mad Jack actually use that word not once, but twice, sotto voce, during Friday’s debate?

At the Guardian, Michael Tomasky thinks he said it too, and wonders if this cold be the equivalent of Al Gore’s infamous “sigh.”

A renter weighs in on the Immunity 2.0 lenders’ bailout

About 62 percent of Americans are homeowners, a percentage that was supposed to be substantially bumped by subprime and Alt-A loan expansion. (That percentage WAS bumped, of course — temporarily.)

And, lest nobody else has thought of it, this dream of “homeownership for everybody “ was itself part of Bush’s “ownership society,” as well as being part of the larger and ongoing American hagiography of homeownership.

And that, more than Bush’s ownership society, is what I want to address in light of Immunity 2.0.

It looks like a bailout for holders of bad mortgages is off the screen.

And, contra Ted Rall, I’m kind of glad about that.

First, it would take Herculean effort, and a vast expenditure of trust, to separate out the unwittingly victimized from people who had at least a little suspicion they either shouldn’t be getting such good opening terms on a mortgage, that a shoe would drop later on their mortgage, or that a bank should ask for proof of income.

It would take yet more effort to separate out those two classes of people from “flippers,” investment/rental property owners, etc.

On the flip side, if Dems do bring up a homeowners’ bailout, I can start getting selfish and post a “bailout” list of help I’d like for myself.

Bailout deal reportedly done

But Passive Pelosi™, aka Big Mama Bailout, says it’s still not on paper.

No word on what is in the 100-plus pages that’s different from midday today. I’d guess the House GOP got its stupid mortgage insurance plan; we’ll see if Dems had brains and conejos to insist on something in return, including but not limited to McCain’s vote.

And, as late as three hours earlier, House GOP rebels were still denying a deal was done.

Also, Dems have caved to Bush/Paulson a bit on the "first installment," which is now set at $350 bil.