“Want to make a million selling violent video games to kids? Go for it. Want to make a million helping cure kids of cancer? You’re labeled a parasite.”
Check out more here
It is increasingly clear that what southern Republicans really want is to break the back of the UAW (which habitually supports the Democratic Party). Thus while demanding lower wages and benefits as part of the $17 billion loan to the auto industry (where labor costs are 10% of total expenditures) is crucial to them, they didn't make a peep about lowering salaries as part of the $700 billion bailout of the banking industry (where labor costs are 70% of the total). In other words, the $1.7 billion worth of labor costs in the (unionized) auto industry are a big deal but the $490 billion worth of labor costs in the (nonunionized) financial industry is a nonissue. [emphasis mine]
Wanted: three lotion dispensers shipped to me from Sears. Hands chapped, sinks have holes. Help.
Pan Am, which had been a leading U.S. international airline since the 1930s, collapsed in 1991. Like other great U.S. companies, it died in the marketplace because it blundered. Churn — of people and businesses — has always defined America. Nobody subsidized U.S. Steel or the automaker Packard in the belief that the world without them was unthinkable.
Coming to the United States from Europe, I found this constant reinvention bracing. Look at the top 40 companies by market capitalization in Europe and most have been there for decades. Not in the United States, land of Google and eBay. Churn requires death as well as birth. The artificial preservation of the inert dampens the quest for the new.
For Cohen, the issue is more than jobs or businesses too big to fail. It's a question of the American ethic.
The whole financial crisis is about the death of responsibility: the buck stopped nowhere. Everyone profited from toxic paper. Bernard Madoff, he of the alleged multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, is only the latest example.
Irresponsibility has also characterized Detroit. I don’t see how you restore responsibility with a bailout. Obama has a deeper task than changing the economy; he has to change the culture.
Rather than adopting European subsidies, put billions toward more inspiring European examples: a high-speed railroad network or universal health care.
An 18 percent sales tax on soft drinks and other nondiet sugary beveragesWhy is this so great? Because taxing unhealthy behavior is one way that we can make money by improving health.
Let’s break for a quiz: What was the biggest health care breakthrough in the last 40 years in the United States? Heart bypasses? CAT scans and M.R.I.’s? New cancer treatments?
No, it was the cigarette tax. Every 10 percent price increase on cigarettes reduced sales by about 3 percent over all, and 7 percent among teenagers, according to the 2005 book “Prescription for a Healthy Nation.” Just the 1983 increase in the federal tax on cigarettes saved 40,000 lives per year.
Evidence is accumulating that sugary drinks are a major contributor to obesity because of the evolutionary heritage I mentioned at the outset: Except for soups, liquid calories don’t register with the body, according to Professor Popkin and other specialists. [emphasis mine]Tax the hell out of them.
[Eisman, hedge fund manager]: ‘Where are the rating agencies in all of this? And I’d always get the same reaction. It was a smirk.’ He called Standard & Poor’s and asked what would happen to default rates if real estate prices fell. The man at S.& P. couldn’t say; its model for home prices had no ability to accept a negative number. ‘They were just assuming home prices would keep going up,’ Eisman says.” [emphasis mine]These are the guardians of our markets.
You want my tax dollars? Then I want to see the precise production plans and timetables for the hybridization of all your cars and trucks within 36 months...because nothing would both improve mileage and emissions more — and also stimulate a whole new 21st-century, job-creating industry: batteries.For energy policy, hit the supply and demand sides:
It makes no sense to spend money on green infrastructure — or a bailout of Detroit aimed at stimulating production of more fuel-efficient cars — if it is not combined with a tax on carbon that would actually change consumer buying behavior.Exactly. If we're intending to shift to renewble energy and reduced carbon emissions permanently, there's no time to do so like the present.
Many people will tell Mr. Obama that taxing carbon or gasoline now is a “nonstarter.” Wrong. It is the only starter. It is the game-changer. If you want to know where postponing it has gotten us, visit Detroit. No carbon tax or increased gasoline tax meant that every time the price of gasoline went down to $1 or $2 a gallon, consumers went back to buying gas guzzlers. [emphasis mine]
Almost one-third of the world’s people don’t get enough iodine from food and water. The result in extreme cases is large goiters that swell their necks, or other obvious impairments such as dwarfism or cretinism. But far more common is mental slowness.For more information, this 2006 story examines the challenge and progress of delivering this crucial nutrient.
When a pregnant woman doesn’t have enough iodine in her body, her child may suffer irreversible brain damage and could have an I.Q. that is 10 to 15 points lower than it would otherwise be. An educated guess is that iodine deficiency results in a needless loss of more than 1 billion I.Q. points around the world.
Teenagers who watch a lot of television featuring flirting, necking, discussion of sex and sex scenes are much more likely than their peers to get pregnant or get a partner pregnant, according to the first study to directly link steamy programming to teen pregnancy...The researchers took into account other factors such as having only one parent, wanting to have a baby and engaging in other risky behaviors.When most of pop culture is peddling sex, we need comprehensive sex education [it works] so teens at least have an idea of how to be safe.
My concern has been the atrocities there in Darfur and the relevance to me with that issue as we spoke about Africa and some of the countries there that were kind of the people succumbing to the dictators and the corruption of some collapsed governments on the continent, the relevance was [the] investment in Darfur with some of our [fund] dollars.Disclosure: the brackets are where I excised a couple words that make it a dead giveaway.
An intellectual is a person interested in ideas and comfortable with complexity. Intellectuals read the classics, even when no one is looking, because they appreciate the lessons of Sophocles and Shakespeare that the world abounds in uncertainties and contradictions, and — President Bush, lend me your ears — that leaders self-destruct when they become too rigid and too intoxicated with the fumes of moral clarity.Amen
...as Mr. Obama goes to Washington, I’m hopeful that his fertile mind will set a new tone for our country. Maybe someday soon our leaders no longer will have to shuffle in shame when they’re caught with brains in their heads.
Will Congress simply insist on being asked for its blessing before empowering the president to do whatever he sees fit? And if so, what will it take for what the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. identified as democracy’s greatest virtue — “its capacity for self-correction” — to kick in and restore the constitutional balance?
Bob Lutz, G.M.’s vice chairman...has been quoted as saying that hybrids like the Toyota Prius “make no economic sense.” And, in February, D Magazine of Dallas quoted him as saying that global warming “is a total crock of [expletive].”Is there any question as to why an industry led by these idiots is sinking in a down economy with gas prices having been higher? Oh, there's the health care thing, but Friedman has a thought on that:
please, spare me the alligator tears about G.M.’s health care costs. Sure, they are outrageous. “But then why did G.M. refuse to lift a finger to support a national health care program when Hillary Clinton was pushing for it?” asks Dan Becker, a top environmental lobbyist.It's not just the car companies themselves, their Congressional representatives have done them an ill turn, as well.
The blame for this travesty not only belongs to the auto executives, but must be shared equally with the entire Michigan delegation in the House and Senate, virtually all of whom, year after year, voted however the Detroit automakers and unions instructed them to vote. That shielded General Motors, Ford and Chrysler from environmental concerns, mileage concerns and the full impact of global competition that could have forced Detroit to adapt long ago.In other words, we should finally show them the tough love, or we'll be doing this all over again.
“In return for any direct government aid,” he wrote, “the board and the management [of G.M.] should go. Shareholders should lose their paltry remaining equity. And a government-appointed receiver — someone hard-nosed and nonpolitical — should have broad power to revamp G.M. with a viable business plan and return it to a private operation as soon as possible. That will mean tearing up existing contracts with unions, dealers and suppliers, closing some operations and selling others and downsizing the company ... Giving G.M. a blank check — which the company and the United Auto Workers union badly want, and which Washington will be tempted to grant — would be an enormous mistake.”Given this advice, I think the companies (and unions) are likely to go for bankruptcy instead. That's lousy, too, because either way there are a lot of good, union jobs going down the toilet. But I'm not convinced there's any way to save the car companies from themselves, in a fashion that would prevent this kind of bailout again.
In 2003, was beginning my round-the-world trip after having left my corporate publishing job in NYC. Just ten days prior, Bush had just shaken up the world by invading Iraq with the infamous "shock and awe" bombing of Bagdad. The anti-American feelings of confusion, anger and hate were reflected back to me so clearly during my trip.
My connecting flight took me into the heart of Asia and my first stop was the same Kuala Lumpur airport as the young traveler below describes.
In a restaurant at the KL airport, I noticed the young Muslim table-seater and waitresses, wearing light, flowing gowns and headresses, whispering and looking suspiciously at me. I ate my meal a little self-consciously and tried to be inconspicuous throughout.
As I paid my bill and started to leave, the young table-seater approached me and asked "Why is your country going to war against Muslims? Why does your country hate us?" I turned my eyes down, here it was, what I feared, right in my face. I paused, took in a deep breath, thinking, how could I possibly explain?
Finally, I looked up at her and said with my deepest sincerity and humility, "I'm so sorry about what my country has done. I don't agree with my government. There are many American who don't agree and don't like what our President has done in Iraq. The best thing we can do is love one another and pray for one another, because all people really want is peace."
She looked at me as if she understood. I stood there for a moment looking back into her dark eyes, eyes that were seeking to understand. I walked away feeling that I had no answers, no solution or resolution to what was happening. I held that thought of love and peace as I continued my travels and strangers questioned me or stared at me suspiciously whereever I was in that year -- Australia, Korea, Thailand, India, Germany, Italy and England. All the while the bombs, missiles and machine guns kept falling and firing.
So five years later, we finally have change and the hope of, at long last, a new, brighter day for everyone in the world:
November 4, 2008
My dear friends,
Today I have had to travel from the island of Borneo...from SABAH and the town of Kota Kinabalu. Then to Kuala Lumpur where I had a 5 hour lay over and finally arriving very late at night in Bangkok. The election has already begun....
Today, in honor of the election, I am wearing an Obama '08 button on my lapel. If the treatment and reaction throughout my day is any indication of what our world might become....I am overwhelmed with optimism. First, every single place I went, someone noticed the button and called out, "OBAMA!". There were international administrators from across the region at the Hotel. Many of them nodded and smiled, and even the non-Americans who reacted with huge enthusiasm. One man from Australia stopped me to talk politics for 10 minutes. The crew working behind the desk all gave a thumbs up...the taxi driver did not charge me for taking me to the airport.
I must explain that, once at the airport, I am one of very few Americans among Asians from all over this region. I might possibly be the only blond in either airport I have been in so far today, and won't see many if any Americans until Bangkok. I do not speak the language...thank goodness they speak English.
Upon seeing my button, everyone, without exception, smiles. I have received preferential treatment all day long. They didn't make me pay extra for a heavy bag, they treated me in short, like royalty. The stewardess told the pilot, who stood up in the cock pit to give me a thumbs up. Even the immigration official barely looked at my passport. He was much more interested in knowing an Obama supporter and what I thought would happen today.
When I was buying dinner at a very American McDonalds (the only place to get something to eat), the entire crew behind the counter (not one American) came to say kind words to me. The man who exchanged my money asked how I could do anything so far away from the USA. I told him, with some amount of pride, that I had voted by absentee ballot. He took my hand and said, "thank you so much for voting for Mr. Obama." There were actual tears in his eyes.
While waiting at the airport in Kota Kinabalu and girl about 9 years old saw my button. She smiled broadly. I said hello and she asked if I wanted Obama to win because she did and her whole family did and that that morning they said a prayer that he would. I told her that I thought Barack would like that a girl all the way in Kota Kinabalu said a prayer for him. She asked could I tell him that they were praying for him and I said I would send an email to his headquarters. She was so excited that she ran to tell her parents. Her father came over and asked me if I knew Obama. I told him I had seen him speak, but never met him. He said that his whole community was praying for Obama and that he appreciated that I would write an email to tell him. He took my hand and said, we are praying for all of the American people too. This was the second stranger to take my hand today. It was my turn to have tears in my eyes, because this man, who I didn't know, was completely sincere. I thanked him. He said, "all of us, together...do you understand?" I said, "All of us together." We parted...smiling!
I write this as I sit in the airport at Kuala Lumpur waiting for hours for the plane. The women who guard the doors have on muslim headdresses , orange pants outfits and lime green jerseys. They are shy and reserved, yet they give me the thumbs up, and quietly whisper, "Obama" as I walk by. There are Thai and Chinese, and Indonesians and Indians surrounding me...The languages, dress, foods are all interesting. And sitting right next to me is a Buddhist monk, in just his orangish/yellow robes and shaved head. He smiles broadly when I look at him. He says frankly, "I like Obama."
The man behind the counter is Malaysian. He asks if I voted and when I confirm I have he laughs really loud and says something to the other official sitting next to him. This man laughs too. They both look at me intently. The one, fighting to find the right english begins, "This is (something in Malay). I smile saying I don't understand. He looks at his colleague and rattles something in Malay...The man says just a minute. He gets out a book. It is an english translation book. He says something to the man and hands him the book...pointing to a line on the page. The 1st man turns back to me and says..."this is fan/tas/a/tic...fan-tas-aahhh-tic...how do you say?" I tell him, yes, he is right "Fantastic". They laugh again at their attempts. I laugh too. He stamps everything forcefully, "wham! wham! wham!" And then he says something none of these officials ever take time to say, "We hope you will come back and visit our country!" "Of course," I say, "of course." I don't quite know how to explain the full meaning of his invitation. Americans haven't been at the top of the list for quite awhile and traveling around, it isn't hard to sense.
Our leaders reflect who we are as a country/nation. I have always been proud of my family and Oregon. I have not always been proud of our leaders and the choices they make. Today I am proud...I am proud of our country and I was tearful watching a top French official trying to explain to the BBC reporter why the whole world is watching this election and praying that Obama will become our president.
Well, thank you for letting me share. Tomorrow at 7am we head to the American Embassy gathering to watch the election results come in. We are attending with world leaders and diplomats. We are to dress 'smart casual.' It should be quite the experience...one I hope brings new hope to our country and the world.
Last month, Attorney General Michael Mukasey rushed out new guidelines for the F.B.I. that permit agents to use chillingly intrusive techniques to collect information on Americans even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing.I suppose when your approval rating is already under 25%, you might as well just flip the bird to the 75%. I can't wait to see who gets a pardon.
In coming weeks, we expect the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a final rule that would weaken a program created by the Clean Air Act, which requires utilities to install modern pollution controls when they upgrade their plants to produce more power.
Soon after the election, Michael Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, is expected to issue new regulations aimed at further limiting women’s access to abortion, contraceptives and information about their reproductive health care options. Existing law allows doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in an abortion. These changes would extend the so-called right to refuse to a wide range of health care workers and activities including abortion referrals, unbiased counseling and provision of birth control pills or emergency contraception, even for rape victims.
According to Thursday’s G.D.P. report, real consumer spending fell at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the third quarter...To appreciate the significance of these numbers, you need to know that American consumers almost never cut spending. Consumer demand kept rising right through the 2001 recession; the last time it fell even for a single quarter was in 1991, and there hasn’t been a decline this steep since 1980, when the economy was suffering from a severe recession combined with double-digit inflation. [emphasis mine]So it's bad. And those numbers are coming in before the crash in the Dow, and the seizing up of credit. So when the economy is two-thirds consumer spending, can a Christmas holiday make us right? Probably not.
American consumers have long been living beyond their means.Here's the chart from the NY Times debt trap feature:
The Department of Justice, which according to the attorney general has "made enforcement of election fraud and corruption offenses a top priority," convicted only 24 people between 2002 and 2005 for voting fraud, an average of eight people a year.But voter suppression is another way to undermine democracy, and it is being propogated on a much larger scale.
Voter suppression by election officials and state governments -- is widespread and validated. "Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law," the New York Times recently concluded after its own investigation.
WASHINGTON - December 14 - Today, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) announced that the last of three politically-motivated lawsuits filed against the group in the wake of its successful 2004 voter outreach drive has been "dismissed with prejudice." Each of the three cases (two in Florida and one in Ohio) were brought by partisan law firms based on unfounded allegations of "voter fraud" against the organization -- and all three cases have been dismissed.
Minnesota – An employee has a right to be absent from work for the purpose of voting “during the morning of” election day. This time off is paid. (Minn. Stat. Section 204C.04)
you can’t fire cruise missiles at the global financial crisis
What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?If you're more of a "compare the stats" person, try this from the email I received (if you're part of the anti-intellectualist wing of the Republican party, don't bother. I know you think education is worthless):
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?
What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said 'I do' to?
What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?
What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard? What if Obama were a member of the 'Keating 5'? What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?
If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?
This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.
-Kelvin LaFond, Fort Worth
Educational Background of Candidates
Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism
The McCain plan is:
There's a big difference here: Democrats want to prevent depression and support the financial markets by investing taxpayer money in banks with troubled assets. Republicans want to give taxpayers money away to the shareholders and managers of banks with troubled assets.
- Take $300 billion.
- Pay double current market value to banks that have troubled mortgages on their books, thus:
- Give a present of $100 billion to the bankers who made the loans.
- Acquire and regularize the mortgages of only two-thirds as many homeowners as could have been accomplished if the $300 billion were invested wisely.
You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America...that’s not patriotic.I couldn't disagree more, and Thomas Friedman has a great column today explaining why paying taxes is in fact far more patriotic than anything else Gov. Palin has suggested we do:
Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan...A lot of Republicans consider it a given that taxes must go down, and then spending. But we've tried that for every Republican administration since Ronald Reagan, and each time it's simply led to deficits and massive increases in the national debt.
I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first. (emphasis mine)
Whites are particularly likely to discriminate against blacks when choices are not clear-cut and competing arguments are flying about...The subconscious prejudice unfortunately plays out in the election campaign:
For example, when the black job candidate is highly qualified, there is no discrimination. Yet in a more muddled gray area where reasonable people could disagree, unconscious discrimination plays a major role.
White participants recommend hiring a white applicant with borderline qualifications 76 percent of the time, while recommending an identically qualified black applicant only 45 percent of the time.
a careful survey completed last month by Stanford University, with The Associated Press and Yahoo, suggested that Mr. Obama’s support would be about six percentage points higher if he were whiteIt may seem that solving this problem is beyond us.
But another lesson, a historical one, is that we can overcome unconscious bias. That’s what happened with the decline in prejudice against Catholics after the candidacy of John F. Kennedy in 1960.
She's a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality.She's not much for facts or figures (or knowledge).
"I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I'm amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, 'Does any of this really matter?' " Palin said.So what's a policy wonk like Biden to do?
With shorter question-and-answer times and limited interaction between the two, he should simply ignore Palin in a respectful manner on the stage and answer the questions as though he were alone. Any attempt to flex his public-policy knowledge and show Palin is not ready for prime time will inevitably cast him in the role of the bully.
TAXPAYERS HIGHLY UNLIKELY TO RECOUP ANY OF THE COSTS -- Brad Sherman 9/29/08
We know that the Bailout Bill allows million-dollar-a-month salaries to executives of bailed-out firms, and it allows hundreds of billions to be used to buy toxic assets currently held by foreign investors. But we are told: "don't worry, this $700 billion bill won't cost us anything. We will get it all back next decade through a revenue bill."
I. Section 134 of the Bailout Bill merely says that the President must submit a revenue bill to Congress in 2013 that recoups from the financial industry the taxpayers' net losses.
a. If the President has any revenue ideas he actually likes, he would submit them to us anyway.
b. If the President submits revenue ideas only because he is forced to by Section 134, he will send it to us with a note saying that he believes they are bad for the country, and reserves the right to veto.
c. The Bailout Bill does not automatically enact any revenue increases, nor protect a revenue bill from filibuster or veto.
II. Congress is unlikely to pass a tax increase bill of hundreds of billions of dollars in 2013.
a. Tax increase bills are anathema to many.
b. 41 Senators can block the plan. We're giving Wall Street enough money to hire 4100 lobbyists.
c. In recent years, Wall Street has easily defeated every attempt to close every loophole that they exploit, no matter how pernicious-even the abusive use of Cayman Island tax havens by hedge fund managers, who thereby pay zero tax.
III. Any tax on the financial industry would make the good banks pay a huge tax so we can recoup what we gave to the bad banks.
a. Section 134 says the tax will be on "the financial industry." It does not provide for a tax on just those firms that received bailout payments.
b. A bank that doesn't get a bailout payment still pays the tax.
c. Community banks and perhaps credit unions will also be subject to the tax, so we can recoup what we gave to Wall Street.
IV. It is impossible to draft a tax that hits only those firms that received bailout payments, and even more impossible to draft one that taxes each bank in proportion to how much money we lost on its toxic assets.
a. There are no provisions to even keep track of losses on each asset purchased as it is managed over the years. Assets purchased from several
banks will be pooled, managed, and sold together, and we can never know how much we lost on assets purchased from any one bank.
b. If three banks in the year 2013 have the same income and size and operations, they will all pay the same tax-even if one got no bailout payments, a second got a million dollars, and a third got a billion dollars.
c. Many bailed-out firms won't exist in 2013.
1. Some will go under.
2. Some bailed-out firms are only shell companies. Example: Assume the Bank of Shanghai has $30 billion in toxic assets. It will sell these to the tiny subsidiary it has incorporated in California. The subsidiary will then sell these to the Treasury in 2009, and will be dissolved long before 2013.
3. Many bailed-out firms will still be unprofitable in 2013.
4. Some bailed-out firms will move offshore before 2013.
d. The whole purpose of the bill is to improve the balance sheets of the bailed-out firms. If particular bailed-out firms owe us the money they receive, they would have to list this as a liability, and the bill would fail to improve their balance sheets.
In 2013 we will not pass a tax bill that imposes hundreds of billions of dollars of taxes on the financial services industry, including those banks that got no bailouts, community banks, and credit unions. A tax bill imposed only on those entities that got bailout payments is impossible to draft, and contrary to the purposes of the Bill.
If it were easy to pass a bill to recoup hundreds of billions of dollars through taxes to be imposed in 2013 and thereafter, then provisions imposing such taxes would be in today's bill.
Wall Street gets their money now, and we get it back never.
Although he is frantically trying to distance himself from President Bush, Mr. McCain, by his own accounting, would be more Bushian in foreign policy than even Mr. Bush is now.Let's start with Iran, with its theocratic regime, hatred of Israel, and interest in nuclear armaments.
Iran seems determined to continue its uranium enrichment and will be vexing for any president. But Mr. Bush, under the influence of Bob Gates and Condoleezza Rice, has realized that the best hope is diplomacy and negotiation. In contrast, Mr. McCain denounces Barack Obama’s call for direct talks with Iranian leaders and speaks openly about the possibility of bombing Iranian nuclear sites.
“There’s only one thing worse than military action against Iran, and that is a nuclear-armed Iran,” Mr. McCain has told me and others, repeating the line regularly. That’s a nice sound bite, but it suggests that if Iran continues to enrich uranium he would feel obliged to launch airstrikes...
So if Iran continues its policies as most expect, we might well find ourselves under a McCain presidency headed toward our third war with a Muslim country.
Russia underscores Mr. McCain’s penchant for risk-taking, theatrics and fulmination. Most striking, he wants to kick Russia out of the Group of 8.Anyone recall the ad, Daisy?
Mr. McCain’s lead-with-the-chin approach to Russia reflects the same pugnacity that resulted in obscenity-laced dust-ups with fellow Republican senators, but it’s less endearing when the risk is nuclear war. Do we really want to risk an exchange of nuclear warheads over Abkhazia or South Ossetia? The Spanish prime minister, José Zapatero, told me a few days ago that what he fears most under a McCain administration is a revival of the cold war with Russia.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke bluntly warned reluctant lawmakers Tuesday they risk a recession with higher unemployment and increased home foreclosures if they fail to pass the Bush administration's $700 billion plan to bail out the financial industry.Hmm. The administration comes up with a plan that is getting a lot of skepticism, wants it passed in a hurry and with little guarantee that it can solve the crisis. Sound familiar? Let's flash back to 2002:
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Vice President Dick Cheney accused Saddam of moving aggressively to develop nuclear weapons over the past 14 months to add to his stockpile of chemical and biological arms.That kind of
...[Condoleezza] Rice acknowledged that "there will always be some uncertainty" in determining how close Iraq may be to obtaining a nuclear weapon but said, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
What is this bailout supposed to do? Will it actually serve the purpose? What should we be doing instead? Let’s talk.
First, a capsule analysis of the crisis.
1. It all starts with the bursting of the housing bubble. This has led to sharply increased rates of default and foreclosure, which has led to large losses on mortgage-backed securities.
2. The losses in MBS, in turn, have left the financial system undercapitalized — doubly so, because levels of leverage that were previously considered acceptable are no longer OK.
3. The financial system, in its efforts to deleverage, is contracting credit, placing everyone who depends on credit under strain.
4. There’s also, to some extent, a vicious circle of deleveraging: as financial firms try to contract their balance sheets, they drive down the prices of assets, further reducing capital and forcing more deleveraging.
So where in this process does the Temporary Asset Relief Plan offer any, well, relief? The answer is that it possibly offers some respite in stage 4: the Treasury steps in to buy assets that the financial system is trying to sell, thereby hopefully mitigating the downward spiral of asset prices.
But the more I think about this, the more skeptical I get about the extent to which it’s a solution. Problems:
(a) Although the problem starts with mortgage-backed securities, the range of assets whose prices are being driven down by deleveraging is much broader than MBS. So this only cuts off, at most, part of the vicious circle.
(b) Anyway, the vicious circle aspect is only part of the larger problem, and arguably not the most important part. Even without panic asset selling, the financial system would be seriously undercapitalized, causing a credit crunch — and this plan does nothing to address that.
Or I should say, the plan does nothing to address the lack of capital unless the Treasury overpays for assets. And if that’s the real plan, Congress has every right to balk.
So what should be done? Well, let’s think about how, until Paulson hit the panic button, the private sector was supposed to work this out: financial firms were supposed to recapitalize, bringing in outside investors to bulk up their capital base. That is, the private sector was supposed to cut off the problem at stage 2.
It now appears that isn’t happening, and public intervention is needed. But in that case, shouldn’t the public intervention also be at stage 2 — that is, shouldn’t it take the form of public injections of capital, in return for a stake in the upside?
Let’s not be railroaded into accepting an enormously expensive plan that doesn’t seem to address the real problem.
There are two classes of contraband at airport security checkpoints: the class that will get you in trouble if you try to bring it on an airplane, and the class that will cheerily be taken away from you if you try to bring it on an airplane. This difference is important: Making security screeners confiscate anything from that second class is a waste of time. All it does is harm innocents; it doesn't stop terrorists at all.Why doesn't it work? Because for items that are caught and carry a consequence, the potential consequence has a deterrent effect. Bring a gun to a airport and you'll be meeting with police for a while. If items are confiscated with no consequence (liquids), then it means that screeners must catch every single person, because there's never a deterrent to trying to bring a liquid explosive on board.
If some copycat terrorists try to bring their liquid bomb through airport security and the screeners catch them -- like they caught me with my bottle of pasta sauce -- the terrorists can simply try again. They can try again and again. They can keep trying until they succeed. Because there are no consequences to trying and failing, the screeners have to be 100 percent effective. Even if they slip up one in a hundred times, the plot can succeed.In other words, skip the liquids ban or start giving folks a hard time for it. Otherwise, it's just an empty gesture.
a ceaseless assault on his opponent's character and policies, featuring a consistent—and witting—disdain for the truth.It's not as though the Democratic campaign and Senator Obama are innocent of the typical political monkeying with truth, but McCain has taken the lying to a new level by unreproachfully repeating falsehoods even when confronted with truth.
John McCain has raised serious questions about whether he has the character to lead the nation. He has defaced his beloved military code of honor. He has run a dirty campaign.
Responding to the collapse of several major investment banks this week, John McCain reassured us, "I think still -- the fundamentals of our economy are strong." That move comes from an old playbook: On Oct. 25, 1929, Herbert Hoover declared, "The fundamental business of the country, that is the production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis."McCain's fault is not just a lack of perspective on the economy, but also a willful support of deregulation that caused much of today's financial crisis.
What [McCain] doesn't talk much about is how deregulation happened. It was the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that repealed the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act and thus eliminated the depression-era walls between between banking, investment, and insurance that made this crisis possible. Glass-Stegall erected walls between banking, investment management, and insurance, so problems in one sector could not spill over into the others, which is precisely what is happening now. The primary author of that legislation was none other than his economic advisor, former senator Phil Gramm (who thinks the country is in a "mental recession"). McCain fully supported the bill and has a decades-long track record of opposing government regulation of the financial industry. His new-found conversion to being a fan of regulation is going to be a tough sell as Obama is already pointing out that McCain got what he wanted (deregulation) and this is the consequence.
The most outrageous of McCain's distortions involve Obama on taxes. He asserts that Obama's new taxes could "break your family budget," and that an Obama presidency would inflict "painful tax increases on working American families." Hardly. Obama would lower taxes for most households, and lower them more than McCain would. The only "painful tax increases on working American families" would be on working families making more than $250,000.Obama's not innocent of stretching the truth, but he's also got enough of a conscience to stop lying when he's caught. McCain, on the other hand, is "playing to win."
Likewise, the McCain campaign has its story about Sarah Palin, and it's sticking with it -- facts be damned. She said "thanks but no thanks" to that "Bridge to Nowhere," except that she didn't: She backed the bridge until it was unpopular, then scooped up the money and used it for other projects. More than a year after McCain began railing against the bridge, Palin, then a gubernatorial candidate, said the state should build it "now -- while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist."