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October 11, 2008

blather blather


So the Internet connectivity problems returned yesterday, meaning that any cgi script as complex as "post" would cause the browser to scream and shudder and generally scare me away from my desk.  No problem!  I wrote a bunch and emailed it to myself so I could post it later.

But sadly, the events of the day whipsawed at such a rate that pretty much any thought I had then is now irrelevant because the thing I was writing about had materially changed.  The Dow?  Didn't really crash so much as land softly comfortably lower.  The McCain hate rallies?  Well, McCain later started pushing back against, bringing boos from the haters of Arabs and terrorists.

So then, ah, I guess I'll have to keep them to myself.  But do you remember when a news cycle was measured in days and not seconds?

Posted by mrbrent at 1:05 PM

October 9, 2008

i don't know why i watch tv

I have substantial posts "in the chute", as they say, but I'm cleaning the kitchen with the MSNBC on.  It's the whole big show, with the he said/she said structure to it, and I really don't understand that there are yet any GOP understar who would want their face on the TV to carry water for Sen. McCain, who spent the week accusing his opponent of insignificancies while the economy gets hit by a meteor.  Or is a meteor and hits all of us?  Or just, big no fun and no one is smiling, is maybe the safest to say.

I'm not saying I know who's gonna win, but would you want to have youtube footage stalking you, talking about how cool McCain is, from this week?  (i.e., is you crazy?)

Sleepytime!  I will now endeavor with the sleeping.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:20 PM

wayne coyne: house beautiful

To briefly cleanse the palate in between all the McPalin/economicaust items, please be advised that not only does the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne have a house, he has more than one house, but they are all next to each other and they, and Coyne, are indescribably cool.

Though the linked post does go a long way to describing, naturally.

I'd say that a good many of the folk that I grew up with (more accurate: grew older with) would agree that a life like Wayne Coyne's was the whole idea from the git-go.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:07 PM

a day devoted to feeling less pity for john mccain

Really, the best that the McCain campaign could do when christening their solution (which John McCain and only John McCain thought of, because he's a maverick, but he let Sarah Palin help a little bit, for similar maverick-reasons) to the financial crisis was "Homeowner Resurgence Plan"?

Get it?  "Homeowner ReSURGEnc Plan"?  No?  Maybe if when McCain refers to it verbally, he says "Homeowner Re, ahem, suuuuuuuurge, ahem, -ence Plan"?

I guess that "Homeowner I Was A POW Plan" was already taken?  Well, I guess the senator floated that one when he waxed existential at Lehigh University yesterday.

But as long as you're going to politicize the freaking name of your economic rescue/bailout/tiny-pail-of-water-to-throw-at-inferno, if you feel the need to have every aspect of your policy somehow poke a stick in the eye of your opponent, then why not just call it the "Obama Inappropriately Touches Children As Terrorists Watch and Laugh Plan"?

Posted by mrbrent at 9:42 AM

October 8, 2008

"that one" -- not those other senators standing around in the wings

Before decency seeps in and you start to feel sorry for Sen. John McCain as he throws his legacy out the open window of the history books, have a funny bit from Alex Balk explaining why McCain busted out "that one" last night:
• He forgot Obama's name.
• He didn't want to say Obama's name out of fear that he might make the "Osama" slip-up.
• He did want to say Obama's name so that he could explicitly make the "Osama" slip-up, but forgot Obama's name.

And that's just the first three.  It's funny because it's a list!  Actually, it is very funny, but 2008 forces me to snark on the format even as I appreciate the piece.

And if you are starting to feel sorry for McCain: Sarah Palin!

Posted by mrbrent at 11:48 AM

sane john mccain

Contrast John McCain in last night's "town hall", wherein the GOP talking points barely masked his loathing of That One and he couldn't start or end a sentence with a "my friends", with this interview with the Senator by Ana Marie Cox, in which he comes off as an actual likable and smart guy.

Maybe the likability comes from McCain refraining from blaming Obama for the financial collapse, the Magic Bullet and Star Search, for once.  But it does give credence to the Joe Klein's of the world, who have firmly come around on the concept that the John McCain running for president now is not the John McCain that they know.

Which may or may not be the case -- not that it would change my vote.  Even the likable John McCain is a big business deregulator with a Genghis Khan-y foreign policy.  But maybe this process would be more palatable, more heartening, if the old John McCain was actually engaged in this campaign and Sarah Palin was still back in Alaska misappropriating state funds?

Posted by mrbrent at 8:47 AM

October 7, 2008

debate 08 2.0

This doesn't count as a liveblog, which makes sense to me, as why the hell would you be reading this when you want to be watching the debate?  But my notes are below.  Some are also on Twitter!  I know, wasn't Twitter that thing last year, etc. etc.?

But, my snap judgment: McCain was fifty percent less awful than he has had the tendency to be.  Not that he was good.  He was all attacky, but was less sneering than usual, and he had moments of cogency.  But he still wasn't as good as Obama, who looked, well, presidential.  And the town hall format, which was widely thought to be the strength of McCain, just did not suit him, as he seemed mostly dead-set to prove that he was ambulatory.  Which he might be, but as some friends of mine noted, he seemed not to know where his chair was.

But now I need to watch the spin, because, like everyone else, I need to be told what to think.

My notes:

McCain is gonna what?  Buy bad mortgages?  Huh?

The Secretary of the Treasury is gonna cut a thousand jobs?

We are five minutes in, and I'm already seasick watching them stand up/sit down.

W/r/t back and forth over Fannie and Freddie -- "you're not intersted in politicians pointing fingers" -- that's not's so bad.

Ohh, I don't know why I'm taking notes.  But!  How can I trust either one of you?

Obama is not engaging in the ticky/tack so much.

I don't know why McCain is known as being so good at the town halls -- he lurches around the stage like a drunken sailor.

Obama brought up 9-11 first?  Giuliani is kicking in his expensive TV that Bernie Kerik installed right now.

Dude, if someone compared me to nailing jello on the wall, I'd... wait for the punchline?

"95%" -- that means, if there are a hundred of you, 95 of you, etc. etc.

Well, McC just won the Tip O'Neill vote.  And the my friends vote.  And the commission vote.

Ah, jeez, which one of you told John that Lieberman was in some way popular?

McCain is trying, but he's not really bridging the "Uncle Fester" gap.

"Goodies".  That's a.. thing?

McCain doesn't misunderstood the "privilege/right/responsibility" question.

McCain Doctrine: Obama is wrong.  But how will he implement it?

"Cool hand at the tiller"?  He just gave Obama 08 the new tagline.

"Holocaust" -- brave stand against all of you that want another one!

Well, McCain and Roosevelt were at Annapolis together, right?  Yeah, that's a cheap one.

"Bomb bomb bomb" that's a clear and present slap of the bitch variety, and the best McCain could do was, "a veteran friend of mine."

OK, dog needs to walk.  Can't take notes.

Sleep well, weirdos.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:08 PM

pre-debate jitters

So, in the middle of cooking the watching-the-debate dinner, a brief thought:

Even though the polls are all smiling at us, and even though the McCain campaign continues down its path of rage that speaks to no one other then Vladimir Putin, I have misgivings -- what's going to go wrong?  What's the Steve-Schmidt Hail-Mary that finally works, proving the law of averages?  Because I know in my own personal heart that if I were Obama going in there, I would fuck it up.  That's what I do!  I win, win, win, win, lose, oh shucks.

But then I remember why I am so behind the Obama campaign: he is smarter than I am.  More educated, more disciplined, just plain better than I am.  And he's the first candidate in a long time I can say that about.  And that's why I would like him to be our president, even in the face of the four years of disaster he would inherit.

So, there might be some bad thing to befall the campaign tonight, but chances are good that there's not.  And I'm always ready to eat crow.  I've learned to like the taste of it.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:46 PM


So the Dow dropped another five hundred eight points today, after losing three hundred seventy yesterday.  And between you and me, those numbers are pretty scary!  Now the Dow is around 9,500, which is as low as it's been for five years!

But!  The key is to think of it as percentages and not points.  Sure, if the Dow drops five hundred points a day, then at the end of the nineteenth day, the Dow equals zero, and then we all panic like it's 1999.  But, if the Dow drops five percent a day, then at the end of nineteen days, the Dow is nowhere near zero -- in fact, my calculations put it at 3,585, which is almost 3,600 points above zero!

How does it work?  Math!  Isn't that great?

Come on, everyone!  Math will save our crumbling financial system!

Posted by mrbrent at 4:09 PM

bob herbert on jobs

No one wants to make the habit of quoting too many New York Times Op-Eds (lest one becomes branded someone who actually reads the Op-Eds), but today's Bob Herbert was a good'un, as it it dealt with an aspect of our long slow-mo traincrash of an economy that everyone kind of forgot about as they imagined what it would be like to have a stock portfolio: stagnant wages and bad jobs:
With the latest financial meltdown, there has been widespread outrage over the excessive compensation of top corporate executives. Where has everybody been?  The rich have been running the table for the better part of the past 30 or 40 years.

Example: The after-tax income of the top 1 percent of Americans rose 228 percent from the late 1970s through 2005.  The story for working families over that same stretch was one of constant struggle to just stay even.  As the Pew Charitable Trusts reported last year: “The earnings of men in their 30s have remained surprisingly flat over the past four decades.”

Disaster was held at bay by the entrance of wives and mothers into the workplace, and by the embrace of colossal amounts of debt for everything from home mortgages, cars, clothing and vacations to food, college tuition and medical expenses.

Now middle-class and working families are up against the wall.  With most other options exhausted, the only real way for the vast majority of Americans to continue financing a reasonable quality of life is through the proceeds from employment.

It's probably hard to devote any quality thinking time to this issue during the confluence of a presidential election and a bunch of 30 year-old bad financial ideas coming home to roost, but maybe sometime in the next administration it can be addressed.  Hopefully with something similar to a Works Progress Administration, simultaneously investing in infrastructure and getting people paid, but I'm worried that if I say that too loud Sarah Palin will incite a crowd of morons to kill me.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:00 PM

the mccain ticket needs to dump mccain

Yeah, filled with rage this morning, which is good writing angry things, but bad for commuting.  Or at least bad for the mannerless co-commuters who I on other mornings can tolerate.  Maybe not so much "bad" for them -- maybe getting shoved out of the way is something that happens to the mannerless every day.

So yes, filled with rage, and very much looking forward to the debate tonight, as the McCain campaign has realized that the drag on the ticket is John McCain himself, and as a reaction has descended into such an SNL-level of slander and calumny that supporters at rallies can call out, "Terrorist!" and, "Kill him!" within earshot of both the candidates and live microphones and the candidate will not flinch.

A classic Steve Schmidt tactic:  counter the impression that you run a dirty dishonest campaign by going dirtier and more dishonest.

And tonight: more of that twitching grimacing John McCain charm, as he tells us that his idea to save the economy is that Obama palls around with terrorists.  Very much looking forward.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:56 AM

October 6, 2008

goodbye moe tkacik

What is it about working for Gawker media that makes the I've been fired/I'm quitting post filed by the departing writer so very good?  Is it because of the topic, something more personally affecting than Anne Hathaway's whatever?  Is it the fuck-you, the flipping over of the desk before security escorts you out?

Oh sure, there's background to it, but if you care about that sort of thing, you already know more about it than I do.

It is a nice job -- not too much inside-baseball, not too much overshare.  Give Moe some pageviews to pop her post-employment bonus.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:51 PM

at least 10,000 is a nice round number

Didn't we give the Treasury seven hundred billions of dollars last week so things like this can't happen?  Did Secretary Paulson and the Chairman of the Fed Bernanke even know what they were doing when they asked for all that free money?  I mean, I thought that the specific experience of causing the financial crisis would give them crucial insight to step on this sucker's neck before it breeds.  And instead, now it's all back to 2004, prosperity-wise.

Waitaminnit.  2004 was not such a bad year for my own personal self.  The bailout is working!

(We're coming up on a month of "Black [x]days".  We're gonna need a bigger metaphor.)

Posted by mrbrent at 11:14 AM

the five fists of keating economics

I've been saying all along, at in casual conversation, during all those times when the Obama campaign was down in the polls and he seemed to be taking on the chin without punching back, that Sen. Obama is not a man that I would not want to get into a fight with, because, even while Sen. Obama seems to be a genuinely gracious and genial man, it also seems to me that when he intends to hurt you, the chances are you are going to stay hurt.  As in, you do not want to mess with the man, because he will fuck all your shit up.

It was just an opinion, and hardly confirmed by the first couple months of the general campaign.  He just strikes me as capable at bare-knuckle politics and campaigning as he seems capable of everything else, but someone who prefers not to do so out of principle.

So, today there's this new website called Keating Economics.  It's subtitled "John McCain and the Makings of a Financial Crisis".  It's going live with a documentary at noon today, and explains the implications of the Keating 5 scandal as it relates to today:

The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today's credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules.  And in both cases, John McCain's judgment and values have placed him on the wrong side of history.

It is paid for by Obama For America, and I'm glad that the business end of that sucker is not pointed at me.

We'll see how it spins out, when the news decides what the narrative is, but I'm lobbying for the "good-man-pushed-too-far" meme.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:42 AM

October 5, 2008

todd palin is a separatist

So there's this whole recycled character-attack that the Robot Known as Gov. Sarah Palin has been launching over the weekend, and, you know what?  It is beneath comment.  It is venal, it is transparent, it's Sarah Palin!  Who, at the risk of pissing off the stupids that support her, is stupid.  She should think about channeling Tina Fey to bump her numbers.

So, what was I talking about?  Did anyone do anything actually interesting this weekend?

Posted by mrbrent at 8:47 PM