TEOTWAWKI.

That’s “the end of the world as we know it,” for you non-REM fans. Wouldn’t fit on one line.

I don’t know about you, but when a day opens with an account of the Treasury Secretary on bended knee before the Speaker of the House, continues with clips of the Republican vice-presidential candidate sounding like Miss Teen South Carolina, lurches on to another bank failure and it’s not even 9 a.m. yet, well…that’s not a good day. One should consider going back to bed. I did. Decided, instead, to read a movie review. Hey, it’s Friday. Is Spike Lee still the most overrated director since Steven Spielberg? Check:

The role that black troops actually played is an important story, and might have been a powerful one in Spike Lee’s hands. Indeed, a sense of that power can still be gleaned from the DVD version of Rachid Bouchareb’s “Days of Glory,” a magnificent French-language film that played here two years ago, and told essentially the same story with different skin shades — four Algerian soldiers in the French army fighting bravely against the Nazis for the nation they love while their fellow French soldiers treat them like scum, and their casually despicable racist officers use them as cannon fodder.

But the Bouchareb film allowed the awful ironies of the situation to speak for themselves, while Spike Lee keeps hammering them home with agitprop fervor and clumsy actors playing racist officers as crude cartoons.

Yep. Is Roger Ebert still his No. 1 fan and water-carrier? Hmm, three stars, but I know it’s in here somewhere…oh, OK. Here it is:

In a sense, the scenes I complain about are evidence of Lee’s stature as an artist. In a time of studios and many filmmakers who play it safe and right down the middle, Lee has a vision and sticks to it.

You might have gathered I’m not a fan. Fortunately, Spike Lee’s movies are easy to avoid and, in the grand scheme of things, not much of an irritant. However, one of the great periods of Hollywood flowering came during the Depression, when our parents, or our grandparents, escaped from their dreary lives an hour or two at a time at their local movie house. Now that it looks like we’re in for a sequel to the Depression, it might be nice to have a few decent movies in town, too.

(Well, there’s always “Nights in Rodanthe,” in which, I read, “an elusive band of wild horses shows up for a symbolic gallop on a beach” [WSJ]. Can’t! Wait!)

I’m invited to a small debate gathering tonight at JohnC’s house, but given that we don’t know if the debate is actually happening, maybe not. Hey, John — maybe you should make it a Depression-themed gathering. Have everyone bring a donation to a soup kitchen, or a cake made without flour or eggs. I hear things are tough all over. Mrs. Fuld (nee: Mrs. Lehman Bros.) is even selling her art. I hope Uncle Sam has the guts to seize the checks.

If you guys are looking for something to discuss in the comments, maybe everyone could take a stab at describing an economy in which the credit lines are frozen. Hardly anyone has done so publicly, or if so, they say, “You wouldn’t be able to get a mortgage or car loan.” Since most people are, at any given moment, not shopping for either one, it makes it easy to turn the page and say, “not my problem.” I don’t think most people know how credit works, how lines of credit and short-term borrowing affects, literally, every segment of the economy, how business relies on short-term credit to stock their shelves and longer-term instruments to install new equipment, etc. So Econ 101 for any dummies who might stumble through here and need the education. I figure it can’t be any less useful than more ranting and gloating.

So, bloggage?

“It really is true what they say: Those who do not study the past get an exciting opportunity to repeat it.” — Jon Stewart, national treasure. It gets good at the one-minute mark:

Well, at least you’ll be able to get some decent pot around here without risking your neck.

Finally, when was the last time you heard someone say, “I thought I’d be wearing a jet pack by now. Where’s my jet pack?” Well, it’s here!

Have a good day and weekend. I’ll be casting zombies.

Posted at 9:44 am in Current events, Movies |
 

78 responses to “TEOTWAWKI.”

  1. Dorothy said on September 26, 2008 at 10:03 am

    I am not necessarily a Spike Lee fan, but I did like his “Inside Man” with Denzel Washington and Clive Owen. We saw “Ghost Town” last week and really liked it. Ricky Gervais is so damned funny and it doesn’t even look like he’s trying to be funny. We’ll be watching “Leatherheads” this weekend cause I rented it yesterday. It didn’t get good reviews but it was filmed around Greenville SC while we were living there. And we’re curious about it. I see fewer and fewer movies these days. Anyone else doing that too?

  2. ellen said on September 26, 2008 at 10:08 am

    CNBC Squawkbox is doing a great job of explaining this in layman’s terms. Specifically Erin can’t-remember-her-last-name. Harder to get mortgages and car loans. Also, small businesses depend on lines of credit to buy inventory and make payroll. The banks will either not lend to them or will require such huge amounts of collateral that the small businesses (your fave falafel spot, that locally owned bookstore you like to frequent) will shut because they have no access to cash. Sure, you bought a sensible house, don’t have a 62″ flat screen, etc, so why should you “save” those people who spend more than their worth? Because the value of your house is going to plummet if your neighbors go into foreclosure. Because your school district’s tax revenue is shrinking. Because we should have learned something from the Great Depression. As amazing as my grandparents’ stories were about leaving the farm in Kansas in 1929 and opening a service station in LA (south central, back in the day), I would prefer not to go through the whole Grapes of Wrath thing with my kids.

  3. Jolene said on September 26, 2008 at 10:10 am

    I’m not an economist either, but I can tell a story about credit based on the family business–a farm in ND. I haven’t lived there for decades, but my brother still operates it. He’s the fourth generation of our family to farm there, and it’s a big farm.

    What do they need credit for? Oh, just about everything. Before you have a crop to sell, you have to plant it, cultivate it, apply (possibly) herbicides and pesticides, and harvest it.

    That requires seed, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizer, fuel, (very expensive) equipment, payments on land or land rent, and labor. I may be leaving something out.

    When I was growing up, there were always jokes about keeping the banker in business. Obviously, it was a reciprocal relationship.

    Over the years, they’ve grown wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, sugar beets, soybeans, pinto beans, navy beans, and sunflowers. Maybe some other things too.

    There are a lot of complex criticisms of American agriculture–too big, too dependent on subsidies, too many chemicals, damaging to the environment. No doubt, some of them are true, but, as an example of a credit-dependent enterprise, there could hardly be anything clearer.

    Of course, given our overproduction, the failure of farms might not affect the rest of us much or might not affect us quickly, but if the availability of credit declines further, those businesses, families, and communities will be greatly affected.

    P.S. I posted a link to an article in TIME by David von Drehle at the end of the previous link. I thought it a good overview of the candidates, the crisis, and how whichever one is elected might address our straitened circumstances.

    Another P.S. The Erin Ellen refers to is Erin Burnett.

  4. nancy said on September 26, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Perfect example, Jolene — farming is hugely credit-dependent, which is one reason it benefits so much from economies of scale that spread the risk around. Class, anyone else? Anyone?

  5. brian stouder said on September 26, 2008 at 10:35 am

    take a stab at describing an economy in which the credit lines are frozen.

    The company I work for, and which has always taken care of my family, would take a huge hit; and therefore so would we. Leaving aside weekly payrolls (!!) and inventory maintenance, we have a rapidly growing international sales base – and a banking collapse would pretty quickly affect international sales (to say the least). Some businesses will pay in advance by wire transfer, but distributors are in turn relying on borrowed money, too.

    The massive infusion of “liquidity” by the United States government certainly will keep the merry-go-round from grinding to a halt; and then we have to set and enforce some rules of conduct for the too-sharp-by-half kids that just injured all of us

  6. alex said on September 26, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Well, my spouse works in commercial construction, which has already tanked. He works maybe two days a week doing renovations and repair work, but if businesses are unable to get credit, that would dry up too.

  7. coozledad said on September 26, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Does anyone know if you should blanch acorns before you eat them, or can you eat them straight from the tree?

  8. mark said on September 26, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Yes, the credit markets are important. They have tightened. They have not collapsed, even though I believe the current administration scheduled the end of the world for today, barring acceptance of its bailout proposal.

    So why is the only answer to a credit liquidity problem a recapitalization of the people who created the problem? There are hundreds of local and regional banks that ran things correctly (dare I say “conservatively?”). My local morning newspaper reported on one such bank this morning. Not surprisingly, it’s business has been growing.

    Why not use some portion of $700 billion to support the strong regional and local banks to fill the credit demand, provoiding at or below market fed funds from which they may loan and, where necessary, providing loan guarantees and other short term support.

    During the last decade, some banks ran their business prudently, accepting slower growth and a lesser profit in favor of a sound long term model. Some probably took a lot of grief from directors and shareholders, who looked with envy at the decade long party going on at Lehman, WaMu, etc. And now, when these “good businesspeople” are about to be vindicated and rewarded with market share from their failing competitors, the government wants to help out the bad guys?

    The issue is a credit liquidity problem, not the failure of the financial institutions that were instrumental in creating it. Saving those institutions by transferring the consequences of their bad decisions to the US taxpayers is one way to address the credit problem. It is not the only way and certainly not the preferred way. Thank God for the House Republicans.

    Funny that some of you here who believe nothing said by the Bush administration, as you find them to be stupid AND habitual liars, accept what they say about this “crisis” and the cure.

  9. coozledad said on September 26, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Don’t try and dump it now. Republicans own this one the same way they owned the last one. Another shining example of right wing cowardice and abject cluelessness.

  10. nancy said on September 26, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Mark, I don’t think anyone here is swallowing the Bush line at all. Part of what makes this situation so maddening is that not only do average shlubs like us not know what is going on, it’s plain the people in charge don’t, either. Throw in that they have a history of mendacity, and it gets really complicated.

    I’m just wondering what the worst-case scenario is. Say they’re telling the truth, and the credit markets are on the brink of seizing entirely. What does a seize mean? That much, I think, can be answered, or at least speculated upon.

  11. ellen said on September 26, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Texas A&M’s extension service knows from acorns. Might want to print ‘n’ save this one for when we all live off the grid:
    http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/recipes/squirrel.html

  12. nancy said on September 26, 2008 at 11:21 am

    And make sure you scroll down the page and check out the nuts on that squirrel. ON EDIT: I think they were Photoshopped.

  13. Kirk said on September 26, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Those have to scrape the power line when he runs across it.

  14. Dorothy said on September 26, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Remember that time we all tried to come up with putting two words together and Googling them, trying NOT to get any hits? Never thought I’d be able to get a hit using SQUIRREL FRICASSEE in a Google search. I just got 575 hits on that combo in quotations.

  15. coozledad said on September 26, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Humbled. Again.

  16. Dwight said on September 26, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Roger Ebert is a national treasure, but for some reason (^^coughwhiteliberalguiltcough^^) he has an acute case of astigmatism critialus when it comes to Spike Lee.

    If Spike Lee had directed Ishtar, Roger would have written a whole book on it’s brilliance and devoted a workshop at his film festival.

  17. ellen said on September 26, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Not so sure they were photoshopped. After all, everything is bigger in Texas.

    Also, think we have uncovered the “amuse bouche” section of the Sarah Palin cookbook?

  18. Jolene said on September 26, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Did everyone hear that McCain has decided to go to the debate? His statement as to why his noble gestures didn’t quite work out as planned is at http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/

  19. Dorothy said on September 26, 2008 at 11:56 am

    I will be glued to that debate tonight, man. The hell with learning my lines for the play I’m doing.

  20. nancy said on September 26, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    What play, and what part?

  21. Connie said on September 26, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    One of my co-workers just had his house deal fall apart. Offer accepted and mortgage approved at 62,500. Appraisal comes in at 47,000. Owners paid 57,000 two years ago. Bank will no longer finance at price of offer. And yes, this is central city in a very affordable housing market. Another ongoing effect of the impact on housing values of all this.

    Looking at Blognetnews.com for Indiana, I saw several headlines that said well Amy Wellborn we didn’t like you either so don’t come back to Fort Wayne. And the raving conservative Angry White Boy said and that goes for Nancy Nall too.

    I spent yesterday at a meeting in Indy about the unintended consequences of property tax reform, and how local government should just deal with it, and there is more coming. Wasn’t very encouraging to those of us trying to provide services on a budget of property tax dollars.

    Am I getting this right, Jeff tmmo, is leaving because we are bad for his blood pressure.??

  22. Julie Robinson said on September 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Movies? The 3 at a time option at Netflix is only $18/month, and these days it’s pretty much our whole entertainment budget.

    Everyone seems to agree that the auto industry will atrophy without credit, and given NE Indiana’s reliance on auto suppliers, it’s going to get even uglier than it already has.

    But I’m with all the commenters from yesterday–I want Wall Street miscreants to pay big time, from the CEOs to the board members. Let them go to prison and become impoverished. And if we’re going to pay for their party, then we should also get oversight as to salaries and policies.

  23. beb said on September 26, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Coozledad says:
    September 26th, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Does anyone know if you should blanch acorns before you eat them, or can you eat them straight from the tree?

    I think you’re supposed to feed acorns to pigs, then eat the pigs.

  24. Jolene said on September 26, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Cute story re an entrepreneurial Obama supporter in Detroit at http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080925/NEWS15/80925080/&imw=Y

  25. moe99 said on September 26, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    The Sarah Palin hits just keep on comin’

    http://tinyurl.com/5x28yp

    and yes I dropped my ‘g’ to be in solidarity with Ms. P.

  26. beb said on September 26, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Dorothy wrote: Never thought I’d be able to get a hit using SQUIRREL FRICASSEE in a Google search. I just got 575 hits on that combo in quotations.

    A lot of people eat squirrel. Now Skunk friccassee might get you zero hits — whaddano, two hits, though both for the same quote and not a recipe.

    By the way, Dorothy, my wife and I also saw Ghost Town last weekend. It really is a nice, funny film. Apparently Gervais agreed to make the movie on the condition that he *NOT* kiss the girlfriend.

  27. brian stouder said on September 26, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Jeff tmmo, is leaving because we are bad for his blood pressure.??

    Connie, if I was going to be politically rude (and, what the hell, I’ve already popped the top on THAT brew!) I’d say jtmmo is just taking Harry Truman’s advice.

    As for Amy Welborn, no comment.

  28. nancy said on September 26, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    As for Angry White Boy, no comment. Besides, that guy speaks for himself.

  29. brian stouder said on September 26, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Last year when backward Fort Wayne had a blogger confab at the nowhere podunk provincial Allen County Public Library, Grant and I attended, ‘just to see’…..and unless I have the wrong blogger in mind, I think angry white boy his-own-self was the one who became whiney white boy, and got up and walked out during Nathan Gotsche’s (sic?) presentation; so he’s sniveling white boy, if you ask me

  30. Jenflex said on September 26, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    take a stab at describing an economy in which the credit lines are frozen.

    I’m with Mark on the prudently-managed financial institutions…I’ve worked at a credit union (not for profit; think financial services cooperative, basically) for better than a decade, and there’s no credit crunch here. Why? Because we made loans we were willing to live with, not to pitch into the bottomless maw of the market. CU deposits are federally insured like bank deposits, and many CU’s are full-service financials i.e. credit cards, mortgages…everything Joe Citizen needs.

    No credit union has ever been bailed out with taxpayer dollars. Some even do business loans (my employer is one of those). It’s always good to know that there are options….
    http://www.ncua.gov and http://www.cuna.org for more info.
    Credit won’t ever stop completely. It’s just that our little corner of the financial services market now doesn’t get to benefit from the market correction that we are positioned to weather just fine….

  31. moe99 said on September 26, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Slate’s top ten list of McCain’s next Hail Mary moves:

    1. Returns to Vietnam and jails himself.
    2. Offers the post of “vice vice president” to Warren Buffett.
    3. Challenges Obama to suspend campaign so they both can go and personally drill for oil offshore.
    4. Learns to use computer.
    5. Does bombing run over Taliban-controlled tribal areas of Pakistan.
    6. Offers to forgo salary, sell one house.
    7. Sex-change operation.
    8. Suspends campaign until Nov. 4, offers to start being president right now.
    9. Sells Alaska to Russia for $700 billion.
    10. Pledges to serve only one term. OK, half a term.

  32. Dorothy said on September 26, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    beb the only thing that bugged me about the movie was the fact that Rickie played a dentist, and in real life he has very strange teeth. A real dentist wouldn’t be caught dead (or alive) with teeth like his!

    The play, Nance, is “Good Help is So Hard to Murder.” It’s very silly and I’m playing Delilah. We can’t stop laughing in rehearsal. The lady playing my sister seems to be turning into her character, a gal the director says should be “fascinated by shiny things.” It seems to be working.

  33. Jolene said on September 26, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    A funny line from Joel Achenbach’s WaPo blog: The president has so little clout remaining he can barely get a tee time.

    The blog item has some good links to commentaries on the financial crisis.

  34. Gasman said on September 26, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Mark,
    You’ve grossly misread the Bush critics on this site. I don’t think any of us believe anything that Bush is saying about the financial crisis. I find it interesting that Bush, Paulson, and Bernanke didn’t even recognize the problem until a few days ago. Now they would have us believe that in that short time, they’ve recognized AND diagnosed AND come up with a solution. However, IF WE DON’T ACT NOW – AND I MEAN NOW – THE EARTH WILL STOP TURNING!

    They didn’t even know that their ass was being bitten and now we should trust them to solve it?

    As for blessing the House Republicans, some of the juicy bits that they want inserted into a bailout are tax reductions in capital gains and dividends. They still are clinging to the myth of trickle down economics. That is what caused this mess.

    The present crisis is not because of an evil, bloated, liberal government, it wasn’t caused by overregulation, and it isn’t because of tax and spend bleeding hearts. It is because – bottom line – over the last 28 years, the Republicans have been financially irresponsible. They’ve been more interested in putting policies in place that prop up the myth of trickle down rather than ones which actually work.

    This mess is covered top to bottom with Republican fingerprints.

  35. Rana said on September 26, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t think that the squirrel is Photoshopped (though that particular picture is certainly popular!).

    More information about squirrels can be found on the internet.

    I have to say, Googling for “squirrel testicles” and “squirrel scrotum” brings up some dang weird stuff!

  36. Gasman said on September 26, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    As for life with no credit: I am not as limber as I used to be. Try and try as I might, I just can’t seem to contort myself in a position in which I can actually kiss my ass goodbye. I guess my ass will just have to settle for a hearty wave.

  37. Gasman said on September 26, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    moe99,
    It just makes me cringe to watch Sarah Palin try and put together a coherent sentence. She appears to be so clueless that she has absolutely no idea how bad she’s coming off. Ignorance and arrogance co-mingled in equal proportions are not ideal qualities for a would be president in waiting. If this is how she does after intense coaching, what is she going to look like in a debate with Biden? She is clearly not ready for prime time.

    Damn! That is one bow legged squirrel! He seems to saying,”You want some of THIS?!?!?”

    Forget “huevos elephante.” It’s now “huevos ardilla.”

  38. Jolene said on September 26, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    There’s an interesting essay about Sarah Palin by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic. Basically, he rips McCain for choosing her and putting her in a situation for which she is totally unprepared–overlooking other, better prepared women who might have given him some of what he was looking for simply because he thought any woman would do.

    Coates is an interesting new (to me) voice. The writing is a little rough, but he is working on that. (I know this because he invites advice from his readers. Occasionally, I send some.) Definitely worth taking a look at. I saw this piece as deeply humane. An excerpt:

    Let us take this story seriously for a moment. I have watched this whole Palin thing with some twinge of personal recognition. I come from a family of seven kids by four women. As I’ve said before, I’ve got brothers born in the same year, and brothers born to best friends. My father was a high-school drop-out. I am a college drop-out. I was a father by 24–my father had kids when he was 22. I come to books and learned things in a hard, organic way. I was watching Palin explain to Couric how it could be that she just got a passport last year, and I was thinking, “Shit, I don’t have a passport now.” What can I say? Azeroth was always a foreign country to me.

    He’s written a book about growing up in Baltimore. Just poking around for a few seconds, I found an excerpt of it on the NPR site.

  39. Connie said on September 26, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Nancy, I’m with you on angry white boy.

  40. moe99 said on September 26, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    My bank went under last night. I have no idea if I’ll be able to draw on my home equity line of credit, which was my plan to pay for my share of the kids’ college education. And it made since, as I had a mortgage that was less than a fifth of the house’s assessed value. Now, I suppose that is all thrown in a cocked hat.

    But what really gets my goat this am, is the word from Yglesias’ blog about the compensation that the new CEO of WA Mu, who has been on the job less than a month is going to be paid:

    “My understanding is that even for the super-elite it normally takes a couple of months to wrack up tens of millions of dollars. But Alan Fishman gets the job done with super speed:

    But the seizure and the deal with JPMorgan came as a shock to Washington Mutual’s board, which was kept completely in the dark: the company’s new chief executive, Alan H. Fishman, was in midair, flying from New York to Seattle at the time the deal was finally brokered, according to people briefed on the situation. Mr. Fishman, who has been on the job for less than three weeks, is eligible for $11.6 million in cash severance and will get to keep his $7.5 million signing bonus, according to an analysis by James F. Reda and Associates.”

    I hope there’s a tidy place in one of the circles of hell for guys like this. Although Dante, the author of The Divine Comedy, was the son of a banker and understood commerce, usury was still a sin when he was alive. Let’s hope that (particularly wrt credit card interest) we can get the neo cons to revive this religious concept.

  41. Jolene said on September 26, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    How does it strike you that McCain is always kicking around w/ Sens. Lieberman and Graham? Every time I see them together, I think of Seabiscuit, who always traveled with Pumpkin, his lifelong companion. Apparently, racehorses often have a companion horse, which helps keep them calm.

    McCain is reported to be unable to sit still or keep quiet, so I imagine Lieberman and Graham acting as absorptive devices for his excess energy.

    The PBS Newshour has done lengthy profiles of the candidates over the past four nights, in preparation for Lehrer’s turn as host, and it’s interesting to see how the differences in their temperaments come through over and over in the things people say about them in those profiles. Graham appears a couple of times in the McCain profiles, and he repeatedly referred to McCain’s campaign as “our campaign”, which I found a little weird.

  42. mark said on September 26, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    nancy-

    Glad to hear you aren’t buying into the buyout hook line and sinker. As for the worst case, well it isn’t pleasant but I don’t think it will be catastrophic or long term. References to the great depression are inappropriate for a host of reasons.

    We have a problem that, at it’s essence, stems from too much credit, extended to too many uncreditworthy people, with too little credit. The inevitable solutuion for that is less credit, extended to more creditworthy people, with greater collateral. IMO, the current plan just attempts to delay that reckoning until after the elections or a little further.

    If I spend years eating more than is appropriate (normal) and exercising less than I should, the cure is to spend time eating less than what is normally appropriate and exercising more than might normally be required. The process is not necessarily pleasant, but necessary if I am to return to “normal”- where I get the benefits of good health, new wardrobe, etc.

    jenflex-

    Agreement, with me, here, is rare. I enjoyed a moment basking in it. It really does bother me that the well-run financial institutions may be limited in their ability to grow their business at the expense of their poorly run brethren. Their prudence denied them exceptional short term rewards, and this bailout may deny them their hard earned long-term reward.

    gasman-

    as I said to nancy, good for you if you are a cynic on the Paulson plan. And, of course, it is intuitively and empirically obvious that the problem is solely and collectively the fault of people who call themselves Republicans. It is so certain that I’m surprised you bothered to mention it. Did you notice the sun rose in the east this morning?

    Less well known, but equally certain, is that Republicans are exclusively responsible for the poor quality of Spike Lee’s movies.

    moe-

    First, thanks for sharing the top ten list. It really was funny, Second, I think your idea about usery laws is a very good one. The prospect of stringing people along at 20+ interest rates (plus late fees and penalties) is a heck of an incentive to make “bad” loans. That kind of profit supports a business model where even a huge default rate is acceptable.

  43. Julie Robinson said on September 26, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Jenflex–we’ve used credit unions since our student days at IU. I’m always amazed at people who are paying for checking, paying for ATMS, paying for everything. Unforutnately our CU didn’t have good rates when we got our mortgage, and we went to a broker, where we got a great rate, and a mortgage that was eventually sold to WaMu. I know it’s supposed to work out find and dandy with JPMorgan and all, but I can’t help feeling queasy.

  44. Gasman said on September 26, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Mark,
    I don’t quite subscribe to the liberal monolithic doctrine that you seem to suspect. I did not say that the present situation is only Republican in conception, just that I want to apportion blame appropriately. I think that Clinton made a mistake in repealing the Glass-Steagall act. If anything, I think this present crisis indicates that big is not always better when it comes to financial institutions. Too many people believed that Lehman, et al were simply too big to fail. Credit unions, tiny by comparison, are doing just fine right now. Maybe a bit of common sense will emerge for awhile, that is if we aren’t stampeded into the Bush/Paulson nonsense.

  45. deb said on September 26, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    moe, I’m so sorry about your bank. Those bastards better figure something out, and soon. As for Fishman, I hope it’s one of the more repulsive circles of hell.

  46. Catherine said on September 26, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    This mess is not Wall Street’s fault. There, I’ve said it.

    In my experience, people sort themselves into careers for which they are emotionally suited. People who like to argue => lawyers. Greedy people => banking and real estate. Now, there are some lovely, ethical people in both areas. But, in my b-school class, and my long and unhappy knowledge of Harvard b-school alums, the greedy a$$holes self-sort into those two areas because that’s where the money is. What we need to realize is that the greed-is-good folks are like, I don’t know a good metaphor, but maybe a blunt instrument or a pit bull. They just go where we, the citizenry and our elected representatives, point them, and do what we let them do. They are constitutionally disposed, not to mention trained, to game the system. Let me emphasize: game the system to the max.

    Here’s where we get to the blame part, in my view. The government sets and enforces the rules – in fact that’s its role, and don’t start with me about free markets, there’s no such thing in the good old US of A. It’s not Wall Street’s job to make the rules or assure any sort of fair, just or equitable outcome. It’s the job of government.

    Yes, I would actually pay to go to Nancy’s arena tour of Wall Street corporate officers being run, naked, through the aisles and flogged. Also, sent to credit counseling. I love that visual, and find myself returning to the fantasy daily. However, they need to be joined by the entire membership of the House and Senate banking committees, the upper ranks of the SEC and the FDIC, the Fed Board of Governors, a bunch of lobbyists, and just for fun let’s throw in any elected official who ever attended a hearing at which they were warned, by well-meaning economists, about the exact situation in which we find ourselves.

    Phew. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Am I turning into caliban? Back to acorns, at least for another ½ hour.

  47. moe99 said on September 26, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    But Catherine, who is Wall Street, if not the greedy B school folks and the regulators?

  48. Catherine said on September 26, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    My point, which probably wasn’t clear, is that government, i.e., the legislators and regulators, is to blame. Knowing some of them, I just don’t think one should ever expect the b-school types to do the right thing, or really anything other than beat their quarterly goals so they can collect their bonuses.

  49. Jenflex said on September 26, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Julie:

    Why not refi with a CU? 😉 Our 30-year fixed was at 6.25 today (I think) and closing costs are all pass-along, no mark-ups, origination fees, etc. And, we don’t sell servicing on our mortgages, so our borrowers always work with us.

    Check out one of the CU trade sites to find one.

  50. Jenflex said on September 26, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Mark-
    Re: prudently run financial institutions giving up massive short-term gains. I liked the way our CEO described his philosophy during the busy times that turned out to be the buildup to this situation. He was asked why he didn’t want to engage in more aggressive pricing/behavior. His answer?

    “Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered.”

    Anyone else enjoying the debate as much as I am?

  51. beb said on September 26, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Catherine, the legislature that failed to pass laws to restrain the bankers from looting the financal system are partly to blame but don’t forget that these bankers have been paying politicians millions of dollars to not regulate them. ($2 million from Fannie Mae to one of McCain’s advisors for example). It’s a circle of corruption — of Republican corruption because they’re the ones who think industry is capable of overseeing itself.

  52. brian stouder said on September 26, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Anyone else enjoying the debate as much as I am?

    immensely!

  53. Laura said on September 26, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Hi Nancy,
    First, really enjoyed your talk last week in St. Louis. We’ve been in this journalism biz for about the same amount of time and it’s nice to find someone as jaded as I am.
    I just want to know why Republicans are so stupid that they can’t see what an airhead Sarah is. I was at a gathering of girlfriends last night and discovered to my horror that all of them are for McCain. Some of these women are even smart! Of course, I live in a very conservative town in Kentucky. Anyway, I’m looking for a quick reply when people cite Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan as governors who had no foreign polilcy experience. My answer was that it’d be nice if Paliln had a brain, but I have to think of something that will get through to these people. It just boggles my mind that people aren’t worried about her being a heartbeat away. I swear, I’m starting to look for work in Canada…

  54. moe99 said on September 27, 2008 at 12:11 am

    It was a great debate. Both guys did very well. I’d call it a tie but I think McCain edges Obama out simply because of his experience. And Obama needs to keep it in even if McCain is lying his ass off, as he was tonight.

    Although, I love Joe Biden’s take on it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QdT-xMe2-s

    Here’s one of McCain’s lies per Yglesias:

    McCain in Lebanon

    Washington Post:

    McCain seriously misstated his vote concerning the marines in Lebanon. He said that when he went into Congress in 1983, he voted against deploying them in Beirut. The Marines went in Lebanon in 1982, before McCain came to Congress. The vote came up a year into their deployment, when the Marines had already suffered 54 casualties. What McCain voted against was a measure to invoke the War Powers Act and to authorize the deployment of U.S. Marines in Lebanon for an additional 18 months. The measure passed 270-161, with 26 other Republicans (including McCain) and 134 Democrats voting against it.

    I’m not even really sure why McCain felt the need to lie about this. It is, however, interesting that he brought it up at all. Back in the 1980s, McCain hewed more or less to a realist line that’s very different from the neoconservative foreign policy he’s adhered to for the past 10 years.

    Polls are mostly trending in Obama’s favor….

  55. alex said on September 27, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Too tired to read any other posts tonight, will go there later, but just had to put down my visceral reaction.

    I cannot believe that it’s lost on all of the analysts blabbing away on TV the rest of the night, no one has said it, but in all of my adult life I have to say this was the least stilted, least phony debate I’ve ever seen. Obama has changed the rules and McCain was forced to meet him on his terms, and they actually were fairly substantive for a change.

    McCain’s still full of shit, of course, but he didn’t do half bad for an old-school blow-dried teleprompter kind of guy. Not that it matters. Sarah Palin, if she doesn’t wuss out, will spell the end of this waste of time called a campaign.

  56. Dexter said on September 27, 2008 at 12:56 am

    More on medical marijuana: http://www.newyorker.com/online/2008/07/28/080728on_audio_samuels

  57. Gasman said on September 27, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Kathleen Parker, definitely not one of my favorite political columnists, but always the loyal conservative apologist thinks that it would be best for Sarah Palin to withdraw as her party’s nominee for VP:

    http://townhall.com/Columnists/hleenParker/2008/09/26/the_palin_problem?page=1

    A few quotes:
    Parker says that Palin “Is Clearly Out Of Her League.” (Parker’s emphasis.)

    “Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there. Here’s but one example of many from her interview with Hannity: “Well, there is a danger in allowing some obsessive partisanship to get into the issue that we’re talking about today. And that’s something that John McCain, too, his track record, proving that he can work both sides of the aisle, he can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this.” ”

    “If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.”

    I’m sure that Parker is not the only Republican, conservative or not, that feels this way. How many are simply reluctant to publicly give voice to their fears and misgivings about Palin? Gov. Palin is hopelessly in above her head and she isn’t even astute enough to realize it. Today Paul Begala asserted that Congress – both parties – considers Bush an “irrelevant moron” and he’s had eight years of on the job training. What would their assessment be of a President Palin?

  58. deb said on September 27, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Gasman, where/when did Begala say this about Bush?

    Did anybody else notice last night, during the debate on Iran, that McCain’s face looked like it was ready to morph into Bilbo’s evil visage when he was tempted to take the ring from Frodo? Maybe The Daily Show will do a side-by-side comparison. ‘Twas creepy.

    And WHY did McCain so studiously avoid eye contact? It was infuriating–as if he wouldn’t lower himself to even acknowledge his opponent. Props to Obama for continuing to look right at him, in spite of this nasty snub. (Or maybe that was a tactic. Or was it a strategy? So hard to tell those apart.)

  59. John said on September 27, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Of course, I live in a very conservative town in Kentucky.

    Laura, has an Obama for Pres opened a campaign headquarters in your town?

  60. Julie Robinson said on September 27, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Jenflex–we’re at 4.625 and have only six years left on our mortgage. But we were being offered 2 for an adjustable-rate, which was really tempting. We did have a CU mortgage on a previous house.

    Alex–yes. It was a real debate, and I also give Jim Lehrer credit for going with the flow. I have to rescind my previous remarks about him during the conventions, when he seemed confused.

    Anyone else looking forward to next Thursday? Palin will be exposed for the true lightweight she is.

  61. Jenflex said on September 27, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Julie —
    Dang! I thought I was doing good at 5.75! Maybe look at a home equity loan to pay off the 1st mortgage…there are some good 5-year fixed rates out there….then you’d be close.

    Just a thought. Bankrate.com might have some comparisons.

  62. MichaelG said on September 27, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Catherine, I really liked your rant. You expressed exactly what I’ve been thinking. Capitalism is a full contact martial art and needs rules and referees to work. My feeling is that the Dems are fully as culpable as all the rest. They did nothing to oppose or counter the excesses of the last 20 years. The almost unbelievable spinelessness of the Democratic Party members of congress over the same span is one of the big stories of our time.

  63. moe99 said on September 27, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Michael G, Just a caution for me. The Repubs in the Senate have filibustered more bills more times in the past year than any other session on record. That’s something that is not discussed much in the MSM and it’s one of the main reasons that nothing has been done in Congress other than pork for a while now.

    Btw, did anyone notice that Palin was not available after the debates like Biden was, to spin the reaction? No, she was in a bar in Philly:
    http://www.philly.com/philly/hp/news_update/20080927_Palin_grabs_a_seat_at_the_bar.html

  64. Jolene said on September 27, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Laura: There are a couple of answers to the experience question–not directly relevant to foreign policy but relevant to the more general idea of dealing with big issues that extend beyond the fairly parochial concerns of the Alaska governorship.

    Reagan was the two-term governor of California, which, even then, was as big and complex as many countries. Clinton was very active in the affairs of the Democratic Party (specifically, the Democratic Leadership Council) before he ran. And, for a year, he was head of the National Governors Association. Even earlier, Clinton was an aide to Sen. Fulbright (perhaps just an intern) when he was in college at Georgetown, and I believe he had a fairly significant role in McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign. So that is 20 years of experience in state and national politics after law school. I have no idea how much foreign travel was involved, but some of that political experience must have involved thinking and talking about the role of the United States in the world.

    Perhaps most important, both Clinton and Reagan won their nominations in contests that forced them to travel over much of the country, address many different kinds of audiences, and speak to many different issues. Thus, they both had lots of experience in situations where they were forced to acknowledge competing points of view and address them for months and months before taking the national stage. That has happened with Obama too. He is much tougher and speaks with more authority now than he did in January, 2007, when he announced his candidacy.

    Finally, Clinton and Obama are just really smart people. Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar. As another blog that I was reading mentioned, we heard more about the man from Hope than the man from Yale and Oxford, but he was a bright guy who reached beyond Arkansas at a very early age. The same is true for Obama. His personal history has given him a large sense of the world, as have his education, his travels, and his acquaintance with people from all over. Both have demonstrated that they can handle large volumes of complex information on many different topics.

    Palin, however bright she might be, has never really been in an environment where she is surrounded by lots of other really smart people to stimulate and challenge her. And even though she has been popular in Alaska, there are plenty of people who have worked with her who have said that she has not been particularly interested in mastering the details of issues central to the administration of the state.

    Here are a couple lof WaPO inks–one to a news article and one to a web chat–by people familiar with her work as governor.

    Palin the VP Choice

    She’s Nice — But Not Ready

  65. basset said on September 27, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Meanwhile, the foreign media continue to join our own liberal press in a systematic effort to undermine core American values and avoid reporting the REAL news – today’s example is this egregious and inaccurate attack from a British newspaper:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/race-for-whitehouse/the-question-is-can-palin-give-a-coherent-answer-944060.html

  66. Catherine said on September 27, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Michael — thanks for the nice words.

    Beb — I agree that the moola from the bankers has probably perverted the legislators and possibly even the regulators. This is more b-school a$$holes gaming the system, IMO. They know that money buys, at the least, access, and they’re trained to use whatever (legal) leverage comes to hand (ethical, what’s that?).

  67. moe99 said on September 27, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    A vacationer with the McCain family on a small island in Fiji recounts the experience:

    http://www.tellingthoughts.com/us-politics/my-holiday-with-mccain

  68. Catherine said on September 27, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Some interesting commentary above on the meta-themes of the debate — eye contact and so forth. My husband, kind of a conservative guy, was offended that Obama kept calling McCain “John,” while McCain used his opponent’s name much less frequently and stuck to the more traditional honorific “Senator Obama.” We were listening on NPR, not watching. Anyone else notice that?

  69. Catherine said on September 27, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    One last completely snarky comment about the debate. Could Jim Lehrer and John McCain please do something about their dentures already? The whistling was getting on my very. last. nerve. And yes, I’m planning to eventually rot in hell, toothless.

  70. Jenflex said on September 27, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Catherine: Do you think the Senator Obama/John thing might have some generational resonance? I’m just thinking how our not-quite-9-year-old knows all my and my husband’s friends by their first name…titles are no longer used as a matter of course in many if not most venues, particularly among younger people.

    Your thoughts?

  71. Jolene said on September 27, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Catherine: I wasn’t bothered by Obama’s use of McCain’s first name. What bothered me was the repetition of some version of “Senator Obama just doesn’t understand.” Very condescending.

    As engaged as I’ve been in the election, I thought the debate was boring. Too much repetition of phrases and examples from tired stump speeches. Maybe I need to get out more. I know this stuff too well.

    In general, McCain’s speaking style makes me a little nuts. There’s always an air of sanctimony or some such thing. Obama usually produces way too many “uhs’ and “ums”, but that doesn’t bother me as much, and he was better about that last night.

  72. moe99 said on September 27, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I’m sure that Obama used “John” as an indicator that they were peers. Which they are, but why McCain gets pissed off every time he is faced with it. Hence, why McCain refused to look at Obama (he also refused to look at him in the press conf in the WH earlier this week)

  73. Jolene said on September 27, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    And here’s another critical issue: What about their ties?

    Some pundit/blogger or other said that McCain had the more “presidential” tie, whatever that means. On my ancient TV, it vibrated. Looked like a barber pole.

    One other note: How could you tell that McCain has written off Iowa? He said that he is opposed to ethanol subsidies. This from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com.

  74. moe99 said on September 27, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    McCain also confused ‘financial’ with ‘fiscal’ As a president, I would expect him to know the difference:

    http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2008/09/crises-fiscal-a.html

  75. Jenflex said on September 27, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    And, I thought that JM hammering on the strategy vs. tactics thing was a little lame.

  76. Catherine said on September 27, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Jen, the strategy vs. tactics thing seemed a little, um, elitist to me. Re the first name/honorific, I had the same reaction as you — it’s just how we baby busters roll.

    Wish I could comment on the ties, but I only listened.

    As I think Jolene said above, I am looking forward to the Biden-Palin debate. Someone’s definitely gonna say something crazy, I just don’t know who. I’m hoping for a “I knew JFK… and you’re no JFK” moment. Loose cannon plus Caribou Barbie = high potential entertainment value!

  77. MichaelG said on September 27, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Moe, you’re right about the filibusters and right that the MSM didn’t call the Reps on it. However, the Dems never called them on it either. There were several occasions on which they should have made the Reps talk their filibuster out instead of caving. They never said a thing about it in news conferences, etc. The Reps are always talking, always yakking, always criticizing, always keeping their ball in play. The Dems just lie huddled in their fetal position. I remain astounded and disgusted at the widespread lack of guts and leadership in the Democratic party over the last 20 years.

  78. moe99 said on September 27, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Michael, you are right. And if the MSM won’t cover it, then Reid should have done some stunt like donning pirates’ outfits to point to how we were being robbed, but it would also note the origin of the word filibuster which is from the Dutch. vrijbuiter —
    freebooter or pirate.