It’s hard to know how much of this is honest journalism and how much is the cynical kind, perpetrated by editors looking for buzz, so you can take all this with as much salt as you wish, but.

First, New York magazine:

The long-anticipated war of the world versus Wall Street has erupted, and we non–Wall Street New Yorkers are caught right in the line of fire. On the one hand, how can we not share the populist outrage over bankers’ squandering a decade’s worth of profits and still taking bonuses as they bag federal bailouts? Most Americans just read about these guys; we got shouldered aside at the bar by them, and watched their bonuses push real-estate prices beyond our reach. We have greater cause than anyone to loathe the bastards.

On the other hand, until recently, America’s losses were our gains. Those Wall Street bonuses, in part, went to cover taxes that kept our streets clean and safe. They underwrote charity and culture. They supported restaurants, shops, and galleries. They paid the wages of cabdrivers, maids, doormen, and hairdressers. All New Yorkers stand to lose a lot in the austerity plans being imposed upon Wall Street by Washington.

Hmm, yes, I guess that’s true. All New Yorkers will lose a lot if deprived of the rich crumbs that fell from Wall Street’s table. Regrettably, the damage wrought by these greedheads is not confined to New York, and in fact spreads all over the world, to a lot of places where you cannot enjoy the New York City Ballet and related cultural luxuries. And so my sympathy is the proverbial world’s tiniest violin, playing a sad, sad song.

Oh, and please: Do not tell me that not being able to afford a Manhattan apartment is somehow equal to owning a Michigan house actively sending real dollars down the toilet, in large part because of Wall Street’s criminal behavior. Just…don’t.

Next, the cheekier NYT Sunday Styles. Hed: You try to live on 500K in this town. You sense that a story sourced by an author of an “Upper East Side novel of manners,” real-estate agents and the editor of the New York Social Diary is trying to apply the needle:

Private school: $32,000 a year per student.

Mortgage: $96,000 a year.

Co-op maintenance fee: $96,000 a year.

Nanny: $45,000 a year.

We are already at $269,000, and we haven’t even gotten to taxes yet.

Oh, my. [Pause for thought.] You know, this story is just here to push my buttons. I decline to have my buttons pushed. If you’d like to bat it around in comments, fine, but include me out.

I’m disinclined to engage with Candace Bushnell’s thoughts on what taking the train over a chauffeured Town Car might say about a banker forced to do so, in part because I read this story today, too, and a similar one, from the New Yorker, on Friday. You can read it at that link, but you’ll have to register; a video distillation is here.) The New Yorker story is better, but longer, and takes a look at how Florida’s “Ponzi economy” was brought to a catastrophic halt by the mortgage debacle, how housing was the engine of a long train representing Florida’s linked businesses, and when the engine hit a wall, the subsequent derailment was felt all the way back to the caboose. Reporter George Packer talks to people all along the socioeconomic spectrum, all of whom are suffering varying degrees of calamity. It was, honestly, the most depressing thing I’ve read in a very long time, although I was cheered to see that the “we all must share the blame for this” rhetoric was called out a time or two. A St. Petersburg Times journalist said the blame for this disaster looks like an inverted pyramid, with Wall Street and politicians at the top, and I think that’s about right. Packer talks to a couple who never went subprime, never treated their house like a cash machine, never overspent on credit cards, just tried to eke out a living near the bottom of the economy, and they are now the ones saying things like, “Maybe I’m a bad person. That must be why this is happening to me.” This, Packer observes, is more penitence than it currently being shown in New York or Washington at the moment.

So that’s what you should read.

A bit of bloggage? OK, a bit:

When Jim Harrison wrote his wonderful essay, “Ice Fishing, the Moronic Sport,” he wasn’t kidding. Really:

The day began with fishermen setting down wooden pallets to create a bridge over a crack in the ice so they could roam farther out on the lake. But the planks fell into the water when the ice shifted, stranding the fishermen about 1,000 yards offshore.

One hundred thirty-four saved from their own stupidity, one dead. The day’s temperature: Just shy of 50 degrees. I only wish I was kidding.

My mother’s favorite cabaret singer died this weekend. My mother and thousands of gay men, that is.

Finally, I know I’m very tough on the world’s most overrated newspaper columnist, but in the tradition of even broken clocks being correct twice a day, I give you…(drumroll)…a Mitch Albom column I actually liked. Halley’s Comet will likely appear before this happens again.

Finally, is it just me, or does “Stimulus Package” sound like the title of a dirty movie? Just wondering.

Enjoy your week.

Posted at 1:07 am in Current events, Media, Popculch | Tagged , , , , , , , |

81 responses to “Whinypants.”

  1. coozledad said on February 9, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Does it make me a bad person because I believe these people should be yanked from their homes and whipped mercilessly through the streets to their new job washing the corpses of their golf buddies? Because this is what I believe.
    New York needs to be less of a wanker’s playground anyway. The exit of the douchebags will adjust the damned rents.
    And Modo’ll have to slash her rates for Republican handjobs. Big fucking Hairy.

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  2. beb said on February 9, 2009 at 8:01 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, public floggings. That’s what these New York Bankers deserve. Ran the banks into bankrupcy court and flog the CEOs. And can’t we sue them for lack of fiduciary responsibility and collect all thoses millions in bonuses? Serious, is this a route the public can go?

    How many taxi cab rides can one buy with a ten million dollar bonus?

    After a while you can turn anything into the title of a porno movie. “Stimulus package” isn’t one that immediately comes to mind but considering the number of Republican politicians who claim that they aren’t gay, they just like a little boy action from time to time, maybe the Stimulus Package is a porn movie.

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  3. Rana said on February 9, 2009 at 8:08 am

    I think they should be made to live on an ordinary working person’s salary – and work a minimum wage job, like being a waiter in a HoJo’s or something – for a year while it’s filmed and made into reality tv. That way we could at least get some entertainment out of it – and maybe, just maybe, they’d learn something.

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  4. coozledad said on February 9, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Damn, Rana. And here I thought I was being too harsh.

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  5. Kirk said on February 9, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Just turn them over to the Chinese justice system. Or make American financial types subject to some form of Sharia law.

    I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I don’t see your redesign as an improvement. A little tougher to read. Or maybe I’m just overdue for a new lens prescription.

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  6. Jim said on February 9, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Having spent most of the last two years living in New York (I’m back in Virginia now), it’s true that it’s more expensive to live there than most other places. It’s difficult hiring people for a job that pays between $35-45K, because that’s barely a living wage there. In Indiana, on the other hand, it wouldn’t be great money, but not bad, either.

    That said, there are PLENTY of people living in New York — even Manhattan — on FAR less than $500K, or even $100K. To argue that Wall Streeters should not have to give up their nannies, their limos and their second homes in Southampton will not elicit much sympathy from the rest of the country, which pretty much hates New York anyway.

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  7. alex said on February 9, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I notice on my PC here at work that the old graphic is up at the top instead of the new one. It doesn’t span the width of the column and begins repeating. So it’s the old graphic and one-tenth.

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  8. Randy said on February 9, 2009 at 9:58 am

    I have a friend who recently moved here from Toronto (very much the Canadian equivalent of NYC, in terms of outsider perception), and he’s pulling down the six-figure salary, and his wife is staying at home, and they have a nanny they brought with them from Toronto.

    “It would just be too hard on the kids if we left her behind,” he said. I wonder what his wife does all day.

    Anyway, it’s sort of interesting to watch people climb the prosperity ladder, shedding their sense of perspective as they go. Is it inevitable that more money brings more (sense of) entitlement?

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  9. Dorothy said on February 9, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I’m voting FOR the new graphics/layout. I think it’s an improvement. Not that there was anything wrong with the old one, but….

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  10. Jim said on February 9, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Randy, as the NYT article said, I think a lot of it is peer pressure. As people make more money, they see what those around them are doing and it seems affordable and, therefore, normal. If all the people you work with, who earn about as much as you do, have the private schools, limos, nannies, second homes, etc., you wonder, “Why can’t I do that?”

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  11. brian stouder said on February 9, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Leaving aside the NYC whiney pinstriped-pants crowd, and the beer addled ice fishermen, I thought the the other Iceman would get highlighted in nn.c.

    You know – the Batman who wants to Break on Through to the Other Side, and become governor of Gasman’s state?


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  12. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 9, 2009 at 10:48 am

    My work ‘puter has MS Explorer 6.0.28, and oddly enough, the redesign looks much better here than it did on my more up to date Firefox on a MacBook at home.

    As for the Florida train wreck . . . what would Travis McGee say? (Cue reverie.)

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  13. nancy said on February 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Is that a recent photo of Val? The chicken-dinner circuit will do him NO good.

    Jeff, I also wondered what Travis would say, and I think if I had enough time to do my research, I could take a stab at it. However, I don’t think I could top his many speeches about Florida These Days, so I won’t.

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  14. Peter said on February 9, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Hey, I’m all for public floggings; that would be great reality TV, but I think it’s got a French Revolution taint to it, and next thing you’ll know someone will be doing a quilt next to the flogging stand, and Dick Cheney returns as Napoleon, and now I have to gouge my eyes out.

    I’m also a little heartless about the Florida collapse – they’ve been selling swamp land there for decades. If I read the NYT graph correctly, house prices now are only a little below ‘-04 prices, which is the same case up here. Sure, prices went way up and way down since then, but I compared to up north they really can’t complain.

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  15. whitebeard said on February 9, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Why do we talk about how much money they make, how much they spend, how much of a bonus they should or should not make; those crooked lowlifes stole the retirement money people had in 401Ks? They stole the jobs on Main Street; they stole the carpets under people’s feet who were forced into foreclosures and did it all with a fake smile on their botoxed faces. People who steal a loaf of bread can get a year in jail; these thieves deserve to be sent to jail for decades for stealing Other People’s Money.

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  16. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 9, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Meyer set his glass down on the deck, the better to slice the humid air with his hands. “They come down here for the sight of the sea and the warm gulf air, then they close themselves in with chilled air and heavy floor to ceiling curtains. They call themselves developers and builders, while most of what they do is drain the pockets of those with undeveloped thinking about their retirement, and destroy more of the natural beauty than they construct to house these half-baked dreams. Then they say they’re just businessmen, but at the first shadow of risk and loss turn into socialists, asking for government backing and legal indemnification. I say the hell with them . . . and I say pour me another drink, before I really get wound up on capitalism that wouldn’t know an actual business opportunity if it bit them next to their wallet pocket.”

    “At least I don’t carry a wallet back there,” McGee answered, filling Meyer’s empty graciously to the rim, “it makes picking your pocket twice as easy for the lift, and takes all the sport out of it for both of you. I have some respect for a fellow who tries to take your roll face to face.”

    “Which certainly does not describe these toxic asset dumping, back-stabbing, nature-pillaging and economy-shredding heathen” said Meyer bitterly, before taking a long pull on a sweeter beverage. The smile returning to his bearded face, he added “Say, do you even own a wallet?”

    “No,” grinned McGee as the sun dropped further into the treeline on shore behind them. “I just stick what i need in the tongue of my tennis shoe, and try to go shoeless as much as possible.”

    “Never trust a man in shiny leather shoes,” said Meyer after a brief companionable pause. “Never?” asked McGee.

    It wasn’t until the second glass was almost drained before Meyer answered. “Pretty much never; the exceptions are rare and not to be counted upon.”

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  17. nancy said on February 9, 2009 at 11:36 am

    A good start, but a B-plus that needs a polish: All McGee novels were written in the first person. So: Recast and see me.

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  18. brian stouder said on February 9, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Whitebread – you make an excellent point.

    Why did these people throw prudential judgement and fiduciary reponsibility out the window? For the same reason Willie Sutton frequented banks – ’cause that’s where the money was.

    I heard a caller ask Uncle Rush the question that I would ask of all involved – where did the money go? See – the rightwing lip-flapper brigades can’t utter 3 syllables before they come to “ACORN” and “community reinvestment” and so on and so forth.

    But if a person “who had NO BUSINESS getting a mortgage” got one nonetheless, WHERE did that money go? The person who had owned the house got paid, and the realtor got a piece, and the the BANK got all sorts of fees and charges, plus they noted down the (presumeably inflated) mortgage value, and paid themselves bonues and commissions on the wonderful job they did…

    But Uncle Rush gave an incomprehensible (absent oxycontin) la-la land answer that seemed to amount to “the Democrats stole it all!”

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  19. MichaelG said on February 9, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Looked for a Travis McGee novel at the library last week. None to be seen. Guess I’ll have to haunt the used book stores. I read them all long ago. I’m ready to try one again.

    Depressing sign of the times: The woman ahead of me at Safeway paying for groceries with a credit card.

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  20. Lex said on February 9, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I read that New Yorker article too, and it said something I hadn’t really thought about before but sounds right: The biggest industry in Florida was growth itself. And when that stopped ….

    As for where all the money went, I’m no expert, but I think a ton of it went into mortgage-backed securities whose underlying mortgages never should have been made in the first place. The securities went rotten when people inevitably started to default. Wealth evaporation followed.

    Re redesign: I like it. I’m looking in Firefox 3.0.6, and all looks well except that the bottom line, “entries (rss) and comments (rss)” is a tiny bit cut off at the bottom.

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  21. nancy said on February 9, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I pay for groceries with my debit card, which may look like a credit card to someone standing behind me. And I know of disciplined people who put everything short of their mortgage on a credit card, and then take a vacation with the frequent-flier miles they accrue. So you can’t be sure.

    Speaking of Uncle Rush, in every recent photo I’ve seen of him, he looks a) unhealthy; and b) fatter and more porcine than ever. It’s like his eyes are disappearing in face flab. (And look at the guy standing behind him!) Is it me, or is anyone else noticing the same thing? It’s not like I go looking for pictures of him when he’s not making news, so this may not be a new development.

    Oh, and Brian: A lot of the money went into building houses we don’t need and now stand empty. Some went into the pocket of thieves who flipped houses fraudulently, with complicit appraisers and straw buyers. In the NYorker story, pay attention to the portfolio of Sonny Kim, reputed drug dealer. Real estate was a great way to launder the profits, it turns out.

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  22. LA Mary said on February 9, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Ditto on the frequent flier miles angle. I know a few people who do that and take nice vacations every year on the miles generated by groceries. I assume they are paying off the credit cards. I use my debit card for groceries almost all the time, and it’s got a big old master card logo on it.

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  23. brian stouder said on February 9, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    And Uncle Rush’s loyal congressional GOP herd of hogs has taken to happily squealing that they’re like the Taliban!!??

    What an article!

    Leaving that aside – I caught a few minutes of Gwen Ifill on C-SPAN, talking about her book Breakthrough, and she made an intriguing point (albeit one that many of y’all may already have considered). She was talking about all of these younger black politicians on the rise, aside from President Obama and Deval Patrick (who had key Obama people when he rose to prominence); she rattled off 6 or 8 other names – all male.

    Then the conversation shifted to the question: where are the women? For all the positives associated with the generational shift that President Obama is leading, there is a striking dearth of similarly-aged women….and Ms Ifill attributed that to sharp, upwardly mobile and successful women opting out of the all-consuming political scrum while they have and raise their children.

    So obvious – and yet that point hadn’t really made an impression on me before. And of course, (although Ms Ifill didn’t say this, at least while I was watching) this is almost 100% of Sarah Palin’s genuine allure.

    She showed the huge political potential associated with a mom of young children (let alone an infant!) to CONNECT with (and get a hearing from) millions of voters across the nation.

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  24. Peter said on February 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I put everything I can on my frequent mileage card, and that includes groceries.

    Provided United doesn’t go bankrupt any day now, (and that’s a crap shoot), I’ll be jumping the pond this summer.

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  25. Pam said on February 9, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    They interviewed a local Lake Erie law enforcement/safety services officer (the guy in charge) on the news recently. He was steaming mad about the ice fishermen incident. Kept pointing at the sky “do you know what those helicopters cost!!?? Four thousand dollars AN HOUR!”

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  26. alex said on February 9, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Same here with regard to debit card and groceries, although my card was compromised a few weeks ago and I have yet to receive my new one. At the bank I was told that the company that makes the cards is heavily backlogged because millions of people were victims of the same security breach. So I’ve been making my purchases in cash, and have had retail clerks telling me they hardly ever see people using cash.

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  27. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 9, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I thought about first personing McGee, but that seemed even more presumptuous than what i was already doing.

    For the last year i’ve gone to all debit card for groceries and gas, and i like how it helps my still largely paper based record keeping (tried using spreadsheets for check book in ’81-’81, again in 1994, just didn’t feel safe not having a check register, and why do it twice?), but i’m amazed by the number of people who use debit/check cards but never take the receipts. How do they know their balances?

    I know, don’t tell me.

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  28. Catherine said on February 9, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    We use the same credit card for everything and pay it off monthly. It makes it easy to import into Quicken, and then at the end of the year you can see in a handy pie chart where it all went. Hint: restaurants, pets and DH’s hardware store habit. Bonus: we’re going to Hawaii for spring break, baby, assuming I can find affordable accommodations.

    Re Rana’s suggestion and/or the public floggings, I would totally tune into/buy tix for that, just so long as some bank and securities regulators are also included.

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  29. Dave K. said on February 9, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    If you have not yet read the article under the Nancy’s link to Rush’s “Recent Photo”, I highly recommend it. (Sorry it’s so close to lunch time.) I could not believe the “Taliban” comment, even coming from the Republican congressman. The Republicans also confirmed my belief that their obstructionist tactics were indeed based upon the premise that the legislation would pass anyway, but they want to be on the record as “opposed”. Therefore, IF Rush’s wish for the failure of Obama’s policies comes to pass, the R’s will benefit politically in 2010 and 2012. This attitude should be considered shameful, disgusting and just plain wrong by any AMERICAN who loves their country and cares about their fellow citizens.

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  30. Gasman said on February 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Oh, the horror of it all! Those folks will have to start using, shudder, domestic champagne in their mimosas! How will they ever cope?!

    As for Val Kilmer being our next Gov., I don’t see it happening. He does live here, but he’s kind of reclusive. He has never really been part of our local scene in any meaningful way. Most folks don’t see the Gov. as an entry level political position. But, hey it worked for W.

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  31. Catherine said on February 9, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    And Ahnuld.

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  32. Jolene said on February 9, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Yikes! That picture of Rush is really frightening. It’s appalling that we live in a world where such a despicable human being could become not only rich and famous but also influential.

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  33. Jolene said on February 9, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Did anyone listen to Obama’s speech + Q&A session in Elkhart? So great to have a president who can actually make an extemporaneous three-point substantive argument on behalf of a policy point–not just once, but several times in response to different questions.

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  34. mark said on February 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    dave k-

    I caught the end of your post, and your thought about any AMERICAN who loves his country has to agree with you, before I read the rest. I thought I was reading gasman or cooz berating Bush for his comments about those who didn’t support the war.

    Count me as unpatriotic. I believe in economic freedom.

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  35. Jenflex said on February 9, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    “What it is, is stealing.”
    Sorry I can’t get too worked up about the pathetic plight of the investment bankers. What strikes me, is how banal and assumed it all is: what is it, if not willingness to steal from faceless others? Profitability is the ability to charge more than cost for something. But where profits are shored up by imperfect information or lack of competition, when the system is in effect closed to competition, profits are a license to steal; usually from someone so far removed from the initial transaction that you can pretend they don’t exist. If buyers and sellers aren’t on a level playing field, then it’s impossible to determine what’s a fair profit. So things get unhealthily profitable, and “nobody” suffers, until things get out of hand, and “nobody” becomes so many and so obvious there’s no alternative but to notice.

    Then, of course, it’s fashionable to wring your hands and say “I don’t know what happened, but it’s not my fault.” Or worse “I don’t know what happened, but it’s SOMEONE ELSE’S fault.”

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  36. brian stouder said on February 9, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Count me as unpatriotic. I believe in economic freedom.

    Limbaugh the deaf druggie doesn’t just “disagree” with the president, he actively hopes for the failure of the president.

    If you actively root for the failure of the President of the United States – and presumeably the concurrent worsening of our economic crash – then I will indeed count you as “unpatriotic”

    There is a difference between having a genuine disagreement with this or that policy or worldview on one hand, and (on the other hand) HOPING for political failure and maximum economic pain.

    Much as there is a difference between patriotism and lockstep adherence (or disavowal) of an elected administration of either party. (didja notice in the GOP/Limbaugh article that the GOP now feels “liberated” – since W is gone. Liberated?? So they admit that covering his ass was Job One, and not serving their constituencies? The sons of bitches deserved the tarring they got in November, and they’ll deserve the next one they get, too)

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  37. Dave K. said on February 9, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Mark, it’s really hard to enjoy “economic freedom” when you don’t have a job. I won’t count you as unpatriotic, as you are not an elected official (are you?), charged with representing your constituency. I will gladly add “unpatriotic” to my assessment of those R-Congressmen and their buddy Rush as “…shameful, disgusting and just plain wrong…”. By the way, I’m honored that you thought my comment might have been from coozledad or gasman.

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  38. LA Mary said on February 9, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I’m hoping Rush tries to make his political leadership more official. Then someone will dig into his taxes, his drug use, why he lost his hearing, his marriages, his odd trips to the Dominical Republic. I bet he’s got some fat skeletons in closet.

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  39. Catherine said on February 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I went to Nancy’s link, trying to avert my eyes from the photo. The idea that the Republicans think their tentpole issues are “fiscal conservatism and economic liberty” would be funny if it we weren’t all in the present economic situation. The last balanced budget was, hmmm, let me see — Bill Clinton! Whom they think is the anti-Christ! And if the very idea that lack of economic freedom created the mortgage crisis just leaves me sputtering. That dog just don’t hunt, boys.

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  40. jeff borden said on February 9, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    The truly amazing thing about the right-wing noise machine is the inherent hypocrisy so many of its participants demonstrate.

    Rush Limbaugh is a childless, thrice-divorced misanthrope, a “former” drug addict and quite possibly a sex tourist to Central America, since he was found to be carrying Viagra pills from someone else’s prescription on his return from the Dominican Republic. Throw in his casual racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia. And this guy stands with the party of traditional values?

    Ann Coulter is a childless, never-married woman of late middle-age (48)whose books have been found to be rife with errors and who is now the focus of a voter fraud investigation in Connecticut. (This is her second time, too, as there were credible reports she voted in the wrong place while living in Palm Beach, Fla.) And she constantly rails about cheating liberals who steal elections? Describes single mothers as raising future strippers or drug dealers?

    Glenn Beck? Sean Hannity? Bill O’Reilly? Laura Ingraham? Mother of God, what a pathetic collection of demagogues. Father Coughlin must be smiling and nodding his head from the Great Beyond, thinking, “My life’s work continues.”

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  41. mark said on February 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm


    I don’t much care what Limbaugh says and I rarely listen to him. Your regular updates contain more than interests me.

    I wanted the Bush TARP proposal to fail. I suppose in your world that means I wanted Bush to fail (whatever that means). And I suppose in the view of Bush, that means I wanted the economy to fail- since that is what he thought he was preventing. I also opposed the auto bail-out- another Bush initiative.

    I think this stimulus plan is harmful, and much more so because it comes on top of the trillions already committed by the Bush people (mainly fed and treasury). I want it to fail. I also have a lot of hope for Obama. The two don’t have to be inconsistent.

    I dislike the worthless tax cuts as much as I dislike the billions in pork. I wish we were talking about 200 billion or so to prop up unemployment and similar hardship relief programs and 200 billion for true infrastructure- roads, bridges, sewers, electric grid, etc. We aren’t. I lose. Big deal.

    Of course, discussing ideas and policies just gets in the way if the goal is to simply see who can find the nastiest or most vulgar way to insult people you don’t agree with.

    ps You are way off the leader board in the nasty and vulgar competition.

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  42. brian stouder said on February 9, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I want it to fail. I also have a lot of hope for Obama. The two don’t have to be inconsistent.

    strawman; no one is arguing against that point of view.

    DaveK’s post – which you attacked – specifically referenced Limbaugh’s stated hope that the president will fail.

    I specifically underlined that point, in response to your martyrdom deal; hoping for a political failure and the consequent economic upheaval for one’s own party’s political benefit is specifically UNpatriotic; whereas making your best argument and counter-proposal is the essence of patriotic statemanship.

    Leaving aside Uncle Rush, the (proud!!) “Taliban” parallel that at least one Republican member of congress made is, in a word, bizarre

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  43. moe99 said on February 9, 2009 at 2:42 pm


    Turns out the octomom’s doc is an LA resident. Damn.

    And mark, you say you are an attorney. Do you not do litigation? The commentary here generally is pretty mild compared to what I’ve seen attorneys dish up in cases.

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  44. MichaelG said on February 9, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Several people here at work said they pay for everything with credit cards to gain airline miles and then pay the cards off monthly. Hoorah for all who do. The last solicitation I got for a card that saved airline miles had a $59 annual fee and I canned it. Maybe I should take another look at the numbers. I’m sure I’ll get another one in a day or so.

    Virtually all debit cards that I have seen carry a Visa or MC logo. I can tell the difference between the lady in front of me punching in her PIN or signing her credit card authorization. The lady I saw was definitely using a credit card. I hope she was going for the airline miles.

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  45. Hattie said on February 9, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I stopped reading the New York article where it said the city was full of “bright, creative people.”

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  46. Rana said on February 9, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Actually, when I’m using my debit card, I prefer to sign for it rather than punch in a PIN. The previous debit card was compromised when I was using it as a debit card instead of a “credit” card, and resulted in somebody buying random stuff in Mexico, and so I’ve insisted on signing over PIN ever since. (Though signing is far from secure – there was one guy who wrote a blog in which he signed his bills with all kinds of crazy things – Mickey Mouse, Santa Clause – and they were processed with nary a blink.)

    Of course, I just learned that my credit card was part of a larger compromise – one of the major processors (Heartland?) lost control of their data and now my credit union has to issue me and all the rest of their card holders new credit cards and new numbers. Right now there’s no one running around using my info to go on a wild spree – they caught the breach before that – but the inconvenience of having to adjust all my accounts to use the new number promises to be a gigantic pain in the tuchus.

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  47. jeff borden said on February 9, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    “I like paying taxes. With them, I buy civilization.”
    –Oliver Wendell Holmes

    Taxes have never been an issue for me, though as a childless couple, my wife and I have often been in a higher bracket than many. Paying for schools, roads, sewer and water, police and fire protection, parks and libraries. . .the myriad things that make a community, a state, a nation. . .is just fine with me.

    It’s the waste and the misplaced priorities that rankle and both parties are guilty. Cook County is completely controlled by the Democrats and is as corrupt and wasteful as any government enterprise I’ve ever seen. I’m not coming at this as a partisan Democrat.

    Still, I’m extraordinarily disappointed that in bending over for the brain dead zombies that represent the GOP today, Team Obama has agreed to strip out billions in aid to states. Since the NN.C community stretches from sea-to-shining-sea, aren’t most of us living in states with enormous financial difficulties? Small- and mid-sized companies here in Illinois are dangerously close to going belly up because the state has not paid them. If the stimulus bill funneled money to the state, those businesses would get the funds they already have earned. Instead, Republicans who never questioned the spending of a single %$#$% penny in Iraq, where tens of billions of have been lost or wasted, now oppose these simple but vital investments. And in the name of bipartisanship, President Obama has let them.

    The Republican Party had an accomplice in its destruction of our country over the past eight years — a cowardly, supine Democratic Party more afraid of being branded “unpatriotic” by a bunch of chickenhawks than of standing up for their constituency.

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  48. mark said on February 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm


    Dave k’s post specifically referred to “rush’s wish for the failure of Obama’s policies”. I share the same wish re the stimulus plan. You changed it to “hope that the president will fail.” I responded to what dave wrote, not what you think he should have written. You’re the Limbaugh expert so you correct dave if you want to. I don’t care about Limbaugh.

    I read the article Nancy linked. Nobody said they were hoping for (further) economic upheaval. You made that part up. Nothing wrong with Republicans (a slim majority of whom also opposed Bush on TARP) noting that if they are right about the policy being wrong they will (or should) get a political bump. They are politicians. As one of them was quoted as saying “Act on principle and the politics takes care of itself.”

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  49. mark said on February 9, 2009 at 3:35 pm


    I did litigation. Actually it is pretty civil in Indiana. Name-calling and off the cuff allegations of dishonesty and similar wrong-doing (particularly between counsel)is pretty frowned upon, especially in federal court. I spent time in courts in NY, Chicago, Detroit, D.C. and California, among others. NY is a gigantic pool of money wasted on discovery disputes at $500/hr. California (federal) was pretty civil as I recall, even in the midst of an ugly securities case. Don’t suppose you remember the “Technical Equities” litigation from the late ’80s? got a lot of press at the time. Sort of an early Enron/Madoff.

    One downside to the Indiana Courts disdain for bickering attorneys: when it does occur they handle it like my father on family car trips. “If I have to stop this car, you’ll both get your ass whipped.”

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  50. Jolene said on February 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I was disappointed in the loss of aid to the states in the stimulus bill too, Jeff. Obama said this AM that he would like to try to restore it, but that will be hard to do. In a Post webchat, the reporter, Shailagh Murray wondered how senators such as Lugar of Indiana, Ensign of Nevada, and Martinez of Florida could reject the bill when their states are so adversely affected.

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  51. jeff borden said on February 9, 2009 at 4:05 pm


    Amen! Even Sarah Palin, last seen chiding President Obama for “palling around with terrorists,” has written him to “remember Alaska” when confronting the economic dilemma.

    I try not to fall prey to stereotypes, but I’m starting to believe some of the rhetoric about the “village mentality” in D.C., whether it’s the politicians or the media figures who cover them. How so many of these pols can be so oblivious to the reality their constituents face on a daily basis remains a mystery.

    As noted in a previous e-mail, it’s certainly cute that Republicans in Washington, after giving W. a blank check for six years, are suddenly so tight with a federal bucks. I guess it slipped their minds to question all those expenditures from 2000 through 2006, eh? Or never to protest that the costs of both Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t even included in the federal budget?

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  52. mark said on February 9, 2009 at 4:05 pm


    I think Murray is wrong about Indiana. We’re hurting like most everybody else, but the budget is balanced (constitutional) and there is money in the bank courtesy of selling the toll road a few years back. I’m sure we could spend the money, but no compelling reason for somebody in Kansas or California to send their dollars to us for police and fire.

    Again, I don’t oppose the spending to allow all states to extend unemployment and health for displaced workers. That money is still in the bill, isn’t it? I think we are going to see a lot of need for it here and elsewhere. But were not printing IOU’s in Indiana.

    Interesting that Obama chose Elkhart to speak today. They are really hurting. Not too many years ago it had the most high school drop-out millionaires in the country or some similar stat. Everybody making RVs and conversion vans. Between the recession, gas prices and the push to go green, I don’t know when that industry will come back. Two bedrooms and a bath on wheels may be an idea whose time has come and gone.

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  53. Jolene said on February 9, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Yes, that’s why he chose Elkhart. Guess he decided against Wilmington, OH, another one-industry town whose industry left.

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  54. brian stouder said on February 9, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    and there is money in the bank courtesy of selling the toll road a few years back

    The toll road was not ‘sold’, but then precise language doesn’t seem to be a consistently strong suit for you…

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  55. Gasman said on February 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    It’s pretty clear that Limbaugh effectively controls the direction of the Republican Party whether or not you pay attention to him. If an R politician strays and publicly disagrees with him he is hounded by the ditto-heads into acts of supplication and contrition.

    Does it not strike you as odd that the Republicans, that party of Christian virtue, of traditional American values, that party of patriotism, mom and apple pie would have as their titular head a self inflating, wife hopping, drug addled, junkie/pedophile windbag like Limbaugh? Whether you approve or not he very much is charting your party’s course.

    Add to that the über-ethical, moral paragons of virtue O’Reilly, Hannity, Coulter, and Beck, it becomes more than just a little bit absurd for Republicans to crow about morality and ethics. Are there six more odious liars on the planet? (The self inflating Limbaugh counts twice.) And yet, as obvious as their mendacity is, they are allowed to function as your party’s voice. I don’t hear many complaints from the right about this self appointed band of mental Lilliputians, from elected or non-elected Republicans. That is the hypocrisy that got your folks tossed out by the dozens, remember?

    To top it all off, you have the unbroken record of Republican economic failure and the cognitive dissonance of the remaining Rs in Washington becomes deafening and more than just a little bit ridiculous. Your side talks a lot of trash, but produces little in the way of demonstrable results. If the Rs would spare us the hypocrisy and actually offer up something with a track record of success it would be much easier to take them seriously. But I’ve seen nothing but Bush econ 101 retreads.

    You and Rush may hope for failure all you want. It certainly doesn’t strike me as a very mature or patriotic stance. I can disagree with you without hoping for your demise.

    As for Rush, he’s about 1/2 a cheeseburger away from a fatal stroke or heart attack, so I think he’ll be self correcting in a bit of time.

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  56. jeff borden said on February 9, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    I’m generally a believer in the power of the free market to drive progress and prosperity, but that is under normal conditions and we are in anything but normal times. This is precisely when government should intervene. And instead of cutting aid to states, maybe Congress should put a bullet into a few ongoing programs such as the ridiculous Strategic Defense Initiative boondoggle. How many tens of billions are going down the crapper every year to develop a system that (allegedly) will save us from a missle attack when the next nuke is far more likely to arrive in a suitcase or intermodal container?

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  57. jeff borden said on February 9, 2009 at 5:14 pm


    You’ve hit on something, but it’s larger than Rush’s rapidly expanding girth. (Jon Stewart recently asked if Limbaugh was “molting.”) It’s apparent that the driving force of conservatism is opposition. When the Soviet Union existed, much of that drive was directed at confronting, containing and defeating Communism. Sure, there was still plenty of anger and antagonism left over for pro-choicers, feminists, anti-war protesters, gays, minorities, etc., but the movement was truly united in its opposition to the Evil Empire. Once the USSR fell apart, conservatives needed something else to oppose, to demonize, to hate. And that turned out to be anyone who was not conservative.

    I stand agape at our conservative commentators when they whine about how rudely they are being treated these days. Rude? If you thought invading Iraq was a dumb idea, you were an appeaser, a traitor, an idiot, someone who hated the troops and America. Andrew Sullivan, who has since had a change of heart, famously predicted a liberal “fifth column” in the U.S. Now, conservatives have turned into tender souls, incapable of hearing critical words without dissolving into tears.

    Modern conservatism, it appears, fails as a governing philosophy. And why not? For decades conservatives have embraced the Reagan ideal that government is not a solver of problems but the root of all problems. They have a vested interest when government fails spectacularly. It proves their point.

    Increasingly, this is a movement defined not just by anger, but implacable rage. No longer is the movement personified by the cool if not pretentious intellect of a William F. Buckley, who sliced and diced without raising his voice. Today, the movement is defined by loud, crazy-assed white men: Rush, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter (c’mon, the Adam’s apple alone is enough to get her admittance to this creepy club).

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  58. Gasman said on February 9, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    jeff borden,
    You’re preachin’ to the choir, brother. I’ve made the same point myself. I’ve asked our resident conservatives for evidence of their success. Just a few programs that have worked in the past that might buttress their arguments and I’ve been met with stony silence.

    The tactics that the Rs are engaging in is self defeating. They will NOT win converts with the shrill, whiny self pitying. The Fab Five bloviating liars mentioned above are laughably ignorant and appeal to only those who are congenitally stupid. Yet, off they march to the circular firing squad.

    If the serious Republicans want their party to actually appeal beyond the knuckle dragging cousin lovers, they better offer us something other than Limbaugh and Palin. Or, you betcha, they’ll be losin’ in 2010 as well.

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  59. jeff borden said on February 9, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    From your lips to God’s ear.

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  60. Kirk said on February 9, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    From a new bird in Congress:

    Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Steve Austria says he continues to oppose the measure primarily because of its lack of aid for small businesses. Although he said he supports a scaled-down stimulus proposal, the Beavercreek Republican said that the huge influx of money into the economy could have a negative effect. He cited the influx of money into the American economy under President Roosevelt.

    “When Roosevelt did this, he put our country into a Great Depression,” Austria said. “He tried to borrow and spend, he tried to use the Keynesian approach, and our country ended up in a Great Depression. That’s just history.”

    Most historians date the beginning of the Great Depression at or shortly after the stock market crash of 1929; Roosevelt took office in March 1933.

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  61. coozledad said on February 9, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I hope we’re looking at the beginning of the demise of free market religion, the same way the world watched the Soviet system implode. The perverse hauteur of the oligarchies in both instances is instructive.They were born into this world to own it, and the evidence was right there in the barrels of cash that just kept pouring in, demonstrating beyond question their enormous personal worth. There was never a thought given to the origin of that money, or if it was even real. It was there, and it was theirs. Economic freedom. Absolute economic freedom.
    I’m just sorry the bitter corrective here won’t be more like the end of the Ceausescu regime.

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  62. alex said on February 9, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Dunno, Mark. Demand for trailers is likely to pick up when people can’t afford to live in anything else, and Elkhart sure knows how to build those.

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  63. coozledad said on February 9, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    David Gregory is a cheap whore. I want to know which Republican think tank is pulling a train on his sloppy prolapsed ass.

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  64. Jolene said on February 9, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Kirk, that quote from Steve Austria is too much. When our legislators can’t get basic historical facts straight, it’s perhaps not surprising that they can’t manage a theoretical argument in economics.

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  65. jeff borden said on February 9, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    I like Obama a great deal, but he really needs to learn how to answer questions more succinctly. Yeeeeeesh. Still, it’s refreshing to hear generally good English (too many uhhhhs and pauses) and the proper use of polysyllabic words. I wish he said “we” more than “I,” too, though I imagine it is a measure of how he is taking responsibility for his plan.

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  66. jeff borden said on February 9, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    The rightwing meme that FDR extended the Great Depression through the New Deal is very, very popular these days. The leading proponent is a conservative writer/journalist named Amity Shlaes, who wrote a book with that basic thesis, but it has entered the echo chamber.

    Damn. If Obama mentions Elkhart one more time, I’m screaming!

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  67. Jolene said on February 9, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    I wondered how his responses were coming across to others, Jeff. Seems to me that you need to be a college grad to understand him, which isn’t great. I wish he had begun by giving a “When that happens, this happens. So, to keep that from happening, we need to do X.” kind of speech. Really basic. For high school grads in their 60s. Younger, better-educated people can understand the conceptual vocabulary. I really don’t know, but, generally, it’s not a great plan to assume high levels of declarative or theoretical knowledge. Hope I’m wrong.

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  68. coozledad said on February 9, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Worked for me,and all I got is a high school equivalency from a cow college that catered to druggies and wet T-shirt party attendees. I particularly loved the smackdown of Mara “never met a Republican I wouldn’t blow” Liason. What is this “bipartisanship’ horseshit anyway. I seem to remember the Republicans saying they would kill all of us and just leave a few specimens for study. Fuck them.
    If Obama didn’t pause occasionally, our harelipped press corps would have to ask him to start over again, at the beginning.
    And I still think David Gregory is a slut.

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  69. Jolene said on February 9, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Agree that the Republicans have been particularly tiresome in this discussion. They keep saying that Obama and the Dems wouldn’t include any of their ideas. My response: Get better ideas.

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  70. brian stouder said on February 9, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Well, honestly, I admire President Obama very much – and therefore if I liked his performance tonight, it doesn’t really mean much, right?

    Nonetheless – I thought it was marvelous!! Jolene, I didn’t think his answers were highfalutin or inaccessible, for any interested citizen who wanted to know what the president is thinking and doing about the economy. My guess is that any citizen who tuned in and wanted her concerns about our crashing economy* addressed got a reassuringly full measure of information and assurance that our new president is himself tuned in and up to speed on the the condition of the ship of state.

    *Speaking of our crashing economy, LOOK at this!! Rachel Maddow showed this chart on her show, and to use a word that comes up around here from time to time, I was flat-out GOBSMACKED by it!! Looking at our current trendline – employment is not just crashing so much as plunging toward the ground like a two ton bomb


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  71. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 9, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    I’d offer some contrarities into the echo chamber, but Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives is coming on. So can i just ask if there is any way a person can be an agnostic on the Stimulosity Bill? And the narrative of 1933 to 1938 is instructive, even if Steve Austria a) made his point poorly, and b) isn’t someone i want to defend anyhow.

    Dick Lugar isn’t exactly a right-wing numbnuts, and btw, he’s aroused El Rushbo’s ire repeatedly, and never even tried to cower, let alone atone. And gets re-elected by large, and well deserved margins.

    Time to learn more about the internal engineering of bbq smokers with Guy Fieri…ttfn. Can i do more McGee in the second person later, or is it more blasphemous than trying to replicate MacDonald’s craftsmanlike prose?

    Don’t miss the sequel chart from The Swamp — http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/02/09/how-bad-is-it-monday-edition/

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  72. coozledad said on February 9, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    I doubt I’d follow Obama through two disastrous wars, the drowning of an American metropolis, the evaporation of the first national surplus in God knows, leading to catastrophic debt, the wholesale adoption of the politics of Julius Streicher and the inability to select home furnishings. But that’s the way we liberals are. A catty bunch. Probably because we’re all secretly Jewish. And lesbian. And Arab. And Atheist. We just don’t know what it is to pull together and present an organized front when we get called on our secret jokes. http://lefarkins.blogspot.com/2009/02/how-not-to-apologize.html
    Or maybe we do. I just haven’t been inducted into the protocols of the elders of secret liberal jokes. I’m still (and I may giving too much away here) just a babykiller second class. One of these days I’m going to get the Che Guevara order of dirty beardedness.And when I do, I’m going to make me some goddamn baby cookies.

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  73. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 9, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Mmmmm. . . baby cookies.

    With sprinkles!

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  74. CrazyCatLady said on February 10, 2009 at 12:16 am

    I agree with Beb- public floggings of Wall Street fatcats! Only I’d do it in a stadium and charge $1 each to watch. Have shows at noon, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm and 8pm. Midnight shows Fridays and Saturdays. Matinees on Saturdays for the kiddies…. Patrons can buy packets of pebbles for the public stoneings after each show. Funds to be used to help balance the budget in no time!

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  75. Gasman said on February 10, 2009 at 12:44 am

    I don’t know what voodoo you’ve done, but I now get your site in all its updated glory. It looks good.

    As to some Rs and the press trying to knock Obama for not being bipartisan enough, give me a break! I am liberal, but I am also pragmatic and willing to listen to opposing ideas that have merit. Present some and I will listen.

    So far all I’ve heard from the right is the nonsensical trope about how tax cuts will solve everything from the common cold to original sin. If making CEO fat cats wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, deregulating nearly everything, putting industry in charge of writing legislation, and cutting taxes for the wealthiest people in the country didn’t work with a Republican president and Rs controlling congress for six – well, really eight years, why the hell will any part of this formula work now? Isn’t the state of our economy proof positive that these tactics don’t work?

    Bipartisanship for its own sake is meaningless, especially when one side seems to be invested in behaving like venomous contrarians rather than serious partners.

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  76. Dexter said on February 10, 2009 at 1:16 am

    brian stouder: That graph you linked to reminds me of the Manatee zone at Crystal River Florida. It appears to be shallow, tranquil water in the Spring, but just offshore you can dive deep, deep, down into magnificent underwater caves.
    I too am fairly blase when it comes to superimposed graphic information, but that graph woke me up out of my stupor! No one could have failed to grasp the doomsday implications of that message.

    brian, I don’t follow Fort Wayne news anymore…how’s the Harrison Square baseball stadium project coming along? I’ll be following even less Fort Wayne news because Time Warner is pulling all the Fort Wayne network stations, leaving us with the Toledo stations.

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  77. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 10, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Did my part for GM yesterday, bought a new Chevy Impala. Whitebeard, i note from the sticker it was largely assembled in Canada, so we’re helping stimulate both sides of the border.

    The Taurus just felt kinda rattly and loosey-goosey; the leg room was a bit awkward for a tall guy on the driver side, too. I can report that much of the shenanigans with “the sales manager” up in the mezzanine venetian blinded booth has been cast aside, but they still lean hard on the extended warranty and poly-vinyl-clear-magi-coating wuxtras. (“No.”)

    GM better stay afloat now, darn it, i’m at least a three year/100,000 mile investor.

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  78. brian stouder said on February 10, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Dexter, the ballpark and its parking garage look beautiful; we drove past there a day ago, and it has really blossomed. I believe the condo component of the project is dead – or at least zombified right now, despite that the mayor his-own-self has plunked down money for one.

    And, I have no real idea about the hotel. Last I knew, they were going to build one, and then not, and then again a scaled-down one. We shall see

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  79. brian stouder said on February 10, 2009 at 7:59 am

    [elevator music: ON]

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  80. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 10, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Brian, you’re late for Groundhog Day. . .

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  81. alex said on February 10, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Brian, the hotel had very dicey proposed financing even before the economy went into free-fall and it sure as hell isn’t going to find any now. Same for the condos and retail.

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