Send to your whole list.

Brother Rod Dreher, who makes his living scratching his beard and expressing opinions, finds inspiration in a right-wing chain letter making the rounds. The “Letter From the Boss” is the usual story — blah blah I worked so hard building my business blah blah no one ever gave me anything blah blah now I have to bail out a bunch of lazy bastards blah blah I am moving somewhere they appreciate me blah blah blah.

Expect it to appear, edited for space, as a letter to the editor of an Indiana newspaper any day now.

As a piece of grassroots conserva-ganda, it’s only average, and it’s not what interests me. What does is how these pieces morph with every e-mail forward, how the details change. I Googled a phrase and beheld the pages upon pages that have seen fit to reproduce it. In one version, the self-denying boss lived in a “300-square-foot studio apartment.” In another, it’s a “two-bedroom flat.” In most iterations, he’s been building the company for 28 years, but in others, for only 12 years, or 48, or nine.

One version changed many details, presumably for an Australian audience. The 300-square-foot studio apartment of deprivation is “a three-bedroom villa house,” (which doesn’t sound so bad, really). The “rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission” — the first detail to mark is as b.s. for me, because as every Detroiter knows, Toyotas never have defective transmissions — is in this version a “rusty Holden Torana with a wonky transmission.” No Ramen Pride for this guy, but “baked beans, stew and soup.” And so on.

Who thought to make these changes? Who said, “Nah, it’s more effective if he’s worked at the business 19 years, not 28.” Maybe because Ramen Pride noodles weren’t common in U.S. markets 28 years ago?

The time to study these phenomena was after 9/11, when they arrived in in-boxes hourly. That was when I though the good folks who run Snopes should all be given MacArthur genius grants, the better to fund their work toward making this a better, or at least less bullshit-saturated, world. In the days after the disaster, I heard a Fort Wayne talk-radio host, a man who considers himself imbued with military rigor and discipline, blithely pass along the whopper about the six firefighters who were found alive and well under a vast pile of rubble, protected by their sturdy American SUV. Never mind the simplest questions would have poked the story apart like the toothpick construction it was — how much rubble? how did they breathe? who are they? where did the story first appear? why were six firefighters driving around under the towers in an SUV? and so on — it was a good story, and for some people, that’s plenty.

By the way, the Letter from the Boss is pretty amusing. The fact owners of small businesses work hard is hardly news to me, but just for balance, here’s how it worked in my little corner of corporate America: The boss was fond of ordering vast changes in the weekend’s papers around 4 p.m. Friday, after which he’d stroll back to his office, pack up his gear, and then leave, caroling to all in earshot, “Well, I’m off to the lake!”

Not that it matters. Another country, dead wenches, and all that.

Via Roy, I see Videogum is looking for the Worst Movie of All Time. Roy congratulates them for singling out “Crash” and “A.I.,” and I do, too, but I would have added the other “Crash” and, well, dozens more. I’m not quite following V’gum’s reasoning — why “Man of the Year” and not “Patch Adams?” Why “Alexander” and not “Showgirls?” Such questions make up the great barroom discussions of our time. Feel free to join in, here or there.

Friends, I’m off. Have a good weekend, and I hope I survive the coming snowstorm. Five to eight inches and no, I’m not happy about it.

Posted at 10:32 am in Movies, Popculch |
 

68 responses to “Send to your whole list.”

  1. coozledad said on February 20, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Roy got me thinking about hippie exploitation films, and I remembered Milos Foreman’s contribution to the genre. Am I overly sentimental, a hopeless ex-stoner trapped in the 70’s, or does this actually still hold up well?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEsQBTd4kWg&feature=PlayList&p=A457F70731A10745&playnext=1&in

  2. Randy said on February 20, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Here in Canada, where we are still fanning ourselves after Obama’s quick drop-in to see the PM, the social safety net means that, on the whole, nobody gets too successful, and nobody hits rock bottom.

    Certainly, we have a few billionaires and a lot of homeless people, but there’s not a lot separating the people in between the extremes. I don’t know if it compares to that life philosophy that a life lived cautiously is a waste, a life with risk is well-lived?

    But I’m also buying into the stereotypes fed to us by media. I’m guessing if you put a middle class Canadian and middle class American side by side there would not be a significant difference in their make-up?

    And one note, while I really do appreciate our nationalized health care system, our local hospitals announced yesterday that they are going to find a way to reduce the ER wait time to four hours from six. What are the wait times in your local hospital ERs?

  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 20, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I strongly second the McArthur genius grant for Barbara Mikkelson, aka Snopes.com — absolutely no joke, she deserves one. It’s an art form that has immense practical value.

    Randy, the central Ohio answer is — it depends. Right now, 11 am on a Friday? About ten minutes. 12 hours from now, at 11 pm on a Friday? Could be 4 to 6 hours, easy. 36 hours from now, 11 pm on a Saturday, guarantee 4 to 6 hours, unless the knife is still sticking out of your neck when you walk in.

    Monday, 11 am, ten, fifteen minutes, tops.

  4. LA Mary said on February 20, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Randy, I work in a hospital that is a paramedic base and is at the intersection of two very busy freeways in LA. Our ER wait times vary, of course, but I think the worst it gets is around 5 hours, barring some sort of local disaster. This has been improving over the last year, down from about 7 hours at worst. I was in there the other day, a rainy day with lots of car crashes and such, and there were nine people waiting to been seen, and all the rooms were full. Our ER manager we hired last spring has done a spectacular job of organizing things. We also have a very efficient EMR program.

  5. Kirk said on February 20, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Coozledad, if you are, I am. I don’t see a lot of movies, and I’ve never seen that one, but thanks for sharing. That scene is a hoot. “Gentlemen, I think I’m beginning to feel something.”

  6. Jen said on February 20, 2009 at 11:50 am

    My father-in-law is an ER nurse, and he says it comes in waves. Some days are crazy, with a bunch of crashes and patients that they have to send across the street to the mental hospital and people who think their hangnail constitutes an emergency and all sorts of fascinating cases (my favorite ever was about a guy with an entire cucumber stuck where the sun don’t shine – they had to put him in a birthing room in the stirrups to get it out! My father-in-law has great stories to share around the dinner table, much to my mother-in-law’s annoyance). And some days, they’re completely dead and praying for people with a hangnail so they have something to do besides sit around and twiddle their thumbs.

    As far as wait times, I actually have no idea, but I think it varies from a few minutes to a few hours. Of course, I live in a smaller town, so I’m sure it’s MUCH different in bigger cities.

  7. Sue said on February 20, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Randy, emergency room usage is getting to be ground zero in the US Health Care debate, and wait time isn’t even the most pressing issue. Look for what’s happening at the University of Chicago Medical Center to figure prominently in the arguments to come, since Michelle Obama worked there. UC is between a rock and a hard place (yes it gets Fed money to serve those who can’t pay, no the money isn’t enough, ask any hospital), but its tactics are not going to make it any friends, and the question is how the more heartless commentators are going to square their belief that if you can’t pay for health care you shouldn’t get it, against the opportunity to blame cold-hearted decisionmaking on an Obama or an Obama associate. Ok, hope I do this right:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-fri-uofc-emergency-feb20,0,1310997.story

  8. brian stouder said on February 20, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    grassroots conserva-ganda

    I liked that. I am an apostate ‘conservative’; did the whole National Review/American Spectator subscribing, Conservative Book Club reading thing, 25-30 years ago.

    The NR subscription ended when “Rush H Limbaugh III” starting showing up in their letters, and the book club ended sometime after that. American Spectator was a funny tabloid, at least when PJ O’Rourke checked in…but the Proprietress her-own-self threw cold water on the faux ‘witty satire’ of R Emmett Tyrell (et al) railing against curb-cuts for handicapped Americans (I think she specifically pointed to that example)…

    and now we Fast Forward to 2009, and “main stream” conservatives have taken to referring to folks losing their homes as “losers” who we shouldn’t help at all, and who deserve nothing. The cable news today is running video from CNBC wherein a floor trader at the Chicago Mercantile…a damned floor trader!! expressing outrage at the ‘losers’ and the people who ‘drink the water’ while others ‘carry the water’…and then his fellow floor traders begin cheering him on!! Makes me want to go and buy a pitchfork, and head for the CBOT

    I think my divorce from the Republican party – after a relationship spanning from my first declaration as an R as soon as I could vote, and then a long slow fade – is final and forever.

  9. coozledad said on February 20, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Kirk: Kathy Bates’ stint as a lute wielding folksinger is pretty good, too. I’m guessing Buck Henry wrote at least part of this film.

  10. Jeff Borden said on February 20, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    My guess is that Rick Santelli, the loudmouth who was cheerleading the traders, is angling for the same kind of spotlight and buzz that Jim Cramer generates.

    It’s appalling. These knuckleheads calling out people who may lose everything as “losers” while smiling in forgiveness at the corporate bankers who have driven the industry into the ground. Billions of bailouts for Citi, BofA, et.al. but not a penny for the poor schmoe who’s about to hit the bread line.

    Everyone can point to ludicrous examples of people getting mortgages they should never been allowed to sign. The guy I read about a year or two ago out in California with a total annual income of, like, $25,000 being approved to purchase a four-bedroom house for $475,000. There absolutely were abuses, but they were aided and abetted by a greedy banking industry. That said, many innocents were caught in the wave for no other reason than they were looking for a home at a time when this bubble was at its peak. Now, they are screwed, even if they played by the rules, riveted in place by a house they cannot afford to sell. As more than one commentator has noted, the downside of Bush’s “ownership society” is that many Americans now cannot go where the jobs are –hah, hah, hah, as if there were any jobs anywhere– because they cannot sell their house or condo.

    And, by the way, if I hear one more conservative cite the Community Renewal Act as the basis for the housing meltdown, I’m going to projectile vomit.

  11. Connie said on February 20, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I know from recent experience that if you walk into a busy emergency room and say “chest pain” there is no wait at all. My honey was being catheterized within 20 minutes of walking in that door. All fine now.

    Emergency rooms do triage, so your wait varies based on your situation.

    Wierd font here in the comment box. Courier? Are we playing imitate the typewriter? I know it doesn’t actually show up that way once I push submit. Here I go.

  12. Jolene said on February 20, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    And, by the way, if I hear one more conservative cite the Community Renewal Act as the basis for the housing meltdown, I’m going to projectile vomit.

    This drives me wild too. The decisions of individual homebuyers are at issue here, but, after watching the documentaries* that I wrote about a week or so ago, I’ve come to think that the behavior of the lenders was akin to that of drug dealers. They certainly knew that they were making bad bargains.

    Both available online
    House of Cards
    Frontline: Inside the Meltdown

  13. whitebeard said on February 20, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Emergencies happen when your doctors are not available, maybe that is why they are called emergency rooms. But you are right, Connie, when my wife brought me to the ER, one look at me and I am rushed into a room and surrounded by doctors and nurses. I guess my 30-beats-a-minute pulse showed on my face.
    Blood tests showed trouble and then I am in an ambulance to a bigger hospital with a very talkative attendant to keep me alert and awake.
    The next morning my wife is told I survived the night and then three stents in a major artery that afternoon.
    Medicare is definitely socialized medicine and it works, god damn it, and the sooner you take insurance companies and their myriad stupid policy rules out of the mix, the rest of the younger folk can enjoy what us old folk cherish.
    OK, enough of my rant for single-payer health insurance without the greed and corruption of the money-huggers.
    I was in newspapers in Canada when the universal health insurance took form, talking to striking doctor groups who were against it, talking to distraught mothers who called and said their sons would never be able to pay their medical school bills. And guess what, it works; my niece is a charge nurse in an Ontario university hospital ER and they check your pulse before they check your insurance cards.

  14. Jolene said on February 20, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    A friend who is a health care researcher told me about a Canadian speaker who, at a professional conference in the US, began his speech by saying, “It’s great to be in the States, where gun ownership is a right and health care is a privilege.”

  15. brian stouder said on February 20, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Nance’s favorite “Fort Wayne talk-radio host, a man who considers himself imbued with military rigor and discipline” spent 20 minutes today excoriating the president for wanting to tax all motorists on how many miles they drive (and what time of day, and on which roads – all via GPS tracking, doncha know!)

    Had the day off, so I emailed him to inform him that today the president’s press secretary took a direct question on this tax per mile idea, and he specifically and definitively stated that it is NOT a policy that the administration favors, and it is NOT anything that they will pursue; it is (charitably) a red-herring.

    And, for a free bonus – I asked him whether he learned (as I did, last night on Olbermann’s show) that one of his station’s syndicated yappers, Sean Hannity personally endorses and hawks gold sold by that buckaneer billionaire Stanford guy.

    It is said that this guy has been on the radar of federal authorities for the past decade (he pretty much owns Antigua, where they are now running on the banks to get their money out) –

    so that Hannity, who thinks the president is a terrorist for sitting in Ayers’ living room, has actually played a direct role in defrauding/misleading/swindling millions of Americans, and worsening our current financial crisis! – at least, by HIS OWN “standards” of judging these things.

  16. nancy said on February 20, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Brian, of course you had the day off, because todays the day I emailed you at work to say HEY IM IN FW and I’m buying drinks at Henry’s. Come on down or call 734 548 0033.

  17. Gasman said on February 20, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Jeff Borden,
    The conservative trope against the Community Renewal Act is nothing more than thinly veiled racism. They can’t get away with saying, “it’s the darkies’ fault,” so they cite the CRA. The mental pygmies that push this argument would have us believe that all of those chaste, well meaning professionals in the banking and mortgage industries gave all of these loans to “THOSE” people against their better judgement, but the evil Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton forced them to. This is just the Reagan era “welfare queen” argument repackaged and rebranded for the new century. It withstands scrutiny no better than its predecessor.

    Conservatives will blame anyone and everyone else rather than accept one iota of responsibility for the catastrophes they have wrought. Hell, they’re still fighting a 70 year old battle with FDR.

    However, they don’t see the inherent contradiction in their argument. By citing the CRA as the chief culprit of our current financial woes, they effectively concede that all Republican presidents, senators, and representatives are ineffectual boobs whose combined efforts could not undo but a single act initiated by Jimmy Carter and sustained by Bill Clinton. They mock Carter with disdain, yet five successive Republican administrations can’t best him? Who knew that Jimmy Carter was the most powerful and effective president in the modern era?

  18. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 20, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    There’s never been a better time to invest in gold, or to put all your gold in an envelope and mail it to us! Just dial 1-800-USA-SCAM, and we’ll take your credit card number and purchase real South American Krugerrands or Canadian Oak Leaves for your investor account, or send you a post-paid mailer that you can drop in all of grandmama’s pins and brooches and Uncle Harry’s gold chains with zodiac medallions, and send right to us at Stanford Key, Antigua. You won’t even have to worry about safely storing your gold investment, because we’ll keep it safe and sound on a Caribbean island — call now: 1-800-USA-SCAM!

    Remember, there’s never been a better time to invest in gold.

  19. jeff borden said on February 20, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Actually, just about every talk show host, liberal or conservative, hawks the gold buying firm. I’ve heard Stephanie Miller touting this scam and believe Rachel Maddow also did when on Air America.

    Back to the mortgage crisis: When we were shopping for a modest mortgage back in 1992, the brokers continually pressured us to get a larger one because we had dual incomes, no kids and no debt. Over and over and over and over we heard how we could get “so much more house” given our good credit rating. We resisted those blandishments because both of us were raised by financially conservative parents who were children of the depression and loathe to go too deeply into debt on anything. Plus, who needs a big house for two people? Still, I can understand how lots of people could find themselves talked into taking on a huge mortgage, particularly during those years when housing prices were appreciating so quickly.

  20. LA Mary said on February 20, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Off topic.
    I occasionally make personal phone calls at work. If I need to talk to my car insurance company, or make a dental appointment, or see if my kid has got home from school ok. However. the woman who sits behind me does nothing but very personal calls all day and I think I just hit the point where I can’t take it anymore. Icky baby talk, gossip, fights with her daughter. I’m going to scream.

  21. jeff borden said on February 20, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    LA Mary, it could be worse. A friend of mine swears the attractive woman who sits next to him spends at least a couple of hours daily having “phone sex” with her significant other. He’s alternately turned on by the talk and distracted from his labors.

  22. Dwight said on February 20, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Hey Gasman,

    1. Did Jimmy Carter initiate the CRA, yes or no? ____

    2. Did Bill Clinton revive the CRA, yes or no? ____

    3. Did ACORN sponsor protests of Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae and dozens of private banks with low rates of minority lending? yes or no? _____

    4. Did Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and Maxine Waters champion the CRA in their positions on the Banking subcommittee? yes or no? ______

    5. Can you answer these questions honestly, without pointing your fingers at someone else, ad hominem personal attacks, or passionate outburst? *** or no? _____

    6. Can you own the mistakes, shortcomings and hypocrisy’s of those who share your political viewpoint? Or is that just the responsibility of those who don’t hold your political viewpoint?

    You’ll never, never, never move your ideological opponents from their hypocrisy. You can only do your part to be honest with yourself about your own hypocrisy. And there’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around.

    Blind hate is not a successful debate strategy. Accept that an 80% right-to-wrong ratio is the best you are going to get out of a human being, whether it’s your a-hole neighbor or your a-hole president. Accept that government is nothing more than a collective of humans, not some kind of holy oracle.

    And learn your fallacies of logic. Greater passion doesn’t make for more reasoned diatribes.

  23. Dexter said on February 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    About every six months I watch a movie that leaves me screaming that it is the worst movie ever. Right now I can’t remember a single one, I seem to have a built-in mechanism to help me in my pain.
    Since I only watch movies on TV, I won’t attempt to speculate on Sunday’s Oscars.
    Today I got a surprise…it was 4:00 PM and I flipped on the cable…it was either a Starz or HBO channel, and there right in the middle of the afternoon was Kate Winslet, engaging in intimacy with Patrick Wilson !
    http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi1553137945/
    A bit of afternoon delight, I guess. Ah, what the hell…telling the truth, I wish they would run those movies in the evening. We don’t have any kids running around here, but well…it’s kinda sleazy to watch that stuff in the middle of the afternoon, even if I was just turning on some background noise as I wrote some bill-paying-checks.

  24. brian stouder said on February 20, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Actually, just about every talk show host, liberal or conservative, hawks the gold buying firm. I’ve heard Stephanie Miller touting this scam and believe Rachel Maddow also did when on Air America.

    Yes Jeff; but why be fair-minded? The joke was that by Hannity’s own ‘standards’ (or petard) – clearly the entire banking collapse is Sean Hannity’s fault!!

    Blind hate is not a successful debate strategy. agreed, Dwight. And we might further agree that bankers hardly ever do ANYTHING they don’t want to do, and all this Community Re-investent/ACORN stuff is a ridiculous canard. The banks were lined UP to rake in the big interest rates and the big commissions and the big fees…and isn’t it funny how you skip 8 Reagan years and 8 Bush years, in order to laser guide all the blame onto the object of your ‘blind hate’?

    Anyway – I had the day off because (wait for it)….Pammy and her peeps left this morning to go for a Scrap-booking weekend, in (wait for it)….Jackson, Michigan!! (after they get snowed in up there, they’ll still be happy as bugs in the rug)

    The young folks and I rolled down town, and I thought I saw Alex’s very cool car at Henry’s – but bringing a 41/2 year old into the tavern probably wouldn’t be my best move.

  25. Jolene said on February 20, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Dwight: Many of the mortgage issuers that were the worst offenders in terms of making subprime loans were not even covered by the CRA. Countrywide, for instance. No independent analyst that I’ve read has attributed a major role to the CRA in bringing out the subprime mortgage crisis, and there are, at least several commentaries rejecting that idea. Greed is the more encompassing and fundamental explanation.

  26. Jeff Borden said on February 20, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Hey Dwight! How’s your buddy Cole?

    Neither Gasman nor me has ever suggested this mess is solely a production of GOP Inc. Of course, there have been bad decisions by Democrats, too. By all means, let’s haul out Bill Clinton (not president for, what, more than eight years now??) and Barney Frank. They made mistakes. Big ‘uns. We get it. This is hardly the point.

    What we’re talking about is the selective outrage. According to Rick Santelli, the homeowners who signed some very bad mortgages and are now losing their houses to foreclosure are, apparently, more responsible for this meltdown than the well-educated, well-compensated, well-connected captains of American banking who’ve run their companies into the dirt.

    In past comments, Dwight, you have drawn yourself as something of a Randian, more than willing to let those who’ve erred suffer while you look down your nose at them and mock those who might offer some aid and comfort. That’s your right. But if you are going to be so harsh in your assessments of those who are overextended, might you spare some of your withering wit for the fatcats who aided, abetted and handsomely profited from this mess? John Thain gets a pass, but John Doe can screw himself and go live in his car?

  27. mark said on February 20, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    The CRA was very much an initiating cause of the mortgage/banking debacle. It has nothing to do with “darkies” gasman. The CRA ended “redlining” and forced minimum lending in areas previously redlined.

    Yes, redlined areas were, in many areas and most urban areas, predominately black, but that is due to demographics of wealth, not race. The CRA didn’t require lending to minorities, it required greater lending for financing of previously redlined properties.

    The first area to exploit the new legislation was second mortgage refis. Anybody else remember 10 years or so ago when every other tv commercial was for a home equity loan? “UCC Lending paid all my bills and got me a new pool!” Those were outrageous loans that preyed upon the poor and unsophisticated (many minority) that already owned a home in redlined and other areas. Even a way above market rate for a second mortgage looks good as a monthly payment on a 30 year amortization compared to credit card default rates on a 5 year amortization.

    If this part of the problem had a racial component, it was white “mortgage brokers” preying on minorities.

    The second part, aided by the CRA, was aggressive purchasing in redlined areas by slumlord wannabes and real estate speculators. They too took advantage of the “no look” lending standards for CRA properties.

    The third step was permitting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy these loans even though they were outside previously acceptable credit standards. This removed any risk to the loans for the originating banks.

    The fourth step was the creation of the mortgage backed securities by our financial heros, including Paulson, Rubin and Samuelson. They reaped billions (Paulson, alone, 700 million in 10 years) for creating the econometric models that hypothesized away risk.

    The fifth step was huge real estate appreciation, fueled by demand for more mortgages to provide more derivatives, which was provided by further lowering of lending standards with the dubious assumption that collateral values would keep growing at 10% or more per annum. At this point, every other show on TV was “flip this house”. We can all buy a home for 400K, put 30K and 6 weeks of work into it, and sell for $700K. Ain’t America grand!

    The sixth step, to make things truly disasterous, brought us credit default swaps, turning trillions of dollars of potential loss into tens of trillions of dollars worth of loss.

    The CRA is not the largest part of the problem, but it was a cause of the problem. Dismissing it from the discussion by calling those who bring it up racists is stupid.

  28. brian stouder said on February 20, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    If this part of the problem had a racial component, it was white “mortgage brokers” preying on minorities.

    Buy that man a cigar

    The fifth step was huge real estate appreciation, fueled by demand for more mortgages to provide more derivatives, which was provided by further lowering of lending standards with the dubious assumption that collateral values would keep growing at 10% or more per annum.

    Sounds like a Bush era de-regulation and anti-government change (not to say “sleeping at the wheel”), there, to me.

    The CRA is not the largest part of the problem, but it was a cause of the problem. Dismissing it from the discussion by calling those who bring it up racists is stupid.

    Agreed; but the first thing that tumbles from the lips of the righty yappers and pundits is “ACORN ACORN ACORN” and “Community Re-investment Act” – as if the poor, bookish and otherwise responsible bankers were dragged kicking and screaming to the table, where they were FORCED to make all these highly profitable (in the short run) mortgages, despite their noble protestations!

  29. Jolene said on February 20, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    The CRA is not the largest part of the problem, but it was a cause of the problem.

    This statement gets to the heart of the argument. When people are looking for an outlet for their resentment, as Rick Santelli was yesterday, they tend to forget–or sound as if they’re forgetting–the distinction between “a cause” and “the cause”, and that distinction is very important.

    Here is one brief and, to me, convincing analysis of the role of the CRA.

  30. brian stouder said on February 20, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Jolene – marvelous article. This paragraph was good stuff:

    Most important, the lenders subject to CRA have engaged in less, not more, of the most dangerous lending. Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, offers the killer statistic: Independent mortgage companies, which are not covered by CRA, made high-priced loans at more than twice the rate of the banks and thrifts. With this in mind, Yellen specifically rejects the “tendency to conflate the current problems in the sub-prime market with CRA-motivated lending. CRA, Yellen says, “has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households.”

    and

    It’s telling that, amid all the recent recriminations, even lenders have not fingered CRA. That’s because CRA didn’t bring about the reckless lending at the heart of the crisis. Just as sub-prime lending was exploding, CRA was losing force and relevance. And the worst offenders, the independent mortgage companies, were never subject to CRA — or any federal regulator. Law didn’t make them lend. The profit motive did.

    And that is not political correctness. It is correctness.

    Excellent article, indeed.

    And by the way, the very first guy, in the first sentence of the essay, who came up with this “blame the CRA” canard was Thomas DiLorenzo, who (by the way) ALSO blames the entire American Civil War on President Lincoln; the Confederate States were right to secede; and FDR and his New Deal worsened the Depression and had nothing to do with ending it.

    Dilorenzo can be rightly dismissed as a racist and a crank

  31. Gasman said on February 20, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Dwight,
    Blind hate? You read that into my comments? No blind hate, just a lack of patience with the failed mantra and record of the Republican right. You rail indignantly when criticized, yet never cite demonstrable proof that there is any substance to your rhetoric. Since you obviously feel the superiority of your position, it should be easy to point out all of the success that this country has enjoyed because of conservative leadership. However, I’ll not hold my breath waiting for your itemized list.

    As to your history quiz, I was not ascribing any such acts to Carter or Clinton, I was stating the ridiculous arguments being proffered by the right. The actual history of the CRA is long and convoluted and predates Carter, at least in the case of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. Many of the dozen or so proposals that bore some variant of the CRA moniker were never signed into law. It would be improper to label them all the CRA, but then again, I didn’t. I suspect you knew at least some of its history and were thinking that I did not. Sorry to disappoint you. It would be wrong to conflate these many separate pieces of legislation into one, but you and your conservative allies do so when it suits your purpose.

    Your post is consistent with others in the past. Ignore content, go for the jugular. Change the subject by trotting out the threadbare straw-men from the conservative closet. You’ve gotten the whole O’Reilly/Coulter style of debate down quite well.

    I objected to the racially charged tone of this line of reasoning. This strand of racism implicit in the CRA/Acorn argument is insulting and beneath contempt. This ploy has been thoroughly discredited and has no traction except among right wing talk radio bloviators and those whom deem them important. It has no place in the debate. That conservatives are still willing to employ it speaks volumes as to the content their collective character.

  32. mark said on February 20, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I liked the article, jolene, and agree with most all of it. If my rant wasn’t clear, the CRA properties, as your article indicates, are a very small part of the current problem If it was all CRA properties, we could wipe the whole problem out with a trillion dollars or so. Possibly a lot less.

    Bad practices that originated, in part, with CRA lending ended up extended to beach property in California and Florida and McMansions in Columbus Ohio.

    As I understand it, and I think the whole thing is complicated as hell, the econometric models used home borrower behavior from the 1940s through the 1980s and assumed that behavior would hold true even when the nature of the loans (and eventually the real estate market) changed. Death and illness used to cause a big portion of the relatively small number of defaults, and losses were usually low. The mortgage was the one bill everybody paid. Even in bankruptcy, the mortgage was almost always re-affirmed. This behavior was actually most consistent among the low and middle income buyers. Guys like Paulson and Rubin convinced the world that so long as the pool was large, the actual terms of a specific loan didn’t much matter.

    brian- One area where lack of regulation certainly hurt concerns mortgage brokers. Almost over night it became a trillion dollar industry, with no standards, no licenses, no oversight. Anybody with a fax machine and a phone line could be a broker. Horrible crimes were committed and the proof is all bundled up in the impenetrable paperwork of some “tranche”. The crooks have scattered and most of the victims don’t know they were mugged.

    I’m a conservative and I usually vote Republican. But I think I’ve already said I think the single worst thing I’ve seen government do (during my lifetime) was Paulson screaming “fire” last fall and insisting the solution was to give more gasoline to the arsonists.

  33. Jolene said on February 20, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    One area where lack of regulation certainly hurt concerns mortgage brokers. Almost over night it became a trillion dollar industry, with no standards, no licenses, no oversight. Anybody with a fax machine and a phone line could be a broker. Horrible crimes were committed and the proof is all bundled up in the impenetrable paperwork of some “tranche”. The crooks have scattered and most of the victims don’t know they were mugged.

    Yes, David Faber, the host/main reporter for the CNBC documentary I mentioned above, noted that the mortgage industry was the only industry he knew of that touches the consumer that is totally unregulated. One of the interviewees talked about hring people who’d previously been delivering pizzas as mortgage brokers and, with essentially no training, turning them loose to make loans. Another interviewee described the practice of issuing loans based on “stated income”. In other words, no documentation required.

  34. cosmo panzini said on February 20, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    all this talk about the CRA and who is responsible for the housing mess is giving me a headache. as Jolene and others pointed out, the companies most involved in sub-prime(Countrywide et al) were not subject to the CRA. Also, on a totally unrelated topic, would someone please splain me how that NY Post cartoon showing the cops shooting the chimp and saying something about how we’ll need someone else to write a new stimulus bill is racist? Watched Al Sharpton last night(holding my nose the whole time) talking that one up. Now tonight more talking heads shaking those heads in disbelief that ANYONE could possibly not see the blatant, overwhelming racism in the cartoon. Chrissake, give me a break. I am going back to the tabloids and read up on my baby, Jessica Simpson, who I’d take at any weight, thank you very much.

  35. beb said on February 20, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    cosmo: maybe because “macaca” – monkey – is usually used as a slur for black people. And who wrote the stimulus package? Obama, of course. I don;t think the artist really sat down to think of how to slur our president. I suspect he pulled two pieces of current events together to make a joke without thinking about how they would fit together. But his unconscious betrayed him by realizing his racist thinking.

  36. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 20, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Humor is a solvent — if the cartoon had been funny, no one on any bandwagon would have raised a bugle to cry “charge.” The joke was the lackadaisical slapping of two current events together, a hyped-up monkey (ok, it was a chimp) and a jacked-up Stimulosity bill (written by Pelosi et alia, Obama never touched the writing of it, Rahm could barely say in advance what it said, he just helped pass it). There’s not even room to argue that any unconscious played a role, it was just a half-vast expanse of windbaggery with no punch line.

    On to actual key voting disputes this weekend — should Heath Ledger just win a category for having died in a timely fashion (well, timely for his publicist, if not from his own pov), and is “Slumdog Millionaire” really that good?

    By the way, conservative Islamic pressure groups in Mumbai which traditionally see dogs as unclean claim that the title is someone’s unconsicous defaming their religion. I don’t buy that one, either, and i hope to see the darn movie soon, but it won’t be before Sunday. Those who have — is it worth the hype? Ditto “The Wrestler” and Mickey Rourke’s steroid ravaged visage.

    The LW and i just got back from a church showing of “Fireproof,” which along with the strongly evangelical content of the movie, has a strong message against internet porn that i didn’t hear about in the gen’l media chatter about the film beforehand.

    And i was impressed by Kirk Cameron, even though i’ve managed to avoid seeing any of his “Left Behind” oeuvre. It’s another entry in the whole sub-market of cinema that the Kendricks and Tyler Perry are busily excavating just beneath the surface, but widely across the landscape. I can’t recommend the whole Perry sequence of movies as a window into a big swath of America that just doesn’t get onto the usual radar screens of the culture.

  37. Catherine said on February 20, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Jeff, I really enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire, but I’m having trouble enjoying my enjoyment. I heard the phrase, “Poverty tourism,” somewhere, and it made me think twice about the idea of a movie directed by a white British man, that lingers so long (if not exactly lovingly) on the very, very worst of the Mumbai slums.

    PS — we don’t say mil-yo-nair anymore, it’s meal-oh-nair.

  38. Gasman said on February 21, 2009 at 3:01 am

    The goofball parade continues:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUAYNlcZa_w

    These are no longer isolated events. This is a pattern of idiocy. Is there anyone at the national level of the party that isn’t a moron? Whether it’s congenital or willful, Keyes is a total nut-job.

  39. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 21, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Gasman, the “national level of the party” as you see it is an artifact of who gets put on TV. Alan Keyes couldn’t get Republicans in Illinois to vote for him (he ran against some young guy from the South Side of Chicago), and R’s in Illinois are necessarily a close-knit, mutually supporting bunch, but they didn’t vote for him.

    Ann Coulter? Speaks for . . . truly, i have no idea whom. Her publisher likes her unhinged rants, but for pity’s sake, National Review Online stopped printing *anything* she wrote just a few days after 9-11 when it would have been easy to excuse vehemence and intemperate remarks, but they knew a line-crosser when they saw it.

    Pat Robertson keeps getting put up as a “leader” in Republican politics, when a) he never was, and b) he can’t even fill a room with his own brand of groupies these days. But his quotes live up to (down to?) what folks like to stereotype as “usual Republican thinking.”

    Michele Bachman looks good on camera, and gives good quote; her national leadership status was largely because the convention got put up in her district, and she’s whittled away what national support she had since August for her “ready, fire, aim” chats on news shows.

    Eric Cantor, Bobby Jindal, Marsha Blackburn, Richard Lugar, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, even Olympia Snowe, let alone Susan Collins — they all have as much pull and impact in national GOP discussions as Boehner and Kyl, if not more so. They get grabbed for a punchy partisan pullquote in the first five minutes or the lead on policy issues, but the filler material comes from the wingnuts, who can keep the second halfhour rolling along or pad the article out to 6,000 entertaining wds. The Republican elected leadership of today out of the House, Senate, and our Governors are mostly wonky, but not in the cool way that Bill Clinton has mastered so well, and they just don’t make compelling TV. Huckabee is an interesting case, with a show on Fox that gives him a platform that he still can’t figure out what to do with, because i suspect he’d rather be a celebrity than a political leader and have to sit down with Lugar to chat about foreign policy. But there’s really no reason a) for cable news to treat Keyes as anything but a fringe phenomenon since the Illinois senate race, and b) for you to say that the list i started this para with are the outliers, and your favorite punching bags actually represent your opposition.

    Punching bags are, on the other hand, much easier to lay a glove on.

  40. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 21, 2009 at 11:52 am

    If you have any interest in the whole “business model” debate for newspapers/news orgs in gen’l, esp. the “paywall” vs. free access arguments, this is a stupendous one-stop review, you can scroll thru highlights or click and read more of each link — http://burden.ca/blog/2009/02/20/paywall-madness-dec-2008-feb-2009

  41. brian stouder said on February 21, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Jeff – name all the Republicans that voted for the Stimulus package. In the House, the list equals zero.

    In the Senate, the list equals Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

    Many of the others variously described the stimulus package as bloated, wasteful, porky, partisan paybacks for the socialist/communist Democrats, which has no real chance of actually working…..

    while they ALSO rush to take credit in their districts and states for the coming money. Google that again, Jeff, and you’ll lose count of how many of these Republican members of congress have done this.

    Arlen Specter says that a fellow GOP senator approached him in private to offer congratulations for Specter’s vote for the package. The senator wouldn’t support it because of fear of a primary challenge in the next election. Specter said “there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation. … I think a good part of the caucus agrees with the person I quoted.”

    See – in a primary election, where turnouts tend to be – what? – 20% of the eligible voters? Less? – a nationally known lunatic like Alan Keyes – or, for that matter, Uncle Rush/Sh*t- for-brains-Sean Hannity (et al) REALLY DO exert power and influence over the national party.

    Who was the GOPer member of congress who groused about “brick throwers” like Limbaugh fouling up the process….only to come scraping and begging forgiveness on Uncle Rush’s show the VERY NEXT DAY?

    Apparently the guy’s phones rang “off the hook” back home in the district…and if 600 or 800 people back there were upset, then indeed they might make the member of congress spend resources in a primary against whatever kook they run against him – which would only weaken him versus his Democratic opponent in November, yadda yadda yadd – so instead we get something like ‘I really apologize, Mr Limbaugh, sir; I really put my foot in my mouth! Will you forgive me, sir? Please? It won’t happen again, I promise’ etc etc

    I used to agree that the Democrats were getting pulled too far toward the extremes, and President Obama’s success in the primary elections struck me as (in part) a repudiation of that fear.

    And now, it looks like the righty radicals have siezed the bridge of the Republican ship, and it is listing badly to starboard

    btw – here’s a little parting gift –

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/20/us/politics/20spend.html?ref=politics

  42. Sue said on February 21, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Nancy, looks like about 5 inches around here so far, with no sign of letup. Assuming you are experiencing the same thing? I don’t know why it’s not getting out of here faster and heading your way, since the snow seems to be in a straight west-to-east blowing pattern. Very nice to watch since I don’t have to go out today, except to shovel a few more times. Now where’s that Advil…

  43. Gasman said on February 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),
    brian hit the nail on the head. The weakness of the Republican Party right now – aside from their total lack of a coherent philosophy – is that they are the party of exclusion. They are concerned with marketing only to the most right wing faction of their base. They appeal to nobody outside their very small tent. That is a strategy to win primaries and lose general elections. By appealing to only the rabid, they are repelling the majority of voters.

    Far from being the marginal kook you portray, Keyes is actually very representative of the Republican voices at the national level. That is precisely the problem. The strident, venomous, shrill tones are increasingly seen as being the embodiment of partisanship. It wasn’t that Keyes couldn’t get Republicans to vote for him necessarily, but that he could get only Rs and only the most right wing conservative at that. I cannot imagine a scenario where a candidate like Keyes that managed to make it out of a primary battle could ever prevail in a general election.

    Independents and centrist Democrats are not going to be won over with such divisive and insulting tactics. Your party appears to be hell-bent on augering in spectacular fashion. The Republicans do not provide any compelling reason to come to their side. We are offered only their vision of a minority party: a childishly pissy contrarianism.

  44. Linda said on February 21, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    That CRA caused the housing bubble that burst does not explain who forced mortgage companies and bankers to give $100,000 a year earners a mortgage for a $500,000 house, which CRA did not cause. And it never forced anyone to turn terrible, fraudulent mortgages into investment instruments, easily the dumbest thing since the square wheel. That was entirely the work of the rich guys that Bush couldn’t wait to bail out.

    No doubt some of this is racism, most of it is class prejudice (you can’t give trailer trash a break–they’ll just screw it up).

  45. Tyro said on February 21, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Well, the CRA must have been a pretty powerful piece of legislation, given that it sparked housng bubbles in Ireland, Spain, and Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

    Truth is, you have a bunch of people upset about the situation and looking for something to blame. Fairly quickly, the right-wingers realized that their conservative constituents could be very quickly and ery easily riled up and angered if they were told that minorities were to blame.

    A more interesting question is whether this invented blaming was purposely hatched or it evolved, in that several urban legends were released and the ones that had the most resonance among the right wing base were the ones that resonated and made their way up the food chain to talk radio and to fox news talking heads.

  46. Dexter said on February 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    brian stouder…wow…jackson is a mess…50 car pileup on I-94..that road was shut down totally at least for a while…weather channel showed shot of detroit and then again 5 minutes later..total whiteout..this was about 1 pm….hope your wife is ok in jackson…..

  47. jeff borden said on February 21, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    One of the big problems facing the GOP is that it has no moderates. Whatever you want to say about the Democratic Party, which so very often drives me nuts, it represents a wide spectrum of thought. We have people like the Blue Dogs, who are more conservative than some Republicans, all the way to the very way leftward folks like, say, Dennis Kucinich. The Republican Party cannot make the same claim. You have your far right, your far far right and your so far right they’re off the map folks. No one like Dwight Eisenhower could possibly win a GOP nomination these days. I wonder if Richard Nixon could, for that matter.

    The result is a party for which the ideology and orthodoxy of its most extreme elements determines the direction it will take. And in the USA at this moment, the direction the GOP is taking leads straight to oblivion. I truly question whether the nation is, as our Republican friends like to claim, a “center-right nation.” Really? Than why does a significant majority favor some kind of mandated health care? The generation emerging is far more tolerant and far less judgemental than previous generations, which is reflected even among young Evangelicals, where concerns about racism, poverty and the environment trump concerns about gay marriage. How does a political movement driven by playing to anger and resentment manufacture outrage about illegal immigration or support for the Defense of Marriage bull survive whent he old appeals to fear and rage fall on deaf ears?

    And, speaking of anti-immigrant rhetoric, it’s a brilliant move by the clowns in the GOP to alienate a the fastest growing ethic group in the nation, people most likely to agree with many Republican viewpoints: Hispanics. We’re talking about hard-working, socially conservative people who are deeply religious and devoted to their families in ways many of our “pro-family” politicians cannot emulate. But the hard-liners in the Republican Party have spit in their faces. Some of the ugliness is quite appalling.

    I would argue that only a series of disastrous, humiliating defeats at the national level –the kind of electoral Armageddon endured by the Dems in 1972 and 1984– will force the Republican Party to reinvent itself. Perhaps only then will the party show the door to those loons who say it is getting its ass kicked because it is not conservative enough. I may be a liberal, but a two-party system is absolutely critical to the overall health of our nation. A national party that resonates only in the Deep South and the Plains States cannot fulfill that vital role.

    If Eric Cantor and Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber are the future of the GOP, it’s not just the party that will suffer. So will our nation.

  48. Gasman said on February 21, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    jeff borden,
    I’ve said for years that this nation is not at its core politically center right as conventional wisdom maintains. When push comes to shove, on the really big issues this country is far more liberal than most people are willing to admit. And the trend is that we are moving further to the left.

    As another committed liberal, I too, am concerned by the implosion of one of the two viable political parties. My commitment is to ideals, not to a party. As such, my allegiance to the Democrats really doesn’t run very deep. If there were viable, reasonable alternatives, I would consider voting for another party. The Republicans are pretty much insuring that there is no way in hell I’ll be voting for one of their candidates anytime soon.

    The one possible upside to this political vacuum being created by the implosion of the Republicans is the potential for a serious third party to emerge. If a more moderate party could arise from the Rs ashes, I would be interested. We are all served by a loyal opposition. I doubt the loyalty of our current opposition to anything other than narrow self interest.

  49. brian stouder said on February 21, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    If a more moderate party could arise from the Rs ashes, I would be interested.

    The funny little man with the great big ears (Henry Perot) showed the potential for a third party; the guys scored 19% nationally in the 1992 presidential race. If the “Republican” brand (so to speak) gets much more toxic, folks may re-name the thing (for the people in the party who are actually, like, governing), and effectively disenthrall themselves from the neo-know nothing nativist wing of the current Republican coalition.

    ‘Course, then, if history is any guide, the Democrats and the new party would divide up those people, with the ironic result that the D’s would pander a bit more to their concerns (’cause these people will still be voting for someone)… which would confuse the bejesus outta the lip-flapping class. (presumeably they’d be reflexively anti-Democratic Party at all events, but they’d have literally no alternative to offer)

    Dexter – just spoke with Pammy; she says they have 3-4 inches of snow on the ground, and she’s been having a woderful time. Her mom and sister and her, along with several other women are all here –

    http://www.treehousegetaways.com/

    scrapbooking and chatting and being waited on hand and foot! This scores me lots of Marital Capital, which I will expend later in the year…possibly a jaunt to Columbus for the Origins game convention, or maybe down to Indy for racey cars and museums…..we’ll have to see!

  50. coozledad said on February 21, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Poor old Keyes. I had a friend who used to work a mental services help line, who eventually wound up needing one herself. Mental patients often offer an interesting, even seductive take on reality. But ultimately there comes a time when delusions aren’t playful anymore. They’re a wormhole into deeply dangerous behavior. There is a veneer of logic in the statements of Mr. Keyes, if you happen to occupy the same fractured psychic landscape of early Christian communalism paired with either a morbid patriarch of a God, or one who works his mysteries through teams of investment advisors who discuss how to sell your grandmother’s kidneys to Purina over a round of golf and vodka-based drinks.
    In any case, the LA Times has fuuuucked up printing Andrew Malcom’s nod to the Thorazine and anointed handkerchief crowd. Not least because he’s given our party’s administration an opening to investigate whether Barbara Bush is just the latest incarnation of Elizabeth Bathory, but worse, the deranged female essence of Nobodaddy, condemned to roam the earth until a teasing comb fails to provide the illusion of hair.

  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 21, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Brian, i may be handicapped by my education, but oddly enough, i don’t lose count at two. Yeah, the GOP has no moderates. I guess we won’t have any moderates until we all agree with Eric Holder instead of Eric Cantor, and you’re all correct that Michael Savage is our national chairman, and that Michael Steele thing is just a typo.

    Gasman, childishly pissy = projection. But i like the Wm Blake reference — that’s the kind of thing that keeps me coming back here (“please sir, may i have another”).

    See y’all at the Oscars, where Jerry Lewis finally gets a statue. That should be worth tuning in for alone.

  52. brian stouder said on February 21, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    i may be handicapped by my education, but oddly enough, i don’t lose count at two.

    dunno Jeff – sounds a little “childishly pissy”, to me; and anyway – you musta’ ‘lost count’ if you only arrived at two members of congress who voted against the Stimulus bill, and yet are taking credit for the money going into their districts.

    If you Google Congressional Republicans Stimulus, you can easily rack up six, and one can only assume that twice or three times that number would be attainable.

    For example –

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/02/back-at-home-co.html

    Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan sounded almost giddy on Wednesday in a post on the microblogging Web site Twitter: “If you know of someone thinking of buying first home, now may be the time. Stimulus incentive is very generous! Up to 8k! Check it out.” Mr. Hoekstra, who also voted against the bill, appeared less optimistic last week. “House passed spending bill. I don’t believe it will work,” Mr. Hoekstra wrote on Twitter. “Hope we’re wrong but I don’t think so.”

    In New Jersey, Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., toured a Army Corps of Engineers construction site that will likely get stimulus dollars. “This is a classic example of a “shovel-ready’ project,” Lance said. As the liberal website BlueJersey notes, Lance had penned an op-ed against the bill, writing “Only a fraction of the dollars are targeted toward ‘shovel ready’ projects that will keep and create immediate jobs.”

    Just hours after voting against the bill on the House floor last week, Representative John L. Mica of Florida issued news releases lauding the inclusion of $8 billion for high-speed rail projects around the nation. Mr. Mica said the bill would also help pay for a commuter train project in his Central Florida district.

    In Kirksville, Mo., Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., visited Truman State University, where he said, “Within the stimulus package there is some Pell Grant money, which is a good thing. It helps students be able to pay for their education and that’s kind of a long term stimulus effect there.

    Representative Don Young of Alaska, for example, praised the stimulus as “a victory for the Alaska Native contracting program and other Alaska small-business owners.” And Representative Leonard Lance of New Jersey, after touring a flood-control project in his district that could receive stimulus financing, pronounced it “shovel ready.”

    In Hannibal, Mo., Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., heralded $2 billion in funds in the stimulus bill to jump start low income housing projects. “Bond says the $2 billion amendment is small potatoes in the nearly $800 billion package, but it will save jobs, employing more than 3,000 people in Missouri alone,” the local paper reports.

    and the beat goes on –

  53. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 21, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Oh, and if we can see in the Obama “landslide” of ’08 25% of self-identified gays and lesbians vote for McCain, and 31% of Hispanics, the main point of potential irrelevance for the GOP is that Bush (yeah, that Bush, George W.) got higher numbers just four years before. Given war weariness (see polling data, 1944, re: near-miss Willkie, and parliamentary elections, England, 1945, re: departing Churchill) and the economy (a bipartisan parade of stupidity i’m happy to assert), it’s intriguing that McCain, our weakest national candidate since Bob Dole (R-E.D.), still pulls a quarter to a third of voting blocs/groups that, reading many comments here, should be voting 98.2% for the Party of LightBearers.

    Maybe that’s what we’ll see in 2010, but i think some of you’ns are drinking your own moonshine, which is always a poor business model.

    Brian, Mica is a moron, but how are those others “taking credit” which is what you said? If it’s passed, then they’re letting constitutents know what they can apply for, which seems well within the bounds of cricket. We’ll see what Jindal does in his quixotic attempt to fend off the whole deal, but that seems a rather high bar for you to set as adequate Puritanism. F’r instance – Bond does not “herald” his role, that’s a news story spin, and an inaccurate one at that . . . and i don’t even like Bond that much. But you can’t hold a Post-Dispatch take against him as his own quote.

  54. brian stouder said on February 21, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    A Classic Movie non sequitur: last night I got pulled into The Graduate on TMC (no commercials)…what a marvelous movie!

    I had forgotten how much texture and nuance is in there…and indeed, not many non-musical movie-movies can claim a soundtrack that’s anywhere nearly as sgood as the sublime effort Simon & Garfunkel made for The Graduate.

    When Dustin Hoffman’s Alfa(?) runs out of gas, as he races to wherever Elaine is getting married… and the S&G music also slows and sputters to a stop….pure movie magic!

    edit: how are those others “taking credit” which is what you said? If it’s passed, then they’re letting constitutents know what they can apply for, which seems well within the bounds of cricket

    BZZZZT!!! Sorry – they can use their franking privilege and/or their websites and/or a news release to the local media to “let their constituents know what they can apply for”. But touring “shovel ready” sites and glad-handing at universities and touring flood control projects…these are the ways that a canny politician associates him or herself with that project, aka “taking credit”, from where I sit, anyway.

    edit two: And it turns out that I myself lost count! There are seven GOP members of congress taking credit in the copy/pastes above, but I lost count at six! So if I give you Mica back – who only issued a press release (so far), still we’re at six just in that one article

  55. crinoidgirl said on February 21, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Jeff (tmmo) –

    Good gravy! Do you think that gay/lesbian=Democrat?

    Of COURSE some folks are going to vote Repub – that’s their preference.

    (R-E.D. LOL)

  56. Dexter said on February 21, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    brian: I have been better this year at not getting sucked into the TCM pit…but I did get caught up in “Taxi Driver” and probably a half dozen other classics during the “31 Days of Oscar”. I was able to record my fave gangster flick, “White Heat” with Cagney as Cody Jarrett, a crazed lunatic of a killer.

  57. alex said on February 22, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Jeff (tmmo), I’m not surprised by those numbers. Republicanism is a fashion statement for pissy queens just like it is for nouveaux lawyers and MBAs. It’s the party of snob appeal. Which is why white trash is so unflinchingly loyal to it.

  58. whitebeard said on February 22, 2009 at 3:19 am

    Toyota would be in big, big trouble if it had that many defective transmissions as per the chain letter that earned this many hits “6,230 for “rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission” (About) – 0.31 s |”
    I don’t know many Repugs who drive Toyota Corollas unless I see one at my next speaking engagement. I have already decried the political bashing of the Detroit 3 in print; I’ll see how it flies from my bully pulpit (well, they did ask me to speak to their club, didn’t they?)

  59. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 22, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Crinoidgirl*, i was observing that if the Repugs were really exuding the evil rays that some are detecting, repelling all and sundry except the most willfully malign, then you wouldn’t think there’d be any but a tiny number of Hispanics or gays and lesbians voting for ’em . . . so there may be “reasons” that go beyond one’s personal desire to saute puppies, which is the only reason some are thinking that explain GOP votes (i like ’em roasted, with the obligatory fava beans and a fine Chianti). Alex has a good middle term of the equation, which are those (on both teams, no?) who vote out of inertia, reflex, or fashion.

    *Love your on-line handle; when i was a docent at the old Indiana State Museum, i loved gathering the classes of kids around the big slab near the front door that had the most intact, complete, fossilized crinoid i’ve ever seen anywhere. Haven’t seen it in the new one, but we’ve only been there once’t, and quickly.

  60. jeff borden said on February 22, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Jeff TMMO,

    No one is suggesting that 100% of any category of voters is going to go for the Democratic or Republican candidate. No doubt there are conservative gays, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, etc. who find a message they like emanating from the GOP. And there may actually be some very conservative Evangelicals who find something they like from the Donkey side of the aisle. The larger question is what percentage of these groups find a welcoming embrace from a party that too often demonizes them? And, since the GOP has fewer and fewer moderates amongst it, how likely is it that this nasty rhetoric will be toned down any time soon? These are interesting debates that will continue for a long time, I imagine, as the party looks through the wreckage of its recent fortunes.

    What is sticking most in the craws of lefties like me right now, Jeff, is the newfound embrace of fiscal conservatism by the GOP. This party –aided and abetted by as cowardly a group of Democrats as has been elected in many a year– shoveled money into Iraq without ever asking for a receipt. All of this, by the way, off the books. The costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been included in W.’s budgets, though Obama is now officially adding their huge bills to our current deficit estimates. The GOP remained committed to huge tax cuts even as deficits grew ever higher with no less than Dick Cheney declaring that “deficits don’t matter.” When the nation might’ve been poised to undertake some great national mission after 9/11, our president told us to visit Disney World and keep shopping.

    In brief, there was nary a word about being fiscal stewards for eight long years. Now, with our economy teetering and an estimated 50 million people worldwide unemployed as a result of this economic crisis, our Republican friends call for restraint.

    Where the %$#& have you been, Mr. and Mrs. Elephant, for the past eight years? Why did not a single GOPer ever call for an investigation into war profiteering by Halliburton? Why did not a single Republican seek to discover where the massive amounts of cash were going in Iraq, a sum so large that there are many who say it may represent the largest theft ever incurred by the Feds, to the tune of hundreds of billions?

    Jeff, as the son of Republican parents who were appalled by the radicalism of George W. Bush and repelled by the increasingly ugly rhetoric directed at gays, immigrants, etc., I scan the horizon for someone who might evoke a return to the kind of meat-and-potatoes, common sense policies of governance the Republicans once embodied. Perhaps your eyes are better than mine, but I see no one of any stature emerging. Rather, I see a bunch of bargain-basement hucksters on one hand (Joe the Plumber) and worshippers in the Church of Reagan (Mitt Romney) on the other. Neither inspires confidence.

  61. crinoidgirl said on February 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    One of the Google ads is for used transmissions (snort).

  62. del said on February 22, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    To that I say Amen, Jeff Borden.

  63. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 22, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Not nary a word. Lots of Repugs railed at Congress for doofus spending, even a fair chunk wanting us out of Iraq on that basis alone. Check the National Review Online archives of The Corner, and you’ll find vast tracts of “where’s the fiscal discipline” unhappiness, and a steady critique of “compassionate conservatism” by many, even most conservatives in the punditocracy (Punditistan?) as being “big government conservatism.” The problem for some of us is that the only alternatives out in the elected/leadership realm were a) Grover Norquist “starve the beast” anti-tax activists (this is Ken Blackwell’s main base), and b) paleocons like Pat Buchanan who are as anti-Israel as neo-cons are pro-Israel.

    So the Dewey/Rockefeller moderate middle of the party had folks like George W. and his dad nationally, and on the state level bright shining lights like Bob Taft and Mitch Daniels. (Um, yes, that was irony.) Given that the Paleos strike me as one step away from being LaRouchies, and Grover needs a stick-ectomy, my hat like many was with Dubya, hoping that when the dust settled we could get a grip on spending and entitlements again. F’r instance, i’m not pro-privatization of Social Security, but i’m not against it, either. I’m open to an honest review of the bidding. As most of you’ns know, i’m reluctantly pro-single payer, because i think it’s the most economically liberating way to get through the next twenty years of global economic restructuring.

    But i’m not a Democrat because i have a vast skepticism of the ability of social programs on the whole to do much more than gum up the works. Six years in the heart of Appalachia finished that belief system to a high polish — but pro-business, anti-tax GOP activists will never have my sympathy for the same six year reason. Some social services have shown over time a successful role in civil society, like free public education (which we are strangling by making pay much of the child medical and psychiatric health bill, btw), and the idea of a basic social safety net can be a very conservative position.

    The Democratic Party wants to fiddle and tinker with all kinds of areas of society to “help,” and George Dubya wanted to fiddle and tinker on a smaller scale, with more churches involved, so we gave him a free pass, and next thing you know we’re backing into prescription drug benefits and No Test Bubble Left Unfilled. Our bad, and we’re paying for it — Obama’s in the White House, and Strickland’s in the governor’s residence in Ohio, and i wish them both well.

    Standing against the broadest provisions and most expensive, open ended aspects of their proposals, though, cannot be called hypocrisy or faithlessness. It should have been done better, and sooner, and half-hearted technocrats with a yen for long weekends and preference for golf over policy discussions (talk about handicaps) need to get thee to a thinktank, milady.

    I won’t go into a rant about how Bob Taft on his lamest day spent more time on the job than some union officials i have known, or how promoting business innovation is the real need which neither party actually shows any interest in doing, clean coal being the latest unvalidated boondoggle (see ethanol, relative benefit). Soros and Stanford for Ds and Scaife and Ahmanson for the Rs, we’ve got our odd ducks giving money and pushing idiosyncratic causes on both sides. What rankles is the ease with which so many use “always” “never” “nary” “nothing” “every” about Republicans. I don’t think that’s a “so’s yer mutha” retort, just a request for little assumption of good faith and interest in dialogue, rather than constantly piling the implications high that GOPers are always and all blood-oil-swill-sucking parasites on the body politic.

  64. Gasman said on February 22, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),

    “Gasman, childishly pissy = projection.”

    I would agree that the Republican chorus is engaging in childish projectile pissing. The problem with engaging in a pissing contest is that everybody loses.

    Theirs would seem much less like crocodile tears if there was an ounce of consistency by these same wailers and moaners during Bush’s irresponsible spending spree. Most of the current crop of whiners were not those few Rs who voiced any sense of fiscal responsibility for the last 8 years. It would seem that most of those now complaining would either have us do: a). nothing, or b). engage in that useless make-the-rich-richer strategy that has ever failed us. Either way seems infinitely worse than what Obama has proposed.

  65. caliban said on February 22, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    So it’s Sunday night , and there’s nothing not noxious (a good name for a band?), or even a decent rerun on TV. Not even a compelling NBA game or the B’s playing more sound hockey than everybody else in the NHL, including the weaselly Redwings. So the pard I’ve chosen to grow old with, All Things Considered, is considering me with daggers in her striking, alluring, and somehow threatening gaze and manner because I’ve got paper copies of the NYT and WaPo, plus Rolling Stone, two months worth of the Atlantic, an Oxford Americanr, and a virgin copy of Foreign Affairs. And I have to wonder whether she’s taken her meds and whether I know where all the Henckels are.

    Rolling Stone has a letter in which some character calls Born to Run, Darkness and The River “the Holy Trinity” although, he didn’t capitalize Holy Trinity, which is dysfunctional style and insulting, but not like trying to claim conflating the Connecticut chimp and the President’s sitmulus efforts in a Murdoch “newspaper”. So Spirits in the Night, that I first heard in a vaguely scary club on Cape May is an also-ran. And Sandy. And Incident on 57th Street. And Darlington County. And Nebraska, and The Ghost of Tom Joad. And The Nothing Man, and I don’t know, another 100 or so brilliant songs, are derivative and unoriginal. As Randy Newman said about Mr. Sheep, “Jesus, what a jerk.

    And the news today is all about the deficit. Funny, but so sad. Do we live with a government dependent on the will of the people so uninformed? If you consider the deficit as Shares of Non-Social Security Federal Spending Paid for by Borrowing, you have
    Truman none Eisenhower 3%, Kennedy-Johnson 6%, Nixon-Ford 14%, Carter 13%, Reagan 25%, Bush I 28%, Clinton 6%, Bush II, fy 2002 23% Bush II, fy 2003p 32%. I know we’re talking about the fatass fake plumber with the Plumber’s crack running straight down the middle of his mug, but, shit, this is simple math.

    Born again deficit hawks in whatever’s left of the brain dead GOP carcass occasion cognitive dissonance. Even people that ought to know better attribute the W-eficit to invasion and misguided occupation spending, but if you understand government fund accounting and so-called emergency funding, you know a lStagarleeing portion of the Halliburton enrichment agenda isn’t even on the books yet.

    If there’s a NN participant that truly understands fund accounting, I’d love to here an informed explanation. I’ve got a masters in public management and this subject caused me trouble. In the end, I think I had some sort of epiphany during the final, but the math of which I was phobic in Statistical Analysis, my personal Kampf (and that’s another story), was nothing intellectually to trying to comprehend accounting in general and fund accounting specifically.

    So there’s this final question. They get away with the astounding malfeasance of the last eight years, including absolutely purloining two national elections? Republicans probably hate and fear John Kerry more than anybody in the world. What Kerry shares with Old Dirty Bin is that he’s a bogeyman they need to rally the feebleminded to their cause. They despise Kerry because he tracked down the administration criminals and their international banking catspaws and mad Reagan look like Nixon. In a perfect world, Ken Blackwell will learn bridge at Club Fed for wangling Cuyahoga County.

    Truth and Reconciliation? Sounds good. Until you consider that Cheey and Rummy were there with Nixon, came back for Raygun, and would have stuffed W in a shoebox if they thought they could get away with it, even though every evil thing they ever did had been exposed, by Frank Church and Kerry. They could be the undead. Spike through the heart would be a very good thing.

    I say Cheney thought raping and murdering Maryknoll nuns was good strategy. Muy macho when you took six Vietnam deferments and falsified the little prick’s Guard records so you could grab the Oval Office. The attacks on Kerry’s patriotism are litterally mind-boggling. He was on missions in Cambodia and saved his crewmen’s lives with fast thinking and disregard for his own safety. W was drifting off to Bumingham, in a cocaine haze, blithely

    These people funded Monica Lewinsky’s kneepads and designer thongs, they murdered Danny Casolaro and seem to be getting away with it, they shredded records and stuffed the remains into Faun Hall’s underpants. Mostly, they attacked the Constitution because they have no respect for it. The truth would be good. Hanging by their ballocks would be better.

    My point about truth and reconciliation is simple. Prevent the recurrence of people that present such a threat to what we all are supposed to believe. Cheney? Better things to do, this guy said this when he worked for Raygun and thought murdering Maryknoll nuns after raping them and burying them alive was something a reasonable and decent American would do. He’s a monster.

    I’d reccomend the movie Salvador. Reagan administration was so stupid in its bloodlust they couldn’t figure out the difference between the name of the country and its capitol. So it was just Salvador. All Dickless ever cared was that his cash was being laundered.

  66. caliban said on February 22, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Gasman,

    Why should everybody lose? Do we just give up because everybody’s stupid. The tax-cut mantra has produced a monumental deficit. people are too dumb to see this?

    Obama is attacking problems with a tremendous amount of intelligence and imagination. W was so locked into wasting cash on making Cheney and the other progiteers rich. This shit has stopped.

    It’s fascinating that progressives, whatever that means, are so pissed off at Obama. For example, that Gitmo is decent these days. Of course it is, you morons, it’s a new Gitmo. These people are dealing in real time. Nobody’s evver going to be tortured there again. We have the President’s word, and it’s believable..

    We had a government by assholes, that worshipped Ronbald Raygun. We don’t any more. We live in a country that believes in the rule of law.

    It seems to me, here’s the deal.The idea that Cuyahoga County wasn’t just robbed is a joke. It was. Which means the loast two elections were entirely bogus.

  67. Gasman said on February 22, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    caliban,
    I am in no way suggesting giving up, I just don’t want to be peed upon. Rather than indulge the Rs, we need to call them out, then stomp them into the ground by exposing their tactics as fraudulent. The Ds should remember how the Rs treated them 6 years ago and mete out some of the same.

    If Pawlenty, Jindahl, and the other R governors are sincere about the stimulus money being bad, they should act according to their deeply held convictions and refuse any and all such money. How much you want to bet that ain’t gonna happen? They are not acting out of conviction, but merely posturing an affected position to assuage their rabid base.

    If Obama’s gambit works and they have left their states high and dry, their political careers are over. But, if they are truly operating out of a sense of principal, then it seems they should be honor bound to reject the tainted Obama money. However tainted they may claim it to be, they ’tain’t gonna’ leave the cash on the table.

    So much for their principled opposition.

  68. caliban said on February 22, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Gasman. we all got urinated on when the obscene 30:1 went to 400:1 comoensation during the stolen Bush years.If those bastards are the talent, , where do they think the rest of us stand. They created fantasy and rewarded themselvesfor failure. And that’s Ameroca? People workedd their asses off and were defrauded by bosses that were taking golden paracjutes of one sort or another. They should all go to jail. Amd the momey should be spread around where it can do the most good, and if that’s redistribution of wealth, the wealth was undeserved, and in fact it was stolen from the people that generated it..

    Capitalism as some blind excuse for robbery isn’t a valid philosophy, and self-appointed robber barons ought to have to give all of their ill-gotten gains back. Fuck ’em, Who exactly appointed these crooks captains of industry?

    The singular thing the Republican Party has succeeded in is to convince the trailer trash and the desperate they stand for them. These bastards stand for nobody but the rich people, amd they mean nothing but to shrink the confines of rich people as much as possible, from the bottom up. The middle class they coddle, the dumbasses they convinve by racust means that there’s some vast unwashed, People buy this, and they’re morons.