Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day! And Facebook Sightings.

I'm off to my favorite sister's house (inside family joke, I have three sisters, and call each my favorite) in a couple of hours to consume mass quantities of my favorite comestibles. I hope you all can do the same. If not, enjoy the solitude of a peaceful Thanksgiving.

I've been seeing a couple of Swampers on Facebook since I joined at the kind invitation of Luke Yelasdi Thompson. There's Luke, of course, and Mike LaRoche.

Being half a century old, I had originally shied away from the social networks for fear of being the geezer in the group. But after joining, I found a lot of my friends were already there, having fun and updating people with their activities. Some friends from far away were there. Social networks are an amazing distance-destroyer, allowing you to create a cozy community no matter where you are.

Some people take the friends function too far, adding hundreds of people to their network. How can you keep track of so many, let alone consider them your friends? Techblogger Robert Scoble carried this to the extreme when he added so many friends he reached Facebook's 5,000 friends limit. (Since increased). And he complained about it!

I've got a little more than two dozen friends on Facebook now. And while that number will grow significantly, I'm not going to pretend that I can be friends with thousands of people.

But Swampers who read this are cordially invited to be my Facebook friend.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and weekend!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Still Here

It's been more than a week since my last post, so yes, I'm still around, and no, I haven't forgotten the Swamp community.

As I cautioned a few weeks ago, I can't post with the frequency I used to, because of the demands of my job. I'm regularly blogging there now at and you can see from the frantic activity there where most of my blogging is directed.

With the help of David and Julie Scott, and I hope LYT and others, we can keep things lively here.

As for the job, we just went through significant layoffs at my newspaper. While I'm still employed, about 25 of my colleagues on the news staff were laid off. As a business reporter, even while I mourn the lost talent, I understand the reasons -- profits plunged at our parent company by 72 percent in the most recent quarter over a year ago. With ad revenues continuing to skid, the trend was going to take us into the red very soon. Since we're not a government entity or a financial institution too big to fail, running at a deficit is not an option.

I am trying to keep in mind the one good thing about bad financial news: It concentrates the mind, and encourages people and institutions to try new things and question old assumptions and ways of doing business that may be wrong. So I personally am trying new ways to connect to our readers, and to get new readers.

Regardless of what happens to any individual news organization, there will always be a need for good journalism. The world is just too complex, and too much is going on, for people to take it all in without someone to help pick out what is significant and explain why. There is value in that; the trouble is finding out the appropriate way of making it work financially, or as they say in the tech industry, "monetizing" it. (I hate the word, but it is concise and describes what has to be done).

And above all, I just plain enjoy what I'm doing. I almost always look forward to another day at my job. I'm learning interesting things and telling them to people who want to learn about them. Just now, I've returned from an extraordinary event, listening to four veteran CEOs tell their war stories about their failures, and what they learned from it.

The title of the event: "Failure IS An Option". It was a humorous and compassionate rebuke to the just-can't-lose stories of people who defied impossible odds to succeed. It was moderated by Neil Senturia, an entrepreneur who has known dismal, stomach-churning, sleep-destroying failure as well as success. And out of his despair turned into success, he emerged as devastatingly funny in dissecting everything that can go wrong -- the things rotting away in companies that most people prefer to keep hidden.

In real life, failure happens frequently, and often, it's beyond our capacity to stop. If your company decides a certain job is expendable, it may not matter how well you've done that job. And when you hear top CEOs say things such as "much of life is random," and "do not ever underestimate the power of good fortune," it takes some of the sting away from failure. Even the most successful people don't have all the answers.

One things these CEOs have in common is that they learned from their failures, and applied their lessons to their next ventures. They painfully learned the need to keep a distinction between one's business and personal identities -- a business failure is not the same as personal failure. As journalists look for jobs and news outfits look for economic models that work on the Web, these are good words to keep in mind.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Washington Post Gets Really Tough With Obama

Of course I'm joking! The Post has published a faithfully-in-the-tank fable about how Obama's team acted to "keep its distance" from lobbyists.

"Obama backtracks on no-lobbyists pledge" would have been closer to the truth. For Obama campaigned for president vowing not to let lobbyists work in the White House. But after pointed questions on how he could do such a thing, Obama changed his absolute no-lobbyists vow to one of not letting lobbyists "dominate" in the White House.

And in the above-linked WaPo story, Obama further went back on his promise to the public: Lobbyists can work in his administration, they just can't be officially hired to work on issues they lobbied for. The reality is lobbyists and their connections cross every which way.

Obama's transition chief, John P. Podesta, is a prime example of the interlocking nature of lobbying. From the WaPo story:

"I've heard the other complaint, which is we're leaving all these experts on the side. . . . We're leaving all the people who know everything out in the cold," Podesta said. "And so be it." He said a similar ban was likely to be in effect for the actual administration, including an extension of the lobbyist ban to two years.

But Podesta himself has been a lobbyist, according to a biography by the New York Times: "He was a partner with his brother, Tony, in a prominent Washington lobbying shop."

That's all the space the NYT deems fit on the subject, not even deigning to name the lobbying shop. It's the eponymous "The Podesta Group". On its site, the group says it represents "corporations and trade associations as well as local governments and nonprofits."

The firm doesn't shy away from the lobbyist label. It even touted a Politico article dubbing it a "powerhouse lobbying firm".

To recap: First Obama says lobbyists won't work in his White House. Then he changes his pledge and says they won't "dominate." Then Obama hires as his transition chief a veteran of a powerhouse lobbying firm, and allows lobbyists to openly work in the White House, as long as they're not officially working in areas they've lobbied about.

It's a nice fig leaf -- it hides something that everyone knows is really there.

And topping it off, a gullible (or worse) WaPo reporter uncritically swallows the story and gushes about Obama keeping his distance from those lobbyists. And of course, nowhere does the WaPo article mention Podesta's own lobbying background.

I hope, probably naively, to see the Post do better in giving Obama critical coverage. But this is an abysmal start.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cowardly and Useless

Sarah Palin was absolutely right in calling the attacks on her from unnamed sources in the McCain camp "cowardly." Safe from the anonymity supplied by reporters, the McCain operatives scrambled to protect themselves by throwing mud at their bosses' former running mate.

This is the unlovely truth behind political campaigns -- those behind the scenes are often more concerned with serving their own interest instead of that of the candidates they allegedly work for.

The only ones who benefit from this sleazy charade besides the operatives are the reporters and news organizations that enable them. The public is poorly served by being dished up accusations from sources whose identities are unknown. That's one part of the media that could go extinct and America would benefit.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

There is No Joy in Maverickville

UPDATE: At least we didn't have to wait long to find out. After Ohio was called for Obama by the networks, including Fox News, it was all over.

Fox News, in a mastery of understatement.

Congratulations, President-Elect Barack Obama. May you be worthy of the trust the American people have placed in you.

UPDATE REDUX: Slate sees things the way I do, calling the election for Obama based on his win in Ohio. This is just common sense. But worried they'll be condemned for the grievous sin of calling the election when people are still voting -- even though the outcome is now certain -- news outfits play this game of pretending not to know what they know, because the unwashed masses can't be trusted with the truth lest they not do their civic duty.

Bloomberg, for example, headlined its story, "Obama's Win in Ohio Throws Major Roadblock in Front of McCain". (The headline has since changed, but that's what it originally said).

This is treating the public like children who have to be coddled. Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. Yes, American Public, McCain still really has a chance of winning the presidency, so just you go vote and don't worry your pretty little head about what we media types are telling each other. (A reporter in Ohio told me hours ago the Buckeye State had gone for Obama).

Hurrah for Slate for not holding to this ridiculous charade. Shame on the rest of the MSM, including Fox News, for pussyfooting around this elephant in the living room.

Or I should say, this donkey.

UPDATE UPDATE REDUX: A wry look at the McCain victory party turned concession speech by the Washington Post's Dana Milbank.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sigh. I did my voterly duty early this morning, contrary to most of the Californians at the polls, who voted for Obama*. (Polls have not closed in the Golden State, but I feel safe calling California for Obama.)

The indications look ugly from my perspective. The funereal mood of poor John Derbyshire echoes that of many who voted mavericky. But I wasn't really a fan of the 2008 McCain anyway.

And I can only hope the combination of Obama and a Democratic Congress won't be as catastrophic as I think it will be.

Obama supporters, go ahead and rejoice. (Unless, of course, a miracle occurs.)

I'll update later.

*Once again, I emphasize any opinions expressed here are purely my own, and not necessarily those of my employer.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

You Must Believe In Him

Such are the perils of not believing in The Messiah.

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Two More Reasons To Vote For McCain - UPDATED


And . . . Affleck as Olbermann

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Barack Petty Obama

Petty, certainly, and even spiteful, are the words that describe Obama's decision to remove from his campaign plane three newspapers who endorsed McCain -- the NY Post, the Washington Times and the Dallas Morning News.

This has been discussed at length by other bloggers, so I'll just make a point that, as a reporter, I consider important that none of the others made: newspaper endorsements are not what they are represented and understood to be. They are much less important.

The common mystique is that a newspaper endorsement or editorial represents the considered voice of a journalistic organization. Those endorsements ring with self-important, august or sometimes Stentorian rhetoric in reflection of that delusion. They aid this deception by not including any bylines, as if the newspaper, as some collective entity, congregated in mind-meld to produce those pearls of wisdom. If you buy into this mistaken view, it might be understandable, if still petty and spiteful, for Obama to rid his campaign plane of reporters whose newspapers have endorsed his opponent.

The truth is newspaper editorials, like everything else in the paper, are ultimately controlled by the newspaper's publisher or owner. If you think of the presidential endorsements as just the opinion of one person, who happens to control a newspaper, you'll usually be right.

In any decent paper, news articles, written by reporters, are free of blatant influence by the owner. But newspaper editorials are another matter. If the publisher or owner doesn't really care about the subject, the top editors can usually get their way and delude themselves into thinking they're great opinion leaders. But the big bosses always reserves the right to step in and impose their views on any subject of great importance to them. And presidential endorsements are considered important. (Yes, I know that the Sam Zell-controlled LA Times and Chicago Tribune endorsed Obama, and Zell gave $40K to support McCain. But Zell is really known for being anyone-but-Hillary. With her out of the presidential race, Zell can afford to humor the editors, while the reporters get sacked.)

That's why I think unsigned newspaper editorials are phony and should be killed. Hugh Hewitt said it well in his masterful piece on what the LA Times and newspapers need to do to survive, Refusing to Bleed Out: "Drop the anonymous pulse-killers of the unsigned editorials. Give them bylines or let them go."

And they are pulse-killers most of the time, valuable space wasted by editors pontificating and bloviating on stuff they often know little about, or so wildly biased as not to even understand there could be another side. Los Angeles Times editorials are masters of the genre. Mere reporters, who have bylines on their work and are as such accountable, can't get away with that stuff. But the reporters get blamed by those who disagree with the editorials, because they are who the public sees, not some self-absorbed clique mentally masturbating.and congratulating themselves on their importance.

We hear a lot about biased reporters, and with good reason. But the public should really be outraged about editors who express their bias regularly, and hide behind the shield of anonymity. -- bravely letting the reporters get blamed. They should blame the editors and publishers, who usually spend their days isolated from the public in endless oxygen-draining meetings about how to better reach the public.

The deceptive conceit of unsigned editorials can produce hilarious results.Years ago, I heard of an editorial page editor who greatly disagreed with the publisher-imposed views on many subjects. To get his revenge, said editor would intentionally write the editorial in such an extreme or pompous fashion as to undercut the publisher's argument. The publisher would give it a look, interpret the ridiculous editorial literally, and be pleased.

This story underscores that newspaper editorials are not the voice of the newspaper, they are the voice of the publisher, who doesn't even write the editorial. Or, to be fair, on a subject the publisher doesn't care about, it's the babbling of hypoxic editors. If this was generally realized, the public wouldn't be outraged by these editorials, they'd just shake their heads at the shabby pretense.

If Obama has any savvy or class, he'll cancel his ill-considered verdict and let the NY Post, Washington Times and Dallas Morning News back onto his plane. Punishing the reporters for the sins of the editors is not only unfair, it's stupid.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Those Who Live On Bridges To Nowhere . . .

Sarah Palin unwisely tried to blast as federal pork a earmark to study fruit flies "in Paris, France" (as if the location had anything to do with the project's worthiness, or the lack of it.)

Palin appeared to be cribbing from the Citizens Against Government Waste's awarding of an "oinker" to a Democratic congressman for appropriating $212,000 for olive fruit fly research. That project's value is hard to ascertain from CAGW's announcement, which contains no details about why it thinks the research is so wasteful.

Given her own record on the subject, Palin ought to do more research before deriding something as pork. Just because it looks ridiculous at first glance, as fruit fly research does to those who are not knowledgeable about science, doesn't mean it is ridiculous. As the lefty site ThinkProgress pointed out in the link I gave, fruit fly research has been quite useful to understanding human diseases. Many fruit fly genes are quite similar to human genes; they exist for the same reasons and do the same thing.

Of course, this grant is not aimed for human health; it is for research on an destructive agricultural pest. California is continually battling such invasive pests. One can debate the merits of the federal government funding such research, but it's hardly wasteful per se. Here's more info on the olive fruit fly's threat.

Olives are a minor crop in California. In 2004, UC Davis Agricultural Extension estimated the value of California's olive oil industry at about $85 million annually. But there's more -- according to the Napa Valley Register, the earmark also goes to fund research into Pierce's disease, a bacterial pest of grapevines. That has been a major concern of winegrape growers in California, and its ravages has sharply cut back on the acreage of vineyards in areas like Temecula. And wine, and the grapes that make them, are much more significant economically. The value of grapes, for wine and table grapes, was $2.76 billion in 2004, according to the Agricultural Resource Marketing Center.

However, why do the olive fruit fly research in France? The author of the earmark, Rep. Mike Thompson, gave a reasonable answer in the Napa Valley Register article:

“The Olive Fruit Fly has infested thousands of California olive groves and is the single largest threat to the U.S. olive and olive oil industries,” he said. “I secured $748,000 for olive fruit fly research and irradiation in the (fiscal year 2008) appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA will use some of that funding for their research facility in France. This USDA research facility is located in France because Mediterranean countries like France have dealt with the Olive Fruit Fly for decades, while California has only been exposed since the late 1990s. This is not uncommon; the USDA has several international research facilities throughout the world, including Australia, China and Argentina.”

One could argue that the agricultural growers should themselves be funding the research, since they have such an interest in the issue. But the research is by no means as ridiculous as CAGW or Palin say it is.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ending Radio Silence

I hope so, anyway.

Regardless of various and sundry inter-personal dramas (a good deal of which I seem to have missed), it's been a bit hectic at the homestead lately.

I contracted an antibiotic-resistant ear infection in the middle of August. It lasted for over a month and a half, with five doctor visits and four different medication regiments - three antibiotics of increasing power and one steroid along with various fever-controllers, pain-killers, ear drops, etc.

It basically felt like I was underwater, with sounds distorted, odd sensations of pressure, and the odd pain or dizziness. Plus I was constantly exhausted. Things finally cleared up when I was prescribed an antibiotic powerful enough that it had several warnings and my mother (who is a nurse) felt obligated to lecture me about the side effects and dangers for nearly an hour.

About a week after I started feeling better, the Boo came down with bronchitis, which lasted an unusual two and a half weeks (thankfully Julie's contract had just ended, as the doc kept the Boo out of school for a full week for starters). Boo was sick and miserable and we couldn't do anything, so we started catching up on the new Battlestar Galactica, and wound up watching the whole thing whilst the Boo slept in the other room with her humidifier. Mostly loved it, though the writers were certainly bastards here and there.

But anyway, almost two months gone. Just sort of faded in and out. Managed to keep the job up, kept eating and just... recovered. First time I've ever been that sick (I'm very blessed). But still.... fast forward, man. Pretty weird. Like it never happened, except I know a lot about Battlestar Galactica and earaches and have a mild phobia of my earbuds.

Things are finally starting to be normal again now... spent a lot of this weekend preparing for a High School Musical party the Boo was invited to... I had assumed since it was about 'high school' it wasn't a First Grader thing, but I sure was wrong. We watched the first two and then went to the party, which was where one of the Boo's friends' moms had decided to buy tickets to the movie for all the girls in her class(!) and their parents(!!) and rented a hotel ballroom by Disneyland(!!!) so we could have cake and the kids could get face-painting and balloon animals from a professional clown-type(!!!!) as well as getting entire HSM purses full of HSM swag(!!!!!).

I wasn't too excited about High School Musical, but we actually really liked it. Probably because the leads are all so adorable, especially the main couple, who have amazing chemistry (it helps that Vanessa Hudgins has an almost preternatural elfin charm, apparently partially because she's anglo-hispanic-asian-pacific islander.

So, G-rated musicals aside, how about that free market? Would you have believed ten, five, even one year ago that Congressional Republicans and George W. Bush would be buying bad mortgages and banks and sponsoring trillion dollar 'bailouts'? It seems to have passed under the radar to a large extent, but still... what the hell is that?

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As usual, comedy is more truthful than regular reporting. Watch the SNL video spoof of Biden and Murtha and see if you don't agree.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bookmark - And Contribute If You Can! is out of commission, and may be forever, since it has been cyberjacked with the help of 1&1 Internet. So think carefully if you have or are considering an account with this sleazeball. Here is what was briefly advertised for Patterico's site.

Patterico has endured a lot of inconvenience and expense shifting to a new host (who appears to be much better at keeping his site active, btw). And since his site is heavily into politics, the disruption this close to the election is exceptionally troublesome.

I have given Patterico $15 through Paypal, and hope other Swampers will do the same. It's not a lot of money, and if several of us give it will make a big difference. You can email it to Patterico at his eponymous Gmail address, patterico (at)

What happened to Patterico is a common nightmare to all bloggers, regardless of their politics. And we should show our solidarity with him in any way we can against the sleazy practices he's been a victim of.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Patterico is at: -- And Vote McCain For Free Speech Remember that! Patterico is encountering difficulty with his URL over a renewal notification.* So bookmark this address above. Bad timing for such a breakdown, with the election weeks away.

*The original post said the renewal notice was misdirected. Patterico said in comments that is not the case:
"The renewal notification was not misdirected. It was properly directed to 1&1, and it was done two days before the expiration date. They have acknowledged this in e-mails.

I need a good civil lawyer.

Any such attorneys, whatever their political persuasion, who care about stopping such practices abusive to bloggers, please contact Patterico at the above address.

* * * * * * * *

BTW, I am voting for McCain, because I care about the First Amendment.* Obama and the Democrats have been hinting about reinstating the "Fairness" Doctrine, which is government-mandated time to favored political viewpoints. While McCain and conservatives have no love lost for the MSM, they're not showing any similar inclination to suppress the media.

The alarm raised by sensible conservative Stephen Bainbridge is persuasive to me. Bainbridge is no robotic supporter of Republicans; he has long expressed great dissatisfaction with Bush Administration policy and McCain. For him to endorse McCain over this issue is cause for all who think of supporting anyone other than McCain to reconsider.

My support of the First Amendment trumps everything else in this campaign.

And via a link from Bainbridge, a look at what's wrong with Obama from a Libertarian perspective.

*This is my personal political opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of my employer, the North County Times.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Palin Rap, And The Rap On Obama

Sarah Palin took part in two skits on her SNL appearance. This one pictured, of her swaying to a rap song about her candidacy, was fairly funny. The other, not so.

That had some style. OTOH, the endorsement of Obama by Colin Powell, was little more than a bad joke. It's not that McCain is looking better to me, but that Obama keeps looking worse. His endorsement by a mealy-mouthed functionary like Powell did neither any credit.

I heard that profile in political cowardice endorsing Obama, and found it hard to believe my ears. William Ayers, Obama said, did "reprehensible" things in the Weather Underground. (Like a terrorist bombing campaign). However, Powell said, to bring up the subject today is also reprehensible.

That's the mush-brained moral equivalence that Obama excels in. It's reprehensible to bring up the past of an unrepentant terrorist, who has said he doesn't regret his bombing spree, but is a respected person to folks like Obama and Powell.

It may be necessary to hold my nose and vote for McCain after all.

However, I am delighted to announce that our mild-mannered Swamper qpdsteve is in the process of setting up his own blog.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Weekend Update

I've been remiss in posting, and no doubt you are anxious to hear from qdpsteve and David and Julie Scott. That I expect to start next week.

In the meantime I've been working -- and I admit, recreating -- to take my mind off of politics.

So I present this, an example of what I do every Halloween at work. Call it my Web development strategy.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Too Popular?

Patterico is among my handful of favorite blogs because its proprietor, Patrick Frey, insists on factuality more than any blog or reporter I know of. He is living proof one can have strong opinions and still be devoted to facts. And, he has savvy guest bloggers like DRJ and WLS.

He got a shout-out from another of my favorites, The Volokh Conspiracy, recently for prodding the LA Times into yet another correction. (See second correction, about the president's ability to fire the chairman of the SEC).

Trouble is, Patterico is harder to reach these days, apparently because his site is too popular for his Web provider's bandwidth.

Patterico, you're approaching megablogger status, so please upgrade your bandwidth! Especially with the presidential election at hand, you really don't want to have any lapses.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Don't Like The Product? Change The Name?

After the shock of the $700 billion bailout plan's defeat in the House of Representatives last week, the spinmeisters set to work finding politically correct language to dupe the rubes on Main Street to support it. "Economic stabilization", "rescue" -- anything to call it something other than a bailout.

Bloomberg is inching into this Orwellian transformation,

Bailout Bill Sent Back to House After Senate Passage (Update2)

By James Rowley and Nicholas Johnston

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate passed a $700 billion financial-market rescue package loaded with inducements for the House of Representatives to approve the measure following its rejection of an earlier version. . .

Michelle Malkin, as is her wont, scorns euphemisms and pungently calls it as she sees it:

Kill the bailout: Operation Hold The Line

By Michelle Malkin • October 2, 2008 05:32 AM

The massive, unprecedented trillion-dollar-plus (remember, they just pulled the figure from thin air) Bailout Crap Sandwich With Sugar On Top returns to the House. A vote is expected on Friday. I keep hearing and reading that public opposition to this rushed-through monstrosity has “softened” in the wake of the Senate’s approval last night. I’m not sure why the bailout pimps keep touting that talking point when countless Americans trying to express their vehement disapproval can’t even get through the FUBAR House e-mail system! . . .

I noticed the same thing as Malkin did -- lots of journo chatter on programs like NPR's Marketplace business report that sentiment is turning in favor of the bailout. But the actual evidence presented is very thin. Business journalists and newspapers have signed on for the bailout, and you're not going to get anything like an objective description of the reasons for opposing the bailout. Gwen Ifill would be more likely to back McCain.

Marketplace did a segment yesterday based on the oh-so-objective assumption that those opposed to the bailout were irrationally resentful, and willing to hurt themselves to get back at Wall Street's masters of the universe. I'd say the public is rationally resentful of having its pockets picked to help those far wealthier than themselves.

I'd also say it's irrational to cure a debt-caused crisis by loading up the country with still more debt. And still more irrational is the assumption that the presumption of mortgage-backed securities are undervalued now. Those securities were wildly overvalued during the housing/credit bubble.

This supposed disaster of falling prices is really just the market correcting that mistake. When that process is finished, the economy can start to grow again. And by the way, the affordable housing will have been corrected. The more government intervenes to (vainly) re-inflate the bubble, the longer this inevitable process will take, and the more taxpayer money will be wasted.

Instead of doing a pseudoscientific piece calling those who oppose the bailout as irrational, Marketplace could perform a much more useful service by probing the psychology of bubbles. There was plenty of evidence at the time that real estate values had gotten totally out of whack with economic fundamentals. But those who discussed this were ignored. Cheerleaders were more valued than expertise. Why do people keep making the same mistake, and how can we prevent it?

But Marketplace apparently isn't talking to folks like me.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I was deliberately mysterious about the Swamp's future because I didn't know its fate. Plainly, the demands of work and the hassles of being the only poster were getting to me. I took a break of a few days, and the relief was amazing. I can't go back to posting as before, that's fer shur.

But I've had people volunteer to share the posting duties -- namely qdpsteve and the Swamp's original founders, David and Julie Scott. They have my thanks and gratitude.

So expect posts from these folks, and perhaps others, in the near future. We do want people from across the political spectrum.

Apologies for the confusion, over the past few days from my absence, but there you have it. I shall be one of several, now that I am handing back The One Ring of Swamp Control. See, those dopey Bored of the Rings references had a point after all, besides making me giggle uncontrollably.

And now for the political question: What about that $700 billion bailout being defeated? I was delighted. What about you? How did your congresscritter vote?

Oh, and the SEC has relaxed that dratted "mark to market" rule blamed for this meltdown. How about "mark to fantasy"? That, along with the ban on short selling more than a thousand stocks, will help hide that depressing negative information.

Don't you feel more prosperous already?

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So I Was Late! --- Here's Part Of The Tale!

"If I were thee," said Goodgulf, "I would start on thy journey soon."

Frito looked up absently from his rutabaga tea.

"For half a groat you can be me, Goodgulf. I don't remember volunteering for this Ring business."

"This is not the time for idle banter," said the Wizard, pulling a rabbit from his battered hat. "Dildo left days ago and awaits you at Riv'n'dell, as will I. There the fate of the Ring will be decided by all the peoples of Lower Middle Earth."

Frito pretended to be engrossed in his cup as Spam entered from the dining room and began tidying up the hole, packing up the last of Dildo's belongings for storage.

"Lo, Master Frito," he rasped, pulling a greasy forelock. "Just gettin' the rest o' the stuff together for your uncle what mysteriously disappeared wi'out a trace. Strange business that, eh?" Seeing that no explanation was forthcoming, the faithful servant shuffled off into Dildo's bedroom.

Goodgulf, hastily retrieving his rabbit, who was being loudly sick on the carpet, resumed speaking. "Are you sure he can be trusted?"

Frito smiled. "Of course. Spam's been a true friend of mine since we were weanlings at obedience school together."

"And he knows nothing of the Ring?"

"Nothing," said Frito. "I am sure of it."

Goodgulf looked dubiously toward the closed door of the bedroom. "You still have it, don't you?"

Frito nodded and fished out the chain of paper clips that secured it to his tattersall bowling shirt. "Then be careful with it," said Goodgulf, "for it has many strange powers."

"Like turning my pocket green?" asked the young boggie, turning the small circlet in his stubby fingers. Fearfully he stared at it, as he had so many times in the past few days. It was made of bright metal and was encrusted with strange devices and inscriptions. Around the inner surface was written something in a language unknown to Frito.

"I can't make out the words," said Frito.

"No, you cannot," said Goodgulf. "They are elvish, in the tongue of Fordor. A rough translation is:

"This Ring, no other, is made by the elves,
Who'd pawn their own mother to grab it themselves,
Ruler of creeper, mortal, and scallop,
This is a sleeper that packs quite a wallop.
The Power almighty rests in this Lone Ring.
The Power, alrighty, for doing your Own Thing.
If broken or busted, it cannot be remade.
If found, send to Sorhed (the postage is prepaid)."

"Shakestoor, it isn't," said Frito, hurriedly putting the Ring back in his shirt pocket.

"But a dire warning nonetheless," said Goodgulf. "Even now Sorhed's tools are abroad sniffing for this ring, and the time grows short before they smell it here. It is the time to set off for Riv'n'dell."

The old magician stood, walked to the bedroom door, and opened it with a jerk. With a heavy crash, Spam fell forward ear first, his pockets full of Dildo's best mithril-plate tablespoons. "And this will be your faithful companion."

As Goodgulf passed into the bedroom, Spam grinned sheepishly at Frito with a lop-eared stupidity Frito had learned to love, futilely trying to hide the spoons in his pockets.

Ignoring Spam, Frito called fearfully after the Wizard. "But--but--there are still many preparations I must make! My bags-"

"Have no worry," said Goodgulf as he held out two valises. "I took the precaution of packing them for you."

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Friday, September 26, 2008

All Wil Be Explained Later This Weekend

"This Great Ring is much desired by all, then," said Frito.

"And they desire a curse!" cried Goodgulf, waving his wand with passion. "For as surely as the Ring gives power, just as surely it becomes the master! The wearer slowly changes, and never to the good. He grows mistrustful and jealous of his power as his heart hardens. He loves overmuch his strengths and develops stomach ulcers. He becomes logy and irritable, prone to neuritis, neuralgia, nagging backache, and frequent colds. Soon no one invites him to parties anymore."

"A most horrible treasure, this Great Ring," said Frito.

"And a horrible burden for he who bears it," said Goodgulf. "For some unlucky one must carry it from Sorbed's grasp into danger and certain doom. Someone must take the ring to the Zazu Pits of Fordor, under the evil nose of the wrathful Sorbed, yet appear so unsuited to his task that he will not be soon found out."

Frito shivered in sympathy for such an unfortunate.

"Then the bearer should be a complete and utter dunce," he laughed nervously.

Goodgulf glanced at Dildo, who nodded and casually flipped a small, shining object into Frito's lap. It was a ring.

"Congratulations," said Dildo somberly. "You've just won the booby prize."

* * * * * * * * * *

The elf looked doubtfully at the boggies. "You guys know how to ride?" Without waiting for an answer he whistled loudly through his gold teeth.

A clump of high sedge rustled and several overweight merino sheep bounded into view, bleating irritably. "Mount up," said Garfinkel.

Frito, more or less athwart an unpromising ungulate, rode last in the procession away from the Gallowine toward Riv'n'dell.

He slipped his hand into his pocket, found the Ring, and took it out in the fading light. Already it was beginning to work its slow change upon him, the transformation of which Dildo had warned.

He was constipated.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"This, too, is grave," declared Orlon. "It is only a matter of time before they come here," he said, pulling a shawl over his head and making a gesture of throwing something of a conciliatory nature to a shark, "and as neutrals, we would have no choice..."

Frito shuddered.

"The Ring and it's bearer must go hence," agreed Goodgulf, "but where? Who shall guard it?"

"The elves," said Gimlet.

"The dwarves," said Legolam.

"The wizards," said Arrowroot.

"The Men of Twodor," said Goodgulf.

"That leaves only Fordor," said Orlon. "But even a retarded troll would not go there."

"Even a dwarf," admitted Legolam.

Frito suddenly felt that all eyes were on him.

"Couldn't we just drop it down a storm drain, or pawn it and swallow the ticket?" he said.

"Alas," said Goodgulf solemnly, "It is not that easy."

"But why?"

"Alas," explained Goodgulf.

"Alackaday," Orlon agreed.

"But fear not, dear boggie," continued Orlon, "you shall not go alone."

"Good old Gimlet will go with you," said Legolam.

"And fearless Legolam," said Gimlet.

"And noble king Arrowroot," said Bromosel.

"And faithful Bromosel," said Arrowroot.

"And Moxie, Pepsi, and Spam," said Dildo.

"And Goodgulf Grayteeth," added Orlon.

"Indeed," said Goodgulf, glaring at Orlon, and if looks could maim, the old elf would have left in a basket.

"So be it. You shall leave when the omens are right," said Orlon, consulting a pocket horoscope, "and unless I'm very much mistaken, they will be unmatched in half an hour."

Frito groaned. "I wish I had never been born," he said.

"Do not say that, dear Frito," cried Orlon, "It was a happy minute for us all when you were born."...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It Was Fun

Keeping up a blog can be a huge task if you're diligent about it. But now I have three blogs, this one, another about science and another about biotech.

It's too much, and something has to go, namely this blog. I have to put more energy into my work-related activities. The Festering Swamp, fun as it has been for most of the year and a half I've devoted to it, isn't something that I can spare the energy for. And there are many other blogs by Cathy's fans. I'll update this final post later with the names and links to some of them.

If anyone wants to take over, let me know in the comments, and I'll give them the information.

Thanks for playing!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Happened To The Fannie/Freddie Reform Bill?

McCain supporters have been touting his cosponsorship of a 2005 bill that would have put tighter controls on failed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

McCain certainly had the right idea with the bill, whose main sponsor was Sen. Chuck Hagel, (R-Neb).

Sadly, that bill, the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, never passed. McCain supporters say Democrats killed the bill. You can see that meme repeated on dozens of blogs. But I'd like to see more evidence on this point.

Republicans controlled both houses at the time. They had 55 of 100 Senate seats, giving them a margin of 10 seats. And in the House, the GOP controlled 232 of 425 seats, a margin of 29. But the bill never saw the light of day.

So what happened to the legislation? Were any Republicans opposed to it? What part did Democrats play in its defeat? Did they threaten a filibuster? What was President Bush's view of the legislation? How much of a priority was the bill for McCain?

I'd like you, dear Swampers, to find out. Dig into the records. Use the habit of historians, and go back to contemporary accounts. News articles, blog posts, government records, etc, are great. These will have the advantage of being written at the time, closer to the events. And, they will not have been skewed by the partisan lens of this election.

I will post what you find.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Dictator Clause -- Or, Rabid Right-Wingers To The Rescue

“Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”
-- From the $700 bilion bailout bill the Bush administration is trying to rush through Congress.

Michelle Malkin has much more about why conservatives should not trust Paulson.

Malkin did what I like best in such controversies -- she looked at the record and showed how Paulson had made a slew of falsified predictions about the housing and financial crisis since last year. Why trust him now? Malkin rightly asks.

Lefty and exposed sock puppeteer Glenn Greenwald writes about conservative opposition. Amusingly, even while trashing the "rabid" right, Greenwald reluctantly admits that support from those Neanderthals is essential to stop this power grab.

Right-wing opposition to the Paulson plan is vital for having any meaningful chance to stop it. Does anyone have any confidence at all in the Democrats' willingness and/or ability to impede this bailout train if the Bush administration and the Right were vigorously behind it, warning the nation of impending doom unless we submit to vast, unchecked government power of the type Henry Paulson is demanding? The instances of complete Democratic acquiescence under those circumstances -- including when they "controlled" the Congress -- are far too numerous to allow any rational person to think Democrats, standing alone, would stop the Paulson plan. As sad as it is, meaningful right-wing opposition is critical for that to happen.

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McCain's Mortgage Lobbyist -- And Obama's Smear Team

Glass houses and all that.

The McCain camp has strongly criticized Obama for having links to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the failed mortgage giants. But McCain has his own ties, and one of them was revealed recently: McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was paid $30,000 a month for five years to defend Fannie and Freddie against government regulation. (H/t to commenter doug.)

“You can say what you want about free-market distortions, but people like the system because it gets them into houses cheap,” Mr. Davis said to Institutional Investor magazine in 2000, adding that he would run the advocacy group out of his Alexandria, Va., lobbying firm.

That article appeared in today's New York Times. But U.S. News & World Report had it first, in a Sept. 19 blog post.

As John McCain said in remarks today:

The financial crisis we're living through today started with the corruption and manipulation of our home mortgage system. At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats who succeeded in persuading Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It seems a little bizarre then that McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis was hired—after running McCain's failed 2000 presidential campaign—to head up a group called the Homeownership Alliance, a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac advocacy group, which the Wall Street Journal reported (in August 2000) had a website creed of being dedicated to: "exposing and defeating trends that would harm consumer access to the lowest-cost mortgage option." The group viewed as threats those who are "seeking to spread unfounded fears about risks to the housing system."

* * * * * * * * * *

Commenter Mike K. pointed out that Obama's campaign very likely is linked to a smear campaign against Sarah Palin. This is the result of a considerable amount of digging in the blogosphere.

Michelle Malkin neatly summarizes the evidence:

A collaborative investigative effort by our friends at The Jawa Report to expose an apparently astroturfed, anti-Sarah Palin smear campaign seems to have caused late-night panic in Barack Obama-linked p.r. circles. The bloggers digging into the provenance of anti-Sarah Palin smears on the web got results last night/early this morning while most elite journalists were still in their pajamas sleeping.

First, read this. Read the whole thing. Rusty Shackleford — with help from Jane of Armies of Liberation, Stable Hand, the Jawa team, Dan Riehl, Ace of Spades, and Patterico – traced a Palin-bashing YouTube video to a Democrat public relations firm, Winner and Associates, and one of its employees, Ethan S. Winner. They believe the voiceover for the ad — which spreads the lie that Sarah Palin belonged to a fringe third party, the Alaska Independence Party — was done by a professional whose voice they believe was also featured in several Obama ads and other spots produced by Obama top strategist and astroturfer extraordinaire David Axelrod’s firm.

UPDATE: Astroturfing is a particularly loathsome form of deceptive PR that creates the illusion of public sentiment for something by such tactics as planting manufactured evidence and ginning up phony support for some cause by operatives claiming to be just folks.

Here is a link to a Businessweek article describing Axelrod as the "master of Astroturfing".

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Excuse -- If Obama's Defeated, It's Because Of Racists

Yes, it's those racist folks called "Bubba" who may do in The Messiah, despite the polls (allegedly) showing him cruising to victory.

That's according to a Gannett News Service article, which seems to me like the first draft of revisionist history in case Obama loses. In the spring, Obama was supposed to be the Democrat's invincible candidate. Now that The Precious is looking like a mere mortal, who could actually lose to McCain, some people are ginning up a politically correct answer.

Of course, that answer is racism.

Ever since Tom Bradley got defeated for governor of California by George Deukmejian, despite being in the lead in polls, there has been talk of a "Bradley effect" -- that some people were reluctant to vote for Bradley as a black person, but didn't want to say so because racism is socially unacceptable.

WASHINGTON -- Former Republican House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey calls it "the Bubba vote." Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland says Barack Obama's race is "the elephant in the corner."

No matter how bluntly it is put, the race question is one of several fuzzy variables in the 2008 presidential campaign that are giving pollsters fits. Much careful thought and second-guessing are going on throughout the nation's political polling industry.

Pollsters wonder if some Americans are lying when they say they are uncommitted or plan to vote for Obama in November, raising the question of whether the so-called Bradley effect has clouded the 2008 race. . .

"There's an awful lot of people in America, bless their heart, who simply are not emotionally prepared to vote for a black man," Armey said in an interview during the Republican National Convention. "I think it's unfortunate. I think it's deplorable. But it's there and it's real and it will affect the vote."

Let's stipulate that some people are racist, and would not vote for a black man (or woman). But there are also others who preferentially cast their vote for black people. Obama won the support of black Democrats in overwhelming majorities, far disproportionate to the Democratic populace as a whole, which was more closely divided. Why is that not also racism?

What was most lacking from this article was evidence to back up its claim of closet racist voters. Here is what passes for evidence, in its entirety:

In the 1982 California governor's race, former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, a black candidate, led in preelection polls but lost at the ballot box. Since then, there have been questions about whether poll respondents always speak truthfully about race.

A black candidate led in polls, but lost an election in 1982. So that raised "questions" about people speaking truthfully about race. And from questions, a conjecture is made, one that conveniently exculpates pollsters from any blame. There is no research cited to back up this conjecture -- it doesn't deserve to be called theory -- just a bunch of quotes.

Perhaps there is research backing the "Bradley Effect." If so, the reporter should have cited the evidence instead of writing such a slapdash article, one that places those who don't vote for Obama under suspicion of being closet racists.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who's Your Prevaricator? (UPDATED)

(Since certain Swampers so strongly object to the word "lie" in describing politicians, I have rewritten this post to remove the l-word). I never knew the public was so solicitous about not hurting the feelings of politicians!)

Like Pinocchio, politicians prevaricate.
Instead of just looking at political prevarications one by one, it's time to do a comparison between Barack Obama and John McCain about their respective fibs, stretches of the truth and misleading statements. -- what they are, and how serious they are.

So I'm opening the floor for nominations. I'll examine the tall tales and come up with a comprehensive judgment of how badly each candidate has stretched the truth.

And I'll kick things off with the prevaricating palaver I think each candidate has told, directly or through their campaigns. I am going to count a fib told by a candidate's campaign as equal to one told directly.

His claims about not knowing of Jeremiah Wright's extreme anti-American views have to rank among the top truth-stretches. Obama was in his church for 20 years, and by Obama's own account was made a Christian, married and had his children baptized by Wright. And when Obama finally threw Wright under the bus, it was for statements Wright had made that were the same as he'd been making for years. And Wright said last year in a New York Times article that Obama had told him he'd have to distance himself politically from Wright in the election.

Obama also flatly said in 2004 that he would not run for president in 2008.

Obama promised to seek an agreement with McCain so they could both run publicly funded campaigns. When McCain offered earlier this year, Obama turned him down.

Obama has also shaded the truth about his close relationship with Tony Rezko, the crooked real estate mogul.

Worst of all, Obama has dissembled about the closeness of his friendship with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, who has never apologized for his role in bombings with the Weather Underground.

New Addition: says Obama told a "whopper" by saying McCain's Social Security plan would have put recipients' money in the stock market.

In Daytona Beach, Obama said that "if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would've had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week." He referred to "elderly women" at risk of poverty, and said families would be scrambling to support "grandmothers and grandfathers."

That's not true. The plan proposed by President Bush and supported by McCain in 2005 would not have allowed anyone born before 1950 to invest any part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. All current retirees would be covered by the same benefits they are now.

Obama would have been correct to say that many workers under age 58 would have had some portion of their Social Security benefits affected by the current market turmoil – if they had chosen to participate. And market drops would be a worry for those who retire in future decades. But current retirees would not have been affected.

New addition: Obama's campaign may be linked to a series of lies and smears of Sarah Palin, according to the Jawa Report.

Extensive research was conducted by the Jawa Report to determine the source of smears directed toward Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Those smears included false allegations that she belonged to a secessionist political party and that she has radical anti-American views.

Our research suggests that a subdivision of one of the largest public relations firms in the world most likely started and promulgated rumors about Sarah Palin that were known to be false. These rumors were spread in a surreptitious manner to avoid exposure.

It is also likely that the PR firm was paid by outside sources to run the smear campaign. While not conclusive, evidence suggests a link to the Barack Obama campaign.

The research is pretty detailed. While short of absolute proof, it very strongly suggests an "Astroturf" campaign of the sort Obama media strategist David Axelrod, a PR flack, specializes in.

McCain claims to oppose lobbyists, and not to get advice from them yet his campaign staff is full of lobbyists. Campaign manager Rick Davis co-founded a lobbying firm, and McCain has dozens of lobbyists on his staff. (They don't lobby while working for McCain, but that's their profession before, and likely, after).

McCain has claimed a number of accomplishments for running mate Palin that are not factual. Among them, selling the governor's jet on eBay for a profit, that she told Congress that Alaska didn't need the Gravina Island bridge, and that Palin had never asked for earmarks for Alaska. (She asked for nearly $200 million this year).

Some of McCain's ads attacking Obama have been not entirely truthful -- according to Karl Rove!

So this is my starter list. These, just off the top of my head, show Obama as having told bigger fibs and prevarications than McCain -- but with his tall tales about Sarah Palin, McCain may be catching up. Still, I don't want to lend a sense of false equivalency. Obama's factually challenged statements are worse, because they are fundamental falsehoods about his own life and political beliefs. McCain's truth-stretchers about Palin are more in the line of puffing up credentials that were positive, if a bit thin.

Add your own favorite prevarications in the comments, and let's do a comparison!

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Johnny Mac, Your Economic Ignorance Is Showing

Taking his pander act to a new level of inanity, John McCain has blamed SEC Chairman Christopher Cox for the current financial meltdown. McCain said if he were Bush, he'd fire Cox.

The idea that one person could have prevented the vast assortment of ill-advised investments and schemes that has made markets around the world shudder is nonsense. And attacking Cox, a champion of the free-market policies McCain supposedly supports, is something one would expect of leftists Democrats who know nothing about economics, not a Republican presidential nominee.

If any one person deserves blaming for our economic mess, it's not Cox, but Alan Greenspan. The former Federal Reserve Chairman -- who had a lot of help --inflated two bubbles, each bigger than the other.

The first was the tech bubble, which collapsed in 2001. The second was the credit bubble, of which the subprime market was just a part. Desperate to avoid a nasty recession, Greenspan got the Fed to lower interest rates in a dizzying downward staircase spiral from 6.5 percent, bottoming out in 2003 at 1 percent.

Taking inflation into account, 1 percent or anything in that territory was a negative interest rate. The staggering implications of this were overlooked at the time, until Economics 101 caught up with us: What you owe you will eventually need to pay back.

A negative interest rate means that saving money is punished, and taking out debt is rewarded. It's the very opposite of sound financial policy, and millions of Americans were encouraged to go into debt, supposedly for the good of the economy. Elaborate rationalizations were invented for this debt, the fallacy that residential real estate is a surefire investment being the biggest of them.

By the time Cox was appointed to the SEC, in 2005, the real estate and credit markets were topping out. There were no more vast pools of homebuyers to be tapped, because credit requirements were so lax.

There were not only subprime loans, but even scarier loans that required no documentation of income. Borrowers merely had to state their income, with no documentation required, to get a loan. These stated income loans popularly became known as "liar loans," because lying was implicitly encourged. After all, if a borrower couldn't pay, another borrower would come around ready to take the home off his hands, for an even higher prices.

At the end, "liar loans" were topped in audacity by loans that could be obtained without any verification: no income, no job no assets - so-called "NINJA" loans.

All these mortgages were used as the base of toxic debt securities repackaged and sold around the world. And in other parts of finance, other insane financial models were built on the assumption of ever-increasing wealth. Cox didn't crack down on these, of course, but had he tried opposition would have been fierce. And it wasn't an issue the likes of McCain were concerned with anyway.

The most vexing lie from all of this is the "lesson" that government regulators were lax, and should have intervened more diligently to prevent this financial excess. Government intervention brought on this mess by deranging economic fundamentals in a way that was doomed to collapse catastrophically once the greatest fool had entered the market and bought a home he couldn't afford.

Short-selling, the bugaboo McCain and some leftist Democrats invoke as the reason for the financial market's latest turmoil, is a symptom of what had gone wrong. In a market blinded by unthinking optimism, short sellers were the skunk at the garden party, revealing the nasty truth.

So-called "naked shorting," in which the seller of securities doesn't even arrange to borrow them or ensure a later purchase, is controversial, and McCain is reasonable when he condemns the practice. But he also condemned the entire practice of short-selling for supposedly destroying good companies. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, that's a fundamental misunderstanding of what short-selling does for a market economy:

"It adds valuable information to the market about what investors believe to be the price direction of a stock. Demonizing short-sellers as a band of criminals, or barring short-selling outright in financial stocks, as regulators in the U.K. did Thursday, removes information from the market," the WSJ stated.

Removing information reduces market transparency and increases risks for investors. The logical result will be risk-shy investors, who already take enough risk in the market as it is, will be frightened out of stocks altogether, or at least lower the price they'll pay for them.

That's easy to understand for anyone except a pandering politician like McCain who is so desperate to become president he will say nearly anything if he thinks it will get him votes. (I'm being charitable to McCain here, by assuming he knows he's spouting nonsense. More chillingly, McCain may be truly ignorant of the basics of a free-market economy. Just like Barack Obama.)

The WSJ adds a further zinger to correct McCain's torrent of economic malarkey:

In case Mr. McCain is interested, overall short interest in financial companies actually declined by 20% between July and the end of August. That's right: Far from driving this crisis, shorts were net buyers of financial stocks this summer, as they must buy stocks back to close their positions and realize their gains (or losses).

McCain has previously admitted economics is not his strong suit. If McCain is to be worthy of the presidency, he should go back to school on the subject and stop proposing remedies that won't work for issues he doesn't understand.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Politician And His Terrorist Pal

One of the faults of the press is that we gloss over stuff that happened long ago as "old news," even when it is significant. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's friendship with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant ex-Weatherman terrorist, is one of those issues.

Obama's refusal to disavow Ayers, who won't disavow his participating in a terrorist bombing campaign, renders him unfit to be president.

A little history: Ayers and the Weathermen fought violently against the Vietnam war. They were overtly inspired by communism. Ayers sports a red star on his own blog, which is worthy reading to see what a longterm chum of Obama's thinks of America.

Fortunately, the only casualties of their bombs were fellow Weathermen. Ayers went into hiding, and ultimately re-entered society after evading the statute of limitations for his crimes.

"I don't regret setting bombs," Ayers infamously said, in a 2001 New York Times article.

Obama, who worked with Ayers on the failed Annenberg Challenge, a multi-million dollar flop of a project to improve public education in Chicago, gives this explanation when asked about his refusal to disavow Ayers: Obama was 8 years old when Ayers committed his terrorist acts. And naturally, we're expected to believe, Obama today, when he presumably has learned of Ayers' bombing campaign, doesn't have to take that into consideration.

Click on the link above to see the Obama campaign's attempt to exculpate The Precious. You'll see a lot of quotes from various news organizations and individuals downplaying the importance of Obama's association with Ayers. But nowhere in that piece is Obama actually quoted condemning Ayers' terrorist actions, let alone calling on Ayers to apologize for them.

Obama denounced his former mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, after his pastor uttered hateful, racist and anti-American statements. But Wright never actually committed or planned terrorist acts. Ayers did commit terrorist acts -- he has admitted to being "guilty as sin" -- and has never apologized for them. Still, Obama refuses to disavow Ayers.

The conclusion is inescapable: Making politically inconvenient statements is a much bigger sin in Obama's book than being an unrepentant terrorist. That alone renders him totally unfit for the job of president, a position in which being able to distinguish between friend and foe is a prime requisite.

While there's plenty of fault to find with Republican presidential nominee John McCain, his record consists of opposing those who make war on America -- even at great personal cost -- not palling around with them.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Palin/Hillary On SNL

If you missed Saturday Night Live's Palin/Hillary parody, here it is. Just click the photo to see a video of goofy American politics almost as surreal as the actual thing.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thag You Very Buch

Bilbo Baggins' cold-distorted words spring to mind, as I enjoy the company of what appears to be a rhinovirus. So I'll just make a few comments today, and do what the boggies do in Bored of the Rings, which is to say, lapse back into a coma, or at least a delirium, or uneasy drowsiness.

Where was I? Oh, yes, thank you very much for sticking with the Swamp in its vicissitudes. In a week or two, I plan to migrate this peripatetic blog to the new digs at WordPress, which I haven't yet finished. So . . . here's your chance to help out with some suggestions.

Mosey on over to the link and then give me your advice.

Links? What more should be added? I've got a fair amount, but I will miss some.

Design? Any thoughts on what's there? Ways to make it better? Things you like?

Commenting? Shall we use Haloscan? Mike LaRoche is using it over at SouthTexian. Nancy Catmull Matocha and cassandra may have some input as well. Mike K., too. And check out his post on how tax-loving Democrats ruin the fiscal structure of the states they move to.

Now here is an unplanned political rant goaded by what Mike K. wrote:

I emphatically agree that the most active Democrats, such as those who control the California Legislature, look on rich people and companies as suckers to be fleeced. They just assume this wealth will always be there, and don't know what to do when it leaves. They believe that social services are a natural right. And as Ayn Rand pointed out, this means those with the wealth and skills to provide these services are treated as slaves by those who don't have the skills.

It is one thing to say that it is a good deed for the wealthy to support the poor; quite another to make it an obligation to be enforced at the point of a gun. If you penalize wealth and success and reward poverty, guess what you're going to get?

Arnold showed some promise of being able to stem this tide. But he failed, and went along with the Democrats in supporting huge spending plans that have wrecked the state's budget again. Sadly, from my point of view, the Republicans who get it economically most often bring on a social conservative agenda I don't support. Moreover, social conservatives are motivated and energetic by their religious beliefs, while those who wish for economic and social freedom aren't similarly motivated.

Or to put it another way, libertarians (small-l and big-L) don't seem to have much support in either major party, the way Ronald Reagan managed to do with his grand coalition. So as someone of that libertarian persuasion, which rights do I vote to give up? My answer now is neither. I'd rather vote for a losing candidate, who stands for what I believe, than vote for a winner who doesn't stand for what I believe.

California doesn't even offer that bad choice now. California is sliding into a sea of Democratic welfare statism that if unchecked, will ruin its economy. I'm a native Californian, but Mike K. has lived here two years longer than I have. And what he sees of the Golden State's future should frighten all the state's citizens. It sure does me.

Don't laugh at our plight, Texas. You'll get your experience with Democratic nanny-staters before too long.

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