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Enter the Grown-Ups

The central problem with the government's bailout of Wall Street, aside from the catastrophe of trying to market to the public a piece of legislation universally referred to a "bailout of Wall Street," is that the financial crisis hasn't yet slammed the real economy (see yesterday's item). Michael Gerson, who like fellow conservative David Brooks is appalled by the anarchists known as House Republicans, makes a reference today to the real economy:

"Some House Republicans I talked with reported little sense of urgency among bankers and financial leaders in their own districts -- the real economy in many places has not reached the level of panic on Wall Street."

This is what I've noticed in my reporting, too: People are still getting credit, still buying cars and houses. The credit is tighter now -- you actually need a decent score! -- but so far that looks more like a rational correction than a financial collapse. Our business reporters at the Post dug deeper and found a mixed situation: Some places hurting for credit, others doing okay. But that's just now. The squeeze is very likely coming, and it's going to threaten to suffocate the economy.

Imagine one day you wake up and throw the light switch in the kitchen and nothing happens. You look at the clock and realize you lost power in the night. You call the power company. They say: We can't restore power because we've stopped generating electricity because we can't get our hands on any coal. The coal companies have gone bankrupt. So you're sitting there trying to build a fire in your backyard to boil some water to pour over the coffee granules you managed to create by taking a hammer to your gourmet beans.

This is essentially the scenario that has been laid out by the financial titans of America. (My metaphor is a bit sloppy, of course: The system won't just seize up overnight. A better analogy would involve a pump and water pressure and your sprinkler -- because it keeps sprinkling for a few seconds even after the pump shuts off.)

Please read Neil Irwin's primer on Libor. Complete with plumbing metaphor.

If big banks won't lend to little banks, if depositors make a run, if small businesses can't borrow in the short term to stock their inventory, you get a chain reaction of calamity that culminates in an economy in which nothing's on the shelf, no one's buying anything, and suddenly you see a spike in unemployment, inflation, stagflation, dogs and cats living together, human sacrifices, etc.

The Senate later today will try to bring some sobriety to the political situation, approving a bailout and, senators hope, prodding a few more House members to sign on. Senators will play the role of grown-ups, talking sense. But most of those senators aren't facing re-election in a few weeks. And this is not an era where reason dominates national discourse. Look at Palin-mania: Her most ardent fans don't care that she's been incoherent in her interviews.

Via Memeorandum we see a startling passage in a column by a man who has debated Palin. He and Palin are chatting, when Palin makes an observation:

"Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I'm amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, 'Does any of this really matter?' " Palin said.

Yeah, actually, it matters. If not today, soon. And it'll matter a lot.


In case you missed it, here's Gerson: "What once seemed like politics as usual now seems more like the crisis of the Articles of Confederation -- a weak government populated by small men."

See also this excellent piece in the Times by David Leonhardt:

'The experts and policy makers who so desperately want to take action have failed to tell a compelling story about why they're so afraid.

'It's not enough to say that markets could freeze up, loans could become impossible to get and the economy could slide into its worst downturn since the Great Depression. For now, the crisis has had little effect on most Americans, beyond their 401(k) statements. So to them, the specter of a depression can sound alarmist, and the $700 billion bill that Congress voted down this week can seem like a bailout for rich scoundrels.

'Mr. Bernanke and his fellow worriers need to connect the dots. They need to use their bully pulpits to teach a little lesson on the economics of a credit crisis -- how A can lead to B, B to C and C to Depression.'

By Joel Achenbach  |  October 1, 2008; 8:51 AM ET
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Next: Kenley and Project Runway


First? Me?

Posted by: The ScienceSpouse | October 1, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

dmd, thank you for the warning. You'll always be first to me!

repost from last boodle:
Tip #6 in this guide to beauty pageant contestants sounds like part of the Couric interview responses.

When questioned about that interview, Palin decries the lowering of journalistic ethics held during her school days, but invites further scrutiny.

I'd love to see a commercial where Sarah says, "Does any of this really matter," "I'll have to get back to you on that," "Palin/McCain." Maybe Tina Fey could make one.

Posted by: dbG | October 1, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Hi, ScienceSpouse!

Posted by: dbG | October 1, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

"dogs and cats living together"

Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Who ya gonna call?

Posted by: yellojkt | October 1, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see more in the Post about the 200 academic economists' petition opposing the rescue bill. Apart from one article announcing it, I haven't seen any mention. NPR had a good story this morning on skepticism toward the rescue bill, but much of the media coverage has been treating the No voters in the House as being rebels, "anarchists," or, as above, children. Maybe the grown-up, centrist, establishment position ought to be opposition to another transfer of power to the executive.

Posted by: Martin Crim | October 1, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

No fooling. The long ongoing denigration and contempt against intellectual discourse and its even existence in this country is breathtaking. To have to apologize for having the nerve to go get some education, for *gasp* learning to read (and hand on heart for the demise of Olssons Books and Records, where I have spent many a happy day, as well as hard earned money), to have to cringe under the fragrant banner of "elitism" because one can actually speak in complete sentences and make some sense, to be described as being "out of touch" with the "Joe 6-packs" of the country because one is not willingly stupid --- well, the list goes on and on.

And what the Joe and Jane 6-packs of the country don't understand is that they are being played and played and played. But as long as they know that they can drink a beer or two with John McCain and Sarah Palin, that's all they need to know.

McCain scares the you-know-what out of me, because he's completely out of control, doesn't care, and he really, really despises women. Palin scares me because she shows all the elements of being stupid. But as long as she has a pretty face and can dress a moose, that's fine with a whole lot of people.

One saving thought is that McCain has made so many enemies in all his years down here, and in his own party, that many Repubs either won't vote at all, or will vote for Obama.

Too tired and irritable about this situation to rant any more.

Carry on with what you were doing.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 1, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I wanted to comment first dbG, but I am still speechless over the Palin quote.

Posted by: dmd | October 1, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

How about a Wicker Man metaphor, Joel? C'mon, you know you want to.

Posted by: Jumper | October 1, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

No matter where you go, there he is.

Error in '08!

Posted by: LostInThought | October 1, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

dbG - about that butter cake.....

Posted by: Kim | October 1, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Saw a post on one of the political blogs earlier this week that, after his election, FDR ignored appeals from Hoover to join forces to deal with the market crisis and waited till he was inaugurated to start the process. That makes sense, but I don't know that we have the luxury to wait that long today.

CNN had a story this morning quoting some Repub representative from Arizona blaming the Democrats for the crisis. I'd link to it, but the story's off the website. Figures.

Posted by: slyness | October 1, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Political scientists have been arguing that the US has an "Articles of Confederation" problem for some time. But it was a simmering problem. The government seemed to work well enough. Monday may finally have turned up the heat enough to make the lobsters jump the pot. Or some other mangled metaphor.

Nice to see that King Kamehameha I has a suitable new home in the new Capitol visitor center, along with Washakie, the greatly respected Shoshone leader. I once lived in Washakie County.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 1, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"What once seemed like politics as usual now seems more like the crisis of the Articles of Confederation -- a weak government populated by small men."

Hasn't that been the point of the post-Ginrich starve-the-beast goal?

Posted by: yellojkt | October 1, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I sent Gerson an e-mail, "Of Minds and Men." recommending that is should have read: "a weak government populated by small minds."

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Hey ScienceSpouse! *extra Grover waves*

The good thing about getting your furnace serviced is finding out everything's in working order. The bad thing is finding out you're the first resident in a long time to have that done, and that the chimney needs a lot of work. *SIGH*

'Mudge, I hear tell there's quite a bit of non-PC-related activity coming up this weekend. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 1, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

A friend just forwarded me the "John McCain rude bully in Fiji" email, which I see on the web is attributed to three people so far, and is under analysis by Snopes right now, inconclusive so far. It's an obvious cut-and-paste job, and notable for the one oddity that McCain "quoted Faulkner" at the dinner table, annoying one and all. This part has the odd ring of truth, I guess, and may in itself be true. Although lord knows I wouldn't mind dinner with a Faulkner reader.

It makes me cringe, though. It makes me uncomfortable to have fringe elements so willing to circulate this carpola, even if (or maybe ESPECIALLY if) they are supposed to be on "my team."

I did like Kathleen Parker's latest.

(A journalist friend has a blog on which the comments section has been, unfortunately, vicious as is common these days, and I've been laboring to add humorous, polite, role-model how-to-behave sorts of comments, and it has seemed to be working. This Achenboodle place here really is unique and thanks to all for protecting civilization as we know it.)

Posted by: Jumper | October 1, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

(For me) bonus in the Andrew Halcro op-ed about debating Palin: the use of the word "canny" meaning foresighted, knowing, wise.

In context, I think "uncanny" the better word for Palin: arousing feelings of dread or of inexplicable strangeness.

So the Republicans seek to show Palin as canny to displace the perception of her as uncanny.

Love it!

Posted by: Fifty | October 1, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The beast has gotten mighty fat on the starvation diet.

At 10:51 is=it.

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I have something to get off my chest.

I have seen a number of commentators try either to be fair-minded in apportioning blame, or try to get out from under the blame (depending whose party one is speaking for) by noting that a lot of deregulation and the beginnings of the subprime mortgage boom happened under the Clinton administration, therefore, Clinton owns at least half the blame. Maybe more, since he started it.

Let me offer a metaphor, an analogy, a tutelary case study in blame, if you will: In 1970, when I was 8, my father put me on a bicycle and shoved it across our back yard (you can do that with yards in Indiana -- the natural state of the soil is like pavement). Within relatively short order, I learned to bicycle, my father having provided the necessary stimulus, if you will, for me to develop a skill that could take me far from home, often at high speeds, often in proximity to traffic. I have had 4 major crises related to my bicycle since then: in 1972, I lost control and flew from the bike, earning a concussion; in 1982, I was hit by a car while legally crossing an intersection; in 1984, I fell while riding fast on slick pavement and gained massive road-rash that took a month or more to heal; in 1995, I slid on a gravel road (in Hawaii), scraping my legs severely enough to have blood streaming down my calves. So, who is responsible? -- the guy who set me up on the bicycle, or the guy who was riding the bicycle at the time it crashed, 2-25 years later?

Posted by: PlainTim | October 1, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday my father sent me an 11 minute long YouTube video detailing how the mortgage crisis is a result of Clinton cronies that required CRA minimum requirements which drove everybody into making fraudulent loans to comply with regulatory mandates. It also lists all the former Freddie Mae (to use Joel's confabulation) muckety-mucks that cooked the books and how they are all good buddies of Obama. And how only McCain was raising the cry that these chickens were coming home to roost. I'd link to it, but I'm certain you'll run across it sooner or later. I'll wait for the rebuttal to start circulating.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 1, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"And let us recognize above all the 228 who voted no — the authors of this revolt of the nihilists. They showed the world how much they detest their own leaders and the collected expertise of the Treasury and Fed. They did the momentarily popular thing, and if the country slides into a deep recession, they will have the time and leisure to watch public opinion shift against them."-David Brooks

When I first read this yesterday I had a sense of vengeful pique and was sorry to see the market regain some of its losses. I felt it would have been better if end-of-quarter paper losses to retirement funds, etc. had been glaringly delivered to the nihilist masses before November 4th. I then realized I was doing the same thing as the anti-"bailouts" who wanted to let Wall Street drown rather than be rescued: cutting off my nose to spite my face. But deep down I really want the public and politicos to pay for their stupidity, even if it costs me dearly.

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Trying to catch up.

LIT, thank you for that article and that link. Error in '08, indeed!

Saw what I thought was a good-sized darkly colored squirrel off of my deck yesterday evening (the DC area is famous for the coal black, reddish brown, and dark grey squirrels), but when I stopped to look at it, I realized it was a huge chimpmunk.

It didn't scamper and dart, it *lumbered.* And it didn't say please, thank you, or give any indication of good manners. Or vocal ability, for that matter.

sd, the 24 hours of Lemons is famous in my circles, I'm invited to run one of the events by someone every year, but don't seem to be able to make it happen. I've done plenty of endurance racing and even some budget racing with some friends (in fact, I'm skipping the big Gainesville budget race and car show - one I ran a turbocharged, nitrous oxide-assisted '89 Plymouth Voyager minvan in back in '99 - for this year in order to attend the Mega BPH), and the combination is a hoot.

I have a different take on the science of the economy, but it's a little different than tha NYT piece, though I did enjoy reading it. Very thought provoking.

la lurker - I'm highly amused by the SEC's revision of capital requirements and interpretations of what they can be comprised of and their value. Isn't this what the SEC and the government just beat several companies over head with over the past 4 or 5 years? Sheesh.

And finally, of course, we'll see how much of a credit crunch can be avoided, and how much of said tighening will affect the economy.

I also wonder if raising the FDIC's account limit to $250,000 will make the difference in sweetening the Bailout to the point where taxpayers are willing to swallow it, hoping that the medicine really works.


Posted by: bc | October 1, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

AT least you're honest about your feelings, Shiloh. I have to agree with your sentiments.

Posted by: slyness | October 1, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

For some reason Krugman makes me feel better. He is a grownup, right?

Posted by: Jumper | October 1, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

What Krugman doesn't say is that failure to fund a $700 billion rescue will help preserve those funds for the recovery from the deep recession. He also fails to say that the public that shot itself in the foot once, may decide to shoot the other foot on November 4th by electing McCain and continuing the failed policies of a Republican administration. A crippled economy suits a public that shoots itself in one or both feet. I do not suffer fools gladly.

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

'a weak government populated by small men'

... that says it all. Dread to see how it will all unfold. It's sort of another 9/11 moment in American history.

Posted by: Miss Toronto | October 1, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

A good analogy, Miss Toronto. Watching the twin towers of home values and Wall Street come tumbling down must have put a smile on bin Laden's face.

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Morning all,wet and cool here in west by god.Might be soon time to think about having a fire....naw I will hold out till it gets a little colder.

bc,it makes sense that the 250,000 is geared toward the general public,to make the average joe except the bailout terms.

LiT I have always been fond of groundhogs,my dad was born on Groundhogs day 1918.I can't imagine sitting in suburbia and plucking off every varmit that runs by the back porch.Much more suited for the wilds of west by god.

Finally I am looking forward to the baseball playoffs.Congrats to the rays,angels,phillies,cubs,dodgers,brewers and both (soxes)?I think the winner of the Red Sox and Angels series will win the world series.I am so happy the Yankees fired Torre and now he is going back to the playoffs and they are not!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 1, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

P. J. P'Rourke on facing the Big C:,0,3317114.story

A little gallows humor.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 1, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"But deep down I really want the public and politicos to pay for their stupidity, even if it costs me dearly."

Shiloh, you're calling everyone who is against this bailout stupid. What you have been doing for the past week or more is called "talking your book." You admitted that you thought the market was near bottom and threw all your available resources into it hoping to recoup your losses. Now you're afraid you'll lose everything.

And we're stupid for not wanting to put our children and grandchildren into debt to pay for a poorly-conceived plan foisted onto us with great drama at the last minute by a cynical, failed administration?

I would favor using the same $700B to capitalize banks directly, by buying preferred shares of the banks. This is what was done in Scandinavia. This is what Stiglitz (not a stupid man, BTW) and Nouriel Roubini advocate. To reward those who made bad decisions by buying their toxic waste is devious and wrong-headed.

You just want Congress to act rapidly, even if they would be wasting our money.

Posted by: Wheezy | October 1, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Sure, Kim. Butter cake here isn't like pound cake, it comes in a foil pan and you cut it into squares. I'll bring you one.

Truly fine analogy, PlainTim (I almost typed PalinTim there). Would PalinTim be kind of like Pop Socket?

Posted by: dbG | October 1, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Cost-averaging, wheezy, allows me to recover faster than the average bear. Regardless of how low the market goes, my pit is not as deep as it was - and diversification assures me an income stream not dependent on the market.

As for buying shares in banks, the "ais" have it (cash): Dubai, Mumbai and Shanghai are not only cash rich -they also hold a big chunk of our government debt. They are jockeying to replace the United States as the financial center of the world and they are doing it the old fashioned way: buying it; they are using their cash to buy shares in our financial system and they will make the new rules.

As for the debt of our children and grandchildren, the 6.5% increase from $10.6 Trillion we have now - to $11.3 Trillion in Public Debt - will cost them less than a collapsed economic system. A projected loss of up to 50% of home values, for example, makes the Public Debt pale in comparison. And the lack of liquidity for that home value becomes a costly asset as property taxes and depreciation cost our children and grandchildren more than their inheritance.

There are dozens of ideas about how the Congress could do it differently - but the crisis is now and it will not go away while the financial Nero's fiddle with the system. Where were they before the fire sale?

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Shiloh, very few people think this bailout will stop the decline of home prices. It's a stop-gap and no one (except you, apparently) is claiming it's going to solve the problem. Please show me where Paulson or Bernanke have said that this will be the end of bailouts, or that "this should do it."

Why not stop, take a breath, and do this thing right?

Posted by: Wheezy | October 1, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I found this pretty interesting:

I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this
> straight.....
> * If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your
> grandparents, you're 'exotic, different.'
> * Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, a
> quintessential American story.
> * If your name is Barack you're a radical,
> unpatriotic Muslim.
> * Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a
> maverick.
> * Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.
> * Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating,
> you're well grounded.
> * If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community
> organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard
> Law Review, create a voter registration drive that
> registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a
> Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State
> Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people,
> become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human
> Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States
> Senate representing state of 13 million people while
> sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs,
> Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs
> committees, you don't have any real leadership
> experience.
> * If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4
> years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town
> with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a
> state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified
> to become the country's second highest ranking
> executive.
> * If you have been married to the same woman for 19
> years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within
> Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
> * If you cheated on your first wife with a rich
> heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the
> heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
> * If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex
> education including the proper use of birth control, you
> are eroding the fiber of society.
> * If , while governor, you staunchly advocate
> abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in
> your state's school system while your unwed teen
> daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.
> * If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave
> up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the
> betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up
> to raise a family, your family's values don't
> represent America's.
> * If you're husband is nicknamed 'First
> Dude', with at least one DWI conviction and no
> college education, who didn't register to vote until
> age 25 and once was a member of a group that
> advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your
> family is extremely admirable.
> OK, much clearer now

Posted by: ebtnut | October 1, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Ford was the first auto company to release its Sept. sales figures. Down 33.8 % according to the Detroit Free Press. The only good news is Focus sales (made at the Wayne plant in Michigan).

And this was before Black Monday.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 1, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Here's the salient graph for all of us:

Posted by: slyness | October 1, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Been thinking in the last 24 hours about what "the real economy" means. Is the following "the real economy?" From the Houton Chronicle and in our paper this morning...

Arrests of unauthorized immigrants have plummeted in parts of Texas and along most of the Southwest border, where government agents in one Arizona sector have detained 78 percent fewer border crossers than last year. ...

Border Patrol officials attribute the decline to an ongoing buildup of manpower, infrastructure and technology on the border, but immigration experts say the faltering U.S. economy is a significant factor. ...

Michael Fix, vice president and director of studies at the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute in Washington, said the nation's weak construction industry and other sectors have slowed the entry of unauthorized workers.

Experts say the key force behind immigration patterns historically is economics: immigrants follow jobs.

“It's as much an indicator of the economy as of stepped-up enforcement,” Fix said of the declining arrests. “If you look at it broadly, what you see is the rate of increase of immigrants is slowing a little bit.”

LL: Also this: Appears Hillary won't be able to make her rescheduled fundraising trip to south Teaxas because of the Senate bailout vote today:

AUSTIN — A series of South Texas and San Antonio Democratic fund-raisers featuring Hillary Clinton this week are now uncertain because of negotiations over a Wall Street bailout bill in the U.S. Senate.

Garry Mauro [long-time Clinton friend and political adviser] said the fund-raisers had been scheduled originally for last month but were called off because of Hurricane Ike. But Mauro said the current congressional fight over the Wall Street bailout legislation may keep Clinton from attending the rescheduled events.

LL: Debate I would prefer to watch on Thursday night: Clinton vs. Romney

Posted by: Loomis | October 1, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

JA -- did anyone point out the following in paragraph three of the kit?

"The credits is tighter now -- "

Posted by: nellie | October 1, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The trick is, Wheezy, I'm not sure anyone knows for sure what "doing it right" means in this case. Or can agree on it. One unfortunate fact of our democracy is that lawmakers have to sacrifice the perfect (if you believe it exists) in favor of the possible. And I believe that, whatever they can agree on they should, and quickly.

While I can accept that it isn't essential to do something immediately, it needs to be done sooner rather than later. One of the lessons learned from Japan's financial crisis is that to delay too long, hoping things will improve on their own, is a recipe for a prolonged painful disaster.

Posted by: Raysmom | October 1, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

And Shiloh, are you shaking your head as much as I am over the fact that we actually agree on something?

Posted by: Raysmom | October 1, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

The only guarantees, wheezy, are death - which O'Rourke supports humorously - and taxes - including communications, gas, property, sales, income, payroll and lots of other taxes and fees that support our system of governments.

Holding our breath like a spoiled child will not change anything. Taking a breath while the economy is drowning is not very good advice at the moment. Try it the next time you go for an underwater swim.

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

This links to an article from across the pond. The author feels like our government isn't working very well.

Posted by: jack | October 1, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom: We (and that includes CP and others) may agree more often then I let on.

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

ebtnut writes about Obama...

and serving on the Foreign Affairs,
> Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs
> committees, you don't have any real leadership
> experience.

I say, let's give some credit where it's Joe Biden.

(Do you find it strange that when Obama accuses McCain of belonging to the "old boys club" in D.C., that Biden would be a member of that club for a handful of years more than McCain?)

While their debate exchanges were mostly friendly during the race, Sen. Biden did draw attention to Sen. Obama's limited foreign policy credentials, in comments which Republicans have been swift to repeat. Sen. Biden characterized the junior senator as a "Johnny-come-lately" on Afghanistan, praising him for having adopted Sen. Biden's own ideas, including a troop surge in the country.

August 01, 2007 3:03 PM

ABC News' Brian Wheeler reports: After Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., unveiled his terrorism strategy on Wednesday, his fellow Democratic senator and presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., pounced, calling him a "Johnny-come-lately."

"The Biden for President Campaign today congratulated Sen. Barack Obama for arriving at a number of Sen. Biden's long-held views on combating al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Much of what Senator Obama has proposed Senator Biden has already initiated or accomplished," the Biden campaign said in a press release.

Posted by: Loomis | October 1, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

If I read this article correctly (but stop after the fourth paragraph), then what Joel seems to be saying is, "Stockpile coal. As much of it as you can get, as quickly as possible."

Posted by: byoolin | October 1, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Nellie, thanks...fixed it...added a link to a good Times story on the crisis.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 1, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom - I'm not in favor of dithering for years, as the Japanese did, that's for sure! Compromise is essential, but the framework of this bill is Paulson's original poisoned bill, just minus the Section 8.

I am just upset at the idea we who oppose this bill are "stupid" or not the adults in the room. I'm not accustomed to thinking of the Bush Administration as adult leaders. And I do not want to give the Executive Branch even more power.

I agree with you and Shiloh that quick action is required. I think congress could craft something more palatable quickly. The help of some of the many economists out there who understand this stuff well would help.

Posted by: Wheezy | October 1, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

“To do nothing right now is to do what was done during the Great Depression.”

Thanks for that Times link, Joel.

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

In today's Post gossip chat, the moderators mentioned that the koala has a bifurcated penis. Alas, I am unable to google up a picture. Aside from logistic problems, what possible evolutionary advantage could this have?

Posted by: Simian,, but curious | October 1, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

So koalas can date the Doublemint Twins?

I'm very surprised that TBG (or anyone else, for that matter) hasn't yet commented upon the nature of P.J. O'Rourke's cancer. As has often been remarked around here, ya learn somethin' new every day from the Boodle...but until today I never knew there was such a thing as a malignant hemorrhoid. There's only one town in America where such a thing is possible, and it's...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 1, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Shiloh, that impulse to see people fail for being dumb is natural.

But consider, back in 2002 I was saying it was a mistake to go into Iraq, there were no WMDs and it would be a disaster. I argued with a few relatives on the subject. We went in and we all know the rest.

I would have liked to have been proven wrong then and every day since we put boots in Iraq. I just didn't think there was a whelk's chance in a supernova (Thank you Doug Adams) that it would happen that way.

The article about markets being prone to chaotic effects is interesting. While a comparsion to water suddenly becoming ice at a certain temperature was good, what I actually do think of are hurricances-- they create in waters warmer than usual. It's not always predictable how many or how strong, but we know some conditions are far more favorable than others.

And we've been down this path before with S&L scandals, when people got high-risk personal loans for businesses and other schemes that promptly folded, leaving their lenders high and dry without money to meet the needs of future borrowers and having to pray their investors (the people who had bank accounts there are investors whether they liked it or not) didn't pull their money out.

In short, capitalism was heating up, with all its attendant risks.

While hurricanes wreak far more damage and chaos than merely warm seas do, it's false to assume that we cannot predict hurricance from 'warmed' seas. Things were set in motion almost as soon as 9/11 occured, destroying a lot of financial records. We were going to have a lot of unbalanced activity as we rebuilt. Add in a prolonged war with high debts, we were going to inflame something even more. Then Katrina came along.

The only response to a hurricane is to do nothing TO counter the hurricane-- it'll waste energy and effort against something that can level entire cities.

Instead you put effort in saving or evacuating what what may be destroyed, and then to thank god for what's left and rebuild from there.

Just compare this Republican response to this "financial hurricance" to their grand response to the last 2 major hurricances (which did devaste the economy in varying degrees). Formaldehyde trailers, oh my. Now that's wasted effort.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 1, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Simian, you must remember the last time we discussed koala, er, *stuff?* *junk?* in the Boodle.

Which makes me think you've been lurkin' a long time.



PS, If you're googling that from work, you maybe hitting firewall blocks.

Posted by: bc | October 1, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Breaking news per CNN:

Yesterday hikers in the Mammoth Lakes area of California found weathered ID with Steve Fosset's name on it, some cash and a very weathered sweatshirt. No wreakage was observed in the area. Weathering consistent with Fosset's disappearance last July.

Mammoth Lakes Sheriff's Dept. to turn over investigation to Madera County Sheriff's Dept.

Posted by: Loomis | October 1, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I've read that opinion from the Times last night jack, Camilla is in fine form, as usual.

wheezy, the Scandinavian banks were highly leveraged but weren't involved in a multisided Credit Default Swap Mexican standoff. The financiers are now threatening to bash each other into the ground with trillions of dollars of CDS liability. Should they agree to lay aside these weapons of financial mass destruction, as W. Buffet calls them, the option of capital injection is a good one. Otherwise, the $700 billion additional capital would do little to get credit moving in the face of tens of trillions of CDS liability in the background.
I've read there may be from $35trillion to as much as $75 T of CDS out there. Nobody knows, as it is totally unregulated. The whole 700 billions in new capital would be wiped out in the bankruptcies if the banks and other holders of CDS starts to recall them "en masse". Would be a run on CDS instead of a run on banks that would have triggered the recession.
I think Paulson and Bernanke hope that buying enough of the bad dept will get some credit moving again and the fingers will be let off the CDS triggers. Do they KNOW it's going to work? Nope. But they hope and it is one of the cheaper option as the maximum cost is $700B. Those toxic securities are still worth something so the total cost will most likely be much lower. Depending on market conditions and the price they pay they may even make a profit, eventually.
Will credit return to the exuberant level of the past few years? I hope not! But a serious recession my be averted.

Good article on the front-page of the NYT this morning, outlining that sanity has returned to New York City’s real estate market, which is a good thing. But credit is still lagging so cheap deal are really hard to make, meaning that even if the buyer has the means to buy and the price is a lot "righter" (NYC has not become suddenly cheap and never will) than it was months ago, the deals can't close. Interesting times.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | October 1, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Obama may not have a lot experience in the international sphere but at least we know he's given it some thought. Just like the guy who was only the Governor of a small state.
He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.-wiki
attended the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., receiving a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (B.S.F.S.) degree in 1968. -wiki

Posted by: Boko | October 1, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to look at that O'Rourke piece when I have some time to appreciate it.


Posted by: bc | October 1, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse
To contrast w/Krugman

Posted by: Jumper | October 1, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Why a bifurcated penis? - Harmony Central Musician Community Forums

Posted by: Possum999 | October 1, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Simian, but curious, the answer is that female koalas have a bifurcated...

Bifurcated penii are common in reptiles and marisupials (opossums have 'em too).

It goes back to symmetry. We tend to build everything in pairs. Lungs, etc. The asymmetrical bits (hearts, livers, etc.) tend to have been evolved away from the original symmetry for specific reasons.

So if you evolve a separate exit that doesn't go into the cloaca, you're going to be building one from every ovary at first, and only later evolving a merged plan.

And of course, males have to evolve with that too. Or not, if sexual selection favors the old design.

Birds have evolved away from symmetry so much that many female birds only have one ovary (not a pair) in order to reduce weight for flying. They also tend to have a cloaca-- a shared cavity for both feces and egglaying.

Many male birds don't even have penii (ducks do). The reasons behind that tend to involve many factors such as monogamy vs polygamy, courtship, body size and design, etc.

Given how lazy koalas are, perhaps it's as well they have more options to aid easy mating while on tree branches.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 1, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I think we may need to add to the lexicon the phrase/concept of "as nervous as a koala at his bris."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 1, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Again, from across the pond, some wishful thinking: Speculations on the future of the American Political parties. IMHO, traditional Republicanism (frugal spending, small government), is long gone.

Posted by: jack | October 1, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Coupla items about green opportunities in bailout:

Tom Friedman's NYT OpEd (Sept 27) notes:
The point is, we don’t just need a bailout. We need a buildup. We need to get back to making stuff, based on real engineering not just financial engineering. We need to get back to a world where people are able to realize the American Dream — a house with a yard — because they have built something with their hands, not because they got a “liar loan” from an underregulated bank with no money down and nothing to pay for two years. The American Dream is an aspiration, not an entitlement. END QUOTE Read the piece here:

TOM FRIEDMAN also says:BEGIN QUOTE Indeed, when this bailout is over, we need the next president — this one is wasted — to launch an E.T., energy technology, revolution with the same urgency as this bailout. Otherwise, all we will have done is bought ourselves a respite, but not a future. The exciting thing about the energy technology revolution is that it spans the whole economy — from green-collar construction jobs to high-tech solar panel designing jobs. It could lift so many boats. END QUOTE

Insert Chinese? wise saying that crisis = opportunity.

Now, here your PhD Comics relief-toon. Where are YOU on the flow chart of Economic Meltdown?:

PS: Shiloh, we agree. Amazing. Eventually, without cryptic posts, you shall reveal our common points on the Venn diagram of life.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 1, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Dang. They've been tightening the webfilter here at work (which will probably cut into boodling) and I can't get to PhD comics. It's written by a GT undergrad/Stanford grad alumnus. Just a point of school pride.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 1, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey Curious George, how ya doin'? That man in the yellow hat still stalking you?

Posted by: omni | October 1, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

i've finally caught up and want to put my 2 cents in on some old topics...

museums - i'm the type that has to see EVERYTHING in a museum - so much so that i get overwhelmed. i spent an entire day in one wing of the Louvre and could barely walk by the end of the day. i've been lucky to be in some of the most fascinating museums in the world. having been raised in DC, i have a really affinity for musuems. but i remember my first time at a museum outside of dc. i was like - you have to PAY to go inside a museum? are you kidding me?

dbg - can i put in an order for those amazing pretzels?

i'm doing my part to conserve energy and gas... they moved my office location and now i have to metro in. i filled my gas tank on the 14th and i'm only one bar down from a full tank!!

i'm still incredibly confused about the state of the economy - but as i don't have any investments, 401K or line of credit save a mortgage i don't know where i stand in terms of being affected. i bought during the top of the bubble and did have an arm but my lender worked with me to redo my loan and gave me a good fixed 30 year rate. i know everyone is upset about the sub-prime loan stuff but that's the only way a lot of first time homeowners were able to buy homes! i blame the greed of the banks - i mean, if we had kept the sub-prime program at a reasonable level we wouldn't be in this mess would we?

Posted by: mo | October 1, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

or am i being incredibly naive?

(which is entirely possible - which is a good thing i'm in IT and not business)

Posted by: mo | October 1, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Mo: Yeah, I know the feeling about museums. Friend wife and I did the museum thing in Pittsburgh this summer, and I think we had to pay for every one of them. The Carnegie was, I believe, $15 each! We are certainly spoiled here with the Smithsonian array--all free.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 1, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

This is a ~5 minute clip from a California PBS show about "trashing out" foreclosed homes in California's Inland Empire. It's shocking. They paint the lawns green, too.

Parts of this country are in a depression already.

Still don't think the bailout will help, though, as is.

Posted by: Wheezy | October 1, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

and since i'm IT - mudge if your computer is a laptop, if you want to bring it to the preMBPH on fri i can fix it and bring it to you at the OFFICIAL MBPH...

Posted by: mo | October 1, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the offer, mo; alas, 'tis a desktop model.

In an unrelated matter, this has been a frustrating day. I'm editing a report written by an idiot (hired one-shot consultant). I can't talk about it, but I'm sorely tempted to track this guy down and beat him with a stick. That's apropos of nothing in particular.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 1, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Gotta run for the bus early; won't be Boodling until tomorrow. Adios, moochachos.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 1, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I think many people are dealing with the economy with the same attitude they use with global warming. As long as there is a smidgen of hope that all this stuff is just so much hype they will cling to it, because the alternative is just too scary. It's human nature, and part of why Americans are so terribly crisis oriented.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 1, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Do desktop models charge more than table dancers?

Posted by: Boko | October 1, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

RD, you are so right about Americans being crisis-oriented. And that's why, even though experts were warning about this for the last 12-18+ months, nothing was done. Because if you can't get the public behind acting now, what chance would you have had back then when the problems weren't as obvious as now.

*Doing a little Snoopy dance 'cuz there's a 90% probability that Raysdad will come to the MBPH*

Posted by: Raysmom | October 1, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

If the senators are supposed to be the grownups, why has the bailout blossomed to 450 pages there? Some of the provisions, like parity in mental health coverage, are terrific in themselves, but I worry that nobody's going to know everything that's in a 450-page bill in this short time frame, and there may be some real stinkers in there.

Summary from Politico. Yeah, I know it's Politico,but there may be a couple facts in the report:

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky | October 1, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the bacon is being pressed into the bailout.

I've got tickets to see Michael Bublé tonight. I better rush home to take a nap so that I don't fall asleep during the show.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 1, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

gee thanx wheezy - that. was. so. depressing....

Posted by: mo | October 1, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

mo, I was planning on bringing a lot of soft pretzels. Of course, they'll be 12 hours old by the BPH, but I suspect it's only we spoiled Philadelphians who would turn up our noses at them.

Then again, many hiladelphians buy them at traffic lights when the pretzels have been sitting in little paper bags in the sun and dust all day, so who knows?

I guess I'm the spoiled Philadelphian. But you knew that!

Posted by: dbG | October 1, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Does this have anything to do with it?

Posted by: Jumper | October 1, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

But, see, this is the same thing that companies do all the time. I've been trying for centuries (at least two now) to get companies to do an "intellectual property audit" -- this would entail, at least, determining what the company might have in potentially patentable subject matter (including whether they might have or be using possibly infringing products), trademarks (both their own and/or marks which might be infringing of someone else's), copyrights, trade secrets, computer software (how many of their employees bring their home software in and install it on company machines, thereby crossing the company's licenses; if open source software is used, are there corresponding Chinese walls set up in regard to any proprietary software the company has or produces; is the company's home grown software protected under patent and/or copyright?).

As you might imagine, an IP audit can be very extensive, and thereby very expensive. And companies don't want to do it -- they are compelled to do it if they are being acquired or are otherwise merging with another entity. Also, I think (and have published about) the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (affectionately known as SOX) compels companies to perform an IP audit on a yearly basis.

And they still won't do it. So, it isn't surprising that torpedoes sink their ships from time to time. I guess the thrill of not knowing in advance and being proactive about protecting oneself is just, well, you know, plain *silly* -- the cost of doing the audit and fixing the problems in advance is by several magnitudes much less than having to prosecute in court (or, especially, defend).

But, nooooooooooooo. Won't do it. Prefer to have head in ground and a$$ in the air.


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 1, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Funny they don't tell you the Carlyle Group's head David Moffett took over Freddie Mac last month. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Jumper | October 1, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

No one talks about this stuff.

Posted by: Jumper | October 1, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Has anybody figured out yet that the details of any bailout bill really don't matter that much? This isn't, you know, rocket science where nothing much matters but the merciless laws of physics. This is, in a large part, a psychological construct intended to restore confidence and trust.

On a primal level it's not that different from clapping loudly to show that you *do* believe in fairies.

Only in this case Tinkerbell is clutching a big wad of cash.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 1, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

ftb, we run 'em monthly.

It's software--how difficult can it be if you're not just looking for an excuse? :-)

Posted by: dbG | October 1, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Bingo, R. D. for your 4:10, on hoping it's all hype because it's too scary if true. I think that all too often, this mindset also includes just a touch of the sense of entitlement. Vulnerability isn't just a problem, it's an affront.

Posted by: Woofin | October 1, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Ooooohhhhhhh, dbG, you make me proud! Wonderful!

Looking forward to meeting you and all the others on Saturday.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 1, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

dBG, I think Mudge and I may turn our noses up. But then again, it's been so long since I had one fresh that maybe, and Mudge is a Redskins fan for crying out loud, so I think we should force feed him some of the traffic light variety.

But really there are worse than traffic light soft pretzels. Ever eat one after seeing a concert at the Spectrum (dating myself a little)? These are those which didn't sell at the lights. Gah. Even with lots of mustard - two bites...the remains in the trash. Once in a lifetime experience (not the good kind).

Posted by: omni | October 1, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

SCC:lower case that B => dbG

Posted by: omni | October 1, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | October 1, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

The Sinfest from yesterday is even more spot-on.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 1, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I'm looking back at the entire week, and he's been really inspired into so many metaphors.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 1, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Wilbrod. Yesterday's Sinfest is absolutely perfect...

Busy backboodling after a delightful roadtrip with Dr G. Five states in three days. Fall colors are beautiful in the mountains already. Nice to return to some cool weather here at home, too.

Next up... Mega BPH.

Posted by: TBG | October 1, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Who would have ever thought that bridge sales would seem so reputable?

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | October 1, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

In Newport News, second leg of the big trip. Backboodling like crazy so I'm sure I'll run into TBG. Did see Science Spouse was first. Does that mean we have a new regular?

Ma Frostbitten and I are getting ready to lay in provisions for our big VP debate viewing party. I can't believe I have the 'rents all to myself for the first time ever, plenty of time for political kibitzing and the BPH ahead. This is soooooo cooool.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 1, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

frosti - your mom must be soooo happy you're there! Not just because you're super daughter, but also because it's not easy to find moderate or lefty types in her neck of the woods!

Posted by: Kim | October 1, 2008 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Typical day before vacation starts (Thursday-Monday)--overtime @ work getting ready, and I need to get up tonight at 1:30 anyway to work my backup person through those processes.

I saw this in another blog here at WaPo, and thought it was hysterical.

Pretzel-wise, tomorrow I'll run a test and see which lasts better--the big braids (which have taken Philly by storm) or the regular-shaped pretzels. Can someone bring a bunch of brown paper lunchbags so we can divvy them up on Friday night?

Posted by: dbG | October 1, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

ftb, we get audited by at least 5 different entities every year.

I'm a CISA, although my function is precautionary, limited to looking at new things sideways or remediating the old before the auditors show up. 98% of my job is far more interesting than this.

Looking forward to meeting everyone I haven't already too!

Posted by: dbG | October 1, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse


Haven't back-Boodled to catch up from two days of computer abstinence and meditation over the past year, but...

Joel made me laugh with his "dogs and cats living together" bit. Now I have Ghostbusters lines running through my head.

Posted by: a bea c | October 1, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I guess I'll postpone back-boodling in favor of finding a hotel room for Saturday night.

Any suggestions? I haven't been up to DC much lately, and hate driving in that mess. I'd love to walk or take the Metro to some safe, walkable place...

Posted by: a bea c | October 1, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

dbG: "It worked for Bush." LOL

Are we going to have the ability to Boodle from BB Saturday evening? If so, I will bring the ancient, slow, maddening, frustrating laptop for that use.

Posted by: slyness | October 1, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Senate passes the "Financial Markets Bill." Son of G and I are such nerds, watching C-Span.

Posted by: TBG | October 1, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

74 YES
25 NO
Final Bill vote being taken now, expected to be the same.

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Yipes a bea c reminded me I need to be making reservations for Sat. night.

Kim-did you see me waving at you from the United flight that landed in Norfolk at 3:00 this afternoon?

Canukistanis-caught the replies to my Monday night query about the NDP. Thanks. Maybe it's the newness of it, but I find your election campaign really fascinating. Probably wouldn't hurt us to have another option for the "official opposition" as that seems a logical step before winning a national election for a third party.

Working on just 4 hours of sleep last night so I'm going to call it a night.

Melt down hitting home (besides in the portfolio I am not looking at). The bank that insures our Florida house has frozen equity lines of credit for the entire state. Not calling in current loans, but not allowing people to draw any more on formerly open lines. Mr. F and I are pleased as we would like them to stay in business so we are not forced to insure with Citizens Ins., Florida's "insurer of last resort."

Toodles boodle and sweet dreams.

Posted by: frostbitten | October 1, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I’m all packed and ready to go. “S” said he’d wake me at 4 am so I’ll have 20 minutes to become semi-cognizant while he showers. I wish there was a good bar where we could watch the debate tomorrow night in lieu of having access to the boodle.

Now if I could only convince myself that going to bed early was a wise move.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 1, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

It's a proud moment for our wealthy Senators. Friends don't let friends miss a golden payout. America is dead.

Posted by: Out of Their Minds | October 1, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

FINAL BILL PASSES 74:25 as expected

Posted by: Shiloh | October 1, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Citizens paid for my hurricane Wilma damage, and I was very pleased with the results.

frostbitten and a bea c, email me kbertocci at hotmail to confer re hotel rooms...

Make it soon or expect my reply tomorrow morning, because I'm hitting the pillow soon.

Posted by: kbertocci | October 1, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

For the English majors amongst us:

I always loved diagramming, but then I have language logic.

The Wachovia debacle is hitting home: I learned tonight that a friend from who is an employee in human resources anticipates that her job will go away. Her husband's comment was that he knows he's not going to he11 because he's been there this week and he's not going back.

Posted by: slyness | October 1, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

mo, I'm the opposite. I love to visit museums and galleries, but I can't spend so much time looking at each and every artifact in depth. I do a walk through, read some labels, notice what is there, and then I ditch my companions and do a second circuit to look carefully at the stuff to which I feel I need to pay attention.

I'm very lucky in my traveling companions, usually. When I'm with Himself (a ponderer), we're comfortable enough to just split up and meet at the coffee shop at an agreed time. My bestest brother and my Dad need to study every single picture and talk about them, but they need frequent food and potty breaks, and tend to lose attention after a couple of hours (especially if they haven't been fed). My Mum and I go at speed around, have a cup of tea, and then spend the next three hours really studying the stuff we're interested in. It works!

Say, two things I've always wanted to do in DC. Visit the Vietnam Memorial (have done so once) and the Holocaust Museum (never). Can't do either alone, especially the Holocaust. Anybody else want to do that on Saturday mid-day-ish?

Posted by: Yoki | October 1, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Apropos of nothing, here is the latest post from one of my favorite blogs, The Sneeze...


'The F Word'

Driving in my car with my 8-year-old in the back. We're rocking out to an old Cloud Cult album when a particularly sexual, adult-themed song comes on and I skip it.

"Hey! Why'd you skip that?!"

"Because he sings about some adult stuff and it's not for you."

"What does he say?!"

"I can't tell you."

"C'mon, just tell me!"

"If I told you then you'd hear it."

"You can tell me!"


"Does he say 'fart?' He says 'fart' doesn't he."

"Yes. He says 'fart.'"

"I knew it."

Posted by: TBG | October 1, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | October 1, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

It's dead, Jim.

Posted by: Yoki | October 1, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

We're all gonna be billionaires!
Check this out (and I was only working on the AIG bailout).
Think about it in the hundreds of billions...

The Birk Economic Recovery Plan

Hi Pals,

I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a 'We Deserve It =2 0 Dividend'.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bon-a-fide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a 'We Deserve It Dividend'.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So let's assume a tax rate of 30%.

Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?
Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved.
Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads
Put away money for college - it'll be there
Save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
Buy a n ew car - create jobs
Invest in the market - capital drives growth
Pay=2 0for your parent's medical insurance - health care improves
Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean - or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( "vote buy" ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG - liquidate it.
Sell off its parts.
Let American General go back to being American General.
Sell off the real estate.
Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't.

Sure it's a crazy idea that can "never work."

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use th e $85 Billion 'We Deserve It Dividend' more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC.

And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Ahhh...I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

Kindest personal regards,

PS: maybe I've missed something? I guess a loaf of bread could cost a couple of grand? A gallon of gas? Never mind....

Posted by: birk | October 1, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

It says it wants to go for a walk.

Posted by: Boko | October 1, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Boko, now I am happy to toddle off to sleepytime chuckling.

Bob S. - I have been erratically backboodling but I did catch your quit smoking post tonight. Best wishes. That cough really will go away if you can do it. I'm pulling for you! You can do it.

Posted by: Kim | October 1, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, the Vietnam Memorial is a truly inspired beauty, and I say go see it even if you have to go see it alone. Maya Lin was surely struck by the muse when she envisioned this work.

I've been to the Holocaust Museum once. I lasted less than ten minutes.

Posted by: omni | October 2, 2008 12:10 AM | Report abuse
Circa 1985 mashup SteelyDan meets Billie Jean

Posted by: Jumper | October 2, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

birk, dude, check your math. We'd each get $425, not $425,000. Kind of like the stimulus last spring.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 2, 2008 12:33 AM | Report abuse

But I do believe you've described John McCain's tax cuts for the wealthy few...

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 2, 2008 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Well what do you think about Life Alert ? I think its great

Posted by: Harry | October 2, 2008 12:38 AM | Report abuse

math .. it makes a head hurt

kirb krib => crib

Cliff notes...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 2, 2008 1:19 AM | Report abuse

The Vietnam Memorial provides the best views of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. It's impossible now to imagine the site without the Memorial, unlike some others. Maya Lin obviously went to the bother of visiting the site and maybe making some measurements before proceeding with design.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 2, 2008 1:21 AM | Report abuse

McCain throws MoDo from the plane.

Posted by: Boko | October 2, 2008 1:38 AM | Report abuse

Omni - try the Holocaust Museum again but this time go see Daniel's Story. It's much easier to get through and still does a great job of getting the messages across.

Posted by: Aloha | October 2, 2008 3:24 AM | Report abuse

The banks and gov’t offices here became mad houses the couple of days leading to Hari Raya Aildilfitri which was anticipated to be on Oct 1. Since no moon was sighted on the evening of Sep 30, Hari Raya begins today, Oct 2. Banks and gov’t offices are off for 4 days. Hence, the mad rush to get things done before the long holidays.

I’m glad to see that the Senate passed the rescue plan and hope Congress would too. Warren Buffett had said that it doesn’t mean taxpayers would lose money on this plan. There is a chance that a profit could be made. He has a history to talking sense so I’m inclined to believe him.

I don’t think is good to throw away Paulson’s plan and introduce something new. With something new, lawmakers will have to go back and forth looking into the details and debating it. This takes time and time is something you really, really don’t have.

The global market looks like it’s going to explode. There is something called the TED spread, which is the difference between three-month LIBOR (the London Inter Bank Offered Rate which is in euro dollars, also called The Euro Dollar Spread, thus TED) and three-month US Treasury bills. Three-month LIBOR is basically what banks charge each other to borrow money. Typically the TED spread is 50 basis points (0.50%) or less. When it spikes up, it is evidence of distress in the financial markets. The past few weeks, the spread between three-month LIBOR and the Fed funds rate is almost 200 basis points! The last time the TED spread was this high was right before the market crash of 1987.

Posted by: rainforest | October 2, 2008 4:01 AM | Report abuse

Frosti, good luck on your 10-mile run.

I’m so envious of the mega party goers. And dbG’s bring cake, too! I like cake.

Posted by: rainforest | October 2, 2008 4:52 AM | Report abuse

Hey rainforest!! *waving*

I see the Senate was busy last night... Their version of the package adds a little more to the deficit, but at this point that's a heart murmur compared to the bulging aneurysm of the current crisis. And they also passed a Metro funding bill!

And YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY for the Red Sox!!!! *faxin' Sneaks the box score, although I'm sure she and "S" will read the Globe at the airport* :-)

Hope 'Mudge's PC travails are subsiding...

60 hours to the MBPH!!! *almost-feeling-like-a-TGIF-already-and-welcoming-the-brisk-morning-walk-to-the-Dawn-Patrol-staging-area Grover waves* :-))))

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2008 5:02 AM | Report abuse

*faxin' dbg a portable humdior to keep da pretzels fresh, too* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2008 5:03 AM | Report abuse

Hi Rainforest, hi Scotty. You will never ever see me up this early again. Ready to roll. See some of you soon.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 2, 2008 5:05 AM | Report abuse

Hi Scotty!

Hi Bad Sneakers! Have a good trip of DC.

Good morning.

Posted by: rainforest | October 2, 2008 5:44 AM | Report abuse

As you can see I'm boodling out of order ....

I don’t know, birk…. I read a financial newsletter that says :
“A properly constructed Stabilization Plan [Paulson’s Plan] hopefully avoids the worst-case scenario. It should ultimately not cost the taxpayer much, and maybe even return a profit. The AIG rescue that Paulson arranged is an example of how to do it right. My bet is that the taxpayer is going to make a real profit on this deal. We got 80% of AIG, with what is now a loan paying the taxpayer over 12%, plus almost $2 billion in upfront fees for doing the loan. That is not a bailout.”

Posted by: rainforest | October 2, 2008 5:53 AM | Report abuse

I think this gentleman gives a beautifully rational explanation for part of whats going on.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 2, 2008 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. Have a safe trip, Sneaks! I look forward to seeing you and S tomorrow!

I'm here for dawn patrol, Brag, what's my assignment?

Busy day ahead. I go to pick Cassandra up this afternoon. :-)

Posted by: slyness | October 2, 2008 7:01 AM | Report abuse

(waving )Bonjour le Boodle.

Ok Dawn Patrol.

Fly into the sun, chaps. We'll do a one eighty at 5,000 feet and fool the opposition.

Posted by: Brag | October 2, 2008 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Big question is the small BPH tomorrow same place same time as usual?

Posted by: Brag | October 2, 2008 7:21 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | October 2, 2008 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

Slyness, I smiled when I read that you were going to pick Cassandra up; reminds me of my MIL, she used to say she needed someone to "carry her" to the store. I look forward to meeting all of you on Saturday. VintageSpouse will be with me.

Have been "out of pocket", so to speak, with the kitchen cabinet refacing project. We are now slowly putting the room back together, it is time consuming, but looks nice now that it is done.

Have not commented on the bailout, maybe because all of this is too close to home, for us. My husband is confident that we will be OK. and since he does the investing for us, he should know. Unlike most of you all, we are retired and living off of our investments & soc sec, I get nervous....he stays calm.... a good thing.

Posted by: VintageLady | October 2, 2008 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Gesundheit, Anonymous.

Yes, Brag, usual time and place tomorrow. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2008 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Dan Ariely, professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, speaking on Marketplace yesterday, on making the bailout bill acceptable:

"Yes, so I think we need to include revenge in the bill."

Posted by: DNA Girl | October 2, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Important post-MBPH commuting info:


Posted by: Scottynuke | October 2, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Eagle-eye Brag watching the Boodle's six o'clock.

Wolfowitz up to more mischief?

Posted by: Brag | October 2, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Joe Biden had some dental work done recently--becoming long in the tooth, with a ahrpening of his canines? Perhaps a mad scientist has been tinkering with his genome? Or is he really a member of the undead?

I had to laugh last night while my husband was flipping between CNN and MSNBC to hear a remark by blogger James Moore (author, "Bush's Brain" and "The Architect: Karl Rove") on Olberman's show. Moore claimed that tonight Biden would "drain the political lifeblood" out of Palin.

Colorful language (especially with Halloween at the end of the month)!--if one were in Wallachia. Biden and Palin running for vice president of Rumania? Biden a member of the Order of the Dragon?

Sigismund created the Order of the Dragon along with his queen, Barbara of Celje, cousin to Siggie's first wife, Mary. Vlad "Dracula" Tepes was a member of the order, along with his father. Both Mary and Barbara descend from an earlier Hungarian king, Stephen V, my antecedent. All in the family.

But be sure to check for the two characteristic bitemarks and possible bruising on Palin's fair and pale neck as she leaves the podium tonight. Maybe some sticky residue as well. Look closely for the telltale drop of b1ood at the corner of Biden's lips. Bwaahahahaha!

Posted by: Loomis | October 2, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: Brag | October 2, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

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