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A Mixed-Up Economy

My job is to keep everyone calm. We have nothing to fear but fear itself, plus asteroid impacts, mutant airborne Ebola, runaway robotic sentience, and the Earth being transformed by collider-generated strangelets into an undifferentiated gray goo (to paraphrase FDR).

So I don't worry about the stock market. Buy and hold those stocks is my advice. I will not let my stocks go until they're pried from my cold, dead, frozen-by-poverty fingers. FACT: I still haven't sold the Lucent stock I bought nearly a decade ago. (It dwindled to near-nothingness and transmogrified into something different, a bit like soup abandoned in a remote corner of the fridge.)

Obama, obviously reading the A-blog and hearing our bottom-is-nigh message, says stock prices are now at sensible levels and we should buy, buy, buy: "...profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you've got a long-term perspective on it."

As I type with three minutes to the opening bell, stock futures are reportedly up.

A rally would strangle the latest political meme, which is that the stock market is down not simply because the economy is hideous and not simply because major institutions such as banks and auto companies and insurance companies are close to bankrupty and riddled with incompetency, but because the market doesn't like Obama's policies.

The Wall Street Journal floated that yesterday. So, too, has Jim Cramer. And it is a political reality that Obama will, at some point, find himself with full ownership of the economic situation for good or bad. The stock market is a leading indicator of the economy, and if the Dow plunges much further you'll see gradual downward pressure on the president's ionospheric approval ratings. Right now his approval ratings are something like 117 percent, really off the charts. That'll be hard to sustain.

9:35 a.m.: Dow's up 95 points. Dang, shoulda bought at the bottom.

The White House doesn't actually have to worry about Rush Limbaugh. It has to worry about Ben Nelson. He's a conservative Democrat who doesn't much like Obama's budget proposal. In fact there is a new little caucus of conservative Democrats who are unnerved by Obamanomics. Prediction: Some major elements of the Obama plan will get punted to the next year or the year after that.

Nelson says it doesn't make sense to raise taxes during a recession. From Politico: "I have major concerns about trying to raise taxes in the midst of a downturn of the economy....On the one hand, you're trying to stimulate the economy. On the other hand, you're trying to keep money from going into taxpayers' pockets. It's very difficult to make that logic work."

The more basic anti-Obama meme in circulation is: Obama's numbers don't add up. This is an issue fraught with ideology and partisanship, obviously, which makes it all the harder for those of us who barely understand macroeconomics to begin with to make head or tail of what's going on and know who's playing it completely straight. The budget, for example, makes certain fairly optimistic assumptions about the end of the recession and then economic growth over the next few years. How does anyone come up with those numbers? Or is that just arm-waving?

Check out this story from the AP:

"For its part, the administration insisted that it hadn't cooked the books to show greater growth, and thus more tax revenues, in coming years. But the administration forecast is far higher than the projections for growth in the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, of many private analysts.

"On Friday the government said the economy shrunk by a staggering 6.2 percent in the final quarter of last year, much faster than its earlier GDP estimates. And with layoffs piling up and spending drying up, economists expect rough months ahead.

"GDP plays the biggest role in determining the accuracy of deficit forecasts because weaker-than-expected growth swells government payments for such things as unemployment benefits and food stamps and reduces tax receipts.

"In its budget, the administration predicted that the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, will shrink by 1.2 percent this year but will grow by a solid 3.2 percent in 2010. That growth would be followed by even stronger increases of 4 percent in 2011, 4.6 percent in 2012 and 4.2 percent in 2013.

"By contrast, the consensus of forecasters surveyed by Blue Chip Economic Indicators in February predicted that the GDP will fall by a larger 1.9 percent this year and then increase at weaker rates of 2.1 percent in 2010, 2.9 percent in 2011 and 2012 and 2.8 percent in 2013."


Michael Gerson says there aren't enough rich people to pay for Obama's ambitious agenda. Harold Meyerson says unfettered capitalism has been so self-destructive for the past 30 years that there's no choice but to ramp up government supervision and control of the market.

Gerson: "It is wealthy individuals, however, who actually invest their capital in job creation. Most have much less capital than they used to. Under the Obama budget, they would have less still. This does not seem to matter in the economic worldview of the Obama budget. Equality is the goal instead of opportunity or economic mobility. And government, in this approach, is more capable of investing national wealth than America's discredited plutocrats -- meaning successful two-income families, entrepreneurs and professionals."

Question for Gerson: What marginal tax rate on the wealthy is fair? You have to pick a number. Taken to its logical conclusion, Gerson's argument would lead us to cut taxes further on the wealthy. Why tax rich people at all?

Now here's Meyerson:

"Give conservatives credit for their consistency: They attacked Roosevelt as a socialist as they are now attacking Obama, when in fact Obama, like Roosevelt before him, is engaged not in creating socialism but in rebooting a crashed capitalist system. The spending in Obama's stimulus plan isn't a socialist takeover. It's the only way to inject money into a system in which private-sector investment, consumption and exports -- the other three possible engines of growth -- are locked down. Investing more tax dollars in education and research and development is a way to use public funds to create a more competitive private sector. Keeping our banks from speculating madly with our money is a way to keep banking alive."

Question for Meyerson: When do even the "democratic socialists" start to get nervous about "investing" money that they've had to borrow? Obama has proposed a $1.75 trillion deficit for 2010. Does that give you pause? What about $2.5 trillion? Where's your fiscal Rubicon?

10:22 a.m.: Dow up 109 points. WE'RE BACK IN BUSINESS. Start the irrational exuberance pronto!

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 4, 2009; 10:35 AM ET
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Hey Al,

Beyond the absolute scams coming from the Credit Card Industry (20+ Percent Interest rates), 10 year treasury note prices (where many mature folks have now tucked their assets) are dropping in price as the interest rates for those securities are rising on a daily basis.

Higher long-term interest rates will force the prices of houses down further. Also watch balloon and variable rates ratchet up again. This while the government tries to buy-down these same rates.

Reported again today that 1 in 5 homeowners with mortgages are under water, so to speak... they owe more on their mortgage than the property is worth in today's market.

The most important line to watch is the amount of debt that a home owner can carry against the value of the property at which the financial institutions will offer a line. The days of loans against 100% of the property value is long gone as credit lines rise and housing values shrink.

While this is happening, the USA is quickly evolving into a cash economy. The people are wildly putting off purchases--large and small.

The bad news, at some point, will turn into good news. Eventually, the inflation will drive housing prices back up as more young folks entering the home-buying range will have their incomes pushed up, providing cash-ready and "in need of family space" home buyers ready to chase after the attractively priced homes. The attractive part is for the buyer as the housing costs will have been forced back down towards the "shelter" pricing mode.

Prediction, this housing bubble will keep RE-Bursting. For a while. The pressures will drive us down to shelter pricing.

It won't be until after the inflation cycle and ensuing drop in interest rates that we will see a return to a normal housing market.

At this point, the reality is that millions of older Americans who had their savings tied up in their house and who, for the past year or two have been throwing everything they could at their mortgage payments now have literally nothing.

Tons of money and wealth has been sucked out of the middle class in America. My sense is that most of it is off-shore now--never to return.

Finally, banks, that we are now propping up, are holding billions in empty foreclosed-upon property. The price for taking the TARP money should be to surrender the property. Why reward the banks by giving them a windfall on this property when the economy finally turns the corner?

Normal folks with jobs should be allowed to homestead. We need to rebuild communities and folks need affordable places to live.

== weed

Posted by: russianthistle | March 4, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

If formerly-high-priced houses become tolerably priced, does this mean Habitat for Humanity can declare "Job well done!" and close up shop?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 4, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Yikes, weed. That is too cogent and sensible to be a 'First!"

I've been predicting a deflationary spiral for a while. I have also been saying that the entire stock market was an unsustainable Ponzi scheme designed to bankrupt baby boomers out of their retirement savings. I just didn't expect the collapse until another few years.

Seeing as the market cap of the U.S. is roughly half of what it was six months ago, I'd have to say that it didn't go off-shore as much as it never existed in the first place.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

If we actually pulled the plug on Iraq AND Afghanistan (you know that place where commanders on the ground recently said "we have no strategy at this point"), we would be saving billions of dollars a month.

As far as I'm concerned, those bi-partisan idiots who allowed Bush to get us into these fiascos have zero credibility to speak out on fiscal matters.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 4, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Also, weed, with money at a Fed discount rate of 'free', jacking up credit card rates on consumers only counts as usury. Don't get me started.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I think Obama knows exactly what he is doing when it comes to getting the economy going again. The problem, to me, will be our willingness to endure the necessary pain when good times return. These deficits are like enormous student loans. Yes, they are probably worthwhile, but they will, eventually, need to be repaid.

In the meantime I think those of us lucky enough to have investments need to just remain calm. Don't panic. Don't do anything rash. Don't lock in losses unless you really need to. Because in the final analysis that which we do not know overwhelms that which we do know about the future.

I mean, it's called the Dismal Science for a reason.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 4, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Calling it a science is a bit of a stretch.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse


You are absolutely right that much of the asset value went up and went down on paper. BUT, there still was a lot of money that changed hands... trillions. Those trillions are gone.

Take a peek at Dick Cheney's financial position. His assets are off-shore (except for his property on the Eastern Shore of MD which, I hope, will stay on shore).

Cheney is just another plutocrat who wanders in and out of Republican administrations. The Koch family is funding much of the PR battle against Obama's administration's efforts to sort out the financial craziness.

Is there class warfare going on for control of the agenda?

To quote Sarah Palin... "You Betcha!"

Posted by: russianthistle | March 4, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I am usually loathe to take a poke at JA, but stop I say! So what if you lose every dime you had in Lucent? What was someone with your vast lack of wealth doing investing money you cared about losing in an individual stock? What were people with real vast amounts of wealth doing investing it ALL with Madoff? (but that's another rant)

A personal tale of two stocks in the frostfam- Jagged Edge Mountain Gear, which I like to call Mr. F's $4,000 shorts and T-shirt, was one of those "buy what you know" stocks. Female owned company making fabulous technical outdoor wear. The company went under and the stock evaporated about 14 years ago, but I have to say the T-shirt and shorts are still in use. On the other hand ATMOS Energy, a natural gas supplier we invested in when we owned a drafty Victorian and felt like we ought to own some stock since they owned us, has varied in stock price from about $17-$30 a share for 16 years. Never turned into that elusive 10 banger, but with a steady little dividend of .33 a share, and dividend reinvestment, we are still to the good.

If I wanted to generalize our personal experience to the stock market I could say it was all like Jagged Edge and anyone in the market now is crazy, or I could point to ATMOS and say "yawn" it will all work out, just continue to dollar cost average and don't retire at the bottom of the market.

I for one do not fear the Obama induced deficit so much if, and it's a big if, he can push the economy away from the bottom of the ice berg. I've commented before that the credit squeeze is just what we see above the waterline. A higher savings rate is good for us in the long run, not having houses as our primary source of family wealth is a good thing, making major adjustments to the healthcare lack-of-system is not just a good thing but a required thing, getting out of our cars and into very expensive transit systems that are better for the environment is a good thing, and all of this will drive up the deficit. This is the time that we will look back on two decades from now and say either "this would have been possible if we'd done it 20 years ago, but there's no way we can do it now." Or, we can argue around the edges about whether it was the stimulus package, or an apocalyptic event to be named later, that dug us out of this mess. But, at least we'll be dug out.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 4, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Bailey-you should listen to the Tom Ricks interview from Morning Edition this morning.

The whole things is very depressing, but the most depressing part of all- (paraprhasing) Americans will be dealing with the worst foreign policy blunder in American history for decades to come, and the really bad part is that it's not even the most difficult thing Obama has to deal with.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 4, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

A lot of money went into 401(k)s only to evaporate. It's a hidden tax or currency devaluement, depending on how you want to look at it. Times like these make me glad most of my money is tied up in consumer electronics.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I wish I could get my debt ratio balanced out. Sigh. For quite some time now I've been thinking about buying a house to fix up and sell down the road. Now seems like a great time to do that.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 4, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I appreciate the tone of your post on HforH. I do think that Habitat will become a major factor in the struggle to recover neighborhoods that are collapsing under the foreclosure cycle. The stories out of places like Cleveland are absolutely frightening.

In fact, an argument can be made that, without the free access to money during the post-9/11 years, as real middle class incomes dropped in real terms, the deflation would have come much earlier.

By not having a recession earlier, we created a crisis of 100-year scale. (in my opinion).

Posted by: russianthistle | March 4, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Ricks is right. We are yet another empire dashed against the rocky cliffs of the Afgahn Mountains. It seems that Kabul is where imperial hubris goes to die.

Metaphors/cliches that apply:
Bells that can't be unrung.
Tar babies (in the non-racial sense).
The rule of holes.
One-eyed kings.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The "proper" form of the argument isn't that "the market doesn't like Obama's policies," it is that Obama doesn't like the market's policies. This raises two questions. First, just exactly who does the market think it is, to hold such an opinion, given its irrational, thoughless, greedy, suicidal, behavior over the last few years? This is an institution worthy of our respect, that we should listen to its economic opinions and theories? In a pig's eye. And somebody has got to say this to them.

Second, who's running the &^%*%$# country, the damn market, or the govt.(Obama)? What policies would the [expletive delted] market *like* to see the administration present? Who speaks for the market? How can a market that fluctuates 300 or 400 points in a single day a dozen times in the last year because the sun went behind a cloud even command an ounce of respect?

Twenty percent of homeowners are upside-down (the industry term, not so much "underwater") on their mortgages? Yeah? So? It's been this way for quite a while now, but thanks for finally paying attention to what the housing industry has known for a while. As long as all these people keep paying their mortgages, that's not a problem--and after a while they won't be upside-down any more. That's how it works. The only time this is a problem is if they want to sell their houses. If they keep their houses, it isn't an issue. So instead of talking about the 20% who are upside down, just talk about the 1% or 2% who are forced to sell, for whatever reason. The other 18% or 19% aren't at issue, so why even discuss them.

Housing prices have plummeted? Yeah? Who didn't know that a year ago? Where was this headline a year ago? (I'll tell you where it was: it was on page G-1 of the real estate section, where nobody paid any attention to it. Same headline, same facts. No attention.)

And here's what even stranger: in the entire history of this country, there has NEVER, no, not ever, been a better time to buy a house than right now. Mortgage rates are unbelievably low, it is a hellacious buyer's market with a ton of inventory for sale and people just dying to find buyers. Why aren't there headlines exclaiming what a terrific buyer's market this is? If you are a young couple strarting out, or a couple living in a rental unit, you couldn't possibly ask for a better opportunity than right now. AND this year there's that additional $8,000 tax break on a home purchase.

So where is this headline?

Sure, there's a catch, You have to have a job and the income to support the mortgage payment, and reasonably good credit. No d'uh! That's not some horrendous pre-condition, that's what used to be called "normal." *^%$#@&^%$#&^

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, fb.

From what I'm seeing, I get the impression a certain cadre of brass is under the impression they are still working for one Dick Cheney; and are working to undermine the new commander in chief. It might be a good idea for Obama to fire some military muckety mucks for a little group attitude adjustment. And if he really needs a Republican in his cabinet, he would do well to give Gates his walking papers and appoint Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel to replace him. He would make an excellent Sec. Defense.

..and when I heard that McKiernan told Obama that we have no clear mission in Afghanistan I just about hit the roof. That is insane!

Time to bring the Powell Doctrine back, my friends.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 4, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Afghan Mountains. 50-50 shot and I lost.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

yello-a lot of "money" that evaporated from 401ks was illusory. Devaluation follows inflation like night follows day. No one wanted to think of their paper profits that way, instead they spent real money they worked for, or borrowed money they'd have to work for, while buoyed emotionally by feelings of wealth (overlooking the need to lock in profits).

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 4, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

You're absolutely right yellojkt. They don't call Afghanistan the graveyard of empires fer nuthin!

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 4, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Mudge-re your 11:47, well said.

Bailey-I think you're on to something. Gates was a good short term solution, but it's time to move on.

BTW ATMOS is up .49 from the opening this morning. So what? Mudge is right, the "market" needs to take a back seat to good policy. Oops, back down to +.48.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 4, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

India, Britain, Russia. If not a single great imperial power has ever succeeded in taking Afghanistan, what made the US think it would? History is a valuable study in assessing these things.

When Jan Morris was John, she wrote a compelling history of the British Empire (late 60s, early 70s?), during the research for which she interviewed a Pashtun tribesman whose people still tell stories of the rout of the British invasion (The Charge of the Light Brigade stuff). Morris asked him if he thought the same thing would happen if Afghanistan were invaded again. She reports that his reply was a narrowed gaze and a fierce "Yessssss."

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Bailey & Yoki,
Also roughly the high water mark of Alexander the Great's conquests.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, James Morris, as she then was.

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

And even that could not hold, yello.

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I would submit the intent of going into Afghanistan had nothing to do with "taking" the country and had everything to do with "ending" the Taliban's ability to support al-Qaeda.

Not that we managed to achieve that goal either, but anyway...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

For dr, your beloved home province has gained recognition from CNN - with this article,

Posted by: dmd2 | March 4, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The effect is the same, though, Scotty. The only way to rout the Taliban is to "take" the country so completely that there is no taking it back.

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Yoki said:

India, Britain, Russia. If not a single great imperial power has ever succeeded in taking Afghanistan, what made the US think it would? History is a valuable study in assessing these things.

When evaluating the Bush administration's actions, it is important to look through the correct prism. If you look at it through the Cheney prism, they were quite successful.

First of all, history be damned (where BushCo.'s concerned). How could we ever forget this greatest hit: "We make our own reality." Mid-Eastern/SW Asian history meant zero to these clown; they purposefully ignored it and hired an Army of young, clueless flacks to do their deeds.

Forget about the Movie of the Week version of the Afghanistan invasion. The main U.S. purpose in occupying Afghanistan was to erect that trans-caucus oil pipeline. The one thing that never occurred to this band of NeoConservative dolts is that you cannot have a working pipeline across hostile territory; and you cannot tame Aghanistan!

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 4, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Realize that the United States has no intention of "ruling" or even "controlling" Afghanistan. The intent is to stabilize it in a way that keeps the Taliban from regaining power. Whether this is a worthwhile effort is a topic for legitimate debate.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 4, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

And the original intent was to disrupt Al Queda. The 'saving the people from the Taliban' justification came only after the failure to hunt down Bin Laden.

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The battle for Afghanistan was lost the day the field commander asked Rumsfeld for permission and a few extra troops to close the "back door" on bin Laden at Tora Bora. Our initial mission in A-stan was simply to wipe up OBL and gang, and we nearly did it. But having failed (nice going, there, NeoCons; you did a swell job running your war), Bush got his butt bogged down.

So now a general tells Obama we have no mission statement there? What a surprise. The fact is, we haven't had one for four or five years. Why won't the Pentagon say this?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Well, as usual (mostly), I'm with you guys.

I have spent a great deal of my adult life -- more than I've wanted to, but equal to the task -- living on financial fumes. Not all lawyers are gazillionaires. I know how to live leanly and be careful with whatever financial resources I have. I own a condo and a 1997 car. I work out of my home, which saves on commuting costs, directly and indirectly. Not to mention wardrobe costs. So long as the power stays on, I'm able to work as long and as much as I want to. Work is still coming in, and I expect the checks and/or wire transfers to do the same. Outside of a couple of minor deadbeats in my 28 years of practice, that ain't bad.

While I don't like having to live like this on purpose, I do it well. And don't get me wrong. I am not an agoraphobic person. I'm social as all get out, and continue strong friendships and communications all the time, including (in case you hadn't noticed), this Boodle. But at the same time, I make financial decisions for myself and my life choices which work for me. I remain optimistic, which is in my nature anyway, and much of that is due to the guy in the WH. I wish him well, because if he does well, we all do well.

And there we are. I'm still young enough (and Mudge will tell you so, too) to envision new choices to make and new places to explore -- when the finances are in place to do so. Life ain't over yet, even for us senior citizens (love the discounts).

Time for lunch. A lean salad, I think. And an apple.

cya later.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 4, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

We need to either (a.)go after the Taliban with a vengeance and completely destroy them (with exit strategy in place); or (b.) just get the hell out.

This middle-of-the-road nonsense is killing us (and a lot of innocents there).

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 4, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm girl-crushing on ftb.

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I would disagree, Yoki. The Taliban were given the opportunity to turn over al-Qaeda and refused. The resulting invasion was therefore aimed at both groups.

And what RD_P said.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

ScienceDaily (Feb. 27, 2009) — Protection against Ebola, one of the world’s deadliest viruses, can be achieved by a vaccine produced in insect cells, raising prospects for developing an effective vaccine for humans, say scientists at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in San Antonio.

Posted by: laloomis | March 4, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

And I think "Sir Edward Kennedy" has an interesting ring to it...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that Obama is going after wasteful and no-bid contracts, but won't go after earmarks, including the 2 million in the *promotion* of astronomy, in the current Omnibus Spending Bill? Gibbs' explanation this a.m. just doesn't wash, and the memebers of the press pack were jumping on the disparity.

Posted by: laloomis | March 4, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

You know, I have to believe Obama understands all of this; and he is now considering what his next moves will be. What worries me (for him)is that he is putting pressure on some very dark interests (military/industrial complex)in wrapping these disasters up. If it were up to them, we'd be in both countries for life.

Not to sound like a Jesus freak, but I pray often for Obama's continued safety.

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 4, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I would have to agree with the statement that "we have no clear mission" in Afghanistan. "Make it safe for democracy" is an ideal, but it is not a strategy. How're you gonna do that? I don't hold Obama responsible for that yet (Bush had, what, 6 years in which to fail this test? Obama has had only 6 weeks), but the time will come (soon) when we will need to hold him responsible for it. I am confident that this issue has not escaped his attention.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 4, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Sir Teddy this, Sir Teddy that. But I traipse all over the world in some of His and/or Her Majesty's creakiest ships, risking life and limb, and expend god knows how much shoe leather, boot leather, moccasin leather, and even a bit of Keds-leather on behalf of that blue-faced Celtic empire, and do *I* get a knighthood? Hah!

Hah, I say.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I think that Yoki makes an excellent point in that it is certainly the intent of US policy to exert our will in this area. We shouldn't hide behind semantics. The tricky question is whether or not this is a prudent thing to do.

Afghanistan is more a collection of tribal gangs than a coherent nation state. The United States is trying to prevent certain "gangs" from getting the upper hand. And achieving a stable balance between these gangs is very hard.

It is being undertaken because there is a belief that if the Taliban where to regain power, not only would you have another safe haven for AQ, but you would also have a fundamentalist regime dedicated to the kind of horrible abuses, especially against women, that nobody wants to see.

Further, of course, the linkage between Afghanistan and Pakistan is very close. And much closer than it was before the initial botched attempt to remove AQ.

The fear is, given the porous border and general instability of the region, if the Taliban gains strength in Afghanistan, there is a good chance it will succeed in Pakistan as well.

And Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Further, Muslim fundamentalists controlling nukes would certainly bother India greatly.

And they have nukes too.

Now, as I said, there is a legitimate and honorable position that we should just let things evolve without our influence.

My point is that this position is not without risk.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 4, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse,0,429110.story

Today's Orlando Sentinel explains that "Thousands of top engineers are needed by 2011 at the Missile Defense Agency, an arm of the Pentagon in charge of developing an integrated U.S. missile-defense system for the country. The agency is moving its operations from its current home in northern Virginia to Huntsville, Ala."

So large numbers of redundant Shuttle workers may migrate to Huntsville, perhaps blighting the Cape Canaveral area's prospects for attracting space businesses. The Florida legislature is paying attention.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 4, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Loomis - the difference is that going after earmarks will annoy and alienate members of Congress whose support Obama will dearly need in the legislative battles to come. While going after no-bid contracts just annoys contractors. These are two radically different situations.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 4, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

They're waiting to give you a baroncy, Mudge, as soon as that 1,000 year credit check clears.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 4, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

On investments, and on-kit for a change, I respectfully disagree that there is any such thing as “locking in your losses” unless you are going to incur an expense for cashing in a certain investment rather than holding to term.

If the discussion is about a specific investment, there is no point in continuing to hold it if there is no reasonable prospect of a turnaround. My own example comes from one of my very few individual corporation investments. $500 in Nortel at $25/share. At that point it was 1/5 of its historical high - what a bargain, right? After settling well under $5 for a long period I finally decided to let it go last fall.

If the discussion is about wider holdings, it can make also sense to redistribute from aggressive to defensive positions or vice versa, with the caveat that market timing is extremely difficult. There can be an issue over timing of cashing in a stock loss so that it can coincide (and offset) a capital gain, but that is usually not what is referred to in locking in losses.

Posted by: engelmann | March 4, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

And I even *told* Wellington it would come to this. Told 'im, just as plain as day.

"Just you watch, Artie," I sez (that was his real name, Art Wellseley. Well, Arthur, I guess, but I called him Artie). "When it comes time to pass around the honors, you'll see 'oo gets the short end of the old broadsword," I sez.

"Never mind, Mudge, Old Sock," 'e sez t' me. "Say, would you ride over yonder to that farmhouse at Hougemont and see how the lads are doing? See if you can find me a bit of biscuit and maybe a spot of cream for me tea, wot?"

Well, I doesn't hafta tell yers wot happened after that.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

This topic is giving me flashbacks to the 80's, and seeing the clips on TV of the Russians in Afganistan, and stuggling - same place, different war - same result? It also brings to mind long term consequences of actions did those helping to aid the forces fighting against the Russians consider the long term aspects of that decision. Seems to me history is full of short term decision making that initiated long term problems.

Perhap the decision should not be to defeat the Taliban/Al Queda but to create an environment where they cannot thrive - sorry joining RD's Pollyanna parade today.

I have stalled long enough must get back to stripping wallpaper - not something I like to do anyways especially when all of you are having such in interesting discussion.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 4, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The honest-to-goodness answer is that nobody knows where the economy is headed. From Washington Post reporters Shin and Irwin on Feb. 28:

The revised GDP figure helped stoke skepticism among economists who say the White House's projections for the nation's recovery are too rosy. Based on those projections, Obama said he would slash the deficit in half by the end of his term. In its budget outline, the administration predicted that the economy would shrink 1.2 percent this year and grow 3.2 percent next year. By contrast, the consensus among private forecasters is that the economy will shrink 1.9 percent this year and grow 2.1 percent next year.

One thing is certain is that Joel has bought into Obama's bobbing comment yesterday. Obama's comment was quite disingenuous. It doesn't take a rocket scientist--perhaps Jim Cramer, though, or Ali Velshi--to note that the stock market has slid about 2900 points since Obama was elected. That's not bobbing, more akin to cratering. And it walks and squawks like a trend, it must be a trend. How long the anemic market will last is anyone's guess.

Posted by: laloomis | March 4, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

While RD is much closer to the ground on this issue than I am, al-Qaeda vs. Taliban is a distinction without a difference. The one valid component of one of the many mutually contradictory Bush Doctrines was that nations that harbor terrorists are the moral equivalent of terrorist states. Notwithstanding the non-sequitor extension of Bush Doctrine 3.b.ii into Iraq, deposing the Taliban was the easy part. Keeping the roaches from crawling back out when the lights go back off is the Sisyphean task.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Hougoumont. Damned mapmakers never could spell worth a damn. And it weren't no damned "chatooey," neither.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

On strategy, the problem with Afghanistan as a mission is that there is no ongoing compelling national interest for the US or any of the other nations involved (beyond the disruption of the Al Qaeda safe haven).

Posted by: engelmann | March 4, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

dnd2 - that's the thing, isn't it? The intent is to win the battle for hearts and minds. And dropping cluster bombs isn't a very effective way of doing this. Which is why there is a perceived need to put more soldiers in place.

Realize that I am not saying any of this is a good idea. I'm just trying to explain my understanding of policy and the reasons behind it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 4, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Sir Teddy is a pretty meager consolation prize for Mr. President.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

And contractors don't live in Congressional districts and won't complain to their representatives in Congress when they are being squeezed? So it's better to have heat from the bottom than heat from the top?

ABC's Jake Tapper from today's W.H. presser:

TAPPER: Secretary Vilsack a few moments ago spoke about saving $18 million in savings by modernizing financial systems, $400,000 by canceling a consulting contract. And he spoke very movingly about everybody's tightening their belts in this nation, therefore, the government needs to do so. You probably know where I'm heading with this. The president is going to sign a bill -- the spending bill -- which contains $8 billion in earmarks. Democrats in the Senate are now calling for the president, if not make an effort to have it stripped in the Senate, to veto the bill. Evan Bayh has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today. I don't fully understand this argument that this is -- we're moving forward. This bill hasn't even come to the president's desk yet. If you guys are really serious, why not take the bull by the horns and get this stuff out of the omnibus spending bill?

One of several Tapper follow-ups:

TAPPER: I guess -- you make it sound as if the legislation is written and it's just waiting for him to sign, and it's not. It's being worked on right now on Capitol Hill. It's in the progress of being assembled. So it's not that he comes to office and this is outstanding business.

Posted by: laloomis | March 4, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

As usual, RD_P expresses the conundrum more articulately and intelligently than I can (and, you know, actually has some real information to work from!) and I appreciate it.

I have been working with groups working with Afghan women for 20 years (at some peril) and my own view is that it is essential for regional stability and hopefully, one day, economic improvement in people's daily lives, and for women and girls, that the Taliban be destroyed. The alternative, given it's location, is all the consequences RD articulates.

I just don't know that it is possible to achieve that by military means. The associated losses are so horrendous, and the effectiveness of the approach so dubious, that we are soon going to come to the place where something else will be required. I, of course, advocate the old development-hand way; education, aid, political influence, police actions.

If war is the way, then the victor will in fact need to occupy and dominate the country's politics for generations. Or so I believe.

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

englemann, just a thought to add to your assertion, one must also factor in the real value of the assets at different time points.

Recovering your nominal value on an investment over a span of 5 years may be foolish (or better less optimum) if one were presented with better options.

You may be considered stubborn or wise, based on assumptions and actual outcome.

May I add that an investor who only buys the securities rather than participating in the options market is limited to only part of the investment equation.

The downturn was fully expected and even called to the month by many analysts. I have to say that they are very happy people right now. There interest wasn't to just be able to say "I told you so."

Posted by: russianthistle | March 4, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Certainly some contractors will complain. These are lobbyists, who are always a thorn in the side. But resisting lobbyists is a whole lot easier than dealing with vindictive members of congress. Eliminating earmarks makes members of congress look bad to their constituents.

Again, not saying this is the right decision. But it is a strategic decision that Obama has made. He has chosen to pick his fights carefully.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 4, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Hence the lingering suspicion that a lot of our economic downturn was the result of an epicly massive application of the Greater Fool Theory. Particularly to anyone involved with mortgage backed securities.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I have a plan for Afghanistan but my ego's too small today to write it down.

Obama's being squeezed for being too gloomy on one hand, and yet if he starts reassuring folks too much the economists will go berserk. Such as Krugman and Reich.

As for earmarks, transparency should at least lead us to build bridges to somewhere rather than nowhere. More transparency. Earmarked bridges to somewhere are in line with recovery efforts.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 4, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Most of the no-bid contracts were crony-enriching giveaways to well-connected Republican leeches in the guise of privatization. Can you say Halliburton and Blackwater? Only logical that Obama would want to clear that nest of vipers first.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - I think you are very, very correct. Military action isn't the final solution. Failing to recognize this is what did Afghanistan in after the Soviets were expelled. Reagan lost interest. And this is the mistake Bush did. In 2003 when it looked like we had eliminated AQ, Bush declared victory and moved onto Iraq.

Great Big Mistake.

Now, for some reason, I am not invited to Obama's strategy sessions, but my sense is that he wants boots on the ground to stabilize the situation so that those all-important humanitarian efforts have a chance to succeed. And then, here being the important part, continue.

It's like how you gain control of a crime-ridden portion of a city. You put in police so that the social workers aren't shot up.

At least this is the strategy.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 4, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else think the Nationals are more than a little off their rockers to fiddle with their mascot at this point in time?

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals have a mascot? Were there no deck chairs left to rearrange?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Wow, lotsa backboodling to catch up on.

First, the call-outs:
yellojkt, that might have been me starting the Chris Moore thing, years ago now. I've been reading him since "Practical Demonkeeping," and the guy continiously makes me laugh and weep at the same time. "Love Nun" is very Hiaasen and a good start (along with "Lust Lizard of Meloncholy Cove"), though I prefer the Pratchettesque supernatural thread of "Demonkeeping," "Bloodsucking Fiends," and "You Suck." Having said that, I think "Lamb" may be his masterpiece, and is the one I recommend above all others, if you're only going to read one Chris Moore book. But that's just me.

*Tim, I appreciate being made an example of, and of course, you're right that auto parts are *very* applciation-specific (Henry Ford notwithstanding), and if I ever ask you for one as a gift, I'll be very precise about what I want - probably down to the part number. An alternator for a '63 split-window Corvette StingRay w/ 327 is very different from that required for an '03 Corvette Z06, these parts are specific, but not interchangeable. Having said that, if you went through the trouble to have the alternator case polished (whichever was needed for my application), so that it gleams when I open the hood, that's a very nice touch and would make me appreciate it - and you - more.

End of Pt 1.


Posted by: -bc- | March 4, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Pt 2.

Joel - all of the items you listed and more are all calculable risks of living. This, as has been noted many times, is invariably fatal.

A question, I believe, is the *quality* of a given life, and how we live it. Are we living -- striving, doing, laughing, loving, serving, learning, sharing, etc. - or simply existing?

Are we thinking of and providing for others, being responsible citizens and humans, taking time to be the best we can be in all facets of our lives, to appreciate others and whatever we're blessed with?

I can answer these for myself. I am *not* the best person I can be and find that my life is a continual struggle in every respect. Still, I'm trying to be a good father and a good man and be fulfilled on my own terms and to value who love and care about me and to be sure they know and feel what they mean to me (even when they tell me things I don't want to face myself), and to be happy with my life, as imperfect and difficult as it can be.

But I'm not going to blame that on how much money I do or don't have, or on how much anyone else does, for that matter. Sometimes money equals time, and some time on this mudball *is* all I have to spend, and I intend to spend it well (though I struggle with that, too.).

I think that the economic ocean has waves and troughs and tides and weather, on large scales and small. I do not require a yacht with a helicopter pad nor a dock at a beautiful harbor on the Med, though I can appreciate them (and if you have one, I'd be glad to visit!). I have my little dinghy, and that's all. Hopefully, I can give my kids a bit more boat for their launches, and enjoy putting or paddling around with the people in my life (including you, dear Boodlers). Maybe get a little scrimshaw done, and fiddle with the engine and sump pumps to keep things going until I have time (and maybe money) to rebuild that old big wood Chris Craft I've had an eye on.

Sorry for the length and usual lack of coherence.


Posted by: -bc- | March 4, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Back at you, Yoki!!!!

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 4, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

For between $3.8B (Democrat number) to $7.7B (Anti-tax org) Obama buys the Congress collaboration on a $410B budget. For a rational, strategic thinker like Obama this 1 to 1.9% “tax” on his budget is perfectly acceptable and no one should be surprised by his cool reaction by now. And maybe earmark money could be spent quickly, thus adding to the stimulus package.
That the same thing sends McCain into a shirt-tearing, spitting and stuttering frenzy isn’t surprising either.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 4, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse


Your posts remind me of the sentence structure popularized by Prof. Irwin C Corey.

(One of my favorites)

... but, his was meant to be funny.


Foremost Authority?

RD, well said. I have worked for contractors on and off for 30 years. There were some amazingly wasteful moments, but I'm keeping the money.

It seems that you sit at home watching for evidence of Obama Gotchas. It may be that it would have been nice for the Bush administration to have properly labeled their contracting efforts so it would be easier for folks to identify the valuable ones.

As a side note, March 5th is the annual "Dining Out for Live" event at over 100 restaurants in the area.

I know all too well that these are tough times for restaurants and fund raising for nonprofits. Please consider supporting both efforts with a dining out evening at a friendly local restaurant. Your support will help those folks who donate their time year around for those who cannot take care of themselves as well as they should.

Food and Friends makes daily deliveries of freshly prepared meals and groceries to 1,000's of folks who, because of the medical conditions, are unable to take proper care. Those years that I was delivering food each week, I could tell that a happy greeting and a short conversation was almost as valuable as the great food.

BTW, the food is great!!!! The kitchen staff and volunteers knock out an amazing diet tailored to each client. For you district people, I want to let you know that Mayor Fenty spends a large amount of his time on holidays supporting the effort. Also, Marriott Corporation amongst many other local businesses provide huge support for this community effort.

If you are good in the kitchen (OR BAD, but have energy) OR you can offer up a couple of hours a week to make deliveries in the District metro area, please consider contacting and learn more.

AND, dine out on Thursday. It's a WIN/WIN/WIN. ... and no dishes.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 4, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Screech,perhaps we could invite him/her to the 2nd annual MBPH.

Mascots are so cool and so underappreciated,walking around in that custome all day must be hot.Entertaining kids and grownup kids(me included)is a fulltime goofball job. Where does one apply for such a job?

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 4, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

That's Dining out for LIFE... March 5th... Be there!

Posted by: russianthistle | March 4, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Yoki you expressed so well what I was thinking about, but could not express considering the role of women in Afganistan or for that matter a great many lesser developed countries.

It seem to me that if we (western nations) are going to promote democracy - we should ensure the governments that we set up/prop up/fight for are indeed democratic and honest and not just the lesser of two evils which will cause problems down the road. Also lets agree that establishing democracy is a very difficult process that takes time, economic stability and support.

None of the western democracies emerged easily or without problems and those who sought to defeat democracy.

I have my fingers crossed that Obama will be able to see the long term implications and will act accordingly - I had little faith that GWB saw anything past the next day.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 4, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Maureen Dowd today jumped on McCain's pork barrel bandwagon today.. To quote myself:

"Maureen then pads half her column with the full list of McCain's top ten pork projects including things such as astronomy promotion, but he seems particularly incensed by anything having to do with agriculture, livestock or wildlife, singling out things that have to do with grapes, honey bees, pigs, crickets, catfish, and beavers (insert Beavis and Butthead snickering here)."

The McCain porktweet seems to be such a hit it is now a daily feature. Yesterday he attacked blueberries, catfish, lighthouses (in Maine of all places, sheesh), and a Discovery Center, Today's list so far singles out sea turtles, fairgrounds and science museums.

John, Proxmire called and he wants his schtick back.

And for the literary types, Dowd had all sorts of King Lear allusions.

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | March 4, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't Obama explain why he's going after wasteful no-bid contracts but not earmarks? Well, assuming the truth of the sentence, perhaps it is because Obama has already shown a reluctance, rare in a politician, to explain the obvious. We saw this with the stimulus bill, where it took a while for him to point out that stimulus means spending.

Here, the obvious goes like this. Beyond the fact that they both involve government money, wasteful contracts and earmarks are not the same thing. There is no contradiction in focusing on one or the other.

A contract occurs when one party agrees to pay another party money for a good or service. Each party receives a benefit. Implicit in government contracts, which are paid with the people's money, is the notion that the benefit to the other party is not unreasonably large - that is, that the government does not allow other parties to gain an unreasonable or unjustifiable profit at the expense of the taxpayer, and disproportionate to the goods or service provided. That would be bad. In theory the government ensures this will not occur by creating and following practices and procedures designed to minimize the risk of unfair and wasteful contracts. Over the last few years these practices and procedures, when they existed, were often observed in the breach - that is to say, not. Making contract and procurement oversight a priority ensures that the government is not the victim of fraud or waste, is a quick way to recoup some money, and overcomes embarrassing publicity.

Earmarks are provisions in an appropriations bill designed to ensure that a particular sum goes to a particular thing. They are introduced by members of Congress, and proposed because that legislator believes the earmark will be of benefit to his or her constituent. This is a legislator's job. Legislators are elected to represent their districts, and part of that representation is to fight for federal resources to be allocated to your district. Federal money is not allocated in a vacuum - the government doesn't say, I'm going to give Oklahoma a bunch of money. It is always allocated for specific purposes. Earmarks are an extremely specific form of allocation. One person's earmark is another's job creation program. Often, earmarks do not appear worthy of federal support. This poses a problem for any President. He doesn't introduce the earmark, and he may not like it. However, he has no line item veto. Unless a President is willing to entirely reject an appropriations bill, there isn't much he can do. The bully pulpit will only take you so far, and right now there are is a lot of competition for topics. Rejecting an appropriations bill may have grave and swift consequences for the citizens whose money you're trying to protect with your veto.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 4, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

bc - if that's incoherence, I'd like me some of that.

I'm with dmd. I don't know what the answer is about Afghanistan, the military industrial complex, AQ and all the other conumdrums of extricating ourselves, but at least I've got faith that Obama isn't creating his "own reality", in the words of whatever feckless Bush aide that said that...I have faith that he's looking at the problems dispassionately and realistically and if anyone's got a shot at cleaning up these foreign policy blunders, he does.

It's such a relief to feel that way about the CIC.

Posted by: Kim1 | March 4, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

scc - that would be "conuNdrums"

Posted by: Kim1 | March 4, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

McCain is the classic enemy of the good in pursuit of the perfect. He assumes that if the earmark process were eliminated that the trajectory of the budget would change significantly, both in purpose and amount. Fool. We would still need science, crops, buildings, parks....research on obscure diseases. Let's just make it more transparent and have a discussion of national priorities. It's not the pork, it's the sausage making done by public servants who wield power not through compelling ideas but longevity, and willingness to enrich their district/state at the expense of the everyone else. (Full disclosure-as a mayor I think bacon could be my favorite flavor, but we've never had any so I couldn't say for sure.)

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 4, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

bc, you've had your eye on an old wood Chris Craft you'd like to rebuild?


Jeez, and I used to think you were more-or-less sane.

We need to have a little talk, before you get *really* crazed and turn

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Spot on Ivansmom.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 4, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

There seems to be a false perception that the Stimulus isn't working if the economy doesn't start improving month over month. The stimulus package may be doing its job if all it manages to do is slow and lessen the downturn.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 4, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Here's Evan Bayh's op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal--Bayh who campaigned for Obama in Bayh's home state of Indiana and who was in contention to be Obama's running mate before the Denver Democratic Convention:

"But the bloated omnibus requires sacrifice from no one, least of all the government. It only exacerbates the problem and hastens the day of reckoning. Voters rightly demanded change in November's election, but this approach to spending represents business as usual in Washington, not the voters' mandate."

Democrat Russ Feingold is standing with Bayh, and Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Bill Nelson of Florida are on the fence as far as their votes because of the Cuba provisions within the bill.

Posted by: laloomis | March 4, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

As I understand it, the real problem with the federal budget isn't earmarks, or pork, or defense, but entitlement payments. That's why a serious effort to reform health care is so important, and why we have to look closely at Social Security and have the will to do what needs to be done.

Raise your hand if you're glad we didn't privatize Social Security accounts...Yes, that's what I thought. The idea makes me shudder now, and it scared me then.

Posted by: slyness | March 4, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, constituency may not be just geographical... and an earmark may be supported by a number of members of Congress.

I like the thought, bridge to somewhere...

Posted by: russianthistle | March 4, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to endorse Ivansmom's 2:10 post, and add that one can make a pretty good argument that McCain is *not* properly servicing his constituency (Arizona) by disdaining to use earmarks or otherwise get projects for his state. In effect, he's leaving all the dirty work and heavy lifting to Arizona's other senator.

Which isn't to say that there aren't a lot of abuses, and there ought to be some way of monitoring and cutting especially gratuitous program requests.

But basically, it comes down to this: there are lots of worthy programs, and how else are they going to get funded?

I think it was Olberman last night who pointed out that in the list of the top 20 earmark requestors, 8 of them were Republicans.

I think Obama still has an ace up his sleeve: at a certain point, if the GOP becomes too obstructionist, he can cut the budget and/or trim bills by eliminating all Republican earmarks (but keeping those of the Dems), and then saying, "Look, if you don't want to support the legislation, fine. But don't come ask me for money and then vote against my bill."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

slyness, if we can't understand earmarks, then we face a huge challenge understanding and coping with the administrative and treatment concepts of health care.

I look forward to it!

Posted by: russianthistle | March 4, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The other thing about McCain on the question of earmarks is that he seems to be outnumbered approximately 98-to-1 on this question. So I have to ask, why is anyone paying any attention to him? Is there even just one other senator who is 100% anti-earmark? If so, who? And when you find him/her, then adjust the count to 97-2.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

WaPo a week or two had a great two page bar graph of the budget broken down into revenues and expenses. You could eliminate all non-defense discretionary spending and half of defense spending and still not have enough to cover the entitlements. That is not a sustainable revenue model. Income has to go up or costs go down and you are not going to get there from here by axing every project involving a silly named critter. McCain is demagoging and barking up the wrong tree.

In a way, we have put Social Security into the stock market because those trillions bailing out the banks are going to come from somewhere eventually and money is fungible. I just hope Barack or his successor gets around to solving the Medicare crisis before I'm deciding on cholesterol thinners versus cat food at the grocery store.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, russianthistle - but it is still a proposal for specific spending made by a member of Congress and thus on its face not something over which any President, or even any other legislator, has any real control.

Arguably, the farther away an earmark is from the citizens who elected a legislator, the more suspect it is in terms of legitmate spending versus special-interest dealing.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 4, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Weed, you are absolutely right.

Heaven knows I'm all for efficiency and effectiveness in governmental operations. But the time comes when we have to put aside all the obstructionist BS and realize that we're in this together and if we don't hang together, we'll all hang separately - alone, cold, and starving.

If you don't pay the taxes, you don't get the services. And someday you'll need and want them, regardless of what you think right now.

Posted by: slyness | March 4, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Tom Coburn, Mudge. The esteemed Senator from Oklahoma is a valiant foe of earmarks, along with virtually everything else you think of as a legislator's job. He is also a big fan of government transparency. Coburn is completely consistent. He opposes earmarks and does not ask for them (thus, in my book, not fulfilling part of his job as a legislator). He also frequently opposes bills which he perceives as requiring spending. Again consistent, he doesn't introduce much. I don't much like him but I do admire him.

The Oklahoma delegation has one Democrat (who tends not to vote with his party) and the rest Republicans who routinely rant about earmarks. They collectively asked for $66 million in earmarks in this budget. Coburn submitted no requests and the Democrate only asked for about $1.5 million. That leaves those other Republicans looking a trifle inconsistent. They had previously asked for $54 million in the defense budget.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 4, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Also, I hate to interject a little Constitutional law into the discussion, but according to Article 1 section 7, it is the Congress, and specifically the House of Reps, that is responsible for creating the budget and submitting funding legislation, with concurrence of the senate, and not the Exec. branch.

So one might argue that Congresspersons submitting earmarks are more or less doing the jobs they are Constitutionally mandated to do.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Do I know how to stop a conversation dead in its tracks or what? Nothing like interjecting Article 1 Section 7 when ya want some peace and quiet.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Hate to interupt your siestas, but is anybody else having a lot of trouble with the front page displaying properly today? This morning I had op-ed and talk/religion/global columns being overlapped. Right now that Apple ad isn't displaying properly and the top news photo is half overlapping and flipping above and below it in a cyclical manner. New and weird.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Most of the no-bid contracts were crony-enriching giveaways to well-connected Republican leeches in the guise of privatization. Can you say Halliburton and Blackwater? Only logical that Obama would want to clear that nest of vipers first. - yellojkt

Gawd, don't get me started on the privatization of the military!

*steam billows from Bailey's ears*

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 4, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Same problem here, 'Mudge... I think Apple insisted there be no "exit" button for that ad. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Privatization of the military makes me berserker, too, Bailey.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

*picturing 'Mudge in a Frazetta-like pose with battleax and horned helm*


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Berzerker's right, 'Mudge!

Posted by: BaileyReynolds | March 4, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

We are giving short shrift to Joel's other fears. Once the Nanotechnology Ultimate Techy Solvent (NUTS) escapes from the skunk works (which McCain opposes because skunks are nearly as funny as bears and beavers) we are all goners in a way that makes Steve McQueen battling The Blog look like a pickle juice spill on aisle three.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Low blow, Scotty. You've met my wife. She's no battleax.

Oh, wait...

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

SCC: The Blob. A Freudian slip of massive proportions.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Steve McQueen objected to blogs?

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Pssst, 'Mudge -- that was your cue to make a blue bottom remark, not to bogart my misundstanding schtick... :-)

yello, yer never gonna live that one down. Although the Blogosaurus WOULD make a heckuva movie monster.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Sorry yello, didn't mean to pile on.

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

All the news is about all the stock selling that is driving the stock prices and ID average down. But for every sale there is a buy on the other side. Who is buying and accumulating all those shares at the bargain prices? If they have deep enough pockets and can hold out for a few years they will be enriched plenty.

Saw on the crawl this morning that the CEO of GE bought $400K worth of GE stock with his own money on the open market yesterday at $8+ per share to show confidence in GE's share value. The stock promptly dropped to $7+ and is currently trading at $6+ with 700,000 shares trading hands? What does the investor class know?

Posted by: bh72 | March 4, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

And from the Completely Unsurprising Statistics Dept --

100 mph speeding citations, case study: Oregon, 2006-2007. Source:
• 79% of the cited drivers were male.
• 81% of the citations were issued to drivers on freeways, and 19% were issued on secondary state highways.
• The highest percentage age group for male drivers was 20-24 (34%) followed by age group 15-19 (21%).
• For all violators cited, 51% involved drivers ages 15-24.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm just upset that my typo is funnier than the rest of my Algonquin Roundtable quality quip.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Ooops, sorry, Scotty. Sometimes I get my schticks confused. I think it was the reference to my horny helmet that did it.

Although I gotta admit, my resemblance to some of those Frazetta warriors is pretty uncanny.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I do notice the resemblance to the guy on the right.¤t=frazetta001.jpg

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

bh -- did you have a birthday? I could swear you were "bh71", but now "bh72"?

If so, congratulations.

If not, excuse brain that works in strange ways.

Posted by: nellie4 | March 4, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim is correct that I would prefer laboratory-made ruby over natural, but only for the assurance that my adornment did not cause suffering:

However, I do not dislike all things pendulous - it depends on where they are intended to be hung. Earlobes are fine, but anywhere below chin level is problematic.

Posted by: ScienceSpouse | March 4, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"brain that works in strange ways"

Yer in good company here, Nellie.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, Steve McQueen's dislike of blogs was best displayed in one of his greatest movies, "The Microsoft Seven." In it, he and Ewell Gibbons are itinerant IT professionals who team up to recruit a group of five additional IT programmers to go into a small Mexican village and rebuild its shattered server system, which has been ravaged by a wandering band of hackers led by Eli Stone. McQueen, Gibbons and Co. teach the Mexican villagers how to set up and administer their own Outlook e-mail servers (including those all-important SMPT and POP files) as well as archival files for old e-mails. [The other members of the team include Our Man Flint, the Man From Uncle, vigilante Paul Kersey, an unknown Hungarian tennis player, and a grade-B actor sooooooo obscure that even Ken Jennings from Jeopardy can't remember his name (Brad Dexter, nya nyanny nya-ya).]

When Eli Stone and George Michael ride into town, a big battle ensues between the marauding hackers and the Microsoft Seven and the poor but proud and brave villagers, who manage to isolate the servers and use clever real-time back-up strategies to defeat the evil hackers. At the end of the movie four of the Microsoft Seven are killed heroically, and the Hungarian tennis player decides to stay in the village an open up a laundry.

Steve and Ewell ride off into the sunset, in search of blue-eyed scallops.

It has a really outstanding soundtrack.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Now THAT'S the 'Mudge I know! *ROFLMAOPMP*

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 4, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Funniest thing I've read for weeks, mudge!

Posted by: -dbG- | March 4, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I gotta stop drinking that Sterno at lunch.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 4, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

In January, I was quite prepared to let my 401K ride, in the hopes that in 10 years, it would have recovered. However, now that my circumstances have changed, and my 401K contributions will cease abruptly, and I might have to start drawing from it much sooner than I would like, I have moved it completely out of stocks. I couldn't deal with losing thousands of dollars week after week...was afraid it would dwindle to nothing by April. So I've become part of the problem, but not by choice...

What bugs me is blaming Obama for this. WTF? If GWB or McCain was in charge, I bet the economy would be much, much worse.

Posted by: seasea | March 4, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey frostbitten, the Food and Dining section has a piece on pistachio stir-fry. You like pistachio, right?

Posted by: engelmann | March 4, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

boodle question

Is there a name for the black chunks of ice that fall off of 18 wheelers?

I had to make a quick lane changed today to miss a big sucker

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 4, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, re your 4:21.

Brilliant, just brilliant.

Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: slyness | March 4, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Couple of quick thoughts - can someone define an "earmark" for me, please?

Mudge, I doubt I could turn into you for at least another 850 years or so, but you ain't the only one with an ancient British sports car waiting for some fine day/year/decade to work on (I did manage to store it at someone else's house, at least). It cost me next to nothing and, in the long tradition of Brit sports cars investments, has retained its purchase value.

My favorite Steve McQueen movie: LeBlogs

My favorite quote from the film: "A lot of people go through life doing things badly. Blogging’s important to men who do it well. When you’re blogging, it... it’s life. Anything that happens before or after... is just waiting."


Posted by: -bc- | March 4, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Straight from the horse's (OMB) mouth:

"OMB defines earmarks as funds provided by the Congress for projects or programs where the congressional direction (in bill or report language) circumvents Executive Branch merit-based or competitive allocation processes, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the Executive Branch to manage critical aspects of the funds allocation process. "

It's any project specifically identified in legislation rather than for a general program. Sounds like a lot of things could qualify.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

My favorite McQueen movie is The Great Facebook Escape, where the group of Facebook members plan an elaborate escape from Facebook before their privacy rights are forever detained.

Posted by: engelmann | March 4, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Hah, Mudge. Ha ha. And bc too.

greenwithenvy, there are names for those black chunks of ice but none would get through the filter.

Frostbitten, I have a pistachio ice cream recipe with your name on it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 4, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Discover Magazine on McCain and astronomy.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget 'The Ethernet Cable Affair' where McQueen masterminds the robbery of Marissa Mayer's condo only to get caught by a sexy network administrator.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Ooooh, pistachio ice cream. Do tell!

I'll throw in my wasabi pistachio recipe, also good with almonds.

Posted by: -dbG- | March 4, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I might have just cootied your brain long ago, yello.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 4, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

This is what earmark or ear mark means to me. I have three from long ago and far away:


They come from the Ayrshire Dairy family herd.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 4, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Genius, Jumper. Pure genius.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I have three earmarks, too - one on the right and two on the left. In them I will dangle the ruby-and-diamond encrusted pendant earrings I will ask ScienceTim for, at the next gift-giving occasion.

With luck, he'll get me some fused glass studs.

Posted by: ScienceSpouse | March 4, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh! Two SciSpouse sightings. With shiny sparkling words, too. What fun. AND, she knits!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 4, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

> With luck, he'll get me some fused glass
> studs.

ScienceSpouse, have you back-Boodled? You comment seems so . . . familiar. :-)

Posted by: -dbG- | March 4, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

A good friend has a rambunctious springer spaniel who was a rescue. Not long after he came into the family, she was brushing him and managed to drop one of her diamond stud earrings, which he promptly swallowed. Everyone can imagine her dismay. Her husband was beside himself: he paid for them.

So she followed the dog around for a couple of days, picking up everything in a baggie and checking it out. The stud did come through. She cleaned it to her best ability and then took the pair to the jeweler's, asking them to clean them again. She didn't tell them why.

Thankfully, the dog suffered no ill effects. We all still laugh about it, though.

How's that for an on-kit story?

Posted by: slyness | March 4, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse


Most excellent, 'Mudge!

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I think that movie was based on an old Japanese classic Mudge; "The Seven Arpanetters".
An American storyteller recently reprised the story (classics are recyclable, aren't they?) as "The Twitterers of the Calla".

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 4, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

dbG, ya caught me. Back-Boodling is only for when my mind is not entirely on work. Or for seeing what ScienceTim is up to. Or just for yanking his chain.

Posted by: ScienceSpouse | March 4, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, I think the kit was something to do with the economy. I do feel like your friend though when I open my savings statements, looking for diamond studs and usually lately just getting, um, other stuff.

Ivansmom, psst! fb doesn't actually like pistachio. I was doing my bit for men everywhere to perpetuate the stereotype that we can't remember personal details. Set a low enough standard and you will never fail to meet expectations.

Posted by: engelmann | March 4, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

And don't forget the lesson of the day, ladies: real gems come at a cost of HORRIBLE INHUMAN SUFFERING, and to participate in this SQUALID, CORRUPT AND CRUEL trade WITH ITS TIES TO THE MOST HORRIBLE VICES IMAGINABLE will damn your souls for ALL ETERNITY.

The artificial gems are quite nice, however. They sparkle quite prettily.

That is all.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 4, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Loved it, ScienceSpouse.

Jumper, too late.

Posted by: -dbG- | March 4, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Yogo sapphire. Tiny is fine. Why? Because the stone is from where I grew up. We had uncut ones in pouches around the house. We had no idea that they might be valuable. Not sure where they are now. But, when my mother surprised everyone, include herself, with twin boys in 1967, my dad had some cut and set in earrings for her. And, he pierced her ears for her, at her request. He was one of the town docs. He thought this outlandish, however, he was so stunned and astonished and, well, the lady can have whatever she wants.

We also had cigar boxes full of arrowheads and bone chips and beads taken from two buffalo jumps near us. Nobody cared about these things; they were fair game for children to collect. Not sure where they are now, either. But, I do have three cow ear tags!

Moss agates, too. They make me think on bolo tie clips.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 4, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I seem to be a dollar short, too.
Some blogger on George Will:

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 4, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

nellie4, No I changed my email to gmail and WaPo made me change my sign in. I did have a birthday in December.

Posted by: bh72 | March 4, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh no, bh, I'm going to be changing email too...I suppose my Boodle handle will change yet again...

Posted by: seasea | March 4, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I've always felt that a gemstone need not be expensive to be beautiful. Whenever I go to the Museum of Natural History I always think that some of the prettiest stones are variations of humble quartz. My favorite is amethyst. The purple color is such a delight.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 4, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Engelman and Ivansmom-now I feel truly loved. You remembered I don't like pistachios, and then gave me a hard time about it. The Mr. F equivalent offering a muffin with raisins. (I will eat pistachio ice cream though. Ice cream trumps everything except raisins.)

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 4, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Rd, I was going to make a joke earlier about all the pink quartz I used to adore when we went camping when I was young. We used to go to one campsite set on a old glacial lake. some of the shoreline had granite cliffs that rose straight up or very, very large boulders from the Canadian Shield. Lots of pink quartz around there and I loved the way the rocks on the edge of the water would sparkle.

Good pick on amethyst they are lovely.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 4, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Snow and sleet flurries this afternoon have caused several crashes on the I-5 Siskiyou summit resulting all interstate traffic stopped in Medford southbound and at Yerka northbound while the wreckage gets cleared.

Posted by: bh72 | March 4, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

My favorites are amethyst and turquoise - both of which Mr seasea gave me when we were very young.

I hate raisins in anything, even oatmeal. For some reason, Mr seasea thinks I like peanut brittle (hate it) and chocolate covered cherries. The latter are ok, but I prefer plain old chocolate (well, good dark chocolate, really). I thought *he* liked chocolate covered cherries...sigh...

Posted by: seasea | March 4, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Great, just when I thought I was so green for replacing so many of our light bulbs with CFL's. Thank goodness for the halogen lights in the kitchen/dining room.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 4, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

The wise tribal leaders knew they were not expected to meet every bold challenge by upstart young warriors. (Excuse me, I'm channeling Piers Anthony's 'Sos the Rope' here)

No, in matters of empire, the chiefs would each designate assigned proxy warriors to meet in the circle of battle.

And so it came about that Limbaugh and Obama each agreed to send their designees to the circle. Each was to be chosen in secret, and revealed at the same moment.

Clever they were: Out of left field, Ralph Nader had agreed to battle for Obama. This had not been expected.

Limbaugh had somehow persuaded G. Gordon Liddy to debate the President's proxy.
And the battle was on.

It took 34 minutes, historians now agree, for Nader to demolish the integrity of the Liddy philosophy.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 4, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

The way the economy and housing industry are going, for her Christmas present I'm getting my wife a blood zirconia, smuggled in from the DePonts Zirconia Mines in Wilmington, Delaware.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 4, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I just remembered the first ring I got early in my relationship with my husband, we were on vacation at their family cottage, and his relatives lived in a cottage two down. As a joke they prepared a ring for me to wear it was a gold curtain ring with a large reddish coloured stone glued on it - hadn't thought about it for years - had it in my jewellery box for a long time - sure it is still in a box somewhere.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 4, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

R.I.P., Horton Foote.

Posted by: laloomis | March 4, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

dmd, that is a capital R romantic story! Lovely.

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

CqP, my mother's house in the country was in what had been a volcano. I still have the basket of little quartz crystals we picked up every time she tilled the garden or it rained. She found a piece of quartz about the size of a softball and had gems cut from it. My emerald cut, set in a ring, is a little over 10 carats.

Lowe's Motor Speedway is on a hill is what is left of one side of the volcano. Keep on driving north on US 29 and there is another hill to go up as you enter Concord. That's the other side of the volcano. (I learned this in Geology 201, circa 1972.)

Posted by: slyness | March 4, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Here's a true story.

In first grade I was passionately in love with a young girl in my class. As proof of my undying devotion I wanted to give her a ring. The prettiest ring I knew of was my father's graduation ring from Seattle U (come on, I was, like, six) so, assuming he would never miss it, I borrowed it from him to present to my crush.

Well, let's just say he missed it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 4, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Well I hope that young lady did not react as I did when a certain young man presented me with a ring in Kindergarten, embarrassed that he did the presentation in front of our older brothers I tossed the ring to the ground.

Many years later we remenisced about that story on the bus home from high school - fortunately we both laughed and I had not scarred (sp) him for life, although at the time he was thinking of entering the Priesthood so maybe he wasn't so lighthearted about it as I thought :-).

Posted by: dmd2 | March 4, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

SeaSea --quartz is lovely, especially the nodules of granite that crack open to reveal the tiniest of caverns. Rocks. I miss the old hall of minerals at the Nat. History Museum!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 4, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Good callout on the Horton Foote obit, LindaLoo. Foote was one of our greatest screenwriters and dramatists. He won Oscars for both "To Kill a Mockingbird," and "Tender Mercies," a really fine and underrated "small" film, as well as a Pulitzer for one of his plays. He was also a mainstay of the early television years. A really great, great writer. RIP.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 4, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Alas, the young lady rejected me profoundly and gave the ring to another suitor. This greatly complicated its recovery and return to my father, a man not known for his patience in such matters.

But all ended well. And I know count her as one of my friends as we exchange emails to this day. When my father passed away last year she came to the funeral. Very nice lady. Shame she had such bad taste in men.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 4, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I think that "encrusted" is one of the ickiest-sounding words ever. Sounds like a scab. I prefer "bedecked."

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 4, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Ha! RD_P, well done, sir.

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Darling stories, RD and DMD.

SciTim -- bejeweled, bijou'ed, bedecked, illuminated....better than studded or encrusted.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 4, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, folks.

Ivansmom, your explanation of earmarks and contracts is really good. Even this dummy understood it. There was a time here, when folks would send money back to the government, knowing that it was needed, yet they seemed to be real proud of refusing the money. The state of North Carolina has failed to match funds for certain projects, and this too is a way of rejecting federal money. I think it's selfish and mean when many times there is a need for federal money. And I don't believe it to be a "honor" thing much of the time.

yello, choice of blood thinner or cat food. I hear you.

Have any of you heard from Martooni? Perhaps I missed his posts.

Well, I'm beat. And the g-girl is still here, and we're going to turn in early, as in now. She was up with me this morning at four thirty. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 4, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself, plus asteroid impacts, mutant airborne Ebola, runaway robotic sentience, and the Earth being transformed by collider-generated strangelets into an undifferentiated gray goo (to paraphrase FDR)."

What to to about these fearful items:
1. Asteroid impacts - sit down, put your head between your knees and breathe deeply. Have a paper bag available in case of hyperventilation.
2. Mutant airborne Ebola. Er, duct tape and big sheets of plastic? Unless those Ebola are little airborne X-Men. Plastic and duct tape ain't stopping a viral Wolverine, no matter how small.
3. Runaway robotic sentience. I will continue to scold my Roomba over the continuing incidents of books and CDs disappearing from my shelves as well as the issues with the neighborhood cats (I think there's some sort of jealousy) and tell him about the junkyards full of old PCs and vacuum cleaners, and how he'll end up there too if he doesn't toe the line. Er, if he *had* toes. (Note to self: Do *not* buy Roomba with Opposeable Thumbs.
4. The Earth being transformed by collider-generated strangelets into an undifferentiated gray goo. Forget the Earth and the LHC, this Economy has pretty much done that to my 401k already.
What to do about the undifferentiaged 401k goo?

Already covered that with the asteroid:

Sit down, put your head between your knees and breathe deeply. Have a paper bag available in case of hyperventilation.

More in a moment-

- bc

Posted by: -bc- | March 4, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Pt 2:
Thanks for the 'splanations of earmarks, and if I read that right, it's just Congressional representatives representin' their districts to make sure that needs are being addressed beyond what the Executive branch and the Federal Agencies are doing, correct? Someone suggested to me earlier today (half-jokingly, perhaps) that the stimulus package *is* essentially earmarks.

Considering the job that the Bush Administration (and, sadly, the Treasury) did with the original TARP/bailout funding package, perhaps earmarks are a step in the direction.


Posted by: -bc- | March 4, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "Considering the job that the Bush Administration (and, sadly, the Treasury) did with the original TARP/bailout funding package, perhaps earmarks are a step in the right direction."

Good thing I'm not writing those earmarks, isn't it?


Posted by: -bc- | March 4, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

For GWE: Black Ice

Posted by: DNA_Girl | March 4, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Good one Joel!

Mudge--what drugs do you really take? You can be so brilliant although at times I hate your logic. :-)

Bismarck is a pretty, friendly, small state capitol with TONS of snow banks everywhere. Apparently they have had record snows this year. Reality about the cold here set in when I read in the local paper today about a youngish woman who passed out one night earlier this year in a snow bank (wonder what she was drinking) and had to have her lower legs and nine of ten fingers eventually amputated. And we think we have problems....

Posted by: Windy3 | March 4, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Metformin, glipizide, atenolol, lipitor, altace (ramapril), plavix, zetia, byetta, HCTZ, furosemide (lasix), eperlerone, 81 mg aspirin (enteric), Co-Q-10, MetanX, Vitamin-D, and 4,000 units of omega-3 fish oil.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 4, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

The stimulus package was much more block grants and general programs where individual recipients (states and municipalities) have a broader range of options of what to do with the money. Obama was very proud that the stimulus package was earmark free. Still, spending is pump priming as long as the waste and fraud can be kept down to a dull roar.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 4, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

...and a patridge in a pear tree.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 4, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, "bedecked" makes me think of getting decked with brass knuckles/rings.

How about "garlanded" or "wreathed" with gemstones for a ring?

Flat surfaces like earrings can be "coated" "studded" or "iced" with gems.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 4, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

No icing! Enough already.

Posted by: Yoki | March 4, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Cream-cheesed with gems?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 4, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Sorry. I've just had about enough (too much) ice and snow and cold winds for one season.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

That's why I've been writing about spring and summer lately, Yoki.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 5, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

And I appreciate it, Wilbrod!

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Icing isn't that a penalty in hockey?

Thanks for the link DNA_Girl, that is a rockin track,Nice to AC/DC still crankin out the rock,I saw them many years ago for 98 cents.

Must have seen 40+ deer on the way home, all by the road, no doubt eating the salt from the winter conditions.Almost had an upclose with a big buck, but we avoided each other.And he was the fourth across the road.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 5, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Weed, I've been wondering for a while now why the heck you aren't being named Secretary of Commerce, or at the very least secretary of commerce. I like the way you think.

Science Spouse, 'or just for yanking his chain' sigh, and you knit.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 5, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

For our Canadian buddies, I think that i will attempt a ROUGE.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Oooooh! Weed!

It used to be gwe. Then they changed the rules after the big lock-out, and now we almost no icing calls. The game is faster, but not more interesting.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 12:42 AM | Report abuse

I went to the Sinfest links from the last boodle and none of the links are working. Am I being punished for some reason?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 6:14 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle. Hey, Al.

I woke because I heard a train go through my bedroom. No, that turned out to be an 80 km/h gale blowing from the north, dropping our temperature into the 'hideously cold' range. I hope the windows don't pop out.

Busy day ahead, have a good one, everybody.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 6:36 AM | Report abuse

Our Sinfest busted
Say three Hail Mary's all that
we may sin again

Posted by: DNA_Girl | March 5, 2009 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Al. Hey, Cassandra, I hope you're warm and still sleeping. Yoki, you are up early this morning.

Did anyone else see the story last week that we need to dream as well as to sleep, to function anywhere near correctly? This morning, the dream that woke me up was being in an elevator with coworkers. When we were jolted so badly I fell to the floor I woke up.

It's 26 degrees now, but the temperature is supposed to climb to 59 this afternoon. I'm going to attempt the walk for the first time this week. And it's supposed to be in the seventies by the weekend. Amazing that we all don't catch and die of pneumonia.

Posted by: slyness | March 5, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. -18C Monday and Tuesday, -16 yesterday and -14C today. There is hope yet but Spring isn't coming fast enough for me.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 5, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge -- I think we need to flog the dead-tree copy desk again. A subhed from the front page:

"As World Trade Plummets, Bustling Ports Stand Idle"

Once-bustling ports, perhaps... *SIGH*

And what's with the sudden interest in grey hair at 1600 Penn? I mean, it's not unusual or anything... *shrug*

The Dawn Patrol flight line is becoming more and more comfortable... Hope the time switch this weekend doesn't upset that apple cart.

*everybody's-workin'-for-the-weekend-da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

It has started to warm up here Shriek, high of +7c today, +14c tomorrow and sunny - as cold as it was earlier in the week so nice to have a week of beautiful sunshine and cloudless skies.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 5, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, you just had to point that out, didn't you? Now he's going to be all 'mudge-y this morning.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

For you Yoki:

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Collins over at the Grey Lady has an interesting comment on the unfairness of the bail outs, ex-Coutrywide execs making a killing buying back failed mortgages and the Blagster getting a substantial book deal. But the front page story is even more illuminating. They are presenting the case of this guy who paid 2.2 million for his house that is now worth "only" 1 million. He could afford $5000 in monthly payments but can't meet his current $8400. He says he deserves a bail out too. Sure.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 5, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

We wouldn't have him any other way, now would we, Yoki? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Why, Weed. Thanks, I guess.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I thought you would appreciate the humor... I did. I love really off-beat humor (wow... off-beat, that makes me about as "hip" as Michael Steele)

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 5, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

The "?" above was a test. Sometimes WaPo lets me post a comment, most of the time it doesn't.

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 5, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I found the "?" very thought provoking.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

And in the Better Late (and Incomplete) Than Never Dept.:

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Here's a geek-feud for the ages, who is the better athlete: Marissa Mayer or Melissa Gates?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I understand that the sub-committee has a guy lined up to testify to his conversations/communications w/ Rove that may cause the boy to "Tell da trooot."

Rove may do some more triangulatin' to see how little he can admit to, without conflicting with the other affidavits.

As Jonathan Turley of GW Law said, usually, his clients get one shot to get it right. In the Valerie Plame case, Rove got SIX TRIES.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

And I did, RT, I did indeed!. One line in particular had me laughing out out. Democrat panties!

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Good morning, friends. Hello, Don, so good to hear from you.

Has anyone heard from Martooni? I'm getting a little worried about him.

Mudge, you got me beat with the drugs, although some of those are on my list too.

Slyness, it's a good morning to walk, but I'm just getting back from the schoolhouse, and to tell you the truth, I'm just too tired to do it now, maybe later.

Yesterday my daughter went in Wal-Mart, and two men with a small child, when asked to show their receipt to the door greeters got ugly. And when I say ugly, one of the door greeters took the receipt out of the man's hand because he was hiding part of it, and when she did, he got physically abusive and verbally abusive. The two men left the store, with the store personnel on their heels. The men got in their car, and the employees tried to get the tag number, but the tag was covered. And they left with whatever they had in the buggy. Wal-Mart needs to hire security guards and stop using store personnel for situations such as the one yesterday. Store personnnel aren't trained in security, and because of this lack of training, Wal-Mart place their employees and customers in danger. And it's not as if Wal-Mart can't afford security guards, I suspect Wal-Mart may be the only corporation making money in this bad economy. Anytime a situation reaches a physical level, it places everyone in danger. I suspect we may see more of this kind of stuff with the economy in the tank. Many times people feel it's okay to do these kinds of things because they have a need, but it isn't. And that's my concern, and it should be everyone's concern, because this affects all of us. Chaos has a tendency to spread, not just stay in one place, so I don't believe anyone is immune.

Yoki, Scotty, and all the gang, have a great day. *waving*

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 5, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Hi Al... Just a drive-by to say I'm in the air somewhere over the Arkansas/Oklahoma border it seems... Virgin America now has wifi on some flights!

Pretty cool way to pass the time.

Hey... I guess I should have said it's just a fly-by! Time to backboodle..

Posted by: TBG- | March 5, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Don!!! When you find the answer, let us know, OK?

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Boodling from a mile up. Isn't there a club for that or something?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 5, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

That makes you the real Dawn Patrol, TBG! Have fun in Vegas. Say nothing...

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Soon there will be no place on earth from which we can't connect to the Boodle. How cool is that?

Posted by: slyness | March 5, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

TBG, just don't start moaning.

No one will understand... "I want to do what she is doing."

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Harriet E. Miers. That name is a blast from the past. From 2005:

Here's a parlor game until Joel serves us with a new kit: Who will be Obama's first Supreme Court nominee?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Gene W would be proud of me. I asked the woman in front of me to stop reclining her seat (this was after about an hour of shoving my knees in her back. She complied. Then she asked to be moved. Yay me!

Posted by: TBG- | March 5, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

I'm laughing, Yoki. Just keep reading.

Padouk, I'm not quite sure about the rules, but I don't think one needs WiFi for that mile-high thing.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone see Sandra Day O'Connor on The Daily Show last night? She was great... Jon Stewart was gracious and funny and she kept right up with him.

The map on my TV screen says we're going 527 mph; we're at 32,499 feet and it's -53F outside. We have 1368 miles to go (SFO; then on to Las Vegas). I'm a rube, I guess, but I think this is pretty cool.

Posted by: TBG- | March 5, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Does that mean that you are getting younger than us right now?

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I believe so, Dolphie. Maybe SciTim can explain further...

I am going back in time.. I do know that.

Posted by: TBG- | March 5, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Going to Las Vegas?

Why don't you take the Maglev train from LA (disneyland)...

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Lawrence Tribe.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

*Is* there a maglev train from LA, thistle? I worked on maglev research at the Canadian Institute of Guided Ground Transport (CIGGT)at Queens in the late 70s and early 80s, and we were told we were dreamers.

CIGGT is not to be confused with CGIT, Canadian Girls in Training, a sort of home-grown girl scouts. They wore middy tops; we wore ragged jeans.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

TBG when we went to Calgary last spring I spent 4.5 hours amused by that map ahead of me!

I saw that Daily show - very good as was his comments on Economic journalists last night.

Have a great trip.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 5, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I friend sent me these tidbits, along with many others. I only posted the on-kit ones.

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle .
-- Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-- George Bernard Shaw

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.
-- G. Gordon Liddy

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
-- P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
-- Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
-- Ronald Reagan (1986)

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
-- Voltaire (1764)

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
-- Mark Twain (1866)

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.
-- Ronald Reagan

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.
-- Winston Churchill

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.
-- Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 5, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

no... just a Republican joke. Or, better, a joke about Republican talking points. Everyone says that the STIM package has a specific provision in it to build a maglev train from Disneyland to Las Vegas. Now, they have moved the Nevada end to a "House of Ill Repute" in Nevada.
There is some sort of implication that Maglev transport is also the work of the devil.

Then again, if folks travel in large numbers from LA to LV all the time, and Maglev is efficient and fast, why the freak not.

Then again, there is the devil thing going on...

Here is an older comment from Media Matters...

It is now getting beyond absurd. I hear that the train is going to stop on the moon, as well.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Tribe is probably the one household name. You just have to fear he would get Borked.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

But could you join the mile high club on the Disneyland-Bunny Ranch MagLev?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

LA-LV is one of those routes that would actually make sense for high speed rail. But that never stops earmark fiends from attacking anything science-fictiony.

The Roads Must Roll.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Clearly any technology that leads to Nevada is soaked in vice and should be killed.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I have pistachio and raisin scones for our mid-morning snack. Frostbitten gets two.

Larry Tribe would be a good pick. I took his Constitutional Law course in law school. He's got a very good, agile mind and tremendous academic expertise and scholarship, plus he's argued many many Court cases over the years for a variety of clients. I just hope he's not too well-known to get asked. Eventually, as openings occur, I expect to see Elena Kagan. She has been Dean of Harvard Law and is nominated to be Solicitor General. She, too, would be a good Justice.

I'd suggest as an outside possibility Robert Henry, current Chief Judge of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. He's a real old-fashioned Renaissance man. He was former state legislator, state Attorney General, in practice, Dean of a law school - again, a combination of practice experience in all three branches of government, and academic ability. He's also very smart, well-read with a voracious curiosity, and a nice guy.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 5, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

He wouldn't stand a snowball's chance, but I'd go for Alan Page from the MN Supremes for a SCOTUS seat. If he runs again in 2010 it will be his last term in MN anyway since judges have to retire at 70. What are the chances of a state supreme being called up to the bigs?

Good morning boodle. The Daily Show was worth a watch last night and O'Connor was sharp as ever.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 5, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom-did Mr. F stop by your place on his last trip to Ft. Sill? I don't much like scones of any type. Craving a lemon filled bismarck as mind bleach for the thought of such "edibles."

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 5, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I kinda hope Obama would nominate me to the SCOTUS, because, at my age, getting Borked is beginning to sound like the best fun I've had in quite a while.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Heard the guys on CNBC say that yesterday's upward blip in the market was because investors were buying stocks that are Obama-proof: fleeing financials and putting their dollars into retail (retail? they asked, given its poor performance over the last year) and tech.

Science Tim, willing to split the difference with you over Hans Brinker--your (3) reply to me several days. The story of the anonymous Dutch boy with his juvenile digit in the leaking floodwall was a part of the book "Hans Brinker," by American Mary Elizabeth Mapes Dodge, but not Hans himself. Explantion at this link, but you need to scroll down midway to the graf starting with "The legend of the brave Dutch boy..." and the graf immediately following. The story of the Dutch boy who saved the day is in the chapter titled "Friends in Need."

Posted by: laloomis | March 5, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

*faxin' frosti a piping-hot lobster fresh outta the pot* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm just creeped out by the word SCOTUS being used for a bunch of old guys (and one token woman).

My wife went to go see Sandra Dee O'Connor talk at Tech back in the 80s. Seems so long ago

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Thanks s'nuke. That's what I call breakfast!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 5, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Got to be careful with the Justice's age. W named ultra-conservative guys born in 1950 (Alito) and 55 (Roberts). Tribe was born in 41, 7 years after justice Thomas.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 5, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

SCC before Justice Thomas (48).

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 5, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

CNBC... best watched without sound Loomis.

Here is an axiom... BUY LOW, SELL HIGH.

Retail has been battered. BAD. There is a theory that there will be a tipping point where folks are just going to have to go out and buy "stuff" after wear and tear makes replacement items a must.

No Obama there.

OK, get ready to put a hole in your theory,

Do you THINK!??? that anyone would buy the financials if the country wasn't propping them up?

Just how dopey is your suggestion (I know that CNBC is pretty dopey)

In other words, if the USA didn't put the funds into AIG, what would happen to the entire financial industry? It would get crushed--one bank run after another, since AIG "insures" many of the financial instruments that make the financial market worth Doo-Doo.

In other words, if it weren't for Obama and us socialists, the financials would be doing much worse.

For all your reading, you should know this.

AND, here's a final nugget, I know that there are just a ton of folks waiting to short those financials. Do you, Loomis, remember what one of the first actions Obama's financial management team took?

-- stop the shorting of financial stocks. Reason being, to keep the impression (valid) that certain companies were very weak and cause runs on the deposits.

I have to laugh that you are sounding like Rush. All I have to say is that, if we even had a nano-second of the Koch family stooges running the government, we would have had the nightmare right away.

Have a great day!

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, Mr. F is welcome here any time. I look forward to hearing about more delicacies about which you have strong feelings.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 5, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

EYE have strong feelings about fripperies, I mean delicacies!

These are they: they're fine.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Here's the hed and the lede graf of Frank Ahrens' Economy Watch Ticker column:

Daily Show's Jon Stewart Rips CNBC, Rick Santelli

10:11 AM ET: "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart ripped CNBC and its mad-as-heck reporter Rick Santelli last night, essentially calling the GE-owned business network a collection of know-nothings and corporate lapdogs.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Trying to stay on-kit, since I know zero 'bout the market. Merriam-Webster's word-of-the-day is: oligopsony

I always enjoy learning new words when I read what the learned boodle writes. There is never a day when that doesn't happen. It's my turn to return the favor.

Posted by: Don_from_I-270 | March 5, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Love the back story on Rick Santelli...

Ain't he the Koch family "lapdog?"

The back story and why that uber-rich family has to get involved in the attempted middle class recovery begs the question, how much is too much money?

Dial 911, John Birch Society sighting.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Two new words just this week! How great is that? Thanks Don.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

RT - that was a very impressive analysis.

I learn more good stuff here.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 5, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse


Isn't English wonderful?

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Mudge-loved that bit from the Daily Show. I thought Stewart's Joe Nocera interview was good too. He asked Nocera "If we bail out the banks, and bail out AIG because it was insuring the banks, aren't we bailing the banks out twice?" One of those questions that really make you go "hmmmmmmm."

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 5, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Morning all
Warmer in west by god today,but it was snowing!inside!! just 20 mins ago.I have a large down comforter that got snagged on my metal bed frame and before I knew,me,the bed and the whole bedroom was covered in feathers.

I had to duct tape it together until I can get someone who sews out here,it is hanging outside and every once in a while a few feathers fly by my window.I would love to take a handfull of feathers,go to the rock cliff overlook and toss them in the wind.

Yes, as you all know,I am easily amused!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 5, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Jon Stewart ripping CNBC last night was great. I missed SD O'Connor though...

Posted by: seasea | March 5, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

GWE we had a similar incident here with a Duvet, it is patched with Duct tape as well.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 5, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Stewart was really good. That link I gave has the entire 8-minute clip, BTW.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse


I think we could all survive in the wilderness with a good knife,duct tape,crazy glue and wd-40.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 5, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

and some binder twine

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

GWE, you need some Fly-Quill cough medicine.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Joe Nocera was an excellent guest. He looked comfortable and let Jon do most of the funny. I zipped over and read his pieces in the NYT.
The poor guy on Colbert who wrote the book about Celine Dion and her fans looked like he was about to have a heart attack. So much for 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'

Posted by: Boko999 | March 5, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Boko, these days it's "makes you stranger."

Not that I need any help in that regard.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

That's the motto of Irradiated Soylent Green.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, and other lovers of words, check out this site (if you aren't familiar with it already)

I find the list of archaic words a delight.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 5, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Soylent Green (as we like to say in governmentese) is Persons!

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Isn't that part of the International House of Logorrhea (my source), RD?

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Michael Lewis is at it again with a can't stop reading piece on Iceland's meltdown for Vanity Fair¤tPage=all

This is probably the least quotable graf in the whole loooong, but worthy read-
"One of the hidden causes of the current global financial crisis is that the people who saw it coming had more to gain from it by taking short positions than they did by trying to publicize the problem. Plus, most of the people who could credibly charge Iceland—or, for that matter, Lehman Brothers—with financial crimes could be dismissed as crass profiteers, talking their own book. Back in April 2006, however, an emeritus professor of economics at the University of Chicago named Bob Aliber took an interest in Iceland. Aliber found himself at the London Business School, listening to a talk on Iceland, about which he knew nothing. He recognized instantly the signs. Digging into the data, he found in Iceland the outlines of what was so clearly a historic act of financial madness that it belonged in a textbook. “The Perfect Bubble,” Aliber calls Iceland’s financial rise, and he has the textbook in the works: an updated version of Charles Kindleberger’s 1978 classic, Manias, Panics, and Crashes, a new edition of which he’s currently editing. In it, Iceland, he decided back in 2006, would now have its own little box, along with the South Sea Bubble and the Tulip Craze—even though Iceland had yet to crash. For him the actual crash was a mere formality."

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 5, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, my prof Herman Daly spoke about this, saying that small, weathy island countries would be among the first to show the bubble-madness of a

go go (grow grow), with greed imbued everywhere.

RT is right: some and it taint us are doing quite well with an economy that tilts toward their insular specialness.

I guess that the conservation biologists who study us, might simply say,

Tis only the DNA acting through them, to ensure that the DNA continues on toward some telos...of course, the richie-Croesus-peeps believe they are serving their children and progeny.

NAH, tis that some DNA strands deserve more than others.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 5, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I thought this was a fine piece of writing:

At least until I got to the last graf and I had to clamp down on some sudden nausea...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it most certainly is, Yoki. (It is entirely possible I was introduced to it here in the boodle and forgotten.) My memory isn't what it once was.

And even then it wasn't what it should have been.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 5, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

If left to survive in the wilderness, and I could only bring 3 tools with me, it would be a pair of vice grips, a sledge hammer, and an acetylene torch.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | March 5, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I hear what you're saying about security personnel in WalMarts.

My $.02:
1. Way back in the day when I worked retail, I was told to let people go if there was a problem that required some sort of physical restraint. Stores have insurance for stolen goods, don't they? I have been led to believe that retail stores would rather make claims on shrinkage (Not *that* kind, Mudge. And I *don't* want to know what, how or why you're filing a claim) than injuries or settle lawsuits.

And then there's WalMart's health insurance for it's employees... not so much, I think.

The people that stopped the situation *were* acting heroically, but if I were there, I'd have suggested to the WalMart people to let the suspects go. If WalMart won't take care of the health of people that work there, why risk it?

WalMart sells guns, don't they? Awfully tempting for someone to attempt a MisAdventure in Vigilantism, I'd think.
I'd also suggest that one of the few sillier things would be to rob a Verizon/Sprint/Apple store.

Or a Bail BondsPerson.


Posted by: -bc- | March 5, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I had an 8th grade student turn in a piece of creative writing today and he referred to a fictional island named "Werafugarwee".

He probably deserves to get in trouble, but after wiping down the table of water that squirted from my nose as I laughed, I gave him a 100%. I needed the humor.

Posted by: Gomer144 | March 5, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

OMG, you sure called it right on the last paragraph of the King story, Scotty. That graf gave me spastic twitches.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I've heard of breaking news, but this is a little silly. Here is the ENTIRE item that just put up:

Chris Brown Is Charged With 2 Felonies
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 5, 2009; 1:00 PM
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Brown has been charged with 2 felonies, including assault and making criminal threats.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"Dream" is the operative word.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 5, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

bc, thanks the FSM for the criminals' stupidity.
My favourite is the guy trying to rod the "Fraternité des policiers et policières de la Ville de Montréal" (i.e. Montreal's police officers' union) Credit Union branch using a fake gun. He surrendered upon entering the building.
He probably still wonders why the cops were in such numbers and so quick to be on the scene.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 5, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

SCC rob *sigh*

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 5, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

LOL on that news item, Scotty. That is a great example of the New Post-Economy Participatory Journalism (NPEPJ). Strip the story down to its barest bare facts and let knowledgeable readers figure out for themselves the rest: who Chris Brown is, who he (allegedly) assaulted, etc.

And this way, they don't have to try to spell whatshername's name correctly.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Wonder why I find this teaser hed problematic:

Fu: 'Guns, Wars, and Votes'? Not Quite

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'd bet Jared Diamond finds that teaser problematic, too.


Posted by: -bc- | March 5, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

OK, bc, which one of us kilt it?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, retail personnel are trained not to confront people who are shoplifting. It just isn't worth the time, effort, and lawsuits unless law enforcement personnel are on the scene. That's what the Elderdottir, who is an assistant manager, has told me. She says she can tell when a person enters the store if she is out to steal. (Since E.D. has worked for Victoria's Secret, The Limited, and Aerosoles, it's always a she.) So much meanness and stupidity in the world.

Posted by: slyness | March 5, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Or did we both do it? Are we the Butch and Sundance (I'm Sundance, due to my uncanny resemblance to U-no-Hu), the Bonnie and Clyde, the Leopold and Loeb, the O.J. and Simpson of Boodle throttlers?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The Sacco and Vanzetti?

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the...

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Where did everyone go? We were humming along nicely there this morning...

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Well. I don't quite know where to begin. But what I do know is that I'd love Ivansmom to fax me (ASAP) some of those pistachio-raisin scones if there are any left. Those would indeed (fingers crossed) take the edge of what has turned out to be such extreme embarrassment, that I flashed back to an equally embarrassing episode from I think 1972-ish.

There are times in one's life that one has so much else on one's mind (one is trying to detach oneself as faaaaaaaaaaaar as possible from this, you see), that one does not pay close attention.

At least all turned out well and it didn't cost me anything. Except my dignity for a few minutes. And, no, it didn't have anything to do with THAT, Mudge.

Geez. *muttering expletives* but better for it.

Back to the grindstone. Gotta sharpen the brain. Yeah, right.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 5, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... are referring to

Spahn and Sain?

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, I thought of them, but I'm a proponent of the notion that only Sacco was guilty, and that Vanzetti was innocent.

Ditto problem with the Rosenbergs. He was, she wasn't.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I read a blog called The Consumerist and one of their hot buttons is that it is illegal to make producing a receipt a condition of leaving a building. These BigBox checkers are violating your fourth amendment rights. The blog details all sorts of horror stories from altercations where employees have confronted customers.

Similarly, it is also against the credit card issuers policies to require a form of identification for credit card purchases. The signature on the back of your card is all that you need to produce.

I lump these into the list of petty injustices that aren't worth confronting, but I resent the implication that I shoplifted something between the checkout counter and the exit.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The Bert and Ernie...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, she must of been guilty of sumpin', otherwise, she wouldn't have been convicted, COME ON!!

Are you buying that you-know-what?!

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh dear, ftb (dear ftb); I've had moments like that; I don't know whether the present embarrassment is worse, or the relived mortification. Neither is comfortable.

However, I have noticed that the threshold for true "wish the earth would swallow me right now" humiliation gets higher and higher the older I get. Pretty soon I'll be shameless, and while this will make my life more pleasant, I pity those around me.

These were meant to be comforting words, really.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Spahn and Sain works for me, Weed. Followed by two days of rain.

(Obscure baseball reference referring to Gerry Hearn's pome, but since this is a highly lit'ry blog, here's said pome in its entiretitudeness:

"First we'll use Spahn
then we'll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
And followed
we hope
by two days of rain."

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, if it is so obscure, then why do I have a replica of Warren Spahn's baseball jacket?

Ah, yes, with age, comes obscurity.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Laughing at Bert and Ernie.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Bert and Ernie only works because Bert is evil, of course...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Because you're an old coot, Weed, like me.

When I was a kid, I actually saw Warren Spahn pitch, at Connie Mack Stadium in Fully. To this day I remember his leg kicj, which was a thing of beauty. When my younger son (a southpaw) was pitching in Little League, I tried to show him the Spahn leg kick, and the three-quarter side-arm fastball that came out of his sock. And the killer pick-off move to first. Oh, man.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... Big kick, like Juan.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

You also got me thinking... could you imagine those old crimes with today's cable coverage?

Man, Nancy Grace!

And, could you image Bill O'Reilly covering the Lindbergh Case?

The baby asked for it!

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Marichal's kick give him all that power. But Spahn's had the added feature of the deceptiveness, and the difficulty finding the ball coming out of a quadrant batters were never used to trying to locate it from. (Kind of like Randy Johnson's delivery, too. You get used to expecting to first see the ball in such-and-such a place, and when it comes at you from someplace else there's that lethal split-second pause getting re-oriented.)

We better stop talking about this, Weed, or we're gonna pay a heavy price in doily retaliation chatter.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Dolphin Michael wrote: In other words, if it weren't for Obama and us socialists, the financials would be doing much worse.

For all your reading, you should know this.

Rt, it'd be a lot nicer if you ask me what I know, rather than telling me what I know. How typically male!

Since my husband and I sat out a tough week last fall when lawyer David Boies (remember Bush v. Gore?) held the future, so to speak, Wachovia in his hands in the tug of war between Wells and Citi, I know more than you assume I know. Crimeny!

Posted by: laloomis | March 5, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, mo... (I know yer out there)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Bert was not evil! Bert was a man of parts.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Au contraire, Yoki...


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

loomis-Why would anyone ask you anything? If we do you respond by telling us what we should have asked and then natter on. If you know so much about the economy, markets, Wall Street and the banking crisis, quit hiding your light under a bushel. Right now it just appears you're blinded by Obama loathing, when you're not running about with the plank of man hatred in your eyes. I'm tired of it, rt is no more wrong because he's male than you are stupid because you're female. And, if loomis spouse has so much insider knowledge that would enlighten all of the great unwashed encourage him to post here.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 5, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I, too, am a man of parts.

Mostly broken. Old. Rusted. Not even all of them OEM. Certainly not up to spec.

Running for the bus early to go to my son's birthday dinner.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 5, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

All I know is, I certainly don't want to go back to those days of yesteryear (pre-1933) when we had financial "panics". Some Jay Gould or Jim Fisk trying to corner the market, there's hell to pay, banks REALLY failed (i.e., no deposit insurance), etc. It sometimes doesn't take many Robber Barons (whether Credit Mobilier or AIG) to tip over the apple cart. And don't get me started on the health care issue!

Posted by: ebtnut | March 5, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Firsttimeblogger, you can have frostbitten's scones. Oddly, she didn't eat them. I'll bring some more tomorrow.

Yoki, your words of comfort to ftb made me laugh.

And thanks for the baseball history, guys.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 5, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse


let loomis blather.

boies is not having a big time of it, is he?

Talked with Max B. about his friend. Funny, didn't he have some issues w/ H. Clinton that just didn't work out for the best?

Loomis is just upset because I tossed a cow in her general direction.

Loomis, if you post, I will make fun unless it is something with which I agree. But, if you can't take it, then I will just ignore you. Your choice.

Just the way you post that is so ... so ... arrogant.

OK, here is your opening--What do you know?

What do you know about the Rick Santelli setup?

What do you think Obama should be doing that he isn't doing?

If you had a magic wand, what would you do?

When it comes to the stock market, it all comes down to the balance between GREED and FEAR, don't you think?

My buddy at Smith Barney keeps reminding me of this every year or so when someone comes up with a somewhat Rococo explanation of why a stock goes up or down.

In a tangential manner, one might look at the stock price as what the stock is really worth. This is in reference to a discussion of whether or not a sports team may be under-achieving or over-achieving. At the end of the day, it achieved what it did.

Large national financial institutions are what they are, they are "sharks" that must be generating large amounts of business to off-set slippage in their portfolio. Add in the fact that managers have pulled out profits and fees from these organizations which impacts their ability to weather a downturn and you have what you have.

As we know, what we are looking at is the classic "slippery slope."

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Now I'm crushing on RT! [Redacted]

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Ohhhh, Yoki -- just zactly what I needed (I'm still laughing). Actually, the best antidote to most awful stuff is laughter -- really. I just got back from Trader Joes, where I *finally* found their stash of Jarlsberg Lite cheese (and some of the low fat great cheddar, too) and replenished my soon-to-be-gone supply of 73% organic dark chocolate. All the major food groups (well, most of them) ready and accounted for.

And, yes, it would be nice if loomis had a sense of humor, but, alas, she feeds ours. And that ain't all bad, eh?

Ivansmom, I'd love to have your recipe for pistachio-raisin scones. My stomach just growled in impatient anticipation.

Truth be known (if we can *handle* the truth), the embarrassing episode(s) were really funny in retrospect. All I gotta do is take a shower and wash off the experiential crud.

Yoki, you gotta get back down here.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 5, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I can see today is not the day to boodle.

1) Just because somebody is married to a nurse does not make her a M.D.

2) This is economics, for peter's sake! Most people sleep in economics class even after stabbing themselves repeatedly in the thigh with a fork to stay awake.

3) Bush I and Bush II had economics whachamacallit majors, and they both resided over economic crashes, which their successors inherited.

4) Ideology is bull when it comes to economics. Sometimes we will need to tack hard one way, tack the other way, because the economy is complex and never stable.
What we can never do is just shrug and fiddle as the ship sinks.

I approve of extreme action taken by this administration so far. The main problem is that so many components of the plans are 4 years overdue or more.

5) I'm having a simply lovely day full of spring sunshine and the goodness of people's hearts in their natural ability to live in harmony and perfect understanding without an unkind word anywhere.

Thank you SO much for asking about my day. I don't want to know about yours.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 5, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

So, Yoki, should I pick out the China pattern?

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Hallo ye Boodlers!

This morning, late, went to an internet sales office to see about getting hooked up. An hour and a bit later, a techie was hooking up my broadband modem. Whoever said it took a month's wait to get internet here was full of poo-poo.

The Southern Wing of the Dawn Patrol will take off tomorrow in the company of parakeets who flock in the mornings.

Besties to all,

Posted by: Braguine | March 5, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey RT -- wait your turn!

*snort* *giggle*

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 5, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Let's hit some garage sales and thrift stores instead, dear one.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I heart Nate Silver:

He may not always be right, but he generally makes a whole bunch of sense.

Posted by: slyness | March 5, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

So... our pattern is "Varied?"

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Two big homemade chickenpot pies almost assembled. I wonder if I ought to pre-bake the borrom crusts a little bit? Any advice?

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 5, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Thistle, I have enjoyed reading you today. If learning stuff is enjoyable. Which it is.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 5, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Howdy Brag! I am glad you've achieved Boodle capability again.

"Varied" china pattern. Hee hee.

Jumper, I think you should prebake one and not the other. I volunteer to test the results and see which works best.

That sounds like a great day, Wilbrod. My day has gone pretty well too, except for the vicious flowering and pollinating flora which make this round thing on top of my neck most uncomfortable.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 5, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Certainly mine is :)

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I think it depends on the vessel and intended treatment. If they are in clear glass pans, and if you are going to freeze one or both to bake later, do not precook the crust, just get them in the freezer as soon as possible. If you are going to bake one now, what could it hoit?

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm actually afraid that my pattern may be FRA.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry, Jumper, I will shut up...

It gets to me when folks over complicate the situation ...

I guess I'm not alone. I note that Obama's popularity is rising even in the crisis. (one whole month)...

The Republicans in Congress are dropping like a rock and, somehow, Nancy P. is hanging in there or improving.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Ah, since I have been waiting to get some people together for a meeting tomorrow, I didn't notice, but one bright spot according to the WP's financial wrap-up, Wal-mart, which had a small uptick in sales.

Funny, I heard from a friend that she was complaining to the manager about Wal-mart raising their prices... significantly of items that she buys.

Maybe Wal-mart has it right?

The conventional wisdom seems to be to drop prices or provided cheaper alternatives.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 5, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, still chuckling over your fork to the leg comment.

Tying two things together, I took an economic history class in University (which I quite enjoyed), however, early in the term I decided, to walk outside from the bus stop across campus(slow uphill climb), on a very clear night. What I didn't realize at the time was I have asthma, by th time I got to class, and sat down I had begun to wheeze. After a few minutes the wheeze began to become few noticibly, so as everyone sat rapt in attention listening to a description of (elasticity?) I serenaded the class with my gasping for air.

Yes, I wanted to crawl through the floor, but I did manage to stay awake through a very boring part of the course.

Still trying to figure out why I walked outside instead of underground in the connecting tunnels which I normally would have done.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 5, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I was driving home just now and was behind a car with the license plate Scotty should have: HUG 001. And I don't think it was a vanity plate, neither.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Buenos dias, Brag! Glad you're getting settled in. Can hardly wait to hear tales of Santiago. I bet it's beautiful.

Posted by: seasea | March 5, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

I see that British fellow was named Best Dressed. Sigh. Maybe the pleated pants were a bad idea after all.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 5, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree bc. I hope Wal-Mart will hire security. I think everyone will feel better.

Slyness, using that poor child as a cover wasn't good either.

I guess no one here knows the whereabouts of Martooni or perhaps don't want to say?

We're back, I have the g-girl. School is out tomorrow, the kids have a holiday. Have a good evening, folks. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 5, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Early morning storm blocked my internet. Its that accumulation of snow on the dish problem, but this snow is dry and the wind this afternoon took care of things.

I feel so out of touch.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 5, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Glad you are connected again dr, after your comments several days ago I have some help for you to help you love TO (all in fun).

Posted by: dmd2 | March 5, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Brag, glad to have you back on board.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 5, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

somewhat Rococo would be a good name for a progressive rock band or perhaps a boodle handle for one of us with some gilt curlicues, albe-them hidden.

LiT? Are you there? Which of us shall order the Whole Universal Life in the Cosmos preacher license? I see that a wedding is upon us, with Yoki and RT crushin' over words about the economy and all.

Frosti, I only like scones within ten minutes of the oven. After that, the cream and butter harden and what passes for scones ought be illegal in both the US and Canada. So, dear one, perhaps you will each scones at my hands one day. RT will provide the perfect perc of Hondo coffee. Or we can have lovely tea.

Scones are one of Ireland's real foods. We bow before no-one for this treat. That, and soda bread. Currants are not raisins. You might like currants. But, I can leave them out. Perhaps you will like lemon curd -- sans peel -- atop your scones?

Hi DR. I am not knitting nearly enough. Please take up my slack so that we average out into fabrical goodness.

And, Mudge, Hippo Birdies to your son.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 5, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Brag! Ta DAH and Huzzah on your connectedness. How is the fall? You MISSED our gigantic snowstorm.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 5, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Good giggle dmd. I'll give you the food, which just isn't something easily found out here and then, the incomparable air of the old neighbourhoods of Toronto. Me likey.

The boy and I were disscussing what it is about Toronto and we think it really is just the media. The Mansbrigian air of superiority and all. And before that it was the Knowlton Nebbish sense of superiority. Except Knowlton, bless his heart never did come across as superior, just academic but otherwise pretty much off the farm. Maybe the media just needs to stop trying to be hip.

Or maybe all Toronto needs to do is move all the major media outlets to Winnipeg...or something. Permanently.

My views of the general area improved greatly knowing you reside nearby, and Toronto will be vastly improved with Yoki there.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 5, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

CP, I got your back. Lately I am faltering though. I seem to be spending and inordinate amount of time sleeping. In fact I had a good nap this afternoon. Aren't new mattresses nice? Its my bit for the economy.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 5, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Mansbridge from Winnipeg?

Posted by: dmd2 | March 5, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Warm scones with lemon curd? I'm in, CqP, I'm definitely in! Tea will be delightful. I'll bring an assortment; do you like Earl Grey? Peach? English Breakfast? Lady Grey? Constant Comment? Name your favorite and I'll make sure to have it.

I have a 2-cup Brown Betty and also a little green pot the Elderdottir brought me from Harrod's when she was there. Thoughtful child, that one. She knows her mom.

Cassandra, the stupidity of trying to steal from Wal-Mart astounds me. If you're going to steal, make it worthwhile, go for the big bucks. Like the folks on Wall Street, for example. The penny-ante stuff is unproductive and gives a person a record and a reputation for stupidity. It's not a good example for the kids, either.

Did you see the story today about the pair who were arrested for snatching a purse from a 90-year-old woman? They knocked her down and broke bones, for what? Is an old woman going to have cash on her to make that worthwhile?

Posted by: slyness | March 5, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, that would indeed be an acceptable license plate, except that the number is MUCH too small.


Posted by: Scottynuke | March 5, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Ah come on. Scones keep fairly well when they are made with butter. sheeesh

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 5, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

They are better in the first 10 minutes, sure, but they hold well enough.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 5, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Funny. I read it as #1 Hugger. So therefore the number is perfect.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Hugs 101, as in the definitive class taught by the Rococo-Snow Professoro S'Nukes!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 5, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I disagree. Scones (biscuits) are fabulous if not more than 10 minutes out of the oven, but after that? May as well have hard tack after knocking the weevils out of it on the edge of the mess-table.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm Butch?
Fantastic, thanks for noticing...

Brag, good to see you, sir.

Er, I should get back to work.
Believe it or not.


Posted by: -bc- | March 5, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Those would be boll-weevils. The lesser of the two weevils.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

SD, share your scone-butter secret. But, at this moment, Yoki and I throw our Celtic Crockery (patent pending) cooking at you. I did eat a scone at Starbucks -- tiny one -- encased in vanilla worked, because it formed a barrier against the entropy of dessication.

And Jumper, one of those pot pies is for my lunch, I shall beg you. I ate chicken pot pie after delivering the lovely wee and darling and bold babes....fortifying and comforting and perfect for the occasion.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 5, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Did you, CP?

I drank a large mug of milky Red Rose tea and (confession) ate about twenty fresh gingery specially-for-me-baked gingersnaps brought by my best girl *ever* for exhausted Yoki.

Such a happy memory; spice and sugar to restore me to myself, and tea (as we always do and did together).

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has decided he doesn't wanna take a pay cut and be Surgeon general after all.

I'm starting to feel more than a little sorry for Obama, and more than a little irritated at the people who are suddenly deciding they don't want to serve...or haven't paid their effing taxers...

Obama did nothing to deserve this crap.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 5, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, it appears the Redskins have averted disaster. Snyder and Vinny Cerrato have said "no" to T.O.


Brag, it's great to have you back in the squadron!! We'll have your SPAD out on the tarmac at 0-dark-hundred, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if slyness had some of her notoriously delish country ham biscuits in the Ready Room in the morning, in your honor.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 5, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Is it the bucks or the questioning they have to go through to be confirmed?

Posted by: --dr-- | March 5, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Econ in '09:
come to a fork on Wall Street
take it; stab the glut(e)s

Posted by: DNA_Girl | March 5, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Well, that's the $64 question, dr. It's getting to the point that any time a nominee drops out or otherwise declines, we all immediately start thinking the worst.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 5, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Psst, Yoki, CqP, its the James Beard recipe you want. If they ever reached the hard tack stage, they would taste good. Just dip them in your tea and delight in the buttery goodness.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 5, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Whew, I'm glad to see it's not me- it's the scones. I would love some fresh with lemon curd. 12 minutes old with fruity bits? I'll pass.

We had our first 50 degree day in I don't know how long and it is still a balmy 39. Almost didn't know what to do with myself this afternoon- out and about in a sweater with no gloves.

Time to snuggle down with _Team of Rivals_ If I don't start reading earlier of an evening it will take me longer to read it than it took Doris to write it.

Toodles boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 5, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, that is the perfect pick-me up, Red Rose-milky style and gingersnaps.

The pot pie could be made two days before, so twas ready later that day. Babies came quickly, as if on a bullet train: 5 hours,2 hours, and 1.5 hours. I then insisted on returning home that day to my own sheets and pale lemon walls and books and music. I hate hospitals, for birth and death.

So, within the day, I was ready for that goodness of chicken and soft vegetables all rolled up in a flaky crust. Large glass of milk, too. And Pablo Casals playing the Bach cello suites and doggy nose touching the soft top of baby's head; other children exclaiming over miniature fingernails....etc.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 5, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I was actually starting to wonder about him Mudge. History channel has been messing with its scheduling and there isn't anything decent on at 4 a.m. my time, so I have been watching a lot more news than normal. Dr. Gupta has been on and ever so cheerful, I was beginning to wonder if I had misunderstood his nomination. (Is that the right word for it?)

But honestly, can you imagine a call from the man, and saying no? No matter how it goes, he's going to be seen as either a money grubber or a wastrel in the Austen sense of the word.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 5, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, how about oatmeal-laced soda bread without fruity bits? You can toast lightly and spread with herbed cream cheese. Delish and hearty without being heavy.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 5, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

and etc. and etc. and etc., dear sister.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, in some towns you have to steal from WalMart because it is the only place left. Also, it has flat screen TVs, electronics, clothes and guns. The sad thing is that more and more now people are starting to steal basics rather than luxuries. You know things are bad when someone is risking jail or worse for junk food, flip-flops and diapers.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 5, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

No fruity bits. Ever.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 5, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom-I only lived 12 months in your lovely state, but remember quite vividly the reports in the Lawton paper of local criminal proceedings. It seemed that a woman writing a bad check for $50 could get 2 years in prison but if a man beat the carp out of her he'd get no more. Maybe I was over reacting to a one, or two, off, but it seemed relatively minor property crimes really brought the hammer down. Battery, not so much.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 5, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

The sweetest of times, Yoki, when they are in present tense. And, very sweet in a sepia-way when past.

Dickens said this in The Old Curiosity Shoppe:

“It is no small thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.”

Thank you for the chance to remember this. Now, when I see the Red Rose tea tag I will think of the lady babies and laddy baby. Laddy baby is now of huge puppy-man feet and gilt with beard furze on his soft face. He looks like my middle brother O (betcha cannot guess this name!) and like my departed Swede-Finn father in-law, at the same time. In another two years his face will be male and not androgynous...and as I miss the babies...I will gladly wait the decent interval to grandparent-land. But, on that day, I will bake chicken pot pie and listen to Bach cello music...and drink tea while waiting....

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 5, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Oswalt. Osmond. Ostergaard. Ophelius. Octavian. Ormandy. Am I getting close?

Frostbitten, that is sad but true. This year the bill making first-offense domestic violence a felony, often introduced, may actually pass.

We have always had a healthy respect for property here, being essentially a state built on land ownership. I believe our healthy respect for the possibility of prosperity is what convinces so many people to vote so regularly for candidates who promote economic policies from which they do not benefit and which actually hurt them.

Several groups of community leaders statewide are actively beginning dialogues to change the way our state culture treats women and children. We have high rates of uninsured, teen pregancy, poverty, poor health, abuse, addiction - and, of course, the highest rate of incarcerated women. All this suggests the welfare of women and children has low priority. While individuals deplore this, we want to unleash what should be a torrent of outrage. Changing the culture is difficult but it can be done. Rape, for instance, is now taken seriously, prosecuted as vigorously as anywhere else, and receives substantial prison time. Child abuse and sexual abuse, too, are now abhorred and receive harsh punishment. In another arena, the public accepts all public buildings and restaurants statewide being smoke-free, and smokers (still close to 25% of the population) are demonized here just as they are everywhere else (other than the tobacco-growing states). If rapists and smokers are pariahs, we're off to a good start.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 5, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

And CquaP uses the sturdy oakish word "furze"

This is the real thing, isn't it? To see the babbies grow to people?

With Bach, of course. Me? I'm listening to the Goldberg Variations.

Some of it is bitterly painful, but mostly? Sweet.

Yo! CP! Together, we're both Oirish and DylanThomas-like.

So tedious for everyone else here.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

DR -- I will have to look at a hard copy book for JB's scones. Did he make griddle scones?

I will eat them later, but they must be dipped... or the frown of disappointment in scone qua scone....G'Nite sweet boodlers. I shall resist checking every bed and nightlight and window now that Yoki has me in in mommy mode. Who left the Helen Oxenbury book open and on the floor? Books are precious! And, there is a terrycloth teddy bear under the rocker. Yours, Mudge?

The door is locked and the dog in. Humming...

I see the moon and the moon sees me
The moon sees somebody I don't see
God bless the moon and God bless me
And, God bless the somebody I don't see.

My mom told us that this song blessed everybody in the world, because there were so many that we couldn't see them all. The song covered the whole enchilada of it all.


Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 5, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Hi, CP. For some reason I feel like I haven't talked to/with you for months. How are ya? I always love the lyricism of your posts, your voice.

Hey, Yoki, check your e-mail. I'm on pins and needles.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | March 5, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Got it, caught it, 'mudge. Later.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I saw a very good high school production tonight of 'Footloose: The Musical'. Everyone in it was excellent but one member of the ensemble that wore an orange vest with lots of utility pockets was particularly good.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

CqP, I'm going to have to look for the recipe, and will go through some of my other books to see if he did griddle scones. I don't have any of his books, but I have several of Marion Cunninghams, and she adored him. I'll have griddle sones somewhere I'm sure.

And ahemm, just in case, don't wallpaper with a spouse.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 5, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

SCC: WHO wore WHO wore WHO wore
And I had been doing so well.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Who are you, who is so wise in the way of marriage?

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Just in from caring for the dogs. There was a meeting of the historic preservation committee tonight. One big CF, in every sense. Our chair misuses Robert's Rules to the point where I'm ready to reach across the table and use the gavel as a knuckle rapper. We've been trying to portray ourselves as community friendly for the past two years. Tonight's debacle shot all of that effort far into the septic field in the adjacent county. Harumph. Maybe I'll go on a make me feel-better-spending-binge and by up a few hundred shares of citicorp or gm stock. By tomorrow they should be trading for the change that's scattered about the house.

Posted by: -jack- | March 5, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Roberts Rules of Order. There's a blast from the past. Do they use the Marquis of Queensbury Rules too? Perhaps in the Latin Rite.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Somebody beat me to the joke:

Posted by: yellojkt | March 5, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Indeed Yello,
Whoworing is a new low.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | March 5, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeah. yello. Bare knuckled, even.

Posted by: -jack- | March 5, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

like this:

Posted by: -jack- | March 5, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Ha!! Hahahaha! Jack. Holy moly! You rock YouTube.

Posted by: Yoki | March 5, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Sanjay bowed out because he realized he'd have to wear that cheesy uniform. (I'm sorry, it looks fake to me.)

Whooooo are you? Who who, who who?

Posted by: seasea | March 5, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

[singing] Throw up your hands/Stick out your tush/Hands on your hips/Give 'em a push/You'll be surprised, you're doing the French Mistake/Voila! That vignette slays me.

Posted by: -jack- | March 5, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

seasea, that costume worn by the Surgeon General IS a fake. Silliest thing ever. It always looks like something Teddy Roosevelt designed.

Posted by: nellie4 | March 6, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt! I am rather familiar with that production of Footloose. The ScienceFamily shall be seeing it tomorrow night. Glad you liked it. ScienceKid#1 is rather disappointed, however, that Rorschach (from Watchmen) does not appear during one particular number.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Boodle!

Dropping off croissants, brioches and marraquetas in the ready-room.

Parakeet squadeon one is chirpind from a tree. Squadeon two is finishing breakfast of palm nuts.

We are ready for action!

Happy to hear I missed the giant snow storm. Here it is hot in the afternoons and crispy fresh in the mornings.

Will be posting some Chillle stuff in the next few days.


Posted by: Braguine | March 6, 2009 5:08 AM | Report abuse

Buenos dias Brag!

And for you 'Mudge:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | March 6, 2009 5:55 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Rorscach wouldn't have fit in with the "Waiting For A Hero" number although he does figure into the "Eyes Are Always Watching" subtheme.

They did cut my favorite moment where Ariel screams "I'm not even a virgin." I guess that was too risque for a high school production. The did keep in several beer and drug references.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 6, 2009 5:56 AM | Report abuse

Hello Brag!
Great to hear that you are in a great new setting!!! I have to scurry around. Two jobs for which to prepare and decent travel times between.

I remember your publisher's advice, you need a couple more killings in the early chapters.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 6, 2009 6:00 AM | Report abuse

From today's Post (electronic front page)

U.S. to Invite The Wealthy To Invest in The Bailout

By David Cho
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 6, 2009; Page A01

The government is seeking to resuscitate the nation's crippled financial system by forging an alliance with the very outfits that most benefited from the bonanza preceding the collapse of the credit markets: hedge funds and private-equity firms.


A great article!

We (the Fed Gvt) are trying to get our very rich to buy up credit that is in distress, guarantee the process. One would presume that their is a profit motive there.

I am even more amused by the ad running along my right page margin which promotes private development and ownership of the national power grid.

The battle against the "socialists" is on!!!

Posted by: russianthistle | March 6, 2009 6:24 AM | Report abuse

Brag! Great to have you back on the flightline. Dawn Patrol muster hasn't been the same without your recon reports.

And speaking of heroes, in honor of Watchman Day, here is mine:

And my wife did give me a little nudge when the mentioned Slaughterhouse Five during Footloose.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 6, 2009 6:28 AM | Report abuse

By the way, the reference to the power grid is interesting by the fact that groups like the Carlyle Group (DC's own) to buy up previously public (utilities) water supplies. Is that really a good idea?

This was a growing issue up to the point when Carlyle got it own "tie in the electric fan" of the credit crisis a couple of years ago.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 6, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Biscuits will be out of the oven shortly, and the country ham is already ready to stuff them!

I hope the person who finds the Beard scone recipe will post it here. I'm reduced to using a mix, which is really good but still a mix. Sticky Fingers...

Good morning, all! The temperature is well above freezing this morning and will zoom to almost 70 this afternoon. Spring is (finally!) on its way...

Much to do today, so I'll get started and check in when I get a moment.

Posted by: slyness | March 6, 2009 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Man!!! Slyness!!!!

How COULD YOU!?!?!?

I was reading the scone discussion from last night, and thinking what I could eat before I run out for a very long day that I would enjoy... a nice piece of country ham (something that most of which us city folks have no understanding) would be perfect.

A biscuit, even from mix would be the final coup.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 6, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

I shall not argue your license plate interpretation, Yoki, for that would be a silly thing.

'Mudge, very good news to hear Snyder (for once) let sanity prevail.

I can't fault Dr. Gupta on his choice, but the timing really does raise doubts... *SIGH*

Dawn Patrol was positively balmy, I must say, and that's not a bad thing. And let me also say my first glimpse of the sunrise was particularly breathtaking, with a strip of cloud bisecting the luminous orb.

*TGIF-to-the-nth-power Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

please forgive my little text box nightmare!

Slyness, I visited with my very dear friend last night and got her the homemade (non-industrial) bread and butter pickles from the Pickle Man at Eastern Market. My friend is from NC and I really enjoy how she says "biscuits."

She thinks I am making fun. I am not. People from North Carolina just know how to say Biscuits.

Sort of like having the words "Now, Barn!?" fried on your brain.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 6, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone, it warmed up during the night here, 13c/55f already this morning. When I took the dog out earlier I could feel warmth in the air - so nice.

Have a good day all.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 6, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Obama wins election - Market bombs
Obama gets inaugurated - Market bombs
Obama signs stimulus package - Market bombs
Obama touts health care plan - Market bombs

America sees a trend beginning to form.

Posted by: Mako2 | March 6, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of sepia-toned scones, when I was young the only time I had scones was during the Western Washington State Fair in Puyallup Washington.

These were simple warm scones filled with melted butter and raspberry jam. The Fisher Scone folks made these by the thousands. People would stand in line for what to me seemed like forever to get a bag of these delights. It was not uncommon for me to eat a half dozen at a time, thus effectively doubling my resting body weight.

Nowadays I only eat scones on rare occasions. They are so dangerously rich, what with the first three ingredients being "butter" and all. But when I do eat them I always slather them with copious amounts of melted butter and raspberry jam. I try not to eat a half dozen, though.

Well, at least not all at once.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

The market bombing, alas, is a common enough occurrence that simple correlation is meaningless.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse


Over 50 international flights arrive to Santiago from all parts of the world. Long queues form at immigration. Tired-looking, but friendly, officials keep the hordes moving and stamping passports..

A giant X-ray machine swallows luggage and customs agents are busy speeding people through.

It sounds simple. I managed to get on the wrong queue. Some transit passengers whose airplane broke down were being processed to get aboard another aircraft. It took the official about a minute to figure out I did not belong to this group.

By the time I got stamped in, someone was frantically paging me. My bags stood in the middle of the baggage claim area and police had evacuated the joint. I didn’t have to wait to go through customs.


Posted by: Braguine | March 6, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Although I try to be philosophical about the market because I do not rely upon it, I feel very badly for those who do.

For example, my in-laws (because of foolish management in my opinion) have seen their retirement cut in half. They are fine for now, but I fear we might one day need a much larger guest bedroom.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Wow Brag. Way to make an entrance!

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Wait, wait! I think Mako2 may be on to something. After all, if I recall correctly, wasn't the market in absolutely fantastic shape last October, before he won and sent the "smart money" scurrying? Wasn't the market hitting record highs just before the first Tuesday in November? I'm pretty sure Obama ran on a platform of "We're doing great now, and we can do even better. Yes, we can!" I've got that right, don't I?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Or, perhaps it goes this way:

Warm weather -- market bombs.
Cold weather -- market bombs.
Vernal equinox -- market bombs.
Sun rises -- market bombs.
Sun sets -- market gets bombed and calls old girlfriend in the middle of the night.
Sun rises again -- market bombed.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Man, Mako!! Great point!!!

Check this out:

Obama has amazing powers to crush the US economy and he can do it ALL OVER THE PLACE!

Check out the article to learn more of Obama's influence.

Obama is the arch-economy crusher. No wonder the markets are collapsing. He was causing banks to go into distress in the 3rd quarter of '08 in the state of Florida.

Now that he is President, those banks don't have a chance.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 6, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse


There in lies the basis of my cheer up to my friend from NC who is just completely bent out of shape over her 401K becoming a 201K...

Even as the markets get crushed, the sun comes up and the sunrise can be absolutely splendid.

Her biggest frustration is that she believed that you would be alright if she bought and held stock. She might still be ok (when she is 70)... It is a brutal lesson in a 100-year storm of an economic downturn.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 6, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

"America sees a trend beginning to form."
The shark returns to speak some sense!
What we need is fewer inaugurations. Five of the last nine before Obama's saw stocks drop (including Reagan's first and W's second). What we need more of is Pearl Harbors, stocks went up after that.

Morning boodle! A local foundation's early childhood education efforts are getting some national attention. Good on 'em. They've actually managed to get school districts, the feds, and the state to (hang on to your socks, this is hard to believe) set aside turf protection efforts to avoid duplication and serve more kids while reducing costs. Best of all, they've committed to following the 400 kids who started 4 years ago for 30 years. This is going to yield so much data I'm giddy, and I'm not even all that interested in preschool aged kids.

I'm with Cassandra, where's Martooni?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 6, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Bush earned his labels for the economic collapse, though most of the damage was done after Pelosi got hold of the nation's purse strings.

People see what they want to see.

Posted by: Mako2 | March 6, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Remember the cancer, wine, and British women study? This is why you always need to read the fine print:

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 6, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

All this talk about food is going right over my stuffy head. My sense of smell and taste are not functioning at all with this cold. I should just dance my way through this cold as our dancing lesson last night cleared my head for an hour.

Glad you’re settling in Brag. Parakeets in the trees must be fun to watch.

Posted by: badsneakers | March 6, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

"People see what they want to see."

Stunning statement of self awareness. We admire that around here.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 6, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

*belated-upside-down-happy-to-see-Brag-safe-on-the-ground Grover waves*

*faxin' Sneaks some chowdah with a little wasabi thrown in for the sinuses* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 6, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse


In all seriousness, Bush was a tool. I'm no Pelosi fan, but what she has done is nothing compared to the last 20 years of economic profiteering.

I posted a link to the front page (e version) of the Post. That's the source of your interest. The middle class isn't anymore or betters said--lessened. We have very little industry to speak of compared to the old days. We have off-shored everything for the profit motive.

In the past 20 years, we have again allowed the very few to gain control of our businesses and our money. They don't even trust us enough to leave the money in the companies. When they get the money, they rush it off-shore.

Now, America turns to the very wealthy to get them to share their TRILLIONS with us to get us out of this mess. To which, we will guarantee their safe investment.

Mako, remember that Rick Santelli thing? It looked like it was a spontaneous outburst? It was all a PR gimmick backed by one of the wealthiest families in America and their foundations.

If you see the Republican party collapsing, it is, for the most part, because it is the tool of the very wealthy. I totally agree with many of the original platforms of the party, but those aren't steering the ship right now.

Don't mind the man behind the curtain.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 6, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Dark and gloomy morning here. And it's going to get worse (thanks US Congress!), we change to Daylight Saving Time this weekend.
CqP, Yoki, the only thing I know about scones is their price. I don't bake and don't eat them either (too frikking sweet for diabetics and I take my carbs elsewhere if salty scones were involved).
I buy them at the Scone Witch, a women-owned and operated café and bakery right by my workplace. I sometimes bring 6 home after work. More often than not there is less than 3 left for breakfast the next morning and those are gone by 09:00.
How do I know about the butter? About 20 pounds of butter are left to warm to room temperature beside the big mixer when they get ready to make a new batch.
So even the next morning the "old" scones are good enough for my Witches.
The Scone Witch is a good address for breakfast or lunch in Ottawa by the way, but the service can be as flaky as their scones.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 6, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

"People see what they want to see"

Frosty, I thieved that line from RD_Padouk. He deserves the credit. Shakespeare probably wrote something similar, but doubfully as simple or elegant.

Posted by: Mako2 | March 6, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Weed, I hope you enjoyed your ham biscuits. The biscuit recipe is from my mom's Wesson Oil cookbook. Since liquid oil is used, they are good warm and toasted but not cold.

We have found a little barbeque restaurant in West Jefferson, NC whose owners also have a country ham curing business. The Best Country Ham EVER! The barbeque is excellent too.

I'm not looking at the statements from my financial advisors till the economy improves. I hope Sara is right and that we are 14 months into an 18-month event. As for the Obama budget, nothing ventured, nothing gained - and a whole lot lost if nothing is ventured. Yes, it's a gamble, but if we don't gamble something, we have no chance at all of getting out of the hole.

Posted by: slyness | March 6, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: omnigood | March 6, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle, Al.

Actually, the Rock Man said "People see what they want to see" (and "hear what they want to hear") to Oblio in The Point (1971).

Best line in the whole movie? ..."who grew so old he decomposed."

We could use some Harry Nillson right about now.

Posted by: Yoki | March 6, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I have The Point LP around here someplace... probably worth some dough, these days. Nobody remembers that movie, possibly because of the ham-handed (to stick with a theme this morning) allegory.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

But, I should note, *I* liked The Point. I identified very much with Oblio.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 6, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Great idea, Yoki!

'Morning, Boodle.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

And this one is dedicated to Mako, because this is where his economic theories belong (or came from).

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

The pragmatist Ellen Goodman, whose op-ed was reprinted in our local paper today:

Pew Research folks have charted an even deeper divide in the [Rush Limbaugh's] audience — 72 percent of his listeners are men, only 28 percent are women. Nevertheless, with the deepest of faux sincerity, Limbaugh announced a Female Summit on his favorite subject: Rush Limbaugh. ...

Now a touch of reality here. Women don't tune in to talk radio as much as men. Talk radio has been the forum of the "angry white man" since the 1990s. Women have had quite enough men yell at them, thank you, and Rush is more than vaguely reminiscent of the boss from hell.

But Rush, who brags "I own the men," asked "what must I do now to own the women?" Well, sweetie, Oprah owns the women. If Rush talks at women, Oprah talks with women.

Just imagine Limbaugh in marriage therapy letting his wife speak for an uninterrupted five minutes. You don't own women unless you can listen to them.

Posted by: laloomis | March 6, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

slyness: Hard charlies.

Posted by: -jack- | March 6, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, that was your best post ever. Seriously.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 6, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

What do you get when you cross a Xb with a Pacer? A Cube.,0,3166428.photogallery

Posted by: -jack- | March 6, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Lie lie lie...
Simon & Garfunkel

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 6, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

New kit coming momentarily...

Posted by: joelache | March 6, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Loomis good point, except that even if you listen to them, you don't own them.

I'll email that recipe slyness.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 6, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I've never heard talk radio, but I had to chuckle at the "boss from hell."

I had one once. Big Republican, contributed up the wazoo, and complained about being too poor to afford a 1 million tax shelter offshore on some island.

I know working Republicans; I know Christian conservatives; I know fiscal conservatives.

They ain't the ones who have been CF'ing with the Republican leadership.

I thought "that kind of Republican" was a caricature until I had that boss.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 6, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Yep. Good post. Too bad she didn't write it.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 6, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

New kit. Bring your thermometers and Updike.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 6, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: kbertocci | March 6, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

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