31 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

A very long while ago, I wrote about New Jersey’s attempt to invade Delaware with an LNG port.

The Supreme Court has ruled. Delaware’s boundaries are, well, Delaware’s boundaries.

As I mentioned at the time, all New Jersey has to do is more it a couple of miles upriver, and it will be within New Jersey.

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30 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks, It Is To Laugh

Contrary to my beliefs, there is such a word, and it has a history that predates political apologias.

Howsomever, what it means is not how it’s being used today, which seems to be defined as “I didn’t think my lie would be caught out and I’m not going to admit I was lying“:

An enthralling etymological debate is raging online regarding the meanings of ‘misspeak’ in its original Old English form (‘to grumble’), in Chaucer’s day (‘to speak insultingly’), and in 19th-century America (‘to speak unclearly or fail to tell the whole truth’).

But we all know what went on in Hillary’s case, don’t we? I’m not sure there is a word that specifically means ‘embellishing an anecdote in order to make oneself sound more interesting’, but we need a word for that and ‘misspeak’ will do as well as any. (‘Embell-self-glamming’ would be more fun, but its construction sounds a little German. And the Germans probably don’t do it. They’re more likely to need a word which means ‘downplaying an anecdote in order to make oneself sound slightly less efficient’ and I expect they’ve got one. Coined years ago, neatly prepared in case of future-use requirement.)

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Looking for an investment? Here’s a growth industry:

About a year ago, business from foreclosures started to pick up. In the last two or three months, it has become a deluge.

Last month, 7,499 foreclosure actions were filed in Miami-Dade and Broward counties alone.

(Via McClatchy.)

You get to meet nice people like this lady:

All Joanne Keeley wanted to do was help her grandson buy a used car, but she ended up with an expensive mortgage she couldn’t afford.

Walter Sellers, who arranged financing for the car, was moonlighting as a mortgage salesman and dangled a $1,220 monthly payment in front of her until the night before closing last May, she said, when he told her it would really be $1,790.

“He floored me,” she said. It got even worse the next day at closing, when she learned that the $1,790 payment did not include taxes and insurance, which amount to $310 a month.

“I guess if it had been $1,790, I wouldn’t have” applied for the loan, Keeley said recently at her dining room table in Aston, Delaware County, with her 6-year-old granddaughter at her side.

Sellers, who said he could not remember Keeley, declined to comment on her situation.

Why didn’t she run? Read a little further into the story:

“I trusted this man so much. He seemed like my friend,” Keeley said of Sellers, recalling how he sat at her dining room table last April to gather information for the application.

(snip)

“People who are in the business of bait-and-switch marketing know what they are doing,” Ackelsberg said. “They wait to change the terms until the transaction has progressed to a point where they know that it will be nearly impossible, psychologically, for the consumer to say no.”

Meanwhile, back on the preserve

Countrywide Financial’s chief executive and president will receive a combined $19 million in stock next week as part of the company’s pending takeover by Bank of America, according to a regulatory filing.

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27 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

This cold just won’t go away.

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26 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: It Is To Laugh

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26 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: America's Concentration Camps

If they speak Arabic, they are guilty until proven innocent. From Josh Marshall:

After leaving his post as chief prosecutor for the Gitmo tribunals because the process had become “deeply politicized,” Col. Morris Davis added fuel to the fire when he said that William Haynes, the Pentagon official who later oversaw the tribunals, had told him that “we can’t have acquittals.”

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A while ago, I linked this post from Phillybits concerning a rightwing teacher’s spreading wingnut poison in public school.

Now comes another chapter in the story:

The state Human Relations Commission is investigating a complaint from an Indian River School District parent who said her 10-year-old daughter’s teacher told her class she would not vote for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama because he is Muslim.

In a letter to the editor, the girl’s two older sisters — who described themselves as American Muslim kids who love their country — said the teacher told the fifth-grade class that she is a Republican and that Obama “believes in different things and is scary.”

Obama, a Christian, has been trying to dispel myths about his religion across the country.

What his camp calls “smear e-mails” have circulated nationally for months claiming the Illinois senator is Muslim. His campaign Web site notes Obama’s response in a January debate on MSNBC: “In the Internet age, there are going to be lies that are spread all over the place. I have been victimized by these lies. Fortunately, the American people are, I think, smarter than folks give them credit for.”

The Indian River teacher’s remarks allegedly occurred prior to a mock Feb. 5 Super Tuesday primary vote at Lord Baltimore Elementary School.

This is what separation of church and state is about. It is not right to have an agent of the state (that is, a public school teacher) attempting to influence political choices.

Well, we could stop there, couldn’t we? But let’s finish the thought:

It is not right to have an agent of the state (that is, a public school teacher) attempting to influence political choices to further a particular religious point of view.

Even if it weren’t–as in this case–based on a lie.

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And anyone who tells you that middle income families can easily find reasonably-priced health insurance on the open market has never had to pay for his or her own health insurance.

My new health insurance policy that I am happy to have and which, frankly, will never be any use to me unless my son or I end up in the hospital (which means I hope it will never be any use to me) is equal to almost half my mortgage payment PITI–more than half my mortgage payment PI–(30 year straight 5.75%) per month.

Recent history has not been kind to working-class Americans, who were down on the economy long before the word recession was uttered.

The main reason: spiraling health-care costs have been whacking away at their wages. Even though workers are producing more, inflation-adjusted median family income has dipped 2.6 percent — or nearly $1,000 annually since 2000.

Employees and employers are getting squeezed by the price of health care. The struggle to control health costs is viewed as crucial to improving wages and living standards for working Americans. Employers are paying more for health care and other benefits, leaving less money for pay increases. Benefits now devour 30.2 percent of employers’ compensation costs, with the remaining money going to wages, the Labor Department reported this month. That is up from 27.4 percent in 2000.

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24 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

Tomorrow, 6-9 p.m., Tangier Restaurant, 18th and Lombard, Philadelphia. Another month and it will be warm enough to dine al fresco, assuming Al shows up, of course.

Stand in for me.

I’m on Day Nine of the Worst Cold I’ve Had in Five Years.

The doctor told me it’s been hanging on as much as three weeks with some people. Sort of like Bush Cheney–just won’t go away even with you are sick to death of it.

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24 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: Drumbeats

The Booman Tribune hears the rhythm.

So the best that can be said about this latest news is that the Bush administration and its allies in the Israeli government continue to play a game of chicken with Iran, to coerce concessions from the Iranian government, or perhaps to bully others into agreeing to a tougher sanctions regime (the “Madman is loose again” ploy). The worst? Cheney was sent to Riyadh, Tel Aviv and other destinations in the Middle East to shore up support to a plan to strike Iran before the end of President Bush’s term in office. . . .

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24 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

The Dead

See the full-sized image here (it’s very large).

Image from Huffington Post via Phillybits.

Brendan has a personal reflection.

Delaware Liberal has some thoughts.

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23 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

The Guardian:

A couple weeks ago, I sat down with a senior trade consultant, a man who has been around epicentres of power for over 30 years. I asked him to look in his crystal ball, to tell me not what would definitely unfold over the coming years but what could plausibly occur given what’s happening in the economy at the moment. Where would we be, in say, 2010?

“1931,” was his answer.

Oh, so we’re going to be two years past the worst of the worst, I said, assuming he meant we’d be heading away from our equivalent of 1929, when Wall Street crashed and the go-go economy ground to a halt.

Wrong. What he meant was that we’d be in the true dog days. For although 1929 marks the start of the economic malaise that gripped the world through the second world war, as Paul Krugman wrote recently in the New York Times, it wasn’t until 1930-31 that the full effect of the aftershocks was felt, ultimately resulting in runs on banks and wholesale unemployment. The event that history records as the Great Depression was, at least initially, only a severe recession. Not until the banks failed did the basic working premises of a complex market economy actually cease to function.

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23 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

The Demon Princess looks back:

Lessee: bonuses and dividends so far: the normalization of lying, spying and torture abroad and at home; the suspension of habeus corpus; giving Faux News Network and hate-spew radio a reason to exist and; the complete suspension of international and domestic law! Those things are quite an achievement in a democratic democracy! *wink, wink*

Follow the link. There’s much worth reading.

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Facts are sort of like bullets, are they not?

Via Yglesias.

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Making the rich, richer; the poor, poorer.

Robert Reich on “Moral Hazard”:

When it comes to risky behavior in the market, America has a double standard. We’re told that economic risk-taking as the key to entrepreneurial success, but when big entrepreneurs take big risks that fail it’s amazing how often they get bailed out. Indeed, the history of modern American business is littered with federal bailouts, loan guarantees, and no-questions-asked reorganizations. Some are well known, such as the Chrylser bailout of 1979, the savings and loan bailout of 1989, and the airline bailout of 2001. Most occur in the relative dark, such as the 1998 bailout of giant hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management (courtesy of former Fed chair Alan Greenspan), the not infrequent bailouts of under-funded corporate pension plans by the government’s Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, price supports for big agribusinesses facing market downturns, or the current bailout of Wall Street being engineered by Ben Bernanke’s Fed. Behind every one of these bailouts are CEOs or financial executives who were rescued from their bad bets.

CEOs get away with stupid mistakes all the time. Some, like Robert Nardelli, the former CEO of Home Depot, drive their company’s stock low that their boards eventually oust them. But they leave with eye-popping going-away presents nonetheless. (Nardelli got several hundrd million dollars on his departure.) If you’re an average American who gets canned from his job, even through no fault of your own, you probably won’t even get unemployment insurance (only 40 percent of job-losers qualify these days). Conservatives tell us that unemployment insurance reduces their incentive to find a new job quickly. In other words, moral hazard.

Some CEOs use bankruptcy as a means of getting out from under pesky labor contracts they might have “known they could not afford” when they agreed to them (Northwest Airlines most recently, for example). Others use it as a cushion against bad bets. Donald (“you’re fired!”) Trump’s casino empire has gone into bankruptcy twice — most recently, last November, when it listed $1.3 billion of liabilities and $1.5 million of assets — with no apparent diminution of the Donald’s passion for risky, if not foolish, endeavor. After all, his personal fortune is protected behind a wall of limited liability, and he collects a nice salary from his casinos regardless. But if you’re an ordinary person who has fallen on hard times, just try declaring bankruptcy to wipe the slate clean. A new law governing personal bankruptcy makes that route harder than ever. Its sponsors argued — you guessed it — moral hazard.

Bush’s “ownership society” has proven a cruel farce for poor people who tried to become home owners, and his minuscule response to their plight just another example of how conservatives use moral hazard to push their social-Darwinist morality. The little guys get tough love. The big guys get forgiveness.

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21 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: Drumbeats

They want another war. Be afraid. History has proven that there is no lie too great for this bunch.

Dan Froomkin distills the lies (emphasis added):

President Bush on Wednesday said something demonstrably false and inflammatory about Iran — asserting that the Iranian government has “declared they want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people.”

The Iranians have never done any such thing — and for Bush to say so at a time of great tension between the two countries is bizarre at best.

So why did he say it? Was he actively trying to misrepresent the situation? Was it just a slip of the tongue? Or does he believe it, despite the abundant evidence to the contrary?

It seems unlikely that Bush would choose this particular venue to launch a disinformation campaign: His comment came midway through a softball interview with an obscure U.S.-funded Farsi-language radio station, on the occasion of Persian new year. And the Iranian audience knows best that what he said is untrue. Such a blatant distortion only strengthens the Iranian government’s position that Bush is a liar.

So did Bush just misspeak? The White House certainly suggested that yesterday, with a spokesman insisting that Bush had simply spoken in “shorthand,” combining Iranian threats against Israel with concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

And yet, as disturbing as the third possibility is — that Bush is operating in an alternate reality — it’s supported by this simple fact: He’s said almost exactly the same thing at least once before.

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21 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

Via Phillybits.

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21 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

He’s got a point.

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20 March 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: First Looks

Upyernoz.

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A while ago, I said that Mike Huckabee had a singular trait amongst the pretenders for the throne of King George the Wurst.

I said that he was a sincere and honest candidate (no wonder he’s out of the Republican race) as much as I disagreed with him in many ways and on many levels.

He has now weighed in on the Barack Obama/Rev. Wright thing in a way that will, no doubt, make it impossible for him to ever get another vote in a Republican primary. Ever.

And one other thing I think we’ve got to remember: As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say, “That’s a terrible statement,” I grew up in a very segregated South, and I think that you have to cut some slack. And I’m going to be probably the only conservative in America who’s going to say something like this, but I’m just telling you: We’ve got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told, “You have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus.” And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had a more, more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

Via Susie.

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