Sep 302008

From the LA Times

Though Obama said no one person was at fault in the financial crisis and that there was a “lot of blame to spread around,” he urged voters to consider McCain’s record of favoring deregulation of the nation’s financial markets as they weighed which candidate would best steer the nation’s economic “ship into port.”

“With so much at stake — with our economy at risk, our children’s future in the balance — the greatest risk in this election is to repeat the same mistakes of the past,” Obama said. “We can’t take a chance on that same losing game.”

McCain also called for bipartisanship, yet he likewise criticized his rival.

“Sen. Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process,” McCain said, referring to the failed House vote. He continued: “Now is not the time to fix the blame; it’s time to fix the problem.”

Obama says there is a lot of blame to spread around. OK, let’s start spreading. I blame farm subsidies myself. Maybe not for the whole thing, and not directly, but farm subsidies are somewhere down there at the root of our financial problems — part of the system of pork trading that makes Senator Hayseed vote for big, uncontrolled housing programs for Senator Barney Frank in exchange for his support for pork for the agribusinesses back at Senator Hayseed’s home.

McCain said now is not the time to fix the blame, now is the time to fix the problem. So how do we have the slightest idea what to fix if we don’t know what caused the problem?

Maybe one of the reasons the House defeated Paulson’s $700 billion proposal is that its high-level supporters like Obama and McCain say such stupid things. It indicates a lack of seriousness.

Speaking of ag subsidies and the need to be serious about the financial crisis, one place Paulson could get money would be from a give-back in this year’s $300 billion Farm bill. It included $40 billion in new spending — for an industry that is experiencing better than usual times and prices. $40 is a long way from $700, but that would be a healthy start that would do a lot more than just provide 5.7 percent of the money Paulson is looking for. And why wouldn’t this be a good time to start building down the ag subsidy system anyway? Say cut $40 additional billion in spending. If even the EU is thinking about cutting its subsidy program, why not us?

[edits, 4-Oct]

Sep 242008

Here’s an idea for the regulation of the financial industry:

How about if we do more good regulation and less bad regulation?

And anyone who frames the issue as regulation vs deregulation is disqualified from the discussion.

Sep 232008

John Sununu et al point to AIG and say insurance regulation should be a federal function, not a state function with 50 different regulators.

OK, here’s a question. I understand that AIG sells two types of policy. One is insurance, which falls under 50 different state jurisdictions. The other is classified as securities, and is regulated by the feds.

Which one of these is the cause for its financial difficulties?

This is not a rhetorical question. The Sununu article does not answer it.

A late edit:  This article from the New York Times suggests, but does not tell us for sure, that it’s the securities business at AIG that caused all the trouble.

Sep 192008

In her acceptance speech, Sarah Palin said this:

Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.

Now it turns out that it’s conservatives who want to be scrupulous about reading them their rights, and it’s leftwingers who are taking the Sarah Palin position of mocking those who are concerned about legalities.

I’m talking about the hacking of Sarah Palin’s e-mail account. Leftwingers are telling us the end justifies the means. They didn’t find any terrorism this way, but they think they uncovered some minor wrongdoing. Look at all the excuses they make over here are LiveJournal (in a forum where I cross-posted this). In other words, they’ve gone from complaining about GWB’s wireless wiretaps to participating in illegal wiretaps themselves, after the fact.

And it’s the McCain campaign that’s concerned about her rights. News item:

A statement from John McCain’s campaign condemned the hack as an “invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of law.”

Sep 182008


Here’s a Q and A about the above photo of George Bush that I just now captured from Google News.

Q. Why did they use a photo with that facial expression?

A. Because the Google News people don’t like George Bush, and they don’t want you to like him, either.

Q. Isn’t that rather childish?

A. Yes.

Q. Wouldn’t they use a photo like that of Barak Obama or Bill Clinton, too?

A. No. You can google it.

Q. I thought Google used a computer program to pick news stories and photos.

A. So? That’s the oldest dodge in the book. And notice that they never claim that their computer program tries to be objective, or that it does a random sample or anything that would remove bias from the selection process.

Q. But there is a link to the Boston Globe under the photo. Didn’t they just reproduce a photo from the article it links to?

A. No. The article doesn’t contain that photo.

Q. Is Google exempt from the provisions of McCain-Feingold?

A. Good question.

Q. Do the Democrats have to count this portrayal as a campaign contribution?

A. No.

Sep 182008

Rupert Murdoch may be saving me a lot of money by ruining the Wall Street Journal. We’ll see if it’s still worth having when it comes time to re-subscribe.

This week his people increased the damage to the web edition by making it look more like a blog. And the fonts are now a lot harder to deal with. By the time I increase the font size to a point where it’s comfortable to read, I’ve also increased the white space so that not very many words fit on a page. That means I have to scroll more, which slows down reading. It may soon not be worth it.

In the new web design, the editorials, which are the main thing that still make the paper worth the money, are less conspicuous. They seem to have been demoted. They don’t get a sub-headline like the other articles do. Why Murdoch would do something like that to the best editorial section in the industry is hard to understand, though it’s easy to understand why the WSJ editorial page’s enemies (of whom there are many) woud like what he’s doing.

There are many points on which to criticize the Murdochization of the paper, but here’s one that makes the paper cry out to the world, “Look at me! I’m a trashy tabloid!”


This is the photo that accompanies an article about Putin in the web edition. There are a lot of reasons not to like Putin, but what’s the purpose of picking an anxious-sinister-looking photo taken at an angle like that. That’s not a photo Putin would pick of himself, and it doesn’t speak well for the Murdochizers that they would find it necessary to try to sway people by portraying him that way. Putin at his best is a fine looking guy. That doesn’t mean he isn’t an evil person, but the paper should let his words and actions speak for themselves. We don’t need editorializing-through-photos.

The print edition of today’s paper was more responsible, printing the type of photo that might have appeared in pre-Murdoch days:


It’s not the best photo of Putin I’ve ever seen, but at least it’s more neutral, editorially. We’ll see how long the print edition is allowed to be honest enough to print photos like that.

Sep 172008

Last night Google News was flogging the story about Carla Fiorina and Sarah Palin. It was giving prominent place to headlines telling us that Fiorina said Palin was not ready to run a major corporation.

My immediate thought was that none of the candidates in this campaign is ready to run a major corporation.

Then, if one looked further into the news articles, the truth came out. That’s exactly what Fiorina had said. Somebody with Palin on the mind had asked Fiorina about Palin, and she answered the question truthfully. But that person had not even asked Fiorina about the other candidates. Fiorina had to take it upon herself to bring that up. But that didn’t make it into the headlines. No, the news media are obsessed with anything that can be spun against Palin, no matter how contradictatory they have to be about it.

There are reasons for serious concern about Palin’s candidacy, e.g. on foreign policy — reasons that might keep me and others from voting for McCain-Palin. And I’m not talking about her level of experience.

But if you believe the news coming out of the opposition research teams, you’d conclude that Palin was probably the only one of the four candidates who would come close to making money for you at the head of a major corporation. Put Obama in charge, especially of a corporation that needed to remove the deadwood, and you could say goodbye to whatever money you invested. He’s never once bucked the corrupt Chicago machine. McCain would be too busy finding ways to annoy people to focus on his job. Biden just doesn’t have the chops. But if we believe the opposition research, Palin would get things done. She would be ruthless enough to make heads roll and get the people she needs in place, people who would be motivated to focus on the company’s mission. She would have just the right balance between focusing on the big picture and paying attention to the details.

It’s not necessarily the way a government should operate, so it doesn’t tell us much about her suitability to be Vice President. (Think about Ross Perot, a successful businessman who had ideas of being President.) But run a corporation? Most of us would pick Sarah Palin far ahead of any of the other three to quickly get up to speed and make money for us.

Sep 092008

One thing I absolutely don’t like about the McCain/Palin campaign is that she isn’t taking questions from the press.  Yes, they would be hostile, but it would be a way to showcase the fact that she is different from Obama, who mostly gets softball questions.    The fact that she hasn’t held any press interviews so far doesn’t bother me.   I’m sure she and McCain need a little time to coordinate their messages.  But it doesn’t look like it’s going to change much.  That ABC interview that’s coming up hardly counts.  There should be live interviews, unedited, with hostile interviewers.    She needs to answer questions about the trooper firings, which would have the added value of contrasting how the press handled the Clintons with kid gloves.

Maybe someone will tell me that what Palin is doing isn’t all that different from how other vice presidential candidates have been handled.  If so, now would be a good time to do something different.

Sep 062008

It’s quite a coincidence that Hillary Clinton said this, because I have heard nothing that suggests that Democrats know how to do these things, either.

“I heard nothing that suggests the Republican team knows how to fix the economy for middle class families, how to provide high-quality affordable health care for all Americans, how even to guarantee equal pay for equal work for women.”

Could it be that these are not things that can be “provided” or “guaranteed” or “fixed” by any government? Could it be that that’s not the way to go about getting them?