Friday Funnies and Open Thread

This came by e-mail today. See if it makes you laugh. If not, what do you find funny these days?

A DEA officer stops at a ranch in Montana , and talks with an old rancher. He tells the rancher, 'I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs.'

The old rancher says, 'Okay, but do not go in that field over there' as he points out the location.

The DEA officer verbally explodes saying, 'Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me.' Reaching into his rear pants pocket, he removes his badge and proudly displays it to the farmer. 'See this badge? This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish ...on any land. No questions asked or answers given. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand?'


The old rancher nods politely, apologizes, and goes about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher hears loud screams and sees the DEA officer running for his life chased close behind by the rancher's prize bull. With every step the bull is gaining ground on the officer, and it seems likely that he'll get "horned" before he reaches safety. The officer is clearly terrified. The old rancher throws down his tools, runs to the fence and yells at the top of his lungs.....

'Your badge! Show him your badge!'

Again, this is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Invasion of privacy (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by samtaylor2 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:44:12 AM EST
    The leakage of the pop star Rhianna's pictures is such a disgusting violation of her privacy.  I really wish there was some way to stop news sources from displaying this picture.   Where does freedom of speech vs. her right to privacy stop and start?  

    Such poor taste... (5.00 / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:51:00 AM EST
    I agree, whoever leaked that pic for cash should be ashamed, and has one helluva karmic debt coming due.

    Once the pic is leaked though, I don't how you stop it without placing dangerous restrictions on free speech and free press.  

    If she wasn't a celebrity nobody would care, I guess we can chalk it up as part of that deal with the devil you sign to become a celebrity...doesn't make it any easier to stomach though.


    Agreed (none / 0) (#11)
    by txpolitico67 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:58:37 AM EST
    If you don't want your business on the street don't become a celebrity.  I agree that celebrities have an absolute right to privacy, but those who don't have a lot going on in their owns lives thrive on the junk in the lives of others...esp celebrities.  AND....that's the trade off...wanna be rich and famous?  There's a price to pay for that, as well.

    That picture is unforgettable... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:59:20 PM EST
    For any number of reasons. I am haunted by the fact that Rhianna, evidently, chose to close her eyes while the picture was taken.

    Understandable, since the process of taking evidentiary pictures is something of a further violation/intrusion to the victim. In closing her eyes, she absented herself. We spectators can see into the face, but not into the eyes. She closed the windows to her soul. For that and more, I could cry.


    It's really a shame (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:08:09 PM EST
    Hopefully it will at least get a few people to think more seriously about the terrible problem of domestic violence.  A few years back our office manager was strangled to death by her husband after she told him she wanted a divorce.  That sort of thing doesn't even make the newspapers most of the time.

    I'm sure millions of people have viewed that picture by now, out of curiosity, but there's obviously nothing the least bit titillating about it.  Just sad, really sad.


    From a legal perspective (none / 0) (#129)
    by samtaylor2 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 05:02:47 PM EST
    Where is the line?  Is there a line?

    I hadn't realized that this was (none / 0) (#38)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:36:49 PM EST
    about.  Since the election I don't have the same drive to watch the tube for the latest.  How sad though, like double trauma.

    LOL (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by txpolitico67 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:54:34 AM EST
    I got that joke a few weeks back and it still makes me laugh. Here's a few funnies that I got in an email the other day from my sister regarding management training:

    A  priest offered a nun a lift. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg. The priest  nearly had an accident.  
    After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.  

    The nun said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'  

    The  priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he  let his hand slide up her leg again.  
    The  nun once again said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?' The priest apologized 'Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.'

    Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily  
    and went on her way.  

    On  his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to  look up Psalm 129. It said, 'Go forth and seek,  further up, you will find glory.'  

    Moral of the story:
    If  you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

    A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the  manager are walking to lunch when they find an  antique oil lamp.  

    They rub it and a Genie comes out.  
    The Genie says, 'I'll give each of you just one  wish.' 'Me  first! Me first!' says the admin clerk. 'I want to be in the Bahamas , driving a speedboat,  without a care in the world.'  
    Puff!  She's gone.  

    'Me next! Me next!' says the sales rep. 'I want to  be in Hawaii ,relaxing on the beach with my  personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina  Coladas and the love of my life.'  

    Puff! He's gone.

    'OK,you're up,' the Genie says to the manager.  
    The  manager says, 'I want those two back in the  office after lunch.'  

    Moral of the story:
    Always let your boss have the first say.

    Notification Alert: (5.00 / 7) (#13)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:10:12 PM EST

    Due to recent budget cuts and the rising cost of
    electricity, gas, oil, current market conditions, and the congress giveaway,
    The Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off.

    We apologize for the inconvenience.

    That's a good one.... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:19:32 PM EST
    like Muhammed Ali said...."There are no jokes, truth is the funniest joke of all."

    And that was before bailout-itis and reverse robin hood-ism spread from Washington to Wall St. to Main St....basically everywhere but Skid Row....now truth is a regular knee-slapper.


    Keeping Us Safe (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by squeaky on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:31:14 PM EST
    A friend of mine told me that he usually gets stopped when entering the US. He is a US citizen but works both here and abroad.

    He has lots of stories but this one takes he cake.

    Evidentially there is a guy who has done some really bad things and shares my friends first and last name. The bad guy weighs 420lbs and is 6 foot 8 and happens to be African American.

    My friend is about 5 foot 5, weighs about 180, and is white of english and german ancestry.

    The guy at the passport booth scanned my friend's passport and stared at the screen for a long time and then called another officer over who took my friend to a room for questioning. After a few questions about where he was coming from and where he was going, what his business was, etc. the officer paused for a moment and then asked my friend, in all seriousness if he was African American.

    My friend was speechless but eventually said that from what he has read race is a construct and really a question of self identity. Also pointed out that most Americans whose families have been here for over a hundred and fifty years have a very good chance of having some African American blood. Basically, he said, it is a question of identity and in fact he did identify somewhat with African Americans but never really thought of himself as one. He told the officer that he was open to the idea that others may seem him as African American and suggested that the officer was welcome to do whatever tests he needed to get to the bottom of story. The officer handed him his passport and said have a good day.

    Not a joke but after having gone through it over a hundred times my friend makes the best of it.

    I like your friend.... (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:56:36 PM EST
    battling bueracratic insanity with a little humor...my kind of guy.

    Not a coward, your friend... (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by oldpro on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:22:56 PM EST
    I guess the AG is wrong.

    Strange how little discussion I've run across on this subject.

    The thing is, why is it assumed that any discussion of 'race' is about AAs?  They are not, and will not be, the 'majority minority.'

    Someone will be looking to see how many hispanics, asians, native-Americans the new AG hires to dispense justice.


    Holder is the coward... (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:49:14 PM EST
    if you ask me...look no further than the war on drugs.  Origins soaked in racism, racist in its current application...and nary a peep about it from the new AG.

    Priorities... (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by oldpro on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:57:39 PM EST
    ...opportunities for change test not only those at the top but citizens' groups and individuals who must organize, lobby and make change at their local, state and national level.

    If Holder doesn't want to move something up the priority list, make him want to by making him want you to shut up and go away.

    Whatever happened to sit-ins?


    Chains and cages soon follow... (none / 0) (#56)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:10:52 PM EST
    sit-ins, f*ck that. It is like banging your head against a the Great Wll of China.

    I hear you though...and you're right, put up or shut up.  


    Apparently, these guys were at least smart (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:26:05 PM EST
    enough to not ask him if he was 6'8".

    LOL (none / 0) (#37)
    by squeaky on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:30:52 PM EST
    Yes, good point, although had my friend not diffused the first question as elegantly as he did, that might have been the next question.

    Maybe, (5.00 / 0) (#95)
    by cal1942 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:11:15 PM EST
    when asked if he were African-American, he could have asked the officers if they thought he was wearing a disguise.

    RAT Board (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:30:41 PM EST
    Seems there is a little known provision in the stimulus bill to create the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (also known as "RAT Board"). Basically, this board would have some degree of oversight over agency inspectors general and the Board's chair would be appointed by the President. Apparently, this is giving some conservatives and others a bit of a fit because  of a single phrase, which might politicize the way allegations of fraud are investigated (or not):


    (a) Independent Authority- Nothing in this subtitle shall affect the independent authority of an inspector general to determine whether to conduct an audit or investigation of covered funds.

    (b) Requests by Board- If the Board requests that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation and the inspector general rejects the request in whole or in part, the inspector general shall, not later than 30 days after rejecting the request, submit a report to the Board, the head of the applicable agency, and the congressional committees of jurisdiction, including the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and House of Representatives. The report shall state the reasons that the inspector general has rejected the request in whole or in part. The inspector general's decision shall be final.

    This apparently got watered down in Conference, as the WH initial proposal did threaten IG independence.

    It seems that not only conservatives should be upset by this because the whole purpose of IG's is to be an independent investigator at federal agencies, free from fear of interference by political appointees or the White House. Also, the Inspector General Reform Act, passed last year, already set up a board to help IG's police themselves.

    Here's a response (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:39:54 PM EST
    from conservative law professor Jonathan Adler:

    It seems to me that this language adequately protects IG independence. While I suppose some IGs might find it to be a hassle to have to respond to a Board request, the facts that the IG's decision is "final" and that the IG's response to any RAT request will be widely distributed would suggest this provision is as likely to discourage White House meddling as it is to discourage effective IG oversight. Moreover, given that the Board will be dominated by IGs from various departments, I doubt the Board will be subject to much White House control. So while I am not sure why it was necessary to create the RAT Board in the first place, I don't see what all the fuss is about.

    Note that under the law as passed, the Inspector General has full authority to reject a request from the RAT Board.  The only requirement is that he file a public report explaining why, which strikes me as more transparency rather than less.


    Yes (none / 0) (#47)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:00:24 PM EST
    And take it for what it's worth, but Byron York (yes, I know) wrote this today, when he was one of the first to report on this story:

    When I inquired with the office of a Democratic senator, one who is a big fan of inspectors general, I was told the RAT Board was "something the Obama administration wanted included in this bill." When I asked the White House, staffers told me they'd look into it. So for now, at least, there's been no claim of paternity.

    Still seems "transparency in government" is still a pipe dream.


    I'm missing your point (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:10:01 PM EST
    Because whoever picked up the phone at the White House didn't have an immediate answer for Byron York about a specific provision of the stimulus bill, we're supposed to infer... what, exactly?  The bill says what it says, and it sure looks like an improvement over the old system if anything.

    The point is (none / 0) (#60)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:22:36 PM EST
    Why are there overseers for the overseers, who already have someone to oversee them?  That sounds like more layers of stuff to screw up.

    And if it was such a great idea, why was stuck in at the last minute and not heralded as being such a great "improvement"?  I have no sympathy for Grassley and the others who didn't notice it, since they don't read the bills.

    But since the WH supposedly originally wanted the ability to control what does and does not get investigated, seems a little too reminiscent of the Bush administration and the US Attorney scandal, no?  Imagine the phone calls from the WH to the Board - "Don't investigate Company A on fraud, but we want you to go after Company B with a vengence."  Not saying this doesn't happen now, but Democrats screamed when Bush did things like this - so I find it perplexing when it's ok when a Democrat does it.


    Well (none / 0) (#134)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 05:39:09 PM EST
    if you're of the belief that this bill makes it easier for the White House to apply political pressure to investigations, I don't know where you get that from.  To me, it sure looks like the new system actually creates more of a public record and makes it tougher for anyone to do something shady.

    Who is on this board?  The chair is either the Deputy Director of OMB or someone else appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and the membership of the board consists of ten Inspectors General from the largest departments of the Executive Branch.

    So please explain to me how this oversight board consisting almost entirely of other Inspectors General would somehow give the White House new powers to shut down an Inspector General investigation.  I don't think you can make that case.


    I guess I'm not explaining it well (5.00 / 2) (#141)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 07:08:22 PM EST
    It's not in the bill, per se, but the WH wanted more ability to apply political pressure about what to investigate and what not to investigate.  Seems to me if the IG of an agency suspects fraud has taken place, s/he should not have to go get permission from some board  and Presidential appointee and write a report as to why they want to do their job.  To me, that's the whole point of having an IG in the first place.  

    If you're going to have these overseers - why not get rid of the IG and just contract it out to completely independent sources? That way, only things Obama wants investigated will get investigated and things he wants buried will stay buried.


    I don't understand (5.00 / 1) (#142)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 07:49:29 PM EST
    how you can have complete faith in the independence and perfect judgment of the Inspectors General, but somehow a board where 10 of the 11 members are Inspectors General themselves is going to be a partisan political tool of the White House.

    I assume you've read the entire section of the bill that you linked.  The oversight board has a broad mission to promote efficiency and the detection of fraud.  The power to suggest that a specific investigation should be terminated is just a tiny part of their authority, and in what is probably the exceedingly unlikely event that they do such a thing, all the IG in question has to do is write a widely disseminated report justifying his investigation and he can keep on doing his job.

    In the scenario you fear, where the White House tries to use this board to stop an investigation through partisan political pressure - never mind how they convince a half-dozen independent IGs to go along with their strong-arm tactic - the targeted IG gets to write a report that will completely expose them.  Now in the real world, if the White House really wanted to put pressure on an IG, odds are they're going to do it through back channels and not through an official body comprised of independent free agents.  And of course, they can do that right now!

    I don't know how you know what the White House "wanted."  If you can show me where the original proposal from the WH involved giving David Axelrod veto power over any and all investigations, I'll stand corrected.  But I simply don't see how anyone could worry about a body comprised of independent IGs allowing itself to be used for political strong-arming.


    Today's Daily Howler (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by ruffian on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:54:32 PM EST
    is especially good. He documents Tweety's atrocities against Hillary Clinton in light of his new found "respect" for her.

    Mostly makes me so glad I don't watch Tweety anymore.

    Hilarity (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by canuck eh on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:25:36 PM EST
    I was helping a friend move a couple weeks ago and came across an old issue of Playboy (Feb '99). Of course I opened it up and inside the front cover was an ad for Keith Olbermann's show on Fox Sports.

    He actually states in the ad that he knows he is unsuited for political commentary.

    'I'll stick to sports' is the tag line.

    I laughed out loud, until I started crying

    What (none / 0) (#66)
    by SOS on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:28:03 PM EST
    would Keith be doing if he wasn't in the entertainment business?

    Headline of the day (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by dualdiagnosis on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:46:31 PM EST
    Any idea why President Obama is (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:55:20 PM EST
    berating the mayors in advance not to waste bailout finds?  

    Interesting catch-22 (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:01:31 PM EST
    Some of the 18,750 projects listed in the U.S. Conference of Mayors' list of "shovel ready" projects -- which the group says could create as many as 1.6 million new jobs -- have been assailed as silly, wasteful, and no particularly stimulative.

    Among the ones targeted for criticism are a $1.4 million children's water park requested by Pine Bluff, Ark; or $33,725 for automatically flushing toilets in Sumter, SC; or as reported by the Wall Street Journal, a $886,000 Frisbee golf course in Austin, Texas; a $500,000 leashless dog park in Chula Vista, Calif., a $4.5 million 'eco park' in Boynton Beach, Fla., or $2 million for neon signs for Las Vegas.

    Or, as reported by the Boston Globe, a combined $1 million for skateboard parks in Durham, NC, and Pacific, Wash.; $90 million for swimming pools across the country; $25 million for tennis courts; or $700,000 for planting trees along Providence, RI, sidewalks.

    So, if they spend the money on things they say will create jobs, like building a frisbee park, they will be in trouble.  But if they spend it on projects that do not meet the definition of "shovel ready" (and therefore may not show some immediate economic effect), they will be in trouble.


    So, the buck stops with the mayors? (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:08:03 PM EST
    Sounds like it. (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:12:00 PM EST
    At least for all those city projects.

    Ha and double Ha (5.00 / 0) (#99)
    by Fabian on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:16:13 PM EST
    on the recreational facilities.  The city of Columbus is going to be shutting down pools and some recreation centers because of budget problems.

    The tree planting I can agree with.  At least trees can provide benefits to everyone without requiring an operating budget.

    And neon signs for Las Vegas?  The least they could do is use LEDs to save electricity.  


    Speaking of Columbus... (5.00 / 1) (#114)
    by vml68 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:47:26 PM EST
    what I miss most (aside from my friends) is the Columbus Metropolitan Library. It is an incredible library system as I have found out now that I don't live there anymore. I hope they don't lose any funding.

    Those don't sound like projects that (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:30:01 PM EST
    would create anything but short-term jobs. Maybe the stimulus money needs to be much more stabilizing on the employment front.

    I have to say that federal money should not be for small community play centers unless those are small communities that are so poor they couldn't possibly get local funding.

    Ten years ago I learned that free and reduced lunches in public schools are funded by local women's leagues who raise the money. I think the gov't from town councils to the feds need to post some information on their web sites to explain what our taxes are paying for, and who's responsible for what.


    In Krugman's book (5.00 / 3) (#135)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 05:41:48 PM EST
    he talks about how one of the most important aspects of the New Deal was FDR's commitment to rooting out corruption and fraud, because he knew the political will for future programs would dissipate if people came to believe that the money was just going to line someone's pocket.  Hopefully Obama is taking a similar good-government approach.

    Did you know that (5.00 / 2) (#103)
    by scribe on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:23:51 PM EST
    Legalizing pot is now more popular than both Republicans and most of the Republican platform?

    It's true!

    Legalize pot:  40-41%

    Opposing stricter gun control laws (40%)
    Congress (26-40%)
    The war in Iraq (39%)
    Decreasing immigration levels (39%)
    Privatizing Social Security (36%)
    Opposing investigating the Bush administration (34%)
    Opposing national, government run health insurance (32%)
    Vetoing stem cell research (31%)
    The Republican Party (31%)
    Dick Cheney (30%)
    George W. Bush (24-34%)
    Decreasing business regulations (28%)
    Rush Limbaugh (28%)
    Mitch McConnell (22%)
    Preventing the openly gay from serving in the military (17%)
    John Boehner (17%)

    That'll give Mr. Perma-tan Something to Cry About....

    Well (5.00 / 2) (#105)
    by CST on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:26:56 PM EST
    I know in my state the law that we just passed decriminalizing pot won by more than Obama did.  And Obama won by a lot...

    So that doesn't really shock me at all.


    Only 40%?... (5.00 / 2) (#109)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:36:01 PM EST
    What is the 60% smoking?  Or does 60% of the country work for a law enforcement agency, a prison, or the DA's office?

    I'll leave the defense attorneys out, most I know, like our fine hostess, would rather lose out on that kinda business:)


    Pretty sure those 60%'ers... (5.00 / 1) (#113)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:45:02 PM EST
    ...aren't smoking any of this...

    That's what I call a menu!


    Indeed... (5.00 / 1) (#154)
    by kdog on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:26:12 AM EST
    especially the purple selections...yummy.

    After reading... (5.00 / 1) (#149)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:45:55 PM EST
    ...this article in the local paper, along with the reader comments, I can see some changing of attitude regarding pot use.  

    The RMN reader comments are usually populated by naysayers, crackpots, reactionaries and antis. Not the case here--reasonable comments abound for the most part.  It was amazing to see such a concensus on this issue.

    And to have the Republican Mountain News actually publish such a balanced article nearly knocked me off the couch.  


    Extreme Rednecks (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by wurman on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:43:47 PM EST
    You let your 16-year-old daughter smoke at the dinner table in front of her kids.

    The Blue Book value of your truck goes up and down depending on how much gas is in it.

    You've been married three times and still have the same in-laws.

    You think Dom Perignon is a Soprano.

    Your junior prom offered day care.

    You think the last words of the Star-Spangled Banner are "Gentlemen, start your engines."

    You can't be trailer trash cause you live in a "mo-biiile home."

    You mow the yard & find a car.

    You pay for a genealogy search & learn that your family tree goes straight up.

    The genealogist shows your family coat of arms as a crushed Budweiser can on a barstool

    Your ex-wife comes home from prison & evicts you, your wife, & kids from her mobile home.

    Your family has an "heirloom" recipe for Fricasee of Stuffed Gopher on Cornpone

    Badda BING! (none / 0) (#1)
    by desertswine on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:06:29 AM EST

    Reminds me of the time... (none / 0) (#2)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:18:37 AM EST
    that I was sitting in my office in the bank on a Friday afternoon and the receptionist called to tell me that a U.S. Marshal was at the front desk and had asked to see me.  My  mind raced through possible federal indiscretions.  He came in (dressed in blue jeans), showed me the badge, and with a big grin, said, "I have a warrant for your arrest... well, not you personally, but some property that your bank has a lien on."  Some fun.

    Amused to Death (none / 0) (#3)
    by SOS on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:23:33 AM EST
    Pretty much sums up our current situation.

    The Curious Case of Robert Stanford... (none / 0) (#4)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:24:18 AM EST
    Mr. Stanford is the fellow alleged to have engaged in a mere $8 bn CD Ponzi scheme.  Apparently the SEC had been investigating him for some time but had been asked in the past to hold off by another federal agency.  Given his Latin American connections, any guesses as to which agency and why?

    LOL (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Amiss on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:27:23 PM EST
    Sean Hannity says "his name is as good as gold"

    Fool's Gold, Perhaps. (none / 0) (#42)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:51:45 PM EST
    Stanford was a good friend of the Republican Party.

    Mmm... (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:07:08 PM EST
    Seems like he and his company was a better friend to the Democratic Party

    See here:

    As the story behind the embattled investment company Stanford Financial Group develops, we thought we'd take an even closer look at the seeds the company may have tried to plant in Washington via campaign contributions. When looking at ALL lawmakers to collect money from the company's PAC and employees (not just members of the current Congress), some additional, important names appear at the top of the recipient list.

    President Obama ranks third among individual lawmakers, having collected $31,750 from the company's employees during his 2008 presidential bid, including $4,600 from Allen Stanford, the firm's leader. Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who served prison time for his role in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, received $28,200 (this includes contributions to Ney's candidate committee and leadership PAC). Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who reportedly flew on Stanford's jet, collected $20,100 from the company between the 2000 and 2006 election cycles.

    As we reported yesterday, between its PAC and its employees, Stanford Financial Group has given $2.4 million to federal candidates, parties and committees since 2000, with 65 percent of that going to Democrats. Stanford and his wife, Susan, have given $931,100 out of their own pockets, with 78 percent going to Democrats.

    Interesting... (5.00 / 0) (#69)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:36:20 PM EST
    I read some place that Stanford is good buddies with the Texas Republicans.  I guess he knows when to back winners.

    Oh he is (none / 0) (#75)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:40:17 PM EST
    He gave money to McCain and to Cornyn too - I think they were just hedging their bets since anyone with a pulse knew Dems would win this year.

    And that's (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by cal1942 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:16:25 PM EST
    how both parties get contributions from the same individuals and/or interest groups.

    The larger share of contributions going to the anticipated winner.


    What is the... (none / 0) (#49)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:03:06 PM EST

    I'll stick with the category and take merger of government and corporate power for 400 Alex:)


    I'd go for (none / 0) (#52)
    by scribe on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:06:09 PM EST
    "Ratting out your investment clients for $800", Alex:

    A.  What is the DEA?

    Q.  They found out about your money-working skills being utilized for alleged Latin American drug dealers, and made you an offer you couldn't refuse.

    I think this is the right answer but the ... (none / 0) (#72)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:38:40 PM EST
    CIA answer is also a good possibility, as in "Tell us about your friends in Venezuela who don't care too much for Hugo."

    I just didn't know... (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:09:49 PM EST
    if the DEA would trump the SEC in terms of who has the bigger swinging d*ck...I know the CIA trumps all, went with the safe play:)

    Those were the days my friend (none / 0) (#5)
    by SOS on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:36:45 AM EST
    "I have a friend who bought a condominium in Miami, Florida in 2004 for US $1 million. Back in the late 1980's, this same unit sold for US $245,000. By late 2005, that same unit was appraised at US $1.5 million, and thanks to the magic of 100% financing, my friend refinanced the condo for US $1.4 million secure in the knowledge that it would double again in three years. Meanwhile he pocketed US $400,000 for his trouble and used that to prepay his mortgage and buy a few other goodies like a Ferrari and a Riva boat, all financed of course. Life was definitely good! He even managed to refinance one more time in late 2006 and pocket another US $200,000. Then along comes the housing/credit crisis in July 2007 and he is saddled with a US $1.7 million mortgage on the condo, another mortgage on his original house, and four-digit loan payments on both the car and boat. In early 2006 he was making US $225,000 and felt rich. By early 2008 his income had been cut by 30% as his business declined, and he didn't know where to hide. Life does that sometimes!

    My friend's first instinct was to put the condo on the market but he was shocked to realize that it wouldn't sell for more than US $800,000, and that was if he acted quickly. Since he owed US $1.7 million, and he didn't have the cash, he decided to wait for the market to turn around. Today that condo is worth just US $575,000, it goes without saying that he is in default, and the Porsche and boat are both history. Like my friend, there are tens of thousands of individuals out there who are in the same soup. Now, multiply this exponentially because of commercial real estate failures, credit card defaults, car loan defaults, student loan defaults, and so on... Now you get the picture?"

    Hopefully he enjoyed the toys... (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:05:28 PM EST
    while he had them.  

    Just think of the people who find themselves in similar predicaments but had to use their "equity" to finance medical expenses or college educations for their kids.

    I was fascinated with the HGTV show "My House is Worth What?".  People wanted to get appraisals of their homes for a variety of purposes but often it was so they could remodel the kitchen, add a pool, or even finance a destination wedding.  It was obvious that for many of them the ideas of saving and deferred gratification were not in the picture.  I have a lot of sympathy for them ... and for us.


    My experience (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by SOS on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:10:49 PM EST
    is I used to watch Real Estate Agents back in 03-04-05 come into the neighborhood and pretty much "name their price".

    It wasn't unusual to hear double what the actual REAL VALUE was.

    Fast Forward. Home Prices. Falling. Yet my property taxes remain at the "new high".


    Look at appealing the value (none / 0) (#35)
    by coast on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:29:12 PM EST
    we are able to do that where I live.  They will send someone out to inspect the house, so if your appraisal is based on sqft that is not correct be prepared.  I had a friend who wanted to appeal his but forgot that the assessed value was based on the sqftage before he finished his basement.  Needless to say they didn't decrease the value and he actually was reassessed for more tax.

    Basements don't count (none / 0) (#148)
    by Cream City on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:42:19 PM EST
    in my town and many others.  Always worth checking first before doing work.

    Best stupid assessor stories in my neighborhood, owing to a really dumb one for years, were (1) a house across the street, straight up three stories, that he had assessed as having more square footage on the upper floors than on the first, and (2) another house across the street that he had listed as 10 rooms, which it was -- but with 10 bedrooms.

    His mistakes were more minor with our house, but I appealed annually as a rite of spring and fought off some of his worst stupidity.  And we finally got assigned a different assessor who actually fixed some of the past errors.  But for those that we could not win for years, those property tax payments were gone. . . .

    Btw, what really helps here is that all property records in my city are online, so we can easily see if there are egregious errors in descriptions of our properties -- and see if absentee landlords are not paying up, etc.  It's useful.


    All imaginary money until you sell the house (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by ruffian on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:44:21 PM EST
    Interesting how the mind works. If you had suggested to your friend in 2006 that he sell his house for the 1.4 million and use the money to buy lots of toys, he probably would have realized the folly of it. Yet somehow buying the toys with borrowed money seems reasonable.

    I used to try and reason with friends bragging about how much their houses had appreciated that it was all imaginary unless they sold their house. Little did I know they were probably using the magic of HELOC abuse to take the money out of it early. For a few years there everyone thought he was a financial genius.


    That's true of stocks and 401K's, too (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:23:34 PM EST
    Few people really "lost" any money. Most still have access to the dollars they personally invested, just not the "growth" in value the stocks had once experienced.

    They are giving out 401k... (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:27:49 PM EST
    statements in the office today...not too many smiling faces to say the least.

    Suckers, I tried to talk sense into 'em:)


    That creative enticement of employer match (none / 0) (#54)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:08:24 PM EST
    was really pushed by the Suzie Orman's of pundit advice.

    It is easy to see now the incredible drawback of having your retirement money under someone else's control ... penalties and taxes should an emergency like the one we're in force you to close it down.

    I've never been a fan of the 401K, either.


    Yeah... (none / 0) (#70)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:36:37 PM EST
    the joint I work for doesn't match, but they do have a profit sharing that goes to one of these 401k type accounts.  I don't even consider that my money...I can't even take it out with a penalty until I leave the firm.  

    I actually tried to talk my boss into giving me my profit sharing in cash, even at a lesser amount, he balked.  I guess he gets a tax break or a kick-back for letting the money-changers hold it...I don't know.


    First time I ever heard Orman advise against (none / 0) (#78)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:43:30 PM EST
    the 401K was this week. She said NO ONE with less than 10 years to retirement and no matching from employer should be in the 401K program.

    Her prediction was the bottom has not been hit and recovery won't be seen until 2015. She's never been one I paid any attention to, and even less so, now.

    People have GOT to start thinking and working toward recovery, and stop all this waiting for the end of the fall and the gov't to put the pieces back together for us. They can't and won't, and there is power in positive thinking.


    I hope that's true (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by ruffian on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:56:14 PM EST
    but I'm afraid to open my statement.

    Well, the people who depend on their (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:02:26 PM EST
    401(k)'s required minimum distributions to supplement their Social Security - you know, retired people - have lost a lot, as those RMD's are calculated based on the value of the account as of 12/31.  Sure, you can take out more than the RMD, but then you are reducing the account even further, and who knows where things will be on 12/31/09.  The point of it all is that it's formulated so that you don't outlive your money, but right now, there are a lot of older people who are rightly worried that they will.

    If you're not at an age where you have to take the money out, what you have may bounce back; if you're still contributing, you're buying low, and if the market comes back up, you might be in great shape.

    Just don't ignore the fact that a lot of people have lost a lot, and it isn't getting better.


    Actually, I hate to say it but (5.00 / 2) (#73)
    by ruffian on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:38:50 PM EST
    people in that situation should not have had their 401k in stocks by the time they are actually drawing on them. Most 401ks have a low risk/low interest bond option too that most of the fund should be moved to after age 60 or so. That is at least the standard advice I have always gotten from 401k providers.

    That is really a horrible situation to be in. Now they must feel like they almost have no choice but to leave it in stocks and hope it goes up.


    I don't disagree, but... (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:05:36 PM EST
    stocks are not the only losers in this down market, as you know, so I think it is a little unfair to blame a retiree for not having a crystal ball and not picking only those funds or bonds or whatever that would hold their value.

    And those whose retirement accounts that are being managed by someone with "expertise" as opposed to being self-directed, may be in better shape and will weather the storm better - but I don't know of anyone of retirement age whose portfolio has not lost value.

    Meanwhile, the price of everything is going up and up and up.  It's just awful.


    What prices? (none / 0) (#102)
    by CST on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:20:09 PM EST
    Prices are going down right now for most goods.

    Like what? (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:30:09 PM EST
    Food?  Health care?  Insurance? Electricity and gas?  Not where I live.

    And gas is on the way up again, too.


    oops (none / 0) (#122)
    by CST on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 04:03:24 PM EST
    you were right, they came out with a report today showing .3 percent inflation, when everyone was expecting deflation.  But the report also seems to think that's where we're headed:

    "annual inflation dropped from 0.1 per cent to zero but did not fall into the negative territory of deflation, which is when falling prices cause the economy to shrink because consumers put off buying items in the hope of getting them cheaper later.

    But January's figures can be distorted because some companies try to pass price increases on to consumers at the start of the year, which sends the CPI into a rise that is not a true indication of the direction of prices.

    Paul Ashworth, a senior economist at Capital Economics, said that despite the rise in CPI, he expected inflation to fall to -2.5 per cent by the middle of the year. "


    This isn't going to help... (5.00 / 0) (#111)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:39:41 PM EST
    ...with food prices (or jobs or CA's budget crisis):

    Federal water managers say they may have to cut off all water to some of California's largest farms as a result of the deepening drought affecting the state.

    U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said Friday that parched reservoirs and patchy snow and rainfall this year would likely force them to completely cut surface water deliveries. It would be the first time in more than 15 years such a move was taken.

    The move would be a blow to farmers, who say the price of some crops will likely rise if they have to rely only on well water. The state estimates it will cause $1 billion dollars in lost revenue and cost 40,000 jobs.



    That is why... (none / 0) (#51)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:06:00 PM EST
    they call it gambling...it sucks to lose, I know the feeling.  But lets not kid ourselves...it is gambling.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

    I sympathize, the people were sold a lemon...but we didn't have to buy it.


    There is Risk (obviously) but... (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:43:33 PM EST
    ways to mitigate risk - like diversification between equity and bonds.  

    In this economy the best investment is to make sure that you are paying the mortgage.  Even if though the value of the house has gone down, you still have a roof over your head.

    Years ago (during the last big collapse) someone told me that the French only invest in what they can carry on their backs.    I don't know if it's true but it certainly is another strategy.


    I don't know about that... (none / 0) (#101)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:19:23 PM EST
    if you're paying your mortgage you might not get bailed out.

    Seems to me the incentive is being placed on going into default.

    I like the French strategy...that sums me up:)


    Every single news broadcast said (5.00 / 2) (#117)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:51:50 PM EST
    the ONLY people who will be helped are those who 1. ARE EMPLOYED at a level where they would qualify for the loan, 2. ARE CURRENT ON THEIR MORTGAGE, and 3. Are underwater in their mortgage.

    I have to say that I absolutely resent being expected to contribute to helping those people in my current position. I make entry level wages after 40 years in the workplace right now!! It's take from the poorest to help those who MIGHT be looking at a bump in the road ahead.


    Not true. (none / 0) (#106)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:27:43 PM EST
    What they really want to do is stem the tide of defaults and foreclosures.

    If your total debt exceeds 38% of your income, they consider you at risk for default, even if you are current on the mortgage.

    What they want to do is get that down to 31%, either through principal reduction, extension of the term and/or lowering of the interest rate, because that makes it more likely that you can keep your head above water.

    On the other hand, those who are determined to have debt that is 55% or more of their income will not be considered at all, because the likelihood is that they will end up in default even with the help.


    I stand corrected... (none / 0) (#120)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:56:17 PM EST
    Thank you Anne.

    To depend on a 401K was never (none / 0) (#97)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:12:32 PM EST
    a good retirement plan. Those days of the market being for money you can afford to lose may be gone, but the fact that it is still a place where you risk losing everything in a heartbeat never changed.

    The babyboomers were going to crash the market when they all started pulling their money, anyway.


    My brother refers to my home equity (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:46:56 PM EST
    as my "funny money."  

    I think it's stories like this that (5.00 / 3) (#44)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:54:57 PM EST
    are the reason there is growing anger about Obama's housing bill, anger that was embodied in Rick Santelli's (CNBC) rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange yesterday.  

    You can question the sincerity of Santelli's rant - it did look a lot like grandstanding - and you can for sure question the irony of the reaction of the traders on the floor with him, who have probably all made money in the market these last however many years, but what Santelli expressed is exactly what I am hearing from more and more people: why should responsible people, who bought homes they could afford and didn't treat them like ATMs, be the ones to rescue those who took advantage of no-doc and no-money-down loans and 105% loans, and sucked money out of their homes every time their value went up?

    And now, even though TARP I  and TARP II were supposed to be all about freeing up the credit markets, the NYT tells us that

    "the Obama administration hopes to jump-start this crucial machinery by effectively subsidizing the profits of big private investment firms in the bond markets. The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve plan to spend as much as $1 trillion to provide low-cost loans and guarantees to hedge funds and private equity firms that buy securities backed by consumer and business loans."

    The anger is because the only people who haven't received help are those who lived within their means, tried to save for retirement, and didn't get caught up in the madness; we feel like this is the fourth or fifth or sixth time the kidnappers have reached into our pockets and taken the ransom money because it was going to save the economy, and no sooner does the money grab occur but the kidnappers are back for more.  Is there an end to this?  

    Or does anyone else have the same, sick feeling that I do, that no one really knows how to fix this massive problem, and so we are just throwing money at whichever component of the whole thing hasn't already gotten a gazillion dollars, hoping finally to have discovered the key to solving it?


    GM asks for more federal money (none / 0) (#57)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:14:32 PM EST
    and says it will lay off 47,000.  Isn't the purpose of bailing out U.S. auto industry to save jobs as well as keep the companies out of bankruptcy?

    My first thought is (none / 0) (#65)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:27:00 PM EST
    that the CEOs and Executives needed to find the fastest way to release the restrictions on their salaries and bonuses.

    They can't receive those incentives and bonuses until they have repaid the gov't. The salaries and benefits of 47,000 Americans should get them there much, much faster, wouldn't you think?

    I'll never buy another GM product if that is their motive.


    I would buy a PT Cruiser if I could. (none / 0) (#71)
    by DFLer on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:37:57 PM EST
    That model will be a collector's item someday. I saw an ad for new 08 Cruisers locally, starting at $9,999.00

    They are cool looking cars.


    Yes, I know... (none / 0) (#81)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:46:27 PM EST
    mine is a PT Cruiser convertible.  They stopped making the convertible in 2007 or 08, I think.

    FYI (none / 0) (#118)
    by dualdiagnosis on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:53:42 PM EST
    "On March 8, 2006, DaimlerChrysler announced that it had built 1000000 PT Cruisers.."

    nonetheless, they're gonna cease, right? (none / 0) (#143)
    by DFLer on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 07:54:55 PM EST
    what was the original price of this car? @ $15,000 to 20,000, right?

    okay...so if they made a million...maybe it won't be so much a collector's item, but at least a last chance to have a cool looking car. what's the mpg rating for a 6 cylinder?


    If GM goes under... (none / 0) (#83)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:51:29 PM EST
    ...who will build our tanks and APC's?  

    Is it a separate division? (none / 0) (#85)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:57:00 PM EST
    You can be sure that division would readily be bought by any number of companies...Boeing, even.

    The tanks are made (none / 0) (#125)
    by scribe on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 04:23:07 PM EST
    by a division of General Dynamics in Lima, Ohio.

    The Bradleys (and, if they still make M113s, them too) were originally made by FMC Corp.  (formerly known as Food Machinery Corp.) and are now made by BAE.

    Chrysler hasn't been involved with tanks since they came up with the turbine powered prototype of the M1 back around 1970.  They got out of the tank business as part of their Iacocca bailout, IIRC.  Sold the division.

    There were two prototypes - GM's had a diesel and Chrysler's the turbine.  The first time they ran the two prototypes past a crowd of generals who'd come to see what the Army's money was thinking about buying, the lack of noise from the turbine closed the sale.


    I Think That Geitner, Bernanke and Others ... (none / 0) (#86)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:57:05 PM EST
    know what to do.  They just don't have the courage to do it at this point.  There isn't one solution.  There TARP and TALF and the Stimulus Bill and loan guarantees and private-public partnerships, etc.  And this is only the beginning.  

    What I think people should be keeping in mind is that billions of taxpayer dollars are being put at risk and many of the same people who brought us to our knees are the ones taking the money.  This is outrageous.  The government should remove the boards of directors and dictate fundamental changes.  Geithner and others seem to want to preserve a financial system that at the largest level has failed.  The time is coming for a more radical approach like nationalization of some of the biggest and sickest banks.  

    And Rick Santelli better think before he rants next time - how dare he talk about prudent home buyers having to subsidize the imprudent when Wall Street and the big banks are sucking taxpayers dry.


    Do you really mean that? (none / 0) (#90)
    by Samuel on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:04:47 PM EST
    "The government should remove the boards of directors and dictate fundamental changes."

    When An Institution Needs So Much Taxpayers'... (none / 0) (#121)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:56:17 PM EST
    $$$ to stay in business, yes I think that board should be removed.  I don't want the government in control for very long.  At this point what is happening is a long slow walk to conservatorship.  And all along that walk, we seem to be losing dollar bills from that hole in our pocket.

    Are you flatly... (none / 0) (#130)
    by Samuel on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 05:12:32 PM EST
    opposed to letting these institutions fail and liquidate their assets?

    I'm figuring out what you're contrasting this against.  If you think letting asset values deflate will be catastrophic and the choice is left to bailout or nationalize (that's what conservatorship is right?) - hmm, they both seem like terrible options.  

    Bailouts will just never work - if someone paid me to be incompetent I wouldn't strive for much beyond that - the hole in the pocket analogy works for me.

    Socialism?  Eeeeeeek.  Really? The government is just going to back so much in garbage assets that we'll either have to hyperinflate or change course and allow a crash to save the dollar.  

    So I guess the real questions I had were:

    Do you consider hyperinflation a risk?
    Do think letting banks fail would be worse than hyperinflation?

    As Eeyore would say, "thanks for noticing me". (blustery day episode)


    What Does It Mean To Have A ... (none / 0) (#145)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 08:12:59 PM EST
    bank fail?  In this country the FDIC comes in and shuts down the business.  Immediately.  Doors close.  The bank examiners take control of the computers.  That's why it is usually done on a Friday after hours.  In a good failure, the bank opens for business on Monday under new ownership.  

    So if you are saying that failing banks should be allowed to fail... I don't disagree but let's understand what that means.  It means for a while, the Feds run the bank.


    That still sounds like a bailout. (none / 0) (#157)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 09:19:04 AM EST
    Plus the FDIC only insures like 200k or 250k an account.  Not the same as swapping out bonds for overvalued assets.  

    Who's the new owner of the bank when the FDIC leaves?  It's not he government?  Where does the FDIC get the money?  If they create the funds won't that devalue the holdings of solvent banks?  

    When the check book money on those assets dissolves we're left with losers and winners.  Since the money supply shrunk the winners get even more value out of their safe bets.  The FDIC comes in and penalizes these people by inflating...again?  And then taxing them down the road to pay for it.

    Having a bank fail means that the Federal government doesn't reach beyond the FDIC cap which we already don't have the money for.

    Next step is to get rid of the FDIC so that people will research opening a new bank account for at least one tenth the time they spend researching a new tv purchase.


    The point was... (none / 0) (#158)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 09:20:06 AM EST
    the FDIC cap.  Letting a bank fail would be much different then swapping in bonds.

    Santarita.... (none / 0) (#93)
    by vml68 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:08:04 PM EST
    I just posted below that the WH said they don't believe that nationalization of the banks is the way to go.
    I don't know if they mean it or if it was a temporary prop for the falling markets.

    If it was, do you think the market (none / 0) (#98)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:12:59 PM EST
    only being down 100 points is a good sign?

    I don't know the answer to that Anne... (none / 0) (#110)
    by vml68 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:37:22 PM EST
    As soon as the news hit the wire the market went up pretty quickly. The DOW did a 200pt swing in a few minutes before coming back down again.
    The DOW hit a low of 7552 last Nov and I think some were hoping that when the DOW was trading in that range the past three days that the bottom would hold. It is hitting multi year lows and was trending down all afternoon, any lower and we might have seen some panic selling into the close.
    If you look back over the past year almost every time the market is starting to look really ugly, you would get some kind of statement/move either from Bernacke, Paulson or the WH. And they usually did it on an options expiration friday...you get more bang for your buck that way!

    I read the statement (none / 0) (#132)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 05:31:45 PM EST
    All Gibbs really said is that we have a system of private banks and that they would prefer to keep it that way.  I'm sure that's accurate, but if anyone really thought that meant the White House is ruling out nationalization, they were a bit silly.

    As Atrios is fond of pointing out, every week these days the FDIC nationalizes multiple banks, and the world doesn't seem to end.


    Steve... (none / 0) (#136)
    by vml68 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 05:54:23 PM EST
    I believe they have to nationalize.
    That is why I said I thought they put out that statement more to give the markets a little bounce. Paulson et al did that constantly the past year and a half with their "everything is under control" statements.

    My Theory Du Jour... (none / 0) (#116)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:51:34 PM EST
    is that the nationalization talk has been encouraged behind the scenes or under the table so that the stock prices of the likely targets will sink to a low enough point that the stockholders will lose less than $1.00 a share.  It will be painful but not as costly as it otherwise could be.  

    I think that there are a couple of big banks on the bubble and the rest are ok.  Obama doesn't want to talk about nationalization because it creates an air of uncertainty and lack of confidence.  They are not yet ready for the big swoop.  

    But that is just today's theory.


    I agree with you (5.00 / 1) (#133)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 05:33:05 PM EST
    I have no idea if the chatter is intentional, but I am sick of what Krugman calls the "bailout premium" inflating the price of these stocks.  If investors are still holding onto stocks like Citi because they think the government might swoop in and give them a windfall, I very much want to disappoint them.

    Interesting theory..... (none / 0) (#124)
    by vml68 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 04:14:51 PM EST
    the stockholders will lose less than $1.00 a share.  It will be painful but not as costly as it otherwise could be.

    My quibble with this is many of those stockholders are employees (partly compensated by ESOPs) who at this point would be glad to get even that $1.00 a share.

    Not every one is as lucky as Paulson who got to cash out of GS stock before becoming TS, netting around $500 million dollars TAX FREE!!!!!
    Maybe someone should have told him to put the $200 million he saved in taxes towards bailing out Wall St.


    Talk about shady.... (none / 0) (#155)
    by kdog on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:33:35 AM EST
    and the same crew that broke it is supposed to fix it?

    Man...our sucker-dom knows no bounds.


    Saw a little blip last night with Ben Stein (none / 0) (#119)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:55:22 PM EST
    (don't remember which program) where he said that Greenspan's comment that Nationalization of the banks might be necessary was to be taken for what it was....Greenspan stands to gain personally.

    I like that one.... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:45:36 AM EST
    "show him your badge"...lol.  

    I like this one too, random subway searches my arse, this poor slob has been "randomly" harassed 21 times by the NYPD since they instituted the random search policy, the odds of being picked randomly that many times?  165,000,000-1.

    I hope he wins a monster settlement.

    That's remarkable (none / 0) (#25)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:57:31 PM EST
    I don't ride the subway as much any more (although they have random searches on the PATH too) but I have been stopped once, ever.  And I'm almost always carrying a shoulder bag.

    I'm not on the trains.... (none / 0) (#31)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:24:37 PM EST
    too much or anything, and I've never been stopped either, though I never carry a bag.

    Probably most relevant...we're not South Asian looking.  Poor guy, to be treated like a criminal going about your daily business...ya just can't justify that kinda intrusion.

    Imagine if he said Search This!  


    Reminds me of the time, during (none / 0) (#10)
    by scribe on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:55:23 AM EST
    the anthrax scare, that the FBI was going office to office in a friend's highrise, looking for mail that had come through the zip codes whence the anthrax letters had supposedly been mailed.  They were asking nicely if you could go through all the mail that'd come in during the past month or so and see if there was anything from certain zip codes.

    Annoying, offensive, intrusive and fruitless.

    The friend related that the front desk guy was quite the card, always good for a joke.  He was also quite the Runyonesque character - he was never in trouble himself, but he could point you in the right direction if you wanted to find the kinds of fun that could lead to trouble with the law.  

    So, they put the FBI guy up to walking to the front desk, flashing his creds and then saying "Hey [desk guy's name] - long time no see!  You been staying out of trouble?  You still running that big Super Bowl pool?"

    Front desk guy gagged and almost swallowed his tongue.  Last I heard, he's still getting his breath back.

    BTW (none / 0) (#14)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:10:47 PM EST
    Goc. Quinn of Illinois publicly stated that Burris should step down.

    More importantly, he (none / 0) (#23)
    by dk on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:50:58 PM EST
    said he would sign a bill calling for a special election to fill the seat.

    Finally, someone in this whole mess who doesn't mind giving power back to the people, where it belongs.


    US Soldier Guilty of Murder (none / 0) (#16)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:17:03 PM EST
     From the NYT:
    A U.S. Army medic was convicted of murder Friday for his involvement in the execution-style slayings of four bound and blindfolded Iraqi detainees shot in the back of the head in the spring of 2007.

    Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr. was found guilty on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder by the nine-person jury who had heard testimony about the killings at the court-martial at the Army's Rose Barracks Courthouse since Wednesday.

    A sentencing hearing was scheduled later Friday, and Leahy could receive a life sentence and a dishonorable discharge, pending the judge's decision.

    Leahy, 28, was acquitted of murder in a separate incident involving the death of another Iraqi in January 2007. Wearing his dress uniform, he sat impassively as the verdicts were handed down by the foreman of the jury made up of officers and enlisted personnel.


    In closing arguments earlier, Leahy's civilian lawyer, Frank Spinner, argued that Leahy went along with the killings because he was dazed from a lack of sleep and numb from being in a war zone for months. It was a sentiment bolstered on Thursday in testimony from Col. Charles Hoge, a doctor and director of psychology and neuroscience at the Army's Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

    He testified that Leahy was unable to reason properly because of the constant danger of living and operating in a war zone and getting little sleep for months on end.

    ''The tragedy resulted not so much by design but rather the working of fear, danger and madness attendant on many combat operations,'' Spinner said in his closing arguments.

    The jury obviously did not buy the defense's arguments.

    Chicago is calling (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:25:24 PM EST
    They'd like their $1.74 million back.

    Get in line Chi-Town... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 12:34:58 PM EST
    And it is a long-arse line...it stretches from Portsmouth to Seattle to San Diego to Miami and all stops in between.  

    In the 80's we had Hands Across America, in 2009 we've got Hands Out Across America.  I hope they have a lot of WD40 for the printers at the mint, they'll be the only things working any overtime.


    We don't have to show you any stinking badges! (none / 0) (#28)
    by Saul on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:12:36 PM EST

    Heh. It's clear you (none / 0) (#50)
    by oldpro on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:05:48 PM EST
    won't be writing colloquial dialogue for any reality shows any time soon or you'da said:

    "We don't gotta show ya no stinkin' badges!"

    Ejumacation is a wonderful thing!


    Actually... (5.00 / 2) (#77)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:42:32 PM EST
    ...the original quote is from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre:  

    Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!

    The more recent version is from Blazing Saddles:

    Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!

    A favorite quote of those of us in my line of work.



    Yep I just substituted We for I (none / 0) (#104)
    by Saul on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:26:33 PM EST
    Lame attempt at a joke (5.00 / 1) (#156)
    by oldpro on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 03:51:59 PM EST
    on my part.

    Oh, well....


    quinn (none / 0) (#41)
    by jedimom on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 01:50:36 PM EST
    says burris should resign so IL can have a special election, the primary should be fun..if Quinn says special election he doesnt want any part of JJ JR or David or this horror show

    The governor says a new senator should be chosen by special election.

    Fact (none / 0) (#58)
    by SOS on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:19:40 PM EST
    Dow's lost about half it's value since October 1, 2007...when the Dow hit 14,066.01 on a closing basis.

    Another fact: home prices in CA (none / 0) (#59)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:21:07 PM EST
    have declined to 2002 level.

    Thats (none / 0) (#64)
    by SOS on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:26:53 PM EST

    How come property taxes haven't been adjusted to reflect the "new value"?

    Legalized looting comes to mind.

    Be some great bargains in the future for the 2yr old demographic at this rate. Then the whole game can start over.


    There is a mechanism to (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:28:23 PM EST
    request reassessment for property tax purposes.  

    Don't assume anyone except those who (none / 0) (#115)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:51:26 PM EST
    bought their home in 2007 are paying taxes on the 2007 value.

    Looks like the White House is trying (none / 0) (#74)
    by vml68 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:39:33 PM EST
    to give the market some support.....

    Stocks pared some losses in choppy trading Friday after the White House sought to douse fears that the government would nationalize crippled banks. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday afternoon the Obama administration continues to "strongly believe that a privately held banking system is the correct way to go."

    I'm not sure how successful they are going to be.


    BTD: You didn't have anything to do with (none / 0) (#61)
    by scribe on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:23:11 PM EST
    this, did you?

    For some reason, a couple living near Auburn, Alabama has decided to name their newborn son "Tebow Sanford Crumley".  Dad says he and his wife decided, before having kids, that she would be in charge of naming any girls and he would be in charge of naming any boys.

    Why Mr. Crumley thought naming his kid after a guy who plays for Florida, when he lives in Alabama, is beyond me.  He might have been kinder to the kid had he named him "Sue".

    Obviously a convert. (none / 0) (#62)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:25:04 PM EST
    Taking the hard road in life, he is. (none / 0) (#68)
    by scribe on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:32:54 PM EST
    Parents should get some counseling before doing these sorts of things.  Nothing formal, but just a bit of wisdom.

    I have a Rumplestiltskin-esque... (none / 0) (#76)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:41:32 PM EST
    middle name, I used to be embarassed by it as a kid, now I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

    Weird names can be cool...Tebow is kinda lame though.


    This is just sad (none / 0) (#80)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 02:45:32 PM EST
    More women are turning to bank robbery as a way to pay bills. (although some, like men, do it for the thrill).

    Change (none / 0) (#87)
    by KeysDan on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:00:51 PM EST
    Jane Hamsher reports that at a UN Conference underway in Geneva, the US took the floor in support of a statement that condemned all forms of discrimination and all other human rights violations based on sexual orientation. In late December of 2008, the US, standing with just the Holy See and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, voted against a resolution that called for the decriminalization of homosexuality and to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties. in particular, execution, arrest or detention.
    According to the NYTimes, Peter Orszag, director of Management and Budget, will attempt to reduce the trickery and deceit of federal budgets past, including keeping the Iraq and Afghan wars off budget and the posting of unrealistic costs for medicare, even though the books will not look so good.  Moreover, the budget will actually include a contingency for natural disasters and an increased line for future interest payments (which will be needed soon).

    Yellowcake Helicopters Courtesy BushCo (none / 0) (#89)
    by squeaky on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:02:31 PM EST
    This is emblematic of how BushCo operated. Security of the US was far down the list and the corruption widespread. In this case $11.2 bil worth.

    Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) and others have alleged that the contract for 28 Marine One helicopters was awarded to the Italian firm Finmeccanica as a thank you for Italy's participation in the Iraq War. The evidence, however, indicates that the contract was more specifically a payoff to the Italian government for supplying the forged documents showing Saddam had obtained weapons grade uranium from Niger. President Bush famously used this fraudulent "yellowcake" intelligence to justify launching the war.


    New Rural Health Care Chief (none / 0) (#123)
    by squeaky on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 04:03:34 PM EST
    "As a nurse, a Ph.D., and a leading rural healthcare advocate, Mary Wakefield brings expertise that will be instrumental in expanding and improving services for those who are currently uninsured or underserved," Obama said in a statement. "Under her leadership we will be able to expand and improve the care provided at the Community Health Centers which serve millions of uninsured Americans and address severe provider shortages across the country."

    The agency oversees community health centers across the country and programs that send doctors and nurses to underserved areas and will administer $2.5 billion in the stimulus package to improve healthcare infrastructure and train health care professionals.


    Excellent. (5.00 / 1) (#146)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 09:14:10 PM EST
    I hope she is most successful in her endevors. Coming from North Dakota, she's no doubt well versed in the challanges of meeting the basic medical needs of the rural population.

    With our med schools turning out less GP's and more specialists (who generally end-up in large metropolitan areas) every year combined with a decided lack of facilities, the medical services available in our rural areas are severly lacking.

    Which leads to reactive treatment as opposed to proactive, preventative medicine.  The former much more expensive than the later.

    We need to train more people to be PA's, NP's and the like to fill the void.  

    I hope they also look at something like forgiving a portion of a Dr's student loans in exchange for practicing in a rural area.


    Clemons: (none / 0) (#126)
    by andgarden on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 04:26:17 PM EST
    Burris CoS resigns:

    Darrel Thompson has just released this statement:

    Three weeks ago I was temporarily detailed to serve as Chief of Staff to Senator Roland W. Burris. Though my tenure was relatively brief, I enjoyed and valued my time with Senator Burris, his entire staff and his other advisors.
    As of today, my role as Interim Chief of Staff to Senator Burris will end. I will resume, in full, my duties as Senior Advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

    I wish Senator Burris and his family the best.


    Darrel Thompson

    Pentagon Gitmo report (none / 0) (#127)
    by jedimom on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 04:30:10 PM EST
    BTD can you or Jeralyn take a look at the reports on HotAir that the Obama ordered Pentagon study of Gitmo is released..hoping you do an analysis

    Hope it includes a study of (none / 0) (#128)
    by SOS on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 04:57:58 PM EST
    the illusory nature of the "straight" world.

    Decidedly NOT funny: (none / 0) (#131)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 05:15:52 PM EST

    Chart showing state tax increases per taxpayer.  Yikes.

    In my opinion, the public entertainment (none / 0) (#139)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 06:24:20 PM EST
    aspect is the result of our dithering Legislature.  But yes, we certainly do need tax reform.  Looking at the ballot proposals the Governor has agreed to tout, what a mess.  Programs will be cut only if sales tax and income tax increases are extended a couple of years.  Does this make sense?  No.

    Except term limits didn't start until (5.00 / 1) (#153)
    by oculus on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:09:44 AM EST
    1990 and the California Legislature has had trouble getting its act together re state budget for far longer than that.

    In Defense of the California Voter... (none / 0) (#150)
    by santarita on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:57:20 PM EST
    we are subject to relentless and slick ad campaigns in favor of the various propositions and referendum. The  propositions seem pretty basic and appeal to "common sense".  And usually are not well written or thought through except by people with a hidden agenda. Many years ago, someone gave me good advice:  Just vote "no" on all of them.  Unfortunately not everyone has gotten that advice.  

    Kinda seems like (5.00 / 1) (#152)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:56:08 PM EST
    the California voter needs to get sick and tired enough of the deceptive and pointless referendum process to actually get rid of it.  This is not a polis of ancient Greece, you can't run the world's eighth-largest economy like a popular democracy.

    What (none / 0) (#144)
    by andgarden on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 07:56:21 PM EST
    Digby said about populism.