Sold for $660 million!
The Hancock Tower has a new owner
-- who picked it up at half price. ...
The least-funny comedian in America is set to start filming
a new flick in Massachusetts.
When reforms aren’t reforms
Democrats just can’t say ‘no’
to public unions on Beacon Hill. ... Mary 'Gadfly' Connaughton
: 'New law, same old Pike story.' ... Contract rewrites, anyone? ...Update
re T's nonreform health-care reform: "Madame President, say it ain't so." ... One obvious reason for "reform before revenue": We can catch these things before they jack up taxes. Even then, you'll have to go through any final revenue bill to see what they're trying to sneak in and water down.
liked Al Gore's talk last night at the Wang until, as he put it in an email, the event was "hijacked by Dead Tree Moderator." ... Hey, at least we're not asking for a bailout. Just a little sympathy and understanding as we pass into business-model history.Update
My second-favorite tabloid has filed for bankruptcy. ... BTW: Aaron wrote in to make sure I wasn't offended by his post, considering my dead-tree background
. Answer: I wasn't offended at all. I was just having a little fun at my own industry's expense, though it obviously isn't that funny when you consider what's happening in Chicago and elsewhere this morning.
'New Boston 1915'
They were talking about a 'New Boston'
even a hundred years ago. ... Why do I have this sinking feeling of deja vu?
The GOP's Beck vs. Becker problem
One of the main dillemas facing Republicans is that its looney pundit class
is dominating its more sane intellectual class.
... I'll leave it to others to grapple with Glenn Beck's unverified reports that the Obama administration is secretly constructing concentration camps. Hub Blog is more interested in what Gary Becker thinks. The Nobel-winning economist rolls out the standard arguments about the standard righty villains, i.e. CRA and Fannie Mae, etc. But implicit in his blame-government argument is that government does have a big non-laissez-faire role in the economy. That's what so many on the right, especially the sophomoric Ayn Rand types, can't get their minds around. For example:
To deal with the "too big to fail" problem in the long run, Mr. Becker suggests increasing capital requirements for financial institutions, as the size of the institution increases, "so they can't have [so] much leverage." This, he says, "will discourage banks from getting so big" and "that's fine. That's what we want to do."
My problem with that approach is that once banks get too big, friendly administrations can always wave capital requirements, as the SEC infamously did earlier this decade. But at least Becker is intellectually mining in the right area. He'd also bolster his credibility if he explicitly acknowledged that, yes, given total regulatory freedom, free-market Wall Street is more than capable of screwing up the free-market system. ... Becker piece via Reader No. 1.Update
has more on the latest all-the-government's-fault-not AIG.
'GM Chief to Resign at White House's Behest'
The White House is now choosing auto-maker CEOs? ... We live in strange economic times.
P.S. -- The headline we'll never read: 'UAW Chiefs Resign at White House's Behest.'
The 'civil heretic' and uncivil critics
The NYT has an engrossing story
about legendary scientist Freeman Dyson, who dares to question the scientific assumptions about global warming and its effects. I remember reading the story and thinking, "The pushback on this is going to be interesting." Sure enough, Media Matters blasted out an email questioning the NYT writer's credentials -- "a sports and music writer"
-- and this press release
criticizing Dyson and his mistakes. Out of curiousity, I moseyed on over to Media Matters
, found its staff and advisors page
and, interestingly enough, there's not a lot of science background among them. I emailed back the MM emailer, somewhat snarkily, I admit, inquiring whether the attacks on the NYT writer might be a little bit, well, personal, considering, well, the MMers don't have a lot of science background themselves. Didn't hear back. ...
For the record: 1.) I believe global warming, or some sort of climate change, is happening. 2.) I believe fossil fuels are more than likely contributing to it. 3.) I generally adhere to the wise non-scientific attitude of The Economist, which once said that we non-scientists really don't know WTF we're talking about so let's just assume fossil fuels cause nasty pollution, start wars, etc., and let's err on the obvious side of caution and common-sense by reducing use of them. 4.) I don't want to see people like Dyson silenced. I don't care about the global-warming views of right-wing ideologues. I already know what they're going to say on all types of issues. But Dyson is an entirely different matter -- and it came across to me that MM was engaging in a classic shoot-the-messenger ploy by going after the writer, something that journalists are supposed to abhor. ... P.S. - Here's another shoot the messenger
So much for jobs-multiplier estimates.
… Of course, the estimates were very precise when pitching the stimulus plan. Now that pols have the dough, out goes the key measurement of accountability.
'Break the oligarchy’
points to this piece in the Atlantic
. It's powerful, provocative and, depressingly, probably on target. ...
Still more on what-a-waste ...
is on a similar what-a-waste
roll when it comes to expansion of the financial sector within American capitalism:
Even during the “go-go years,” the bull market of the 1960s, finance and insurance together accounted for less than 4 percent of G.D.P. The relative unimportance of finance was reflected in the list of stocks making up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which until 1982 contained not a single financial company. …
The new system was much bigger than the old regime: On the eve of the current crisis, finance and insurance accounted for 8 percent of G.D.P., more than twice their share in the 1960s. By early last year, the Dow contained five financial companies — giants like A.I.G., Citigroup and Bank of America.
I took out his obligatory Reagan bashing in between ellipses, mostly for brevity’s sake but also because I think the trend began before Ronnie (think of the growth of mutual funds, credit cards, student loans, venture capital, etc., all reaching maturity by the time the Evil One entered the White House in ‘81.). But we’re in general agreement on the overall trend. …
P.S. -- Hub Blog got my first inkling of financial-sector growth even in rural areas while driving through Maine once. A friend kept proudly pointing out all the new MBNA credit-card facilities popping up. The legalized loan-shark industry hasn't fared so well
in recent years. But Barclays
is opening a new facility! Or was. ... Ooooooooo. Credit-card operations jobs. Now that's the future.
'Rampant voter revulsion'
shouldn't chortle too much about Deval's woes. ... Charlie? Charlie's Bakery? Nah, Lyndell's. Good half-moons. ... Scot
makes good points about Deval's misplaced mojo. But I liked his observation about not finding his 'right working distance from the Legislature.' Deval thinks he'll get so close to lawmakers that he'll learn where the bodies are buried. But he doesn't realize that the one-party Legislature -- in power for 50 years now -- has created an entire, vast, elaborate, multi-layered catacomb system of the embalmed. The feds, miners' helmets and torches at the ready, are now descending into Sal's small corner
of the catacombs. ... Steve Crosby
is headed God knows where.
'The Manny Ramirez Tax'
I like it.
But I know someone
who'd like it even more. ... Via Glenn
- 3.27.09 -- From Kevin:
I was fooled by your headline. For sure I thought you were talking about Manny trying to get the players union to prevent him having to donate a tiny sliver of his ill gotten gains to kids with cancer. My mistake. Update II
- 3.27.09 -- Kevin has now created a special Manny category
at Pundit Review.
'BS Detector Explodes,' Part II
Maybe the 'BS stats'
weren't that full of BS after all.
'Math PhDs used to send people to the moon'
Reader Eric writes in about my comments
about all the what-a-waste scientists on Wall Street:
Dear Hubblog, I have been reading you for a while, but had no time to write. But your latest post about the (science) guys reminded me of this audio from John Lanchester who wrote a piece in the New Yorker about postmodern finance. I don't think the written piece had much new in it, but in the conversation Lanchester recalls his father, a banker, proudly visiting factories that he had helped start through loans. Lanchester mentions how math PhDs used to send people to the moon, and now come up with investment algorithsms.
Eric adds that a 'key moment of changeover' was the 'collapse of the Bretton Woods standard which tied the dollar to gold.' I'm not prepared to go there. But I do agree that there was a shift, a major shift, in Wall Street's role in American capitalism. There's always been money-for-money's-sake scoundrels on Wall Street. Fred Sched's classic "Where Are the Customers' Yachts?"
is being reissued these days for a reason. So I'm not going to idealize the good old days of financiers. But there has been an awesome expansion of the financing industry in America, as Kevin Phillips shows with plenty of charts and graphs in 'Bad Money.'
(Think credit-cards, student loans, hedge funds, mutual-fund companies, mortgage brokers, investment bankers, etc.). The financial risks also correspondingly increased, thanks partly to the development of computers and recruitment of math geniuses etc. to run them. The money-for-money's-sake phenomenon on Wall Street was taken to a whole new and dangerous level. Rather than monitoring the trend more carefully, the political class actually bought into the notion that the geniuses couldn't be wrong.
To be or not to be Duke II? That is the question
And another question
: If Deval is Duke II (the man who thinks he had to adapt to Beacon Hill’s business-as-usual culture), does that make Tim Cahill the Ed King Lite?
BTW -- Hub Blog is not totally buying into the poll numbers. Deval’s popularity is clearly down. You can feel it in the air. But projecting that out to the 2010 elections is something else. An incumbent governor is still an incumbent governor. The Deval-Duke comparison can be taken only so far.* The Duke was ambushed by the hack-nominee King in ’78. Deval isn’t facing an ambush. He sees it coming – and he’s trying to thwart any inter-party threat before it takes shape, partly by morphing into an alleged ‘pragmatic’ Duke II. So far so good as far as Deval-Duke comparisons go. But ’78 isn’t the same as ’08. Suburban voters are more powerful. Independents are more powerful. The old lunch-bucket Democrats have lost clout. The Old Irish Guard is fading away. Deval is facing still-formidable remnants of the old guard. But it’s nothing compared to what the Duke faced. The Duke didn’t have a more powerful independent/suburban base to fall back on. Deval does. But he’s blowing it by playing footsie with the hacks – and he’s therefore, ironically, risking a repeat of a Duke-King scenario that he (or his team of advisers) is trying to avoid.
* For those who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, here’s the history lesson/mythology: The naive and liberal Duke gets elected governor in ’74. He proceeds to piss off the permanent hackerama/bureaucracy. He loses his ’78 reelection bid in a stunning Democratic-primary upset to the Bad King of Massport (then and now the hackerama of all hackeramas, despite today’s attention on the Pike and MBTA). Duke plots his comeback. He triumphantly returns as a more ‘pragmatic’ Democrat. He makes a truce with hacks. The you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-your-back Hack-Progressive Alliance is born. Little known/acknowledged/understood part of the tale: Duke II later morphs into Duke III when he all but gives the keys of government to Billy and the Boys while he’s off running for president. The state is grossed out, ushering in 16 straight years of Republican dominance of the corner office. The End.Update
seems to think Cahill might run as an Independent. Maybe Ed King Lite sees the modern political landscape more clearly than Deval. ... Wayne also thinks this is a golden opportunity for Republicans. That’d be true if Massachusetts Republicans weren’t Massachusetts Republicans.
'BS Detector Explodes'
This is one of those statistical assertions that you know is BS before you even set out to show it's BS. If you just live here and go around with your eyes open you know it's BS. Sure enough, it's BS!
Click to see what he's talking about. It's BS.Update
-- From Bert:
I hope there’s not a lot of time that’s going to dickering over just how bad the homeless problem is, as if it’s somehow minimal enough that it doesn’t really need to be discussed. Yeah, the guy used wildly exaggerated stats, but that doesn’t make the issue irrelevant. Does it?
Interesting the timing of the subject. Mrs. noternie and I were just having a discussion last week about “doubling up.” She said she’s run into/heard about a lot of families moving in with the previous generation (three generation households). It’s mostly for economic reasons, but they also find a benefit out of getting help with care when it’s needed for the younger or older generations.
She mentioned it because I told her how I’ve noticed a few houses that seem to have waaaay too many cars parked at them at hours when there’s clearly no party or carpool going on. Interesting juxtaposition that one of them was almost directly across the street from another house that is clearly empty, I assume from foreclosure.
I didn't say the issue was irrelevant. I just liked Mickey's no-BS attitude toward BS stats. ... Nice observations on the "doubling up" front.
'By trying to have it three ways ...'
Reader No. 1 sends in this smart piece by Harvard's Niall Ferguson
on the right's economic and political choices moving ahead. Reader No. 1 adds: "I think this is what you have been urging on the conservative movement." Sort of. Anything above the intellecutal caliber of this
is an improvement. ...
P.S. -- What a waste
: A former math professor with computer-driven investment models making billions as a hedge-fund manager. Don't you think society would have been better served if his types had committed themselves to lasting projects like this
? ... Those Wall Street bastards. Look what they've wrought.Update
-- Another what-a-waste MIT grad sounds off.
He makes a lot of good points about the AIG retention bonuses, and he almost had my respect and even sympathy. Until I read the following:
I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.
I wouldn't disagree either. That's partly why Americans are so angry. The financial-types have been playing a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose game for decades -- and that's how the retention bonuses were, rightly, viewed. I don't like the 90 percent taxes. I don't like Andrew Cuomo's public posturing. I know the bonuses are a distraction. But I also know that, once again, the financial-types overpaid themselves for a job. They never expect to lose.Update II
-- I kid you not: Andrew Sullivan
ties AIG outrage to racism, anti-Semitism etc. ... Can we at least mock a guy who can afford to give away more than $700,000 in after-taxes income -- income that he ultimately got as a result of taxpayers?
Patrick: “I wish I never uttered that.”
... I can't imagine what he's talking about. ... The thought that cutting Walsh's planned salary will quell the uproar
is almost laughable. The damage is already done. Even more laughable is the thought that the permanent bureaucracy hasn't already figured out
how to get around wage-freeze demands. ... At least the governor admits, sort of, that he was wrong. There's a part of me who thinks he really doesn't like being Duke II or Duke III
, something the Democratic Legislature is demanding from him as the price for cooperation.
I'd say the poll numbers
partly reflect his mere appearances on TV shows while AIG burned, not necessarily what he said on TV shows while AIG burned.Update
-- Someone sent in this: 'Worst Pollster in the World Strikes Again.'
... I should have known better. ... I still think Obama's ubiquitous TV appearances are hurting him.
'Calling it quits'
He helped bring Boston two World Series championships and his bloody sock is already part of Red Sox folklore. He was and is a class act. His kind will always be missed.Update
-- He certainly isn't a slam-dunk Hall of Famer
on the first ballot. But he'll eventually get in.Update II
has a special best of "Curt Schilling - Thanks for the memories" strip today.
The greatest wealth creation by a president?
For the same reason he wasn't the greatest wealth destoyer in presidential history.
... Conservatives ought to be embarrassed by the talking-points nonsense they were spouting a mere 18 days ago. But, intellectually, they have so much to be embarrassed about
over the years that they can't help but spout talking-points nonsense. ... Except for George Will.
Socialist Sweden, communist China and basket-case Mexico are now showing us the way?Update
-- Is this the second and more significant part
of Geithner's plan? It sure looks like a back-up plan to me.
A Hub Blog relative had an interesting approach toward the NCAA bracket pool: he picked only teams named after cities. He's doing quite well -- and this Sweet 16 preview
will only make him happier. ... Attention Bostonians: Let’s all be on our best behavior this weekend when the folks from Pittsburgh, Duke, Villanova and Xavier arrive. Let’s pretend we love our governor, love our Legislature, love our weather, love our fellow motorists, love tourists who ask for directions to Cheers, etc. Let's out booster the boosters. ... Riiight. ... Obviously, that would be an impossible request if this coach and team
Rescuing the rescue
When he isn’t pushing standard liberal wish-list fiscal policies, Paul Krugman is damn persuasive.
... Glad to see him refocusing on the real problem: the banking system. ... Reader No. 1 on the political class that's running/ruining/twittering things:
I doubt I'd ever vote the same way as Steve Stark, but I think he's onto something.
I heard this story discussed on Fox News late this afternoon by Scott Rasmussen, it is pretty amazing. Maybe there's hope for Sarah Palin after all!
I hereby nominate John Kass' column for the Hack-Progressive Alliance Hall of Fame (Web-Based).
Hint: Kass sees his own national-local parallels.
'The lagging response'
When Frank Rich
criticizes Obama's handling of AIG, you know the administration really bungled things last week. ... The same 'lagging response' is one of the reasons why I'm not suffiently impressed with Patrick's conveniently-timed reform proposal. There really is a parallel
between the AIG-bonus outrage and the string of recent state-hack outrages. Posturing after public outrage boils over is not a smart approach. ... Rich also answers his own question about the administration's evasiveness and lack of transparency on AIG:
The answer, I fear, is that too many of the administration’s officials are too marinated in the insiders’ culture to police it, reform it or own up to their own past complicity with it.
Substitute "Summers" with "Aloisi" and you have yet another eerie public-outrage parallel. ... I'll go easy on the parallelisms in the future. I know I'm driving the point into the ground.
‘These virtually daily stories of excesses and abuses’
That wasn’t so hard, was it? But remember: It’s only a narrowly leaked proposal, following his disastrous “trivial” comment. Howie
He gets rattled at his own press conferences, sticks his foot in his mouth and has to flee back to the Corner Office while leaving his befuddled flacks to clean up the mess. Oh what a tangled web we weave.
BTW – The proposal follows a relentless torrent of pension-abuse stories over recent decades, not just in recent months. At no point over the years has a major Democratic leader in the Legislature stepped up and pronounced with angry, determined authority, ‘This has got to stop.’ They’ve literally allowed the political equivalent of looting to occur year after year. … P.S. - See above post for more on pensions.
'Congress Curses Its AIG Frankenstein,' Part II
Now I'm the one who finds himself in an odd situation: Reader No. 1 likes my Perfect Economic Storm theory to explain today's mess (see post below). Maybe I should apportion some storm strengths just to be clear. Socialism was a Gale Force 9 and Wall Street a GF 12 when they slammed into each other. ... No storm-blame relativism here. The CRA and other subprime-like incentives didn't even apply to Wall Street firms and thrifts. They whipped themselves into a reckless fury without government regulations (thanks to all those future brave Go Galters). AIG was arguably a GF plus-12 on its own. ... GF definitions here
Reader No. 1 adds that he has an alternative Wall Street theme song:
Yes, John Lennon wrote some lemons, though I'd submit "Nobody Loves You..." is a bit more reality-based than the beloved "Imagine" (walk through those lyrics and ask yourself if that song might not be the anthem of the Socialism-met-Ayn-Randianism-crowd - think about what those 2 camps have in common, not their differences). How about this one?
Hub Blog's reaction: I like it! ... RE the "Imagine" lyrics
, it's easy and a little spooky to see how much the two camps have in common.
'Congress Curses Its AIG Frankenstein'
Reader No. 1 sent along two links, here
, which, viewed in combination, help explain how we got in the mess we're in, and Hub Blog shall brook no dissent on my theory: Two ideologies smashed together to create a Perfect Economic Storm, i.e. Socialism met Ayn Randianism. ...
Reader No. 1 also nominated this as an official 'Wall Street theme song.'
It's a really bad song for those in a really bad mood. ... Man, did John Lennon write some lemons or what? ... Don't look now: The administration's budget estimates are wildly off the mark.
'Didn't think I'd find myself agreeing with BMG ...'
Reader No. 1 finds himself in an odd situation:
Didn't think I'd find myself agreeing with BMG ... well, maybe I don't.
The real test of the hypothesis that "the more cynical people get, the harder it's going to be to get any of the "meaningful" things done" is whether the BMGers are motivated enough to, for example, end our one-party state dominance by voting for candidates who are not members of the Democratic Party. A very strong case could be made that the more the general public turns away in cynicism, the easier it is for the Hack-Progressive Alliance to consolidate power. ... The folks who show up to hold the signs at the rotaries and go to the school committee meetings and testify at the hearings and drive people to the polls generally get most of what they want in this Commonwealth.
...but gazing beyond the Massachusetts navel, I do think it's a much bigger deal than the Foxes-Who-Would-Be-Hedgehogs occupying the White House think. Good work BMG, now take the next step forward!
'Bonfire of the trivialities,' Part II
finds his own AIG-bonus/state-hack outrage parallels. ...
'Bonfire of the trivialities'
Hub Blog has been mulling the idea that there’s a parallel between the AIG-bonus outrage and the string of recent state-hack outrages – and today Charles Krauthammer and Gov. Patrick unintentionally provide the link with their respective “triviality”
Let's be clear: Of course
the AIG bonuses are meaningless in the big scheme of a $14 trillion economy. Of course
the recent hackerama antics aren't the cause of the multi-billion-dollar budget deficit. But there's a genuine anger out there at corporate America and government -- and in my opinion it's justified, albeit misplaced at times. Our leaders, both in the private and public sectors, have shown an absolutely amazing failure to understand that all these little things add up and then explode in a chaotic mess of both rational and irrational resentments. The public anger is not "trivial." ...
BTW: Gov. Patrick's "trivial"
comment is perhaps the single most stupid political remark I've heard muttered by a state or national pol in the face of genuine public outrage. It will stick with him for the rest of his years in the corner office.
On related matters, Reader No. 1 catches another great Michael Lewis column
Bingo! Kudos to Mike Lewis for the usual insight on Wall Street in particular, but human nature in general (eg the sense in which the difference betweeen millions and billions is meaningless)...
Hub Blog especially liked Lewis's observation about how focusing on larger abstractions is a way of obscuring focus on "small payments to the guy down the street who doesn’t deserve them." Substitute "people who borrowed money to buy homes" with "state workers who game the pension system," and you have the AIG and state-hack parallel again. ... Reader No. 1 also adds:
Another serious diagnosis of the leadership problem in DC. I think it's pretty clear he's a fox who'd like to be a hedgehog but Peggy has special insights.Update
-- Hub Blog forgot to mention another AIG-bonus/state-hack parallel: The argument that those who created a mess are needed to clean up the mess.Update II
-- Reader No. 1 on Deval's "trivial" remark:
Calls to mind Howie's 20-year-old description of our Governor's distant predecessor in the corner office: "shrimp wrapped in balogna" (sorry, no original link, it was from the pre-web era).
'Bring back Dukakis'
I couldn't resist. ... See what a couple of tax increases and hack appointments will get ya? Via Holbert Herald
has more on Deval and Mr. Insider.Update II
-- On another tone-deaf front
, Obama's guys are now downplaying the AIG bonuses. Do you think it has to do with news leaking out about what they knew and when they knew it?Update III
- Tone-deaf indeed.
James Aloisi may have been hired for his political insider skills honed while working as a behind-the-scenes lawyer for the Big Dig. But he’s clearly inept
working under the spotlight
as a transportation czar in the Internet age. His ham-handed attempt to cozy up to the BMG crowd
didn’t work for two reasons: 1.) The BMGers may have gleefully posted his response, but they weren’t really biting because they were too busy barfing
. 2.) He was probably clueless that Globe, Herald and other reporters
read BMG and other blogs, usually in between sips of coffee or while chomping on a sandwich at their newsroom desks. … Ah, for the days when the flies weren’t on the Anthony’s Pier 4 walls!
BTW: Note in his apology
the reference to the “mess we inherited.” We
? So says the former Big Dig attorney who was rehired to help clean up the Big Dig mess.
'The bad side of capitalism'
At least AIG's Edward Liddy
admits private companies can screw up without government assistance. ... The Atlas Shrugged types, I'm sure, will find a way to connect anti-red-lining policies to credit-default swaps.Update
-- Lawrence Kudlow
plays the blame-government card. But he makes some good points about post-collapse AIG. Chief among them: What's the administration's AIG game plan going forward?
'He always can get a job at AIG'
Josh McDaniels is having a hard time in Denver.
... Charlie, Romeo, Eric and now Josh. There’s a pattern forming here. ... Can you imagine walking into a head coaching job and facing an open revolt
before the first team meeting?
'Resign or go commit suicide'
By far, the best suggestion yet for AIG execs.
-- Stephen Colbert pulls out the anti-AIG pitchfork
: "Nation, follow me, and I will make us a mob so big, it cannot fail."
Julius Peppers to the Pats?
-- Bert warns fans not to drool too much:
From the Herald article, this reminder that this isn’t baseball and we aren’t the Yankees. This is the piece that fans need to consider when they start drooling over Peppers considerable talent…
“His arrival, should it come to pass, would have an interesting ripple effect across the roster, particularly on the team’s huge 2010 free agent class. Assuming Peppers cashes in on a long-term deal, the Pats would be left with dwindling resources with which to extend potential free agents Vince Wilfork [stats], Logan Mankins [stats] and Richard Seymour [stats].”
“Assuming the Pats make Wilfork the priority of that group, Seymour could be the odd man out. He signed a four-year, $30 million extension in 2006 and has been slowed by injuries virtually ever since. He finally approached his old form last season.”
I’m not saying they shouldn’t do it, just that I’m not thrilled about losing Seymour next year.
Transformation from Duke I to Duke II: Completed
, I think it's safe to say an approximate consensus has emerged about Deval: He's officially transformed from Duke I (idealist) to Duke II (pragmatist).
The next phase of the transformation is to Duke III (unacknowledged cynic). ... My timeline of the transformation is a little bit different from Michael's timeline. I'd say it started soon after last year's casino debate.
It became apparent with the appointment of James Aloisi.
The governor all but confirmed it when he acknowledged the existence of the shadow 'legislative sponsor' system.
The appointments of a double-dipping stimulus czar and Sen. Marian Walsh made the transformation complete -- and arguably pushed the transformation process well into the Duke III metamorphosis stage. ...
But the big question is: Why did Deval (and the Duke) throw in the towel? It can be summed up in two words: The Legislature. Rick Holmes had an excellent piece
over the weekend about our now more than 50-years-old one-party state. Governors have come and gone over the years. But the one-party Legislature, with all its hidden deals and alliances and other spoils of power, has always remained.Update
-- Charley is feeling nauseous
over the latest State House fiscal-crisis hire
. BTW: I was going to suggest Deval's official, final Duke III metamorphosis would somehow involve House Speaker DeLeo. It apparently involved Sal and Jim Aloisi instead. Close but no cigar for Hub Blog. ... Rick has more on his reform ideas here
. ...Update II
-- Purple rage.
Best sports story of the week? The Netherlands at the WBC.
... Who are these guys?
I never knew Bert Blyleven was Dutch-born. ... Yeah, there's some ringers thrown in there. But there’s enough native-born Dutch to make Holland a popular future stop for MLB scouts. More on baseball in the Netherlands here
. ... First link via Tufts' Dan Drezner
Stewart vs. Cramer
OK, most of you have probably already seen the Stewart-Cramer faceoff
from Thursday. Consider this a Hub Blog public-service prompt for the few who don't know what I'm talking about: At least watch an abbreviated version of it.
Since last fall's Wall Street meltdown, Stewart's been on a roll -- and on Thursday he articulated the average layman's anger and frustration better than anyone else I've seen.Update
-- Thank goodness for entrepreneurs.
They're the real heroes of capitalism. Not the financial phonies on Wall Street.Update II
-- Outraged Liberal fires off at two groups that just don’t seem to get it: corporate America
Going Moonbat Galt!
The Going Galt phenomenon
reminds me of the moonbat hippies who escaped to communes or moonbat environmentalists who try to live eco-purist lifestyles.
'The essence of my scheme'
As I was reading Bernie Madoff’s prepared court statement
, I couldn’t resist looking up the definition of psychopath
. … The key obviously isn’t his expression of sorrow and shame. The key is he admits starting the scam in the early ‘90s and kept taking money from victims – without sorrow and shame kicking in when it counted. He'd still be scamming away if it wasn't for an historic market collapse. He was trying to put off his day of reckoning -- and maximize his opulent days as a free man -- until the last possible moment. He may say he expected to be caught, but his every action suggests he was angling to string out the scam until his last dying breath.
But I thought almost all
economists agreed with Obama’s economic policies? … Actually, I’m feeling a little better about the economy these days. No doubt: Look for more grim unemployment and market news. Dark days still lie ahead. But my new hunch is that economy may be close to bottoming out (as in this summer or early fall) -- and that the much-derided Tim Geithner may yet be vindicated (as in yours truly eating a little crow). ... BTW: Don't put too much stock in profitability statements by big bankers. Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers' CEOs were bubbling with CNBC-like confidence right to the end.Update
-- John has a good retort:
Can we be done once and for all with surveys of economists? Does anyone care what they think? Their "analyses" and "forecasts" from 2006, 2007 and 2008 were so embarrassingly awful and wrong (with a few notable exceptions) that it seems almost indecent of them to still be answering the phone.
BTW: Contrast their behavior to this
. Which is certainly not to be confused with this
Update -- More on fiscal-crisis hiring here
'As I was passing the humongous fanfare ...'
One of Hub Blog's Manhattan WMD spies was outside Bernie's pad today:
As I was passing the humongous fanfare in front of BMadoff's apt (OMG!, it is so out of control with all those freedom fighters seeking the truth), I passed Eliot Spitzer on the street. He was crossing the street directly in front of Madoff's apt. What a pair those two are. You wonder if Spitzer was secretly enjoying the freefall spiral jail- pending moment for Madoff. Spitzer had his downfall a year ago to this day. It seems Spitzer would have avoided the Bernie Madoff scandal (scene).
Update -- Agent M-WMD II reports back:
Bernie was just ordered straight to jail- no stops on Lexington ave to pick up his silk pajamas and Gucci loafers...maybe I should go over and wait with all the reporters to see if he makes a pitstop....maybe I am obsessed with Bernie and Eliot...spy
Reform, revenue and pork, Massachusetts style
go at it on the 'reform before revenue' issue. I'm with Joan -- and I'd extend the reform mantra well beyond the transportation arena now that lawmakers are hinting at raising other taxes in addition to the gas tax. A lot of these reforms -- especially eliminating the gross pension abuses -- could be done without new revenue, BTW. They could be done in good times. They could be done in so-so times. They could be done in bad times. But, strange, reform only comes to the forefront on Beacon Hill when they want new cash. ....
On other government matters: Massachusetts got its share of goodies
in the omnibus federal pork bill, including millions for the JFK Library and Rose Kennedy Greenway. Notice the jobs-multiplier lingo John Kerry applies to the library work: “This shovel-ready project also will bring much-needed jobs to the area.” Over six years, that is -- all with borrowed money.
'The bill represents a bonanza for federal agencies'
Of course it does
-- and Obama will sign it with its 8,570 earmarks worth $7.7 billion. ... The horror of maintaining spending at its current 2008 levels!
Update -- Switching financial-crisis gears, John notes
It would be nice if someone -- anyone -- who contributed to this epic disaster manned up and said: "I am at least partially to blame and for that I am deeply apologetic." Fat chance of that ever happening. The dreary dance of blame-shifting continues today in the Wall Street Journal, with a particularly irritating op-ed piece by Alan Greenspan.
Unfortunately, Michael Barone
partakes again in the dreary dance of blame-shifting. ... My questions: If it's all the government's fault, then what genius employers hired the Domino's pizza deliverymen as call-center mortgage brokers? What super-duper genius institutions hired the genius employers who hired the Domino's pizza deliverymen as call-center mortgage brokers? What rocket-scientist Wall Street geniuses bought up the garbage they encouraged from folks all the way down to Domino's pizza deliverymen acting as call-center mortgage brokers?
'Lincoln-Douglas this was not'
went to the Coulter-Maher political freak show last night and sort of liked it. But I think Maher's give-them-their-money's-worth retort to a heckler pretty much summed up the substance and intent of the event:
Shut the fuck up. These people paid for a ticket to hear us, not you. If you had worked as hard as we have to be up here they would have paid to see you. But shut the fuck up.
'Dangerous political terrain as Beacon Hill ...'
may be dangerous political terrain
on Beacon Hill. But they’re not as verboten as reforms. … Remember: "reform before revenue" is just a “meaningless slogan.”
P.S. -- Fixed second link. Sorry about that.
One of the reasons why I wanted more dough in the stimulus package for science was to woo physicists and scientists away from Wall Street.
Sort of how we paid Soviet scientists to get out of nuclear-weapons research after the Cold War.Update
Maybe we can woo these “Quants” into investing/budgeting for government. Do we have enough Bill James/quant types working for us? Heck, if it works in the private sector… Alas, the pay and pension benefits aren’t that good in the gov’mint.
Not the government. Please no. They'd further screw it up. I'd rather hand 'em bang-for-the-buck grants for research conducted in their moms' basements.
Mike Barnicle defends Jim Cramer
Got your attention?
I thought so. See second video. ...It's more of an attack on the media "beast" for picking on people. Jim sits at the side beaming as the man from MSNBC justifies the mistakes of the guy from CNBC, who also appeared on the NBC Today Show as part of what appears to be an all-out network damage-control effort after that beastly Jon Stewart said bad things about poor Jim.
If the free market party doesn’t offer the public an honest appraisal of capitalism’s weaknesses, the public will never trust it to address them.
That about says it. I don't trust them. Do you? But here's the predicament: Both parties are arguing over future home renovations while the house burns. Dems love the Euro-socialism kitchen counters. Republicans object. Etc. ... The fire is here
At least Laura D'Andrea Tyson
acknowledges the "real risk" if the "economy's recovery starts later and is much weaker than the economic assumptions in the budget." Unfortunately, I think it's safe to say the administration's economic assumptions in the budget have already been blown out of the water.
'I did a hell of a good job'
You sure did, Bob.
Sixty-three thousand smackers a year and sitting pretty in Key West. Did the Big Dig gig pay for the winter home, Bob?
'Yet many economists'
thinks Obama's stimulus package was "too cautious." I'd submit that the reason why Obama won't get a second stimulus package anytime soon is precisely because he wasn't cautious enough with the first package. He allowed Congressional Dems to write it -- and what we got was a standard liberal wish list, justified with dubious "job multiplier" arguments, that appeared as though they had something else in mind other than recovery from the current recession. ... Agree with Krugman, though, on the banking system. ...
Final note: Notice how they're no longer referring to "all" economists agreeing with them. It's now "many." It'll soon be downgraded to something else. ... Final note, Part II: Hub Blog steadfastly believes conservatives are off their rockers for trying to pin blame on Obama for recent market and economic declines, as if a recession begins and ends with an inauguration. But at some point he will be to blame. Krugman gives a rough late-summer blame timeline. Sounds about right to me.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Part II
tries to out-Latinize my feeble Latin in his response. ... P.S. -- Does this make us both Beacon Hill-like hacks for showing off our high-school Latin? It's a scary thought.
That sinking feeling
My hunch is that Deval's approval ratings are falling, but not by this much
. ... The problem is the perception. He's coming across as wanting revenue more than reforms. His out-of-left-field "carbon tax" on Logan parking only solidified that notion. He should be jumping at Therese Murray's "reforms first" mantra -- but he's not because the perception is almost undoubtably based on reality. Ergo
... (Yeah, that's right. You're going to have to put up with my newfound enthusiasm for Latin for a while. I'll pound it into the ground until Kevin
screams for mercy.)
Post hoc ergo propter hoc
Guess which 'movement' is employing classic post hoc ergo propter hoc
logic these days as it applies to the markets and as defined thusly
The post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) fallacy is based upon the mistaken notion that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event. Post hoc reasoning is the basis for many superstitions and erroneous beliefs.
If you guessed the same 'movement' that blamed last fall's Wall Street meltdown on Barney Frank, ACORN and the CRA and now blames the market on Obama, you've won! ... Anyway, I show off my very limited Latin only because I got absolutely flooded yesterday with two or three emails from members of the 'movement' noting how far the market has plunged since Obama took office. I sent a few of them back links to the February jobless numbers
and asked if Obama could be logically blamed for those too. I didn't hear from them afterward. ...
The point is that conservatives, once again, have approached a major debate in a silly, shallow and narrow way, i.e. using Jim "Bear Stearns is fine" Cramer's post hoc ergo propter hoc
logic of weath destruction, when they should be concentrating on the bigger picture, i.e. where Obama's policies are logically taking us. Fortunately, Reader No. 1 is pulling back a bit from the sound-bite side of conservativism and offers up some great reading:
I fear that:
(a) Ross Douthat via Mickey is right about the Obama team's thinking.
(b) Mickey is right about the logical outcomes - I speak from personal experience.
(c) As a consequence, see this link.
Ideas really do have consequences.
If he's talking about long-term consequences, who could possibly disagree? If he's talking about immediate consequences on the Dow, then he's engaging in nothing more than after-this-therefore-because-of-this BS that's going to allow Obama to steamroll over them -- again.
'Gerry Cheevers welshed on a shark’s loan'
There's now a black eye under Gerry's scar-covered mask.
... Glad he didn't get his legs broken. But the fact he was involved with these characters in the first place is sad.
Update -- From Bert:
Hey, credit’s tight, you know.
Today’s story is not so bad. I was worried he was going to be involved on the other side. I don’t think the fact that he borrowed money from a shark is really too damaging. Drunk driving, drug bust, even check fraud would’ve been much worse, I think. The guy’s obviously got money problems. It’s not like he’s trafficking in kiddie porn or anything.
It would be worse if it were Bobby Orr, maybe.
Driving over the cliff vs. hitting ground, Part II
Hub Blog agrees with Dan
: David Brooks has written a smart piece
that allays some fears, though not all fears, that the Obama team has gone looney left on us. ... Maybe I'm falling for the bi-partisan head fake again. So I think Ronnie's formulation is a permanent must at this point: Trust but verify. ... Hub Blog, in case you haven't guessed, is no fan of Rush, but I'm definitely convinced now that the White House is sinking to his level by taking him on. Howie
Until two weeks ago, Rush was still on top, but he wasn’t as on top as he used to be, if you know what I mean. Too many afternoons he’d end up babbling about his private jet, or meander on and on about the Pittsburgh Steelers or George Brett.
No wonder Rush’s favorability rating among those under 40 had slid to 11 percent. Everything about him screamed “RICH OLD FART.” He still had his 600 stations, but he was slowly fading into a $30-million-a-year irrelevance.
Reader No. 1 reacts to my reaction in the post immediately below:
It certaintly isn't *all* Obama's fault - and Cramer and Limbaugh are human beings, nobody is right all the time - but - markets & business people look into the future, and this and especially this is the feared outcome of the new policy agenda...
Here's a Grand Argumentative Compromise: Anything below the Dow 7,000 could be theoretically blamed on Obama. The markets were going to fall to about the 7,000 level anyway, IMHO, based on historic norms
, Obamanomics or not. Arguments that Obama's responsible for everything since his inauguration -- and the TV boys were making that argument last night -- are simply looney-right nonsense.
-- Kevin, who has a cool illustration
on what $1 trillion looks like, writes in:
I wish I had you as a professor in college, what an easy grader! I might have even finished in four years instead of five. A 'C' for that un-stimulus bill over which he showed zero leadership? Wow. As for the stock market declines...yes, Bush got the ball rolling (downhill), but the decline has accelerated since February when the stimulus bill and the budget were released. His budget is a disaster and the market knows it. Bleeding evil rich bastards dry and raising costs on every citizen and business through a cap and trade scheme in the name of changing the weather is just plain insane. The stock market is voting with its feet. The most telling quote is from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official in today's WSJ, "The Obama budget did more to help us consolidate and coalesce the business community than anything we could have done. It's opened eyes to the fact that this is about a social welfare transfer system, not about climate."
Driving over the cliff vs. hitting ground
Reader No. 1 seems to be inching closer to the emerging new conservative meme that everything after the inauguration is all Obama's fault. More on Obama, Bush and responsibility in a moment. But first Reader No. 1, whose opening quote is from Jim "Bear Stearns is fine" Cramer:
"This is the greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a President."
Now there's a legacy.
Meanwhile, watch developments in the land of ordinary people trying to make a living and plan their family's futures. Forget about whether or not you like the personalities, Limbaugh and Cramer are right!
"Correlation is not causation" but will intrepid business reporters note that the too big to fail institutions (Citi, GM, AIG) have only gotten worse since receiving various forms of bailouts? Unfortunately for Obama (and right now, us), markets do work...
Hub Blog's response: Anyone who reads this mighty blog knows I'm disappointed in Obama. His stimulus package was flawed and loaded up with standard liberal junk (I'd grade it a C, at best). His financial-system plan isn't a plan and the non-plan plan is in the hands of a border-line discredited treasurer (I'd grade it and him a D-). But I'm not going to blame Obama for the stock market or economic plunge since he took office. As a Hub Blog friend recently put it, the economy was driven over the cliff during the Bush administration -- and now some are trying to blame Obama for the economy hitting ground while he's in office. Hell, even I
-- and the NYPost
-- knew last year the market and the economy were in for a brutal times in 2009. The idea that the current wealth destruction is the result of Obama's five-week-old policies, many of which haven't been implemented yet, is ludicrous and shows once again that many conservatives aren't staring reality in the face.
At some point, though, Obama does and will deserve blame, especially for his quasi-utopian attempts to build a new social order while the economy burns. Peggy Noonan
is right on the mark this morning in noting the differences in how the U.S. Marines and Washington accept responsibility. Steve Forbes
also makes sense: "Obama Repeats Bush's Worst Market Mistakes." Now that
is the most damning criticism I've heard yet about Obama. Note how he calls for resurrection and enforcement of common-sense financial regulations. ... As for 'intrepid business reporters,' they've already pointing away
, Reader No. 1.
'The economic worth of ...'
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill catches an interesting trend:
May be a sign of the times, but people are bidding on ebay for fake currency used as props on the SciFi Channel show Battlestar Gallactica:
A 100 Cubit Note is going for $132.50 (current bid), so that means a *fictional* 1 Cubit is worth $1.32 US currency.
Euro = $1.25
British Pound = $1.41
So ... The economic worth of a fictional currency (of a society decimated by Cylons no less with only 47,000 survivors) is worth somewhere between the Euro and the British Pound. I think it's mainly because the Cylons look like this now.
Rush Limbaugh to the Herald
: "I am the most prominent national figure actually tying Barack Obama to his polices." ... John Boehner
sees a Democratic plot, dating back to last fall, to divert attention to Limbaugh. ... How do you spell out the Twilight Zone ditty? Doo da doo doo … Doo da doo doo. … Doesn’t look right. I'll keep trying. The words to the TZ intro
are accurate, I know that.
'A Strong Woman for Hard Times'
At the Milan fashion show.
... After rock 'n' roll scribes, fashion critics have to be the most pretentious writers around.... Yes, the word 'sublime' is used. ... I'll concede that the headline writer might have slipped through a little irony. But the entire article slipped through first.
'The kind of double dipping that’s offensive'
I'd say so
-- especially if one of them is already on a frigging $105,731-a-year state pension for frigging life.
Channeling the wrong Roosevelt
thinks Obama should try a different Rooseveltian approach:
Treasury and Federal Reserve officials have continued to operate on the assumption that in finance, bigger is better -- and safer. The argument for these huge, diversified financial institutions has been that in pooling different kinds of risks, they would increase the portfolios' overall stability. That rationale helped create the monstrosity called Citigroup. It was like the argument for securitization of subprime mortgages -- put enough of them together and the danger of default would be less. That didn't work out too well.
BTW: Those evil Dem centrists are at it again
: trying to curtail spending by opposing the omnibus pork bill. ... Accomplishing the near impossible: Sparking Clinton nostalgia.
The contradiction, Part II
He says this
but does that.
… Part I.
Not since 'Satanic Verses' have I seen so much pre-publish hype
over a novel
. My inclination is to take a pass on 'The Kindly Ones.' It sounds like a literary version of 'Reservoir Dogs,'
with the artsy violence-for-violence's-sake hip thin ties replaced with Schutzstaffel caps. ... I'm more attracted to Zoë Heller’s 'The Believers,'
which gets a mildly negative review
because, it seems, it doesn't live up to her previous 'Everything You Know'
and 'What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal.'
Still, her characters, if the review is accurate, definitely ring true today, considering all the true believers out there, left and right:
Though each chooses a different vehicle of worship — socialism, liberal humanism, orthodox Judaism or the New Age gospel of self-improvement — they are all in thrall to their own certainty, self-righteous about their own beliefs and contemptuous of anyone dimwitted enough to disagree. They are also believers in their own mythologies: the roles in which they have been cast by their parents or children or followers, the personas they have had thrust upon them and have, over the years, internalized as their own. Zeal is their default setting; sanctimony, their favorite defense.
BTW: The reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, has a history of not mincing words
A 2nd-round pick? Part II
I didn’t know:
Not long after the Cassel deal was completed, news began emerging from other markets that the Patriots might have had better deals on the table. Tampa Bay reportedly was prepared to deal its first-round pick (No. 19 overall) to Denver for Jay Cutler; the Broncos then would have sent No. 19 to the Patriots for Cassel. Another scenario had the Detroit Lions willing to deal their second-round choice (No. 33 overall) for Cassel, and either keeping him or dealing him to the Bucs as part of a three-team deal.
In either scenario, the Patriots would have received more for Cassel.
Still, one needs to remember: 1.) An early second-round pick is, arguably, better bang for the buck than a first round pick. 2.) Julius Peppers
'Whichever direction your stroller faces'
One more thing for hyper parents to get hyper about.
. … I saw this in the print edition yesterday and thought, "Now here’s a story that will rocket to the top of the NYT’s most emailed list." Sure enough it did. ... Along with articles on Ivy League admissions and the lifestyles of Ivy League grads in Tuscany, nothing beats a story about nurturing precious ones destined for the Ivy League and life in Tuscany.
‘The authority to repudiate’
Here's an intriguing look
at what makes a great American president, i.e. a president who follows a failed president. There are exceptions to the rule -- Gerald Ford following Richard Nixon, etc. But Nixon's failures were personal in nature. Repudiation of a personality doesn't count. Ford also had no intention of boldly breaking away from Nixon's policies. ... Stephen Skowronek's "authority to repudiate" theory sounds like my Theory of Alternating Economic Theories
. It seems Skowronek was for my idea before it was my idea. ...David Brooks
issues a call to arms for moderates to resist "endless war of the extremes" between Limbaughism and Obamaism. As an evil centrist, I wish him luck. But moderates, almost by definition, don't eat, drink and breathe their politics and we're suckers for bi-partisan head fakes, similar to the ploy being pulled now by Obama, as he lays the groundwork for his own cause's eventual repudiation. The repudiation may take a generation to occur, so great were the failings of the Bush administration. But it'll happen, perhaps sooner than past history suggests. ... If you have to read one repudiation of Limbaughism, make it Rod Dreher's fisking smackdown
of Rush's bombastic CPAC speech. Talk about eating, drinking and breathing one's politics.
Update -- Tens of thousands
of new federal workers may be needed to implement the president's ambitious plans. Remember the contradiction.
'This approach is not pretty or easy'
Former Treasury Secretary James Baker
says it's time to bite the bullet and temporarily nationalize zombie banks. ... Via John
Update -- The Economist
State control of some banks is sadly unavoidable. Don't run away from it; focus on doing it well.
‘Ayn Rand was right’
A picture speaks a thousand words
when summing up the state of modern conservativism. ... Has Ayn Rand become the Che Guevara of the right? A hip icon whose followers prefer the romantic ideals over the harsh realities of what their hero's ideas brought about? ...Update
-- From Reader No. 1:
The Ayn Rand branch is important - but libertarians and the vanguard of the conservative movement that composes the modern Republican party are not the same people. So, careful with the broadbrush. Part of the problem with "modern conservatism" is lack of concurrence/coherent message (much like "modern liberalism" of the mid-70s to mid-90s).
Ayn Rand might turn out to be more like Karl Marx, in the sense of "Marxism was never really tried."...these words still resonate.
OK, but the modern Republican party had better do a better job repudiating the Alan Greenspans/Christopher Coxs/Phil Gramms/WSJ types within and without the party. Randian economics has been tried -- and the grand experiment cost us trillions of dollars.
'I confess ...'
I agree with the Bob Dylan
and Bruce Springsteen
assessments. It's not that I dislike them. It's just that I've found no profound reason to worship them ... It's a fun topic -- almost as fun as compiling an All-Time Greatest War Movies
list. ... Another idea is Favorite Songs You Love to Hate, or Guilty Pleasures. My winner is here
. The profound lyrics
still bring tears to my eyes.
Update - 3.02.09 -- From Bert:
I can understand and forgive you loving that horrible song, we all have our musical embarrassments. But when it shares the name of an all-time great, you have to appreciate the better of the two, as well. Otherwise, there may be no hope: you might fairly be classified as having no musical taste.
Actually just listened to this entire album in the car last night. Messages suit the times pretty well.
Actually, my winner is my favorite song that I love to hate, morphing into a guilty pleasure of seething excitement whenever I hear it. Just want to make that clear.