Wednesday, January 30, 2008

David Brooks Bogus BS

When I read an opinion piece in our local paper that was written by a conservative columnist my reaction is usually the following: Do they really believe this Bull Sh-t or are they just printing it because it’s their job to shill for big bidness?

Take for example the following by David Brooks concerning the subprime mortgage disaster:

    Mortgage crisis analysis unpopular, true
    Published: January 27th, 2008 01:00 AM

    There is roughly a 100 percent chance that we’re going to spend much of this year talking about the subprime mortgage crisis… The only question is which narrative is going to prevail, the Greed Narrative or the Ecology Narrative.

    The morality of the Greed Narrative is straightforward. A small number of predators destabilize the economy and reap big bonuses… Government should step in and control the malefactors of great wealth
    When a new instrument enters the market, it takes a while before people understand and institutionalize it. Whether the product is high-yield bonds or mortgage-backed securities….

    In the first stage of this adolescence, investors look around and see everybody else making money off some new instrument… Individual bankers have a special incentive to get in on the ride because their yearly bonus is determined by how they do in the short term.

    Then there’s a moment when people realize how stupid they have been. They’ve bought a pile of subprime mortgages without really knowing what they’ve purchased… The cycle of overconfidence becomes a cycle of underconfidence because nobody knows who is holding worthless paper.

    Then, finally, maturity sets in. Those who have lost great gobs of money get fired. People still find the new product useful, but within parameters and with greater safeguards.
Now this is from a gentleman who supposedly is not a hardcore conservative (he allegedly supports same sex marriage). And yet he obviously does not read the blog Crooks and Liars.

From the UK Guardian:

    FBI investigates sub-prime crisis
    Graeme Wearden, Wednesday January 30 2008

    Fourteen companies, including some of the world's largest banks, are being investigated over possible accounting fraud, improperly securing loans and insider trading during the sub-prime mortgage scandal.

    The FBI said yesterday that it had opened criminal investigations into improper lending in the American housing market. Neil Power, head of the FBI's economic crimes unit, told journalists that the investigation includes the companies that securitised the loans and investment banks that bought those products, as well as the developers and sub-prime lenders.

    "We're looking at the accounting fraud that goes through the securitisation of these loans," said Power.
Yeah, just a case of the stupid unedjimicated citizens buying things they did not understand. But fraud? No. I am shocked. Shocked!

No, not really that shocked. Collective amnesia is a hall mark of Movement Conservatism, whether it is the S&L debacle of the 80's or the Ear Mark Excess of the last 7 years.

Water carriers like Brooks the buffoon figure that if they print this fertilizer often enough, Mr. John Q Public will forget about how he has been royally screwed by this Administration. They need John Q to pay no attention to complex matters like economics (Johnnie Mack does not understand it) and concentrate on the real issues: Gay Marriage Illegal Immigrant Secular Humanistic Terrorist.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Presidential Election of 2008 and Why Should We Care?

The Commander's politics may be hard to codify from reading this blog, I am left of Center on most issues, but I am still a capitalist and I believe in personal responsibility (which is why I fell for the Regan Revolution of the 1980's. I believed his bullsh-t about the evils of "Big Government").

I am a science groupie (I lack the smarts to be a real scientist) yet still follow the practices of my religion (Judaism) while not really believing in (G-D). I worship life and stubbornly insist it has meaning (because it can not be replaced), but I will not interfere if someone wants to engage in assisted suicide or abortion; because I am against any form of control that is done "for your own good".

Above all I am a free thinker. I will not waste my time on something that violates the laws of motion, gravity, thermodynamics, etc. (refusal to accept nonsense such as ESP, Magic or creationism is not being closed minded. It is an acceptance of natural law).

All right to the point, why is this particular election so damned important. For me, it has to do with the 50 or so years of existence I have and whether they will be peaceful or harsh. The ultimate authority of this Schizophrenic Land of the Free is the Supreme Court, and if any of my progressive friends are taking notice, we are one Court Seat Away from being royally screwed.

With the retirement of Swing Vote Sandy, the recent appointments of Strip Search Sam and Johnny the Robber, and the most certain retirements of the remaining Liberals on the Court, our next President will decide who has the Majority for the next 20 or 30 years.

And it does not matter what laws or even Amendments to the Constitution are passed in the next 50 years. The Supremos of Old and New have shown that they are quite capable of ignoring this document, precedent and logic be damned.

The Iraq idiocy, recession, medical care, they are important in the short term. But those of us who grew up in the last 50 years under the Warren Court have seen the erosion of those rights we once thought were a given. The Commander does not want to spend his remaining years worried if what he reads, says or even thinks can get him arrested.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary Clinton and the Main Streaming of Misogyny

Apparently opinion polls about the "Bitch" losing to the New Kid on the block in the New Hampshire Primary were a bit exaggerated.

Much has been made about Senator Clinton's emotional moment during a Q&A in the “The Granite State”. I think the truth can be found about one month earlier.

The Commander came across the following commentary on the Newhouse News Service website in December.

    Hillary Hatred Finds Its Misogynistic Voice
    c.2007 Newhouse News Service

    WASHINGTON — In the coming months, America will decide whether to elect its first female president. And amid a techno-media landscape where the wall between private vitriol and public debate has been reduced to rubble, Sen. Hillary Clinton is facing an onslaught of open misogynistic expression.

    Step lightly through that thickly settled province of the Web you could call anti-Hillaryland and you are soon knee-deep in "bitch," "slut," "skank," "whore" and, ultimately, what may be the most toxic four-letter word in the English language.
Calling the crap that Senator Clinton has been subjected to "open misogynistic expression" is like saying that Barry Bonds is being investigated because he took some aspirin. The hatred of Senator Hillary Rodham-Clinton is like a living thing, a festering wound in the soul of America that opened up over 30 years ago with the start of the modern feminist movement.

Susan Faludi's excellent book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women details the ongoing effort by the right to destroy the economic and social gains made by women such as Senator Clinton with the same techniques they used to destroy the civil rights of African Americans. It was first published 15 years ago, and it is a text book example of the reason Hillary Bashing is alive an well in 2008.

In The Huffington Post Erica Jong's excellent posting Seeing Sexism shows the difficulty men and even women have in understanding what Ms. Faludi meant by the term backlash:
    Seeing Sexism
    By Erica Jong
    Posted January 10, 2008 12:55 PM (EST)

    It's not easy to see sexism. It's such a part of our lives it seems invisible. It's in us and outside us. We want not to believe in it---until something---like men making fun of Hillary Clinton, like women making fun of Hillary Clinton---stirs it up. And then something inside our heads shouts: "THERE IT IS AGAIN! I thought--I truly hoped we were past this."

    ...So now we have the cool dudes saying Hillary is dead, the fall of the house of Clinton is here, baby-boomers are so over...youth is roaring again, hope is the watchword, Obama has a feminist wife...And the cool chicks echo it: Hillary is over, we have our rights, we have the pill...we have the vote.
    Let's be honest here. We don't know how a female President would act. But we could look around...we could look at Germany, Ireland, England, Pakistan, India...We could ask why the USA, out of all the so-called "civilized" countries, is so damned afraid of a woman leader (emphasis mine).
Yeah we could ask, but could we deal with the answer? Could we as a nation finally have the courage to admit that we are afraid to hand over the power of the State to the 50% of the population we treat like frail children? Can we admit the truth, get over the fear. Can we grow up and start acting like adults?