Sunday Reads

good morning!!!

Here’s an interesting piece in the Christian Science Monitor about an attempt to knock Rahm Emanuel off the ballot for the Chicago Mayoral election.  Emanuel’s eligibility is in question because of his residency in the District as Obama’s Chief of Staff.  Does that duty deserve similar treatment to active duty soldiers?

Chicago area election lawyer Burt Odelson filed his challenge to the Chicago Board of Elections, saying that Emanuel does not meet a state law that requires all candidates to be residents of the municipality in which they seek office for at least one year. He filed on behalf of two Chicago residents; on Wednesday, five other challenges were filed separately. Tuesday is the last day objections can be filed to the election board.

Central to Mr. Odelson’s argument is that Emanuel was removed from voter rolls twice during his two-year tenure in Washington, when he served as White House chief of staff to President Obama. During that time, Emanuel rented out his home. His campaign says he maintained ties to the city by paying property taxes, maintaining a driver’s license, and voting in the February primary.

Economists Olivier Jeanne and Anton Korinek  at VOX are suggesting Pigou taxes  (i.e. sin taxes) on financial corporations that would vary with credit booms and busts.    Rules would change depending on the state of the economy.  Suggestions include requiring higher capital levels or placing some kind of penalty on an organization when they take on large amounts of credit during an asset price boom.  The purpose is to impose the social cost of bailing the organization out on them to prevent from doing so and causing havoc in the financial markets. The idea is that they’d be less able to profit from the leverage so they’d be less likely to  go for the risk.  Suggestions specifically target mortgages with balloons or “teaser rates” since they are more risky and more likely to blow up in the face of market troubles.  The tax would then be used to fund any required bailout.

The optimal tax should also be adapted to the maturity of debt. Long-term debt makes the economy less vulnerable to busts than short-term debt, because lenders cannot immediately recall their loans when the value of collateral assets declines. For example, 30-year mortgages make the economy less prone to busts than mortgages with teaser rates that are meant to be refinanced after a short period of time.

An important benefit of ex-ante prudential taxation during booms is that it avoids the moral hazard problems associated with bailouts. When borrowers expect to receive bailouts in the event of systemic crises, they have additional incentives to take on debt. If the financial regulators accumulate a bailout fund, borrowers may increase their indebtedness in equal measure, leading to a form of “bailout neutrality”

Real Time Economics over at the WSJ has some interesting numbers up on Mortgage defaults.  The ever increasing backlog of defaults is worrisome.

492: The number of days since the average borrower in foreclosure last made a mortgage payment.

Banks can’t foreclose fast enough to keep up with all the people defaulting on their mortgage loans. That’s a problem, because it could make stiffing the bank even more attractive to struggling borrowers.

In recent months, the number of borrowers entering severe delinquency — meaning they missed their third monthly mortgage payment — has been on the decline, falling to about 700,000 in October, according to mortgage-data provider LPS Applied Analytics. But it’s still more than double the number of foreclosure processes started.

I personally enjoyed reading this Michelle Goldberg take-down on the Daily Beast of certain right wing women politicians who are trying to campaign as the ‘real’ feminists while throwing out their rewrites of herstory.  The Right Wing always rewrites history with the worst revisions.  I’m calling what they adhere to feminotexactlyism.  Here’s a few tidbits.

The historical revisionism here recalls that of Christian conservatives who try to paint our deistic Founding Fathers as devout evangelicals. At one point, Palin refers to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Declaration of Sentiments,” which came out of the historic 1848 women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. Stanton deliberately echoed the language of the Declaration of Independence, referring to the rights that women are entitled to “by the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” To Palin, this mention of God proves that Stanton shared her faith: “Can you imagine a contemporary feminist invoking ‘the laws of nature and of nature’s God?’ These courageous women spoke of our God-given rights because they believed they were given equally, by God, to men and women.”

Not really. Stanton was a famous freethinker, eventually shunned by more conservative elements of the women’s movement for her attacks on religion. In one 1885 speech, she declared, “You may go over the world and you will find that every form of religion which has breathed upon this earth has degraded women.” Ten years later, she published the first volume of The Woman’s Bible, her mammoth dissection of biblical misogyny. Stanton was particularly scathing on the notion of the virgin birth: “Out of this doctrine, and that which is akin to it, have sprung all the monasteries and nunneries of the world, which have disgraced and distorted and demoralized manhood and womanhood for a thousand years.”

For more debunking, including that silly one about Susan B Anthony being some how against abortion, go read the article.  Facts are  such tractable things to Republicans that I wonder why any sane person would quote one without fact checking them first.  I just can’t take any more presidential candidates needing basic re-education; let alone presidents that require it.

Speaking of another one in that category, the national spotlight isn’t doing much good for my governor either.  I’ve got two sources I’ll quote here.  The first one is The American Thinker which you may recall is conservative.  They’ve even got his number.  It seems that just writing books about yourself is not going to be the path to Presidency any more.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is busy promoting his new tome Leadership and Crisis with book tour stops all over the country. This latest tour comes on top of his previous speaking tours to raise campaign cash for himself and various Republican candidates around the country. The only place Governor Jindal has trouble visiting is his home state of Louisiana. The joke in Louisiana is that Bobby is known as a governor in 49 states.

Louisiana blogger Lamar White, Jr. takes it even farther.  Yup, Jindal’s our ROAD Scholar. We can’t keep professors on university payrolls but we can sure pay for him to promote his self-serving book.

The oil spill was a huge scare, but instead of being honest about it, Jindal used it as an opportunity to advance his own political celebrity and perpetuate ridiculously disconcerting and almost masochistic myths about the effects of a deepwater drilling moratorium, none of which turned out to be true. He spent more time posing for the cameras and tagging along with CNN than practically anyone else, yet, in his “memoir,” it’s the Obama Administration who cared about media perception, not him. As an example, he cites a letter he delivered requesting an increase for federally-subsidized food stamps, suggesting that the Obama Administration delayed on their response. According to White House officials, Jindal’s formal request was delivered on the same day that Jindal called a press conference decrying the delays. Pure political theater.

But most importantly, when Jindal says Congressmen should spend more time at home, he should probably listen to his own advice. During the last couple of years, Jindal’s become more known for the things he has done outside of Louisiana than for anything he has done here in Louisiana. Before the November elections, he spent weeks touring the country to support fellow Republican candidates, and only two weeks after the election, he embarked on yet another nationwide tour, this time promoting his memoir.

I have to admit that this next Republican presidential primary is going to have me chewing my finger nails off.  If this is the best they have to offer, we are SO sunk.

Both the Koreas are upping the stakes in the Yellow Sea.  North Korea is sending veiled threats to the U.S about sending its air carrier–USS George Washington–into the area for joint ‘war games’.  SOS Clinton is in talks with the Chinese.  This is from The Guardian.

The world’s diplomatic corps is working feverishly to contain the crisis and make sure there is no further conflict. China, which is widely seen as having influence over the North, has held talks with the US between its foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, and the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. “The pressing task now is to put the situation under control,” the Chinese foreign ministry quoted Yang as telling Clinton.

Meanwhile the US stressed that its military operation with the South – which includes deployment of a nuclear-armed aircraft carrier – was not intended to provoke the North. Yet the North’s news agency addressed that issue: “If the US brings its carrier to the West Sea of Korea [Yellow Sea] at last, no one can predict the ensuing consequences.”

The the joint US-South Korea exercises started late last night.  Here’s the report on them from English Al Jazeera.

South Korea’s military later said that explosions – possibly the sound of artillery fire – were heard on Yeonpyeong Island.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that what is believed to have been a round of artillery was heard on Sunday from a North Korean military base north of the sea border dividing the two Koreas. It was not immediately clear where the round landed.

Residents of the island were ordered to take shelter in underground bunkers, but that order was later withdrawn, according to Yonhap.

Dozens of reporters, along with soldiers and police and a few residents, headed for the bunkers, where they remained for 40 minutes.

I’ve been watching the euro crisis again as the problems with Ireland seem to be creating problems with Spain now.  My print copy of The Economist didn’t come this morning so I’ve been having to read the cyber ink here.  My Saturday night soak in a hot bath was just not the same without it.  So,here’s my idea of a chiller thriller.

Europe’s rescue plan is based on the idea that Ireland and the rest just need to borrow a bit of cash to tide them over while they sort out their difficulties. But investors increasingly worry that such places cannot, in fact, afford to service their debts—each in a slightly different way. In Ireland the problem is dodgy banks and the government’s hasty decision in September 2008 to guarantee all their liabilities. Some investors think this may end up costing even more than the promised EU/IMF loans of some €85 billion ($115 billion)—especially if bank deposits continue to flee the country (see Buttonwood). Ireland’s failing government adds to the doubt, because it could find it hard to push through an austerity budget before a new election (see article). In Greece the fear is that the government cannot raise enough in taxes or grow fast enough to finance its vast borrowing. Likewise in Portugal, which though less severely troubled than Greece nevertheless seems likely to follow Ireland to the bail-out window.

If the panic were confined to these three, the euro zone could cope. But Europe’s bail-out fund is not big enough to handle the country next in line: Spain, the euro’s fourth-biggest economy, with a GDP bigger than Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined.

One has to ask how much the Germans are going to pony up the cross country fiscal policy this will take.   I’m still not ready to call the eminent demise of the EURO since every study that I’ve read–and I’ve read lots over the last three years–points to how much trade and foreign direct investment has come from integration.  This will test a lot of wills; good an otherwise. Meanwhile, the Irish are rebelling over their deal. They don’t want austerity measures any more than the Greeks do or we do for that matter.

The Economist also weighed in on  the “Republican Backlash” to the QE2 calling it perplexing which I believe is equal to me being baffled by the whole thing.  It’s still either they don’t know a damn thing (e.g. Republican presidential wannabe candidate number 1 on the link up top) or they just want the power so they don’t really care (e.g Republican presidential wannabe candidate number 2 on the link up top there).  Has to be.  What is still the weirdest thing to me is how many of them seem to hate Bernanke who is–afterall–a fellow Republican and a Dubya appointee.  What a strange, strange world this has turn out to be.  I mean Ron Paul is going to be in charge of the House subcommittee on Monetary Policy next year.  That’s like putting a representative of Astronauts for a flat earth society in charge of NASA.

Yet the fight is not ultimately over numbers, but ideology. To be sure, the Fed’s reputation has suffered among Americans of all political stripes over its failure to prevent the crisis and its bail-outs of banks. But the tea-party movement holds it in particularly low regard, seeing it as the monetary bedfellow of the hated stimulus and bail-outs. Some 60% of tea-party activists want the Fed abolished or overhauled, according to a Bloomberg poll. One of the movement’s heroes is Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas who wants to scrap the Fed outright and bring back the gold standard. His son Rand, newly elected as a senator from Kentucky, has also been stridently critical. QE can be made to seem sinister: an animated video on YouTube that portrays it as a conspiracy between Goldman Sachs and the Fed to fleece the taxpayer has been viewed over 2m times.

The ideological content of the backlash should not be overestimated. In 1892 William Jennings Bryan, later the Democratic presidential candidate, declared: “The people of Nebraska are for free silver and I am for free silver. I will look up the arguments later.” Liberals accuse the Republican leadership of likewise concocting an excuse to rally their base against Barack Obama. Indeed, the letter to Mr Bernanke criticises QE2 in much the same language used to oppose fiscal stimulus: as a dampener of business confidence and stability.

Well, I’ve just about had it with the print news today.  Do you suppose the Sunday News Programs will have anything on more meaningful?

Ah, probably not.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

59 Comments on “Sunday Reads”

  1. Pips says:

    Phew! What a relief that “The Leader of the Free World” is so unsurpassed brilliant at picking employees that he doesn’t himself have to worry about what’s going on in that same World … gives him the opportunity to go watch basketball instead.

  2. Why do some people think it necessary to shout GOOD MORNING!!!???
    It’s possible y’know for words to hang over the edge of our eye lids, lounging in wait like animated clown hammers from some Disney cartoon…GOOOD MORNING!!!
    They wave and clamber, them hammers…
    They want to land on what I have left of memory from last night well after LSU lost, even after the Moonshine Cherries… the Wild Turkey…
    I can hear it coming like a train down the hallway.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    I hate to say anything in support of Rahm, but I think that paying property taxes, keeping his driver’s license current and voting in local elections makes him a legitimate citizen of Chicago.

    Jindal sounds just like our globe-trotting former governor Mitt Romney, who was almost never in Massachusetts during his reign. Let’s hope neither of these two gets anywhere near the White House.

    • mablue2 says:

      Don’t worry, neither one of them will become POTUS. I know the earl signs are that the Republican establishment is lining up behind Romney, but he will always have a tough time getting through Republican primaries.

      Bobby Jindal is just an asshole, and he never takes long to expose himself.

      I think the winner of the Republican primaries of 2012 is not even in the news these days.

  4. paper doll says:

    nice round up…Thankfully Hill is speaking to China.

    Facts are such tractable things to Republicans that I wonder why any sane person would quote one without fact checking them first.

    That exactly why…it’s a good test to see if you believe the speaker or your own lying eyes . Agreeing with made up facts is a chance to show your support for “faith” over fact . In some cases the bigger and more obvious the fabrication, the greater the opportunity to show one’s ” faith” in the person putting over the made up factoid. When Reagan said facts are stupid things….many agreed…and that goes across the political spectrum…many an obot thought facts were kryptonite as well.

  5. paper doll says:

    Jindal as presidential limber…ha! I’m waiting for Fred Thomas to reconstitute his committee. Soon it will be time once again for GOP presidential candidate vaudeville.
    But it seems what one has to prove to the “powers that be” is one’s willingness to endlessly hack away at social services…that’s what is deemed as “presidential limber” today …and any hesitation over the human cost is a disqualifier

  6. bostonboomer says:

    This is completely OT, but we have been seeing a red-bellied woodpecker at our bird feeder. I’ve never seen one before.

    • paper doll says:

      That’s my kind of late breaking news ! Thanks!

      …a red-bellied woodpecker at our bird feeder

      Oh these tough economic times! lol!

      • Delphyne says:

        Oh, we have a lot of them in NJ – I find them very beautiful and love the sounds that they make.

        • purplefinn says:

          Me too. It took several years of observation before I saw the reddish belly though.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I didn’t see the belly, but I could identify it by the head and back. I’ve only seen downy and hairy woodpeckers where I live. We’ve been seeing a nuthatch at the feeder too.

        • bostonboomer says:

          My mom heard the cry when she went out to get the paper this morning. We’re going to put some suet out today. I hope they like it.

          • NW Luna says:

            Bet they do. I don’t think we have red-bellieds here. We do have red-headed woodpeckers. An our local city-dwelling flickers are in the woodpecker tribe.

            I like it when they drum on metal chimneys in mating season. Drives the cats crazy, though.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s a very creepy story in the NYT about an on-line business owner who bullies his customers and the worse he treats people the more business he gets through Google. He sends fake merchandise, adds extra charges and stalks customers who complain.

  8. Pat Johnson says:

    The nightmare scenario for the 2012 election will be us trying to figure out how we are going to “defend” the proposition of supporting Obama against the sorry opposition that will emerge from the GOP ranks.

    As awful as he is, I just cannot see myself, at least, beating the drum for the likes of Romney, Huckabee, Gingrich, Jindal, Barbour, Thune, Christie, Bolton, or Demint, against President Indifferent as an anecdite to what we have now.

    These possible challengers represent more of the same policies that led us to the brink and they are promising to do so again given the opportunity. It may very well be that there is someone lurking who has yet to make some noise that has not been heard but whoever it is the chances are they will be just another rubberstamp of the GOP.

    I’m also guessing that whoever gets the nod we could be seeing Liz Cheney being a part of the ticket as a vice presidential contender with an eye toward the women’s vote.

    As much as I loathe Obama for his lack of leadership abilities, I loathe the GOP even more. I can see the GOP revved up in 2012 with the Left holding its breath against the outcome.

  9. Rickpa says:

    Looks like a primary challenge to President Obama holds the best solution, though such a challenge would be as difficult as they get.

    I have always found presidential politics to be the evil of two lessers, and expect nothing good from it.

  10. Woman Voter says:

    New WikiLeaks files ‘to reveal American criticism of Mandela’

    By Simon Walters and Christopher Leake
    Last updated at 1:16 PM on 28th November 2010

    ‘Typical cables describe summaries of meetings, analysis of events in other countries and records of confidential conversations with officials of other governments and with members of civil society.’

    Last night a source close to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This is enormously embarrassing to the US. The CIA have Assange under total surveillance.

    ‘The idea was that nothing would be news to us. But these latest documents were moved as hard copies, not electronically, so we still don’t know the extent of the leak.’ Note emphasis mine on the how the docs were leaks out.

    WikiLeaks is down, and Assange is under complete watch, by I suspect many countries at this point. Is the site down to keep others from downloading the insurance file?

  11. Minkoff Minx says:

    Wikileaks ‘hacked ahead of secret US document release’

    Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks says it is under attack from a computer-hacking operation, ahead of a release of secret US documents.

    And I think that the US is painting Wikileaks like a terrorist organization, with that statement from the State Dept, they will not negotiate with Wikileaks. Reminds me of that line in Tropic Thunder, the one where Tom Cruise as Les Grossman says, We don’t negotiate with terrorist.

    • Woman Voter says:

      How America sees the world
      The secret reports of the U.S. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

      Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel: Avoids the risk of rare creative

      That is all I could do as the others are hard to recognize without their proper names, although I am sure I know who they are, but don’t know the proper spelling.

    • Branjor says:

      Revealed: How America sees the world. The secret report of the U.S. Foreign Office.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Los secretos de la diplomacia de Estados Unidos, al descubierto
      The secrets of U.S. diplomacy, uncovered

      First lot is out in Spanish and they are using Hillary’s photo rather than Obama for the bad PR, which is wrong in my opinion as Obama is the Nobel Peace Prize Basketball playing/relaxing President and his photo and Bush II should be up there.

  12. Woman Voter says:

    US cables leak sparks global diplomatic

    • More than 250,000 dispatches reveal US foreign strategies
    • Diplomats ordered to spy on allies as well as enemies
    • Hillary Clinton leads frantic ‘damage limitation’

    The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.

    At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables – many of which are designated “secret” – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN’s leadership.

    These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistlebowers’ website, also reveal Washington’s evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues.

    These include a major shift in relations between China and North Korea, Pakistan’s growing instability and details of clandestine US efforts to combat al-Qaida in Yemen.

    Classified embassy dispatches reveal Saudi king pressed US for military action on Iran and Washington used diplomats to spy on UN

    Hillary doing frantic damage control and our Nobel Peace Prize President is playing basketball? Go figure…

  13. Woman Voter says:

    Les révélations de WikiLeaks sur les coulisses de la diplomatie américaine

    Le site spécialisé dans la diffusion de documents officiels WikiLeaks a obtenu 250 000 télégrammes diplomatiques, venus du département d’Etat à Washington et de toutes les ambassades américaines dans le monde. Le Monde y a eu accès.
    Pourquoi “Le Monde” publie les documents WikiLeaks
    La peur des pays arabes face à l’Iran

    The revelations on Wikileaks backstage American diplomacy

    The site specializes in the dissemination of official documents Wikileaks has obtained 250 000 diplomatic telegrams, from the State Department in Washington and all U.S. embassies worldwide. Worldwide there has been access.
    Why Le Monde publishes documents WikiLeaks
    The fear of Arab countries against Iran

    Most papers are using Hillary’s photo and not Obama’s or Bush II????

    • Woman Voter says:

      These leaks are from someone up high in the government and they were hard copied and carried out ala The Pentagon Papers. To me, this is indicative of someone seeing that the Presidents (including Obama) have not followed the law in going through the proper channels and keeping the people blind from what their aim is, in essence diverting the Democratic Process.

  14. dakinikat says:


    Pope Benedict XVI has called for politicians and other world leaders to show more respect for human life at its earliest stages by saying embryos are dynamic, autonomous individuals.

    autonomous? 8 cells have sentience? what is this guy on?

    • NW Luna says:

      Embryos are “dynamic, autonomous individuals”???

      I hate to think what that means for carcinomas. Sorry, folks, no more surgically removing any lump of dynamically dividing cells.

      If embryos are so “autonomous,” let them survive on their own.