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Archive for April, 2009

Sullivan for Supreme Court

David Souter has announced that he will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the term.  This came as news to the other members of the Supreme Court, who were pretty sure David left sometime in mid-1995.

It gives Obama the chance to make his first nomination, so in the spirit of providing the Taunter Endorsement (which would kill any chance she might have, if more than a dozen people read this):

Pick Kathleen Sullivan.

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So GM has presented its lenders with a plan to restructure the company to the following shareholdings:

  • 89.9% (54.4bn shares) US Treasury and United Auto Workers
  • 9.1% (5.5bn shares) current bond holders
  • 1.0% (610mm shares) current equity holders

GM shares closed at $1.81.

Notice anything strange?

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Self-awareness

At what point in the preparation of a memo that is going to be distributed to the FAA, Secret Service, and NYPD requiring secrecy for an Air Force photo op over Manhattan do you catch yourself typing:

the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes

and think to yourself: “Self, not only is this not even close to being a good idea, someone is going to find this memo and I’m going to look like an asshole”?

Evidently, not before this:

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Mindset

James Kwak has his best post yet at Baseline, pointing out that Tim Geithner is the poster child for the soft power of regulatory capture:

we meant that one of the primary means by which Wall Street got its way in Washington was by creating and propagating the understanding – among sophisticated, educated, cultured people, as opposed to “populists” or the “rabble” that showed up at anti-globalization protests – that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country as a whole.

I don’t think that implicit quid pro quo bargaining is a sufficient explanation, because I believe it entirely possible that there are honest politicians and civil servants who really, truly believe that they are acting in the public interest when they come to the aid of the largest banks.

Some day political historians will recognize the elevation of Bob Rubin to Secretary of the Treasury in January 1995 as a watershed moment in American politics.

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Courtesy of Zero Hedge, our favorite public commenter strikes again:

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Summers

Based on Simon Johnson’s account of a conversation with him, Larry Summers seems even more delusional in person than in the media:

LS: We will get out of the crisis by encouraging exactly the kind of behaviors that “previously we wanted to discourage” two years ago.  It is “this insight, this view” particularly with regard to leverage (overborrowing, to you and me) that “undergirds the policy program in the United States.”

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In Support of Usury

Crossposted at DailyKos

Credit cards are in the news today – the White House summit, Carolyn Maloney’s Credit Card Bill of Rights, the Dodd/Schumer call for card issuers to freeze rates – and it is understandably a topic of great relevance for most people.

The Maloney bill is a good bill. It focuses on disclosure requirements (cracking down on hidden fees), with some fairly basic regulations (applying payments from the highest rate downwards, instead of the lowest rate upwards). Nothing will ever be good enough for the card issuers, so they can be expected to try to stall in the Senate, but this is some common sense stuff.

However, several members of the Kos community, as well as some advocacy groups, seem to want the government to go beyond focusing on disclosure and impose rate caps or bar universal default. It is an emotionally satisfying position, but it is also wrong.

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