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Afghanistan is Not Enough

military-soldier-sunset

Michael J. Totten takes exception to the frequently expressed view that “the war on terrorism started in Afghanistan and it needs to end there.”  In my New Atlanticist essay “Afghanistan: Necessary But Not Sufficient,” I explain why he’s right.   My conclusion: Defeating the Taliban and its al Qaeda allies there and in neighboring Pakistan is […]

In the Wake of the Failed Bailout Bill…

money-investing

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Min Zeng and Mark Gongloff report that in the wake of the failure to pass the bailout bill, overnight lending rates are ratcheting up–a trend which was already well on its way before the vote. But, as has often been the case during this crisis, credit markets are singing […]

Russian Aspirations vs. Operations

baltic-to-suez

I don’t know if you’ve been following it but an interesting story has been unfolding off the coast of Somalia. Last week pirates (who, interestingly, claim legitimacy as a sort of Coast Guard for Somalia) seized an arms-carrying Ukrainian cargo ship off the coast of Somalia and are demanding a $20 million ransom for the […]

No More Plastic Bags!

intellectual-invention

The NYT has an editorial about the scourge of plastic bags, “which have only a brief, useful life, can survive forever in landfills and are of enormous concern to not only environmentalists but local officials who are running out of places to put their trash.” I’m old enough to remember when biodegradable brown paper bags […]

What Caused Our Economic Crisis Video

money-investing

This video, called “Burning Down the House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis” (although, oddly, set to the tune of “Money for Nothing”) is apparently all the rage (at least in my wife’s office). It traces the subprime crisis to the Jimmy Carter era Community Reinvestment Act. To the extent this view is correct (and I […]

Vulnerable Congressmen Doomed Bailout

money-investing

Nate Silver compares the list of Representatives voting No on yesterday’s bailout bill with the list of swing districts — that is, those where the re-election of the incumbent is seriously in doubt — and finds a surprisingly strong correlation. VULNERABLE GOP = 3 YEAS, 17 NAYS (15%) OTHER GOP = 62 YEAS, 116 NAYS […]

OTB Latenight – The Nails

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Caption Contest Winners

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The Free Hugs Edition OTB Caption ContestTM is now over.

If this is the crisis everyone makes it out to be…

money-investing

…why are so many politicians running around engaging in partisan politics? Lets go with Ezra Klein’s take on the situation, And so the Republicans killed this bill. Without their cover, the Democrats couldn’t save it, because politically, they couldn’t take ownership of it. If this situation is so bad (the Dow Tanking 700 points! OMFG!). […]

Bailout Politics (Updated)

money-investing

An interesting meme is developing among smart commenters from across the political spectrum that the House’s failure to pass the bailout bill demonstrates the soft underbelly of our political system itself. Ezra Klein: Above all, though, this is a failure of politics. Like with global warming, with health care, with the national debt, with immigration. […]

Michael Moore Gets Results

money-investing

Perhaps the House Republican leadership have read Michael Moore‘s latest diatribe? Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion […]

House Kills Bailout, Dow Drops 700 Points

Financial Meltdown

Drudge reported that the Dow plunged 500 points. Something happened. I’ll post more as it comes in. Update: Looks like investors are fearing the bailout will not pass. Dow down now 700 points. Update II: I’ve heard several unconfirmed reportst that the bailout has not passed. One that it failed in the Senate and the […]

Rationale of the Bailout

money-investing

While I am not a fan of the bailout, buying the toxic assets from foundering financial institutions, there is a logic to it that, in the end, could work. Here is the idea, Right now people are very uncertain and very nervous. As such they are most likely to to err on the side of […]

Comparing Public Debts

And while we’re on the subject of public debt it might be entertaining to compare the public debts and GDP’s of various OECD countries: Country GDP ($T) Public debt ($T) Percent France 1.87 1.21 64.7% Germany 2.59 1.93 63.8% Italy 1.8 1.9 105.3% Japan 4.28 7.53 176% United Kingdom 2.77 .864 31.2% United States 13.81 […]

Airport Security Lines

us-politics

Seth Godin has a number of “random travel thoughts,” several of which relate to airport security: When I go through security, why do I need to remove a cardigan sweater but the woman standing next to me can keep her cashmere blouse on? Are certain kinds of wool inherently risky? What would happen if Imagineers […]

Fact-Checking Zakaria

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When I read this transcript from Fareed Zakaria this bit leapt out at me: The Chinese are by far the largest holders of American debt, for example. They buy billions of dollars’ worth of American Treasury bills every week. Now perhaps Mr. Zakaria is engaging in a masterful piece of misdirection by conflating “debt” with […]

Has Palin Out-Qualyed Quayle?

us-politics

Dan Qualye was, rather unfairly in my view, a national joke.  From very shortly after George H.W. Bush picked a rising star senator from Indiana that few outside his home state had ever heard of to be his vice presidential running mate in 1988, Quayle became the butt of late night comics, “Saturday Night Live,” […]

Rewarding Irresponsibility

money-investing

While he doesn’t come right out and say so, I sense that Thoreau seems less than pleased with the bailout compromise: Screw it. The real divide in this mess is not rich-poor, it’s responsible-irresponsible. Whether you’re a moron who borrowed too much or a moron who loaned too much, you get taken care of. Screw […]

The Economy is Depressing but Not an Economic Depression

money-investing

Barry Eichengreen notes that the globalization and diversity of the current economy makes it much less amenable to easy government fixing than its Great Depression counterpart. On the other hand, we’re simply not going to see anything close to the economic devastation we saw during that era: [W]e are not going to see 25% unemployment […]

Caption Contest

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Time for the Monday OTB Caption ContestTM (AFP/Mandel Ngan) Winners will be announced Thursday PM

Bailout Compromise Reached

money-investing

It appears that House and Senate negotiators are on the verge of an agreement with the administration on a plan to address the financial crisis. Congressional negotiators and the Bush administration’s top Treasury officials go to work Sunday on settling the final details of a historic $700 billion Wall Street bailout aimed at keeping credit […]

SNL Parodies Palin, Debates

us-politics

“Saturday Night Live” is continuing to weigh in heavily on the presidential race, hitting Sarah Palin and John McCain hard in last night’s installment. Tina Fey reprised her role as Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live,” again appearing as the Republican vice presidential candidate in an opening sketch. Saturday night’s show — the third of […]

OTB Caption JamTM

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Weekend Caption Jam Linkfest. . . Rodney thinks anything free is worth what you pay for it. Wizbang has a myopic point of view. Wyatt Earp is a back seat driver. Cowboy Blob should’ve worn chaps. RT’s Ponderings is lost in the moment. Right Pundits has jugs. The Gone Rick Motel has a bunch of […]

Paul Newman Dies of Cancer

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BREAKING: Legendary actor Paul Newman has died of cancer at the age of 83. His philanthropic foundation has issued a statement: Paul Newman’s craft was acting. His passion was racing. His love was his family and friends. And his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all. Paul […]

Debate Fact Checking: Kissinger

Presidential Debate

Readers can easily peruse Memeorandum for a good sampling of blogger reactions. The short version: People who supported Obama going in thought he won while those who supported McCain going in thought he won. Not surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of prominent undecideds blogging. I got 27 emails from Patrick Hynes, McCain’s blogger outreach guy, […]

Undecideds: Obama Won Debate

us-politics

The insta-polls and focus group results are in, and among undecided voters, it appears that Obama was seen as the winner of tonight’s debate. For what it’s worth: The Frank Luntz and Stanley Greenberg focus groups went overwhelmingly for Obama. And a CBS poll of undecideds went for Obama 40%-22%. Here’s the full breakdown of […]

OTB Latenight – Led Zeppelin

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McCain – Obama Debate 1: Foreign Policy

us-politics

Forty minutes into the first presidential debate of the 2008 general election season, which was supposed to be about foreign policy, we have had precisely no discussion of foreign policy thanks to moderator Jim Lehrer’s asking the same three domestic policy questions repeatedly.   Granting that there’s an emergency in the financial sector, most of the […]

Palin Channels Al Sharpton

money-investing

Reading Gov. Sarah Palin’s comments to Katie Couric about the financial crisis reminded me very much of Al Sharpton’s incoherent meanderings on selecting a chairman of the Federal Reserve Board during the 2004 elections. Palin’s unblinking certitude gave way at other times in the interview to a striking imprecision, as when she struggled to respond […]

Second Quarter GDP Revised Downwards

money-investing

The Bureau of Economic Analysis is revising downwards its estimate for how much the economy grew in the second quarter from 3.3% to 2.8%. This is not good news in the middle of a financial crisis, needless to say. The GDP estimates released today are based on more complete source data than were available for […]

Sarah Palin Swimsuit Video

us-politics

The video of Sarah Palin (then: Sarah Heath) in the swimsuit competition of the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant is making the rounds: Per HuffPo, the announcer comments, “Sarah says she wants to prepare for a career in television broadcasting by majoring in telecommunications and political science. It is no wonder that she has also been […]

No Additional Iran Sanctions

As has been widely suspected the United Nations Security Council will impose no further sanctions on Iran for its failure to suspend its nuclear enrichment program as demanded by previous UNSC resolutions: UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Six world powers have agreed on a draft resolution on Iran’s nuclear program but it included no new sanctions, […]

The House GOP Alternative

money-investing

The House Republican alternative to the Senate compromise plan (I say this because the Paulson plan is, at this point, dead) is to be unveiled at noon today, so I’ll be interested to see what it contains. However, I can tell you that there’s at least one aspect unveiled so far that simply doesn’t make […]

Did McCain Kill Bailout?

money-investing

Numerous reports on what happened in the cranky, late night session that ended with the Paulson bailout plan seemingly dead indicate that John McCain — who you may recall has suspended his campaign to work on the economy — may have pulled the trigger. Memeorandum links an ABC News report that was originally headlined “Deal […]

The Paulson Plan May Be In Jeopardy

money-investing

And that is a good thing, in my opinion. A high-profile White House meeting on Treasury’s $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan ended on a sour, contentious note Thursday after animated exchanges among lawmakers laced with presidential politics just weeks before the November elections. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson came up to the Capitol hours later […]

Pick A Number, Any Number. Okay $700 Billion

money-investing

Good pick! In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy. “It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.” As as us forecasters like to call […]

Caption Contest Winners

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The Donkey HOkey Edition OTB Caption ContestTM is now over.

Chinese Banks To Stop Loaning to U.S. Banks? (Updated)

money-investing

The South China Morning Post is reporting that the China Banking Regulatory Commission has instructed Chinese banks to stop loaning money to U.S. banks. Chinese regulators have told domestic banks to stop interbank lending to U.S. financial institutions to prevent possible losses during the financial crisis, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday. The […]

Palin Did Not Charge Victims for Rape Kits

us-politics

A couple weeks back, I posted on a news report circulating the blogs that provided at least a prima facie case that the City of Wasilla Police Department was charging victims for its rape kits. I’ve been keeping my eye on the news reports for this, and I can now confidently report that this charge […]

Expanding the Security Council?

travel-suitcase

French and EU President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a call from the floor of the UN yesterday to expand the Security Council and G8. Declaring that, “The 21st century world cannot be governed with the institutions of the 20th century,” he argued that inclusion of today’s emerging powers is not just “a matter fairness” but a […]

EU Bans Baby Food With Chinese Milk

The European Union of 27 nations has announced a ban on the importation of baby food containing Chinese milk: BEIJING – The European Union banned imports of baby food containing Chinese milk on Thursday as tainted dairy products linked to the deaths of four babies turned up in candy and other Chinese-made goods that were […]

Bush Speech and ‘Photo Op’ Working?

money-investing

President Bush’s address to the nation last night on the financial crisis, which reminded me of a hostage tape because the delivery was so stiff, and its announcement that he’s bringing presidential contenders John McCain and Barack Obama to the White House along with Congressional leadership to hammer out an agreement, seems to have buoyed […]

The Campaign Suspension, and the News We’re Missing Because of It

money-investing

Citing Eric Rauchway, Matthew Yglesias notes three other September 24’s in which campaigns were not suspended: — September 24, 1864: The nation is literally at risk of collapse, mengaged in a large-scale civil war: Yet the campaign for the presidency was “now being prosecuted with the utmost vigor,” as one could read in the New […]

Caption Contest

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Time for the Thursday OTB Caption ContestTM (AFP/File/Anoek de Groot) Winners will be announced Monday PM

A Nonpartisan Plea

us-politics

A request to all politicians: Please stop using the phrase “Main Street.” It’s like nails on chalkboard. Seriously. Especially when juxtaposed with “Wall Street.” Speaking of which, do towns even have Main Streets anymore? Apart from big cities, I mean? I live in a suburb of 140,000+ people in the middle of flyover country and […]

OTB Latenight – Counting Crows

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McCain Suspends Campaign to ‘Work on the Economy’

us-politics

John McCain has put his campaign on hold for the good of the country and has asked Barack Obama to do the same. Republican John McCain said Wednesday he is directing his staff to work with Democrat Barack Obama’s campaign and the presidential debate commission to delay Friday’s debate because of the economic crisis. In […]

OTB Radio – Tonight at 7 EST

The next episode of OTB Radio, our BlogTalkRadio program, will record and air live tonight from 7-8 Eastern. Dave Schuler will co-host with me tonight. We’ll have as our special guest Stephen Bainbridge, a UCLA business law professor, expert on corporate governance, and proprietor of the Professor Bainbridge Punditry blog. Steve Verdon also hopes to […]

McCain and Obama Tied in Battleground States

McCain vs. Obama Polls 24 SEP 08

Barack Obama is leading John McCain in virtually every major national survey taken in the past week, including a whopping 9 point lead in the latest ABC-Washington Post poll.  In the eight polls being averaged at RealClearPolitics, Obama leads in all but the Battleground Tracking poll (McCain +2) and by a combined mean of 3.7 […]

More of Why the Paulson Plan is Bad

money-investing

This time from Sebastian Mallaby. His views are similar to those I and others have noted before, namely the government going around and buying up toxic assets from financial insitutions. There are people who would buy these assets, but there is a problem. The financial insitutions don’t want to sell them at the price these […]

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