Joe Lieberman Will Not Get Involved in the Election, Everybody’s Happy

No one is more independent then Joe Lieberman. One year, he’ll run as former Vice President Al Gore’s running mate; another year, he’ll throw his support behind John McCain and act like 2000 never happened. The senator from Connecticut is a true maverick but, this election cycle, he’s calling it quits.

Today, on “Fox News Sunday,” he declared to whoever was listening that he would not get involved in the 2012 election: “I think this year, when it comes to the presidential election, I’m just going to do what most Americans do: go in the voting booth on election day and in the privacy of the booth cast my vote.” This will be the last year for Lieberman in office, also; the senator is not seeking re-election after 24 years in office.
Too bad. To commemorate the event, Runnin’ Scared collected the best quotes from the King of Non-Partisanship. Here’s what we’ll miss (not really) this election season:

On his decision to not seek re-election: “The reason I have decided not to run for re-election in 2012 is best expressed in the wise words of Ecclesiastes: ‘To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.'” You heard the man; God has different plans for this one.

On Sarah Palin in 2008: “Everybody should listen” to the ex-Governor because “people worried that government has forgotten them, that it
has grown too big, that the deficit is growing too large, and in some sense that we’re not being as strong as we should be in the world — Governor Palin has spoken to those concerns as much as anyone.” Oh, we listened… and laughed hysterically.
On his 2004 comeback: while speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Lieberman warned, “Wolf, be excited. This is Joementum here in New Hampshire.” For English purists, Joementum is a combination of two words: ‘Joe’ and ‘momentum.’ Its definition? Who knows.
On McCain’s Presidential credentials: “We’ve just seen over the last few days, as the Russians invaded a sovereign nation, Georgia. And watch the response of this man, John McCain, to that crisis – right, strong, clear, principled.” And what was McCain’s wonderful response? Let’s just say it was a dose of some good ol’ Cold War fun.
Well, it’s been fun, Lieberman. As the great John Travolta once said in the movie “Face/Off”: “I hate to see you go but I love to watch you leave.”


Daily Flog: Obama strikes first in stab at replacing Cheney

As the nation’s first presidential return cast a favorable omen to Barack Obama — Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, voted for the Democrat 15-6, the first time in 40 years that the country’s historically first precinct has gone Democratic — let’s not forget about the guy who’s being replaced. From his official White House biography:

Throughout his service, Mr. Cheney served with duty, honor, and unwavering leadership, gaining him the respect of the American people during trying military times.

And don’t forget the other guy:

President Bush has worked with the Congress to create an ownership society and build a future of security, prosperity, and opportunity for all Americans.

How can we forget?

For news about Cheney’s replacement, watch CNN all day if you want, but if you’re stuck at your computer all day, you’d be better off with the BBC’s “Live Text: US Election Day 2008,” which reloads automatically.

My indefatigable colleague Roy Edroso will be hammering at the keyboard all day at Runnin’ Scared. Check him out.

Meanwhile, people are being raped and killed in the Congo. And you’re late with your mortgage payment. So . . .


Global Research (Canada): ‘How McCain Could Win’

Slate: ‘The Coming Obama-Press War: It’s inevitable’ (Jack Shafer)

Wall Street Journal: ‘Homeowners Wait as Relief Plan Drags’

McClatchy: ‘Ailing economy takes toll on health’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Reputed Genovese capo indicted in ’77 murder’

“The feds Monday indicted a reputed Genovese capo for the 1977 murder of a gangster who, after his killer’s gun jammed, snarled: ‘What’re you gonna do now, tough guy?’ ”

Washington Post: ‘In Congo, a March Behind Rebel Lines: Renegade General Compels Thousands Displaced by War to Return Home and Sing His Praises’

Register (U.K.): ‘Philosophy, computing, and Republican desperation’

“In a last-ditch attempt to spook credulous Americans into voting for John McCain, a Republican congressman and his brother-in-law have offered $10,000 to a software-wielding Oxford don, asking for proof that Barack Obama’s memoir was written by former domestic terrorist William Ayers.”

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Wall St. scammer gets 6 1/2 year sentence, will pay back millions’


Der Spiegel (Germany): ‘Germany and France Compete for Role of Financial Savior’

“As tremors shake markets around the world, European partners Germany and France have gone separate ways in fighting the crisis. Sarkozy wants to bring banks and threatened industries under the government’s protection, but Merkel is opposing such state intervention.”

Jurist: ‘Federal judge orders Cheney aide to testify in VP records lawsuit’

Al Jazeera: ‘End of Chicago free-market ideas?’

Washington Post: ‘China Faces Faltering Economy’

“After first declaring itself unaffected by crisis, officials turn to bailouts to forestall unrest.”

Der Spiegel (Germany): ‘Obama and the Overseas Vote: Grassroots in the Age of Social Networking’

Al Jazeera: ‘Analysis: US battleground states’

In The News (U.K.): ‘Analysis: The DRC’s deep-rooted conflict’

“Latest estimates from the UN put the number of Congolese who have abandoned the homes in fear of their lives over the one million mark.”

N.Y. Times: ‘Afghan Officials Aided an Attack on U.S. Soldiers’

N.Y. Times: ‘Bin Laden’s Son Seeks Asylum in Spain’

Der Spiegel (Germany): ‘Court Says Kaczynski Can Be Called a Duck’

“A court in Poland ruled on Monday that it was not slanderous to refer to President Lech Kaczynski as a duck.”

Telegraph (U.K.): ‘Heavy rainfall could be linked to autism, scientists claim’

Christian Science Monitor: ‘Congo’s riches fuel its war’

N.Y. Times: ‘New Terrain for Panel on Bailout’

“A committee of five little-known officials is picking winners and losers among institutions seeking a slice of the bailout.”



Daily Flog: Future mortgaged; balloon payment due; either Obama, McCain on hook

Obama‘s stock keeps rising on the InTrade prediction market. This morning, he’s trading at 89.7, up 1.2, while McCain‘s trading at 11, down 1.2. Think of it as percentages — nearly 90 percent of hundreds of thousands of predictors trading over a million shares see an Obama victory.

But no matter what happens tomorrow, at least one of them will take over for George W. Bush, whose disinterested moronism is the last thing the planet needs to combat the financial crisis.

Ill-prepared for his responsibilities, Bush mortgaged our future, and now we’re facing the balloon payment.

The latest of many Bush gaffes occurred last month, according to reports out of Australia and the U.K.

Passing without much notice in the U.S. press was this Bush blunder, according to the Times (U.K.) — which incidentally is a Murdoch paper:

‘Australian PM under fire over alleged Bush gaffe leak’

A conversation between the Australian Prime Minister [Kevin Rudd] and out-going US president George W. Bush has threatened to turn into a diplomatic row between the two countries, after details of the private chat were leaked to the Australian media.

During a pre-arranged phone call between the two leaders, held during a dinner party at the Prime Minister’s Sydney residence on the evening of October 10, Mr Bush and Mr Rudd discussed the G-7 plan for a co-ordinated response to the world financial markets crisis.

As Mr Rudd argued plans to resolve the global financial turmoil should include Asian countries and should therefore be discussed at a summit of the broader G-20 grouping, Mr Bush asked the Australian leader: “What’s the G-20?”, according to The Australian newspaper.

The details of the conversation have since been denied by both leaders. However foreign diplomatic sources told Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper that their Washington counterparts were “gobsmacked” at the leak of details of such a phone call.

You can’t spell “dumb” without “duh” (except for the “h”).

Neither McCain nor Obama is that stupid. In fact, Bush will go down in history as the country’s dumbest, most unaware president.

Hoover was smart; Washington and Eisenhower were generals; Truman and Harding were adept local pols; Reagan was an actor, but he had been immersed in Hollywood politics in the ’40s, which counted for something. Bush was none of that, just a rich, unsuccessful kid. At least he could have displayed some noblesse oblige, but he didn’t have one iota of that. The people around him were smart enough to take advantage of his inadequacies and push their own agendas. And the rest was hysteria.

Thanks in large part to de facto U.S. CEO Dick Cheney — for details, see David Bromwich‘s New York Review of Books piece “The Co-President.”

Exactly how did we get to this situation? I dare the Bush people to release Bush’s daily diary — dare them. Take a look at Harry Truman‘s diary, or Ike‘s or any other president’s.

We’ll never see anything but a heavily bowdlerized version of Bush’s. And if we do, it will have been written by his staff. The odds are that Bush himself, unlike other presidents, didn’t even keep a daily diary.

Once things settle down after tomorrow’s vote, check out snippets of Truman’s diary or LBJ’s diary. You’ll see some warts, but at least there’s substance.

We can only hope that Bush’s handlers were as paranoid as Nixon and thus bugged the Oval Office — not that we’ll ever get our hands on any Bush tapes.

After that last lick at Bush — OK, maybe it won’t be the last, because his list of pardons is sure to be as astonishing as Clinton’s — it’s time to move on to other topics . . .


N.Y. Daily News: ‘Mortgage borrowers warned of more woe’

Bloomberg: ‘Congo Rebels Warn Government Will Fall If No Talks’


Slate: ‘Stock Surge Sweeps Asia’

Reuters: ‘UK’s Brown seeks Saudi cash in latest crisis salvo’

Wall Street Journal: ‘China Journal: A Rare and Violent Strike Among Cabbies’

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Gruesome Scenes From the Poultry Line Are a Sign of Agriprocessors’ Troubles’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Brown confident of Middle East cash for bail-out fund’

“Gordon Brown yesterday said he felt confident that he has successfully enlisted the help of Gulf states for international plans for an emergency bail-out fund, with both Qatar and Saudi Arabia indicating they will offer funds when leaders of the 20 most developed countries meet in Washington in a fortnight.

“As the prime minister arrived in Qatar on the second leg of his whistlestop Gulf tour last night, the Qataris hinted they would contribute money to an International Monetary Fund bail-out fund — being billed as a ‘new Bretton Woods’ after the initiative of 1944 — the details of which will be thrashed out in Washington on November 15.”

New Yorker: ‘The Test’ (Steve Coll)

“The accumulating failures in the country’s health-care system are a cause of profound weakness in the American economy; unaddressed, this weakness will exacerbate the coming recession and crimp its aftermath . . .”

Slate: ‘If Obama Loses, Who Gets Blamed?: His loss would be disastrous for the media and political establishment’

N.Y. Review of Books: ‘The Co-President at Work’

“The shallowest charge against Dick Cheney is that he somehow inserted himself into the vice-presidency by heading the team that examined other candidates for the job. He used the position deviously, so the story goes, to sell himself to the susceptible younger Bush. The truth is both simpler and more strange.

“Since 1999, Cheney had been one of a group of political tutors of Bush, including Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz; in this company, Bush found Cheney especially congenial — not least his way of asserting his influence without ever stealing a scene. Bush, too, resembled Cheney in preferring to let others speak, but he lacked the mind and patience for discussions: virtues that Cheney possessed in abundance.”


N.Y. Times: ‘Soldiering On, Clinton Preserves Her Options’


N.Y. Times: ‘Voting Experts Say High Turnout May Add to Problems at the Polls’

The Onion: ‘Struggling Lower-Class Still Unsure How Best To Fuck Selves With Vote’



Washington Post: ‘A Positively Negative Home Stretch: McCain, Obama Break Tradition By Staying On the Attack’

Washington Post: ‘Hard-Fought Battle in Hard-Hit Ohio’

The Onion: ‘Obama’s Record-Breaking Fundraising Effort Bankrupting NPR, World Wildlife Fund, ACLU’

Washington Post: ‘Study First to Link TV Sex To Real Teen Pregnancies’

Washington Post: ‘Experts Question AIG Bailout: Some say a bankruptcy filing by the insurance giant would better serve taxpayers, shareholders’


Washington Post: ‘The End of the Report Card?: Online grades allow students — and their parents — to keep track of their performance in real time’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Will Closet Racism Hurt Obama?’

“Point/Counterpoint: Are potential voters telling pollsters they’ll vote for Obama, when they secretly plan to back McCain?”

N.Y. Times: ‘Level of White Support for Obama a Surprise’

“If Tuesday’s election were confined to white America, polls show, Senator Barack Obama would lose.

“And yet Mr. Obama’s strength across racial lines lies at the heart of his lead in the polls over Senator John McCain heading into Election Day. Remarkably, Mr. Obama, the first black major party presidential nominee, trails among whites by less than Democratic nominees normally do.

“America’s political parties grew decisively polarized by race after 1964, the year President Lyndon Johnson signed civil rights legislation that his Republican presidential opponent, Barry Goldwater, opposed. Since then, election pollsters estimate, Democratic nominees have averaged 39 percent of the white vote. In last week’s New York Times/CBS News poll, Mr. Obama drew 44 percent support among whites — a higher proportion than Bill Clinton captured in his general election victories.”

N.Y. Times: ‘Republicans Scrambling to Save Seats in Congress’

BBC: ‘How Congo’s heaven became hell’



Daily Flog: Deregulate. Spread fear. Deregulate. Spread fear.

Entering its final daze, the Bush regime is stepping up its two-pronged attack on the U.S., hoping to scare people into voting Republican while at the same time befouling Americans’ environment no matter who they vote for.

George W. Bush doesn’t have to worry about his legacy. He said it all on August 5, 2004 (“Bush Gone Wild,” Press Clips, August 23, 2004):

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

Yesterday, the administration’s director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, warned of “increasing international instability,” as the Washington Post put it.

Surprisingly, the Post fell for this blatant campaign tactic, simply recording what McConnell said, which was all vague B.S. designed to scare people into voting for war hero McCain, instead of that squishy liberal Obama, to protect them.

McConnell, of course, played it straight, offering no opinion on who would do a better job in the “war on terror.”

Why anyone would listen to the current regime’s assessment of threats is mystifying. But to show you how desperate the GOP is, McConnell talked of the threat of global warming as a given. Recall that the Bush regime adamantly denied during most of the past eight years that climate change was a threat. Nevertheless, the Post reported:

Competition for energy, water and food will drive conflicts between nations to a degree not seen in decades, and climate change and global economic upheaval will amplify the effects, Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, said in a speech in Nashville.

The administration’s other prong is sheer poetry: a vast wasteland. We’re already experiencing the impact of deregulation on our financial system. But that’s not stopping the Bush regime from focusing on our environment outside of Wall Street. In this story — “A Last Push To Deregulate: White House to Ease Many Rules” — the WashPost gets right to it:

The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.

So on the one hand you have administration official McConnell talking about global warming as a threat and on the other hand you have other administration officials loosening rules on the emission of pollutants.

Here’s some data. Do your own mining . . .


Financial Times (U.K.): ‘Consumer data raise recession fears in US’

Financial Times (U.K.): ‘Wall Street “made rod for own back” ‘


Financial Times (U.K.): ‘Banks in global race to woo key Lehman staff’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Banks Owe Billions to Executives’

Wall Street Journal: ‘At Turnaround Conference, A Mix of Fear and Gloating’

“World markets are in panic. Bankruptcy fears dog the economy. Yes, business couldn’t be better for the roving group of lawyers, bankers, accountants and investors who thrive when U.S. corporations are in distress.

“About 1,000 of them gathered this week for the Turnaround Management Association annual meeting in New Orleans’ French Quarter, a kind of trade fair meets cocktail hour of economic woe. ‘We’re all salivating. Wait. Don’t say that,’ said one bankruptcy lawyer.”

BBC: ‘ “Human catastrophe” grips Congo’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Cheating hubby’s wild murder plot’

“A Long Island man who sobbed to the TV cameras about his missing wife has confessed to killing her and hatching an absurd kidnapping ruse to cover his tracks, police said.”

BBC: ‘Row over “Obama chief-of-staff” ‘

BBC: ‘Priests to face “sex drive tests” ‘

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Viagra vicar axed from job in sex-suit scandal’

Washington Post: ‘A Last Push To Deregulate: White House to Ease Many Rules’

Washington Post: ‘Intelligence Head Says Next President Faces Volatile Era’

Brooklyn Paper: ‘Lord Markowitz! Term-limit clears path for Beep-eat’

Register (U.K.): ‘Beatles game is go: Will you still need me when I’m 64-bit?’

Jurist: ‘Sixth Circuit rules against Michigan voter removals’

N.Y. Times: ‘In Tight Race, Victor May Be Ohio Lawyers’

N.Y. Times: ‘Somalia’s Pirates Flourish in a Lawless Nation’

N.Y. Times: ‘Federal Charges for Ex-C.E.O. at Meatpacker’

Gawker: ‘Some Print Deaths Unmourned Amid Carnage’



GOP pulls out all stops, shows love for Hillary

Last month the Republican Jewish Coalition angered co-religionists and even some fellow Republicans with a mudslingin’ “push poll” that tried to plant a link in voters’ brains between Barack Obama and that nefarious trio of Pat Buchanan, Iran, and Palestinians.

Now, with the election only a few days away, the GOP Jews are so desperate that they’re openly showing love to Hillary Clinton in a last-minute ad campaign aimed at showing that Obama is a soul brother to Iranian crackpot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The ad (shown above) is running in the Jewish Daily Forward and probably elsewhere.

Last month’s GOP gaming of Obama was less of a shock than its new campaign of praising Hillary. But it was much more devious. The Forward‘s Brett Lieberman reported on September 18:

[T]he Republican Jewish Coalition is mounting an unusually aggressive campaign that has drawn criticism from Democrats and even some Republicans.

Obama supporters led a September 16 protest outside a Manhattan calling center, where pollsters asked 750 Jewish households in the battlegrounds of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and New Jersey whether several negative statements about Obama changed their attitude toward the Democratic presidential candidate. The RJC, which sponsored the poll, said it was researching Jewish public opinion. Critics say it amounted to a “push poll” that is sometimes used to spread untruths about a candidate.

If you’re uncertain how such “push polls” work, the story continues with a good explanation:

According to the Web site, Jewish Democratic groups, and others who documented the calls, those surveyed were asked whether their vote would be affected if they learned, for instance, that Obama had given money to the PLO or if they learned that the leader of Hamas hoped for Obama’s victory.

Respondents were asked about how they would react to other “ifs”: if Obama’s political advisors are “pro-Palestinian,” if Obama once said “the Palestinians have suffered the most,” if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad endorsed Obama, or if former President Jimmy Carter‘s anti-Israel national security advisor is one of his foreign policy advisors.

“I’m sure that a part of this is to be provocative so that you can raise these issues, and without your fingerprints on it, raise doubts,” said Norm Ornstein, a political expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “Those questions are certainly much more push-poll questions than traditional questions.”

On October 23, the Forward reported that angry Obama aides pulled out of any event featuring the Republican Jewish Coalition.

The Republican Jews’ fanatical embrace of identity politics plays well with American Jews in Israel.

But not so much with Jews who live in the U.S. Most of whom are more liberal and moderate than the right-wing leaders of most major U.S. Jewish organizations. The Voice of America reports that the American Jewish Committee’s national survey late last month showed Obama leading John McCain 57 percent to 30 percent.

That’s not as strong a showing as most Democrats have made in past AJC surveys, but what do you want from me?


Daily Flog: Settling for violence in Israel, settling for Palin over here

Good thing the U.S. and Britain passed those anti-terror laws a few years ago, because now they’re coming in handy.

Predictably, those laws, many of them not only foolish but dangerous to rights, are now being applied to situations far removed from the so-called war on terror. In “Divided we stand: The ugly side of international banking,” the Economist notes:

The collapse of the banking system in Iceland — a country that was recently listed as a spoof auction item on eBay — led the British government to make novel use of anti-terror laws to freeze Icelandic assets. It and the Dutch government have ended up lending money to Iceland so that their citizens can retrieve money from Landsbanki, one of the country’s nationalised banks.

Now if the U.S. would just use its own anti-terror laws to sweep all the bankers off Wall Street — they’re our “persons of interest” these days.

Speaking of getting rid of Muslims, the hardening of the Jewish colonists’ stance in Israel adds yet another threat to some sort of peace in the Middle East, despite the dovish words of various Israeli pols.

Of course, that hardline stance by extremist Jews was greatly aided during the Bush regime by the presence in the Pentagon of now-departed Doug Feith and other fanatical dual-disloyalists.

Another Economist story brings us up to date on the Arab-Jew death dance in a way that you won’t read in the U.S. press. See “Settlers against a settlement,” which describes the worsening situation and begins:

The policy proclaimed by young Jewish settler-militants on the West Bank is called “Price Tag.” Whenever the Israeli army tries to dismantle settler outposts — even individual caravans or huts — that have not been authorised by the Israeli authorities, the militants retaliate violently. Not necessarily in the same place; they may hit Palestinians or soldiers somewhere else. They stone cars, smash windows, burn olive trees and fields. They attack villagers and shepherds, and tangle with the army and police.

Their aim is to persuade Israelis that no further forcible dismantlement of Jewish settlements is possible. When Ariel Sharon was prime minister, he did it once, in 2005, in the Gaza Strip and northern bits of the West Bank, evacuating 21 settlements, against little hard resistance. When Ehud Olmert, who succeeded him, demolished nine buildings at Amona, in 2006, thousands resisted. Now passive resistance is bolstered by physical retaliation.

You wouldn’t know it to read the U.S. press, but there’s a sizable peace movement among Jews in Israel and even over here. Check in with Americans for Peace Now, and you’ll see.

Something else you maybe haven’t read is Jane Mayer‘s inside look in the New Yorker at exactly how John McCain‘s campaign picked Sarah Palin. Here’s a clue: Though Palin trumpets her being a Beltway outsider, it was her courting of insiders that did it. Hmmm . . . maybe she’s a savvy politician after all. No. Anyway, see the reliable Mayer’s story.

Meanwhile . . .


N.Y. Times: ‘More Alzheimer’s Risk for Hispanics, Studies Suggest’

New Yorker: ‘Undecided’ (David Sedaris)

BBC: ‘Rich and poor gap “narrows” in UK’

BBC: ‘ “More inequality” in rich nations’

New Yorker: ‘The Insiders: How John McCain came to pick Sarah Palin’ (Jane Mayer)


Economist (U.K.): ‘The hind legs off a donkey: Who is the most long-winded presidential candidate?’

Washington Post: ‘Black Turnout Could Decide House Races: Obama Poised to Help 10 White Democrats’

Economist (U.K.): ‘More than Obama: Democrats could dominate Congress after the elections’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘ “Innocent little girl” is shot in back’


China Digital Times: ‘Farewell to My “Reporter” Career’

Washington Post: ‘3 Agencies Vie for Oversight of Swaps Market’


BBC: ‘Western diet “raises heart risk” ‘

China Digital Times: ‘After Toy Factory Closure, Blame Game Begins’

Jurist: ‘US seeking extended sentence for Guantanamo detainee Hamdan’

Jurist: ‘Trial begins for Fort Dix plot suspects’

N.Y. Times: ‘Signs of Easing Credit and Stimulus Talk Lift Wall Street’

N.Y. Times: ‘In Bush Stronghold [North Carolina], Obama Pulls Even With McCain’

N.Y. Times: ‘U.S. Is Said to Be Urging New Mergers in Banking’


Daily Flog: Break out the campaign! Party at the Waldorf!

Count the ways that Americans are cooked: Obama and McCain roast, the markets boil dry, Google sops up the gravy.

At last we have a slogan for this century’s depression: United We Fall! Last night was a celebration of our one-party system, and what a party it was.

The Al Smith Dinner at the Waldorf was a prime example of the lame leading the blind.

Were the candidates themselves cooking?

My colleague Roy Edroso delivered the best post-dinner punch line:

But seriously, folks, these guys kinda suck. We give the edge to McCain, but that’s like saying Jeff Foxworthy is funnier than Bill Engvall.

Oh, SNAP! Still haven’t gotten a review of the dinner from the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests.

But after you take a look at the photo of Cardinal Egan heartily laughing with John McCain and Barack Obama and you read the New York Times tiresome recap (like everyone else’s) of the jokes, browse SNAP’s library of stories about abused altar boys and shuttered churches in poor areas. Or go straight to a reprint of a 2003 Times story, “Cardinal Egan Spurns Members of Review Board Studying Abuse.”

That one’s a real knee-slapper.

At least Obama and McCain were funnier than John Kerry was at the 2004 dinner. Actually, Kerry didn’t even get a chance to display his humorless personality because Egan didn’t invite the candidates. That was because of the Catholic Kerry’s stance on abortion.

And in 1996, the candidates weren’t invited because Cardinal O’Connor was pissed off at Bill Clinton over abortion.

Good thing 2001 wasn’t a presidential election year, Wall Street being bombed and all.

This year, Wall Street’s bombing itself, and more (but slower) deaths can only result from the resulting depression into which we’re sinking.

Speaking of leftovers . . .


McClatchy: ‘3rd-party debate’s only confirmed participant: the moderator’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Where you sit says a lot about where you stand at annual Al Smith dinner’

Politico: ‘McCain, Obama try to be funny…on purpose’

Washington Post: ‘Life’s Basics More of a Stretch: Inflation, Stagnating Pay Squeeze Low-Wage Workers’

McClatchy: ‘ “Birthplace of Flight” is on bleeding edge of job losses’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Financial Crisis May Diminish American Sway’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Oil’s Slide Deepens as Downturn Triggers Sharp Drop in Demand’

BBC: ‘US industrial output down sharply’

McClatchy: ‘Google’s Net Climbs 26 Percent’

McClatchy: ‘Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis’

BBC: ‘European shares lose early gains’

BBC: ‘China press freedoms due to end’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Nude portrait of Sarah Palin hung in Chicago tavern’

BBC: ‘Police battle police in Brazil’

Slate: ‘Dubya, Stoned’


Daily Flog: Wall Street down the drain; White House plumber summoned

As Wall Street’s potholes widen into sinkholes, is it too late to replace Henry Paulson with Sheila Bair?

Bair, a Bush appointee who chairs the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., has blasted the government for bailing out institutions instead of Americans in danger of losing their homes.

Although she doesn’t say so, she’s in effect emphasizing social welfare over corporate welfare, saying in a Wall Street Journal interview:

“Why there’s been such a political focus on making sure we’re not unduly helping borrowers but then we’re providing all this massive assistance at the institutional level, I don’t understand it. It’s been a frustration for me.”

Especially when Wall Street’s going down the drain, and John McCain‘s desperate response is to summon Joe the Plumber for a hasty fix to protect the GOP candidate’s plot, instead of calling in a coordinated crew to dig out the nasty roots of a problem that dooms other homes than his.

See the WSJ story, “FDIC Chief Raps Rescue for Helping Banks Over Homeowners,” for more from Bair, a major official who unfortunately isn’t in charge of the bailout. Reporter Damian Paletta notes:

Ms. Bair, who was nominated by the White House and confirmed by the Senate in 2006, has frequently said government and industry efforts to prevent foreclosures aren’t effective enough. She has long defended her focus on consumer protection as an important role for the FDIC, which is charged with protecting bank deposits.

Her comments Wednesday came amid growing tensions with key figures in resolving the financial crisis, notably Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, according to people familiar with the matter. . . .

“I support all the measures; I’ve been a part of all the measures that have been taken,” she said. “But we’re attacking it at the institution level as opposed to the borrower level, and it’s the borrowers defaulting. That is what’s causing the distress at the institution level. So why not tackle the borrower problem?”

Like me, Bair spent years in progressive Lawrence, Kansas; both her undergrad and law degrees are from KU. So it’s not surprising that Bair has a social conscience, no matter what her party affiliation is.

Even conservative Larry Kudlow admires her work. He wrote late last month in the National Review (“Our Bair Necessity: The FDIC chairman is the bank system’s ultimate backstop”) before Paulson started dominating the news by spreading even more wealth to bankers:

Hank Paulson may not be the most powerful financial person in the country right now. That honor goes to Sheila Bair, the chairman of the FDIC.

In recent weeks, Ms. Bair has held the banking system together, coordinating smooth takeovers of distressed banks in deals run and controlled by her agency. I wouldn’t exactly say she’s flying under the radar screen since these bank takeovers are front-page news. But without holding the center-stage attention that Paulson has, she has seamlessly closed and reopened IndyMac, Washington Mutual, and Wachovia.

Over in London, the Economist notes that Bair — who is practically invisible to the general public — was recently ranked by Forbes as the world’s second-most-powerful woman (behind Germany’s Angela Merkel) and adds:

Ms Bair is leading the government’s response to the financial crisis and using the FDIC’s powers to help reshape the banking industry. And she has won plaudits for her actions so far from bankers, investors and fellow regulators. . . . All this will prove testing. But so far Ms Bair has had a good crisis.

If only she were as powerful as Paulson in setting the overall bailout policy. Anyway, it appears as if a rift — a good rift — is widening between her and the Paulson approach of throwing money at reckless bankers.

Others (‘Daily Flog: . . . Kucinich irrelevant but his bailout plan isn’t,’ Press Clips, October 1) have also suggested that trying to prop up mortgages — which, after all, prop up the ailing mortgage securities issued on Wall Street — would ease the Wall Street crisis more than directly bailing out bankers.

But Paulson’s a banker, so what do you expect?

While we try to remain standing in Manhattan’s fault zone . . .


Washington Post: ‘Worldwide Financial Crisis Largely Bypasses Canada: Tight Regulations, Strict Lending Practices Encourage Optimism’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Tryst with pre-teens wasn’t pol’s first’

IssueLab: ‘Voting Rights and Free Elections in the U.S.’

Politico: ‘Experts warn of Nov. 4 voting meltdowns’

BBC: ‘McCain and Obama in tense final debate’

Wall Street Journal: ‘FDIC Chief Raps Rescue for Helping Banks Over Homeowners’

L.A. Times: ‘New stimulus package might be next in federal effort to gird economy: Sinking retail sales add urgency to calls for a 2nd round of stimulus’

Washington Post: ‘A Hard-Hitting Final Round’

L.A. Times: ‘Does this explain muskrat love?’

BBC: ‘High food costs “a global burden” ‘

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Dad’s fists killed baby boy, cops say’

N.Y. Times: ‘A Somali Influx Unsettles Latino Meatpackers’

Washington Post: ‘Stocks Sink as Gloom Seizes Wall St.: Bernanke Forecasts Prolonged Economic Turmoil; Dow Plunges 7.9 Percent’

Washington Post: ‘European, Asian Markets Tumble; Nikkei Falls 11 Percent’

AP: ‘Omar grows into Category 3 hurricane in Caribbean’

Washington Post: ‘As Budgets Tighten, More People Decide Medical Care Can Wait’

N.Y. Times: ‘Infant Deaths Drop in U.S., but Rate Is Still High’

Big surprise that the rate’s still higher than it is in many other industrialized countries. Where’s the Times been? See this Press Clips item, ‘Whitewashing the bad econ news’ (August 26, 2008), for details.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Financial crisis could take bite out of sports’ bottom line’


Washington Post: ‘Fear Again Takes Over the Markets’


CBS: ‘CBS Poll: Obama Has Edge In Final Debate’


New York: Times vs. Journal on Bailout Drama’


Stock tips: Buy Obama, sell the economy

If you took the plunge, you’re taking a plunge today: The Dow is dropping like a cast-iron pig.

If you’re betting on Barack Obama, on the other hand, you’re happy.

But don’t take that warm feeling to the bank. It doesn’t matter whether or not you yourself play the market. With a recession likely, it’s going to play you.

Bailout or no, corporate types still aren’t satisfied with the billions that taxpayers are injecting into the market. Dust off the presses and start printing more dollar bills to give to corporate America, because the Wall Street Journal reports in mid-afternoon:

Signs of economic weakness sent stocks sharply lower Wednesday as investors braced themselves for an ugly recession unlike the relatively brief, shallow downturns the U.S. has sometimes suffered over the last two decades.

Over at the InTrade prediction market, the only exchange where you’re in little danger of being struck on the head by your portfolio, John McCain‘s stock is also dropping (see chart). And there ain’t no wild gyrations — except in Obama’s camp: His share price is steadily rising, at least ahead of tonight’s debate.

InTrade’s state-by-state breakdown shows Obama leading McCain in electoral college votes, 364-174 — only 270 are needed for a victory.

And players are player-hatin’ when it comes to the economy: Shares are up on the prediction that the economy will fall into a recession this year; they’re down on the prediction that the recession will occur next year.


Daily Flog: Future heads toward a sharp loss; robot monkeys mesmerized by TV

The only market in New York City still functioning is the farmers’ market in Union Square — at least it’d better be when I stop by later this morning to buy something from Apple Mary.

Wall Street? Don’t even go there. Yesterday was its worst day since 1987 or 1937 or 1934, or 1642, depending on which panic-stricken “expert” you listen to.

Things continue to be “unprecedented” — a word that, as I’ve noted, pops up everywhere but unfortunately is not overused. What could be scarier than that? The Wall Street Journal trumpets one of its excellent stories this morning this way:

“U.S. Weighs Backing All Bank Deposits”

U.S. officials are discussing temporarily backing all U.S. bank deposits if economic conditions continue to worsen, a move that would mark another unprecedented step.

Depression? How about psychosis? Everywhere but in China, which stands to take over the world economy a lot sooner than expected. Only there are government officials able to step back and watch while Wall Street burns down and the fire spreads elsewhere. See McClatchy’s ‘China sits out global crisis, focusing on own growth.’

Here? Nothing but panic in the financial markets, and the shit’s already rolling downhill. Return to America’s best newspaper chain and see McClatchy’s Kevin G. Hall: ‘American heartland is suffering from Wall Street’s woes.’

As for people who have to wear ties every day, the Washington Post‘s “Fears of Recession Deepen Rout: Stock Decline Sweeps Through All U.S. Sectors and Pummels Asian Markets,” is stuffed full of paragraphs like this one:

“I’ve never seen a panic like this,” said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s. “I’ve seen stock market drops, but not an overall panic.”

Don’t go farther south into lower Manhattan than the Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill in the Village, where you can see the mysterious artist Banksy‘s exhibit of robotic pet hot dogs.

Read the N.Y. Times piece “Where Fish Sticks Swim Free and Chicken Nuggets Self-Dip,” if you want, but stop by for what might be the most pertinent image: a robot rhesus monkey sitting with headphones on, mesmerized by a TV screen. He’s supposed to be watching porn, but he’s probably watching the BBC.

Perhaps the person who has the best perspective on the situation is Seth Glickenhaus, who was around during the Great Depression’s inception. At 94, he’s still picking stocks for his investment firm.

Exactly two years ago today, Barron‘s Sandra Ward extracted this overall analysis — mostly accurate — from Glickenhaus (read it at

He’s negative on the economy, citing: 1) High oil prices. 2) High insurance costs. 3) People holding adjustable-rate mortgages about to be hit with big increases. 4) Housing market decline. 5) Huge income disparity.
• “We are clearly at the end of [interest] rate increases.”
• Companies are better managed today, and adjust to problems faster.
• Federal spending is dismally distorted toward military; talk of deficit reduction is absurd.
• War spending takes money away from constructive parts of market.
• He thinks the public is fed-up with Bush. • Oil might hit $200—in 2200!
• Japan and Europe will stagnate; India and China will continue to grow.
• He’s more worried about deflation than inflation.

OK, so companies aren’t better managed and they aren’t adjusting faster. But Glickenhaus makes you think: You want to end the war in Iraq? Maybe we’ll be too broke and will have to bring our troops home. Maybe when they get back here, they’ll have to defend D.C. against a new Bonus Army. Maybe they’ll want to stay over there rather than return to the U.S. only to find their families sitting on the curb after losing their homes. No, they’ll surely want to get out of Iraq, even if it means they’ll have to go on guard duty at banks here.

Only slightly less fearful than Iraq is the global panic, because there aren’t any more poorhouses for us to go to. Go back to yesterday’s news and read “Fear Trumps Greed as Market Woes Paralyze Economies,” in which Bloomberg’s Matthew Benjamin and Michael McKee deftly parse the psychology of the horrorshow “feedback loop” (as the BBC and others call it):

Investors are in the grip of a panic that psychologists and historians say isn’t necessarily rational and may intensify. They aren’t buying stocks, and more importantly, suddenly afraid they won’t be repaid, they aren’t making loans by buying bonds. Banks have also tightened credit.

“People are driven by images of the best and worst that can happen,” says George Loewenstein, a professor of psychology and economics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “The image of the worst is much more vivid in their minds right now.” . . .

Normally, a little fear is a good thing, economists say. For decades after the 1930s, memories of the Great Depression tempered optimism and kept asset bubbles from growing too large.

Today’s fears, however, have reached an intensity that magnifies every additional piece of information and creates a vicious circle, according to Hersh Shefrin, professor of behavioral finance at Santa Clara University in California.

There’s plenty more in this adroit story:

Charles Geisst, a finance professor at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York, sees a parallel to 1932, with credit markets bad and the stock market falling just ahead of the presidential election that put Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House.

“But I’m not sure anyone is FDR this time,” says Geisst, author of Wall Street: a History, who puts the possibility of another Great Depression at 50 percent. “I don’t think either candidate has a clue what they’re dealing with here. This is more than a political problem that’s going to blow over.”

So who should take a stab at trying to be the new FDR? Loudmouth stock expert Jim Cramer, as glib in print as he is on TV, opts for Barack Obama over John McCain. In his recent New York piece “Wall Street, Fall 2009,” Cramer writes:

What will New York look like a year from now? The answer: bad and probably worse, and perhaps downright catastrophic. Three degrees of awful.

The first step was passing the bank-bailout legislation. Now that it’s done — and if it didn’t get done we would have been looking at a guaranteed economic collapse — the critical issue will be presidential leadership.

And while any president will be an improvement over the current one, there is a growing belief on Wall Street that Barack Obama has the capacity to lead us out of this wilderness while John McCain does not.

I’ll go a step further: Obama is a recession. McCain is a depression.

That may well be, but America is a depression, not a recession.

Before the newspaper industry tanks and while I still have my computer, I’ve typed these headlines . . .

NO PARTICULAR ORDER: ‘Wall Street’s Favorite Candidates’

Slate: ‘Who Died and Made Bloomberg King of New York?’


Wall Street Journal: ‘Futures Head Toward Sharp Losses’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘With stock market falling, advice on what to do about 401(k)’

Wall Street Journal: ‘U.S. Weighs Backing Bank Debt’

Wall Street Journal: ‘At Morgan Stanley, Outlook Darkens; Stock Tumbles 26 Percent’

CNN: ‘Smoke detected at Japanese nuclear plant’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Finland’s Martti Ahtisaari Wins Nobel Peace Prize’


Guardian (U.K.): ‘Markets crash: How panic spread around the globe’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Economists Expect Crisis to Deepen’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Huge bonuses for City high flyers will be hard to rein in’

CongressDaily: ‘Senator urges suspension of Iraq publicity contracts’

Wall Street Journal: ‘McCain Campaign Is at Odds Over Negative Attacks’ Scope’

Wall Street Journal: ‘AIG Increases Borrowings While Racing to Sell Assets’

China Digital Times: ‘China Says it Won’t Torture Guantanamo Detainees’

Detroit News: ‘College students face barriers to voting’

N.Y. Times: ‘States’ Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal’