Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Saturday, August 30, 2008

P.U.M.A.

In an xword blog today, I introduced pumas ("party unity my ass" people) merely as a humorous aside. But apparently, it struck a chord with some readers. So, this is a thread where we can continue talking about these creatures.

107 comments:

mac said...

How interesting that your wife is planning to fight the pumas. Until this afternoon I didn't even know what it stood for, just was annoyed with the woman on a political talkshow who seemed to be representing them. What's wrong with these people? It shouldn't be about the personalities but about the policies and ideologies.

I'm sure your wife enjoyed this morning's column by Gail Collins!

mac said...

My husband is convinced this is a group of Republicans.

Ulrich said...

Mac: I agree with you completely.

These women seem to be Democrats or declared feminists who are nevertheless willing to vote for somebody who has an adverse position on almost every issue that (should) matter to them (abortion rights, critical Supreme Court nominations, the war in Iraq, tolerance of torture, the environment etc etc). I can't help but feel that they are truly crazy.

When you ask them, you do not get a rational argument, but stories about the miseries of their lives, especially the frustration of living in a "man's world". Obama, to them, is not the candidate who ran a better campaign, but the guy who took away their best chance "to get even".

I find people who act out a deep-seated, uncontrollable anger and who are therefore no longer reachable by argument truly scary.

fikink said...

Hello you two! So glad to find sanctuary here. I was feeling that Rex was rather dismissive, but so appreciated the others who said: Hey wait a minute, I was not 'very well aware' of pumas!"
I sputter almost daily about the militant ignorance of these women and then to have McCain add insult to injury with his selection of a running mate! It is the height of cynicism and shows utter contempt for women, as tho we are all so ready to be kept "barefoot and pregnant." g-r-r-r-r-r!
Feeling much better now, thank you!
~deb

mac said...

This morning on the McLaughlin group the right wing radio personaly (can't think of her name, hadn't watched it in a long time) came up with all the to be expected reasons why Sarah Palin is perfect for the job. I'm afraid we are going to have a horrible few months listening to this insane reasoning. Also, I've been stunned by the gullibility of so many of the people several times now, I cannot be optimistic.
I always liked Hillary better than Barack Obama, but their positions are just about identical, and I AM A DEMOCRAT FIRST. (I've never yelled like that in an email....).
I can't help thinking that we would have been in better shape if Hillary were on the ticket.

On the positive side, I have now heard from several Republicans that they are disgusted by the choice, too. I'm afraid they are still going to vote for him.

Thanks for the chance to vent.

Marion

fikink said...

Hurrah for your Republican friends who see McCain's choice as disgusting. That it is!
I read Gail Collins this morning after reading your post late last night. Yes, yes and yes again!
My nephews are telling me to Keep the Faith and that young people do not watch television, they watch the Internet and are totally unaffected by the TV talking heads. (I have been known to even turn off MSNBC, so tired of the palaver!)
Ulrich, Mac: Keep the faith. The Democrats will take this country back. Our very lives depend on it!
(And don't forget this is coming to you from Iowa!)

fikink said...

p.s. I don't think I've ever put as many exclamation points in a post...please excuse the excess.

Ulrich said...

@mac: I'm not optimistic either, given what I've seen in previous elections--but then again, this may be a form of Zweckpessimismus.

@fikink: It will be interesting to see if there will be some "Obama Republicans", mirroring the "Reagan Democrats"--wouldn't that be something?

fikink said...

I think there are a number of Obama Republicans who are finally struck by the futility of GOP posturing. Just like the government can't turn off the television set, it can't think for us. If we put McCain in office, we will get what we deserve. It's really up to the kids now, I think, and there are some very deliberate young people out there. Thank goodness.

Moliticon said...

@Ulrich: Zweckpessimismus indeed! I have little confidence that the majority of voters are focused enough on policy and rational discourse. Elections in the US have become emotional for almost everyone, even many trying to resist. I am Vaklempt (is that a real word Ulrich?)

@fikink: Bring on the kids "yearning to break free".

Ulrich said...
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Ulrich said...

@fikink: What I find encouraging is this: The mainstream media seem to be totally out of it--they decide inside their air-conditioned studios on a story line and then push it no matter what the evidence is (see Frank Rich's op-ed piece in today's NYT). Your kids are very active on the Internet, but haven't made it into any story line yet. The longer they are overlooked, the more effective they'll be--or am I grasping at straws?

@moliticon: I know the word "verklemmt", which means "inhibited" (literally "wedged in"), but you do not sound verklemmt at all.

mac said...

@ulrich: you're right, what a great example of Zweckpessimismus! It worked for us at the European Cup, too...

@fikink: I think it was about last March that I started to avoid the 5 - 7 p.m. msnbc and cnn talkshows, before that I spent altogether too much time on them. By that time I had gotten so disgusted with the uneven reporting and the efforts to make a mountain out of a mole hill at every turn.

I was wondering, though. I watched some of the speeches at the Democratic Convention, but I hadn't really planned to waste my time on the Republican one. How many Republicans do you think actually heard the Clintons and Obama speak?

Moliticon said...

@Ulrich: vaklempt is apparently Yiddish, on further research. In that context it means "choked up" as in overcome by emotion. You are correct. I am definitely not "verklemmt".

@mac: I too am disinclined to watch the news. It is no longer "news" in the traditional sense. I see from Internet news that a known neo-con has infiltrated AP's ranks and that his biased reporting is transmitted, as is, to newspapers across the country as AP Wire. In the words of George Carlin, "It's over."

fikink said...

mac, yes, that was about the time they really started lobbying for Hillary to drop out. I can understand the women who believed that even the most liberal media were unfair to her, especially Olbermann and Matthews. But I really enjoy Chuckie-T's crunching of the numbers. He really explained how highly strategic Obama's campaign was unlike the cult of personality that Hillary's became, to her disadvantage. I think Chuck Todd is being positioned to host Meet the Press after Brokaw.

fikink said...

Ulrich,
Yes, I just read Frank Rich's column and that is exactly the phenomenon. In a surreal inversion, I am finding myself envious of the wisdom of youth. They are not at all concerned about this election because this generation is not operating in the realm of the mainstream media (save for Jon Stewart and, maybe, Steven Colbert, who are both, notably, on Comedy Central). The kids see all these straw dogs the media throw out there for what they are: arguing fictions as a spectator sport. It is sheer sophistry for the sake of viewership.

Ulrich said...

@fikink: Did you see the survey they did on who was the most informed when it comes to political news? I forgot who came in first, but the amazing thing was that those who got their news primarily from Comedy Central came in second. Needless to say, the ones who got it from Fox were dead last.

Do we need a more devastating indictment of the mainstream media?

fikink said...

Absolutely right. This whole scene reminds me of Poe's Mask of the Red Death. Our downfall is moving systemically through our infrastructure, both physical and intellectual, and we are partying on. I can only hope the kids are sincere in wishing to take this disaster on!

mac said...

I left a message before going out for dinner, but it seems to have disappeared. Hope I didn't accidentally leave it on Rex's blog; I would be banned for the rest of the year!

I felt good about the probable make-up of his blog: on Thursday there were no comments between 10.05 and 11.17 p.m.

Ulrich said...

@mac: Very perceptive of you! I'm impressed.

fikink said...

That is so curious. When I was doing the puzzle Thursday and came across the clue "hot strip" I thought of the temperature in the desert, then thought of the violence and then thought of "stolen merchandise." I am glad I did not give voice to my thoughts.

mac said...

@moliticon: is your avatar related to Rex's puppy?

Moliticon said...

@mac: No Mac - I downloaded a picture of a puppy that I hoped would induce sweetness in Fikink so she would go for my proposal to adopt him. It failed - thus the blue clown. hahahahahaha

fikink said...

mac, anyone, did you watch the speeches last night? Reaction?
Do you think the GOP is getting any traction with this tack?

Ulrich said...

@fikink: I couldn't bring myself to listen to another round of distortions, outright lies, or the general attempt to turn the election into a personality contest, rather than one about the--very serious--issues we face. It upsets me just too much.

fikink said...

Ulrich, we are not made for this new world! I had exactly the same reaction and turned Huckabee off, muted Guilliani after about two sentences and came back in to give Palin a fair hearing. Her lies and sarcasm upset me so much, I was physically trembling.
(That's when I went to bed with a glass of wine and ended up getting into trouble with Rex. wait! that doesn't read right... ;-)
Thanks for giving us a forum to talk!

Ulrich said...

I'm normally not commenting on things people do not know when they discuss a puzzle, except that I always find it presumptuous to call something "obscure" or "arcane" for no other reason than that you have never heard of it. But I was distressed today when the first commenters on the NYT puzzle all agreed that they had never heard of a neocon. Now, if a well-educated group like these do not follow current events, what can we expect of the geral population?

fikink said...

You better believe if we still had a draft in this country all of those young puzzlers would be very aware of who the neocons are!

mac said...

I'm sorry I didn't check in earlier - I could have used some moral support.... I was just disgusted with this woman's reading of the handiwork of probably a roomful of speechwriters, with an agression and vulgarity only matched by the inaccuracy of what she said! It's amazing what politicians will say to get a vote. There does not seem to be any personal integrity!

fikink said...

absolutely right, mac. Do you know that Dick Cheney referred to ecology and protecting the environment as a PERSONAL choice?

mac said...

That's like saying everyone in this country has medical care, all they need to do is go to the emergency room... Another one of those.

fikink said...

My old college roommate and my nephew are up in Alaska, both of my political persuasion. They have been emailing me the skinny on Sarah Palin. Sounds like we are in for many more lies.

mac said...

Hopefully the press will be brave enough to expose them all, and also the lots of twists McCain is taking on so many subjects. I have to believe Obama and Biden will do better in the debates, but when did intelligence count for anything last? People live on soundbites.

Ulrich said...

Don't get your hopes up re. the press. They are no longer interested in reporting news--the word is now "storyline". Apparently, news does not sell, but stories do, no matter how far removed from reality they are.

I'm getting into a deep, deep funk over this. Imagine: The Democrats lose an election after the Republicans engineered the greatest foreign policy fiasco in the history of the country IMHO--and to boot, they lose it to someone who aided and abetted! It boggles the mind!

mac said...

It's sad to say, but the recent economic news, unemployment numbers and stockmarket drop, should help the democrats; hope they will drive it home to the voters!

fikink said...

Yes, Ulrich, I heard Sarah Palin described in the news last night as "on her way to becoming a Republican icon." The debasement of the language is bad enough!
Take some comfort in this: The Rock group, Heart, vociferously objected to the RNC appropriating their song, Barracuda, last night.
YES!

Ulrich said...

Yes, indeed. Still, I wish I could go into hibernation and wake up when it's all over.

mac said...

Don't go into hibernation, Ulrich, go help your wife catch some Pumas..... We need that so much.
I just watched the Rache Maddows show and hope many, many people watched it.

Ulrich said...
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Ulrich said...

Mac:Thanks for the encouragement--I need every ounce of it b/c it's gone beyond pumas now--we have entered a larger world of make-believe where a candidate is voted for b/c people "like" her. As a correspondent on the Rachel Maddow show said, when people like someone, they find reasons to do this and to overlook evidence to the contrary--no horrific video on YouTube seems to be able to shake them. What's so frustrating is that one cannot deal rationally with irrationality--back to Zweckpessimismus.

fikink said...

This is just a bummer day all around. I was awakened by Joe Scarborough seriously wondering if the Republicans would be able to "pull this off," then went to the puzzle to find it so incredibly easy it was boring. I count on Mondays for that!
If we put McCain/Palin in office, I will dig a moat and sit out the administration on this compound.
Yes, Mac and Ulrich, Rachel is my latest girl crush!

mac said...

Rachel is wonderful; you're too late though. I heard a cute story about her and her partner. Rachel rang her doorbell, the door opened and they both fell in love instantly......

I've been very pessimistic about this election since before Barack got the nomination. I knew the Republican attack machine would always outsmear the Democrats, and have they ever started.... When are people going to wise up? I hope the press will do their job this time, but I don't have a lot of faith.

mac said...

I guess we are all watching Rachel! She's great.

Ulrich said...
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Ulrich said...

I don't know where we would be w/o blogs and the internet helping us to look beyond the uniform "story lines" that have now replaced careful reporting by the media:

This is a real eye-opener.

I'm grateful to the puma-hunter-turned-pitbull-hunter for bringing this article to my attention.

I'm also disstressed that the German media only parrot these storylines. Der Spiegel doesn't need a Washington correspondent--they could get the same stories much cheaper by simply repeating what's written in the papers here.

fikink said...

Thanks for the alternet, Ulrich. I bookmarked it. Loved his metaphor of looking at the world through a straw! Mac, I also appreciated your use of the word, "reign," in your late afternoon post on the puzzle blog...methinks the emperor has no clothes!

Marlene said...

Here's an idiot PUMA person, former Clinton donor, who has come out for McCain, and get the reason. It's priceless:

http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/

mac said...

salon has some good articles on Palin today, though.

mac said...

@all: I guess we are all a little more relaxed since the polls are showing the Palin-effect to be fading. I guess she is going to be a one-speech wonder. And she is doing that same speech again, and again, and again...... Even republicans are catching on!

Ulrich said...

The funny thing about the speech is it wasn't even written for her--they had the VP speech before they had a candidate and then just adjusted it slightly. Which means she is a parrot that has learned not more than one thing.

On the general picture: We (the pitbull hunter and I) are holding our breath, too.

Ulrich said...

One more thing: The NYTimes reported yesterday that McCain will try to boost attendance at (by-invitation-only!) "town" meetings by appearing always with Palin. In other words, the great hero needs apron strings for support.

mac said...

what is happening, people? I watched Bill Clinton twice yesterday, Hillary twice today and all the time I'm thinking: why aren't they taking care of the country?

I am just disgusted at how they are parsing Bill Clinton's words. He was never overly drooling ovver McCain, and he solidly supported Obama.

mac said...

Yesterday evening I heard a lecture, then a question and answer session with Jeffrey Toobin at Fairfield University, mostly about the Supreme Court. Amazing little bits of insight on why the court leant left or right over the last couple of decades.

The bottom line was that the most important reason to elect Democrats this election is because of the make-up of the Supreme Court. Both Alito and Roberts were groomed in the early 80's by the newly elected Reagan people, and they have been very militaristic and consistent on turning back some of the decisions the Court has taken, Roe vs. Wade of course the most visible one, but also gay marriage and many other things we should take for granted as a tolerant (HA) society.

Ulrich said...

@mac: Yes--one more reason not to let this entire election campaign become a complete farce--the one for VP already is.

Ulrich said...

It's now clear that the McCain campaign does not believe it can win the election on the issues--so, it doesn't even try anymore. The strategy is this: Whenever persistent problems make the headlines, they pull a stunt to divert attention from the issues. The question then arises: What will be the next stunt?

Here's my bet: Palin will (be forced to) resign and will be replaced by Romney. Explanation: dire times like these need his kind of economic expertise. This is guaranteed to make the headlines for days to come and will field a new player with not much time left to check him out. Who'll bet against me?

fikink said...

Whoa! Ulrich, I did not even consider that and was reveling ("kinda, ya know") in the idea that McCain's Palin stunt is blowing up in his face. (That and this latest drama reneging on the debate sure seemed to be sealing his fate.)
If McCain is planning to replace Palin, he better get a move on because she and Biden are scheduled to debate Thursday!

ArtLvr said...

Hi guys! Sorry I didn't join you sooner here.... But now we've seen the first debate, and we have an announcement on an economic recovery bill. (They should quit calling it "bailout", by the way.)

I don't think McCain will dump Palin, he's running out of time and alternatives -- besides, Rove & Co. who promoted Palin won't allow it. Also, who of real credibility and substance would agree to pull McCain's chestnut out of the fire? No obvious GOP martyr leaps to mind... even to protect the country from a possible Pres. Palin. Arrg.

McCain will keep trying to Muzzle the Pitbull as much as possible, since Palin can memorize a speech but can't answer a query coherently... Wish I could speak of Pitcow, or name for a female dog, but never mind -- let's not malign animals. Maybe coin one: "Chutzpug", "Chutzpuppy", "Chutzpig"? I still prefer my first sobriquet -- Brag Queen!

Sour Sen. McCain showed up, after threatening to scuttle the first debate, but he may well find an excuse to keep Palin from appearing with Biden! Bet, anyone? The shadow handlers are adept at providing new scripts to cover any desired detours. Stay tuned.

∑;(

ArtLvr said...

www.themudflats.net/2008/09/26/mccain-camp-realizes-palin-is-clueless/

Link to Alaskan protesters against Palin and Rove (wondering if they should impeach their governor or try a recall) -- it opens okay in Safari, but didn't open in AOL.

Ulrich said...

Sorry for being silent today on all fronts: We had to prepare for an invasion by 4 blond and blue-eyed Germans, also known as my eldest brother and his family. Hope to be back in full force tomorrow.

ArtLvr said...

Ulrich, how nice to have your brotherand family visiting... Hope you all have a good time!

Saw this comment on the upcoming VP nominees' debate, and wonder if there's any truth in it?

"It will be no problem, they will fit her with a hidden ear piece, and her answers will be directed from outside. She will come off as pretty smart and savvy. I think they did it with Bush after the first bad debate against Kerry." (!)

Can also recommend Sen. Harry Reid's book called "The Good Fight" in which he details many of Geo. W Bush's lies, including some we never heard about at the time. In the interview on C-SPAN2's BookTV tonight, Reid also praises Obama's character and the high quality work in the Senate from the moment he arrived...

Reid also states outright that McCain is not fit to be President, both by temperament and lack of judgment. He should know! By odd coincidence, Reid and McCain were both first elected to the US House of Representatives in 1982 and both first elected to the US Senate in 1986! Now Senate Majority Leader, Reid has had 25+ years of inside experience with McCain on which to judge him.

mac said...

Have you all noticed that the House Republican mouthpieces are calling this "bailout" the Poulson/Pelosi proposal? This is Bush's property!
I'm convinced, even heard a reporter say it Friday night, that McCain told some of these people to speak up against a deal, and he may still try to make it look as if he is on the side of this very conservative group and derail this agreement.

ArtLvr said...

mac -- no, I hadn't heard that, but "Paulson Plan" is most likely. Henry Paulson became Sec. of the Treasury in 2006, partly because Bush's #1 priority, as declared in his re-election campaign, was privatization of Social Security. That was going nowhere after 2 years of hoopla, and he may have thought that Paulson, former managing partner of Goldman Sachs, could give his scheme new legs. Paulson gave it lip service, said he'd look for more bipartisan support, and let it fade away. .

Then Bush lost both houses of Congress and has been essentially dead politically, having wrecked the economy in dozens of ways. Paulson and Bernainke realized that US credit was freezing up as the housing bubble burst, and told Bush he had to get a bill passed to prevent total financial ruin.

So it's a Republican mess long in the making, but Paulson wasn't to blame -- and he's got the leverage to persuade Bush it's his last chance at any praise from historians, some day. Note that Warren Buffett has made sure, with a $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs, that Paulson can't be accused of conflict of interest! Lovely! Hope the thing passes now.

Never mind if McCain is currently speaking in Ohio out of both sides of his mouth, withb muzzled Polin at his side. Not dumping her as of now.

ArtLvr said...

p.s. just had a phone call from a dealer/friend on Cape Ann who attended a recent Obama rally hosted by Dukakis. He told her about incredible rudeness from McCain's staff toward himself and another Big Name when trying to do something major relating to the Railroad Commision. Similar to what I heard from Harry Ried on BookTV -- this is nobody who really cared about "reaching across the aisle", ever, except to make himself look good.

mac said...

Interesting that all these facts are coming out about McCain. Unfortunately the Fox News watchers will not hear about them.
Thanks, artlvr, for the clarification. You're good!

ArtLvr said...

Thanks, mac -- Got my blogger status back again, too late to fix misspellings. Sorry about those... Also sorry the GOP took such a cowardly stance that the bill hasn't passed, even with stockmarket tanking (they were told, but couldn't handle it).

Obama just had a clear and vigorous response to the debacle, thank goodness. Chicken soup time.

Ulrich said...

@artlvr: Given my Zweckpessimismus, I had thought that McCain won the first debate, if only b/c Obama did not once counter the patronizing remarks that he (Obama) didn't understand this or that. I was then delighted when the polls proved me wrong. One reason may have been that McCains's grumpy, ungracious (almost loutish--the "horseshit" under his breath) behavior became obvious for more people than I had thought/hoped. And it's clearly reflected in the tone of the whole campaign--do they really think they can get away with blaming Obama for the failed vote?

I'm not an expert like you on the financial issues and am reading with great interest what you write. I find one article interesting on the Huffington Post: The writer argued that if one would take care only of the "toxic" mortgage-based securities, a fraction of the proposed sum would suffice; that the real issue is derivatives based on them, that it's there where the riskiest speculations took place--at a vast scale, and that it's there where the institutions want to get bailed out. Is there any merit to this argument?

ArtLvr said...

Hi Ulrich! It was two different problems in the beginning, but they became intertwined rather quickly as the economy slowed down. The first part was the large number of individual mortgages given out on newly inflated home valuations with little or no equity downpayment. Some were done with good intentions for working people with marginal credit who intended to reside in the home, expecting to build equity slowly in the traditional way.

Some were done for renovation specialists who could make fast profits in booming markets, and may have had track records good enough in the recent past to persuade bankers they could handle several such speculative ventures at once. Their problems in a stagnant or reversing market could lead to impossible cash-flow problems on a large scale almost overnight. "Flippers" in sudden death.

The banks faced with a sudden spate of non-performing loans and potential headaches of bankruptcy proceedings were offered an out though intermediaries who would take bundles of iffy loans and package them for resale, similar to the junk bonds and tax shelters of the early eighties. Higher-level speculators could buy "tranches", or a set of years to maturation, instead of whole mortgages -- they might be made whole in the first years if most of the iffy mortgages continued to perform (be paid off), but tranches of the years farther out would be heavily discounted on the basis of higher risk. That's part two. The big disadvantage was that an individual did not have to be informed that his mortgage had been sold and split up in pieces for further resale!

Wall Street tends to like new gimmicks -- they may sell well, even if merely new clothing on yesterday's corpses. The added advantages to the new "security" is that they are structured to be legal in terms of regulations already on the books and can be loosed on the unwary without S.E.C. or other oversight... no traditional bond ratings, no recourse if things don't work out as promoters glowingly predict.

Nice for the banks, just as for the Savings-and-Loan Associations which had different rules from banks more than a generation ago. (My lawyer father warned about the inevitable Savings-and Loan debacle many years before it finally came to pass, while a friend of mine found employment for several years just cleaning up the mess full time!)

Furthermore, the GOP bias for deregulation and "cost-cutting" meant underfunding and severly overworking of the pared-down SEC legal staff, on top of actual "free market" changes in the laws. Thus was another avoidable crisis inevitably spawned. I was hoping the current recovery bill could be passed today, but something better may result. No use letting foxes go on guarding the chickens!

ArtLvr said...

p.s. my friend who worked with the the Savings and Loan Resolution Trust, valuing and selling off bankrupt properties, was not a lawyer -- she's a realtor!

ArtLvr said...

pps: Yes, the repackaged securities are derivatives: this always adds to the difficulty of valuation and oversight!

fikink said...

I heard that there are two positions to take on Wall Street today, one is cash and the other is fetal.
LOL

Ulrich said...

@artlvr: Thanks for the tutorial--hadn't read some of this before.

@fikink: Let's hope that the glee displayed by liberals right now, and rightfully so! will not turn out to have been gallows' humor in the end.

fikink said...

Ulrich, as I've said prior to this, if this country puts McCain and Palin in office, we will get what we deserve, a result of our collective militant ignorance and our sloth. The other side of my optimism is a dark fatalism.

mac said...

@fikink: Thomas Friedman quoted the "cash and fetal" remark in his column this morning. I am saving it to show some friends who are so happy that "the house stood up to Wall Street!"......

fikink said...

@mac, thanks for the heads up! I went back and read Friedman's piece just now and, indeed! it appears he was watching the same thing I was on CNBC . I have, in fact, been watching CNBC for days now. I must constantly disabuse conservatives of the notion that being a liberal with regard to social policies and education does not make one fiscally irresponsible. The global economy is not the black and white world of market equilibrium that the "knee-jerk" Republicans wish it to be. They should all be required to read Friedman's The World Is Flat.
What so many of us "liberals" are begging for is some enlightenment on the part of our "leaders." I will say it again, if we put MCCain and Palin in office - or, if the Right manages to successfully hack the voting machines and puts McCain/Palin in office - we as a country will see the "fruits" of our indolence.
Ulrich, "glee" is hardly the sentiment of the "liberals" at the moment.
(And now I have to take a walk and calm down.)

ArtLvr said...

Alternet had a pertinent take on the Palin choice i.e. it brought in the big ultraright wing money that backed "Swift Boating" ads 4 years ago -- they were lukewarm on Maverick McCain but they love Flake Palin. Glen Beck is pushing a big smear on Obama all week too.

p.s. I must share a neat quote, but missed who said it (maybe Buffett?): "Bubbles have three I's -- first innovators, then imitators, then idiots".

ArtLvr said...

One more observation -- another major agency severely curtailed by the Bush Administration, in addition to the SEC, has been the FDA. This is really worse, as lives can be lost when regulators are underfunded, understaffed, politicized and discouraged from doing their job!

mac said...

Wouldn't it be nice if we could watch this debate together? At least we can discuss it afterward, thank you Ulrich.

fikink said...

@mac, I found the debate infuriating and I am so tired of the press going along with all of this. Why didn't Iffil (sp?) hold her feet to the fire? I'm giving up TV entirely and turning on music and getting online. This is ridiculous!

Ulrich said...

@mac: Yes, that would be very comforting. BTW I watched the debate with my brother and his wife, and they kept on shaking their heads in disbelief about the way the Americans handle their elections.

@fikink: I agree about the moderator. In fact, I was already sceptical when I learned that she would do it b/c I remember her from her stupid comments in the beginning the Iraq war. In addition, the rightwingers had engaged in a week-long intimidation campaign against her for the most ridiculous reasons. So, we had a person not too smart to begin with and anxious not to appear biased-- and that's exactly what we got.

But not all is lost: It seems that the persistent attempt of the Republican campaign to treat the electorate as a bunch of village idiots (who buy anything thrown at them and w/o memory of anything that was said the day before) may no longer work, as the polls seem to indicate.

fikink said...

I would have loved to have seen your brother and sister-in-law last night. And I can believe that they shook their heads. Can you imagine Margaret Thatcher - or better yet, Hillary! - winking coquetishly (is that a word?) into the camera. (Tina Fey's "adorable" impression of Palin Saturday night was spot on! )
Are we really that vapid a people?
(I hope you are sharing a lot of Jon Stewart and Tina Fey with your guests.)

Ulrich said...

One more thing: The pundits, in their inexhaustible capability of missing the point, didn't get the real story of last night's debate either (but many bloggers did): The real story is Joe Biden's performance. I, for one, was very leery, expecting him him to get lost in details on top of a conspicuous lack of charisma. He proved me wrong. Yes, he missed a couple of opportunities for really exposing Palin (like when she confused a Civil War general with the one in charge in Afghanistan or her repeatedly not answering the question), but overall, he did much better than I had expected. He was disciplined and focused throughout and stayed on message (Palin didn't have one). And that was much more surprising than seeing Plain being able to recite talking points learned by rote, no matter if they had anything to do with the question posed or not.

Ulrich said...

@fikink: Yes, you can be sure they get the whole picture--and they definitely know who Tina Fey is!

fikink said...

Ulrich, it gets worse: I don't think she confused McKernan with a Civil War general. McClellan is also the name of one of Bush's flunkie press secretaries who just wrote a tell-all: Scott McClellan.
And is it true that the current sugar plum doing the press briefings hadn't known of the Cuban Missile Crisis? (or is that just one of those Daily Show jokes?)

ArtLvr said...

Hi again -- I'm with fikink: Palin may be in her mid-forties, but she's a "born yesterday" type... Reminds me of the gal I was telling about an artist who'd been a Civil War veteran at age 20 and then went on to a long career as a painter -- She asked me if he was still alive! Huh?

I don't think Sarah-Baby would have winked if she didn't think Biden was old as Methuselah, and was expecting the audience to agree that she's a smart with-it chick humoring an old fuddyduddy. Has a mind that is so juvenile it accepts any fad, like creationism and witches, -- has no history except her own, which she can reinvent continuously along most convenient lines. Said no to a bridge? Sold an airplane on ebay? Believes McCain is a reformer?

Sarah's beady gaze with confiding body language is that of a little tyke trying to convince you she didn't even see the cookies, let alone steal them.

imsdave said...

Well, you are some of the best folks I know, I will start my post by saying that I'm a fiscal conservative (gasp) but very socially liberal. Do you all hate me now? Spend all my money on ESL, but not one cent to teach classes in Spanish. Wrong? Federal bail out for lenders with bad debt - NO. Help the folks who were convinced they could afford a a house when they couldn't - YES. Weak bill, protects the wrong people - wow that was a long rant - thanks Ulrich

fikink said...

@imsdave
I think sometimes that the combination of being fiscally conservative and socially liberal might just be a willingness to take responsibility for your actions while allowing a world of disparate tastes and interests and orientations. And in that I applaud you!

mac said...

I'm sorry I missed the discussion, I'm in NY again and spent a wonderful evening at City Center. I needed a distraction after last night's upsetting non-debate. How can you call it a debate when the participants were never required to actually answer the questions! I'm very disappointed in Gwen, but you may be right, the book issue may have been a real problem for her. On the other hand, can anyone think of anyone, any media person, who would ask really pertinent questions and insist on a real answer in this setting? I thought the winking and faces were just disgusting.

Goodnight, everybody.

ArtLvr said...

Thanks all, especially Ulrich, for providing room for all this! (I missed Dave's comments which disappeared from Rex's blog...) I just wanted to add, re Palin, that the prospect of her winking at Putin or other political heavyweights popping up on her horizon is Petrifying! Preposterous!

With the newly-passed economic recovery bill, there were some very worthwhile add-ons, not just "pork". One long overdue, and having broad bipartisan support, was the mental health parity provision. It mandates that health insurance plans must provide coverage for psychiatric conditions equal to that for physical treatments. We can only hope that it extends to the notorious Veterans Administration programs as well as the general population!

One of the major scandals of Bush's war has been the wholesale abandonment of vets with severe post-traumatic stress syndrome -- to the point of retroactively reclassifying them as unfit when they enlisted and demanding that their signing bonuses be paid back to the government! Disgusting, yes.

Ulrich said...

I'll be away for couple of days--I'll finally visit the Dia Foundation in Beacon, NY with our visitors, something I have been planning to do for a long time. I'll leave this thread in your capable hands.

foodie said...

Wow, Ulrich, I had not idea this blog existed until I read about it over at Rex's site. It's like being in a wonderful party and moving from one room where the discussion has one style on to another room where the discussion is equally fascinating but is more explicit.

I have a lot to learn because I don't have a gut level understanding of a free market economy, so these discussions are really interesting to me.

@artlvr, you said two things that really resonated with me. First about mental health parity. I have been fighting for it for many years, writing material, testifying in front of Congress, etc. It was a crash course in how lobbies work. I am so pleased that it has finally passed!

The other about PTSD and veterans. Because of some studies I do, I know what these young (and not so young) people go through physically and mentally and the price they pay for it. No matter how ill-advised the war was, or may be because of it, we cannot hold our heads high if we do not treat these veterans extremely well. Some of them will be broken for life. What a sad shame!

Finally, where Ms. Palin is concerned, I'm relying on people's basic radar about who is genuine and who is not. I think even someone who is very socially and religiously conservative and agrees with her values will wonder what she's trying to pull with that style. It seems... condescending.

mac said...

@Madame foodie, welcome to our refuge. Ulrich is a wonderful host who allows us to both bring up new subjects and go back to old, important ones that we aren't done with!

ArtLvr said...

Yes, welcome from me too, foodie! I had no idea you were working on the mental health parity initiative, even testifying before Congress. Hurrah! (Hope fergus will find us too.)

There's another site that's possibly of current interest -- www.alternet.org -- though you may not agree with all the articles. And there's one from Alaska too, http://mudflats.wordpress.com/ -- It gives perspectives of people who know Palin well and are opposed for reasons most of us haven't heard of yet!

imsdave said...

To my friends who missed my (inappropriate for Rex's site) rant on Friday, I was railing at Harry Reid. He made a statement on Wednesday (and I paraphrase), that he had information about a major insurance company, one with a name you know, that was about to go bankrupt. While his staff retracted it later with (and again I paraphrase) - Mr. Reid has no personal knowledge of a major insurerer on the brink of bankruptcy, his comments were meant to refer to the general state of the finiancial services industry in this country.

The major insurance companies on Thursday lost anywhere from 6 to 32 percent of their value that day. My rant called for his censure from the Senate (which I stand by). A person with so much power in this country should be smart enough to know that it's illegal to shout 'fire' in a crowded movie theatre.

I know most of you from Rex's site and appreciate all of you immensely. You are an intelligent and witty group, and I hope despite some differences, we can all enjoy our discussions on this site.

As to my comments disappearing from Rex's site, he allowed me to throw myself on my own sword (that was actually very generous of him), and I deleted them myself.

ArtLvr said...

Thanks, Dave -- I didn't hear about Sen. Reid's gaffe (when and where was it mentioned?), and I watch the stock market fairly continuously, having been a broker in the seventies. It was quite a tumultuous week, worst on Monday, some recovery Tuesday, time-marking Wednesday, and a bad general slide again Thursday, with a good up-tilt for most of Friday fading to a slightly down finish... In general, things look rocky for quite a time ahead! Maybe we'll get a lull after Nov. 4! Ha.

I can sympathize with your unhappiness with the insurance stocks, though I don't follow any at this point, but can assure you that many other sectors not related to insurance were hit just as severely Thursday -- all the biotechs, for example. So while one can't condone any such comment from any legislator, I don't think it had the circulation you describe, or at least no worse impact on that sector than on most others? Feel free to rebut if you like! write artlvr911 at aol etc. Thanks again.

Ulrich said...

I'm back, and I welcome the newcomers to this discussion.

PS (not meant to induce thread drift): If you like spare conceptual and minimalist art, or Richard Serra, the Dia Foundation in Beacon is a must-see.

PS2 @mac: Yes, seeing the umlaut omitted in Spätlese in Sunday's puzzle was grating, and I would have commented yesterday if I gotten to the xword blog

ArtLvr said...

HI Ulrich -- Glad you're back and had a good trip! You were missed. (and I thought about the umlaut the other day too)...

Notice Sarah Barracuda is back as well -- not surprising. Little toads popping out if her mouth, like a fearmongering fairy tale character. (Source?)

mac said...

@artlvr: that sounds like "The Witches of Eastwick"; I still laught when I think of the chapter about the busybody who had twigs and dirt come out of her mouth when she spoke.....

foodie said...

Thank you mac,artlver and ulrich for the warm welcome! This is a terrific place.

Ulrich, I never knew about the Dia Beacon until you wrote about it. I've heard about the Dia Art Foundation in NYC and I haven't even managed to go there. But it will be on my hope-to-do list.. I'm glad someone is enjoying art when the financial world seems to be going to pot...

As to Sarah Barracuda-- perfect name! She earns the title because of the glee with which she goes on the attack. Remarkable.

Ulrich said...

@foodie: They have converted a former Nabisco plant into a museum whose large spaces are ideal to show, e.g., 20 Judds or 4 huge Serras in one space. Chamberlain also gets a whole hall for himself, On the opposite side are 2 dozen Flavin variations on the same theme. Palermo, Knoebel, Beuys, LeWitt all get whole rooms for themselves. If you like minimalist or conceptual art, focused on Germans and Americans, with some other nationalities thrown in, this is the place to go.

Back to the campaign: I find it fascinating to see Old McGrumpy's campaign at work: Their exclusively negative message is not working, and how do they react? With more of the same! Nevermind that Hillary tried it before to no avail.

There are even some moderate Republicans now who recollect nostalgically the "old McCain". But I wonder: Can a campaign--or old age--really change a person to that degree?

ArtLvr said...

I should chime in on the art -- but I deal mainly with paintings from 1840-1940... I do have a work by Polish-American Impressionist Jan Pawlowski, Harbor near Luba -- last one he did before emigrating, as it turned out. Neat find! He's living on Nantucker now, thriving.

As to the "old McCain", he was never much liked or trusted, as far as I know. Only little mirror-image maverick Joe Lieberman pals around with him... And now McCain's touched the political third rail, according to the Wall Street Journal -- planning to cut 1.3 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid over the next 10 years if elected. Seniors and near-seniors won't like that one bit!

ArtLvr said...

With our comments here at 100, and with just 4 weeks left until the election plus today's news, 3 days of inflammatory attacks by Palin, and tonight's debate -- maybe we could start a new thread?

The latest news, coming from both McCain and Palin, was that they would "possibly" institute a freeze on government spending come January, except for military spending and prior commitments. Knowlegable ommentators say this is exactly the wrong direction to be considering!

I also learned more about the quick spread of the global economic meltdown which involved "credit default swaps", another lucrative innovation by insurance brokers which looked like a low-risk program until the various big corporate bankruptcies began. More on these later if anyone cares about the how!

fikink said...

Ugh! I certainly hope tonight has put an end to McCain for good.
Count me as one of those who was offended by his referring to Senator Obama as "that one"! What an ugly American!

mac said...

I'm just so happy that the people being polled seem to see the real McCain (sorry), and for once agree with our impression!
I'm very cautiously beginning to feel...... no I can't say it. I thought Obama was brilliant, and it's the first time I felt that.

foodie said...

I find I am so nervous before these debates, and I actually never relax throughout. But after watching it tensely the first time around, I just re-watched it with my daughter and felt like you Mac, that Obama did really well. My daughter has given me a good perspective because she volunteers for the Obama campaign and knows what real people are talking about. She drives 3 hours each day to help in a part of the state that is historically very republican and is currently very economically depressed. She makes hundreds of calls a day and among other things, asks people what is on their minds. She tells me people are so sad, so scared about the future, so stressed. And it's so important to really get that, and respond to it. And they can definitely tell whether or not you do get it. So, in the end, I think that McCain is so busy being combative and trying to deliver jabs, and to win, that he has forgotten how to be empathic to real people.

Oh, and Ulrich, thanks so much for the information about the Dia Beacon, it sounds really terrific!

Ulrich said...

Our visitors are leaving today, which will give me the time to deal with new threads. I'll be back in a few hours...

fikink said...

Well, things are a little brighter this morning as I awoke to Tom Friedman's very good commentary on Palin's views on taxation (and how utterly ignorant she is) and then I found Wordsmith's word-of-the-day was "hey rube" -

noun: 1. A fight between members of a circus and the general public. 2. A call to rally circus members in a fight.
ETYMOLOGY:
The term originated in the 19th century when circuses were rowdy affairs and Hey Rube was the rallying cry to call all circus people to help in a fight with townspeople. It's not clear whether Rube in this term was someone specific or simply a use of the informal term rube (shortened form of Reuben) for an unsophisticated person from a rural area.

What wonderful symmetry. The planets are aligned for President Obama!

Ulrich, do you have an insight on the origins of this phrase?

Ulrich said...

@fikink: No idea--it definitely doesn't sound German.

@all: I'm following up on artlvr's suggestion to retire this thread and start a new one whose theme picks up where we left here. See you all there!