TARP, baby!

A mostly political Weblog.
Oct. 1 2008 10:09 PM

TARP, Baby!

Explaining Paulson's plan better than Paulson.

(Continued from Page 9)

First say "First": McCain's speech before the Latino Organization of the Day makes sure to include the word "first."

"Many Americans, with good cause, didn't believe us when we said we would secure our borders, and so we failed in our efforts. We must prove to them that we can and will secure our borders first, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States of America." [E.A.]

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Byron York is impressed. I hate to be picky, but even if you think McCain actually believes his constantly-shifting formal position, the statement remains ambiguous. Is McCain saying he first must actually secure the borders or that he first must prove to the voters that he can secure the borders? I don't think it's crazy to believe the second interpretation is the correct one--or at least that McCain's drafters left it open to potentially give him wiggle room later (i.e., "We wouldn't be passing this historic comprehensive reform today, with the help of my Democratic friends, if we hadn't convinced the voters that we can and will secure the borders.") ... The ambiguous formula also leaves open the more obvious possibility of quickly passing a bill that contains a future "trigger"--with semi-amnesty automatically taking effect after, say, the four Mexico-adjacent governors sign some sort of artful finding that the borders are "secure." ...

On to La Raza! ... 2:05 P.M. link

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Murphy is through! Finished! There is noone named Mike Murphy. I don't quite see how Mike Allen of the Politico can write sentences like this:

Mike Murphy, a political consultant who helped Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) mastermind his 2000 campaign, will not be reboarding the Straight Talk Express. ... [snip].

With Steve Schmidt taking over operations last week, the matter is now resolved. Murphy will be seen on television and may offer McCain private counsel. But he won't be in the bubble. [Emphasis on overly definitive statements added.]

Yes, Murphy isn't coming on board in the current shakeup. But if McCain is still behind and flailing at the end of the summer, is he really going to say, "We resolved that matter of my campaign's structure back in July." Or is he going to panic and bring in Murphy? I don't know, but neither does Allen. (Or the NYT fool who titled Nagourney's item "Count Murphy Out for McCain Campaign.") ... Murphy certainly didn't close the door. ("I do not expect to join the campaign.") He had to say something to tamp down overheated reports of his imminent arrival.) ... Backfill: Zengerle refines his position. Search for "knife." ...

Update: Nor am I convinced that this brings "full closure" to the issue. Would NBC really not let Murphy out of his contract if he said he wanted to go run McCain's campaign? ... 1:23 P.M. link

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Jim Johnson's Legacy Builds: Politico gravy-train Fannie Mae in trouble  despite its massive implicit government subsidy, because new accounting rules would apparently require it to list billions of dollars of now off-the-balance-sheet mortgage guarantees as liabilities. Of course, the agency formerly headed by Obama's ex-veep-vetter  will probably wriggle out of the new rule thanks, as always, to political pressure:

"I would bet my firstborn that they will be excluded from the accounting change. It would bankrupt them," said Paul Miller of the investment firm Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group.

So everything's OK then! ... Backfill: Eerily prescient David Smith post here. See also this E-Z-2-Follow post on Fannie Mae's balance sheets. Cheap visual devices are used, and also the word "Augean." ... 12:35 P.M. link

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Getdrunkandvote4mccain.com The Republican base comes home, plastered. ... 1:49 A.M.

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PearSneak of the Day-- "Employers Fight Tough Measures on Immigration":  Robert Pear is the acknowledged master at sneaking not-as-important-as-they-sound policy stories into the lead position on the NYT front page on slow news days. These Pear pieces are often leaks from liberal interest groups, who then benefit from the prime placement. But it was Julia Preston who pulled a Pear yesterday, with a lead A-1 piece that seemed to be mainly a press release for Tamar Jacoby's new lobbying organization, ImmigrationWorks USA.

1) Some of Preston's evidence of an employer fight-back against the immigration crackdown is ludicrously weak. "Unhappy California business won the support of Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, who wrote a letter" protesting immigration raids. Yes, a letter! From a mayor!  Meanwhile:

Arizona businesses rallied behind a bill to create what would have been the first state guest worker program in the country. Their advertising campaign used the slogan "What part of legal don't you understand?"—a tweak of the battle cry of their opponents, who use the same phrase with the word "illegal." ...[snip]

Although the bill never came to a vote, employers said the debate helped make their views known in Washington.

"It's a message to the federal government," said Joe Sigg, director of government relations for the Arizona Farm Bureau ... [E.A.]

Then, a cautionary note:

Employers' groups have not succeeded everywhere.

They can't all be as successful as in Arizona, where their bill never came to a vote. ...

2) Does the employer resistance help or hurt the cause of "comprehensive immigration reform"? The "comprehensive" deal, after all, is supposed to be a) a guest worker program and b) semi-amnesty for existing illegals coupled with c) tough enforcement measures to make future amnesties unnecessary. That's why it's "comprehensive." To the extent powerful employers are fighting those enforcement measures--like "the federal system to check the working papers of new hires"--that would seem to undermine the "comprehensive" rationale and support the anti-comprehensivist claim that we'll end up with the amnesty but not the enforcement (as happened with the 1986 immigration reform).

And how is President John McCain going to plausibly claim he's "secured the borders first" if the chamber of commerce is suing in federal court to poke holes in that security? ...

P.S.: Preston's article seems to be part of a "series" titled "Getting Tough" and introduced by the NYT as follows:

This is the second article in a series that explores efforts by the government and others to compel illegal immigrants to leave the United States.

Isn't that description more than a bit tendentious? You can support enforcement efforts for lots of reasons other than a desire to have "illegal immigrants leave the United States." You might want to discourage further illegal immgration by those not yet in the U.S. for example, but not be especially bothered if current illegals  continue to live "in the shadows" for many more years. That's basically my position. ... It's true that Mark Krikorian and others explicitly advocate a strategy of "attrition."  Yet it's tendentious to describe even their position as being an effort to "compel" illegals to leave. If the government changes the desirability of staying in the U.S.--by requiring employers to check Social Security numbers or by simply failing to pass McCain's reform bill, thereby increasing "uncertainty about obtaining legal resident status any time soon"-- many illegals will decide to leave. Many won't. That doesn't seem like compulsion. ... 1:22 A.M.  link

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

More than two weeks ago the New York Times mentioned  that the Iraqi city of Mosul was " in the midst of a major security operation" against one of the last bastions of Al Qaeda in Iraq. So how's that going? Should we have to read the London Times (or Belmont Club) to learn about its success or failure? (It looks like relative success, Juan Cole notwithstanding.) ... If the NYT has reported the outcome, I missed it. (A June 1 story only went so far as to say that "hopes" had been "raised" and that the "Iraqi Army may soon have tenuous control." ) ... P.S.: Sorry to be crude, but does the NYT realize that we may be at the point where reports of military success in Iraq help Obama (because stability enables the rapid pullout he seeks) while reports of contiuing turmoil and difficulty help McCain (by raising doubts that U.S. forces can be safely withdrawn in the next few years)? ... [via Insta]11:56 P.M. link

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Hey, I thought Leon decides what's anti-Semitic around there! ... 4:01 P.M.

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Out-of-Context Dingalink of the Week: NSFW. But true. ... 3:04 P.M.

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Carbon/Silicon's "The News"  would make a good Obama campaign song. You could skp the crunchy verse about people "caring about what they eat." ... [Unrealistically sunny?-ed Happy days are here again] ... 3:02 P.M.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

The difference between Bill Clinton's "pivot" and Obama's "pivot". ... P.S.: Clinton's is better! ... 11:02 P.M.

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Aims at False Modesty, Misses: You'd think and Obama's Conceit-o-meter would have sounded the alarm before he let this sentence ship:

"I find comfort in the fact that the longer I'm in politics the less nourishing popularity becomes, that a striving for rank and fame seems to betray a poverty of ambition, and that I am answerable mainly to the steady gaze of my own conscience." [E.A.]

At least he fudged it with "mainly." ...[Quoted by Dominic Lawson]... 8:26 P.M.

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Instapundit does a much more effective job clearing Obama on the issue of home mortgage favoritism than Obama's own clumsy web site. ... 2:06 P.M.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Klein Delendus Est: Another day at The Corner and Contentions and no mention of Joe Klein's imminent punishment. ... It must be a very long abject statement of apology he's working on. ... 3:35 P.M.

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I tried to cause Hugh Hewitt at least some momentary pain over McCain's renewed commitment to illegal immigrant legalization. I failed. Transcript:

MK: ... It was a terrible week for McCain, because he made it clear, Hugh, to people like you, that he's still for some form of amnesty, and he's much more likely to produce it than Obama. That's why I'm not for McCain. That's your problem.

HH: Well actually, I like where he is, since he's gone security first. Glenn, what do you think about the week? ...

He is such an apparatchik.  ... P.S.: The whole point of last week is that McCain's dropping the "first" from "security first."  ... 3:39 A.M.

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TNR's Jason Zengerle analyzes the McCain campaign shake-up:

[I]'s hard to see how or why McCain would bring back Mike Murphy--as has been rumored for a little while now--since [Steve] Schmidt's now playing the role McCain would have presumably wanted Murphy to fill.

So wrong!  McCain has plenty of time to bring back Murphy by the end of the summer if/when whatever Schmidt does between now and then doesn't seem to be working. ... Backfill: Chait made the same point. ... Update: Zengerle doubles down! "I don't think McCain can afford to do any more major reshuffling without running the risk of key Republicans concluding that he's hopeless and abandoning him en masse ..." Really? McCain has a shakeup before Labor Day and that's it, he's through? (Certainly voters won't care about it in November. By October even Mark Halperin will have forgotten about it.) ... Zengerle must be a) suffering from a clinical bubble-insider's loss of perspective and b) oblivious to the implications of the Feiler Faster Principle. ... It seems to me McCain has enough time to fire Schmidt, hire Weaver, fire Weaver, hire Murphy, fire Murphy, bring back Rick Davis, re-demote Davis and hire Schmidt again before the final debate. ... 2:58 A.M.

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Obama's campaign has posted a response  to that Boston Globe article on the failure of the "public private" housing partnerships Obama and his allies championed. The response seems weak and amateurish to me--with some good points (one housing project, for seniors, is a success) mixed with ineffective responses. For example:

RHETORIC: Obama translated that belief into legislative action as a state senator. In 2001, Obama and a Republican colleague, William Peterson, sponsored a successful bill that increased state subsidies for private developers. The law let developers designated by the state raise up to $26 million a year by selling tax credits to Illinois residents. For each $1 in credits purchased, the buyer was allowed to decrease his taxable income by 50 cents.

REALITY: SB 1135 WAS A BIPARTISAN BILL THAT HOUSING ADVOCATES SUPPORTED

Well, that settles it! Because bipartisan bills that housing advocates support always produce more clean, safe afforadable housing, and never enrich developers who wind up managing slums. ... P.S.: In general, it's hard to believe that Obama's fact-check site, heavy with pro-forma testimonials from other pols, will convince anybody who's not already a firm supporter. ... 2:51 A.M.

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So the Fourth of July newspapers will have John McCain in ... er, Mexico plotting how to achieve comprehensive immigration reform with Felipe Calderon. ... And some people say the McCain Team has a tin ear! ... 1:16 A.M.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Klein Lives: Have the rules changed? Last Tuesday, Time's Joe Klein wrote:

The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives--people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary--plumped for this war, and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel.

Max Boot, Pete Wehner,   Jennifer Rubin, Paul Mirengoff  and Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League  all wrote confidently outraged responses to Klein's raising of the "divided loyalties" possibility--and, indeed, it's not the sort of assertion that has typically gone unpunished in the past. When Klein stubbornly  failed to back down in a second post, Wehner somewhat smugly anticipated his near-certain demise:

It's like watching a movie that you now know is going to end very badly, and very sadly.

But here's the thing: It's now a week later, and as far as I can tell Klein still has his job.  He's still blogging (wondering "why Lieberman is so fixated on Iran"). He hasn't been publically rebuked by his employer. He hasn't been forced to issue a groveling apology.

Can it be that the rules have changed? I suspect they have. And I think this is progress, for reasons outlined here and here. It should be possible to publicly debate whether some "Jewish neoconservatives," among others, too easily convinced themselves that America's and Israel's interests happily coincided in the prosecution of the war. Meanwhile, Foxman's view  that

Neoconservatives have the right to make their case without having their religion brought up.  ... [snip]  Religious beliefs are personal, and matters of faith belong in the heart, in the church and in the home

seems preposterously artificial. Note to Foxman: I worked at The New Republic! The magazine supported the war. I consider its editor, Martin Peretz, to be a friend and mentor. But if you think Marty's views are uninfluenced by his affinity for Israel--and that the views of many of the eminent neocons who visited our offices were uninfluenced by "matters of faith" and/or religious identity--then you don't know Marty and you don't know The New Republic. In fact, you're more than a bit clueless.  But you are not clueless.

This isn't to say that the decision to go to war in Iraq was necessarily wrong or right. It's not to say that "Jewish neoconservatives" were more than what Klein calls a "subsidiary" source of support for the war. It's not to say that anyone is more patriotic than anyone else.  The influence of pro-Israel sympathies (or pro-wherever sympathies) invariably takes the form of encouraging the belief that what you think is right for the United States is also what is right for Israel (or wherever), and vice-versa. But that only begins the discussion of whether this belief is itself distorted by those sympathies. It doesn't end it. At least it doesn't seem to any more. ...

Update: M.J. Rosenberg at TPM on Klein's "chutzpah." ...1:52 A.M. link

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Monday, June  30, 2008

Just Don't Hire Bangle: Schwarzenegger steals the new Tesla plant from New Mexico (and its governor, Bill Richardson). Tesla will now apparently attempt to build electric sedans in the S.F. Bay Area. ... P.S.: It's one thing to build a fast $100,000 two-seat sports car--the car nuts who buy it are probably willing to overlook a few flaws (as long as it goes from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds).  It's another to build "a mid-size sports sedan for $60,000, a competitor to the BMW 5-series and Jaguar XF " by the "end of 2009." Tesla is going up against decades of expertise in, for example, achieving both a supple ride and good handling. They'd need to set up a network of high-quality parts suppliers. Plus they need to sell in volume to bring the price down. Seems a longshot.  But I'm all for them trying.  ... 3:43 P.M. link

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P.S:  A friend emails: "Obama's KATRINA. A little dramatic?"  Maybe. Obama's record on "affordable housing," as described in the Globe story, isn't a case of gross ineptitude in a catastrophic regional emergency. It's not even a symbol of endemic governmental dysfunction. (Although: Is there a bigger Petri dish for corrupt incompetence than the "public-private partnership"? Think cable TV franchises.) But the Globe account does seem to capture what's most likely to be wrong with an Obama administration.  After all, Obama's career has been unusually limited for a presidential contender. Housing and "community development" has been a big part of it. If the result has been a disaster in which Obama's friends made lots of money while his poor constituents lived in dangerous squalor, that seems like a big warning sign, no? At least an expectations-lowerer! George W. Bush, in contrast, hadn't dedicated a large chunk of his life to FEMA. ... P.S.: Plus Valerie Jarrett, one of the people who comes off poorly in the article, remains a  central Obama advisor. It's as if Brownie had Karen Hughes' job. ...   3:16 A.M. link

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Bring Back Bode: Why not bring back Ken Bode to host Meet the Press? His Washington Week in Review was just getting really good when he was fired to make room for the anodyne Gwen Ifill. ... Bode's about as far away in style from Keith Olbermann as you can get, something that seems to be important to MTPers who see their show as a holdout against creeping cable culture. ... 2:43 A.M.

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Where's the "First"? McCain appears before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, as reported in Politico:

McCain, speaking first, promised the approximately 700 attendees that resurrecting the bipartisan immigration bill he helped shape last year would be at the forefront of his agenda as president.

"It would be my top priority yesterday, today and tomorrow," McCain said in response to a question about whether he would pursue a comprehensive approach beyond his campaign promise to secure the border in his first 100 days in office.

Seeking to win some points for his initial support for a comprehensive immigration bill, McCain noted that his position "wasn't very popular ... with some in my party."

And, in remarks that could inflame those Republican border hawks, the Arizona senator made clear he would not just seek to secure the border first, as he promised in the primary.

"We have to secure our borders — that's the message," McCain said. "But we also must proceed with a temporary worker program that is verifiable and truly temporary."

1) It looks as if the folks at The Corner are no longer in denial on whether McCain's "I got the message" talk during the primaries was a sincere shift to to a tougher stand on immigration.  It wasn't.

2)  Note that in the above remarks, and the  remarks highlighted by McCain campaign bloggerr Michael Goldfarb, the candidate says "we have to secure our borders" rather than "we have to secure our borders first."[E.A.] The missing "first" matters. With it, McCain's position sounds like Lou Dobbs'. Without it, McCain's position threaten to shade into full immediate support of semi-amnesty, with the inconsequential notation that of course reform wouldn't pass unless the public is convinced the borders are sufficiently "secure."  Comprehensivists have always claimed their legislation would secure the borders, remember. It's the "first" that made the difference for McCain, or seemed to.    

3) Is there any convincing evidence that actual Latino voters care as much about illegal immigrant legalization as Latino elected offiicials (or the journalists who cover them)?

4) Won't McCain's expedient abandonment of his expedient primary position produce loud conservative protests at the GOP convention? Does McCain worry about this--on the theory that discordant conventions make for losing presidential campaigns? Or does he welcome it, on the grounds that a noisy fight with his right wing would effectively distinguish him from his unpopular party (even though McCain's side in this fight would also be President Bush's)? ... 

Update: Mark Krikorian argues Obama is goading McCain into emphasizing "in increasingly strident terms his commitment to legalizing all the illegal aliens," which further inflames anti-legalization Republicans. McCain seems to be taking the bait, which would seem to make sense only if he hopes to win over, not just swing Latinos but also swing centrists of all ethnicities who've become allergic to the GOP. But is immigration the issue on which Mike Murphy's "white females and ticket-splitting independents" crave a break from Republican dogma? Aren't they equally uneasy about rushing to a Grand Comprehensivist Solution?  You'd think there would be more promising Souljah-esque, anti-base battlefields for McCain: Congressional corruption, excessive deregulation, stem cells and even abortion, no? ... 2:27 A.M. link

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Sunday, June  29, 2008

Isn't this the plot of House of Sand and Fog? It looks as if Cindy McCain's elderly aunt was a year away from having her San Diego house sold by local tax authorities (when McCain's trust failed to pay property taxes). Did Newsweek save her? ... [via HuffPo] 10:34 P.M.

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More flip-flops, please! ... [via Insta ] 1:38 A.M.

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