“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Many Deaths and Injuries in Pakistan Marriott Hotel Bombing

Explosion at Pakistan Marriott hotel kills 40

Sep 20 11:29 AM US/Eastern
Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Police say at least 40 people have died in a massive explosion that destroyed the luxury Marriott Hotel in Pakistan's capital.
Senior police official Asghar Raza Gardaizi said he fears there are dozens more dead inside.

He said that the Saturday blast, which reverberated throughout Islamabad, was caused by more than a ton of explosives.

The blast left a crater some 30 feet deep in front of the main building.

Flames poured from the windows of the hotel and rescuers ferried a stream of bloodied bodies from the gutted building.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP)—A massive truck bomb ripped through part of the heavily guarded Marriott Hotel in Pakistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 25—a toll expected to rise significantly.

Ahmad Latif, a senior police official, said it was one of the biggest terrorist strikes in Pakistan history.

The Marriott is a favorite place for foreigners to stay and socialize in Islamabad, despite repeated militant attacks. A security guard at the scene, Mohammad Nasir, and several witnesses said a large truck had driven toward the gate before exploding.

The blast left a vast crater, some 30 feet deep in front of the main building, where flames poured from the windows and rescuers ferried a stream of bloodied bodies from the gutted building.

Mohammad Sultan, a hotel employee, said he was in the lobby when something exploded, he fell down and everything temporarily went dark.

"I don't understand what it was, but it was like the world is finished," he said.

An Associated Press reporter counted at least nine bodies scattered at the scene. Scores of people, including foreigners, were running out—some of them stained with blood. At a hospital where many of the casualties were taken, official Raja Ejaz said at least two people had died and 25 were wounded.

Ambulances rushed to the area, where a fire burned, smoke hovered and the carcasses of vehicles were thrown about. Windows in buildings hundreds of yards away were shattered.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

But Pakistan, a U.S. ally in the war on terror, has faced a wave of militant violence in recent weeks following army-led offensives against insurgents in its border regions, though the capital has avoided most of the bloodshed.

In January 2007, a security guard blocked a suicide bomber who triggered a blast just outside the Marriott, killing the guard and wounding seven other people.


  1. It took Jesus a thousand years to die. Images of his corpse did not appear in churches until the tenth century. Why not? This question set us off on a five year pilgrimage that led to this book.

    Initially, we didn't believe it to be true. Surely the art historians were wrong. The crucified Christ was too important to Western Christianity. How could it be that images of Jesus's suffering and death were absent from the early churches? We had to see for ourselves and consider what this might mean.

    ...Jesus's suffering on the cross and his corpse did not appear in
    Christian art until the tenth century. We began this book because we were puzzled about his abscence. After all, the Gospels commit significant portions to describing the Crucifixtion in detail. They tell about Jesus's betrayal, trial, torture, execution, and burial in a cave. They expose how his male disciples abandoned him while the women stayed with him to the end....

    "Saving Paradise"

    Christian art until 1000AD was concerned not with death, and sacrifice, but with recognizing, and building paradise right here in this world.

    Contrasted with the muslims above, who from the git-go are involved in death and sacrific, and instituting what any sane person would regard as a hell on earth.

    Around 1400 years of it, and still going strong.

  2. Thanks for the Paki post, Deuce.

    We think we have problems in the good ol USA. Imagine being a Paki....Would not want to live there. Increasingly unhappy neighbors east and west and a growing cancer within.

    That car bomb this morning left a big hole in ground and The Paki people are standing at the edge of an even bigger crater. It certainly appears as though Pakistan is set to implode.

  3. Jeffrey Brown writing at the oil drum under the name Westexas.

    Nine exporters, with net exports of 500,000 bpd or more, showed declines from 2005 to 2007--Saudi Arabia, Norway, Iran, Kuwait, Nigeria, Venezuela, Mexico, Qatar and Oman (EIA). They collectively went from about 25 mbpd in 2005 to 22 mbpd in 2007. Of course, Saudi Arabia is showing an increase in net exports year over year, but to a rate well below their 2005 rate of 9.1 mbpd (probably around 8.4 mbpd for 2008), but the UK and Indonesia also showed brief one year increases in their terminal decline stages.

    In any case, the average combined net export decline for these nine was about 1.5 mbpd per year, which would put them collectively at around zero net oil exports around 2022.

  4. I, probably, should have included the explanatory paragraph that preceded the two I posted.

    Also, from Jeffrey:

    Some simplified net export math.

    One of the oddities of net export math is that the initial decline can, based on the model and recent case histories, be used to estimate the remaining cumulative net oil exports--since the declines approximate linear declines, i.e., approximately fixed volumetric declines per year, which is an accelerating decline rate. You just average the initial decline over a couple of years or so, and divide the net exports, at the approximate peak, by the average annual decline, to get the remaining years of net exports.

    He, also, didn't mention that Russia, and Canada seem to have "peaked," and are now, seemingly, starting into the "declining exports" mode.

    Don't let this Trend out of your sight, Folks. It's, way and far, the momentous occurence of the first half of the 21st Century.

  5. Gosh, they blocked the Americans from going after al-Qaeda in the border region, and this is how al-Qaeda pays Pakistan back? The ingrates!

  6. As for Pakistan, and Afghanistan?

    Well, folks, I'm sorry; but, they don't have any oil. I mean: If you don't have any oil, then, you just don't have any oil. Right?

  7. Gosh, they blocked the Americans from going after al-Qaeda in the border region, and this is how al-Qaeda pays Pakistan back? The ingrates!

    Au contraire, this is how Pakiland pays back America. They didn't target a mosque, they targeted a western watering hole.

  8. Au contraire, this is how Pakiland pays back America. They didn't target a mosque, they targeted a western watering hole.

    Now watch their business sink like a rock. "Travel to Pakistan and sell 'em vacuum cleaners? No way boss."

  9. Rufus, Dr. Bill was saying the other night there's still a lot left to explore around Anwar, and off the coast of Anwar too.We don't really know what's there, and it might be alot. But of course the democrats, and McNutz too, don't want to git-going. Only Palin has a clue, and knows it's a national security issue too.

  10. I think China should throw out all the "baby milk" they got from these guys.

  11. "Travel to Pakistan and sell 'em vacuum cleaners? No way boss."

    The only westerners traveling to Pakistan are expatriots and spies. Expatriots don't stay at the Marriott, they stay with family.

  12. This is an interesting story:

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks—many calling them "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles.

    Suppose you told the poll taker they were "industrious", "peace loving", "Non-violent" and every thing that goes wrong for them is someone else's responsibility, they would have to know you were having them on. Come onnnn.

  13. I'm beginning to think that nation building in Afghanistan "ain't going nowhere." Like casting pearls before swine.

    I also think the longer we stay there, the more opposition we'll draw. It's self defeating.

    Looks to me like we should just say to all them, "Goodbye, good luck. Leave us alone or we'll be back."

  14. Whit: Looks to me like we should just say to all them, "Goodbye, good luck. Leave us alone or we'll be back."

    Golly, Whit, you're starting to sound like a Pat Buchanan lesbian, except you're male.

  15. One of the oddities of net export math is that the initial decline can, based on the model and recent case histories, be used to estimate the remaining cumulative net oil exports--since the declines approximate linear declines, i.e., approximately fixed volumetric declines per year, which is an accelerating decline rate. You just average the initial decline over a couple of years or so, and divide the net exports, at the approximate peak, by the average annual decline, to get the remaining years of net exports.

    I'm bogging down trying to get up to speed on this because every link I find seems to bring me back to a wholly owned subsidiary of the Oil Drum. Jeffrey Brown's quote sounds suspiciously like the rhetoric of the global warming crowd, i.e., we're all going to drown when the ice us, we have models.

    No question about ultimate supplies possibly shrinking, but I can't buy into the zero net oil exports around 2022 projection based on his linear extrapolation. Y'all ought to know by now that nothin's as simple as linear's extrapolations.

    I'll keep lookin'.

  16. We don't have enough money or men in Afghanistan to make a difference.

    I recently heard a drought has resulted in disappointing crops for the farmers who were complying with the anti-poppy rules. The poppies would have made enough money to sustain them but...

    Without time, money and men, how do we change all this?

    Pearls before swine.

    As far as Pakistan goes, let them fight their own battles. If they're not willing to stand up to the Islamists, they will kneel before them.

    As Pakistan burns, let the world watch and learn.

  17. 2164th: WASHINGTON (AP) - Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks—many calling them "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles.

    The term Bradley effect, less commonly called the Wilder effect, refers to a frequently observed discrepancy between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in American political campaigns when a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. Named for Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in voter polls, the Bradley effect refers to a tendency on the part of white voters to tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for a Black candidate, when, on election day, they vote for his/her white opponent.

  18. Golly, Whit, you're starting to sound like a Pat Buchanan lesbian, except you're male.

    :( If that's the case, I'll have to give up blogging. :)

  19. "Goodbye, good luck. Leave us alone or we'll be back."

    Before or after their nukes are neutered?

  20. Dennis Miller was talking to Greg Guttfeld. They said that the left can't get worked up about bin Laden but go into a lather over Sara Palin.

  21. Before or after their nukes are neutered?

    Good question, what's our plan now?

  22. LT, we have the history of oil production in Texas, The Gulf of Mexico, The North Slope of Alaska, Mexico, Venezuela, The North Sea, Indonesia, and Venezuela, among others to draw from.

    It's, basically, just Geology. By knowing when production on a field began, what types of extraction techniques were used, the type of reservoir, etc. you can, usually, come pretty close to when a field will start declining, and how rapid the decline will be.

  23. Our plan now is to give the nuclear codes to a community organizer.

  24. It's been stated by the IEA, EIA, BP, and OPEC so far this year that the current fields, globally, are declining by about 5%, annually.

    This means we have to bring about 4 Million Barrels/Day online, annually, just to keep up with current production. Or, to put it differently, we have to discover another Saudi Arabia every Two Years.

    As you're looking around let the estimates of "Reserves" roll off your back. Always, look at potential Flow Rate. (It's NOT the size of the Keg, but the size of the "tap."

  25. To all those islamic nations that have support the palestinians right to murder jews with suicide bombers....

    Now that your chickens have come home to roost?

    FUCK YOU.....

    YOU have created, supported and financed these retards...


    ENJOY THE HELL you have created.

  26. India

    LeT, IM, SIMI behind blasts in Delhi, other cities

    ...He said Pakistan's ISI has lately "changed strategy" to rope in Indians to strike terror as it had "problems" internationally after LeT cadres were arrested.

    "So, they approached SIMI and Indian Mujahideen. They asked Tauqeer (one of top men of SIMI) and Atif to coordinate. Indian Mujahideen received funding and operational support from SIMI and both got support from LeT," Singh said.

  27. Both Afghanistan and India believe that Pakistan's ISI is a prime source of their terror problems. We have long known/thought that ISI was infiltrated but the real question is, "To what degree?"

  28. From Pakistan's Zardari to give up powers

    Zardari said the government had a "three-pronged strategy" to deal with extremism in tribal areas, including dialogue with law-abiding tribes, a development plan for the area and the use of force only as "the last resort."

  29. Maybe Patty Murray can fund the construction of day care centers for all those career moms in the tribal areas.

  30. The ISI is not "infiltrated" whit, you have it backwards. The ISI organizes the terrorists, trains them and does so pretty overtly.

    Ran Afghanistan through the Taliban.

    It is not a matter of infiltration, but of core values within the ISI.

  31. Mauritanian soldiers beheaded by Al Qaeda
    Published: Saturday 20 September 2008 20:23 UTC
    Last updated: Saturday 20 September 2008 20:52 UTC

    Twelve Mauritanian soldiers who were abducted on Monday have been found decapitated. They had been seized during a patrol in the north of the country. Al Qaeda's North African branch has claimed the attack. The killings come six weeks after a coup by the country's military, which has called for international support in what it says is its fight against terrorism in West Africa.

  32. If one were to believe that Dr Khan was using Pakistani Air Force planes to expedite the delivery to his clients those Pakistani military items of nuclear poliferation, without the knowledge of senior Pakistani military, while that military was in control of the Government....

    Then one could believe the ISI was infiltrated.

    But history seeingly tells another tale, entirely.

  33. Some days the dragon wins.

    Good on Zadari, though. It's been a long time in coming.

    The operators had just you in mind, whit. Got that response pegged.

  34. Meet the new boss; not the same as the old boss.

    We Just Had a Revolution
    Howard Simons

    09/19/08 - 02:58 PM EDT
    This post by Howard Simons originally appeared in RealMoney's Columnist Conversation earlier Friday. Click here for a free trial to RealMoney.

    We just had a revolution. No, that's not hyperbole. As Congress has abdicated its duties and the president has been more or less AWOL, the Secretary of the Treasury and the chairman of the Federal Reserve have been forced to fill the vacuum. We are passing diktats and spending hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars with little planning, no debate and no real understanding of the consequences.

    We got forced into this position of making short-term decisions under duress by lack of planning and by the lies and stupidity of parties too numerous to mention. I have no interest in playing the blame-game. But just as no one makes their best trading decisions under short-term duress, neither does anyone make their best policy decisions under duress.

    And, for the record, I recognize the first step in First Aid is "stop the bleeding." If you don't, there's no need to go on to Step Two, clearing the airways. Had we not undertaken massive actions under duress this week, we might be facing, in no particular order:

    1. Negative T-bill rates;
    2. The imminent disappearance of Morgan Stanley and quite possibly Goldman Sachs;
    3. The financial capital of the U.S. being in Charlotte, N.C., a nice city, if I might add; and
    4. A complete collapse of all short-term credit markets

    What will we pay for these short-term benefits? Once again, in no particular order:

    1. A stock market whose price cannot be trusted as it has been pushed here by massive government intervention;
    2. Home prices that will remain over market-clearing levels as they will be supported by the government. This will discourage new home buyers as price appreciation will be hard to come by;
    3. Dysfunctional options and futures markets, and quite likely the bankruptcy of more than one clearing firm. Today's expirations might have required short sales of stocks into options and futures positions, and those clearing firms are liable to The Options Clearing Corporation;
    4. Recognition that any future government bailout for a firm will involve wiping out of common shareholders. This will place the value of a stock lower as it raises the implied volatility of the at-the-money put option.
    5. Large-scale future restrictions on financial firms. Maybe I'm speaking for myself here, but I for one am awfully tired of one crisis after another. As Wall Street has proven incompetent in managing its risks and has turned itself into a ward of the state, it will be restricted in what it can do and how much it will be allowed to make in compensation.

    The implications of all of these nationalizations is going to take a while to absorb. We just had a revolution, an unplanned and accidental one at that. A week ago, Lehman and Merrill were self-standing firms, AIG was not a ward of the state and money market funds had no taxpayer-funded protections. A month ago, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in operation, and their preferred shares were part of many banks' capital base. Six and one-half months ago, Bear Stearns was still independent.

    It takes a while to recognize when your country has been conquered and those fellows in the uniforms speaking a different language are now in charge. It is a new world we are living in, one no one foresaw or intended.

  35. We just had a revolution, an unplanned and accidental one at that.

    Only if you're very naive and stupid, would you believe it was unplanned and accidental.

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. Whit--
    We have long known/thought that ISI was infiltrated but the real question is, "To what degree?"

    On my first take, I was hoping you meant we'd infiltrated ISI.

    Noted today that Zadari is attempting some reconciliation with India.

    I'll link if can find and worthwhile.

  38. Zardari hopes to recast ties with India

    “Will not allow violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty”

    ISLAMABAD: In a much awaited speech to Pakistan’s Parliament, President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday outlined that the government wants trade-driven relations with India, but also took care to reassure Kashmiris that they are not forgotten.
    “With India, the government believes that the relations between the two countries can and should be creatively reinvented,” said Mr. Zardari, setting forth the first detailed statement of the government on the difficult ties with New Delhi. Quoting from his assassinated wife Benazir Bhutto that it was time for “new ideas” and “bold commitment,” Mr. Zardari said the PPP was once labelled a national security risk for espousing peace with India and the region.

  39. I hate to keep picking on the guy but there's one hell of an odious McCain ad running on the cable channels that has him blathering about Wall Street greed.


  40. A bobal Coast to Coast alert:


    Sat 09.20 >>
    Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Peter Fenwick (book link) will discuss his work studying death & the unusual phenomena that accompany it

    If he talks as well as he writes you won't regret listening in tonight.

  41. Wow. From

    Facts about banks
    Tyler Cowen

    ...the total liabilities of Deutsche Bank (leverage ratio over 50!) amount to around 2,000 billion euro, (more than Fannie Mai) or over 80 % of the GDP of Germany. This is simply too much for the Bundesbank or even the German state to contemplate, given that the German budget is bound by the rules of the Stability pact and the German government cannot order (unlike the US Treasury) its central bank to issue more currency. The total liabilities of Barclays of around 1,300 billion pounds (leverage ratio over 60!) surpasses Britain’s GDP. Fortis bank, which has been in the news recently, has a leverage ratio of "only" 33, but its liabilities are several times larger than the GDP of its home country (Belgium).

    The Fed has possibly been bailing them out too (not necessarily by intention), as it is likely that some of these institutions had heavy exposure to the weaker U.S. institutions. Here is the link. Those failures should also put the U.S. regulatory failures in perspective. And what would happen if a big U.K. bank were on the verge of failing? Would the Fed have to step in there too? Contagion is contagion, as Aristotle once said...

    September 20, 2008 at 07:32

  42. Paulson, and Bernanke put in a "Good Week's Work," last week.

    I didn't want to say anything at the time, but there was, actually, a point, Wednesday night, I think it was, that I wondered if I was watching the start of the Greatest Financial Meltdown in 100 years.

    It was, honestly, starting to look a little "China Syndromish," to me.

  43. Trish: And what would happen if a big U.K. bank were on the verge of failing? Would the Fed have to step in there too?

    I read that the total size of the bailout was equal to 1/7th of the US GDP. And I remember in 1993 when Rush was crying about how Hillary wanted to nationalize 1/7 of the GDP for health care. At least there we would have had something in return for our tax dollars. Here the Wall Street mucky-mucks get out with their multi-million dollar golden parachutes and we're stuck with a lot of $525,000 mortgages for single family homes in San Luis Obispo that ought to be worth half that. The allegedly Republican Bush Administration just grew the federal government bigger again. Way bigger.

  44. Comrades, you too can be a 'street fighing man'---sign up now for

    Camp Obama

    Learn the newest 'in their face' tactics, propaganda lines, etc.

  45. And therein, Ms T, is the success of the Bush Legacy.

    The Boners have won, big time.

    Federal Socialists, in all but name.

    Protecting YOU, from the GREED of Wall Street.

    In and done, without even a discussion or debate.
    Let alone consensus on the cause.

  46. Just saw that odious commercial, trish.

    We are all Socialists, now.

  47. "Graduates of Camp Obama will go on to become Deputy Field Organizers"...

    Which would be =

    Stellvertretender Bereich Organisatoren

    according to my English/German translator

    though it doesn't sound quite right to me

  48. It'll take a few years, but you'll probably come out okay on the house in the end, T. (hmm, I'm not sure that came out just right.)

    Anyhoo, It probably won't come out costing us nearly as much as some of the numbers being bandied about. I'll refer you to Deuce's previous comment concerning a realistic "accounting."

    A reasonably regulated Capitalist System is a wonder to behold; but, it will get a bit nutz every so often. That's just the way people are.

  49. Romney's health care scheme must be working pretty good in Mass. I say this because, if it wasn't we would, surely, be hearing all about it.

    The Pubs should have gotten behind a plan like that. I can't think of a reason in the world why a young female would think she should vote for McCain.

  50. Sure it will, rufus.

    Show me one Federal "rescue" that has ever come in "Under Budget"

    The RTC, certainly did not.
    That doubled the original estimates.

  51. Because Ms Sarah, rufus, is a believer

  52. The two party system is a game. American democracy is a sham and a fraud. That's it for me. I'm signing out.

  53. I can't think of a reason in the world why a young female would think she should vote for McCain.

    I can't think of a reason in the world why a young responsible thinking female would think she should not vote for McCain, after he chose such a good American role model as Palin.

  54. Some serious issues are being decided in this election, Mat. Such as the US stance towards Israel.

  55. The Economist’s full review of David Freddoso's “The Case Against Barack Obama”

    The best part of the book concentrates on Mr Obama’s record in Chicago, his home town and the place from which he was elected to the Illinois state Senate in 1996, before moving to the United States Senate in 2004.

    The book lays out in detail how this period began in a way that should shock some of Mr Obama’s supporters:
    he won the Democratic nomination for his Illinois seat by getting a team of lawyers to throw all the other candidates off the ballot on various technicalities. One of those he threw off was a veteran black politician, a woman who helped him get started in politics in the first place.

    If Mr Obama really were the miracle-working, aisle-jumping, consensus-seeking new breed of politician his spin-doctors make him out to be, you would expect to see the evidence in these eight years. But there isn’t very much. Instead, as Mr Freddoso rather depressingly finds, Mr Obama spent the whole period without any visible sign of rocking the Democratic boat.

    He was a staunch backer of Richard Daley, who as mayor failed to stem the corruption that has made Chicago one of America’s most notorious cities. Nor did he lift a finger against John Stroger and his son Todd, who succeeded his father as president of Cook County’s Board of Commissioners shortly before Stroger senior died last January. Cook County, where Chicago is located, has been extensively criticised for corrupt practices by a federally appointed judge, Julia Nowicki.

    The full extent of Mr Obama’s close links with two toxic Chicago associates, a radical black preacher, Jeremiah Wright, and a crooked property developer, Antoin Rezko, is also laid out in detail. The Chicago section is probably the best part of the book, though the story continues: once he got to Washington, DC, Mr Obama’s record of voting with his party became one of the most solid in the capital. Mr Freddoso notes that he did little or nothing to help with some of the great bipartisan efforts of recent years, notably on immigration reform or in a complex battle over judicial nominations.

  56. We'll see, Rat. You're right, of course, about the RTC. But, other "Bail-outs" have actually been money-makers for the gov. It depends, I guess, on how tough Paulson hangs as to "purchase price" on the debt.

    I really can't lay the blame on the Pubs, any more than the Dems on this fiasco. It was, truly, a "Team" effort.

    Talk radio hosts, and pundits get all hyperbolic about "costs," sometimes, in a most disengenuous way. In this case, you've got to ask, "What was the Cost of Not doing it?" I propose that they could have been 1,000 times greater than those of doing the deed.

  57. Booming, in Mass job opportunities, it is not,

    For Immediate Release:
    August 14, 2008

    Massachusetts continues to see strong job growth in education and
    health services

    Employment Overview

    Education and health services added 3,600 jobs in July - its fourth consecutive monthly increase, and the second time over the last four months this substantial a gain was recorded.

    Financial activities ... sector is down 1,200 jobs from one year ago

    Trade, transportation and utilities jobs were unchanged over the month at 568,400. Employment in this super sector is down 3,300 from one year ago.

    Leisure and hospitality jobs were down 2,500 in July

    Information jobs were unchanged in July at 89,400. The information super sector has added 1,100 jobs over the past year

    Manufacturing jobs were off 2,400 in July. At 289,700, manufacturing employment is down 6,000

    Construction jobs were down by 500 in July. At 134,300, jobs are down 2,900

  58. By Drew Zahn
    Stan J. Liebowitz

    While many pundits are pointing to corporate greed and a lack of government regulation as the cause for the American mortgage and financial crisis, some analysts are saying it wasn't too little government intervention that cased the mortgage meltdown, but too much, in the form of activists compelling the government to pressure Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae into unsound – though politically correct – lending practices.

    "Home mortgages have been a political piñata for many decades," writes Stan J. Liebowitz, economics professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, in a chapter of his forthcoming book, Housing America: Building out of a Crisis.

    Liebowitz puts forward an explanation that he admits is "not consistent with the nasty-subprime-lender hypothesis currently considered to be the cause of the mortgage meltdown."

    In a nutshell, Liebowitz contends that the federal government over the last 20 years pushed the mortgage industry so hard to get minority homeownership up, that it undermined the country's financial foundation to achieve its goal.

    "In an attempt to increase homeownership, particularly by minorities and the less affluent, an attack on underwriting standards was undertaken by virtually every branch of the government since the early 1990s," Liebowitz writes. "The decline in mortgage underwriting standards was universally praised as 'innovation' in mortgage lending by regulators, academic specialists, (government-sponsored enterprises) and housing activists."

    He continues, "Although a seemingly noble goal, the tool chosen to achieve this goal was one that endangered the entire mortgage enterprise."

    "As homeownership rates increased there was self-congratulation all around," Liebowitz writes. "The community of regulators, academic specialists, and housing activists all reveled in the increase in homeownership."

    An article in the Los Angeles Times from the late '90s praised the sudden surge in homeownership among minorities, calling it "one of the hidden success stories of the Clinton era."

    John Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, however, claimed in a Fox News article yesterday that the success came at a great price.

    According to Lott, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston produced a manual in the early '90s that warned mortgage lenders to no longer deny urban and lower-income minority applicants on such "outdated" criteria as credit history, down payment or employment income.

    Furthermore, claims Lott, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac encouraged and praised lenders – like Countrywide and Bear Stearns – for adopting the slackened policies toward minority applicants.

    "Given these lending practices mandated by the Fed and encouraged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," writes Lott, "the resulting financial problems for financial institutions such as Countrywide and Bear Stearns are not too surprising."

    Liebowitz' contention that lenders were under pressure to loosen their standards for racial and political goals was confirmed years ago by the companies at the heart of today's crisis: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    A New York Times article from Sept. 1999 states that Fannie Mae had been under increasing pressure from the Clinton administration to expand mortgage loans among low- and moderate-income people and that the corporation loosened its lending requirements to comply.

    An ominous paragraph of the article reads, "In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980s."

    Liebowitz likewise predicted in a 1998 paper the risk of sacrificing sound financial policy for social activism.

    "After the warm fuzzy glow of 'flexible underwriting standards' has worn off," Liebowitz wrote, "we may discover that they are nothing more than standards that led to bad loans. … It will be ironic and unfortunate if minority applicants wind up paying a very heavy price for a misguided policy based on a badly mangled idea."

    And though some have speculated that lenders in the '90s dove into sub-prime mortgages in an effort to gouge new markets, the president and chief operating officer of Freddie Mac in 1999, David Glenn, confessed his company was pushed by a federal agenda.

    "The mortgage industry intends to pursue minorities with greater intensity as federal regulators turn up the heat to increase home ownership," Glenn said in his remarks at the annual convention of the Mortgage Banker Association of America.

    "The federal government in the meantime has increased pressure on lenders to seek out minorities, as well as low-income groups and borrowers with poor credit histories," Glenn said. "Fannie Mae recently reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to commit half its business to low- and moderate-income borrowers. That means half the mortgages bought by Fannie Mae would be from those income brackets."

    In that same year, Freddie Mac warned of the logical pitfalls of pursuing loans on the basis of skin color and not credit history.

    The Washington Post reported that the company conducted a study in which it was found that far more black people have bad credit than white people, even when both have the same incomes. In fact, the study showed a higher percentage of African Americans with incomes of $65,000 to $75,000 had bad credit than white Americans with incomes of below $25,000.

    Such data demonstrated that when federal regulators demanded parity between racial groups in lending, the only way to achieve a quota would be to begin making intentionally bad lending decisions.

    The study, however, came under brutal attack in the U.S. Congress and was ridiculed with charges of racism.

    A few years later, when Greg Mankiw, chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, voiced a warning about weakened underwriting standards, Congress rebuffed him as well.

    The Wall Street Journal quoted Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., in 2003 as criticizing Greg Mankiw "because he is worried about the tiny little matter of safety and soundness rather than 'concern about housing.'"

    Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, rejected a Bush administration and Congressional Republican plan for regulating the mortgage industry in 2003, saying, "These two entities – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – are not facing any kind of financial crisis." According to a New York Times article, Frank added, "The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."

  59. Some serious issues are being decided in this election, Mat. Such as the US stance towards Israel.

    That's not a serious issue, Bob. Israel shouldn't even be a peripheral issue.

  60. I quess we could compare American democracy to the Israeli variety, where everyone is honest, and the people's will is immediately and clearly translated into effective action. :)

  61. It was a TEAM effort, no doubt.

    Just whose TEAM it was though, that's open to discussion.

  62. Israel shouldn't even be a peripheral issue.

    That's about all it seems to be in this campaign, really, you don't hear about it much. Much more about baby Trig, and such. But it's serious to those involved nonetheless, and the two candidates would react very differently to future events in the mid-east, I believe. All the muzzies are praying allah that Obama prevails, which tells me something.

  63. It was not the loans or the requirements to make them that caused the Fannie and Freddie and the other players to repackage those B&C rated loans as AAA, bob.

    It was not.

    Really and truly doubt the Feds "forced" them to do it.

    It was a lack of RESPONSIBLE over sight that allowed it.

  64. Never ascribe to "Conspiracy," Rat, that which can more easily be explained by Incompetence, or sheer ignorance.

  65. Another serious issue is whether we're going whole hog statism, or stear away from it a little. As also supreme court nominations. There are plenty of serious issues on the table behind the slogans. Energy, too. Obama following the dem leadership position. Which is killing us.

  66. I don't think our government is competent enough, dem or pub or both together, to pull off a really good conspiracy.

    A good conspiracy is a work of art.

  67. This statement, as written, is a lie, bob.

    Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, rejected a Bush administration and Congressional Republican plan for regulating the mortgage industry in 2003 ...

    A flat out lie.

    In 2003 Barney was the Ranking Memeber, not the Chairman.

    As Ranking Member, he was in the MINORITY. He could not have, even with all the other Dems at his side, overcome serious GOP opposition to his position.

    He did not have the votes.

  68. A Union of 51, or 58 states.

    Bush: U.S. Citizens to Welcome Our 51 State
    by Scott Ott

    (2008-09-20) — Although it cost more than the Louisiana Purchase and the Alaska purchase combined and offers far less acreage, President George Bush today said he thinks “U.S. citizens will welcome our 51 state with open arms.”

    The announcement that the financial realm collectively known as “Wall Street” had applied for statehood follows a week in which the federal government took control of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and insurance megalith AIG. It also comes as news breaks that the U.S. plans to spend up to a $1 trillion to “rescue” other foundering financial firms.

    President Bush noted that the newest state is not so much a geographical swath of land as it is “a state of mind.”

    “Once the statehood process is complete,” the president said, “We will find that the people of Wall State are just like those in the rest of our great nation. They’re hard-working, industrious and patriotically-dependent upon the centralized government to insulate them from the consequences of their own actions.”

  69. Well, yeah, the Dems had 40 votes, good, and true in the Senate, Rat. That was all they needed.

  70. Picking incompetents to do the job, is part of a conspiracy of fools, rufus.

    Of which Mr Bush leads the pack. Brownie, at FEMA, exemplifies the true nature of his Administration.

  71. I never stand by anything I post, Rat. :)

    It does appear you are right on that. He couldn't have been chairman at the time.

  72. There was no filibuster, rufus.

    The Dems had all the help they needed, from the ranks of the Pubs.

  73. I quess we could compare American democracy to the Israeli variety, where everyone is honest, and the people's will is immediately and clearly translated into effective action. :)

    Israeli politics and today's Israeli politician is as dirty as any out there, no doubt. But the Israeli system can at least produce a real palette of choices, and the Israeli voter has a real voice in what the menu of choices looks like. You only need 2% of the popular vote to get a political party a seat in the Israeli Knesset, and thereby get a voting voice in the country's affairs.

  74. An Obama administration should prove to be a gift from heaven for those who criticize Bush for every last thing. An even greater and unending target rich environment, with ever greater reaches of sleeze oozing out the edges, all waiting to be discovered.

    Mayb I should sign up for Camp Obama now, while they still could use me, rather than involuntarily later, when I may be an inmate of said camp, looking out, rather than in.

  75. Funny, the little fellow, who was never "serious", he saw it coming, too.

    Fannie and Freddie

    by Rep. Ron Paul, MD
    September 10, 2003

    Ironically, by transferring the risk of a widespread mortgage default, the government increases the likelihood of a painful crash in the housing market. This is because the special privileges granted to Fannie and Freddie have distorted the housing market by allowing them to attract capital they could not attract under pure market conditions. As a result, capital is diverted from its most productive use into housing. This reduces the efficacy of the entire market and thus reduces the standard of living of all Americans.

    Despite the long-term damage to the economy inflicted by the government's interference in the housing market, the government's policy of diverting capital to other uses creates a short-term boom in housing. Like all artificially-created bubbles, the boom in housing prices cannot last forever. When housing prices fall, homeowners will experience difficulty as their equity is wiped out. Furthermore, the holders of the mortgage debt will also have a loss. These losses will be greater than they would have otherwise been had government policy not actively encouraged over-investment in housing.

    Perhaps the Federal Reserve can stave off the day of reckoning by purchasing GSE debt and pumping liquidity into the housing market, but this cannot hold off the inevitable drop in the housing market forever. In fact, postponing the necessary, but painful market corrections will only deepen the inevitable fall. The more people invested in the market, the greater the effects across the economy when the bubble bursts.

  76. "The Obama that emerges from its pages is not, Mr Freddoso says,
    a bad person. It’s just that he’s like all the rest of them."
    How far we've come in striving to never be judgmental!
    If one of us white folk sent our young children to KKK Auxilary Bible Studies, can anyone seriously believe we would not be roundly condemned not only by Liberals, but by fellow "conservatives?"
    (quotation marks to denote my lack of belief that a true conservative can be non-judgmental in all things.)
    Trish was highly offended by my insensitive language re:
    Illegal Aliens, yet professes not to be put off by Barry's family's attendance at Wright's Temple of Hate.

  77. Mat, sometimes I think a parliament might have some real advantages, but, it's academic, we have what our fathers wrote, and we can't change it without Constitutional amendments, a laborious, and very risky, business.

    Every once in a while we have calls for a new constitutional convention. Which I think might let all the bats out of hell. The idea never goes anywhere, however.

  78. That's about the time President Bush was calling attention to the problem and proposing a solution, 'Rat.

  79. The WaPo thinks Dems are more implicated than Pubs, but not some Bar attendees!

  80. If I sell drugs to kids, and you try, but fail, to stop me, we are both equally guilty?

  81. Could it depend, Doug, on how hard I try?

  82. This comment has been removed by the author.

  83. I don't think the vast majority of Pubs ever thought there was that much danger in Fanny, and Freddy.

    Remember, They ARE "The Party of Stupid."

  84. Bob,

    From what I understand, the two party monopoly on the American political system is NOT what founding fathers had in mind.

  85. Look to held the power, doug.

    Not who you want to blame.
    The GOP was riding rough shod over the Dems in '03. If they had wanted to change the Game, in a signifigant way, they could have.

    That famous Barney Frank, he told US, as Ranking Member that:

    that the key Bush Administration’s initiatives have not produced a single new homebuyer. The president’s signature down payment assistance program has not yet begun and provisions allowing low-income Americans to use Section 8 vouchers for down payments have been stalled at HUD. Also, despite enactment of more than $1.8 trillion-worth of tax cuts, the Administration failed to move on its Single Family Tax Credit proposal. These activities have occurred in an economic climate that has reduced housing opportunities for low- to moderate-income people overall. While homeownership is recognized as a sign of upward mobility, this administration has pursued policies that impede economic advancement that can lead to increased homeownership.

    “The hypocrisy of the Bush Administration is just staggering,” added Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Housing and Community Opportunity Sub-Committee. “Feel Good” rhetoric about the importance of homeownership is being used as a smokescreen to hide the fact this Administration is starving federal housing programs.”

    The members also pointed to the fact that last year’s bipartisan bill that would have authorized down payment assistance was killed at the initiation of the Administration and to its efforts to slash funding for various housing programs that assist low- and moderate-income renters such as the HOPE VI public housing revitalization program and the Section 8 housing voucher program. Although the Administration’s efforts to end the successful HOPE VI program may be thwarted, Republicans still blocked Democrats’ attempt to include language providing homeownership counseling and foreclosure prevention assistance in legislation approved in May.

  86. Sure is getting dark early now. It's only 7:30pm here, and dark, already. I feel the old ancient rhythm. So I listen to ancient music. (Pound was an Idaho boy, for awhile)

    Ancient Music
    by Ezra Pound

    Sing goddamn, damn. Sing goddamn!
    Sing goddamn, damn. Sing goddamn!

    Winter is i-cumin in,
    Lhude sing goddamn!
    Raineth drop and staineth slop
    And how the wind doth ram
    Sing goddamn!

    Skiddth bus and sloppeth us,
    An ague hath my ham
    Freezeth river, turneth liver,
    Damn you, sing goddamn.
    Goddamn, goddamn, tis why I am goddamn,
    So gainst the winter's balm.

    Sing goddamn, sing goddamn, DAMN!

  87. Good ol' Barney, a man to trust. Running a male homo call ring out of his apartment. Good ol' Barney.

  88. As rufus said, before it was deleted by him

    It depends upon how hard I try, doug, to stop you from selling the drugs.

  89. The early boys, some of them, didn't want parties at all, Mat. But that was two hundred fifty years ago, now we got 300 million people and 57 states. The parties sprang up, like it or not, almost immediately, like evil mushrooms.

  90. As exemplified, doug, by closing the import routes, across the southern frontier. Not.

    So how much credit is deserved, for lip service, not backed by performance?

  91. Champignon de mal- evil mushroom.

    I remember when the Idado legislature met once for a couple months, every two years.

    Now the legislative doors are open pretty much year round.

    Was good, now heap shit.

  92. I didn't delete that comment, Rat. It's still up.

  93. mea cuopa, I mistook 10:44 for 10:43

  94. From 2003

    Mortgage Delinquency and Foreclosure Rates Have Soared

    The percentage of all loans in foreclosure rose 39% since the Administration took office (from 0.85% to 1.18%). [Source: MBAA Data compares 4th quarter, 2000 and 4th quarter 2002]

    · The percentage of loans 90 days delinquent rose 26% since the Administration took office [from .62% to .78%]. [Source: MBAA Data compares 4th quarter, 2000 and 4th quarter 2002]

  95. All the lost value, in those home foreclosed upon, is only around $25 Billion.

    To "fix" that challenge, a $500 Billion bail out is proposed and welcomed across the board.

    That is more than either incompetence or foolishness, I'm afraid.

  96. evil mushrooms

    It does seem like a bad trip. :)

  97. 39% of Sales in Calif. last month were foreclosures.

  98. I was talking about the Freddie and Fannie Affairs.
    With the Congressional Black Caucus, it was more like a Brothel Business.

  99. But sales have cratered, doug.

    Not to be used as a baseline for foreclosures. Excempt as a reason not to build a new house.

    No, foreclosure impact is measured against all the outstanding loans, not just current sales.

  100. Fraudie and Fannie, there is a major element of truth, there.

    But the President never made a real issue of it, prior.
    Just some lip service.

  101. Maybe the Dems, in 2003, had the right answer, help those about to be foreclosed upon.

    Another unknowable, aye?

  102. The "bail out" then, would have been a tad less costly, but the repackaging, the true cancer in the system would have kept growing, more than likely

  103. The Dems musta been right:
    They got the majority of the Campaign Funding by Friendly Freddie.

  104. Calif. Sales UP, 13 percent, over last Sept, due to cratering prices @ foreclosure.

  105. California Sales Up, Prices Down, 47% of Sales Foreclosures :
    It looks like the great flush out of the California real estate market is underway. August, 2008

  106. This comment has been removed by the author.

  107. FLORIDA:

    "The statewide median sales price for third quarter 2005 rose 31 percent to $248,600; a year ago, it was $189,900. For third quarter 2000, the statewide median sales price of existing single-family homes was $119,700, which translates as an increase of about 107.6 percent over the five-year period. "

  108. Southern California Real Estate Bubble Crash Blog

    "It took me a while to believe my eyes, so I’ll sum it up as this:

    Insured jumbo debt is loaned at 5.875%.
    Banks are demanding 8.0% for the same money.

    Without a rescue of FNM and FRE, the housing market would have effectively shut down… and that was before the AIG action today.

    I have never in my life seen a spread between jumbo loan money this high (over 2%). Considering the current crash and asset deflation, there is no way that I can call rising interest rates; I just don’t see it, and perhaps my blinders are on, but I can’t see bank credit going any further out of whack than it is right now.

    In light of all of the Sunday action, I have dedicated this song to the post:

  109. Well, keep the faith, folks. The game has changed, but, probably not so much as you'll notice it.

    The Republic is safe for another year, maybe. 93.9% of those who want to work are working; and the Army's still strong.

    We're likely to get a Dem President; but we survived Carter, Nixon, Ford, and LBJ. We'll survive this one. In fact, this street hustler is just slick, and slimey enough he might be a decent President. At least he has a comprehensible energy policy.

    Hope we end up with a sensible Health Insurance Program. If we don't it's Our fault. We should have done it ourselves; Then we could have semi-controlled the outcome.

    We could end up with McNutz; but be careful what you pray for. He IS awfully damned dumb.


  110. At least he has a comprehensible energy policy.

    jeez Ruf, he's really got no energy policy a tall.

    Just the dem leadership policy. Which got us where we are.

  111. Just say
    "Socialized Ethanol"
    Rufus gets a hardon.

  112. The Islamabad Marriott's vaporized inside.

    Good luck to Zadari; he's got a tough row to hoe. Ours is a hell of a lot easier now.

    Rufus has rarely been right about anything, bless his heart. No reason to believe he's right now.

  113. Kewl:

  114. Although, during an equinox, every place on Earth experiences an equal length day and night (12 hours each), this fact has no practical effect on egg stability

    This picture represents how I imagine Mat spending his free time:)

    What with all the crazy videos he posts:)

    Some of which are pretty funny.

  115. Mat, you ought to repost that hilarious video of those two Englishmen talking about bundling financial instruments and such, would fit in with the last few days discussions.

  116. :)
    Me gets da crack.

    Speaking of which..

  117. This cracked me up!

    - The Silent generation, people born before 1946.
    - Baby Boomers, people born between 1946 and 1959.
    - Generation X, people born between 1960 and 1979.
    - Generation Y, people born between 1980 and 1995.

    Why generation Y?

    A caricaturist explains the ass crack rather eloquently.

  118. heheheh--Thanks, Mat!
    That was the one.
    Those guys had it figured.

    dodgy debt = SIV (Structured Investment Vehicle)

  119. In April, David Berlinski, a secular Jew and well-known skeptic of Darwinism, who holds a Ph. D. in Philosophy from Princeton and has written widely on mathematics and science, published "The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions." The book defends religion by attacking atheism's attempt to enlist science in its cause.

    That's fine. But I'd be more interested in the sequel. "The Devil's Diktat: Theism and Its Political Pretensions."

  120. Bill Roggio:

    "US military and intelligence officials wonder how long the strikes can continue. The Pakistanis may get serious and close the Torkham and Chaman crossing points to NATO traffic for extended periods..."


    "In testimony yesterday to Congress, Admiral Mullen announced a review of war strategy in the Afghan-Pakistan theater. A comprehensive review of the NATO-U.S. strategy should toss out the assumption that the Coalition will be able to supply its forces and the Afghan reconstruction effort through Pakistan. It is unrealistic to plan on a stepped-up missile and direct action campaign inside Pakistan and also plan on a free flow of large daily supply convoys from Karachi through the Khyber Pass."


    "We are a gnats ass away from having the new Paki Gov and the rising masses of radicals sever the last logistic line into the Hindu Kush. Then we would only have limited air supply on a logistics fleet Bush has happily been burning out airframe limit time from, and not replacing unairworthy planes."

    This particular bit of hand-wringing has insinuated itself on left and right. The thing is, it's a smokescreen.

    We've been in and out of Pakistan in a more or less high profile fashion almost every other day for two weeks. That's not going to let up. We have a nascent government that we're working with and against simultaneously. Hoping to educate it, so to speak.

    More important than any deal we cut, and I'm sure we did - there was compensation somewhere - is the fact that they can't cut us off. It's just too costly. And the militants can't swing it.

    *Were* the supremely improbable to occur, we'd have Antanovs landing at Bagram. They're still contracting.

    Fodder for the masses is what it is. And after eight years, you'd think we'd be able to smell the BS.

    I guess not.

  121. Good to hear, Trish.

    Who's flying those Antanovs?
    (I think Canoneer told me once, but I forgot)

  122. Do surgeons give the patient their Miranda Rights Prior to cardiac arrest, LaBob?

  123. Yup, it's always the same, Doug.

    Shoot the pusher.

    I heard they tell 'em to take heart, and keep their mouths shut.

    You're missing some good bumper music on C2C tonight.

    Good night. I'm falling asleep in my chair.

  124. "Who's flying those Antanovs?"

    The *contractors*.

    Couldn't have done Iraq without them.

  125. "I heard they tell 'em to take heart, and keep their mouths shut."


  126. From Ace link comment:

    True story -

    A friend who's become a sudden Alinskyite Republican-Basher's been on a tear, not wanting to discuss any of Barack's shortcomings, insisting on coming up with reasons to not vote for Republicans.

    He brought up "the Bridge to Nowhere" with a couple of yucks - I finally tee'd off on him - thanks to Patterico's postings:

    "Look [friend's name] Palin changed the "Bridge to Nowhere" project to a "Road to the Fucking Ferry" project - because the fucking people on the fucking island needed a fucking way to get to the town and a road seemed like a pretty goddamned good idea - so the road wasn't to "nowhere" it went to the water's edge which is where a BOAT which transports CARS would dock and the cars would then drive off the boat and onto the fucking road that Palin had built using the fucking money.

    Also, Palin didn't tell "Congress" she didn't want the money - she told Alaska's Congressional Delegation she didn't want the money. The Congressmen from Alaska got the funding for the project.

    Get me a beer, jackass.

    And he did.

    So ace's strategy can work.

  127. "The Fed has possibly been bailing them out too (not necessarily by intention), as it is likely that some of these institutions had heavy exposure to the weaker U.S. institutions."

    "[The U.S.] sought to keep the world prosperous by deliberate inflation of the money supply. This was osmething made possibly by the pre-war creation fo the Federal Reserve Bank system, and which could be done secretly, without legislative enactment or control, and without public knowing or caring. It did not involve printing money...but the expansion of total money supply, in money substitutes or credit, was enormous...

    This deliberate interference in the supply and cost of money was used in the 1920s not merely to promote its original aim, the expansion of US business, but to pursue a supposedly benevolent international policy. While the government demanded the repayment of its war-loans, it actively assisted foreign governments and businesses to raise money in New York both by its own cheap money policy and by constant, active interference in the foreign bond market. The government made it quite clear that it favoured certain loans and not others...The basic unsoundness of much of the foreign loan market was one of the principal elements in the collapse of confidence and the spread of the recession to Europe. And the unsoundness was the consequence not, indeed, of government laissez-faire but of the opposite: persistent government meddling."

    -Paul Johnson, Modern Times (Fantastic book)

  128. Verc! ?

    18 I'm not calling or emailing anyone. Sorry. No politics, no religion between my friends and family; I'd like to keep them.

    But I have a better ideer: Samizdat. A newsletter, if you'd like. Something of value to send along and to forward on.

    Posted by: Vercingetorix

  129. Slade's link I posted above:

    "“The key problem on this side of the Atlantic is that the largest European banks have become not only too big to fail but also too big to be saved. For example, the total liabilities of Deutsche Bank (leverage ratio over 50!) amount to around 2,000 billion euro, (more than Fannie Mai) or over 80 % of the GDP of Germany. This is simply too much for the Bundesbank or even the German state to contemplate, given that the German budget is bound by the rules of the Stability pact and the German government cannot order (unlike the US Treasury) its central bank to issue more currency.”

    I have no expertise in finance. I presume this means if Deutsche Bank folded then it would take down Germany with it. Therefore the ECB will have to bail out Deutsche Bank just as the Federal Reserve is bailing out the American banks. The Europeans will be in the same boat with the US with the taxpayers owning trillions of dollars worth of bad debt. It appears that a large fraction (most?) of the world’s banking system is being nationalized.

  130. Contrary to local opinion we don't have the airlift, owned or contracted, to sustain 50,000 troops in Afghanistan, particularly at the devil may care logistics tempo we operate at today.

  131. This comment has been removed by the author.

  132. Let me put that another way:

    The odds of Pakistan cutting us off are comically small.

    In the event that they would, we will find a way to find a way. Because that's what we do.

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