Short history of banking

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader always enjoys the Wall Street Journal opinion pages. They have thoughtful commentary and are almost always educational.

To wit: today’s piece by John Steele Gordon entitled “A Short Banking History of the United States.” In the piece Gordon lays the blame for the current financial crisis squarely at the feet of the responsible party… Here is the quotation:

How could the richest and most productive economy the world has ever known have a financial system so prone to periodic and catastrophic break down? One answer is the baleful influence of Thomas Jefferson.

Read the whole piece.

Although your Maximum Leader doubts that either John McCain or Barack Obama will start casting aspersions at TJ, your Maximum Leader will.

(Shakes fist at sky) “Damn your eyes Thomas Jefferson for our current banking crisis!”

There you go…

Carry on.

Sorta funny

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was out at lunch today with a good friend. Talk turned, as it does, to politics. We lamented McCain’s campaign not seeming to have lots of life. We lamented the press coverage being generally more supportive and positive towards Obama.

Then we spoke about Sarah Palin. We both agreed that we liked her politics. As hormonally normal men we agreed that she was good looking. The conversation went like this:

Max Ldr: That Sarah Palin is sexy. She’s got that hot librarian vibe going on.

Friend of Max Ldr: Yup. She’s a V-PILF.

Max Ldr: Yes. Could be first one.

F of ML: Nope. Would be second one.

Max Ldr: Really.

F of ML: Really.

Max Ldr: Who was the first one?

F of ML: Nixon.

Max Ldr: Of course.

That little exchange has made me smile and laugh all damned day.

Carry on.

McCain/Obama Part Deux

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has gotten a few earfulls from you all on his last post… Look, allow him to restate… He believes that given time and some learning, Sarah Palin will a fine Vice-President. She will be able to step into the office of President if the situation requires it after gaining some experience. If she didn’t do well in her debate last week he was ready to kick her to the curb as being a liability to the ticket. She did fine, and while she isn’t exactly perfect she is okay in the number 2 spot.

So… You may be asking yourself, “Self, where has my Maximum Leader been? What has he been doing?” Well… Over the weekend he wiped the hard drive on his computer, reinstalled Windows XP and has been recovering stuff. He hasn’t finished yet. He was going to work on it Monday night and yesterday… But fate conspired against him. The Wee Villain has been sick. (Sinus infection and strep throat.) So that has thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into your Maximum Leader’s plans. But that was Monday. Yesterday was something else all together.

Yesterday, your Maximum Leader and Villainette #2 went on a field trip. Well… It was actually a school field trip where your Maximum Leader was one of the adult chaperones. We went to…

Jamestown VA. (Clicken to embiggen if you care to.)

It was a great day. Kids were well mannered and attentive. The buses were comfy (PTA helps and rents the nice big motor coaches for the long field trips - this one was 2 hrs each way). The day was beautiful. It was a good day all in all.

When your Maximum Leader returned to the Villainschloss, he got himself some dinner. He helped with homework. Then he got comfy and waited for the main TV event… McCain/Obama part 2.

Your Maximum Leader thought that McCain would come out and kill Obama last night. That didn’t happen. The McCain supporter in your Maximum Leader wants to award the win to McCain, but the rational observer came away thinking that neither man scored the knockout that we all hoped for. Mrs Villain, a better barometer of the “typical voter” than your Maximum Leader, thought that the debate was boring and that neither man answered any question put to them. She was annoyed by the rehersed answers to every question. She thought that Brokaw was annoying and a distraction. Your Maximum Leader in fact agrees that Brokaw was a distraction; as well as a poor moderator. Of 80 questions in the hall (and something like 6,000,000 submitted on-line) the ones actually asked were the “best” ones? Your Maximum Leader finds that hard to believe. The questions were boring and allowed both men to give their standard stump speeches for the most part. Couldn’t we have had more of the unusual questions? The “what don’t you know” question was okay, but it set up the whole “can’t see the future” answer. Your Maximum Leader would have prefered to have more questions like “is healthcare a right?” Those types of questions give insight into the candidate’s thinking and beliefs. You could have had a great debate by just throwing out those questions. Additionally, the “offbeat” questions are less likely to elicit a standard response.

If one has to choose “big” moments in the debate your Maximum Leader would say that McCain scored twice when he first announced that he would seek to increase the standard deduction for dependents to $7000 (from $3500) and he scored a second time when he said that he would have the government buy up mortgages. Obama had one big score when he hit McCain with the whole “Bomb Iran” thing. That is an appropriate character attack that might resonate with people.

Now, as for the two memorable points for McCain… Your Maximum Leader is almost always up for a tax cut. He believes that a standard deduction increase is probably okay. He also believes that keeping the “Bush tax cuts” is a good thing. At this point what people need (in addition to confidence) is stability. Lets not go screwing with stuff that we don’t have to screw with. At this point major changes to the tax code are likely unwise. Not just from a revenue perspective, but from the stability perspective. You might be promised a tax cut, but until you know exactly what is in a tax bill you don’t know. Why not just leave things like they are while we focus on other messes.

Now… The “other messes” to which your Maximum Leader just referred might include this whole “government buying up mortgages and refinancing them” plan that McCain seemed to unleash on everyone last night. So, in addition to buying bad mortgages from banks and other institutions (as part of the rescue plan that was just accomplished) we are also going to go directly to homeowners and refinance their mortgages? That doesn’t seem very wise, nor does it seem fiscally prudent. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t really know why we should be too concerned with fiscal prudence given both the size and scope of the rescue package (as well as the past 8 years of spending). This strikes your Maximum Leader as being just too much intervention. How is this going to be done. Are Fannie and Freddie going to be completely nationalized and we have a Mortgage Bank of the United States? Everyone just sign up for mortgages with the US Treasury? That doesn’t seem too smart. People might like the plan, but it seems like a bad idea.

All in all it looks like we will have to wait until next week to see if either man can deliver a solid knock-out to the other.

Carry on.

Well that was fun

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader needs to make a little confession. Last night before the Veep debate your Maximum Leader was on the verge kicking Sarah Palin to the proverbial curb. After a poor performance with Charlie Gibson, an okay performance with Sean Hannity, and a really really really bad performance with Katie Couric your Maximum Leader was about to give up on Sarah Palin.

After last night’s debate, not so much.

Your Maximum Leader believes that Sarah Palin is teachable. She can come up to speed on the issues. She has a core set of beliefs that can guide her in decision making. She is a remarkably able political figure. She needs polish. She needs a litle more finesse.

So… Your Maximum Leader thought that Sarah Palin exceeded expectations. By that (low) criteria she could be judged to have “won” the debate. All in all, your Maximum Leader thinks that both Veep wanna-bes did exactly what they had to do. They attacked the other presidential candidate. They articulated the talking points of their campaigns. They did no harm. The best think that can be said about the debate is that it took the Veeps out of the mix. Argueably, much more will hinge on McCain and Obama’s performances in the next two debates.

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that either Palin or Biden convinced an undecided voter of anything. They effectively pushed the debates on to the next level - the top of the ticket level - which is where it should be.

On partisan points… If one was disinclined to like Palin or Biden you came away with all the ammo you needed to say what you were already predisposed to say. For every Democratic partisan who says that Palin was too familiar, too cute, or too winky you will find a Republican partisan who will say that Biden was stiff, senatorial, and exaggerated. Your Maximum Leader finds that people he considers “normal” voters (not the acute political observers like himself) were not put out by the demeanor of either candidate.

So… In the end has your Maximum Leader changed his mind on anything as a result of this debate? Not exactly. His view has clarified in a number of ways however. He’s always thought that Biden was the right guy for Barack Obama - nothing has changed that. As far as Sarah Palin goes… Your Maximum Leader doesn’t believe that she is ready to be President on January 20, 2009. She is ready for a national stage, and with some experience and learning she would probably be a fine Vice President. He still has concerns about the whole trooper story that is lingering out there. Would your Maximum Leader have chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate? No he would not have done so. Did McCain make a mistake in choosing her? No. McCain made a calculated political choice that has helped him in an area in which he needed help. No person aspiring to be president seriously contemplates his own death and then makes up their mind on a Vice Presidential pick. They do political math and make a choice. That is what McCain did. Frankly, that is what Presidential candidates have been doing since they have had to make the choice.

Will this verdict on Palin change your Maximum Leader’s vote for McCain? No. It will not.

In case you were wondering.

Carry on.

Stevens’ mistrial?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is quite surprised to read the headline in the Washington Post declaring: Judge Could Dismiss Stevens’ Indictment or Declare Mistrial.

Your Maximum Leader can’t say as he was following the Ted Stevens case too closely. Indeed, after initial press reports, he sort of figured that Stevens was toasted and there wasn’t much more to know. Boy was he wrong! What is up with prosecutors holding on to exclupatory evidence? This seems to happen quite a bit. (Perhaps it is just TV where it happens…) The piece in the Post starts off:

A federal judge this morning scolded lawyers prosecuting Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) on ethics charges for waiting until the last minute to disclose potentially exculpatory material and said he would hear arguments today from defense attorneys about whether to dismiss the indictment or declare a mistrial.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said the powerful 40-year senator “would not be getting a fair trial if it were up to the government.” He halted trial testimony so lawyers could prepare for a 4:30 p.m. hearing on motions to end the case or impose sanctions on the government.

The potentially exculpatory material involves remarks by the executive, Bill Allen, a key prosecution witness, who said he believed Stevens would have paid for the renovations if Allen had ever billed him. Attorneys for the government did not disclose those remarks until late yesterday.

The article goes on to imply that Stevens actually asked for bills (while making an off-hand comment about breaking ethics laws if no bill came). This is singularly at odds with your Maximum Leader’s understanding of the case. But, as your Maximum Leader said, he’s not been paying close attention to the whole deal since he (wrongfully) assumed that the Feds had Ted Stevens’ number.

This gets interesting now. One can suppose that if the judge throws out the charges and sanctions the prosecutors that Stevens might cruise on to another term in the Senate. Interesting…

Carry on.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will be ready with scotch in hand when the Vice President Candidates square off tonight. He will not live-blog anything (as he isn’t a live-blogging type of guy; and his computer at home is still on the fritz - long story). But he will be very interested to see what happens.

Biden needs to keep his answers short and direct. He needs to attack McCain and not seem condecending to Palin.

Palin needs to give accurate and cogent answers. She needs to attack Obama and not appear stupid or over her head.

It all seems so simple… But it will actually be quite hard - for both candidates.

This is the first political event since summer that has really excited your Maximum Leader to see.

Carry on.

This is weird

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader worries that something is wrong with him.

Everywhere he goes he thinks he smells maple syrup.

But there is no maple syrup anywhere around.

Carry on.

NB to Reader: Your Maximum Leader forgot to publish this yesterday… Not like that oversight is a real biggie…

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