Moral Hazard Is For The Little People

The US Senate, a wholly owned subsidiary of the banking industry:

On the same day that the White House announced that overextended Chrysler would go into a “quick” bankruptcy — its loans rewritten by a judge to emerge for life another day — Senators defeated a proposal to allow bankruptcy judges to rewrite home loans.

The vote on a so-called “cramdown” proposal, which President Obama supported during the presidential campaign, was 45-51 despite support from the president and the endorsement of one large bank, Citigroup. Read more on Citigroup’s endorsement of the plan HERE. The mortgage restructuring proposal needed 60 votes to pass so it didn’t even come close to passing. Several Democrats, including the newest Democrat, Sen. Arlen Specter of PA, opposed cramdown.


Durbin said on the Senate floor that in negotiations, the banking industry argued that restructuring primary home loans — secondary home loans and luxury loans for items like yachts can already be restructured by a bankruptcy judge — would create a moral hazard in this country.

“Senator, you don’t understand the moral hazard here,” Durbin paraphrased the banking argument. “People have to be held responsible for their wrongdoing. If you make a mistake, darn it, you’ve got to pay the price. that’s what America is all about.”

“Really, Mr. Banker on wall street? that’s what America is all about?” he railed.

“What price did wall street pay for their miserable decisions, creating rotten portfolios, destroying the credit of America and its businesses?” Durbin said of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout Congress passed, and Durbin supported in the waning days of the Bush administration. “Oh, (the bankers) paid a pretty heavy price. Hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money sent to them to bail them out and put them back in business, even to fund executive bonuses for those guilty of mismanagement. Moral hazard, huh? How can they argue that with a straight face? They do.”

The roll call vote is here, and if you missed it, Glenn had a good post up on Durbin and the banking industry earlier.

Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo

Went out to dinner with my parents, who are in town on their way to Baltimore (pronounced Ballmer, tyvm) for my mother’s 50th High School Reunion, and on the way home heard about this story on NPR about scientists discovering that there are animals besides humans who can dance to a musical beat:

Two famous parrots and a bevy of YouTube videos have now convinced scientists that people aren’t the only ones who can groove to a musical beat.

Dancing has long been thought to be uniquely human. Toddlers will spontaneously bob along with music, but you never see dogs or cats listen to a tune and tap their tails in time.

So a couple of years ago, a neurobiologist named Aniruddh Patel was astonished when someone e-mailed him a link to a YouTube video of a sulfur-crested cockatoo named Snowball dancing to the Backstreet Boys.

“I said, you know, this is much more than just a cute pet trick. This is potentially scientifically very important,” recalls Patel, who studies music and the brain at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego.

I can’t find a way to embed the NPR videos, so you will have to go to their site to watch their videos. However, there is this offering of Snowball in action from youtube:

Apparently, Snowball’s favorite band is the Backstreet Boyz, so while he can dance, there is no accounting for taste.

At any rate, this is a rather long-winded way of just expressing how much I like NPR. For pennies of the federal budget, almost anywhere you go in the country, you can tune in to high-quality broadcasts for free. It is cheap entertainment, it is informative, and I simply can’t imagine driving without NPR.

I never really understood conservative opposition to funding for the arts and funding for public radio and television when I was a Republican, and I still don’t now. If somebody was willing to do what NPR does for a profit, they would. But they don’t, and it would be a cultural disaster if we were to some day lose NPR.

Maybe I’m different than most people in my love for radio, as I got my FCC license when I was fourteen, dj’d for a while at the local college station, and wanted nothing more than to work in radio as an adult, so I have always loved it. But to me, there really isn’t anything better than NPR. I have really slacked at donating and am going to make a point to support it more in the future.


Hats ass backwards

Pretty good stuff from Michael Steele toay:

“You wear your hat one way. You like to wear it, you know, kind of cocked to the left, you know, because that’s cool out West,” Steele said. “In the Midwest, you guys like to wear it a little bit to the right. In the South, you guys like to wear the brim straight ahead. Now, the Northeast, I wear my hat backwards, you know, because that’s how we roll in the Northeast.”

He left out wearing hats made of tin foil.

Keep looking forward

More rule-breaking that shouldn’t be punished:

A former Justice Department grant-making administrator violated federal ethics and procurement rules in awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in sole source contracts to ideologically favored companies and individuals, the department’s inspector general concluded today.

The administrator, J. Robert Flores, was a political appointee during former president George Bush’s administration who left his post after the inauguration in January. The department’s public integrity section declined to pursue civil or criminal charges against Flores after ethics watchdogs forwarded their findings, investigators said.

The report issued this morning culminates a nearly two-year investigation into alleged irregularities with grants awarded by the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention during the Bush administration.

You know the drill: we can’t look backwards, there’s so much else on our plate right now we don’t have time to think about this, this is not time for partisan vengeance, blah blah blah.

Please Stop Being So Damned Stupid

If you want to point to a gaffe, look at this:

A spokesman for Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said Wednesday night that Franks believes the border should be closed right now except in critical cases or situations involving emergency personnel.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said all options should be considered to end the crisis involving swine flu, “including closing the border if it would prevent further transmission of the deadly virus.”

In a twitter message early Wednesday, McCain wrote “I said to Napolitano, ‘We need to be prepared to close the border with Mexico if the swine flu outbreak escalates further.’”

Yeah. That makes sense:

The alarm level, raised to 4 from 3, is at its highest since the warning system was adopted in 2005, and the virus has been confirmed in the U.K., Mexico, the U.S., Canada and Spain. The emphasis for health officials worldwide should be treating patients and strengthening preparations for outbreaks, said Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security and environment. The Geneva-based WHO isn’t recommending travel restrictions.

How come the Mexican Olympic swim team never wins any gold medals, what with their ability to swim to the UK and Spain in several days while suffering from the flu? Republicans are just completely lost when the solution to any problem is not “cut taxes” or “commence bombing.”

Nobody Tell Joe Biden How Twitter Works

I really don’t see how this is terrible advice:

Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that he would not recommend taking any commercial flight or riding in a subway car “at this point” because swine flu virus can spread “in confined places.” A little more than one hour later, Biden rushed out a statement backing off.

“I would tell members of my family — and I have — I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now,” Biden said on NBC’s “Today” show.. “It’s not that it’s going to Mexico. It’s [that] you’re in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. …

“So, from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation. If you’re out in the middle of a field when someone sneezes, that’s one thing. If you’re in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom, it’s a different thing.”

I understand they are trying to calm the public and tamp down the hysteria, and that Joe’s message is at odds with the big O’s statements, but I’m not sure that what he said is all that silly or stupid. If I were in a subway car and people were hacking and wheezing, I sure as hell would GTFO and find a new way to travel in the short term.

Title of this post stolen shamelessly from the comments.

Excellent Gentlemen

From the artists in our midst open thread, this band:

Long time readers will know that this is right in my wheelhouse as far as music goes. As I said in the comments, I haven’t been this excited about a band since Dag.

By the way, I’m not feeling the politics thing today, so bear with me.