Monday, March 31, 2008

Full Krugman Op Ed Piece This Morning

The Dilbert Strategy


Published: March 31, 2008
Anyone who has worked in a large organization — or, for that matter, reads the comic strip “Dilbert” — is familiar with the “org chart” strategy. To hide their lack of any actual ideas about what to do, managers sometimes make a big show of rearranging the boxes and lines that say who reports to whom.

You now understand the principle behind the Bush administration’s new proposal for financial reform, which will be formally announced today: it’s all about creating the appearance of responding to the current crisis, without actually doing anything substantive.
The financial events of the last seven months, and especially the past few weeks, have convinced all but a few diehards that the U.S. financial system needs major reform. Otherwise, we’ll lurch from crisis to crisis — and the crises will get bigger and bigger.

The rescue of Bear Stearns, in particular, was a paradigm-changing event.
Traditional, deposit-taking banks have been regulated since the 1930s, because the experience of the Great Depression showed how bank failures can threaten the whole economy. Supposedly, however, “non-depository” institutions like Bear didn’t have to be regulated, because “market discipline” would ensure that they were run responsibly.

When push came to shove, however, the Federal Reserve didn’t dare let market discipline run its course. Instead, it rushed to Bear’s rescue, risking billions of taxpayer dollars, because it feared that the collapse of a major financial institution would endanger the financial system as a whole.

And if financial players like Bear are going to receive the kind of rescue previously limited to deposit-taking banks, the implication seems obvious: they should be regulated like banks, too.
The Bush administration, however, has spent the last seven years trying to do away with government oversight of the financial industry. In fact, the new plan was originally conceived of as “promoting a competitive financial services sector leading the world and supporting continued economic innovation.” That’s banker-speak for getting rid of regulations that annoy big financial operators.

To reverse course now, and seek expanded regulation, the administration would have to back down on its free-market ideology — and it would also have to face up to the fact that it was wrong. And this administration never, ever, admits that it made a mistake.

Thus, in a draft of a speech to be delivered on Monday, Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, declares, “I do not believe it is fair or accurate to blame our regulatory structure for the current turmoil.”

And sure enough, according to the executive summary of the new administration plan, regulation will be limited to institutions that receive explicit federal guarantees — that is, institutions that are already regulated, and have not been the source of today’s problems. As for the rest, it blithely declares that “market discipline is the most effective tool to limit systemic risk.”

The administration, then, has learned nothing from the current crisis. Yet it needs, as a political matter, to pretend to be doing something.

So the Treasury has, with great fanfare, announced — you know what’s coming — its support for a rearrangement of the boxes on the org chart. OCC, OTS, and CFTC are out; PFRA and CBRA are in. Whatever.

Will rearranging these boxes make any difference? I’ve been disappointed to see some news outlets report as fact the administration’s cover story — the claim that lack of coordination among regulatory agencies was an important factor in our current problems.
The truth is that that’s not at all what happened. The various regulators actually did quite well at acting in a coordinated fashion. Unfortunately, they coordinated in the wrong direction.
For example, there was a 2003 photo-op in which officials from multiple agencies used pruning shears and chainsaws to chop up stacks of banking regulations. The occasion symbolized the shared determination of Bush appointees to suspend adult supervision just as the financial industry was starting to run wild.

Oh, and the Bush administration actively blocked state governments when they tried to protect families against predatory lending.

So, will the administration’s plan succeed? I’m not asking whether it will succeed in preventing future financial crises — that’s not its purpose. The question, instead, is whether it will succeed in confusing the issue sufficiently to stand in the way of real reform.

Let’s hope not. As I said, America’s financial crises have been getting bigger. A decade ago, the market disruption that followed the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management was considered a major, scary event; but compared with the current earthquake, the L.T.C.M. crisis was a minor tremor.

If we don’t reform the system this time, the next crisis could well be even bigger. And I, for one, really don’t want to live through a replay of the 1930s.

Krugman Today Agrees With Me

Paulson et al "financial reform" is a sham.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Selling a House

Of interest to a few of my readers.

Good Writing -- Pete Thamel in NYT Today

"He does not hesitate to point to the reason why. That would be the West Region’s most outstanding player, Kevin Love, a precocious freshman with the polished moves of a Y.M.C.A. lunchtime lifer and the presence of a Hollywood celebrity. "

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Paulson Ain't No Rubin

If this plan goes public Monday the market goes down 500.

Click on Title or cut and paste:

Clean Slate

Today's op ed by Nocera gets to the clean slate starting point of cleaning up our country's financial mess. Click on title above or cut and paste the following:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Flash: Even Today, Cramer on Citicorp

F. Bruce Abel (c) 2008

[As you can see I've discovered large and small type. I will use this device to make it clear which are my comments and which are not.]

Cramer is fighting the debacle over his Bear Stearns calls, using the same language that so many misunderstood:
This is the best soap opera on TV, to those in the know. What a guy.

With Erin Burnett during Stop Trading, at 2:45 pm.

[preliminary stocks]
The fraud that is ethanol.
U.S. Steel will be on Mad Money at Penn State

Now the Soap Opera:

Citigroup down 6% today @ 22.09;
"Which direction is Citigroup headed?"
I want to make these comments...
I will answer this the same way I handled Bear Stearns:

Your money is safe at Citigroup
You do not need to pull that money out.
The bank will keep your money preserved.
That said, I do not want own the bank
I do not want to own the shares.
I do not want to own that stock.

...People have continually misinterpreted me...

[later from Erin]

Few people have the intestinal fortitute...

[later] What about JP Morgan?
JP Morgan is a stock you want to own, particularly on a pull-back.
Again, the reason why I want to make comments about depositors...

I have hated the financial stocks forever...

I only recommend Goldman Sachs, Hudson City Bank and JP Morgan

Look at his eyes! He knows his career is on the line. Erin puts it in the right perspective.

By the way I believe Cramer is "wrong" with regards to natural gas, and I will be writing on this.

Cramer -- Another Summary of What Went On

Click on title above, or cut and paste the following.

More on the Cramer "Call" on Bear Stearns That Was Misinterpreted

F. Bruce Abel (c) 2008

The quote that appears in smaller print below is not my post nor my sentiments exactly. I believe that the only person one can "sit at home, watch TV, and actively trade stocks" off of is Cramer, but that probably involves the following caveat: it must be using either other people's money and/or you must have $2,000,000 of your own free money to spread around without going nuts on any one position.

But the issue he raises is core, as it goes to the viability of what CNBC and Cramer does.

Since I spent the better part of three years trading off of CNBC in the late 1980's I will be writing a lot on this topic.

As your curiosity rises and if you must know, I'll only say:


Now, this other guy:

Posted: 26 Mar 2008 03:19 AM CDT

Last week I showed you a widely-distributed video of CNBC stunt-host Jim Cramer loudly gesticulating to his Mad Money fan base that Bear Stearns was "fine" and that "Bear Stearns is not in trouble".

The day was March 11, Bear stock was trading at $62, and Bear immediately blew up.

Several members of the Cramer fan base promptly emailed me and said, no no no, Cramer explained that he was just saying that you shouldn't move your money out of your Bear Stearns brokerage account. Which is a little odd, given that Bear was primarily a hedge fund prime broker and not a consumer broker, and Cramer's show is aimed at regular folks, a.k.a. consumers. However, it is possible that his defenders could have a point.

Except they don't.

On the very same day, March 11, Cramer also recorded a different video (not embeddable, so just follow that link) on in which he explains in detail how Bear the company is "totally solvent; there's not an issue; Bear is not in trouble, I want to make that point vociferously".

Oh well.

I will give Cramer's fans credit for one thing -- he is highly entertaining. Although frankly I'm still not sure how he's ever going to top confessing publicly to securities violations last year. One can but hope.

Why am I being mean to Cramer? Two reasons.

First, his whole approach is fundamentally fraudulent. You can't sit at home, watch a TV show, actively trade stocks like Cramer says, and make money. At best you're going to badly lag the indices, and in the process unduly enrich your brokerage firm, the tax collectors, and -- yes -- CNBC and Jim Cramer. Cramer's show is just another stupid tax, like a state lottery, or cigarettes.

Second, he says he likes it (fast-forward to about 3:15 and watch to the end).

As a side note, I may not be able to embed videos, but I sure can embed Jon Stewart's take on Cramer's Bear Stearns call -- just fast-forward to 4:40 or so:

That ends "the other guy's comments."

I do agree with the first part of his last substantive paragraph, except...[more later, though don't expect me to say that I did it successfully].

By the way, I have earlier blogs on this guy's rampage, and I do believe I was able to incorporate the John Stewart clip.

Also, I think this guy is missing another point: Cramer was talking about people who had creditor money with Bear, not just stock traders, I believe.

Best Blog on Kerviel

This blog explains the simple controls over a trader, such as not allowing the computer terminal to "click" as fast.

Spot Gold

Pop Spot Pop

See Spot Pop

Circus House

For you insiders:

Click on Title, skip over the first ad, and see the "Circus House" of Doug and Becca Worple, my daughter and son-in-law, featured in this month's Traditional Home. The home is in the leafy suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, called Terrace Park.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How Much?


Best CNBC Day Ever?

Listening right now to hour with Boone Pickens. And this is the third or fourth segment today, on different topics, which have been excellent. Including the new Free Swim segment which is like throwing raw meat into the shark tank. The first topic of ETF's was an excellent starter but the showmanship took away from the informative part. But there were some gems and I TIVO'd everything as I do all day.

More Auchincloss

Larissa MacFarquhar, Life and Letters, "East Side Story," The New Yorker, February 25, 2008, p. 54

Auchincloss, Louis; Writers; Lawyers; Novelists; Groton School; “The Rector of Justin”; Peabody, Endicott LIFE AND LETTERS about novelist Louis Auchincloss. Writer describes Auchincloss and his agent, Mitchell Waters, on their way to record an interview for Barnes & Noble. Auchincloss, who has published sixty-four novels, asked Waters if he had been able to place his monograph on Thackeray. “No,” Waters said, apologetically. The car turned onto the West Side Highway and Auchincloss recalled sailing to Europe on ocean liners with his parents. Auchincloss’s father came from a family that had something of a presence in the New York of the great old clans, although it wasn’t clear why. There was never a fortune. Each generation of Auchincloss men either made or married its own money. Louis as a boy was extremely concerned with his family’s material glamour. As late as his twenties, Auchincloss was a delightfully impenitent snob. Tells about his relationship with his mother, who was a formidable figure, and did everything she could to talk him out of writing fiction. “She just thought I was not a very good writer,” said Auchincloss. In 1957, just shy of his fortieth birthday, Auchincloss married Adele Lawrence, who was descended from the Burdens, Sloanes, and Vanderbilts. They had three boys. A life of early nights and settled repetition suited Auchincloss and he has always been very grateful that one was granted him. Auchincloss, who turned ninety in September, ventures out occasionally, but mostly he stays in, reading in an armchair in his living room. When he is not reading, he is writing. He has never taken himself or his writing too seriously. He packs his books off to the publisher without fuss. Writer describes Auchincloss’s apartment, where he has lived since 1959. Discusses how he combined his writing life with his family obligations and his career as a lawyer. Mentions his extended family connections to Gore Vidal and Jacqueline Bouvier. Writer tells about Auchincloss’s education at the Groton School and discusses his changing attitudes to WASP establishment values. The Reverend Endicott Peabody founded the school in 1884 with the goal of producing brilliant men of high ideals, dedicated to public service and untempted by materialism. Though Auchincloss had a difficult time at the school, he succeeded academically and eventually embraced the Groton system. It wasn’t until later that he began to take a more critical view of the school. By 1980, when Auchincloss published “The House of the Prophet,” he had moved to the political center and was ready to condemn his moral inheritance more completely than he had in “The Rector of Justin,” a quarter century before. “The tragedy of American civilization is that it has swept away WASP morality and put nothing in its place,” Auchincloss wrote in 1980.

The New Yorker’s archives are not yet fully available online. The full text of all articles published before May, 2006, can be found in “The Complete New Yorker,” which is available for purchase on DVD and hard drive. Many New Yorker stories published since December, 2000, are available through Nexis. Individual back issues may be purchased from our customer-service department at 1-800-825-2510.

More Auchincloss

East Side Story
by Louis Auchincloss (Houghton Mifflin; $24)
December 20, 2004 Text Size:

“East Side Story” (Houghton Mifflin;; $24); Auchincloss, Louis; New York; Presbyterians; Carnochan Family Auchincloss’s sixtieth book is a novel of power and hypocrisy in upper-class New York that, like much of his previous fiction, focusses on the agonizing conflict between America’s proudly Protestant face and its tawdry capitalist backside. The book consists of eleven linked portraits chronicling the rise of the fiercely Presbyterian Carnochan family, from Old World Scottish thread merchants in Colonial America to lawyers, bankers, and business tycoons in the modern era. The Carnochan men follow their forebears to Yale and, with a few exceptions, to worldly success. But, dedicated to little more than “their own permanence,” they also expose the moral bankruptcy of their class. Auchincloss, who is eighty-seven, and himself something of a Gotham patrician, casts a chilly eye upon the American empire that families like the Carnochans helped to build.♦


Auchincloss, not Auschinclaus, etc.

Will start The Embezzler today. Will continue to see if the recent New Yorker article on Auchincloss is on line, so I can readily place it on my blog.

In the process of looking on line, I came across another wonderful article on him. Click on Title above or cut and paste the following:

Raised Temperature at Greenville to 55

Yesterday at 3:45 pm for a showing between 3 and 4 by Comey Shepherd. (It may ahve occurred, but we were over at Hyde Park for the Gout pills and exam).

Note to self: call Mark Kallick at 979 2638 to get a run-down.

Weather today remains 15 degrees cooler than normal.

Does God Care

That I took, under doctor's orders, Cephalexin 500 MG 3 times (daily) and Prednisone 20 MG two times (daily) on my Wife's Birthday? (today)

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Spot Gold

Go Spot Go. See Spot Run.

Cramer Yesterday

F. Bruce Abel
copyright 2008

Did he or didn't he say that common shareholders of Bear Stearns should not get out, see earlier blog. It was implied, but in the context of the email he was telling the listener not to get his MONEY (not money in stock) out.

See, I think he's unnecessarily dissembling. Conditions had so changed by that Friday that he was right in saying Bear was worth zero at that point (Friday). So his call earlier in the week could be justified.

But what does this tell us? All these "numbers" put up by accountants, fawned over by Wall Street and a whole lot more, can be wiped away by deeper scares. The numbers showed (and still show) that Bear is worth many billions. But not if there are a lot of obligations off the balance sheet that never had to be reported because some (maybe weak) player guaranteed a recovery in case of underlying loss.

It's torward the end of the clip that he gets into the topic of interest.

Following Cramer is like believing in the Bible. There are depths of knowledge of the listener. But bottom line: you just don't know.

St Johns Over The Schott

Pretty good. Why a smaller, historic building is worth 15 points to the home (Ohio State) team. (Yes I'm an Ohio basketball fan.)

I place this under Hot Air, because Hot Air really encompasses topics which are so random that they defy labelling. Also "Actual Laurel and Greenville" because I'm comparing two houses. And although I see my title Actual Laurel and Greenville, I don't seem to have any entries for that.

An Analogy

Based on my experience going to the federal bar conference at Easton every two years, and with federal judges handling my employment discrimination cases I file in federal court(I represent plaintiffs), I now have the analogy I have been looking for: for how federal judges view Title VII and other employment cases. It was on NPR this morning:

NPR read a piece by the U.S. Army Chaplain. Every time a U.S. soldier is killed in Iraq he gets an email.

He never wants to open it. He just wants to delete it.

A Must-Read by David Brooks This Morning

What Hillary is doing. To the Party.

Forgot to cut and paste. Will edit this blog later today.


You can also just click on the Title above.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nothing Like a Bout With the Gout

Followed by the absence of pain when waking up, to enjoy a sunny Monday morning.

First of all, when the pain first hurts you don't know what it is. There is no label. Is This It? Measuring each step for the rest of your life?

How the Hedge Funds Return Huge Profits -- Sometimes

Read this well-written article on how leverage works on even the most mundane investment.

Quid Without the Quo -- Krugman Today

This is a must-read. It's about the dull topic of the need for regulation of the non-banks of Wall Street.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Try This T Bill Chart

T Bills Last August -- And We Thought That Was Bad!

T Bills -- The Tell?

Credit Default Instruments Etc.

A major piece in today's New York Times.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Gold Etc.

Gold is 910 or so this morning. Going down 10% is no big deal. But in the commodities market it is a big deal IF YOU BOUGHT WITH 10% MARGIN or so. And that's the way 99% of the big boys buy it.

Again, the disadvantage of margin.

The Hell With 1987, Why Not 1929?

Krugman is, again, right on. As my friends and "sponsors" know, the key, over-used word in my vocabulary, is "deregulation," said derisively.


When Cramer says Citi is subject to a "take-under" he means that Citi is going DOWN. He uses euphemisms that must be caught on the fly. Only the addicts catch this, as Aron Burnett let it get by three or so times during Stop Trading, giving the benefit to those who were up on their toes, but leaving the rest to the opposite impression, as Cramer's overall presentation focused on the words implying it was a takeover and good for Citi.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Merrill Following Bear Down?

Market Fears That Merrill’s Lawsuit Signals More Write-Downs
March 19, 2008, 6:35 pm

Does Merrill Lynch’s lawsuit against a unit of the bond insurer Security Capital Assurance presage another series of write-downs at the securities firm?

According to two traders quoted by Reuters, speculation that another accounting charge awaits Merrill lay under its lawsuit against XL Capital Assurance, trying to enforce the guarantee of $3.1 billion in debt issued by complex mortgage securities known as collateralized debt obligations.

“We filed suit to make clear that XL Capital Assurance Inc. is required to meet its contractual obligations,” a Merrill spokesman told Bloomberg News in a statement.

Shares in Merrill fell 11 percent to $41.45.

Financial stocks got a much-needed shot in the arm over the past two days by strong earnings reports from Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers. With the specter of Bear Stearns‘ demise still hanging over the financial sector, the markets are still considered a powder keg.

“Something stinks over there and the way the market has been lately is that people shoot first and ask questions later,” one trader told Reuters.

The stakes are high for Merrill, which sued the bond insurer in Manhattan federal district court. Along with many of its peers on Wall Street, the firm posted billions of dollars in losses because of its bet on mortgage trading. As shaky home loans collapsed into default, the value of securities built upon them plummeted as well, saddling Merrill and others with assets they could not and cannot sell.

Reuters points out that Merrill identified $3.45 billion in exposure to bond insurers for asset-backed securities.

Go to Article from Reuters »
Go to Article from Bloomberg News »

1 comments so far...
1.March 19th,
7:37 pm I’ll post what I added to another thread on the same topic:

The “two-banger” (the lawsuit against the bond insurer and the rumors of upcoming large writedowns) facing Merrill this afternoon is not good news for them at all.

I don’t like to make predictions, but it seems - notwithstanding any unforeseen events - that Merrill “The Bull” is going wind up having a very bad week, which will probably extend to the market at large. There are several reasons why.

The Bond insurers, Security Capital Assurance (SCA), basically told Merrill to pound sand on 3.1 billion in contracts. SCA’s stock rose nearly 9% on the news. What that implies is that investors have confidence in SCA’s “screw you” position. What it also implies is that if investors and stakeholders in Merrill begin to believe that the company’s massive exposure in cruddy bonds isn’t insured, they’ll begin to pull away, which is happening already. What it further implies, is that other bond insurers are likely to follow SCA’s lead to try to pull away, further exacerbating a bad situation and adding fuel to the fire.

This news broke rather late, but Merrill, and the entire market, began to head down sharply immediately afterward. In fact, the market was trending at a faster and faster rate as the closing bell approached, the fastest drop occuring right up at closing.

This indicates that investors weren’t done selling. Because the news came late, it would seem that many will be selling Merrill stock first thing in the morning, especially those who pick up on this after closing.

From a Reuters article:

Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey, said there were rumors of a $12 billion write-down and a $6 billion private placement.

“This is all speculation, but the bottom line is that there are write-down rumors at Merrill,” said Saluzzi. “Either way, something stinks over there and the way the market has been lately is that people shoot first and ask questions later.”

If the writedown speculation is true, Merrill’s will then have approached nearly 40 billion total in writedowns.

— Posted by John Grasmeier

Stupid Money and Gold

And regulators, or lack thereof.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Action in Gold

The tremendous decline in gold today is proof that the speculative money had been rushing to gold; now that the Fed may have saved the world, the money is going out of gold.

Options expiration this week big time.

Spot Gold

Run Spot Run

See Spot Run

Behind the Scenes at Bear Stearns

Interesting, if not too informative.

Another Wave From England?

Remember, Bear Stearns's problems last week started in England with Carlyle, last week.

Last week.

Now there are others in London going down.

Did I say "last week?" It seems like years ago. I've lost so many hairs (and other assets).

The Text

Read Obama's speech.

Maureen Dowd is "Spot-On" Too

On Obama's speech.

The Beginning of Civil Society

It is an editorial on Obama's speech on race yesterday or the day before. We should all read this, and the speech, which I have not yet read.

Good politics should be intelligent politics, which this is.

Nobody (Almost) Understands, Even Robert Rubin

This New York Times article of today is pretty good.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Moving Saga -- Cramer & Bear Stearns

Jim Cramer covered this topic on Mad Money, near the end. Apparantly it was John Stewart's clip last night that highlighted the issue.

Jim replayed the relevant clip of March 11 and also that of John Stewart, and then explained. Very interesting.

How Could He Do It?

From "MyBestTime," the Blog I mentioned yesterday.

FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2008
How Could It Happen?
The news is dying down about Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced former governor of New York. But people are still full of opinions about how a man like Gov. Spitzer could get caught up in such shenanigans.

It reminded me of some mainline, highly respected ministers I've known personally who've been caught up in similar things and ultimately destroyed their careers and their families and broke the hearts of countless other people.

I think those who isolate themselves become vulnerable. They start out headed in the right direction but as they become more powerful they begin to surround themselves with only those who listen and follow their orders - but never question them.

We all need people in our lives who say "Hey, knock it off!" from time to time.

Years ago I knew a lady who started her adult life and her career full of good dreams and ambitions. She became an elementary school principal. She ruled her school with an iron fist. She never married. There was nobody in her life to call her into question.

She got weirder and weirder. She ended up without a job and friendless.

We all need people - who love and respect us - to tell us the truth.

My friends, family and colleagues sure don't let me get away with any shenanigans.


Cramer on Bear Stearns -- Nailed it... or Blew it? Depends on What You Were Watching and When

F. Bruce Abel copyright 2008

Listen up. I consider this blog very important.

I was watching CNBC very closely last week. And when I'm watching I'm super watchful for Jim Cramer, both on his Stop Trading @ 2:45 p.m. and on his Mad Money, and when he is interviewed on the fly because of huge events occurring.

I thought on Monday of this week that Jim had nailed Bear on Friday by saying that Bear common stock would go to zero. He said it on Friday, March 14, during the day, I believe. He said it after dramatic moves by the Fed relating to Bear Stearns (I forget exactly what the moves were, in the chaos that has occurred since last week).

(I have it all on discs and will check them)

Now here's a guy who has done a persuasive Youtube short that Jim got it exactly wrong because on March 11th he said Bear was totally ok. And telling viewers not to sell it.

Click on the title above to see it, or cut and paste the following:

This brings up a very valid point: unless you are a minute-by-minute junkie/trader, you may have the opposite impression of what a person such as Jim Cramer is recommending.

The topic brings up the benefits and dangers of "doing" what an expert is telling you.

I remain a Cramer advocatge because I know him from way back and believe I can read a lot between the lines, and know from whence he comes.

But I am no longer trading.

What the YouTuber omits to say is that the world turned upside down vis-a-vis Bear Stearns on Thursday and Friday, and then on Sunday of course. But if you heard Jin Cramer on Friday you would have sold Bear on Friday and asked questions later, not held the stock.

Everything changed last Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

JP Morgan v. Morgan Stanley

Same with these two companies.

Blackrock vs Blackstone

Always get these two confused. One manages billions for the public. The other is a private equity firm.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Best Blog -- "MyBestTime"

I stumbled upon this wonderfully-written blog a few months ago and called it up again. You must go to it.

It is written by a woman who must be in her 60's or so. A writer, consultant, retired, I believe.

Just listen to her beautiful writing. You will be refreshed.

John Burns Reviews the Iraq War

He's most knowledgeable, having been the NYT man in Baghdad.

Good Bye White Plains, Hello New Trier

The world of commodities now trumps the world of New York

Playing Bridge While Bear Burns

And this was last summer's ACBL Nationals in Nashville. Today's Wall Street Journal says it was at the Detroit Nationals last week.

Bear Stearns Chairman Played Cards Amid Crisis-WSJ
Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:01am EDT

Chairman Jimmy Cayne was playing cards in a tournament late last week while his company's future appeared to be at risk, according a published report.

As the bank hammered out an emergency funding deal on Thursday with the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), which resulted in Bear's shares falling by as much as half, Cayne was playing in the North American Bridge Championship in Detroit, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site on Friday.

Cayne, who in January stepped down as Bear Stearns' long-time chief executive, is no stranger to controversy about his hobbies. Last year he was criticized for spending too much time playing bridge and golf while Bear stumbled on wrong-way bets on subprime mortgages.

Cayne played cards last week during a period in which Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz held conference calls with directors about the pending cash pledge, the newspaper said, although Cayne participated in at least some of the dialogue.

The Wall Street Journal said Cayne did not respond to a request for comment that it left at his New York office.

(Reporting by Franklin Paul; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

Bear Stearns Chart

Krugman Today, Good as Usual

Published: March 17, 2008
O.K., here it comes: The unthinkable is about to become the inevitable.

Last week, Robert Rubin, the former Treasury secretary, and John Lipsky, a top official at the International Monetary Fund, both suggested that public funds might be needed to rescue the U.S. financial system. Mr. Lipsky insisted that he wasn’t talking about a bailout. But he was.

It’s true that Henry Paulson, the current Treasury secretary, still says that any proposal to use taxpayers’ money to help resolve the crisis is a “non-starter.” But that’s about as credible as all of his previous pronouncements on the financial situation.

So here’s the question we really should be asking: When the feds do bail out the financial system, what will they do to ensure that they aren’t also bailing out the people who got us into this mess?

Let’s talk about why a bailout is inevitable.

Between 2002 and 2007, false beliefs in the private sector — the belief that home prices only go up, that financial innovation had made risk go away, that a triple-A rating really meant that an investment was safe — led to an epidemic of bad lending. Meanwhile, false beliefs in the political arena — the belief of Alan Greenspan and his friends in the Bush administration that the market is always right and regulation always a bad thing — led Washington to ignore the warning signs.

By the way, Mr. Greenspan is still at it: accepting no blame, he continues to insist that “market flexibility and open competition” are the “most reliable safeguards against cumulative economic failure.”

The result of all that bad lending was an unholy financial mess that will cause trillions of dollars in losses. A large chunk of these losses will fall on financial institutions: commercial banks, investment banks, hedge funds and so on.

Many people say that the government should let the chips fall where they may — that those who made bad loans should simply be left to suffer the consequences. But it’s not going to happen. When push comes to shove, financial officials — rightly — aren’t willing to run the risk that losses on bad loans will cripple the financial system and take the real economy down with it.

Consider what happened last Friday, when the Federal Reserve rushed to the aid of Bear Stearns.

Nobody expects an investment bank to be a charitable institution, but Bear has a particularly nasty reputation. As Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times reminds us, Bear “has often operated in the gray areas of Wall Street and with an aggressive, brass-knuckles approach.”

Bear was a major promoter of the most questionable subprime lenders. It lured customers into two of its own hedge funds that were among the first to go bust in the current crisis. And it’s a bad financial citizen: the last time the Fed tried to contain a financial crisis, after the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management in 1998, Bear refused to participate in the rescue operation.

Bear, in other words, deserved to be allowed to fail — both on the merits and to teach Wall Street not to expect someone else to clean up its messes.

But the Fed rode to Bear’s rescue anyway, fearing that the collapse of a major investment bank would cause panic in the markets and wreak havoc with the wider economy. Fed officials knew that they were doing a bad thing, but believed that the alternative would be even worse.

As Bear goes, so will go the rest of the financial system. And if history is any guide, the coming taxpayer-financed bailout will end up costing a lot of money.

The U.S. savings and loan crisis of the 1980s ended up costing taxpayers 3.2 percent of G.D.P., the equivalent of $450 billion today. Some estimates put the fiscal cost of Japan’s post-bubble cleanup at more than 20 percent of G.D.P. — the equivalent of $3 trillion for the United States.

If these numbers shock you, they should. But the big bailout is coming. The only question is how well it will be managed.

As I said, the important thing is to bail out the system, not the people who got us into this mess. That means cleaning out the shareholders in failed institutions, making bondholders take a haircut, and canceling the stock options of executives who got rich playing heads I win, tails you lose.

According to late reports on Sunday, JPMorgan Chase will buy Bear for a pittance. That’s an O.K. resolution for this case — but not a model for the much bigger bailout to come. Looking ahead, we probably need something similar to the Resolution Trust Corporation, which took over bankrupt savings and loan institutions and sold off their assets to reimburse taxpayers. And we need it quickly: things are falling apart as you read this.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bear Stearns Sold Before Asian Market Can Open

Hope this works. $2 per share to the common stockholders!

Tips on Pumping Gas

> I don't know what you guys are paying for gasoline.... but here in California we are also paying higher, up to $3.50 per gallon. But my line of work is in petroleum for about 31 years now, so here are some tricks to get more of your money's worth for every gallon..
> Here at the Kinder Morgan Pipeline where I work in San Jose , CA we deliver about 4 million gallons in a 24-hour period thru the pipeline. One day is diesel the next day is jet fuel, and gasoline, regular and premium grades. We have 34 -storage tanks here with a total capacity of 16,800,000 gallons.
> Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening....your gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role.
> A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.
> When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode. If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3)stages: low, middle, and high. In slow mode you should be pumping on low speed, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping.
> All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some other liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.
> One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY. The reason for this is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Unlike service stations, here where I work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every gallon is actually the exact amount.
> Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up--most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom. Hope this will help you get the most value for your money.
> Gas rationing in the 80's worked even though we grumbled about it. It might even be good for us! The Saudis are boycotting American goods. We should return the favor.
> An interesting thought is to boycott their GAS.
> Every time you fill up the car, you can avoid putting more money into the coffers of Saudi Arabia. Just buy from gas companies that don't import their oil from the Saudis.
> Nothing is more frustrating than the feeling that every time I fill-up the tank, I am sending my money to people who are trying to kill me, my family, and my friends.
> I thought it might be interesting for you to know which oil companies are the best to buy gas from and which major companies import Middle Eastern oil.
> These companies import Middle Eastern oil:
> Shell.......................... 205,742,000 barrels
> Chevron/Texaco.........144,332,000 barrels
> Exxon /Mobil...............130,082,000 barrels
> Marathon/Speedway...117,740,000 barrels
> Amoco........................62,231,000 barrels
> Citgo gas is from South America, from a Dictator who hates Americans. If you do the math at $30/barrel, these imports amount to over $18 BILLION! (oil is now $90 - $100 a barrel
> Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:
> Sunoco.................0 barrels
> Conoco.................0 barrels
> Sinclair.................0 barrels
> BP/Phillips............0 barrels
> Hess....................0 barrels
> ARC0..................0 barrels
> If you go to, you will get a list of the station locations near you.
> All of this information is available from the Department of Energy and each is
> required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing.
> But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of gas buyers. It's really simple to do.
> Now, don't wimp out at this point..........keep reading and I'll explain how simple it
> is to reach millions of people!!
> I'm sending this note to about thirty people. If each of you send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300)...and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) .. and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers !!!!!!! If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted!
> If it goes one level further, you guessed it ..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION

Yale Daily News Obituary on William F. Buckley, Jr.

Buckley was Editor of the Yale Daily News. So this is worth reading (I haven't read it fully.)

Kerviel Update

From the Wall Street Journal:

Bear Stearns and CNBC

If one had acted on the prices quoted Friday morning, which were (before hours) up 4 to 6 points, one would have lost 50% by the end of the day.

Another Charlie Rose on William F. Buckley, Jr.

Friday night. I've TIVO'd it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Supreme Chamber of Commerce

About the Supreme Court:
In tomorrow's NYT Magazine.

William F. Buckley, Jr. -- It Gets Even Better

March 14, 2008, 7:39 pm
Uncommoner Than Thou: Buckley, Part Two
(This is the second of a two-part column. Read part one.)
William F. Buckley was a man who had a great capacity for fun and for amusing himself by amazing others.
Example: Dick Clurman of Time magazine, an affable gent, was a guest on the Buckley yacht in the Caribbean. After dinner, Bill B., leafing through a TV log, announced that “The Wizard of Oz” would be starting in half an hour — in English, broadcast from Puerto Rico. Clurman was delighted and confessed to never having seen it.
At the appointed time the set was switched on, but to everyone’s chagrin it seemed the movie had already been on for a good half hour. Bill had read the starting time wrong. Clurman’s disappointment was visible.
“Let’s see if my name cuts any ice down here,” his host said. The incredulous Clurman later described how his friend grabbed the phone, rang up the station in Puerto Rico, managed to get through to the engineer, explained his guest’s disappointment, and asked if it would be too much trouble to start the movie over!
In disbelief, Clurman saw the screen go blank, followed by a frantic display of jumbling and flashing. And then — the opening credits and the comforting strains of “Over the Rainbow.” The movie began anew. Clurman declared that never until then had he known the full meaning of “chutzpah.”
I think Bill decided to let a year go by, giving Clurman time to regale all his friends and acquaintances with the tale of the Oz miracle. It was then, still reluctantly, that the magician revealed his secret. The movie had not been broadcast at all that night — except on Bill’s tape deck, which he had secretly manipulated with his unseen left arm while “talking on the phone” using the other.
He was full of surprises. Once on my show we were talking about Muhammad Ali, and Bill revealed that he himself was taking boxing lessons.. The audience gasped.
“Expecting trouble?” I asked.
“No,” he intoned. “But I’m ready.”
Buckley enjoyed tossing literary references into the conversation; a habit not always guaranteed to make friends. Once, in answer to something I said, he injected, “As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue.”
A fine and witty remark to be sure, but one you wouldn’t be wise to depend on as your opening gag in your nightclub act. And one I would guess he knew it might take the rest of us a moment to fully “get.” If then.
But that’s not what bothered me about it. A little voice in me whispered, “Is that Oscar Wilde?” In one of those bizarre coincidences life tickles us with, a French friend had given me, two days before, a volume of famous “Citations” (see tahss ee own) by French wits. Try real hard to believe that among the half dozen she had checkmarked as favorites was that one. Yes. The alleged Wilde.
What fun to catch my learned guest on this. But because he was who he was, I figured he must be right and the moment passed. And because he was who he was, it was mildly heartbreaking.
Weeks pass. And he is back. All fear of him is gone. Try not to form your entire opinion of me by what I did:
Bill, I said, I notice that on your show you hold yourself to a high level of accuracy. And that you don’t shrink from holding your guests to it. I like to do the same here. (He is too smart not to sense something. And what I did next is inexcusable.)
Last time you were here, Bill, you said, “L’ hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend a la vertu.” I forget how it goes in English. (Can you see why I was sometimes beaten up on the playground?)
Well, you get the idea. I told him that it was in fact, “not Oscar Wilde, who was of course Irish, but Francois de la Rochefoucauld, who, as far as we know, was French. And I just couldn’t let you go around embarrassing yourself like that again. As a friend.” (Audience chortles, then claps.)
Bill’s expression was beyond description. There was fire. Ice. And a trace of amusement.
DC: What are you thinking, Bill?
WFB (after a well-timed pause): Of a variety of ways to express my profound gratitude.
(Everyone has a laugh.)
A writer friend reminds me that, over the years, many a journalist’s day was made by receiving one of the short personal notes Buckley used to send when they’d written something he liked. These cherished tidbits were only a line or two long, but imbued with the full Buckley flavor.
Language was his medium and he loved to make it roll around and do tricks. I just now unearthed a copy of one of his books he had inscribed to me. He was a fan of all wordplay and had admired an unforgivable pun I had made about French painters. He wrote:

To Richard, in deepest gratitude for “More in Seurat than in Ingres.” May I use it?
With affection,
The adjective “fabulous,” through overuse, has become cheap currency. But it applies to him. In the sense of “fabled.” He was a character in the true sense of that word. And not of our time. He was like a creation out of 19th — or even 18th — century literature, rather than the predictable and dreary sort of folk you get these days. Not one of whom would have the class to reply to an irate letter-writer demanding that he cancel her subscription to his magazine: “Cancel your own damn subscription.”
If I were composing a Top 10 list of things that will never be said, I submit as number one: “Hey, I just met someone exactly like William F. Buckley.”
Postscript: Bill would have loved this. Remember the stories the other week about how badly our ignorant American high school students had done on a general knowledge test? Failing to identify Hitler correctly, or to know when the Civil War was? Well, irony of ironies, the test itself contains an error.
One of its multiple-choice “correct” answers is wrong.
What would our friend have done with this? He would convince us that we are all too soft from being handed things too easily, and that what would be best for all concerned would be to let the reader diligently discover the error himself, rather than to get the answer by spoon, so to speak.
So, in memory of Bill, until next time . . . .
Comments (41) E-mail this Share Digg Facebook Newsvine Permalink 41 comments so far...
1.March 15th,
12:14 am The anecdote about the Wizard of Oz is wickedly hilarious.

The reason I like this blog is that you know the newsmakers, and you can talk about them freely. I’ve gotten a much better picture of the type of person William Buckley is here on this blog than all of the eulogies I’ve read of him, combined. And the same goes for your entries Bobby Fischer and Norman Mailer, as well.

Keep up the good work. I love reading your blog. I hope to read much more from you.

— Posted by Bart
2.March 15th,
1:03 am Boy, that was quick, Cavett! Now, how about letting this Part 2 one on WFB be a precident for beginning another piece right away! Like I said before, how about one or two on Arthur Godfrey — surely as interesting a character as WFB! I’ll stand by to correct you — if necessary! Like, do you know the “real” Julius LaRosa story?

— Posted by Peter Kelley
3.March 15th,
1:35 am It is wonderfully charming (and even funny) to read all of these tales (from Mr. Cavett and others) about how William Buckley had such a great command of the English language. He did, and no one can take that away from him. He must have been a wonderful person to have as a friend.

But I also saw him use his intellect to put people down in petty and cruel ways by talking over their heads and using fancy words – instead of addressing the issues. It’s that I’ll remember most about him.

— Posted by Michael Conley
4.March 15th,
1:40 am Hmm.. When I read the lead-in for this, I saw ‘fabulous’ applied to Bill Buckley. I wondered: is Dick Cavett insinuating that Buckley made stuff up? That would certainly be spicy, and a play on words worthy of Buckley himself. No such luck…

— Posted by p mac
5.March 15th,
3:14 am Dick…..he was so good I could almost forget I detested his politics…

— Posted by sturgeone
6.March 15th,
3:44 am Buckley would’ve fit well in the company of G.K. Chesterton. I’ve often wondered ~ was WFB born multi-syllablic or did he come down with it at some point later on?

— Posted by Roy Truitt
7.March 15th,
4:21 am I just watched the 1960s debate between Buckley and Noam Chomsky on youtube, and my modest opinion of WFB was reaffirmed. He may have been eloquent, witty, and a good friend, but he was also unable to deal with intellectual equals like Chomsky, thus interrupting constantly. In that respect he was the forerunner of all the current right-wing talk hosts. He always seemed arrogant to me.

— Posted by Greg Tamblyn
8.March 15th,
5:16 am Mr. Cavett,

When you write you would never meet anyone like WFB, I’m wondering if there are, floating in the mediocre-sea we call the media, someone already working WFB’s beat. Not as a conservative per se, but as a pundit, thinker or personality. Is there such a person doing something novel on Fox? Will Bill O’Reilly warrant such tributes? Rush Limbaugh? Will Ann Coulter get this kind of high-end ink? Is there anyone out there who can bluff and bob and weave so well these days? Steven Colbert? I may not have liked WFB’s politics but I certainly love the theater involved in a long-distance rewind of OZ. Now we’re all about YouTube and downloading Ashley Alexandra Dupre.

Bravo for the fable.


Matthew Rose /

— Posted by MATTHEW ROSE
9.March 15th,
5:20 am Buckley was the consummate snob, influencd no one except several
hundred rich, close buddies, and
will fade quickly from the public

— Posted by richard slimowitz
10.March 15th,
5:45 am ‘More in Seurat than in Ingres.’

It still hasn’t sunk in. Help!

— Posted by Bob Wilcox
11.March 15th,
6:49 am Mr. Buckley hid a sadistic Darwinist social philosophy behind pretty words, a dubious gift. No doubt he had other gifts, but if a sordid philosophy creates pain for innocent people, it’s impossible to like such a fellow.

— Posted by sufi
12.March 15th,
7:33 am The leisure class has truly lost one of its most rewarding characters. Of course, we feel for his family, as would any decent person. Decent people also recognized the immediate need long ago for the national need for laws dealing with the national waste called hatred on account of race. The people who didn’t had a moral and ethical blind spot the size of the grand canyon, which still was not large enough to contain the blind spot of William Buckley. Before we enjoy too much celebrating the articulateness of the most extraordinarily precise morally blind character of his generation, perhaps the rejoicers should celebrate the anniversary of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Laws, and . . . maybe you get the point. Selective memory is a wonderful thing. Put into perspective, the man’s individual kindnesses were blessings to those he helped. His professional attitudes led an army that trampled on people as they were struggling to be part of the nation. All in all, he would have been a wonderfully entertaining leader of the confederacy during the civil war.

— Posted by Hobbes
13.March 15th,
8:39 am A few years ago, while driveing down the road in Bay City, Michigan,I listened to the radio. I was tuned to a famous radio personality of the time. This man was famous for narrateing the funeral prossession of a president and fireing one of his singers on his television program. On this day, the radio personality, let`s call him A.G.,introduced a new comedian to his radio public. This comedian was an ex-writer for the Tonight Show and was now strikeing out on his own as a standup. A.G. took great pleasure in saying that this comic was honeing his skills at the Hungry Eye. I been a fan of yours ever since.

— Posted by Lawrence Perry
14.March 15th,
8:44 am Despite the great songwriter Lloyd Cole having written — in his 1988 song, SPEEDBOAT — that “wits, they come three to a pound,” I for one am always willing to pay top dollar for the type of self-amusement that you ascribe to Buckley, and the combative and instructional wordplay that you highlight, Mr. Cavett.

For more of the same, i.e., instances where power is measured by verbal prowess, I recommend the wonderful 1996 film set in 18th century France, RIDICULE, directed by Patrice Leconte.

A gem.

— Posted by Mark Cougar Rosenblatt
15.March 15th,
8:46 am You wrote, “If I were composing a Top 10 list of things that will never be said, I submit as number one: Hey, I just met someone exactly like William F. Buckley.”

Dick (or is it Richard?) I sure hope you’re right!

— Posted by Ron Lewis
16.March 15th,
8:46 am Buckley may have thought we are all too soft from being handed things too easily and that we should all discover and work for things on our own, but where did Buckley get the substantial wealth required to begin his own magazine? It is easier to be an armchair quarterback and speak about earning things when one is cushioned from all economic worry. Perhaps his political views would have been modified, if he realized intimately that some people may stuggle and struggle without showing much gain. Clearly his acceptance of others with different views and willinginess to embrace all as friends from the entire political spectrum is very refreshing.

— Posted by Marvin Meadors
17.March 15th,
9:53 am I give up. I went to Common Core, took the test, checked the answers. Apparently I got one wrong?? Which of the quiz answers do you quibble with?

— Posted by geo
18.March 15th,
10:12 am It always hurts to have to explain a bon mot, but here goes:

Hamlet: What, look’d he frowningly?
Horatio: A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.

— Posted by andrew Shalat
19.March 15th,
10:20 am Bob Wilcox:

“More in sorrow than in anger” is what’s got you confused…

— Posted by K
20.March 15th,
10:22 am Well, if there were another person just like WFB it’s too bad they’re not running the NR. A worthy opponent has sunk to the level of charicature and self-inflated soap box.

— Posted by Doug l
21.March 15th,
10:25 am Like Bob Wilcox, in post number 10 above, I had trouble with
“More in Seurat than in Ingres” until I recalled the line from Hamlet:
“More in sorrow than in anger.” (Pardon their French.)

— Posted by Steve Samuels
22.March 15th,
10:38 am There are undoubtedly countless numbers amongst the literati who are educated beyond their intelligence, WFB, assuredly did not fall into that category!

— Posted by Warren Hughes
23.March 15th,
10:55 am To Bob Wilson:
“more in sorrow than in anger” is from Hamlet. The French pronunciation of Seurat and Ingres are close (enough) to sorrow and anger.

I love these reminiscences and the focus on language, but I have to agree with the “consummate snob” comment. . . . .

— Posted by Czar
24.March 15th,
11:12 am For those that asked…
More in Seurat (pronounced sur-rah; sounds like sorrow) than in Ingres (pronounced ang-res; sounds like anger)
I think that Dick had a problem with Jamestown being described as the first ‘permanent’ settlement when in fact it failed. I could be wrong on that one…


— Posted by Stephen Cassidy
25.March 15th,
11:13 am William F. Buckley was an unrepentant racist hiding his views behind a facade of intellectual pretension. His passing will not be mourned.

— Posted by jk8790
26.March 15th,
11:13 am Nonpareil, raconteur…different costume, but underneath, the same as the Limbaughs and the Coulters he spawned. We won’t be telling funny stories about their charm and thank you notes after they’re gone. Sorry, I don’t mourn Bill Buckley.

— Posted by DFC
27.March 15th,
11:22 am Someone and I can’t recall who once said of Buckley that he was a learned and erudite man who knew everything except what it is like to have been born without the silver spoon, and of that he was glaringly ignorant.

— Posted by moon
28.March 15th,
11:26 am For those who struggled with

“To Richard, in deepest gratitude for “More in Seurat than in Ingres.” May I use it?
With affection,

as I did: More in sorrow than in anger.

— Posted by Anonymous
29.March 15th,
11:32 am Like everyone else I am charmed and impressed by these anecdotes of his erudition.
Did anyone else witness the aggressive ignorance of Buckley when he interviewed Derrida?

— Posted by Bernard harte
30.March 15th,
11:36 am More in sorrow…

Ouch! But thanks to all who helped.

I haven’t found the error in the multiple choice questions, except that it might be ‘the freedom of speech and religion’ which is in the first amendment to the constitution (and thus part of it). That would be splitting hairs (I suppose you could argue that the Bill of Rights is not a real law, but just a common name for the first 10 amendments to the constitution).

— Posted by bob Wilcox
31.March 15th,
11:37 am I don’t care how nice William F. Buckley was to his friends. I don’t care that he was witty and erudite. I don’t even care that he was a cultured man who spoke several languages, played the harpsichord, and loved Bach. None of that really matters except to those who knew him personally. What does matter is that, with few exceptions, he was on the wrong side of every important issue facing post-World War II America. And it matters a great deal that he spawned the movement that has resulted in the disasters that the current occupant of the White House has unleashed upon the country and the world.
A man who never worked a day in his life out of necessity, William F. Buckley could be counted on to oppose the efforts of men and women who actually work for a living to obtain a bigger slice of the pie for themselves. He was always, however, eloquent in defense of the prerogatives of those who, like himself, were born into unearned wealth and privilege.
Likewise, Buckley was a consistent opponent of the struggles of non-wealthy minorities (blacks, Latinos, women, gays, you name it) to claim for themselves the rights that he took for granted for himself. The National Review, the magazine that he founded and funded, might as well have been a Klan publication, just disguised with better grammar and an impressive vocabulary, when it dealt with most minority issues.
He was an apologist for McCarthyism and his first book was an attack on the very idea of intellectual and academic freedom in universities. He suggested that people with AIDS be tattooed. He called a debating opponent (Gore Vidal) a “queer” on national television. The list goes on and on. He reserved his compassion for those who didn’t need it and his scorn for the unfortunate. That he did so behind a fa├žade of wit and charm makes it worse, in my opinion.

— Posted by MTS
32.March 15th,
11:43 am I have learned more about WFB from the comments than from Cavett’s piece.

— Posted by John Podsiadlo
33.March 15th,
11:44 am More in Thoreau than in Ingres would have been better understood by lispers, but alas Thoreau was not a painter.

— Posted by Joel Wapnick
34.March 15th,
11:46 am Reflecting upon the snottiness that William F. Buckley wallowed in from time to time–it makes
my number one wish (as I rub the lamp) to be the
making of dueling fashionable again and that dear
Billy would be held accountable at dawn!

— Posted by Michael M. Macara
35.March 15th,
11:55 am Jamestown did not fail. The capital of the colony was there until 1692, when it was moved to higher ground. James City shire, which included Jamestown, persists. The colony, originally centered there, is now Virginia. This is as permanent as the questioned intended that to mean. Salem was founded 1626, Providence 1636, Philadelphia per se even later. So was one of the other answers wrong, Mr. Cavett ?

— Posted by geo
36.March 15th,
11:57 am OK, I give up. Where’s the mistake in the quiz?

— Posted by ex-Khobar Andy
37.March 15th,
11:58 am The first time I ever saw Mr. Buckley was in the late 70’s and on his TV show. I was in my early 20’s at the time and my first thought, equally admiring and suspicious, was “This is the American prince!” Watching him was deeply and terribly affirming of the sense I’d always had that the powerful elite of our country held me and my loved ones in utter contempt. Contempt for our ignorance, contempt for our poverty, both of which, according to their view, we roundly deserved, having brought them on ourselves through poor breeding, indolence, and the stubborn refusal to recognize our betters.

Thanks so much to Greg Tamblyn for mentioning the youtube videos of debates with Noam Chomsky. I can’t wait to see them. My own favorites were a discussion with the Dalai Lama and a debate with John Kenneth Galbraith.

The Dalai Lama had with him an interpreter. At one point in the discussion, Mr. Buckley protests that the interpreter “is speaking English!” “Yes,” replies the Dalai Lama “but much simpler.”

As for the debate with Mr. Galbraith, I remember that on the subject of trickle down theory, Mr. Galbraith invoked his grandfather and said that if you feed enough oats to the donkeys even the birds will get some. Now, I much admire Mr. Galbraith and it might be that I actually heard him say that in some other context and have only retroactively juxtaposed it with Mr. Buckley. But, if so, I think it is a very apt juxtaposition and one that highlights a truly noble use of wit.

— Posted by Pallas Stanford
38.March 15th,
12:06 pm My only encounter with WFB occurred perhaps 35 years ago, when he was guest speaker at a dinner hosted by a professional society. The person who introduced Buckley was an older man whom some knew to have a terminal illness that may have affected his cognition. He spoke at great length and with many attempts at wit and erudition that fell flat before an audience that wanted only to hear the headliner speak. When Buckley finally was allowed to rise, he avoided the obvious remarks one could make about speakers who drone on far too long, instead offered brief thanks for a kind introduction, then launched into his prepared remarks.
Though I now despise the politics WFB espoused, I will always remember the humanity and compassion of a brilliant duelist who could demolish any opponent but knew when to hold his fire.

— Posted by James Morrison
39.March 15th,
12:13 pm I was trying to formulate my netagive thoughts about WFB but MTS has just said it much better than I could. He has charmingly assured that the resources and assets of the United States would end up in the hands of a very few. The rest of us don’t really appreciate the charm.

— Posted by Gene Matthews
40.March 15th,
12:17 pm A wizzard with words, but a very poor communicator.

— Posted by John Cornell
41.March 15th,
12:21 pm My one contact with Buckley was over 25 years ago. I was appalled to read in his column published in the Albuquerque Journal his statement that Mexico had supported Nazi Germany in WWII. I sent a letter to him via the newspaper (this was in those bygone days before email) and a few weeks later I was surprised to receive a letter from him, actually admitting he had erred. Buckley’s defense was that when he was in Mexico during the 1940s, he remembered hearing pro-Nazi sentiments from the people he socialized with. And without checking the facts, wrote that calumny in his column. For the record, as I told him, Mexico declared war on the Axis in 1942 after a couple of its merchant ships were torpedoed by German submarines. It was an ally of the US and contributed a volunteer fighter squadron that saw action in the Pacific with US forces. I thought this was important to clarify because Mexico, then as now, was not generally portrayed sympathetically or accurately in the American media. I was amused by Buckley’s response and could only conclude that he palled around with a bunch of Nazis during his student days in Mexico City.

— Posted by Carl Mora
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About Dick Cavett
The host of “The Dick Cavett Show” — which aired on ABC from 1968 to 1975 and on public television from 1977 to 1982 — Dick Cavett is also the coauthor of two books, “Cavett” (1974) and “Eye on Cavett” (1983). He has appeared on Broadway in “Otherwise Engaged” “Into the Woods” and as narrator in “The Rocky Horror Show,” and has made guest appearances in movies and on TV shows including “Forrest Gump” and “The Simpsons.” Mr. Cavett lives in New York City and Montauk, N.Y.
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March 14
41 commentsUncommoner Than Thou: Buckley, Part Two

A very different story about how William F. Buckley ruled the airwaves.

March 7
226 commentsA Most Uncommon Man

A friendship begins with some on-the-air viciousness.

February 29
325 commentsThe Night of My Nights, No Longer

The Academy Awards ceremonies are almost unrelievedly bad–it’s amazing to recall that, once, you actually wished the broadcast lasted longer.

February 22
78 commentsBobby and You

More on Bobby Fischer, including responses to readers.

February 8
270 commentsWas It Only a Game?

It was a very different Bobby Fischer who appeared on Dick Cavett’s show years ago.

When Morgenson Writes, Listen-Up

She raises the question of Why Bail Out the Very Worst Evildoer? And the answer is scary.

American Energy Newsletter -- Valuable From a Good Source

George Bush's Speech to New York Economic Club Yesterday -- Yikes

Gail Collins writes well and is properly ascerbic.

Bear Stears and Yikes

Today's NYT article spells things out pretty well.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Heating Oil Prices Massachusetts

Well, the heating season is almost over.

Chicago is King

With commodities taking off, Rick Santelli makes more and more sense than the Wall Street guys. A commodities-trader environment is much better in the current environment, as going short is just as easy as going long. So, Chicago, and Illinois, should prosper. And of course the Midwest too! (Farmers, etc.)

Just as Texas should continue to prosper.

The losers: New York City and New Jersey.

David Brooks is Priceless This Morning

Without naming the person you know who he is talking about. But what a description of "the type!"

Krugman's Take on Fed's Latest and Innovative Move

A drop in the bucket, he says.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Maybe Something, Maybe Little, Perhaps, and Certainly Late

Anybody who read Liar's Poker, oh, about 20 years ago, knew what was coming. So all this hand-wringing now is about 20-years too late. Wall Street has been gaming the system to the detriment of Main Street, and always will.

Carlyle Causing Today's World Stock and Bond Problems

Leverage on leverage, with the underlying securities being top-notch. Must be many, many hedge funds in this type of situation.

"Its portfolio is comprised entirely of securities issued by Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), which the fund has said effectively carry a government guarantee. The market value of these securities has fallen in recent weeks, however, as the credit crisis has slashed demand for all types of mortgage securities."

"The fund's counterparties include Bank of America (BAC), Bear Stearns (BSC), BNP Paribas (013110), Citigroup (C), Credit Suisse (CS), Deutsche Bank (DB), J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), UBS (UBS) and others."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another Arrest in Kerviel Societe Generale Case

More, but not too revealing. Still, no one talks about why the bank didn't get a margin call within one day of the big bets. That would have exposed what was going on.