Saturday, September 27, 2008

garden cats

Since it's a fine afternoon with golden sunlight pouring into the room, the weekly grocery shopping done, dinner simmering on the stove and a nice cup of tea nearby, I thought I'd look back at the earliest posts I'd made to phantsy. This painting was among them and I found it suits my mood right now.

It's been a wild week and none of us knows what's to come but for right now I'm at peace. I hope you are too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

susan's at work - & i'm not...

susan says she's tired of the whole 'bailout' thing at this point, & who's to blame her - like the run-up to the invasion of afghanistan (& iraq), once the narrative's in place, & the 'shoot first, & ask questions later' mainstream conversation's reduced to the hows & whens, with all thoughts on whether or not it's a good idea in the first place assigned to the dustbin, well, one's personal options are once again reduced to a) either lighting a candle or cursing the darkness (i prefer the latter, myself - pointless, yet childishly satisfying), & b) moving on...

that said, as we now enter into this brave new commercial dystopia, where, overnight, we find what used to be our country now transformed into the world's largest hedge fund & we, as citizens, its disenfranchised shareholders, i'd (with her okay) like to share a couple of parting observations on the whole mess...

observation #1: it's not 'all of our fault' that this happened

from eliot spitzer's wapo editorial 'predatory lenders' partner in crime' (021408):

Predatory lending was widely understood to present a looming national crisis. This threat was so clear that as New York attorney general, I joined with colleagues in the other 49 states in attempting to fill the void left by the federal government. Individually, and together, state attorneys general of both parties brought litigation or entered into settlements with many subprime lenders that were engaged in predatory lending practices. Several state legislatures, including New York's, enacted laws aimed at curbing such practices.

What did the Bush administration do in response? Did it reverse course and decide to take action to halt this burgeoning scourge? As Americans are now painfully aware, with hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure and our markets reeling, the answer is a resounding no.

Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.

Let me explain: The administration accomplished this feat through an obscure federal agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC has been in existence since the Civil War. Its mission is to ensure the fiscal soundness of national banks. For 140 years, the OCC examined the books of national banks to make sure they were balanced, an important but uncontroversial function. But a few years ago, for the first time in its history, the OCC was used as a tool against consumers.

In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government's actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules.

But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the OCC filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation.

this editorial seems to provide conclusive evidence that the financial industry, via the white house, & in the face of any attempt to inject some level of sanity into the proceedings, was dead determined to take the (traditionally unqualified) prospective american home buyer for every cent it could get its hands on - now! - , whatever the cost of the potential consequences down the road. period...

now, i realize it takes 2 to tango (i love that expression!), & that ignorance, even on the part of the illiterate & the elderly, is no excuse. & i realize that house-fippers/equity-cashers knew full well what kind of pyramid scheme they were involved in. but i also realize this: if our government no longer exists to protect us (even from ourselves) by way of imposing restrictions & protections, but rather to simply expedite greed & fraud, then we really need not have any government, or elected officials, or 'laws', at all...

the current situation is not 'all of our fault' - those of us who were tricked & lied to, & those of us who either knew well enough to steer clear of the whole thing, or couldn't afford to house-flip even if we'd wanted to, had absolutely nothing to do with this mess... & i'm thinking this includes a helluva lot of us...

observation #2: the current mess is not 'all about bad mortgages'

from james kelleher's article 'buffett's 'time bomb' goes off on wall street' (091908):

Recent events suggest Buffett was right. The collapse of Bear Stearns. The fire sale of Merrill Lynch. The meltdown at American International Group (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). In each case, credit default swaps played a role in the fall of these financial giants.

The latest victim is insurer AIG, which received an emergency $85 billion (47 billion pounds) loan from the U.S. Federal Reserve late on Tuesday to stave off a bankruptcy.

Over the last three quarters, AIG suffered $18 billion of losses tied to guarantees it wrote on mortgage-linked derivatives.

Its struggles intensified in recent weeks as losses in its own investments led to cuts in its credit ratings. Those cuts triggered clauses in the policies AIG had written that forced it to put up billions of dollars in extra collateral -- billions it did not have and could not raise.


When the credit default market began back in the mid-1990s, the transactions were simpler, more transparent affairs. Not all the sellers were insurance companies like AIG -- most were not. But the protection buyer usually knew the protection seller.

As it grew -- according to the industry's trade group, the credit default market grew to $46 trillion by the first half of 2007 from $631 billion in 2000 -- all that changed.

An over-the-counter market grew up and some of the most active players became asset managers, including hedge fund managers, who bought and sold the policies like any other investment.

And in those deals, they sold protection as often as they bought it -- although they rarely set aside the reserves they would need if the obligation ever had to be paid.

while, msm-wise, it may not be quite as sexy as 'mortgage defaults', you can't tell me that $46 trillion dollars, all of it non-transparent & completely unregulated, an amount of money that actually dwarfs the holdings of all of wall street & the non-shadow banking industry, isn't at least somewhat sexy? isn't at least worthy of some mention?...

think about it: had this current 'crisis' happened way back when, back before mortgages were bundled, re-bundled, & then re-bundled again, what would the solution involve? at most, a take-over/dissolution of a finite number of broken lenders, & a dissolution/restructuring of a number of existent mortgages - a bad situation, to be sure, but much more doable, & much more along the lines of the s&l bailout, than this current mess...

this current mess, unfortunately, is not all about bad mortgages. rather, it's (partially) about what was done with those bad mortgages. it's about how a bunch of brokers/traders basically took those bad mortgages, threw them into a blender, added them to &/or combined them with any number of other similar, fabricated 'instruments', then went ahead & created more new 'instruments' based on those 'instruments', all of which in service to the interests of their own, self-created, computer-animated financial shadow casino. & it's this fantasy casino, free of oversight, where basically everyone who can afford to play is absolutely, positively guaranteed to win every time, that's now hit the wall, as the inevitable day of reckoning finally arrives, & the other, real-world economy (via a struggling consumer base) rears its head...

which's why the sudden rush, & why the initial version of the paulson-bernanke legislation is as brief (& as starkly, creepily revealing) as it is, & leaves such minor concerns as (re-)regulation & assisting homeowners to be dealt with down the road. it's because they themselves don't see bad mortgages as what this's really about. on the other hand, they don't see the existence of the casino as the true source of the problem - rather, they actually, desperately, want to attempt to save it, at least in some form, even if it means flushing even more real-world assets (ie, the fed, the treasury, the dollar) down the toilet in order to do so...

which, at this point, is similar to a child attempting to stop the incoming tide in order to save his/her sand castle. &, sadly, the fact that the shadow casino was created in such a way that its collapse will cause wide-spread, real-world collateral damage doesn't alter that...

i have no doubts that the situation's critical, & that the results of a collapse will be painful. but, to my mind, that's just one more good reason that, for better or worse, the casino really needs to be destroyed. never mind that any solution which involves preserving the cause of a problem will never be a way of truly solving it...

whew! - now you know why i don't blog :) ... thanks for hearing me out, & see you at the next shareholders meeting...

ps: & wouldn't you know it, the sec's chairman, appearing at a senate hearing today, just requested congressional authority to regulate credit default swaps (which the s&p is also - now! - acknowledging are contributing to a 'systemic crisis')...

the ap's take: 'A third witness, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox, urged Congress to regulate a type of corporate debt insurance that figured prominently in the country’s financial crisis.' put that way, credit default swaps sound kinda harmless... maybe even benign, in a way...

edit: okay - one last, final, final word...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

wanna date?

Do you get nervous when Wall St. gets excited?

"The Secretary’s authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700 billion outstanding at any one time."

I'm taking this to mean that once assets up to $700 billion have been unloaded by the Treasury at cost then another bad loan will become eligible. This can continue for as long as two years.

Then there's the outrageous Sec. 8. Review. Have you read it?

"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

This can't be constitutional.

Why is there such a rush to have this plan enacted by Congress tomorrow? Do you remember other lies told you by this administration where hasty actions had to be immediate? Let me list a couple:

The global War on Terror (GWOT).
Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.
The Patriot Act.
The Telecommunications Act.
Overturning the Geneva Conventions.

Why would any sensible person believe them now?

Henry Paulson was the Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs from 1998 to 2006 when he became Secretary of the Treasury. Does he still have friends and colleagues there? You betcha. Would it be better to let Wall Street bite the bullet? Henry Paulson says no, the financial system must be saved to protect the economy. But I wonder what he really wants to save.

The money spent on bailing out the banks won’t build bridges (not even to nowhere) won’t fix antiquated sewer systems, won’t fix roads, won’t pay for education, won’t be there for health insurance, won’t be there for your veterans, won’t be there for your national security, just won’t be there for anything you’ll eventually need.

There's a good chance it won't work at all. This is such a huge issue it's difficult to make any concise statement but if you haven't had much time for reading this one at Counterpunch is a good summation and another from the same source has more detail.

I'm thinking the current administration is putting a bandaid on an arterial wound in hopes it will stick on long enough for them to leave office and move to Dubai. Remember Dubai?

If I were to make a suggestion it would be to contact your Representatives in Congress and ask them to vote 'no' on this bailout. In its current form it's a dangerous gamble.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

counting chickens

Crow here again after a nice trip to the park with my old friends Mavis and Mathilda.

Just as I was getting ready to continue the description of the background of this particular collapse of human nest eggs who should happen by but susan's friend, Seraphine, who summed things up quite nicely with the following:

" ohh gosh, you only got it half right.
those guys weren't happy earning only 5% on mortgages, so the investment houses divided those pools into tranches, then they divided the tranches into subtranches, and they borrowed money to leverage those investments even further.
then, because they were borrowing money to purchase pools of already borrowed money, they decided to "insure" the pools by using as collateral the very pools they were insuring (it was a great way to add "liquidity" and generous fee income to their bottom lines).
then, of course, they'd take the income from their derivative investments and use it as further collateral to borrow even more money to lend to people who were desperate to own a home (after all, most poor people know the differance between haves and have-nots in america is home ownership. they'd do anything to own a home, and who can blame them?)
how stupid was that? the international monetary fund thinks about one trillion dollars will be lost by the time everything sorts out.
thank god america's founding fathers built square caskets, or they'd be rolling in their proverbial graves over this."

Smart lady. The end result for our homeowner friend, Clarence, was that when his mortgage payment rose more than $2000 per month and he wanted to go to the bank to refinance, nobody could figure out who owned the loan.

It turns out there's a brand new part to this story that I learned just today. A report in The NY Sun tells us that in 1975 the net capital rule was created to allow the SEC to oversee broker-dealers, or companies that trade securities for customers as well as their own accounts. It requires that firms value all of their tradable assets at market prices, and then it applies a discount, to account for the assets' market risk.

The net capital rule also requires that broker dealers limit their debt-to-net capital ratio to 12-to-1, although they must issue an early warning if they begin approaching this limit, and are forced to stop trading if they exceed it, so broker dealers often keep their debt-to-net capital ratios much lower.

In 2004, the European Union passed a rule allowing the SEC's European counterpart to manage the risk both of broker dealers and their investment banking holding companies. In response, the SEC instituted a similar, voluntary program for broker dealers with capital of at least $5 billion.

All five broker-dealers that qualified — Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley — joined. Using computerized models, the SEC, under its new Consolidated Supervised Entities program, allowed the broker dealers to increase their debt-to-net-capital ratios, sometimes, as in the case of Merrill Lynch, to as high as 40-to-1.

The new program required time-consuming oversight of the broker dealers by SEC officials and the use of subjective judgment calls. In many cases talented but low paid SEC employees left the federal government for much more lucrative jobs with the investment firms they had previously been paid to monitor.

Bear Stearns collapsed in March. Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs went broke earlier this week and word today is that Morgan Stanley is now in talks to merge with Wachovia.

It was only twenty years ago in 1989, and strangely enough, during the term of the other George Bush that the country suffered through the savings and loan disaster. A Senate Ethics Committee investigated the Keating Five including John McCain who wasn't convicted but never exonerated either. Now another President Bush was responsible for appointing the SEC chairman Christopher Cox who changed the net capital rule.

I think someone should tell Senator Obama about this.

Meanwhile, I've got to get in shape for a little branching out party Mavis and Mathilda have planned for the weekend.

They're expecting chicks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

but no raymond scott tonight

My friend (I think) Randal came by earlier to offer a challenge whereby one is supposed to list 25 favorite tracks or whatever happens to show up at random on one's electronic music playing device.

Except for all the typing involved this is a fairly easy project and since I too am bored with politics, economics (sorry, Crow) and waiting for a third set of teeth to grow, I've just been clicking through shuffle mode. So here goes with the first 25 (of 12,578) tracks to appear on this random evening:

Clock Town First Day - Koji Kondo - Legend of Zelda, Majora's Mask
Last Kind Word Blues - Geechie Wiley - Crumb
Bring on the Change - Midnight Oil - Breathe
Dramastically Different - Beastie Boys - The Mix-up
Boulevard of Broken Dreams - BOBD - It's the Talk of the Town
Rakh Baba - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Final Studio Recording
Why Are We Sleeping - Bongwater - Why Are We Sleeping
LSD = Truth - Lords of Acid - Our Little Secret
Cheap Thrills - Frank Zappa & MoI - Cruisin With Ruben & the Jets
Swallow My Pride - The Ramones - Weird Tales of the Ramones
Cool Confusion - The Clash - Black Market Clash
Tourniquet of Roses - The Residents - 13th Anniversary Album
Nice - Polysics - Hey Bob! My Friend!
Toot an' Toot an' Toot - Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up
Joker's Wild - Man or Astroman - Destroy All Astromen
Dirty Rats - Voodoo Glow Skulls - Who Is? This Is?
Click Clack - Captain Beefheart - The Dust Blows Forward
Bielamor Canal - L'Attirail - Cinema Ambulant
Valhalla - Various - Ar Tonelico
The Love Gang - Raveonettes - Chain Gang of Love
Lya Mur - Glyukoza - Nostra
We Will All Go Together When We Go - Tom Lehrer - The Remains of Tom Lehrer
Brand New Day - Cornelius - Boot
Love . War . Riot - Psychic TV - Origin of the Species
Book of Ways 3 - Keith Jarrett - Book of Ways

I never know what's coming up next but it sure is better than radio. Strange but fun.

Monday, September 15, 2008

saving grapes

Ahh, back in the comfy clothes and taking a nice evening walk to think over the radio show called 'the Giant Pool of Money' I listened to a couple of hours ago. Now I know most of you are too busy to spend much time studying the basics of the current economic difficulties but after I saw the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, telling everyone that the 'experts have it all under control' ( ..just move along, folks - nothing to see here), I decided to spend some time paraphrasing that program I mentioned in order to share the essentials with you. I mean who the heck are these 'experts' anyway? Are they the same experts who created the problem and if so, you wouldn't trust them with the milk money. It will take more than one session but I'll do my best to keep to the main points. Here goes with the first part:

According to a very nice lady named Ceyla Pazarbasioglu who is the head of capital market research at the International Monetary Fund the total amount of money in the world is approximately 70 trillion dollars. This refers to the subset of global savings called fixed-income securities which for most of modern history, meant buying really safe investments: things called treasuries and municipal bonds. Boring things. In 2000 the total amount of money in these funds was about 36 billion - an amount it had taken the world hundreds of years to accrue but things changed.

How did the world get twice as much money to invest? Lots of things happened, but the main headline is all sorts of poor countries became kind of rich making TVs and selling us oil: China, India, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia. They made a lot of money and banked it. Suddenly there was twice as much money looking for investments, but there were not twice as many good investments. So, the global army of investment managers all wanted the same thing: a nice low-risk investment that paid some return.

Then along came a not so nice man named Alan Greenspan, who by dropping the interest rates in the US to one percent, essentially told the world's investment bankers they were not going to make any money at all on US treasury bonds for a very long time. Go somewhere else.

So the global pool of money looked around for some low-risk, high-return investment. Among the many things they put their money into was the residential mortgage trading desk in the US. Mortgage interest was 5-9 percent - a heck of a lot better looking than the Fed's one percent - and this money was being paid to banks. The 70 trillion dollar pool was very interested in joining the action but for one problem - individual mortgages are too big a hassle for the global pool of money. Basically, what Wall Street did, was to figure out how to give the global pool of money all the benefits of a mortgage without the bother or the risk.

The chain works as follows: Clarence gets a mortgage from a broker. The broker sells the mortgage to a small bank, the small bank sells the mortgage to a big investment firm on Wall Street.

The firm takes a few thousand mortgages they've bought this way and puts them in one big pile. Now thousands of mortgage checks come in every month - a huge stream of money, which is expected to come in for the next thirty years, the life of a mortgage.

Then they sell shares of that monthly income to investors. Those shares are called mortgage backed securities. And the 70 trillion dollar global pool of money loved them.

We all know this hasn't turned out so well but I'm tired now and a branch is calling (and not a branch bank either). I'll return soon with part 2.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

i coulda cut it up

Crow spent the morning in goal at a soccer game so was a bit later than expected performing his duty here as the officially nominated chooser of the first and only phantsythat bloggiversary silk scarf contest winner.

Are you ready?

After careful consideration of all the morsels in his bowl he reached over and delicately plucked out a tightly folded piece of paper.

I unfolded it as he lit a post-game cigarette. He is a non-politically correct Crow.

The winner is : GFid

I hope you'll enjoy wearing it now and again when you're outside your cozy home far north of sanity. If Sarah P. drops by I hope you'll mention to her what the true north strong and free really means in current terms of reference.

Habitat for Humanity is a great organization.

Thanks everyone.

Friday, September 12, 2008

things can change

Maybe you know George Bush's friend in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently called a national election to take place on October 14th (they don't wait around). A couple of days ago Gary at Withinsight forwarded a letter from the Canadian Green Party asking for help:

'Today's decision by the broadcasting consortium is an inexcusable mistake and a slap in the face to all those who care about democracy and freedom of speech in this country. They have bowed to crass partisan politics from three other federal parties. Elizabeth May deserves to be in the included in the nationally-televised leaders' debates. She has jumped through every hoop that has barred her way and she still is being kept from presenting the Green platform to a national audience by the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc.

The Green party is a truly national party that has run candidates across the country for the past two elections. We have a sitting MP. We had the support of nearly 700,000 Canadians in the last elections and are polling at over one million votes in this election. There is no logical reason why Elizabeth May and the Green Party should be kept out of this important national forum.'

I sent a letter expecting as usual that nothing would happen to change the decision that was made mostly because Mr. Harper doesn't like Ms. May. Yesterday I received the following email which goes to prove that people really can make a difference:

Dear Green Party Supporter,

I am writing to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for supporting my campaign to be included in the televised leaders' debates.

Because of you and countless thousands like you who donated money and deluged the airwaves, the Internet, newspaper letters columns and politicians' inboxes with a national outpouring of outrage, the broadcasters have now reversed their decision to exclude the Green Party.

I am both humbled and inspired by what I have witnessed in the past few days – the exhilarating spectacle of Canadians rising up to protest a blatant injustice.

Your victory isn't just a victory for the Green Party, it's a victory for democracy and for the fundamental Canadian values of equality and fairness.

Thank you again for standing up for democracy.

Elizabeth May, O.C.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

9/11/01.. then GWOT?

We're on the eve of another 9/11 anniversary, the heartsickness of which beggers description for most people. The thing about memorials, though, is that they're supposed to make us feel as though we've learned to be better people by coming to a full understanding of a past tragedy. The problem with this anniversary in my mind is that although people do feel pain and sadness, our government continues to prosecute unjust wars against the people of Afganistan and Iraq. Thus the tragedy grows ever larger.

A quiet but knowledgeable opponent of the war against Iraq, General William Odom was buried at Arlington earlier this week. Among the many times he was interviewed and quoted about the war one comment stands out as being most succinct:

'The ill will created by our unilateral invasion and occupation of Iraq has shattered our ability to create a cooperative approach to stabilizing this region. Only a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq could win back the support of our allies and a few others for a joint approach to the region.

Once the invasion began in March 2003, all of the ensuing unhappy results became inevitable. The invasion of Iraq may well turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in American history. In any event, the longer we stay, the worse it will be. Until that is understood, we will make no progress with our allies or in devising a promising alternative strategy.'

Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office brought fresh evidence of the nation's worsening fiscal picture and predictions of an economy that could slide into recession. The agency's latest estimate of total appropriations since 2001 to fight terrorism and for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is $858 billion.

The war may no longer be front-page news but thousands of Americans are still fighting and dying there. The war is costing American taxpayers $10 billion a month--that is $10 billion that cannot be spent on health care, education and many other urgent priorities.

As we mourn the victims of 9/11 tomorrow, we should give some thought to those who have died since and those yet to die from a failure of American leadership after that trauma. Where will we be a year from now?


PS: I meant to mention how the election might get stolen again. They've caged 600k voters in Ohio already. Can you imagine being denied a ballot because you lost your house?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

phantsy a contest?

A year?

How'd that happen?

Where does the time go?

It happened.

It's still now.

So a contest for a silk scarf called 'Better Days Are Coming'.

I can give it a name because I painted it - so it's art to frame a person.

Maybe you don't want it for yourself but you may know someone who needs a nice present. The only condition is to write about something you'd like to see happen that would make the world a happier place. Profound or silly doesn't matter to me because the names of all entrants will be placed in Crow's dinner bowl one week from today and the first one he tosses out when he stops by for his peach pie will have the name of the winner.

Last night we watched a documentary about Joe Strummer of the Clash called 'The Future is Unwritten'. It's a wonderful film that I think you'd like.

Friday, September 5, 2008

keep smiling

Geez, the news this week:

At the Republican Convention a less than competent Presidential nominee nominated a frighteningly partisan, inexperienced, fundamentalist for the second in command spot on his ticket.

One can only shudder in contemplation of who he might decide to appoint to all the other offices under his direct control. I checked out wikipedia and found this:

"Various executive and judicial branch appointments are made by presidents, including presidents-elect. Up to 6,000 appointments may be made by an incoming president before he takes office, and 8,000 more may be made while in office. Ambassadors, judges of the federal court system, members of the Cabinet, and other federal officers are all appointed by the president, with the "advice and consent" of the Senate, granted by a simple majority."

One commenter on Alternet said:

Writes Atheistcable:

Personally, I hope that McCain keeps Palin as VP choice through October. I am glad that McCain is recognizing the demands of James Dobson and others. I hope that in mid-October, McCain tells the voters that he will appoint Born-Again Christian Tom DeLay as Secretary of the Treasury, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) as head of Health and Human Services. I hope that McCain recommends Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania as Secretary of State. If this list doesn't result in an 89% landslide victory for Barack Obama -- I don't know what would. But picking Palin is a great start -- I think she's wonderful for the Democrats.

If liberal bloggers freaked out this past week I think that the biggest reason was that we're now being given to understand the election won't be about policy at all. Instead, it's going to be a national test just to see exactly how stupid the American populace has become in the past decade.

The always insightful Paul Krugman probably said it best it yesterday's column about 'The Resentment Strategy' having worked for Republicans before. What the G.O.P. is selling, in other words, is the pure politics of resentment; you’re supposed to vote Republican to stick it to an elite that thinks it’s better than you.

This is truly crazy.

My Great Grandfather carved this little pin from a piece of ivory long before I was born and somehow it came to me. (I had major dental surgery yesterday so please forgive if the post lacks clarity. I'll recover)

and thanks so much to DivaJood for Arte Y Pico Award. It's not the award that counts, it's who thinks of you.