Dependable Erection

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Great Schlep

I wonder how many readers will get this?
The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.


Continue reading The Great Schlep

David Price

A friend and reader was kind enough to share this email from Representative David Price in response to a query about his position on the "bailout" bill, which was rejected by the House of Representatives yesterday.
Thank you for contacting me about our country's financial crisis and the proposed recovery legislation. Today the House defeated this legislation, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, by a vote of 205 to 228, despite my support.

Like you, I do not have any interest in "bailing out" Wall Street firms and business leaders who have speculated recklessly, endangered our country's consumers and homebuyers, and resisted regulation that would protect the public interest. My concern is for Main Street - for the people depending on a sound economy and the availability of credit to buy a house or car, to run their business and meet payroll, and to save for college and retirement.

Like it or not, we are all in this together, and the entire economy is threatened as we teeter on the edge of a 1929-style meltdown. Today Wachovia Bank, a North Carolinamainstay, collapsed. But this goes much deeper than bank failures. Last week, the City of Raleigh could not find a buyer for a $300 million bond, and Wake County cancelled its planned $472 million bond issue for school construction, Wake Tech, libraries, and open space acquisition. Both have AAA bond ratings.

Although President Bush lacks the credibility to be of much help, I take the dire warnings of economic analysts very seriously, particularly in light of everything that has happened in the last few weeks. But I could not support Secretary Paulson's request for a blank check for $700 billion to purchase mortgage-backed securities and stabilize the markets.

I thus became part of the intensive discussions over the last ten days to rewrite the Treasury plan in several critical respects. The legislation which came before us today would:

o Provide strict independent oversight and accountability for all activities undertaken by the US Treasury
o Release the $700 billion in installments, with multiple reviews along the way
o Make certain that the entire $700 billion is recaptured by the Treasury and thus by the American taxpayer, by requiring that taxpayers share in any profits resulting from the government's help and providing for assessment of the financial industry for any remaining losses
o Forbid "golden parachutes" and limit other compensation for executives of participating financial institutions.
o Require the government to work with participating institutions and loan servicers to help deserving homeowners negotiate reasonable repayment terms and stay in their homes

The defeat of the bill prolongs and perhaps deepens the crisis. Coordinating with the Senate, the House will need to return within days to try again. Perhaps the economic situation will then lead some members to reconsider. Perhaps the bill can be changed in ways that attract a majority; I certainly have a list of improvements I would like to see. But considering the members who voted "no," I will want to scrutinize carefully any changes designed to attract them.

I am committed over the next few days to continue working to avert financial collapse and get the best possible deal for America's taxpayers and homeowners. I welcome and share your concern about this situation and will be glad to hear from you at any time.



Member of Congress

To my knowledge, the rejected bill did nothing to eliminate so-called 'golden parachutes" that are written into existing employment contracts for CEOs and other executives of failing and troubled financial institutions. Unlike, for instance, contracts that steel or airline companies had with their union employees to cover pensions and health care for retirees, which were torn up by bankruptcy judges, these golden parachutes are not going to be reconsidered. Similarly, the provision that the taxpayer get all of this bailout money back? Not exactly carved in stone. And i wouldn't bet my mortgage that the bill would "help deserving homeowners negotiate reasonable repayment terms and stay in their homes."

There are other alternatives to the modified Paulson plan that Democrats mostly supported, and Republicans mostly rejected. Why not write a bill that all Democrats can support, pass it in the House and Senate, and let the Republicans and George Bush stand against it? They've spent the past two weeks yelling that the sky is falling. We tried to play their game their way, and they still acted like a bunch of high school bullies.

Fuck 'em.

Isn't this exactly why we elected Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress two years ago?

: Some good discussion of what i'm thinking here.

Update II: Direct and to the point.
Public sentiment remains against this bailout, but the public wants something to be done to address the current crisis. We have some breathing room. Since we're now doing "Government By Dow", I should point out that the Dow is up 266 points as I write this (10:00 a.m. PT). So the markets don't think the world will end today.

So it's time to craft a progressive solution to this problem and ditch the GOP. We have the majorities. Show some leadership. Pass a bailout plan with Democratic support, and then dare Bush to veto it. If things are as dire as he claims, he won't have much of a choice.

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Continue reading David Price

Monday, September 29, 2008

Party like it's 1929


Continue reading Party like it's 1929

Two thoughts

1. Rep. John Boehner is an asshole. The problem with the bailout is not what Nancy Pelosi had to say this morning. It's that George Bush and Dick Cheney were working the phones trying to get it passed. Republicans know better than Democrats how toxic those two are, and they're running as far away from them as they can get. If Bush wants this thing to pass, what he should do is have him and Cheney come out strongly against it.

2. Despite all the posturing, the bailout actually does very little to limit the so-called "golden parachutes" that many execs at failing companies are due to receive. It's in their contracts. But you know what? Companies routinely file for bankruptcy protection to get out of contracts they signed with their unionized employees to limit their exposure to health care and retirement fund commitments. Why are CEOs any better than line workers in this regard?

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Continue reading Two thoughts

Pride images

Individual images, if you care to see them, are here.


Continue reading Pride images

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Wait till next year.

There are a lot of ways that the team could respond to crashing and burning two years in a row. Giving Omar Minaya a 4 year contract extension isn't one of them.


Continue reading Mets

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Camden Ave., San Jose, CA


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Friday, September 26, 2008


Expect a lot of noise over the next 6 weeks in local media and blogs over the 1% prepared meals tax. Think of it as a surcharge when you go out to dinner. An extra 85 cents on top of that bill at Piedmont, or an extra nickel for a value meal at Mickey D's. Some people think this puts an unfair burden on the lower income folks in our town. I disagree. I believe that the 2% the county collects on items at the grocery store is a much more onerous tax, and i'm not hearing anyone talk about repealing that any time soon. But i'll concede that it's a worthwhile discussion to have, as is the related conversation about what the money should be spent on, assuming the tax is approved.

Here's another surcharge that i just encountered that's not getting anywhere near the attention that the 1% meals tax is. The folks at St Joseph's just dropped an email bomb alerting Blues Festival fans that B.B. King tickets for the opening night event at the Durham Performing Arts Center are available in a special presale. Tickets are priced at $38 for nosebleed seats, to $68 for orchestra and "Grand Tier" seats. No problem there. those prices are a bit high for my pocket, but YMMV. I assume that the prices will be the same when the general public is allowed to buy tickets. But the only way you can buy tickets is through Ticket Master. And Ticket Master is tacking on a whopping $7.75 per ticket, plus an additional "convenience" fee of $2.50 per order, just to be able to print your tickets at home. (You can also have them sent UPS 2 day delivery for about $16 per order, or USPS regular mail for free.) That's an 11% surcharge if you're buying top price tickets, and 20% if you're buying the cheap seats. These are tickets being sold to an event at a taxpayer funded venue. And there don't appear to be any alternatives than TM for buying a ticket. Clicking the link for tickets at the DPAC site take you to the Ticket Master site. If the house sells out, that's a cool $20K in "convenience" charges alone for TM, and as much as a half million per year, depending on how many shows get put on. I can't imagine that TM isn't getting a contract fee to manage ticket sales over and above the "convenience" charge.

That should be raising a few more eyebrows than whether or not Durhamites want to tax ourselves (and our visitors) a penny for each dollar we spend eating out, no?

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Continue reading Surcharges

Didn't see that coming

News reports are saying that "Maverick" John McCain is going to be at the debate tonight after all. I guess it's Mission Accomplished in DC.

Here's the deal. House Republicans know that George Bush is toxic. They're never going to sign off on a "bailout" plan that originates from the White House. If Democrats, including Barack Obama, support this plan, Republicans, including St. John, are going to hang a George Bush shaped albatross around their necks between now and November 4.

The scary thing is that Pelosi and Reid are stupid enough to fall into this trap. It's not like there aren't other options available.


Continue reading Didn't see that coming

Daily affirmation

Some days i get depressed because it doesn't look like i'll achieve some of those goals i set out for myself when i was young, like winning a Nobel Prize in physics, or at least a Nebula Award for best novel.

Then i realize, hey, at least i didn't fuck up an entire country.


Continue reading Daily affirmation

Mr. Happy

I'm still catching up on Bull City happenings after being out of town for pretty much all of September. So Kevin got a chance to "fill me in" (no pun intended) on the latest doings in the pothole fixing and road paving business.

Seems the city of Durham now has a mascot to let its citizens know it takes the job seriously.


A sex toy with boots and a shovel. He's even got a little green light to tell you whether he's off or on.

Tell you what, City of Durham. When you're done with him, i'm going to adopt him as the official mascot of Dependable Erection, OK?


Continue reading Mr. Happy

Thursday, September 25, 2008


It's official.

A rescue for the U.S. financial system unraveled on Thursday amid accusations Republican presidential candidate John McCain scuppered the deal, and Washington Mutual was closed by U.S. authorities and its assets sold in America's biggest ever bank failure.

As negotiations over an unprecedented $700 billion bailout to restore credit markets degenerated into chaos, the largest U.S. savings and loan bank was taken over by authorities and its deposits auctioned off. U.S. stock futures fell by more than 1 percent.

The third-largest U.S. bank JPMorgan Chase & Co said it bought the deposits of Washington Mutual Inc, which has seen its stock price virtually wiped out because of massive amounts of bad mortgages. The government said there would be no impact on WaMu's depositors and customers. JPMorgan said it would be business as usual on Friday morning.


Continue reading Memories

Drinking liberally

Tonight - 7-9pm, at the Broad Street Cafe.


Continue reading Drinking liberally

Rasmussen: Obama up 2 in NC

Holy moly!
Barack Obama has a two-point advantage over John McCain in the traditionally Republican state of North Carolina.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the Tar Heel State shows Obama attracting 49% of the vote while McCain earns 47%. A week ago, McCain held a three-point edge. This is the first time in eight Rasmussen Reports polls that Obama has held any kind of a lead in North Carolina, though the candidates were tied once as well.

The candidates have now been within three points of each other in six of the last seven polls. The sole exception came in August when McCain held a four-point advantage. Nationally, the race between Obama and McCain remains close in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.


Continue reading Rasmussen: Obama up 2 in NC

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Memo to Grover Norquist

Re: Your plan to make government small enough to "drown in a bathtub."

How's that working out for you?


Continue reading Memo to Grover Norquist



Continue reading Funny


I think today is John McCain's Thomas Eagleton moment.

Looks like i'm not alone.


Continue reading Eagleton

They didn't say that, did they?

NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports, advisors say they are also reaching out to Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe to discuss pulling ads as well. (That can be difficult once they are in station traffic rotations.)

McCain advisors say they will do all the debates but the schedule is up in the air.
They also deny that there is a political calculation in this and say without action the country could slide into a Depression by Monday and added "we'll see 12 percent unemployment" if action is not completed.

Holy fucking shit.

How stupid do they think we are


Continue reading They didn't say that, did they?

Call me naive . . .

and un-American if you want, but i think what i'd most like to see right now is a discussion, in public, between the two candidates for President, of exactly what their positions are regarding our financial crisis, how it happened, who's responsible, and what needs to be done about it.

None of this Chicken Little shit that Bernanke and Paulson are running around spewing.

Come on, John. Show us what you got.


Continue reading Call me naive . . .

The fundamentals of our economy are strong

That was then:

This is now:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Wednesday said he will break off from campaigning to help on a Wall Street rescue plan and asked that a Friday night debate with Democrat Barack Obama be postponed.

McCain, in a statement to reporters, said he would suspend his campaign on Thursday to return to Washington and called on Obama to join him, saying he had spoken to the Democrat.

He said he did not believe a current $700 billion rescue plan would pass the U.S. Congress in its current form. He urged President George W. Bush to call for a bipartisan meeting of lawmakers to try to find an agreement.

"It's time for both parties to come together to solve this problem," he said.

OK, so what the fuck changed in the past week that Saint John is going to "suspend" his campaign and ask Barack Obama to do the same? Besides his tanking poll numbers, that is?

UPDATE: In poking around the interweb for this post i cam across this from the Foreign Policy blog last week:
It is a pretty tone deaf thing to say on a day when the Dow loses more than 500 points -- its worst session in seven years. And it is looking increasingly false, Donald Luskin's horribly timed best efforts to the contrary.

But still, is what McCain said any different than what Obama might be saying a year from now if he's in the Oval Office and -- as many expect -- things continue to go south? What's he going to tell the American people then? "This economy is going down in flames! Head for the hills and hide the children!"

(emphasis mine)

Isn't that exactly the message that John McCain is sending to the American people right now? I don't remember reading that the 1932 presidential campaign needed to be suspended at any point in time, just as an example. So either John McCain was flat out lying last week, when he said our economy was still "fundamentally strong," or he's in complete panic mode right now.

Neither exactly qualifies as "leadership" if you know what i mean.

UPDATE II: So the McCain camp tries to spin this as showing that McCain is "above politics?" And the Washington Post swallows it hook, line, and sinker? No wonder the newspaper business is going to the dogs.

McCain senior advisor Mark Salter told reporters Wednesday that the Arizona senator’s decision followed two days of discussions with colleagues on Capitol Hill, who told him that the bailout plan from Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson faced an uphill fight.

He also said that McCain called President Bush today and told him of the plan, but would not characterize the president’s reaction to the proposal.

The McCain campaign will suspend airing all ads and all campaign events pending an agreement with Obama, though Salter did not know whether John McCain will suspend fundraising activities.

He added that McCain would take part in the debate as scheduled if Congress reached agreement on the measure by Friday morning.
(Emphasis added)

So this is the McCain camps equivalent of threatening to hold their breath until they turn blue? Either pass the bailout plan, or i won't debate you? Who's pulling this man's strings?


Continue reading The fundamentals of our economy are strong


Apparently some information is making the rounds regarding "dress codes" and electioneering for the November election. For example, Snopes has an article today entitled "Passive electioneering" which indicates that in some jurisdictions, wearing a T-Shirt with the name of your supported candidate can get you thrown out of the polling place in some jurisdictions. And an email i've recently received says that on the Steve Harvey radio program, he pretty definitively told folks that they can't wear buttons, hats or T-shirts with the candidate's name or logo to the polls.

This word from the State Board of Elections General Counsel, Mr. Don Wright, should dispel that notion, at least here in North Carolina:
A voter may enter a voting place to vote wearing political items as long as they proceed to vote in a orderly and timely manner, and do not attempt to electioneer within the voting place. A voter wearing a t-shirt saying "Vote for X" who shouts "vote for X" or places his
T-shirt in the sightline of voters asking support for "X" is obviously electioneering and will be asked to refrain from the conduct at once, and if they continue will be removed.

A voter that has a political cap, T-shirt, or button and does not electioneer within the polling place will be allowed to vote in a normal matter.

Wear your T-shirt proudly.

(via Durham Democratic Party)


Continue reading Voting

Tuesday, September 23, 2008



Looks like there's a whole lot more potential bloggers in the marketplace now. Guess i'll never turn a profit with this gig.


Continue reading N&O

Fundamentally strong

That was then.

This is now:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke bluntly warned Congress on Tuesday it risks a recession, with higher unemployment and increased home foreclosures, if it fails to act on the Bush administration's plan to bail out the financial industry.

Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee that failure to act could leave ordinary businesses unable to borrow the money they need to expand and hire additional employees, while consumers could find themselves unable to finance big-ticket purchases such as cars and homes.

The Senate Banking Committee listened in silence as the nation's central banker sketched his scenario.


Continue reading Fundamentally strong

419 spam?

Circulating via email:
Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

h/t to JP

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Continue reading 419 spam?


No gas at Costco this morning. Driving back from Richmond yesterday afternoon, the station i topped at on the NC/VA line was out of 89 and 93 grade gas.

Supposedly, supply interruptions caused by Hurricane Ike are to blame, but at least some reports have the shortages beginning in late August.

Meanwhile, 2/3 of North Carolinian adults think that opening our coastline to more drilling for oil will help.

Go figure.

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Continue reading Gas?


A photo essay for my friend Kevin.

Photos taken at various locations in San Francisco, Oakland, San Carlos, and Ft. Bragg, California.


Continue reading Pizza!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Been on the road all day. Did i buy any new banks?


Continue reading Traveling

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Pine St., Fort Bragg, CA


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Saturday, September 20, 2008

West Coast blogging - Day 13

Just a few shots from our Anchor Steam tour yesterday.

Back in 1965, Fritz Maytag, a scion of the Maytag appliance family, bought a failing local brewery in town for, what our tour guide described as, "the price of a used car." The Anchor Steam Brewing Company is one of the models for all those who attempt to make a livelihood out of brewing craft beers. The single brewery is located at DeHaro and Mariposa Streets, in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.

Later today, it's back to the East Bay for a final visit with some old friends, before a 4 am wakeup call for our light back east. Monday i get to go to Richmond to be on a blogging panel at the International City and County Managers Association annual conference, so probably ne new posts before Monday night or Tuesday morning. Maybe we'll have a nationalized banking system by then.


Continue reading West Coast blogging - Day 13

Thursday, September 18, 2008

West Coast blogging - day 12

Thursday's big event was a visit to the new de Young Museum of Art in Golden Gate Park. The Dale Chihuly show is in its final week, and was just a great surprise to stumble into.

More info on Dale Chihuly here.

The view from the observation tower isn't bad, either.

Later today, we'll be touring the Anchor Steam brewing company, the granddaddy of the American craft brewing revival, which is only a couple of blocks from where we're staying in the city.

Meanwhile, here's a thought.

If John McCain was running as a Democrat, do you think Sarah Palin would be saying he knew how to win a war?


Continue reading West Coast blogging - day 12

West Coast blogging - day 10 & 11

OK, it's just getting too nuts to try and keep up with everything that we've been doing in the limited time we've got on-line. Not to mention that there's so much more to do in the few days we've got left here.

Tuesday and Wednesday we went up and down the coast to Ft. Bragg (about 8 miles north of Mendocino) and back. Going up, we tasted beer; coming back, we tasted wine. (Mendocino Brewing, Anderson Valley Brewing, and North Coast Brewing up; Simi, Husch, and Brutocao vineyards on the way down.)

I'm sure most of you really want to know how my fantasy soccer team, The Dependables, are doing, anyway. First place in the local Durham league, thank you, and back up into about the top 2200 out of 1.5 million in the overall standings. That's in the EPL league. In the Guardian league, not so good. Only in the top third, out of about 80,000.

Here's a photo essay of the past two days, in roughly chronological order. Captions to follow, maybe tomorrow.

Wild boar burger at the Bluebird Cafe, Hopland, CA

Anderson Valley Brewing Company brewhouse tour

Mendocino coast line

Fort Bragg, CA

Point Reyes (approaching Golden Gate) and the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset


Continue reading West Coast blogging - day 10 & 11