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Archive: March 2008

5th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

Five years after the invasion of Iraq and just shy of five years after it became evident to anyone with a television set (let alone an internet connection) that the war has been an utter fiasco with a death toll in the hundreds of thousands, I am close to sick to my stomach every time I hear another early and active war promoter tell me that this is no time to assign blame, that there will be plenty of time for that later, but that this is now the time to figure out how to move forward.

John McCain is the most prominent person making the argument, but Princeton University's Anne-Marie Slaughter has just made the point at the Huffington Post. And Glen Greenwald has responded so comprehensively that I don't know how Anne-Marie Slaughter will be able to show up for work on Monday morning.

Imagine if you went to a hospital to have an operation on your knee, and your surgeon completely botched it, permanently shattering your knee instead of fixing it and, in the process, needlessly removed your healthy kidney and recklessly damaged your heart and lungs. Then, as you tried to decide what you should do to rectify the damage -- and you sought out the advice of doctors who presciently warned you not to have that doctor operate -- the guilty surgeon insisted that he be allowed to operate again to fix it and that you listen to him regarding what should be done.

And when you screamed at the guilty surgeon -- as every sane person would -- to stay as far away from you as possible and that he was the last person from whom you wanted advice, he kept telling you: "Oh, forget about the past. This isn't about assigning blame. What matters is figuring out what to do now, how to fix this." You would think such a person insane for that line of thought. But that's exactly what war advocates like Anne-Marie Slaughter -- and John McCain -- are insisting that we do.

Heading for the Exits

Dean Baker called my attention to a new web page: http://www.youwalkaway.com/, operated by You Walk Away, LLC. The site offers to help you "use our proven method to Walk Away" from your mortgage in order to "[u]nshackle yourself today from a losing investment" in your house.

The spread of this kind of thinking has got to be the biggest nightmare facing mortgage lenders (and the rest of the financial markets). The thing is that the economic logic is pretty impeccable. As You Walk Away points out, mortgages are generally "no recourse" loans, which means that if the home owner defaults, the lender can only recover the house --mortgage lenders can't legally go after other assets, even money in the bank. (And mortgage defaulters don't have to file for bankruptcy in order to protect themselves.)

Of course, following this path will have a big, negative impact on the defaulter's credit rating. But, for many home owners standing to lose 20 or 30 percent, even more, of the value of their house, the bad credit rating might well be worth the price.

Dean reports hearing about cases where homeowners walking away from their current house arrange to buy a new house while their credit is still intact. Once they've moved into the new place, then they default on the old one. Lenders can not be happy.

President Bush Endorses John McCain!

In case you missed it, yesterday President Bush endorsed John McCain. Dan Froomkin points out today that the endorsement doesn't even rate a mention on the Republican National Committee web page (www.gop.com). Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is running the Bush endorsement as a splash page on its own web page (www.democrats.org).

Ahh, Karl Rove --a political genius who has built a permanent Republican majority around the figure of George W. Bush.