Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


What’s In A Word? UPDATE

October 30, 2008

UPDATE – See #3 for update on Palin effigy story – it’s been taken down after a similar effigy was brought out of the homeowner.

As I search for answers to why our country is so divided lately, and many other issues, I have run across more than one person who tries to remind that “it’s only a word”. They seem to suggest that the language we all use in our discourse is of little import. Whether it is the feminist who defends the usage of the word dude, the liberal who defends saying conservatives have wrecked the country, or the conservative who defends talking about members of the other party using words like terrorist and socialist, I find the same problem with all of the arguments. People seem to be forgetting how much words matter. Give me liberty or give me death only had to be uttered for its importance to be felt, its speaker did not have to die. Our nation, after all, was founded on words. And we debate those words constantly. If words were clear, and held less meaning, there would be no need to debate what constitutional amendments mean. And we would never be able to add new ones. Words mean so much, and yet lately, they are being thrown around so flippantly. Politicians are calling their opposition “Godless” with no base in fact. With the country in dire straits, our words matter even more. Our words (and those of our talking heads, pundits, and media outlets) help set the tone of the country. But I am guilty of my own sins. I’ve become so dismayed by the acts of a few, and by the tones of politicians, that I’ve forgotten that there is still a rational base in this country who aren’t buying it. So, for those who, too, have become dismayed – fear not. The list below contains links to stories of people who have done something about this. Some are every day citizens, some are media pundits, and a few are even politicians. 

1. Obama’s 30 minute ad. Stop for a second thinking about Obama’s politics, and whether or not you disagree with the direction he would take this country. Watch the ad with only one question in mind – what kind of tone does it set? I was heartened to see that Obama’s ad didn’t contain partisan attacks. The closest he came was when he pointed out what most of America has already realized – the policies of the last  8 years (and, in terms of many policies, longer than that) have not worked.  A majority on both sides agree with this statement. It is why McCain has tried to distance himself from Bush. The rest of the tone of the ad was a thoughtful message of hope. There were 0 attacks against the other party or candidate. Not a great one along the lines of Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats, but a beacon in the darkness of tone that has become so prevalent.

2. Connecticut congressman Shay’s, a Co-Chair of John McCain’s campaign, has denounced the way the campaign has been run. It is hopeful to see a politician calling out his own party for their campaign tactics. From what I have read, Shay’s has run a very clean, honest, and thoughtful campaign in Connecticut. While I don’t live there, and wouldn’t have the chance to anyways, this act of bravery would be enough to make me considering voting for Shay’s even if I didn’t agree with his stance on policy and issues. Right now, we need more of this kind of bravery. And the ideas of both sides are going to have to balance each other out if we are going to salvage our financial dignity, and our dignity in the eyes of the world.

3. A handful of neighbors in the West Hollywood community where the effigy of Palin has been hung demonstrated against it by holding up sheets attached to large poles to shield it from view. These people bring yet more hope that we can use peaceful means to say “I respect your right to free speech, but this is unacceptable in this community at this time”. UPDATE: I’ve now seen two different reports as to why the effigy has been removed. One is from protestor Larry Tomkins, who could be argued to have taken it a little far in the opposite direction. Local news has reported that Tomkins showed up outside with a similar strung-up effigy of the homeowner with a t-shirt that asked “how does it feel?”, and has had interviews with Tomkins. However, another outlet reports that the effigy was taken down (according to the mayor) after the mayor of West Hollywood had a “long conversation” with the homeowner earlier tonight. In all honesty, I’d prefer it if the real reason is because the mayor came out and sat them down and had a little talk with them. Either way, the homeowners are definitely feeling the overwhelming response of the community – they will give no interviews (anymore), no access, and have holed up in their homes. If enough of us decide we won’t accept this kind of thing, on any level, from any side, we can make a difference. And it’s nice to know that at least one elected official did certainly show up and talk to them, to say “this is unacceptable right now – you’ve gotta knock it off”. A note, however – there is still a giant (and very well done) visage of McCain coming out of their chimney with flames escaping around him. This one doesn’t bother me near as much, and doesn’t seem to bother the people of the community either. But honestly – a flaming political jack in the box chimney around Halloween (especially from an openly gay couple in a heavily gay community – the gay friends I have get that joke, as it appears does the community in WeHo) doesn’t hold near the fear mongering as a politician being symbolically lynched. I’m glad to see that the community has responded, and been heard.


I’ll be trying to find other such stories. Any who read this, please, if you know of more, add them to the comments list and they will be added to this post as an update. Let the list of hope begin.


America, When Will You Stop Fighting Your Freedoms?

October 28, 2008

With great respect, credit, and acknowledgment given to Ginsberg, and apologies for my postmodern destruction – a modern update on Ginsberg’s form. Any lines in quotes were lifted without change from Ginsberg’s America – all other phrases have been modified.



America I’ve given you nothing and now I’m all that’s left.

America seven hundered billion dollars and we’ve lost our sense, October 2, 2008.

I can’t lay down with my own mind.

America when will we end our internal war?

Go flog yourself with your petty talking points.

I don’t feel good and it bothers me.

I won’t write my poem till we’re in our right mind.

America when will you be anthemic?

When will you donate your clothes?

When will you stop digging your financial grave?

When will you be worthy of a million of your excesses?

America why are your news sources full of fears?

America when will you take your eggs from your idols?

I’m sick of your inane discourse.

When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need?

America after all you and I are not more perfect than the next world.

Your machinations are too much for me.

You’ve made me want for a saint.

“There must be some other way to settle this argument.”

Buckley is in arrears and I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinful.

Are you being sophomoric or is this some form of practical joke?

I’m trying to come to the purpose.

I refuse to give up my intellect.

America stop pushing we’ll figure out what we’re doing.

America the sky is not falling.

I haven’t read the newspapers for months, only their online daily trials and murders.

America I feel sentimental about Chief Wiggums.

America I used to be collateralized when I was a kid and I’m sorry.

I smoke new media every chance I get.

I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses on my LCD screen.

When I go to the MSM I get indoctrined but never get learned. 

“My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.” 

You should have seen me reading Maddow. 

I can’t afford a psychoanalyst, but I’m perfectly right. 

I won’t believe in Laissez-Faire. 

I have mystical visions and comic inflations. 

America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Sam after he left with Reason.


I’m addressing you. 

Are you going to let our emotional life be run by TMZ? 

I’m obsessed by TMZ. 

I read it every hour. 

Its homepage stares at me every time I slink past my email account. 

I read it on my phone in the bathroom of the Pasadena Public Library. 

It’s always telling me about irresponsibility. Movie stars are mediaworthy. Heiresses are mediaworthy. Everybody’s mediaworthy but me. 

“It occurs to me that I am America.” 
I am talking to my blog again.


Asia is bailing me out. 

I have only a chinaman’s chance. 

“I’d better consider my national resources.” 

My national resources consist of two joints of mass media millions of buzzwords 
an unpublishable no longer private literature that goes 1400 kbps and 
twentyfivethousand mental institutions. 

“I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in 
my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.”

I have abolished the freedom of language, tangential thought is the next to go. 

My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I read Agnostics.


America how can I write a holy litany in your angry mood? 

I will continue like your hegemony my catch phrases are as individual as its
conclusions more so they’re all different sexes 

America I will sell you hegemonies $2500 apiece no money down on your old thoughts 

America free Tom Brokaw 

America save the Socialist thinkers 

America Socrates must not die 

America you risk becoming the Scottsboro Boys. 

America when I was seven momma took me to privatized education they 
sold us music a handful per half hour a half hour costs a dollar and the 
recitals were free everybody was atonal and embarrassed about their performance
it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the inspiration 
was in 1987 Ms. Jeanie was a grand old lady a real musical Mother 

Ayn Rand made me cry I once saw Intelligent Conservatism plain. Everybody must have been a spy. 

America you don’t really want to stay to war. 

America it’s them bad Terrorists. 

Them Terrorists them Terrorists and them Muslims. And them Terrorists. 

The Terrorist wants to eat us alive. The Terrorist’s power mad. He wants to take 
our cars from out our garages. 

He wants to grab Ohio. He needs a Red Reader’s Digest. He wants our 
auto plants in Lebanon. Him big bureaucracy raping our fillingstations. 

That very good. Ugh. Her makes Immigrants learn read. Her need blasphemous spending bills. 
“Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.” 

America this is no longer entertainment. 

America this is the impression I get from looking at the internet. 

“America is this correct?” 

I’d better get a second job. 

It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or flip patties in precision food 
factories, I’m farsighted and philanthropic anyway. 

America I’m putting my fear firmly at my heels.


I Propose A Moratorium On The Words Democrat and Republican

October 28, 2008

The recent violent mindsets being shown by Americans lately have been more and more worrisome to watch with the continuing unchecked economic crisis. For those that have somehow forgotten about that little crisis thing, don’t feel bad. It may be because it’s hardly being touched by a lot of the MSM. A quick visit to Fox, CNN, and MSNBC finds only one of the three has a story in its main headlines about the economy or the bailout bill. Personally, I think enough people are fearful that it’s time to get the information out there a little more so we can start educating people what to do.

The bailout is barely performing its basic function of slowing the economic bloodspill. Markets run only when people have enough faith in them to put money into the system…and right now, people are still too scared to be doing this much. As such, the markets aren’t working. The system is in a state of failure right now. I say a state of failure because it is just that – a state, and one which will only last as long as mistrust and derision are the cultural zeitgeist. For those who have a little time, I highly recommend Robert Reich‘s lecture over at The title is what’s at stake in the election, and Reich certainly does show his personal opinion over who should win (he’s one of Obama’s advisors…not too surprising), but he does an amazing job of educating people in a calming way about what is going on. He comes at it from a very progressive point of view, but one which is well reasoned. One of his main points is that our main problem right now is not a lack of liquidity, it is a lack of trust.

If you’re still feeling adventurous, check out Naomi Klein’s lecture from Oct. 16th while you’re there. Klein has become one of the main voices behind the idea of “disaster capitalism”. One of her main points is that, in times of crisis, the tools that we pick up are not the newly created economic ideas – they are the ones that are available right now, and become a part of common enough thought to be voted in. As such, it’s all the more important that we all try and educate ourselves about the ideas that are going to be put forth, and make our voices heard by our representatives. Politicians are already worried about losing their jobs – lets make sure they’re still just as worried when they vote on the inevitable upcoming economic legislation. 

And if you want to go a little further, look into Paul Krugman and some of his financial articles over at the Times. Some of his political articles take a bit of a party line slant, but when it comes to matters of the economy, especially the global version of it we now live in, it’s hard to deny the Nobel Laureate’s thought. Please, let us remember – there are other ideas out there than the Keynsian/Friedman based ideologies that have dictated much of our previous policy.

But all of this relates to the title of this point, and to this growing violent underbelly. The feds interruption of the would-be assassins of one of our presidential candidates has made it far too evident that the mindset of derision has grown far too entrenched in our nation at current. While I do not blame politics for creating it, as the political future of our nation has placed politics in such a public eye, I do blame them for their actions. In a rare showing, John Stewart tonight did an amazing job of pointing out the amount of fear in both camps. Even with all his recent bias, I challenge anyone to argue against the overall point – that people fear what will happen if their guy doesn’t win. This fear is coming from both sides. And it is a fear that must be stopped. We cannot come together as a nation to face the challenges that are certainly ahead of us if we are acting out of fear.

Lately, much of the group-thought the nation seems to be experiencing has been, I believe, being flared by comments against Democrats or Republicans. Stump speeches are more and more turning to rhetoric that levies charges against the opposing party, and seems to ignore the opposing idea. Politicians have ceased to talk about their own policies, or even speak of their opponents policies and why they disagree with them. It has become nothing but partisan bickering – the Republicans destroyed the economy with their unfettered deregulation, the Democrats want to bring us into an era of Socialism – or even Marxism, as one reporter asked Joe Biden about today. But both parties have been in charge when deregulation was voted on, and both parties have voted on a rescue package that is one of the largest socialist expenses the country has ever seen, and includes partial nationalization of the banking system. It’s obvious the partisan attacks, and broad based words that are drumming up fears within the populous are not getting us anywhere productive. So, I propose that at least until after the election, all politicians do their part to unify the country and cease to use the words Republican or Democrat. I think it will be much more difficult for them to go negative when their opponent can’t be placed into a group-think mindset so easily. It might even restore some civility to the process. And it may, just may, even assuage some of the fears of much of the public about what will happen if “the other guy” wins.


PEW Report Shows Negative Media Bias Towards McCain

October 23, 2008

Yup, it’s true. For those who wish (and I encourage all to wish), you can read the full report here. I’ll hit the highlights for those who don’t have the time. 

Press treatment of Obama has been somewhat more positive than negative, but not markedly so.

But coverage of McCain has been heavily unfavorable — and has become more so over time. In the six weeks following the conventions through the final debate, unfavorable stories about McCain outweighed favorable ones by a factor of more than three-to-one — the most unfavorable of all four candidates — according to the study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

For Obama during this period, just over a third of the stories were clearly positive in tone (36%), while a similar number (35%) were neutral or mixed. A smaller number (29%) were negative.

For McCain, by comparison, nearly six-in-ten stories studied were decidedly negative in nature (57%), while fewer than two-in-ten (14%) were positive.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? It’s proof that the media has a liberal bias. Except…wait…let’s read a little further….


Much of the increased attention for McCain derived from actions by the senator himself, actions that, in the end, generated mostly negative assessments. In many ways, the arc of the media narrative during this phase of the 2008 general election might be best described as a drama in which John McCain has acted and Barack Obama has reacted.

As for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, her coverage had an up and down trajectory, moving from quite positive, to very negative, to more mixed. Driving that tone toward a more unfavorable light were the probing of her public record and her encounters with the press. Little of her trouble came from coverage of her personal traits or family issues. In the end, she also received less than half the coverage of either presidential nominee, though about triple that of her vice presidential counterpart, Joe Biden.

Then, a little further on down…

Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden was nearly the invisible man. His coverage enjoyed just one large moment, the vice presidential debate, which also provided the only positive or neutral contribution to his coverage. Aside from that week, the limited coverage he did receive was far more negative than Palin’s, and nearly as negative as McCain’s.

So…what does this mean? As McCain’s campaign tactics have changed and the percentage of ads and stump speeches with a negative tone increased, the media’s findings about the McCain campaign became increasingly negative. Also interesting to note, at this same time, the amount of coverage of McCain, in comparison to Obama, has evened out. Prior to the convention, Obama enjoyed 50% more coverage by the media than McCain did. So really, when it’s all added up, does this truly imply a negative bias towards McCain/Republicans? And does this report come as much of a surprise? Personally, I’d have to say no on both counts. However, there is one other finding from the report that I found much more interesting, and surprising.

The economy was hardly a singular lens through which the media perceived the race. Though it was the No. 1 campaign topic overall, in five out of the six weeks analyzed, other topics drew more media attention, and the economy accounted for not much more of the campaign newshole (18%) than did assessments of the candidates in the four debates (17%).

Horse race reporting, once again, made up the majority of coverage, but less so than earlier in the contest or in previous elections. Since the conventions ended, 53% of the newshole studied has focused on political matters, particularly tactics, strategy and polling — twice the coverage focused on policy (20%). The focus on tactics and horse race increased in the last three weeks as both campaigns became more negative in their rhetoric.

To me, that’s truly ridiculous. American’s continue to state the economy as the most important issue, and continue to want to see the campaigns address issues more than political horse racing and smear attacks. But, in all honesty, it is difficult to blame the media for this kind of coverage when the campaigns themselves seem to address fewer and fewer issues and policy related matters as time goes on. But while the media may not be to blame for their coverage, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t hold themselves to a higher standard. Since I’m not a Nielsen family (and never have met one…who are these people anyways?) I can’t exactly send a message by not watching the coverage. But personally, I’m going to be contacting as many of the media outlets as I possibly can pointing out the above findings, and letting them know that I am appalled that they have continued to let their coverage be steered by the campaigns themselves, and until they start covering more issues and policy and less campaign tactics and smear stories, they at least won’t be getting any of my money through purchases of magazines/newspapers. The people of this nation deserve better, and it’s time we demand it.


What Happened to Respect For Thought?

October 16, 2008

Respect for intelligent thought has taken yet another blow in the last few days. For those who haven’t kept up on this one, I’ll recount the events that have brought me to this conclusion. Christopher Buckley has been forced to resign from the magazine his father, William F. Buckley, started – the National Review. The reason? He gave a reasoned, intelligent statement about why he is supporting Obama as President of the United States. For this, he has been called a traitor, a communist, and accused of denigrating the memory of his father, and was forced to resign from the NR. Buckley has posted a follow up to this, describing the fallout.

This is truly a sad day for all who respect thoughtful discourse in this country. I’m not going to suggest for a moment that I am someone who reads the National Review. I tend to not agree with the tenets that it purveys, and therefore tend only to read NR articles when there is something of interest or relating to something I’m researching at the moment. But the one thing I have always respected about the NR under Buckley was the amazing amount of respect given to intelligence. Agree with him or not, no one can say that William F. Buckley Jr. didn’t place a very high value on intelligence and free thought. In fact, William Buckley Jr. himself, towards the end of his life, was quite dismayed by the policies of GW Bush, and had made many statements that he feared the evangelical takeover of the party he spent his life supporting.

While I will not agree with Buckley’s endorsement on this site (who I vote for will remain an unknown, in order to remain as unbiased as possible), I will defend his endorsement for its thoughtful tone. It is obvious that Buckley did not come to his conclusion easily, and without much internal debate. For him to be forced to resign from the NR is nothing short of hypocrisy, and places a giant stain on the publication for any who once saw it as a repository for thoughtful conservatism. But to add insult to injury, not only has Buckley been forced to resign, but his name has been removed from the NRs list of authors online, and I can find no archived articles from him. This kind of purging of the record takes that stain, adds a bit more to the top of it, and then irons it in. I can think of no reason for purging the articles of a journalist who has been forced to resign because he has come into disfavor over a current political opinion. The National Review should be ashamed of themselves. William Buckley is most likely rolling over in his grave right now, wishing that his name, too, would be purged from the frankensteinian creation his magazine has become.


Weapons of Mass Distraction – Congress Brings CEOs to Town

October 7, 2008

The rescue package has been passed. May the blame game begin. Yesterday, the first round of CEOs was brought before Congress to be grilled about their role in the current financial crisis. Our Congress-people were full of fire and brimstone, grilling former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld about his personal gain while the markets failed. Henry Waxman lead the charge, slamming Fuld with statements like:

“It seems that the system worked for you, but it didn’t seem to work for the rest of the country and the taxpayers who now have to pay up to $700 billion to bail out our economy,” Waxman said. “We can’t continue to have a system where Wall Street executives privatize all the gains and then socialize all the losses.” 


“Your company is now bankrupt, our economy is now in a state of crisis, but you get to keep $480 million. I have a very basic question for you. Is this fair?”

Well, I’m certainly comforted. Comforted, at least, that business as usual is returning to Washington. Although Waxman’s figures may be about $200 million high, and there is no mention that the money was made over the span of 8 years, the answer to his question is obvious. Of course it’s not “fair”. But I am amazed at how easily we have allowed our attention to be misdirected by this attempt to bring a sense of “fairness” to the whole situation.

People around the country are now chanting for these CEOs to be “held accountable” for their actions. But what everyone seems to be forgetting is that there really isn’t much we can hold them accountable for, because the shady investments they made that caused the crash are not illegal. They aren’t illegal because the markets they were trading in (the same ones that have fallen into a state of disaster) were unregulated. As such, the hearings are little more than a perp walk for criminals who broke no laws.

But they are a great way for Congress to turn the anger of the American public on someone else. The more angry we are at CEO greed, the less likely we are to pull back the curtain and realize that Congress shares an equal, if not greater, amount of responsibility for what happened. By allowing unregulated trading in markets that were speculative by their very nature, the culture of corporate greed was nearly sanctioned. Are we really surprised that Wall Street moguls took advantage of a system with no rules in an attempt to make as much money as they possibly could? They were hired to make as much money for the company as possible. As investors, we demand it. These firms made this money by taking advantage of the system that was presented to them. Unfortunately, while they may have done so in ways that were irresponsible, it is likely that these methods were not illegal. So Congress is holding hearings in an attempt to put a face on the anger of the taxpayer …just as long as that face isn’t anyone in the government that allowed the market to exist with no rules or oversight in the first place. I’m certainly comforted.


How We Got In This Basket I

October 5, 2008

The following is a four part series on the history and reasons behind the current financial crisis. It was my goal to examine the issue from all sides without emotional or political bias. The 4 part essay that follows is the end result of weeks of research in an attempt to understand this very complex problem. It was my goal to understand the factors that brought this about without blaming any one person or party. There is plenty of blame to go around on all sides, and enough failed policy to provide years worth of kindling. I think that solutions for problems this large cannot be reached by pointing fingers in any one direction. Instead, they come from understanding how the current situation has developed, and all of the factors that contributed to it. It is almost impossible to fix something without first inspecting it.

Part I – Introduction

Like many Americans, when I first heard of the idea of giving a $700 billion bailout to Wall Street, I was livid. “What?”, I thought, “Why should we have to bail out these corporate fat cats and risk all this taxpayer money? Can’t we just let people reap what they’ve sewn? And even if we have to use our money to make these loans good, then why don’t we just bail out the individual homeowners, and let the corporate greed take the losses it’s created?”

But as things progressed, and I did a little more research, I began to understand that the problem we face now is not so much that these loans are defaulting at unacceptably high rates. Yes, that is part of the problem, and was definitely the first widely reported finite indicator (along with shrinking home values) of the fallout that was beginning. And if those bad loans were turned into good loans years ago, and the market slowed in an orderly fashion, it might have helped. But it has all gotten so much bigger. 

It is my personal belief that before attempting to understand the problems of today, we must understand the problems faced by those who came before us, and how people reacted to them. So, the next step was to learn about financial crises of the past, beginning with the Panic of 1909 up through the dot com bubble of the 90s. Don’t worry, no history lecture here. The info is readily available on the net. If you really care to understand the full history of it, just start Googling. Education is readily available, and cheaper than ever. You just have to be willing to look a little further to make sure the information you’re getting comes from reliable sources. Don’t just check the source, check the sources the source used.

After getting a basic enough understanding on the crises of past, and the reactions to them, I decided it was time to delve head first into the modern day. For those interested in getting some more analysis of past crises, try Googling “Keynsian Economics”, “Friedman Schwartz”, and/or “Great Depression” in various combinations. Also, add “Bernanke” to that equation. Our current Fed Chairman, who’s importance in this crisis is undeniable, has given a few speeches on these topics. Many of his views stem from these theories. But please, read a few rebuttals to them as well. 

What I’ve found says to me that we’ve been letting this basket get woven around us for a while. In essence, this is all related to unfettered deregulation. It’s been going on for years. This does not mean deregulation is always a bad thing. There are many convincing arguments for a market that is not overly regulated. Deregulation without oversight, however, has a track record of ending poorly.

The deregulations of the late 1970s and 1980s are the very ones that created the ability of lenders to issue the current subprime loans that are part of the problem. It was the writing of things like NINJA, 100% (and later 120% and more) interest loans, no downpayment loans, ARMs and the like that has lead to increasing numbers of defaults and foreclosures. If you haven’t taken the time to understand what all these are, I’d recommend it. Helps to understand where it’s all coming from. Alt-A loans also enter into the equation, but there is a distinction between true Alt-A loans and subprime loans.

There are many other factors in the mortgage fallout. Inflating housing prices, the ever increasing buying and eventual sales of investment property by speculators, and the loosening and computerization of underwriting standards for riskier loans have all contributed to the subprime crisis. The market was flooded. It could not maintain, and the bubble burst. Values began to fall.

It is impossible to refinance a loan on which the principle (based on purchase price of the property) is greater than the current market value of the house. Due to a market that was increasingly based on speculation, some loans were given betting that refinancing would be possible after the 2 year period of the initial terms expired. As refinancing became increasingly impossible, and the lighter initial terms of loans began to expire, these new homeowners faced greatly increased payments. Defaults and foreclosures ensued, feeding the cycle of dropping values. And around and around went the merry-go-round, feeding its own downfall.

But I began to wonder…if this is really the cause of the crisis we’re in, and this is the bad paper, why are we talking about bailing out Wall Street? Just doesn’t make sense, right? And what made the banks think they could safely make these loans in the first place? The reason, from what I can see, is because this isn’t remotely the worst of the bad paper. Nor were the ’80s the end of our flings with unchecked deregulation.