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Ann Marie Marciarille: Whose Death Is It Anyway? Medical-Legal Conflict in the Implementation of End-of-Life Decision Making

Worth Reading, Mostly Economics, for April 21, 2010

  • Owens: "Last week Greenwald posted the “case against Elena Kagan”... why the potential Supreme Court nominee would be a bad choice... because of her views on executive power and her lack of record. A few days later, the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reported that “former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, who is leading outreach efforts around the upcoming court vacancy, reached out to progressive allies to dismiss [Greenwald's] article written about Kagan.” Though he didn’t name who these progressive allies were, Greenwald noted in a follow-up post that there were three notable pieces — “this piece at Slate by former Clinton Solicitor General Walter Dellinger; this Huffington Post argument by legal analyst and author Linda Monk; and this cliché-filled, ad hominem, substance-free rant from Akin, Gump partner Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog” — that criticized his post on Kagan..."
  • Maggie Koerth-Baker: "The 1947 Radarange was a whopping six feet tall, weighed nearly 750 pounds, and required its own 220 volt electrical line and a dedicated water line for the cooling tube. It sold for $2000, or nearly $22,000 today." Eat Me Daily looks at the natural history of microwave ovens, from radar technology, to recipes for gourmet steamed pudding, to Joan Collins in her Dynasty finest. (Via Nicola Twilley.)'
  • Salmon: "I think it’s a bit much to say that everybody on the other side of that trade was making a speculative bet, when in fact they were buy-and-hold investors buying triple-A-rated securities paying 85bp or 110bp over Libor. As far as the bond investors were concerned, the risk and speculation was carefully and deliberately consigned to the equity tranche of the Abacus deal."
  • Salmon: "The first line of Goldman’s own slighly-sarcastic [proposed] disclosure statement reveals: 'The Portfolio Selection Agent has received recommendations as to the content of the Reference portfolio from third parties, including a third party that intends to take a short position with respect to the Reference Portfolio.' Upon reading that disclosure, the Portfolio Selection Agent (ACA) would immediately have learned something about which Fab Fabrice had assiduously kept them in the dark — that Paulson intended to go short the CDO. At that point, the whole history of meetings with Paulson would start being replayed in ACA’s mind a bit like that shoe-dropping moment at the end of a David Mamet film, where the structure of the con is revealed. Only in this case, it wouldn’t have been too late, and ACA would have run very far and very fast in the opposite direction, vowing never to deal with Paulson, Tourre, or Goldman ever again."
  • Crittendon: "Dinner speeches by politicians normally adhere to a few simple rules. The politician begins by thanking her hosts and any person in the room who might be insulted if overlooked. She follows with a couple of tested jokes. Then she speaks for approximately 20 minutes... making no more than three key points. It’s not rocket-science. But Palin couldn’t manage it. Her 45-minute speech rambled all over the place.... It was hard to figure out whether she was working up some Christian motivational routine, or just kvetching about her poor treatment by the media, or trying to demonstrate her political cred by hitting the right “facts” about Canada-U.S. relations. If you tried to parse it, you couldn’t. There was not a single memorable line, not a single new political idea, not a single proffered solution beyond the cliché of “needing new solutions.”"
  • Krugman: "So how did he do all that? By being incredibly smart, of course. But that wasn’t the whole story.... He was informal and, always, intellectually playful – eager to try out new ideas and try out other people’s point of view.... The moral, I believe, is that only someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously is really fit to produce ideas that make the world a much better place. Paul Samuelson didn’t, and he did."
  • Gapper: "Magnetar insists it “did not control asset selection in CDOs in which it participated”, although though it told collateral managers... what sort of yield it needed to invest.... It also asserts that it “did not participate in the marketing or distribution of CDO transactions” and “did not make representations to qualified investors who purchased CDO tranches.” Magnetar argues that it was not shorting the subprime market but was arbitraging between different layers of CDOs, taking advantage of the fact that it could get a yield of 20 per cent on the equity and then hedge that by shorting the mezzanine layers. The chart... suggests that it would have made money as long as the CDO market held up with no or few losses, and also make money if there was a high percentage of losses. Its risk was that subprime losses ate through only the equity tranches. As it turned out, almost all of the Magnetar deals defaulted, bringing it very high returns in 2007."
  • Salmon: "the Goldman defense... sophisticated and well-argued as you’d expect... seems to be that ACA was an enormous asset manager which neither knew nor cared about a small fund manager like John Paulson. If they thought about his positioning at all, they would probably have come to the conclusion that he was short, and if they came to that conclusion it wouldn’t have stopped them.... It’s a reasonably strong argument, but it fails utterly to answer the question of why on earth, in that case, Paulson’s role wasn’t disclosed much more transparently. The whole deal came out of a reverse enquiry from Paulson to Goldman: why couldn’t Goldman, bringing ACA into the loop, explain the whole concept in the space of a couple of minutes? Why all the studied ambiguity about equity tranches and sponsorships? Why not just come out and say that Paulson wasn’t taking an equity slice, and was going to be short the entire structure?"
  • RLG: "John McCain recently told Newsweek "I never considered myself a maverick." This was belied, of course, by approximately one million campaign advertisements and speeches.... When Chris Wallace asked Mr McCain this morning about this... I expected a little straight talk. I, like so many other journalists, once fell in love with a John McCain who used to talk like a normal person, who wouldn't take an embarrassing question about something he had said and pull that stupid politician trick of saying "but the really important question is why our middle class is suffering..." No, I expected something like "yeah, that was obviously a misstatement, but let me tell you what I was thinking..." Instead, Mr McCain simply re-branded himself, calling himself a "fighter" about 15 times... as if some unnamed "they" had been responsible for the "maverick" label. It was embarrassing.... Mr McCain didn't used to be like this... a distinguished senatorial career is already over.