August Stories

August 9, 2011 - 5:17 AM

I woke up early yesterday morning to follow the story of the continuing drop in the markets following the S&P downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt from AAA to AA+. It occurred to me that, as we enter the second week of August, this may be the most arcane "August Story" in my experience.

Anthony Weiner is the typical August story: Public official, sex, denials, resignation. That it happened in June was just one more reason to not have any sympathy for Weiner.

Last year, every visit to that new office Keurig coffee machine included a discussion about the state of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, brought to you by BP. "Junk Shots" and "Top Kills" sustained us throughout the summer before a relief well was finally completed in September.

The mother-of-all August stories was, of course, the Monica Lewinsky scandal. President Clinton's admission before a federal grand jury on August 17,1998 that that he had, in fact, had sexual contact with "that woman" was pretty much all anyone was talking about.

Where are we in terms of a really juicy August story in 2011? Credit rating agencies, 10-year bond returns, credit default swaps, and ECB interventions.

What fun is this? Until Thursday of last week every time I heard "S&P" I thought they were saying "A&P" and I shop at Safeway. I can only remember what a Credit Default Swap is for about 12 seconds after I've heard someone on CNBC explain it. It wasn't until Saturday that I realized that ECB stood for "European Central Bank" not "East Hampton Cocktail Bash."

Republicans and Democrats are risking broken digits with all the finger-pointing that's going on. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mars) said that this is the "Tea Party Downgrade" and then went on to say that the statements and opinions of Tea Party adherents shouldn't be given equal weight to what New England Liberals think.

Memo to Kerry: You've only been in Congress for a quarter of a century so we can't expect you to be all that familiar with the "Fairness Doctrine" (which doesn't exist anymore) or the "Equal Time" rule (which only ever applied to broadcast radio and television not cable or print), but we really do expect you to be at least aware of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On the Republican side of the aisle, Michele Bachmann called on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to be fired and/or resign but didn't explain how that would help create the necessary 250,000 new jobs per month to have a significant impact on the economy.

Mitt Romney claiming that while he was Governor of Massachusetts S&P UPgraded the Bay State's rating to AA only served to remind us that those same S&P geniuses rated bundles of sub-prime mortgages, financed boats, credit card debt, and (for all we know) pay-day loans at AAA - two full grades above Massachusetts' debt.

Tim Pawlenty said "we should be talking about downgrading Barack Obama from President of the United States." Henny Youngman's legacy as "king of the one-liners" is in no danger from Pawlenty.

Jon Huntsman said "for far too long we have let reckless government spending go unchecked and the cancerous debt afflicting our nation has spread," which gets an AAA rating for allusion but CCC for vision.

Newt Gingrich used his Twitter account to write: "The Obama disaster continues. Highest food stamp level and lowest credit rating in history in the same 24 hours."

The Gingrich disaster continues: The former college professor who was once praised for having audiences feast on his lectures for 50 minutes at a time is now reduced to campaigning in 140 character crumbs. In this case, 112 character crumbs.

President Barack Obama leading, as usual, from behind, sent out his aides and appointees to take the first fusillade of public and political outrage (see BP Oil Spill, above) as he attempts to salvage his crumbling self-image as the coolest President what ever was.

Oh! I made a mistake (wouldn't it be nice to have someone with some power say that?) when I wrote that the Monica Lewinsky scandal was the best August story of all time.

On this very date in 1974 President Richard Nixon resigned in the aftermath of the Watergate break-in.

Watergate. Now, THAT was an August story.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to a chart showing what AAA (and CCC) ratings mean, Keurig coffee makers, the definition of a credit default swap and Watergate. Also a typically snarky Mullfoto and a truly amazing Catchy Caption of the Day.