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Hi. Brian is getting ready to moderate what could be a dramatic face-off in Philly between the Democratic candidates, who are now watching Hillary Clinton threatening to lap them in the national polls. This against the backdrop of the first major-league big-shot casualty of the mortgage/credit mess. Also, weird email traffic from Iraq, and a Flight of the Conchords tribute to "toughness" in honor of tonight's battle on the mean streets of Philly. (OK on the verdant campus of Drexel U.)
So we all saw Obama telling the NYT that he's taking the gloves off over the weekend. Will he? Mark Murray points out that Clinton's camp has posted videos of Obama and Edwards pledging to be nice. The AP previews tonight's potential dust-ups.  
Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O'Neal is out of his job today, less than a week after his company announced a Q3 writedown of $8.4 billion, which was nearly double what the company estimated just a week before that. Merrill got into the mortgage derivatives game late, and very aggressively, and now O'Neal becomes the higest profile casualty of the credit crisis so far. Well, casualty is probably not so appropriate, given his $160 million in parting gifts. Would that all our pension annuities alone would be worth $2 million a year. One of the lingering questions surrounding O'Neal's departure: what was that last-minute stealth cuddle up to Wachovia all about? One blogger has a guess.. and it's a scary one for Merrill. On the other hand, the NYT's Dealbook blog plumbs other reasons why that deal might have actually made sense. 
For more on why Merrill (and others) are flailing: home prices continue to fall nationwide, and faster. And ug, check our Nouriel Roubini's post on the 4 stages of a massive housing bust (Elizabeth Kubler-Ross without the "acceptance" phase.) Shorter AEI's John Makin: the hangover is commensurate with the binge. Speaking of (and others) the WSJ looks at Countrywide's declaration last week they they will return to profitibility next quarter and says.. yeah, right. And does this sound good to you? Increasing evidence that people are using their credit cards to pay the mortgage. Is this worrisome? Huge uptick in borrowing from the Federal Home Loan Bank. PrudentBear warns that a day of reckoning may be coming, and soon.
And on the subject of the huge Citigroup Super-SIV, Fortune's Alan Sloan asks why should banks be protected from their own mistakes?   

Anyone who checks in here knows I am a regular reader of and linker-to Salon's Glenn Greenwald. He and General Petraeus' spokesman got into a fight last summer after Petreaus gave an interview to a blogger/radio host on the right, Hugh Hewitt and refused Greenwald's request for an interview. Greenwald has written off and on about the military's PR efforts and got a response, supposedly from Col. Steven Boylan, which has become a larger debate and has spread into the right blogosphere as well. And Editor and Publisher's Greg Mitchell joined the conversation last night. 

Oh and Greenwald posted today about Giuliani adviser Norman Podhoretz and his formulation that anyone he wants to start a war with automatically = Nazi Germany. Hmm and the NYSun's Eli Lake says Giuliani is now backing away from NPod and company.

WarInContext provides some much-needed skeptisicm on the now-conventional-wisdom about  Syria's supposed nuclear weapons plant.. and an intriguing new theory of what the target really was: the IAEA inspection process. 

And in honor of the Democrats getting tough tonight.. here's a little Hiphopopotamus.