30 November 2009

While I Take a Utilitarian View on IP Law.....

I tend to see it as a public interest law (i.e to promote the progress of science and useful arts) at its core, and not property law, there are still people who should be busted for violating the exclusive licensing agreements associated with this.

Case in point, the Hartford Courant, which has taken to using articles from the smaller local papers without attribution:
Newspaper editors and reporters across the state are noticing a new trend: their local coverage is being copied daily by the Hartford Courant.

In most cases The Courant has been attributing the reporting to the newspapers being copied, which include the Journal Inquirer, The Bristol Press, The Herald of New Britain, the Register-Citizen of Torrington, and the Waterbury Republican-American.

In some cases The Courant appears to have lifted information from the other papers in its entirety without any attribution. But either way, editors say, the Courant is using for free and making money from a product other papers pay to produce, and they want it to stop.
It appears that someone at the Courant has taken it to a high enough level that the Journal Inquirer has sued them for plagiarism, which means that the Courant is not taking stories and writing them up, but taking stories and pasting them up.

If they had been accused of just taking the stories, it would be under a separate bit of case law, it involved Hearst and wire service stories during WWI, but I could not Google it, so this is unbelievably lame.

Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead

Mary Beth Buchanan is no longer the US attorney for Western Pennsylvania.

The fact that she was still serving on January 22 is a blot on the Obama administration and the justice department. She went on politically motivated prosecutions and fishing expedition, and was the moron who decided to prosecute Tommy Chong for selling bongs.

I understand the need for continuity, but she is a political hack and a nutcase, and justice is better served by kicking her out on day one, not waiting 10 months.

Her, you sack, and appoint an interim USA.

Epic Fail

H/t Failblog.

More Homophobe-phobic Crap for the Obama Administration

I'm being as nice as possible when I say that Barack Obama and his administration is afraid of offending homophobic bigots.

That's because the only other alternative hypothesis is that Barack Obama is a homophobic bigot, and while this is a simpler solution, and Occam's razor cuts toward that, my sense is that they do not feel that the LGBT community has anywhere to go, so they will throw them under the bus to get a few votes.

It really does not matter, but their latest, where the office of personnel management is refusing to obey a court order to allow a woman to buy insurance for her spouse, at the insistence of the Obama administration is really a proverbial "bridge too far".

The money quote here is here:
The order was not published, and garnered little or no notice at the time. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts moved to comply with the judge's ruling, submitting Golinski's insurance form to Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the case would have probably gone away — had the Obama Administration not stepped in. "After the AO submitted Ms. Golinski's form, I thought this matter had concluded," Kozinski wrote. "The Executive Branch, acting through the Office of Personnel Management, thought otherwise. It directed the insurance carrier not to process Ms. Golinski's form 2809, thwarting the relief I had ordered. I must now decide what further steps are necessary to protect Ms. Golinski and the integrity of the Judiciary's EDR [employee dispute resolution] plans."
(emphasis mine)

This is not an accident, nor is it a Bush holdover, as Michelangelo Signorile notes that the "bombshell here is that the Office of Personnel Management was ordered by the White House to refuse to give a lesbian federal employee her court-ordered rights".

What a F$#@ing Tool

Greg Mankiw, who argues that healthcare reform will be less efficient than the free market because poor people will get a better deal.

Seriously, even though the US spends more per capita, and more as a percentage of GDP than any other nation on earth, and even though the outcomes are worse than the developed worlds, and efficiency is results divided by resources, healthcare reform will make us less efficient.

He argues that higher marginal tax rates shrink the economic pie, even though the historical numbers belie that.

You see, he thinks that "fairness" means "reduced work incentives", which, I guess is why we have to pay bankers hundreds of millions of dollars to screw up our economy.

At the end, he suggests that improving healthcare will result in, "future generations of Americans will likely spend more time enjoying leisure."

What is going on, of course, is that people are terrified of losing a job and healthcare, and, you know, dying, and so are less likely to take part-time jobs and/or tell their employer to go Cheney himself.

We already know that our healthcare system is deterring people from becoming entrepreneurs, but people like Mankiw just want wage slave drones.

You know, with ideas like this, you'd think that he would have been a part of Bush's Evil Minions....Oh...Right...He was.

He was head of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors.

Dean 1: The Dean 0

He should be president
So, David Broder, the, "Dean of the Washington press corps", goes after Harry Reid for having the temerity to challenge his august pronouncements on healthcare reform, and Howard Dean slams him, calling him a sanctimonious "gossip columnist."

There was an inside the beltway columnist whose head explodes, and Dean handed him his head too, when the guy lies about the CBO iumbers.

Damn, I really that Howard Dean were in his 2nd term right not, rather than Barack Obama being in his 1st term.

Yeah, I Kind of Missed this Over Thanksgiving

Click for full size

H/t Wall St. Jackass
You know, that entire implosion of Dubai World thing over the past week.

I think that it is clear that Dubai was created with a lot of other people's money. (see pics)

What's more, these people got pretty good returns for their investments.

The fact that everyone is shocked that high return investments are risky is to ignore a basic fact of investment.

Tobin Harshaw of the New York times thinks that this indicates that this points to greater fragility in the world financial markets than was previously believed, which I file under, "After Lehman, I thought we knew that it was all a house of cards."

Felix Salmon also notes that once again, investors were surprised when a broke creditor admitted it, because, after all it looks bad:
I remember the days when investors felt that in the world of emerging markets, publicly-traded bonds were implicitly senior to bank loans. But those days came to an end in the late 1990s with bond defaults in Pakistan, Ukraine, and Ecuador — and they’ve never returned. And it’s not even obvious at this point that restructuring loans is easier than restructuring bonds.
It was nuts then, and it's nuts now. If you are getting a lot of interest it is because you are lending to a poor credit risk.

I would also note that in this case, "broke" does not mean illiquid, but insolvent, meaning that a short respite to get cash flow back does not work, and it has been clear for some time that Dubai has borrowed well in excess of any assets that it possesses.

One of the more interesting developments here is that many of these debts are neither bank loans nor bonds, but rather the rather arcane, though nominally publicly traded, Islamic financial instrument called the sukuk (Arabic: صكوك‎), and I have no clue as to the jurisprudence of the default of such an instrument....I don't think that anyone has a clue as to how this will play out, at least not on such a grand scale.

I think that the repercussions in Islamic finance, both in how resolution is handled, and the willingness of investors to buy those instruments, will play out for decades.

In terms of a bail out, it appears that the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates is going to help make lenders whole, but the government of Dubai is saying that it will not guarantee Dubai World's debt, so things are still rather fluid, to put it mildly.

Krugman Goes for the Tobin Tax

So, we have another Nobel Prize winner who argues that a small tax on financial transactions in order to generate revenue for stimulus and to discourage speculation is a good thing.

He also lays some whup-ass on Timothy "Eddie Haskell" Geithner for his opposition to the idea, which is a good thing, and further notes that much of the short term leverage that nearly destroyed the world financial system was an artifact of rapid fire speculative trades.

One item of note is that Krugman makes a very good point about the fact, notwithstanding the claims of opponents, it will be difficult for anyone to avoid paying the tax:
The main argument made by opponents of a financial transactions tax is that it would be unworkable, because traders would find ways to avoid it. Some also argue that it wouldn’t do anything to deter the socially damaging behavior that caused our current crisis. But neither claim stands up to scrutiny.

On the claim that financial transactions can’t be taxed: modern trading is a highly centralized affair. Take, for example, Tobin’s original proposal to tax foreign exchange trades. How can you do this, when currency traders are located all over the world? The answer is, while traders are all over the place, a majority of their transactions are settled — i.e., payment is made — at a single London-based institution. This centralization keeps the cost of transactions low, which is what makes the huge volume of wheeling and dealing possible. It also, however, makes these transactions relatively easy to identify and tax.
This is true. While I might, find a local vendor on the street to exchange currency in Cairo, Egypt, because I could beat the official rate, and avoid a tax of less than ¼%, if I were trading millions of dollars, I need to have a place where I can settle the transactions, and taxes would be assessed there.

It would be hard to implement without the US being on board, which is where the real rub is.

If He Were a Democrat....

Now it turns out that it appears that the man who allegedly shot 4 police officers in Tacoma was granted clemency by Huckabee, allowing for his pardon.

This guy's rap sheet is unbelievable in chronological order, we have:
  • Sentenced at 18 to 60 years for robbery, theft, burglary, aggravated robbery, posession of a gun on school property.
  • After his parole, it was two more armed robberies, and other assorted crimes.
  • Punching a police officer during a domestic dispute.
  • He has a pending charge of 2nd degree child rape.
Let's make this clear, sentencing people to prison, and paroling them is a crap shoot. Some people don't need to be in prison a day, some will never, ever be safe to put on the streets.

So, governors will get this wrong, but Huckabee has a particularly bad record, see also the earlier case of Wayne DuMond, where Huckabee seems to have engineered his release because it was a relative of Bill Clinton's who was raped, and reports that he was more likely to pardon someone when, "evangelical leaders attested that a prisoner had found Jesus", and it appears that the accused, Maurice Clemmons, used the language of Evangelical Christianity in his appeal for clemency to Huckabee, which likely had something to do with that decision.

There are also cases that seem to be tied to his personally knowing the prisoner, because they worked at the governor's residence (WTF is up with that?), and because they had personal ties to him.

So, it's not just that he's made a mistake, it's that he's been a real horror show on this.

Of course, if he were a Democrat with a gig as a new host, someone like Roger Ailes, who created the Willie Horton ads, would be on him, and on the network to dump him, but this won't happen, because Roger Ailes runs Fox News, and has hired him as that host:
Back in 1988, when it came to light that Willie Horton committed fresh crimes while out on a weekend furlough program backed by then-Gov. Mike Dukakis of Massachusetts, Republicans used it to help destroy Dukakis the presidential candidate. It may even have cost him the election.

“The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand or without it,” said a gleeful Roger Ailes, then a media consultant to Republicans.

Ailes now runs Fox News. If they decide to hold the politician accountable for early release of a violent felon linked now to a death of four police officers, they know where to find him – in studio, as a Fox News host.
Consequence free lifestyle, all you have to do is to be a Republican politician.....Damn....I just cannot do that.

And in Other Swiss Referenda News

Swiss voters overwhelmingly defeated a referendum to ban military exports, with 68% opposing the vote. (Also here)

Earlier post.

Swiss Referendum Bans Minarets

The ban passed with 57% voting in favor.

This is not good news because it is basically a triumph of right-wing demagoguery.

That being said, there are more issues involved than simply bigotry and Islam.

The elites in much of the developed world have decided that a tight labor market, one which would have factory workers and street sweepers paid more than they currently get, and bankers and factory owners paid less than they currently get, is a good thing. This means that cheap labor economics drives much of immigration.

It's not surprising that people who are in the bottom 90% income in a society would oppose this. This is a zero sum game, and by driving wages down, they lose.

Additionally, high immigration every country raises questions about societal norms, and these issues have been studiously avoided.

It's no one else's business how one prays, but in terms of how one should behave in public in society, there is a legitimate question of to what degree immigrants should be expected to assimilate in their public behavior.

Both of these are significant questions, and they played vote total into the Swiss minaret ban.

Let's be clear though, there needs to be perspective in determining the bounds of society, and I think that actions like banning the minaret and hijab (head scarf) are nuts, but by the same token, I think that the cloistering of women through the Burqa, Abaya, and Niqāb (which cover the whole face except the eyes) may very well be over the line?

And then there is the modern chador, which covers the body, but leaves the face exposed...It gets confusing.

The bigots would offer is that some Islamic nations require women to wear head scarves even if they are not Moslem, so it's reasonable for western nations to require that all women not wear head scarves, but when you are holding up Saudi Arabia as an example, you've lost the moral high ground.

That being said, my guess is that the most significant motivation for a yes vote was simple bigotry, and there is no simple solution, at least in the short term, because you can not change the hearts of adult bigots.

The best you can hope for is to educate their children to be less bigoted.

What can be done in the shorter term is to address issues related to "race to the bottom" cheap labor policies, and publicly discuss and address concerns participation of immigrants in public society.

If you do acknowledge that there are some issues about immigration and assimilation that are unrelated to bigotry, you will likely peel off enough of the "Yes" votes for referenda like this to fail.

Unfortunately, there is not currently an honest dialog on these issues.

Canada Bails Out of Afghanistan

When you've lost Stephen Harper on the war, you've lost the war:
Canada is sticking to a 2011 end date for its combat mission in Afghanistan even as the United States prepares to significantly boost its military presence in the war-torn country.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking at the conclusion of a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Trinidad, said he doesn't see any enthusiasm among Canada’s 308 MPs for prolonging or expanding this deployment.
This is a guy who was literally George W. Bush's best bud in this hemisphere, and was right behind Tony Blair in the competition for best poodle in show, and disappointed about finishing 2nd.

This won't change the White House's position on Afghanistan, which is all about Barack Obama attempting to defuse attacks from the right that he is a peacenik, so he is better positioned to run for reelection in 2012, which, of course worked so f$#@ing well for LBJ in 1965.

So, it's wrong on pragmatic political level, where Vietnam kneecapped Johnson's Great Society and the Democratic for years, and it's wrong on the moral level, where feeding new bodies to what Eric Palmer calls "Operation Useless Dirt" simply to inoculate one's self from right wing attacks that will happen anyway.

Have to Put my Resume in With These Folks

Leeds University advertises for lap dance research officer:
The advertised position, in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, is for: “Research Officer - The rise and regulation of lap dancing and the place of sexual labour and consumption in the night time economy”.

The advertisement further stipulates that “prior experience of conducting research in the female sex industry” is essential.
Of course, if this does not appear on Letterman, Leno, or Stewart, they aren't doing their jobs.

Needless to say, Sharon* is not amused at my suggestion that I apply for the position.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

29 November 2009

Cats For Gold


We're Still Torturing at Black Prisons

So much for change we can believe in.

The CIA is still maintaining gulags where prisoners are tortured:
An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates, sometimes for weeks at a time, without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to human rights researchers and former detainees held at the site on the Bagram Air Base.

The site, known to detainees as the black jail, consists of individual windowless concrete cells, each illuminated by a single light bulb glowing 24 hours a day. In interviews, former detainees said that their only human contact was at twice-daily interrogation sessions.

“The black jail was the most dangerous and fearful place,” said Hamidullah, a spare-parts dealer in Kandahar who said he was detained there in June. “They don’t let the I.C.R.C. officials or any other civilians see or communicate with the people they keep there. Because I did not know what time it was, I did not know when to pray.”

The jail’s operation highlights a tension between President Obama’s goal to improve detention conditions that had drawn condemnation under the Bush administration and his stated desire to give military commanders leeway to operate. While Mr. Obama signed an order to eliminate so-called black sites run by the Central Intelligence Agency in January, it did not also close this jail, which is run by military Special Operations forces.
The problem here is that he wants to split a difference, because he is too eager to please people, and there is no difference to split: You either torture, or you don't. You either allow the ICRC to review conditions at POW camps, or you don't, you either try terrorists in real courts, or you don't.

What's more, this is well corroborated:
Although his and other detainees’ accounts could not be independently corroborated, each was interviewed separately and described similar conditions. Their descriptions also matched those obtained by two human rights workers who had interviewed other former detainees at the site.
(emphasis mine)

What Barack Obama (and Eric Holder, and much of the rest of Obama's security/intelligence appointees) has done is to spiff up the image of the torture, but it is still going on.

There is a point where a line gets crossed, and it won't be just covering up for Bush and His Evil Minions, and maybe shading a few lines on due process.

After a few more months of this, Barack Obama becomes a war criminal too.

Zimbabwe Update

Well, it's been a while since I've posted on the subject.

The macro picture is that Mugabe continues to refuse to behave in accordance with any of the agreements that he signed, and Tsvangerai can't do much about it, and the SADC in general, and South Africa in particular, won't do much about it.

It's kind of a dysfunctional stasis.

That being said, the trial of Roy Bennett, the MDC treasurer and nominee for deputy agriculture minister, the government's star witness has said on the stand that his earlier testimony was coerced by torture.

The judge has ruled that eter Michael Hitschmann's confession cannot be used against Bennett because of this.

Not This Contemptible, Self-Serving, Psychopathic Loser Again

The Green Party of Connecticut is lobbying Ralph Nader to run against Chris Dodd for Senate.

Ralph Nader has harmed his reputation, his movement, and the Green Party, which not only bore the brunt of the blow-back from his candidacy fro President in 2000, but also never got access to his contributor or mailing lists for that elections.

But still, the clueless in Connecticut, want to put the Former President of the WWE, Linda McMahon, who has put on homophobic rape filled theater as "pro-wrestling", in the Senate by running Nader against Dodd.

28 November 2009

So, Now It's Moving Under Its Own Power

Click for full size
It's alive, I tell you, it's alive!!
So, not only are all 4 engines running, but the aircraft is now taxiing under its own power, and has reached speeds of up to 20 kts.

We may see a timid hop into the air around year's end.

I'm not sure how much catching up they can do, and they are still over weight and under what they promised.

NASA: Lame Beyond Belief

So, in an attempt to make NASA look cool again, they have signed up "The Rock", the wrestler turned actor who now goes by his given name, Dwayne Johnson, in order to make space travel look cool again:
Perhaps space travel has become old. Perhaps people have come to take it for granted. It's been seen in so many movies. So many space shuttles have taken off and returned to Earth that we think little more of them than we do of jumbo jets.

NASA therefore has to use its imagination to persuade tomorrow's generations that space travel continues to be a large step for man.

One small step in this process is a new public service announcement featuring that fearsome space creature, "The Rock." Dwayne Johnson himself, a man who has appeared in so many scientifically concocted movies such as WWF SmackDown, WWE Backlash, and WWE Crush Hour, is now telling kids that NASA is cool.

You know, going into space is cool, the fact that you have to lose an actor to convince people that it is is more of an artifact of your incompetence in running the space program than it is the fundamental coolness of space.

Learning to find one's own ass with one's own hands would be a good start.

Video below.

Quote of the Day

It's nice when celebrities can laugh at theselves.
They made a porn movie about Sarah Palin and the same actress, Lisa Ann, played me in the porn version of '30 Rock.' Weirdly, of the three of us, Lisa Ann knows the most about foreign policy.

---Tina Fey

Deep Thought

27 November 2009

Deep Thought

No clue as to the provenance of the image.

We All Went to Manhattan Today

We drove down from my mother-in-law's to Washington Heights, where we parked, and took the subway (the A train) down.

Natalie wanted to go to the American Girl® Place on 49th & 5th Avenue. She wanted her doll repaired, an arm need to be reattached, and she hoped to have it addressed at the doll "hospital".

Unfortunately, between a computer glitch, and the fact that it was one of the original style dolls, we had to leave it there, and they will mail it to us.

To say that Charlie was less than amused to be in the store would be a gross understatement.

He was in a state of blind panic and revulsion at having to cross the threshold into that problematic palace of pervasive pinkness.

By way of apology, I took him to the Sony Wonder Technology Lab at Madison Avenue and 56th St.

It was a sort of digital playground, with robots, and motion capture dirven dancing avatars and suchlike....Best of all, it was free.

We had some quintessentially New York moments:
  • We bought hot pretzels from a street vendor.
  • On our way back on the subway, some guy shouted that he was Jesus Christ, then apologized, and got off at his stop.

Posted via mobile.

Stating the Obvious

That Joe Lieberman is a small and petty man, and has allowed imagined personal slights to be a springboard to vindictive behavior:
So why is he doing this? Because he's bitter. According to former staffers and associates, he was upset by his dismal showing in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary. And he was enraged by the tepid support he got from many party leaders in 2006, when he lost the Democratic primary to an anti-war activist and won reelection as an independent. Gradually, this personal alienation has eaten away at his liberal domestic views. His staff has grown markedly more conservative in recent years, and his closest friends in Congress are now Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham. For Lieberman, the personal has become political, and it has pushed him further to the right.
Simply put, Joe Lieberman is a vile, vain, vindictive, and petty person. and because he feels that he was not sufficiently worshipped by the Democratuc Party, he is determined to extract his revenge.

What a petty and pathetic excuse for a human being.

Rom Houben Is In a Persistent Vegitative State

You've doubtless heard about the miracle in Belgium, where a man has been determined to have functioning intellect.

I'm with Michael Shermer on this, this is Ouija board style "facilitated communication type hoax:

It’s a hoax, folks. Sorry to be the spoiler of a feel good story—that of Rom Houben, the Belgian man who allegedly “woke up” from a 23-year long coma—but the hard truth must win out over hopeful emotions. Houben’s “communications,” his “statements” about how he’s been aware all along of his condition, his “talking” to reporters (all descriptive terms used by hardened journalists softened into bleeding heart jelly) is nothing more than the “ideomotor” effect, where the brain subtly and subconsciously guides the hands and fingers over a keyboard, or a Ouija board, or directs the movements of dowsing rods in search of underground water......

.... Houben is just sitting there in a chair looking like he’s in a coma, with the facilitator standing next to him, his hand firmly gripped by hers, guiding his hand over the keyboard. ....

A simple test to prove my claim: show a picture of an object (say, a cat) to the facilitator and show a different picture of an object (say, a dog) to Huben. Don’t let either one see the other photographs. Then see what gets typed: cat or dog? As a control, show them both the same picture and see what gets typed. Prediction: Whatever the facilitator sees is what will get typed. Would someone there please run this simple test?

Such a test was already done in the 1990s when something called “Facilitated Communication” (FC) was all the rage with autistic children who, just like the Coma Man, “suddenly awoke” from their long sleep and began talking up a storm and sounding all the world like perfectly normal bright children, some even returning to school to take classes. Only they weren’t. Normal. Or talking. A facilitator stood next to a child, held his or her hand firmly in a grip with the index finger pointing down over a keyboard, then typed. In controlled tests by experimental psychologists, a photograph of an object was shown to the facilitator and a photograph of an object was shown to the child. Neither one saw what the other one saw. Sometimes the pictures were of the same objects, sometimes they were different. Result: whatever the facilitator saw is what got typed, 100% of the time, and never (0%) did what the child see get typed unless it was also what the facilitator saw. ....

Prediction: if the Coma Man story is not thoroughly debunked now, within a short time the families of people in comas will be snapping up these plastic keyboards and facilitating the communication of their loved ones locked up in a broken brain. Only they will be doing no such thing. They will be wasting their time, money, energy, and worst of all their emotions, setting themselves up for being crushed when awareness dawns on them that FC doesn’t work. Please, would someone in the Houben family put an end to this charade before it spreads through the coma community and wreaks emotional havoc.

(emphasis mine)

No happy endings here. We are merely seeing the ability of human beings to delude themselves, nothing more, nothing less.

26 November 2009

Deep Thought

Click for full size.

Two Pumpkins, One Pie*

Pumpkin pie filling.

H/t the good (?) people at the Shortskoolbus BBS for the photos, and Pickapeppa at by invitation only Stellar Parthenon BBS for the title.

*Trust me, if you do not get the reference, you do not want to know, not now, not ever, but the Wiki has just a description, which is way better than actually seeing the video.

Michelangelo's David Returns to Italy from US Tour

H/t Hofstead Farm at the Shortskoolbus BBS.

An Austin Powers Moment

Sharks with Frikken Laser Beams!*
So, the latest selling point for the F-35 JSF is the fact that you might, at some ill defined point in the distant future, be able to put a laser on it:
The Lightning II may eventually be fitted with lasers able to shoot down attacking missiles. The head of Lockheed Martin's Lightning program and former test pilot, Tom Burbage, said in Canberra the company was looking at special applications including an anti-missile laser system.

''They are lethal countermeasures in that with a laser you could actually destroy something that's coming at the aircraft,'' Mr Burbage said.
The classic rejoinder is the Yiddish, "Az der bubbe vot gehat baytzim vot zie geven mein zayde." (If my grandmother had balls she'd be my grandfather.)

Certainly, with the transmission for the STOVL lift fan being able to handle something on the order of 25,000 KW, but it's clear than any aircraft purchased today will never have that capability.

The JSF remains obscenely over priced as it has been sold, over budget compared to that price, and well behind schedule, and no amount of Ronco style, "But wait there's more," revelations will change this.

I am not one of the people who thinks that building a gazillion F-22s at a cost per Troy ounce approaching that of gold before its recent run-up is a good idea, but the F-35 JSF is an exorbitantly expensive pig, even before you have "Frikken laser beams attached to their heads."

H/t ELP Defens(c)e Blog

*Actually Mike Meyers missed a joke here. Dr. Evil, having been frozen in the 1960s, would never have heard of the "Sea Bass", it's a marketing term. If he had known about them at all, he would have know them as a "Patagonian toothfish", which lends itself to confusion, and all sorts of puns, and a number of humorous asides....I'm just saying.
Empty weight, 43,430 lb, 12 Troy ounces to a pound, and $200 million price tag, gives a cost per Troy ounce of $383.76, which is very close to where gold was 5 years ago. (click graph for full size)
Yeah, I know the whine, "But if we buy more, the unit cost would go down!" Listen, 187 were bought, for a cost of $62 billion, which gives a cost of $331½ million each, and even the USAF's (bogus numbers put the marginal costs well over a hundred million, and that's not including the modifications that any new production would need because the parts are not made any more....And let's not go into thee fact that it's as expensive expensive as hell to just plain fly too.

Google's Latest Target

Nowhere is safe from the all consuming business plan of Google

25 November 2009

I'm Off to New York for Thanksgiving

I have stuff queued up for this time, but there won't be much about breaking news until I get back on Monday.

Happy turkey day.

New Unemployment Claims Below 500K

It's the lowest level in 14 months, and the 4 week moving average was also below 500K.

I hope it's a trend, but I would still bet on no significant recovery in employment over the next 12 months.

The Stupid, It Burns Us!!!!!

Cute and Blond Only Takes You So Far
It comes from Dana Perino:
We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term.
Jeebus, she is being stupid enough to qualify as Sarah Palin's running mate.

She also did not know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was.

Signs of the Apocalypse

Lou Dobbs is looking to run for office, and he's selling himself as a friend of illegal aliens:
Lou Dobbs is looking at any number of possibilities for a political career, such as running for Senator from New Jersey, or even the presidency. And he would of course be running on a signature issue of...his great friendship with the Latino community, and support for amnesty for illegal immigrants, and a path to citizenship???

Economics Update (Catching Up)

Click for full size

H/t Calculated Risk
The lede here is that the corrected numbers for US GDP are out, and it's way down, to +2.8%, down from the initial estimate of 3.5%.

Even more worrying is that the primary reason for the drop is that that consumer demand is way down, which does not bode well for the holiday season.

Some things to note on this:
GDP is still down year over year, and at this won't be back to the pre-recession level until sometime in 2011.

Also, the credit card data has more evidence of consumer deleveraging, with late payments on credit cards falling in the 3rd quarter, though delinquencies were up in October.

The Conference Boards Consumer Confidence index roses in November, but still at levels indicating contraction, 49.5, where 90 is more or less neutral.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago also released its National Activity Index, and it fell slightly (PDF), to -1.08, which indicates that things are still moving in a recessionary direction.

In real estate, the 3rd quarter numbers are in, and the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed home prices increasing 3.1%, though it's still down 9% year over year, and existing home sales rose an astounding 10% in October.

The timing here shows why this housing "recovery" is a mirage. Existing home sales rose in October because these were people scrambling to get in under the wire for the new home tax credit.

Some quick math shows that the median existing home prices in the US is $173,100, and $8000 is 4.62% of that, so the the degree to which the tax credit is driving price deltas is probably pretty significant.

Meanwhile, we are having some significant movement in the bond/central bank world, both nationally and internationally, with Fitch cutting its rating Mexico's sovereign debt, the Bank of Israel yesterday raising its overnight lending rate by a 25 basis points (¼%), and Colombia's central bank cutting its rate by 50 basis points (½%), because inflation is below expectations, and they want to give their economy a boost.

My guess is also that Columbia wants to push its currency down to help with its trade balance.

US Treasuries rose in their most recent auction, probably because investors are looking for safe havens following the downward GDP revision.

Certainly the GDP revision pushed oil down, though interestingly enough the dollar fell against both the Yen and Euro.

24 November 2009

Gee, You Think????

U.S. to Evaluate Its Own Role in Afghan Graft

Gee, You Think?

So, the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee's minutes have been released, and there were concerns that abnormally low interest rates might fuel speculative excesses?

Really? How could could anyone conclude that after all the prosperity that Alan "Bubbles" Greenspan droping rates to unprecedented lows, and then keeping them there in order to keep George W. Bush in office deal with the hangover from the dotcom crash?

Yes, of course it's a worry:
Federal Reserve officials said record-low interest rates might fuel “excessive” speculation in financial markets and possibly dislodge expectations for low inflation, according to minutes of their meeting released today.

“Members noted the possibility that some negative side effects might result from the maintenance of very low short-term interest rates for an extended period,” minutes of the Nov. 3-4 meeting said, “including the possibility that such a policy stance could lead to excessive risk-taking in financial markets or an unanchoring of inflation expectations.”

While policy makers agreed that the chances of such effects were “relatively low, they would remain alert to these risks,” the minutes showed. Fed officials at their meeting indicated the benchmark lending rate would remain near zero “for an extended period” as long as inflation expectations are stable and unemployment fails to decline.
But it appears that "fed officials" are going to use some more of their "Federal Reserve Fairy Dust", to prevent this, or at least make sure that the chances of such effects are, "relatively low."

Audit the Fed, then reform it.

More on the Exit of Greg Graig, White House Counsel

Massimo Calabresi and Michael Weisskopf of Time magazine have the full rundown, but the basic thesis is that Dick Cheney started saying bad things about Barack Obama when it started to become obvious that Cheney might be in legal jeopardy if Obama did not go all out to stop all investigations and public disclosures on law breaking by Bush and His Evil Minions.

At Firedog Lake, Marcy Wheeler hits the nail on the head when she says, "I guess Dick Cheney is right–Obama can’t stand up to terrorists. Terrorists like Dick Cheney."

(emphasis mine)

The 8th Least Likely Thing for Me to Ever Say

Al Gore is hysterically funny.

Signs of the Apocalypse, Media Conspiracy Edition

The apocalypse part is that Matt Taibbi is agreeing with Sarah Palin on whether or not the media is out to get her.

He goes meta, of course, because, he is both a good writer and a smart one, and notes that the media always has its chosen targets, and that this wankitude (Gore, Dean, etc.) is thoroughly bipartisan.:
I would, however, like to point out a few things, none of which really involve taking sides in this particular cat-fight. In no particular order:

1) The political media has always taken it upon itself to make decisions about who is and who is not qualified to be taken seriously as candidates for higher office. Without even talking about whether they do this more or less to Republicans or Democrats, I can testify that I witnessed this phenomenon over and over again in the primary battles within the Democratic Party. It has always been true that the press corps has drawn upon internalized professional biases, high-school-style groupthink and the urging of insider wonks to separate candidates into “serious” and “unserious” groups before the shots even start to be fired.


2) When that does happen, when the press corps decides to abandon all restraint and go for the head shot, it usually tells us a lot more about the reporters’ bosses and what they’re thinking than it does about the reporters themselves. Your average political reporter is a spineless dweeb who went to all the best schools and made it to that privileged seat inside the campaign-trail ropeline by being keenly sensitive to the editorial wishes of his social and professional superiors.


3) So Sarah Palin is now in that category of politician whom reporters feel safe in attacking.
It's a good read, and highly accurate.

Update on the Census Worker Death

It appears I was wrong, the death of US Census worker Bill Sparkman, which I, and a number of other people was an act driven by the recent right wing anti-government hysteria.

Well, the Kentucky State Police, along with the FBI, have now ruled it to be suicide.

My condolences to his family.

The Excessively Employed

Mark Halperin.

While I am not a fan of Mary Landrieu, and some days actually hope that the Southern squish Dems lose their battles for reelection so that the Senate is forced to play hardball (i.e. reconciliation).

I am even less enthused about Mary Landrieu's ongoing act Hamlet act on healthcare reform, which seems to largely involve the desire to increase Medicare subsidies to Louisiana.

That being said, Mark Halperin's most substantive writing on this issue, and Landrieu's position on HCR is to post this photoshop job, which has since been removed by a journalist who has secretly infiltrated the corporate offices of Time.

It is, of course a reference to the unfortunate confusion between hair gel and semen made by Carmen Diaz in the movie There's Something about Mary.
As many of you know, Mark Halperin is this babbling idiot whom Time magazine hired to cobble together this insipid web product called "The Page," which is designed to scam people looking for trenchant, up-to-the-minute political news into giving Time many, many unnecessary ad impressions as you follow Halperin's teasing links to his content. That content tends to be a really dumb listicle, or a one sentence piece of pure and unadulterated banality, or, if you are really lucky, a paragraph or two of analysis that's either so conventional as to appear slam-dunk, or so witless that it's completely laughable and wrong.
The post about Landrieu was titled, "There's Still Something About Mary," for the brain dead readers of "The Page" who would not otherwise get it.

Yes, this should be a firing offense, particularly after both Beck and Limbaugh literally called her a "prostitute," but since it's at the expense of a woman, I'm sure that the old boy's club of journalism will just chuckle

Things We Really Don't Want to See

Katie Couric dirty dancing at an after party following her CBS News debut.

This is right up there with her colostomy videos.

Change You Cannot Believe In

Well, I think that it's becoming clear that the reason that Barack Obama is relying on Timothy "Eddie Haskell" Geithner and Lawrence Summers as the core of his economic team is not an accident.

Not only has his economic team been captured by Wall Street, but Barack Obama has been captured by Wall Street:
If the White House and congressional leaders get their way, the vaunted new oversight council charged with overseeing systemic risk in the financial markets will actually be a house organ of the Treasury Department, lacking the independence required to challenge decisions by government regulators, among others.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) last week tried to fix that, by offering an amendment in the House Financial Services Committee that would give the council an independent staff and independent source of funding. But he was forced to withdraw the amendment after it became clear that he wouldn't get Chairman Barney Frank's approval, said a source familiar with the committee's deliberations.
Let's be clear here, this council is supposed to review not just systemic risk, but also the behavior of the regulators:
As proposed by the Obama administration, the House bill calls for the council to be headed by the Treasury Secretary, who would pick his own staff from within the Treasury Department.

But not only is the council supposed to keep watch over firms and activities that pose a risk, it's also supposed to oversee the work of other regulators in mitigating threats and supervise financial regulation as a whole, according to the bill's language. In short, it has a mandate to watch over everything that could possibly endanger the financial system - including inaction and incompetence by regulators.
So, why are Barack Obama and His Stupid Minions so absolutely determined to place the centerpiece of his regulatory reform thoroughly under the branch of the executive designed to be a lapdog for large banking interests?

I do not think that Barack Obama is that stupid, that is clear, though while a candidate, and now President, Barack Obama has always been a bit of a cipher.

The answer, I think, lies in his background.

Barack Obama is literally Chicago School, as in the University of Chicago, where he taught for 12 years, and his first "big name" economic advisor is Austan Goolsbee, who is faculty there, and I think that Barack Obama is clearly very devoted to the idea that the government must be held back to prevent it from interfering with economic "innovation".

Simply put, he is enthralled by the vision of Chicago School economics, as conceived by Milton Friedman and given flesh by Alan "Bubbles" Greenspan, and so he sees his primary role in economic reform to be ensuring that it is toothless and completely controlled by the large Wall Street banks.

When Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that, "The banks own the place," he was referring to Congress, but it's true of the White House.

They own Barack Obama too.

Deep Thought

H/t Ted Rall.

Tekeli Li!!! Tekeli Li!!!!

H/t Wonkette

(on edit)
If you stare into the Abyss long enough, the Abyss stares back at you.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche

H/t Unmutual of the by invitation only Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Well, That Explains the Bush Budgets

And why 193% of Republicans thought that the numbers checked out.

23 November 2009

The Dan Quayle Theory of Presidential Protection

You know, the one that goes, "If you make Dan Quayle your VP, then no one in their right mind will try to remove you from office for your role selling arms to Iran and diverting the proceeds to the Contras."

Come to think of it, Ronald Reagan had a very similar policy...Thanks a lot, little Mikey Dukkakis.

In any case, I heard a leak that I hope is being motivated by the same dynamic.

I don't know that it is, but I do know that when I heard this, I got that look on my face that my older brother says, "Looks like a cow that just stepped on its own udder."

The leak is that the Obama administration is looking for a potential replacement for Timothy "Eddie Haskell" Geithner have already begun.

Since the criticism of him is that he's too close to the big banks and Wall Street, and too lenient on them as a result, the word on the street is that his replacement will be……

Wait for it………

Wait for it………

Wait for it………

Wait for it………

Wait for it………

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon:
As support for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wanes on Capitol Hill amid frustration with the Obama administration's handling of the economy, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is emerging as a potential replacement.

Sources tell The Post that a number of policy makers have begun mentioning Dimon as a successor to Geithner, whose standing in Washington has suffered because of the country's high unemployment rate, the weakness of the dollar, the slow pace of the recovery and the government's mounting deficit.
Great googly moogly.

A Great Name for a Blog

I have absolutely no clue about the quality of the analysis, it seems to be inside baseball academic economics at first glance, but I love the title.

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Richard is a friend of my son, and he was playing with Charlie today, and they wanted to play on the computer.

I was in the middle of doing my Sarah Palin book ad on my blog post, and they were asking why I was doing a screen shot of the image, and I explained how the ads paid me a few bucks, but they did weird stuff like this all the time.

Well, Charlie has been thoroughly indoctrinated by me and Uncle Keith (Olbermann), so he started ragging on Palin and the book, and Richard, who has similarly proper parenting joined in, and then he let fly the best review ever on Sarah Palin's Going Rogue
The book will probably fall apart, just like the Captain Underpants ones do.

--Richard S. Age 9
While I have no knowledge of the quality of the printing and binding, this is almost certainly accurate about the book so many levels.

I think that I hurt myself laughing.

The kid has a future in stand-up comedy.

Time to Call In the IRS

The Bishop of Providence Rhode Island has banned Patrick Kennedy from taking communion in his diocese. Suzie Madrak has the scoop at Crooks and Liars (also, you can find it at CNN):

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has banned Rep. Patrick Kennedy from receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, in Rhode Island because of the congressman's support for abortion rights, Kennedy said in a newspaper interview published Sunday.

The decision by the outspoken prelate, reported on The Providence Journal's Web site, significantly escalates a bitter dispute between Tobin, an ultra orthodox bishop, and Kennedy, a son of the nation's most famous Roman Catholic family.

"The bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion," Kennedy told the paper in an interview conducted Friday.

Kennedy said the bishop had explained the penalty by telling him "that I am not a good practicing Catholic because of the positions that I've taken as a public official," particularly on abortion.

(emphasis original)

Seriously, if the Church wants to be this captured by the Republican party, perhaps the IRS should look at improper electioneering.

I would also note that the Republican party has been captured by nativist bigots, people who hate Hispanics, who are now over 2/3 of the Catholic Church, then perhaps Catholics of good conscience should find those few Bishops and Cardinals of good faith who spend their time on serving their flock, and leave those who spend their time on than lobbying on abortion and covering up for pedophile priests to their own devices.

Apologies for the poor audio quality of the vid, it's from the Christo-Fascist CNSNews.

Why Sarah Palin's Book is a "Best Seller", or More Stupid Google Adsense Tricks

Yes, once again, the good folks at Google Adsense are serving up an advertisement for Sarah Palin in response to something that I posted (just the image, no link, not ever).

My disclaimers are below, but in this case, I clicked through, something that Google Adsense frowns upon if you do it routinely, to see what exactly this offer was.

Well, here is a screen-shot of the page from Newsmax:

(click for full size)

There, is, of course, a pattern here. You have people who are rich because of dumb luck in the genetic lottery, people with names like Scaife Olin, Bradley, Coors, and Koch, who are spending huge amounts of money that they inherited from daddy, or grand daddy, or great-grand daddy on the right wing machine.

They subsidize the publisher that prints the Palin book. They subsidize the propaganda sheet that offers the book free with a 1 year subscription, or for $4.95 (plus $5.95 shipping and handling, which means that they must use a unicorn to get the book to you) with a 4 months of Newsmax free.

What does this get?
  • Inflates Newsmax circulation numbers artificially.
  • Increases Newsmax ad revenue.
  • Inflates the sales of Going Rouge artificially.
  • Generates buzz for Going Rouge because its sales numbers looks high.
All of which adds credibility to both the book, and to the magazine, because, much like the late, unlamented New York Sun, their claim to credibility is based on circulation, and their circulation is based on paying people to take their parakeet cage liner.

In any case, back to the ads.

Please note, once again: once again, that I do not vet, nor do I endorse any ad that appears on my site, and I reserve the right to mock both the ads that appear on my site, as well as the advertisers who purchase those ads through Google Adsense.

Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google Adsense, even though it would make me money, and cost them (Palin's Publishers and Newsmax) money.

One Of These Things is.....

A Sarah Palin book signing.

H/t Melonhead at the Shortskoolbus BBS.

Jon Stewart is a F%$#ing Genius, Republicans Giving Aid and Comfort to Terrorists Edition

It's only 7¼ minutes, just watch it.

22 November 2009

Goldman Sachs Shareholders: Show Me the Money*

Here's a surprise: After a year of record profits for Goldman Sachs, the shareholders are demanding an increased slice of the profits:
Some of Goldman Sachs Group's largest shareholders have asked the company to cut the size of its bonus pool and pass along more of its profits to investors, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

Although the shareholders are not pushing for a huge cut, they feel that Goldman should better reward shareholders for this year's rebound, the paper said.
One of the oddities of Wall Street is that 30 years ago, the investment banks were not publicly held companies, they were limited liability partnerships, where all the profits, at least those not reinvested in the firm (and seriously, how much capital investment does a f$#@ing investment bank need) accrued to the partners.

So in the 1980s and 1990s, they all went public, generated huge cash outs for the partners, and enormous amounts of other people's money with which to wager, but they continued to operate as if they were still partnerships, and that all the money accrued back to them.

Well now, the shareholders are thinking that maybe they should start acting like they own the firm, which, of course, they do.

Hopefully, this is a trend, though I doubt it.

*Full disclosure: I never saw the movie, Jerry McGuire.

This Has Epic Fail Written All Over It

It looks like Microsoft and Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp are working together to attempt to create a walled garden around his so-called news:
Microsoft has had discussions with News Corp over a plan that would involve the media company’s being paid to “de-index” its news websites from Google, setting the scene for a search engine battle that could offer a ray of light to the newspaper industry.

The impetus for the discussions came from News Corp, owner of newspapers ranging from the Wall Street Journal of the US to The Sun of the UK, said a person familiar with the situation, who warned that talks were at an early stage.

However, the Financial Times has learnt that Microsoft has also approached other big online publishers to persuade them to remove their sites from Google’s search engine.
There are a number of assumptions here, on both sides, which I think will kill the deal:
  • That NewsCorp®, and its shareholders will tolerate the implosion, at least in the short term, of online ad revenues, particularly given the current moribund revenues for print advertisement.
  • That even if Microsoft® is successful, its unlikely to bring in much in the way of other search business their way.
  • That if Microsoft® succeeds in dethroning Google® that they won't be an aggressive monopolist and short change those content providers.
  • That Craigslist® won't continue to eat their lunches in the lucrative local classified markets.
  • That the New York Times will team with the publisher of the Wall Street Journal and New York Post on this.
  • That any of the foreign media will go in on this.
  • That the EU antitrust authorities won't be on their ass like white on rice.
This is one of those things that will get a lot of ink, because, of course, the newspapers want it to work, but it won't get much beyond that.

The 800 pound gorilla in the room is, and continues to be, that the major news outlets are driven by the demands from Wall Street to hit their numbers, which, when juxtaposed with stupid debt deals on shiny new headquarters, they have consistently made their products less attractive.

The problem is that when you cut journalism out of newspapers, all you have left is advertisements, and like I said, Craigslist® is better as a pure advertising play.

H/t Atrios.

The Best Interviewer in Journalism

Jon Stewart interviewing Lou Dobbs:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Portrait of a Pandering or Courage?

Nice that he changed his position, but it smacks of opportunism.

I'm calling pandering.

Michael Bennet faces a very strong challenge from the Andrew Romanoff, who is coming at him from the left, so Bennet's statement that he would vote for healthcare reform even if it meant him losing the election is an easy one to make. (see vid)

The reality is that he was saying he might not vote for HCR for a long time, and now that he has a strong primary challenger, and he would be dead in the primary if he voted against it, suddenly he's willing to bet his career on it.

Another Challenger to the Lycoming/Continental GA Engines

Click top 2 for Large Pics

In this case, it's the liquid cooled 120° V-6 Adept aviation engine Adept 320T avgas/mogas engine.

I'm dubious on market success, given that it has to use gasoline, though it is automotive fuel (mogas) compatible.

The cost, and relative unavailability of the fuel is what is driving people toward small turbine and diesel engines.

I came across their web site in a strange way, they were mentioned in an ad for Autodesk® CAD products on the back cover of the ASME magazine, Mechanical Engineering, and looked at their technology.

The basic features of the engine are:
  • 320 hp out of 3.2 liter. I'm not sure of the RPM.
  • Higher speed than legacy horizontally opposed twins, with a reduction gearbox.
  • The engine, "has a fairly over-square bore/stroke ratio (98mm x 70mm)," which they claim keeps piston speed below that of the current engines.
  • Liquid cooling.
  • Operates on 94 Octane fuel, obviating the need for the increasingly scarce 100LL
  • 2000 Hour TBO.
  • They are not looking into helicopter applications, but they might at a later time.
There is a relatively uneventful video of an engine run at the bottom of this post.


Washington lost to Dallas by 1 point.

Belgium, man, just Belgium!!!!!

Chicken Sh$#

Said piece of poultry excrement is William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States of America, who has backed out of making an appearance at free medical clinic in Arkansas, because Keith Olbermann supported and raised funds for them:
Bill Clinton told FDL’s Eve Gittelson that it would be problematic for him to attend a free medical clinic being held in Little Rock, Arkansas [held Saturday] because MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann had “politicized” the event.” He indicated that some were turning the event into a primary kickoff against Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

Eve ran into Clinton Thursday in the gift shop of the Clinton Library. She’s in Arkansas covering the Keith Olbermann’s free clinic event, organized by the National Association of Free Clinics. The former President is in town for the 5th anniversary of the Clinton Library.
Seriously, this is some major level of chicken sh#@, and it is typical of his time as a politician on the national scene.

Unfortunately, as indicated by retreats on torture prosecutions, the rule of law on terrorism cases, healthcare reform, financial reform, etc. it appears that Barack Obama has brought the Chicken sh$# brigade from Clinton's terms, and put them in charge of policy.

Proof Positive that Geithner is Completely Wrong for the Job

David Brooks has endorsed Geithner's choices and policies.

The only way that there could be a clear sign that Geithner was a disaster would be if William Kristol or Sarah Palin endorsed his policies.

Not Getting the Issue

Click for full size
Sub Quietness
Both the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), and Robert Farley at Information Dissemination make a very big deal about about the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) report that notes that current Chinese SSBNs are noisier than their Soviet equivalents from 30 years ago.

The ONI report notes that the submarines are easily detected, the sortie rate for patrol missions is low, and that the range of the missiles is low, and so the FAS concludes:

The ONI report concludes that the Jin SSBN with the JL-2 SLBM gives the PLA Navy its first credible second-strike nuclear capability. The authors must mean in principle, because in a war such noisy submarines would presumably be highly vulnerable to U.S. or Japanese anti-submarine warfare forces. (The noise level of China’s most modern diesel-electric submarines is another matter; ONI says some are comparable to Russian diesel-electric submarines).

That does raise an interesting question about the Chinese SSBN program: if Chinese leaders are so concerned about the vulnerability of their nuclear deterrent, why base a significant portion of it on a few noisy platforms and send them out to sea where they can be sunk by U.S. attack submarines in a war? And if Chinese planners know that the sea-based deterrent is much more vulnerable than its land-based deterrent, why do they waste money on the SSBN program?

The answer is probably a combination of national prestige and scenarios involving India or Russia that have less capable anti-submarine forces.

And Mr. Farley concurs.

I disagree. The purpose of building a credible SSBN force is to deter the United States.

Submarines, SSNs specifically, dominate the conflict at seas, as shown by the General Belgrano's sinking by the HMS Conqueror, but they do not create prestige as such.

Unlike surface combatants like carriers, LPDs, or other vessels carrying naval artillery, they cannot control control coastal regions effectively. Even a relatively small gunboat can interdict a coastal road for an extended period of time.

What a Submarine can do is sink all those surface combatants with relative impunity, maintain a difficult to detect 2nd strike with nuclear weapons, or launch a surprise surgical strike ("cruise missile diplomacy").

I think that the Chinese have always taken the longer view on these sorts of issues, going back to well before the creation of the PRC, and realize that in order to a more effective submarine force, they need to advance incrementally, and learn how to build, maintain, and crew better boats over time.

They are familiar with Soviet weapons, and they know the disasters that resulted from pushing the envelope.

Additionally, their horrific history regarding Mao's Great Leap Forward is a relatively history, and so they are taking measured steps.

Simply put, the Chinese do not feel the level of paranoia that the Soviets did regarding an attack by western forces, and as such, they are taking their time, rather than rushing new systems into service when doing so would entail a large amount of risk.

21 November 2009

Toto, I Don't Think that We're In Kansas Any More

Alan Grayson on Dylan Ratigan (2:24)
Crooks and Liars has a very illuminating clip on just what Alan Grayson expects to find in an audit of the Fed.

While I love Grayson's line that, "Well we are in Emerald City right now. We’ve arrived in Emerald City. Toto has just run underneath the curtain…," the important quote, and the important question is the more significant quote, "Well what I think is favoritism towards selected big banks that have failed and led us to the brink of national bankruptcy."

What is clear is that for a long time, at least since Alan "Bubbles" Greenspan became Fed Chairman, was that the "Greenspan Put", which Wiki calls:
The Fed's pattern of providing ample liquidity resulted in the investor perception of put protection on asset prices. Investors increasingly believed that when things go bad, the Fed would step in and inject liquidity until the problem got better. Invariably, the Fed did so each time, and the perception became firmly embedded in asset pricing in the form of higher valuation, narrower credit spreads, and excess risk taking. It has been criticized as a form of privatizing profits and socializing losses, and as inflating a speculative bubble in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis.
(emphasis mine)

Has been a factor of life.

Basically, if you were big enough, and f$#@ed up badly enough, the United States Fedral Reserve System would bail you out.

I think that there are a number of reasons, the first being that in doing so, you can make yourself look good, and I also believe that in the Ayn Rand addled mind of Greenspan, speculators are Rand's noble capitalists, and as such need to be coddled and protected.

The best example of this is probably the collapse of Long Term Capital Management (LTCM), where Greenspan set up a bailout that competed with a much more severe haircut for the investors, to see this, but it happened over, and over, and over, and over again.

The only reason that Greenspan could get away with this, and be called a genius for getting away with this, was because he concealed, and in some cases flat out lied, about what he was doing.

That needs to end.

It is corrosive to democracy, it is corrosive to society, and it is corrosive to finance.

Calls for Timmy to be Fired.

Click for full size
Congressman Peter DeFasio Calls for "Timmy" Geithner to be fired.

Also coming from right wing 'Phant Kevin Brady
Representative Peter DeFasio (D-OR-4) has now explicitly called for Barack Obama to fire Timothy Geithner, though you will note in the video (top) that he calls him "Timmy" (at about 1:35), which I think is a very deliberate slight.

And, according to The Hill, that removing him, as well as Larry Summers, is now the consensus position for the Congressional Populist Caucus (CPC).

We are also seeing similar calls from the right wingers in the Republican Party too, note the calls made to Geithner's face by Texas whack-doodle Kevin Brady (R-TX-8).

Of note, it appears that Brady's accusation actually got under Geither's skin (bottom video).

When Brady brought up his performance as President of the New York Bank of the Federal Reserve, and suggested that his performance there was sub-par, it's clear that Geithner was irate at this suggestion.