30 June 2010

I Cannot Believe that Matt Taibbi is Not Already on My List

My official 40 Years in the Desert list of People I Do Not Want to Piss Off, that is.

I really can't do justice to his latest blog post, "Lara Logan, You Suck," In response to her pandering to her sources by publicly stating that the job of a reporter is to kiss senior officer's butts, so just go and read it.

Jon Stewart Is a National Treasure

He takes on the wankers who whine leave Britney George W. alone.

Angela Merkel is Lucky That

The bar for worst German leader ever is so high.

In the latest episode of this show, Ms. Merkel screwed the pooch on a political beauty pageant:
Chancellor Angela Merkel licked her wounds Thursday after rebels in her coalition turned a straightforward presidential election into a humiliating debacle that made her look weaker than ever.

In theory, Merkel's coalition had more than enough votes in an assembly of lawmakers and public figures to secure comfortably on Wednesday an election of the conservative Christian Wulff to the largely ceremonial job of head of state.
She may have a future as a reverse barometer in her next job.

29 June 2010

Economic Datapoint of the Day

Click for full size

Iceland's falling GDP


Iceland's low unemployment
Matthew Yglesias, as an afterthought in a post highlighting one of the truly trippiest campaign videos ever, notes that despite Iceland's plummeting GDP, unemployment remains relatively mild compared to the other European* red-headed step children.

The difference is, of course, the fact that Iceland is not a part of the Euro zone, and as such is not locked into a monetary union with the Germans who continue to pursue an export driven beggar-thy-neighbor policy with a zeal that approaches that of the Chinese.

The real question about the Euro has always been whether it would survive bad times, but perhaps the question should be whether or not the Euro made sense in the 1st place.

*Yes, I know, Iceland is an island, and not a part of Europe proper, but the same could be said for Cyprus, and Iceland is even more tightly tied to western Europe.

Congressional Dems Opt for No Guts And No Glory

Congressional Democrats have just caved to Republicans on a tax to make banks pay for their next bailout:
Democrats on Tuesday planned to strip out a controversial tax from their landmark financial reform bill in order to win the swing votes needed to pass it through Congress.

With crucial Republican moderates threatening to withdraw their support, Democrats were weighing alternative ways to fund the most sweeping rewrite of the Wall Street rulebook since the 1930s.

Though a supposedly final version of the bill had been hammered out last week, Democrats in charge of the process called a fresh negotiating session, which got under way shortly after 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

Democratic lawmakers and aides said they planned to remove a $17.9 billion tax on large financial institutions. Instead, they would cover most of the bill's costs by shutting down a $700 billion bank-bailout program.
Except, of course, that the next time that a big bank needs a bailout, they would get one.

Why Dems aren't using 'Phants coziness with the banks as a club with which to hit them is beyond me, except, of course, for the fact that President Hopey-Changey wants to have something on his desk soon, even if it sucks wet farts from dead pigeons.

Once again, keep Obama away from toilet paper, because he will sign anything.

I Don't Care About the World Cup

But I have played a bit of Doom lately, so I find this wicked funny:

Speaking of Stupidity in Real Estate Legislation…

The House of Representatives just passed another home buyer tax credit extension.

Now, it's off to the Senate, where, like all bad ideas, it will become law.

Economics Update

Click for full size

This may be the harbinger of an economic recovery


This is not a boating accident real estate recovery!
The The Chicago Fed National Activity Index [CFNAI] has risen to its highest level since March 2006 (see top pic) indicating that there might be some sort of recovery going on.

This is further reinforced by the fact that personal income, spending and savings all rose in May.

Of course on the other side the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence index fell nearly 10 points between May and June, and first time home-buyer traffic has fallen off a cliff, indicating that the recent bump in home sales was, as the experts* noted, was merely a sale-price time shift, not a real recovery.

*And loudmouth blowhards like yours truly.

28 June 2010

Deep Thought

The problem with the Toronto rioters is not the real protesters, but rather the assholes who just want to break sh$# and pose as protesters.

If you believe in direct action, don't set fire to police cars, set fire to Alan Greenspan, though a better idea would be be to actually get involved in the process, and vote.

Caption This



H/t Spencer Ackerman.

Unsurprising News of the Day

4 out of 9 Supreme Court justices believe that there is a constitutional right to discrimination:
An ideologically split Supreme Court ruled Monday that a law school can legally deny recognition to a Christian student group that won't let gays join, with one justice saying that the First Amendment does not require a public university to validate or support the group's ''discriminatory practices.''

The court turned away an appeal from the Christian Legal Society, which sued to get funding and recognition from the University of California's Hastings College of the Law. The CLS requires that voting members sign a statement of faith and regards ''unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle'' as being inconsistent with that faith.

But Hastings, which is in San Francisco, said no recognized campus groups may exclude people due to religious belief or sexual orientation.

The court on a 5-4 judgment upheld the lower court rulings saying the Christian group's First Amendment rights of association, free speech and free exercise were not violated by the college's nondiscrimination policy.
I guess we can call them the hate caucus.

On Robert Byrd Passing

I have remarkably little to say.

He is from a generation of politicos who are 3 (perhaps 4) generations removed, and to the degree that he impinged on my consciousness, it appeared that most of his speeches were lamentations regarding an idealized past that probably never existed.

Then again, I am sure that I have a much more jaundiced view of Congress in general, and the Senate in particular than the distinguished gentleman from West Virginia.

In any case, my condolences to his family.

27 June 2010

I Agree

This would be a vastly better world to live in if Matt Drudge decided to handle his emotional problems more responsibly, and set himself on fire.
For those of you whodon't know, the preceedings was written by Dave Weigel on the private (and now shuttered) JournOlist listserv, and was subsequently leaked to right wing bloggers, leading to his resignation from his position at the Washington Post as their blogger covering the right wing movement.

It should be noted that a number of prominent conservatives have come to his defense.

I cannot speak to the ethics of leaking information from a private listserv, after all we see a lot of leaked private emails when the media covers other industries, but I think that whoever did this was a dick, though they might be an ethical dick.*

Needless to say, it all that the Washington, DC professional blogosphere is talking about right now, to which my response is to go back to covering the damn news.

BTW, if you read the Washington Post Ombudsman's article on this, which is basically a plea to conservatives to like them, you will understand why you should not subscribe to the paper.

*Come to think of it, "Ethical Dick" is a should be a synonym for "good reporter."

Found on the Internet

I do not know who came up with this, but they are a genius:

26 June 2010

Weak Tea

My assesment of the financial reform bill that recently was released by the conference committee.

It's better than I had hoped when the Senate first got its hands on it, but it is dangerously weak.

And here's a surprise, it doesn't have Blanche Lincoln's derivatives restrictions, which is not surprising, that entire proposal was part of the incumbent protection in the US Congress, and with Lincoln having won the primary, it gets deep sixed.

Brian Buetler looks at and calls it a draw between liberals and the corruption caucus, but that's only if you ignore the fact that the liberals had already ceded meaningful reform to the corruption caucus (and the WH, but I am repeating myself) early in this process.

Busy Day Today

My wife's 1994 Honda Odyssey died 2 weeks ago, with 280,000 miles on it, and we have been looking for a replacment.

Well, we settled on a 2009 Mazda5 mini-minivan with about 36K miles on it. It seats 6, but is a somewhat smaller than our old Odyssey, and much smaller than what the Odyssey has grown into since.

It has a rather un-minivan-ish feel to it, and it drives nicely.

My wife is now pondering a name for it.

My though is that it's an inanimate object, so just call it a car.

25 June 2010

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Peninsula Bank, Englewood, FL
  2. First National Bank, Savannah, GA
  3. High Desert State Bank, Albuquerque, NM,
Full FDIC list

Back up to multiple bank closures, 3 this week.

So, here is the graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only):

I Wish I Knew the Back Story

No picture, but we were on I-695, just east of I-83, driving through an area of construction, and in the median strip, surrounded by Jersey barriers, was a guy firing up, or at least setting up, a gas barbecue grill.

So, he was setting out to grill Italian sausage, or maybe, they were workers heat treating something on site, I don't know, but I will always wonder.

I was driving, so I could not take any pics, sorry.

24 June 2010

Jon Stewart Nails the Press … Again


The Best Journalist in America
This time, he's angry at the press, Fox, or rather the idiotic Gretchen Carlson, in particular, but the press as a whole, over their coverage of the McChrystal affair.

He notices that everyone in the MSM is stunned and amazed that Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings was willing to piss off someone by doing his job, and thus not have him as a source again.

You see, a lot of bad reporting is driven by the fact that reporters have their tongues so far up well connected sources asses that they can taste tonsil, and it makes the mainstream media resemble a protection racket.

H/t the inner walls, aka my hairy barbarian elder brother, who dryly observes, "What a concept, doing the job comes first, careerism later."

Back Home Now

I am working a 4 ten hour days, so I get 3 days at home.

Still trying to get my head around all this and figuring out how to balance blogging with all this.

Needless to say, this blog is not at the top of my work/family priorities, but I'll try to stay on top of this.

23 June 2010

Viacom Case Against Google Thrown Out

The judge said that the safe harbor provision of the DMCA indemnifies Google, and granted Google's motion for summary judgement, and dismissed Viacom's lawsuit against Google/Youtube.

My guess is the fact that Viacom was itself posting illegal material to Youtube as a pretext for the lawsuit had a lot to do with this.

I will note that the author, Greg Sandoval quoted an "expert" from the libertarian group the PFF saying that it would be overturned without noting that both litigants funded the organization.

That's just sloppy.

Torturing Duncan Black

Mr. Black, better known by his nom de blog Atrios, coined the term, "Friedman Unit ," to describeThomas "The Mustache of Pablum" Friedman's penchant for saying that the whichever war we are involved in will be won in the next 6 months.

A few months later Friedman would say that the next 6 months were "crucial."

Rinse…lather…repeat…

Well, now Michael O'Hanlon is torturing the young lad:
At this moment, as we enter into perhaps the most crucial six months of the entire war, I hope and pray that President Obama will decide we cannot afford to be without the leadership of such an amazing American.
(emphasis mine)

Mr. Black wants someone to, "Make it stop."

Your mouth to God's ear, Mr. Black.

Economics Update

Click for full size



Housing Recovery My Ass!
H/t naked capitalism
The lede has to be the the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) statement.

While the rates remained the same, no surprise, you cannot drop rates below 0%, and rates won't go up until the Fed sends a few months of signals, what is surprising is that the statement is more pessimistic than May's statement:
The Federal Reserve acknowledged a faltering pace of U.S. economic recovery on Wednesday as it renewed its vow to hold benchmark interest rates exceptionally low for an extended period.

In a statement at the end of a two-day meeting, the Fed scaled back its assessment of the pace of recovery, taking note of pockets of weakness, and also issued a cautionary note about volatile financial markets in light of Europe's debt woes.
Of course, it's more than just unemployment and consumer spending, real estate appears poised to had back down the drain, with the AIA's Architecture Billings Index declining last month, and mortgage purchase applications fell again this week.

But the real news in real estate is the continuing collapse in home sales, and we now know that new home sales have fallen to the lowest recorded number ever, a 300,000 annual rate, and records on this have been kept since 1963. (!)

The two bright sides here are that the numbers are seasonally adjusted, and that the monthly number is volatile, and was likely impacted by the expiration of the home buyer tax credit, but it is still grim.

An Outbreak of Journalism

When U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, a Reagan appointee, struck down the Obama administration 6-month moratorium on deep water drilling, I kind of figured that I would hear stories about appeals.

It turns out that the story about his decision is all about the judges investments in a number of energy companies, including Transocean, operator of the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig:
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, a 1983 appointee of President Ronald Reagan, reported owning less than $15,000 in stock in 2008 in Transocean, the company that owned the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

………

Feldman's 2008 financial disclosure report — the most recent available — also showed investments in Ocean Energy, a Houston-based company, as well as Quicksilver Resources, Prospect Energy, Peabody Energy, Halliburton, Pengrowth Energy Trust, Atlas Energy Resources, Parker Drilling and others. Halliburton was also involved in the doomed Deepwater Horizon project.
I am stunned.

Not by a judge ruling in a case where the appearance of a conflict of interest is clear, after all, the moratorium might expose both Halliburton and Transocean but rather that someone in the mainstream media actually checked out his disclosure forms, and that it actually is now all over the place.

Props to the MSM.

Normally, I Don't Buy the Obama and the Eleventy Dimensional Chess, But………

It is clear to me that Obama's decision to fire Stanley McCrystal is the right thing on many levels, both on a political and a policy leve, and not just because this action is essential to the maintenance of good order and discipline in the military.

It is clear that anything else would have undercut both Obama's credibility and the idea of civilian control of the military.

That being said, it was a lot more, it:
  • Got rid of a corrupt and political officer with a long history of being a Bush admin butt boy (Tillman, torture at the Camp Nama prison camp, his earlier insubordination, etc.)
  • He put someone in charge whom the Republicans are TREMENDOUSLY invested in (Petraeus), and so inoculated himself somewhat from any potential downsides.
  • He has given some ownership of the Afghanistan war to another corrupt and political officer with a long history of being a Bush admin butt boy, and if Davey (Petraeus) is kept busy, he won't be leaking stories to undermine the timeline.
  • It is clear that this is a temporary appointment, so Obama can replace Petraeus at any time because it's clear that being head of CENTCOM and Afghanistan is too much
    • At that time, he can appoint someone who won't lobby to undermine the time-line.
  • Petraeus will be too busy to engage in political machinations over the next few months.
All in all, I give this an 8 out of 10. It works on just about every level, except, of course, for the fact that we remain in the "Graveyard of Empires."

Fun With Craigslist

Dick Jockey/Karaoke Host (Pittsburgh and surronding areas)

H/t Willowgirl at the Shortskoolbus BBS.

When We Line Up People Against the Wall………

They don't care, they're
The Phone Company
We need to include Verizon Wireless execs, who have issued orders to fire customer service representatives who tell customers that they can turn off web access for their phone.

22 June 2010

Not Long Enough

Shalom Rubashkin, the former owner of the Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse, has received a 27-year sentence.

There are a lot of people who will consider the sentence excessive; it is more that people like Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling got, but Lay and Skilling, while crooks, never put children to work on the line of a meat packing plant, and Mr. Rubashkin did.

I Hope That This is True

Josh Marshall is reporting that Florida Republicans are accusing Florida Democrats of sponsoring the Florida Tea Party, which is actually an officially registered party in Florida:
Now, as Christina explained today, Republicans are claiming that the whole Florida Tea Party (FTP) operation is actually a plot by Democrats to field a lot of potemkin candidates who show up on the ballot with the "Tea Party" label so that right-wing Republicans split their votes (between the GOP candidate and the 'Tea Party' candidate) and thus make it possible for a lot of vulnerable Democrats to slip through.

Now, the Republicans who are complaining about this don't have the goods. Not enough to prove it at least. But there's enough there to arouse suspicion. A lot of the candidates signed up at the last moment, many are young and have little if any political or even voting history and a number have past ties to the Democratic party. Republicans frequently help Green Party candidates get on the ballot. And if the shoe were on the other foot I think Dems would be suspicious too.
Republicans have been bankrolling the Green Party in various forms for decades, contributing not only money, but signatures for ballot access.

I hope that this is true and I hope that it continues.

What Simon Says

Specifically, Simon Johnson, former IMF chief economist, who notes that with Peter Orszag resigning as as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Paul Krugman would be the best replacement:
The president should nominate Paul Krugman to replace Peter Orszag as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). (Orszag resignation details are here.)

………

But for the OMB position, the dynamic of a hearing would be terrific for the president’s specific agenda and broader messages. Krugman, of course, is the leading advocate for continued (or increased) fiscal stimulus. This is exactly President Obama’s message to the G20 this weekend.

Plus, when Republicans push back against Krugman on this issue, he will let them have it full blast on fiscal policy during the Bush administration. Krugman has, again and again, been an outspoken critic of the Bush era fiscal policy. He has precise chapter and verse on where the Bush team went off the deep fiscal edge.

………
It will not happen, of course, because Obama only tries to do the right thing when he has no other alternative, and there is simply not the pressure to have Krugman take the post.

Go read the whole thing.

This is a Definition of Unexpected That I Was Previously Unaware Of

So, CNBC is calling the exiting decline in home sales in May "Unexpected."

The home buyer tax credit expired, and it's generally known that the primary effect was not to generate new home sales, but to move purchases up by a couple of months, so this is entirely expected.

This is completely expected.

OK, This is Stupid

Click for full size
This an April fools gag


This is someone doing WAY too many drugs.
ThinkGeek gets what they call, their best cease & desist letter ever, from the National Pork Board telling them that they are violating their trademark by describing Unicorn meat as, "The other white meat," for which ThinkGeek, tongue planted firmly in cheek, apologizes:
"It was never our intention to cause a national crisis and misguide American citizens regarding the differences between the pig and the unicorn," said Scott Kauffman, President and CEO of Geeknet. "In fact, ThinkGeek's canned unicorn meat is sparkly, a bit red, and not approved by any government entity."
Heh.

Olberman's Special Comment on McChrystal Sucks

Listening now, he's big on the "don't accept the resignation," crap.

General McChrystal Should Not Be Fired

He should be the subject of a formal criminal inquiry.

Simply put, the statements, both by him and by his subordinates with his tacit approval are completely antithetical to the idea of civilian control of the military.

To the degree that his profile in Rolling Stone, when he was informed of both content and quotes therein ahead of publication, and he voiced no objections, is simply completely beyond the pale for the lowliest private at a wedding toast, much less a general being interviewed by a major national magazine:
Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. "I never know what's going to pop out until I'm up there, that's the problem," he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.

"Are you asking about Vice President Biden?" McChrystal says with a laugh. "Who's that?"

"Biden?" suggests a top adviser. "Did you say: Bite Me?"

…………

…But part of the problem is personal: In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk shit about many of Obama's top people on the diplomatic side. One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a "clown" who remains "stuck in 1985." Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, "turn up, have a meeting with Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it's not very helpful." Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal's inner circle. "Hillary had Stan's back during the strategic review," says an adviser. "She said, 'If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.' "

McChrystal reserves special skepticism for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating the Taliban. "The Boss says he's like a wounded animal," says a member of the general's team. "Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he's going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous. He's a brilliant guy, but he just comes in, pulls on a lever, whatever he can grasp onto. But this is COIN, and you can't just have someone yanking on shit."

At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke," he groans. "I don't even want to open it." He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.

"Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg," an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.
This is on top of his lying and cover-up in the Pat Tillman affair, the torture under his command in Iraq at the Camp Nama prison camp, and his earlier insubordination at his speech in London about a year ago.

The only way that firing McCrystal would be an appropriate response is if he were fired out of a cannon.

His senior staff should be fired, McCrystal should be brought up on charges.

Of course, Barack Obama, because he wants everyone to like him, will instead engage in some theater like rejecting McCrystal's resignation, but this is wrong for the military, wrong for the Afghan campaign, and wrong for the country.

Well, I'll be hearing Olbermann's Special Comment in a few minutes.

21 June 2010

Meta

My laptop is set up, and the Wifi is working, so we should start to see unsupported facts and bad writing here.

Quote of the Day

Angela Merkel Lucky the Bar for “Worst German Leader” is Very High.
--Matthew Yglesias, on how German bloody mindedness for going Hoover will kill us all
Word.

20 June 2010

Deep Thought

Keith Moon was a maniac.

19 June 2010

Some More Pak-FA Video Pr0n

Airshow footage, and it appears to be a rather capable display considering that it was first unveiled just a few months ago.




H/t The DEW Line

Deep Thought

After my first full week at work, it appears that my skills still remain sharp.

However, there is one exception, my cubical navigation sense is off.

At least twice a day, while picking up something from the printer or returning the bathroom, I make a wrong turn, and end up at someone else's cube.

My New Toy

Click for full size






My new laptop, the Gateway NV7915u.

It's more of a desktop replacement that can be transported to stationary locations than a laptop per se. It's rather boat-anchorish, but that is what I am looking for.

It booted up fine, and I've been purging the crapware, particularly the Norton demo. (Friends don't let friends put Norton on their machines)

In any case, here are pictures.

18 June 2010

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Nevada Security Bank, Reno, NV
Full FDIC list

We have now had 2 straight weeks of only 1 bank failure.

I am not sure if this is improvement, if the things are just piling up behind the dam, or if we are simply running out of Banks.

In any case, here is the graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only):

And There Was Much Rejoicing……

My new laptop, a birthday gift from DoD (Dear old Dad) has arrived, which means that I will be WiFi enabled down in Northern Virginia, which means that I can get my daily dose of Maddow online, and blog more.

So you will see more writing, but, as is my tradition, shamelessly swiped from the brothers Magliozzi, it will remain "unencumbered by the thought process."

Still, being able to video phone back home on the weekdays via Skype is nice.

17 June 2010

The People of America Have Learned What the People of Texas Already Knew

That representative Joe Barton (R-TX) is a complete moron.

You see, he publicly apologized to BP for what he called a, "$20 billion shakedown" by the Obama administration in getting the giant oil company to pay into an escrow fund. (He has since recanted)

To my mind, if the Dems don't run with this like an overpaid wide receiver at the Superbowl, they are morons.

I Just Hope That We Aren't a Sinking Ship…

But you should know that the president of Xe, the company formerly known as Blackwater, mercenary rat Eric Prince is planning to leave the country and settle in the United Arab Emirates, and the UAE has no extradition treaty with the United States:
Sources close to Blackwater and its secretive owner Erik Prince claim that the embattled head of the world's most infamous mercenary firm is planning to move to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Middle Eastern nation, a major hub for the US war industry, has no extradition treaty with the United States. In April, five of Prince's top deputies were hit with a fifteen-count indictment by a federal grand jury on conspiracy, weapons and obstruction of justice charges. Among those indicted were Prince's longtime number-two man, former Blackwater president Gary Jackson, former vice presidents William Matthews and Ana Bundy and Prince's former legal counsel Andrew Howell.

The Blackwater/Erik Prince saga took yet another dramatic turn last week, when Prince abruptly announced that he was putting his company up for sale.

While Prince has not personally been charged with any crimes, federal investigators and several Congressional committees clearly have his company and inner circle in their sights. The Nation learned of Prince's alleged plans to move to the UAE from three separate sources. One Blackwater source told The Nation that Prince intends to sell his company quickly, saying the "sale is going to be a fast move within a couple of months."
Rest assured, if Prince is has charges filed, we can be sure that Obama and His Evil Minions will turn over no stones at all in an attempt to bring him to justice.

After all, Prince might roll on senior Bush White House officials, and the uproar might force Obama to investigate them, which appears to terrify him.

Still Don't Have Time to Do My Economics Updates…

But this weeks jobless claims numbers still suck wet farts from dead pigeons.

Deep Thought

Perhaps the British royal family is not as overpaid as I thought:





You would have to pay me a lot of money to make me wear those hats, and I occasionally frequent the company of Orthodox Jewish women at services, and their bad taste in hats is legion, though clearly nothing compared to this.

Link.

Deep Thought

A stint of unemployment, can make you wonder about whether or not one's technical skills have gotten dulled in the interim.

Fortunately, there is no problem here. I picked up ProE as if I had not been off it at all.

On the other hand, I seem to have lost the ability to navigate my way through cubical farms.

At least 3 times a day, I walk back to my cube, and take a wrong turn, and end up at someone else's cube, and this is just a medium sized office.

Being a man, I don't ask for directions, of course.

16 June 2010

I've Been In These Conversations, Many Times

I'm just saying.

Economic Quote of the Year*

Paul Krugman finds this quote from Adam Posen of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee regarding people who think that somehow the European Central Bank is not "Chaste" enough in matters of fighting inflation because it is engaging in quantitative easing (printing money) in the form of buying bonds:
Cultures which make a public fixation of virginal maturity, of a stylized maiden’s reputation, tend to be backward superstitious cultures that impede people exercising autonomy and making responsible choices.
Word up.

*So far.

15 June 2010

Karma, Neh?

So, a preacher in Ohio with a lot of money and wacked priorities decides to erect a six plus story statue of Jesus, because helping the poor is for punks.

I imagine that he thought that God is much bigger into graven images than he is into helping the downtrodden.

Well, the score is now God:1, religious and self-aggrandizing nut-job:0.

Lightning struck the statue and it burned to the ground. Doubtless the preacher won't even feel a shred of doubt though.

Posted via mobile, which is why I am not composing a filk of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" ("Smoke on the Jesus?") for my blog.

14 June 2010

Deep Thought

A message from the fine folks at British Petroleum



H/t Old Pinko.

13 June 2010

I am Completely Wiped

Between my daughter's bat mitzvah yesterday, and her reception today, I am completely wiped. Everything went pretty much to schedule, but the last minute running around was completely nuts.

I'm starting a new Job on Tuesday,* so I am hip deep in continued preparations, and adjustments for some days, as I will be away from home 4 days a week.

Hopefully, I'll try to get back into the proverbial groove over the next week or so.

*And there was much rejoicing

Light Posting for a While

I've got some stuff queued up, but I am heading off to a family get together on the Delaware shore, and then my Daughter is having her Bat Mitzvah this Saturday, so I will generally be away from the computer.

I have some stuff queued up, but volume should be light.

I have post dated this post until Sunday, after her reception, so scroll down for new posts.

12 June 2010

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!! (a day late)

A day late, because my Daughter had her bat mitzvah, (my reflections on that later) but here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Washington First International Bank, Seattle, WA
Full FDIC list

And here are the credit union closings:
  1. Orange County Employees Credit Union, Orange, TX
Full NCUA list

So FDIC bank failures seem to be moderating a bit, but credit union failures appear to be picking up a smidgeon.


In any case, here is the graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only):

Deep Thought

Not everything that pops into your head has to come out your mouth.
-- My brother, Dan Saroff, to my dad
Just so you know, we were all drinking, Scotch for the Saroff boys, and red wine for the parental unit, at the time.

11 June 2010

Deep Thought

If this is the cover of your magazine, fire your media people:



H/t Huffpo.

10 June 2010

Primary Election Results

Blanche Lincoln won the runoff, I still think that she is going to lose the general, and this season, the Democratic wing of the Democratic party won't be spending time, effort, or money on her.

On the plus side, it was her, intended-to-fail derivatives proposal that really got the financial regulation bill moving in the right direction in the Senate.

In California, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman proved that rich people can buy primary elections in California, which is not a surprise.

Meanwhile, South Carolina, once again proves Congressman James Petigru's adage, "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum," true, with the Democratic Party's primary of Alvin Green, an unemployed dishonorably discharged veteran facing felony obscenity charges who ran no campaign.

The theory is that he won because his name appeared first on the ballot, but this does not explain how he came up with a $10,400.00 filing fee.

This gets curious because SC Senator Jim Demint (R) was considered to be one of the more vulnerable 'Phants this year in the Senate.

I'm wondering who counted the ballots.

Deep Thought


Jim Morin | MiamiHerald.com

09 June 2010

I Found a Job

I mentioned the interview earlier.

I start next Tuesday, and you can be sure that I will post very little about my employer, even if I come across a story about them in the news.

I think that blogging about one's employer is a good way to make an employer* a former employer.

Since they are near Dulles airport, about 80 miles away, I will be getting a room in area (already lined up), and it includes Internet (Wifi).

Unfortunately, I do not have a laptop at this time, so I am looking to get a wireless enabled one, which is why I've changed my donation button to read Matthew's Saroff's Beer (and Laptop) Fund and Tip Jar.

I will be using the laptop for blogging, and to Skype video calls to Sharon and the kids.

It's the 2nd item down in the right hand column.

Needless to say, my blogging time will be more restricted, though the fact that I will be without a TV may make the effect on my blogging a wash.

Still, having a job as an engineer after 11 months of not having one (the 1 month gig was as a tech writer) is a very good thing, and I am close enough to head home for just an evening occasionally.

*It's a temporary contract, so technically, they are a client, but still…
Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

Brief Economics Update for the Week

Well, the GDP numbers for the 1st quarter were revised again, and they were revised down again, down to a 2.7% annual rate, revised down from 3%, which was itself revised down from 3.2% initial figure.

Funny, isn't it.

Meanwhile, initial unemployment claims fell, but still remain well into the "major suckage" range.

I'll Never See Scooby Doo The Same Way Again

08 June 2010

OK, This is Weird

I just got a call from Caterpillar regarding whether I got my proxy statement, and how I would be voting on the measures their annual meeting, which is tomorrow.

It appears from reading the proxy statement, that they are worried about push-back on their executive compensation/bonus package, though it might be that they want to beat back a change to their board election procedures: It's currently triennial, and there is a motion to make it annual, or a shareholder proposal for an independent Charmain of the Board.

I've gotten snail mail on such things before, but getting a phone call is a new one for me.

07 June 2010

Moron

Notwithstanding the nobility, and moral necessity of his actions, the person who leaked the helecopter "collateral murder" video, the leaker is a f%$#ing moron.

You see, he revealed that he was the leaker to some random guy online, and now has been arrested:
Federal officials have arrested an Army intelligence analyst who boasted of giving classified U.S. combat video and hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records to whistleblower site Wikileaks, Wired.com has learned.

SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. A family member says he’s being held in custody in Kuwait, and has not been formally charged.

Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.
Admitting to the leak to some random guy online, particularly given Obama's, and his Department of Justice's, jihad on leakers, is Palin-level stupid and arrogant.

It's even stupider when you realize that he outed himself to Adrian Lamo.

I think that he did the right thing, because the coverups that the military engages in on such matters are simply not acceptable in a democracy, but in blithely telling someone that he did, and then doing something this mind-bogglingly stupid, and getting caught as a result, he dissuades future whistle-blowers, which is a blow to keeping our military, and our government honest.

He's also completely screwed, because while he might be able to prevail on a civilian jury to see that the whistle-blowing served the public good, there is no way that a group of officers is going to show any mercy to an SPC (Specialiats) who does not even qualify as an NCO.

If there has been anything consistent about the progress of military justice since 911, whether it be torture at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the death, and subsequent cover-up of the details of Pat Tillman, etc. it is that the military will go to extremes to cover-up the truth, and if forced to prosecute, it will go after enlisted men, as a first step.

I Suppose that I Must Comment on This

Helen Thomas has resigned as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.

In an interview, she said:
Thomas remarked in video posted to RabbiLive.com that Jews in Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go back home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else."
Thomas has never made a secret of her Lebanese-American background, and I think that anyone with a bit of skin in this game, myself included, can be a bit nuts, but the statement here is wrong on a number of levels:
  • It appears to be a call for ethnic cleansing.
  • About 60% of the Jews in Israel came from the Arab world, Iran, India, Etc.*
Needless to say, while I respect Thomas' contributions to journalism, I do not appreciate when anyone sounds like Meir Kahane.

I'll miss her at press conferences

The tragedy is that Pat Buchanan still has a job.

(on edit)
I think that a refreshing bit of perspective comes from [url=http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/06/helen-thomas-affair]Kevin Drum[/url]:
Helen Thomas is retiring. Thank God. On a substantive level, this is a good thing. Her remarks about Israel were obviously odious and she's doing everyone a favor by stepping down. Equally important, though, maybe this means we don't have to spend the next week listening to every windbag in the country rant on about Thomas's remarks, using them as an excuse to grind every axe ever invented and suck media attention away from actually important stories. Of which, you might have noticed, we have quite a few these days.
Say what you will about Thomas, she really was never a part of the pundit class.

* They are generally referred to as Sephardic, but this is a misnomer, as Sephardic Jews trace their origins back to the Iberian peninsula. Jews from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, India, etc. are more accurately referred to as "oriental" Jews.
Let me google that for you.

Fugly Picture

The collapse in housing sales following the end of the home buyer tax credit:



H/t The Big Picture.

A New Facebook Group I Endorse

Capital Punishment for corporate thugs who ruin this country.

Look Who I Ran Into

Click for full size
His hair looks better in person
My wife and I had finished dropping the kids off at school following Natalie's Bat Mitzvah rehearsal, the ceremony is this Saturday, and we stopped at Java Mamas.*

As we pulled up, there were people getting out of a couple of black SUVs, and I looked over, and said something like, "Would you look at that!"

It was former Maryland governor, and current candidate for governor, Bob Ehrlich.

My wife replied, "Matthew, behave!"

I behaved, but I snapped the shot. He's the one in the shades.

They weren't politicking, they were just getting coffee, and I didn't say anything.

It's not a great pic, though I think that it's about as good a photo as I am likely to take with my cell phone.

He's a little bit grayer than I recall from his last official photo, but that was almost 4 years ago.

I did not stay around, my wife and I had errands, so I cannot speak to tipping, though they did queue up politely and wait their turns.

I don't approve of his politics, but I do approve of his taste in coffee.

*Good coffee and light fare like sandwiches and salad at Java Mama's, 324 Main Street Reisterstown, MD 21136-1951 (410)833-8100.

06 June 2010

This is Brilliant!

Setting the Beatles to the DK's California Über Alles:

Finally, Someone in Arizona Stands Up to Bigots

In Prescott, Arizona, the administrators at commissioned a mural depicting current students at the school:
Faces in the mural were drawn from photographs of children enrolled at Miller Valley, a K-5 school with 380 students and the highest ethnic mix of any school in Prescott. Wall said thousands of town residents volunteered or donated to the project, the fourth in a series of community murals painted by a group of artists known as the "Mural Mice."
Unfortunately, since some of these actual students at the school were black and Hispanic, Steve Blair, a City Councilman and right wing talk show host on KYCA-AM, threw a hissy fit over the description of darkly complected students.

The weasels school administrators responded to this by ordering the artists to lighten the children's faces:
A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

The project's leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children's ethnicity. But the school's principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.
It's gotten a lot of coverage, and as a result, Steve Blair has been fired by the radio station, so apparently there are limits to racism in Arizona.

Here's hoping that the voters will do so in the next election, but my guess is that they will elect him mayor.

SpaceX Falcon Nine Makes Successful Launch

Click for full size
Falcon 9 on Pad


Dragon Manned Variant


Unmanned Variant


In Orbit with Solar Arrays Deployed


Engineering Model
It is actually rather rare for a rocket to have a successful launch on the first flight, but everything appears to be nominal, with, "Nominal shutdown and orbit was almost exactly 250km. Telemetry showed essentially a bullseye: ~0.2% on perigee and ~1% on apogee."

So it appears that the NASA/SpaceX public-private partnership is bearing fruit.

This is a verification of the launcher, not a verification of their Dragon reusable spacecraft, which is supposed to function as both a cargo and a crew transport and return module.

Generally, this is all around good news, so I am waiting for NASA to find a way to screw this up.

In any case, here is some picture pr0n.

Employment/Economic Update

Click for full size
Still grim, and grimmer still Ex-Census Hiring
H/t Calculated Risk, link has more grim graph pr0n
So, the "very serious people" in Washington and other capitals around the world have decided that we need to reduce deficits, because the financial crisis is over.

Well the employment data seems to show otherwise.

Total payrolls rose by 431,000 last month, but most of that was temporary census employment, the increase in private sector workforce was only 41,000, and you need to create some 100K-125K new jobs each month in order to keep up with natural growth in the labor force.

Add to this the fact that even with improvements, the unemployment claims numbers still suck wet farts from dead pigeons, and I am fairly certain that the "very serious people" are "very seriously wrong people".

05 June 2010

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!! (on Saturday)

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. First National Bank, Rosedale, MS
  2. Arcola Homestead Savings Bank, Arcola, IL
  3. TierOne Bank, Lincoln, NE
Full FDIC list

So, here is the graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only):


Last year at this time, the question was whether or not there would be more than 100 bank failures. (It hit 140)

The question this year is whether it breaks 200.

Bad Day at the Office

Not certain as to the cause, but my guess is that it is a write off.


H/t The DEW Line.

04 June 2010

Glenn Beck Must Hate Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart takes the Beckster to task using MSNBC, CNN, and Univision* to demolish Beck's claim that no one else showed the blockade conflict video in showing the Free Gaza protestors used clubs.

Brutal.


*I think that the use of Children's Television Workshop might be a trick.

Sanity in the Ukraine

Ukraine is formally withdrawing its application to join NATO. It's parliament passed a law making joining the organization illegal.

Ukraine's aspirations, much like Georgia's were clearly motivated more by hostility towards Russia than about the real needs of the Ukrainian people, and this should serve to reduce tensions in the region.

Of course, what can be made through legislation can be unmade through legislation, but at the very least, it should reduce the drama from the Black Sea region for a while.

I Can Haz Prosecushuns?

So, now George W. Bush has explicitly stated that he authorized torture:
George W. Bush's casual acknowledgment Wednesday that he had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed waterboarded -- and would do it again -- has horrified some former military and intelligence officials who argue that the former president doesn't seem to understand the gravity of what he is admitting.

Waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, is "unequivocably torture", said retired Brigadier General David R. Irvine, a former strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner of war interrogation and military law for 18 years.

"As a nation, we have historically prosecuted it as such, going back to the time of the Spanish-American War," Irvine said. "Moreover, it cannot be demonstrated that any use of waterboarding by U.S. personnel in recent years has saved a single American life."

Irvine told the Huffington Post that Bush doesn't appreciate how much harm his countenancing of torture has done to his country.
Here's a baseball metaphor to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder: You are the umpires, Bush and Cheney are calling you a c*cks*ck*r.

You have no credibility when the worst of the criminals proclaim their crimes, and you do nothing.

This isn't, "looking forward, not backward," it's moral cowardice, it's being a criminal yourself, because by being an accessory to the cover-up you are an accessory to the crime.

What's more, much like Ford's pardon of Nixon, your insistence on denying the rule of law will encourage further law-breaking in the future.

In the Annals of the Unsurprising

Tony Perkins Christo-Fascist Family Research Council lobbied Congress in support of Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill.

Insert Godwin's Law comment here.

Anyone here surprised?

Joe.My.God is right when he says, "It's time for the Southern Poverty Law Center to reclassify the Family Research Council as an official hate group."

Another Domino Tips

And now we have Hungary experiencing debt problems:
Credit-default swaps on sovereign bonds surged to a record on speculation Europe’s debt crisis is worsening after Hungary said it’s in a “very grave situation” because a previous government lied about the economy.
The problem is that the Euro was set up with unrealistic conditions, and people who joined were encouraged to lie.

People Who Piss Me Off

Got a telemarketer calling on a pre-recorded message, with no caller ID, saying "Press 1" for an operator to refinance my house.

I talked to this guy, who refused to tell me the name of the company and contact information, but said that the loan officer could once I gave him information.

Eventually, I threw out bogus numbers, got to the loan officer, asked him questions, explaining that giving him financial information to someone required that.

While I was doing this, I was filling out the FTC's complaint form, and when I got his phone and url, I had all I needed.

I confirmed that we had no prior business relationship, and he said that my number might have expired from the FTC's Do Not Call List, which, was a lie, since the number never expire.

Here's hoping that the rat bastard gets cited and fined.

Quote of the Day

I think Woodward’s capitulation to interviewing people in limousines, as opposed to people on the subway, is something I feel is partly responsible for the fact that we ended up in Iraq. Because so many reporters, Judith Miller is the most egregious of them, spoke to Scooter Libby and some other higher officials, and never spoke to intelligence people on the ground. They swallowed wholesale Colin Powell at the U.N., and [ultimately] their limousine reporting meant that 100,000 Iraqis lost their lives. I don’t think anything can be so neatly drawn, but I think in this case it can be neatly drawn.
---Novelist, and former Washington Post reporter Lorraine Adams on her former colleague Bob Woodward
(emphasis mine)

A very succinct indictment of what is wrong with the Washington DC press corps.

03 June 2010

Oh For F%$#'s Sake!!!!

Bueller? Bueller.
Google™ Adsense™ is at it again.

This time, the American Spectator magazine, which was a useless pile of deceit to begin with, and now that it's no longer channeling the specifics of Monica Lewinski's diet is completely irrelevant, ran an ad on my site.

In the scheme of things, I am sure that it won't matter to them, it might cost them a penny, and get me ¼¢.

I probably would not have noticed, but for the fact that they were touting their new Senior Editor, Ben Stein. You know, the guy who got fired by the New York Times because he was whoring himself out to one of the "free credit score" scams.

They should have fired him for the advice he was given: You can become very rich by listening to Mr. "The credit crunch is way overblown," and going the other way.

He is also thee guy who wrote the speech that Nixon never gave about not resigning.

It is amazing how the lamest of the lame seem to achieve success in this world, and then somehow, they appear in the lamest of ads on my blog.

Please note: 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.

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™.

I Will Be Very Busy Over the Next 2 Weeks

My Girl's Bat Mitzvah, a family get together, and some other good news (don't want to jinx it), is keeping me busy.

It means that I'll probably be blogging less than usual.

Is there a Single Straight Man in the Republican Party?

I have to invoke this when discussing the travails of anyone named "Kirk".
And by "Straight Man," I don't mean someone who sets up a joke.

Mark Kirk, the Republican running for Barack Obama's seat in Illinois, has already been outed for exaggerating his military record, and now it appears that he has been just plain outed.

Michael Rogers recounts how when Kirk, who was generally pretty mild on the "hate te ghey" stuff, decided to run for Senate, he went hard right, and he got phone calls:
Until now, Mark Kirk elected not to play the typical Washington game. Instead of supporting his party's dismal record on gay rights, Kirk received Human Rights Campaign ratings of 67% in 2002, 88% in 2004, 76% in 2006 and 85% in 2008. That's more impressive than a lot of Democrats. I even let Kirk slide by when he didn't co-sponsor earlier legislation relating to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. My thoughts then were that he wasn't THAT bad on gay stuff and that the bill was going nowhere anyway.

………

Within hours of the DADT repeal vote I was contacted by two people who knew Kirk from his college days.
He then goes on to relate how two of his sources gave details on, "described personal details about the House, um, er, 'member,' " and further notes that he (Rogers) was at a party where Kirk essentially admitted that he was gay:
It was at that party that I met Mark Kirk. I was introduced to him by the person I came with and at the time did not realize he was a member of the House. As my friend walked away, Kirk asked me if the man who introduced us was "single or attached." When I said that he had a partner, Kirk replied disappointingly, "oh, well." At the end of that interaction I walked away and didn't think much of it at the time.
I really don't care who a politician f%$#s, unless it's the American public, but Kirk has gone Teabagger on this issue simply for political gain, and that means that, as is the case with his vote on DADT, he is screwing the American public out of craven hypocricy.

Furthermore, I think that the closet, whether it's over sexuality or anything else, is a bad place for anyone who holds power to be, it twists values and world view, and opens them up to blackmail and other forms of coercion.

Needless to say, this makes the row to hoe easier for Friend-of-Barack State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who is tied up in the failure of his family's bank, which includes allegations of fraud, but I still think that this race is Kirk's to lose.

H/t Crooks and Liars.

02 June 2010

Uh-Oh.

I don't know what exazctly is going on, but the issuing of corproate bonds has basically fallen off a cliff in the past few days:
The corporate bond market is in the middle of a slump as the appetite for riskier assets has once again dwindled.

No companies issued corporate debt on Friday -- the day before Memorial Day weekend -- and only five sold bonds the day after the long weekend, according to Dealogic, a financial analytics firm. The last time that happened on a trading day was Sept. 4, 2009 -- the Friday before Labor Day weekend.

While this could be partially attributed to the Memorial Day holiday, the slump in corporate bond sales, coupled with rising prices to insure those bonds against default, could be signs that credit markets are tightening again.
I'm a cynic, so my guess is that the insiders know something, but I am not sure what.

IMFed

Yes, going through a debt crisis means selling off state assets at pennies on the dollar, so that private operators can underfund basic maintenance and overcharge consumers for luxuries like, you know, water:
Greece on Wednesday outlined plans to sell stakes in state-owned railway, water and real estate companies as part of a drive to raise billions of euros to help restore its ailing public finances.

…………

The European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout for the heavily indebted country projects revenue of 1 billion euros ($1.22 billion) per year from privatizations for the 2011-13 period.

…………

As part of the plan, the cash-strapped government will sell 49 percent of loss-making railway company OSE, 39 percent of Hellenic Post, 23 percent of Thessaloniki water EYATH and 10 percent in Athens water EYDAP.
I hope you are ready for the riots when people's water bills triple overnight.

It's sh%$ like this makes things worse.

The method is: sell the assets at an undervalued price, remove the revenue stream from your control, and they tell you that net result will be financial stability.

No, it's just a slope to bankruptcy and the destruction of the middle class, and it is why the IMF is so justifiably despised across the world.

Alabama Primaries, and Thoughts on What It Means

Parker Griffith, the Blue Dog Democrat turned Republican, just lost his bid for the Republican nomination to Mo Brooks by 18 points, which is generally known as a shellacking.

So, this is the 2nd party switcher with the backing of the national party, Arlen Specter being the other who has lost the primary.

In the other race on interest, Artur Davis got destroyed in his bid for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Alabama, and it was another run away, with 62%-38% to Ron Sparks, where Davis was consistently ahead in the polls the entire time.

Hell, the day before, CNN was writing as if his nomination was a done deal.

Interestingly, in Alabama, the numbers appear to indicate that the margins were the same both in predominantly white, and predominantly black areas, despite the fact that Davis is black, and Sparks is white.

So why did black voters walk away from a black candidate in what could have been a historical race?

Well, they looked at Mr. Davis, and found that he had been running hard to the right, looking at November, because he thought that the primary was a "Slam Dunk."

Among other things, he:
  • Pointedly disassociated himself from the black community and black organizations in Alabama, refusing to even meet with them, and these organizations came out for Sparks, who actively courted them.
  • Voted against the Obama Healthcare bill. (And was the only member of the CBC to do so)
  • Cozied up to the "cultural conservatives", which in the USA means people who use code words for, "I want to keep the n*gg*rs down."
I think that a part of this is a mark of maturity of the black political establishment in Alabama, they looked at policy and character, and decided that pigment did not matter.

I think another part is that Davis pointedly took the black vote for granted, and no voter, regardless of skin color, likes that.

It should be noted too that Artur Davis went to law school with, and was a friend of, Barack Obama, which should have given some more pull with voters.

Actually, this is a more general point, with Specter and Davis on the Democratic side, and with Griffith on the Republican side, and it is that base voters are no longer willing to be taken for granted, not even for a "friend of Barack".

When they are, and told to suck it up and vote for the party approved candidate, they either vote for the other guy, or they stay home, and my guess is that it is the latter.

To the degree that either party is playing the , "Suck it up and vote for us card," they will lose.

Unfortunately, while the Republicans have been throwing red meat at their base for the past 2 years, Barack Obama has been studiously cock-punching the DFHs* because he wants to look "post-partisan".

Unless Obama realizes that compromise in the interest of appearing bipartisan creates both bad policy and bad politics, November will not be pretty.

I have come to the conclusion that Karl Rove's real genius in his political work was not his completely amoral methods, but an understanding that, except in extreme circumstances, motivating out the base wins elections.

*Dirty F%$#ing Hippies.
A pointless war, "Heck of a job, Brownie", Congressmen hitting on under pages, Terri Sciavo, and corruption and venality that just buggered the mind.

Does Jordan River Water Make You Stupid?

Because it does appear that stupidity is way too common in the Middle East.

Case in point: After 9 deaths, and a major propaganda victory, Hamas is refusing the supplies that the ships were trying to deliver:
Israel has attempted to deliver humanitarian aid from an international flotilla to Gaza, but Hamas -- which controls the territory -- has refused to accept the cargo, the Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday.

Palestinian sources confirmed that trucks that arrived from Israel at the Rafah terminal at the Israel-Gaza border were barred from delivering the aid.
Does this place make people stupid-crazy, or is it that the people who aren't stupid-crazy simply leave?

I'm just wondering, because there has been an endemic of stupid over the past 72 hours or so.

I Know That I Haven't Written Much on the BP Oil Spill

Because Jon Stewart and his writers are so on this:

01 June 2010

Japan's Prime Minister Resigns

I really don't have my finger on the pulse of the Japanese body politic, but Hatoyama's resignation appears to set the stage for an LDP comeback in the upcoming elections for the upper house of parliament, and that can't be a good thing.

Deep Thought



Yes, I know, it is completely tasteless humor.

Click picture for source.

Economics Update

The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index fell from 60.4 in April to 59.7 in May. Note that this is still expansion, but it is a slower rate of growth.

Seeing as how the 2nd derivative is a pretty twitchy number anyway, I'd wait for the June numbers, and perhaps July, to see if there is a trend.

Meanwhile, construction rose by 2.7% from March to April, the largest one month jump in almost 10 years.

Additionally, serious mortgage delinquencies fell marginally, but since this is the first time that they have fallen since the real estate bubble started to pop in 2007.

Meanwhile, in the department of, "If you listen to the Germans when you set up a currency, you will get screwed," unemployment in the Euro zone rose to 10.1% in April. (PDF)

Why Do I Torture Myself?

I know I shouldn't have, but I read an Amity Shlaes opinion piece again, and this one suggests that regulating banks should be handled in the same way that a social networking site for 10-13 year olds polices itself, because, it's like, you know, too tough to regulate things.

I think that Barbie put it best, when she said, "Math is hard."

Gah!!!!

I think that what got to me the most was her brief bio at the end which noted that, "Amity Shlaes [is a] senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations."

Here is someone who does not have a degree in economics, or history. She has a BA in English, she doesn't understand, or worse does understand and lies with, statistics, and she is a senior fellow in economic history at the CFR?

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with our public institutions?

And what's wrong with the publications that employ her?

At least the FT had the good sense to fire her incompetent lying ass.

OK, So Al and Tipper Gore are Separating

It's really no one's business but their own. They are both over 60, and they have been married for 40 years.

It's really none of our business.

So, why am I writing about this?

Because once again, the Washington Post demonstrates just how horrible a human being you have to be in order to have some sort of gig writing opinions for them.

In this case, it's Stephen Stromberg, who is suggesting that there was something "false" about their kiss at the Democratic Convention in 2000 because they are getting separated now.

He's making a point about people complaining about Obama being too cook, but he can't manage not to take a shot at a married couple who are breaking up after 40 years, because that's what the Beltway Kule Kidz do.

Mr. Stromberg, I'm sure that you don't read my screeds, but you are a miserable human being, and I would not piss on you if you were on fire.

Full disclosure: I did actually vote for Nader in 2000, because my vote did not matter, as I lived in Texas, and I regret that vote to this day.

I Will Be So Glad When I Can Add Her to My They Who Must Not Be Named List

Unfortunately, she may run for office, and she is a king maker in the Teabagger set, so she still gets coverage like this:
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has obtained Sarah Palin's imminent Facebook post on the Israeli Flotilla incident.

Hey, My Brother is Blogging

Over at the inner walls.

He's a physicist and software guy who is sometimes mistaken for Sasquatch.

About F%$#ing Time!!!!

The Department of Justice has opened up a criminal investigation of BP's oil spill.

I don't know if laws were broken, but we have an environmental disaster, and eleven people died, so there should have been an investigation as soon as the fires were put out.

Of course, prosecuting wrong-doers is looking back and not forward, so I understand why Eric Holder was so loathe to look at BP's actions.

In the Obama administration, prosecution for things that occurred in the past is generally reserved for whistle-blowers who reveal lawbreaking by Bush and His Evil Minions.

On the Legality of Executing a Blockade in International Waters

It's come up in the comments, and Galrahn at Information Dissemination, who is arguably one of the most knowledgeable about things Naval out there, nails the issues of maritime law when he says that, "Israeli Actions Are Stupid, But Legal.

He notes that armed stop and seize operations in international waters have always been legal, they are routine operations in US anti-drug operations, for example, and Israel had declared a blockade, and a blockade area:
Under international law, the consensus of the maritime attorney's I have spoken to is that the boarding operation by Israel was legal. The coast of Gaza has been under maritime blockade by Israel, a blockade that was well known - indeed running the maritime blockade for political purposes was the specific intent of the protesters. It is why the press had been reporting all week that the situation was likely leading towards a confrontation. Is anyone surprised that Israel had an established maritime blockade and enforced that maritime blockade? I'm certainly not, Israel made clear all week that the flotilla would not be allowed to pass.

The maritime blockade is a result of the war between Israel and Hamas. Ones political position on that ongoing war is completely irrelevant to the reality that the maritime blockade was established. Knowledge of the maritime blockade by the protesters is also not in debate, and neither is knowledge the flotilla intended to violate the blockade - they made this clear themselves in the press. Once the flotilla made it clear in the press they intended to run the maritime blockade, according to international law, and even US law, the flotilla was considered to be in breach by attempting to violate the blockade.

………

The truly scary part is that under international laws governing maritime blockades, Israel could have outright sank the ship instead of board it as an alternative enforcement of the maritime blockade, and Israel still been within their rights under international law. Such an action could have led to war with Turkey, but even if the ship would have been sunk, Turkey would still be on the wrong end of international law in this situation. Turkey will likely find plenty of populist political support in NATO countries over these events, but if they attempt to escalate they may find that support is fleeting among their NATO allies.
(emphasis mine)

It is that last paragraph that makes it clear just how f%$#ed up everything is.

You can argue over whether the blockade is an illegal mass punishment of the population (illegal), or an attempt to deny war materiel to Hamas (legal), but the execution of a stop/search/seize order in a declared blockade zone even if that zone includes international waters, is clearly legal.

I Have a Job Interview in a Few Minutes.

It looks like interesting work, but, as is my custom, I don't go into specifics about this sort of stuff, but it is safe to provide a link to their site.

Not generally for civilian use, but I can see how archeologists, and possibly utilities, might want to check out the tech in addition to military folks.

Wish me luck.

(I actually posted this yesterday to display now)