30 September 2010

This Is Bloody Amazing

Entwhistle's bass playing here is completely sick, and Keith Moon is positively insane.

It's a nice window into the band about a year before they became rock icons with the release of Tommy.

They were playing at the "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus," and they so blew away the Stones that Mssr. Jagger and company did not have the stones* to release the film or album for almost 30 years.

Wow, just wow.

And that fringed jacket is so 1960s.

*Pun intended.

Economics Update

It's jobless Thursday, and the initial jobless claims are out, initial claims down 16K to 453,000, and the less volatile 4 week moving average fell 6,250 to 458,000, a two month low, with continuing claims falling 83K to 4.46 million, and emergency claims falling 293K to 4.88 million.

Generally, the numbers are good, but still firmly in the 450-480K "sweet spot" where the numbers have lingered for most of this year.

Additionally, the revised GDP numbers have come out, and, for once, the numbers were revised up, from the truly anemic 1.6% annual rate releases last month to a (truly anemic) 1.7% annual rate.

In real estate, mortgage applications fell, despite falling rates, though the home purchase application index nosed up slightly.

In terms of the various indices out there, the Institute for Supply Management's Chicago PMI rose in September, beating estimates.

Generally a good news day for this economy, this.

Deep Thought

If the Dems lose the House and Senate, it will because they did not deserve to hold onto it.

If the Dems hold the House and Senate, it will be despite the fact that they do not deserve to hold onto it.

29 September 2010

The DFHs* Eke Out a Small Win on Intel

The house has passed an intelligence authorization bill that expands oversight by requiring that the full intelligence committees in both the house and senate must be briefed, and by allowing the GAO to take a small peak at operations:
According to a draft bill that the House sent the Senate on Friday, the White House would be required to notify the full membership of both congressional intelligence committees of presidential directives to conduct covert action, known as "findings." At present, the administration is required to notify only the so-called Gang of Eight, the chairmen and ranking members of each committee and the party leadership in both chambers.
It should be noted that any administration would have at least 180 days to make the notice, more if it said that it needed more time, so this is still weak tea.

Additionally, the bill also includes language that would for the first time give the GAO some access to the activities of the intelligence community:
The Government Accountability Office seems poised to play an increased role in intelligence oversight, despite a series of legislative setbacks and the Obama Administration’s threat of a veto earlier in the year.

The issue remains alive in the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization Act which was approved in the Senate on September 27 and which now appears likely to be enacted into law. The Act (in section 348) requires the Director of National Intelligence to prepare a directive on GAO access to intelligence community information — thereby setting the stage for a stable new role for the GAO in intelligence agency audits and reviews.
Personally, I think that this last bit will be a disappointment, either the DNI will issue a directive that says "go Cheney yourself," to the GAO, or Obama will author a signing statement gutting this provision, because the intelligence community really does not want anything vaguely resembling accountability, and the state security apparatus owns the Obama administration.

*Dirty F%$#ing Hippies.

This Means Nothing

The House just passed a bill allowing for sanctions against countries that manipulate their currency, which is actually in accordance with free trade theory; an undervalued currency is a tariff on imports and a subsidy on exports.

The "free trade" absolutists would disagree, arguing since free trade creates democracy, cures rainy days, and keeps your daughter from dating that guy with the tattoo and the tongue studs.

Of course what they are really arguing is that they want to do whatever they can to depress American worker's wages, because that's how they get their consulting gigs.

This bill means nothing, and it never will, because it will never pass the Senate, and because in order for the tariff to be enforced, the US Commerce department must rule that the currency is "fundamentally undervalued," which it will never do, because, it's run by guys who worry that if they do so, their daughter will start dating that guy with the tattoo and the tongue studs.

Well, I Missed a Major Decision……

Bilski v. Kappos, a business patent case that made it to the Supreme Court was decided 3 months ago. Basically, Bilski had patented a method of hedging energy based on the weather.

The Supreme Court unanimously invalidated the patent, it was after the unique idea that one should bet on the weather, but by a 5-4 majority, they kept the business method patent, albeit with a tightening of standards:
While all nine justices agreed that the “invention” at issue in the case—a method for hedging weather-related risk in energy trading developed by Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw—was too abstract to merit patent protection, only four signed on to Kennedy’s opinion.

That opinion held that the "machine-or-transformation" test for patentability--created by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in its Bilski decision--was a "useful clue" when gauging a subject’s patentability but shouldn't be considered the only applicable test.
I think that this was generally a loss for patent sanity, though it does make getting a business patent more restrictive, though, unsurprisingly, SCOTUS didn't say how much more restrictive the standards should be.

My earlier posts on the matter.

Quote of the Day

Same as it ever was
This really does encapsulate Washington, DC, or at least the White and Federal part of the District:
When you can read an entire column by the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz and never once feel the urge to cut out your own heart with a dull knife, you know that you no longer have the sense of outrage that is essential to reporting from our nation’s capital.
--Now former Washington, DC editor for Harpers Ken Silverstein, explaining why, though he will still write for the publication, he can no longer be their Washington Editor.
Basically, he has realized that if you don't go native, you will go insane, and Mr. Silverstein has chosen to get out of Dodge.

He notes how little that things have changed:
I moved to Washington in 1993, when a young, new Democratic president replaced George Bush and promised to reform politics and be a transformative leader. Backed by huge majorities in Congress and with public opinion squarely in his corner, he had the opportunity to shake things up and change American politics. Instead, he and his party squandered their chance through timidity, weak leadership, a lack of any original ideas and their refusal to confront special interest groups.

Here we are seventeen years later and there’s a young, new Democratic president who replaced George Bush and promised to reform politics and be a transformative leader. Backed by huge majorities in Congress….

Well, by now you can probably guess where this is heading.
I also appreciate his observation that, "The [Obama Health Care] bill is widely unpopular, and not only because of the hyperbolic attacks on it by Republicans and Fox News. It’s unpopular because it’s a terrible piece of legislation."

He will be working for a foundation doing long form journalism.

Go read his swan song. It's a great piece of work.

Maryland Court Rules that Video Taping a Cop Waving a Gun Around Like a Lunatic is Not a Crime

The Cop is Completely Out of Control
Mr. Graber, was riding a motorcycle had a helmet cam.

He was also speeding and popping wheelies, which attracted the attention of the police, which is unsurprising.

What is a out of the ordinary is a police officer cutting him off in an unmarked car, and jumping out waving a gun and not identifying himself as a member of the police force until he basically had the gun in the guy's face.

It looks all the world like an attempted motorcycle-jacking.

Well, Anthony Graber had a helmet cam, and posted the footage to Youtube a few days later, which is when things got hinky.

He was arrested, jailed, and charged with violating Maryland's wiretapping stature, which forbids recording a private conversation without the consent of both parties, and faced 16 years in jail.

Despite the Maryland Attorney General's advisory opinion that a public arrest is not a private conversation under the statute, the Harford County DA continued to pursue the suit, but the judge, just dismissed the suit:
Judge Emory A. Pitt Jr. had to decide whether police performing their duties have an expectation of privacy in public space. Pitt ruled that police can have no such expectation in their public, on-the-job communications.

Pitt wrote: "Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation. 'Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes' ("Who watches the watchmen?”)."
Of course, that was the purpose of the charges, to intimidate people who would otherwise report on law enforcement misconduct.

The basic purpose of the arrest, and the ransacking of his house, and the felony charges, were retaliation for being a whistle blower.
Graber was also charged with possessing a “device primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of oral communications" -- referring to the video camera on his helmet. The judge disagreed with the prosecutor that the helmet cam was illegal, and concluded the state's argument would render illegal “almost every cell phone, Blackberry, and every similar device, not to mention dictation equipment and other types of recording devices."
A good decision, and perhaps the continued employment of the States Attorney and the police officers involved in this need to end.

This sort of abuse of power is antithetical to the rule of law.

They Who Must Not Be Named

I understand that Sarah Palin needs to be covered, as she is a Republican Party kingmaker, and a potential candidate for the presidency in 2012.

That being said, the current kerfuffle as to whether Sarah Palin was booed when she went on stage for an interview on the show Dancing With the Stars, that is clearly a "They Who Must Not Be Named" moment.

So DWTS, which I don't watch anyway, is now on my list of TWMNBN.

That is all.

If there is justice in the world, Ms. Palin will be on the list shortly as well.

Stem Cell Funding Injunction Rescinded

I'm kind of surprised that the court did not tell Judge Lamberth to stop smoking pot.

But they have now permanently lifted the injunction against funding the research:
An appeals court has permanently lifted an injunction imposed by a federal judge, thereby allowing federally funded embryonic stem-cell research to continue while the Obama administration appeals the judge's original ruling against use of public funds in such research.
Considering the Obama administration's generally weak support for reproductive rights, I would have figured that they would have slow walked this, but I was wrong.

Background here.

28 September 2010

And the Stupid Motherf%$#ers Never Even Tried to Make it a Campaign Issue

So a measure to repeal tax subsidies to ship jobs overseas failed in the face of a Republican filibuster:
As expected, a Senate bill designed to end tax breaks for U.S. companies that move jobs and manufacturing plants overseas failed a key test vote Tuesday.

With a 53-45 vote, Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic efforts to end debate and ultimately vote on a "jobs" bill.

Top Democrats have claimed the bill would help keep American jobs from going overseas. But when it came to the test vote, four Democrats voted with Republicans to block the bill.
Here is the kicker:
The bill came out of nowhere last week and wasn't discussed or debated, as a package, by any of the Senate's committees. It would have given companies a break on payroll taxes for new U.S. jobs that replace positions that had been based overseas.
It's a f%$#ing election year, and you weren't using this as a club to beat Republicans over the head with on a daily basis for weeks?

Are these motherf%$#ers trying to lose the election?

Actually, considering the video evidence, the answer to that is probably yes.

Let Me Guess, He Was Their 3rd Most Senior Member

That's the way it always is whenever a senior al Queda official is killed in a drone strike.

Al Queda number 3 = Ensign Lebowitz on a landing party with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

Awfully convenient, don't you think?

Economics Update

I guess that the lede here is consumer confidence, which The Conference Board reports has fallen to a 7 month low. My personal guess is that the number is low because of the news reports that the recession has been over for over a year, which is so clearly contrary to what consumers see that it depresses them.

On the other hand, manufacturing jobs are reported to be growing strongly since the beginning of the year, which is a bit of a surprise.

In real estate, and, as Calculated Risk notes, the Case-Shiller numbers are out, and they are positively schizophrenic:
From the Financial Times: US home prices slip in July

From the WSJ: Home Prices Rose in July

From CNBC: US Home Prices Slipped In July And May Stabilize Near Lows

From MarketWatch: Home price growth slows in July

From HousingWire: S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index rose 0.6% for July
Basically, some of them are reporting seasonally adjusted numbers, and some are reporting non-seasonally adjusted numbers. I would tend to go with the latter with July, since I think that the expiration of the tax credits probably overwhelmed any seasonal effects, and the composite 10 and the composite 20 numbers are a bit different, but basically it's flat near the recent bottoms.

Finally, we have the various reports from the regional Federal reserve banks: Dallas, up slightly in September, Chicago down slightly in August, and Richmond down slightly in September.

The White House as a Britcom*

I am watching this, and I can just imagine a nearly identical conversation involving
Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama as is going on between Sr. Humphreys and Minister Jim Hacker.

H/t Atrios for the video, but the insight is mine.
We call it diplomacy, Minister.

* British Comedy.

Headline of the Day

John Lott’s Talk About More Guns=Less Crime Canceled After Shots Fired In UT Library

In the Annals of the Repulsive……

View Larger Map
They are just off of I-88, in case you want to leave a flaming bag of sh%$ on the town hall doorstep
The town of Sidney, New York has earned a special place in the annals of perfidity.

There is a small community of Muslims on a farm in this town of 5,993.

They also have a small cemetary, which was approved by the town council a few years ago, but after what appears to be years of harassment from the authorities, town supervisor Bob McCarthy wants a court order to force the bodies to be exhumed and removed from the property.

It is people like Bob McCarthy who make me despair for the future of America.

That sound you her is Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville spinning in his grave.

Obama Doubles Down on Bush Policies Again

He is proposing mandating a back door in pretty much every form of communication on the internet:
Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.
This would mean that if you had two people communicating handling their own encryption, which a little program called PGP has been doing for decades, they would have to make it illegal.

Obama, a former lecturer on constitutional law, should know better. He is operating under the assumption that because he's a good guy,* it's OK for him to have this power, which is, of course completely antithetical to the most basic foundation of the constitution.

Some pertinent quotes:
But as an example, one official said, an investigation into a drug cartel earlier this year was stymied because smugglers used peer-to-peer software, which is difficult to intercept because it is not routed through a central hub. Agents eventually installed surveillance equipment in a suspect’s office, but that tactic was “risky,” the official said, and the delay “prevented the interception of pertinent communications.”
And, of course, there is nothing to prevent these guys from using similar software, and there is already a work around, as the official have admitted.

Even worse is this argument:
Moreover, according to several other officials, after the failed Times Square bombing in May, investigators discovered that the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, had been communicating with a service that lacked prebuilt interception capacity. If he had aroused suspicion beforehand, there would have been a delay before he could have been wiretapped.
  • We had that there was a plan afoot.
  • We had no clue that Shahzad was involved with the Taliban.
  • We had no clue that the Taliban was looking at doing anything in the US, though the fact that we are dropping missiles on men, women, and children in their country might give them some motivation.
  • Having this capability would not have allowed us to determine any of the above.
  • However, if we had somehow discovered that this guy was hooking up with terrorists, it would have been easier to wiretap him.
There is also the fact that if you create a back door, it becomes a point of vulnerability for every hacker, crook, terrorist, or despot out there:
Steven M. Bellovin, a Columbia University computer science professor, pointed to an episode in Greece: In 2005, it was discovered that hackers had taken advantage of a legally mandated wiretap function to spy on top officials’ phones, including the prime minister’s.

“I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” he said. “If they start building in all these back doors, they will be exploited.”
Why there is such a determination by the Obama administration to embrace and extend every wrong-headed and un-American policy thought up by Bushand His Evil Minions is beyond me.

Doubling down on failed and expensive polices does not help.

* To the degree that someone who feels that he can be king and order the murder of American citizens for secret reasons can be considered a "good guy".

27 September 2010

Rat Rahm Leaving Sinking Ship Obama White House

Jake Tapper is reporting that Rahm Emanuel will be announcing his departure from the White House in the next week or so:
Although no final decision has been made because of family considerations, ABC News has learned that White House officials are preparing for Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to announce on Friday -- as Congress adjourns for recess -- that he is leaving his post to explore a run for mayor of Chicago.

White House officials expect that President Obama will also name an interim chief of staff, perhaps senior adviser Pete Rouse, at the announcement.
My thoughts, speaking from a position of complete ignorance regarding Chicago politics and a distant view of White House Kremlinology:
  • Richie Daley deciding not to run for reelection took everyone by surprise, which is why there might be a for Rahm to leave.
  • I get the feeling that Rahm may have been pushed, but it may just be people jockying for position now that they know that he is leaving.
  • He is not a shoe-in by any means, particularly if Obama is diminished by the election results. (The primary is in February)
  • This may be a part of the White House retooling its staff, there has been a lot of turnover, but the problems are pervasive enough that I would consider it to be rearranging deck chairs on the titanic. The problem is not senior staff, it is POTUS.
Still, I won't miss him, and my condolences to the people of Chicago

More of This

Alan Grayson accurately calls his opponent Taliban Dan Webster.
This is what Alan Grayson does best: He explains the moral dimensions of Republican beliefs and Republican policy.

As opposed to drinking tea with the pinky extended, and talking about how stupid or lame the voters or your base is, he takes it to them.

If you don't call out evil and insanity this time around, it becomes normal behavior the next time around.

This is why triangulation is a failure, it serves only to embolden your opponent to move further away from sanity when you extend the boundaries of what is socially acceptable discourse.

It's why I love* Alan Grayson.

He understands the moral dimension to policy, and he aggressively communicates these dimensions.

Needless to say, the Beltway Kool Kidz club is having the vapors about his ads.

*In a 110% purely heterosexual kind of way, of course, as the General would say.

There is a "Kick" Pun Here, But I'll Forgo It

Quarterback and place kicker George Blanda has died at the age of 83.

He still holds a number of records, though he is best known for his longevity, 26 seasons (!) in pro football.

We Are Completely Screwed……

Barry Ritholtz is reporting that Morgan Stanley has frozen hiring at its investment banking division, because of, "low trading and underwirting volume."

Additionally, the midsized investment bank Jefferies and Company is reporting that it had its worst quarter since last year.

If Jefferies does not ring a bell, there was a spate of stories about them a few months ago lauding how they avoided any damage from the financial meltdown because of their prudence and probity.

What we are seeing here is the slow unwinding of the Geithner/Obama bank bailout, which basically consists of extend and pretend, with the hope that banks will generate enough profits to eventually fill the holes in the balance sheets.

It's why Geithner has actively fought against transparency in accounting and limits on executive compensation: He is afraid that someone who knows where the bodies are buried will take the whole rotten system down.

The problem with his solution is two fold:
  • There simply ISN’T enough money to allow them to fill their balance sheet hole. I don't mean that they don't have enough money, I mean that the whole f%$#ing world as well as Mars and most of Jupiter do not have enough money.

  • The banksters had no intention of rebuilding their balance sheets, they just continued looting, because they make their money this year from this.
What is going on now is that banks like Morgan Stanley are running out of suckers, who are increasingly realizing that they are just being taken, and banks like Jefferies are running out legitimate knowledgeable customers, because these customers are coming to realizing that, with the exit of the rubes, cash is going to be in very short supply.

If I am right, and I think that I am, when the sh%$ hits the fan this time, they won't be able to panic congress into another TARP, and the Fed will be constrained by both its own hawks as well as the lack of buy in from the Congress, which will limit the legitimacy of any actions that they take.

It will be ugly, even if the next collapse is not as bad as Lehman, because there is much less capacity to accommodate such a shock.

I Think That it Might Be a Blasphemous Rumor,

At least, there is symmetry.

Zathras is used to being beast of burden to other people's needs. Very sad life. Probably have very sad death. But…
but I think that God has a sick sense of humor,
and when I die, I expect to find him laughing:
In a bizarre twist, James Heselden, owner of the company that makes the two-wheeled Segway personal transporter, died Sunday morning in a Segway-related mishap -- just before the scheduled release of a study suggesting injuries related to the vehicles may be on the rise.

According to a witness report, Heselden, 62, apparently fell off a 30-foot cliff into a river while riding a Segway near his home in West Yorkshire, UK. Police found Heselden's body and a Segway personal transporter in the river. He was prounced dead at the scene and foul play is not suspected, West Yorkshire Police told reporters.

A short statement posted on the Segway company website noted that Heselden "died in a tragic accident."
I think that I have commented before on the tremendous suckitude that is the Segway, and I do understand that this is a deep personal life for Heselden's family, but this is just plain freaky.

26 September 2010

Russia Will Not Sell S-300 to Iran

President Medvedev has announced that the Sale of S-300 surface to air missiles to Iran.

Russia has always taken a minimalist approach to obeying UN sanctions regarding the Iranian nuclear, so this is a big deal, particularly since these missiles, with their 400+ km detection range, end up as a formidable area defense system against conventional aircraft, and a formidable point defense system against stealthy targets, at least to the degree that my wild assed guess regarding detection range are justified.

F-35 Full Monty

Click for full size

Such a tease!
Stephen Trimble gives us a shot of the internal weapons bay of the F-35.

This is intended to be the standard loadout, with one AMRAAM and one 2000 lb JDAM in each bay.

IIRC, with the 250 lb SDB, it can carry 4 per bay.

And yes, this appears to be a pretty small weapons load for an aircraft that has a maximum takeoff weight of 70,000 pounds, nearly that of the F-15 E, which can carry about 5 times the ordinance.

MBDA Proposes Compressed Carriage Meteor for F-35

Click for full size

If you squint, you can see the Bobbetized fins
MDBA is looking at clipping the fins of the Meteor, as was done with the AIM-120 AMRAAM, so that it can be properly accommodated in the internal weapons bay of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

It makes sense, since by any reasonable measure, foreign sales of the F-35 will dominate the international sales.

This is not surprising. Among the active radar guided missiles, is the 2nd smallest, after the French MICA, the AIM-120 has the what appears to be the shortest range and end game kinematics, which makes a ready market for an extended range missile, particularly when used in the F-35, which, unlike the F-22, is not expected to be launching the missile at 20,000 m and mach 1.3+, which significantly improves range.

The USAF is aware of this, and is looking to develop a longer ranged, "dual-role air dominance missile," to replace both the AMRAAM and the HARM missile.

It would probably make more sense for the USAF to go with an existing system like the Meteor under license production, with some modification to the software and seeker to meet their needs, but that would eliminate some 6 figure consulting gigs for the generals once they retire, which mitigates against this sort of solution.

25 September 2010

Sikorsky X2 Sets Unofficial Speed Record

The helicopter has reached speeds in excess of 250 kt (460 km/h) in level flight, besting the official record of 217 kts set by a (then Westland) Lynx, and the unofficial record set by its predecessor, the XH-59A demonstrator, of 236 kts.

It also appears that it could achieve a speed of 265 kts with the addition of a "sail fairing" between the two rotors.

It's unclear to me, however how this is a helicopter speed record, and not a compound helicopter speed record, since the tail thruster makes a significant difference in just how power is applied at higher speeds.

I was under the impression that either a wing or a horizontal thruster made it a compound helo, but it appears that the definition being used here is that it's specifically the wing that makes it a compound helicopter.

French Armed Forces Chief of Staff Agrees With Captain Kirk

You can find the full episode, Taste of Armegeddon, on Youtube, but here is Seth MacFarlane doing William Shatner
In a speech, he is suggesting that the extensive use of remotely controlled vehicles in the pursuit of war creates a sanitized war that could become immoral:
Admiral Edouard Guillaud, the French armed forces chief of staff, warned his distinguished audience at the Summer Defense University on September 14 that “there needs to be a fundamental reflection on the idea that there can be zero deaths in war.” Speaking in measured tones Guillaud, who could easily pass for a brilliant university professor, questioned the increasing use of armed unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) in Afghanistan. “War becomes banal when the aggressor runs no risks,” he said adding that “the growth in technology must slow down because man must be able to master it.” He stressed that this issue of man mastering technology or allowing himself to become a slave to it “is a real question.” He said “this is an ethical question which will eventually lead to some form of legislation.”
It does sound a lot like:

"Death... destruction, disease, horror, that's what war is all about. That's what makes it a thing to be avoided. You've made it neat and painless. So neat and painless, you've had no reason to stop it. And you've had it for over five hundred years. Since it seems to be the only way I can save my crew, and my ship, I'm going to end it for you. One way, or another."
Obviously, it's not immoral to make war in a manner that minimizes casualties, but it's equally obvious that if the technology results in making war that one would not otherwise make, then there needs to be some real discussion of the what the idea of remote control war, run by remote control, makes war too much of a throw away decision.

Stewart on the Republican Pledge

Why do I even bother blogging, when all I need to do is point you to Jon Stewart monologues:
Just to get this straight: Two years ago America broke up with you because you had badly mistreated her. And so you disappear, do some soul searching, get your head together. And you come back rapping on our door, hat in hand, and you say: 'Baby, I know you left me, but if we get back together, I pledge to you, I promise you, I will still try to f%$#k your sister. Every chance I get. It's who I am.'

24 September 2010

Your Friday of Muppets

This is one of my favorite musical bits from the old Muppet Show:

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Haven Trust Bank Florida, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fl
  2. North County Bank, Arlington, WA
Full FDIC list

It's a 2 closure Friday again for banks, which these days qualifies as low key, but the credit union world was far more active, with NCUA taking 3 wholesale credit unions into receivership today, they are not showing up on the full NCUA list, which only covers retail institutions:
Nearly two years after Wall Street’s giants were rescued by the federal government, regulators on Friday took over three financial institutions that provide the underpinning for hundreds of the nation’s credit unions.

The three entities, known as wholesale credit unions and located in Connecticut, Illinois and Texas, were seized by regulators from the National Credit Union Administration, which supervises about 7,500 credit unions that provide basic banking services to millions of Americans. Most of those customers are linked to credit unions through their employers or through membership organizations.

Although the overwhelming majority of those credit unions are financially sound, some of the wholesale entities behind them have been hobbled by losses on subprime mortgage bonds and other complex investments. Of the 27 wholesale credit unions operating in the United States, five have been seized by regulators over the last 18 months.


…Wholesale credit unions provide payment clearing and investment services to retail credit unions. They also give the retail credit unions a place to put their cash.
So there have been 14 retail credit unions closed, and 3, wholesale ones.

It's going to be a bumpy ride.

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

I would note that are now at the point where the utility of the least squares trendline is diminishing, but I'm keeping it here for historical purposes.

Number 7 on he List of Things That I Really Did Not Want to Know

Click for full size
Ewwwww! Both the Pill and the Smile
It appears that members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, New York are using anal caffeine suppositories to deal with withdrawal from go juice:
Jews throughout Williamsburg snapped up caffeine suppositories today, hours before the start of the Yom Kippur fast that would deprive them of the jolt — and hunger suppression — that coffee typically provides.

The day-long fast is the centerpiece of the holiest day on the Jewish calendar — but some religious Jews see a Talmudic loophole that allows them to ingest their daily dose of caffeine, albeit through a different orifice.

“It helps — you know, it’s hard to concentrate when you’re fasting and also addicted to caffeine,” said Baruch Herzfeld, an Orthodox Jew who owns a bike store in Williamsburg. “Some take it before sundown, but most take it throughout their fasting. These guys love a good loophole.”
You know, tapering off over the few weeks before is both more in keeping with the spirit Halacha.*

*Jewish Law.

This Episode of Sesame Street Was Brought To You By the Letter "T" and the Number 2

As in 2 Tits are 2Much:
In circumstances George Stephanopoulos probably never imagined when he gave up a hands-on role in politics to become a broadcaster, two fuzzy, nonhuman members of the “Sesame Street” cast joined him Friday morning on “Good Morning America,” along with that PBS children’s show’s executive producer, Carol-Lynn Parente, to discuss the recent decision at “Sesame Street” to pull a music video featuring the pop singer Katy Perry.

On Thursday, Sesame Workshop, which produces “Sesame Street,” said it would not broadcast a segment planned for the show’s coming season in which Ms. Perry performs a version of her song “Hot ‘N Cold” with Elmo and is seen wearing a low-cut dress.

In her “Good Morning America” interview, Ms. Parente told Mr. Stephanopoulos she was surprised at the volume of disapproving responses the video had generated when it was posted on YouTube earlier in the week.
It appears that some parents are up in arms about Katy Perry's breasts, because her dress shows a bit of cleavage.

It's actually fine to my mind, but I'm thinking that if the parents are this freaked out over this, they are going to be raising some sexually repressed kids who will likely be very bad in bed.

Video follows, though the comments at Youtube are prize:


2nd City nails it:

Why Yes…

We are being run by assholes:

So says Jon Stewart, so say we all.

23 September 2010

White Spaces Passes FCC

White Spaces at a Glance:
"A" can use 400 MHz without interfering with anyone
Which means that it's now official, and any number of high speed wireless devices will be able to operate without a license in the spaces between TV channels:
The Federal Communications Commission today unanimously approved new rules for the use of unlicensed white space spectrum in a move that could pave the way for more unused wireless spectrum to be released in the future.

White space is unused spectrum that sits between TV channels. The 300MHz to 400MHz of unused spectrum is considered prime spectrum for offering wireless broadband services because it can travel long distances and penetrate through walls. The FCC unanimously agreed in November 2008 to open up this spectrum for unlicensed use. Even so, technical issues to allow device makers and service providers to use the spectrum still need to be worked out.
(emphasis mine)

The technical issues are a big deal, because, as the redoubtable Harold Feld notes, the devil is really in the details here, and the incumbent wireless providers want to require that devices ping themselves to death:
Right now, the rules require a Mode 2 (the ones that access the database directly) to ping the database every 24 hours. Mode 1 devices “listen” to Mode 2, according to the 2008 Order (which I understand means “get told when an actual change occurs). The broadcasters want the Mode 1 devices to ping the Mode 2s every 60 seconds and want Mode 2 to ping the database every 15 minutes, if not more frequently. Since television broadcast towers are big stationary things, not Ents marching on Isengard, one may ask why devices need to check more than once a day. In response, broadcasters explain that if some day some news team somewhere they might possibly be running down the street after some hot news lead if they ran into someone using a smart phone with white spaces capability it might, possibly, cause some sort of interference with the mobile news crew’s wireless microphone system.
At this time, it appears that they did not go with the ping of death regulations, nor did they require "Sense and Avoid" technology, which is purported to be both expensive and technically challenging.

One of the big things here is the geographical database: If the TV stations start making bogus claims of interference, we may end up with a situation where the coverage will be limited to remote rural areas.

Quote of the Day

Out of the mouths of babes:
The worst thing is the uncertainty. Just give us a set of rules and then we’ll figure out how to work around them... I mean work with them.

--A senior American banker who was caught in a moment of unintended candor

Cowardly Conservadems Cause Tax Cut Catastrophe

What Cee Lo Green Said (NSFW)
So, put a fork in it, the Democrats won't be voting on middle class tax cuts, because the conservadems are unwilling to support the idea:
Obama wanted a vote on his proposed extension of some of the tax cuts before lawmakers returned to the campaign trail for the November 2 elections, in part to reinforce Democratic support for pocketbook issues.

Democratic strategists have been divided over whether it's politically beneficial to push for a vote on the tax cuts now, citing their candidates from conservative states in tough re-election battles who would have to defend the resulting increase in the tax rate on wealthy Americans to previous levels.
Of course, voting on this would have put the Republicans on the defensive, by forcing them to vote against middle class tax cuts, the the conservadem/Blue Dog types are so terrified of Republicans that they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Bad policy and bad politics.

Truth be told, I'm for letting it all expire, and then increasing taxes on the very rich (94% sounds good), but still it is remarkably how Dems can pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

Take it away Cee Lo.

Economics Update

It's jobless Thursday, and initial unemployment claims are up again, t0 465,000, with the 4-week moving average falling yp 463,250 from 466,500, continuing claims falling by 48,000 to 4.49 million, and emergency claims rising by 208,000 to 5.17 million.

All in all, not a pretty picture, and neither are home sales, notwithstanding the press noting how much better August was than July, because up 7.6% from July means less than down 19% from August 2009.

In the business world, Blockbuster video filed for bankruptcy, which is not a surprise, it's been expected for months, but it's still the end of an era.

22 September 2010

The Republican Senate Caucus Blinks

After announcing her write in bid for the Alaska Senate, the Senate Republican caucus threatened to yank Lisa Murkowski's position as rinking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but they have now backed away from that:
In a surprise move, Senate Republicans did not vote to drop one of their own, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, as top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Senator Murkowski’s decision to mount a write-in campaign after losing her primary to "tea party" backed attorney Joe Miller angered many of her Senate colleagues. Even a failed bid risks splitting the Republican vote in Alaska, giving Democrats an unexpected pickup and curbing GOP prospects for taking back the Senate.

On Wednesday, the caucus did replace Murkowski with Sen. John Barrasso (R) of Wyoming as vice chair of the Republican Conference – the policy wing of Senate Republicans – but it declined to go further.
So they went with a largely symbolic slap on the wrist, because losing her ranking status would have made it far more difficult for her to campaign in Alaska on the political currency of that realm, pork barrel spending.

I don't know what went on behind closed doors, 24 hours ago her being stripped of her position was thought to be a done deal.

Jon Stewart Answers the Questions that Need to Be Answered

We Have Found Obama's Kryptonite
At a CNBC town hall, hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci asks Barack Obama, "When are we going to stop whacking at the Wall Steet piñata?

Well, Jon Stewart has the answer:
How long will we on Wall Street be hit like a piñata with a stick????

How about until the f%$#ing candy comes out!

How about that!

That's how piñatas work!


What you call a stick on Wall Street? I guess Amercans call a Trillion dollar bailout of your industry.


Until your paper mâché bellies are no longer stuffed with government candy, walk it off!
Jon Stewart is not a man I ever want angry with me.

Senators Ask the Right Question

And the question is, "why aren't the people who broke banking and our economy going to jail?"
Senators pressed investigators on a lack of prosecutions of top Wall Street executives in the wake of the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression.

"I will say right now that I'm frustrated," Sen. Edward Kaufman, a Delaware Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said on Wednesday.

"We have seen very little in the way of senior officer or boardroom-level prosecutions of the people on Wall Street who brought this country to the brink of financial ruin. Why is that?"
The reason that there have been no prosecutions is because the the Cossacks work for the Czar, and the Czar, Obama, does not want the prosecutions, and instead wants to "look forward."

The technical term for this is "cowardice reinforcing rewards for moral hazard."

This Isn't Just Because Heath Shuler has Always Been an Over Paid Under-Performing Punk*

But I really want every seat lost by the Dems this election cycle to come from the Blue Dog Democrats.

The Blue Dogs and other conservative are trying to prevent a vote on extending the tax breaks for people making less than $¼ million a year because they pants wetting cowards, and are afraid that Republicans will say something bad about them, and are busy on their knees to their wealthy donors.

They want their tax cuts for the rich, even though it is ruinously bad policy, and even worse politics, because they are hopeless wimps.

*He was a first round draft pick for the Washington Redskins, and turned out to be, according to ESPN, the the 4th biggest NFL Draft bust of all time, as well as being the whip for the Blue Dog Caucus in the House of Representations.

Economics (Real Estate) Update

Click for full size
Fasten your seat belts……it's going to be a bumpy night!
Really, it's a real estate news update today, with home prices dropping for the 2nd straight month in July, as did Moody's commercial property price index, and, despite historically low rates, home loan applications fell again, showing that the current housing market is weakening following the expiration of the tax credits.

Additionally, we have the American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Billings Index continuing to show contraction, which indicates that prospects in the next 6-12 months are not great either.

It's not all bad news though, as August housing starts rose sharply over the previous month, though as the official census figures show, this is just a anemic 2% year over year gain. (PDF)

21 September 2010

Non-Combat Role My Ass, Part XVII

Barack Obama's claim that combat troops are of Iraq is a lie, as is made clear by a letter from a soldier:
“The reason I’m sending this out is because I have had a few people ask if I left Iraq early because all of the combat troops are out of Iraq and I wanted to let everyone know the real deal.

Take our Brigade for example. We were originally called a HBCT (Heavy Brigade Combat Team). Well, since Obama said he would pull all of the “combat” troops out by Aug, all they did before we left was change our name from a HBCT to an AAB (Advise and Assist Brigade). We have the same personnel/equipment layout as before and are doing the same missions. The ONLY difference is that they changed our name from a HBCT to an AAB and that’s how we pulled all of the ‘combat’ troops out.

There are other Brigades just like ours that are doing the same missions that are still over here. So anyway now you know the REAL story, so that’s why I’m not coming back early.”
Obama does not realize that being commander-in-chief of the military means to command.

Unfortunately, he is dealing with a military which, like pretty much all militaries, is culturally incapable of seeing a conflict beyond the prism of "winning", and so by compromising, we simply dig ourselves deeper.

More Federal Reserve Kremlinology

The FOMC met and issued its report, and their policy remained unchanged, though they did say that they might engage in more quantitative easing (printing money) because they believe that the economy may be trending down.

Basically, they won't do anything this time around, but they might later, even though, "Measures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability."

So, unemployment is higher than their mandate allows, and inflation is lower than their mandate allows, and so they will do ……… nothing at all for now.

As Atrios so aptly noted, "The sociopaths at the Fed have spoken." (Emphasis mine)

It's the only way you can describe their behavior: They are essentially saying that we are in, or entering, a recessionary spiral, but doing their job is hard.

That being said, the US dollar weakened following the fed statement.

The full Fed statement is after the break:

Larry Summers to Resign After November Elections

It looks like Obama needed to make some change, though it looks like they will be changes for the worse, because they are looking to replace him as director of Obama's National Economic Council with someone who is even more of a wall street insider than Summers:
Administration officials are weighing whether to put a prominent corporate executive in the NEC director’s job to counter criticism that the administration is anti-business, one person familiar with White House discussions said. White House aides are also eager to name a woman to serve in a high-level position, two people said.…
Because appeasing whining bankers is job 1 at the White House, I guess, because we are all just little people.
… They also are concerned about finding someone with Summers’ experience and stature, one person said.
Well, if they want someone who can match Summers' record of being right, and his record of moral rectitude, I might suggest Dick Cheney, Ben Stein, or Vlad Tepes.

As I have said many times, remember, the Cossacks work for the Czar, and I think that the basic problem here is top down, not bottom up.

Cloture Fails on DADT in Senate, Thanks Barry

So the Republicans successfully filibustered the Defense authorization bill.

It's not surprising given the full court press that we didn't hear coming from the White House.

When one considers the fact that the Obama Department of Justice submitted a legal brief equating homosexuality with incest, his administration defied a judges order to provide health benefits for a same sex spouse, and his campaign had an anti gay bigot front a campaign concert, one begins to wonder whether is inaction on DADT is more than cowardice, or whether he actually has a problem with "th ghay".

To paraphrase Kanye West, I'm beginning to wonder if "Barack Obama doesn't care about gay people," because it's clear that the Obama administration antipathy to being seen as pro-LGBT at this point is both bad politics, it loses votes, and bad policy.

20 September 2010

A Sincere and Honest Takedown of Obama

Blah, blah, blah!
The questioner, Velma Hart is asking for a reason to keep believing:
“I’m one of your middle-class Americans, and quite frankly I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now. I had been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people and I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting. I don’t feel it yet, and I thought that — while it wouldn’t be in great measure — I would feel it in some small measure.”
Obama's response is a laundry list of accomplishments, but this misses the bigger point, which is that people are no longer willing to believe that he is willing to fight for them, because he appears to be unwilling to fight at all.

When looking at situations where there are real malefactors involved, his solution is to find common ground, whether it is health care, Wall Street, or BP, and some times, actually a lot of the time, that is simply not enough.

Federal Courts Rule that Software Publishers Own You

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court, and ruled that it's not a sale, it's a license, and so they can do whatever they want:
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today ruled (PDF) on a long-standing case involving used software on eBay, and it came to an important decision: if a company says you don't have the right to resell a program, you don't have that right. Could this mean the end of the resale market for all digital content? Yup. But the court says it had no choice.

The case is Vernor v. Autodesk, in which Timothy Vernor made his living from selling items (including software) on eBay. Vernor had picked up some old copies of AutoCAD from an architect's office sale, complete with their serial numbers, and he put them up on eBay noting that they were not currently installed on any computer. Sounds legal, right?

But there's a catch. Autodesk, the software's developer, forced all users to accept an agreement before using AutoCAD. This agreement made clear that AutoCAD was merely licensed, never sold, and that one's license was non-transferable. Further, a licensee could not rent, lease, or sell the software to anyone else; you couldn't even physically transfer the discs out of the Western Hemisphere (!). Finally, if you upgraded to a new version, the old version had to be destroyed.
That sound that you hear is the stock price of Gamestop falling like the 54th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Almost every single video game out there bans resale in the license, or as Aris Technica notes, "So, to recap: EULAs are binding, they can control just about everything you might dream up, and only Congress can change the situation."

This means that a publisher can deactivate your software wherever, and whenever they want, so long as they have it in the license, or they have a section of the license that allows them to change their license whenever they want, like credit card companies do.

Call your congresscritter, and look hard at open source software.

I Write Letters

So, the New York Times has an article where they bemoan the fact that Wall Street financiers could not buy 3 New York State Senate elections for "educational reformers":
They were the candidates of riches, flush with hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wall Street investors who believed in the promise of charter schools.

But when the election results came in on Tuesday, all three State Senate candidates supporting education reform — Basil Smikle, Lynn Nunes and Mark H. Pollard — lost by huge margins, with none cracking 30 percent of the total vote in primary contests against union-backed rivals.

The three New York races amounted to some of the country’s first proxy wars between labor groups and Wall Street financiers pushing for education reform, and in the end, the time-tested union machine prevailed.
You see the message here: something is wrong with America if a bunch of rich pukes from Wall Street cannot buy elections in order to privatize an essential public service, in this through for-profit charter schools, and generate taxpayer subsidized profits.

It's worked so well for prisons, and for military contractors, that we must feed our children to feed the Wall Street beast yet again.

In any case, it pissed me off enough to write a letter to the editor on the subject, which is almost certainly not going to get published:

OK, Time to Freak Out

A few days ago, Yves Smith noted that Wells Fargo has started to spring a last minute contract clause on its foreclosure sales that basically says if the property does not have a clear title, it's your tough sh%$:
Yves here. Some readers may take this all to be unduly alarmist. But confirmation that this problem is real and potentially serious comes via a new “gotcha” practice by Wells Fargo on foreclosure sales. Wells is sufficiently concerned about the risks of selling properties out of foreclosure that it is springing an addendum on buyers, shortly before closing, which effectively shifts all risk for any title deficiency on to the buyer.

Now why is this a big deal? Go reread the boldfaced sentence above. ["Technically, the foreclosing bank has no recorded title rights to foreclose in the first place"] If a bank like Wells does not have the right to foreclose, it cannot have clean title to the property. So the bank could conceivably be selling something it does not own.

Let’s say you buy a vase from a store. You open the box when you get home and find out the box is empty. You’d clearly be within your rights to get your money back.

With the Wells Fargo addendum, even if the bank has sold you the equivalent of an empty box, you have no recourse to Wells. Zero. Zip. Nada.
So the banks realize that they are selling properties at auction that they do not own or hold the note on.

They want to clear their balance sheets, and they are now more than willing to engage in outright fraud to do so.

Well, it looks like it's not just Wells Fargo who is freaking out about this, because GMAC has just suspended its foreclosures in 23 states based on similar concerns that the documentation was forged, though they claim that it will be resolved, "within the next few weeks".

There are also rumors of a criminal investigation, while GMAC has denied any moratorium.

It appears that much of this has to do with the foreclosure mills law firms, largely based in Florida, most notably Watson, Shapiro & Fishman, and David J. Stern. (MoJo has a good tour of their business practices here)

Note also that Congressman Alan Grayson has written a letter too the Florida Supreme Court asking for an immediate suspension of foreclosures, because these firm are doing the paperwork on about 80% of the foreclosures in the state and have already been cited by a judge for blatant fraud.

There are a couple of issues here, the first is that in the mortgage mixmaster, title for a lot of properties may have been lost, and the second is that the law firms doing the paperwork are simply defrauding homeowners and the courts.

Grayson's letter is after the break:

How Not to Bury an Effective Ad

Robin Carnahan, who is running against, Roy "I f%$#ed a lobbyist and took money from Abramhoff" Blunt released a pretty damn effective ad with Fox News' Chris Wallace cutting Roy Blunt a new one on his conflicts of interest.

Well, Fox sued, claiming "copyright infringement and that the ad "compromises "Fox's integrity. (I have to clean my screen now)

Of course, now everyone wants to see the video. Smooth move, Fox.

In any case, here is the video:

The Next Big Investment Opportunity

Argentine bull semen.

That is all.

So the Recession is Over?

The National Bureau of Economic Research has declared that the recession ended in June 2009:
It's official: The Great Recession ended 15 months ago, in June 2009. That was the word Monday from the economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the outfit that tracks the U.S. business cycle based on a variety of economic variables.

By their calculations, the downturn that began in December 2007 lasted 18 months, or the longest on record since the 43-month plunge of the Great Depression. On the other hand, the recession was only two months longer than the 16-month downturns of 1973-1975 and 1981-82, the two other most serious post-World War II periods of falling economic growth. The 2007-2009 downturn was painful but not extraordinary in historical context.
So, my 11 months of unemployment were in a recovery?

We have been in recovery for 15 months?

You'll also note that this is a pretty mild recovery. The brutal 1981 recession had GDP exceeding peak about 18 months later, and this "recovery," such as it is, even if we don't experience a double dip, or just …… dare I say it? …… malaise, and we will be looking at something over 4 years.

Well, this recovery and $3.95 will get you a small Starbucks® latte.

19 September 2010

Where I Wish I Could Be on October 30

Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity

Stephen Colbert's March to Keep Fear Alive
At Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity on the National Mall in Washington, DC, heckling people at Stephen Colbert's March to Keep Fear Alive on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Unfortunately, I have a prior appointment, I will be at the SCA event, TNT,* and my kids love that event, so I will be there instead.

Still, I think that anyone who can make there should, because if this outdraws Glen Beck and his racist psychopathic ilk, it shows what his numbers really mean.

*Yes, I know that this year, it's technically the, "Treaty of Troyes," but it's TNT and has been TNT for well over a decade.

An Interesting Snapshot of the Taliban Arsenal

What surprises me is not that they have a fairly wide range of weapons and munitions, which is unsurprising, but I was surprised to see the relatively large number of Lee-Enfields and Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifles.

This would indicate to me that either the Afghans never throw anything away, or that they are in the process of creating some sort of sniper corps, or perhaps a bit of both.

Jail, please

Gee, the SEC has determined that Citicorp CEO Chuck Prince and Chairman of the Board, and Clinton era Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin both knew that the numbers that they were feeding investors about their top tranches of mortgage backed securities were crap:
Charles O. “Chuck” Prince and Robert Rubin were among Citigroup Inc. officials who knew 2007 losses were mounting on mortgage assets that U.S. regulators have faulted the bank for not disclosing, a court filing shows.

Prince, the bank’s chief executive officer at the time, and Rubin, who was then chairman, knew the highest-rated segments of subprime mortgage-backed securities were the source of about $200 million in new losses in October 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday in a filing at federal court in Washington. In July, the agency accused the bank and two other executives of failing to disclose $40 billion in subprime assets before losses surged. It didn’t target Prince and Rubin.
Bob Rubin has been Gordon Gecko for a very long time, and if the Obama administration wants to show some real commitment to financial reform, ramping up criminal investigations of his behavior would be a very good idea.

If you put a former Secretary of the Treasury in jail, it goes a long way toward cleaning up the system.

Barack Obama, Go Cheney Yourself

So while talking at a $30,000 a plate fundraiser in Connecticut, he joked that the Democratic Party base is a bunch of whiny bitches:
Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get -- to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed -- oh, well, the public option wasn't there. If you get the financial reform bill passed -- then, well, I don't know about this particular derivatives rule, I'm not sure that I'm satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven't yet brought about world peace and -- (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.) We have had the most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation.
Well, Glenn Greenwald (at link) nails it when he makes it clear that Obama has failed big time in many ways he has not just fallen short, but embraced failure he condemned as a candidates, whether on state secrets, the rule of law on terrorism suspects, the surveillance state, using HAMP as bunco scheme to cheat desperate home owners, state sanctioned assassinations, gay marriage, DADT, or any move at all in support of organized labor.

All this is going on, and there is not even a moment of regret about what might have been. It's like trying to appeal to the conscience of a house cat.

I am so ready to work my butt off for anyone who is willing to run against him in 2012.

I Still Think That The Appointment of Elizabeth Warren is an Exercise in PR, Not Real Change, But …

Both Felix Salmon and Barney Frank seem to think that this is the real deal, with Felix noting that, "she has the authority to get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau up and running as quickly as she can," and Representative Frank is saying that, "There’s no possibility she would take something like this unless she was fully empowered to do the job."

Me, I'm with On the other side Yves Smith's analysis, which says that this is all theater to create the illusion of Obama as a financial reformer:
  • While the bureau is organized under the Treasury, and before it is placed under the Federal Reserve, it has no rule making authority.
  • The organization is operating for an organization, the Federal Reserve that is not only, "subservient to the regulator that is in charge of looking out for the industry," but is in large part owned by the industry. (look at the structure of the regional Fed banks, they are owned by the big banks)
  • This is an admission that she will not be appointed to the position, so she is already a bit of a lame duck, and will be completely one as soon as someone is nominated for the post.
  • She has admitted that she has no intention of serving as head of the CPFB, which means that she is even more of a lame duck.
  • Many of the organizational and personnel decisions will be deferred to whoever is the appointee.
  • Once a nominee is named, she becomes completely irrelevant.
  • Geithner and Summers still run the show, and are who Obama listens to.*
I'm with Ms. Smith's last 'graph:
Needless to say, it would be better if I were proven wrong, but it looks like Warren has made a Faustian bargain. I can only hope if that is the case that she moves quickly to cut her losses.
Simply put, how many times has the Obama administration taken the side of Main Street over Wall Street?

I'll give you hint, it's a non-positive integer.

She will be out in 6 months, and my guess is that she will discover that she cannot get her phone calls answered on November 3.

*But remember, the Cossacks work for the Czar.

And they have a plan…

Why yes, I do find this video disturbing:

Arrr Matees!

It be Talk Like A Pirate Day!

18 September 2010

Murkowski to Mount Write-In Bid for Alaska Senate

Pass the popcorn:
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who lost Alaska’s GOP primary last month in a stunning upset to a tea-party backed rival, announced Friday that she’s mounting a write-in candidacy in a bid to hold onto her job.

Murkowksi told supporters at a late afternoon rally in Anchorage that she’s worried about Republican nominee Joe Miller’s extremist views, as well as the Democratic candidate’s inexperience.

The decision follows Miller’s surprise win in last month’s primary. Murkowski acknowledged she made mistakes during the primary campaign, but promised she’ll be more aggressive this time in running against Miller.
I think that she will talke more votes from teabagger Miller than remarkably-liberal-for-Alaska McAdams.

Jimmy Carter: Still a Wanker

It appears that Mr. Carter still cannot get over his hatred of Teddy Kennedy, so he's going after a dead man, blaming Kennedy for killing his healthcare proposal.

Just as classy as ever, I see.

He still thinks that the Kennedy challenge in 1980 is what cost him the White House. It's wasn't.

What killed his chance for a 2nd term in 1980 was one James Earl Carter, was elected with much hope, but found to be a sanctimonious jerk.

I would note that this assessment does not include my opinion that Carter is a war criminal on par with Henry Kissinger because he and Zbigniew Brzezinsk decided to purchase a civil war in Afghanistan, knowing creating untold suffering in that nation and its neighbors.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!! (Delayed for Holiday)

I've been off line for Yom Kippur, so this is a day late.

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. ISN Bank, Cherry Hill, NJ
  2. Bank of Ellijay, Elllijay, GA
  3. First Commerce Community Bank, Douglasville, GA
  4. The Peoples Bank, Winder, GA
  5. Bramble Savings Bank,Milford, OH
  6. Maritime Savings Bank, West Alis, WI
So, after 3 weeks with only one bank closing, we have 6 this week, plus the one credit union closed below.

This number appears to be on the fast track for breaking 150 this year.

Full FDIC list

And here are the credit union closings:
  1. Industries Puerto Rico Federal Credit Union,
Full NCUA list

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

I would note that are now at the point where the utility of the least squares trendline is diminishing, but I'm keeping it here for historical purposes.

Just In Case .You're Wondering……

My fast sucked.

Then again it's supposed to suck, because no food or water for 25 hours is intended to be unpleasant.

As compared to prior Yom Kippur fasts, it was a little bit worse than average.

A Depiction of the Levels of Hell?

Click for full size (640 KB)

Your tax dollars at work
Or maybe just a description of development, procurement, and life cycle support costs of a weapons system for the Pentagon ……… but I repeat myself.

The problem here is that each one of these steps represents a place where some private contractor can sit astride the process and extract a toll.

This why it takes 25 years and billions of dollars to develop the next fighter aircraft, when the P-80 was delivered just 180 days after the go ahead was given.

If this is what the past 50 years of developments in systems engineering have given us, perhaps, just maybe, there are some deep flaws in the underlying assumptions of that profession.

The source for the link is the Defense Acquisition University, and yes Virginia, there is a Defense Acquisition University, and they have a handy, dandy interactive flash version available on site.

Senate Appropriations Committee Pulls F136 Alternate Engine Funding

In addition to zeroing out the alternate engine, they also cut 10 production aircraft from the FY 2011 for failure of the program to execute per schedule.

This implies to me that neither cut could have gone through on its own, but together, both those who have concerns about the JSF, and those who don't want the engine got enough of what they wanted to support each other.

Meanwhile GE/RR is ramping up efforts to reverse this decision, noting, among other things, that the budget numbers that the Pentagon is putting forward on the F136 engine are sketchy at best.

H/t ELP Defens(c)e Blog