31 January 2011

Good for Joe Biden

It seems that the vice President thinks that the parodies of him from The Onion are a hoot:
A mock photo of Vice President Joe Biden washing a Trans-Am shirtless. Strange? Distasteful? Crossing the line?

Not so, Biden says.

"I think it's hilarious," Biden told Yahoo! in a wide-ranging interview Thursday.

Satirical publication The Onion has repeatedly made the Vice President a target for particularly randy news stories and online cartoon spoofs -- and the jokes have been a viral sensation.
Good for him.

What Digby Calls, "Another Isolated Incident"

Nothing to see here, move along:
Roger Stockham, a 63-year-old Army veteran from California who was reportedly angry at the U.S. government, was arrested by police in Michigan and charged with allegedly threatening to blow up a Mosque in Dearborn.

Dearborn police allegedly found Stockham inside his vehicle outside the Islamic Center of America with a load of M-80s in his trunk and other explosives, the Detroit News reported.
If you read the rest of the article, it's pretty clear that this guy is a head case, but even a head case has his actions shaped to a degree by external influences.

Bitch

Evan Bayh, after saying that he would not run for reelection, because it's all gotten too partisan, has joined a K-Street lobbying firm.

Just so you know, he didn't leave because he did not like the partisan atmosphere, it's because he wanted to be President, and realized that the whole party saw him as a smarmy corporatist opportunist.

Well, at least I'm not disappointed by this.

Reagan Appointed Judge Rules Entire Healthcare Law Unconstitutional

It was such a good idea for some moron to leave out a severability clause from the bill, huh?
A second federal judge ruled on Monday that it was unconstitutional for Congress to enact a health care law that required Americans to obtain commercial insurance, evening the score at 2 to 2 in the lower courts as conflicting opinions begin their path to the Supreme Court.

But unlike a Virginia judge in December, Judge Roger Vinson of Federal District Court in Pensacola, Fla., concluded that the insurance requirement was so “inextricably bound” to other provisions of the Affordable Care Act that its unconstitutionality required the invalidation of the entire law.

“The act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker,” Judge Vinson wrote.

The judge declined to immediately enjoin, or suspend, the law pending appeals, a process that could last two years. But he wrote that the federal government should adhere to his declaratory judgment as the functional equivalent of an injunction. That left confusion about how the ruling might be interpreted in the 26 states that are parties to the legal challenge.
And here is the money quote, which has since been removed from the online article:
The Florida plaintiffs ensured they would draw a Republican-appointed judge by filing the lawsuit in Pensacola.
I believe that the operative phrase here is, "Forum shopping for an activist judge."

It's all going to be down to Anthony Kennedy, because the other 4 reactionaries on the court are hyper-politicized assholes who have already made their mind based on partisan considerations.

And in the Annals of Hypocrisy…

We have Ayn "Atlas Shrugged" Rand, who took medicare to pay for her lung cancer surgeries, and Congressman Paul "We will transform our social safety net into a hammock" Ryan, who freely collected social security benefits after his father died.

I don't generally begrudge people accessing social programs, but when you call people who need them "moochers" and the like, you are a hypocrite and a wanker.

Because We Want to Be Just Like Hosni Mubarak's Egypt

Susan Collins and Joseph "The Human Stain" Lieberman, want there to be kill switch for the Internet in the United States that can be invoked at will without judicial review:
A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a "national cyberemergency," and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.

Internet companies should not be alarmed by the legislation, first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate aide said last week. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We're not trying to mandate any requirements for the entire Internet, the entire Internet backbone," said Brandon Milhorn, Republican staff director and counsel for the committee.

…………

The revised version includes new language saying that the federal government's designation of vital Internet or other computer systems "shall not be subject to judicial review." Another addition expanded the definition of critical infrastructure to include "provider of information technology," and a third authorized the submission of "classified" reports on security vulnerabilities.

The idea of creating what some critics have called an Internet "kill switch" that the president could flip in an emergency is not exactly new.
Just imagine Dick Cheney's finger on the button.

"Not subject to judicial review," that's a wet dream for the former VP.

30 January 2011

Well, This Explains a Lot About Fox

So Bush Invaded Egypt?
Seriously, for how many Millenia has there been a "gift of the Nile" known as Egypt?

I'm beginning to think that their graphics people have just stopped trying, because why bother on a fake news network?

H/t Hedgehog on the by invitation only Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Egypt Is Heading ……… Somewhere

The protests have gotten big enough that the professional, and pampered, state security forces, have run out of resources, and the military has been sent in, but the military is taking a remarkably hands off stance regarding the protesters.

What is going on is that the police, and other civilian state security forces are volunteer, and favored by the current regime, and are invested in it, while the military is largely conscript, all Egyptian males serve, and so they aren't invested in their position in the current regime.

It's a pretty good reason to support a return to the draft in the good old USA, if you ask me.

In any case, the opposition has started to become more organized, and has decided on Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei will head whatever negotiations with the Mubarak government.

Note that this has occurred despite the fact that the regime managed to almost completely shut off Internet access for the country, or maybe it was because the Egyptians are upset about being unable to watch Justin Beiber videos on Youtube, but somehow I think that the Egyptians taking to the street are a bit less shallow than that.

29 January 2011

I Just Saw Fight Club For the First Time

The performance and direction were all good, but I do not understand why it is so much of a cult classic.

I felt compelled to watch it because I come across people making movie references on a regular basis.

Big Surprise, the New Black Panther "Voter Intimidation" Was a Manufactured News Event

Listen to GOP Lawyers Manipulating the Video at the Time
What a surprise. One of the things that had the right wing echo chamber, and George W. Bush's corrupted Civil Rights Commission, the allegation that the New Black Panthers were somehow a part of of a Democratic voter intimidation scheme (in the blackest part of Philadelphia?).

Well it's all a fraud, and it has been literally since day 1:

In the extended version of the footage, posted by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights this month, a police officer tells Morse to back off. That's when the commotion begins.

The video shows someone off-screen to Morse's left, telling the officer "I got him, I got him." A man who appears to be Chris Hill, a Republican poll watcher who was accused of intimidating voters at the polls by another woman at the location, says "Put it down. You've got enough."

Then Bartle Bull chimes in. "Don't you threaten him with your hands. You're threatening him. Don't you use your hands!"

………

The video shows that the white Republican poll watchers who showed up to the majority African-American precinct knew exactly what kind of media sensation they had on their hands.

"We're on the same team," says another Republican poll watcher off screen.

"You're f%$#ing up the story. Don't f%$# up the story," one unidentified poll watcher tells Morse.

"You guys are lawyers, I'm a videographer," Morse says.

Morse told TPM in an e-mail that he doesn't think it was Hill who was intimidating him, but says someone was.

"A couple of guys wearing SUITS were were actually intimidating ME at this point," Morse told TPM in an e-mail. "It was certainly not Mr. Hill who told me to put the camera down. It was one or two GOP lawyers, whose names I never got and I never saw again."

"I remember a crowd of maybe 10 lawyers (or seemingly lawyers, suits I should say, since Bull isn't a lawyer) standing around -- in the original (more famous) video -- one lawyer makes it into one of the shots, but im pretty sure it was another guy -- not the bald guy in the shot -- who was being a dick to me," Morse told TPM in an e-mail. "At least one person was being a dick, and I was quite angry at this point when they were telling me to shut the camera -- hence the expletive (which i make no apologies for using!)."
(%$# mine)

They didn't just edit the tape, they manipulated the taping on site at time.

The 'Phant lawyers were attempting to edit the event in real time. 

It makes reality difficult to determine, but I always fall back on what work when the USSR was at its zenith: If they accuse you of some sort of skulduggery, it is safe to assume that this is what they are doing themselves.

How Politics Are Supposed to Work

Here's something that I didn't know, that Palm Springs, California, is the gayest city per capita in the United States.

So, when the homophobic police chief and DA decided to run entrap run a sting operation to harass gays, they both get forced out:
The June 2009 gay sex sting netted 19 public indecent exposure arrests, and disbelief and outrage have festered in this desert haven ever since.

This is Palm Springs, "the gayest city in America," a gay tourist destination governed by an openly gay mayor and home to the sexually charged White Party, a dance and music festival that attracts tens of thousands of gay men every year.

………

The controversy reached a boil last June with the revelation that an officer involved in the sting was taped uttering a gay slur. It grew venomous in December when Police Chief David Dominguez, who had disciplined the officer, acknowledged that he too had made an "inappropriate comment" — also caught on tape.

………

It wasn't enough. Dominguez abruptly announced his retirement last week.

………

Former Riverside County Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco's hard-line prosecution of the Warm Sands cases, which have yet to go to trial, rallied many in the Palm Springs gay community to pour money into his challenger's campaign in the June election. Pacheco lost to Superior Court Judge Paul Zellerbach by 8,400 votes.

"I was told that on election night he was cursing my name," [counsel of many of defendants, Robert] Tansey said.
It should noted that the police and DA claimed that there were extensive complaints, but they have been unable or unwilling to turn over that information to defense attorneys.

Palm Springs has been in decline for decades, with its recent status as a gay vacation destination being the only thing that is not turning it into Inland Empire, but the police, and the Republican (I Wikied it) DA decided that it was time for some gay bashing, and they discovered that the LGBT community has learned to vote.

A Belated Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. The First State Bank, Camargo, OK
  2. Evergreen State Bank, Stoughton, WI
  3. FirsTier Bank, Lousiville, CO
  4. First Community Bank, Taos, NM
Full FDIC List.

As you can see, after a slow start, things seem to be ramping up, and, allowing for the fact that the first Friday of last year was January 1, when they would not be closing banks, the new year looks a lot like the old year.

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):


And since it's early in the year, here is a detail of the first few weeks:

Comments are Synchronized Again

No comments were harmed in the making of this blog.

28 January 2011

Who Knew that Bollywood Could Be So Cool?

I don't know if there is spontaneous singing in the movie, but there are not in this clip:

The 3rd Quarter GDP Numbers are In

Real GDP grew at a 3.2% annual rate in the last 3 months of 2010, which is good news, but still in the "way too damn slow" category, for, as Paul Krugman notes, we are about 7% below trend, which is a 2% growth rate, so this puts on a pace to be back on trend at the end of 2018.

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) Report is Out

The FCIC ain't the Pecora Commission, it lacked the authority, budget, and time to do so, so it is at best a half measure, but it is better than I had anticipated.

I am rather surprised that the they did not fall back on the "Hoocoodanode" explanation in the majority report, and actually assigned blame.

They actually assigned blame, with much of that going to Alan "Bubbles" Greenspan and "Helicopter" Ben Bernanke.

The commission also cites compromised federal regulators, particularly the OCC and the OTS, who went out of their way to hamstring state regulators who were far more aware, and more proactive, as well as the SEC's unwillingness to regulate.

I am unsurprised that they determined that Timothy Geithner's tenure as President of the New York Fed, "missed signs of trouble at Citigroup and Lehman," though I am pleased that they stated so explicitly, and it is nice that they called out Larry Summers for his dogged attempts to completely deregulate derivatives.

The ratings agencies get a mention as "cogs in the wheel of financial destruction," but it seems to soft pedal the degree that these folks were both corrupt, incompetent, and essential to both the financial system and the meltdown.

Some of the insiders have leaked that they think that all the reports ignore the fact that the system failed, and instead focus on fitting the events into the philosophical worldview, and I tend to agree:  This is much less of a description of the forest than it is of the trees.

One big surprise is the fact that the FCIC has referred some of its information to the DoJ because it believes that laws have been violated:
The claim of allegedly widespread securities law violations is among the more explosive findings in a sweeping report released Thursday by the Congressionally-appointed Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Those details help explain why the panel opted to refer several financial industry figures to state or federal law enforcement agencies for potential prosecution, as The Huffington Post reported Monday.
I don't expect any action from Barack Obama or Eric "Place" Holder on this, after all, when it comes to law breaking by powerful elites, they want to "look forward", rule of law be damned.

As to surprising revelations, the fact that they caught Goldman Sachs in a $2.9 billion lie regarding the Vampire Squid's claim that they got no money for their own investments from the AIG bailout is surprising.

Not the Goldman lying part, that's pretty normal, but the fact that they caught Goldman and then released it, is a surprise for me.

On the depressing side, it appears that the FCIC's pledge to release all the raw documents is not as sweeping as they are claiming:
The FCIC's commissioners, for their part, believe that they've done their best to be transparent. But Phil Angelides, the FCIC's chairman, told Mother Jones in a Thursday conference call that the commission simply couldn't release everything. "In the course of doing this kind of inquiry, you look at many documents that are completely irrelevant," Angelides says. In addition, he says, "there are trade secret laws, other laws, federal law that controls the ability of the commission to release documents... It wouldn't be responsible to do a document dump of documents that weren't relevant to the crisis."

Angelides promised that the "predisposition of the commissioners" would be to have a "fairly short period" before the National Archives and Records Administration releases the FCIC documents that won't be released immediately. In the conference call, Angelides and fellow commissioner Brooksley Born refused to quantify what percentage of the commission's documents will be released at what times, but Born claimed that the commissioners "erred on the side of openness."
Even so, the National Chamber of Commerce is the absurd claim that any release of documents is a job-killing action akin to Wikileaks document dumps:
"The commission's final report and its pledge to post raw materials -- apparently including information obtained from companies as well as other government agencies -- is an astounding abuse of process that would effectively create a government-sanctioned Wikileaks," said Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform.
Considering the fact that these documents will reveal things like the big Wall Street firms knowing selling "a sack of s%$#" to investors, I tend to think that a full and complete release is a good thing, because the tighter the regulations, the more confidence that investors have, and so the more willing that they are to invest.

As to the slightly less absurd, there are the two minority reports from the Republicans.

The first, issued by 3 of the 4 Republicans on the committee, seems to primarily blame, "failures, near-failures, and restructurings of 10 firms triggered a global financial panic," which is kind of silly, because panic is what happens when you realize that your 401K is all smoke and mirrors, because the banksters have been lying to you.

It's really pretty similar to what the majority report says, only they say that it cannot be regulation, because the crisis was worldwide, ignoring the fact that the US and UK have been leading a regulatory race to the bottom for the past 30 years.

The remaining dissent, by Peter J. Wallison, who is co director of the American Enterprise Institute's financial markets deregulation project, basically says that it was attempts by the government to make sure that banks did not discriminate against minorities, or, to put it more bluntly, he said, "this is what happens when you lend money to n*****s."

If You Are Going to Throw a Superbowl Party…

You have to beat this:



The folks at Epic Meal Time beat the "deep fried cheese steak, wrapped in bacon" from the seminal cartoon Megas XLR.

Reality trumps cartoons, this is wicked cool.

In any case, you have just over a week to come up with something even more (dare I say it?) epic for your Superbowl party.

Get to work, and post it on Youtube,  and send me the link.

The Orioles Should Call This Guy Today

Obviously, throwing a needle through plate glass is different from pitching, but considering their performance the past few years, the Orioles should try anything that might work.

He can play, or he can coach, and teach how to wind up and pitch properly, but even as a Red Sox fan, I find the Orioles to be almost unbearably pathetic.

Hire him:

Yes, What is Going On in Egypt is a Big Deal

Received via email
This could just kind of fizzle out, like 1848 did in Europe, but this is a rather graphic illustration of the breadth and scope of the protests.

Note that there are a number of factors that make this much more significant than Tunisia:
  • Unlike Tunisia, the population is almost exclusively, and strongly Arab (Tunisia has significant Berber influences).
  • Egypt has the largest population of any Arab nation in the world, having almost 30% of the world's Arab population.
  • It has been a center of Arab nationalism and Islamic thought for hundreds of years.
Even in the best case, I don't imagine that this will result  in the spontaneous creation of a modern democracy with civil rights, but I do think that any changes would be an improvement over the current corrupt and brutal status quo.

27 January 2011

Difference Between an Obama and Romney Presidency

Brad Delong says not much really, Obamacare is Romneycare, Obama's financial reform, except perhaps for Elizabeth Warren, would be what Romney had to do, Bernanke would be reappointed, he would have proposed, and lost on, cap and trade.

The big difference would be DADT and Gabby Giffords being shot.

I agree.

So much for the audacity of hope.

Illinois Supreme Court Puts Rahm Emanuel on the Ballot

Which makes him the front runner.

I'm still rooting for anyone but Rahm, but the real question is whether there will be a runoff.

Economics Update

It's not a good week for employment.

Initial unemployment claims rose by 51,000 to 454,000, people are talking about snow doing this, but I'm inclined believe that the weather had less to do with this than the underlying weakness in the economy.

The less volatile 4 week moving average rose by 15,750 to 428,750, and continuing claims rose by 94K to 3.99 million, and emergency claims fell by 98K to 4.62 million, though a lot of that last number dropping are people simply running out of benefits completely.

The Federal Reserve is still concerned about such thing, as the latest Federal Open Market Committee statement, which maintains its concerns as well as their quantitative easing (printing money) policy.

Problems With the Comments Again

Not sure why, but recent comments are not displaying properly in the side bar.

I go to the JS-Kit dashboard, and see:

Current Js-Kit/Blogger synchronization status: stopped
(network issues or authentication issues can affect synchronization)
I am working the issue and have a note into tech support.

Stuckpocalypse

That, apparently is what the news bots are calling our Nor'easter, because I was not alone in spending 7 hours on the road to go just a few miles.

There were people who could not get moving until 4 or 5 in the morning.

There were lots of wiped out tractor-trailors blocking multiple lanes of traffic.

Finally Home

Over 7 hours to travel 18 miles, and then 45 minutes to get into my driveway.

Lovely.

26 January 2011

Still On the Road

I left work 3-1/2 hours ago, and I still have not made it home.

I am in the teeth of a f#@&ing Nor'easter blizzard.

Grabbing some food at the Hires convenience store and posting from the road.

25 January 2011

If You Call Godwin's Law………

Then you shouldn't be invoking about every 3 hours or so, as Fox News does.

So says Jon Stewart, so say we all. (Brutally wickedly and funny)



Ouch!

He's back

The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear Rahm Emanuel's appeal, so they issued a temporary injunction keeping him on the ballot.

We should see a ruling in the next few days, the fact that the court is not accepting new briefs, so it is clear that they intend to rule quickly.

Live Blogging the SOTU

Final notes:
  • Listening to his platitudes and the fact that offers an open hand to the right wingers who want him to fail, and the back of hand to the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, I just don't enjoy listening to him.
  • He made a call for the expansion of the H2b and L1 visas:  Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us."
    • The problem is that this has the effect of lowering wages in technical fields, which sends more mathematicians, physicists, and engineers to careers in finance , where they are more valued (or better paid, it's the same thing, just ask an economist).  
    • I take it personally, because as an engineer, I have a target on my back from these programs.
  • Oh, God the pundits on MSNBC are yammering on about the F%$#ing seating arrangements, again, I'm taking his advice and turning off the damn TV.

10:10 pm: More Allen brothers roofing stories. *rolleyes*

10:08 pm: A shout out for the "end" of Don't Ask Don't Tell", and then draws a parallel about how colleges are not nice to the ROTC. Not necessary, but he needed to call out those "East Coast Liberal Elites."

10:06 pm: "This July, we will begin to bring our troops home." Good, but I expect it to be a token withdrawal, probably less than 3 battalions.

10:02 pm:  Talking defense now, "Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. … In Pakistan, al Qaeda’s leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are shrinking. "  More light at the end of the tunnel crap, though. We are losing.

9:57 pm: A shout out to Muslim Americans, this is good, but how about stopping the FBI from infiltrating mosques with informers on the basis of their religion?

9:56 pm: That whole salmon regulation study story is another Republican meme he is reinforcement.

9:55 pm: That last bit about "Current retirees, the disabled, etc." is a statement that he wants to means test Social Security to "strengthen" it.

9:53 pm: "To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market."  So he won't call for Social Security tonight, but he's calling for Social Security cuts tomorrow, because the Republicans want to kill Social Security, and if your goal is bipartisanship, then they will demand poison pills.

9:51 pm: He just capitulating on malpractice suits, again, giving in before negotiations start, even though "tort reform" has been repeatedly shown not to save money.

9:47 pm:  He's talking about the fixing the $600 1099 requirement.  Probably a good thing, but will cost money, and he is talking about the deficit.  And for Pete's sake, he's talking about how in the middle of a recession he wants to freeze domestic spending for the next 5 years.

9:45 pm: More endorsements of the crappy trade deals, and he buys into the myth of all the extraneous regulations that don't protect us from Salmonella or from the banks.  Feh.

9:41 pm: He's calling for tax reform, with a simplification and reduction of loopholes and lower the max rate.  He says "It can be done", but it won't.  It's tax cuts for the wealthy all over again.  Obama will cave when push comes to shove.

9:39 pm:  Atrios will be happy at his shoutout for high speed rail.

9:36 pm:  He's giving a shout out to the DREAM act and immigration reform.  I don't see it happening.  The Teabagger infused Republican Party has written off Hispanics for the next election cycle.

9:33 pm:  Yep, it's bad teachers.  Not pervasive poverty, and a society that sucks brains out of useful pursuits and puts them into finance.  But our country needs teachers, so while Obama is attacking the teacher's unions, wages, benefits, and job security, he wants people to become teachers.

9:32 pm: He's now touting his open mouth kiss to the for-profit education profiteers, AKA the "Race to the top."

9:30 pm: He's saying that success is a function of hard work.  Not this generation.  American social mobility and entrepreneurship has fallen behind the rest of the industrialized world.  It's now who your parents are, and addressing inequalities to fix this.

9:28 pm:  His invocation of "innovations" is a buy into corporatism.  He's also invoking education, as well as telling people to turn off the TV.  I'm really tempted to turn him off.

9:27 pm:  He's talking about killing the tax breaks and subsidies for big oil.  It would be nice.  It's a no brainer, which means that the Republicans won't let it come to a vote in the House, and filibuster it in the Senate.

9:26 pm:  The Allen brothers going from shingles to photovoltaics is his "Joe the Plumber" this speech.

9:22 pm:  Wants to make America the "Best place in the world to do business".  We've been sucking corporate dick for 35 years, and it's f%$#ed the average American.  I don't care how many iPhones we get.

9:19 pm: OMFG!  He's saying that the lost jobs are just productivity improvement, but the Internet economy will fix everything!

9:16 pm: Some breast beating about the stock market, where and he'd touting the tax cuts, big surprise.

9:12 pm:  He leads with a reference to Giffords.  How could he not?

9:11 pm:  He's started.  BTW, what the hell is up with Boehner's pink/purple tie?

9:10 pm: The pundits are going on, and on about seating, etc.  BTW, Chief Justice John Roberts felt compelled to show up, even though he did not want to, because the rest of the right wing justices refused to, and if only the 4 honest justices showed, it would look bad.

9:08 pm:  Oh for f%$#'s sake, he is touting "clean coal" in the speech, as well as nuclear.  The first is a fraud, the 2nd has been a disaster, because they cannot get financing, because of the record of delays and cost overruns.  I'll stop reading now.

9:06 pm:  He is in and shaking hands. Still reading speech.

9:04 pm: I really hope that it plays better than it reads. But it is demoralizing to anyone who is the least bit liberal.  He touts caving on tax cuts for the rich. Lame invocation of Sputnik.

9:02 pm: Huh.  The speech was leaked on the net a couple of hours ago to the National Journal.  Reading now.

9:01 pm:  Show up already.  I hate listening to the pundits.

8:59 pm:  The pundits, who have advance copies of the speech, say that Barack Obama will call for lower tax rates.  F%$#ing typical.  Sucking up to the rich at the expense of the tax payer, because Obama needs his billion dollars for the 2012 campaign.

8:58 pm:  Turning on MSNBC.  I miss Keith.

Deep Thought

The reason for the aggressive overuse of acronyms in the military is because it makes the entire process of meaning oversight more difficult and intimidating.

24 January 2011

If You Don't Have the Law, or the Facts, and You Can't Pound the Table, Because Someone is Slamming Your Face on It, Then

Shred all relevant documents:
Federal bankruptcy judges in Delaware are due to hold separate hearings Monday on requests by two defunct subprime mortgage lenders to destroy thousands of boxes or original loan documents.

The requests, by trustees liquidating Mortgage Lenders Network USA and American Home Mortgage, come despite intense concerns that paperwork critical to foreclosures and securitized investments may be lost.

A series of recent court rulings have increased the importance of original loan documents, holding that they are essential for investors to prove ownership of mortgages and to have the right to foreclose.
Nope, nothing to hide here, it's just too expensive to store boxes of documents.

What you are hearing right is not two 800 horsepower document shredders starting up.

Russia

The bombing is clearly a horrible thing, but I don't have much to add, though I would suggest that you look at Mark Ames article on Russian stoicism.

The Russian reaction may seem cold, or even heartless, in their reaction, but consider the alternative:
As appalling as it might seem, let’s remember what America’s far more sentimental reaction to 9/11 got us: two disastrous wars, tens of thousands of deaths, and the sorts of police-state measures once thought unimaginable. The difference may be more in our sentimentality than in our brutality.
By simply soldiering on, and letting it roll off your back, it makes it much more difficult for the Terrorists to win.

Oops!

Two potential reactions:


Whoever suggested that he rent out his house


My Reaction
Rahm Emmanuel has been struck from the ballot for the Chicago Mayoral race:
A state appeals court on Monday threw the Chicago mayor's race into turmoil by ruling that front-runner and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel did not qualify for the February ballot.

Emanuel immediately responded that he would appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court and urged quick consideration. The ruling on Monday overturned decisions by a lower court and a Chicago elections board that allowed him on the February 22 ballot.
It appears that there is an exemption in the law for elected officials, but not for staff, and the fact that he had rented out his house was a major contributing factor.

That being said, I think that it is likely that it will be overturned on appeal by the Illinois Supreme Court, though I would prefer if the ruling stood, and Rahm has the  backing of the machine, so he still has a good chance of winning.

Deep Thought



Heh.

This Yid finds it funny.

H/t Neo at  at the by invitation only Stellar Parthenon BBS.

OK, Social Security is Safe, Until Wednesday, At Least

It looks like the poll numbers and the heat from activists and members of Congress have done their job, because the Obama administration has said no proposed Social Security cuts in his State of the Union address:
President Obama has decided not to endorse his deficit commission's recommendation to raise the retirement age, and otherwise reduce Social Security benefits, in Tuesday's State of the Union address, cheering liberals and drawing a stark line between the White House and key Republicans in Congress.
(emphasis mine)

Note the specificity of the language. He won't endorse cutting Social Security Tomorrow. I am also pretty sure that he won't do it on Wednesday, and it's pretty clear he won't do it in 2012, because he wants to be reelected, but if he is reelected, it's pretty clear he's going to try for another bite at the apple.

I wish that we still had Republicans like Ike Eisenhower, who said about those who will cut Social Security, "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

23 January 2011

This is More Typical of the Soviet Gulag Era, not the United States

Alleged Wikileaks source Bradley Manning has only one civilian non-lawyer visitor, David House, and he and Jane "Firedog Lake" Hamsher, who is generally his ride to the brig in Quantico, were detained, and her car was towed.

According to House's and Hamsher's reports, the guards said that the orders came from the top, and they were made to stand outside for an extended period in sub-freezing weather.

Seriously, one can assume, based on his background, that Barack "The worst constitutional law professor ever" Obama should know better, but it appears that he just does not care.

If you are an American citizen, you are more at risk of indefinite non-judicial detention or assassination then you ever were under George W. Bush.

22 January 2011

It's Not Just the B Model F-35

Yes, the F-35B, the STOVL variant has been placed on probation, but the entire program is encountering difficulties.

Most recently it has been revealed that there are problems with the aerodynamics and propulsion for all the models:
Flight testing so far has revealed problems with handling in the transonic and medium angle-of-attack regimes, [reportedly problems with wing drop/sideslip akin to those discovered in flight test for the F/A-18 E/F] and a problem with screech - destructive high-frequency combustion instability in the F135 afterburner - which is preventing the aircraft from achieving maximum power. [Which produces shockwaves, think the "snapping" on a an improperly lit Bunsen burner, writ large]
You know, that alternate engine for the F-35 is starting to look a lot better, huh.

Additionally, there are very real continuing problems with software, with the advanced helmet mounted displays and the vaunted 360° sensor fusiuon for the pilot not working properly.

As to the B model, weight problems is literally a killer.

With conventional and carrier launched variants, weight gain cuts into performance, payload, and range, but with STOVL aircraft, it means that they are simply unable to perform their basic functions:
Gates said that solving the unspecified technical issues now afflicting the aircraft "could" add cost and weight; the program office says that it "will", and that it will take two years to "engineer solutions ... and assess their impact."

………

Vertical landing is a nonvariable requirement. The required airspeed is zero and can't be adjusted by a few knots to compensate for extra weight. The JSF key performance parameter for bring-back load - corresponding to two 1,000-pound JDAMs and two Amraams - was set early on at a minimal level.

One reason that Lockheed Martin's shaft-driven lift fan (SDLF) concept was a winner in 1996 and 2001 was that it seemed to offer thrust margin for vertical landing. At the start of SDD, the F-35B was projected to have an empty weight of 29,700 pounds - not a bad place to be in with (then) almost 40,000 pounds of vertical thrust. But, in the weight crisis of 2004, engineers found that the jet had ballooned to a far higher figure (never actually published) at which it could not land vertically with normal fuel reserves, let alone weapons.

………

Still, the redesign left a fundamental problem: the bring-back load (around 3,000 pounds) was only 8 percent of the landing weight. The result is that the F-35B couldn't tolerate any OEW growth or thrust shortfall. The engine and transmission are maxed: that's the issue underlying the repeated delays in powered-lift testing, chronicled here and here.
This is a mess, and much of it is driven by unrealistic requirements for commonality, and placing too much emphasis on the STOVL version, which wastes weight on the A and C variants.

When I worked on the now FCS, it was clear to everyone working on the program that the commonality requirements made the systems more expensive and less combat effective, and the same thing is happening with the F-35.

21 January 2011

Identify Your Dog


I guess that this qualifies as Friday cat blogging.

And the Award For Best Cover of an REM Song Using Swear Words by Alvin and The Chipmonks Goes To…

Completely NSFW:

What the Hell?

Olbermann has been canceled by MSNBC?

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Enterprise Banking Company, McDonough, GA
  2. CommunitySouth Bank & Trust, Easley, SC
  3. The Bank of Asheville, Asheville, NC
  4. United Western Bank, Denver, Co
Full FDIC list

4 banks this week, as Atrios would say, "Eated."  The FDIC is hungry.

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):



And since it's early in the year, here is a detail of the first few weeks:

Sharon* Is a Saint

Otherwise, she would have bludgeoned me to death with my own left arm years ago.

Case in point: I was going to bed last night, and my wife smelled something on my breath, and asked, "What were you just eating?"

I replied, "Dulche De Leche Girl Scout cookies ……… but you know something? I don't think that they taste like they are made with real Girl Scouts."

She glanced up, and asked, "Have you ever eaten a girl scout?"

My response was, "I've earned my share of Brownie points."

If I had married a sane woman, I would be dead now, and no jury in the world would convict her.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.
Bless her soul, but double entendres were never her long or her strong suit.

Eric Arthur Blair* is Spinning in His Grave

Barack "The Worst Constitutional Law Professor Ever" Obama and Eric "Place" Holder have drawn up new guidelines on Miranda warnings when terrorism is involved, and they are declaring them secret:
The Obama administration has issued new guidance on use of the Miranda warning in interrogations of terrorism suspects, potentially chipping away at the rule that bars the government from using information in court if it was gathered before a suspect was informed of his right to remain silent and to an attorney.

But the Department of Justice is refusing to publicly release the guidance, with a spokesman describing it in an interview as an "internal document." So we don't know the administration's exact interpretation of Miranda, even though it may have significantly reshaped the way terrorism interrogations are conducted.
You have the right to remain silent, only, we won't tell you if and when that applies.

The Bush/Cheney constitutional Alice in Wonderland games are now made legitimate, bipartisan and routine by the Obama administration.

Alan Grayson for President in 2012.

*George Orwell.

Republicans Are So F%$#ing Classy

Wouldn't you know it, "Jesse Kelly, the ex-Marine Tea Partyer who challenged Gabrielle Giffords," is looking into the possibility of gearing up for a special election:
Kelly, if you don't already know, has been taking heat since Giffords' shooting for sponsoring a campaign event last year in which supporters joined him in shooting a "fully automatic M-16." "Get on target for November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office," the event's announcement read.

It's true that the M-16 event had no direct connection with Giffords' shooting, and claims that it indirectly helped create a "climate" conducive to the shooting are dubious at best. Still, to many people, Kelly is now best known as the guy who encouraged supporters to shoot M-16s in the name of defeating a member of Congress who was, several months later, nearly shot to death. Politically, the association is toxic, and Kelly faces a formidable -- maybe impossible -- task in repairing the damage.

Thus, stories about him quietly looking into whether there might soon be a special election for Giffords' seat are particularly damaging for him. Sure, the inquiry his campaign apparently made wasn't actually that unreasonable. There were, after all, reports earlier this week that Arizona state law requires that Giffords' seat be declared vacant if she's incapacitated for more than 90 days. All Kelly may have done is make a discreet inquiry about whether this is true. (It isn't; only the House itself can declare a seat vacant.) But, especially in the wake of the M-16 controversy, it looks terrible for Kelly to be seen making political calculations right now.
Actually, it doesn't look terrible.

It's par for the course for the 'Phants.  It took them about 12 hours to politicize 911, after all.

Love is Tough

A hickey triggered a stroke for a woman in New Zealand.

Luckily, she recovered after a regime with treatment with anti-coagulants.

20 January 2011

<Facepalm>

Cindy Gertz, the US Treasury official responsible for trying to prevent foreclosures, just praised the mortgage servicers for their efforts at preventing forecolsures:
An Obama administration housing official on Wednesday defended mortgage servicing companies, just one day after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the industry needs an overhaul.

Cindy Gertz, director of operations at the Treasury Department's Homeownership Preservation Office, said mortgage servicers--firms which collect loan payments--have hired tens of thousands of extra staff to work with a crush of struggling borrowers who are trying to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages.

"I think tremendous progress has been made," Gertz told a group of bankers at a conference organized by the Mortgage Bankers Association. Gertz, a former executive at mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac, did acknowledge that the process is not complete.
This is kind of like saying that IV drug users who share needles have been helpful in the fights against AIDS.

The only explanation for the fact that a Google News search of the name does not reveal the phrase, "Spending more time with her family," is that this is what her boss, Tim "Eddie Haskell" Geithner, and his boss, Barack Obama, actually believe that loan servicers acting in bad faith are a necessary to protect our banking system.

My Bad……

I've had a busy month, just look at my posting volume, so I missed the first two bank failure Fridays.

There were two bank failures on the 7th, and one on the 14th, and there have been no credit union failures this far

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. First Commercial Bank of Florida, Orlando, FL
  2. Legacy Bank, Scottsdale, AZ
  3. Oglethorpe Bank, Brunswick, GA
Full FDIC list

So, here is the my new, improved graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only).

I've dropped the trend line, and replaced it with two line graphs, for 2010 & 2011, so we can see how they compare.



And since it's early in the year, here is a detail of the first few weeks:



Note that we are seeing a calendar artifact here. The first Friday of 2011 was January 1, when the banks were all closed, and the FDIC would not be closing anyone, while the first Friday of 2011 was the 7th, and so very much a business day for the FDIC.

We should see a better comparison of activity by early February, when trends become more visible.

It's Jobless Thursday

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to 404,000 last week, better than forecast, but still about 25K more than what is needed for the start of a meaningful recovery, and the less volatile 4-week moving average dropped 4,000 to 411,750, with continuing claims dropping 26K to 3.86 million, though the total number of people getting benefits, despite the fact that the "99ers" have run out of benefits, rose by more than 400K to 9.61 million.

In related news, manufacturing employment grew for the first time in more than a decade.

Remember Always that the Cossacks Work for the Czar


Go to the very gifted cartoonist's website for a full size image, and buy some of his stuff
So when a political appointee of Barack Obama's decides to use the King holiday to say that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have supported the never-ending war in Afghanistan, because it is somehow or other a "just war":
Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department’s general counsel, posed that question at today’s Pentagon commemoration of King’s legacy.

In the final year of his life, King became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, Johnson told a packed auditorium. However, he added, today’s wars are not out of line with the iconic Nobel Peace Prize winner’s teachings.

“I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack,” he said.
I understand that Mr. Johnson knew Dr. King, and went to school with his son, but seriously, using Dr. King to pimp the war in Afghanistan is so deeply appalling that it buggers the mind.

It is absolutely ludicrous when juxtaposed with the before and after pictures of Tarok Kolache.

Winning Hearts and Minds…

This is your village

This is your village after the US military "saves it"

Any questions?
Because of activities by the Taliban in Tarok Kolache in Afghanistan, they basically occupied it, the US obliterated it with over 25 tons of munitions, but that's OK, because it's not like the Afghans are people deserving of consideration:
As [Petraeus Hagiographer and all-around toady Paula] Broadwell tells it, the villagers understood that the United States needed to destroy their homes — except when they don’t. One villager “in a fit of theatrics had accused Flynn of ruining his life after the demolition.”

An adviser to Hamid Karzai said that the 1-320th “caused unreasonable damage to homes and orchards and displaced a number of people.” Flynn has held “reconstruction shuras” with the villagers and begun compensating villagers for their property losses, but so far the reconstruction has barely begun, three months after the destruction.

Sure they are pissed about the loss of their mud huts,” Broadwell wrote on Facebook, “but that is why the BUILD story is important here.”
Seriously, they live in mud huts, why should we care what the f%$# they think?

More seriously, this is the endgame of a failed colonial adventure, and I think that anyone with half a brain, including David "I want that 5th Star, Bitches" Petraeus, and Barack Obama, but the general is too interested in his career, and the President is too afraid of the Republicans calling him names, so the insanity continues.

The Vampire Squid Has Conquered Time Itself

As if nearly destroying the world wasn't enough, when Goldman Sachs became a bank holding company, allowing it to get billions in Federal Reserve bailouts, it moved its fiscal year from starting on December 1 to January 1, as regulations required, and then it disappeared the missing month of December, 2008, and loaded the "orphan month" with huge losses as well as huge bonuses to its employees that basically went down the memory hole"
As a result, some great information gets missed, and is that much harder for the rest of us to find. For instance, the main news in the story is this:
Nearly 36 million stock options were granted to employees in December 2008 — 10 times the amount issued the previous year — when the stock was trading at $78.78. Since those uncertain days, Goldman’s business has roared back and its share price has more than doubled, closing on Tuesday at nearly $175.
The story goes on to detail the dates at which the options can be exercised. But there’s much more to be said on this matter. For one thing, the monster option grant took place during Goldman’s notorious orphan month, meaning that it would never appear in an annual report. And for another thing, it was very expensive even at the time.

……

Remember that December 2008, when Goldman made these grants, was the worst month in the company’s history: it lost $1.3 billion, and was mired in the depths of the financial crisis. Yet many partners will have received stock and options awards that month which are worth hefty eight-figure sums today. Not bad for a month’s work.
(emphasis mine)

I cannot see this as anything but a deliberate attempt to loot the company at the expense of the share holders.

Why these ratf%$#s aren't under criminal investigation is beyond me.

Alan Grayson for President in 2012

If you don't believe it now, just wait until Obama tries to sell gutting Social Security and Medicare in his State of the Union speech.

I could be wrong, and if I am, I will issue a correction, but I think that it is clear that embracing right wing talking points is more important to Barack Obama than is good policy, and driving the "first stake through the heart of Social Security" is clearly seen as a big plum by Obama and most of his administration.

We will know one way or the other in 5½ days.

19 January 2011

Obama is a Dick Cheney Wet Dream

Sorry for the mental image, but Dick Cheney is now saying that he likes Obama's policies on war, illegal wiretaps, and torture:
In the early months of Obama's presidency, the American Right did to him what they do to every Democratic politician: they accused him of being soft on defense (specifically "soft on Terror") and leaving the nation weak and vulnerable to attack. But that tactic quickly became untenable as everyone (other than his hardest-core followers) was forced to acknowledge that Obama was embracing and even expanding -- rather than reversing -- the core Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism. As a result, leading right-wing figures began lavishing Obama with praise -- and claiming vindication -- based on Obama's switch from harsh critic of those policies (as a candidate) to their leading advocate (once in power).
So the overbearing security state, in which the President or his designees, can detain you forever without trial and torture you, while tapping all of our phones, is now the new normal, and Cheney and his ilk are ecstatic, because they now know that there will be no prosecutions.

Thanks a lot, Barry.  You must have been the worst constitutional law professor ever.

Bishop John Shelby Spong Is Right…

He asks the question, "Has religion in general and Christianity in particular degenerated to the level that it has become little more than a veil under which anger can be legitimatized?" (See here)

My answer is "yes", and that you could also add bigotry to that list, as evidenced by the Governor of (where else) Alabama, who, while declaring that he was colorblind, said that, "So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister," though to be fair, he Robert Bentley has since apologized, though with the classic, "I'm sorry if I offended anyone," apology, which actually puts the onus on those who object.

There are people who use religion to fulfill a basic spiritual need, but I think that there are a lot more people who find it useful way to feel better than other people.

Why a Carbon Tax is Superior to Cap and Trade

In either case, the consumer pays for it, but a carbon tax can go to things like government programs (Or, if you are of that ilk, per person rebates that favor the less well off), while carbon trading enriches polluters, the Vampire Squids of the world, and people who game the system for personal profit:
The European Commission suspended trading in greenhouse gas emissions permits on Wednesday for at least a week after the theft of permits worth millions of euros via online attacks.

The Emissions Trading System was a target of “recurring security breaches” over the last two months, the commission, the executive agency of the European Union, announced on its Web site Wednesday.

The commission said it needed to shut the system down until at least Jan. 26 because “incidents over the last weeks have underlined the urgent need” for enhanced security measures.

The attacks raised new questions about the viability of Europe’s main tool to combat a rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The stolen permits are part of Europe’s effort to cap the amount of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, that companies may emit each year. Europe’s system is the world’s largest market for greenhouse gas emissions credits.
The only advantage to carbon trading is that it gives politicians the ability to give another revenue stream to their classmates from Ivy League/Oxbridge/Sorbonne/Etc. who work in investment banks.

It's a giveaway to the investment banker, and an invitation to fraud, the case of hydroelectric plants in China without transmission lines to accumulate credits being just one such example.

Don't Let the Door Hit Your Ass on the Way Out, Joey

Joe Lieberman makes his retirement official:
Referring to Mr. Lieberman’s plan to forgo re-election, Bill Curry, a prominent Democrat who served with Mr. Lieberman in the State Senate, said, “It’s the first thing he’s done in 10 years to make Connecticut Democrats completely happy.”
I don't really have much to add to this, except for the fact that Ezra Klein has clearly been assimilated by the Beltway Borg, and has become yet another thought free spewer of conventional DC wisdom, since he is wondering if Joe Lieberman is some sort of Democratic Hero:
That [Obama's disgraceful lobbying on behalf of Lieberman to keep his seat and seniority] kept Lieberman in the fold, and after Arlen Specter switched parties and Al Franken won his election, gave Democrats the 60 votes they needed to break a Republican filibuster against health-care reform. Lieberman's behavior during the debate was often erratic and seemingly unprincipled. Among other things, he skipped the meetings where Democrats were trying to work out a compromise on the public option, and then he killed the Medicare buy-in proposal they'd developed -- despite endorsing that exact proposal months before. In doing so, he doomed a great piece of policy, and by doing it at the last minute, endangered the rest of the bill, too. But the reality is that the legislation simply wouldn't have passed without his vote. And after extracting his pound of flesh, he voted "aye."
This ignores the fact that the Democrats really had 60 votes for only a few weeks, because Ted Kennedy was busy dying, and the displays of narcissism, petulance, self importance, and wounded pride that made Lieberman determined to inflict as much damage as possible while keeping his committee chairmanship.

If Lieberman could have found a way to vote "No", and keep his position, he would have, because he was all about petty vengeance.

3 Minutes of Anthony Weiner

He gives a "half time update" of the Republican repeal efforts.

You can tell that he once roomed with Jon Stewart, and he is now on my list of, "People I Do Not Want to Piss Off".

Domestic Terrorism in Spokane

I'm not sure why the press isn't covering this, but someone planted a relatively sophisticated road-side bomb along the route of the Spokane Martin Luther King Day parade:
A backpack found along the route of the Martin Luther King Jr. march in Spokane contained a bomb "capable of inflicting multiple casualties," the FBI said Tuesday, describing the case as "domestic terrorism."

The FBI said the Swiss Army-brand backpack was found about 9:25 a.m. PST on Monday on a bench at the northeast corner of North Washington Street and West Main Avenue in downtown Spokane.

In an interview on msnbc cable's "The Rachel Maddow Show," Spokesman-Review reporter Thomas Clouse said confidential sources told him that the device was equipped with a remote control detonator and contained shrapnel.
There are two things that are very concerning here:
  • The FBI is being very loquacious about this, and I don't mean, "FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people responsible for placing the device." Considering how legendary the FBI is about keeping its cards close to its chest, this implies that they are very spooked by this.
  • Spokane is smack dab in the middle of any number of any number of white supremacist encampments, and has already seen Aryan Nation inspired bombings and robberies.
I think that the FBI has some intel indicating that more than one person has some sort of ongoing plans for a series of actions.

What is odd here is that Maddow seems to be the only national media figure who is paying any attention.

18 January 2011

What the F$#@ is Wrong With Barry?

He just penned an OP/ED in the Wall Street Journal, saying that the big problem in our economy is too much regulation:
From child labor laws to the Clean Air Act to our most recent strictures against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, we have, from time to time, embraced common sense rules of the road that strengthen our country without unduly interfering with the pursuit of progress and the growth of our economy.

Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business—burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs. At other times, we have failed to meet our basic responsibility to protect the public interest, leading to disastrous consequences. Such was the case in the run-up to the financial crisis from which we are still recovering. There, a lack of proper oversight and transparency nearly led to the collapse of the financial markets and a full-scale Depression.
Well, at least he is not talking about repealing the Clean Air Act or child labor laws, Yet,, but when juxtaposed with his executive order calling for our regulations to become even more friendly to companies that rob us and pollute our environment. (full text after break)

I guess we had better be the change that we are looking for, because Barack H. Obama is way too interested in sucking up to the people who wrecked this country, like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

I am not looking forward to his State of the Union Address, because you can be sure that he will have some sort of initiative that further betray the people who voted for him.

All I Want for Christmas*

Is for the rumors to be true, and for that ratf%$# Joe Lieberman not to seek reelection in 2012 to be true:
Amid growing speculation that he will not seek re-election in 2012, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman's office said Tuesday afternoon that the Democrat-turned-independent will announce his intentions in Stamford Wednesday.

"You can bet the farm" that Lieberman won't seek a fifth term in 2012, said a Democratic insider who is close to the 22-year Senate veteran. But neither Lieberman nor his Senate office would confirm that.
Please, oh please let this be true.

*OK, I don't do Christmas, I am a Jew, and I have no intention of having my circumcision reversed. It's a metaphor, dammit!

Un-Dirty-Word-Believable



The roof is on fire…
Have you heard the one about the guy who passed the bar exam in Ohio, but was denied his law license on moral grounds because he had accumulated too much debt going to law school?

Yeah, well, it ain't funny:
Wow. Guy goes to law school, guy racks up a huge amount of debt, guy has no idea how he’ll pay off his debts. Sound familiar? Okay, here’s the twist: the guy failed the “character and fitness” component of the Ohio bar because he has no plan to pay off his loans.

What the hell kind of legal education system are we running where we charge people more than they can afford to get a legal education, and then prevent them from being lawyers because they can’t pay off their debts?

Because it’s not like Hassan Jonathan Griffin was in a particularly unique situation when he went before the Ohio bar. A year and a half ago, we wrote about a man who was dinged on his character and fitness review because he was $400,000 in debt. That’s an extraordinary case. Hassan Jonathan Griffin owes around $170,000. He has a part-time job as a public defender. He used to be a stockbroker. He’s got as much a chance of figuring out a way to pay off his loans as most people from the Lost Generation.
The more that we make getting out of a hole impossible for ordinary Americans, the more we make a hollow country that will one day implode.

If this is what America is, then we need to examine what we are, because this is the sort of sh%$ makes me want to play Nero, and fiddle while the whole corrupt place burns.

Running the Numbers

So, some of you might be wondering why we all went on an extended weekend down to Williamsburg, Virginia, despite the fact that it's the off season, and so many of the attractions (see the aforementioned Busch Gardens post) are closed.

Well, about a month ago, we went to computer show, and picked up a new (used) laptop for my daughter, and my wife filled out an entry form, and we got a call for a timeshare (they call it a vacation share) in the area which included their giving us space in one of their vacation condos for 3 days.

We talked about it, and we decided that this would be a lot of fun, and listening to a sales pitch would be well worth it.

We declined their offers, which by the way got sweeter and sweeter as time went on, pleading poverty, which is only half true.

The other half is that I can do basic math in my head, I are a mechanical engineer after all, and their numbers were simply not that good.

Basically, the spaces were set up as townhouses, with two apartments, each being a 2 bedroom with a decent kitchen and living space, nice bedrooms, and a kickass master bathroom, it included a jacuzzi, a separate shower, and a toilet in its own separate room.

The basic offer was around 10 grand, with a down payment of 2-4K with a 6-8 year loan at 7 percent, and around a $500 a year maintenance fee.

All this for a complex that was about 5 miles away from the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area.

They talk about this, and show how, for decent, and honestly not as good, hotel space, you would be spending $30K over the next 30 years for lodging, and then discuss how this is a prime location that could be swapped for other space.

Well, ignoring opportunity costs, the economic fact that dollars spent today are worth more than dollars spent later, let's look at the numbers.

You get 2 weeks a year, either fixed (the cheap option I describe above), or floating, so you are paying for 2 weeks out of 52.

Let's be charitable, and say that you are paying for 125of a year, or ½ a month.

This makes purchase price around $250,000.00 (10+K x 25) and the maintenance fee equivalent to about $1000.00 a month.

Note that this is all in the suburban areas of Williamsburg, where nice houses are well under the price that they asked (annualized) if you are more than 5 blocks from historical area/William and Mary College, and then you have a $1000/month rent maintenance fee.

When you consider the fact that the developer did this on what had been soybean fields at some point in the past 3 or so years, it's certainly a good deal for them.

Obviously for certain people, those who are certain that they will hit the area year after year, and who might want to swap a week with someone in some other location, it might make sense, but for most of us, this is simply not a sensible financial or lifestyle decision.

As for me, I want to vacation in different places, or to visit with family, which makes it even less attractive to me.

Still, I don't mind the 2 or so hours that I spent on the sales pitch, along with having to say "no" to the very earnest sales person, it was worth it for the rest of the weekend, which was a lot of fun.

16 January 2011

Things That Make Me Sad

Not only was Michael Steele, AKA the Republican malaprop machine, defeated in his quest for a 2nd term as head of the RNC, but his replacement is former Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus, whose name is a pain for me to spell.

It's Morgan Tsvangerai all over again.

I am aware that this sounds shallow, but I don't see Republicans good for much beyond my taking snarky shots at.

Bummer

Busch Gardens is not open yet, so it's shopping and Laser Tag for the kids.

15 January 2011

Went to Colonial Williamsburg Today

Click for full size


This was a posed shot, but it is rather more true than I would like to think.











The House of Burgesses







The black smith shop







Halberds in the Armory, I thought that they would be pre 1700s, but it appears that I was wrong










So, we went to colonial Williamsburg today.

Even my studiously blase teen (13) daughter enjoyed herself, though she was on her mobile constantly updating her Facebook page.

A good time was had by all.

We are hoping to hit Busch Gardens tomorrow before heading home.

14 January 2011

13 January 2011

Posting from the Road Again

My wife is taking her turn driving on a trip down to Williamsburg for the weekend.

When all is said and done, if you had told me that I would be surfing the net and blogging while on I-95, I would have said that you were completely insane.

The Grauniad* Lambastes Wikileaks for What the Grauniad* Published

Glenn Greenwald details just how ridiculous the ongoing feud between The Guardian and Julian Assange has become, with the paper the paper accusing Assange of endangering lives because of cables that were released by The Guardian itself:
Last week, on January 3, The Guardian published a scathing Op-Ed by James Richardson blaming WikiLeaks for endangering the life of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the democratic opposition in Zimbabwe.  Richardson -- a GOP operative, contributor to RedState.com, and a for-hire corporate spokesman -- pointed to a cable published by WikiLeaks in which American diplomats revealed that Tsvangirai, while publicly opposing American sanctions on his country, had privately urged their continuation as a means of weakening the Mugabe regime:  an act likely to be deemed to be treasonous in that country, for obvious reasons.  By publishing this cable, "WikiLeaks may have committed its own collateral murder," Richardson wrote.  He added:  "WikiLeaks ought to leave international relations to those who understand it – at least to those who understand the value of a life."

This accusation against WikiLeaks was repeated far and wide.  In The Wall Street Journal, Jamie Kirchick -- the long-time assistant of The New Republic's Marty Peretz -- wrote under this headline:  "Julian Assange's reckless behavior could cost Zimbabwe's leading democrat his life."  Kirchick explained that "the crusading 'anti-secrecy' website released a diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Harare" which exposed Tsvangirai's support for sanctions.  As "a result of the WikiLeaks revelations," Kirchick wrote, the reform leader would likely be charged with treason, and "Mr. Tsvangirai will have someone additional to blame: Julian Assange of WikiLeaks."  The Atlantic's Chris Albon, in his piece entitled "How WikiLeaks Just Set Back Democracy in Zimbabwe," echoed the same accusation, claiming "WikiLeaks released [this cable] to the world" and that Assange has thus "provided a tyrant with the ammunition to wound, and perhaps kill, any chance for multiparty democracy."  Numerous other outlets predictably mimicked these claims.

There was just one small problem with all of this:  it was totally false.  It wasn't WikiLeaks which chose that cable to be placed into the public domain, nor was it WikiLeaks which first published it.  It was The Guardian that did that.  In early December, that newspaper -- not WikiLeaks -- selected and then published the cable in question.  This fact led The Guardian -- more than a full week after they published Richardson's accusatory column -- to sheepishly add this obscured though extremely embarrassing "clarification" at the end of his column:
• This article was amended on 11 January 2011 to clarify the fact that the 2009 cable referred to in this article was placed in the public domain by the Guardian, and not as originally implied by WikiLeaks. The photo caption was also amended to reflect this fact.
(emphasis original)

While I find The Guardian to be a top flight paper, this is inexcusable.

I get the impression that Assange is a bit of a jerk, and hard to deal with, but that does not excuse this crap.

*According to the Wiki, The Guardian, formerly the Manchester Guardian in the UK. It's nicknamed the Grauniad because of its penchant for typographical errors, "The nickname The Grauniad for the paper originated with the satirical magazine Private Eye. It came about because of its reputation for frequent and sometimes unintentionally amusing typographical errors, hence the popular myth that the paper once misspelled its own name on the page one masthead as The Gaurdian, though many recall the more inventive The Grauniad."

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12 January 2011

It's Because He's Black…


No, it's not because he supported McCain in the primaries
No, not Barack Obama, but rather Arizona legislative district 20 Republican Party chairman Anthony Miller, who has been harassed by the teabeggers and has resigned:
A nasty battle between factions of Legislative District 20 Republicans and fears that it could turn violent in the wake of what happened in Tucson on Saturday prompted District Chairman Anthony Miller and several others to resign.

Miller, a 43-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills resident and former campaign worker for U.S. Sen. John McCain, was re-elected to a second one-year term last month. He said
constant verbal attacks after that election and Internet blog posts by some local members with Tea Party ties made him worry about his family's safety.
People are not upset at him because he supported McCain, who, after all demolished J.D. Hayworth in the primary, so he had broad based support from the party.

The problem here is that the Teabaggers think that his skin color clashes with the Arizona Republican Party, though they probably use a 2 word phrase beginning with "uppity".

Vos? Sarah Palin iz a Yid*

When juxtaposed with the phrase, "Don't retreat, reload," this is an unfortunate turn of phrase
So Sarah Palin is now claiming that criticism of her "target map" and her shooting inspired rhetoric is blood libel:
"Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions," Palin wrote in an early morning post on her Facebook account on Wednesday. "But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible."
(emphasis mine)

<Facepalm>

For those of you unfamiliar with Jewish history, the blood libel is the accusation that Jews use Christian baby's blood to bake their matzohs for Passover.

This fraud was the cause of the deaths of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Jews over the past 200 years.

Needless to say, the idea that anyone who isn't Jewish would use the term for something as meaningless as  criticism over their rhetoric is offensive, ahistorical, narcissistic, and just plain wrong, particularly for someone who is not Jewish.

The level of venality for a non-Jew to use this to condemn people for saying mean things about her simply boggles the mind.  I cannot imagine anyone being so self-centered and inconsiderate to do this, so Sarah Palin must be Jewish.

The response to this has been actually been fairly universal.

Months ago, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, The View's resident right winger, called the map despicable months ago.

Additionally, former Bush speech writer turned conservative apostate David Frum, has called her out for unleashing her attack dogs, while National Review nepotism hire Jonah Goldberg, calls the use of the phrase stupid in so many words., and trust me, Jonah Goldberg knows stupid like few others.

Additionally, Jewish Groups, including the ADL, which normally spends it time sucking up to ignorant bigots have condemned the use of the phrase.

Pat Buchanan, though, was true to form, saying that he, "thought it was an excellent statement".

For what it's worth, Joan Walsh's assessment of the statement, that Palin has fatally wounded her Presidential chances, is, I think, completely wrong.

Her analysis misses a basic Republican imperative, to piss off liberals and Democrats any chance they get. Really, when you look at GOP frat boy behavior, it's clear that much of what they do is driven by this petty need.

By pissing off liberals with the "blood libel" comment, she cements her relationship with the movement conservatives and teabaggers, and pissing off Jews, who constitute a minuscule part of the party, is just gravy, because it shows the Talibaptist wing of the Republican party that she is one of them.

That being said, I would still argue that the simplest hypothesis is the one most likely the correct one, and that would be that she is a person suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

*My best effort at translating "What? Sarah Palin is a Jew?" into transliterated English.
I'm not asking for evidence of Todd's circumcision, thankyouverymuch!