29 September 2008

Off for 2 Days

Rosh Hashanah, so I will be in Shul.

Back on Wednesday evening, so please, do nothing newsworthy until then.

Yea, like that's going to happen after the bailout imploded....This may be the most eventful news days of the decade.

Oh My God Economics Update

I normally don't note stock market swings, but 778 points after House 'Phants kill the Paulson bailout bill?

Surprisingly, the dollar is up and oil is down.

Money with half a brain should be fleeing in the other direction, but it appears that European banks are in real trouble too, because their governments are bailing a bunch of them out.

Not that US banks are doing much better, with Citi getting the bits of Wachovia for magic beans.

So not both the US Federal Reserve and various foreign central banks are shoveling money out the door.

Meanwhile, Iceland did what Paulson should have, when it nationalized the Glitnir bank, as has the UK, which has nationalized mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley.

How to Understand the Economic Crisis

These guys are comedians, but they do a better job of explaining this than journalists and economists.

28 September 2008

Obituary: Paul Newman

My mom's favorite actor, she could never say Long Hot Summer, with Paul Newman, without saying, "Yum!"

He is also at the center of my story about how someone can be too concerned about politics.

My Mom's 1st Cousin, Joy, (does that make her my 2nd cousin, or my 1st cousin once removed?) was and is involved in the Washington DC scene, and at one large event, was asked to point out someone in the crowd.

She said, "See the tall handsome man with the striking blue eyes, she is standing to his left."

The person then replied, "So, she's standing next to Paul Newman?"

My mom teased Joy about that one.

More Tanker Mishugas

First, it appears that Northrop-Grumman is entitled to an as yet undetermined cancellation fee, which is yet another reason to think that the entire tanker process is completely fracked.

But here is the kicker, Northrop Grumman's bid was $2.9 billion cheaper:
John Young, the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said in an interview at the Pentagon yesterday that under the tanker proposal from Northrop Grumman and its partner European Aeronautic Defence & Space, developing the first 68 aircraft would have cost $12.5 billion, compared with $15.4 billion under Boeing's plan.
So, the tanker version of the A330 had longer range, greater fuel offload capability, the ability to tank and carry cargo, and it was $2.9 billion cheaper.

Let's also note that it was already flying, as Australia's A330 MRTT, as versus Boeing's proposal, an as yet unconstructed model with, "767-200 airframe; over-wing exits from the -300; floors, doors and structurally enhanced wings from the -300F; a cockpit, and the tail section and flaps from the -400ER".


OK, Me Bad. Maybe the Navy DOES Care About Piracy

At least when it involves a ship carrying $30 million worth of, "grenade launchers, piles of ammunition, even battle tanks."

Looks like the Russians are pursuing the pirates too, in the spirit of international cooperation...or maybe just because it was their schwag that got taken.
But according to diplomats and the Russian Interfax news agency, the cargo was 33 T-72 refurbished tanks, "quite a significant amount of ammunition" and grenade launchers. The supplier was a state-owned Ukrainian company. Ukrainian and Kenyan officials emphasized that the arms deal was perfectly legal.
To be fair, three of the crewman were Russian, and I'm sure that the Russians were offended...After all, no one gets to steal and threaten the citizens and businesses of their former republics but them.

27 September 2008

JSF Program Managers Get Stroppy

It appears that in some computer simulations of the JSF versus late model SU-35 fighters, the F-35 got clubbed like baby seals.

All in all, this is not particularly surprising. It's a redux of the F-105 (Lead Sled) vs. the MiG-21 of the Vietnam era.

The MiG-35 has a better power to weight ratio, wing loading, and air to air weapons load out, the F-35 carruing only 2 AMRAAMs because the USAF doesn't want a comparison with the F-22, a white elephant that they are still lobbying for.

Needless to say, the Airforce brass is thoroughly unamused by these reports, and they are mounting a PR counteroffensive, including claims that the simulation was an apples to oranges comparison, because the F-35 was carrying all of its weapons internally.

Dude, you carry the stuff on pylons, and you lose stealth. If you lose stealth, you will be clubbed like a baby seal, it's the only advantage that the F-35 has.

My favorite bit of this counter-offensive is this patently absurd claim:
"Advanced stealth and sensor fusion allow the F-35 pilot to see, target and destroy the adversary and strategic targets in a very high surface-to-air threat scenario, and deal with air threats intent on denying access -- all before the F-35 is ever detected -- then return safely to do it again," said Tom Burbage, a Lockheed Martin vice president.
Considering that he is presenting what is called a "flaming datum", so named because a ship burning or sinking was how U-Boats, an early form of stealth vehicle, were determined to be in the area, and then suggesting that he can return to the area and make another attack, is absurd.

Something like 50% of all sub sinkings followed a flaming datum.

In any case, it appears that as part of planning for the dual role missile, A2A weapons carriage will be improved (paid subscription required):
The U.S. Air Force and Navy have begun talks to define the Joint Dual-Role Air Dominance Missile (JDRADM) intended to replace both air-to-air AIM-120 Amraam and anti-radar AGM-88 Harm beyond 2020 and allow the F-35 to defend itself against both opposing fighters and air defenses.


Separately, studies into “super-packing” the JSF’s bays to increase the number of weapons carried have come up with a way of loading six Amraam-sized missiles internally, according to the program office. This could be an option for later F-35 capability blocks.
So my guess is that the boyz in blue have seen the same simulations, and are looking to rectify the problem.

Turkey Buys Russian Anti-Tank Missiles

Considering the historical emnity between the two nations, I'm surprised that Turkey bought 80 80 Kornet E (NATO designation: AT-14) laser-guided anti-tank missile systems.

From all I've read though, it's a good system, and being Russian, probably pretty cheap, but I'm still stunned at the Turks buying from the Russians.

Just so You Know that the USAF Does Not Have the Monopoly in the ,"We're To Busy to Do Our Damn Job," Category...

The US Navy, specifically the 5th fleet, is now saying that the piracy off the coast of Somolia is not their job.

Would someone remind them just why the US Navy was built in the first place? Something about Barbary Pirates, IICR.

Updated PAC-3 Looking at 2009 Test

It looks like Lockheed-Martin Missiles and Fire Control* and the Missile Defense Agency are looking at testing an upgrade to the PAC-3 Patriot SAM in 2009. (paid subscription required)

It looks like the sensor for the hit-to-kill weapon will be much the same as its predecessor, but that range will be doubled and effective altitude increased by a larger diameter motor with a two pulse motor, giving generally improved kinematics.

To do this, they will put the missile in a PAC-2 cannister, the PAC-3 fits 4 missiles in the space of a PAC-2 now, and use folding fins for greater volumetric efficiency, and LM is hopingto be competitive in naval applications too.

*Full Disclosure, in 1999-2000 and 1996-1998, I worked as a mechanical engineer for what is now Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, and I have some claim to actually being a rocket scientist.
Yes, I have worked everywhere. Maybe I can't hold down a job, but more likely this has been my role as "technical hit man", where you are parachuted in to take care of a specific need.

Next Man Makes a Move, and the N*gg*r Gets It

If you've ever seen Blazing Saddles,* you remember the scene where Cleavon Little, realizing that the citizens of Rick Ridge are about to lynch him, holds a gun to his own neck, and then holds himself hostage until he can extricate himself from the situation.

Well, it appears that EADS, parent company of Airbus has watched Blazing Saddles many, many times, because this is the stratagem that they are using to deal with the penalty clauses in their contracts for late delivery:
Aerospace giant EADS has threatened to freeze production of its Airbus subsidiary's flagship military airlifter if clients do not drop penalty clauses for late delivery, a German news report said Sept. 20.
The A400M airlifter. (EADS)

Der Spiegel weekly, trailing its Sept. 22 publication, cited a letter sent by Louis Gallois, the French chief executive of both companies, to the governments of seven countries who have ordered the A400M plane.

*If you've never seen Blazing Saddles, you need to rent it and watch it today.

Yeah, Right, We Believe You

So, after what seems like 40 gazillion protests, contractor and congressional dick swinging, and a cloud over the whole program, the USAF hopes to complete the process for selecting a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) helicopter by years end, and to award a contract.

Let's just say that I'm highly dubious of this.

How the USAF is Handling Shortage of UAV Pilots

Don't be drinking anything when you watch this...Seriously.

F-35B Opens Doors in Flight

So, they've finally gotten the doos open of the vertical lift system open in flight, hopefully this means a full STOVL flight in the next few weeks, though these wheels seem to be grinding awfully slowly.

To my mind, it is the F-35B, with it's STOVL capabilities, that is really the only variant that brings anything particularly necessary to the table.

It's clear that for a number of reasons, the Harriers in service really do need to be replaced.

DCNS Adds Littoral Submarine to Portfolia

The Adastra appears to be largely derived from the larger, deeper diving, and longer ranged Scorpene, there us 70% commonality, but in a package better suited to countries that do not have to deploy over long distances or deploy much past the continental shelf.

Because the USAF Has WAY too Much Free Time

Well, we now know just how seriously the USAF takes Iraq and Afghanistan, because they just rolled out new dress uniforms.

The uniforms are inspired by those of General "Hap" Arnold.

To be fair, the current leader of the USAF, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, inherited this matter, his predecessor was the one who pushed the new dress blues, which may explain why he got his ass fired.

Price tag: $125 million. Complete confirmation that the making USAF an independent was a total mistake: Priceless.

26 September 2008

Friday Night WTF is That!?!? Blogging

Economics Update

With upwards of 70% of the US Economy being consumer spending driven, it's not good news that the final for consumer confidence missed expectations, 70.3, as opposed to the forecast 71.0, but it does reflect the fact that the final number for economic growth in the 2nd quarter was revised downward.

The fact that August new home sales are the lowest since 1982, which was not a great year for the economy either, points to the fact that the economy sucks in the real world too.

Of course, while all this is going on, Congress is still fighting over bailing out Wall Street, which has lead to a muddled picture for the dollar.

That beins said, it's clear that the energy markets are banking on a recession with both oil and retail gasoline heading lower.

All this uncertainty is why 30 year mortgage rates exploded this week, going from 5.78% last week, to 6.09% this week.

31 basis points in a week....Ouch.

FWIW, the central banks are shoveling cash out the door, which will eventually start devaluing the currency (inflation).

Presented For Your Approval

I would take a bullet for either of them....OK....Not a bullet....but a REALLY big creme pie.

Jimmy Carter John Sidney McCain III Abandons Rose Garden Strategy Campaign Suspension

Heard on the radio. He will be at the debates, and this is so much like Jimmy Carter's adopting, and then abandoning, his Rose Garden strategy against Teddy Kennedy in 1980, it's not funny.

Jewish Extremists Suspected in Attack on Israeli Peace Activist

Ummmm....Folks, this is so not Tikkun Olam.

I hope whoever did this gets caught and prosecuted to the full extant of the law.....And hung from a flag poll by their eye lids.

Must Read on History of Ratings and How they Destroyed Wall Street

Part I and Part II.

Short form: Each time one of the agencies found a new way to call a pile of manure a pony, another organization found an even more extreme way to do so, so as to ensure that they would not lose customers.

A race to the bottom that was inherent in the system.

Another Taser Death

This one is from egregious misuse. Cops tasered a disoriented naked man on a fire escape, and he fell to his death.

He was not a threat to himself or others, and him falling off the fire escape and being seriously injured or killed was foreseeable, so someone should be up on manslaughter charges, because this is clearly a callous disregard for human life.

Gitmo Prosecutor Quits Over Lack of Due Process

Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld has quit as prosecutor, claiming that, potential exculpatory evidence has not been provided to the defense in the case of a teenager accused of throwing a grenade at US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Good for him, though the fact that he has refused to testify without immunity indicates that this is worse than just ignoring a bit of evidence.

A Rather Disquieting Headline

US to Lose Financial Superpower Status

It's just a statement by German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck, but he is saying what a lot of people have been feeling for a few weeks or months now, that the US-British "Anglo-Saxon" model of capitalism is broken and corrupt.

When You F*#@ Up a Trial THIS Badly.....

When you look at the trial of Saddam Hussein, you have to start with one fact: He was as guilty as hell. He was so guilty of brutality, genocide, and other crimes against humanity, that it would have been impossible not to get him on something.

But still, the Western lawyers who attempted to create a fair trial say that the trial was neither free nor fair.

When someone is this guilty, why on earth does the Iraqi government feel the need to cheat....Why does the US sponsored Iraqi government feel the need to cheat....Why does the Bush and His Evil Minions&trade Iraqi government feel the need to cheat...And deliver a verdict just days before the 2006 mid terms elections.

Never mind, question answered.

To Be Placed in the Hold for Future War Crimes Trials File

Newly released documents make it clear that members of the Bush administration held specific discussion to specifically authorize torture by the CIA, and Condoleeza Rice has admitted to this in a written statement to the Senate.

I do not believe that we will be able to hold a fair trial in the US, so send them to the Hague, even though the death penalty is off the table there.

Palin Took Blessing From Witch Hunter After He Unleashed Anti-Semitic Screed

I can't believe that I'm quoting aAndrew Sullivan, but he has the video, where he makes this comment at about 1:10:
The second area whereby God wants us, wants to penetrate in our society is in the economic area. The Bible says that the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous. It's high time that we have top Christian businessmen, businesswomen, bankers, you know, who are men and women of integrity running the economics of our nations. That's what we are waiting for. That's part and parcel of transformation. If you look at the -- you know -- if you look at the Israelites, that's how they work. And that's how they are, even today."
(emphasis mine)

And at 7:20 Sarah Palin walks up to stage to accept a blessing from him.

She wasn't just in the audience, she walks up and accepts his blessing after an anti-Semitic screed.

I agree with Andrew Sullivan, when he says, with no small amount of snark, "Sure they vetted her."

Iraq Passes Provincial Election Law

It still has to pass the presidential council, which vetoed the prior version, but this seems reasonably likely.

A good, easily understood analysis of this law, and the handling of the Kirkuk issue (they basically kick the can down the road) can be found at Abu Aardvark.

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Matthew Yglesias asks:
Is there any chance that George W. Bush appearing on television could do anything other than deepen people’s sense of panic?

This has been another episode of simple answers to simple questions

Free Sarah Palin

Campbell Brown lets the McCain Campaign have it with their sexist treatment of Sarah Palin:


Clueless on the DPRK

It's amazing how bloody clueless both Bush and His Evil Minions and the press covering this don't get it, as typified by the hed, "U.S. Bewildered Over N. Korea Nuclear Defiance."

It's very simple. While the folks in North Korea are not particularly trustworthy, there has been a consistent pattern where they have taken steps they have agreed to, and the US has refused to make the steps that it has agreed to.

You could pull the DPRK off the list of "terrorist sponsoring states" in 15 minutes, and you could put them back in 15 minutes, but the brainless trust headed by Cheney and Rice won't do anything ever, because keeping our side of the bargain is to their minds capitulation.

The North Koreans are restarting their Yongbyon nuclear power plant because they have absolutely no faith in the word of the United States to keep the deal.

God Bless The Onion


Gov. Palin Has No Experience


Please Keep Your Voice Down, My Poor Retarded Child Is Sleeping

The Bailout in Clearer Terms

House of Representatives Passed New Credit Card Regulations

It's some fairly minor stuff, but it's a start, though I doubt that it will make it past the Senate, though considering that the distinguished gentleman from MBNA Delaware is otherwise occupied, it's possible.

Basic provisions:
  • requires a notice period for interest rate increases
  • prohibits interest charges on balances paid during grace periods
  • bars issuers from applying payments first to lower-interest debt while debt carrying a higher interest rate remains unpaid.

The Seeds of the Next Crash Have Just Been Sown

The Federal Reserve just eased regulations on minority ownership of banks, raising the percentage of stock ownership allowed to be raised without requiring registration as a bank holding company"
Key changes in the guidelines include allowing an investor to buy up to a 15 percent voting stake instead of the previous 9.9 percent limit. Investors can also buy up to 33 percent total equity interest, including voting and non-voting shares, instead of the 25 percent prior limit.
Allowing greater ownership before regulation, reminiscent of the S&L crisis, when many of these institutions were purchased by developers, who then lent to themselves at unrealistically attractive rates.

Of course, these days, it won't be real estate developers, but private equity firms who can use this to exert influence over banks for capital.

Case in point, the founder of private-equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co., surprisingly enough a guy named J. Christopher Flowers, is buying the First National Bank of Cainesville in Missouri.

Not enough bullets.

H/T Calculated Risk.

Rick Davis Was Getting Freddie Mac Money Until Last Month

John Sidney McCain III's campaign manager's firm was getting $15,000 a month until the government took them over.

Note that Davis is still on the board of Davis & Manafort, and two sources in the story that the money was specifically in order to maintain access to John McCain.

McCain claims to have learned from his Keating 5 experience, but now it appears that he could swim in a sea of knowledge, and emerge completely dry.

Nouriel Roubini Produces Another Must Read

The unraveling of the Shadow Banking System moves to hedge funds as Schmalpha replaces Alpha

Go read.

What Do You Call This?

The punch line is the same as for the joke that starts, "What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?" (Answer at bottom of post)

The head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, Lalit Kishore Choudhary, was beaten to death by employees he had sacked.

I have said on a number of occasions that if you want to go postal, go after upper management first, and it seems that these employees were of a like mind.

The quotes regarding this, show just how callous people are:
A spokesman for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said: “Such a heinous act is bound to sully India’s image among overseas investors.”
That is an unbelievably cold statement. Some dude got beaten to death, and the only comment is, "It's bad for business."

Of course, being the Times of London, they are wringing their hands over this, and note the violence at the location selected by Tata for a factory to manufacture its ultra cheap Nano, but refuse to mention the fact that the land in question was stolen from the peasant farmers who had worked it for hundreds of years.

Meanwhile India's Labor Minister has apologized for saying that the murder of Choudhary should, "serve as a warning" to managers to treat workers compassionately."

He was right the first time.

If you want to read a more full throated, and more eloquent endorsement of actions that might make senior executives think twice, you need to go no further than Exiled Online
Live by heartless officialese, die by heartless officialese plus a hammer upside the skull. Nothing could be fairer than that. Proceed with the mob beatifications as soon as we get their names. And somebody find that f@#$-you-Mr.-Cheney guy’s name too while you’re at it. Something about the politeness of the “Mr.” right after the “f@#$ you” really enchants us. This is a guy who understands the importance of human dignity. No doubt, with a little encouragement, he could put together a nice mob.
Damn good writing, and you should read the rest right now.

In conclusion, the philosophical foundation driving our current system is that the "entrepreneurial class" should be able to operate without any external limits on their behavior, and that they should operate without conscience or empathy, and this is a psychotic world view.

As to the riddle at the beginning of the page? The answer, of course, is "A Good Start."

Krugman Calls Paulson a Liar

Flat out, and he uses the "L" word, he quotes David Davies, and notes that "Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance.":
So, this morning Hank Paulson told a whopper:
We gave you a simple, three-page legislative outline and I thought it would have been presumptuous for us on that outline to come up with an oversight mechanism. That’s the role of Congress, that’s something we’re going to work on together. So if any of you felt that I didn’t believe that we needed oversight: I believe we need oversight. We need oversight.
What the proposal actually did, of course, was explicitly rule out any oversight, plus grant immunity from future review:
Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
He's right too. Paulson wants no oversight as he bails out his buddies.

Overpaying for Assets is Key to Paulson Plan

That's what all of the gobbledy gook that Bernanke and Paulson were spouting before Congress about the value if "held to maturity".

Basically, they are saying to use mark to model, instead of mark to market, and mark to model is what got us into this mess in the first place, see here and here.

25 September 2008

FDIC Seizes Washington Mutual

J.P. Morgan Chase bought the assets for $1.9 billion.

To clarify, the "purchase" is not a purchase accounts, those still belong to the account holders. The purchase is of the banking operations, J.P. Morgan now manages the accounts, the banks, etc.

Economics Update

More signs of a recession, durable orders just dropped 4.5%, initial jobless rose by 32,000, to a 7 year high, and existing home sales fell by 2.2% in August.

Meanwhile, the dollar has fallen, largely on concerns about the bailout deal.

Meanwhile, banks are borrowing in excess of $110 billion a day, 39.36 billion from commercial banks, and $88.15 billion from investment banks.

He Came, He Saw, He Queered the Deal

Silly me. I figured that McCain's "suspension" of his campaign was a completely empty gesture which would contribute nothing to any bailout deal.

I was wrong. John Sidney McCain III's high profile involvement, and the White House meeting that his his campaign engineered, just had a deal blow up, because John McCain allied with conservative Republicans in the house to propose yet another tax cut.

About the only good things to come out of his involvement are a couple of bon mots from Democrats, the first from Christopher Dodd, who said that the entire affair sounded more like, "a rescue plan for John McCain than one for the financial system," and the other from Barney Frank, "Senator McCain has said he had to interrupt his campaign and couldn’t do a debate because he had to come here to help us. God save us from such help. But in any case, there is no sign whatsoever that Senator McCain’s got any real role here, so he certainly ought to feel free to go back and debate."

In the mean time, Boehner aHis Evil Minions&trade make it clear that this is just another exercise in dick swinging for purely partisan gains.

Lovely fellows, I'm glad that I have a daughter, so that I can forbid her to marry them.

Senator Bernie Sanders Calls Larry Kudlow a Socialist

Considering the fact that Bernie Sanders is actually a card carrying socialist, just called Larry Kudlow a socialist:
Larry, if I ask you that the government should intervene like every other industrialized country does and provide health care for all people, you’d say ‘oh no!’ And if I ask you to support government intervention so that we don’t have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the world, you’d say ‘oh no!’ But when Wall Street screws up because of their greed, you say, ‘oh yes, it’s a great idea!’

Does Kudlow need someone to cut his meat for him or something?

I wouldn't want him around a plastic butter knife.

A Public Service Announcement

From the Rich Pigs of America:

Credit Where Credit is Due

I think that Google® Adsense® got it right this time with my post calling bankers wankers:*

Back in December and January, when John McCain was spending money like...well...John McCain, every time I called him a sick, old man, adsense would serve one of his "Death Star" ads, but this time, when I posted something about whining bankers, and they served an ad for "My Name is Earl" and "The Office", which seems most apropos.

Please note that this is not an inducement for my reader(s) to click on the ads, which is a violation of the Google® Adsense® terms of service.

*Hmmm....there is a rhyme there gotta try and make a rap of it.

Well, This Has Fiasco Written All Over It

It appears that Goldman Sachs is look at buying IndyMac, or at least parts of IndyMac, to build out a retail banking network.

Is it just me, or does this have "Epic Fail" written all over it?

Maliki Says that Bush Wanted Changes in Withdrawal for Electoral Advantage

So Nouri al Maliki said in an interview with al-Iraqiya:
MALIKI: Actually, the final date was really the end of 2010 and the period between the end of 2010 and the end of 2011 was for withdrawing the remaining troops from all of Iraq, but they [the Bush administration] asked for a change [in date] due to political circumstances related to the domestic situation [in the US] so it will not be said to the end of 2010 followed by one year for withdrawal but the end of 2011 as a final date. Agreement has been reached on this issue. They are willing to respond positively because they, too, are facing a critical situation.
Impeach Cheney today.

Impeach Bush tomorrow.

Free Levi

Levi Johnston, America's #1 political prisoner.

Bill Maher is a Genius.

Lehman's New York Staff Still Getting Bonuses

To the tune of $2.5 billion to be distributed amongst 10,000 staff in New York, and a lot of former Lehman employees who are not part of this deal.*

Running the numbers, these folks will be getting ¼ of a million dollars each, despite that many of the folks are the ones who ran the company into the ground.

Not enough bullets.

*And any right thinking people.

Itil May Have Been Discovered

Dmitry Vasilyev, a professor at Astrakhan State University, claims to have discovered Itil, the capital city of the Khazar kingdom, a Turkic nation that converted to Judaism around the 10th century CE.

Looks very interesting.

More Received via Email

Received Via Email

Dear [your name goes here]:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion USD. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who (God willing) will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a former U.S. congressional leader and the architect of the PALIN / McCain Financial Doctrine, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. As such, you can be assured that this transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully,

Minister of Treasury Paulson

McCain "Suspends" Campaign

It appears that he believes that his campaign the country needs him to go down to Washington so that he can inject politics into the matter.

He is also calling for a delay in the first debate, doubtless because with the financial crisis, there will have to be some questions asked on the economy, though Obama is having none of this, noting that multi-tasking and delegation are crucial skills for a president.

My theory is that he knows that no one is concerned about foreign policy right now, so he wants the foreign policy debate delayed until people will pay attention.

It's also certain that the economy would come up in the debate, even with the ostensible focus on foreign policy, so he's looking to cut and run.

Of course, it may just all be a ploy to distract people from Sarah Palin's disasterous interview with Katie Couric......How the hell do you get owned in an interview by the mistress of softball questions anyway?

H/T This Modern World for the pic

Letterman Rips McCain a New One

Complete with Keith Olbermann

24 September 2008

Economics Update

While I am not a strict monetarist by any means, I'm an engineer, not an economist, dammit,*, I think that the fact that central banks are continuing to shovel money out of helicopters upon the financial markets will eventually create some very real, and potentially severe inflation.

In any case, if the spreads between two year interest rate swaps and treasuries hitting a record, 166.38 basis points, is any indication, all this money is not doing much anyway, except possibly pushing the dollar lower.

It's not not doing much with real estate either, with US existing home sales falling 2.2% in August, and mortgage applications falling 10.6% last week.

This may be why S&P just cut WaMu's credit rating again.

In energy, oil was down a bit on report of decreased demand, and retail gasoline fell for the 7th straight day.

*I LOVE IT when I get to go all Doctor McCoy!!!

23 September 2008

More Whining from the Rich Pig Crowd

It appears that the Wall Street bankers, writing the SEC as the American Bankers Association, are objecting to an accounting rule that requires that assets be priced on their balance sheets at a realistic market value.

They find it inconvenient that assets that they won't even try to sell, because they might get 15¢ on the dollar, which would make them technically insolvent.

Dudes, you are broke. You are not broke because of an accounting rule, you are broke because your so called assets on your so called balance sheets are about as popular as the idea of giving Dick Cheney a rim job.

The American Bankers Association, today's wankers of the day.

Karachi, We Have a Problem

We have US sources accusing Pakistani forces aiding the Taliban, and reports that the Pakistanis have shot down a US drone.

This is not moving in a positive direction.

Credit Default Swaps, Barn Doors, and Cows

Well it appears that the state of New York is moving toward regulating some credit default swaps as insurance.

This is actually important, since it has been known for 300 years that insurance is not just any sort of financial instrument.

Basically, when insurance policies are traded as securities, you get fraud. This was learned in bubbles in the British markets in the 1700s, and so insurance is allowed only for those who have the actual loss.

About a decade ago, New York State said that CDS were not insurance, and so they were not subject to insurance regulation, leading to the current orgy of fraud, speculation, and abuse.

That being said, this is too late, and we know this because SEC Chari Christopher Cox is calling for regulation too, and Cox is a Randroid free-marketeer, and as such, never calls for regulation until it is too late.

Because Palin is a Lazy, Uninformed, Idiot

Well it appears that the final details of the debate have been negotiated, and after much whining, I'm sure, the McCain campaign got a bubble for Palin:
At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.
Biden will still destroy her, the only question is whether she loses it on stage, and if she does, whether Sarah "Barracuda" Palin goes after him with a knife or a gun.

I mean, after, this woman got completely Pwn3d by Charlie Gibson, which is like being gored by Bambi.

Economics Update

Again, the elephant in the room, the Paulson, "Let's give it to the American Taxpayer without lube," plan is not included here.

First, let's start with the continued deflation of the housing bubble, with home prices down 5.3% in July as compared to the previous year.

This one reason that retailers are forecasting an absolutely dismal holiday season.

It also appears that the Paulson plan, or at least whatever is making its way through Congress is not getting a vote of support from the bond market, with money still fleeing to treasuries, and the spreads between them and short term "safe" private debt remaining historically high.

It's the same with the dollar, which is up a bit vs. yesterday's bloodbath, but still weak.

Of more concern are indications that we are seeing a run on hedge funds.

In any case, oil prices are down a bit from yesterday's hysteria, settling at $106.61/bbl, and retail gasoline is down again.

Comedic Genius

This guy owes me a whole box of screen cleaners
Obama to Nation: “F$#@ this sh#@, I’m outta here”

September 19, 2008 at 12:21 am · Filed under political humor

In the wake of an epic financial meltdown that threatens to derail the U.S. economy for years, Barack Obama announced he was ending his run for President of the United States, declaring to a stunned nation, “Man, this is bullsh#@.”

In a boisterous and hastily-called press conference, Obama detailed his reasons for the decision. “I was prepared to fight global warming, reform the health care system, repair our crumbling roads, create a 21st century electric grid, find Bin Laden, end the war in Iraq, and bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians. But now you tell me I have to clean up the worst financial mess since the Great Depression too? One that’s going to plunge our economy into a recession for most of my administration while I take the blame? F$#@ that. That’s f$#@ing ridiculous. You guys clean up your own sh#@. I’m outta here.”

Read the rest, in all its profane glory, at the link.

Great Economics Writing

Nouriel Roubini The Shadow Banking System is Unravelling, in which he reposts an article in the FT.

Well, He Wasn't Fired for Fighting Sexual Assault

It turns out that Walt Monegan's trip to Washington to secure funding for fight child rape was with permission.

The McCain campaign's response, and they are running the Alaska governor's office right now, is that he may have been approved to travel, but preventing child rape was not approved by the governor.

Whatever these folks are smoking, I want none of it.

The Shrill One Speaks

Paul Krugman makes a very good note here about the performance of Ben Bernanke, that Bernanke overstated the power of central banks in these sorts of financial meltdowns, and that dropping money from above does not work as well as he had previously anticipated.

It's a slightly wonkish post, but for the economics groupies out there, it's a worthwhile read.

22 September 2008

Update: Dodd Bill Does Have Bankruptcy Changes

According to Politico.com:
Among the major provisions Dodd is adding:
  • Authority for bankruptcy judges to restructure mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure. This was considered a poison pill in a housing bill that passed Congress earlier this summer, but it has gained much more currency now that Washington wants to bail out Wall Street.
Two snaps up to the distinguished gentleman from Connecticut.

Lawmaker Pushback on Paulson's Plan

I think that it's clear that Paulson's plan will be subject to sagnificant modifications in the legislative process with the Democrats seeing a need for new and stronger regulations, an equity stake in exchange for the bailout, and seeing serious questions raised by the portions of the proposed law that prohibit judicial review.

Of course, if I were them, I'd also be flipping out over the idea of Treasury hiring the Wall Street firms who f%$#ed up in the first place to manage the assets once they are purchased.

I would also note that some Congressmen want some sort of mortgage aid to distressed homeowners to be a part of the plan. (IMNSHO, allowing bankruptcy judges to handle this is the best, cheapest, and most efficient way to handle this).

I should note that the the Wall Street boys hate the idea of restrictions or equity stakes, but they have always wanted, to quote Dire Straits, their , "Money for Nothing".

It does appear, however that the White House and the Congress are narrowing their differences.

Perez Asks Livni to Form Ruling Coalition

Basically, everyone knows that Benyamin, "The Craziest Motherf%$#er in the Middle East," Netanyahu will win a snap election, so this is an attempt to push the election off to a later date.

I don't think that it will work, and my prediction, that Kadima without Sharon will be a distant 3rd in the next elections, stands.

Bailout Plan Appears Even More Sweeping than Proposed

First, let's note that under his proposed plan, Paulson can buy non-American, non-mortgage assets, which sounds an awful lot like some of this money will go to benefit UBS, where Phil "Mr. Congeniality" Gramm, sits on the board of directors......Funny that, huh?

Furthermore, the $700 billion quoted is low. The real reckoning of the cost of the plan is $1.8 Trillion:
  • The $700 billion of this plan
  • $50 billion from the Exchange Stabilization Fund
  • The Fed discount window loans.
  • $10+ billion of Treasury purchases of mortgage backed securities (MBS)
  • $144 billion in MBS purchases by Fannie and Freddie.
  • $85 billion loaned to AIG
  • $87 billion in repayments to JPMorgan Chase for loans to Lehman Brothers
  • $200 billion for Fannie and Freddie from the Treasury
  • $300 billion from the FHA to refinance bad mortgages
  • $4 billion to communities to buy and resell abandoned homes.
  • $29 billion to JPMorgan Chase's to pay them off for taking over Bear Stearns
  • $200 billion made available through the Fed's Term Auction Facility
Someone is getting a haircut, and it ain't Wall Street executives.

Why Friends Don't Let Friends Use AT&T

Because when a company buries customer rights in a 2500 page manual, one can be reasonably assured that they are not customer friendly in their outlook.

Lovely Nuclear Weapons, and the Country is Falling Apart

We have a major truck bombing in Islamabad, with 53 dead.

Pakistan has never been a particularly stable place, but it appears to be getting worse.

Bailout Plan Opinions

Deep Thought

Any member of Congress who looks at the plan to give Hank unchecked power to transfer $700 billion from the Treasury to his friends' companies and has any reaction other than 'You've got to be f%#@ing kidding me' does not deserve to hold office.
Krugman opposes the plan, at least in the form presented by Henry Paulson, though he is more receptive to Chris Dodd's version, which requires equity from the firms rescued for buying their part of the big sh$#pile.

Sebastian Mallaby, who normally favors economics for the benefit of rich folk, hates the Paulson plan too.

Brad DeLong is of a similar mind to Krugman.

In The Nation, William Greider calls the Paulson plan a, "historic swindle."

Dean Baker, as is his wont, gets into some fairly specific proposals in some depth, which which I agree.

Robert Reich is less specific, but he does add one specific proposal: allowing primary mortgages to be modified by a bankruptcy judge, with which I also agree.

As for me, I will merely note that Henry Paulson holds hundreds of millions of dollars worth of shares on Goldman Sachs, and the idea that he get a blank check to work this is therefore nuts.

Watching Krugman on Olbermann

Just a thought watching him: He's a really smart guy, but he is profoundly uncomfortable and awkward on television.

Republicans who are drooling morons get some coaching do the dance on TV, and folks like Krugman don't.

It's not fair how much this effects our discourse, but maybe we should set up some sort of liberal org to coach people to do the gasbag bit more convincingly.

Economics Update

Once again, the big story is the bailout, which I will not cover here, it gets its own posts, though I will be dealing with some of the market effects of the proposal, which can be viewed as positive, if you are an optimist, or negative, if you are me.

First, the US dollar took it's biggest hit vs. the Euro in 7 years, because of concerns that this bailout will end up being so expensive that it will debase the currency, and as a result, crude oil climbed the most ever, more than $25/bbl before settling at the end of the day at $120.92/bbl, up $16.37.

You can view the price in oil as a belief among traders that the economy, and hence demand, will be recovering, or you can believe that traders think that this plan will push the dollar over the edge. I think that the contemporaneous fall of the dollar indicates the latter.

The increase in prices appears to be a part of a more general rebound in commodities, though retail gasoline continued its downward path, but gasoline tends to lag oil by a few weeks, as it is actually a manufactured final product, as opposed to a raw material.

In either case, it appears that The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is not taking a close look at oil trading as a result of the volatility today.

The Chicago Fed sees more signs of a recession, reporting a drop in economic activity.

Finally, it there are indications that investors are just beginning to see US treasuries the same way that they did during the Japanese meltdown...You know...the one that lasted fifteen years.

Honestly, if that happens to the US, it will be much worse, because we lack the safety net of Japan.

The Truth About the Surge: It's Ethinc Cleansing

A study of satellite imagery, finding vacant houses by the absence of lights noted that ethnic cleansing was essentially complete by the time that the surge began, and is in fact a major reason for the reduction of ethnic violence. (see here and here)
"Our findings suggest that the surge has had no observable effect, except insofar as it has helped to provide a seal of approval for a process of ethno-sectarian neighborhood homogenization that is now largely achieved," Agnew's team wrote in their report.
(emphasis mine)

Heck of a surge, Davie.

1000 Words on Derivatives

From the article The Real Reason for the Global Financial Crisis:

Go read the rest of the article too.

OK, He's Senile...There, I Said It

Let's be clear, John Sidney McCain III has grown increasingly confused over the past few years, and he's always been erratic, and his calling the chairman of the SEC the chairman of the FEC in a recent speech should give everyone cause for concern.

21 September 2008

So Sambo Beat the Bitch!

That's what Sarah Palin is reported to have said about the end of the Democratic primary fight this year, among other bits of casual bigotry:
Besides insulting Obama with a Step-N’-Fetch-It, “darkie musical” swipe, people who know her say she refers regularly to Alaska’s Aboriginal people as “Arctic Arabs” – how efficient, lumping two apparently undesirable groups into one ugly description – as well as the more colourful “mukluks” along with the totally unimaginative “f**king Eskimo’s,” according to a number of Alaskans and Wasillians interviewed for this article.
FWIW, this does not surprise me.

While I have very little in the way of first hand recollections of bigotry in Alaska, (I actually have fond memories of living there, I left there just before I turned 7 in 1969), my mother occasionally related a story about her brush with movie making, specifically a movie called Joniko and the Kush Ta Ta, which was a fairly standard wilderness adventure, where a kid has to travel a great distance in a boat to get help for an injured man, and faces an Tlingit* equivalent of a demon known as the Kush Ta Ta (or maybe it's his imagination) along the way.

In any case, the child actor playing Joniko, Tony Tucker Williams, broke his arm, and they needed a stunt double, and somehow or other my mother got a call, there were only about 400K people in the state at the time, so it was a small place, from a local working for the production, asking if she knew of a "breed" about 12 years old or so who could work as a stunt double, as the "full bloods" weren't photogenic.

These attitudes are not, or at least were not, that common in the late 1960s, and I don't imagine that the oil wealth entering the state has helped, if the House of Saud is any example.

*Don't call a Tlingit an Eskimo, it would be viewed in the same manner as someone calling a Spaniard a Frenchman, which is to say not well at all.

My Name is Matthew Saroff, and I Approve of this T-Shirt

The shirt is courtesy of Sarah Palin John McCain's VP Pick Sucks:

Note that I have no financial interest in the T-shirt.

I Wish This Were My Congresscritter

Matt Stoller, of Open Left, got the following missive from an unnamed Congressman:
Paulsen and congressional Republicans, or the few that will actually vote for this (most will be unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies), have said that there can't be any "add ons," or addition provisions. F$#@ that. I don't really want to trigger a world wide depression (that's not hyperbole, that's a distinct possibility), but I'm not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those mother f$#@ers.

Nancy said she wanted to include the second "stimulus" package that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have blocked. I don't want to trade a $700 billion dollar giveaway to the most unsympathetic human beings on the planet for a few f$#@ing bridges. I want reforms of the industry, and I want it to be as punitive as possible.

Henry Waxman has suggested corporate government reforms, including CEO compensation, as the price for this. Some members have publicly suggested allowing modification of mortgages in bankruptcy, and the House Judiciary Committee staff is also very interested in that. That's a real possibility.

We may strip out all the gives to industry in the predatory mortgage lending bill that the House passed last November, which hasn't budged in the Senate, and include that in the bill. There are other ideas on the table but they are going to be tough to work out before next week.

I also find myself drawn to provisions that would serve no useful purpose except to insult the industry, like requiring the CEOs, CFOs and the chair of the board of any entity that sells mortgage related securities to the Treasury Department to certify that they have completed an approved course in credit counseling. That is now required of consumers filing bankruptcy to make sure they feel properly humiliated for being head over heels in debt, although most lost control of their finances because of a serious illness in the family. That would just be petty and childish, and completely in character for me.

I'm open to other ideas, and I am looking for volunteers who want to hold the sons of bitches so I can beat the crap out of them.

Don Young Finally Wins Republican Primary for Alaska's House Seat

That only took a two week recount.

He beat Sarah Palin's bitch, Lt. Governor Sean Parnell in a closely fought race, and due to his ethics problems, the race becomes more likely to become a Democratic pickup in November.

Making a Bad Situation Worse

Well, it appears that the American House fetish and the lobbying of predatory realtors is getting results, as the House Financial Services Committee has approved the markup of H.R. 6694, which re-institutes the insane downpayment assistance program, in which sellers make a payment to non-profits, plus a "service charge", and the non profits "gift" this to a potential home buyer, so that they can qualify for a FHA loan.

Typical scenario: a home owner has a buyer who has no downpayment for a $100K house, so the home seller "donates" $6000 to to a "non-profit" group, which takes a $500 fee, and "gifts" the remainder to the home buyer, so the home buyer now buys the house at $106,000, which the FHA recognizes as 5% down, and so qualifies for a loan.

Of course, the buyer has still put no money down, and they owe more on the mortgate, and the statistics show a much higher default rate.

It does not put people in houses. It creates a default/foreclosure timebomb.

Japan Delays Fighter Competition

Japan has delayed the start of its F-X fighter competition, intended to look for a replacement for its 1960s vintage F-4EJ aircraft.

It appears that they want a full technical packet for the F-22, which is still forbidden to export under US law, in the hope that they can purchase that aircraft.

Give it up, we're just not that into you.

Foreign Relations Committee Tells Condi to Go Cheney Herself

Condoleeza Rice has negotiated agreements with the UK and Australia to allow for smoother transfers of defense technologies between the nations, as ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) can be a rather ponderous apparatus.

After repeated delays in the State Department supplying information regarding the impact of these treaties on existing statute, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has decided to defer consideration of the compacts until after Bush and His Evil Minions&trade are out of office.

Payback is a bitch, bitch.

UK Sees Delays on Its New SSN

The Astute, lead ship in a new class of British SSNs, has had its entry into service delayed by some months as a result of problems in test, so sea trials have been delayed.

The system is currently about 47% over budget, but this number is expected to increase.

Some things are the same the world over.

The Cause of the 777 Crash at Heathrow

BA038 crashed when it lost power on descent on January 17 of this year, and it appears now that the problem was caused by ice accumulation in the fuel system impeding fuel flow.

It flew over Siberia at relatively high altitudes and low fuel flows, and so ice accumulated, and when the throttle was added during descent, ice broke loose, and plugged the fuel lines.

If it wasn't a one in a million thing, it was close.

It's an interesting read.

I Really Love Promotional Videos

Case in point: Northrop Grumman's Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) promotional video, it's a drop in AESA replacement for the F-16's APG-68.

I just love the lightning bolts.

Replacing the M16/M4 and Possibly the 5.56 Round

Well, this is one of those issues that leads to heated discussions, so let's start with my position:

The 5.56 round is just find, and any lethality issues are an artifact that the barrel on the M4 carbine, at 14.5 inches, is too short. The M-16 with its 20 inch barrel does not have the lethality issues.

The solution is to replace the M4 with a Bullpup design with a barrel length of at least 18 inches.

Such a design will still be shorter than the M4, and hence easier to handle in enclosed spaces, such as city warfare.

I would also go with a piston arrangement, as opposed to a gas tube, which to bring too much fouling.
'Nuff said.

In any case, the Army is now looking at an M4 replacement, and is considering going with something like a 6.5mm or 6.8mm round.

This has all the hallmarks of a fiasco to my mind though. They are bidding a new weapon and allowing for a new caliber at the same time, which means that they will not really be able to compare apples to apples.

It should be interesting on the boards for a while though as various gun religions engage in Jihad.

Congress Guts Blackswift Budget

The House completely eliminated the $120 million from the DARPA hypersonic demonstrator project, and the Senate cut $110 million, so the prognosis is not good.

Not surprising. Considering the total lack of budget and program control in DoD acquisition programs, and the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan, the last thing needed is a Mach 5+ demonstrator.

Boo Yah!!!!

I was reading this article about the spate of aerial encounters between Russian bombers and NATO aircraft, and it appears that it gets pilots pumped up on both sides.

Regardless of the political fallout of the situation, pilots on both sides just love this stuff.

In any case, a commenter at this article, after noting that the Russian pilots get only about $800/month, said something very wise:
[R]ather than build JSF or Raptors, why not just take that money, and recruit Russian pilots away? We can move them into foreclosed condo's down in So Beach, pay them twice what they make, and I think save the American Taxpayer a ton of money.
Very wise.

Malaysia Looking at Airborne Radar Purchase

When you consider their airforce, a mix of MiG-29s, Su-30 MKMs, and F-18s, it seems inevitable that they would start to consider some sort of airborne command and control capability, particularly given Thailand's purchase of Saab’s Erieye, Australia's oft delayed Wedgetail, and Singapore's E-2Cs and future deliveries of Phalcons.

I think that over the next few years, we will see a lot posturing, both on the part of the Malaysians and on the part of the companies who want to make a sale to them.

Boeing Shows off Bomber Proposal at AFA Convention

So, now we have some models of the competing Boeing and Northrop Grumman concepts to compare:

Boeing Above

Northrop Grumman Above

Both are clearly designed with stealth in mind, and Boeing's design is rather similar to the B-2, though they have made comments about laminar flow designs to reduce drag. The outer wings, given their narrow chord would likely be laminar flow naturally.

N-G's design looks as if it would more easily accommodate a large weapons bay, which might make it easier to carry ultra heavy bunker busters.

Based on my estimates of scale, both appear to carry less in the way of bombs than a B-52 (20-30 tons), and more in line with something along the line of the B-47 (10-15 tons).

My guess is that given miniaturization of nuclear weapons, and the available of relatively small guided weapons, a larger capacity is considered redundant.

Saab Unveils New Erieye Platform

The EADS Casa's C-295 transport.

I'm thinking that with its high wing design, incorporating the radar directly into the structure would be quite doable, but I think right now, they are looking at minimizing the engineering resources for integration.

The Undeniable Lightness of Being a Rich Pig

We are now seeing sob stories out of Wall Street like this:
'A lot of those people will have to sell their homes, they're going to cut back on the private jets and the vacations. They may even have to take their kids out of private school,' said Frank. 'It's a total reworking of their lifestyle.'

He added that it's going to be no easy task.

'It's going to be very hard psychologically for these people,' Frank said. 'I talked to one guy who had to give up his private jet recently. And he said of all the trials in his life, giving that up was the hardest thing he's ever done.'
The Chinese have the right idea: A bullet to the back of the head for the folks who managed this fiasco.

H/T Kevin Drum.

20 September 2008

A Witch Hunter? Palin is Linked to a Kenyan Witch Hunter?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Well, if you are waiting for the next shoe to drop in the dsyfunctional religious freak show that is Sarah Palin, here it is.

It now appears that everyone's favorite hock mom has said that her election as governor was as the direct result of the prayers of a Kenyan witch-hunter, Thomas Muthee.

I'm not sure which I find more disturbing, the belief that the prayers of a self admitted witch hunter somehow got her elected governor, or the complete self-absorption to think that here elections are somehow the direct will of God.

In either case, it's clear that she is just plain nuts, in a way that makes John Seymour McCain look pretty damn sane.

Here's a hint, girl, if you believe that God is on your side, you are almost certainly arrogant, wrong, and deluded.

Sane people don't believe that God is on their side; sociopaths do. Sane people worry if they are on God's Side.

In any case, here is a vid of her talking about how she sees herself as have being elected by dint of God supporting her.

H/T Group News Blog.

Israel Conditions Number of JSFs Purchased on Ability to Add Domestic Content

Once again, one of the issues with the F-35 JSF is that, to a greater degree than any other fighter aircraft history, the country operating the aircraft will be unable to modify its systems to meet their needs.

It now appears that the Israeli Air Force will purchase the F-35, the number that it purchases will be highly dependent on the ability it will have to install indigenous systems, as the JSF is a remarkably closed system.

In the long run, I think that follow-on orders for the aircraft may be hindered by this, as operators, and nations becoming operators, find out the degree to which they have to jump through hoops to integrate upgrades and new systems that were routine in prior aircraft.

John Sidney McCain III Loses the ... Wall Street Journal Editorial Board???

OK, the full throated condemnation of McCain's call to fire Cox from the SEC, which calls him "Un-Presidential", is not something I would have expected from the wingnuttiest OP/ED page in the nation.

Number 3421 on the List of Things that I'd Never Say

God Bless Jerry Brown.

He's always rubbed me the wrong way, but his decision to accurately label the Califoria hate initiative is a very good thing:
Those voters were much more likely to oppose the measure when read Brown's wording (58 percent against it and 30 percent for it) than those in the same category who were read the old version of Prop. 8 (42 percent against and 37 percent for it), according to the Field Poll.

The Brown language reads, in part: "Eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry." The original version read, in part: "Limit on marriage."
No big surprise here...If you tell the truth people vote now on this abomination.

Please, God, Please Make This So!

Barney Frank is saying that Congress will look at limiting executive pay as a part of any bailout package.

I'm Matthew Saroff, and I unreservedly approve this idea.

As to the limit: The salary of the President of the United States, with the possibility of an equal bonus.

That's around 800 grand a year, which is fine by me, and a real haircut for these contemptible greedy f%$#s

Steve Gilliard Would Be Happy

The last game ever to be played at Yankee Stadium will be played tomorrow, with the Orioles and the Yankees fighting for the basement.

I'm not sure if Steve would give a damn about that, but the fact that the Yankees will be out of the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, that would make him smile.

Oh...Yeah....F@#$ the F@#$ing Yankees.

Economics Update

If you think that this crisis is over, it's not even close, as evidenced by the fact that 40% of US money market funds posted no returns yesterday:
More than 40 percent of U.S. taxable money market mutual funds posted zero return Thursday amid persistent turmoil in the credit markets, fund tracker Lipper said Friday.

Lipper said 560 of the 1,263 classes of taxable money funds it tracks earned no return Thursday. This compared with 73 classes that posted zero return Wednesday and 63 Tuesday.

A lot of taxable money mutual funds "put up big fat zeros yesterday," said Jeff Tjornehoj, senior research analyst at Lipper in Denver. "This is unprecedented in recent history."
Expect to see the phrase, "unprecedented in recent history," a lot in the next few months.

Part of this was no doubt the rather large gyrations in US T-Bills over the past few days, which went almost to 0% a on Thursday, because people were so concerned about finding safe havens. The 3 month T-Bill was at 0.22% Thursday, before heading back up to 0.91% on Friday following announcement of various rescue plans for the financial markets.

The dollar rose in response to the bailouts too, as did oil, though gasoline is down for the 3rd straight day, as that market adjusts to the realities of Hurricane Ike.

That being said, even with the rescue packages, Moody's is still looking at cutting its ratings on monoliner insurers Ambac and MBIA.

Also, it now looks like Morgan Stanley is still looking at merging with a commercial bank, even if the news of the bailout plans may have helped.

Attack of the Super-Strength Cyborg Penguins

It's not my headline, though I wish that I had come up with it.

It's an article on powered underwater exoskeleton called the Performance Improving Self Contained Exoskeleton for Swimming (PISCES*) that has people flapping like penguins.

It's penguins....It's always the penguins.

*People spend way too much time on developing cute acronyms.

Russia Test New SLBM

The Bulava missile, which reportedly has an 8000 km range and 10 MIRVs, though some reports say that it can fire MaRVs.

I don't think that this has anything to do with the Georgia kerfluffle, but you never know how that issue might have influenced the choice of the timing for the tests.

TP400 Testbed Completes Full Power Run

Seeing as how the TP400 engine is the major delay item on the A400M transport, the fact taht they have finally done some full power runs on the C-130 demonstrator, this is a long overdue positive sign.

It is still an open question as to whether EADS will be able to get the A400M into the air before year's end though.

Raytheon Eyes Sidewinder-X Upgrades

It appears to be a significant improvement on the original AIM-9X, with lock on after launch, and could drive the move to a new rocket motor, the rocket motor on the AIM-9X is the same as previous models, as it would allow launches to longer range.

From all I know about the missile, the kinematics (basically range and long range maneuverability) are not that good, having a single pulse motor (with thrust vectoring, you want lower thrust at the start in order to make the vectoring work better) and being smaller (5" body diameter as vs 6") than many of its competitors.

Looks Like the DDG-100 May Be More F$#@ed Up than Previously Found

Well, it looks like the sad saga of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyers may become even sadder, as there are now doubts that the two ships purchased may never sail.

Noah Schactman cites a report from Defense News:
Issues have arisen in guaranteeing the seals between the composite construc­tion panels of the huge Zumwalt deckhouse... [where] all of the ship’s major sensors... are em­bedded in the structure, and all of the ship above the first super­structure level is contained...

[O]ne source familiar with the situation said the Navy is so wor­ried about the problem that it has been canvassing other manufac­turers of composite structures to see if an alternate production source could be found.

So will any Zumwalts be built?

... Sen. Susan Collins, R­-Maine, and a key supporter of the DDG-1000, told Defense News, “I still expect the Navy’s going to abandon the DDG-1000.”
It sure sounds to me like the ships cannot be built right now.

Background here.

ATK Looks to Take Drone Market to Anti Ship Missile

This is not surprising. The SS-N-27 Sizzler is a tough nut to crack to create a viable simulator, and in doing so, it means that ATK will have accumulated the expertise necessary to create a full up missile version.

I would not be at all surprised if they have the missile on the market in the next 5-7 years.

Background here.

And in the Never Ending Quest for Budget Dollars.....

Yep, some of the whiz kids at the National Defense University are pitching the idea that they need funding to protect us all from terrorists who would use Wizard of Warcraft to rehearse attacks on all of us.

Yes, it's real, see, they've got PowerPoints, and everything, complete with a conversation using code words, simulated, of course.

See how they simulate some seriously Kule d00dz haxor terrorists?

So they need to pay someone play Warcraft in order to look for this non-existent problem.

I want the job....I REALLY want the job.

In reality, if terrorists want to engage in virtual training, they will do it on a private server...Just like you see people do with Doom....

After all, who wants to be in the middle of planning to nuke the VP residence, when some n00b comes up and starts asking stupid questions?

If this is why my taxes are so fracking high, I'd rather pay for Sarah Palin's bridge to nowhere.

I Still Think that the Dutch are Sandbagging SAAB over their F-16 Repladement

But they are certainly making it look like a real competition. The Swedes needed extra time to get approvals for data release from the US, and the Dutch MoD extended the deadline on the bid to 30 September.

I still do not believe that the Dutch are serious about considering an alternative to the Lockheed-Martin JSF, they simply have invested too much time and effort, but they are doing their best to look fair about the process.

DPRK Testing New Missile Engine

It appears that they are in response to the US refusing to take them off the terrorist list, as was previously agreed to.

Seriously, taking them off the list is just a stroke of a pen, and can be reinstated with a stroke of a pen, but Bush and His Evil Minions&trade are so busy swinging their dicks that they are convincing the North Koreans that this is all some sort of ploy to destroy them.

Fracking with paranoids for giggles when they have missiles and nukes is stupid, but for Bush and His Evil Minions&trade, stupid is as stupid does, I guess.

Marine Corps Eyes M249 SAW Replacement

It looks like the Marines are looking at partially replacing their belt fed M249 SAW with a lighter magazine fed automatic rifle.

They are hoping for a 12 lb weapon to replace the 17 lb SAW.

Given that they are also dropping the quick change barrel as a way to get there, and using a slower rate of fire to deal with barrel heating this implies a significant drop in firepower.

Not having served, I'd appreciate any comments from people who have about the merits of such a change.

The US army is looking for a lighter weapon too, but they are sticking with the high rate of fire and belt feed.