30 June 2009

Credit Where Credit is Due

On Joe Scarborough's show on MSNBC, Chuck Todd said that the emperor had no clothes, when he said that in the Ricci case that, ""he majority actually, well, to put it bluntly, legislated from the bench."

I have repeatedly called Chuck Todd, "one of the stupidest muthf%$#ers in the White House press room," for his sometime absurdly naive acceptance of the beltway conventional wisdom.

This is not one of those times though. He nailed it when he described the conservative majority's intent in this vote as being judicial activism, even if Joe Scarborough reacted like a cow that had just stepped on its own udder.

Jon Stewart is a F%$#ing Genius, Part 867-5309

Mark Sanford, yet again.

5 of Jena 6 Get 7 Days Probation

They pled no contest to battery.

Much better outcome than the attempted murder charges that were brought in response to a school fight on the "uppity n***er" theory.

The 6th member of the Jena 6 pled in juvenile court some time ago.

Making Things Worse

Representatives Travis Childers (D-Criminally Stupid)and Gary Miller (R-Stupid Criminal) have proposed an 18 month suspension of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC), which is intended to reduce fraud in appraisals.

Unsurprisingly, in the world before politics, Childers and Miller were a realtor and a home builder respectively, and fraud=profits for that lot.

We know this bill sucks because of who supports it:
The National Association of Realtors' Lawrence Yun says "stories of appraisal problems have been snowballing from across the country with many contracts falling through at the last moment." The National Association of Mortgage Brokers proclaims, "Tens of thousands of consumers have already been robbed of their opportunity to enjoy historically low rates by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s rule." The appraisal management companies, critics say, don't seem to care if the appraisers they pick know anything about the neighborhoods in question.
This is a bad, bad bill.

Can We Please Give Texas Back to Mexico?

The Fort Worth Police staged a gay bashing raid on a gay bar on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.


Talk About Regulatory Capture

Remember those bank warrants we got for TARP money?

Well Timothy Geithner and His Evil Minions want the banks themselves to set the price, at least initially:
The Treasury Department said the banks will make the first offer for the warrants. Treasury will then decide to sell at that price or make a counteroffer. If the government and a bank cannot agree on a fair price for the warrants, the two sides will have the right to use private appraisers.
If you want a fair price, put them out for public bid.

This is just another backdoor payout to the investment banks.

First, we overpay for the warrants, and now, we sell them back at less than their value.

The hole damn system is corrupt, and the bank bailout needs to be pursued as a criminal investigation, not as a crisis.

It's a National Holiday in Iraq

Because the US military is pulling out of the cities.

You know when someone throws you a going away party, and you're not invited, maybe they just aren't that in to you.

Pirate Bay Sells Site

The gaming firm Global Gaming Factory X AB has agreed to buy the bit-torrent hub Pirate Bay for $7.7 million.

So it appears that their business model was:
  1. Go to court.
  2. Get a judgement against them for $3.6 million.
  3. Sell the site for &7.7 million.
  4. Collect underpants.
  5. Profit.

McCaniacs Deal More Palin Dirt

It's in Vanity Fair, and the portrait is positively scary.

The fact that this woman was one vote and one heartbeat away from the presidency is truly scary.

It's a long, nightmare inducing, read that leaves me pining for the quiet competence of Dan Quayle.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Yep, it's Governor Mark Sanford again, who is now admitting that he "crossed the line", with other women, but didn't actually have sex with them, which I guess means that he got a Monica, just like Bill Clinton.

Additionally, there are more trips to visit Maria Belen Chapur than he had previously admitted.

So more drip, drip, drip, and more Schadenfreude for the rest of us.

New York State Senate Saga Continues

They convened today, but could not get any work done, because no one agreed who was in charge.

This body is almost as dysfunctional as the Republican Marital Fidelity caucus.

I have no clue as to which side is right under the Senate rules, but this is a damn mess.

Economics Update

Case-Shiller data vs. the Stress Test Assumptions
H/T Calculated Risk

Default rates on mortgages, Also
Calculated Risk
Uh-oh, consumer confidence fell in June, largely based on job concerns.

The reporter interviews an analyst who is surprised about this, because of , "the fact that the S&P 500 is close to 40 percent off its March lows."

The fact is that the general public is better at recognizing a dead cat bounce than this analyst, because they are concerned about jobs, which are still being lost.

Meanwhile in the world of real estate, or perhaps we should call it unreal estate, the
Case-Shiller index posted an 18.1% year over year drop, and delinquencies on prime mortgages going off the charts.

We also got GDP numbers for the 1st quarter from the UK, and we have their economy falling off a cliff, down 2.4% for the quarter, and 4.9% year over year.

Maybe the good news is that there U.K. house prices rose in June, following May's increase, up 0.9%, though it's still down 9.3% year over year.

Until I see year over year numbers below 2%, I don't see any green shoots, just the 2nd derivative of price going positive.

In any case, the crappy consumer confidence report drove oil down and the dollar up, as there are concerns about reduced demand for oil, and a flight to safety in dollars.

Read Bob Herbert

Seriously, excerpts do not do justice to his essay on Mohammed Jawad, where he describes the US government torturing a 12-16 year old boy, and now is attempting to use his tortured confession to keep him confined, but here are the last 2 'graphs:
There is no credible evidence against Jawad, and his torture-induced confession has rightly been ruled inadmissible by a military judge. But the Obama administration does not feel that he has suffered enough. Not only have administration lawyers opposed defense efforts to secure Jawad’s freedom, but they are using, as the primary basis for their opposition, the fruits of the confession that was obtained through torture and has already been deemed inadmissible — without merit, of no value.

[Jawad's former prosecutor] Colonel Vandeveld is no longer on active duty and has joined the effort by military defense lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union to secure Jawad’s freedom. Six years of virtual solitary confinement, he said, is enough for someone who was not much older than a child when he was taken into custody.
(emphasis mine)

Barack Obama, tear down that wall.

But he won't because it's inconvenient.

Franken Wins, Coleman Concedes

The Minnesota Supreme Court declared that Al Franken won, and Norm Coleman conceded:
Democrat Al Franken won Minnesota’s disputed U.S. Senate seat as a loss at the state Supreme Court prompted Republican Norm Coleman to concede.

“I congratulate Al Franken” on his victory, Coleman said at a news conference outside his home in St. Paul. “Sure I wanted to win,” the Republican said, though he said further litigation would damage the state’s unity.
The fact that Coleman conceded indicates that he's going to run for governor, because it was clear that the RSCC would have continued funding challenges all the way to the Supreme Court.

He knew that if continued the challenge from here, that he would not be able to be elected dog catcher in Minnesota.

But really, it's all about him, Al Franken.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Wal-Mart!?!

Yes, Wal-Mart has come out in favor of an employer mandate on insurance.

This is real end of the world stuff, cats sleeping with dogs and the marshmallow guy appearing in city streets:
Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, joined hands with a major labor union Tuesday to endorse the idea of requiring large companies to provide health insurance to their workers, a move that gives a boost to President Obama as he is pushing for health legislation on Capitol Hill.

“Not every business can make the same contribution, but everyone must make some contribution,” Wal-Mart’s chief executive, Michael T. Duke, wrote in a letter to White House and Congressional officials, adding that he favored “an employer mandate which is fair and broad in its coverage.”
There are, of course, caveats, there are always are, and Wal-Mart's top lobbyist is saying that there have to be some sort of strict cost controls.

My guess is that the company has two goals here:
  • To make sure that it's not required to offer better insurance than it does now, which is at relatively high cost to the employee and has relatively high deductibles.
  • An attempt to forestall unionization efforts at its stores, which are gaining steam.
But I'm a cynic.

Who Obama Is On "Free Trade"

Cap and trade barely passes the house, and Barack Obama is wringing his hands about how the tariff against nations with weaker measures, "At a time when the economy world-wide is still deep in recession, and we've seen a significant drop in global trade, I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there."

Barack Obama is a smart guy. He knows that there are similar tariffs in countries that have a VAT, so that you cannot evade the tax by outsourcing production, and he knows that the economic consensus is that the absence of such measures distort free trade by subsidizing foreign manufacture of goods.

He also has to know that the WTO just signed off on these tariffs as legal, so long as they are not, "a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade"."

He expresses these "concerns" because he believes that any restriction on the flow of goods and services,* is dangerous and bad.

He is a free market mousketeer who believes that free trade will, inexorably spread democracy throughout the world, raise everyone's standard of living, keep ants away from your picnic, and keep your daughter from dating the guy with the tattoos and piercings.

Do not expect meaningful labor or environmental measures as a part of his free trade deals. They won't happen.

*Except for IP, where excessive US copyright and patent restrictions must be adopted world wide.

29 June 2009

What Do You Get When You Juxtapose Cheez-Its and Star Trek?

Or Captain Kirk

Click on the images to see them speak (may take a while to load).

You Can Hear the Flying Monkeys Spinning Up Their Engines Over This

The Supreme Court just overruled the appellate court in the Ricci case.

This is not unanticipated. The right wing of the Supreme Court has been delivering the death of a thousand cuts to affirmative action for years, and they do not have to follow precedent, as the appellate court does, and did.

Still, expect the wing-nut brigade spinning up their sirens over this one.

Financial Products Should be Precertified as Safe and Effective

That's what the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is saying about financial products:
Financial products should be treated like medicines and sold to consumers only when they are certified safe to prevent a repeat of last year's financial meltdown, the world's central bankers said on Monday.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which acts as a forum for central banks, said government efforts to revive the global economy might have only a temporary impact because banks are not being pushed hard enough to fix their underlying problems.


The BIS was alarmed by how a collapse in the value of opaque and complex securitized products propelled the world's financial system into crisis. It said in its annual report all financial products should be registered like medicines.

The safest instruments would be available to everyone, a second tier only to people with authorization, like prescription drugs, and a third tier to a limited number of pre-screened individuals and institutions, like experimental drugs are.

It's a very good idea, but it won't happen, because it's what the Masters of the Universe want, so the Masters of the Universe won't let it happen.

If you require that products be safe and effective, you prevent them from churning money into fees, and reduce their base salaries and bonuses, so they say, and so says Summers and Geithner.

Fundamentally, until financial instruments are completely clear and transparent to regulators, and certified as such, they should be forbidden.

Coup in Honduras

As near as I can figure out, the pity is that both sides cannot lose, see here, here, and here.

You have the corrupt land owning/political class in one corner, and a megalomaniac president in the other.

One waits to see what Obama will do beyond condemning this, because even if the President is a jerk, as it appears, this is a coup.

Home Schoolers Have Their One Football League

A league has been founded in Georgia.

It's nice to know that they are focused on acedemics and atheletics.

Perhaps the league, the Glory for Christ Football League should also invest in a spell check.

I think that New York Times photog Erik Lesser, was saying something here, when he snapped that shot.

I really hope that this sort of home schooling is not the future of our educational system, or we will be sharecropping to Hondurans in 50 years,

Siegelman Asking for New Trial

On the basis of prosecutorial misconduct including witness tampering.

Richard Scrushy's legal, who was convicted in the same case, is asking the U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who originally heard the case, because, he participated in ex-parte discussions with the prosecution about juror misconduct, and so might be called as a witness.

I have little faith in anything here, except the Barak Obama and His Clueless Minions, will do nothing to investigate the truth, because, hell, I don't know why, but the misconduct here is far worse than what got Ted Stevens off.

H1N1With Tamiflu Resistance Found

This is not a surprising development, though I am a bit surprised that this has happened so soon.

Economics Update

It's a fairly slow day, with bond prices rising, and yields falling as the markets wait for the non-farm payroll (NFP) and unemployment rates later this week, so investors are concerned about risk, and moving into Treasurys.

This sentiment has also strengthened the dollar today.

Still, we are seeing decreased volatility in the markets, with the VIX volatility index falling to its lowest level since September.

Losses for insurers in the 1st quarter hit a new record, but that should surprise no one who has been watching.

There has actually been a fair amount of news about energy though, with natural gas declining on high stockpiles, and the IEA cutting its 5 year outlook on oil demand because of the economic downturn.

Oil was actually up today, on further violence in the Niger delta, though it appears that retail gasoline prices will hold steady for the July 4 holiday.

150 Years

For Bernie Madoff, see here, here, and here.

I really cannot see how the rest of the family, who worked at his firm, could not have known.

And a Penile Plethysmograph*

On the by invitation only Stellar Parthenon BBS, a bunch of us were discussing the fact that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's nookie run to Argentina was paid for by the taxpayers of the state, and Pickapeppa wrote, "I think it should be mandatory that all government officials be outfitted with GPS tracking chips."

I think that the instrumentality suggested is not sufficient for the task envisioned.

*Seriously, just f@#$ing Google it.

28 June 2009

If Only the Czar Knew

This is an interesting article on how Larry Summers and Tim Geithner have successfully neutralized Paul Volcker's attempts to create meaningful reform in the financial industry.

The subtext that the article misses is that this is that this is not Summers' or Geithner's doing, it is Barack Obama's doing.

The fact that Paul Volker has been marginalized is obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together, and President Obama is not a stupid man.

The increases in regulation and the reform have been held to a minimum because that is what Obama wants.

Will No One Rid Me of This Turbulent Senator?

Connecticut has changed its US Senate succession law.

New Senators will now be appointed by a special election, not by the (currently Republican) Governor of Connecticut.

I am not suggesting that anyone do any harm to the honorable Joseph Lieberman, but should he be caught in a Senate closet with a male page and a goat, I would no longer be concerned about his successor.

Not a Good Week for Celebs

Shouting pitch man Billy Mays dead at 50.

Let There Be No Kings

It appears that Barack Obama is moving forward with a system of non-judicial indefinite detention.

The reports are that he plans to implement this through an executive order.

We know that it's a bad policy, because they are leading off with a lie:
One administration official suggested the White House was already trying to build support for an executive order.

"Civil liberties groups have encouraged the administration, that if a prolonged detention system were to be sought, to do it through executive order," the official said. Such an order can be rescinded and would not block later efforts to write legislation, but civil liberties groups generally oppose long-term detention, arguing that detainees should either be prosecuted or released.
Every major civil liberties organization in the country denounced the plan. What's more, the idea that civil liberties groups might think that would somehow be "better" if it were implemented through an executive order, which puts the power for the decision in the hands on one man, as opposed to legislation, which requires public debate and places the decision in the hands on 535 men, is simply a lie.

What's more, the criteria for indefinite detention, at least on the basis of his speech ago at the National Archives, is whether or not a conviction can be guaranteed, which sets the precedent that the government will only accord the protections of a court to those for whom it is guaranteed to convict.

This is more than un-American, it is anti-American.

I will not vote for, or support in any way, a politician who supports this, even if the "Republicans are worse."

Matt Taibbi is This Generation's Hunter S. Thompson and Seymour Hersh

Rolling Stone does not have it online, but you can find a copy of his latest, The Great American Bubble Machine in the Something Awful forums.

Basically, it's a history of Goldman Sachs, and the intro says it all, "From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression - and they're about to do it again."

I don't think that we will fix the banking system until we take those MoFo's down.

Boeing Looks to 777 Rewing

Boeing is looking to upgrading its 777 with a composite wing to compete with the Airbus A350, because the top end of the 787 Dreamliner is still quite a bit smaller than the Airbus offering.

I think that this is an indication that the delays in the 787 program have put the fear of God in Boeing management, because their schedule lead on the A350 has shrunk significantly.

Tanker Tango Continues

Boeing is now considering both the 767 and 777 to the USAF for its proposal, which would mean that their tanker proposals would bracket Airbus' A330 proposal in size.

One complication is that Boeing has done nothing on the 777 concept, not even wind tunnel testing, so responding to the tanker RFP would be a challenge.

Meanwhile, Northrop-Grumman is saying that any RFP must seriously consider "best value" as a criteria, and since the A330 tanker is about the same price as the 767, and rather cheaper than the 777, it would favor them.

In any case, Boeing and NG were busy flinging poo at each other at the Paris air show. (paid subscription required)

27 June 2009

I Pulled the Trigger Too Soon On Bank Failure Friday

Because the FDIC had one more bank failure last night, Mirae Bank, Los Angeles, CA.

This makes 45 bank failures through the first half of the year.

More Bumps in the 787 Road to 1st Flight

We have another delay in the 787 first flight, and this one is for a serious technical reason, "the revelation that the new airplane’s composite wing induced delamination and deformation on body join points during a routine preflight stress test." (paid subscription required)

So as opposed to flying in the coming week, Boeing is now looking at a 3-6 month delay.

In related news, Qantas is canceling or deferring its 787 ordersdelay, though they are claiming that it's the air traffic slowdown, and not the delay, that has led to this decision.

Remnants of Future Combat System Grow More Expensive

The costs of the "Brigade Combat Teams" are escalating, according to the CBO.

When I worked on FCS,* they were called a "Unit of Action," and I didn't get it then.

The final word on this is in the final 'graph of the linked post:
And the kicker? While the BCTs are supposed to be able to deploy faster to meet immediate needs, the report contends that while they will be able to respond more quickly than the Division model currently in use, “they require roughly the same amount of time to transport their equipment overseas.”
FCS, the gift that keeps giving.

*Full disclosure, I worked on the Future Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle, FRMV, "wrecker" variant of the FCS-MGV from 2003-2006 at United Defense (later BAE Systems after the Carlyle Group sold me to buy Dunkin Donuts).
Future Combat Systems-Manned Ground Vehicle. These are the ones that are the tanks and APCs. As opposed to the various unnmanned vehicles, networking technologies, etc. that form the full FCS along with the MGVs.
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.

F-15 Silent Eagle Updates

It appears that the program executive officer for the JSF, General David Heinz, of the is unamused by Boeing's marketing of the upgraded aircraft, which notes that it, "as all the stealth that has been approved for export by the U.S. government," which implies that the export variants of the JSF will be less stealthy than than the version fielded by US forces.

I think that the general misses the point, it was not a shot at the JSF, but rather a shot at elements in the Pentagon who might want to restrict its export in order to further boost the F-35.

In the meantime, it does appear that Boeing is looking to minimize its exposure in the development process, as it's aggressively looking for development partners, while it leaves the start of aircraft development on pause, pending a review of the "business case."

They don't want to invest in a product that no one will buy, and so they are slipping the flight test dates by 6 months.

26 June 2009

The Atheist Problem

Don't say "God" while having sex with Atheists (NSFW)

Friday Night Cat (Lolz) Blogging

Another Senseless Physics Related Tragedy

Homeless Guy Smashes Other Homeless Guy Upside Head With Skateboard During Quantum Physics Argument:
A homeless man is on trial in San Mateo County on charges that he smacked a fellow transient in the face with a skateboard as the victim was engaged in a conversation about quantum physics, authorities said Wednesday.
I should have a joke here, but I got nothing.

Thankfully though, Opus3 at by invitation only Stellar Parthenon BBS does have a joke:
Actually, a common occurrence in physics departments, where the people look homeless...
He so owes me a screen wipe.

It's Bank Failure Friday!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Community Bank of West Georgia, Villa Rica, GA
  2. Neighborhood Community Bank, Newnan, GA
  3. Horizon Bank, Pine City, MN
  4. Metro Pacific Bank, Irvine, CA
Just wondering why so many of the bank failures have been in Georgia.

Full FDIC list

John Conyers' Wife Pleads Guilty On Corruption Count

Conyers' Wife Pleads Guilty On Corruption Count

No idea what this means, but one wonders how this can not tangle Representative Conyers' in this mess at some point.

Dan Froomkin's Last WaPo Column

White House Watched:
I'll be announcing my next move soon on whitehousewatch.com and also to anyone who e-mails me at froomkin@gmail.com. Please stay in touch.
The folks at the Washington Post are idiots.

WTO Says Environmental Tarriffs Legal

Much in the same way that they allow for the VAT to be charged at the border, a tariff to reflect the cost of carbon regulations would be legal:
Countries implementing cap-and-trade systems for greenhouse gases may be able to use border taxes to protect domestic industries, after the World Trade Organisation gave a cautious nod to such measures.
It's basic common sense, though they do note that it cannot be, "a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade".

Economics Update

Generally, the news has been pretty good, with personal income rising and consumer confidence hitting the highest level in over a year.

Additionally, we are seeing more signs of a credit thaw, with the 3 month dollar LIBOR falling below 0.6%.

In energy, we have an offer of amnesty on the table in Nigeria, which has driven oil lower.

This has led to a decreased perception of risk, which, along with some statements by China's central bank, drove the dollar down.

One wonders how bank failure Friday will shake out tonight.

Zimbabwe Update

First off, we have a row between Mugabe and Tsvangerai over the Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono.

This is a non-trivial row, because the spectacularly corrupt Gono was the architect of Zimbabwe's hyperinflation, and he did so in order to pay off the various ZANU-PF constituencies to support Mugabe.

It's gotten heated enough that the (ZANU-PF member) military and security chiefs have said that his removal would be unacceptable.

Members of the MDC have approached the Southern African Development Community asking for an intervention, but non seems forthcoming.

The regional association of governments is sticking with precedent, and being generally useless, so the MDC is moving toward changing the law chartering the Zimbabwean central bank so as to reduce Gono's authority.

Things are improving a bit though at least in economy, with inflation moderating, though the persecution of civil rights activists continues.

In mining, which will necessarily be a source of much needed foreign currency, you have the good and the bad

On the good side, you have Zimbabwe Zimbabwe moving to ban raw chromium ore exports, and insisting that it be smelted first, which will greatly increase the benefit to society, as there is 10x the profit post smelter. (as an aside, the US and EU have filed a case against against China for doing this at the WTO, because under neocolonialist WTO rules, poor countries are not supposed to develop industries based on their resources)

We also have some gold mines reopening.

On the down side, mines minister is still one of Mugabe's cronies, which means that he is still on the EU's sanction list, and was denied a visa to enter the UK, and all indications are that this was well justified, as civil rights violations at the mines seem to be pretty horrific.

Specifically it appears that the Zimbabwe army is using slave labor to operate diamond mines in the east of the country, as a way for Mugabe to continue to pay off the military for its support. (See also here)

We are starting to see some aid resuming to Zimbabwe, with Norway being among the first western nations to do so, though most nations are taking steps to ensure that the aid does not pass through government agencies, which are still compromised.

The Stupid, It Burns Us!!!!!

It comes from former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino, who says that the Sanford affair proves we need to ‘elect more women,’ because women do not cheat on their husbands.

Great googly moogly, that woman is stupid.

Deep Thought*

Farrah Fawcett died today, when she got to heaven god told her she could have one final wish.

She said she wanted all of the children on the Earth to be safe.

Shortly after Michael Jackson died of a heart attack.

*Not my thought though, it's been floating around the web.

25 June 2009

Not a Good Week for Celebrities

Ed McMahon a few datys back, and now Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

Posted via mobile.

Non Denial Denial from Bernanke

So, in testimony before the House Oversight Committee, he claims that the Federal Reserve acted with the "highest integrity" with regard to the BoA Merrill deal:
The Fed chairman said neither he nor any member of the Fed “instructed, or advised Bank of America to withhold from public disclosure any information relating to Merrill Lynch, including its losses, compensation packages or bonuses, or any other related matter.”

The disclosures “belong squarely with the company, and the Federal Reserve did not interfere in the company’s disclosure decisions,” he said.
Translation: I didn't tell him to lie, but I said that if disclosures queer the deal, you are toast.

He testified against legislation allowing for audits of the Federal Reserve:
When asked about legislation that would allow for broad audits of the Fed by the Government Accountability Office, Bernanke said such powers would compromise the central bank’s independence and be “highly destructive to the stability of the financial system, the dollar and our national economic situation.” Maintaining independence on monetary policy is “critical,” he said.
I may not be one of those financial whiz kids, but when someone says, "No audits," I think, "Serious waste, fraud, and abuse."

Note to Self: Read Murray Waas

Seriously, this guy is the best investigative reporter of my generation.

This time, he shows how the Bush administration leaked the fact that there was an investigation of Republican Congressman Rick Renzi the day after a wiretap warrant was approved:
In the fall of 2006, one day after the Justice Department granted permission to a U.S. attorney to place a wiretap on a Republican congressman suspected of corruption, existence of the investigation was leaked to the press — not only compromising the sensitive criminal probe but tipping the lawmaker off to the wiretap.

Career federal law enforcement officials who worked directly on a probe of former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) said they believe that word of the investigation was leaked by senior Bush administration political appointees in the Justice Department in an improper and perhaps illegal effort to affect the outcome of an election.

At the time of the leak, Renzi was locked in a razor-thin bid for reelection and unconfirmed reports of a criminal probe could have become politically damaging. The leaked stories — appearing 10 days before the election — falsely suggested that the investigation of Renzi was in its initial stages and unlikely to lead to criminal charges.
Note that if they had gotten permission to wire tap a Congressman, criminal charges are nearly a slam dunk, and the US attorney pursuing the investigation of the now-indicted Renzi was one of those purged by Bush and His Evil Minions for insufficient political loyalty.

BTW, it appear that the leaker may have been Alice Fisher, who was a recess appointment by President Bush as Assistant Attorney General in charge the Criminal Division of the DoJ.

She is the only assistant AG in that position who has never tried a criminal case.


The Supreme Court Gets One Right, 8-1

With Clarance "The Speed Bump" Thomas being the dissent.

Notwithstanding some very hostile questioning by justices at the arguments, the Supreme Court has ruled that strip searching a 13 year old girl because someone alleged she was carrying Advil on her is just wrong.

Unfortunately, they also said that the plaintiff, Savana Redding, could not pursue her lawsuit, because at the time, the law was not clear.

This is the first time in decades that the supreme court has ruled for student's rights at school.

I guess the spectacle of a 13 year old white girl being stripped for possession of headache pills was too much for even them.

I rather imagine that if Ms. Redding were black, the vote would have been closer.

Economics Update

It looks like the divergence between new and existing home sales is distressed sales
H/t The Mess That Greenspan Made
New unemployment claim numbers are out, and they posted a surprise gain, rising 15K, to 627K, as opposed to the predicted drop to 600K, while continuing claims rose slightly, and the 4 week moving average was basically unchanged.

We also have the revised figures for the 1st quarter GDP, which fell at a 5.5% annual rate, a slight upward revision from the 5.7% estimate last month.

Meanwhile, yesterday's Fed statement appears to have fears of increasing interest rates, so 2-Year Treasuries rose, meaning that the yield fell.

Additionally, the Fed announced that it is extending its emergency facilities from October to February, so the sh&^pile for cash has at least 5 more months life.

The jobs numbers served to drive the dollar up as investors looked for safe havens, and oil rose on more reports of Nigerian unrest.

The Next Conservative Hissy Fit

John Kerry made a joke again
[Kerry] was telling a group of business and civic leaders in town at his invitation about the “bizarre’’ tale of how South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford had “disappeared for four days’’ and claimed to be hiking along the Appalachian Trail, but no one was really certain of his whereabouts.

“Too bad,’’ Kerry said, “if a governor had to go missing it couldn’t have been the governor of Alaska. You know, Sarah Palin.’’
(emphasis mine)

I figure that after about 72 hours or so of faux outrage from the right, John Kerry will call a press conference to apologize.

He shouldn't though, it was damn funny.

This Can't Be Good

We are seeing an increase in senior executives are dumping shares in their firms.

It's a pretty good indication that the recent run-up in share prices was a dead cat bounce, perhaps driven by accounting tricks to maximize profit this quarter.

Now is the Time to Fire an Officer, President Obama

Stars and Stripes is reporting that the US Army has barred one of its reporters from embedding with a unit because they found his coverage too aggressive:
Asserting that Stars and Stripes “refused to highlight” good news in Iraq that the U.S. military wanted to emphasize, Army officials have barred a Stripes reporter from embedding with a unit of the 1st Cavalry Division that is attempting to secure the violent city of Mosul.


Despite the opportunity to visit areas of the city where Iraqi Army leaders, soldiers, national police and Iraqi police displayed commitment to partnership, Mr. Druzin refused to highlight any of this news,” Major Ramona Bellard, a public affairs officer, wrote in denying Druzin’s embed request.


The Army’s denial of Druzin’s embed request appears to violate the Pentagon’s established ground rules regarding embedded reporters, which state: “These ground rules recognize the inherent right of the media to cover combat operations and are in no way intended to prevent release of embarrassing, negative or derogatory information.”
Whoever gave this order, and whatever superiors backed them up on this, are in violation of military regulations, federal laws, military policy, and the basic values of this republic, and Barack Obama should fire them.

There is no allegation of a security breach, just that the reporter was not "cooperative."

We Are Seeing a Real Change in Politics Here

We now have a second threatened Democratic pol coming out in favor of gay marriage, the 1st was Chris Dodd, New Jersey Governor John Corzine, who currently trails his challenger significantly.

What this represents is a change in the politics of gay rights and gay marriage.

Democratic politicians are now seeing this position as a political asset rather than a political liability.

Barack Obama should note this when dealing with DOMA and DADT.

Barry Ritholtz States the Clearly Obvious

When, in response to efforts in the real estate and mortgage industry to reign in appraisal reform, he says that, "I am beginning to suspect that the Realtor’s association and the Mortgage Broker’s association are pro-fraud."

Well, duh.

Interview With a Vampire

Actually, it's an interview with Wendell Potter, a former head of corporate communications for medical insurer CIGNA, but both positions involve causing death and sucking blood.

His interview shows a window to a very nasty place.

Why I Love Barney Frank*

In describing the defense budget, the distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts correctly describes the folks pushing for more defense spending, who normally oppose all spending because of deficit issues, as thinking thinking that, "the Pentagon is funded with Monopoly money that somehow doesn’t count.

It gets better when he talks about F-22 supporters:
These arguments will come from the very people who denied that the economic recovery plan created any jobs. We have a very odd economic philosophy in Washington: It’s called weaponized Keynesianism. It is the view that the government does not create jobs when it funds the building of bridges or important research or retrains workers, but when it builds airplanes that are never going to be used in combat, that is of course economic salvation.

Here is a recording of the interview.

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

24 June 2009

What the Frack is Wrong With Google Ads?

Srsly. They just served up this Ann Coulter advertisement.

I wouldn't read her if you paid me.

Economics Update

New Home sales and interest rates (H/t The Big Picture)
So the OMC of the Fed held its meeting, and left interest rates and purchases of debt unchanged, which basically means that they are still concerned about the recession, and not inflation, which they called "subdued".

You can see the full statement here.

On a more general level, we have durable goods rose unexpectedly in May, primarily on increased aircraft sales, but new home sales unexpectedly decreased in May.

We have a further indication of weakness in real estate from the Architecture billings index, which was up only 1/10 point, and still indicates continued contraction.

Mortgage applications rose last week, but that week was hit hard by the higher interest rates at that time.

We also have an indication that it's not just real-estate where banks will be hurting. The Moody’s Credit Card Index showed charge offs in excess of 10% for the first time ever, so in addition, to subprime, prime, and commercial real estate, expect to see big losses from credit cards.

Meanwhile, the Fed statement drove the dollar up, and oil down.

Mark Sanford Returns from Narnia*

My bad, he was in Argentina, not hiking in Appalachia.

Oh, and while he was there, he was screwing some chippie, as he admitted at his press conference.

Real classy guy. He apologized to his girl friend and the press before he apologized to his wife, see video below.

He's resigning as chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association, which means that he's suffered enough, so <Chris Crocker>leave Sanford alone!!!</Chris Crocker>

Meanwhile, the emails between the two of them have been leaked, and the late night comics will have a field day with this.

*Not my joke, I got it from Cthulhu.
No, not the unspeakably malevolent super-being, the contributor to the Shortskoolbus BBS.
OK, I've never seen the two of them together, so Cthulhu might actually be the Cthulu, but the mere fact that he is on a BBS, interacting with humans§ would seem to mitigate against this.
§Yes, I know, this is the internet, where no one knows if you are a dog.

The Real Threat to Marriage as We Know it

Republican marriage.

Mark Sanford, Larry Craig, John Ensign, David Vitter, Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, Ronald Reagan, etc.

I'm thinking about trying to get a bill passed banning Republican marriage. It's a threat to the traditional understanding of marriage.

23 June 2009

Elections Make a Difference: Prescription Drug Edition

The Federal Trade Commission is coming out in support of legislation outlawing pay for delay deals between brand-name and generic drug manufacturers.

Pay for delay is where the drug maker that created a drug pays generic drug manufacturers not to make a generic equivalent once the patent has expired.

Eliminating this practice should save consumers about $35 billion over the next 10 years.

Missed This in the Economic Update

The Number of mass layoffs hit a record, with a total of 2,933 layoffs involving 50 people or more, for May.

The Rude Pundit is a F&^%ing Genius

I can't add anything to his, very profane, coverage of Barack Obama's press conference.

Go read.

Here is the embedded video.

Three Banks Halt TARP Dividend Payments

They don't have the cash to make dividend payments, so they are no longer making payments, though, under the terms of the TARP they have 20 quarters, or 5 years (!) to defer interest payments without technically being in default.

The banks in question are Pacific Capital Bancorp, Seacoast Banking Corp, and Midwest Banc Holdings.

According to a GAO report, there are 17 banks that did not pay dividends in May, but they did not list names, so there is no knowing who the other 14 institutions are.

1000 Words on the RIAA

1 MP3 is the same 31/3 dead relatives.

Heck of a society we have.

Click image to see the uncropped full screen shot.

Economics Update

Philly Fed Coincident Index(red is bad)
The Philadelphia Bank of the Federal Reserve has released its "state coincident indicators", and 49 of 50 states showed contraction during the past quarter.

And another day, another S&P downgrades of residential mortgage backed securities. They review 101, and downgraded 93 of them.

Meanwhile, May existing home roes, but the year over number is still down, and median home prices have declined 16.7% year over year, so there is no incication that prices are falling.

Distressed home sales, foreclosures, short sales, etc., declined to only 33% (!) of sales from 45% (!!!) in April, so we are still well in vulture territory.

There looks to be downward pressure on interest rates, as treasurys have risen, pushing the yield down.

Not much in the way of "green shoots" in Europe, with both consumer spending in France and the a purchasing managers' index in Germany falling.

Of course everyone is holding their breath about what the Federal Open Market Committee will do tomorrow, though the consensus is that they will not raise rates, which pushed the dollar lower.

The falling dollar, and unrest in Nigeria, drove oil up today/a>, it finished the session at just below $70/bbl.

David Paterson May Not Be the Chief Clown in the New York State Politics Clown Show

In fact, he may not even be number 2...or number 3, or even number 31, or for that matter, he may not even be number 62

You see, the New York Senate Democrats have locked themselves in the Senate chambers to prevent the Republicans from holding their own special session, which they did anyway, and claimed to have passed everything by 62-0, and that the session is over.

Of course with 31 people on each side, there is no quorum, so neither side of the aisle is acting with anything resembling sanity.

Only there was nothing to pass, because David Paterson had not bothered to finish the bills and send them to the legislature for the emergency session called by one David Paterson.

That being said, I think that NY State Senator Pedro Espada is the chief clown.

It appears now that he's trying to extort money from the Democratic caucus, asking for $2 million for his "not-for-profit" health clinic chainwhen jumped to the other side over not getting $75 thousand for his little scam.

What's more after weeks of claiming that thieves had broken into his "second" home in tony Mamaronack, he represents the Bronx, and stolen only those papers, the documents have turned up:
Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. now says thieves didn't get the key documents he suggested might have been swiped during a reported burglary at his "second home" in Westchester County.

Espada, under investigation for living outside his Bronx district, raised eyebrows last week when he said that whoever broke into his Mamaroneck home stole files and documents - but no other valuables.
(emphasis mine)

How the hell this guy stays out of jail, I'll never know.

Additionally, he had to be threatened with criminal charges before he was willing turn over his campaign donation information to state campaign finance authorities, though it appears that he still hasn't paid the fines.

Meanwhile, a grand jury has been convened, and is investigating whether Espada committed fraud by misstating his true residence, and the Bronx DA is now going back further, looking at his earlier campaigns.

You know, relative to this crap, I live in a good government state, and I live in Maryland.

I never ever thought that I would put the phrase "good government" and "Maryland" in the same sentence.

Goldman Sachs is at the Heart of this Mess

It's not just Goldman, it's a systemic thing, but their role in the collapse of AIG:
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA extracted about $11.4 billion from American International Group Inc. before the insurer’s collapse as the firms demanded to hold cash against losses on mortgage-linked securities, according to regulatory filings.
The problem with credit default swaps is that unlike short selling, which only effects a share price (though naked shorts should be banned, and the ban enforced), credit default swaps (CDS) can have the effect of bankrupting a company in a matter of hours, and frequently the holders of these securities have no interest in the survival of the underlying assets.

Supreme Court Sends Clear Signal that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is Dead Man Walking

The ruling itself is pretty narrow, ruling against the Department of Justice in a way that effects this case only, but it also invalidated an appellate court precedent, and it's pretty clear that this court will rule against the voting rights act on a case by case basis until they feel that there is enough precedent to kill it completely.

Not Enough Bullets: Goldman Sachs Edition

Yes, the masters of the universe are once again going to make obscenely huge bonuses to its senior staff:
Staff at Goldman Sachs staff can look forward to the biggest bonus payouts in the firm's 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year, sparking concern that the big investment banks which survived the credit crunch will derail financial regulation reforms.
Of course the very next paragraph seems to indicate that the nominal reason for these bonuses, retention of skilled staff, is not operative:
A lack of competition and a surge in revenues from trading foreign currency, bonds and fixed-income products has sent profits at Goldman Sachs soaring, according to insiders at the firm.
Lack of competition for business implies lack of competition for employees, but the bonuses keep going up.

Sounds to Me Like Another Republican Spending a Few Days In the Closet

One of the odd bit of news right now is that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has gone missing.

He ditched his security detail, he's turned off his cell phones, and no one can find him.

The interesting quote in the above story is from his wife:
Neither his wife, nor the state's lieutenant governor, nor police officials know where he is, South Carolina newspapers reported.

But Jenny Sanford told the Associated Press she wasn't worried.

"He was writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids," she said while vacationing with the couple's four sons.
(emphasis mine)

She sounds to me like someone who is studiously avoiding trying to find the answer to this.

The real issue here is not Mark Sandford's personal life. It's the concern that self-hating individuals, and the closet does imply self-loathing, do not make good decisions on the public policy.

Here is a question, how many straight Republicans who practice marital fidelity does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Either one can do it themselves.

The governor has been located.

He has been hiking along the Appalachian Trail....Yeah, sure, I believe that.

A commenter on the 2nd link nails it:
brads77 Jun 23, 2009 7:28:12 AM
The only reason this guy would have hiked the Appalachian Trail is because he wanted to visit the Home of Deliverance--thinking that the movie was a love story.
Brads77 owes me a screen wipe.

22 June 2009

Well, Here's a Bit of Good Politics in the Financial Overhaul

On the top right, we have the reorganization of the various financial institutions.

Let's zoom in a bit in the right hand side, and we see that Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS)will both be eliminated.

The elimination of the OTS is no surprise, apart perhaps from Greenspan's Federal Reserve, it was the agency most complicit with the bubble.

That being said, the elimination of the OCC is a very good thing. The head of the office was appointed by George W. Bush in 2005, and has a 5 year term, which makes it rather difficult for Obama to get rid of him.

The problem is that the current Comptroller John C. Dugan, has been a roadblock on almost any sort of regulation.

He's successfully gone to the Supreme Court to preempt state regulations, and he has been a major impediment in implementing even the tepid regulations that the Obama administration has proposed.

They are killing the office to get rid of him, and even if the change does not pass, it means that for the foreseeable future, there aren't any banks that will take his instruction without some other agency confirming him.

They just cut Dugan off at the knees, and this action is both wise and well deserved.

Train Crash in DC

2 Metro Rail trains collided, and the death toll is now at 6.

When I Think Back On all the Crap I Learned in High School

Kodak is ending production of its Kodachrome color film after 74 years.

Video below:

A Question Regarding Atheists

This cartoon seems to imply that some sort of latte is is the holy sacrament of Atheists.

If this is the case, is it a full caf, half caf, skinny, mocha, soy, or what?

Or do you, like us God fearing folks, just kill each other over disagreements about what sort of sacrament is appropriate to drink, as is traditional?

Economics Update

Last week, I mentioned that some of the declines in continuing unemployment claims might be the result of benefits exhaustion.

Well now we have the chart pr0n to show it, and I'm now wondering how many of the people dropping off the rolls are actually getting work.

Still, we are seeing some signs of improving business confidence, this time it's German business confidence, which is up for the 3rd straight month.

I tend to prefer less ephemeral statistics though, such as commercial real estate prices (down 8.6% from April and down 25% year over year) and the fact that rail and truck traffic are still trending down.

We are also seeing some more signs of a reduced appetite for risk, with the dollar strengthening.

In energy, both crude oil and retail gasoline fell, largely on good inventories and concerns about a jobless "recovery".

Note that this is the first time that gasoline has fallen in 54 days.

Dodd Comes Out in Favor of Marriage Equality

I am not sure whether Chris Dodd's official announcement of his support for marriage equality is being driven by a legitimate change in view, a recognition that the public is moving in this direction at a blindingly fast pace, or desperation over his otherwise low poll numbers in Connecticut following the entire business with his mortgage.

I really don't care why he is doing this as much as I care that it is the right thing.

Pay Per View Review

It was my just-turned-12-year-old daughter's turn to choose a movie, and she chose Twilight.

Kristen Stewart ... Bella Swan
Robert Pattinson ... Edward Cullen
Billy Burke ... Charlie Swan
Ashley Greene ... Alice Cullen
Nikki Reed ... Rosalie Hale
Jackson Rathbone ... Jasper Hale
Kellan Lutz ... Emmett Cullen
Peter Facinelli ... Dr. Carlisle Cullen
Cam Gigandet ... James
Taylor Lautner ... Jacob Black
Anna Kendrick ... Jessica Stanley
Michael Welch ... Mike Newton
Christian Serratos ... Angela Weber
Gil Birmingham ... Billy Black
Elizabeth Reaser ... Esme Cullen

It's a Vampire film, based on the book, which Natalie read, and enjoyed immensely, and it's very much geared towards tween girls, and so she loved the book, and so chose the movie.

I really tried to talk her out of it, but she was having none of that, and it is a kind of a reward for her reading, so what can a parent do..

The plot is straight forward, Vampire meets girl, they fall in love, damsel in distress ensues.

For what it was, and I would not see this sort of film except under familial duress, it's of fairly high quality, well shot, and well acted.

I think that the combat sequences could have been a bit better, but I'm a big fan of Kurasawa's filming of combat in The Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress, which has a level of realism that would not match the target audience (12 year old girls).

It is what it is, and if you like what that is, and I really don't, you'll enjoy it.

The only surprises were that there were some legitimately funny bits to it, and I felt no need to claw my eyes out.

Why I've Not Been Posting on Healthcare Legislation

I think that it's important, and it's something of direct interest to me, I get my insurance, and pay a lot for it, through MHIP, but I simply do not believe that a meaningful plan is on the way, and so I find it to depressing to write about.

Between the belief that the plan needs some Republican votes, even though meaningful healthcare reform will cut their own throats politically, and the power of the insurance, the AMA, and medical lobbies, I just don't see anything meaningful happening.

So, I read, and I get depressed, and how often can I call someone like Bayh, or Baucus, or Conrad pig felching rat bastards?

It adds very little to the understanding of the situation.

50% Off Peak

This is across the pond, where the there has been a £1.15 billion default on bonds for 9 office buildings in downtown London.

The value of the properties has declined 50% from peak.

We will see a lot more of this in commercial real estate, particularly since most of the loans are relatively short term, typically about 5 years, and the note will come due, and there will be no opportunity to refinance, because the value of the property has fallen.

H/t Calculated Risk

21 June 2009

You Can Now Follow This On Twitter

Using a utility called Twitterfeed, which allows RSS feeds to be fed into twitter.

You can see the feed here, and it's called "40_Years".

I've also put the link into the Feeds/RSS box on the upper right.

This post will remain on the top for a few days.

Father's Day Has Never Been a Big Thing for My Dad and Me

My mom was killed by a drunk driver when I was 14, so we've always made a bigger deal over "Mutha's Day," since he raised me from that point on.

I always call him on Mother's, and it's usually an overseas call, as he typically hits Europe that time of year.

I've been doing that for years.

We actually got together for a cookout today, though his and my step-mom's being here was about their annual trip out east for a conference in DC and not Father's day.

Neither of us remembered until my daughter, Natalie, made mention of it.

I did up lamb chops for everyone but Charlie, my son, who is not a big fan of meat, so I did a Cornish game hen for him.

Of course, I used my Indian spice rub and plum barbecue sauce.

We hung out, shot the breeze, he gave lots of advice (he is my dad, after all), and a good time was had by all.

My wife and kids are going out for ice cream in a bit.

Russia Looking at AESA on MiG-35

This is not a development, as Russia, or more exactly the USSR, is the only nation to have fielded a combat fighter in squadron service with a phased array radar, the MiG-31 Foxhound.

It appears that much of this development is being driven by the Indian medium fighter competition.

The installation appears to be a bit tight (top pic) in the demonstration, though there may be more changes to shrink the "back end" of the radar and increase the aperture size in the production model.

The ground mapping imagery (bottom pic) does appear to indicate a very significant improvement in air to surface capabilities.

An Idea So Good, that the USAF Will Never Do It

Specifically, the idea that a relatively low performance airframe can serve better in the counter-insurgency (COIN) or the close air support role than something like the F-15, F-16, F-22, or F-35 JSF.

Not only would lower performance aircraft tend to have better short and rough field capabilities, just as the A-10 Warthog currently does, but they would be able to loiter over the battlefield for a much longer time, as they are designed for this regime, unlike aircraft designed to operate above 30,000 feet and to reach supersonic speeds.

Case in point, the Combat Air Tractor, an aircraft based on Air Tractor's crop dusting aircraft.

It can take off and land off of rough airfields in less than 100m, and can loiter over the battle field for over 10 hours.(click slide show [top] for pictures of aircraft and weapons load outs)

The CAT also costs somewhere between $4 and $10 million dollars, as opposed to the $80-$200 million of a JSF, and it has been used in combat situations, spraying herbicide on coca fields and the like, and the aircraft is on the tarmac at the Paris air show.

While it would be an unlikely choice, there are also rumblings that the USAF is considering modifying their T-6 trainer for a similar role (bottom pic)

Personally, I'd favor something turbofan powered, because it could be designed with narrow-band stealth against radar guided AAA, but anything is better than the current plan, which is JSF's for everything.

Jon Stewart is a F%$#ing Genius, Part 46.38336797

2 video clips, lots of laughs.

1 of 2

2 of 2

20 June 2009

Too True, Healthcare Edition

Lockheed Concerned That Israel Will Terminate F-35

Israel's early order of the JSF has provided a lot of credibility to the program, but concerns about the escalating costs, and the inflexibility, the plane is a closed platform to which the Israelis cannot add their own systems,is causing some cold feet inside the IDF/AF.

By way of hand holding, Lockheed has proposed to offered to do final assembly in Israel.

While there has been a lot of effort to portray this aircraft as a colossus striding across the world military jet fighter market, it's position actually seems precarious.

Locking Small Children in Car Trunks

And why this can be a good thing sometimes.

My wife is driving a rental car, because an adjuster is looking at her car, a 2008 Dodge Avenger.

While loading the trunk I noticed the emergency release handle on the latch (see crappy cell phone pic)

It's there to deal with the problem of small children locking themselves in the trunk ans suffocating.

In condicting human factors resarch on how to make the use of the device as easy and intuitive as possible, at one point, researchers locked children in trunks of cars, and observed their progress on infra red cameras.

It's kind of neat.

Posted via mobile.

GE-Rolls Gets Smart on F136 JSF Alternate Engine Bid

With the Pentagon gunning for the GE-Rolls Royce alternate engine, because they want their pig, the F-35 JSF, to fly as soon as possible, and the Pratt & Whitney's F135 is already paid for, the alternative engine is behind the 8-ball, even if all indications are that it will provide superior performance, and that the competition between the two engines is likely to provide significant cost savings over time.

The F100/F110 competition between P&W and GE saved about 20%, but the basic F-110 was already flying as the F-101 on the B-1 bomber before it challenged the F-100.

The problem is that the services, particularly the Air Force and the Marines, want the JSF right now even more than they want the JSF get it right, and the money spent developing the F136 engine could be used to accelerate keep the schedule from slipping quite so much.

I think that it's penny wise and pound foolish, but things being what they are, the Pentagon, and Lockheed are right about the fact that once the aircraft enters squadron service, it will be much harder to cancel.

Well, the F-136 team just had a cunning plan.

In fact, it's so cunning, if you put a tail on it, you could call it a weasel: They are looking at making a firm, fixed-price contract proposal (paid subscription required) for the engine, which would make it a "known known", as opposed to a "known unknown" (or maybe an "unknown unknown", I gotta stop trying Rumsfeld-Speak, my head hurts).

In any case, the F136 does have friends on the House Armed Services Committee, who just added money for it back into the budget.

19 June 2009

Japanese-English Translation Fail


20 Pictures That Give Steroids A Bad Name

Great googly moogly

New York Senate Goes Kafka

Because turncoat State Senator Sen. Pedro Espada, he's the one who runs the phony charity that he pays himself from while he breaks campaign finance laws, not the one who slashed his girl friend's face, is now claiming that he actually gets two votes in the State Senate, because when the Republicans elected him president pro tempore of the Senate it gave him the "duties of the Lieutenant Governor" when there is no Lieutenant Governor.

I seriously think that this won't end until some Senator goes Preston Brooks on another Senator on the floor.

This is Just Wrong

This Entire John Ensign Affair Thing Has Taken a Sinister Turn

The blockbuster here appears to be that another Senator, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, was present at at least some of the discussions on this matter between Ensign and his former staffer, though it also appears that there is the suggestion that Ensign was stalking Ms. Hampton after the relationship ended.

Well, it appears that Senator Ensign was slowly backing away from the allegations of extortion over the past few days, and law enforcement has said that there have been no allegations of such.

What is interesting is that Doug Hampton, the cuckolded husband seems to have felt threatened about something, because he sent a letter to Fox News about claiming that he was threatened about 5 days before Ensign went public, and while Fox denies having tipped him off, they now admit having received the letter.

It appears that someone there tipped off the Senator to this, and now that the contents of the letter have been leaked, we're hearing rumblings of potential extortion again, only Ensign's office is suggesting that it was his council, who they have not named.

So, murmurings of extortion, but no names, for now, I am betting that this is Bullsh&%.

My guess is that the sequence of events is as follows:
  1. Affair occurs. (agreed to by all sides)
  2. His colleagues in the Senate confront him about the affair in February of 2008
  3. Stalking or a vendetta by Ensign.
  4. Letter to Fox News.
  5. Fox sits on the letter.
  6. Fox tips off Ensign.
  7. Ensign goes public, and starts spreading rumors about extortion.
  8. Ensign's office starts floating an extortion smear.
  9. Reporters start checking with law enforcement, find no evidence of extortion.
  10. Ensign's office backs off extortion smear.
  11. Las Vegas Sun gets a copy of the letter, which makes Ensign look like Kathy Bates' character Annie Wilkes from the movie Misery.
  12. We start hearing the extortion smack again.
Pass the popcorn

Text of Doug Hampton's letter to Fox News:
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Fox News- Corporate Office
1211 Avenue of the America’s (sic)
New York, New York 10036

Megyn Kelly,

More than any time in my life I understand why people take matters into their own hands. I am disheartened! I have sought wise counsel, tried to do the right thing and continue to run into road blocks (sic) in dealing with a very terrible circumstance and injustice that lives in my life. I am hoping you and Fox News can help.

My name is Doug Hampton. I am a former employee of US (sic) Senator John Ensign. I worked for Senator Ensign in his official government office on Capitol Hill from November 2006 to April 2008. My responsibilities were the oversight of his personnel in Washington as well as the state of Nevada. Duties included budgets, policy and public speaking on behalf of the Senator and his initiatives.

Here is my story. In December of 2007 in the midst of some very difficult personal issues that deeply impacted my family and marriage, Senator Ensign pursued and engaged in a relationship with my wife. Our families were lifelong friends, our children attend school together to this day, and our homes are in neighborhoods across from each other. My wife was the Senator’s campaign treasurer.

There is a tremendous amount (sic) of details and critical facts associated with this story and their relationship that will not be addressed in this letter but are very important and need to be further explored if you choose to meet with me. The purpose of this letter is to establish the framework for discussion and provide enough information to warrant a meeting with you and Fox News. This is the only letter of its kind and no other news stations have been contacted with this information. I have great respect and affection for Fox News and many of your collages (sic). I’m sending this to you because you have a legal back ground (sic) and this story has several legal elements.

The unethical behavior and immoral choice of Senator Ensign has been confronted by me and others on a number of occasions over this past year. In fact one of the confrontations took place in February 2008 at his home in Washington DC (sic) with a group of his peers. One of the attendee’s (sic) was Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma as well as several other men who are close to the Senator. Senator Ensign’s conduct and relentless pursuit of my wife led to our dismissal in April of 2008. I would like to say he stopped his heinous conduct and pursuit upon our leaving, but that was not the case and his actions did not subside until August of 2008.

The actions of Senator Ensign have ruined our lives and careers and left my family in shambles. We have lost significant income, suffered indescribable pain and emotional suffering. We find ourselves today with an overwhelming loss of relationships, career opportunities and hope for recovery. Our pursuit of justice continues to place me and my family in harm’s way as we fear for our well being (sic).

Today, Senator Ensign’s responsibility and stature have increased within the US (sic) Senate. His is currently the head of “Policy” for the Republican Party, the number four position within the Parties (sic) leadership team. We on the other hand are completely ruined and left to deal with the aftermath of very evil and completely unjustifiable acts by one of our countries (sic) top leaders.

It appears there may be nothing the law can do to correct and bring justice and restitution to (sic) this terrible wrong that has been done to us. I have sought a number of lawyers who are having difficulty finding charges that may hold up in court. There are either technicalities that exist due to the time period in which I have sought help, or other nuances that quite frankly make no sense to me given the egregious acts and blatant abuse of power by Senator Ensign. From my perspective this whole nightmare is terribly wrong and completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

I clearly understand this story is difficult to believe for anyone reading (sic) for the first time. I too would have difficulty believing it, if someone brought me this story. However I assure you it is true and there are facts, a paper trail, phone records and personal witnesses to testify to its truth. It is my belief we are dealing with a very powerful person and an institution in the US (sic) Senate that only the media can pierce to expose the wrong and bring light and focus to what needs to be done? (sic)

Please help me! This should not be how the leadership of our country should be allowed to behave. I need justice, help and restitution for what Senator Ensign has done to me and my family. Regardless of technicalities, regardless of position, regardless of power this cannot and should not be tolerated in our country from our trusted leaders. Will you help? Will you consider a meeting with me to further discuss this story and what can be done to bring justice and correction to this situation?

I love this country and considered it a great privilege to work in the US (sic) Senate. I am bringing this to you and Fox News to address this professionally and correctly. I could have sought the most liberal, Republican hating media to expose this story, but there are people’s lives at stake and justice is about proper process as well as outcome. Senator Ensign has no business serving in the US (sic) Senate anymore! I will send you and (sic) email as well as leave you and your staff messages in an attempt to meet you and your team as soon as possible. I live and work in Nevada but can be in New York within hours, I look forward to your help.

Doug Hampton
And yes, I am feeling a bit of Schadenfreude about this, pass the popcorn.