31 October 2010

Trick or Treating

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The Rubikuitous Charlie

The most Sanguine Natalie

For that thoughtful look with: her glasses on
We went trick or treating tonight.

Natalie tried to go upscale on her fangs for her vampire costume, and go with ones that just fit on her eye-teeth, as opposed to the mouth guard type ones, and it didn't work, so she improvised using some sugary blood syrup that she got at the SCA event on Saturday.

Charlie's costume, a Rubik's Cube, however worked out very well, and he got a lot of compliments, though he did experience, as I had warned him, issues with comfort and mobility.

Still, they had fun, and took in a decent haul of hysteria inducing sugar, so they both considered their outing a success.

We had to return home at one point, because they needed gloves.

Neither of their costumes were amenable to the use of pockets to warm one's hands.

I remember trick or treating when I was a kid, with my Dad watching, and now I am watching as my kids trick or treat.

It's the whole "circle of life" thing, I guess.

The Stewart Rally

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I didn't go, it was our anniversary, and I have not watched the vids yet, but here are some of the signs I found via "the Google."


So, ABC decided to have Andrew Breitbart as a contributor to their election night coverage, despite the fact that he has repeatedly punked the news media with deliberately false and deceptive "news" stories, and now they are trying to walk this clusterf%$# back:
Since conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart announced on his website that he was going to be a participant in ABC’s Town Hall meeting at Arizona State University, there has been considerable consternation and misinformation regarding my decision to ask him to participate in an election night Town Hall event for ABC News Digital. I want to explain what Mr. Breitbart's role has always been as one of our guests at our digital town hall event:

Mr. Breitbart is not an ABC News analyst.

He is not an ABC News consultant.

He is not, in any way, affiliated with ABC News.

He is not being paid by ABC News.

He has not been asked to analyze the results of the election for ABC News.

Mr. Breitbart will not be a part of the ABC News broadcast coverage, anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. For the broadcast coverage, David Muir and Facebook's Randi Zuckerberg will contribute reaction and response gathered from the students and faculty of Arizona State University at an ABC News/Facebook town hall.

He has been invited as one of several guests, from a variety of different political persuasions, to engage with a live, studio audience that will be closely following the election results and participating in an online-only discussion and debate to be moderated by David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg on ABCNews.com and Facebook. We will have other guests, as well as a live studio audience and a large audience on ABCNews.com and Facebook, who can question the guests and the audience’s opinions.
I have no objection to ABC using conservatives as either news analysts or "guests" on their discussions.

That is a basic journalistic activity.

That being said, when you do so, you have an obligation to bring on someone who has is own opinions, not his own (made up) facts.

Andrew Breitbart is an individual who has deliberately, and maliciously created fake news stories to pursue his political agenda, and he continues to do so.

If you are a news organization, and you don't use the words, "professional liar," before any mention of him, you are a piss-poor news organization.

The Nobility Gets the Best Sh%$ to Smoke

Instead of going to the Stewart/Colbert march for Sanity/Fear, Sharon*, the kids, and I went to TNT, an SCA event held by our local group (the Barony of Brighthills).

I got called up to receive a baronial award, the Order of Job, for selfless service to the Barony.

I'm a wee bit confused: I don't recall doing much beyond cutting up some veggies, making the oldest recorded recipe for chocolate for an event, and washing a few dishes.

In any case, it was our 16th anniversary, and we enjoyed ourselves. We ate, we danced, we made glass beads using a torch.

I got my wife some books as an anniversary gift.

It's so nice having a wife who doesn't want to be surprised by such things: I just point her at the book seller, and she says, "Is this OK honey?"

This is much better than the expectation that I am a mind reader.

A good time was had by all.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

30 October 2010

Not Gonna Happen……

The real reason for the UK independent deterrent
With the draconian British budget cuts, and the conversion of their carrier aviation from the STOVL F-35B to the CTOL F-35C, there is now talk of the British engaging in some form of joint carrier operations with the French:
London's decision to fit catapults on its planned second aircraft carrier opened up the prospect of French Rafale strike fighters flying off a British flattop, with reciprocal rights for British aircraft off the French carrier, French Defense Minister Hervé Morin said Oct. 26 at the Euronaval trade show.

Morin asked the French military staff to assess whether the installation of catapults would allow French aircraft, such as the Rafale, to operate off the Royal Navy vessel, and the answer was: "Yes, it's technically feasible," he told journalists.

That opened up potential opportunities of interoperability and mutual interdependence between the British and French fleets, he said. With such cross-deck operations came the possibility of a "permanent presence at sea," he said.
I just don't see it happening.

While the French and British have on occasion used common aircraft, most notably the SEPECAT Jaguar, given the nearly thousand-year history of animus between the two nations (see "Yes Prime Minister" vid), I just cannot see them operating jointly in this manner.

Holy Sh%$

Last weekend, the US Military lost control of a missile squadron:
President Obama was briefed this morning on an engineering power failure at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming that took 50 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), one-ninth of the U.S. missile stockpile, temporarily offline on Saturday.

The base is a main locus of the United States' strategic nuclear forces. The 90th Missile Wing, headquartered there, controls 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles. They're on full-time alert and are housed in a variety of bunkers across several states.

On Saturday morning, according to people briefed on what happened, a squadron of ICBMs suddenly dropped down into what's known as "LF Down" status, meaning that the missileers in their bunkers could no longer communicate with the missiles themselves. LF Down status also means that various security protocols built into the missile delivery system, like intrusion alarms and warhead separation alarms, were offline. In LF Down status, the missiles are still technically launch-able, but they can only be controlled by an airborne command and control platform like the Boeing E-6 NAOC "Kneecap" aircraft, E-4B NAOC aircraft or perhaps the TACAMO fleet, which is primarily used to communicate with nuclear submarines. Had the country been placed on a higher state of nuclear alert, those platforms would be operating automatically because the frequencies used to transmit nuclear codes would be interfacing with separate systems, according to officials.
(strike-through original)

This is about 19 of our land based deterrent.

Great googly moogly.

29 October 2010

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

No FDIC closures, so the count for this year remains at 139, see the full FDIC list, but there was a credit union failure:
  1. Phil-Pet Federal Credit Union, Pampa, TX
Full NCUA list

It does seem like the trend is slowing, but it's still pretty awful.

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

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

OK, Google™ Adsense™ Has Me Confused

So, I see an ad for Charles Loller.

He's running for Congress in Maryland, as a Republican, in the 5th Congressional district.

Normally, this is the place where I would say, "What the f%$# is Google™ Adsense™ doing putting an ad for a Republican on my page?"

I know my reader(s) and they are NOT Republicans.

Only …………… The 5th Congressional district is Steny Hoyer's district, and I have been consistently critical of him, so the Republican party running an ad for their sacrificial lamb,* in this district might actually meet the eyeballs of someone who is disgusted, as I am, with the distinguished gentleman from the 5th.

So, by the generally low standards of Google™ Adsense™, this actually appears to be a well done job, by virtue of being marginally competent.

Still, if I were running his campaign, I think that I might be a bit miffed that I was paying (fractions of a cent) for this.

Please note: once again, that I do not vet, nor do I endorse any ad that appears on my site, and I reserve the right to mock both the ads that appear on my site, as well as the advertisers.

Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google Adsense.

*No, I am not going to pivot off of the sacrificial lamb statement to make a "black sheep" joke, and I will note that if this race were at all competitive, this guy would not have gotten the Republican Party nomination, because the Republican Party does not want black candidates elected, the party sees them as nothing more than useful window dressing.

No, I Did Not See Obama's Interview on The Daily Show…

I haven't had time, or the inclination, though I have read excerpts.

The excerpts do not impress me, but then again, I'm not in the "Impressed by Barack Obama," demographics, and and have not been since late 2007 (scroll down). I held my nose to vote for him in the general in 2008.

I just don't feel any need to see it, though I probably will when the election passes.

Call it my own 'enthusiasm gap'.

Well, Alaska Just Got Weird

With polls showing Lisa Murkowski in the lead, and the board of elections, in a transparent attempt to help her campaign, putting out a list of "registered write-in candidates," for the first time in history, which is in court, but the Alaska Supreme Court is allowing the decision to stand for now pending arguments.

In response, Joe Miller and the Alaska Teabaggers have flooded the election office to register hundreds of write ins to be added to the list.

With Miller firmly in 3rd place in the latest polls, and these polls were before the release of his personnel files, I can understand why they want to move votes from Murkowski to him, but this would appear to move votes from Lisa Murkowski to Lisa Martini, or Lisa Murkin, or Lisa Murrow, which has the effect of boosting Democrat Scott Adams.

Pass the popcorn.


I Don't Know What to Make of This

But it appears that someone in Yemen was attempting to send letter bombs to the United States:
Security officials in Britain and Dubai intercepted parcel bombs being sent from Yemen to the United States in a "credible terrorist threat," President Barack Obama said on Friday.

He said the parcels were bound for "two places of Jewish worship in Chicago."

Suspicion fell on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, which took responsibility for a failed plot to blow up a U.S. passenger jet on Christmas Day in 2009.

"Initial examinations of those packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material," Obama told reporters in a televised briefing, calling it "a credible terrorist threat against our country."

The White House said earlier that "both of these packages originated from Yemen" and that Obama was notified of the threat on Thursday night.
This is clearly an attempt at electioneering, even in Yemen, one would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to know of the election, but, unlike bin Laden's statement just prior to the 2004 election, where he was clearly trying to throw the race to Bush, the intent here is unclear.

Some questions:
  • Is this an attempt to favor Democrats or Republicans?
  • Why were synagogues chosen?
  • Did the perps expect to succeed of fail?
Damned if I know.

28 October 2010

The Most Morally Repugnant Industry on the Face of the Earth

It's the private prison industry, which is lobbying for draconian immigrations laws, like Arizona's "Papers Please" law, because more people in detention means more money for them:
NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.

The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.
The story leads off with a private prison pitching an immigration detention facility for women and children in Benson, Arizona.

There are certain functions that cannot be fobbed off on the private sector, and this is perhaps the most sterling example.

What Will Obama Do if the Dems Lose Congress?

John Quiggin Crooked Timber says that Obama will start engaging in zero-dimensional-chess:
Translation: Mr Obama and his aides plan a series of pre-emptive capitulations, after which the Republicans will demand the repeal of the healthcare act (or maybe abolition of Social Security). When/if that is refused, the Repugs will shut down the government, and this time they will hold their nerve until Obama folds.
That Republicans won't work with him, even if he capitulates, is a certainty, if Republicans were to cooperate with him on sending the Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow to Gitmo, they would still be primaried by the teabaggers.

The supposition that he will lead with capitulation is almost certain, since this has been his modus operandi over the past 20 months.

Regardless of the outcome, Obama sill see it as an opportunity to do some serious hippie punching.

The zero-dimensional chess bon mot deserves a Pulitzer.

A Correction.

When I quoted Dave Dayen on the HAMP foreclosure fiasco, I suggested that he was rather softer on the banks than I was, because he implied incompetence and timidity, rather than a conscious decision to f%$# homeowners.

Well, he posted a response, and stated quite clearly that he did, "think it was deliberate, and have said it plenty."

My apologies both to him and my reader(s).

So Not the Next Sarah Palin

Say what you will about Sarah Palin, but she does not currently get drunk and engage in one night stands:
Three years ago this week, an intoxicated Christine O'Donnell showed up at the apartment of a 25-year-old Philadelphian and ended up spending the night in his bed. Here's his story—and photos—of his escapade with the would-be Delaware senator.
When one finds a public who makes their mark with sexual "morality," it does appear that they are railing against what they want to do themselves.

I wil note that the source is Gawker, with all that that entails, and the account is fairly stomach churning, not because of anything that Ms. O'Donnell did or said, but because of the attitude of the source.

Lines like, "When her underwear came off, I immediately noticed that the waxing trend had completely passed her by," do not make kindly disposed to whoever he is.

In fact, it makes me feel a bit, and only a it, of pity for Ms. O'Donnell.

Getting drunk on Halloween and getting to 2nd or 3rd base really should be nobody's business …… Unless, of course, you are a very public campaigner against any form of sexual activity out of marriage under all circumstances.

Still, it reads like a bad letter to Penthouse forum.

This is Unambiguously Good News

It's "Jobless Thursday," and the numbers are good, with initial claims falling by 21K to 434,000, the less volatile 4-week moving average fell by 5,500 to 453,250, continuing claims fell by 122K to 4.36million, and emergency claims (those extended past 26 weeks) fell by 414K to 4.36 million.

It's still to high for a job recovery, it needs to be somewhere south of 400K for an extended period for jobs to recover, but this is only the 2nd time in months that it was below 450,000, so perhaps we are beginning to see the beginning of a trend.

John McCain, You Need to Go On The Daily Show

Because when you don't, Jon Stewart tees off on you something fierce:

Well, that will leave the proverbial mark.

27 October 2010

Maybe the Blue Dogs Aren't the Worst Democrats in Congress

I think that the Blue Dogs are wrong, but I get the sense that they are motivated by values and ego.

I think that many of them legitimately believe that women cannot be trusted with their bodies, that rich people should not be taxed, and that idiot sons of rich people are entitled to be rich ad infinitum.

The larger New Democratic Caucus (Melissa Bean who The Onion excoriates is a senior member of the caucus), however, is just a bunch of people who want to suck at the tit of big business, as Sebastian Jones and Marcus Stern ably document:
As Congress entered the final weeks of its struggle to overhaul regulation of Wall Street in May, several hundred friends and colleagues slipped out of Washington for a private weekend on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Most were lobbyists for large banks, pharmaceutical firms, insurance companies, and big-ticket trade groups. However, 28 were members of Congress, and 29 were legislative staffers, all part of a coalition of House Democrats with a business-friendly agenda.

The retreat was held in honor of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 69 lawmakers whose close relationship with several hundred Washington lobbyists has made their organization one of the most successful political money machines since the Republican K Street Project collapsed in 2007. In the past year and a half, New Democrats have pulled in more than $18 million in campaign contributions from their lobbyist fundraising network. The lobbyists, in turn, have mingled with lawmakers and their staffers at least 850 times during fundraising events and informal get-togethers.

These folks were hamstringing Barney Frank at every turn during work on financial reforms because they worked for the banks, and not the American people.

The Blue Dogs get the press, but when push comes to shove, it's the New Dems who f%$# us.

Read the rest of the article. It's long, but it's long because it is exhaustive.

Economics Update

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H/t Calculated Risk for the September Philly Fed chart Pr0n
Since the tech bubble burst, the economy has been running on the consumer and on home sales, and both consumer confidence and home prices continue to disappoint.

Additionally, new home sales remain at pathetic levels, and mortgage applications increased, largely in response to lower rates.

Also, we did see the Philadelphia Bank of the Federal Released its State Coincident Indexes for September, and more states were up than down, though those advances were, once again, anemic.

The Definitive Word on Hamp

David Dayen summarizes it in a paragraph:
This is just a truism based on the Treasury Department’s own design for HAMP. Every trial modification payment reads as a default to the credit reporting companies. The Treasury Department could have set it up so that didn’t happen; they chose not to intervene in that reality. All of the money between the trial modification and the original payment that borrowers don’t pay during their trial period gets tacked on as part of the unpaid principal balance at the end. The servicers also tack on late fees. Treasury could have banned that. They chose not to intervene. The servicers can proceed with foreclosure operations during the trial period, arguing that the borrower is in default. They can’t actually foreclose (also in some cases they have). But they can go through the legal process. Treasury could have put a stop to that. They didn’t. Borrowers keep getting told they have to miss a payment to be eligible for HAMP. Treasury actually didn’t put that into the design. But they haven’t sanctioned a single servicer for this or any other violation of the program guidelines. They could have done something. They didn’t.
(emphasis mine, though inspired by Big Tent Democrat's similar exercise.)

I think that Mr. Dayen is far more forgiving than I am. He implies that it was combination of incompetence and timidity.

I think that it was actual malice. I think that the Treasury Department deliberately chose to deceive homeowners, because they thought that it would give the banks some breathing space.

I Hate The Onion

Click for full size
Not only does the truth hurt, it leaves a nasty mark!
Their headline, "Democrats: 'If We're Gonna Lose, Let's Go Down Running Away From Every Legislative Accomplishment We've Made'":
WASHINGTON — Conceding almost certain Republican gains in next month's crucial midterm elections, Democratic lawmakers vowed Tuesday not to give up without making one final push to ensure their party runs away from every major legislative victory of the past two years.

Party leaders told reporters that regardless of the ultimate outcome, they would do everything in their power from now until the polls closed to distance themselves from their hard-won passage of a historic health care overhaul, the toughest financial regulations since the 1930s, and a stimulus package most economists now credit with preventing a second Great Depression.

"There's a great deal on the line, and we know it isn't going to be easy for us," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), speaking from the steps of the Capitol. "But if we suffer defeat, we will do so knowing we cowered away from absolutely anything we produced that was even remotely progressive or valuable in any way."
If you'll excuse me, I will now hit myself in the head repeatedly with a hammer, because that is more pleasant than facing this reality.

Here is a hint for the Democrats: If The Onion is writing an article, and it describes your campaign strategy, you are being a f%$#ing moron.

Better Than I Expected

Elana Kagan just cast her first vote on the death penalty, and actually her very first vote as a Supreme Court Justice, and she voted to stay an execution:
Washington…Justice Elena Kagan cast her first recorded vote on the Supreme Court late Tuesday, joining the liberals in dissent when the high court cleared the way for the execution of an Arizona murderer.

The 5-4 ruling overturned orders by a federal judge in Phoenix and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that had stopped the execution by lethal injection of Jeffrey Landrigan.

His lawyers, in a last-ditch appeal, had raised questions about one of the drugs used in the execution. Since the only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental had suspended production, Arizona officials said they had obtained a supply of the drug from a British company.

A judge had put the execution on hold because she said she was "left to speculate" whether this drug was safe for its intended use.
Hopefully this indicates that she was not quite the squish that I thought she might be when Barack Obama nominated her.

Here is a Primer on Mers

This is a very good article on what the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems is, and how it is a corrupt it is as an enterprise.

The gist can be gathered by the sub-head, "Hint: It Holds 60% of All Mortgages, But Has ZERO Employees."

Go read it.

Optimism Can Kill You

Barbara Ehrenreich looks at the cult forced optimism in the United States, and how it is both dangerous and prevents people from challenging real problems in society.

I was particularly taken by her observation about just just how much mandatory optimism was a part of the infrastructure of the totalitarian Soviet state as well.

26 October 2010

Pass the Popcorn

The Federal Reserve has decided not to appeal the decision of the Federal Courts to turn over information on its sh%$pile for cash loans to Bloomberg News:
The Federal Reserve won’t join a group of the largest commercial banks in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let the government withhold details of emergency loans made to financial firms in 2008.

The central bank’s decision not to appeal makes it less likely the high court will hear the case, said Tom Goldstein, a Washington lawyer who has argued 22 cases before the high court since 1999 and whose Scotusblog website tracks the panel.

The Clearing House Association LLC, a group of the biggest commercial banks, filed the appeal today. Under federal rules for appeals, a lower court’s order requiring disclosure remains on hold until the Supreme Court acts. Kit Wheatley, an attorney for the Fed, confirmed that the central bank won’t join the appeal. David Skidmore, a spokesman for the central bank, did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment.

The bank group is appealing a federal judge’s August 2009 ruling requiring the Fed to disclose records of its emergency lending. Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, sued for the release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act.
Obviously, the Supreme Court could still decide to hear the case, but the Fed pulling out indicates that they no longer see this sort of disclosure as a systemic threat, which in turn makes it less likely that SCOTUS will take up the case.

I think that it is now a question of "when" not "if" the data gets released, and I think that it should prove to be very interesting.

Background here.

The Last Word on Juan Williams

Of course, it's Jon Stewart and The Daily Show:
NPR -- you just brought a tote bag full of David Sedaris books to a knife fight.
My favorite bit was their entirely accurate characterization of Washington, DC traffic.

A warning: Don't drink anything while watching this, you will spew!

Payback is a Bitch

When you look at the Democratic Party Congressional caucus, the people who are most threatened with losing their jobs are the Blue Dogs:
More than half the members of the Blue Dog Coalition—the organization of moderate to conservative Democrats in the House—are in peril in next week's election, a stark indicator of how the balloting could produce a Congress even more polarized than the current one.
The author of the article says that this is worrying because the Blue Dogs are, "a kind of human bridge, connecting left and right in the House," but my take is rather more positive: It's these rat f%$#s that were in large part for blocking and weakening every serious policy initiative that the Democratic party, and it is this perceived lack of accomplishment that has put off voters.

Truth be told, it's not that payback is a bitch, it's that payback is making them it's bitch.

People don't want to vote for Democrats because they are perceived as timid, and the people who forced this are reaping the whirlwind.


I Really Don't Have Anything to Add

Some thugs who worked for the Rand Paul campaign beat up a MoveOn.org activist at the Senate debates in Kentucky. Pushed her to the ground, and stomped her head.

Talkingpoints Memo has more coverage, but I really do not have anything to add.

Here is a Primer on Mortgage Backed Securities, REMICS, and Mortgage Frauds

This is fairly long as blog posts go, but it hits all the bases, and makes it clear just how f%$#ed the system actually is.

Even if this does not save a single homeowner, it is clear that these problems have the effects of rendering almost every major financial institution in the US insolvent.

Go read.

25 October 2010

If You Read One Article on the Fraud and Corruption in MERS

This is it.

The title says it all, "What Is MERS and What Role Does It Have in the Foreclosure Mess? (Hint: It Holds 60% of All Mortgages, But Has ZERO Employees)."

Just go read it.

If They Are Looking Into it, It's Only Because They Need to Figure Out the Coverup

I am referring to the fact that the Federal Reserve has announced that it will investigate the foreclosure problems:
Raising pressure on banks, the Federal Reserve is wading into the investigation of whether mortgage lenders cut corners and used flawed documents to foreclose on homes.

Major banks are already under investigation by state officials with subpoena power, who could force them to detail how they handled hundreds of thousands of foreclosure cases.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke added weight to those efforts Monday by saying the central bank would look "intensively" at policies and procedures that might have allowed banks to seize homes improperly.

"We take violation of proper procedures very seriously," Bernanke said in remarks to a housing-finance conference in Arlington, Va.
Call me a cynic, but I think that this is all about creating the appearance of investigating foreclosure fraud without actually finding any wrong doing, because they are the Federal Reserve, and that's how they roll.

Holy Sh%$

Treasury has sold its inflation protected securities with a negative yield for the first time ever:
Inflation-protected securities sold at negative yields for the first time ever on Monday as traders anticipate that the Federal Reserve will start a new round of asset purchases.

Analysts said that asset purchases by the Fed would lead to a higher inflation rate and a positive return on the bonds.

The $10 billion auction of the five-year bonds sold at a negative yield of 0.550 percent, according to the Treasury Department. The results of the auction of the securities, known as TIPS, came as indexes on Wall Street edged higher, buoyed by recent strong corporate earnings and a rise in housing sales. The previous lowest yield for the TIPS was in the auction on April 26, when the yield was 0.550 percent.

“It is saying that there is a true demand for inflation securities, because people perceive the quantitative easing program is enabling a higher inflation rate in the future,” said Tom di Galoma, head of fixed-income rates trading at Guggenheim Partners.
Basically, this means that "the market," a nebulous thing whose predictive powers I think are overrated, is nonetheless predicting deflation.

Time to break out those helicopters, Ben.


So the military commissions have secured another confession, Omar Khadr.

They shoot a 15 year old, torture and threaten confessions out if him, allow his confessions to be admitted anyway, and now they have coerced a confession out of him by throwing bogus charges at him:
This morning I sat in a U.S. military commissions courtroom in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and watched the first child soldier charged by a Western nation since World War II plead guilty to crimes he was never even accused of. If the guilty plea of Omar Khadr this morning was a face-saving effort by the U.S. government, it was a sad day for the rule of law in the United States.

Omar Khadr is the 24-year-old Canadian who's spent a third of his life in U.S. custody without trial after being accused of helping his father's al Qaeda associates build improvised explosive devices when he was just 15. He was taken to Afghanistan from Canada by his father at the age of nine. The lone survivor of a 2002 U.S. assault on an Afghan compound, Khadr was accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier.

But as he entered his guilty plea this morning -- after the government agreed he'd serve just one more year at Guantanamo Bay, and an as-yet-unspecified number of years in Canada -- it was clear that prosecutors had taken the opportunity to throw the kitchen-sink-full of charges at him - including far more crimes than he'd even been charged with. Most importantly, Khadr pled guilty to the murder of two Afghan soldiers who accompanied U.S. forces in the 2002 assault on the compound. The government has never presented any evidence whatsoever that Khadr was responsible for that.

This is more than morally repugnant.

This sort of treatment of a child forced into battle by adults is is a war crime, and everyone involved in the trial, up to and including the commander-in-chief, Barack Obama are guilty.

Of course, there will never be an accounting, for even the worst of them.

After all, the two greatest mass murderers of the 20th century, Stalin and Mao, died of natural causes while remaining in power.

A Welcome Change in City Planning

In Boston, in a new development, officials are pressuring developers to reduce the number of parking spaces at the complexes that they are building:

When Boston development officials recently handed permits to the developers of Waterside Place, they did so despite neighborhood concerns that the developers wanted to build far more apartments than parking spots. On A Street, the Boston Redevelopment Authority is close to green-lighting a 21-story residential tower. The tower’s developer had originally planned to build one parking spot for every two residential units, an abnormally low supply; BRA officials are pushing the developer to push that ratio even lower by replacing a whole floor of parking with innovative workforce housing units.

These permitting decisions are not happening in a vacuum. Government-imposed floors on the number of parking spots required at new developments are falling across the city, and beyond. Somerville, for instance, is increasing zoning density and lowering parking requirements along the route of the planned Green Line extension, with an eye toward spurring new transit-oriented development. But the change is especially pronounced in the Seaport, where developers are working with as close to a blank canvas as you’ll find in any major American city.

City planners are in the middle of an extensive re-thinking of Boston’s zoning codes. As they work, neighborhood by neighborhood, to update the code, they’re flipping the conventional thinking about parking on its head: Instead of mandating that minimum levels of parking accompany new developments, they’re pushing to establish maximum parking caps.

If you want a walkable and transit friendly cities, parking spaces are the enemy, because it creates sprawl.

IIRC, there is more ground taken up by parking spaces than is taken up by people in Montgomery County, which is why it is strip mall heck. (and Louden County, where I currently reside 3-4 nights a week, is strip mall hell)

If you make enough parking for people to drive in from the 'burbs, then you create unacceptable levels of sprawl.

Barack Obama Can "Shove It"

So says Democratic candidate for Rhode Island governor, Frank Caprio will not get an endorsement from Barack Obama when he visits Rhode Island, because Obama appreciated the endorsement that Lincoln Chaffee, the Republican Senator turned independent candidate for governor, running against him.

What's worse, the White House did not have the decency to tell him, and his campaign found out from a reporter who had been briefed on this:
President Obama will not endorse the Democratic candidate for governor, Frank T. Caprio, when he comes to Rhode Island to support other Democratic candidates, the White House said Sunday.

The president’s decision “is a victory for Linc Chafee,” the Republican-turned-independent who is Caprio’s opponent in the race for governor, said Chafee spokesman Mike Trainor, who said he was quoting Chafee’s own stated view. Former Republican Senator Chafee endorsed Mr. Obama for president in 2008.

Caprio was unaware that the president would not endorse him until his campaign was told by a news reporter, according to his campaign manager, Xay Khamsyvoravong. Khamsyvoravong said Caprio is not embarrassed that he did not get a courtesy call from the White House before the president’s decision was made public.
Caprio's response, "He can take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I'm concerned."

This is unbelievably stupid. It hurts the party and, in the long run, it hurts him, but because Lincoln is a "Friend of Barack", party unity, and party morale, takes a back seat.
I have to invoke this when discussing the travails of anyone named "Kirk".

I see a parallel in the Illinois Senate race, where Alexi Giannoulias is in a down-to-the-wire with Mark Kirk. …… In a state which is reliably Democratic …… Against a Congressman who has repeatedly lied about his biography …… And is the subject of ceredible allegations that he is a closeted gay …… who reliably opposed gay rights.

So, why is Alexi Giannoulias not running away with this? Well, it could be that he helped run his family bank which collapsed a few years later under the weight of its bad loans.

Of course, it has been know that the bank was in trouble since at least January of this year, when it entered into a consent decree with regulators, but Giannoulias got the nomination because he is Obama's basketball buddy.

It is to be understood that a President will head his the party, and part of this is obviously rewarding allies, this is just politics, but there are limits, and this is little more than self-absorbed narcissism.

Needless to say, Mr. Caprio is now on my Act Blue page.

When Your Opponent Hands You a Club, Use It

Meg Whitman said that she came to California 30 years ago, because then, "anything was possible," in California.

30 years ago, Jerry Brown was Governor of California.

It's ready made for this (very good) ad.

Facts are a bitch.


The Worst Medical Lecture Ever

Laurence Klotz relates what might be the worst mdeical lecture of all time.

You see, before there was Viagra, there was an injectible treatment for erectile dysfunction developed by Professor G.S. Brindley, and at the lecture where he revealed these techniques, he dropped trow to reveal that he was sporting an artificially induced erection:
Professor Brindley, still in his blue track suit, was introduced as a psychiatrist with broad research interests. He began his lecture without aplomb. He had, he indicated, hypothesized that injection with vasoactive agents into the corporal bodies of the penis might induce an erection. Lacking ready access to an appropriate animal model, and cognisant of the long medical tradition of using oneself as a research subject, he began a series of experiments on self-injection of his penis with various vasoactive agents, including papaverine, phentolamine, and several others. (While this is now commonplace, at the time it was unheard of). His slide-based talk consisted of a large series of photographs of his penis in various states of tumescence after injection with a variety of doses of phentolamine and papaverine. After viewing about 30 of these slides, there was no doubt in my mind that, at least in Professor Brindley's case, the therapy was effective. Of course, one could not exclude the possibility that erotic stimulation had played a role in acquiring these erections, and Professor Brindley acknowledged this.

The Professor wanted to make his case in the most convincing style possible. He indicated that, in his view, no normal person would find the experience of giving a lecture to a large audience to be erotically stimulating or erection-inducing. He had, he said, therefore injected himself with papaverine in his hotel room before coming to give the lecture, and deliberately wore loose clothes (hence the track-suit) to make it possible to exhibit the results. He stepped around the podium, and pulled his loose pants tight up around his genitalia in an attempt to demonstrate his erection.

At this point, I, and I believe everyone else in the room, was agog. I could scarcely believe what was occurring on stage. But Prof. Brindley was not satisfied. He looked down sceptically at his pants and shook his head with dismay. ‘Unfortunately, this doesn’t display the results clearly enough’. He then summarily dropped his trousers and shorts, revealing a long, thin, clearly erect penis. There was not a sound in the room. Everyone had stopped breathing.

But the mere public showing of his erection from the podium was not sufficient. He paused, and seemed to ponder his next move. The sense of drama in the room was palpable. He then said, with gravity, ‘I’d like to give some of the audience the opportunity to confirm the degree of tumescence’. With his pants at his knees, he waddled down the stairs, approaching (to their horror) the urologists and their partners in the front row. As he approached them, erection waggling before him, four or five of the women in the front rows threw their arms up in the air, seemingly in unison, and screamed loudly. The scientific merits of the presentation had been overwhelmed, for them, by the novel and unusual mode of demonstrating the results.
It does sound like something that you would see on an HBO comedy, doesn't it?

I Have Had It With These Motherf%$#ing Crocks On This Motherf%$#ing Plane!

We see yet another senseless crocodile disaster:
A stowaway crocodile on a flight escaped from its carrier bag and sparked an onboard stampede that caused the flight to crash, killing 19 passengers and crew.

The croc had been hidden in a passenger's sports bag - allegedly with plans to sell it - but it tore loose and ran amok, sparking panic.

A stampede of terrified passengers caused the small aircraft to lose balance and tip over in mid-air during an internal flight in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The unbalanced load caused the aircraft, on a routine flight from the capital, Kinshasa, to the regional airport at Bandundu, to go into a spin and crash into a house.

A lone survivor from the Let 410 plane told the astonishing tale to investigators.

Ironically the crocodile also survived the crash but was later killed with a machete by rescuers sifting through the wreckage.
We live in a very strange world.

24 October 2010

Tree of the Year: 2010

The tree is known as the Pterocarya fraxinifolia, though its common name is the Caucasian Wingnut.

It turns out that this tree, which originated in Iran, is actually way smarter than your average teabagger.

All Your Stonehenge Are Belong to Us

English Heritage, an organization that manages many of the historical sites in the UK has now sent cease and desist letters to image libraries claiming that they own all rights of all photographs of Stonehenge ever taken:
English Heritage, the organization that runs and manages various historical sites in the UK, such as Stonehenge, has apparently sent letters to various photo sharing and stock photo sites claiming that any photo of Stonehenge that is being sold violates its rights, and only English Heritage can get commercial benefit from such photos. In fact, they're asking for all money made from such photos, stating: 'all commercial interest to sell images must be directed to English Heritage.' As one recipient noted, this seems odd, given that English Heritage has only managed Stonehenge 'for 27 of the monument's 4,500 year old history.
All this IP nuttiness is getting on menhir my nerves.

As a commenter noted, the rights to the photographs belong with the aliens what built the monument anyway.

The Final Serial Comma Is Still a Necessity

You kow what the final serial comma is, don't you?

It's the last comma used on a list, so you see, "Item1, Item2, Item3, Item4, Item5, and Item6."

Some people believe that this is an anachronism that can be discarded, and that, "Item1, Item2, Item3, Item4, Item5 and Item6," is acceptable.

Well, Patrick Nielsen Hayden believes that this shortcut is in error, and I agree:

With the final serial comma, it is clear that Merle Haggard's ex-wives, as well as Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall were interviewed.

Without the final serial comma it is clear that Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall are Merle Haggard's two ex wives.

To quote Emo Phillips, "Ambiguity, the Devil's Vollyball."

Pass the Popcorn

A Judge in Alaska has ordered that the Fairbanks North Star Borough* personnel records of teabagger Senate candidate Joe Miller are to be released on Tuesday.

The judge set a Tuesday release date to allow an appeal to be filed on Monday:
A judge ruled Saturday that the Fairbanks North Star Borough must release personnel records of U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller.

In an unusual weekend hearing, retired Superior Court Judge Winston Burbank ruled that the public's right to know about candidates outweighed Miller's right to privacy.

"I hold that although Mr. Miller has a legitimate expectation of privacy in those documents, Mr. Miller's right to privacy is indeed outweighed by the public's significant interest in the background of a public figure who is running for the U.S. Senate," the judge said. He noted that U.S. senator is among the highest elected offices in the nation.

Burbank ordered that nothing actually will be released until Tuesday afternoon, however, to allow for the ruling to be appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court.
Mr. Miller has been fighting this kicking and screaming, which implies that this his personnel file is packed with lots crunchy goodness.

If this is true, I would think that an appeal by Mr. Miller is likely though. All he has to do is delay the ruling by 7-8 days, and it becomes moot.

My sense is that he was not a model employee, since we have heard whispers from both the City of Fairbanks, as well as his old law firm, that they were not sad to see him go.

*A borough in Alaska is roughly equivalent to a county.

23 October 2010

How to Pet a Kitty

Too True
You can read the rest at the Oatmeal, and I highly recommend that you do so.

The Military Side of the UK Budget Cuts

It's pretty grim:
  • Scrapping the existing carriers.
  • Scrapping the Harrier fleet.
  • Replacing the 138 F-35B STOVL with somewhere around 50 of the F-35C carrier variant.
  • The two carriers will be built, but one will not be fitted with catapults or arrestor gear, and so will never carry airplanes.
  • Scrapping the nearly new Sentinel surveillance aircraft as soon as they are back from Afghanistan.
  • Reduce MoD civilian staffing by 25,000 and military staffing by 17,000.
  • Canceling the late and over budget Nimprod MRA4.
  • Delaying a new SSBN.
  • Significant cuts to the surface fleet.
  • Speeding up the return of troops based in Germany
From a pure perspective of governance, you have to give the Tories props: When they said they would cut the budget, they applied this to the Ministry of Defence as well, which is, at least consistent.

Realistically, these cuts mean that, outside of low intensity UN peacekeeping missions, the British will be incapable of engaging in an operation independently of the US, but that has been the political reality since Suez in 1957 anyway.

PAK-FA's Air Show Video Pr0n

It's an air show routine, so hit highlights its low speed/high alpha performance, which does appear to be pretty damn impressive.

H/t The DEW Line

Another Bit of Tech that I Worked With on FCS*

I'll wait for reports from the field
The army is looking to deploy the XM25 25mm grenade launcher to Afghanistan.

The 'special sauce" for this system is that the fire control system on the round can set the round to detonate at a specific distance, so you can set it to detonate past the cover an opponent is using for protection.

The example here is to put a round through a window, where it is set to detonate 2m beyond the building facade, which will certainly spoil that guy's day.

This was intended to be used on the FCS-RMV in the full auto and remote controlled XM307 Advanced Crew Served Weapon where it would take the place of a crew served machine gun.

Truth be told, it strikes me as a little complex to function well in the confusion and grit and grime of battle, we should be hearing reports in the next few months.

*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.

Unconventional Helicopter Developments

250 kt record breaking flight, complete with Pr0n film* music soundtrack


And their EADS/Eurocopter video

X2 Raider Mockup

The X-2 Raider, blissfully music free
Graham Warwick gives a survey of new technologies that might find their way into the Joint Multi Role (JMR) rotorcraft program, along with the video of the X-2's record breaking flight (top)

Meanwhile, EADS is flight testing its X3 (I wonder where they got that name) compound helo, which uses dual wingtip props, and it provides anti-torque by varying the pitch of the thrusters.

It's far less ambitious than that of the X-2, but their selling point is reduced life cycle cost, which is probably more a shot at the expensive tilt-rotors out there than the X-2 advancing blade concept, which really doesn't seem particularly different in the amount of bits that move.

One interesting twist is that the X3 will slow its rotor at higher speed, reducing drag, though I could see this added to an advancing blade helicopter as well, particularly if the aircraft has a wing.

My quick look at the demonstrator indicates that it is not a particularly useful helicopter.

With two props about a yard from where the entrance to the passenger/cargo area is, both loading and unload, as well as the use of a winch for a rescue mission, would appear to me to be highly problematic.

Of course, the X3 is a demonstrator cobbled together with bits of various existing helicopters, so an operational version would likely address these shortcomings.

Sikorsky is also pitching a replacement for the OH-58D, theS-97 X2 Raider, which is rather similar to the MI-24 Hind or the Augusta/Westland Lynx concepts for an attack helicopter which retains transport capabilities or the ability to carry its own reloads.

*Not that I'd know what pr0n movies' sound tracks actually sound like.
Not that there is anything wrong with that.

22 October 2010

A Good Comment on Junk Science

Paul Munro of XKCD gives us this cogent take-down of much of the junk science out there.

If this sh%$ worked, not only would business be all over this like white on rice, but they would be patenting the hell out of it as well.

Always Proof Read Your Classified Ads

And if you phone it in, for Pete's sake, proof what they wrote down!

H/t Tiempo at the Shortskoolbus BBS.

I am not a Witch, I'm You, Except With Bigger T%$s

Elvira takes on Christin O'Donnell, and amazingly enough, it's safe for work:

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. First Bank of Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL
  2. Progress Bank of Florida, Tampa, FL
  3. The Gordon Bank, Gordon, GA
  4. The First National Bank of Barnesville, Barnsville, GA
  5. First Suburban National Bank, Haywood, IL
  6. Hillcrest Bank, Overland Park, KS
  7. First Arizona Savings, A FSB, Scottsdale, AZ

So, after a lull of a few weeks, things appear to be ramping up again.

6 7 banks, there have been 10 6 weeks with 6 7 or more closures so far this year, and it's week 42.

Not pretty

Full FDIC list

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

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

The British Attempt at Slow Seppuku

The British are engaging in truly draconian spending cuts in the face of a recession to the tune of £156 billion (roughly 20% of the current budget) and 490,000 employees.

By way of perspective, the UK Budget in 2-7-2008 was about £520 billion, and the job losses would be equivalent to the loss of over 2½ million jobs in the US, and that is just the direct losses, when one considers the follow on effects, essentially the jobs that are held by people who provide goods and services to these public employees, are likely to be even larger.

If one assumes that the total job losses will be roughly double the civil service cuts, and this is a conservative estimate, with the UK's workforce size of roughly 30 million, we would see at least a 3% increase in unemployment.

On the bright side, unlike their fellow wingnuts on this side of the Atlantic, they are also applying the cuts to their Defen(c)se establishment as well (more in a later post).

I think that Paul Krugman has a wonderful bit of snark on this, where he calls the people who will be hurt by this British Fashion Victims:
In the spring of 2010, fiscal austerity became fashionable. I use the term advisedly: the sudden consensus among Very Serious People that everyone must balance budgets now now now wasn’t based on any kind of careful analysis. It was more like a fad, something everyone professed to believe because that was what the in-crowd was saying.

And it’s a fad that has been fading lately, as evidence has accumulated that the lessons of the past remain relevant, that trying to balance budgets in the face of high unemployment and falling inflation is still a really bad idea. Most notably, the confidence fairy has been exposed as a myth. There have been widespread claims that deficit-cutting actually reduces unemployment because it reassures consumers and businesses; but multiple studies of historical record, including one by the International Monetary Fund, have shown that this claim has no basis in reality.

No widespread fad ever passes, however, without leaving some fashion victims in its wake. In this case, the victims are the people of Britain, who have the misfortune to be ruled by a government that took office at the height of the austerity fad and won’t admit that it was wrong.

It would be funny if it were not tragic.

Why the Aqua Buddha Works

I suggested that Rand Paul might be pushed into doing something stupid, but I missed an obvious point, one that Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall got, which was that by making the attack, and by Paul responding with indignation, "How dare you," rather than a strong denial and push-back, "My opponent is a liar," he has shown himself to be weak, and the voters hate weakness.

He calls it the, "Bitch slap theory of electoral politics":
Let's call it the Republicans' Bitch-Slap theory of electoral politics.

It goes something like this.

On one level, of course, the aim behind these attacks is to cast suspicion upon Kerry's military service record and label him a liar. But that's only part of what's going on.

Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really -- a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they're tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.

In a post-9/11 environment, obviously, this question of strength, toughness or resolve is particularly salient. That, of course, is why so much of this debate is about war and military service in the first place.

One way -- perhaps the best way -- to demonstrate someone's lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can't or won't defend themselves certainly isn't someone you can depend upon to defend you.
Rand Paul was bitch slapped by Jack Conway, and now he's acting like a bitch, not shaking hands and implying that he will skip the last debate.

Josh Green at The Atlantic notes, "The issue isn't Paul's Christianity, but his manhood," and that his talk about skipping the final debate is all anyone is talking about.

In Case You Were Wondering………

Yes, Juan Williams is a wingnut, he just pretends to be stupid and conventional on NPR, and works as a willing punching bag on Fox.

And now that he's been fired, he lets it all hang out on Fox:
…To say the least this is a chilling assault on free speech. The critical importance of honest journalism and a free flowing, respectful national conversation needs to be had in our country. But it is being buried as collateral damage in a war whose battles include political correctness and ideological orthodoxy.
Hint 1: If you think that you are entitled to be paid for spouting bigoted and stupid sh%$, you might be a wingnut.
This is evidence of one-party rule and one sided thinking at NPR that leads to enforced ideology, speech and writing. It leads to people, especially journalists, being sent to the gulag for raising the wrong questions and displaying independence of thought.
Hint number 2: If you think that people complaining about what you say is an assault on the 1st amendment on par with the Soviet political prison prison system, you might be a wingnut.

Well, this does explain his concealing his own issues when he vociferously attacked Anita Hill for her (not proven) allegations of sexual harassment while he was under suspicion for doing the same.

It also explains why he thought Michelle Obama's work on organic food and nutrition somehow showed that she was, "Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress."

As I said yesterday, Good Riddance…….

He, of course, wins, because he just got a $2 million contract from Fox to be their "House Slave."

Not What Ginny Thomas Intended

That harassing phone call to Anita Hill is not working out as planned:
For nearly two decades, Lillian McEwen has been silent -- a part of history, yet absent from it.

When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his explosive 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Thomas vehemently denied the allegations and his handlers cited his steady relationship with another woman in an effort to deflect Hill's allegations.

Lillian McEwen was that woman.


She has written a memoir, which she is now shopping to publishers. News broke that the justice's wife, Virginia Thomas, left a voice mail on Hill's office phone at Brandeis University, seeking an apology -- a request that Hill declined in a statement. After that, McEwen changed her mind and decided to talk about her relationship with Thomas.


However bizarre they may seem, McEwen's recollections resemble accounts shared by other women that swirled around the Thomas confirmation.


"I have no hostility toward him," McEwen said. "It is just that he has manufactured a different reality over time. That's the problem that he has."
(emphasis mine)

Gee, Ginny, not turning out the way that you wanted it.

I think that I get it: She is raking in big bucks as a teabagger AstroTurfer, and she suddenly thought that she could alter reality with her new successes.

Reality has a way of not cooperating.

The fact that Clarence Thomas perjured himself 19 years ago is moot.

While Congress could impeach over this, they have done so over charges which have resulted in acquittals, they won't.

It is an important thing to remember though: Republican court nominations lie when questioned, and Democrats should treat them has hostile witnesses in hearings.

Just Read This

Yves Smith again:
The Obama Administration is entirely predictable. It ever and always sides with large corporate interests, while trying to create the impression that it is actually concerned for the welfare of the average citizen. Admittedly, the occasionally tough talk with little follow through feeds a perverse spectacle of plutocrats sulking, pouting, and claiming that they are really, really badly treated.

There are so many people on the internet who write, and think, gooder than I do.

My only addition on this is her there are limits to looting without productive activity, and when we run down that string, things will get very ugly very quickly.

I Just Voted

Maryland has a week of early voting, and since I will not be in town on Nov 2, I voted.

I voted straight Democratic Party, except for Barbara Milulski, because of her vote on the telecom immunity bill. I wrote in my Congressman, John Cardin (D).

When I said that she would never get my vote again, I meant it.

As to various constitutional amendments, state and county:
  • I voted no on question 1, which would have required a constitutional convention every 20 years. This is a recipe for mischief and mayhem.
  • I voted no on question 2, which would have raised the bar for a jury in a civil trial from $10,000 to 15,000.
  • Voted against requiring that Orphans’ Court judges be members of the Maryland Bar. It's a lay court, and has been for over 200 years, and the Maryland Bar is a private organization, and I do not believe that a private organization, particularly one as insular and secretive as the Bar should determine this.
    • As a corollary, I oppose the use of private bars for licensing of lawyers period. It should be public.
  • The county wants to change its charter to force binding arbitration and a no strike clause on its workers. I voted no. (It will probably win though, since arbitration sounds fair, and the no strike section is at the end, where people will not see it)
So I am not a bystander in the elections.

21 October 2010

Good Riddance…………

If you start your sentence with "I'm not a bigot," you probably are a bigot.
National Public Radio has fired Juan Williams over his statements that he is scared by Muslims in public places on Bill O'Reilly's show:
I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.
It's actually more than that, because while this seems to be an admission that is an admission that he will sometimes judge people by color of their skin rather than by the content of their character, it actually followed a bigoted rant by Long Island Klansman Bill O'Reilly about the "Muslim dilemma".*

So it was not just an admission of personal weakness, it is an active endorsement of O'Reilly's bigoted screed.

His explicit endorsement of bigotry is not surprising. He is Fox News' "House Slave," to quote Harry Belafonte, and he has his tongue so far up Billo's ass that he is tasting tonsils.

He was on the Long Island Klansman's (O'Reilly), and Billo had been launching into his bigoted screeds. and his seemingly mild statement validated those screeds.

I think that context and venue matter. This was not Nightline, or Jon Stewart. This was Bill O'Reilly, and fellow hater Mary Katherine Ham, in a full blown hate-fest, and they Williams basically said that it was OK.

As to the effect on NPR, I think that his leaving will be good for the network.

Williams has always been a hack, and a stupid one at that, as his truly pitiful tenure as Talk of the Nation host showed.

He has been coasting on his work writing the companion book to the PBS documentary Eyes on the Prize for decades.

I'm with Matthew Yglesias's take on this, which was that he should have been fired long ago, "on the grounds of general lameness and lack of valuable contribution to their programming."

Additionally, he has always been ethically challenged. During the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings, he was a vociferous defender of Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court nomination hearings, but he neglected to disclose that he himself was the subject of credible allegations of sexual harassment of a subordinate the Washington Post.

I do find the fact that we now have two echos of Clarence Thomas's sexual harassment and perjury in the same week rather odd. Synchronicity, neh?

I'm so glad that I won't have to listen to him any more. Hopefully they can send Cokie Roberts away too.

* Which has eerie echos of people 70 years ago talking about the "Jewish Problem."

Ginny Thomas LoL

H/t Blue Gal


Jonathan Bernstein asks, "Is Howard Kurtz Always This Awful?

This has been another episode of simple answers to simple questions.

It's Jobless Thursday

And it's better, but still awful. Initial claims fell to 452,000, remaining in range where they have been most of the year, and the less volatile 4-week moving average fell to 458,000, while continuing claims fell by a minuscule amount, and emergency benefits rose.

This is not even close to being a recovery in the job market.

Thank You, you Anti-Vaccine Ratf%$#s

Remember, the folks who listen to the junk science don't just put themselves at risk, but they place the rest of the population at risk by poking holes in herd immunity.

The net result of all this is 10 infants have died in the worst whooping cough outbreak in California whooping cough outbreak in over ½ a century.

I'm Not a Fan of Jerry Brown, But This is a Good Ad

It's draws a very good line between Meg Whitman and the Governator.

20 October 2010

The Mortgage Fraud Goes Max Bialystock*

It turns out that some of the banksters have simultaneously sold mortgages to multiple people (see also here for the court fiuling):
In a complaint filed this month in Washington, D.C. federal court, Bank of America said the FDIC has wrongly denied claims by Ocala noteholders to recover from Colonial Bank and an Illinois lender also in receivership, Platinum Community Bank.

Bank of America accused executives at Taylor Bean, Colonial and Platinum of having fraudulently schemed to "double- and triple-pledge mortgages and steal assets" to hide their faltering conditions as the housing market declined.
So these banks, and a number of others, probably repeatedly sold the same mortgage to different trusts.

This is Max Bialystock level fraud. There is no gray area here, but predictably, the Obama administration is maintaining that somehow or other the problems are not systemic at the same time that they have convened a task force to see if laws were broken.

We have a system where banks simply ignored the law over what amounts to about a $30 dollar cost per loan transfer, MERS, we have banks destroying the chain of custody of the loans, and the solution of the Obama administration is to wave a wand and grant absolution.

That's the message of these conflicting messages: There is a task force, but that is just politics, and all will be forgiven on November 3rd.


*Just F%$#ing Google it.

Economics Update

Catching up on the economic number dump, first we have the Federal Reserve's so-called Beige Book, which shows that growth has continued, but it is very sluggish.

This is reinforced by the fact that consumer confidence fell in October, factory production and capacity utilization fell in September, for the first time in a year, though home builder confidence rose (to a truly pathetic 16 where 50 is neutral), and housing starts rose.

We also have some importing news out of China, with their central bank making a surprise increase in its benchmark rate, and Chinese government published new statistics showing that its growth slowed and inflation edged up.

Certainly, it looks like the Central bank is concerned about inflation, and the statistics, even considering the general unreliability of official government statistics, indicate a problem.

One interesting effect of the rate hike is that it should place additional upward pressure on the Yuan.

Normally I Don't Like Andy Borowitz's Humor…

But his take-down of Ginny Thomas's "drunk dialing" phone harassment of Anita Hill, is truly an thing of beauty:
Three Things to Do When Clarence Thomas’s Wife Calls You
Posted by Andy Borowitz

Like many Americans, over the past several years I have been the recipient of multiple unwelcome voicemails from the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. These calls have come in the middle of the night, at the crack of dawn, even at the dinner hour favored by telemarketers. Regardless of the time of day, all of these voicemails have one thing in common: she always sounds like she’s drunk-dialing me, except she appears to be completely sober.


One final note: if you get a call in the middle of the night and there is silence on the other end, that is not Virginia Thomas. That is Clarence Thomas.
A very well deserved take-down of a classless and corrupt, she is clearly playing on her marriage to a Supreme Court justice to secure large donations for her AstroTurf group, woman.

Go read Borowitz. He is very funny here.


A 3 judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just stayed the injunction against the enforcement of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Thankfully, this is only a short term stay, basically it's a stay until the panel has a hearing on the stay next week:
A federal appeals court on Wednesday temporarily stalled the landmark court decision allowing openly gay recruits to be accepted into the military.

In response to an emergency request from the government, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, issued a one-page order late in the day allowing the Pentagon to continue enforcing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which bars openly gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.

The decision, which returns the law to the status quo before a Federal District Court judge in California declared it unconstitutional, will be in effect while the appeals court considers whether to issue a longer stay, until February, when the Ninth Circuit will hear the full appeal. A decision about the longer stay could occur as early as next week; the parties have been told to prepare briefs on the issues by Monday.
So the witch hunts continue.

This stance is both morally wrong, it's bigotry, creates security problems, because people forced into in the closet are subject to blackmail, and politically stupid, because it demoralizes a large portion of the base less than 2 weeks before the election.

As I have said before, when you are doing something that is so transparently wrong and stupid on so many levels, it isn't because you are interested in process, it's because you really do oppose gay rights.

This is not the actions of someone who wants to, "repeal the law that denies gay and lesbian Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do." This is the actions of someone who does not believes that gays should serve openly in the military.

We Are Going to See More of This

The Cook County Sheriff has issued a statement that he and his deputies will not enforce foreclosures until he receives documentation from the banks that they have their sh%$ together:
Two of the largest U.S. mortgage servicers have said they will resume home foreclosures, but a big-city sheriff has news for them: he won't enforce their foreclosure evictions.

The sheriff for Cook County, Illinois, which includes the city of Chicago, said on Tuesday he will not enforce foreclosure evictions for Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase and Co. and GMAC Mortgage/Ally Financial until they prove those foreclosures were handled "properly and legally."
While the Cook County Sheriff has been here before, he instituted a moratorium over lack of notifications to renters 2 years ago, but I think that this time, there is a distinct possibility that this will go viral, and that other county sheriffs will follow his lead.

Basically, this is a political winner for almost any incumbent charged with foreclosure service.

The standard disclaimer, that my powers of prediction suck wet farts from dead pigeons, apply.