Sunday, November 30, 2008

Raise Business Taxes! That's the Ticket....Yah...

Sure. Make the climate a little less business-friendly.

Two Capitol developments suggest that Doyle and Democrats, who will control the Legislature for the next two years, will approve the so-called "combined reporting" tax structure for businesses next year. It would tax the profits of parent companies; Wisconsin now separately taxes each subsidiary company formed by those parent companies.

The last estimate said adopting combined reporting would amount to a $90-million tax increase on businesses, although two recent changes to the state tax code may lower that figure somewhat.

This year, businesses are expected to pay $720 million in taxes -- a one-year drop of 14% because of the lagging economy.

Umnnnhhhhh.....who is the.....ahhhh......blogger who insists that "businesses pay NO taxes in Wisconsin"?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Roggio's Analysis of Mumbai

Roggio's been there/done that/has several t-shirts.

A couple of excerpts:

The Mumbai attack is uniquely different from past terror strikes carried out by Islamic terrorists. Instead of one or more bombings at distinct sites, the Mumbai attackers struck throughout the city using military tactics. Instead of one or more bombings carried out over a short period of time, Mumbai is entering its third day of crisis.

An attack of this nature cannot be thrown together overnight. It requires planned, scouting, financing, training, and a support network to aid the fighters. Initial reports indicate the attacks originated from Pakistan, the hub of jihadi activity in South Asia. Few local terror groups have the capacity to pull of an attack such as this.

...An estimated 12 to 25 terrorists are believed to have entered Mumbai by sea. After landing, he attack teams initiated a battle at a police station, then fanned across the city to attack the soft underbelly of hotels, cafes, cinemas, and hospitals. Civilians were gunned down and taken hostage, while terrorists looked for people carrying foreign passports.

He doesn't think it's Al-Q:

The Mumbai attack differs from previous terror attacks launched by Islamic terror groups. Al Qaeda and other terror groups have not used multiple assault teams to attack multiple targets simultaneously in a major city outside of a war zone.

The attack on the local police station is key; that move temporarily KO'd police response to other (near-simultaneous) attacks on the soft targets: hotels, movies, shopping areas. Think of the analogy--attacking (say) the Greenfield PD HQ, allowing 10 minutes for the patrol-cars to respond to the HQ, then going into Southridge with grenades and AK's....

IOW, somebody used "western" thinking in assembling this terror.

More State Spending! Or Maybe Investment?

The State of Wisconsin already owns about 1/6th of the State's land-mass. However, State ownership of land has not been particularly productive up to now. So DNR has a proposal:

Let's go for a full fifth! And let's make it productive!

Fore a mere $650,000.00 or so, the State can acquire 64 acres of land just west of Harrington Beach, providing shrubs and grass for a bunch of birds such as meadowlark, bobolink, dickcissel and short-eared owl.

Bobolinks and short-eared owls are critical to fueling Wisconsin's economic growth over the next two decades and will replace such medieval entities as 'manufacturers,' 'mineral processors' and 'papermakers' in the economy.

Think $650K is too much? Well, I have a suggestion...

Wait until all those medieval economic entities give up and move out. Then the State can purchase the vacant factories, paper-mills, and quarries really, really, cheap.

Fill 'em up with owls and chickadees.

Then tax bird-seed.

Tax Everything: The Democrat Solution

State spending is running wild, and the Governor is resorting to 3-card monte games to describe his "spending cuts." But that's hardly enough to feed the monster.

So the Democrat-led Legislature will extract more money from State residents. But it will be called 'taxing businesses,' not 'taxing citizens.'

Jauch (D-Poplar) has the most radical idea: Draft a bill that continues food and health-related exemptions, but apply the 5% tax to everything else.

"Put everything but food and medicine on the table, because everybody has to share the pain" of solving the deficit, Jauch said.

...Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine), who sits on the Joint Finance Committee, said he would be willing to explore eliminating some sales tax exemptions. Charging sales taxes on some services that are now exempt would make the system more fair, he said.

Current targets: legal fees, accounting fees, and barber/beauty fees. Likely additions: health clubs, bull-semen sales, and janitorial services.

Likely outcome: barber/beauty fees will remain exempt. Business services will become taxable (legal, accounting, IT consulting.)

This isn't hard to figure out, folks. It's an article of faith that all businesses are "evil." Imposing burdens on 'evil' is good!

Got that?

We thought so.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Picture of the Planned Barrenhood Gift Card

Supplied by The Curt Jester, following news reports that PP/Indiana is retailing these things.

AKA the Gift that Keep On Killing...

Nurse Judy's Little Proposal--UPdated

Maybe Nurse Robson Rached never read the Wisconsin Constitution.

State Sen. Judy Robson (D-Beloit) said Gov. Jim Doyle should include the statewide smoking ban they both support -- one of the most controversial issues in the Capitol in the last two years -- in the state budget proposal the governor will give the Legislature in February.

Robson said adding the smoking ban to the next budget is the quickest way for it to become law, since the Legislature must fix a $346-million deficit in the current budget by June 30.

However, the Constitution states that the budget bill should NOT contain "other" issues, such as banning smoking, requiring sunshine on weekends, or allowing marijuana-growing for Beloit.

UPDATE: Per comments, the Constitution forbids "local" issues, not "other" issues. My bad.

Doesn't change the below comment, though...

Doylie, of course, is happy to have these stories floating around. He needs a few bucks in his campaign fund (the campaign started about 2 weeks ago...)

Gableman Not Rolling Over

GOP3's Daniel Suhr has an interesting post on the Gableman affair.

Justice Gableman did not hire Bopp because they are both pro-life. He hired Bopp because Bopp is perhaps the best single attorney in the country for litigating judicial free speech claims. Bopp was counsel to the Republican Party of Minnesota in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002), the leading US Supreme Court decision on judicial free speech. Since then, Bopp has argued a number of other judicial free speech cases...

(The first sentence is in response to the silly and un-informed editorial run by the CapSlimes.)

Here's the meat of the matter:

The story is that Gableman hired a free speech fighter, rather than a Wisconsin ethics conciliator. Gableman could have hired a Wisconsin attorney who was an expert in Wisconsin legal ethics and sought a settlement with the Judicial Commission. He could have figured out a way to plead something like nolo contendere, maybe pay a fine and accept a reprimand, etc. Instead, Gableman hired a First Amendment fighter who is experienced in taking cases to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Looks like the Ethics Board is in for a little testing. That's a good thing.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What's It Really Worth?

Liquidation sales, inventory dumping, retailer overstocks...

Find them here.

No, you don't want to buy the lots, but the prices are interesting, eh?

Another Bug-Laden State System

Actually, it's not "another" one. It's the premier example.

A poor economy means people are spending less. But the Miller Park stadium district is reporting that, through September, sales-tax collections are 2.73% ahead of last year's pace.

District officials reported this week that the November 2008 sales-tax distribution totaled $2,471,449. That amount is about 8% lower than the same period last year, but still represents the third highest sales-tax distribution in November since the 0.1% tax was first imposed in 1996.

...Mike Duckett, the district's executive director, said the latest numbers continue to reflect the volatility in the amount of sales-tax distributions the district receives each month. The November sales-tax distribution actually represents sales-tax collections from September.

What is perplexing to the district is that people have been spending less, yet the district has received about $532,000 more than it projected receiving so far this year

Something's screwy in the programming.

It Ain't the Now; It's the FutureNow

P-Mac notes that the "now" of the Obamamamama isn't what really counts.

He quotes from Crouse at the American Thinker:

“What Obama's critics are overlooking is that he is a former community organizer; he prefers to work under the radar, starting from the grassroots. Those who are looking at the top layer of the Obama Administration wanting to see a sign of the ‘second coming of Saul Alinsky’ (as one blogger put it), are going to be disappointed. Those who watched First Lady Hillary Clinton set up little fiefdoms in all the government agencies to push the policies of the Beijing Platform for Action and those who observed Senator Barack Obama utilize ACORN to build a political machine that spread from Chicago throughout the nation will recognize the strategy and tactics of master manipulators.”

“His minions who are actually carrying the water will be hard-core ‘progressives’ moving the leftist agenda forward largely out of the public's sight in the mid-level management positions of the government's sprawling bureaucracy. Much of the real action will happen behind the scenes in thousands of small decisions and initiatives that will remain nearly invisible until -- like the explosion in the number of mother-only families that followed from Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty -- the transformation of their cumulative effects begins to emerge.”

Shorter-term, the Clintonian "triangulation" will be at work. In operation, the public will be presented with three options: the Alinsky/Stalin one being described as "left," the centrist-Dem/Pubbie option will be described as "rightist," and the Obama left/centrist will be described as "centrist." The MSM will parrot the regime's spinning, taking up their self-assigned role as 'useful idiots.'

As to the long-term--dealing with the "thousands of small decisions and initiatives that will remain nearly invisible"--the red-staters will consolidate in opposition.

Most of them already recognized the pattern. You don't really think all those gun sales were just for the hunting season, do you?

Mumbai: Well-Planned and Intel'd

Still an open question whether it was Paki or Al-Quaeda affiliated...

Some heavy stuff brought in:

One commando was killed two others injured in the operation at Taj in which one rucksack full of plastic explosives, eight–nine loaded AK–47 magazines, large amounts of ammunition, hand grenades, detonators, batteries, wrist watches for IEDs, foreign currencies, fake credit cards, dry fruits and cash carried by the terrorists were recovered

The explosives were ID'd as RDX, a military-grade plastique.

At least some of the terrorists, said to be in their early twenties and armed with AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades, landed on the coast of Mumbai’s commercial and entertainment neighbourhood in light and fast Gemini boats, powered by small outboard motors.

These inflatable dinghies, according to Indian navy sources quoted by the Headlines Today TV news channel, were launched from a larger vessel, the MV Alfa, which arrived near Mumbai sometime yesterday and anchored offshore a distance from India’s financial capital…

By this time the vessel had left the vicinity of Mumbai. When first reported by the news channel today, the MV Alfa was said to be off the Gujarat coast and heading towards Pakistan.

The Alfa was captured by the Indian navy, complete with all sorts of documentation and stuff.

It appears that Jewish people were a target (along with US and British.)

Why Mumbai/Bombay?

...the Indian approach to terrorism has been consistently haphazard and weak-kneed. When faced with fundamentalist demands, India’s democratically elected leaders have regularly preferred caving to confrontation on a point of principle. The country’s institutions and culture have abetted a widespread sense of Muslim separateness from the national mainstream. The country’s diplomats and soldiers have failed to stabilize the neighborhood. The ongoing drama in Mumbai underscores the price both Indians and non-Indians caught unawares must now pay.

Current dead approximates 200, but nothing firm on that for at least another day.

You'll Guess Wrong (You Filthy-Minded....)

The mom in question works for the Home Despot, and is selling snow-shovels.
Dirty minds, eh?

Sniper Extraordinaire

LawDog has the story.

On this day in 1939, the Soviet Red Army -- probably on direct orders from the Politburo -- shelled one of their own villages on the Karelian Isthmus and immediately began pointing fingers at Finland.

Four days of intense Soviet propaganda later, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili -- in a tactic that had served him so well previously in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia -- sent his troopies over the Finnish border.

Unfortunately, most of what Uncle Josef managed to do was severely irritate a large part of the population of Finland in general, and a certain five-foot, three-inch skinny little farmer in particular.

...the Finnish military (metaphorically-speaking. Sort of.) hauled off and place-kicked the Soviet Red Army right in the wedding tackle and kept on punting until they were dragged, kicking and screaming, to the peace table on March 12, 1940 -- 105 days after the Soviets started the whole thing -- to sign a brutal and dishonourable cessation of hostilities.

And that skinny farmer? Well, he picked up his iron-sighted Finnish copy of the Mosin-Nagant M28, sewed himself an oversuit of white bedsheets, and (with the occasional judicious application of a K31 submachine gun) proceeded to personally turf between 500 and 700 Soviet solders in front of Saint Peter's desk until 06MAR1940 when a Red counter-sniper got lucky and put Simo Häyhä out of the fight for the rest of the (all-too-brief) war.That averages out to about five enemy personnel a day for 100 continuous days. With iron-sights.

Yes, Finland lost, technically. But the Russki Army didn't think of it that way...

Iron sights!

Franken and Reid, the Thieves?

The hypocrisy of the (D) Party is unbounded.

Here's the summation from PowerLine, quoting Coleman's campaign manager, Cullen Sheehan:

"This is a stunning admission by the Franken campaign that they are willing to take this process away from Minnesotans if they fail to win the recount. It is even more stunning that the Democratic Senate leader would inject himself into the Minnesota election process. This says that Franken is fully prepared and armed to take this matter to the United States Senate and that the Senate will be receptive - even if Franken fails to succeed in winning the recount. This is a troubling new development. We call upon Al Franken to personally disavow his attorney's comments, and to commit to Minnesotans that he will not allow this election to be overturned by the leadership of the Democratic Senate. Al Franken owes it to the people of this state to reject any and all efforts to stop a Minnesota Senator from being sworn in on January 6th if Norm Coleman continues to be shown to have won this election after the recount."

(Cullen Sheehan was the campaign manager for Tim Michels' Senate campaign, if you don't remember.)

PowerLine comments, optimistically:

Most likely, though, this is just a trial balloon. I seriously doubt that the Democrats would risk seating Franken in the face of a Coleman electoral victory, followed by a recount victory, followed by victory in the Minnesota courts.

We shall see. Common sense and hubris are not generally found in the same place.

A Brilliant Tax-Holiday Idea!

Not likely to be considered in Wisconsin, but hey!

The Nichols Store can sell you a rifle, shotgun or handgun any day it's open. But this Friday and Saturday, the outdoor emporium and its fellow gun dealers across South Carolina will be selling all of those items with a twist: Tax-free, under a new sales tax holiday devoted exclusively to guns.

Those Bitter Clingers take some things seriously. Like freedom, for example...

Happy Thanksgiving

From the NYT--these men are in Afghanistan. Don't forget to thank God for them, too...

ConLaw "Expert": Communal Responsibility for Torture?

Jonathan Turley showed up on MSNBC the other night...

Turley makes a critical point in the interview -- namely, that the moral burden of torture is on the backs of each one of us until these people are brought to justice.

"We have third world countries that when they have found that their leaders committed torture war crimes, they prosecuted them. But the most successful democracy in history is just, I think, about to see war crimes, do nothing about it. And that's an indictment not just of George Bush and his administration. It's the indictment of all of us if we walk away from a clear war crime and say it's time for another commission."


OK, Jonathan.

And when abortion is once again made a criminal act, shall the US citizens then indict, try, and imprison all those who facilitated or co-operated in it?

Be careful what you wish for, Professor Turley.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bombay: Not Safe for Americans

This is very nasty.

80 dead and 200 wounded seem to be the most common figures at the moment (3:10 eastern) but it seems likely both will go up.

Top anti-terrorist cops have been wounded or killed. The army and navy have been put on alert to help the overwhelmed local cops and national anti-terrorist troops are moving in

...The reporter at the IBL stream (India TV network) just said that gunmen at one of the hotels attacked specifically demanded room numbers of Americans and that Americans are being held hostage


Terror struck the country's financial capital late on Wednesday night as coordinate serial explosions and indiscriminate firing rocked eight areas across Mumbai including the crowded CST railway station, two five star hotels--Oberoi and Taj-- leaving 16 persons dead and 50 injured.

Armed with AK-47 rifles and grenades, a couple of terrorists entered the passenger hall of CST and opened fire and threw grenades, Mumbai General Railway Police Commissioner A K Sharma said.

Apparently India has ordered its Army and Navy to deploy some troops to back up the national anti-terrorist forces. The commander of the Bombay (Mumbai) anti-terror unit was killed about 2 minutes after he went into action at the scene.

HT: Ace

Quip of the Week

McCain (not the Arizona Nut):

Let's face it, if Thanksgiving reminds us of nothing else, it reminds us that the Indians paid the price for having a weak immigration policy

Even More Humor--Thanksgiving Style

Picking on the bitter clingers...

Its a Redneck Thanksgiving - If...

You have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say 'Cool Whip' on the side.

Your stuffing secret ingredient comes from the bait shop.

The directions to your house include "turn off the paved road".

Your secret family recipe is illegal.

Plenty more where that came from...

Social Conservatism: Semi-Homeless


Social conservatives should understand that in American politics - and all modern politics, really - they will never have a true "party." Particularly in modernity, a time shaped to repudiate many of the basic commitments of conservatives (indeed, a time that gave rise to the peculiar beast called "conservatism") there will always be a degree of political homelessness. Conservatives should aim to achieve some political ends, but understand that those aims will always be partially or imperfectly reflected in the commitments of all modern parties, and should seek, where possible, to reinforce or extend those commitments where they can be found. There is an odd willfulness on the part of many so-called conservatives to damn every action and word of Obama even as they excuse the actions of Bush. This reflects, in my mind, the sad reality that the Will to Power has deeply infiltrated itself within some thoughtful people who ought rightly to be the greatest opponents of that Nietzschean ambition.

True, dat.

By the way, I'm in the middle of reading a lengthy essay which purports to demonstrate that the Founders (specifically Jefferson and Madison) were virtual anti-Christians, who adopted Locke/Hobbes' political theories into the 1A to prevent religious influence on governance.

Which might come as either a relief or a surprise to Nick.

The "October Surprise" Actually Happened

At least, it happened if you believe the reports--and/or the Russkis.

Robert Parry of Consortium News is reporting that in 1992 the Russians turned over to the White House a secret report confirming that senior US officials and Reagan campaign staff met with Iranian officials in Europe during the summer of 1980. The meetings, since known as the October Surprise, were designed to delay the release of the American Embassy hostages in Iran until after the US elections, depriving President Jimmy Carter of a success that might have kept him in office.

I know for a fact that Henry Waxman’s committee on government ethics has hard evidence that the meetings did take place and that they were orchestrated by Reagan’s campaign manager Bill Casey. They were set up with the connivance of at least two CIA Chiefs of Station in Europe, in Rome and Paris.

One of the players was Robert Gates, the outgoing AND incoming SecDef.



You don't need the telephone providers to track down a cellphone any more.

Triggerfish, also known as cell-site simulators or digital analyzers, are nothing new: the technology was used in the 1990s to hunt down renowned hacker Kevin Mitnick. By posing as a cell tower, triggerfish trick nearby cell phones into transmitting their serial numbers, phone numbers, and other data to law enforcement. Most previous descriptions of the technology, however, suggested that because of range limitations, triggerfish were only useful for zeroing in on a phone's precise location once cooperative cell providers had given a general location.

The ACLU got interested and under FOIA, found that:

As one of the documents intended to provide guidance for DOJ employees explains, triggerfish can be deployed "without the user knowing about it, and without involving the cell phone provider." That may be significant because the legal rulings requiring law enforcement to meet a high "probable cause" standard before acquiring cell location records have, thus far, pertained to requests for information from providers, pursuant to statutes such as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and the Stored Communications Act

IOW, using a triggerfish device gets around pen-register safeguards.


HT: Schneier

What Happened to M&I?

Until.....oh.....90 days ago, the M&I Bank was regarded as the paragon of sound-lending practices. In fact, the only time M&I had hit the newspapers for a serious loan-loss was back in the 1970's (??) when they called Francis Schroedel's loans connected to his resort development--which remains controversial.

The joke was that M&I would lend you any amount you wanted, so long as you collateralized 100% with gold bars, placed in THEIR vault, thankyouverymuch.

Now we read this:

The debt ratings for Marshall & Ilsley Corp. have been placed under review for a possible downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service.

New York City-based Moody’s said Nov. 24 that it will focus on “ongoing weakness” in the Milwaukee bank holding company’s real estate portfolio. Moody’s said M&I’s risk concentration has worsened by a combination of acquisitions and organic growth the past few years.

In the event Moody’s decides to lower Marshall & Ilsley’s ratings, a one-notch downgrade is the most likely, Moody’s said. The ratings are for the Milwaukee financial firm’s bonds, securited stock and financial strength. The bank’s financial strength rating, is currently “B,” which is a high-yield rating

Maybe the Metavante earnings were shining so brightly in the M&I Boardroom that nobody noticed the large pile of pre-Milorganite raw materials in the corner...

And then they sold Metavante.

Humor Time

The Madam opened the brothel door to see a frail, elderly gentleman. "Can I help you?" the madam asked.

"I want Natalie," the old man replied
"Sir, Natalie is one of our most expensive ladies, perhaps someone else..."

"No, I must see Natalie." Just then Natalie appeared and announced to the old man that she charges $1,000 per visit. Without blinking, the man reached into his pocket and handed her ten $100 bills. The two went up to a room for an hour, whereupon the man calmly left.

The next night he appeared again demanding to see Natalie. Natalie explained that no one had ever come back two nights in a row and that there were no was still $1,000 a visit. Again the old man took out the money, the two went up to the room and an hour later, he left.

When he showed up the third consecutive night, no one could believe it. Again he handed Natalie the money and up to the room they went. At the end of the hour Natalie questioned the old man:

"No one has ever used my services three nights in a row. Where are you from?"

The old man replied, "I'm from Philadelphia."

"Really?" replied Natalie. "I have family who lives there."

"Yes, I know," said the old man. "Your father died, and I'm your sister's attorney. She asked me to give this $3,000 to you."

MSM Manipulation: Part 256,749

NewsBusters notes disparate treatment.

As the Christmas shopping season went into full swing in 2005, I sensed that journalists in general have a strong preference for using the term "holiday shopping" instead of "Christmas shopping" when covering business and commerce, but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to "Christmas."

My instincts have been proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December in each of the last three years

IOW, there is no "Christmas" unless it's important to call up E. Scrooge.

Housing Prices

Above is the price-to-rent ratio (Case-Schiller). Q1/97=1:1; you can see that home prices took off (broke the typical range) at the very end of 2001. Housing prices will continue to fall (or rents may rise) for a while--likely another 3-4 quarters.

In another chart, Calculated Risk shows Case-Schiller for Chicago and Minneapolis housing prices. They've dropped 12% and 17%, respectively, from their peaks; whereas Charlotte and Dallas are only off by about 4%.

This graph shows housing prices v. nominal median income--both are national, not local.

As you can see, the typical average was about 1:1 from 1987-2000; then it took off.

Calculated Risk suspects that the decline will continue for another couple of years before it hits the typical average, mostly because "nominal income" usually moves up.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Minnesota Recount/Georgia Runoff

Quick update from the American Spectator blog:

I spoke to several Norm Coleman campaign representatives to get their perspective on the ongoing recount. Here are some of the things they emphasized:

-- They believed the current margin was somewhere in the middle of the 160 to 211 vote range.

-- They were confident that Franken did not make the gains he should have in the highly Democratic and populated Hennepin, Ramsey, and St. Louis counties. They said they were basing this claim on the hard count, not on the fact that Coleman challenges were removing more votes from the Franken stack.

-- Tomorrow, they said they anticpate a "circus" as there is a hearing before the state Canvassing Board, which will rule on whether to count up to 6,400 rejected absentee ballots. They said they anticipate that the Board will rule that the ballots will not be counted, and that the Franken campaign will eventually pursue further legal action on this matter.

-- "I have never seen the intensity in terms of upsetting the apple cart than I have seen on the Franken side," said one representative. "They are pulling out all the stops."

-- There is a chance that the Democratic Senate could get involved, by either declaring the seat vacant, or having Coleman appointed on a provisional basis, one official posited.

The Star Tribune
has more from the Franken camp, including their charges of missing ballots and contention that the real margin is only 84 votes --Phil Klein

and in Georgia,

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin will make multiple campaign appearances on behalf of Sen. Saxby Chambliss next week in Georgia, serving as the political closer for the GOP senator who is battling to win a second term.

This is Palin's first campaign appearance on behalf of another Republican candidate since losing her bid to become the nation's first woman to serve as vice president.Palin will attend a fundraiser on Sunday night, then appear at multiple campaign stops on Monday in an effort to rally the GOP base to turn out to vote for Chambliss. --R Stacy McCain

LeftyWonzo "Argumentation", Distilled

P-Mac notices the general drift of the Left into .....insanity.

"Youre a Poopy-Head."

Yup. That passes as argument, to the Intellectualoids.

McIlheran provides two examples; here's another. Notice that the operative word in this finely constructed and elegant argument is "hate," which requires no proof. It's subjective, you see. So what Other Side declares to be "hate" is "hate."

When you get into the comments, you notice that there's no there there, in his responses; there can't be.

So back to "hate," which explains it all.

Rush wastes a lot of airtime with his "racist sexist homophobe" descriptors; he should simply stick to "I'm a hater."

Easier logic for the Left to follow....

How Old IS America?

Interesting. Hadley Arkes has a friend who actually listened to Obama's victory speech in Chicago and he listened carefully.

The e-mail came the day after the election from my friend Jim Stoner, an accomplished professor of political philosophy: Did I notice that Obama, in his victory speech in Chicago, had used the number 221? Obama, on the night of his election, asked the nation to “to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years...

Yah, do the subtraction and you'll note that the O-and-Savior chose to ignore the Declaration of Independence (and the Revolution, and the Articles of Confederation....)

(!!!!) (Not mentioned by the MSM, of course....)

It was quite striking then that Barack Obama would look back and find the beginning of our nation only with the Constitution. He would conspicuously omit the Declaration, with its affirmation of natural rights, universal in their reach, and the equality of human beings...

Over the last 30 years it has become the fashion among academics on the left, and some notable black intellectuals, to reject the Declaration of Independence along with the American founding. The late Thurgood Marshall condemned the Founders for bringing forth a Constitution that cast protections around slavery.

...for the left, the Declaration has the deeper defect of claiming that the rights it proclaims rest on moral truths. “All men are created equal” was put forth as an axiomatic or “self-evident” truth, and the left will not brook such talk about moral truths. For the existence of moral truths establishes the ground for casting moral judgments on others, especially on those sexual freedoms that the left has come to regard now as the “first freedoms” in our inventory of rights. The left in our politics is always raising a moral cry over inequality, whether in the distribution of wealth, or in the disparities that affect women and racial minorities.

Let me, maybe, the immutable immorality of abortion?

And this guy claims to be a Con-Law professor? Educated at Ha'vahd? Cole-Ahm-beeYah??

We are not impressed.

FDR's NRA, Mussolini, and FDR's Depression

Bet you didn't know this.

Tugwell (who outlined them retrospectively for my Wharton class in 1974), designed several New Deal statist “reforms.” He had gone to Rome to interview a man early New Deal theorists thought was the man to copy in this country. His name: Benito Mussolini. Sitting down at Mussolini’s desk, Tugwell perfected the concept of the NRA (the National Recovery Administration) which he copied as a virtual stenographer taking notes dictated by Mussolini himself.

Tugwell was a member of the New Deal brain trust; Roeser knew him and they talked occasionally.

Il Duce... was hugely admired by New Deal statists in the early `30s. Tugwell was fascinated by the intellectual amalgam Mussolini was-part nationalist, corporatist, syndicalist, master of state propaganda and lord prosecutor of “subversives.”

As to the Depression's economic picture, Roeser relates

What Hoover and Roosevelt never understood…and economists of the day missed until Milton Friedman… was that the U. S. was in deflation, a money drought. The Fed was very young (having been formed in 1913) and the concept of open market economics, where government buys bond and sells bonds to soak up money from the economy was virtually unknown at the time

FDR failed spectacularly--but the crowd he attracted to Washington to help him were adjudged as brilliant, liberal, witty…and the more flops they created, the more the supine mainstream media loved him. Then an interesting thing happened-which just may repeat itself today.

The Depression went on so long…with joblessness averaging in the mid-teens …that people decided the condition would stay in perpetuity. Thus the American people accepted it as de rigeur and cheered his “innovations” as experiments no matter that they didn’t work. They wanted FDR to succeed. His ideas were so intricate, so cerebral, so exciting. John Maynard Keynes’ ideas were paramount: they were so more persuasive than old-hat economics. And Keynes’ ideas are back again…front and center…with Obama. We’re in for it, folks. Another round of failures ballooned into triumphs by the media fawning over an exciting presidential figure

The real possibility of deflation has been mentioned about these days, too.

How much a flop WAS Roosevelt? Look for yourself (numbers provided by A. Schlaes):

1929 the year of the stock market crash under Hoover, unemployment stood at 5%.

By 1931 under Hoover: 17.4%. Then the glory days of Franklin Roosevelt. 1933, the first year of FDR 22.9%...1934 under of FDR 21.2%...1935 FDR 21.3%...1936 FDR’s reelection 15.3% ...1937 FDR 15%...1938 FDR 17.4%...1940 FDR 14.6%..

Then FDR managed to get the Japanese to attack Pearl. Unemployment disappeared into uniforms...

How'd he manage to screw up that badly? Let us count the ways.

--Ordered the Fed to exchange all its gold with the Treasury for certificates, devaluing the dollar by 59%, hiking gold price to $35 an ounce which increased domestic prices;

--Rammed though Congress a new tax on business’ retained earnings in addition to hiking top individual income taxes at 79% prompting the rich to seek off-shore tax shelters, causing revenue which had started to rise in 1936 to plummet in 1937

--Mandated Treasury and the Fed to hike their reserves to guard against inflation, prompting commercial banks to do the same, cutting back on bank deposits and loans, forcing businesses to slash production and lay off workers

--Vowed to veto Social Security if businesses were allowed to individually give better than government benefits for their workers. He insisted his Social Security principle be not voluntary but government- mandated

(The above is particularly interesting in light of Obama's "health-insurance" machinations--especially coupled with the Lefties' 401(k)-jiggering proposal.)

--Applied Mussolini’s codes regulating business-the Tugwell brainstorm copied from Mussolini. The NRA, symbolized by a blue eagle affixed to all store windows with the slogan “We Do Our Part,” run by a crusty retired general negotiated 557 industrial codes ordering businesses to set minimum wages, maximum hours, child labor restrictions and occupational health and safety rules. (Interesting little bit of history here...) then: the Supreme Court invalidated the entire NRA…in retaliation for which Roosevelt vowed to pack the Court

--…Forced farmers to plow under their crops notwithstanding there was hunger abroad in the land-a favorite Tugwell scheme taken from Il Duce. Roosevelt sought to reverse a decade-long depression by forcing farmers to reduce their acreage under production, imposing taxes on food processors and paying subsidies to farmers who plowed under their crops and slaughtered their livestock and poultry. During its first three year farm income increased by 50% but all the increase resulted from the subsidy payments. The farm program is still with us.

You never waste a minute by reading Roeser's blog.

Meyers-Briggs: Wrong

If you have little else to do, you can Meyers-Briggs your intertubularnetblogscrivening.

I did.

INTJ - The Scientists

The long-range thinking and individualistic type. They are especially good at looking at almost anything and figuring out a way of improving it - often with a highly creative and imaginative touch. They are intellectually curious and daring, but might be pshysically hesitant to try new things.

The Scientists enjoy theoretical work that allows them to use their strong minds and bold creativity. Since they tend to be so abstract and theoretical in their communication they often have a problem communcating their visions to other people and need to learn patience and use conrete examples. Since they are extremly good at concentrating they often have no trouble working alone

Somebody's having fun with random-letter generators...

Offshore Drilling? Never.

The 9th Circus, once again attempting to discredit all judges, lawyers, and the Rule of Law...

Last Thursday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a major drilling effort in the Beaufort Sea, ruling that federal officials failed to properly address environmental concerns when they granted permission to Shell Oil to drill there. The decision followed a temporary order issued last year that halted Shell's drilling at Sivulliq, 16 miles off the coast of northern Alaska (--IBD, cited by Gateway)

Don't look for any (D) pols to object.

Governor Palin had this to say about the Beaufort:

"There are even bigger sources of crude than ANWR . . . such as offshore areas like the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea."

And when the Russkis get there first with slant-drilling, she'll be proven right.

Doylie Lied. (Ho-Hum)


Todd Berry, president of the non-profit Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, says Gov. Jim Doyle's new estimate of a $5.4-bllion budget deficit between now and mid-2011 is "unreal" and based on "double counting."

In an interview, Berry said the $5.4-billion number assumes that state agencies will get an additional $2.8 billion in spending they requested for the next two years -- a "fictitious" assumption.

And, Berry said, Doyle's scenario also assumes that the so-called "structural balance" -- the long-term imbalance between spending commitments and tax collections - remains at $800 million per year for each of the next two years. That's about $1.6 billion of Doyle's $5.4-billion deficit. Berry said.

The FIRST question one asks is "cui bono?"--that is, who benefits?

Berry said Doyle's $5.4-billion deficit estimate is "really the opening pitch in a multi-inning budget game. It's in the interest of the executive ... to get people to pay attention."

Another way to put it: if Doylie can convice the people that the deficit is 2x what it actually is, he has a better chance of raising taxes a LOT.

The same deception-theory exists behind the "no bonus, no merit raise" story of today, and the "10% of State positions are vacant" story of yesterday.

"O, woe is the State! How CAN we overcome this pestilence of not-enough-tax-revenue??"

I argue that the real "pestilence" is right where Doylie put it in his first campaign: about 10,000 extra State employees (hired by 'stick-it-to-'em Tommy').

The Fallacy in "Social Justice"

Gotta love Deneen.

...I am constantly struck by the strain implied in the combination of the words "social" and "justice." Justice, according to the ancient definition, is according to each what is due (whether desert or punishment). Justice thus - as the word suggests - requires judgment and discrimination. By this definition, justice is a thing pertaining to individuals - according to your actions you can and will be judged.

By contrast, adding the word "social" to justice implies that justice is a collective quality. Justice, it would seem, consists of treating everyone equally.

About 2o years ago, I was in a.....umnnnhhh..... discussion!!..... with a well-known senior priest (a good man, by the way, and orthodox) over precisely the confusion of which Deneen speaks. That priest, following JPII, was declaiming 'evil structures' in society. I demurred, objecting that 'structures' were not evil; only people could be evil.

Or perhaps better phrased, with the same end: a deficiency of "goodness" pertains only to people. Structures are easily defeated, or re-arranged, by good people for good ends. But those structures can remain obstacles only when good people choose to ignore the problem (or when bad people prevail.)

Here's the nub, articulated by Deneen:

Many... "justice issues" imply (without reflection on what justice is) that justice has the aim of achieving equality, particularly material equality. By implication, social justice incorporates the commitment to treating unlike things equally, and thus contradicts the classical definition of justice simpliciter. It's interesting to raise the question of what would be lost by removing the word "social" to the language of justice. It could be suggested that the addition of the word "social" allows one the appearance of a commitment to justice while in fact rejecting its substance

Of course it does. Marxist theory, feminist theory, "queer" theory, racial theory; all do precisely that. Whether rich/poor, female/male, homo/ get the idea.

It's just too much real WORK to work for "justice", rightly defined. (Even Plato couldn't resolve the question, as Deneen observes.) So rather than do all that hard work, just add "social"!!

That way, in the words of G K Chesterton, we can 'define the comparative without ever defining the superlative,' meaning that "justice" needs continual legislative and judicial refinement.

It's a jobs-program for politicians and judges, folks...

Thinking Again About Para-Military Raids

Not a very nice ending here.

FBI agent, Samuel Hicks, was killed this week in Pittsburgh while serving an arrest warrant in a botched drug raid. He was 33. After the agent knocked on the suspect’s door and announced his intention, the suspect apparently proceeded to flush his stash of cocaine down the toilet. After the suspect didn’t answer, they were shot by the suspect’s wife when they came through the threshold.

May he rest in peace. He did his job and gave his life doing it.

But that should raise some questions, and The Agitator (a libertarian who thinks drug laws should be changed) essays on it.

It’s the paramilitary tactics that are the problem. These tactics carry a very low margin for error, on the part of both the police and the suspects they’re raiding. You’re waking people up, and while they’re groggy and fearful, you’re forcing them to process and evaluate an armed confrontation. I don’t care how much force you bring, that’s a needlessly dangerous situation, not just for suspects and innocent bystanders, but for police officers. And even if all of these raids went down exactly as planned, there’s the broader question of whether the image of armed men dressed as soldiers battering down American citizens’ doors some 40-50,000 per year, mostly for consensual crimes, is one that’s consistent with a free society. I’d argue it isn’t

This paramilitary stuff began (IIRC) during the Clinton Administration, in no small part because that Administration was handing out money for this like candy...

It was Korbe’s wife who shot and killed Agent Hicks. Christina Korbe had no prior criminal record. She had a legal permit for the gun she used. She was upstairs with her two children, ages 10 and 4, when the police tore down the door at 6 am. She plausibly says she had no idea they were police

...She says she didn’t hear the announcement, and thought her home was being robbed—not an unreasonable assumption. She says she fired at the men invading her home because she feared they might hurt her kids. More to the point, she was on the phone with a 911 operator during the raid. Now I’ll admit that I can’t easily assume the mindset of a cold-blooded cop killer, but it’s hard to imagine one who would knowingly kill a raiding police officer, then call the police to come investigate.

It remains to be seen whether Ms. Korbe is indicted and prosecuted for shooting the FBI agent.

The Warmongers Forgot to Mention This--UPDATED

Remember "We're all Georgians now!!"--the war-whooping from the armchair warriors of AM radio waves and the Maverick?

Perhaps they are too embarrassed to report on the news.

...the official report of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the August war. According to The New York Times, the OSCE found, consistent with Moscow’s claims, that Georgia “attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.”

PJB also reports the following:

...a second signal came last week that Russia does not want the Cold War II that the departing neocons wish to leave on his plate.

Moscow offered Spain and Germany use of Russian territory to supply NATO troops in Afghanistan. As our supply line from the Pakistani port of Karachi through the Khyber Pass to Kabul grows perilous, this has to be seen as a gesture of friendship by a Russia that shares, as a fellow victim of Islamic terror, the U.S. detestation of al-Qaida.

Of course, Spain and Germany are not, shall we say, ....enthusiastic... participants in the Afghani venture, but logistics is logistics.

Senior US military types are interested in the Russki-Resupply route:

McKiernan faces obstacles in making his plan work. A Washington Post article of November 19 detailed these obstacles, focusing on Taliban attacks on the supply route into Afghanistan from Pakistan. But that's only a part of the problem. The other was caused by the Bush administration.

"We should have alternative supply routes through the north and not have to rely on the roads from Pakistan," a senior serving army officer says, "but we can't get a northern route because the Bush administration pissed off the Russians in Georgia." Negotiations with the Russians over a northern resupply route that would be place the 67,000 US and NATO soldiers at the end of "a secure tether" have been stalled, according to this officer.

"This is typical of the White House, they can't see beyond tomorrow. They have never been able to plan ahead, to think through the consequences of their actions. They're so proud of themselves, and we're the ones who suffer."

(Cited by Douthat)

So who's suffering? The very same soldiers that are supposed to 'win' the WOT in Afghanistan.

"We're all Georgians now!!" indeed...

Holiday Hazards

LawDog instructs on the fine art of un-corking bottles of bubbly.

Ladies and gentlemen, nothing takes the sparkle out of a celebration quite like an errant champagne cork ground-zeroing in your hostesses heirloom crystal stemware collection, prized Ming vase or -- worst case scenario -- impacting amidships of Fluffy, and causing said family feline to take a high-velocity lap or six through various displayed pretties.

Plus -- and here I speak to my fellow knuckle-draggers -- as gentlemen, we strive to avoid offering unintended insults or creating unintended awkward situations.

And nothing says "Awkward Situation" quite like the random ricochets of your champagne stopper terminating in the dècolletage of another gentleman's date.

The correct "how-to" is at the link.

Rangel: Crooked, or ....?

I don't think there's an option to "crooked."

Representative Charles B. Rangel’s legal team is reviewing his tax records to determine whether the congressman received a homestead exemption on a house he owned in Washington while living in several rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.

The situation is potentially troublesome for Mr. Rangel, a Harlem Democrat who is already the subject of a wide-ranging internal House investigation stemming from an assortment of ethical concerns

This is in ADDITION to his offshore-living tax problems.

What a buffoon.

HT: RedStates

8 to 1? No Problem for USMC

Don't mess with the Marines.

In the city of Shewan, approximately 250 insurgents ambushed 30 Marines and paid a heavy price for it.

Shewan has historically been a safe haven for insurgents, who used to plan and stage attacks against Coalition Forces in the Bala Baluk district.

..."Our vehicles came under a barrage of enemy RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and machine gun fire. One of our 'humvees' was disabled from RPG fire, and the Marines inside dismounted and laid down suppression fire so they could evacuate a Marine who was knocked unconscious from the blast."

The vicious attack that left the humvee destroyed and several of the Marines pinned down in the kill zone sparked an intense eight-hour battle as the platoon desperately fought to recover their comrades

...During the battle, the designated marksman single handedly thwarted a company-sized enemy RPG and machinegun ambush by reportedly killing 20 enemy fighters with his devastatingly accurate precision fire.

...At the end of the battle, the Marines had reduced an enemy stronghold, killed more than 50 insurgents and wounded several more.

"I didn't realize how many bad guys there were until we had broken through the enemies' lines and forced them to retreat. It was roughly 250 insurgents against 30 of us," the corporal said. "It was a good day for the Marine Corps. We killed a lot of bad guys, and none of our guys were seriously injured."

HT: PowerLine

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thinking About Doing Biz in Milwaukee? Think Again--Hard

Well, AlderThief Bob Bauman of Milwaukee just cleaned a restaranteur for about $65K

That was what the guy put into renovating a business before the AlderThief literally yanked his license out from under him.

McIlheran went to the License Committee meeting Court of Star Chamber grand larceny proceedings and reports as follows:

Bauman, who isn’t on the committee but who showed up at the extraordinarily long meeting -- the matter took up something like five hours of the committee's time -- to argue against Khan, says that it doesn’t matter that Khan wasn’t the problem before, doesn’t matter that Khan had nothing to do with the hot-dog stand when it was a crime magnet, doesn’t matter that Khan appears to have fixed up the problems in the kitchen that got the place closed.

What matters, Bauman said, was this (I’m going to paraphrase):

Khan didn’t spruce up the parking lot.

Khan didn’t go through the requisite back-scratching and ego-petting of aldermen, neighborhood groups and other area interests before opening up. Quite possibly, he had no idea this was even necessary and expected in Milwaukee these days. But, hey, once you give the fellow a license, it’s much harder to shut him down if your beef with him is that you don’t want a hot dog stand -- so, best stop him from opening. In fact, a lot of the meeting was taken up by testimony from neighbors who seemed to be arguing against the way the previous -- and urelated -- operator ran the stand.

The place and the product are the problem. Bauman said it’s just “inherently” problematic to run “a hot-dog dispensary,” as he put it. Such places are just naturally trouble, no matter who runs them. You’ve heard of the “broken-windows” theory of crime? This, I think, we can term the “pickle relish made them wicked” theory

One alderman even apologized before voting to steal this guy's retirement money--but stole it anyway.

The City of Milwaukee doesn't need higher taxes to kill itself off. All it needs is Bob Bauman.

Obama's "Civil Rights": To Hell With the 1A

Evidently there are a lot of new "rights" which have to be made enforceable.

Citing what they call America’s “promise of equality,” the Obama administration plans to push for homosexual rights by including protections of sexual orientation, “gender identity” and “gender expression” as civil rights. His office proposes expanding hate crimes statues and the adoption rights of homosexuals while supporting full civil unions for “LGBT couples” to give them “legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples.”

The proposals are announced under the Civil Rights section of their agenda presented at, the web site of the Obama campaign’s self-described “Office of the President-elect.”

It's interesting that the promises do not explicitly mention gay "marriage." "Civil unions" are already in existence (here in Milwaukee, for example.)

As to 'expanding hate crimes statutues,' this will be a feeeeeeelllllll-good infringement on the 1st Amendment, aimed specifically at religious folks--just as the "protections" of SO/GI/GE will be.

What fun!

HT: Caveman

On RC Congressional Votes for FOCA

Ed Peters, the reliable Canonist, has a few thoughts for the Bishops--some of whom have resident Catholic politicians who will vote for FOCA.

As I see it, bishops have four options for dealing with Catholic legislators who support FOCA:

1. Canon 915. Make plain, by public announcement and/or private contact, that a legislator's support for FOCA qualifies as (probably formal, but certainly proximate material) cooperation with objective grave evil and that such conduct, in this case, would render one ineligible for reception of holy Communion under Canon 915.This option requires little or no technical groundwork to be laid, carries immediate, visible, and salutary consequences (withholding of holy Communion from the publically unworthy and protecting the faithful from classical scandal), and, because it is a sacramental disciplinary norm and not a canonical penalty, it requires no formal process for imposition; finally, it leaves open the possibility of speedy reconciliation by a suitable expression of repentance.

(That is the Arb. Burke solution.)

2. Canon 1369. Warn Catholic legislators that their support for FOCA appears to be using "a public show or speech [or] published writing . . . [to] gravely injure good morals", and that as such they would be liable to "a just penalty" under Canon 1369. The sanction need not be specified in advance, and contempt for any earlier sanctions can result in escalating penalties under 1983 CIC 1393.This option requires little or no technical groundwork to be laid (no prior warning is necessary, but it might be pastorally prudent to offer same), and it carries visible and salutary consequences (ones flexible in nature, but which could eventually include excommunication). Because Canon 1369 is a penal norm, it would require a formal process (1983 CIC 1314, 1342) for imposition of the penalty. Canon 1369 can also be enforced by penal precept (1983 CIC 49, 1319, 1339).

3. Canon 455. Enact at the episcopal conference level (though individual bishops are free to act here as well, per 1983 CIC 1315 et seq.) a "general decree" (1983 CIC 29, 455) making legislative support for FOCA a canonical offense and specifying a penalty or range of penalties.This option requires that considerable groundwork be laid and, even if Roman authorization were forthcoming for conference action (I suspect it would be), there is probably not enough time to enact specific penal legislation before FOCA becomes an issue

These actions, says Peters, are not mutually exclusive, either.

Stalin v. Hitler: Another Look

Very interesting stuff. The author of the book is an ex-Soviet mil-intel analyst who bailed to England. Summarized, he makes two pertinent points.

...Stalin was planning to invade Germany in early July of 1941, a few days after Germany instead invaded the USSR. His argument is simple: the USSR was well-prepared for war, but it was not prepared for a defensive war; ...the Soviet military was trained, equipped, and, in June of 1941, positioned for an offensive war. (E.g., huge masses of Soviet troops, equipment, ammunition, and other supplies were stationed right by the border

...this was all part of Stalin's grand design to conquer Europe (and, eventually, the entire world). He helped Hitler re-arm the German military, expecting him to attack Western Europe, thus acting as "the icebreaker of the revolution"; signed the 1939 non-aggression pact, which was supposed to allay Hitler's fears of being attacked by Stalin, while also creating a common border where there was none before; waited for Hitler to invade Poland first, so that Hitler would be forever known as the villain who started the war; then, he was to strike at Hitler from behind, defeat him, and "liberate" all of Europe (i.e. install Communist puppet regimes throughout, or perhaps even annex it). Hitler somehow got wind of this, and, out of desperation, attacked the USSR first

Now THAT'S a different picture, eh?

You'll be shocked! SHOCKED!! to learn that Stalin was a double-dealing murderous bastard.

HT: Ace

On That Poly Sci Quiz: It's Worse Than You Think

A while back, the ISI poly-sci-cum-econ test was hot stuff. Dedicated inter-tube-bloglodytes took it--and a lefto (Jay) actually scored 100%!

For the record, a couple of HS seniors of my acquaintance took it, too, and between them managed to come up with a 54+% score; respectable, but not brag-able.

Heh. They did better than one OTHER class:

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday. Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

You knew there was something prevailing in Congress and the Legislature--now you can put a name on it.


The worst part is that they are both ignorant AND vain about it...

Think Twice About Geithner

A good think-piece here. Some excerpts:

...If you look at how the Fed and Treasury have handled the bailouts of Bear Stearns and AIG, a reasonable conclusion might be that the Paulson/Geithner model of political economy is rule by plutocrat. Facilitate a Fed bailout of the speculative elements of the financial world and their sponsors among the larger derivatives dealer banks, but leave the real economy to deal with the crisis via bankruptcy and liquidation. Thus Lehman, WaMu, Wachovia and Downey shareholders and creditors get the axe, but the bondholders and institutional counterparties of Bear and AIG do not

...By embracing Geithner, President-elect Barack Obama is endorsing the ill-advised scheme to support AIG directed by Hank Paulson et al at Goldman Sachs and executed by Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke. News reports have already documented the ties between GS and AIG, and the backroom machinations by Paulson to get the deal done. This scheme to stay AIG’s resolution cannot possibly work and when it does collapse, Barak Obama and his administration will wear the blame due through their endorsement of Tim Geithner.

(I'm not sure that Obama & Co. will have to take the blowback. But Paulson certainly won't, if he can help it.)

The bailout of AIG represents the last desperate rearguard action by the CDS dealers and the happy squirrels at ISDA, the keepers of the flame of Wall Street financial engineering.

...many of these CDS contracts were written two, three and four years ago, at annual spreads and upfront fees far smaller than the 90 plus percent payouts that will likely be required upon a GM default. That’s the dirty little secret we peripherally discussed in our interview last week with Bill Janeway, namely that most of these CDS contracts were never priced correctly to reflect the true probability of default. In a true insurance market with capital and reserve requirements, the spreads on CDS would be multiples of those demanded today for such highly correlated risks. Or to put it in fair value accounting terms, pricing CDS vs. the current yield on the underlying basis is a fool’s game

The author is affiliated with Institutional Risk Analytics.

HT: Ritholtz

Accountability for Thee, but Not for Me!!

As usual, Shoebox points to a glaring disparity.

First, he quotes Queen Nancy Pelosi:

“I am very optimistic and hopeful that they have gotten the message that they just can’t come and say, ‘Give us this,’ ” Pelosi said Friday. “How do we tell the American taxpayer it was worthwhile to put this in not as a life support for a few more months and then they are back again, but as an investment in their viability?”

“In return for their additional burden, taxpayers also deserve to see top automobile executives making significant sacrifices and major changes to their way of doing business.”

Then he recites the horrible US deficit/debt numbers run up by Congress and the Bush Incompetency...roughly, $120 trillion...

Then he asks:

When will Congress set the same limits and expectations on their pay, benefits, perks as they are demanding the auto execs do? When will Congressional leaders put their “skin in the game?” When will Congress eliminate the ability to gain any future income from their time in Congress and remake the Representative and Senator roles into the public servant, not public fleecing roles that they were intended to be?

'60's rockers had that answer, Shoebox.

The Twelfth of Never.

Citi's Pig in the Poke: Nuclear Waste


You, the taxpayer, now own a New York Bank!

Here's the fine print you haven't seen in the dismally-useless MSM reports:

Citigroup...has about 200 million accounts in more than 100 countries. Its balance sheet has $2 trillion in assets. They also have more than $1 trillion in off-balance sheet assets. (The latter are of great concern because they’re not subject to the same reserve and capital requirements as the normal stuff.)

The red-highlight is the key. Recall the reading assignment I gave you yesterday. Follow the NYT link; the story mentions the "off-balance-sheet" stuff.

By and large, that OBS stuff is nuclear waste.

Don't expect to see Robert Rubin strung up from any lightpoles, although it would be appropriate. After all, Rubin is a Clintonista.

The Death of the MSM: It's Suicide

The above is an actual screenshot of a poll taken by the Philadelphia Inquirer (decidedly MSM organ.)
Somebody who has an IQ greater than their belt-size eventually removed RFK from the lineup.

Torinus Becomes Special Pleader

John Torinus suddenly thinks a lot less of the free market.

...For me and 250 co-workers at Serigraph who make auto parts, it's not an academic or political debate.

The same goes for thousands of other employees at numerous auto parts companies in Wisconsin. They are watching the political gamesmanship in Washington, D.C., with a high level of dismay and disgust.

If the politicos can dole out $700 billion to their buddies on Wall Street and to bankers who bought and sold undercollateralized, high-risk investment instruments, what's the issue with $50 billion to try to save the three American companies in the biggest industry in the country?

Yup. Torinus has his own skin in the game--which kinda had a negative impact on the "Free Market" yapping he's been doing for years.

And of course, he slobbers a lot of red-paint into the picture, hoping that invocations of "Apocalypse Now" and "Starving Workers" will turn the trick (so to speak).

Relax, John. When the Big 2.0000000012 go into BK, you'll have an opportunity to claim some money. More important, John, the industry is not going to disappear from the face of the Earth; it will still be around, maybe with different owners/managers (thank God!) and maybe with better supply-chains.

Meantime, you'd best be writing down your A/R's from the auto industry--no matter WHAT happens in D.C.

Bail Out the Home Builders?

This one takes the cake.

The builders' lobby is ramping up its sales pitch for a $250 billion stimulus package called "Fix Housing First," arguing that financial markets won't recover until home prices stop falling. They are calling for a generous tax credit for home purchases and a federal subsidy that would lower a homeowner's mortgage rate.

..."The basic asset that is underlying all the financial problems that we're experiencing is highly unstable, and it's causing an ongoing hemorrhaging in the financial system," said David Ledford, who oversees housing finance and policy for the National Association of Homebuilders. "It's starting to snowball."

No kidding.

But what the homebuilders conveniently forget is the Bubble they've enjoyed for the last 10+ years. The price of housing increasd, and the main measure of housing prices (the income/price ratio) is now about 4-to-1, instead of the historical average of 3-to-1.

That's "Easy Al" Greenspan's fault--he pumped money into the system which caused the dotcom bubble/bust, and now the home price bubble/bust. The deficit-happy Bush Administration didn't help, of course--but monetary policy was just awful under Greenspan.

The homebuilders who over-extended, along with the Realtors, began to believe their own line of bull that "housing and land will never, never, never go down in price."

They were wrong, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Greed and Stupidity: Citibank

If you believe the story in the NYTimes (and I do, but with some reservations,) then it was greed and stupidity which caused the End of Citibank.

Which element was prevalent is a matter of flipping a coin.

Names to remember: Chuck Prince (ex-CEO), Robert Rubin (ex-Clintonista) and a dweeb named Maheras.

Move Over, Charlie: The Bloggers Are Next

Well, only in Washington State...for the time being.

”Blogger beware? State regulators are wondering whether online political activism amounts to lobbying, which could force Web-based activists to file public reports detailing their finances.”

“In a collision of 21st century media and 1970s political reforms, the inquiry hints at a showdown over press freedoms for bloggers, whose self-published journals can shift between news reporting, opinion writing, political organizing and campaign fundraising.”

Doesn't look like it's going anywhere soon.

But don't be surprised if one of Doylie's henchmen puts out something similar (hint: it's spelled G A B. (That's short for "Decripit Old Judges With Virulent Legal Positivism Syndrome Given a Job by Doyle.")

HT: Ace

FrankenSquirrel(s), the Final Chapter

A while back I posted about the FrankenSquirrel.

Honestly, it was a horrible sight; the fur around the eyes, ears, and butt had disappeared and the skin (where the fur used to be) was a mottled red/white, and bulging--almost to the point where his eyes were 'hooded' by the skin.

An alert reader pinged his wife, who diagnosed the FrankenSquirrel as having the mange, a contagious and always-fatal disease.

What makes this a little interesting is that I have seen literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of squirrels, here in suburbia and in the city of Milwaukee, not to mention all the other places one normally travels. NONE of them had this condition.

At any rate, the backyard is filled with the damn bird-seed-pigs, all of whom were at risk of getting this disease and, for that matter, spreading it to the local red-fox population, the feral and domestic cats, and the local pooches.

Didn't take much to make the decision. Took him out.

Sure enough, he'd already infected another squirrel--who is also now enjoying 72 squirrel-virgins.

I hope that's the end. They are pests, but fun to watch, particularly as they fight over a stash of birdseed...

Russ Decker: Hubris? or Stupid?

Naturally, the $5Bn (?) $6Bn (?) (who really knows?) Wisconsin deficit gives the mice a chance to play.

So Russ Decker (D) has declared that the Federally-mandated Real ID program should be delayed. Maybe just scrapped entirely.

He has other plans for the money:

"I think we're going to need that cash to put people to work."

Oh, really Russ? YOU are going to 'put people to work'? On the State payroll?

Get over yourself, Russ.

Just as a reminder, under the Federal law, if you don't have a Real ID, you don't get to fly anyplace on an airplane.

THAT will stimulate commerce, Russ! Think of all those business-types, driving to their meetings in Omaha, New York, L.A., and thinking "Gee. There are a lot of other places I could move my business to...." as they cruise along in their cars.

Perhaps you should start thinking before you talk, Russ.

The First Assault on Heller: Tonight on MSNBC

Or, as Rush would have it: PMS-NBC.

Weatherman Roker (not to be confused with real Weathermen--like Bill Ayers and his Milwaukee-born terrorist wife, Ms. Dohrn) will present the first of what will likely be several anti-gun opinion pieces.

Someone from BATFE, an agency in the running for being the most incompent bunch of bureaucrats anywhere in the USA, will guide Roker through a gun store.

Should be a real hoot to watch...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A LOT of Talents

I didn't know that Hugh Laurie was good at a lot of things artistic....

Here's Laurie foreshadowing Obama (wait for it---)

Mash Notes for HRC; Eastasia Rising

The American Conservative notes the trend.

The neocon surge towards Hillary as Secretary of State, a position which she reportedly has accepted, has already begun. The current Weekly Standard features two puff pieces on her lauding her “conservative” credentials. One, describing her as a real hawk, is by Michael Goldfarb. Goldfarb is the former McCain campaign staffer who notoriously claimed on national television that there are a number of anti-Semitic associates of Barack Obama, though he declined to name them. Apparently Hillary, though a Democrat, passes the sniff test.

It's become de rigeur to mention "1984" when discussing the Obamaplans; usually, the concentration is on domestic affairs.

Largely forgotten, however, is the perma-war on Eastasia.

The Question Jim Doyle Can't Answer

From Random 10:

If carbon dioxide traps heat, then how is cold beer possible?

Not that Doyle gives a rip; his interest is in power, not facts.

The Definitive Riposte to the Palin/Turkey Frenzy

Found at Powerline.

UPDATE: A reader at NRO gets the last word:

She should tell the media that she apologizes and she'll do her next interview inside an abortion clinic.


The New Order: "In" and "Out"

To go with the automotive news (below), Planet Moron has the Style section list.


Out: Eating out six times a week.
In: Eating six times a week.


Out: Sweetheart discounted lease on a BMW 335i.
In: Sweetheart discounted bus pass for the crosstown metro.


Out: One hundred shares of IBM Stock that yield $50 in cash dividends.
In: One pallet of canned beans that yield 3840 servings of canned beans


Out: Paying a little bit more for green energy because, goshdarnit, that’s just how much you care about the environment.
In: Gathering old garden mulch, leftover paint thinner and the leaves that blew in from your neighbor’s yard and burning them in your fireplace because, goshdarnit, that’s just how much you care about not freezing to death

Yes, of course he has more at the link....

Coming to a Showroom Near You...

Iowahawk, again.

...All new for 2012, the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition is the mandatory American car so advanced it took $100 billion and an entire Congress to design it. We started with same reliable 7-way hybrid ethanol-biodeisel-electric-clean coal-wind-solar-pedal power plant behind the base model Pelosi, but packed it with extra oomph and the sassy styling pizazz that tells the world that 1974 Detroit is back again -- with a vengeance.

...Inside, a luxurious all-velour interior designed by Barney Frank features thoughtful appointments like in-dash condom dispenser and detachable vibrating shift knob. A special high capacity hatchback holds up to 300 aluminum cans, meaning fewer trips to the redemption center. And the standard 3 speaker Fairness ActoPhonic FM low-band sound system means you'll never miss a segment of NPR again

...With an MSRP starting at only $629,999.99, it's affordable too. Don't forget to ask about dealer incentives, rebates, tax credits, and wealth redistribution plans for customers from dozens of qualifying special interest groups. Plus easy-pay financing programs from Fannie Mae.

It's always difficult to determine which parts are fiction, and which are not.

Some Good News in Economics

A straw in the wind? A false flag? Or a harbinger?

Calculated Risk picks the indicators. These are Friday's numbers:

The three month LIBOR increased slightly to 2.16% from 2.15%. (October it was 4.81+)

The TED spread: 2.13. (slightly worse) (October it was 4.6+)

The A2P2 spread decreased to 4.16 from a record (for this cycle) 4.83

The two year swap spread from Bloomberg: 107.5, up slightly from 103.0 (October was 165+)

In addition, some ARM's have DOWNWARD interest adjustments.

...60% of ARMs are tied to a LIBOR index, about 25% to various treasuries, and the remaining 15% to the 11th District Cost of Funds Index

It appears ARMs tied to the COFI and treasuries will be non-bombs. The other 60% of loans tied to LIBOR might reset at a higher rate, although with the 3-month LIBOR down to 2.16% (it was 5.02% one year ago), even these 60% aren't bombs

Not exactly clear skies and fair winds, but compared to October's numbers (and the forecasts of cataclysmic ARM-reset rates) it's not horrific.