Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Forever War, Dexter Filkins

I have to thank NPR for this book, I heard a few minutes of an interview with the author on I believe "Fresh Air", and it was obvious that while a NYT reporter, Dexter was a WAR CORRESPONDENT first and foremost and taking tidy political positions wasn't part of what he saw in the position. REPORTING -- on what he saw, the people he was with, all of that was what he did. To some degree, war was where he reported because he saw that as "the best and worst" of humanity -- war was a "laboratory" that was always going on around the globe somewhere, and it allowed him to see humans in a concentrated form available nowhere else.

So he starts out in Afghanistan -- during the time of the Taliban, talking of how the Taliban brought "order" to Afghanistan which sorely needed it. People didn't "like them", but it is a realative world -- compared to complete disorder, they were preferable. We in the west are at least SUPPOSED to be "honoring of other cultures". Dexter gives us a little detail on how these cultures work: "I joined the Taliban because they were stronger," Gulimir said. "I'm joining the Northern Alliance because they are stronger now." Yesterday my enemy, today, my brother". It seems that often times the Arab culture is far more pragmatic than our western culture.

He points out matter of factly much of the violence that the Iraqi people suffered under Saddam -- all the people taken and tortured, sometimes killed, sometimes not, often "lost", dead or alive. However, he makes it clear --"there was no entering an Iraqi home, no matter how hostile your relationship with it's host, without being embraced by a hospitality that would shame anything that you would find in the west." Again, a cultural difference. What does it mean?

The whole book is great and very well written, and he very much doesn't tell you what to think. He lets you in on the massive amount of "gray" that permeates the Iraqi situation, but I just couldn't forget the chapter titled "Blonde". One of the US troop companies had the job of searching for guns in the little Iraqi towns. Thanks to the co-ed services, they happened to have a hot blonde in the company, so knowning the local culture, they put her out on the hood of the Bradley with her blonde tresses flying in the breeze and broadcast over the PA "Blonde woman for sale". They would drive into the town square and every male of close to age was bidding like crazy ... goats, trucks, all their money, children -- everything. Meanwhile, the rest of the company is searching the houses.

Once they are done, the Captain says, "not enough, no deal" and drives off. The Iraqi's aren't happy, but it is "just business". Think about this just a bit -- it is a muslim country, women have no status, and "infidel women" don't even count -- if you can pick one up it is a "freebie". Needless to say, the Captain ended up getting a repramand--not the kind of innovative use of the co-ed military that the brass had in mind. Sort of puts US innovation and Arab culture in a light that one would not be very likely to hear from the MSM.

It is a book that can't really be quoted and dissected because it isn't trying to "make a case" -- it is reporting what this guy saw and heard. They end up getting a Marine killed trying to get some pictures of a dead Al Quaeda guy. They obviously didn't mean to, but the reporters still feel responsible and it points out that Al Quaeda has their operational imperitives, and some of them (we don't leave our dead behind) aren't all that different from ours.

I highly recommend the book -- in some ways it would be better to read it not knowing what the outcome of the Surge was going to be -- because Dexter didn't, and I doubt that anyone truely did. Bush made a decision which a huge number of people, including Obama, were CERTAIN had no way of working. Dexter wasn't certain -- he saw the potential for hope, but it still worked better than even he expected (not covered in the book, covered on the interview). I consider the Bush decision on the Surge to be one of the great calls EVER by a US politician, especially since although it has become clear that it was an incredibly right call, there is as close to zero credit as possible given to him for it.

Dexter gives an insight that the Iraqi people and our soliders that have fought there are worth something -- maybe even more than a bunch of folks being able to say that "Bush was wrong, AGAIN".

Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

https://www.amazon.com/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/1491514132

This book by Carol Tavaris and Eliot Ar0nson is one that I ought not have wasted the time to read all the way through, but I did.

In summary, humans don't like to recognize our mistakes and admit them -- so we end up with something called "cognitive dissonance" when our natural tendencies try to blame others, say that "everyone does it, and I'm no worse", "the choice I made was the best at the time", etc, etc. Strangely, this writing duo barely seems to realize that "universal" means "universal", so the fact that they seem to be able to see the foibles of conservative politicians much better than their own, or those of the more liberal ilk would seem to be a corollary that they fail to point out. "While it is hard to see faults in yourself or those you agree with, it is EASY to see them in others, and especially those that you disagree with".

To insure that we understand this piece of breakthrough thinking (known at least since "cast the log out of your own eye before going after the mote in your brother's eye"), we have to go through Watergate, the recovered memories movement, police interrogations, and other matters. Yes, yes, at least WE "get it" -- although these folks found a lot of bad cops, interrogators and even psychologists, they "somehow" failed to remember that Clinton's own Attorney General, Janet Reno was one of the early heavy users of recovered memories as a DA. Strange, one might jump to the conclusion that these folks are more correct than they realize they are.

They finally have some good advice -"By looking at our actions critically and dispassionately, as if we were observing someone else, we stand a chance of breaking out of the cycle of action followed by self-justification, followed by more committed action. We can learn to put a little space between what we feel and how we respond, insert a moment of reflection, and think about our actions."

WOW ... and who would be MOST likely to be able to do that? Those of the left who tend to pride themselves on being "in touch with their feelings" and therefore "more genuine", or those evil righties who seem to think that one needs criteria, reasons and supporting data for making decisions? I guess I'm too biased to think that one out.

Looking Back 40 Years

I happen to be about 1/2 way through the Buffet Biography, "Snowball", and one of the sections recently covered touched on 1968. While turning 12 in the fall, I certainly have recollections of the year -- more Bobby Kennedy being shot than MLK, and of course the big Apollo 8 moon orbit, but other than a general recollection of all the folks in the Baptist Church being pretty much sure that "this had to be the end times", I don't remember the emotional nuance.

I do get to read a lot of columnists on how AWFUL Bush has been and he really ought to be "the worst president". Reading about '68 and other aspects of the LBJ term and thinking just a bit has made me wonder some on that point. Do we have any criteria? Vietnam is pretty much an "LBJ war"-- over 50K dead and absolutely nothing accomplished. Maybe the WOT might get to 10K if it goes on long enough, but can anyone really look at it from the perspective of today and compare it even in the same ballpark as Vietnam? Let's see, we had two major assassinations and riots across the country--see any of those lately?

Add to that the "slight difference" that LBJ was a one-term president that realized there was no way for him to win a 2nd term, so he declined to run. Of course LBJ had gigantic Democrat majorities in both the house and senate -- from my perspective, that may make him a lot less responsible for the disaster of his years in office, but I hardly think that those MSM columnists would agree with me?

I don't even need to get into Jimmy C ... another classic "one termer". Seems that not a lot can be said for his short tenure other than "it was short".

The Dark Side, Are We Safer?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Dark-Side-Inside-American/dp/0307456293

I've read three books on roughly the Iraq, War on Terror theme this fall, I'm trying to catch up on my book reporting. I've been reading well, just not writing about it much. The thesis of this book is basically that the Bush administration has committed all sorts of torture crimes, none of which have netted any information and all of which have hurt the US, probably irreparably in the world. The book could have had one of those 1-2--09 "The End of an ERROR" bumper stickers on it.

Interestingly, as books like this often do, page 114 says:
"On August 5, 1998 a month after the Albanian rendition, in what was to take on the aura of a very personal vendetta, an Arab-language newspaper in London published a letter from Zawahiri threatening retaliation against the United States--in a "language they will understand". He warned that America's "message has been received and that the response, which we hope they will read carefully is being prepared" Two days later, the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were blown up, killing 224 people.
I guess that would be "very early" in the evil Bush administration. A lot of the book is more supposed detail than one would ever want to know about the supposedly secret "renditions", where a terror suspect is jetted to an intermediate country for "intensive interrogation" -- or "torture" depending on your perspective. The book is certain at least during the Bush administration it was torture -- I'd assume that the standards that they applied to "early Bush" in '98 would be more lenient.

Page 137 has another tidbit:
"When Tenet dropped the bombshell. He said that they had a high-level Al Quaeda figure who just told them that Al Quaeda and Saddam Hussein's secret police trained together in Baghdad--and chemical and biological weapons were involved."
When one reads the detailed record of Iraq, a few things hit very hard:
1). The thoughts and policies carried out in the Bush Administration nearly all have their genesis in the Clinton Administration, '98 or earlier.
2). Carrying over George Tenent as CIA director from Clinton was a fateful decision for Bush. One can't really tell if he was incompetent or something more sinister, but many of the pieces of information on which decisions were made turned out to be either "wrong", or "not possible to prove/defend given the infighting with CIA/State and the Bush Administration". Very clear statements made by the CIA that can't be verified by facts on the ground once the invasion happens are taken as "Bush failings".
3). The same policy and in some cases, even actions ("renditions", military action in Iraq, wiretaps, etc) taken under Clinton suddenly become somehow "sinister" under Bush.
Page 167, "Sexual humiliation was a regular feature of the SERE program. In addition, the notion that Arabs were particularly vulnerable to it became an article of faith among many conservatives in Washington."
Uh, just conservatives? The idea that countries where women trundle around in packs covered from head to toe in cloth 10 steps behind, might expose the males to some "vulnerability" to sexual humiliation by women? One would expect that it would be at the very least "different" from their standard experience, and I know I've read a number of articles in the MSM that apparently have that same misconception as those poor simple Washington conservatives supposedly had.

Mostly the book is dedicated to the evil of David Addington, Cheney's chief of staff, but Doug Feith and the Rumsfeld pentagon get in for some blame as well. Naturally, "the claim that needs no support" -- that "all the efforts of the Bush administration made us much less safe" runs throughout the book. As the last sentence of the book says "fear and anxiety were exploited by zealots and fools".

As I've argued before, one might think that such thinking might require some sort of objective measure. My statement has been since we had the Cole attack in Oct of 2000 and then 9-11 the year Bush took office, if we are indeed now less safe, we ought to have had something similar to Cole in late '08 and be looking for something, or some group of things worse than 9-11 in similar timing in 2009. Perhaps someone can suggest "better criteria" -- although when one realizes that there were a number of attacks during the Clinton administration (first WTC, Covar Towers, Embassy bombings and Cole), and NONE during the post 9-11 Bush administration, it seems that the statement of us being "less safe" would at least be open to question by those thinking in less than purely ideological terms.

It is a hard book to recommend -- the summary is pretty much "Bush, Cheney really really bad, torturers, failures, incompetent, did nothing helpful, everything wrong -- they ought to be prosecuted as war criminals". If you believe that, then you would likely enjoy the book -- and like most of the folks that agree with you, be willing to overlook the odd little things thrown in about "renditions" in '98, CIA stated connections between Saddam and Al Qaeda and such.

My sense is that we are due for a lot of willful ignorance of factual information for a good long while now. Hopefully whatever it was that has kept us safe from attacks since 9-11 was either something unrelated to Bush, or something that Obama will be willing to keep going on the sly so the string continues. If not, then there will likely be terrorist attacks and the need to respond to them in some way that is "without fear and anxiety, by moderate and capable thinkers". If that time comes, I'm sure his worshipfulness BO will step right up, take responsibility, and give us clear direction as to the "smart way" to handle a terrorist attack.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Creatures and Christmas

A plague of iPhone flatulence - Apple 2.0

Having had the Christmas season marred by the invasion of the flu to both my home and person and being an iPhone owner, this little article hit my strange connection circuits. The Christmas story where the God of all takes on the oh so humble existence of a human baby to be completely dependent and lacking any control over the basic functions of body and emotion, to literally become "a creature", worse yet, a sacrificial creature (and God), seems to much for a human to even imagine.

Nothing went as planned over the Christmas season due primarily to flu, so it was in many ways in keeping with 2008. When "change" is the order of the day, it stands to reason that "plans" are not. Disorder, once it comes calling, is a very powerful house guest, and the flu, followed by a sinus infection is very disorderly indeed. I fear that a lost week of flu may not be nearly as disorderly as maybe a lost decade of national meandering, but being creatures, we play the best we can with the hand that is dealt.

Conservatives of the stripe that believe in transcendence have as much appreciation of a creaturely fart as the most human-worshiping lefty on the planet. In fact, I'd argue that it is really the concept of infinite souls tethered to biological power packs able to heap all manner of indignity on their clearly very human "hopeful transcender" that provides the spark of humor to "iFart". Put that juxtaposition in the context of the descent of Christ to be Emanuel "God with us" and the miracle stretches our creaturely brains to even concieve it at all.

A Lost Decade?

Get Ready for a Lost Decade - WSJ.com

Some excellent points on the fact that the Great Depression was "one off" at least so far. All this supposed confidence that we won't have another "Great Depression" is pretty meaningless. First of all, whatever we have, it likely won't be "the same"--we would hope it would be "better", but there is no real information to make those kinds of assumptions. There are indeed some very good reasons to make opposite assumptions -- we didn't enter the Depression with 50-100 Trillion of unfunded Social Security and  Medicare obligations!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

40 Years Ago, Apollo 8

'God bless all of you . . . on the good Earth' - The Boston Globe

I've mentioned it a few times in this blog, Christmas Eve '68 watching the broadcast from Apollo 8 is one of my most vivid memories from youth. It was very cool to visit the capsule at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago a few years ago, and something like 25 years ago to get to hear Jim Lovell at an inventors breakfast at work.

I would have never believed that our space program would be as pitiful as it is 40 years later. Folks actually believe that competition doesn't matter? There is no doubt that we would have never made it it to the moon without the competition with the USSR!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Non Political View of Financial Meltdown

High and Low Finance - A Year of Financial Contradictions and Chaos - NYTimes.com

Nice concise, well done summary of the meltdown without a bunch of finger pointing. It seems pretty unlikely to me that anybody -- Democrat, Republican, Wall Street tycoons, bankers, businessmen, or anyone at all "wanted it all to melt down". Maybe some really true crazies from the far right or left, just to say "we told you so", but nobody really cares about them. One can always just stare at the craters on the moon, predict that eventually a "big one" will hit the earth with the certainty that EVENTUALLY it will be the right call. So what?

Somehow we now have to restore confidence in the system. Scapegoating won't help unless we can truely net the problems down to some specific actionable set of changes that will help the confidence aspect without destroying the creativity needed in the markets. Not an easy task. We all have to hope that BO and his team are up to it, or as this guy says, next December will be much sadder economically than this one.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Obama Nation

This book by Jerome Corsi is subtitled "leftist politics and the cult of personality" is a lot more detailed than it needed to be. The key points can be covered here:
  • Until some time during his college years, Obama was known as Barry Soetoro -- "Barack" was just funny sounding, so they made it "Barry", and Soetoro was the name of his moms 2nd husband, the one from Indonesia.
  • Barry was educated as a Muslim -- and a Catholic. He makes some points that he didn't take EITHER religion seriously, but the MSM has made that clear about the Muslim training, not the Christian training.
  • He did a good deal of drugs and alcohol in HS, his biological Dad pretty much killed himself by repeatedly driving drunk. Both his biological dad and grandfather were pretty much serially irresponsible womanizers. BO has the genetics to fit into the Democrat president lineage just fine.
  • He was heavily influenced by "black power" and very far left politics. Is that who he really is? Who knows, I'm not convinced that HE could really tell you who he is other than a guy that wants power -- he seems to have been successful with that, now we get to find out what he wants to do with it.
I can't really recommend the book. It is way to long for covering information that is largely pretty anti-climactic. A lot of the stuff in this book is just pulled out of BOs two books and linked in context to a little more depth. There is no doubt that "community organizing" is the child of Saul Alinsky, and that BO (and many others of the late 60's/70's in the far left) were very impressed by the subversive nature of Alinsky's book "Rules for Radicals". It is on my Amazon list, I'll get to it eventually.

The bottom line is that the information that we have would indicate that we have a guy headed for the White House that has at least heavily exposed himself to anti-white racism, anti-capitalism and basically "anti the America that we had at least up to sometime in '08".

So what America do we have now? One with a lot less wealthy and a lot less money overall? A nation in some sort of a "transition"? But to what? Socialism? Fascism? Destruction? I'm sure I can't tell.

I'm not at all certain that even BO could answer any of those questions with any sort of implementable policy. He would love a lot of "hope, change, justice, fairness, folks getting a chance, putting America to work, 2.5 million new jobs ... and a hundred other "good slogan things", but other than that rhetoric, I really have no idea what he thinks is a good idea, and I suspect neither does he. I have to admit he is high on the list of the smoothest empty suits that I've ever seen, but I bet Bernie Madoff is pretty good as well. I suspect that comparison may be about as close as one could get to pegging BO.

The Grey Lady Has Cold Feet?

Op-Ed Columnist - Pan Am Dies, America Lives - NYTimes.com

So now that the sheep have fully left the pen, it appears that even the NYT may be having 2nd thoughts about leaving the gate open. That is what I hate most about liberals, the constant willingness to dodge responsibility while complaining of the results of the very thing they push. The NYT is worried about "socialism"? Egads, they ought to stand up and CHEER for it, they have long supported the Chris Dodds, Barney Franks, Charlie Wrangles and Charles Schummers of the world. For God's sake, they employ Paul "comrade" Krugman, do they not know what they have been preaching?

This is a lovely quote ... if it was in National Review:

Americans have always lived at the new frontier, at least in their imaginations. It’s taken the death of the likes of the wonderful Pan Am to keep them contemplating the horizon rather than their navels.
The risk of saving the moribund is the demise of the vital — and the long-term cost of that is incalculable.

But wait, we voted in Democrat majorities in the House and Senate in '06, upped the number massively this year, and have an incoming president whose left leanings are only slightly diminished in power by the fact that he has no previous experience running anything at all. NOW the NYT wants to have 2nd thoughts about making the hard left turn, just because they got a teensy view of the fact that the edge of the road was a steep cliff rather than a comfy snow filled ditch? Pleeease !!!

The whole financial crisis is about the death of responsibility: the buck stopped nowhere. Everyone profited from toxic paper. Bernard Madoff, he of the alleged multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, is only the latest example.

Earth to Planet NYT, where were you when Slick Willie was dissembling on national TV? Talking about "responsibility"? I think not. How about when Chris Dodd and Barney Frank were getting sweetheart loans  and campaign donations from the credit industry they were supposed to be regulating? AWOL as charged. When BO was breaking direct promises to honor existing campaign finance law? "Gone Fishing". What is the use of being a liberal if one has to be "responsible"?

Is just a little peek into the maw of the abyss here making the "paper of record" a bit green about the gills? Oh come on, maybe you just need a nice bailout all of your own and you will get off this pining away for some form of a working economy! We need to actually get into the "BO Change" a bit more before we see what getting rid of those awful markets really does to the nation!

The Limit of BO Adoration?

Obama's inaugural choice sparks outrage - CNN.com

The left used to be outraged over campaign funding. There was too much money in politics, and MUCH more needed to be done about it. Anyone that voted for the "big money folks" was just being cynically manipulated by slick ads and barrage of television time that took them away from the "real issues". Then BO decided that he wasn't going to follow any campaign finance laws at all, started accepting contributions from anywhere with no record keeping, raised and spent more money by 3,4,?? times (nobody really knows), and the left was just fine with it. He is "their guy". They really don't care about campaign finance.

BO ran as an anti-war candidate, solidly against the surge up until the Democratic primaries were over. Now he has kept the Bush Sec Def and the withdrawal timetable is the same as the Bush timetable. Again, the left is silent, they really don't care about war.

BO said that one of the very first things he would do is "repeal the Bush tax give-aways for the rich". Now he is saying that he will likely just let them expire in '10 -- again, the left really doesn't care about even taxing the rich, "whatever".

We may have thought that "it was all about BO", but it turns out that Christ is ALWAYS the real issue. Selecting a guy that has written a book that has sold 20 million copies in the US is enough to get the first negative headline on BO that I've seen in the whole two years he has increasingly sucked the entire available positive news energy out of the MSM.

Warren sent a news letter that had this radical paragraph in it:

"For 5,000 years, every culture and every religion -- not just Christianity -- has defined marriage as a contract between men and women," Warren wrote in a newsletter to his congregation. "There is no reason to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population."
Just 5 thousand years? I'm not an expert on evolution, but I'm thinking that homosexual pairings aren't the most productive relative to offspring, so therefore not exactly what one would call "adaptive" in the evolutionary sense. It would seem that the idea of sexual reproduction in the scientific sense has been around for significantly longer than 5 thousand years.

So does the idea of free speech in America extend far enough that someone can state their opinion on homosexual marriage? From the POV of the left, apparently not.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BO of the Year

Why History Can't Wait - Person of the Year 2008 - TIME

Now here was a big surprise, BO is Time's 2008 "Person of the Year". I was amazed to read that they had discovered that one of the things HE "overcame" was inexperience? When did they learn that? I thought it was just the Governor of Alaska that was "inexperienced", not the 2-years of sitting in the Senate doing nothing, two years of campaigning Jr Senator from Illinois. Who knows what the press might discover once they get all the reporters back from Wasilla and maybe look at Chicago a bit. You never know, maybe the politics there are corrupt? I've heard that since the election, but there are a lot of stories that say that BO managed to be involved for 15 years and apparently was completely uninvolved in much of anything, so therefore never really even knew about any corruption.

Wow, that must take some talent. I wonder how many things he will be able to be unaware of and uninvolved as President? There should be a lot of opportunity to ignore a lot of things in that role!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Madoff -- How Could This Happen?

How Madoff cost my family a job, a 401(k) and a worthy cause - MarketWatch

Every time I read about Bernie Madoff and the $50 Billion Ponzi scheme, I'm reminded of Social Security and Medicare and the $50-$100 Trillion dollar US Government Ponzi scheme that we really ought to all understand by now if we believe we are capable of governing ourselves. The reason that most people don't is the same as the reason that Madoff took in so many people--they want to believe!!! The idea that 70%+ of the people can live a better retirement than their lifetime earnings, tax payments, and CERTAINLY their savings would allow is just too enticing to look at the facts.

One of the reasons for the 30's depression was that "everyone thought they could get rich" by relatively easy investment means. Up until the last couple years, everyone thought they could "retire rich". Add together the stock market gains to the big Social Security and Medicare payments and we could ALL retire with "well above average assets". Sort of the exact analogue to Lake Woebegon where "all the children are above average".

Note that nobody has responsibility to check even the most basic things about their investements, all the "fault" is with the guys that do the Ponzi schemes. Is that true of Social Security and Medicare as well? We will "blame the government" when it doesn't conjure the benefits that are based on assumptions of like expectancy and work force growth that have been known to be totally wrong for a long time.

Sure, guys like Madoff are charlatans, but are they really greater charlatans than Democrats that have been running on "change" since '06 without telling what they are delivering? Losing $50 billion is small potatos next to the TRILLIONS that are being poured down rat holes right now. Yes, yes, they are Democrats, so they carefully cover their tracks with "Bush" and cover from a few Republicans still in power, but isn't it clear to people yet where the real power is in Washington? CONGRESS!!

Who is it that has controlled congress since '06? Didn't they promise "change" in '06? And change we have gotten -- sub-prime loan expansion and finally explosion, "stimulus packages" that were really naked transfers from higher earners to lower earners. The Democrat promise is to reward failure and tax success, so they are always able to get less success and more failure. The "stimulus" was nothing but a reward to those that make less than a certain amount of money -- you are rewarded for making less, if you make more, you get no reward -- in fact, it is made clear that the intent is to penalize you as soon as politically feasible.

So, we have a crash, and when we have a crash, what John Kenneth Galbraith called "the bezzle" comes out. Guys like Madoff (or Enron for that matter) and a whole bunch of others do GREAT as long as everything goes up. If things go down, the loss of the "shady billions" makes the bad situation worse much as it made the good situation SEEM better on the way up. The money Madoff "had" was double counted -- he claimed to have it, and all his investors thought they had it as well. Really, like the value of over inflated homes and stocks, it only existed as long as the confidence was there. That is why they call a lot of swindles "confidence games".

Now, the confidence is fast being unwound from the worldwide financial and business systems, and we have an incoming president that is a complete blank slate -- Bzero. Fed funds rate at zero, short term treasuries at zero -- how many zeros are we going to go for here?

Why So Early?

News Analysis - In Blagojevich Case, Is It a Crime, or Just Talk? - NYTimes.com

As the NYT seems to have just figured out, "talking about something" isn't a crime. I wonder if the Federal Prosecutors were aware of that? I'd be pretty certain that they were, so why not just hang back and listen until you get something that can be prosecuted?

I can think of one really good reason right off--maybe it suddenly became REALLY important to "limit the targets"?? While BO and the media are working so hard to distance BO from Blagojevich, I half expect a story to show up that says "BO Unaware that Blagojevich Governor of Illinois". What if the prosecutors had a pretty good idea that say BO's chief of staff Rhambo was due to step into the net? I suspect there are going to be a whole bunch of folks willing to look the other way on just about anything that old BO and company want to do. From the MSM POV, it just wouldn't do to have the "historic new president" go down in flames before ever taking office.

I guess I'd have to agree with them there, I suspect that a State of the Union from Biden would be have to be held in two 4 hour segments, and after it was finally over there would be a lot of issues trying to figure out if he actually said anything.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Shoe Attack

RealClearPolitics - Articles - The Bush Shoe Attack: A Sign of Hope

NPR really enjoyed the "shoe attack" this AM. With pretty much unveiled malice they thought it "ironic" that Bush was attacked "similarly" at the end of his administration "the same way as the statue of Saddam". It was "symbolic".

As this article points out, attacking the real Saddam with a shoe would have resulted in torture, death, or both -- and maybe for your family as well. So is the fact that an Iraqi feels that they can attack a US President with the President of Iraq standing next to him any sort of progress? So they hate Bush, we know that already. I thought that the left at least CLAIMED that "freedom of speech" was a GOOD thing? Do they hate Bush so much they can't realize how far the situation in Iraq has come that an Iraqi reporter could do this and live on as a whole human being?

I guess not.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Most Corrupt MSM?

North Dakota tops analysis of corruption - USATODAY.com

I don't think we need to think very long to realize that when there is a problem in the Republican ranks, the topic of the day for the MSM is "how deep and wide does the corruption in the REPUBLICAN Party go?". Tom Delay, Mark Foley, Ted Stevens--the message is always clear "Republicans are corrupt, here are some specific examples". Notice any slight difference in how they deal with rampant corruption in the Democrat party?

I'd argue that the REAL message is that POLITICS is a corrupt business, BOTH Democrats and Republicans are often corrupt, but some states and areas are more corrupt than others. In this article USA Today says something really stupid in the headline, but the unintended message is what I just stated, politics are corrupt and these stats prove it. BUT, the idea that North Dakota is even in the same universe of corruption as Chicago and Illinios is so ludicrous that what the USA today claim really shows is just how wildly biased the MSM really is.

First, the "easy one", just reduce the problem to see how accurate the algorithm is. Let's just take "governors per population" ... ND has 1, IL has 1, ND has 600K people, IL has 12 Million, or roughly 18x as many. Therefore, if ND has one corrupt governor any more often than 18 years, that means they are more corrupt than IL. Make sense to you? If it does, you too could be a reporter for the USA today!

Where do you think a black person stands out more? Helsinki, or Kenya? If you guessed Kenya, than you could work for the USA Today. Second test in this vein. If you were forced to be dropped in the "worst neighborhood" in Fargo, Bismark, or Chicago with a funny hat and a big sign that said "will pay for directions", which city would you pick? "Corruption" is something that is VERY relative -- "corrupt" in ND really stands out, in Chicago, what would get you arrested in Bismark could get you awarded "Mr Clean" on the South side of Chi-town.

Why would one pick CONVICTIONs as a test of corruption? Is that the usual USA Today standard? Let's see, Slick Willie had a whole bunch of folks convicted of this and that in his administration, but USA Today didn't have any trouble with him. Bush has had ONE ... poor Scooter, who didn't know what day he was the last to find out the Valerie "I drive into the CIA every day from my home" Plame actually "worked at the CIA". Golly, who would have thunk it!

Isn't the whole deal on "corruption" is that there gets to be a "culture of corruption" and there are a bunch of kingmakers, croneys, corrupt officials, etc and it "keeps going on"? Like say "in Chicago". Doesn't more convictions mean that you are getting rid of more corruption?

How about "level of corruption" as a measure? Let see, IL has had 3 Governors end up eating off tin trays since '70 -- so far, looks like they have another in the running. ND? None ... and of course that is the way it is in most states. USA Today is trying to do nothing put provide misdirection to the sheep in a desperate attempt to direct their attention away from the cesspool from which their beloved BO was spawned.

It is lovely to see some folks ALREADY whining about how "Republicans ought to give BO a chance". Oh yes, you mean like Democrats did with Bush in 2K? How about while we were fighting two wars? Were they big on "giving him a chance" then? Do we live in a country where the President and his party are supposed to be unopposed? Isn't it enough to have the entire MSM braying every day about "historical" and spending all their time trying to defend the emporer on every subject? Must we ALL just bow and scrape to his royal BO about whom there can't even be a joke uttered?

The Republicans I know would VERY MUCH like to see things go better, but the Democrats took over Congress two full years ago, and the "change" is well under way. Worse, the "change" is being sold as "free markets don't work" rather than "if you tell banks to give free loans to people that can't affort them and refuse to regulate THAT, you are creating the seeds of DISASTER". Right now we are so far gone that people aren't even looking at what has already happened and what is in the process of happening as being "wrong direction". The country got so lost on what was good times, bad times, recession, depression, whatever, that I'm convinced that 90%+ of the sheep have no idea what direction they are even going.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Senate Seat on E-Bay

http://www.flickr.com/photos/iowahawk_blog/3097265339/sizes/o/in/photostream/

Swimming In The Cesspool

Obama Worked to Distance Self From Blagojevich Early On - washingtonpost.com

The MSM is working very hard to help BO distance himself from the IL Governor. My analogy is that if you went into one of those restaurants where you get to pick the fish you are going to eat from a tank, and the tank was an open cesspool from which you held your nose and picked a fish saying "gee, I don't think this one got any on him!" you would be as optimistic as it seems that most of the country is about BO and the IL political cesspool.

Let's assume that he DID swim with the turds for 15 years and "didn't get any on him". How then do we account for the fact that he ALSO did absolutely nothing clean up the tank? This guy claims to be a "reformer"? So did he not see corruption in Illinois even though the guy that helped him get his $1.6 million home (Tony Rezko) is now a convicted felon and also part of the Blagojevich investigation? If that is true, he would seem to be naive beyond imagine, but if it ISN'T true, then he knew about it and just "let it go"? But what would that say about this guys character?

"Obama saw this coming, and he was very cautious about not having dealings with the governor for quite some time," said Abner Mikva, a former congressman and appeals court judge who was Obama's political mentor in Chicago. "The governor was perhaps the only American public
officeholder who didn't speak at the convention, and that wasn't by accident. He's politically poisonous. You don't get through Chicago like Barack Obama did unless you know how to avoid people like that."


Gee, he "saw it coming", and the only action he took was to not let the guy speak at the convention? But, then in the NEXT PARAGRAPH we find:

But Obama and Blagojevich shared pieces of the Chicago political network, which is why this has been an uncomfortable week for Obama's presidential transition team. Senior adviser David Axelrod once advised Blagojevich. Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a developer who was convicted in June of fraud and money laundering, raised money for both men. Robert Blackwell Jr., a longtime Obama friend, served on Blagojevich's gubernatorial transition team. Blagojevich appointed one
of Obama's closest confidants, Eric Whitaker, as director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Uh, so BO's campain manager and now sr advisor -- the exact equivalent for BO of Karl Rove for Bush, once advised Blagojevich? So that is "avoiding"? I wonder if Rove had advised a governor that was trying to sell a Senate seat if the media would title the article "Bush worked to distance himself..."??

Meanwhile, we see that Rahm Emanuel is suddenly missing from BOs side at a couple press events and was ducking questions on HIS relationship to Blagojevich. Let's see, he was the congressman from the 5th district in IL, is he yet another case of the "unblemished trout in the cesspool tank"? Must be I guess, because we can see from the MSM that the story is NOT about the "connections to crooked Chicago politics", but rather about "how hard he worked to distance himself".

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Age of Turbulence

I enjoyed the walk through the latter 2/3 of the 20th century with a guy that is clearly of genius level and very engaged in the real world. I think this book gives a feel for the global economy in a way that few others can. My major sense (although he never completely directly puts it this way) is that "global free markets and rule of law" are a bit like a giant and powerful genie that is released from the bottle by freedom and the sense that individuals can create value and improve their lives by keeping a significant percentage of that created value to make their own lives, and the lives of their children better (that is a restatement of "rule of law").

The "genie" ONLY produces wealth when it is "uncorked". Attempt to control it via too much in the way of regulation and taxation, and the genie is gone like it never existed. More than anything else, the "genie" arrives ONLY when the vast majority of people see market freedom and rule of law as a reality and believe that they can invest their money, time, energy in "risky" ventures and have a reasonable chance to better their lives. If that "belief and confidence" is removed, you see what has happened in the last quarter of '08 come to pass.

The other sense that I got from the book was that Alan understood that the actions taken after the '87 crash, bailing out Chrysler, bailing out the S&Ls, bailing out the hedge funds, fixing the "Asian Contagion", the Russian meltdown, the crash of 2000, 9-11, Enron, etc were a "danger to the moral hazard", but he didn't want it all to end on "his watch", so he rationalized each risky action. The "moral hazard" is the idea that if folks feel that they are "insured", they will go do stupid things (like sub-prime lending).

My sense is that each action taken to stave off or reduce the impact of the "crisis / recession of the day" during the Greenspan years increased the risk for the future -- and that the future happens to be now. The "moral hazard" was worn down enough, so that coupled with the Democrats taking over in '06 and Bush being left in the weakest state of any US president in memory, the sub-prime crisis collided with what was fanned into a "leadership crisis" and confidence evaporated world wide.

Confidence is WAY harder to create than it is to lose, and somehow I suspect that BO in action is going to be way less impressive than BO giving a speech. Boy, do I hope I'm wrong, because if I'm right, we are likely due for a finger pointing descent into a very long financial abyss.

The book is a very worthy read, I highly recommend it.

Why We Do Recounts





Ann Coulter : Minnesota Ballots: Land of 10,000 Fakes - Townhall.com

Hard to get much information on the MN recount locally. I've heard quite a lot about the horror of the 133 missing votes, and the obvious answer to why they are "missing" being that election workers ran a stack of ballots through twice. Ann raises the obvious question is "Why have recounts if one isn't going to believe the results"? To which of course the answer that a rational and fair minded person would draw is there are two choices:

1). We either decide to abide by the results as of election night
2). We decide to do a recount and abide by those results

Liberals, not being fair minded and rational have option 3:

3). You selectively use the results from either count that best support your candidate

So, in MN, we are going to "leave it up to the canvassing board" of which the chair (Mark Ritchie) is a hand-picked Democrat put in place specifically "remedy" the problem that Florida had a Republican in that post (Katherine Harris) in 2000. Naturally, since Ritchie is a Democrat, the MSM finds him to be completely unbiased and not the subject of any slurs on his impartiality as Harris had to suffer.

So what will they decide? Nobody knows, but I guess one thing that is "nice" is that their decision and the parameters going into it will at least not be done in the midst of a media firestorm. If Franken "wins", even if it is in the Sentate with Harry Reid deciding, it will be "the will of the people". If Coleman wins, it may be 2010 or later before it is reported -- and then it will be a "dissappointment in which folks were disenfranchised again".

BTW, nice AP picture of Al ... sort of portrays him like they usually portray Republicans.

I Love PJ

Print paupers could use bailout | The Australian

PJ O'Rourke for president. I just like his outlook on the world. A sample:

The Government is bailing out Wall Street for being evil and the car companies for being stupid. But print journalism brings you Paul Krugman and Anna Quindlen. Also, in 1898 Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and William Randolph Hearst of the New York Journal started the Spanish-American War. All of the Lehman Brothers put together couldn't cause as much evil stupidity as that.

The MSM Is Shocked !

Obama Was Mute on Illinois Corruption - WSJ.com

Wow, corruption in Illinois and Chicago politics. What a surprise!! The MSM did a very thorough investigation on AK politics and even managed to get an investigation going in Sarah Palin was all found to be unfounded the night before the election! Imagine that, they didn't find anything, but it wasn't because they didn't go through Wasilla and Juneau politics with a fine tooth comb looking for ANYTHING! Nice it all worked out the day before the election, I'm sure the media feels HORRIBLE for having raised such a big stink and found NOTHING!

Now we turn to Illinios. Wow, there is corruption in Illinious, who would have thought THAT??!!! Any connections between Blago and BO?? Well, interestingly, the home that BO currently lives in was found by a guy  named Rezko who also came up with some very special finance tricks to allow BO to get into it. Rezko happens to be a convicted felon sitting in jail right now, and his name is all through the Blago charges --- but of course, there is "no connection" between the corruption of IL politics and BO! He simply swam and was successful in that cesspool for 10+ years and didn't even pick up a bad smell! In the MSM / Democrat world, you could go to a restaurant where you pick your fish out of a tank and have no trouble picking yours out of a putrid paste of raw sewage and say "I'll take that one, I don't think he got anything on him!".

Naturally, as per usual, the bleating public sheep are "innocent". They took their information feed from the national media and in the national media Rezko and IL politics in general have been the kind of state secret that the MSM is VERY good at keeping -- now, OTOH, if for example they had actual top secret information that could damage a Republican, but has a good chance of making the whole nation less secure -- say "secret" installations in countries favorable to us for interrogations, THAT would need bold headlines in every paper and on every news show!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Zero and Oh Look Alike

Investors buy U.S. debt at zero yield - International Herald Tribune

BO doesn't like his middle initial (H for Hussein), and apparently he doesn't like the "B" much either, so he tends to put up the big "O", usually with some rainbows, red-white and blue, or other coloration.

Anybody notice how much 0 and O look alike?

Apparently world investors do and their vote on BO is ZERO!!! As in ZERO % interest on short term T-Bills. The last time we got to that level it had taken FDR a full two terms of screw-up government to get to 38-40 when T-Bills drew NOTHING!!!

In Tuesdays Fed Auction, 4 times as many folks wanted the $30Billion at auction, so the yield fell to zero. This is "government as a mattress". It says that going forward from here the assumption is that EVERYTHING is going to LOSE MONEY, so I may as well bury my money in a coffee can in the back yard--or just have Uncle watch it for me and get NOTHING in return.

If one was inclined to panic, it appears that now would be an excellent time.

..... We interrupt this broadcast to suggest mass panic. Everyone should immediately jump up, run screaming or take another ridiculous action as quickly as possible. Potentially we could try to impeach BO and vote in an even less experienced and unknown empty suit from an even more corrupt state than Illinios ....hmm, on second thought, I'm not sure we could find that, so maybe we really do have the man for the times.

The age of "B Zero"???


Looking At the Change

8 really, really scary predictions - Nouriel Roubini (1) - FORTUNE

Worth reading. In summary, nobody thinks the economy will turn around in '09 and many figure it will be a lot longer than that. Some of them suspect that the stock market is going to drop by another 50% to the neighborhood of $4K before it turns around. Most figure that we will see very significant inflation, if not hyperinflation. Unemployment pushing 10%, 12 million people losing their homes, cheery things like that.

One of the key points made is "confidence has been lost". Really? Who would have thunk it? Back when Slick Willie was wagging his finger at us, the MSM was all over the "confidence thing". Those nasty Republicans were "risking the great economy" by going after poor old Slick, didn't they realize that saying bad things about old Wandering Willie could cause a lost of CONFIDENCE!!!

How awful--of course once Bush got in, there just didn't seem to be much concern about confidence, and while we were at it, why not pile on corporate leadership, banking, wall-street, and globalization!! What we need is CHANGE!!!! ... without any real indications of what that might mean.

Is anybody starting to see the meaning yet, or is it going to take a little more "reality therapy"???

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Change In Illinois

Blagojevich free on $4,500 bail after arrest - CNN.com


Who says Democrats are against free markets! Clearly, Blagojevich believed in the power of getting value out of the assets that he had available for sale. One of the reasons that the Republicans were turned out in '06 was "corruption", we know that is a problem that primarily plagues Republicans!!

So I wonder if we had a Republican President-elect and the Governor of the State where he is vacating a Senate seat was arrested for trying to sell that Senate seat on the open market would the MSM be getting into any innuendo about a "sleaze factor"? Howq about trying to find any shoestring connection they might be able to find between the same-party Governor and President Elect? I can't imagine a press that would attempt any "guilt by association" if we had Republicans involved here, can you?

No, I'm sure they wouldn't. Look how strongly they looked into the past of Barry Sottero (currently known as Barack Obama) vs Sarah Palin -- gee, I wonder if Barry was in any beauty contests 20 years ago? That would CERTAINLY be an important issue to be dug out, wouldn't it?

The Dems pulled into Washington control in '06, and the change just keeps on coming. Chris Dodd and Barney Frank doing a bang up job of oversight on sub-prime loans and Freddie and Fannie, Nancy Pelosi being a great little "tuna helper" for Starkist, Charle Rangle misdirecting his rent controlled appartments and grafting hither and yon, and good old Willam Jefferson with his $90K in cold cash in the freezer -- although the voters in LA FINALLY decided to turn him out -- no thanks to the Democrat party for policiing their own membership!

The change is here! I can't see how we are going to wait two more years for even a ray of HOPE!

None of these hardly get any coverage in the MSM though, so for most of the sheep we are still looking at "Bad Bush".

Coleman Wins! ... Again

Power Line - The Recount Is Over

I remain amazed at how little reporting is being done on the MN Senate race. One would think that just because of the "horse race" nature it would be a hot topic, especially locally, but it is as if nobody cares. Yes, of course the GA victory for Chamblis meant that the Dems didn't hit 60, but I think everyone pretty well knows that with Olympia Snow and Susan Collins plus no doubt a few others, the Democrats have their effectively filibuster proof Senate. I'm quite certain they could confirm someone to the left of Karl Marx to any position they desired and the MSM would applaud it.

The "smart money" would assume that Al would have to concede at some point here, but one needs to realize that there isn't a lot of "smart money" in the Democrat world. Hardball partisan politcs is pretty much their order of the day and always has been, so while one might assume there would be "blowback" from overturuning a state election, one might be wrong. The lack of media coverage makes me wonder if they aren't just keeping it low key to help keep Al's options open so if there is a Senate overturn, it "seems like the right thing".

Monday, December 08, 2008

BO's Saintly Speechwriter


Washington Times - BREITBART: I believe Hillary's cardboard cutout

The Saint is the guy doing the groping -- he is a major contributor to the "smoothness of BO".

Hey, these guys are Democrats, so all in good fun! How would one compare this iconic treatment of a current US Senator and incoming SoS by a Presidential speech writer to an alleged mention of a pubic hair on a can of coke and uttering the name of an X-Rated movie 10 years previously? Would there be any sort of a double standard if one tried to deny a black man a Supreme Court seat on the basis of a couple of decade old innocuous comments, yet finds no reason at all to even break this out into the general public as a story?

Naturally, we all know that this is the kind of story that WOULD NOT SELL, so the unbiased press is simply not pushing it because they are only interested in making money and nobody would even look at this!

Now, we all know that if this was a Bush speechwriter it would be treated EXACTLY the same way, right?




Will on Fairness Doctrine

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Fairness Doctrine Fouls Out

Will does a good job of covering the history of the fairness doctrine. A quick review of this sordid chapter in US history and the fact that many Democrats would like to bring it back today gives some instruction on just how hard it is to have freedom of speech!

Because liberals have been even less successful in competing with conservatives on talk radio than Detroit has been in competing with its rivals, liberals are seeking intellectual protectionism in the form of regulations that suppress ideological rivals. If liberals advertise their illiberalism by reimposing the fairness doctrine, the Supreme Court might revisit its 1969 ruling that the fairness doctrine is constitutional. The court probably would dismay reactionary liberals by reversing that decision on the ground that the world has changed vastly, pertinently and for the better.

Until the Reagan administration extinguished it, the doctrine required broadcasters to devote reasonable time to fairly presenting all sides of any controversial issue discussed on the air. The government decided the meaning of the italicized words.

Plutarch and Modern Morality

Parallel Lives by Victor Davis Hanson on National Review Online

This blog has covered this topic many times, but Hanson does a great job with a few current examples; Fuld/Rubin, Rangle / Stevens, Gonzales/Holder, Dodd/Lott.

The punchline of the comparisons is this:

I could go on and on with these Plutarachean examples of Parallel Lives but you get the picture. Here, the contrast is not the respective virtues of Greece and Rome. Nor is there any regret whatsoever that liberals of good faith thankfully scrutinize the bad judgment and even criminal activity of wayward conservatives. The problem instead is why we continuously consider liberal transgressions as misdemeanors and their conservative counterparts as felonies.

If Plutarch once believed that action, not intention matters (otherwise, as Aristotle noted, we could all be moral in our sleep), we moderns believe the reverse — that proper thinking can often excuse improper acts.

Why so? Perhaps we suspect that a Rubin or Dodd want to do more good things for the poor than do a Fuld or Lott, and so we should interpret their transgressions as atypical lapses rather than characteristic behavior.


I suspect that Anderson is being a bit tounge in cheek here, basically the real answer is that we as a culture have largely stopped thinking with any rigor at all, and the whole idea of "comparative lives" is well beyond our current culture. We as a society have decided it is OK to give a pass to those that we agree with and to treat those that we don't agree with as pariahs no matter what they do.

The left does the most of it for two reasons; first, because they can. They are the dominant culture, so the media will break their way, secondly, anything they have approaching a moral is only relative anyway. Having a consistent outlook would cause way too much soul searching for them, so they simply apply the thought they like when they like it and forgo it the rest of the time.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Burden of Brilliant Economists

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Markets, Not Economists, Will Help the Economy

George has a good one here, worth the read. I do love the context of BOs claim for "helping to save or create 2.5 million jobs". A classic meaningless statement. Here is some context -- I love the "Before Reagan / After Reagan" part, the change to an economy that averaged a million more jobs a year after Reagan's first term is the kind of results that the MSM isn't that interested in providing for context:

"Since Eisenhower's first term, the economy has created an average of 1.5 million new jobs each year. Since Reagan's first term, the average has been about 2.5 million a year. And Reagan, who inherited an economy as bad if not worse than the current one, saw 6.3 million new jobs created four years after he entered the White House."

What will the benchmark be after BO? How many jobs the economy LOST in a 4 year term? Here is the punchline of the piece--George has a wit that is very urbane and subtle, but it certainly gets the point across.

In his wise book "Capitalism, Democracy & Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery," John Mueller, an Ohio State political scientist, notes that John Maynard Keynes' central theme, according to his biographer Robert Skidelsky, was that "the state is wise and the market is stupid." Mueller continues: "Working from that sort of perspective, India's top economists for a generation supported policies of regulation and central control that failed abysmally -- leading one of them to lament recently, 'India's misfortune was to have brilliant economists.'"

Many of them were educated in Britain, by Keynes' followers. In America today, everyone agrees that the president-elect's economic team is composed of brilliant economists.




Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The End

The End of Wall Street's Boom - National Business News - Portfolio.com

I'm about 3/4 of the way through Alan Greenspan's book as well. One "little known fact" (at least by me) is that the whole of the world equity (stock) markets are "a pimple on the ass of world finance" in the crude terms of one of the guys in this article.

The cumulative world stock markets are something order $30-$40 TRILLION (they vary--a LOT). The Bond markets are like $50 Trillion (they vary less), and the Derivatives Market is like $500 Trillion !!! or something like 12x the value of the entire world GDP for a year. Derivatives are complicated -- the easiest to understand is the "futures contract" that is commonly used by farmers or people buying their fuel for next winter the summer before, or farmers selling their crops expected in the fall in the spring. The contracts have a couple of functions -- spreading risk and providing a speculative vehicle. The homeowner buying in the summer speculates that the prices are lower in the summer than the winter -- but this year, that is likely wrong by a lot. A fuel contract purchased in the summer is likely very costly compared to the actual price of the fuel if one had waited until the winter to purchase it. BUT, it COULD have been much higher-- so the person buying the contract "hedged" against that risk and speculated that they would actually pay less in the summer than the winter.

Farmers likewise might usually assume that corn prices will be lower in the fall than in the spring, so selling part of their crop in the spring allows them to speculate on that assumption and hedge against the risk that the price will be lower. This year the prices were A LOT higher in the spring than they now are, so a farmer could see 2-3x as much profit off the grain in his field if he had sold it in advance.

I'm not even going to try to go into the long and short sales of stocks, credit default swaps, etc, but suffice it to say that it is all those derivatives build off the home "mortgage backed securities" that blew up when the sub-primes were downgraded. It is those losses that drug down the financial system, and are a major reason that the way forward is quite unclear. Greenspan certainly believes that the world markets need those derivatives, but given the level of leverage that was created, it seems that it may be very hard to unwind all of this to get the system operating again.

Add in all the uncertainties of "change" with the upcoming coronation of BO, and even with the rather staid picks he has made to date, a lot of his economic claims during the campaign would lead one to believe that he may at least desire to do a lot of tinkering with the financial engine, and it is an engine that tends to react badly to uncertainty.

In any case, the article is long but quite worthwhile. This is a nice little anecdote about how far out of hand things got when folks thought that Freddie and Fannie would be bailed out and housing values would always rise:

Long Beach Financial was moving money out the door as fast as it could, few questions asked, in loans built to self-destruct. It specialized in asking home­owners with bad credit and no proof of income to put no money down and defer interest payments for as long as possible. In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000.


Suspended Animation

Mark Roth's Proof of Reincarnation - Scientist Bringing Back the Dead - Esquire

Apparently, this guy is in trials with a drug that provides hours of "suspended animation" -- really really good if your heart stops or if you are bleeding out in a battlefield someplace. Get some of this drug that tells your body "stop burning oxygen", and your cells will sit there not burning oxygen for quite a long time with "no ill effects" until they are restarted.

He made the insight that they don't die because they don't have oxygen, they die because they are BURNING oxygen and they don't have any. You stop their operation by telling them "quit burning oxygen".

One of the interesting points of the article -- we still don't scientifically know what "life" is ... we just know what it does.

We don't know what life is, anyway. Not really. We just know what life does--it
burns oxygen. It's a process of combustion. We're all just slow-burning
candles, making our way through our allotment of precious O2 until it becomes our toxin, until we burn out, until we get old and die. But we live
on 21 percent oxygen, just as we live at 37 degrees. They're related.
Decrease the oxygen to 5 percent, we die. But, look, the concentration
of oxygen in the blood that runs through our capillaries is only 2 or 3
percent. We're almost dead already! So what if we turn down the
candle's need for oxygen? What if we dim the candle so much that we
don't even have the energy to die?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Third Bush Term?

Op-Ed Columnist - Continuity We Can Believe In - NYTimes.com

BO kept mistaking John McCain for George Bush, could it be that he ought to have looked in the mirror? The finance team is headed Tim Giethner, a Bush appointee to the NY Fed and clearly a major player in the current bailout roulette. Here Brooks talks about the security team, especially the SecDef Gates being a direct cabinet carry over. Who would have thought that the anti-war candidate, opposed to the surge would carry over the SecDef that Bush appointed to preside over the surge?

Had McCain won the election and made these moves, I think we can be certain that the MSM would be screaming "where is the CHANGE!!!" at the top of their lungs. The luxury of being a Democrat is that since it is BO doing it, it is "brilliant".

Secret Senate Seat Grab

TheHill.com - Franken may seek Senate’s help to win race

As the Democrats "get out the vote" for their 60 seat majority, we get a bit of a peek into how they and the MSM operate. Just imagine a reversal of the current situation -- a newly elected Republican President, big Republican majorities in the House and Senate, and a Republican Senate Leader and Republican campaign threatening to throw out the vote of a state in question and have the Republican Senate decide who to seat. Throw in a Republican Sec of State hand-picked to deal with this kind of close race by "Republican organizations" (remember, MN SoS Mark Ritchie was selected by MoveOn and ACORN as part of a move to get "their folks" in positions of power over elections after the 2K FL election)  Think that kind of shenanigan might get just a "little" coverage in the MSM?

MIGHT we hear about "will of the people", "honoring elections", "Diebold", "partisan manipulation of elections", or the importance of "checks and balances in government"???

Nah, that would mean the press is biased, and BO would be quick to assure us that isn't so, so we should all bleat approvingly to what we are now seeing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Range Toys

There was a gun show early in November and I decided that if I ever wanted to get the little Kel Tec PLR-16 .223 "Assault Pistol", it was very likely now or never. This is what it looks like right out of the box, I've got the picatinny foregrip for it on order and have put the screw-on muzzle brake on the front of the barrel already. In my opinion, those items are critical to the looks of the weapon, and for not burning your fingers while holding on to the front for accuracy, they are needed for function as well. I took it out to the range once and put 50+ rounds through it. Very accurate at 20 yards even in current config with sights that were hard for me to use given my older eyes. (focus on the back sight sort of precludes a lot of focus on the front sight).

I've put a cheap AIM red dot on it already and am waiting for the foregrip on back order -- it seems like everything to do with guns, and especially "assault weapons" is on backorder! My intent is to mount a laser and a light on the front end--mostly because I think it will look cool, but in some theory, one could at least imagine it as a pretty nasty looking home defense weapon.

We also upgraded our Beretta Tomcat .32 to a Glock 26 9mm with VERY happy results. First time in my hand I can shoot better groups with it than I can with my XD and my wife is ecstatic over how well she did with it right away as well. The next gun I get will certainly be a 1911 .45 ACP, but I have to admit that I got a chance to shoot the Glock 30 and 3 different 1911s one day at the range, and my groups with the Glock at 20' were better than any of the 1911s. I guess that means that the 1911 mystique has a hold on me-- the Glock was cheaper than any of them and holds more rounds, but I want the 1911 anyway. So much for my claims to rationality!

BO Triangulation

The Obama Jolt

Slick Willie famously survived the debacle of his first two years and loss of the House of Representatives to the Republicans in '94  by bringing in Dick Morris and the "triangulation" strategy by which you support key Republican issues in order to govern. If people want Republicans and you want power, just govern as a Republican -- easy if you are Slick Willie and your only principle is power (well, that and oral sex isn't sex).

Now we have "Mr Change", Saint BO of the Left deciding that the markets losing 20% right after he is elected is less than a "vote of confidence", so he immediately rushes in to appoint a bunch of Clinton centrists to the economic posts in the cabinet and casts some doubt on whether or not his repeal of those AWFUL Bush tax cuts was factual, or just more campaign talk. The markets don't seem to think that taking money away from success (taxes on the wealthy) and giving it to the failed (bailouts) is all that good a business strategy. Go figure.

Triangulation right from the git go for BO? The right appears to be hopeful. It is of course a very workable strategy for BO--Slick Willie tacked right and got all the benefits of policies that worked better, plus, the media still hung with him, and he got support from the Republicans on those policies that they agreed with him on (NAFTA, Welfare Reform, reducing spending rate of growth, etc). Bush showed the failure of trying to tack left from the right -- Prescription Drug was hated by both the right and the left and it helped provide the kind of bad precedent that convinced Republicans in congress that they could spent worse than drunken sailors and still get re-elected.

It is still way too early for me to believe that BO is actually going to abandon his agenda of "change" and operate with policies that actually work, but his appointments and words since the election at least give some creedence to the idea that there actually IS some "hope"!