Free health care for illegal aliens

Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed state health care coverage for all Californians. "Californians," under Schwarzenegger's definition, does not mean legal residents of the state of California. It means free health care for anyone who decides to sneak across the border.

Fortunately, the Republican legislative minority is united against this dumb idea, and probably has enough Constitutional power to stop it:
"California is not responsible for paying for the medical care of the undocumented -- people who are here illegally, period," said Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks (Sacramento County). "We are not the health maintenance organization for Mexico."

Schwarzenegger has not yet revealed details of his health care initiative, and there is no indication whether he will propose spending tax money to extend care to undocumented immigrants.

But the governor said Sunday on a national TV news program that his goal was to extend coverage to all 6.7 million Californians who are without health insurance -- a figure that includes an estimated 1.6 million undocumented immigrants, according to figures from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

A spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger would not comment Wednesday directly on the warnings from GOP lawmakers. But Kim Belshé, the governor's secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement that debate over health care reform needs to include undocumented immigrants.

Because, you know, we're just not attracting enough illegal aliens with free schools, free emergency services, and automatic citizenship for their babies.


Google ads

So I heard Google will send more traffic if you put Google ads on your web site. So I put a little teeny one up top.

Google assigns ads based on the content of the blog. So far, I get ads for drug rehab and anti-drug school programs. Heh, as they say.

Click away. They are amusing and I get paid a fraction of a penny. And some of you derelicts could use a stint in rehab.

Frist realizes what everyone else already knew

Bill Frist, who was Put On Notice here in August, reviews his train wreck of a political career and decides not to run for President.

Tax Tips for Tykes

If you have stocks or mutual funds in investment accounts for your children, don’t let December pass without taking the opportunity to step up the cost basis of the investments.

Every year, a child is allowed $800 of investment income without having to file or pay taxes. This includes interest, dividends, and capital gains. So if you’ve got 100 shares of Disney worth $3200 in Timmy’s account that you bought a few years ago for $2400, Timmy can take the gains without paying taxes (assuming no other investment income). He just needs to sell the stock and then immediately buy it back.

Why do this? Because when Timmy eventually needs the money, he’ll pay taxes only on the gains from the new, higher cost basis – instead of on the gains all the way from the original $2400 to whatever Disney will be worth in ten, twenty, or thirty years. Step up $800 every year, and Timmy’s taxes will be much lower when he eventually cashes out.

The same principle applies to mutual funds. Little Lisa has a no-load fund that has appreciated? Sell enough of it to reap $800 worth of capital gains, and buy it back immediately or switch into a similar fund (or better yet, an index fund or ETF!).

It may even be worth generating more than $800 of gains. Children’s investment income between $800 and $1600 is taxed at the child’s rate, which will typically be very low and almost certainly lower than the parents’ tax rate.

This doesn’t apply to Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs, often called Education IRAs by morons), because they are not taxable accounts.

Even if Timmy doesn’t yet have investments with gains to take, you can take advantage of this step-up. Open an account for Timmy, then transfer some of your own appreciated stock or mutual fund to his account, and sell and re-buy it there.

Disclaimer: The W.C. Varones Blog is not a CPA or a tax adviser. Always consult your own tax professional.


Bernanke talks like a man

Will he walk like a man?

Fed Chairman Bernanke said core inflation is still "uncomfortably high" and warned it would be "especially troublesome" if inflation doesn't moderate as he and other officials expect. While Bernanke's forecast remains for a moderation in economic activity and inflation in coming months, his comments suggest theFed isn't as prepared to lower rates as financial markets expect.
I still think Bernanke will buckle and try to bail out the housing market. But I would have great respect for the man if he surprised me and actually fought inflation.

The true story of Melquiades Estrada

While perusing the Drug War Victims web site, I came across this story:
On May 20, 1997, Esequiel Hernandez, Jr. was herding his family's goats 100 yards from his home on the US-Mexican border in Redford, Texas, as he did every day. Six days before, he had turned 18 years old.

Unknown to Esequiel or any of the other residents of Redford, a group of four Marines led by 22-year old Corporal Clemente Banuelos had been encamped just outside the small village along the Rio Grande River for three days. After watering his small flock of goats in the river, Esequiel started on his way back home when the Marines began stalking him from a distance of 200 yards.

The four camouflaged Marines were outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and weapons. Esequiel carried an antique .22 caliber rifle -- a pre-World War I, single shot rifle to keep wild dogs and rattlesnakes away from his goats. The autopsy showed that Esequiel was facing away from the Marines when he was shot. He probably never knew the Marines were watching him from 200 yards away.

This sounds like it was the inspiration for the excellent Tommy Lee Jones movie, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Put it at the top of your Netflix list if you haven't seen it yet.


War on Drugs Update

Last week, I linked the story about the 92-year-old sharpshooting granny who went down in a blaze of glory defending her home against cops kicking her door down in a no-knock raid. The cops claimed they had bought drugs at the house earlier that day.

Now the police informant says he didn't buy drugs at the house, and the police instructed him to lie.
The confidential informant on whose word Atlanta police raided the house of an 88-year-old woman is now saying he never purchased drugs from her house and was told by police to lie and say he did.

Chief Richard Pennington, in a press conference Monday evening, said his department learned two days ago that the informant — who has been used reliably in the past by the narcotics unit -- denied providing information to officers about a drug deal at 933 Neal Street in northwest Atlanta.

"The informant said he had no knowledge of going into that house and purchasing drugs," Pennington said. "We don't know if he's telling the truth."

The search warrant used by Atlanta police to raid the house says that a confidential informant had bought crack cocaine at the residence, using $50 in city funds, several hours before the raid.

In the document, officers said that the informant told them the house had surveillance cameras that the suspected drug dealer, called "Sam," monitored.

Pennington on Monday evening said the informant told the Internal Affairs Unit hat he did not tell officers that the house had surveillance equipment, and that he was asked to lie.

The Chief still maintained that "Sam," the alleged drug dealer, "actually exists."

The informant may have been lying then. He may be lying now. Either way, some police authorities need to be fired, if not imprisoned. Sending teams of police to kick down the doors of elderly citizens based on the statements of criminals and drug addicts is never a good idea.


Consumer Nation

As the holidays roll around again, and we hear about "Black Friday," the busiest shopping day of the year, and we hear radio ads for furniture and electronics with easy credit and no payments until next year, I am again amazed at the magnitude and breadth of America's consumer culture.

America now has a zero or even negative savings rate. The average American spends as much or more than he makes, hoping that home prices will keep rising so rapidly that he'll never actually have to work to pay off the debt.

In the 1700's, people sold themselves into indentured servitude to make a new life in the New World. Now people sell themselves into indentured servitude for a new stereo. Every gadget you buy today means hours, days, weeks, or months more that you'll be working for the man instead of enjoying retirement.

As a rabid capitalist, I believe that free markets are by far the most efficient, most rational, and most moral way for people to organize their economic behavior. But watching people sell themselves into debt for the fleeting high of buying the latest hot car, plasma TV, or clothing seriously challenges those beliefs. I think I know how God feels when he gives people free will and then watches them choose to use it having their colons perforated by horses.

Intellectually, I'm a capitalist and free-marketer. But my heart lies with the smelly hippies at Adbusters. Free markets would work better if people used them responsibly.

So go ahead and run up your credit cards buying what they tell you to buy on TV. Make no payments until June 2007!!! I have stock in Amazon and Wal-Mart and other retailers, manufacturers, and credit card providers, so you're putting money in my pocket. But I don't respect you for it.


Thanksgiving, Oakland style

Damn it, Grandpa, I said PASS THE F*&%ING TURKEY!!!

Three people were killed and another wounded when a North Oakland holiday get-together turned deadly Thursday afternoon. Two men were taken into custody in connection with the shooting.

There were nine people, including a child, in the third-floor apartment at 5321 Telegraph Ave. when gunfire broke out shortly before 3 p.m. One man and two women were killed and another man wounded in the gunfire, while another man suffered a broken back when he leaped from a third-floor window to escape the bullets.

Oakland police described the incident as a family dispute gone horribly wrong.


UC researchers: Calif. housing bubble will take years to unwind

Well, duh. That's what I've been saying for more than a year.
It may take the California housing market three years to recover from its downturn because homes have simply gotten too expensive for most buyers, whose salaries haven't risen nearly as fast as housing prices, an economist said.

The median price of an existing home in California will fall 4.8 percent next year and 2.9 percent the year after, Ken Rosen, chairman of the Fisher Center for Real and Urban Economics at UC Berkeley, said Monday during a presentation at the center's annual real estate and economics symposium.

That would translate into a drop of nearly $30,000 in the price of a Bay Area home in 2007, based on numbers released last week by the DataQuick real estate information service, which found that that the median price of a home in the region was $614,000 in October.

"This is not a one-year event and this is not a six-month event," Rosen said. "It's going to take three or four years for incomes to catch up to housing prices."
I'd be surprised if Bay Area median prices didn't drop a lot more than the 4.8% and 2.9% predicted for California the next two years.

We are in the greatest financial bubble in the history of the world, deliberately created by Alan Greenspan to bail out the tech stock bubble. The tech stock bubble didn't end with a single-digit pullback, and neither will this one. Housing bubbles just burst slower than stock market bubbles. Be patient.


Department of Train Wrecks

You've probably heard about Seinfeld's Kramer's racist tirade against hecklers at a comedy club.

If you're like me, though, you want to see it.

Fox O.J.-palooza canceled

Rupert is sorry ($):
News Corp. canceled publication of O.J. Simpson's book "If I Did It" and the Fox television network broadcast special, with Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch apologizing for the project. A dozen Fox affiliates had already said they would not air the two-part sweeps month special.

No word on what this means for the rest of the "If I Did It" series:
* If I'd Faked an Injury to Get Sent Home From Vietnam by John F. Kerry
* If I'd Quashed an Investigation into a Woman's Drowning Death by Ted Kennedy
* If I'd Sexually Harassed Paula Jones by Bill Clinton


San Francisco Pride

Nothing says "loser" like "I still support Douche Bag and Breck Girl more than two years after the election."


Today's Public Service Announcement: Boys Beware!

One never knows when a homosexual is about.

HT: Ace.

Legal news

Retired FBI Senior Special Agent in Charge Ted Gunderson has an affidavit you'll want to read:

a. The AFFIANT has been the recipient of surreptitious entries into his Las Vegas , Nevada and Los Angeles dwelling and also his motor vehicle.

b. AFFIANT has also been placed under surveillance for years by possibly government, groups and individuals. The surveillance is performed by individuals in vehicles or in helicopters or in fixed wing helicopters or on foot.

c. AFFIANT has received threatening telephone calls, threatening himself. AFFIANT's telephone has been tapped continuously for many years.

d. Based upon knowledge, information and belief, AFFIANT states AFFIANT's TV in his home in Las Vegas is used as a surveillance device with both audio and video capabilities.

e. There exists an active Federal Government Disinformation Program that was instituted for the purpose of discrediting AFFIANT and others who report the truth about government and the Satanic Movement in America .

f. There have been several invasions of AFFIANT's home computer by unidentified sources through the telephone lines.

g. Most recently AFFIANT has learned from informed sources that there is a contract on his life. According to these informed sources, the independent contractor is a Satanist that is a member of a Satanic cult known as Bohemian Grove (aka Coven) located in Washington, D. C. This Satanic cult wishes AFFIANT dead, because AFFIANT has evidence of their Satanic ritual abuse and the cults' involvement with the 9-11 attack, including the FBI's foreknowledge of the 9-11 terrorist attack and the fact that the FBI did nothing to prevent the attack.

h. AFFIANT has also written strong critical letters to the United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Home Security Director Tom Ridge regarding the fact that the FBI had foreknowledge 6 months in advance of the 9-11 terrorists' attacks.

i. One of AFFIANT's clients from Los Angeles has also been the recipient of harassment both in Los Angeles and in his travels to New York City within the past four weeks.

A powerful Satanist cabal in Washington DC? How did I miss this news until now?

The Empire Strikes Back

Wal-Mart is finally defending itself against hypocritical politicians. And doing it well:
Just like the millions of Americans who turn to their neighborhood Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) for their holiday shopping needs, Wal-Mart announced today that former Sen. John Edwards is seeking to be one of the first to get a Sony PlayStation3, one of the most coveted holiday gift items this Christmas season.

Yesterday, a staff person for former Sen. Edwards contacted a Wal-Mart electronics manager in Raleigh, North Carolina to obtain a Sony PlayStation3 on behalf of the Senator’s family. Later that night, Sen. Edwards reportedly re-told a homespun story to participants of a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union-sponsored call about how his son had chided a fellow student for purchasing shoes at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart welcomes Sen. Edwards to visit his local Wal-Mart store and explore the extensive line of home electronics as well the wide array of apparel for men and boys.

The Company noted the PlayStation3 is an extremely popular item this Christmas season, and while the rest of America’s working families are waiting patiently in line, Senator Edwards wants to cut to the front. While, we cannot guarantee that Sen. Edwards will be among one of the first to obtain a PlayStation3, we are certain Sen. Edwards will be able to find great gifts for everyone on his Christmas list – many at Wal-Mart’s “roll-back prices.”
Zeke pointed out the grammatical errors and typos. But I don't think they detract from the story. It goes to show that even 3rd grade dropouts who can't write can be elevated to important PR positions at Wal-Mart if they have a little creative flair. This is an awesome press release.


Good cops, bad cops

I got back from Las Vegas yesterday to discover two law enforcement items: one a letter from the City of Albuquerque, the other an email from Varones about the campus police at my alma mater.

First the good cops... As much as I dislike the Orwellian taste of rampant camera installation, I was busted running a red light, and damned if they aren't fair about it. You can go to a website and watch a video of yourself gunning it through the red ("yup, that's me"), the fine is a reasonable $100, and they don't add points to your driving record. Another satisfied customer.

And then there's the case of UCLA--employer of belligerent, filthy pigs, with whom I had my own scuffles in 1999-2000. Back then, they unleashed a barrage of rubber bullets on innocent bystanders at the end-of-exam-period "Midnight Yell" festivities/riots, and crashed into the apartment of yours truly over a wee bit of water-balloon-chuckery.

Now it seems they've turned to tazing students who forget to bring their ID cards to the library. If you can stomach a disgusting use of force, watch the video here.

One difference between human law enforcement and cameras: cameras typically aren't meathead pricks on a power trip.


San Francisco gets its priorities right

Sometimes I love this city:
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors will vote today on legislation that would set nearly all crimes involving marijuana as the lowest law enforcement priority for city police. The legislation, sponsored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, was approved Monday by a board committee with the blessing of police officials and over the complaints of some residents.

"This measure, which would legalize the unlimited growth and sales (of marijuana) on private property, will make public spitting and (leaving chewing) gum ... on the sidewalk higher priorities," said Kim Stryker, voicing opposition before the supervisors' City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee.

That's about right. Public spitting really pisses me off.


Worst TV series ever

Grey's Anatomy. It's a bunch of high school girls running around a hospital going through juvenile romantic dramas.

If I was in Guantanamo and forced to choose between waterboarding, The Dukes of Hazzard movie, and Grey's Anatomy, I'd choose The Dukes of Hazzard. Over and over and over.

All Borat, all the time

So I'm thinking about changing the name of this blog to The Borat Fan Club.

Check out the deleted scenes here while I think about it.

Worst movie ever

I'm watching The Dukes of Hazzard on HBO right now. Worst movie ever. And I'm a fan of the Dukes of Hazzard, Johnny Knoxville, and Stifler.

Badly designed rhetorical questions, #311

"They said we drink horse urine and sleep with our own kin. You say it's comedy, but how can someone laugh at that?"


Victims of Borat


True stories behind Borat:
"I don’t know what motivates Borat/Cohen to use his considerable talents to deceive and manipulate: maybe it's his way of gaining power over the childhood sting of religious animosity or the feelings of inferiority from a woman’s beating him at Scrabble," [feminist stooge Linda] Stein writes. "I only know that afterward, I am left feeling confused and sad."
UPDATE: Hah! Hah! Now the villagers are suing!
But now the villagers of this tiny, close-knit community have angrily accused the comedian of exploiting them, after discovering his new blockbuster film portrays them as a backward group of rapists, abortionists and prostitutes, who happily engage in casual incest.

... when local vice-mayor Petre Buzea was asked whether the people felt offended by Baron Cohen's film, he replied: 'They got paid so I am sure they are happy. These gipsies will even kill their own father for money.'

Surrounded by like-minded folks

Growing up in a red county in a purple state, I was about the only libertarian I'd ever heard of. At a university with a student body of more than 10,000, I joined the College Republicans and wrote for the conservative paper, because there were no libertarians that I could find.

So imagine my surprise to move to the land of leftist wackos, and find that I am surrounded by libertarians! I always made it a point to keep my politics a secret at work, because I assumed most people around me were leftists. But occasionally someone else brings up the subject, and it's amazing how often their politics are the same as mine: fiscally conservative, socially tolerant.

Maybe it's the software industry I work in, which is full of educated, well-paid, quirky individualists. But across the board -- men, women, young, old, married, single, gay, straight -- it's amazing how prevalent the libertarian philosophy is. These people don't want to be overtaxed, and they don't want the government telling them what to do in their personal lives.

Most vote Democratic, because the social conservatism of the Republicans is more threatening to them than the economic policies of the Democrats. And the last batch of Republicans was a fraud on fiscal conservative issues. But these people are potential swing voters. The Republicans should find a way to reach out to them.

Republicans who could make me vote for Hillary

I hope Hillary is not the Democratic nominee. But if she is, I might have to vote for her. That is, if her opponent is:

1) John McCain. As Melanie Morgan says, "I'll open a vein before I vote for McCain." McCain is the co-author of the McCain-Feingold Free Speech Ban. The First Amendment is sacred. Anyone who spits on the Constitution like this is unfit for office.

2) Bill Frist. Crook, idiot, nanny-state prude.

I'll expand the list if any more jerks like these two throw their hats into the ring.

Stupid is as stupid does

Let me axe you a question:

If New Zealand students can use text slang on their exams, why can't American students use ebonics?

After all, it's not as if prospective employers will care whether graduates can speak or write English.


San Francisco values

The Democrats must be serious about this "San Francisco values" theme. After all, they keep talking about "a nude erection for America."

HT: Lee Rodgers


Mmmmmm.... gold

The GDX gold miners index is up more than 4% today!

We're gonna be rich, I tell ya!


More debt!

California's voters may not like Republicans in Congress, but they spend money just like them.

More debt! That's exactly what this state needs.

On the integrity of Borat

Yeah, we knew that Pamela Anderson knew.

But in response to Old Zeke's question of a few days ago, the link implies that no one else in the film did. Which is good. And which I believe.


Fed confessions

A Fed member admits what I've been saying for years: the Fed inflation numbers are B.S.

From the Wall Street Journal ($):

When it comes to admitting error, central bankers tend to emulate Benjamin Disraeli, who famously said "never complain, never explain." So it was nothing short of astonishing last week for Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, to confess in public that the Fed had blundered by keeping monetary policy too easy for too long in 2003 and 2004.

Speaking to bankers in New York, Mr. Fisher issued a mea maxima culpa that deserves wide attention: "In retrospect, the real fed funds rate turned out to be lower than what was deemed appropriate at the time and was held lower longer than it should have been." As the nearby chart shows, a Fed worried about possible "deflation" moved the overnight interest rate it charges banks in June 2003 to an extraordinarily low 1% and kept it there for another year.

Mr. Fisher blamed this mistake on "poor data" that underestimated inflation, leading "to a policy action that amplified speculative activity in the housing and other markets. Today, as anybody not from the former planet of Pluto knows, the housing market is undergoing a substantial correction and inflicting real costs to millions of homeowners across the country." In other words, the Fed itself is responsible for the current housing bust because its over-easy policy created a real estate frenzy that was bound to end once the Fed tried to regain control over inflation expectations.

So now the Fed has on its hands the biggest financial bubble in the history of the world, a bubble of its own creation. How to unwind the bubble without causing a severe recession? The Fed may ease next year as their phony inflation statistics show no inflation risk. If this scenario unfolds, you'll want to own gold.



Go see it. Funniest movie I've seen in a long time.

And if you're in the mood for a great mob movie, see The Departed.


Beyond the bounds of decency

Lest there be any confusion regarding the brokerage advertisement below, behold the latest version. What advertising agency thinks this is okay?

Monterey kayaking

I went kayaking in Monterey Bay over the weekend. The seals swim right up to the boat to check you out. You can see plenty of otters too, but they are not as interested in people.

Pics here.

Next time you're in the Monterey area, make like Celine Dion and "Take a kayak!"

A crying shame

What's the world coming to when a guy can't even get an innocent massage from a gay hooker without people thinking he's gay or something?


Varones Voters' Guide to the California Election

Here's how I'm voting. Disagree? I'm open to other ideas -- and I love a debate.

Prop 1A - Yes.
Dedicates gas tax revenue to its originally intended purpose: transportation improvement. Duh.

Prop 1B - No. Bonds to burden future generations with debt.

Prop 1C - No. Bonds to burden future generations with debt.

Prop 1D - No. Bonds to burden future generations with debt.

Prop 1E - No. Bonds to burden future generations with debt.

Prop 83 - No. GPS monitoring of sex offenders is a good idea; defining sex offenders as anyone who does anything "lewd" or "lascivious" is dangerous. Consensual sex in a public place? Hanging a B.A.? A 19-year-old having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend? A clear line should be drawn before we tar all of these people as sex offenders for life.

Prop 84 - No. Bonds to burden future generations with debt.

Prop 85 - Yes. You can't give them an aspirin without parental approval, but you can give them an abortion without even notification? So some jerk high school jock can pressure his girlfriend into getting an abortion without talking to her parents?

Prop 86 - No. This one is tough. The evil teachers' unions are against it, the Democrats are against it. But the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. It's a huge, bad tobacco tax.

Prop 87 - No. Want to pay $5 per gallon for gas to fund a bunch of egghead bureaucrats?

Prop 88 - No. More property taxes to fund the bureaucratic and incompetent education establishment. What, $11,000 per student per year isn't enough? You really think another $500 will help these idiots teach children any better?

Prop 89 - No. Tax money to pay for political ads for politicians. Brilliant!

Prop 90 - Yes. Prevents Kelo-style eminent domain abuse.

Governor - Art Olivier. If this were even close, I'd vote for Schwarzenegger. But Angelides is such a pathetic candidate that Arnie will win in a landslide. So have some fun with your vote: vote for crack & hookers with the Libertarian Party.

Lt. Governor - Tom McClintock. This guy is awesome. He is a true fiscal conservative, rare in California politics. His opponent is jackass John Garamendi, who screwed small investors in favor of a huge French bank in the great Executive Life ripoff.

Capt. Douchebag, reporting for duty

John Kerry on Tuesday:

“I apologize to no one . . . I’m not going to give them one ounce of daylight to spread one of their lies and to play this game ever, ever again. That is a lesson I learned deep and hard,”

So deep and hard, that he apologized today.

The disinformation and election interference is coming from inside the house

The FBI just admitted in court that Hunter Biden's laptop is real. Here are 20 minutes of Joe Biden, U.S. intelligence officials, and th...