WC Varones

Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools

Happy endings

Giants Get Termination Rights With Bonds:
Barry Bonds gave the San Francisco Giants the right to terminate his $15.8 million, one-year contract if he is indicted. The unusual provision, included in the deal that was completed Monday night, protects the team in case Bonds is charged in the federal government's steroids investigation.
Dream scenario: Bonds is indicted, then fired, then goes to jail, and never tarnishes Hank Aaron's record. Then Major League Baseball strikes Bonds', McGwire's, and Sosa's single-season home run tallies from the record books.

Either that or Bonds gets hit by a bus tomorrow.

Countrywide update

Countrywide reported bad earnings today, missing analyst estimates and saying 2007 is going to be rough:
Angelo Mozilo, chairman and chief executive, said: "Looking forward to 2007, the industry will likely see continued pressure on margins as mortgage origination volumes decline and industry capacity is rationalised.

"We are also preparing for increased borrower delinquencies and continued credit deterioration."

Mr Mozilo's remarks came as Countrywide said fourth-quarter earnings fell from $639m in 2005 to $622m last year, a 3 per cent drop. Wall Street analysts were expecting a slightly stronger performance. Revenues rose 6 per cent, from $2.59bn to $2.76bn.
But always look on the bright side: all those put-option ARMs and cash-back mortgages will magically disappear by 2008, and we're off to the races again:
But Mr. Mozilo also offered a dose of optimism. Reiterating a statement he made in October, he said that 2007 "will likely be the trough year of the current housing cycle" and that 2008 "should represent the beginning of upward trends associated with the next cycle."
Countrywide traded up a few points last week on reports that B of A might buy them. It could happen. But B of A would be stupid to do it. They'd be acquiring a portfolio full of foreclosure time bombs.

Still short? You bet.

Bonus: Countrywide did well offloading their mortgages to dumbasses:
Quarterly profit at Countrywide's core mortgage-banking unit rose to $453 million from $434 million, which the company attributed to higher income from selling nonprime and home-equity loans to investment banks that repackage them into securities.

... but did poorly with the mortgages that they couldn't pawn off:
The company posted a lower profit from its loan-servicing sector, or billing and account-management business, partly because higher delinquencies drove down the values of its mortgage-servicing assets.

McCain-Feingold to face new and improved Supreme Court

Three years ago, five Supreme Court justices ruled that the First Amendment was null and void if people wanted to criticize politicians during election season. Justices Stevens and O'Connor wrote the opinion.

The good news? O'Connor has been replaced by free speech champion Samuel Alito. And the new and improved Supreme Court has agreed to hear a new challenge to the despicable McCain-Feingold Anti-Free-Speech and Incumbent Protection Act:
The Supreme Court set the stage Friday for striking down a part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that bars the broadcast of corporate and union-funded ads just before an election.

Three years ago, the justices narrowly upheld McCain-Feingold and its rule against corporate-funded broadcast ads, which was adopted to prevent powerful interests from using their money to sway elections in the final weeks of a campaign. Now-retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor cast a deciding fifth vote in favor of the law.

Friday, the justices announced they will hear a free-speech challenge to this rule in April, and this time decide the issue before a court that is likely to be more skeptical of laws that restrict election-related spending.

While advocates of campaign funding laws say they are trying to limit the influence of big money in politics, critics of these measures say they unconstitutionally restrict persons and groups from voicing their political views.

To refresh your memory, the First Amendment reads, in its entirety:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or ofthe press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
What is so hard to understand about that?

Chinese New Year censored in China

Intolerance rears its ugly head in China (WSJ $):
Next month, China will ring in the Year of the Pig. Nestlé SA planned to celebrate with TV ads featuring a smiling cartoon pig. "Happy new pig year," the ads said.

This week, China Central Television, the national state-run TV network, banned Nestlé's ad -- and all images and spoken references to the animal in commercials, including those tied to the Lunar New Year, China's biggest holiday.

The intent: to avoid offending Muslims, who consider pigs unclean. "China is a multiethnic country," the network's ad department said in a notice sent to ad agencies late Tuesday. "To show respect to Islam, and upon guidance from higher levels of the government, CCTV will keep any 'pig' images off the TV screen."

There's something very wrong when a society's standards are set by the intolerance of a minority. In America, Jews don't eat pork, Amish don't drive cars, and Catholics don't use condoms, but none of these groups would demand that all references to these things be stricken from American culture. Is it that China is different than America, or that Muslims are different than other religious groups? A whole lot of both, I think.

You may not be able to enjoy Chinese New Year in China any more, but you still can in America. Happy Year of the Pig, everybody!

Civil rights: four decades later

"Racism is alive and well in San Francisco."

And in Congress.

Feds to smack down Schwarzenegger

Remember the Maryland legislature vs. Wal-Mart? A judge ruled, and the Fourth Circuit later upheld, that state health care mandates on employers violate federal ERISA law.

I hadn't thought about this, but the WSJ ($) did: that's a perfect precedent to overrule Governor Schwarzenegger's tax-and-employer-mandate-based health care scheme:
Like the Maryland law, the California plan is explicit on the point, and would require all firms with 10 or more employers to provide health care or pay a 4% tax. This would seem clearly illegal according to the reasoning of the Fourth Circuit, which also said that the ostensibly "voluntary" nature of the Maryland tax was irrelevant from the standpoint of Erisa. No reasonable firm, it said, could be expected to choose to pay money to the state to avoid changing its employee-benefit plan.

Schwarzenegger care: it's not just health care for illegals; it's illegal health care for illegals.

Schwarzenegger: "Read my lips. Taxes are now called loans."

Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for re-election promising not to raise taxes. Just months after winning re-election, he's come up with a socialized health care plan that will require the largest tax increase in California history: massive new taxes on doctors, hospitals, and small businesses.

What to do? Admit that he lied when he promised not to raise taxes? Of course not. Just get some help from George Orwell: new taxes are now called loans! Never mind that Schwarzenegger's massive new taxes have all the characteristics of taxes and none of the characteristics of loans (interest, repayment, etc.). Why loans? Why not call them fluffy pink ponies?

The farcical reneging on a campaign promise isn't the only reason Schwarzenegger is going Orwellian. The California constitution requires a two-thirds majority in both houses to pass a tax increase. There are (barely) enough conservatives in the legislature to block this tax hike. The two-thirds requirement has saved California from really bad tax hikes many times in the past. Schwarzenegger believes the California courts will be stupid enough, or leftist enough, to ignore the requirement as long as he calls the taxes fluffy pink ponies or loans.

John Fund has more.

Goldman Sachs: Housing bust? You ain't seen nothin' yet.

US housing bust getting worse, warns Goldman:
The US Federal Reserve will need to slash interest rates three times this year as the housing slump goes from bad to worse and the American consumer begins to buckle, Goldman Sachs has warned.

"Americans have shown a complete lack of self-control. The personal savings rate is at its lowest point ever, and has actually been negative since April 2005.

"We believe that housing will soon become the proverbial 'straw that breaks the camel's back'," said David Kostin, the investment bank's US strategist.

Goldman Sachs said homeowners had treated windfall gains from rising house prices as if they were "recurring income", using home equity withdrawls to subsidize over-stretched lifestyles. This artificial boost to spending has already dropped from 7pc to 4pc of GDP over the last year, and is likely to halve again in 2007.

The Great Anti-Realtor Conspiracy of 2007

Realtors have a God-given right to earn 6% commissions on every real estate transaction, no matter how inflated the purchase price. What's $60,000 to someone selling a home for $1 million? Please do your part to expose the anti-realtor conspiracy by the evil media, the government, and the banks:

National Association of Realtors
2007 AE INSTITUTE

February 17 - 21
San Diego, CA

The Conspiracy to Put You Out of Business (N) (E)
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Blanche Evans, Editor, Realty Times, Dallas, TX
Take an intriguing look at the efforts of the financial press, the government, banks, and third-party service providers to dismantle real estate brokerage, state oversight, and the MLS for their own purposes. The media is being used to demonize brokers’ and agents' commissions. This talk concentrates on fighting back, with a strong defense of commissions in a world where every newspaper from the Wall Street Journal on down is calling for lower commissions.
As Housing Doom notes, this may be related to a larger conspiracy by the media to cause a panic about a housing bubble.

Working for the man

Every month, my cell phone bill is a stark reminder of the amount of tax we pay to fund an out-of-control government.

My $59.99 phone plan comes with more than $15, or 26%, tacked on in taxes.

Factor in the federal and California state (9.3%!!!) income tax, and I have to earn $115 to pay a $59.99 phone bill.

Now what does my cell phone provider, Verizon, earn on this? Their profit margin is 14.7%, meaning they earn $8.82 on a $59.99 phone bill -- before corporate income taxes. After taxes, they keep $6.16.

Total take on my monthly phone bill?

Verizon: $ 6.16
Government: $44.40

... and that's without considering any other taxes Verizon and their employees pay. And without considering that Verizon already paid the government billions of dollars to "buy" the spectrum used to provide the service. And when Verizon distributes those earnings to shareholders as dividends, the government takes another cut.

Free enterprise, indeed!

MootPoint.com

This is the definition of a wasting asset: somebody just paid $25,200 for the domain rights to ImpeachBush.com.

That's about $34 per day remaining in Bush's term. I guess you could put some anti-Bush merchandise on the site and make that much back. Hurry up, though. Time's a-wasting.

Locker room hijinks

Yes, it's San Francisco:
The allegation that Bonds fingered Sweeney came in a New York Daily News article last week.

Black coaches like other black coaches--Reuters

In an article headlined "Indy coach Dungy hoping for Colts-Bears Super Bowl," Reuters journalist Larry Fine reports:

Bears head coach Lovie Smith is also African American.

"I'm definitely rooting for Lovie," Dungy told reporters in a news conference at the Colts complex in Indianapolis.

"He's a tremendous coach. I just like him, not only as a coach but as a person, and the way he carries himself and handles his team. So I'm pulling for them."

Nowhere in the article is Dungy quoted as saying anything remotely approaching race. No, Mr. Fine apparently takes for granted the idea that black folk ought to like and root for each other, simply on the basis that they're black. How far we've come...

Editor's note: Enjoy our links to other white people's blogs on the right-hand side of the page!

Darwin awards

Ingest a lethal amount of cocaine so that the cops can't charge you with it.

Consumer Reports lies

Just in case anyone still pays attention to those partisan, agenda-driven hacks:
Consumer Reports was forced on Thursday to retract a damning report on infant car seats after the federal government said test crashes on the seats were conducted at drastically higher speeds than the magazine had claimed.

The revelation amounts to an embarrasment for the trusted consumer guide, and a relief to parents who were frightened about their babies' safety after the original report came out.

That report said most of the seats tested "failed disastrously" in crashes at speeds as low as 35 mph. In one test, it said, a dummy child was hurled 30 feet.

But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said some of the crash tests were conducted under conditions that would represent being struck at more than 70 mph.

"Consumer Reports was right to withdraw its infant car seat test report and I appreciate that they have taken this corrective action," said NHTSA administrator Nicole Nason. "I was troubled by the report because it frightened parents and could have discouraged them from using car seats."

To coin a phrase: put-option ARMs

Things move fast these days. Not long after I wrote about Countrywide (CFC) and their pay-option ARM issues, rival Washington Mutual turned in an earnings report that showed a $122 million loss in the mortgage business. This caused analysts to rethink their views on Countrywide. Standard & Poors, for example:
S&P DOWNGRADES SHARES OF COUNTRYWIDE FINANCIAL TO SELL FROM HOLD (CFC 40.59**):We are concerned about CFC's credit exposure, as about 9% of production derives from subprime loans. Also, roughly 44% of loans held is comprised of riskier Option ARM loans. These loans have performed well up to now, but they haven't been stress tested, by design; we see such testing occuring sometime in '07.

Not that investor concerns are scaring Countrywide away from pushing pay-option ARMs:

Yes, that's the ridiculously ostentatious San Francisco City Hall dome in the reflection.

And now to coin a phrase: put-option ARMs. The mortgage industry calls them pay-option ARMs, because the buyer has the option to pay a full mortgage payment or a lot less. In reality, they are put-option ARMs, because the buyer is really getting a put option on the real estate market. If the market goes up, the buyer refinances or makes fully amortized payments on the loan. If the market goes down, the buyer makes minimal payments to live in a nice house for a period, and then hands the underwater house back to the lender. A no-lose proposition for the smart buyer!

Countrywide's prospects depend on its debtors being stupid: not refinancing in an up market, and not walking away in a down market. You can fool some of the people some of the time...

French press: black people don't like Obama

If you want your American political analysis done by cheese-eating surrender monkeys, here it is:
US political darling Barack Obama has received enthusiastic support for a possible 2008 presidential bid -- except from fellow African-Americans, a group many believed would be among his staunchest backers.

In contrast to the effusive reception Obama has received from white Americans, many US blacks so far have been cool, saying that while they may share skin color with Obama, they do not have a common culture or history.


Alexis de Tocqueville was the last Frenchman to have anything worthwhile to say about the U.S. Still, the Agence France Presse touches on a bit of truth about Obama. "Black leaders" like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton fear him, because he's a threat to their power base. They'll do whatever they can to undermine him.

And then there were none

Mark Levin, long one of President Bush's staunchest defenders on the right, has had enough:
Is there no principle subject to negotiation? Is there no course subject to reversal? For the Bush administration to argue for years that this program [terrorist surveillance], as operated, was critical to our national security and fell within the president's Constitutional authority, to then turnaround and surrender presidential authority this way is disgraceful. The administration is repudiating all the arguments it has made in testimony, legal briefs, and public statements. This goes to the heart of the White House's credibility. How can it cast away such a fundamental position of principle and law like this?

OK, so Levin butchered the first two sentences. His meaning still comes through.

Bush's surrender on the surveillance program is a page out of the Schwarzenegger playbook. Schwarzenegger had also taken a beating at the polls (his reform referendums in 2005) and was faced with a Democratic legislature and a hostile press. Schwarzenegger surrendered all of his principles, adopted Democrat positions, and once again became a media darling. Bush can surrender like Schwarzenegger, but the press will never like him like Schwarzenegger.

What housing bubble?

As I've said before, this is the greatest asset bubble in the history of the world.

Sometimes, a picture tells the story better, though:

Source here.

Someone from a lesser school, maybe

In today's San Francisco Chronic:
As Yale University students went back to school Tuesday after winter break, the usual conversations were overshadowed by reaction to an extraordinary event that happened 3,000 miles away: the beating in San Francisco of members of the Baker's Dozen, the school's renowned all-male a cappella singing group.

"People are shocked," said Wookie Kim, 20, a sophomore, outside the Yale Bookstore, where portraits of the university's famous alumnae look out over the floor. "I couldn't believe that anyone could do that to a Yale student."

Rosie O'Donnell's genealogy revealed

Skull shows possible human/Neanderthal breeding.

Don't worry - we don't really do those anymore...

On Countrywide Financial's pay-option ARM portfolio:
The pay-option ARM is CFC's highest-margin product, but investors are justifiably concerned about long-term default risk since many customers take these loans in order to be able to purchase a home, but don't really understand the product.... The bottom line is that most of these loans will not be due to reset to standard terms for several years, so any problems with the portfolio could be years away. In any event, CFC seems to have throttled back on originations for this product as well.
- Argus Research report, 12/1/2006



- Countrywide Financial window banner, San Francisco, 1/15/2007

Happy Martin Luther King Day

I'm heading down to a rally at the Civic Center today.

I'd love to bring along a sign that says:
Not by the color of their skin,
But by the content of their character.

End racial preferences now!

... but I don't want to have to explain hypocrisy or irony to the leftist numbskulls who have hijacked Dr. King's legacy.

UPDATE: A few pics:


Civic Center Plaza was pretty empty...

... but all the action was inside the Bill Graham Auditorium:


The Glide Church choir


... and the band.

... and a video:



A crowd shot inside the auditorium.


Three SF Supervisors.


Bummer. That was a nice car.


SFPD stocking up on vibrators for the long, cold winter.

MacroMarkets

This site, created by Prof. Robert Shiller and associates, is great for seeing how bubbly different real estate markets are.

MacroMarkets has created tradeable derivatives to bet on housing markets. Could be fun.

Dirty little secrets of the homebuilding industry

Remember that house you paid $400,000 for last year?

Hovnanian is offering realtors $60,000 kickbacks to find buyers stupid enough to pay that much this year.

Oil down means stocks up

Oil prices are dropping rapidly. If they stay down it means good news for stocks for two reasons. First, it will lower CPI numbers. This will allow the Fed to pretend that inflation isn't happening, so they won't need to raise interest rates.

Second, cheaper energy will be a big boost to corporate profits. Remember how they charged "energy surcharges," or other, nameless price increases when oil went up? Yeah, well they are not going to give you "energy discounts" now that oil is going down. They are pocketing the difference, straight to the bottom line.

Oh, and this is good for gold, too. An easy Fed will eventually bring a weaker dollar.

Asleep at the wheel

How did I miss this?

I gotta start paying attention.

Shorting Countrywide

I shorted Countrywide (CFC). They are a sleazy subprime lender, one of the biggest promoters of toxic option ARMs, and highly vulnerable if the housing bubble really bursts.

Pros to shorting:
- missing earnings estimates, analysts revising numbers downward
- president and CEO are cashing out like madmen
- pushers of option ARMs, AKA Darwinian euthanasia. Darwinian euthanasia is fine, except when Dr. Kevorkian is stuck by the deceased with an underwater house.
- they take unsecured promissory notes from broke and unemployed 24-year-olds to avoid foreclosing on bad loans
- still near an all-time high despite evidence that the housing bubble is beginning to burst

Cons to shorting:
- relatively cheap at 9x or 10x earnings
- Helicopter Ben and the Easy Fed will bail these bastards out

If snotty bullet points don't pass for analysis where you live, too bad. They do here.

Your War on Drugs: empowering Latin American dictators

Today's WSJ:

Evo Morales is an anti-American extremist who wants to turn Bolivia into another Venezuela. That naturally alarms Washington, but not enough to halt its war on drugs, which is aiding the president -- and leader of Bolivia's coca-growing peasant movement -- in his bid to become a dictator.

In a recent interview with the Bolivian Catholic radio station Fides, Mr. Morales explained that in 2003, when he was at a conference in Havana, Fidel Castro told him "not to stage an armed uprising" but to "make transformations, democratic revolutions, what [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chávez is doing."

The process Fidel advised requires the slow dismantling of institutions that act as checks on the executive while maintaining the guise of democracy. This calls for healthy poll numbers even while the rule of law is being trampled. Mr. Chávez had oil revenues to keep the masses happy while he put a noose around democracy. But Evo isn't so fortunate and he can't push through a constitutional coup without popular backing. So to generate support he has relied heavily on his defense of coca growers against a U.S. policy that presses countries in Latin America to destroy their crops.

...

On Dec. 15 the opposition organized a "townhall meeting" in Bolivia's largest city, Santa Cruz, to rally against Mr. Morales's power grab. Pro-Morales supporters blockaded a highway outside of the city so that buses carrying protestors could not get through. As many as 60 people were injured and most of the buses had to turn back. But the rally was a success. An estimated 800,000 people congregated under the city's Christ the Redeemer statue to demand that a new constitution be ratified only with a two-thirds vote in the assembly, and that the call for autonomy be respected.

Mr. Morales, who badly needs to maintain the appearance of public support so that the international community tolerates his takeover, had to be embarrassed by this outpouring of democratic opposition. He is trying to spin the constitutional crisis as a confrontation between races and economic classes. But he has to worry about places like the poor and largely indigenous city of El Alto, just above La Paz, where there is evidence to suggest that many who voted for him are unhappy with his unlawful intervention in the constitutional process and growing impatient with his failure to deliver on economic promises.

This is where U.S. drug policy comes in. Railing against the Yankees who want to destroy peasant income has proven extremely effective in keeping the Morales base -- the country's indigenous coca growers who brought him to power -- energized and his numbers afloat.

He reaffirmed this last month. As his opposition swelled he suddenly announced that he would authorize a near doubling of the number of hectares that may legally produce coca. Then last week he inaugurated a coca industrialization plant in the province of Cochabamba, financed by his government along with Cuba and Venezuela. According to press reports, Mr. Morales told the Cochabamba crowd that coca "never killed anyone" and that the U.S. "should have a law to do away with drug addicts."

Mr. Morales shouldn't wish too hard for that. If Washington policy makers ever decide to tackle the demand for cocaine and stop blaming supply, Mr. Morales's political career would be in jeopardy.


As I've mentioned before, I traveled through Bolivia a few years ago and at one point was stopped at a checkpoint that was staffed by local police but the guys giving the orders were US DEA agents. It was awkward to see American drug warriors telling the locals what to do in their own country. Sometimes the locals grow to resent the symbols and the reality of foreign domination, and they elect those wily enough to capitalize on the resentment.

True Hollywood Story: Crazy Chinese Business Suit Guy

If you've spent much time in San Francisco, you've probably run into this guy.



I first saw him in the late 90's, walking up and down Market Street in a business suit with a similar sign about impeaching Clinton and Bush. Lately, he favors more casual attire and music festivals and political gatherings.

Now, here's the True Hollywood Story:
Frank Chu (born March 24, 1960) is one of San Francisco’s best-known eccentrics. His protests against US Presidents, corporations, and the 12 Galaxies have been held in San Francisco and nearby locales since at least 1995. Chu has been compared to Joshua A. Norton, an earlier famous San Francisco eccentric.

Chu lives in Oakland, California and commutes daily to San Francisco where he can find the largest audience of passers-by and television news crews to share his thoughts with. He supports himself through a combination of state aid, sign sponsorships and small donations from his supporters.
From his beginnings as a young desperado...
In early 1985, Chu, then 24 years old, took 11 members of his family hostage in his home in Oakland and was reported to have been beating some with his fists. Chu fired a .38 pistol at one police officer who came to investigate, but missed. Police cordoned off a ten-block area for three hours. Chu eventually released his hostages and surrendered to the police. He says that he was acting in self-defense.
... to crusading exposer of intergalactic conspiracies:
Frank Chu holds Bill Clinton responsible for directing the CIA to withhold payment to him for being the star of something called "The Richest Family" during the presidency of George H.W. Bush. His protests frequently called for the impeachment of Clinton even after Clinton was no longer in office. Bill Clinton and various other US presidents are frequently accused by Chu of cooperating with the 12 Galaxies to commit crimes and treasons. Chu is strongly interested in television reporters and newscasters, who will bring him the publicity he requires to inform the world of the injustices committed against him. He hopes that this wave of publicity will cause a public outcry, which will result in the impeachment of various US presidents and the awarding of "$20 billions" in compensation for the damages he and his family have suffered. Another source says:
Frank believes that he and his family have been filmed for years now without their knowledge and the show has aired as "The Richest Family". He found out that he was a star (and appeared on the cover of Newsweek, Time, etc.) because California Correctional Officers who were really movie stars who were really KGB agents told him---through ESP. In fact, nearly all the movie stars have ESP. Frank is not from another galaxy and never contends to be. He hasn't even visited them. He is aware of them (possibly) through ESP being sent to him by Soviet ex-presidents (alive and dead/resurrected) and KGB agents. Clinton, Hillary, and even Chelsea are "guiltied" of being in collusion with the first 12 galaxies away from our galaxy, while Frank is being aided by the Zegnotronic (120 galaxies away).

Frank Chu’s interests include NASA, flying saucers, rocket vacations, Benjamin Franklin, Christianity, second salaries, androids, and past and current political events.

Frank Chu is a local hero, and has local watering hole 12 Galaxies named in his honor.

Anyone interested in hiring Mr. Chu can find his resume here.

Impeach at the Beach!

Thanks to global warming, it was a lovely summer day at Ocean Beach. Hundreds, perhaps a thousand or two, turned up to spell out "IMPEACH!" in a media stunt.


The Code Pink ladies were out early with coffee. I tried to grab a cup, but they wanted a $1 donation to fund some march on Washington or something.



About an hour before show time, the crowds looked pretty sparse.


Twenty minutes before show time, the "A" in "IMPEACH!" still looked pretty thinly populated.


Fortunately, some people fill up more space than others.


"Bush thinks you're an idiot." Let's prove him right!


Tin Foil Hats out in force.


The local ABC 7 news chopper.


It wouldn't be a San Francisco freakshow without Crazy Chinese Business Suit Guy (dressed down a bit for the weekend).



Osama & George, two peas in a pod.


Unaware that Varones had the event covered, Bush sent a spy plane to monitor the dissidents.


There's an asshole in every crowd.


The Code Pink truck.


Success!


The stunt went well. Expect to see aerial shots in the newspapers and on ABC 7 tonight.

More nice pics here.

Impeachment flash mob stunt tomorrow!

See you there:

On Saturday, January 6, 2007 (just two days after the new US Congress convenes), 1,200 people will gather for an impeachment event in Nancy Pelosi’s back yard — on Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Early that morning, in 100-foot letters stretching 450 feet across the sand, volunteers from the Beach Impeach Project will outline the message:

I M P E A C H !

At 10:30, the attendees will arrive and lay their bodies down inside the message’s lettering. At 11 a.m. a helicopter will arrive overhead and photographers will record the 1,200 bodies in the sand — “IMPEACH!” — with the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

I'm not sure who we're trying to impeach, but come along anyway. It will be a hoot!

NY Times to fire Barney Calame

It's about time. The New York Times has a position called "Public Editor," which is supposed to be someone who will respond to readers' concerns about inaccuracies, biases, and ethical transgressions at the Times.

Unfortunately, for the last few years, this role has been filled by a doofus named Barney Calame, who approves of or ignores virtually everything the Times editors do and ignores reader concerns.

Instead of hiring an independent, effective Public Editor in his place, though, the Times will eliminate the position entirely. Why waste money continuing the ludicrous pretense that this is an objective, honest, unbiased news source?

Love this quote from the New York Observer:
Mr. Okrent [Calame's predecessor] was a sharp critic who raised hackles and then won respect during his 18-month term. In contrast, Mr. Calame has been a bit more like that other Barney, the friendly purple dinosaur—and not entirely unlike Snuffleupagus, the once-invisible creature of Sesame Street. The readers were Big Bird, and we could see and hear him—but did he exist to anyone inside The Times?
Good riddance messages can be sent to public@nytimes.com.

Happy New Year!

Stocks up. Dollar down. Gold up. Emerging markets up big.

It's a nice start to the year.

Homosexuality cured; now there's a tougher nut to crack

As Varones reports below, scientists are well on the way to ridding us of the scourge of homosexuality. Thanks be to God!

Little good will this do Varones, however; witness here a snapshot of our fearless editor at home...

Science breakthrough could lead to cure for homosexuality

This is going to be an ethical dilemma:
SCIENTISTS are conducting experiments to change the sexuality of “gay” sheep in a programme that critics fear could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans.

The technique being developed by American researchers adjusts the hormonal balance in the brains of homosexual rams so that they are more inclined to mate with ewes.

It raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual. Experts say that, in theory, the “straightening” procedure on humans could be as simple as a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn on the skin like an anti-smoking nicotine patch.

The research, at Oregon State University in the city of Corvallis and at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, has caused an outcry. Martina Navratilova, the lesbian tennis player who won Wimbledon nine times, and scientists and gay rights campaigners in Britain have called for the project to be abandoned.

Navratilova defended the “right” of sheep to be gay. She said: “How can it be that in the year 2006 a major university would host such homophobic and cruel experiments?” She said gay men and lesbians would be “deeply offended” by the social implications of the tests.

I wouldn't choose the hormone treatment. I think gay sheep would be pretty funny to have around. But there are a lot of parents out there who would opt for the cure.

For some people, this is 1938 all over again:
Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, said: “These experiments echo Nazi research in the early 1940s which aimed at eradicating homosexuality. They stink of eugenics. There is a danger that extreme homophobic regimes may try to use these experimental results to change the orientation of gay people.”

Hey, there are already ways for parents to influence the sex of the child. Is it that big a leap to influence the sexuality?

This reminds me a lot of the deaf activists opposed to cochlear implants to cure deafness. How do you define what is a condition that should be cured and what is normal? I'd fix deafness, but probably not poofery. But there's plenty of room for argument.
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