WC Varones

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

Canadians are so nice

How nice are they?

Canadian sex offenders don't rape women, or even expose themselves. They go up to women and politely ask to be kicked in the balls.

Rocket man

How are those subprime loans doing? The subprime problem is an old story, right?


WRONG!!!




Read the whole story here. It's the first in what will be a delightful series from the Wall Street Journal called

No-down, no-documentation, inflated-appraisal lenders like Countrywide will tell you that their subprime exposure is limited, and that their huge "Alt-A" portfolios (a notch above subprime) won't face the same issues. Are you going to believe this man?

Unfortunate acronyms department

In Australia and New Zealand, airplane mechanics are called Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers. (In the U.S. they're still called mechanics, or A&P mechanics, for Airframe & Powerplant.) To see how you can join the ranks of Qantas' LAME employees, click here.

Memorial Day for the red-tail family

The kids are all right.

PBS: right-wing propaganda for a change

Last night I watched the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS, promoted as "the premier memorial service for the United States, honoring the sacrifice that so many American servicemen and women have made for their country throughout our nation's history." Fair enough.

Honoring the warriors is a worthy enterprise, whether you like current war policy or not. Among the less worthy aspects: repeated appeal to religious sentiment, reminders that 9/11 is the whole reason we're stuck in Iraq, and even a paean to the high quality of medical care available to our maimed troops. At one point an actress, representing a real mother of a U.S. soldier killed in action, performs a monologue saying how "proud" she is that her 20-year-old son is now in Arlington cemetary, and that when the sun shone through the clouds during a visit to the grave, she was sure it was her boy saying he was alright.

This is an understandable coping mechanism for a grieving mother, and the story surely tugged the heartstrings of Christians and patriots alike. But to exploit such grief in furtherance of policy is just sickening. The real tragedy is that the catastrophic suffering of the Iraq war, dwarfing that of 9/11, is largely self-inflicted...or, more accurately, inflicted by the powerful upon the meek.

Rosie O'Donnell speaks

She's not just a spiteful, vicious woman with a temper problem.

She's also a certifiably nuts 9/11 conspiracy fanatic.

She says while warming up the crowd what she's more guarded about saying directly on the air:

The brighter side of the housing bubble

It encourages homeowners to find creative ways to express their frustration.

Quotations from Chairman Varones


Standards are for the faint of heart.


-W.C. Varones, c. 1993

Runs in the family

How do parents feel about educational standards that require kids to actually learn something before they graduate?



LET ARE KIDS WALK!!!

Casey Serin South

Casey Serin wasn't the only highly leveraged real estate speculator who got burned when the market slowed:
Eight properties owned by local [Bakersfield] real estate power player David Crisp and his close family members have entered the first stage of foreclosure in just the last six weeks.
Meanwhile, back at the original Casey Serin saga, a house that he bought for $330,000 with 100% financing was just sold by the bank for $199,000. The banks lost $131,000. Plus interest. Plus expenses. But don't worry. This obviously doesn't have anything to do with major California no-doc, option-ARM lenders like Countrywide.

Drivin' that train, high on cocaine

Some dumbass derailed this train at the CalTrain station today. They were bringing in a crane to lift it back onto the tracks.

Critical Mass attacked by brain-eating zombies

Don't ask me. I just report what happens.

It was a typical last Friday of the month: hundreds, perhaps a thousand or two, bicyclists heading down Market Street.

And then, all of a sudden, the ride was attacked by dozens of brain-eating zombies. It was like something out of 28 Weeks or Shaun of the Dead.






Go figure. Only in San Francisco.

Better zombie pics here and here.

Short Dell

Dell announced it would abandon its trademark direct-sales-only model and start selling PCs in Wal-Mart.

This is a last gasp ploy by a really screwed-up company. Dell's historical advantages were:

1) Financial engineering. Selling puts on its own stock and using aggressive accounting gave Dell a financial advantage. No more. The company is under an SEC investigation for accounting and deliquent in its filings. And selling puts doesn't work so well when the stock is going down.

2) Cutting out the retailer. By cutting out the middleman, you both capture his share of profits and shorten the supply chain, cutting time to market. No more.

3) The little-mentioned sales tax dodge. Buy a $2000 HP at Wal-Mart in California, and you'll pay around $165 in sales tax. Buy a Dell direct over the Internet, and avoid paying that tax. That amounts to a huge (if not technically legal) price advantage. That doesn't work if you're buying Dell in the same Wal-Mart as HP.

They'll now be competing, with no structural advantage, side-by-side with industry leader Hewlett-Packard, as well as low-price brands like eMachines and Everex.

Bonus reasons to hate Dell: they screw employees and shareholders. A veteran Silicon Valley manager (HP, Apple, Dell, and others) tells me that Dell is by far the worst place he's ever worked. Management is dictatorial and stupid. As for shareholders, Dell reported billions in "profits" and "cash flow" during the boom, but shareholders got none of it. Shareholder equity actually decreased as Dell used all of its supposed "profits" and "cash flow" to buy back stock to replace the billions in stock options given to Michael Dell and other executives. Michael Dell got filthy rich, and shareholders got declining book value, no dividends, and a stock that's still 50% below where it was in 1998.

Short this sick puppy.

Your Wall Street geniuses at work

New home sales jump 16%!

BUY BUY BUY !!!




Wait a minute, Einstein. Read the whole thing.
But the report also found that median prices tumbled 10.9% to $229,100 as builders offered deep discounts and other incentives.

Prices dropped 10.9% across the nation in one month? That has to be a record.

SELL SELL SELL !!!!

Amnesty is such a lonely word

The MSM is starting to take notice of what we've said all along: that while the Bush/McCain/Kennedy amnesty gives a free pass to lawbreakers, it gives a big F U to those who have been trying to play by the rules.
San Francisco resident Francisco Villacrusis and his wife petitioned 13 years ago for their grown children to join them from the Philippines and keep them company in their final years.

But if Congress passes immigration changes now being proposed, Villacrusis has little chance of realizing his dream because the immigration service canceled the paperwork when his wife died because she had filed it, and the changes would invalidate any new petitions for adult children or siblings filed after April 30, 2005.

On unions, economic incentives, and hookers

LongOrShortCapital says it well.

And have you ever seen a better example of the law of supply and demand than this?

While the boat sinks, laugh from shore

What do you get when you take a company in a dying industry, loot it, and leave it with piles of debt that its vanishing revenue stream (read: print advertising) can't cover? That, friends, would be Sun-Times Media (SVN).


Formerly Hollinger International, the company saw its coffers emptied by erstwhile crook/CEO Conrad Black, and was left with a portfolio of cash-burning newspapers and a mountain of payables. Now, as the company drifts towards the Sea of Imminent Doom, you can do some looting of your own--from the pockets of the suckers who still see hope.

Most recently, the stock was run up on rumors of a sale. At a much-anticipated presentation by management last week, the fantastic news was this: "We're not selling, our business sucks, and our plan is to start going out of business."

Short it.

Countrywide CEO: goin' to hell in a bucket

... but he's not enjoying the ride.

Orange midget Angelo Mozilo is not happy:
"The reason why people can't sell their houses is there are no buyers around," Mozilo said. "And there are no buyers around because they can't get the financing."

And he doesn't want tighter subprime lending standards. So he can keep pushing option-ARMs on poor saps who can't afford them. Lovely.

But just in case he doesn't get his way, he announced that he cashed out another $2.9 million in stock. Way to show some confidence, eh?

Look at this great National Post (Canada) picture:



Here's a picture taken by a shorter photographer:

Peru launches war on left arm

Some weeks ago, I ventured into the depths of the Peruvian jungle, tasked with finding and reporting on the state of the region's wildlife. And find it I did.

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a most striking and awesome denizen of the rainforest. The sleek jaguar? The fearsome cayman? No, friends, the true king of the jungle proved to be the Peruvian mosquito, a ferocious predator that puts its American cousin to shame.

Two weeks after my return to the States, my mosquito-bitten left arm had swelled up to the unsightly weight of 103 lbs., and, following my sage grandmother's advice of not letting my arm get bigger than any girl I would date, I sought professional help and spent three days with IV tubes and a coterie of baffled doctors. Without further elaboration, I offer a photograph of the carnage...

Biased journalism done badly

One of the oldest tricks in biased journalism is to paint those with opposing views as bigots.

Wall Street Journal bimbos June Kronholz and Sarah Lueck transparently employ that tactic on the immigration issue:
But they will need dozens of votes from Republicans, who are deeply split between a business-friendly wing eager to provide employers with access to more immigrant labor and social conservatives who believe American culture is being diluted by too many foreigners.

Yeah. We're all dumb rednecks who fear foreign culture. No mention of the real issues:

1) Rewarding criminals at the expense of those who have been trying for years to get here legally. Illegals get a free pass, while honest would-be immigrants remain in a long, slow, and difficult visa bureaucracy.

2) The enormous fiscal burden of bringing a huge, low-skilled underclass onto the social services rolls. As I've said before, you thought the federal deficit was bad now? Wait until 20 million minimum wage earners hit Social Security, Medicare, schools, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

But hey, why mention the real issues? It suits the Wall Street Journal's agenda better to portray amnesty opponents as xenophobes.

Amnesty

A few thoughts on the amnesty bill:

1) It's an amnesty bill.

2) It's fundamentally unfair, rewarding those who broke the law to get here and punishing those who have been trying for years to immigrate legally.

3) It's a fiscal disaster, adding a huge number of unskilled workers and dependents to the social services rolls. You thought the federal deficit was bad now? Wait until 20 million minimum wage earners hit Social Security, Medicare, schools, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

On the plus side, I haven't seen this level of outrage among conservatives since Harriet Miers, Dubai Ports, and Amnesty 2006. And conservatives are 3 for 3 on those.

What will they think of next?

I've heard of silicone implants, but...

Tata Motors?

Surrender-monkey protest this morning

Move America Forward, a pro-Iraq conservative group, is bringing monkeys to surrender-monkey Nancy Pelosi's office in San Francisco this morning.

Be there or be square. I have a job, so I'm square.

Rudy 1, Ron Paul 0

This is just inexcusable.

I'm a raging libertarian and a natural Ron Paul supporter, but he voted against not just Iraq but Afghanistan! If you're not going to fight back after 9/11, when will you ever defend America?

UPDATE: Rudy asked Paul to withdraw his comment. I'll withdraw my comment instead. There was only one vote against Afghanistan, that of kook Barbara Lee. I apologize to Ron Paul and his supporters for the error, and I thank TomW for the correction. Further, while what Paul said about listening to our enemies was politically inept and annoyed me last night, it's not "inexcusable." It was a display of Paul's typical candor. What Paul said about the reason our enemies hate us (because we're over there) is overly simplistic, but at least partially true. They also want to create a global Islamofascist regime and kill innocent men, women and children for Allah, but our international intervention is indeed an aggravating factor.

Worst Varones post ever.

REO Speedwagon

In keeping with the recent Countrywide bashing, let's take a look at Countrywide's growing Real Estate Owned (REO) portfolio. Dumb loans gone bad.

Uh-oh.

Movies

1) I just saw Deliver Us from Evil (a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes). A must-see. The Catholic Church is still not coming clean about covering up and facilitating child molesters.

2) Mr. Brooks looks good. I haven't seen any reviews yet, but the previews are very promising.

Countrywide ad campaign

Did you hear CFC is getting ZZ Top to do their new ad jingle?


I'm Bad, I'm Countrywide

Well I was rollin' down the road in some cold blue steel,
I had a no-doc in the back, and an option ARM at the wheel.
We're going downtown in the middle of the night
We was laughing and I'm jokin' and we feelin' alright.
Oh I'm bad, I'm Countrywide.
Yes I'm bad, I'm Countrywide.

Easin' down the highway in a new Cadillac,
My borrowers' stated income, it must be a fact.
They're buying those McMansions with no money down,
Everyone gettin' rich all over town.
Welcome back, we're Countrywide.
Yeah we bad, we're Countrywide.

Well I was movin' down the road in my V-8 Ford,
Loanin' dough to Casey Serin 'cause he seems above board.
This game can last forever 'cause prices can't go down,
Lereah told me so and that guy ain't no clown.
I'm bad, I'm Countrywide.
Girl I'm bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, I'm Countrywide.

Everything you need to know about Bay Area real estate

Boarded-up crack house on tiny lot in horrible neighborhood: $349,900.

We're #4!

... in the nation's most overpriced housing markets.

And we're #1 in most asinine home-price-to-rent ratio: over 50!

Still pimpin'

Months after newspapers, magazines, and TV programs across the country exposed the idiocy of pay-option ARMs, Countrywide is still pushing them.


This morning at the Countrywide office in the Civic Center.

I shorted CFC again today. It's back above $41, right back where it was before the subprime meltdown. It's the pig that keeps on giving.

Your Bush Administration open-borders policy at work

At least one of the Fort Dix illegal alien terrorists had been arrested by police before:
In 2002, township police twice arrested one of the men charged this week with plotting to kill American soldiers at Fort Dix, but let him go despite the fact he was illegally in this country.

Police records show Eljvir Duka, 23, of Cherry Hill, got stopped by township officers on Feb. 8 and May 21, 2002, and taken into custody on outstanding warrants for traffic offenses from the New Jersey State Police.

...

Police Chief Rafael Muniz said his officers are trained to confirm the identity of an individual taken into custody before he or she is released.

Although not familiar with Duka's past run-ins with township police, Muniz said that if a red flag pops up showing an individual might be in the country illegally, federal Immigration and Customer Enforcement officials are immediately notified.

That does not mean, however, that the individual will be picked up, Muniz said.

"If (ICE) or nobody wants them or are not interested in picking them up, we would have to release them," Muniz said. "Usually, what I've found is they only pick up the individuals if they are charged with an indictable crime. We're limited in what we can do. We would have to find out who they are before releasing them."

Either the cops didn't notify ICE, or ICE didn't care. Either case is entirely possible as the Bush Administration refuses to make interior enforcement a priority.

U.N. plagiarizes W.C. Varones

Two months ago, we wrote that ethanol will destroy the environment:
Ethanol is terrible for the environment. It’s driven up corn prices, not just in the U.S., but in Mexico and Central America. This will immediately cause the clear-cutting of remaining rainforest to plant the now immensely profitable corn crop.

I’ve traveled through Central America. It was bad enough seeing subsistence farmers cutting down the rainforest to clear land to feed their families. Ethanol demand in the U.S. will make the clear-cutting much faster and more far-reaching.

What about using Brazilian cane sugar instead? Perfect. They’ll clear-cut the Amazon rainforest.

You think burning gasoline causes CO2 levels to increase? That’s nothing compared to what chopping down the Amazon will do.

Law of unintended consequences. Learn it.

Now comes the U.N., never content to let five concise and complete paragraphs stand, to say the same thing in a 60-page paper.

The Guardian summarizes:
The global rush to switch from oil to energy derived from plants will drive deforestation, push small farmers off the land and lead to serious food shortages and increased poverty unless carefully managed, says the most comprehensive survey yet completed of energy crops.
"Unless carefully managed" means we need to hire armies of new U.N. bureaucrats to micromanage biofuel development, I presume.

Chirac's legacy

Worse than Neville Chamberlain, not as evil as the despots he coddled. Jacques Chirac will go down as a Vichy Frenchman born into the wrong era.

Anne Applebaum at Slate nails it:
During a visit to the Ivory Coast, Chirac once called "multi-partyism" a "kind of luxury," which his host, president-for-life Félix Houphouet-Boigny, could clearly not afford. During a visit to Tunisia, he proclaimed that, since "the most important human rights are the rights to be fed, to have health, to be educated, and to be housed," Tunisia's human rights record is "very advanced"—never mind the police who beat up dissidents. "Africa is not ready for democracy," he told a group of African leaders in the early 1990s.

On Saddam Hussein: "You are my personal friend. Let me assure you of my esteem, consideration, and bond."

On Eastern Europe supporting the United States in the United Nations: "It is not really responsible behavior. It is not well-brought-up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to shut up."

On Iran's nuclear program: "Having one or perhaps a second bomb a little later, well, that's not very dangerous." Theoretically, Chirac was supposed to be negotiating with Iran to give up its nuclear program at the time.

On hearing a French businessman address a European summit in English, "deeply shocked," he stormed out of the room.

As I say, it's a very important legacy: One of consistent scorn for the Anglo-American world in general and the English language in particular, of suspicion of Central Europe and profound disinterest in the wave of democratic transformation that swept the world in the 1980s and 1990s, of preference for the Arab and African dictators who had been, and remained, clients of France. In his later years, Chirac constantly searched, in almost all international conflicts, for novel ways of opposing the United States. All along, he did his best to protect France from the rapidly changing global economy.

Perky chick hits new low

You'd think that things could only get better when Dan "partisan political operative" Rather was replaced. Not exactly a tough act to follow.

But while Katie Couric's credibility is not as low as Rather's (she has yet to report a story relying on Civil War-era e-mails), her ratings are lower. The lowest in decades, as a matter of fact.

That's right

You say you're not from Frisco
Man, as if I couldn't tell
'Cause you can fill your tank with gas
And not sell your soul to hell.

Honesty is such a lonely word

Liberal law professors finally admit that the Second Amendment means what it says:
Laurence H. Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, said he had come to believe that the Second Amendment protected an individual right.

“My conclusion came as something of a surprise to me, and an unwelcome surprise,” Professor Tribe said. “I have always supported as a matter of policy very comprehensive gun control.”

The first two editions of Professor Tribe’s influential treatise on constitutional law, in 1978 and 1988, endorsed the collective rights view. The latest, published in 2000, sets out his current interpretation.

Several other leading liberal constitutional scholars, notably Akhil Reed Amar at Yale and Sanford Levinson at the University of Texas, are in broad agreement favoring an individual rights interpretation. Their work has in a remarkably short time upended the conventional understanding of the Second Amendment, and it set the stage for the Parker decision.

The earlier consensus, the law professors said in interviews, reflected received wisdom and political preferences rather than a serious consideration of the amendment’s text, history and place in the structure of the Constitution. “The standard liberal position,” Professor Levinson said, “is that the Second Amendment is basically just read out of the Constitution.”

Will Ferrell blows

Yeah, I've said it before.

But I'm watching an SNL retrospective, and seeing the cheerleader skits again reminds me just how bad Will Ferrell sucks ass.

Worst. Comedy. Ever.

Lucky Pierre

His victory was obvious, but his kind words were a surprise:
Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy greeted news of his election Sunday to a five-year term as France's president with a vow to serve as a leader for all people of France.

...

Sarkozy added that he wanted to tell his "American friends that they can rely on our friendship ... France will always be next to them when they need us."

Merde! Hating France was my whole raison d' etre!

Ah, well. It's been years since I've had a good Bordeaux. Time for a little rapprochement, as they say.

Go on, take the money and run

If you bought Amazon at $34 when I recommended it almost a year ago, you've done well. In December, with the stock up 16%, I said to stick with it.

Now AMZN is at $63 for a near-double in less than a year. I'm taking profits. I'll keep about 20% of my original position just for fun. With the market and the stock apparently priced for clear sailing ahead, I'll take some money off the table.

Lou Dobbs for President

... at least as the Democratic nominee. Wouldn't you like to see a Thompson - Dobbs race? Beats the hell out of McCain - Clinton, eh?

Dobbs' candor on 60 Minutes was refreshing. He's a journalist who's honest enough to disclose his biases (anti-illegal immigration, anti-Iraq war, and anti-Bush). Other journalists (at the New York Times, CNN, etc.) differ not because they are unbiased, but because they are not honest about their biases.

Top of your Netflix queue -- Dogville

Wow. I just watched Dogville, and I'm still stunned.

I don't want to spoil it for you, because you should see this movie with no preconceptions. Any commentary I added would color your experience. Don't go reading other reviews on the web, either. One thing the critics do get right is that it's too long. So watch it as I did, in two or three sittings. You'll enjoy it more.

Go watch it and then let's talk about it.

STOP READING NOW UNTIL YOU'VE SEEN IT -- THEN HIGHLIGHT THE TEXT BELOW FOR MORE OF MY THOUGHTS.


The bare set is original and effective. The whole film is done on a black stage with buildings and streets marked by white chalk outlines, with very few props. It sounds lame, but it's not.

The story and the direction are brutal and misanthropic and feel anti-American, coming from an admitted Ameriphobic European director. Ebert & Roeper, in fact, savaged this movie for being pointlessly anti-American, even though as sophisticated (liberal) big-city critics, they should be comfortable with anti-Americanism. Ebert and Roeper, though, see the movie too narrowly. It's not about America. It's about human nature and the vicious pack instinct.

Nicole Kidman plays a fugitive persecuted by those who she hoped would protect her. The religious overtones are palpable, and the parallels between Kidman and Christ are obvious. The ending, which I won't spoil even for those who ignored the warning not to read ahead, is both appropriate and satisfying.

Springtime in San Francisco

On the Varones family estate, a mother red tail hawk feeds her newly hatched young.




MorOn.org's secret impeachment poll

Seems the folks at MorOn.org are having a little trouble deciding whether to call for the impeachment of the President. Yes, they are the extreme left, but perhaps the leaders recognize irony.

How awkward that a group formed to oppose the impeachment of one President because the country needed to "move on" past little things like perjury and obstruction of justice would end up calling for the impeachment of another because they disagreed with his foreign policy.

Here's their secret internal poll. Go vote. I'm voting yes. MorOn.org and the Kos kids drive the Democratic Congressional agenda. If we can get them focused on impeachment, it will distract them from passing bad laws.

"Democracy" to a leftist

Democracy is great for French leftists -- as long as it gives them the results they want:
Tony Essono, 32, an unemployed economist whose parents emigrated from Cameroon before he was born, said that despite years of anger and discrimination, people in La Courneuve were willing to put their faith in the ballot box "because they understand they can change something" by voting. But, he added, "if Sarkozy is elected, it means we haven't been heard, and we'll trash everything."

From Best of the Web.

A conversation between Alec Baldwin and Pat O'Brien



HT: Ace.

The brighter side of the mortgage bubble

Marijuana growers are having no trouble buying houses to set up growing operations:
Officials with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration say the number of indoor marijuana plants seized by federal, state and local authorities in California has quadrupled in just the last three years, from at least 54,000 plants to nearly 200,000 in 2006.

Many of those seizures have occurred in middle-class and upscale suburbs, where the pot growers took advantage of cheap home financing — and minimal credit checks — to purchase homes and remodel them into sophisticated farms, authorities said.
When I was a kid, indoor growers were fly-by-night operators who rented houses and lived in constant fear that their landlords would need to inspect the property for some reason. Now, thanks to easy credit and liar loans, you don't need a job to buy a house.

Truly the American Dream.
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