Showing posts from April, 2009

Prop 1A poll: LOSING!!!

A new poll shows the Taxinator's evil initiatives going down to defeat, with the only winner being the irrelevant Prop 1F. 1A is going down 40% to 49% with 11% undecided. And further poll questions show that the public is not being fooled by Schwarzenegger's web of lies:
More than 70 percent of likely voters agree that defeating the ballot measures would send a message to the governor and legislators "that voters are tired of more government spending and higher taxes," according to the poll.

"This is a pretty ominous poll for the governor's ballot measures," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll. "It's a message election. Even though voters know that a 'no' vote is not going to help things, they're still telling the politicians to deal with it."
It's too early to celebrate. Schwarzenegger's band of unions and Hollywood fatcats are spending millions on TV, radio, and print ads to fool the public. Spread the word: No…

LA Times Agrees with Varones: Prop 1A is a Fraud

Well, not all of the nitwits at the LA Times. The editors and columnists are still largely idiots. But columnist Michael Hiltzik sees it, and tells it, as it is: "California budget fixes on May 19 ballot are mostly shams and frauds."

The Times seems to be having a little turf war. Grumpy old leftist George Skelton covers Sacramento, and has been churning out regular columns of drivel supporting taxes, unions, politicians, and Prop 1A. Now comes Hiltzik from the Business section to open a can of truth-flavored whoopass on Skelton.

In related news, California's Capitol says Uh-oh. April tax receipts are coming in way short of the revised revised revised budget. I guess Schwarzenegger needs to jack up tax rates some more, eh? Any taxpayer who still has a job and hasn't fled the state is one who has more to give!

FHA is the new subprime

More precisely, FHA is the new put-option mortgage. As we said way back in January 2007 with Countrywide stock flying high around $40:
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!
Well, they're not ARMs any more. They are ridiculously low (~5%) 30-year fixed-rate loans. And the sucker is not a sleazy outfit like Countrywide. It's the FHA. That means you, the taxpayer.

A certain friend of ours (let's call him B.G. Cojones) was contemplating the purchase of a $700,000 property. Now ol' B.G., l…

R.I.P. Conde Nast Portfolio

Last year we wrote a post commending Conde Nast's Portfolio magazine. They did some good muckraking on the Orange Midget and FrankenDodd, as well as other recent scandals.

Now, just two years after launch, publisher Conde Nast is shutting it down.
Conde Nast Publications said it is closing Portfolio, the glossy business magazine it launched with fanfare two years ago.

Portfolio staffers learned of the decision in a meeting Monday morning with the magazine's editor in chief, Joanne Lipman.

Under its chairman, Si Newhouse, Conde Nast has been known for its patience with money-losing titles and previously appeared ready to give Portfolio at least until the second half of the year. But ad declines across the company's titles, including at the ones that traditionally could be counted on to cover losses at underperforming properties, has forced the publisher to have a shorter leash.

The news comes about six months after Conde Nast drastically reduced the staff of the magazine and cu…

Local boy makes good II

Well, it ain't Jim the Realtor on Nightline, but WSJ's Best of the Web ran my "German Wholesale Prices See Record Decline in 22 Years" joke (originally posted here).

We're #47! California ranking in freedom, that is.

Worst of both worlds: California ranks 48th among states in economic freedom and 37th in personal freedom, for an overall ranking of 47th.

We've got the economic benefits of socialism, and the human rights benefits of fascism! Who could ask for anything more?

And that's before Schwarzenegger's massive tax increases!

Wish I were there

Jr. Deputy Accountant does protesting right at the San Francisco Fed.

I'm in San Diego. What's NL's excuse?

Nancy Pelosi to Air Force: "Where's my Gulfstream G-5, dammit?"

A New Direction, indeed! This is how Nancy Pelosi rolls:
The San Francisco congresswoman has apparently taken to flying in style. And not just any style but military charter style, according to e-mails released this week.

Pelosi's staff has allegedly been "berating" military officials to get the best planes possibly for the speaker to fly across country, according to e-mails obtained by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch (you can read all the emails on their site) and first reported by The New York Post.

"Taken together, these documents show that Speaker Pelosi treats the Air Force like her personal airline," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a statement. "Not only does Speaker Pelosi issue unreasonable requests for military travel, but her office seems unconcerned about wasting taxpayer money with last minute cancellations and other demands."

Pelosi allegedly demanded that the military provide nonstop flight service when she flies ho…

Greenspan's Body Count: Freddie Mac CFO David Kellerman

Even during Digital Detox week, Alan Greenspan's killing spree continued. The latest victim was an executive and 16-year veteran of FrankenDodd's monster, Freddie Mac:
Law enforcement sources said David Kellermann, acting chief financial officer of mortgage company Freddie Mac, was found hanging in the basement of his Vienna, Va., home, dead from an apparent suicide early this morning.


Kellermann, 41, and a 16-year veteran of Freddie Mac, had been the company's CFO since September, after a government takeover of the company following the housing crisis.
There are many possible reasons for Kellerman's despair, all of them at least partially attributable to Greenspan's bubble. He had lost a lot of money in Freddie Mac stock. He was being questioned in the Freddie Mac accounting scandal. He was receiving an $800,000+ bonus from a failed company receiving a massive bailout from the taxpayers, an outrage that caused him to be hounded by reporters and to hire secur…

Digital Detox Week

Thanks to NL for keeping the lights on with Liberal Week while I was unplugged.

Digital Detox was an interesting experiment. I couldn't get away entirely from news, computers, and TV, as I work in an information-intensive industry. At home after work, though, it was nice.

True Digital Detox is a different thing, and rare to achieve. It's being away for a week or more in a remote place: a Sierra Nevada backpacking trip, a dive boat on the Barrier Reef, a remote village with no Internet in a third-world country. It's always a great feeling to be disconnected from the news. The little stuff doesn't matter, and you can catch up on the big stuff the next time you get to a news stand to buy the Economist.

The Job of the State

Liberal Week Day 4 - Now the government is doing its job.
Sub-title - at this rate capitalism won't last much longer, comrades!

The Treasury, rightfully so, ordered Bank of America to purchase Merrill Lynch according to this article.

Henry Paulson, who was Treasury secretary last December, may have threatened to remove the management and directors of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank if they didn’t comply, Cuomo wrote in a letter to Congress that was released today. Lewis also was told not to disclose his opposition to the Merrill deal because of “staggering” deterioration at the brokerage, or the regulator’s action, according to Cuomo.
Finally the government is doing what it should do--telling people how to conduct good business. Comrades, we are almost there. A worker's paradise is not far away. Let's just hope this jerk Cuomo doesn't mess it up with, like, the law or that pesky constitution.

American Muscle Cars Rock!

Liberal Week day 2 - The American Car Industry is Back..and its name is CAMARO
Sub-title - It don't get no better than this

The demise of the American car industry has been greatly exaggerated. How can I say this, well its easy, look no further than the new Chevy Camaro. Nothing says I rock like a rock star car like this muscle beauty.

While the stupid and weak Japanese, Korean and German firms work on these weak examples of vehicular technology:
1. Honda Insight
2. Toyota Prius
3. VW Jetta TDI
4. Hyundai Genesis

America is taking back the industry and giving America what made America great, RAW MUSCLE BABY! Because while no other foreign company is beating this drum, that's because no other company gets it. America wants muscle, wants speed, and wants BALLS. And nothing says balls like having your instrument panel down by the stick shift so your eyes have to totally leave the road to see the metrics being presented.

So America, enjoy your birthright! Fast cars and loose women! Hybrid…

Latest word from W.C. Varones

Two days into Digital Detox, and this is what we hear:

The Rich Deserve to Pay!

Liberal Week Day 1 - Bonus
Sub-title: The rich should pay!

The evil Mish Shedlock has an absurd post objecting to the initiatives that are about to be voted on in California. He some how thinks that this situation is NOT alright:
In Move is up to California voters the LA Times reported "An average family of four with an annual income of $75,000 would pay about $963 more a year in taxes, according to a legislative analysis."Why can't a family of 4 afford that? Why can't they afford double that? I'm happy to pay that much. In fact, I recently had $1000 in cash that I was going to put into my kids college fund but instead decided to buy carbon credits because my carbon footprint was getting too big.

I propose that we tax anyone above $30,000 a year at a rate of 70% like during the Carter years. Carter proved that a country can be successful in that situation. Well of course Reagan took all the credit but Carter paved the way.

Comrades rise up! Those who make more …

Penalize the Savers!

Liberal Week, Day 1 - "You like Apples? How'bout them apples?"
Sub-title: Can we set up camps for these traitors?

I was raised with the idea that one earns money, puts that money into the bank, earns a little interest and when one wants to buy something, or needs money for something unexpected, one can access one's original money plus some percentage gain.

How wrong this Californian, Bostonian, Illinois hick was. I wasn't given the opportunity to go to Harvard (WC cynically would say 'lucky you', that fascist prick) and I've obviously missed the perfection education provides with regards to how a real economic system should work.

Professor N. Gregory Mankiw has the answer to all of our economic troubles. Penalize those who save. If you want to save money in a bank, than by-gum you should pay the bank to hold that money for you!

I TOTALLY AGREE! A world of savers is a world of enemies of the state. We call these enemies capitalists. See spendin…

Liberal Week - 2009

WC has left me to post anything I want! That snarky, overbearing, conservative blowhard has left me with the keys to the Cadillac. (And a much taxpayer subsidized Cadillac it is.)

So in light of this I will be posting some liberally motivated commentary during this week in an attempt to provide a fair and unbiased news website. I'll do my best to champion the issues of the weak, the crooked and the lazy. Wait, I'm sorry, I mean the disenfranchised, the union worker and the union worker.

So tune in this week, WC has left me with the keys to the car and I'm just finishing my first pint of whiskey!

WCV Unplugged

Our good friends at Adbusters have a new challenge for us. Their November Buy Nothing Day is a piece of cake. Most days are Buy Nothing Day in the Varones household.

The new challenge will be much harder: Digital Detox Week.

Adbusters challenges you to do the unthinkable: unplug. Say good-bye to Twitter and Facebook. Turn off your TV, iPhone and Xbox. For seven days, reconnect with the natural world and the people around you. You’ll be amazed at how the magic creeps back into your life. Don’t be afraid and don’t find excuses, just take the plunge and see what happens.
A week? I don't know about that. I'm a real junkie. I'll take it one day at a time. Anyway, if you don't see any posts for a few days, and if I don't return your e-mails, that's why. If you need to reach me, call me. Wait, are phones even allowed? Send me a message by bicycle messenger just to be safe.

W.C. out.

Disappointed Varones visitor of the day

... the fellow who arrived searching for older men in a wc

The Great Susan Boyle Swindle

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

She said it, not me.

Greenspan's Body Count: Christopher Wood, Francie Billotti-Wood, and children

Junior Deputy Accountant alerts us to this tragic story:
A Maryland man believed to have shot and stabbed his wife and three young children to death before killing himself with a shotgun was having money problems and left a note saying he suffered from "psychological issues," authorities said.

Christopher Wood, 34, may have slashed at least some of his family members in the killings and used a small-caliber handgun on others, Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins said.

He was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted shotgun wound at the foot of the bed where the bodies of his wife and 2-year-old daughter lay, the sheriff said.

Wood's sons were 5 and 4 years old, authorities said. His wife, Francie Billotti Wood, was 33.

The boys were found in their beds in a single bedroom, the sheriff said. Authorities did not release the names of the children.

"These are horrific incidents," said Jenkins, who said he couldn't remember another homicide in the past 20 years …

Missed opportunities

With the smashing success of CNN and MSNBC's running "teabagging" jokes, it's a great shame they didn't think of "tossing the salad" for the illegal alien fieldworker protests.

Remember when CNN used to use the voice of James Earl Jones saying, "This is CNN," to project gravitas? How's that gravitas working out for you now?

Once in a while you get shown the light: CNN's Susan Roesgen at the Tea Party

It's great to occasionally catch a liberal reporter (but I repeat myself) completely losing her cool and revealing her bias. First she gets offended at a guy who says Obama is a fascist, then she starts lecturing a guy with his two-year-old son that he shouldn't complain because Illinois is getting stimulus money.

Contrast her indignation about the Obama "fascist" label with her cheerful chatter about a Bush-Hitler image a few years ago.

Local boy makes good

Our own Jim the Realtor featured on Nightline.

I'm going shopping in Munich in 2031

Liberalism: the inability to recognize the incentive effect

What got me thinking about this most recently was this story, wherein we are warned that having killed pirates will only make pirates more violent. This type of thinking, I believe, is at the heart of what is wrong with liberals.

The media and liberals (but I repeat myself) have a myopia where they obsess on first-order effects and do not recognize second-order effects. Incentive effects are a complete mystery to them. So while they can make the connection:

Anti-pirate defense -> angry pirates -> more violent attacks,

they don't seem to be able to make the connection:

Million-dollar ransoms and no self-defense -> more pirates

This is very similar to the liberal myopia seen on a myriad of public policy issues, such as welfare dependency and the economy-stifling effect of high taxes. Liberals want to treat the immediate symptom without considering the long-term consequences.

Greenspan's Body Count: Bang bang in Bangor - Gil Weber of Weber Mortgage

Today's episode of Greenspan's Body Count comes from the hometown of horror writer Stephen King: Bangor, Maine. Mortgage broker Gilbert Weber's business had hit hard times in the aftermath of Greenspan's bubble, so he did what so many others have done before him:
Police on Tuesday confirmed that 64-year-old Brewer businessman Gilbert Weber died Monday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his business, Weber Mortgage in Bangor. His death has been ruled a suicide.

Sgt. Paul Edwards of the Bangor Police Department said additional information is unlikely to be made available to the public, including the type of weapon used or whether Weber left a suicide note. The policy protects the privacy of families affected by a loved one’s suicide, he said.

A person who answered the phone Tuesday at the home of Weber and his wife, Carolyn, said “no comment” before disconnecting the call.

Police responded just after 1 p.m. Monday to reports that a despondent person with a high-powered…

The news media are a bunch of idiots

After the rescue of Captain Phillips from the pirates, one would think that the message would be that the days of making easy millions by attacking ships from compliant corporations and countries were over.

Nope. According to Reuters, defending against pirates only pisses them off:
Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of Mombasa-based East African Seafarers Assistance Program, said the rescue would change the stakes in future pirate attacks.

"This is a big wake-up to the pirates. It raises the stakes. Now they may be more violent, like the pirates of old," he said.

So far, pirates have generally treated hostages well, sometimes roasting goat meat for them and even passing phones round so they can call loved ones. The worst violence reported has been the occasional beating and no hostages are known to have been killed by pirates.

"This could escalate violence in this part of the world -- no question about it," said Gortney.
Well, I guess if thwarting their crimes is going to mak…

Navy 3, Pirates 0

Hope and Change

Washington Post:
In the first independent analysis, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that President Obama's budget would rack up massive deficits even after the economy recovers, forcing the nation to borrow nearly $9.3 trillion over the next decade.

San Diego Tea Party Tax Revolt pics - April 11, 2009

I'll estimate today's crowd at 1,000. I'm not very good at estimating crowds, but there seemed to be about 10x as many people as you see around the keg after a 100-person Hash House Harriers run.

I arrived at Spanish Landing around 10:30, well ahead of the 11:00 start time for the Tea Party, but there were already a lot of people there.

The organizers were selling T-shirts. They had ordered only 100, and they were sold out before the event officially started.

While most of the people were in the park centered around the speakers' platform, a handful of people were along Harbor Drive, drawing honks and waves from passing cars. This later grew to several dozen people along the road.

Most folks seemed to have made their own signs. There were more A's for creativity and effort than for execution.

The part below the line might help you become Barney Frank's cellmate.

There were patriots of all ages there -- quite a few kids, in fact.

An eager crowd awaits the speakers.

Tea Party

On my way to the Tea Party. Hope to see you there.

This is why we do it:

Somali Pirates

The world's greatest military and we are held off for days by four guys in a broken-down lifeboat?

I hope they've got some divers under the pirate boat. Just off the top of my head here, couldn't they do something like pump knockout gas into the enclosed lifeboat? Or shoot the four pirates from below with waterproof automatic weapons?

And why weren't they ready to shoot a missile at the boat when the hostage jumped off and started swimming?

This is embarrassing.

We are so screwed

Obama assigns the one adult on his economic team to an irrelevant project so that the kids can keep playing with matches.
As an early supporter of Barack Obama, Paul Volcker gave the young presidential candidate gravitas and advice. He frequently sat by Mr. Obama's side at key economic events, and started carrying a cellphone for the first time, just to be able to brainstorm with the candidate from the campaign trail.

In the Obama White House, the role of the 81-year-old former chairman of the Federal Reserve has been more limited.

The one-time central banker has been put in charge of a presidential advisory board that hasn't yet had a formal meeting. It has been nearly a month since he has seen Mr. Obama. Mr. Volcker hasn't been a main player in key decisions handling the global financial crisis.

We're #3! California Proposition 1A

... on Google search for California Prop 1A.

For a contentious issue this close to election date, that ain't bad.

Quotations from Chairman Varones

Denial is vastly underrated as a way of life.

Bank bailout secrecy and "Et tu, Barack?"

You can't handle the truth:
The U.S. Federal Reserve has told Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other banks to keep mum on the results of “stress tests” that will gauge their ability to weather the recession, people familiar with the matter said.

The Fed wants to ensure that the report cards don’t leak during earnings conference calls scheduled for this month. Such a scenario might push stock prices lower for banks perceived as weak and interfere with the government’s plan to release the results in an orderly fashion later this month.

“If you allow banks to talk about it, people are just going to assume that the ones that don’t comment about it failed,” said Paul Miller, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets in Arlington, Virginia.
So they set up stressless "stress tests" designed to be so easy that no bank will fail, and yet the results are still so bad that they are going to keep them secret.

In related news, Jonathan Weil at Bloomberg and Henry Blodget at Clustersto…

Has the Right surrendered in the culture war?

... asks the Washington Examiner.

I certainly hope so, so that "the Right" can coalesce around important issues, like taxes, spending, endless bailouts, and impossible debt burdens for future generations.

You can't tell me the U.S. wouldn't be better off if Bernanke and Geithner were screwing each other instead of the taxpayers.

San Diego Tax Revolt Tea Party - Saturday, April 11

I'll be there. Sounds like it will be big.

Here's the Facebook site for it.

Harold and Kumar Go to White House

Well, not Harold. But Kumar, of the stoner comedy Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, is getting a job in the White House.

Maybe it's Obama's infatuation with celebrity (spends more time on TV than in Oval Office, creepy phone text buddy with actress Scarlett Johannson, tried to get a CNN personality as Surgeon General, etc.), but hey, can Kumar be any worse than Timmy the Tax Cheat?

Mine is brown

The charges should have been about the cover-up

Epilogue for the American economy

Hope and change

Recession precipitates end to Social Security Ponzi scheme

Just as declining inflows brought about the end of the Madoff Ponzi scheme, declining inflows are accelerating the collapse of the Social Security Ponzi scheme:
The U.S. recession is wreaking havoc on yet another front: the Social Security trust fund.

With unemployment rising, the payroll tax revenue that finances Social Security benefits for nearly 51 million retirees and other recipients is falling, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office. As a result, the trust fund's annual surplus is forecast to all but vanish next year -- nearly a decade ahead of schedule -- and deprive the government of billions of dollars it had been counting on to help balance the nation's books.
A thorough ripping of the Social Security fraud is over at Mish, including this gem:

Many liberal analysts reject the notion that Social Security needs fixing, arguing that the system is projected to fully support payments to beneficiaries through 2041 -- so long as the Treasury repays its debt…

Bruno trailer

Next time you get pulled over, ram the police car

Jim the Realtor featured in the LA Times

Greenspan's Body Count: Gregory and Randolph Graham

Body Count's in the house!

Alan Greenspan made you wait a whole month, but he's still killing.

Today's episode of Greenspan's Body Count is the tale of two brothers who owned an auto dealership. With the bursting of Greenspan's bubble, they hit hard times:
Gregory, 61, went out to the dealership lot in the middle of the night last month, set fire to some of his vehicles and died of a heart attack next to the burning wreckage. Then, over the weekend, Randolph, 51, was found dead, slumped over the wheel of his car in what may have been a suicide.

In this western Pennsylvania town of 1,700, residents say the Grahams were victims of the economy, crushed by tight credit, plunging sales and more than $1 million in state and federal tax liens against the business.
Doesn't really matter if the arson was for insurance fraud or just vandalism to vent his rage. Either way, this is a case of Greenspan's Body Count.

Greenspan's Body Count hits eighty-six.


Sellers catching a clue: 1176 Nardo Road, Encinitas

Remember the sellers trying to get $695,000 for a run-down rental house who wouldn't even let you see the place until you had submitted a formal offer?

Well, time wounds all heels. Two-plus months of no action, and they've decided maybe their shit does stink. They've cut the price by $100,000, and now they're willing to show you the place without a formal offer.