WC Varones

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

Matt Taibbi responds

... to a Goldman Sachs hack's non-responsive response to the Rolling Stone article.

Advantage: Taibbi.

No deed, no debt

Watch what happens when a homeowner requests a simple document from the evil, arrogant, incompetent Bank of America that claims without any proof whatsoever to hold her mortgage.

Bank of America lies to underwater homeowners to try to get them to keep paying on horrible loans

This is just disgusting. BlogIT is considering his options on a deeply underwater mortgage. He's been trying to contact both Bank of America and government hotlines to get a mortgage modification.

But the banks got their bailouts; they're not gonna help the borrowers out.

In fact, Bank of America lied to him and threatened him with a huge tax liability in order to intimidate him into continuing to pay. Despite the fact that Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act which exempts these cases from tax.

I hope Ken Lewis gets the cell next to Mozilo and trembles when he hears the orange midget's screams in the night.

Good advice

Beebs' financial advice aligns pretty closely with my views:
1. Only buy term life insurance. Life insurance is a bet, not an investment.

2. *Never* buy an annuity of any kind. You convert what would otherwise be lightly taxed capital gains to regularly taxed ordinary income, and your heirs lose the step up in basis upon your death.

3. *Never* buy a limited partnership.

4. You can go broke taking tax deductions.

5. Harvest tax losses on depressed stocks at the end of each year.

6. Save at least twenty percent of each paycheck.

7. Always set aside as much tax deferred [401K, IRA] money as possible.

8. Most people have a thirty year time horizon. So invest in the stock market.

9. Real estate is a place to live, not an investment. Never buy a condo, timeshare, or housing with a homeowner's association.

10. *Never* buy rare coins or stamps. Young people aren't going into the hobbies of stamp or coin collecting, so demand in the future will be much less.

Girls gone wild!!! Cops pepper spray and arrest drunken lesbians at late-night bash for Francine Busby

Francine Busby is the perennial challenger to Congressman Brian Bilbray in California's 50th Congressional District. Her 2006 campaign blew up when she publicly encouraged illegal aliens to campaign, if not vote, for her.

Her 2010 campaign is off to a rip-roaring start:
A fundraiser for Francine Busby, who is running for Congress, ended in chaos Friday night when sheriff's deputies responded to a noise complaint, pepper-sprayed some of the guests and arrested the party's hostess.

Shari Barman, 60, was booked into the Vista Detention Facility on suspicion of obstructing a peace officer and battery on a peace officer. She has since been released. A court appearance has been set for Aug. 11 in Vista Superior Court.

[...]

Deputies first went to the Cardiff home on Rubenstein Avenue at 9 p.m. to issue a warning after a neighbor called and complained about the loud party, sheriff's Sgt. Chuck Yancey said.

He said deputies returned later when the party hadn't quieted down, and one deputy asked for Barman's date of birth so he could file paperwork alerting the city to the noise complaints.

Sheriff's officials said Barman refused to give the deputy the information, and that's when things got out of control. A crowd of about 30 to 50 partygoers surrounded Barman when he tried to arrest her, and they were able to separate her from the deputy, Yancey said.

Pepper spray was dispersed on the crowd, and the deputies were able to reach her again. At one point, a person refused to let go of Barman's leg so the deputy could take her away. Barman also allegedly punched the deputy, Yancey said.

I have got to get an invitation to Busby's next event.

UPDATE: Police report here (not authenticated, but I have no reason to doubt it and the facts align with what the U-T later printed).

In Decline: San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter was, in the early 90's, a down-and-out area with train tracks, vacant parking lots, dive bars, and an Old Spaghetti Factory.

Then the developers came in and built it up and turned it into a huge restaurant zone for dumb midwestern tourists.

It's nice to see the Gaslamp Quarter returning whence it came.


I think this was a foofy hipster restaurant.


The Blarney Stone has been around at least since the late 90's I think, but it looks like somebody tried to re-brand it with a new Padres Pub sign without taking down the old sign. It looks like it's out of business -- closed and deserted on a Saturday afternoon -- but I don't know why they'd leave those Guinness barrel tables out if that's the case. I'll have to go back tonight with the pickup truck and steal a couple.









Hey, Eggplant! How 'bout them upcoming shows!

UPDATE: Union-Tribune on San Diego's Tourist Apocalypse.

San Diego Cap and Trade Protest Pics

About 25 people showed up (not bad for less than 24 hours notice) at the Federal Building and drew lots of supportive honks from passing cars.




A KUSI news guy was there. (UPDATE: The protest was featured about 7 minutes into the KUSI 6pm newscast).








Newsguy interviews Sarah Bond, one of the founders of the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition.

Tomorrow's Tea Party in Escondido, with much more planning and advance notice (and better parking), should have a much larger crowd.

Nationwide Flash Cap n Trade Protest - Today, June 27, 2009



San Diego's is at the Federal Building downtown at noon:
NATIONWIDE AMERICAN TAX PAYERS WILL BE GATHERING AT CAPITAL AND FEDERAL BUILDINGS TO PROTEST THE HOUSE VOTE ON CAP & TRADE!!

SATURDAY, JUNE 27th NOON at the Federal building:
880 Front St # 4236, San Diego, CA

Show your outrage over today's vote on Cap & Trade by the House! We must mobilize to make sure this legislation is defeated in the Senate...looks like they will hold a vote AS SOON AS THEY GET BACK FROM THE JULY 4th RECESS!!

Rolling Stone on Goldman Sachs

The must-read article of the year is Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone expose of Goldman Sachs. If you want to know who's getting rich at your expense, and at the expense of future generations, it's Goldman Sachs bankers. There's a revolving door between Goldman Sachs and Washington D.C., and when in Washington, the banksters implement policies that enrich themselves at the expense of the public. The recent Treasury and Fed multi-trillion-dollar bailout debacle is only the latest example in a long history.

Go buy the new Rolling Stone. Better yet, subscribe. But if you can't wait, you can read the article here.

P.S. Fast-forward to the end of the article to see what the latest Goldman Sachs fleece-the-taxpayers scheme is (hint: there was a vote on it in Congress today).

Bank Failure Friday

Happy BFF, everybody!

4:30 on the West Coast and we've already got a Grand Slam!

Metro Pacific Bank, Irvine, CA
Horizon Bank, Pine City, MN
Neighborhood Community Bank, Newnan, GA
Community Bank of West Georgia, Villa Rica, GA

Think Sheila will run up the score any more today?

UPDATE: Yep! Make it 5!

Mirae Bank, Los Angeles, CA

I think that's a record for Bank Failure Friday.


HT: Blinko

Photos of Mark Sanford's mistress, Maria Belen Chapur

Allegedly.



She's no Mrs. Client 9, but not bad for an ugly guy with a bad personality from South Carolina.

From bejohngalt. Thanks to qs for the tip.

Bejohngalt also has this pic, but I don't think that's even the same woman:



More info and pictures here.

College is a Rip Off - Reason #37

Don’t get us wrong, college is a blast and if you are in a major that can actually land you a job then maybe you can justify dumping upwards of $200,000 for tuition, room and board at a private university. As long as you’re nailing as many coeds as you can then go for it! But journalism, fagettaboutit!

You could pay upwards of $45,000/year to attend Columbia University, one of the country’s top journalism schools, and look who you are going to be competing against when you try to land that Reuters Washington beat:
Fannie, Freddie asked to relax condo loan rules: report…….
(Reporting by Chakradhar Adusumilli in Bangalore; editing by Simon Jessop)

Quote of the Day

Some say [Obama] isn't being enough of a pitbull in regards to the Iran situation. I say he's doing you one up, dumbass, he's watching every move so he learns what not to do.

- Jr. Deputy Accountant

Appreciation

All the stuff I've written over the years and this is the most popular post?

Your tax dollars at work

Back to huge bonuses on Wall Street, but the banks still aren't modifying mortgages unless borrowers stop paying.

CDs for the long run

Mish points out that "stocks for the long run" doesn't really work -- CDs have beaten stocks over very long periods.

I'd add that gold has beaten stocks by about 3-to-1 since 1972 when Nixon abandoned the gold standard for a toilet paper currency. Check my facts on this, but I believe gold was around $32 then, and the S&P 500 was around 100. Both are around 900 today.

The most dangerous game

Pirate hunting cruises:
Luxury ocean liners in Russia are offering pirate hunting cruises aboard armed private yachts off the Somali coast.

Wealthy punters pay £3,500 per day to patrol the most dangerous waters in the world hoping to be attacked by raiders.

When attacked, they retaliate with grenade launchers, machine guns and rocket launchers, reports Austrian business paper Wirtschaftsblatt.

Passengers, who can pay an extra £5 a day for an AK-47 machine gun and £7 for 100 rounds of ammo, are also protected by a squad of ex special forces troops.

The yachts travel from Djibouti in Somalia to Mombasa in Kenya.

The ships deliberately cruise close to the coast at a speed of just five nautical miles in an attempt to attract the interest of pirates.

No time to post witty commentary -- have to call my travel agent.

HT: Blinko.

Protesting ABC's ObamaCare Infomercial



From Instapundit

Greenspan's Body Count: James Amburn, the one that got away

Not all Greenspan's Body Count stories end unhappily. Financial advisor James Amburn of Speyer, Germany, got away. He had put his client's money in Florida real estate and lost it all. So his clients, little old German pensioners, went medieval on his ass:

A group of well-to-do pensioners who lost their savings in the credit crunch staged an arthritic revenge attack and held their terrified financial adviser to ransom, prosecutors said yesterday.

The alleged kidnapping is the latest example of what is being dubbed “silver crime” — the violent backlash of pensioners who feel cheated by the world.

“As I was letting myself into my front door I was assaulted from behind and hit hard,” the financial adviser James Amburn, a 56-year-old German-American, said. “Then they bound me with masking tape until I looked like a mummy. I thought I was a dead man.”

He was freed by 40 heavily armed policemen from the counter-terrorist unit last Saturday. The frightened consultant was in his underwear, his body lacerated by wounds allegedly inflicted by angry pensioners.

It appears that two couples had entrusted Mr Amburn’s investment company with €2.4 million (£2 million), which he ploughed into Florida’s boom-and-bust property market. The properties became forfeit during the sub-prime mortgage crisis but the couples wanted their money back.

No points for you today, Greenspan.

Golf

I used to think the only cool thing about golf was the air horns.

That's before I heard this:
Deputies in Washington County, Wis., report stopping a tipsy duffer who was driving a golf cart home.

According to deputies, the 47-year-old man told them that relatives had left him at the Kettle Hills Golf Course.

So, he got into a golf cart and tried to drive home to South Milwaukee, a nearly 40-mile trip.

He got about a mile before being pulled over by the law.

Deputies say the man told them he had 10 beers, but didn't think he was drunk.

The radio report I heard said they pulled him over on the freeway.

Vending Machines Selling Gold in UK

Any "holidaymakers" out there who might be traveling through the UK or Frankfurt? Check this out. How long until we see these here in the U.S.? This story taken from this interesting website.

‘Gold To Go’ Vending Machines


Thomas Geissler of TG Gold-Super-Markt

By Richard Evans and Harry Wallop

Holidaymakers passing through Britain’s airports could soon have the chance to buy a block of gold from a vending machine, rather than a chocolate bar or a fizzy drink.

A German-based company, TG Gold-Super-Markt, has just installed a sophisticated gold vending machine at Frankfurt airport and has plans to roll out 500 of the machines in airports and railway stations in Europe, including Britain.

The machines sell everything from small bars intended as gifts, such as a 1 gram bar for about €30, to larger ingots aimed more at investors – a 10 gram bar costs about €245 – or gold coins such as the Maple Leaf (about €108) or Kangaroo (about €85).

Obama organizing picketers to protest against his own HHS Secretary

You know it's gonna get stranger.

President Obama is promoting public service via TV and other ads directing people to a government web site, serve.gov. We noted a few weeks ago that one way to serve your country was to attend an "Obama Loving Day Party" with donations going to local Democratic Party affiliates.

Today's public service opportunity is even more bizarre. If you search for volunteer opportunities in San Francisco on the government web site, you'll come across this one:


That's right, the page, hosted on barackobama.com (owned by Obama for Illinois Inc.), and paid for by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee, is organizing picketers to protest against the President's Health and Human Services Secretary. And they make a point of the "$500 lunch," which is presumably a fundraiser for the same people who are organizing the protest.

How Orwellian. Organizing phony, pro-government "demonstrations" is a tired tactic of banana republic dictators around the world. But to have a government-sponsored and Party-sponsored "protest" against his own loyal cabinet member is really something. Perhaps the goal is to set up Sebelius' plan as the "alternative" to full-blown ObamaCare to create a false choice.

Can you imagine if George W. Bush or Dick Cheney had hijacked a government-funded public service program like this for gross self-aggrandizement and blatantly partisan political purposes?

White House: Obama bin Lyin'

AP:
"No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people," Obama said Monday, addressing the American Medical Association. "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what."

He didn't let up.

"If you like what you're getting, keep it," Obama said. "Nobody is forcing you to shift."

[...]

White House officials suggest the president's rhetoric shouldn't be taken literally: What Obama really means is that government isn't about to barge in and force people to change insurance.

Well, if the government taxes employer plans to the point many employers drop them for cheaper ObamaCare, or if the government forces private insurers and providers to subsidize ObamaCare as they do Medicare, that's not technically "barging in and forcing people to change insurance."

But it's definitely not "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what."

Barney Frank: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should make risky loans on the worst condo projects to bail out developers

Barney Frank, the patron saint of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who have already cost the taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, wants them to lose even more money to bail out condo developers.

Wall Street Journal:
In March, Fannie Mae said it would no longer guarantee mortgages on condos in buildings where fewer than 70% of the units have been sold, up from 51%. Fannie Mae also won't purchase mortgages in buildings where 15% of owners are delinquent on condo association dues or where one owner has more than 10% of units, which the firm sees as signals that a building could run into financial trouble. Freddie Mac will implement similar policies next month.

In a letter to the chief executives of Fannie and Freddie, Reps. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.) warned that the 70% sales threshold "may be too onerous" and could lead condo buyers to shun new developments. The legislators asked the companies to "make appropriate adjustments" to their underwriting standards for condos.

If 30% of the units are unsold or 15% of the owners are behind on HOA fees, the project is a disaster and should not be bailed out by taxpayers via Fannie and Freddie.

CalPERS fraud countdown

We're less than a month away from the anniversary of CalPERS' fraudulent 2008 performance numbers. We know things have gotten worse since then, but the big question now is how much fraud will be in the 2009 performance numbers. The smart money is on CalPERS fessing up to significant losses, but far less than the honest total. We shall see.

Vegas, baby, Vegas


The monstrous new City Center development dwarfs its neighbor, the Monte Carlo.


... as it does its other neighbor, the Bellagio.


On the other side of the freeway, the giant Panorama Towers, where morons paid high-six and low-seven figures for condos that are now renting to strippers for under $2000. Can you say "excess capacity?"


A former Outback Steakhouse sits abandoned and fenced-0ff,


... but hope springs eternal for some developers.


The pool at the Palms. The tower in the background is Palms Place, which was supposed to be luxury condos from $500,000 to $7 million. But they didn't get them sold before Las Vegas ran out of idiots, so they turned it into more hotel rooms (much like City Center's Vdara in the first photo). Because if there's anything Vegas needs more of, it's hotel rooms.


Treasures strip club, where happy hour with free admission, free food, and $1 beers fails to draw crowds.


The Playboy Club at the Palms, which still pretends to be "exclusive," but how exclusive can a place be if W.C. Varones gets in?

BFF Triple Play

Happy Bank Failure Friday, everybody!

I'm in Vegas surveying the local carnage, but Calculated Risk has the BFF details.

Reasoned debate

Check out the comments over at California Budget Blog, by Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, who says that California shouldn't live within its means because we have a moral obligation to keep raising taxes to pay for more social services.

Well, she's either not paying attention or she's a First Amendment absolutist. Commenters are letting her have it, including calling her the C-word, and she's not moderating them.

Like Teenyboppers in the Front Row of an Elvis Concert

SOOOO Dreamy! Tee hee hee! He's just....(audible girly-sigh). OMG OMG OMG he's LOOKING this way!!

DUI Kill Conviction Comparison

If you are drunk and kill someone with the vehicle you are driving in Marin County, California, and you are not a professional athlete, you get 15 years to life.

If you are drunk and kill someone with the vehicle you are driving in Dade County, Florida, and you are a professional athlete, you get 30 days.

Justice used to be blind but after successful Lasik surgery, justice is so easily purchased.

Survey says: No more bailouts!

It's not just Walstreetpro2 and the teabaggers anymore. Americans in general are getting tired of government intervention and deficits:
Nearly seven in 10 survey respondents said they had concerns about federal interventions into the economy, including Mr. Obama's decision to take an ownership stake in General Motors Corp., limits on executive compensation and the prospect of more government involvement in health care. The negative feeling toward the GM rescue was reflected elsewhere in the survey as well.

A solid majority -- 58% -- said that the president and Congress should focus on keeping the budget deficit down, even if takes longer for the economy to recover.

How's that communist health care plan looking, Barry?

Is a Steamroller "competition" to pavement? To small mammals?

Obama claims a "public plan" option for Health Insurance, funded by the Federal government, would provide "competition" to private Health Insurance plans. I hate to be the one point out such info, but the man (or is he a God with super-human reflexes?) is not interested in competing with private insurance. He wants to destroy it. The idea (see this blog) is to undercut them on price, using the vast resources of the Federal government's tax revenue to make up the difference, and drive the private health insurance companies out of the business entirely. That will leave Uncle Sam, who suddenly has swollen to the size of Jabba the Hut, as the sole provider. Obama and all his policy-advisor minions have even publicly said as much. It's a play for an eventual government-run monopoly. See this surprisingly honest video of them saying such honest things as:

"One of the virtues of it [Obama's 'public option'], is that we can at least make the CLAIM that this is a competitive system between the public and private system. "

..and...

"This Public Plan..It's not even a 'Trojan horse' for a single-payer system, it's just RIGHT THERE! We're not gonna frighten people into thinking they'll lose their private insurance. We're gonna give them a choice between public and private insurance. "

Does anyone feel like calling/faxing/email his or her Congressman now? Now's as good a time as any. No? Um, did you actually see that video and hear the words they spoke yet?

Bernanke, Paulson Lying Quotes

Zero Hedge posted a damning timeline of quotes from 2 of the crooks that got us where we are today. As part of Obama's CHANGE plan he kept 1 crook around and replaced the other with the other's right hand man. The voting population is SOOOO stupid because Obama's approval rating is stellar. Change, what change??? HE LIED TO YOU PEOPLE! Anyway, here are a few of the quotes. Click on the whole set to view the entire post.
February 28, 2007 - Dow Jones @ 12,268

March 13th, 2007 – Henry Paulson: “the fallout in subprime mortgages is "going to be painful to some lenders, but it is largely contained."

March 28th, 2007 – Ben Bernanke: "At this juncture . . . the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime markets seems likely to be contained,"

October 15th, 2007 – Bernanke: "It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve - nor would it be appropriate - to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions."

February 29th, 2008 – Bernanke: "I expect there will be some failures. I don't anticipate any serious problems of that sort among the large internationally active banks that make up a very substantial part of our banking system."

August 10th, 2008 – Paulson: ``We have no plans to insert money into either of those two institutions.” (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac)

September 8th, 2008 - Fannie and Freddie nationalized. The taxpayer is on the hook for an estimated 1 - 1.5 trillion dollars. Over 5 trillion is added to the nation’s balance sheet.

September 23rd, 2008 – Paulson: "We must [enact a program quickly] in order to avoid a continuing series of financial institution failures and frozen credit markets that threaten American families' financial well-being, the viability of businesses, both small and large, and the very health of our economy,"

September 23rd, 2008 – Bernanke: "My interest is solely for the strength and recovery of the U.S. economy,"

March 31, 2009 - Dow Jones @ 7,609

Greenspan exposes Senator's affair

Republican Senator John Ensign admitted an affair with a campaign staffer. There are lots of angles to this story: Ensign was a rising star in the party, a moral conservative, and a 2012 Presidential contender.

But the angle that interests me is that Greenspan's housing crash caused the revelation. Ensign's honey and her husband took out a $1.2 million loan on their house at the peak of the bubble, and didn't appear to be able to cover the payments. They obviously can't refinance or sell with the house something like 50% underwater. So they did what lots of folks with embarrassing news on a wanna-be President would do:
Douglas Hampton [honey's husband] was paid about $101,000 in 2008 and $144,000 in 2007 as Ensign’s administrative assistant. But a financial disclosure form he filed in 2007 and 2008 – required for senior congressional staffers - showed only checking and savings account worth a maximum $30,000 combined.

A review of public records shows that the Hamptons in 2006 took out a $1.2 million mortgage on their Las Vegas home, at an interest rate of 8 percent.

Political insiders in Nevada and in the Senate said that Ensign decided to acknowledge the affair publicly after the husband of the woman he had been seeing asked him for a substantial sum of money.

Obama - Insurance Industry - Competition

Obama was in sunny Green Bay to hold a "town meeting" to "listen" to the peoples' view of his proposed health care initiative. He wants all to have health care and he stated the following as part of his justification for the government entering the health care business:
"And the reason is not because we want a government takeover of health care -- I've already said if you've got a private plan that works for you, that's great. But we want some competition. If the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it'll keep them honest and it'll help keep their prices down."
Nothing like good ol'American competition; I'm all for it! But wait a second, what's this:
President Barack Obama said he wouldn’t rule out a proposal in Congress to tax employer- provided health-insurance benefits as a way to pay for his health-care plan.
So he is going to keep the health care providers prices down by taxing the benefit of those who pay for that providers service? He is then going to use that revenue to fund the service he is going to provide? And he is going to do that because he wants competition?

You think Microsoft would love to pay for all of its SQL Server database development and marketing by adding a tax to the customers who buy Oracle 11g database? Ya think if Microsoft got enough votes to get that tax passed in congress that the Supreme Court might have a problem with it? Bet the Supreme Court doesn't have a problem with Obama's plan because fascists are scary mofos.

Debt forgiveness bonanza! Stop paying your mortgage and your credit card immediately!

In Bailout Nation, only the stupid honor their obligations.

Please consider:

1) California's latest mortgage foreclosure moratorium, wherein if you stop paying your mortgage, you will be able to live in your house rent-free for at least a year. Imagine the money you'll save! For you non-Californians, don't fret; federal pressure and bank incompetence mean you'll get a similar rent-free time period even without an official moratorium.

2) Let's Make a Deal on credit card balances. The story notes someone who got 50% off a few thousand dollars. I personally know of others who have gotten far more than 50% off significantly larger balances. If you carry a significant balance, call your bank and tell them you can't make any more payments. See what they offer, and then ask for more. If they don't give you a good deal, stop paying for a couple months and then watch them beg.


If you still are paying your mortgage or credit card balances, look around the room. YOU are the sucker!

Wood shampoo, Iranian style



What's up with "POLICE" written in English? Is that part of their anti-Western psychological war? So that the public will associate the English language with having the crap beat out of them? We should make our DEA wear Farsi jackets.

American Consumption Machine

Today was the first time that I have passed the Port of Oakland and it was completely empty. 2 years ago every berth would have been taken; there would be 10 gigantic container ships and the Oakland docks would be humming with activity. Today - zero, zilch, nada.

To be fair as I got on the suspension side of the Bay Bridge I saw a Hyundai container ship just clearing the Golden Gate Bridge. But still the American consumption machine has ground to a halt.

So when I logged in today I saw this referenced on Mish which is absolutely stunning:
Back to back, Union Pacific's idled railcars would reach from Seattle to Albuquerque, N.M.
Explain to me again how China is such a brilliant investment opportunity? They are a communist, totalitarian government whose [Edit] massive industrial complex just lost its[Edit] far and away biggest consumer; where if they don't maintain a 7% growth in GDP people starve. But the CNBC and Bloomberg talking heads say go long China. I'm obviously not as smart as they are.

Get-rich-quick scheme for the new millenium: frozen yogurt shops

Every era has its get-rich-quick schemes. In the 90's there were worm farms, fuel-saving car engine adapters, and day-trading. In the early 2000's there were internet spamming and house flipping.

The common link is that there actually is someone getting rich quick, but it's the guy selling products and services to the gullible dreamers (e.g. seminar sellers, franchisers, mortgage brokers, etc.).

Which brings me to an odd phenomenon I've noticed lately: a proliferation of frozen yogurt shops. They are opening at an alarming pace in my area. Some appear to be independent, and some are franchise shops such as Golden Spoon and Swirls. What does a franchise cost? $35,000 up front plus 7% of gross sales. Anyone remember Cold Stone Creamery?

Now there's nothing necessarily wrong with the franchise model, but it's a little scary to see so many yogurt shops open up in such a small area in such a short amount of time (many don't even appear on Yelp or Citysearch yet because they are so new). I don't think the market is big enough to support them all -- and they are not competing only with other new yogurt shops, but also with coffee shops and ice cream shops that sell frozen yogurt.


A "coming soon" frozen yogurt shop (now open) from our December CRE update. Next door is Dexter's Deli. Dexter is a dog. You can imagine Dexter's despair discovering the deployment of Three Dog Bakery just a few short blocks away. If Del Mar is over-yogurted, it's really over-gourmet-doggied. Coincidentally, Three Dog Bakery is in the same building as Java Kai Cafe, which sells frozen yogurt.


A new Golden Spoon in Solana Beach (far right) next to a salon, a vacant space, a British Food store, another vacant space, and another vacant space. It's a good thing they have those 20 minute visitor spots here -- as you can see, parking is impossible. I bet they got a deal on rent at least. Immediately on the other side of the freeway is a Baskin-Robbins. Between here and the ocean is “Twisted Tart” on Cedros, serving frozen yogurt and pastries. Across Highway 101 from there, a new frozen yogurt shop is opening next to Pizza Port. One exit down the freeway, a new Swirls is opening. And another exit down is another Golden Spoon.

Pot calling the snowflake black

Obama worshipper Andrew Sullivan says libertarian Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds is "up to his partisan shenanigans again" for this post (which is exactly the same thing we at the W.C. Varones Blog said here).
I present this video not to endorse the recommendation therein, but because the sentiment is heartfelt and the artistry (both singer/songwriter Gene Burnett and videographer Sebastian Hawks) impressive.



The inspiration was a protestor's sign on Wall Street on September 25, 2008. Since that day, Wall Street fatcats have received hundreds of billions in taxpayer bailouts, while the little guy has received nothing but skyrocketing unemployment.

Jump you fuckers

The Hangover

I laughed. I cried. It was better than Cats.

The Hangover is the funniest movie I've seen in a long time.

Next on the agenda: Bruno.

A picture tells a thousand words



Public debt: the biggest bill in history.

THE worst global economic storm since the 1930s may be beginning to clear, but another cloud already looms on the financial horizon: massive public debt. Across the rich world governments are borrowing vast amounts as the recession reduces tax revenue and spending mounts—on bail-outs, unemployment benefits and stimulus plans.

A tale of two condos: 136 and 144 N. Rios, Solana Beach

To buy or to rent? That is the question.

In March we posted about 144 N. Rios, a lovely condo that inexplicably wasn't selling at the low low price of just $1.55 million. Well, Varones readers haven't missed the boat: it's still available.

Let's do the math on that. If you're can find someone who will give you a jumbo loan for 5.5% (good luck!) with 20% down, you'll pay $7000 a month. Add in $1500 a month for property taxes and $150 a month in HOA fees, and the lost $1000 a month you would be earning in munis on your down payment, and a few hundred for insurance and maintenance, and you're looking at $10,000 a month. Plus depreciation.

Meanwhile, next door is a luxury 3-bedroom condo with an ocean view for rent for $2775 a month.

You make the call.

Barney Frank storms off live CNBC interview

Advantage: Mark Haines.

Peter Schiff on the Daily Show

Bad news for the bubble boys.

When Peter Schiff hits the Daily Show, the truth has gone mainstream.

Peter Schiff with John Stewart.

California Controller: We are more screwed than we were when I told you two weeks ago that we were totally screwed

California State Controller John Chiang to legislators and lame duck governor:
In the letter I sent you on May 29, I indicated we would have a negative cash balance of $1.02 billion at the end of July, and a low point for 2009-10 of $22 billion. The additional deterioration is a result of two factors: (a) May revenues coming in $827 million less than projected by the Governor’s May Revision, and (b) adjustments made by the Department of Finance to its revenue and expenditure projections. Attached is a chart detailing the projected cash low point for each month for the fiscal year starting July 1.



In a separate e-mail to highly influential financial bloggers but not available on the state web site, Chiang says:
"Without immediate solutions from the Governor and Legislature, we are less than 50 days away from a meltdown of State government. This presents a terrible threat to California’s economy and to the State’s delivery of basic public services,” said Chiang. “A truly balanced budget is the only responsible way out of the worst cash crisis since the Great depression.”

Personal income taxes were $475 million below (-23.0%) estimates in the May Revision. Corporate taxes were down $84.4 million (-25.8%), and sales taxes fell by $109 million (-3.3%).


How do you think this will end? There's a poll on the right, and if you have further thoughts, put them in the comments.
One needs a machete to cut through dense jungle vegetation. These video clips are like sharp machetes, cutting through the dense layer of soma-based ignorance that blankets the general public. They very clearly explain what's really going on with our out-of-control government, specifically regarding Chrsyler/GM, and Czars.



H.R. 1207 gathering steam

Ron Paul's Audit the Fed bill, H.R. 1207, now has 207 co-sponsors. That's pretty close to a majority.

When will the Fed's Enron lobbyist break out the Gillooly?

Taxpayers paying for Orange Midget defense

That's right, the Bank of Obama America, leeching off Treasury funds, is paying for Angelo Mozilo's insider trading defense.

How does it feel as a taxpayer not only to be paying to prop up rich idiots like Ken Lewis, but to pay for the defense of the Orange Midget mascot of the financial crisis?

Walstreetpro2 is back

... and as angry as ever.



It's awesome throughout, but the last minute is truly priceless.

Dirty Frenchies

Agence France Presse:
Senior Chinese leaders have privately voiced fear over the soaring US budget deficit and are increasingly looking to diversify from the dollar, a US congressman said on Monday.

'We heard across the board - in private - substantial, continuing and rising concern,' Representative Mark Kirk said after a trip to China that included talks with senior officials and central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan.

'It's clear that China would like to diversify from its dollar investments,' the Republican lawmaker said at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank.
You mean this soaring US budget deficit?


Whoever should we blame for that?
The United States has been running large budget shortfalls since the tenure of president George W. Bush.

Yes, I look at that graph above, and I just think, "George W. Bush, what a maniac!"

AFP neglected to mention the unnamed President responsible for quadrupling the deficit in a single year. Someone named "Obama" was mentioned tangentially twice in the story, but not relating to anything regarding deficits.

The new GM



Courtesy GM retardation.

Obama lied! Jobs died!

He told us if we passed his trillion-dollar pork bill, unemployment would level off below 8%.

Well, we passed his trillion-dollar pork bill, and unemployment is far worse than Obama said it would be without the pork.

Fiesta del Sol, Solana Beach

You'd have to be an idiot to buy property there at current prices, but Solana Beach is a pretty cool place.

Would someone please explain Twitter to me? Twitter sucks!

I don't get it. I tweet and I follow and I am followed, but it just doesn't seem very useful or interesting. It's kind of just like setting "status" on Facebook.

This is the main page I go to. So you can see the last few updates from people you follow. And frequently the whole page is taken up by one hyperactive updater. Is there more that I'm missing?

Lenny Dykstra gone bad

Lenny Dykstra was a pretty good baseball player for the Mets and Phillies back in the 80's and 90's.

The first thing I heard about him post-baseball was a positive TV profile about his great success as a businessman running a chain of car washes. That was probably in the late 90's. Then in the early 2000's, I came across a column of his on TheStreet.com, where he had reinvented himself as an options trading adviser. "Lenny Dykstra? WTF?" I thought, but then his trades probably couldn't be any worse than Jim Cramer's or any of the other random number generators on TheStreet.com.

It had been several years since I heard anything of Dykstra. Then in April, a commenter on Rob Dawg's blog linked to this story about Dykstra going into foreclosure on Wayne Gretzky's old mansion, which he tried to flip but flopped.

But that story was just the tip of the iceberg as Lenny Dykstra has gone completely Casey Serin / David Crisp. ESPN investigator Mike Fish details the carnage, financial, legal, and personal, left in the wake of the disaster that is Lenny Dykstra.

UPDATE: Dykstra berates blogger for asking about his Rolls Royce being towed away.

Reality check

About those green shoots. While the bulls trumpet Friday's BLS headline jobs losses of 345,000 being less than expected, let's put that in perspective:

1) The "better than expectations" number relied on 220,000 jobs being invented by the BLS's "birth/death" model. Without that adjustment, the number would have been 565,000.
2) 345,000 jobs lost is still worse than the worst month of the 2001 recession.
3) Average hours worked was at an all-time low of 33.1.
4) Unemployment is not only at 25-year highs and rising, it is in fact accelerating, and already worse than the worst-case scenario in the recent bank "stress tests."

A few references for those who would like more detail:

Mike Shedlock
Zero Hedge
Calculated Risk: Employment report, comparison to stress tests, involuntary part-time workers.

Yes, auto production (including Government Motors) will necessarily bounce back from extremely depressed levels in the second half of this year, and that bounce will contribute to what I expect will be positive GDP growth. Positive GDP growth means the recession will be officially over, but it won't feel like it. Unemployment will keep rising at least into 2010, and won't come down to healthy mid-single-digit levels for a long time after that. And what short-term recovery we will see is being paid for by putting our children deeper into debt with unprecedented, trillion-dollar deficits. And there's a very real possibility that the extreme fiscal recklessness will cause interest rates to rise significantly, causing another big leg down in housing.

Green shoots indeed.

This is not a joke

The Federal Reserve is hiring Enron's lobbyist to schmooze Congress

HT: Jr. Deputy Accountant

Leisure and Hospitality Jobs are UP!

77,000 new leisure jobs won't surprise many people, I know, because when is there more hiring in the leisure industry then after huge job losses? It makes perfect sense. People have more time on their hands because they lost their job, duh, so they are going to use their time leisurely. You don't have to hammer that nail in too many times.

Unfortunately "logical" dissenters like Chris Martenson apparently disagree. Whatever, speak to the hand because this head is busy cruising the internet for new plasma screen TVs. The one we got 4 months ago works fine but I want a new one and I just freed up one of my credit cards by using a balance transfer check from another. 15.99% for the life of the loan, SWEET!

Funny, we don't have to tell them that donut shops have donuts

Cops Weren't Told Gunman Was Armed

Greenspan's Body Count: Betty J. Lipply

Nick Turse, who linked Greenspan's Body Count in an earlier post, has done some body counting of his own and found several cases I'd missed. His new post, Econocide: Body Count, racks up the bodies like a Tarantino film.

Some are judgment calls, like the Jiverly Wong massacre. I've chosen not to include that one and many workplace massacres because, frankly, some whackjobs get fired because they are whackjobs, and then go on killing sprees because they are whackjobs. Not Greenspan's fault. Jing Hua Wu's killing spree did qualify, because he was a seriously over-leveraged real estate speculator whose empire was crumbling down around him.

That said, Turse finds several stories that do qualify for Greenspan's Body Count. First, Betty Lipply:
A 72-year-old woman who feared she’d lose her home to foreclosure hanged herself to death, the family lawyer said.

Betty J. Lipply of 51535 state Route 14 died the morning of Jan. 24 at her home, just days after receiving her second summons and foreclosure complaint from her mortgage lender, said Atty. Robert B. Holman of Bedford.

“I last spoke to her at 8:30 the night before. I was there at the house, and my aunt and uncle were there from Illinois,” said Lipply’s daughter, Sherrie Blum of Darlington, Pa. “She talked constantly about the foreclosure, thought she would lose the home my father built for them.”

Blum said her aunt found her mother dead the next morning.

“I have no doubt it was the foreclosure. This is devastating to the family. My father doesn’t want anyone in the United States to go through this ever again.”

[...]

Holman alleges in the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Lipplys that the Lipplys were the victims of a predatory lending scheme. He said the bank, mortgage company and title insurance company used an inflated appraisal of $200,000 to create an over-inflated mortgage loan, thereby putting the Lipplys on the path to financial ruin. He said the property at 51535 state Route 14 had a market value of $80,000.


We'll be investigating the other cases in Turse's post in the coming days. But tonight, Greenspan's Body Count stands at ninety-six.

Betty J. Lipply
Dwight Deely
Linda Patrick
David Kellerman
Christopher Wood
Francie Billotti-Wood
Chandler Wood
Gavin Wood
Fiona Wood
Gil Weber
Gregory Graham
Randolph Graham
David Kelley
Ramona woman
Del Mar man
Wayne "Mike" Anderson
Jeffrey M. Pearson
Ervin Antonio Lupoe
Ana Lupoe
Brittney Lupoe
Jaszmin Lupoe
Jassely Lupoe
Benjamin Lupoe
Christian Lupoe
Steven L. Good
Adolf Merckle
Mike Upham
Randy Motts
Kristy Hunt
Joseph Nesheiwat
Tom Brisch
Alex Widmer
Brian Pugh
Marilyn Lewis
Sid Agrawal
Kirk Stephenson
Barry Fox
Dallas Dwayne Carter
David Hetzel
Sharron Hetzel
Cliff Kendall
Pamela Ross
Roland Gore
Mrs. Gore
Wanda Dunn
Karthik Rajaram
Subasri Rajaram
Krishna Rajaram
Ganesha Rajaram
Arjuna Rajaram
Indra Ramasesham
Joe X
Isabelle Jarka
Robert Wagner
Lt. Michael Howe
John Roberts
Palmer C. White
Dianne Pittman White
Ed Boesen
Edwin F. Rachleff
Carlene Balderrama
Troy VanderStelt
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Thomas Lizotte
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Salvador X
Lupe X
Jade X
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Kashmir Billon
Bill McMurtry

Lisa McMurtry
James Hahn
Raymond Donaca
Deanna Donaca
[redacted]
[redacted]
Michel Veillette
Nadya Ferrari-Veillette
Marguerite Veillette
Vincent Veillette
Mia Veillette
Jacob Veillette
Maurice Pereira
Natasha Pereira
Mark Achilli
Raed Al-Farah
Andrew Kissel
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
Mr. Pierce
Walter Buczynksi
Marci Buczynski
Jason Washington

Orange midget Angelo Mozilo charged with fraud and insider trading

The orange midget we all think of
I hope he gets some prison love


Don't get your hopes up too much; it sounds like they are civil, not criminal charges. Nevertheless, this may be an encouraging first step toward criminal indictment, conviction, and a new boyfriend.

Can you imagine what kind of sick bastard CEO would send a memo like this to his employees (courtesy W.C. Varones historical archives)?

3693 Archetto Dr, El Dorado Hills, California

Patrick posted this letter at the ultra fabulous Patrick.Net regarding a lying Realtor. I know, pigs fly.

The comedy comes with the flier from the Realtor that he attaches here. Now check that against Zillow here. The flier says they paid $640,000 while Zillow publishes they paid $580,500. I wonder who is more correct?

Toll Brothers Reno Horror Show

Toll Brothers thought that it would be a great idea to build million dollar McMansions in the outskirts of Reno. Let me paraphrase that - million dollar homes....Reno. I believe you can purchase 4 square blocks of downtown Reno for less then that but I may be wrong.

Check this out from Zillow (for sale denoted by the red house symbol):



So of course in this film the "victims" thought it would be a good idea to purchase these $800K+ monsters and have to pay another $100K for landscaping plus an HOA fee. Oh and that amazing golf course, something like $50K to join and $10K a year before greens fees. Did I mention this is Reno?

Click on this Zillow link (Toll Brothers - Reno Massacre) and then click on a few of those properties to see what they were purchased for compared to the asking price. Please make sure your children are nowhere near the screen when you do so. This is like Freddy Kruger scary.

Ethan Allen vs. the Taxinator

Resistance is futile. Your only hope is to flee.

Ethan Allen to close Calif. manufacturing plant:
DANBURY, Conn. -- Ethan Allen says it will close a Chino, Calif., upholstery facility and instead expand its manufacturing operations in Maiden, N.C.

Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. said Wednesday that 65 employees and 137 contracted workers will be affected by the closure of the California plant. The furniture company said its N.C. operation currently has 540 employees and now expects to add 302 additional jobs over the next three years.
I haven't found a comprehensive source for companies moving operations out of California, but here are a few recent ones I recall:

Interstate Bakeries
Shutterfly
Scharffen Berger

These few companies and relatively few jobs that make headlines leaving California are just the tip of the iceberg. Most small businesses that relocate don't get any notice -- until the state notices that personal and corporate income tax receipts have fallen off a cliff. And look at where California-born tech titan Intel is investing for the future:
Intel will spend $7 billion over the next two years to revamp three U.S. manufacturing plants, and the company’s CEO called on other U.S. companies to also invest in the future as a way to combat an economic recession.

Intel will update manufacturing plants in Arizona, New Mexico and Oregon to build new 32-nanometer processor chips, Paul Otellini, the company’s president and CEO announced Tuesday.

The new GM

Making the e-mail rounds today:



The new GM (Government Motors) proudly introduces the 2010 Obama...

Incredibly "green," this car runs on hot air and broken promises. It has three wheels that speed the vehicle through tight left turns. It comes complete with two Teleprompters programmed to help the occupants talk their way out of any violations. Built by union labor with full benefits, its base price is only
$83,000, but low government financing is available for any payment requested. Subsidized insurance available!

Hail in San Diego

It's a warm day in June in San Diego, and we just had a hailstorm with pea-sized hail hard enough to set off car alarms.

I blame Al Gore.

NY Times - A Story of a Victim

The NY Times published an article describing the dire straights of poor Eileen Ulery. The poor dear is about to lose her home in Mesa, Arizona. A home she has had since 1997 that she purchased for $77,500. So what happened to this victim? Why is this poor angel losing her home?

“I’m not an extravagant-type person,” she said. “I see these big houses all around, and they’re beautiful, but I’m comfortable in my little condo.”

(1) Like tens of millions of other American homeowners, she added to her mortgage balance as the value of her condo swelled, at one point exceeding $200,000. (2) She refinanced to pay off some credit cards and settle into a 30-year, fixed-rate loan. (3) Later, she took out a home equity line of credit to buy a new Hyundai. (4) She refinanced again in 2007, borrowing $20,000, mostly for a new roof.

Point by point:

  1. Tens of millions of other Americans were stupid and those issuing them loans were irresponsible and greedy.
  2. Was she forced to use her credit cards? Was there violence involved? If the purchases she made were medical in nature don't you think the Times would be all over that? My bet is that she purchased 2 sweet plasma screen TVs.
  3. SHE BORROWED ON HER HOUSE TO BUY A NEW CAR. First off, if you are 63 and you can't pay cash for a new car then I'm sorry, you should not buy a new car. Social Security should not be counted on to finance your ride. Second, I recently purchased a '96 VW with 100K miles on it. I'm 39 and make well above the average US salary but I know what I can afford so that my family is secure. She appears to have been making less than what is appropriate to purchase a new car IMHO.
  4. New roofs are future fixed costs. They are not something that is an unexpected expense. All roofs need to be replaced and planned for. Again if a tree fell on it I would imagine the Times would have mentioned that.
The real victims are people like me. I rent and I live within my means. I don't buy large things that aren't necessary. Yet my taxes keep going up and my buying power going down because people like me are being called on to bailout people like Eileen.

Our mainstream media sucks and if Eileen loses her home then she gets what she deserves.

Merkel breaks ranks

Germany Blasts 'Powers of the Fed':
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a rare public rebuke of central banks, suggested the European Central Bank and its counterparts in the U.S. and Britain have gone too far in fighting the financial crisis and may be laying the groundwork for another financial blowup.

"I view with great skepticism the powers of the Fed, for example, and also how, within Europe, the Bank of England has carved out its own small line," Ms. Merkel said in a speech in Berlin. "We must return together to an independent central-bank policy and to a policy of reason, otherwise we will be in exactly the same situation in 10 years' time."

[...]

It isn't clear what triggered Ms. Merkel's remarks, which came in a prepared speech. The ECB has been markedly less aggressive than the Fed or the Bank of England, particularly in moving beyond cuts in short-term interest rates to buy bonds to boost economic activity. However, German officials traditionally have been on the more conservative end of the central bankers' spectrum, partly because the country's hyperinflation of the 1920s is seared into people's memories.

Ya think?

Green shoots. The first public leaders speaking out against the monetary insanity.

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention

... and if you're not paying attention, you're not reading Jr. Deputy Accountant.

Did you ever see the movie 8mm? As I recall, it was about a snuff film that was so gruesome that anyone who watched it would be psychologically scarred for life. Or Apocalypse Now, where Colonel Kurtz was driven mad by the horrors of war he'd seen? Well, that's what the Federal Reserve is like. Few try to understand it, and those that do generally come back babbling insanely (and, no, I'm not talking about Jeff Macke. I still think that was drugs, not Post-Fed-Comprehension Stress Disorder). But Jr. Deputy Accountant has gone into the Heart of Darkness, discovered the terrifying truth, and yet come back sane as ever, lucidly explaining the horrors she's seen.

Keep Jr. Deputy Accountant at the top of your blogroll not just to keep up with Fed news (I hadn't seen this yet), but for to-the-point, razor-tongued commentary on the halfwit children playing with nukes at the Federal Reserve.

Ain't that America - Tracy, CA

F'K YEAH 'MERICA!!

It's tough to pull out a few lines but here are 2 choice ones from Gentil Sena, a fleet salesman at Tracy Chevrolet:


"People love GM cars," he said Monday. "They're like driving a tank. You get security, strength. None of this aluminum stuff."

"People don't look at Chevys for hybrids," he said. "They want something big and muscular. Personally, I wouldn't drive a hybrid if it was the last car on Earth. To save fuel, I'd push my El Camino before I'd drive a hybrid."

So the go to question for Cleetus here is "so if people really loved GM cars then why does GM have to be bailed out and owned by the government?" Of course by the time I get to the word 'bailed' he becomes more focused on chewing his cud and thinking about summer time in Michigan than payin' attention to this yankee.

UPDATE: Jr Deputy Accountant has suggested an excellent related link: GOVEЯИMENT MOTORS - THE MAЯX OF EXCELLENCE

GM's New 31 Year Old Superstar

It is not every 31-year-old who, in a first government job, finds himself dismantling General Motors and rewriting the rules of American capitalism....

But that, in short, is the job description for Brian Deese, a not-quite graduate of Yale Law School who had never set foot in an automotive assembly plant until he took on his nearly unseen role in remaking the American automotive industry.

Nor, for that matter, had he given much thought to what ailed an industry that had been in decline ever since he was born. A bit laconic and looking every bit the just-out-of-graduate-school student adjusting to life in the West Wing — “he’s got this beard that appears and disappears,” says Steven Rattner, one of the leaders of President Obama’s automotive task force — Mr. Deese was thrown into the auto industry’s maelstrom as soon the election-night parties ended.

Welcome to Chicago politics America!

To Serve

I was inspired by Barack Obama in this public service announcement to find a way to serve my country.



I went, as requested, to usaservice.org, which redirects to www.serve.gov.

This is the local service opportunity I found:
2nd Annual Obama Loving Day Potluck BBQ & Pool Party (Community Service)

Last years' BBQ was a big hit and we have decided to have the event again to celebrate diversity, love, our Obama victory and our continued fight for marriage equity for all Californians. Please announce the BBQ in all of your newsletters and blogs.

[...]

Come and celebrate Barack's mixed heritage and the Loving Supreme Court Decision that struck down laws against interracial marriage, and the new fight for marriage equality. Reunite with campaign friends and meet new Change movement organizers and volunteers. Find out how you can get more involved!

[...]

Suggested Donation: $10 for Adults, $5 for Kids/Students

Funds fundraised go to OC and San Diego Military and Veterans for Change Outreach Program - La Jolla Democratic Club.

How better to serve our country than to gather and worship our Dear Leader and raise funds for the Party!
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