Just a Reminder: First-Time Homebuyer Credit Ends Today (Hope You Got Yours)
Today was the final day to take advantage of Obama's first-time homebuyer credit (read: please, PLEASE go out and buy a house) if you were not aware. My Going Concern colleague and fellow accounting nerd Joe Kristan summed up its "success" perfectly:
“Yes, it is a success, if the objective was to demonstrate that people will take free money if you give it to them.”
Supposedly this means the sort of people who have been buying houses will continue buying houses but unlike Fed QE programs, when it's over, it's actually over. Or so I am guessing. Hoo-rah, what can we subsidize next? Plastic surgery? Kevlar armor? Shoes? Come on, Obama, let's stimulate this motherf^%$er or go home.
Obama defends Dirty Fed secrecy
Obama doesn't care what happens to the financial reform bill, as long as no one audits the Dirty Fed.
Obama administration officials have declined to weigh in on any specific amendments, with one exception: a move by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) to give the government more power to audit certain operations at the Federal Reserve. Fed and administration officials have signaled they would fight to stop it at all costs. Mr. Sanders has more than a dozen co-sponsors.
Hope and change indeed.
Sheila Bair goes to Puerto Rico, blows $5 billion
For that kind of money, I hope Sheila and Suze got the honeymoon suite at the Ritz Carlton San Juan.
Enter Senator Ted Kaufman and his merry band of dissident Democrats. They have a proposal: no bank can have liabilities greater than 2% of US GDP. It's eminently sensible, and vehemently opposed by the greedy banksters. The only way to get rid of Too Big To Fail is to get rid of Too Big. There is absolutely no reason these banks need to be running around with highly leveraged trillion-dollar balance sheets, just waiting for a bailout the next time there's a hiccup in the markets.
Summary and FAQs here. Full bill here.
Other blogger perspectives in favor of the bill:
MIT Econ Prof Simon Johnson
Someone F%^&ing Pinch Me, Janet Yellen is Going to be Fed Vice Chair (We are Doomed)
If you have not started shorting the US Treasury like our friend WCV with his fab 30-year Zimbabwe Ben house, get on that shit.
It's official, that psycho Obama has nominated San Francisco Federal Reserve President Janet Yellen as Fed Vice Chair. You can commence to drawing zeroes on the bills in your wallet now, save them a step just to be a good American.
Someone scribble down April 28, 2010 as the day our last chance died.
The more things change...
It is one of the serious evils of our present system of banking that it enables one class of society, and that by no means a numerous one, by its control over the currency to act injuriously upon the interests of all the others and to exercise more than its just proportion of influence in political affairs.
- Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address, March 4, 1837
HT: Jesse. Go on over there and read the whole thing for more pearls of wisdom and past parallels to the present.
This isn't helping
When you get an endorsement from someone like that, you bury it. You don't promote it on your web site.
Furry troll on CNBC
Barbara Boxer's Google Ads to Nowhere
Now she's running Google Ads to Nowhere. When I clicked her ad, it took me here:
"This video is private," huh? Great way to run a campaign.
I don't know whether she pulled the ad off YouTube because there was something embarrassing in it, or if she's just got an office full of incompetents paying for ads that lead to dead ends. Better step it up, Ma'am. You're polling below 50% in a heavily Democratic state.
Beaners vandalize Arizona Capitol
Investigators are looking into a case of vandalism at the state Capitol, sparked by the newly signed anti-illegal-immigration law.
Capitol police arrived on the scene at about 6 a.m., after a swastika was found smeared on the glass doors of the House and Senate buildings.
While it first looked like mud on the doors, it turned out be refried beans.
On the sidewalk, beans were used to write "AZ=Nazi," again with a swastika.
Greek Air Force on strike
Unrest spread to Greek air force pilots today, who claimed "psychological inability" to carry out training flights to protest a revision of their tax status.
The Greek Army was reportedly not on strike, true to its motto "Never leave your buddy's behind."
From the Goldman files
Dream a little dream
Sheila and the Chicago 7
The U.S. Treasury, Fed, and stock market explained in one sentence
The wealth transfer continues: another $118 Billion in coupon issuance is coming up, the bulk of which will be bought up by Primary Dealers, repoed back to the Fed, and the resulting cash used to ramp stocks to new all time highs, generating short-term profits for the banks and another year of record bonuses as future US generations will experience the kinds of riots caused by debt mismanagement as Greece does today.
And if you're feeling especially doomish, please check out Michael Panzner's "Scenes from a V-shaped recovery."
Rats in the White House
While Goldman Sachs' lawyers negotiated with the Securities and Exchange Commission over potentially explosive civil fraud charges, Goldman's chief executive visited the White House at least four times.
White House logs show that Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein traveled to Washington for at least two events with President Barack Obama, whose 2008 presidential campaign received $994,795 in donations from Goldman's employees and their relatives. He also met twice with Obama's top economic adviser, Larry Summers.
Probably just discussing how Summers and Geithner would be just perfect for seven-figure jobs at Goldman in a couple years.
Angelo Mozilo indictment coming?
The orange midget we all think of- Touch of Black
I hope he gets some prison love
Will we get our wish? Rep. Darrell Issa thinks so (skip to 04:30):
CNN: Allee Bautsch who? Hey, look, Kumar got mugged!
But former stoner movie actor Kal Penn, currently an Obama propagandist, was unhurt in an apparently non-politically-motivated robbery, and CNN's Senior White House Correspondent is all over it.
Bill Clinton was right: Allee Bautsch
[Clinton] said all those who advocate their views or "animate their supporters" must assume responsibility for their words and actions "before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged."
In light of the savage beating of a young political staffer and her boyfriend leaving a political event, apparently by leftist protesters, let's reflect. What well-known leftist leader told his followers to "punch back twice as hard?"
Let's also reflect on whether this story would receive this much coverage if it were a young Democratic staffer beaten and hospitalized in the aftermath of a Tea Party protest.
New Orleans blog The Hayride has much, much more.
Why is Susan Roesgen still listed as a reporter at CNN?
CNN appeared to try to distance itself from the embarrassing Roesgen last July when it reportedly did not renew her contract.
Did they really let her go? Roesgen still appears on CNN's web site as a reporter, with no mention of a termination. I'm not aware of her being on the air anymore (though I don't watch CNN). Is she still on the payroll or is this just a matter of an out-of-date web site? You'd think with a figure as toxic as Roesgen, they'd make sure to get it right.
SEC charges Goldman Sachs with fraud
According to the complaint, Goldman created Abacus 2007-AC1 in February 2007, at the request of John A. Paulson, a prominent hedge fund manager who earned an estimated $3.7 billion in 2007 by correctly wagering that the housing bubble would burst.
Goldman let Mr. Paulson select mortgage bonds that he wanted to bet against — the ones he believed were most likely to lose value — and packaged those bonds into Abacus 2007-AC1, according to the S.E.C. complaint. Goldman then sold the Abacus deal to investors like foreign banks, pension funds, insurance companies and other hedge funds.
But the deck was stacked against the Abacus investors, the complaint contends, because the investment was filled with bonds chosen by Mr. Paulson as likely to default. Goldman told investors in Abacus marketing materials reviewed by The Times that the bonds would be chosen by an independent manager.
Somebody at the SEC is going to get taken to the woodshed for this, and Goldman will pay a trivial fine and promise not to do it again.
2010 Census Ads' Message is Fundamentally Wrong and Misleading.
You've seen all these ads for the 2010 Census. Now that the White House has commandeered the execution of the Census (for the first time ever), it is spending more than has ever been spent on advertising the Census ($300 million). And given this administration's mannerisms and agenda, it's no surprise that there is a purely political and misleading message in the 2010 Census advertisements encouraging people to fill out and return their Census forms.
It's subtle, but there is an intentional and fundamental flaw in almost every Census ad, wherever you see or hear them; on the side of a bus, on TV, on a billboard, in a newspaper, on the radio.
The ad I just saw is a perfect example. The happy man in the ad says that he's just one person, but when he fills out his Census form, he's helping his entire community get the resources and funding it needs.
A person who understands the Constitution and the structure of our Republic might recognize the flaw in that happy man's statement. The problems is; The happy man might as well be saying he puts on his shoes before his pants! Put another way; You are wrong, happy man!
Filling out and returning your Census form is not the way you get the resources and the funding your community needs. The way you your community gets those resources is by having its representative decide to vote for the disbursement of those resources to your Congressional District. A lot must happen before that Congressman's decision is made. He could decide to vote no on such disbursements. And your community could decide to find other ways to get the resources it needs, and avoid requesting Federal funds.
The Constitutional purpose of the Census is to determine the population distribution so that Congressional Seats can be re-allocated as populations shift.
Simply filling out your Census form, and making sure your community is fully-counted, does not automatically bring resources and funding to your community. It only makes sure you are proportionately represented in Congress. What the people in your community then decide to seek and demand from your Congressman is another issue entirely. We all know that this would never happen, but in theory, there could be an enormous Congressional District with 1 million people in it, every single one of them being a strict Libertarian who only votes for candidates who promise to bring zero Federal funds to his District, maybe so as to avoid Federal money corrupting his/her community and reducing the role of his State's government. Thus, in accordance with his constituents' wishes, that District's Congressman never brings home a single dime of Federal money. In that very unlikely example, every single person filled out and returned his/her Census form, the Census properly counted those people, their Congressional District was drawn, they elected their Congressman, they asked their Congressman to not bring home Federal money, and the Congressman decided to not bring home any Federal money to their community, because that's what the community wants.
The Census ensures that you are counted for representation. It does not tell you how to use that representation. It doesn't tell your representatives that they must bring home more money just because your community has grown. In the time between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses, a community could have grown, in theory, by losing 30,000 middle-class workers, and gaining 50,000 Amish residents. Does that newly Amish-majority Congressional District want or need that $30 million After-School Recreation Center that was proposed 5 years ago but got stalled due to lack of funding?
You see, Obama wants everyone to demand more and more money from their government. It's part of the strategy espoused by 60's radicals like Saul Alynski (whose teachings and techniques Obama studied and mastered) and Cloward-Piven. A key part of the job of a Community Organizer, working for ACORN, following the Alynski approach, is to rile up a community so that it continually demands more money and services from their local, state, and federal representatives. That is how the Uber-Leftists can accomplish their goal of continually growing the size of the government. Thus, it makes perfect sense that Obama's Census ads would contain language that assumes the viewer wants more federal funding for his/her community, and encourages him/her to have that mindset. The ads deliberately avoid the notion that the opposite might be the case. They don't even make it sound like an option. The ads present the Census as if the government is saying; "We, the government, are dishing out money whether you like it or not, and you won't get enough money if you don't fill out your Census form. You do want more Federal money, don't you? If you don't, then you're not an American. That is what the Census is for, you silly fool."
But no, the people have the choice, via elections, to send fiscally conservative representatives to D.C who won't dole out hundreds of millions of dollars to their local political cronies' side-projects. Don't fall for the subtle but plain lie you'll hear in almost every 2010 Census ad. It is in your interest to be counted. But your community might not need more Federal money. And as strange as it might sound, it might not even want more Federal money (and the strings attached to it)! Obama just wants you to think and assume that it does, and always will.
Palos Verdes Tea Party pics
Fake Tea Partier doesn't fool anyone
Try again next time, Obamabot!
The man was identified by Tea Partiers who recognized him as a local lawyer.
Besides that entertainment, it was a good Tea Party, with hundreds of patriots and supportive honks and waves from passing cars, fire engines, and the General Lee.
Full set of pics at Picasa:
UPDATE: B-Daddy's and Dean's reports from the event. And ... and it looks like the Oceanside rally was huge. And Leslie's documentation of an episode of Tea Party violence!
UPDATE 2: Instalanche! Thanks to the great Glenn Reynolds for the link. BTW, how does he do it? Constitutional law prof, 24/7 blogger, family man, PJTV honcho, gadget guru, author... And his political views are both mainstream and on the cutting edge of the libertarian revolution. The dude is amazing. Not that I'm sucking up or anything.
UPDATE 3: Ha! Jane Duquette points out in the comments that one of the guy's areas of practice is "false advertising."
Thank you sir, may I have another
Cheers to you, Uncle Sam. Cheers to you, Goldman Sachs. Spend it well.
What's going on is:
1) A moderate consumer rebound fueled by deadbeats getting free rent
2) A market bubble fueled by zero interest rates
3) GDP growth driven by horrific deficit spending
On the first point, I wrote last May:
[H]ow much of a stimulative effect is there on the economy when 9% of mortgage debtors suddenly save the $1000 - $2000 per month they used to be wasting on a mortgage? Honey, I stopped paying the mortgage! Let's go to Disney World!That view is making headlines now, including from CNBC's Diana Olick and Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg. I'd add that perpetually extended unemployment benefits, 40 million Americans on food stamps, and "tax credits" for people who don't pay taxes contribute as well.
On the second point, the Fed has proven that it can create asset bubbles better than it can create consumer inflation. The Fed is throwing around so much free money that all risky assets rise (stocks, junk bonds, oil, gold, real estate, etc.). It's not flowing through to consumer inflation much yet because demand is still weak. The Fed is enriching the already rich (asset owners) while doing nothing for the unemployed and underemployed. Asset bubbles don't necessarily create mass employment. See Robert Reich re: there ain't no jobs. Also see Mish on big business hiring:
Here is a snapshot of IBM's US headcount:
2010 98,000 estimate
These are all good paying jobs that can support a family and pay taxes.
Today, 75% of the total headcount is overseas. The overseas revenue is 65%. The company reported record profits last year. IBM decided to stop reporting their US headcount this year.
and small business hiring.
On the third point, yes, GDP is rising. What else would you expect when the government is running deficits of 10% of GDP?
Meaning GDP = Consumption + business Investment + Government spending + net eXports
Notice that government spending goes 100% directly into GDP. So if the government hires 1,000 bureaucrats at $100,000 a year to sit around and dream up new ways to torment taxpayers, that's $100 million directly into GDP. Which is exactly what Barack Obama has done, only it isn't $100 million, it's hundreds of billions. Now if you run deficits of 10% of GDP, or more than a trillion dollars a year, all that money goes directly to GDP no matter how wastefully it is spent. Current GDP growth is not a sign of recovery, it's the direct mathematical result of spending our children into debt.
We'll have a real economic recovery when businesses, not government, start hiring. We'll have a real economic recovery when we get GDP growth without running Greece-sized deficits. I hope that recovery comes before Obama has spent us into an inescapable black hole of debt.
Pious-driving horse enthusiasts against socialism
I'll see you at the protests tomorrow (find your local protest here for California and here nationally). If you don't show, you're tacitly submitting to the regime!
Richmond Fed's Jeffrey Lacker tries his hand at stand-up comedy
Ha ha! Now I know why Lacker is JDA's favorite Fedhead! His sense of humor! That's a good one! And the check is in the mail and I won't...
The only other time debt/GDP was this high was after WWII, and the Dirty Fed inflated away the debt that time -- there was as much inflation as real growth as nominal GDP grew. Now we are running structural deficits of 10% of GDP and have gigantic unfunded entitlements and you're going to tell me we're going to grow and tax our way out of this with no inflation?
You really think Timmy the Tax Cheat's best buddy Zimbabwe Ben would allow a failed Treasury auction? And if the Fed doesn't create inflation, that will nuke the housing market all over again. You think the Fed is going to let another housing drop take down the banks and the entire Federal government thanks to Timmy the Tax Cheat's unlimited Fannie/Freddie bailout guarantee?
Robert Reich: America is Doomed!
The only way many of today's jobless are likely to retain their jobs [???] or get new ones is by settling for much lower wages and benefits. The official unemployment numbers hide the extent to which American workers are already on this downward path. But if you look at income data you'll see the drop.
Among those with jobs, more and more have accepted lower pay and benefits as a condition for keeping them. Or they have lost higher-paying jobs and are now in new ones that pay less. Or new hires are paid far lower wages than the old. (In January, Ford Motor Co. announced that it would add 1,200 jobs at its Chicago assembly plant but didn't trumpet that the new workers will be paid half of what current workers were paid when they began.) Or they have become consultants or temporary workers whose pay is unsteady and benefits nonexistent.
This shift also helps explain why the unemployment rate for Americans with college degrees is now only 5%, while it is 10.5% for those with only a high-school degree, and 15.6% for Americans with less than a high-school diploma. The jobs of well-educated Americans, although hardly immune to foreign outsourcing and technological displacement, have been less vulnerable to these trends than the jobs of Americans with fewer years of education.
The likelihood, therefore, is that as the economy struggles to recover and today's jobless begin to find work, the median wage will continue to fall—as it did between 2001 and 2007, during the last so-called recovery.
More Americans will be working, but for pay they consider inadequate. The approaching recovery will be tepid because so many people will lack the money needed to buy all the goods and services the economy can produce.
Americans will once again be employed, but they will also be back on the downward escalator of declining pay they rode before the Great Recession.
Despite the oxymoron in the first sentence, Reich is right. There are far too many jobless and wages are still too high. Wage deflation is likely inevitable, but it would be a lot more tolerable if Obama and Bernanke weren't hell-bent on creating housing, food, and energy inflation.
Every Ponzi scheme needs to lure in new suckers
You see, the biggest reason Social Security is in trouble, and Medicare as well, is because America is aging so fast. It’s not just that so many boomers are retiring. It’s also that seniors are living longer. And families are having fewer children.
Add it all up and the number of people who are working relative to the number who are retired keeps shrinking.
Forty years ago there were five workers for every retiree. Now there are three. Within a couple of decades, there will be only two workers per retiree. There’s no way just two workers will be able or willing to pay enough payroll taxes to keep benefits flowing to every retiree.
This is where immigration comes in. Most immigrants are young because the impoverished countries they come from are demographically the opposite of rich countries. Rather than aging populations, their populations are bursting with young people.
Reich is right, though his party wrongly focuses on amnesty for unskilled illegal aliens. Educated, skilled immigrants would contribute far more to the Social Security Ponzi scheme, and would be less of a burden on our health care, law enforcement, and education systems. We ought to enforce employment law so that illegals would self-deport, then allow a big, generous green card program for workers (especially skilled) who want to come here legally.
While Reich focuses on the Social Security and Medicare Ponzi schemes, immigrants could solve a lot of other problems, too. You want to re-inflate the housing bubble? Offer a green card to every Chinese guy who buys a California house.
A year of California Tea Parties
If that doesn't inspire you to come out and protest this Thursday evening, I don't know what will.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.
Incongruence -- Dylan Ratigan
I guess he's been spending too much time around MSNBC left-wing loons like Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Chrissy "Tingly Pants" Matthews.
The latest sign? I'm listening to paleocon Roger Hedgecock on his national radio show, and he's speaking favorably of legalizing marijuana -- and so are a majority of callers from his right-wing radio audience!
The times, they are a-changin!
P.S. I remember back in the early 90's there was a local TV show called 3rd Thursday or something like that. It was a monthly topical show with a big studio audience. As I recall, Hedgecock co-hosted with a local female news anchor. They discussed legalization one time, and Hedgecock was totally against it. They did a call-in poll which came in in favor of legalization, and I recall Hedgecock dismissing the results due to the unscientific nature of the poll (yes, I voted a couple dozen times).
Don't buy GLD
I still think gold is a necessity for any portfolio, but I'm no longer comfortable with ETFs (GLD, IAU) as a vehicle for gold exposure. I've alluded to this before, and now more and more evidence is coming out that the ETFs don't really have all that gold in the vault and they likely are involved with gold leasing and derivatives, exposing them to counterparty risk from the dirty banksters and hedge funds. They are simply not transparent. It's becoming increasingly apparent that there is a lot more derivative paper gold out there than real gold in vaults. ZeroHedge has been covering this well, and here is the most recent post that explains it well. This was once conspiracy theory stuff for gold kooks, but it's becoming more credible and now even capturing the attention of mainstream blogs like the Huffington Post.
If you can get out of GLD without paying murderous capital gains taxes, I'd recommend switching to physical gold.
HT: Temple of Mut
Speaking of teabaggees, congratulations to Rep. Bart Stupak on his retirement!
San Diego County Tax Day Tea Party Protests
SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition has the roundup.
San Diego (Midway)
For that matter, the above link has protest locations all over California.
1) Both Bush and Greenspan left disasters for their successors to clean up (war, entitlements, systemic corruption, and deficits on Bush's part, and the greatest financial bubble in the history of the world on Greenspan's part).
2) Both Bush and Greenspan set horrible precedents that their successors carried to extremes (Bush with the TARP bank bailout and temporary GM bailout, and Greenspan with the "Greenspan put" that promised the Fed would always bail out the market).
3) Instead of correcting the excesses, both Obama and Bernanke responded to the crises with more (MUCH more!) of the same policies that caused the problems in the first place (Obama's monstrous deficits, endless bailouts, and government expansion, and Bernanke's infinite money-printing, zero-percent interest, and monetization of the debt). Obama is Bush on steroids, and Bernanke is Greenspan on steroids. Bush can only drool with envy at Obama's trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and Greenspan feels like a chump when he sees how Bernanke doubled the Fed's balance sheet and printed a trillion dollars to buy assets including illegal toxic waste.
4) Bush was the worst President in recent memory. Greenspan was the worst Fed chairman in history. Both look certain to lose those titles to their successors.
First day of summer
Jim Grant on Alan Greenspan, father of the financial disaster
HT: BusinessInsider via Barry Ritholz, who points out the highlights:
* 0:15 Greenspan needs to be liked, “He’s just a guy in a business suit”
* 1:03 Greenspan might say he is against central planning, but he actually loves it via setting interest rates
* 3:00 Greenspan seen as a savior via his rate, encouraged risk
* 3:50 Greenspan came in as Ayn Rand’s acolyte, left as a panderer to power
* 6:25 The way Greenspan thinks is as a theoretical economist, and he disdains those financial thinkers who believe they were right
Food Stamp Nation
Don't come cryin' for more
The signs were there
You should have
Bought connections before
Record 39 million Americans on food stamps.
Obama's Manny Ortez moment
Watch the Great Prevaricator squirm.
Come on. I'm not even a baseball fan, much less a White Sox fan, and I could come up with Frank Thomas and Carlton Fisk.
IMF responds to Eric Sprott gold snub
Following up on the story, BusinessInsider contacted the IMF for an explanation. Here it is:
* The IMF is only selling gold though a qualified agent. There is only one of these agents at the moment and due to the nature of the gold market, they won't reveal who or what that agent is.
* The IMF is also phasing out the gold sale and does not intend to dump it all at once because to do so would disrupt markets, which is obviously not their intention.
* Sprott can't buy the gold directly because they do not deal with institutional clients like hedge funds, pension funds, etc. The only buyers can be central bankers and sovereign nations, that sort of thing.
* The IMF board agreed months ago how they wanted to approach the sale of the gold. Sprott is welcome to buy from central banks who have bought from the IMF, but not from the IMF directly.
due to the nature of the gold market, they won't reveal who or what that agent is
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! That "nature" being completely opaque and rigged for the benefit of the few and powerful, I guess!
We could tell you where you can buy gold, but then we'd have to kill you!
Mainstream media finally waking up to debt crisis
They're only learning right now that our unsustainable debt is a ticking time bomb.
The San Francisco Chronic:
Lost amid last month's passage of the new health care law, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report showing that within this decade, President Obama's own budget sends the U.S. government to a potential tipping point where the debt reaches 90 percent of gross domestic product.
Economists Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University have recently shown that a 90 percent debt-to-GDP ratio usually touches off a crisis.
This year, the debt will reach 63 percent of GDP, a ratio that has ignited crises in smaller wealthy nations. Fiscal crises gripped Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Ireland when their debts were below where the United States is shortly headed.
Build-time with Charlie
1. Failing to plan is planning to fail, my high school baseball coach liked to say. He must have planned to lose 19 of 20 that year.
2. Forget your broken patio furniture. Focus on the here and now.
3. Don't forget your aviation headset. Bogey, six o'clock low.
4. Clamps are an invaluable aid to the woodworker. Try them on your nipples.
5. This is taking shape like a Bob Ross painting.
6. Take your friends to the fabric store to pick some colors. Oh, did I forget my wallet?
7. Glue is twice the fun with the garage door closed.
8. Let cool, serve with beer.
Matt Taibbi strikes again
Once you follow that trail and understand what took place in Jefferson County, there's really no room left for illusions. We live in a gangster state, and our days of laughing at other countries are over. It's our turn to get laughed at. In Birmingham, lots of people have gone to jail for the crime: More than 20 local officials and businessmen have been convicted of corruption in federal court. Last October, right around the time that Lisa Pack went back to work at reduced hours, Birmingham's mayor was convicted of fraud and money-laundering for taking bribes funneled to him by Wall Street bankers — everything from Rolex watches to Ferragamo suits to cash. But those who greenlighted the bribes and profited most from the scam remain largely untouched. "It never gets back to JP Morgan," says Pack.
Click on over and read the whole thing.
Robert Reich goes 3 for 3
Paper entrepreneurs — trained in law, finance, accountancy — manipulate complex systems of rules and numbers. They innovate by using the systems in novel ways: establishing joint ventures, consortiums, holding companies, mutual funds; finding companies to acquire, “white knights” to be acquired by, commodity futures to invest in, tax shelters to hide in; engaging in proxy fights, tender offers, antitrust suits, stock splits, spinoffs, divestitures; buying and selling notes, bonds, convertible debentures, sinking-fund debentures; obtaining government subsidies, loan guarantees, tax breaks, contracts, licenses, quottas, price supports, bailouts; going private, going public, going bankrupt.
Product entrepreneurs — engineers, inventors, production managers, marketers, owners of small businesses — produce goods and services people want. They innovate by creating better products at less cost.
Our economic system needs both. Paper entrepreneurs ensure that capital is allocated efficienctly among product enrepreneurs. But paper entrepreneurs do not directly enlarge the economic pie. They only arrange and divide the slices. They provide nothing of tangible use. For an economy to maintain its health, entrepreneurial rewards should flow primarily to product, not paper.
Yet paper entrepreneurialism is on the rise. It dominates the leadership of our largest corporations. It guides government departments, legislatures, agencies, public utilities. It stimulates platoons of lawyers and financiers.
HT: John Lounsbury.
Contrast that to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, whose prescription for every malady is "More stimulus!" and whose New York Times columns appear to be ghost-written by White House interns.
Once in a while you get shown the light
If any single person is most responsible for the financial crisis, it’s Alan Greenspan. He presided over a Fed that lowered interest rates to zero (adjusted for inflation) but failed to prevent banks from using essentially free money to speculate wildly. You do not have to be a brain surgeon to understand that if money is free, banks will take it and lend it out. And if oversight is inadequate, the banks will lend the money to anyone who can stand up straight and to many who cannot. The result will be a giant subprime lending bubble that will burst.
If any three people are most responsible for the failure of financial regulation, they are Greenspan, Larry Summers, and my former colleague, Bob Rubin. In 1999 they advised Congress to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which since 1933 had separated commercial from investment banking. By 1999, Wall Street was salivating over such a repeal because it wanted to create financial supermarkets that could use commercial deposits to place bets in the financial casino. That would yield the Street trillions.
The Jesus Christ Show
And to Christians and non-Christians alike, I commend The Jesus Christ Show, an amazing radio program. You can listen live on the Internet 6-9 AM Sundays, or listen to the archives any time.
The show is done with the host portraying Jesus in the first person. You'd think that could be pretty offensive to Christians, but it's done extremely respectfully and sensitively. The host has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible and theology, and takes calls in addition to having a sermon-like topic of discussion each week. The host's true identity is a mystery, but it's a safe bet he studied in seminary and decided to have a virtual congregation instead of a physical one.
I think even you atheists might find yourselves enlightened and uplifted if you give it a chance.
Ha! Betcha didn't see that one coming from the rude, cynical, and loathsome W.C. Varones!
UPDATE: OK, not a mystery. Independent Accountant points out that the host is long-time KFI producer Neil Saavedra. More on Saavedra here.
Hope and Change, WCV-Style
Alright, kids, since we gave up on Obama delivering the "hope and change" long ago and have since taken things into our own hands, I feel it appropriate to point out a very important change around here.
After months of nagging, WCV finally switched this site from a Blogspot domain to www.wcvarones.com - this pleases the Google overlords in SEO-terms and because the medium is the message, it's critical to appease the Whore of Google to get as many pairs of eyes as we can on the important information WCV and Co. bring you day after day.
That being said, if you have WC Varones in your blogroll, please help out by changing the link to the new WCVarones.com address.
There's nothing better to do at the moment (still waiting for financial doomsday doodooDOO...) than:
Talk smack about the Dirty Fed
and play on the Internet
It's useful playing, trust me. Congratulate WCV for finally getting a piece of the hot .com action, even if he's a decade late.
WCV's Resident SEOtard, JDA
BBQ pesto pizza
This one's pesto, but it works equally well on traditional pizza. Use low heat to melt the cheese. The crust comes out awesomely crispy.
Democrats joining Tea Party
"I should've listened a lot closer when he talked about 'spreading the wealth.' "
Asked how she feels about having voted for the president, Lewis said "I feel lied to, cheated and raped."
Mainstream Democrats are just waking up now. Democrats who are tuned in, like our friend and local Tea Partier Leslie Eastman, have been Tea Partying for a year.
Steve Poizner's Bandini Touch
He tried to position himself as the conservative candidate in the California Republican primary for governor, but he angered conservatives when he refused to help fund the part-time legislature initiative from his multi-million-dollar personal fortune. And his newfound "conservatism" seems like a convenient political ploy in this year of populist conservatism as he regularly supported tax increases in the past.
Poizner thought his personal fortune might buy him the governor's mansion, but then he ran into Meg Whitman's much bigger personal fortune. She leads him 63-14 in the polls. That is not a typo.
His latest political gimmick is a book to promote the fact that he spent a year teaching in a poor school (itself obviously a transparent political ploy). How's that working out? Not so well.
Poizner, who spent a year teaching at the school, donated thousands of dollars to help its students and recorded his experiences in the book, has been told he is no longer welcome there. He touts the publication in his campaign to show his commitment to fixing a failed education system, but many who teach and learn at Mount Pleasant say it's a caricature of their community intended to advance his political ambitions.Rich white guy spends a year slumming in a minority school to make himself look good. The last guy that did that was at least a little more interesting.
Throughout the pages of "Mount Pleasant," released Thursday, Poizner sprinkles details about his guest stint at what he characterizes as a rough urban school starting in late 2002, two years after he sold his high-tech company for $1 billion.
He was relieved, he writes, to find his Lexus safe in the parking lot after his first visit. He built a lesson around the corporate history of Kentucky Fried Chicken rather than that of Apple, thinking Col. Sanders would hold more relevance for the students than Steve Jobs.
He ruminates that the underprivileged and, often, uninterested teens on the fringe of Silicon Valley would never match the achievements of young people from his own affluent town of Los Gatos, in the heart of high-tech country.
Martha Guerrero is an associate principal who has worked at Mount Pleasant for 24 years and sent two children to the school, including a son now studying aerospace engineering at UC Irvine. She says Poizner exaggerated the school's problems to serve his narrative.
Last fall I wrote favorably about Jerry Brown. Since then, I've learned that he's refusing to prosecute the CARB scandal wherein drastic new regulations were imposed based on a fake report by a fake scientist. And Brown actively supports the AB32 Global Warming Act which will further drive businesses and jobs out of California. And he is also the governor who unionized the state workforce, which is the root of the state's financial disaster.
I'll probably vote Libertarian, but eMeg is looking like the best of the major candidates.
Dirty Fed loaded up on crap assets, now in deep doo-doo with no exit strategy
And this is probably the first time I've ever agreed with angry drunken dwarf Robert Reich:
First, only Congress is supposed to risk taxpayer dollars. The Fed is not part of the legislative branch. Its secret deals, announced almost two years after they were done, violate the democratic process, if not the Constitution itself. Thomas Jefferson put a stop to Alexander Hamilton’s idea of a powerful central bank out of fear it would be unaccountable to the public. The Fed has just proven Jefferson’s point.
Second, if the Fed can secretly bail out big banks, the problem of “moral hazard” – bankers taking irresponsible risks because they know they’ll be rescued – is far greater than anyone assumed after Congress and the Bush and Obama administrations bailed out the banks. Big banks will always be too big to fail because they know the Fed will secretly back them up if they get into trouble, even if Congress won’t do it openly.
As we said, No Exit.
A Congressman Admits He Doesn't "Worry About the Constitution, to be Honest"
Cameraman: "Where in the Constitution...?"
Democratic Congressman Phil Hare from IL:
"I don't worry about the Constitution, to be honest."
Cameraman: "Jackpot, Brother!"
Democratic Congressman Phil Hare from IL:
"I care more about the people who are dying everyday because they don't have health care."
Cameraman: "You care more about that than the U.S. Constitution you swore to uphold?"
Democratic Congressman Phil Hare from IL:
"I believe that it says we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Constituent: That's the Declaration of Independence.
Democratic Congressman Phil Hare from IL:
"It Doesn't matter to me."
[cut to 1:24]
Cameraman: "Where in the Constitution does it give you the authority...?"
Democratic Congressman Phil Hare from IL:
"I Don't Know".
Democratic Congressman Phil Hare of IL goes on to claim that he read the entire Health Care Bill not just once, not just twice, but THREE TIMES. The Cameraman asks, "at 8100 pages, reading 1 page per minute, and trying to comprehend it all, how long did it take you?" See Hare's response.
After you've seen it once, go back and freeze the video at 0:51 and check out that face. Phil Hare is a Democrat from Illinois, the most corrupt state in the nation. He has those two things in common with the President.
A message from Sarah Bond
PAINTING US AS VIOLENT RACISTS...BRING IT!
90% of Tea Party organizers are women because this movement is clearly a sexist attempt to put females back in the kitchen where we belong. And a rainbow of speakers of all ethnicities who have graced the Tea Party stage nationwide are, what...a statement of white power? And all those mothers who showed up with strollers and babies (myself included) to our last protest in San Diego on March 20th...clearly a frightening show of potential violence.
Absurd. All of it. We all know the false accusations of racism, hate and violence are a transparent attempt at shutting down our efforts as activists.
But here’s the thing...every time the left and the media tries this, it only swells our numbers. Remember the DHS report? Best recruitment tool we’ve ever had. As good, law abiding, taxpaying Americans we are offended at these accusation...and we will NOT be cowed by them.
As for violence and hate...there are PLENTY of examples from the from the left which we have listed here at our website:
Please take the time to look over these examples and use them when confronted by the ugly slander that is being thrown our way.
April 15th is only a couple weeks away...it is our opportunity to show the entire WORLD that we celebrate non-violent assembly...and that we are not afraid to be visible with our principles, opinions, issues, and patriotism.
Stay Ahead of the Media. Cap and Trade is Up to Bat.
Dems know they might not have their majority after November, so they're going to aggressively try to ram through as many of their big-ticket agenda items as possible before then. They're emboldened by passage of Health Care Reform, and they're now even openly admitting they are "Socialists" and that the Health Care bill was really just a form of "Redistribution". Those are words that, for some reason, they didn't use during the debate leading up to passage of the bill. Why admit to it now? Because they think they are indestructible and can do anything they want. With Amnesty also on the agenda, they might have another 15 million voters, so why would they worry about upsetting us with overly strident legislation? Heck, even the Dems' precious Card Check is back on the agenda (which allows anyone to easily unionize and removes secret ballots for that decision), after taking a year off, out of public view. Only this time they're going to try to achieve it by means of regulation, not legislation.
So, there is your guide to the next 7 months of radical leadership in D.C. Cap and Trade. Amnesty. Card Check. Along with Health Care Reform, if they manage to pass all those other items, they'll rank up there with the most radical and productive Congressional-Presidential teams the U.S. has ever had. I'd say get involved early and start calling your representatives right now, but we've seen proof that they fundamentally do not care what their constituents think.
Rep. Hank Johnson on the Guam Crisis
Yes, these are the people who just took over our health care system by force. Hope you don't need a doctor!
Body Count goes to Vegas! Ernest Scherer III was a Vegas loser who fancied himself a professional poker player. Doesn't that photo tell ...
UPDATE: Edited to remove the guy's name. I hope nobody harasses him or his employer. He was good-natured and his sign was innocuous a...
Maybe teaching racial division and hatred wasn't such a good idea after all
Doctor cycling in California run down, stabbed by driver screaming about ‘white privilege’ : A doctor cycling along the Pacific Coast Highwa...