60 Minutes on muni apocalypse

If you didn't catch the Dec. 19 60 Minutes story on state finances, watch it here.

They interview Chris Christie and Meredith Whitney who describe the problem quite vividly.

The conclusion is the crisis will come to a head in 2011. I'm not so sure. I've been watching California kick the can down the road for four years now with federal bailouts, accounting gimmicks, and borrowing. I'm not so sure the games can't continue a little longer.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the new Republican Congress cave and give away billions to the states. Even with the Tea Party victories last fall, there are still a large number of establishment Republicans who will want to bail out their state and local buddies.

And if Congress doesn't bail out the states again and munis start defaulting? Expect the Dirty Fed to start bailing them out by buying muni debt.

The tendency to panic and borrow/print at the moment of default is universal: Bush/Paulson, Obama/Geithner, Congress, the Dirty Fed, the EU, the ECB, Japan... Don't be so sure it won't happen again for the states this year.


Gold: do you have your share?

(photo HT: IP Freely)

How little gold there is in the world can be illustrated in interesting ways. For instance,
All the gold mined in the world in history would fit in a cube 60 feet on each side, that is to say, it would fit in the space underneath the Eiffel Tower.

I prefer to think of it in terms of gold per person. Estimates for all the gold ever mined in the world are around 165,000 metric tons. A metric ton is 32,150 troy ounces, meaning there are only 5.3 billion ounces out there -- or less than one for every person on the planet! Do you have your ounce?

Now assuming that most inhabitants of third-world nations don't have a lot of gold, how much gold is there per developed-world inhabitant? The OECD countries have a population of about 1.2 billion, meaning there are about 4.4 ounces per developed-world citizen. Do you have your share?

Gold mine production is running about 2,000 - 2,500 tons per year, an increase to the total stock of between 1% and 2% per year, roughly inline with population growth, and well below long-run GDP growth.

With citizens in the developing world gaining wealth and sure to want their share of gold at some point, do you really want to be underweight gold the next 10, 20, 30 years?


Stop Zimbabwe Ben!

Bumper stickers now available. Really, couldn't your neighborhood use a few of these?

E-mail JDA if you want one.

Obama's great inequality

Mickey Kaus points out that Obama is worsening America's income inequality by going easy on illegal immigration and importing cheap labor to compete with our poorest workers.

Well, sure. But that's just the bottom end of the income spectrum. Don't forget what he's doing at the top end of the income spectrum: continuing to bail out Wall Street via Fannie and Freddie, AIG, GMAC, etc. Wall Street couldn't be paying those huge bonuses without free money from Obama.

And then there are the armies of six-figure government bureaucrats -- what's that do to income inequality? Put a two-income family of government workers together and you've got "The Rich" by Obama's $250,000 definition.


Know when to fold 'em

It's been a very good year for those who stayed fully invested in the Zimbabwe Ben trade: stocks, commodities, precious metals, anything denominated in dollars. Throw darts to pick stocks, because they're all going up together.

But I'm starting to wonder if we're getting late in the game for the Zimbabwe Ben trade. I'm taking a little off the table.

Too many institutional investors are too confident that policymakers will do whatever is necessary to keep the market up. I think the recent tax deal was the last gasp for massive fiscal stimulus, and I think political will for more monetization both within and outside the Dirty Fed may dry up. The new Congress is already skeptical of the Dirty Fed, and they will become even more so if food and energy inflation continues to outpace wage inflation. What does Bernanke do if he has to defend $5 gas to Ron Paul?

Then we've got Europe, the states and cities, a housing double dip, bond vigilantes, mortgage putbacks... so many things that could go so wrong, and it's not clear that all of them would bring about QE3 and QE4.

I'm still fairly heavily invested in Zimbabwe Ben, and I still believe the dollar faces a big long-run decline, but I'm raising a little cash in case of a bumpy ride in the short term.


Internets 1. Janet Incompetano 0

Homeland Security's Janet Incompetano is encouraging citizens to spy on their fellow 'Merkins at WalMart. You never know who's a terrorist, you know.

Too late, Janet. The ever-vigilant citizens of the Internets already have it covered.


Happy Festivus!

I think of this blog as a kind of year-round Airing of the Grievances, and I'm not feeling particularly grievous today, so cruise on over to Temple of Mut for a Tea Party Airing of the Grievances.

Pilot punished for pointing out that TSA is a pathetic farce

Tell the truth, lose your gun.

HT: Charlie.


Obama's FCC Appointee Grants Federal Government the New Power of Regulating the Internet

Check out the opening paragraph of this OpEd about Net Neutrality, which the FCC just passed as "new regulations". A) A Federal court already told the FCC they could not regulate the internet! B) the modus operandi of radical "Progressives" is on display here yet again:
-Huge and transformative new bills, kept secret until the last minute, then shoved down our throats quickly. (It's the same method by which they passed the Stimulus and Health Care bills)
-A belief that we should be Ruled by an unelected panel. Recall that the "Progressives" of the early 20th Century, whose political tradition Obama and Hillary Clinton proudly follow, wanted to have an entirely new layer of government, a panel of unelected "experts" that operated between the executive and legislative branches. Now read this opener:
If President Obama wants his executive branch to resemble the opaque, power-hungry political machinations in Chicago, he seems to be succeeding in the area of Internet regulation. Last April, a federal court told the Federal Communications Commission that it has no business regulating the Internet. Unfortunately, judicial rejection of the commission's first swing at the "net neutrality" ball -- the idea the FCC must regulate the Internet to insure everybody has equal access -- didn't deter Obama's FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, from taking another whack. He's bringing a new set of proposed net neutrality regulations to the five-member panel Tuesday. Unfortunately, nobody knows any details of the new proposal because Genachowski has kept them secret until the last possible minute even as he rushed them forward for a vote. How ironic that the Internet, the great and empowering liberator of information that "wants to be free," is being chopped up behind closed doors by an unelected panel. Note, too, that this is being considered by the FCC on the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year.

In their net neutrality quest, Genachowski and two of his fellow Democratic appointees are working to expand government power into an area where the commission has no jurisdiction, under the guise of solving a problem that does not exist. Meredith Baker, a Republican FCC appointee, summarized the situation well: "We have two branches of government -- Congress and the courts -- expressing grave concerns with our agency becoming increasingly unmoored from our statutory authority. By seeking to regulate the Internet now, we exceed the authority Congress has given us and justify those concerns." Incoming House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., has called on the FCC to "cease and desist."

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/2010/12/obamas-mystery-proposal-regulate-internet#ixzz18mrIpImF

We shouldn't be surprised. After all, Obama also appointed Mark Lloyd as the FCC's "Diversity Czar". And Mark Lloyd can be seen here praising Hugo Chavez's "incredible, democratic revolution" for nationalizing the media in Venezuela. It's clear that Obama is seeking vastly increased government control over the media.

Buh-bye freedom

Salon asks:
If American citizens don't object to the permanent seizure and copying of their laptops and cellphones without any warrants or judicial oversight, what would they ever object to?

Don't miss this article.


The beginning of something...beautiful?

America's gayest Senator, Lindsey Graham, votes No on DADT repeal

You ever notice how some of the most vocal gay-bashers are closet gays?

Charlie tells a story of his travels in North Dakota or some other BFE state up there, where he played pool with a bunch of local guys in a bar and one of them kept going on about "damn homos" and "f*ggots" and such. As the night wore on and the guy got enough liquid courage in him and the other locals had left, the guy tried to get it on with Charlie.

So it is with America's gayest Senator, the hissy-fit-throwing lifelong "bachelor" who goes to Afghanistan like some boys go to Fire Island. Miss Lindsey was among the small minority of 31 Senators who voted No on Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell repeal.

Self-hatred by closet homosexuals is such a senseless tragedy. I hope DADT repeal is another step toward eventual full societal acceptance of homosexuality so that the Lindsey Grahams of the world can come to terms with who they are.


California bleeding

Over at Pajamas Media, our friend Tim Daniel writes with sadness of the disappearance of the California of his youth. California has gone from a land of opportunity and innovation to a bankrupt welfare bureaucracy. My California history is similar to Tim's, and I've witnessed the same decline.

For more detail on why businesses and entrepreneurs are fleeing the state, one need look no further than Richard Rider's latest update of Breaking Bad: California vs. other states.
California has 12% of the nation’s population, but 36% of the country’s TANF (“Temporary” Assistance for Needy Families) welfare recipients [...] America’s top 600 CEO’s rank California “the worst place in which to do business” for the fifth straight year [...] California residential electricity costs an average of 30.1% more than the national average [...] Consider California’s net domestic migration (migration between states). From April, 2000 through June, 2008 (8 years, 2 months) California has lost a NET 1.4 million people [...] As taxes rise and jobs disappear, we lose our tax base, continuing California’s state and local fiscal death spiral.

That's just a sampling. Click on over to read the whole apocalyptic list.

The last few years, Schwarzenegger and the Democrats have been able to fake holding the budget together with accounting gimmicks and borrowing. How much longer that can continue is an open question -- it's already lasted longer than I expected. But the state has also had help from an enabling Congress: first with billions in unemployment insurance loans and then with "Build America Bond" subsidies. Now the UI bill is coming due and the BAB scam is over. And the new Republican Congress looks very unlikely to give more handouts to the worst-managed (and very Democratic) state. With no more free money from Congress, there remains one huge unaccountable, unelected potential sugar daddy. Will the Dirty Fed step in to buy California munis?


DREAM Act amnesty fails in Senate

55-41 on a cloture vote that needed 60 votes. Lisa Murkowski, Richard Lugar, and Bob Bennett were Republicans voting for amnesty.

Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell vote is starting now. UPDATE: DADT repeal passes cloture! So far, the Democrats' bad-faith, scorched-earth, lame-duck campaign isn't so bad. Failed omnibus, failed amnesty, failed Food Nationalization Act, passed DADT repeal. Sounds pretty good to me.


Moneychangers chase Jesus from the temple

Don't dare say "Merry Christmas" if you want to operate a bank during the reign of King Ben the Debaser:
A small-town bank in Oklahoma said the Federal Reserve won’t let it keep religious signs and symbols on display.

Federal Reserve examiners come every four years to make sure banks are complying with a long list of regulations. The examiners came to Perkins last week. And the team from Kansas City deemed a Bible verse of the day, crosses on the teller’s counter and buttons that say "Merry Christmas, God With Us." were inappropriate. The Bible verse of the day on the bank's Internet site also had to be taken down.

The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [...]" Well, Congress created the Dirty Fed and now the Dirty Fed is prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

UPDATE: Bank fights back and wins. Constitution 1, Dirty Fed ... well, the Dirty Fed still has dozens of foul play points on the board against the Constitution, but at least this is one point for the good guys.

Fascism versus the market: vote with your bucks

Charlie takes on the security state.


Tea Party saves America from bipartisan pork bill

The Tea Party a flash-in-the-pan? Hardly.

We don't just bring electoral landslides. We also ride herd on the dirty politicians all year round:
Senate Democrats abruptly pulled down an omnibus spending bill after senior Republicans – caught with their hands in the cookie jar — deserted the measure in an effort to square themselves with tea party activists and conservatives in the party.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the announcement and signaled he would substitute a short-term spending resolution for the much more detailed year-long $1.1 trillion plus measure which many in the GOP had been quietly rooting for just weeks ago.

Have you thanked your local Tea Partier lately?

More fun with Yogi

Lieberman: Communist China Can Shut Down Internet. We Need to Have That Power, Too.

"Right now, China's goverment can disconnect its internet in the case of war. We need to have that [power] here, too." - Joe Lieberman

Gee, why haven't the American people given that power to its Federal Government? Oh yeah. It's because we're not Communists here. Oh, wait...apparently, even though we're not Communists, we are represented by them. The FCC is set to vote this month on passing Net Neutrality regulations for the internet, giving our government more control over the internet than it's ever had. They tried to pass this bill through Congress, but even the radicals in Congress couldn't get enough votes for it. So Obama, true to his "ends justify the means" approach to Socializing our nation, simply moved the issue into the realm of the unelected, unaccountable FCC regulatory committee, where they will be free to impose these new internet "Laws" on us as they call them mere "Regulations". You see, to the American Idol-watching public, "Regulations" are nothing to fear. And heck, why not get the government more involved in the internet, right? What could possibly go wrong?

Obama's Suddenly a Big Time Free Market Champion? His Brand New Image?

One of these quotes is not like the other:

"Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy -- where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to even less spending."
-Barack Obama, Winter 2009 as he tried to sell his Pork and Political Patronage-Laden $700 Billion "Stimulus" Bill.
"Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive."
- Joe Biden, October 2010.
"I believe that the primary engine of America's economic success is not government," the president went on. "It's the dynamism of our markets. And for me, the most important question about an economic idea is... whether it will help spur businesses, jobs and growth."
-Barack Obama, December 14, 2010, as he begins his attempt to re-create his image and appear to be pro-business, in order to preserve his chance at a 2nd term.

A memorial service for the Bill of Rights

Today is Bill of Rights Day.

B-Daddy remembers the old girl at Liberator Today.

I'd spill some Olde English 800 especially for the 1st, 4th, and 10th Amendments.


Student loan suckers: the last poor schlubs propping up the U.S. Ponzi

Consumer credit is a key metric monitored by economists. It is a major factor in the multi-decade economic boom that ended around 2008.

Consumption ("C") is the biggest factor in GDP:

GDP = C + G + I + NX

Consumption has been around 70% of GDP consistently the last several quarters, well above the late 20th century averages in the low-to-mid 60's. With consumption such a large percentage of GDP, any attempt to prop up the economy with Government deficits (even current maniacal 10% GDP deficits) will fail if consumption declines significantly.

And what keeps consumption going? Debt, euphemistically known as "consumer credit." The great GDP and stock market boom of the last thirty years was driven by consumption growth. And that consumption was not just in line with personal income growth, but turbo-charged by rising indebtedness (Federal Reserve data on revolving (credit card), non-revolving (auto, student, etc.), and mortgage debt). A graph courtesy of the St. Louis Fed:

So to keep consumption growing in times of stagnant personal incomes requires increasing consumer indebtedness. And with households already struggling under record levels of debt, that's a tall order. Nevertheless, last week's consumer credit report left pundits and policy-makers cheering:
WASHINGTON: US consumers opened the credit spigots in October in the biggest jump in more than two years, central bank data showed on Tuesday.

Consumer credit rose 1.7 percent in October, more than twice as much as the prior month's increase that had snapped 19 straight months of declines.

The Federal Reserve revised the September reading a half point lower, to 0.6 percent.

The October surge in borrowing was the strongest since July 2008, when the economy was grappling with the worst recession in decades.
So consumers are busting out the credit cards and buying BMWs on credit again? Not so fast (David Rosenberg via Mish):
Once again, it was federally-supported credit (ie. student-backed loans) that accounted for all the increase last month ― a record $31.8 billion expansion. Commercial banks, securitized pools and finance companies posted huge declines ― to the point where excluding federal loans, consumer credit plunged $32.5 billion, to the lowest level since November 2004 (not to mention down a record 9% YoY). Over the past three months consumer credit outstanding net of federal student assisted loans has collapsed $76 billion — this degree of contraction is without precedent.

Working folk are tapped out, don't want more debt, and in many cases wouldn't qualify for more debt if they did want it. Who to sucker into taking on debt? Young people who don't know any better, of course. Just as young families were suckered into taking on unsustainable housing debt a few years ago because "home ownership is the key to the American dream," now the next generation is being suckered into taking on unsustainable student debt because "education is the key to the American dream." Well, taking on $100,000 of debt for a four-year liberal arts degree will turn out about as well as buying that tract home in the Inland Empire at 10x median income. Even worse: you can walk away from a tract home, but you can't walk away from student debt.

Even the banks realize this is fool's debt. No bank would lend $100,000 for a liberal arts degree when most college grads will have a very difficult time paying it back. So the federal government steps in as the debt-pusher of last resort, first guaranteeing student loans, then making student loans directly. And even President Obama realizes that this debt load is unmanageable on typical college grad salaries, so he proposes forgiving debt for government workers after ten years and second-class citizens after twenty years. He'll just tack it on to the already unsustainable national debt -- kicking the can down the road to a day of reckoning after he'll be out of office, leaving our children to make the horrible choice between inflation and default.


Columbia Prof. David Epstein loves his daughter

Prominent Ivy League elitist David Epstein loves Obama, hates Sarah Palin, and writes for the Huffington Post.

His home life, however, sounds like what the NY-DC ruling class thinks of middle America. Projection?
A Columbia University political science professor and past political analyst for CBS was arrested on charges of incest. Investigators say he engaged in three year long consensual relationship with his 24-year-old daughter.


Epstein was married to Sharyn O’Halloran another lecturer at the university, but the two reportedly recently divorced.

According to sources the victim was over 18 when the relationship began in 2006 and that father and daughter often exchanged salacious text messages.

Published reports also reveal Epsten’s ex-wife O’Halloran was recently seen speaking with a private investigator.

I guess he should have adopted like Woody Allen.

Columbia's having a banner year, huh?


Obama: It depends on what your definition of "Is" is.

"This isn't the politics of the moment. This has to do with what we can get done right now."
- Barak Obama. 12/7/10

If any conservative said that, wouldn't we be hearing it over and over, played in a loop?


Schwarzenegger gives cushy $111,000 job to tax traitor Anthony Adams

So these are the wages of betraying your constituents.

Anthony Adams, who had signed a no-tax-increase pledge to get elected, betrayed his constituents and the people of California by becoming the crucial swing vote for the largest state tax increase in U.S. history.

Knowing that his constituents reviled him, he didn't bother running for re-election. But then who needs re-election when you can get a six-figure do-nothing job as reward for back-stabbing the public?

Victor Valley Daily Press:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has tapped outgoing Assemblyman Anthony Adams to fill a post on the state Board of Parole Hearings that pays $111,845 annually.

Adams, 39, R-Hesperia, left his Assembly seat this week after surviving a bitter recall effort over his critical state budget vote that included the largest tax hike in California history, despite Adams’ pledge to oppose higher taxes.

Adams' appointment still requires Senate confirmation. Please contact your State Senator and ask him/her to vote no if you don't approve of Sacramento backroom jobs-for-votes deals.

WalMart and DHS: A Love Story

WalMart is jumping right on the gub'mint fear train. Check out analysis from Charlie McDanger here and Shane Atwell here.


That's what you get for f___ing a feminist

Sky News' foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall said: "Mr Assange had sex with the two women on August the 15th and 17th but two days later they went to a police station and claimed rape and sexual molestation.

"Mr Assange admits he had consensual sex with the women but he absolutely denies the charges.

"One of the women involved in the claims is a radical feminist in Sweden who is known to have a theory that men dominate their social positions through sex and she's also been known to write a blog called 'seven steps to legal revenge'."

That's why God made most feminists lesbians. To protect us from stuff like this.

UPDATE: Feminists are not amused.


Julian Assange and the Two Minutes Hate

As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared. The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party's purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even -- so it was occasionally rumoured -- in some hiding-place in Oceania itself.

- 1984, George Orwell

Julian Assange's WikiLeaks has been a thorn in the side of the powerful and corrupt for four years. A history of their reporting is here. Originally, WikiLeaks focused on "exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations." In other words, your basic human rights and transparency organization. In fact, WikiLeaks has won awards including the 2008 Freedom of Expression award from the Index on Censorship and the 2009 Amnesty International human rights reporting award.

So how did the face of an ordinary human rights / open government group become the evil archvillain denounced by everyone from Joseph Lieberman to Sarah Palin? Simple. It depends whose corruption is being exposed. As soon as WikiLeaks released information that was embarrassing to the U.S. military and State Department (and threatened to release information on an even more untouchable target, Wall Street), WikiLeaks and Julian Assange became Enemies of the State.

Sarah Palin called Assange "an anti-American operative with blood on his hands," and urged that he be hunted down like the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Joseph McCarthy Lieberman used his position of state power to pressure businesses into taking away WikiLeaks' freedom of speech. Tom Flanagan, a former aide to the Canadian Prime Minister, publicly called for Assange's murder. The State Department threatened students with employment bans if they discuss WikiLeaks online. Defense contractor Raytheon ordered employees not to read WikiLeaks even on their home computers.

Look at the disdain with which we viewed such censorship in China less than three years ago.

The original leaker, Pfc. Bradley Manning, certainly committed a crime (perhaps even treason) in stealing the classified documents. He should face a court-martial and punishment serious enough to deter others from following his path. But to demonize a media/non-profit for distributing leaked materials is ridiculous. We didn't execute the publisher of the New York Times for publishing the Pentagon papers, nor when they clearly damaged a national security objective by publishing leaked details of a surveillance program in 2007. Attorney General Eric "what voter intimidation?" Holder announced "an active, ongoing, criminal investigation" into WikiLeaks.

It is terrifying how casually politicians are blurring the line between journalism and terrorism. If WikiLeaks and Julian Assange lose their freedom of speech in America, we have all lost our freedom of speech as well. What's to stop the government from naming every embarrassing or incriminating leak a "state secret?"

UPDATE: Assange's op-ed.

Lindsey Graham left her heart in Afghanistan

"I wish I knew how to quit you."

We've noted before how Lindsey Graham loves going to Afghanistan. Hmmmm... I wonder why.

Now, despite the abysmal record of foreign empires attempting to occupy Afghanistan, Lindsey wants a permanent U.S. occupation there. A convenient excuse for Lindsey's "fact-finding" missions, I suppose.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the occupation is both losing ground to the Taliban and losing the support of the Afghan population.

I hope they at least send her flowers.


Will John Boehner throw Ron Paul under the bus to please Wall Street banksters?

This is Boehner's moment of truth. Either he's with us or he's against us.

Five GOP leadership aides, speaking anonymously because a decision isn't final, say incoming House Speaker John Boehner has discussed ways to prevent Paul from becoming chairman or to keep him on a tight leash if he does. If Boehner, who will help determine who gets to chair subcommittees as early as Dec. 8, rejects Paul, he may have to contend with thousands of grassroots supporters and dozens of younger lawmakers who see Paul as a hero. Boehner, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

If Boehner whacks Ron Paul, I'm declaring war on Boehner and the GOP.

Please contact your GOP Rep. and Boehner and tell them not to even think about it.

San Diego City Council hates black people

They'd rather have urban unemployment and poverty than Walmart.


Investment advice from true believers: Gold and John F. Wasik

Instapundit links this anti-gold column by John F. Wasik.

Who is John F. Wasik? The author of The Audacity of Help: Obama's Economic Plan and the Remaking of America. And yes, the book is exactly as the title implies: a fawning, credulous homage to Obama's central planning utopian dreams. From the preface:
Boiled down, what Obama promises is a more ecological sense of shared responsibility. By ecological, I'm referring to interrelationships within society and the economy and not just the environment. Green jobs for inner-city residents mean better education and opportunity. Reshaping the energy infrastructure translates into less dependence on foreign energy sources, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and lower home-ownership expenses. Can the more than $350 billion the U.S. spends annually on energy imports be rechanneled into domestic energy production and jobs? Obamanomics provides the impetus to transform the United States into a greener economy.

This new economy, in Obama's plan, means redefining connections between government investments and economic growth. Spending money on health-record digitization, renewable energy, and general education will better positsion the United States to compete in global trade. More affordable and portable health care will create more economic security for everyone, particularly entrepreneurs.

That's so naive and laden with buzzwords it could have been written by Thomas Friedman.

Obviously, anybody who believes that Obama is going to lead us to the promised land riding his candy-pooping unicorn is not going to understand the investment case for gold. Gold is for those who don't believe central planning by Ivy League propellerheads is a sound strategy to grow the economy out of 10% GDP deficits.

I've laid out my investment case for gold many times before: the debt and deficit are out of control, we will not grow our way out, and inflation/devaluation will be the most politically palatable way out of the mess. Nothing in Wasik's shallow column changes any of that.

Ucar murder-suicide house for sale - 31 Campanilla, San Clemente

Two and a half years ago, we wrote of the strange case of the Ucar family. Twin UCSD students, their parents and grandmother were all found dead in a murder-suicide or group suicide.

Little on the motive has come to light since then, but the house is on the market. Meet 31 Campanilla. Sweeping ocean views for $810,000. It Zillows at $1.1 million.

But wait. It's not just the creepy history of the house that is scaring off buyers. One house hunter caught the sellers covering up a cracked foundation. There's also lots of mold, which along with the cracked foundation, suggests drainage issues. Then there are years worth of cosmetic repairs and upgrades needed. All in, at least a couple hundred thousand dollars of work, putting the total cost of the place in line with non-murder houses in the area. This would-be buyer sounds like he's no longer interested.

The sellers apparently don't have to disclose the cracked foundation because they don't live there. The buyer/blogger reports that they are overseas, most likely foreign Ucar heirs. This would somewhat discount the Greenspan's Body Count theory, because it means there was still equity in the house and the Ucars were not at the very end of their financial rope. Unless 1) the foreign owners are lenders, not heirs, or 2) the Ucars had tried to suck out equity but had been unable to because of the cracked slab. Or maybe Margrit Ucar's other real estate speculations were just so underwater that a few hundred thousand in equity in their house really didn't help.


Get the f*** outta here

Obama to troops:
"You give me hope. You give me inspiration. Your resolve shows that Americans will never succumb to fear," he said to cheers and shouts.
Never mind the 300 million who have been terrorized into letting the TSA treat them like common criminals.

Worthless words of a worthless politician.

New Top 5 Bloomberg names

Making the e-mail rounds today was a new incarnation of the Top 25 Bloomberg names. Yes, these are all real Bloomberg users.

And our enterprising friend Blinko and his colleagues did some Bloomberg sleuthing of their own and found some even better names today:

1. Christopher Fister
2. Yu Arafuka
3. Fukky Tantang
4. Anil Bangar
5. Bang Dae-Ho

Nigel Farage Elaborates on King World News

Nigel adds some more color (darker rather than lighter) to his brilliant speech...
"Just who the hell do you think you people are?"
...to the EU Parliament last week. This is a must listen from another beacon of reason coming from the other side of the pond. The text on the page also provides good summary descriptions of the folks he was referring to.

King World News - Nigel Farage


Joseph McCarthy Lieberman

Joe Lieberman's campaign of terror against the First Amendment is truly frightening.

Never take out a recourse mortgage

In California and many other states, mortgage purchase loans are non-recourse, meaning if things go bad you can walk away free and clear (refinance loans and home equity loans are generally NOT non-recourse).

However some states, and many other countries, have recourse mortgages. Here's what happens when you take out a recourse loan and try to walk away: the bank can haunt you until your dying days, and maybe even seize assets you have in another country!
A SPANISH bank may be able to seize a house in Britain after the owners – a family of four – missed mortgage payments on their apartment in Spain. Banco de Sabadell in Marbella has used a European Enforcement Order (EEO) to take control of the couple’s 300,000 pound (€358,391) three-bedroom cottage near Chippenham in Wiltshire.

They may even be forced to sell the cottage in order to pay back the mortgage on the property they bought in Duquesa in 2004. The mortgage they took out on the Spanish property was 145,000 pounds (€173,171). They offered to give the apartment to the bank when repayments became difficult last year, but Banco de Sabadell apparently refused.

Instead they launched a bid to seize the couple’s home. Ian and Carol Chatterton, both NHS paramedics, have two daughters aged 12 and 14 and have lived in their cottage for 20 years.

An interim was posted to them by a county court in October, but if they want to appeal against the order, they must do so in a Spanish court; which they cannot afford to do.

“We’re devastated,” Carols, aged 48, told the Daily Mail.

“There are thousands more Britons in our position. This is a time bomb waiting to go off. I can see the suicide rate going up as a result. It will have massive repercussions.”

The mortgage on the cottage, which is 250,000 pounds (€298,450), is held by Halifax, who has agreed to the forced sale provided it got its money back.

The remainder would be taken by Banco de Sabadell.

Don't EVER take out a recourse mortgage!


The Truth Behind the Dirty Fed's Dirty Laundry

The Fed has been forced to open its books and reveal recipients of "emergency" loans at the height of the 2008 financial collapse. Unsurprisingly, the news ain't pretty. Read about $3.1 trillion loaned to Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, unsecured loans for McDonald's, Verizon and Harley-Davidson, plus over $550 billion in MBSs handed over to foreign banks to "save the American economy".

I'd laugh but it's actually really sad.

Strange days indeed

I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but look at what the security agencies did to create and promote the Russia collusion hoax and th...