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Showing posts from August, 2011

PBS Is Anti-Evolution. Wants Us To Be Dumber.

On the same network that will excitedly run all sorts of documentaries stoking the panic about "Climate Change", they (PBS) aired a Nova episode last night about human evolution called "Becoming Human". In it they explained an apparently very credible theory that posits that 1-2 million years ago in Africa, repeated "rapid climate changes" were likely the "catalyst" that caused the brains of the earliest human species to double in size. Doubling the size of their brains helped them adapt to the repeatedly changing climate conditions.
Imagine my shock when I found out that the Earth's climate used to change way back in prehistoric times. Has anyone else heard of that?
If climate change made our ancestors' brains bigger, and eventually lead to the kind of mental acuity that could understand M-Theory, Quantum Mechanics, and financial derivatives, then sign me up for some more climate change, please! If bigger brains are the result of Global…

Benny and me

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UPDATE: Welcome Patrick.net readers! Thanks for the link. Patrick, one of the original housing bubble blogs, is still rocking while contemporary HousingPANIC has gone out with a face plant.

Blowing Bubbles to Save the World

Business Insider posts a suggestion that the royal MaObama-ness is going to try to keep home ownership unaffordable for the scum renting class, such as myself, with this:Options it has examined in the past:
helping more underwater borrowers refinance through the HARP program waiving reps and warranties for banks a so-called nuclear option of offering a 4% rate to all qualifying, existing borrowers (a government commitment to offering borrowers a set mortgage rate)The first is the most likely because the second two are expensive for taxpayers, say Barclays analysts Nicholas Strand and Derek Chen. The upside to the second two is that they would alter refinanceability for borrowers more substantially.
Again let's help those who can't afford so that those that can afford can't buy? Sounds like a plan your heinousness.

But that's ok Chairman, I can wait. As much as you hate renters this still isn't going to get me in the game because when it finally crashes …

Greenspan's Diabetes and Hypertension Epidemics

Today's Wall Street Journal tells us that
Greenspan's Body Count is just the tip of the iceberg.
The threat of losing your home is stressful enough to make you ill, it stands to reason. Now two economists have measured just how unhealthy the foreclosure crisis has been in some of the hardest-hit areas of the U.S.

New research by Janet Currie of Princeton University and Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University shows a direct correlation between foreclosure rates and the health of residents in Arizona, California, Florida and New Jersey. The economists concluded in a paper published this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research that an increase of 100 foreclosures corresponded to a 7.2% rise in emergency room visits and hospitalizations for hypertension, and an 8.1% increase for diabetes, among people aged 20 to 49.

Each rise of 100 foreclosures was also associated with 12% more visits related to anxiety in the same age category. And the same rise in foreclosures was ass…

Greenspan's Father of the Year Award

Not all of the stories of people driven to despair by the rise and fall of Greenspan's bubble end as tragically as those on Greenspan's Body Count.

Meet Sloane Briles. First, a little background:
Family court filings showed Briles lost his job in the mortgage industry in 2007 and got another job, but was injured and drew worker's compensation. He successfully petitioned to get his child support obligation reduced and tried for a second reduction, which his ex-wife, Christin, opposed.

"If he truly wanted to support his boys he would find a job," she wrote in the filing. She also wrote that Briles sees the boys only on his weekends and rarely calls them during his off weeks.
And now, the rest of the story:
It was a pleasant afternoon aboard a sightseeing cruise around scenic Newport Harbor until the unthinkable happened — a man threw his crying 7-year-old son overboard during an argument in front of shocked passengers, authorities said.

Sloane Briles, 35, was taken…

Rise of the machines: union-busters' fault?

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Over at Naked Capitalism, Yves Smith touches on a theme I wrote about last year in Rise of the Machines and Rise of the Machines, continued: the trend toward labor getting a smaller and smaller share of the economic pie as technology and efficiency make human labor less and less necessary.

Yves titles her post "The Wages of Destroying Labor Bargaining Power: Nearly 30% of Job Losses Due to Management Cutting Pie in Favor of Capital."

Unfortunately, most prescriptions from the left would seem to make the problem worse: more unionization, more rigid and expensive labor, more open-ended liabilities for every worker hired. All that only accelerates the incentives for offshoring and automation. You'd think the left didn't understand incentives or something.

You know we're not going to let this one go without playing "Who Made Who." Turn up your speakers to 11!

East Coast wussies panic over Category 1 hurricane

Less than a week after getting the vapors over a little 5.8 earthquake (we celebrated a 7.2 last year), East Coast weenies are freaking out over a hurricane that's Category 1, the weakest possible category of hurricane.

What's the matter Grandma, you don't like Alpo?

"Alan Greenspan sucks"

-- Google search bringing traffic to the W.C. Varones blog, originating from the Villages at Gainesville, a Florida retirement home.

Words of wisdom

"If you're prepared for the zombie apocalypse, a hurricane is just a storm."
-- Say Uncle

It amazes me to hear stories of East Coast stores sold out of flashlights, batteries, water... does no one plan ahead even in this slow-motion economic collapse?

Don't tell me you're going to be caught unarmed in the zombie apocalypse.

Obama pushes to give Wall Street a pass for the Crime of the Century

Read all about it from Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone.

Sarah Palin to announce candidacy on September 3?

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This just hit Facebook: "I'll be talking about this and more on September 3."



Here's the embedded video:



I hope she runs. Crony capitalist Rick Perry is a no-go for me, as is establishment RINO Mitt Romney. Whether or not Palin can show she's overcome her knowledge deficiencies (she's had a lot of time to study and she's smart enough to do it), she'll shake things up in a race that badly needs new blood. Maybe she'll even split the Perry vote and give Ron Paul an opening!

Bill Clinton goes Full Vegan

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All right, I hated the guy when he was in office. But Obama's making him look awesome by comparison.

And my contempt for Slick Willie is fading as he turns over a new leaf.
The former president, known for his love of burgers, barbecue and junk food, has gone from a meat lover to a vegan, the strictest form of a vegetarian diet. He says he eats fruits, vegetables and beans, but no red meat, chicken or dairy.

Clinton, 65, who had quadruple bypass surgery in 2004 and then stent surgery in 2010, is following this eating plan to improve his heart health.

He talked about his plant-based diet last year, saying he lost 24 pounds on it for his daughter Chelsea's wedding, and he chatted about it again recently on TV, drawing national attention to the potential health benefits of this type of diet.
I bet he just did it for the PETA Girls. I hope along with meat he's given up raping women like Juanita Broaddrick as well.

For those considering a plant-based diet -- and even more so f…

Greenspan's Body Count: Neal Jacobson update

Last year, Greenspan's Body Count included Franki Jacobson, Eric Jacobson, and Joshua Jacobson, the wife and 7-year-old twins of former mortgage broker and debt-junkie Neal Jacobson.

Now, we learn more about Jacobson as he sits in jail and goes through preliminary court hearings.
[Investigators] do know that Jacobson was a man of big ambitions, who dealt in big numbers and was saddled with big bills.

Tuesday morning, a judge ordered that the 49-year-old remain in jail without bail. He was scruffy and unshaven, but, the judge decreed, not indigent.

A former mortgage broker from New Jersey, Jacobson had been dealing lately in projects that at one time promised a big payday, but perhaps not a paycheck all year, said former business partner Eric Dallas.

How big?

"In the hundreds of millions actually, things such as getting gold mines operational — things like that," said Dallas, speaking from Orlando.

Jacobson, he said, had been to China recently looking for investors.

A yea…

S&P's Sam Stovall appears battered and bruised on CNBC

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You see what happens, Sammy, when you downgrade America on Timmy's watch?

On the bright side, it looks like you don't miss too many meals in the re-education camp.

Video here.

Humble economics blogger attacked by big-shot Ph.D.

... hilarity ensues.

Yours truly was called out in a post at Econbrowser, one of the web's top economics sites.

My response from the comments:
Webster's:Definition of DEBASE
transitive verb
1: to lower in status, esteem, quality, or character
2a : to reduce the intrinsic value of (a coin) by increasing the base-metal content
b: to reduce the exchange value of (a monetary unit)
Now if one weren't a group-thinking modern macroeconomist, one might be able to imagine a time in Roman, French, British, or other history when the precious metal content of coins was reduced (i.e. "debased") but the prevailing economic conditions at the time were such that rapid consumer price inflation did not immediately occur. If one really wanted to exercise the old gray matter, one might imagine an equivalent thing happening today, with dollars increasing in quantity and decreasing in quality, with no significant concurrent price index increase. I know it's very hard for …

The New York Times: not just for deranged morons like Paul Krugman and Thomas Friedman

This column was full of so much common sense that I was shocked that it came from the New York Times:
My experience, purely anecdotal, is that the more rangers try to bring the nanny state to public lands, the more careless, and dependent, people become. There will always be steep cliffs, deep water, and ornery and unpredictable animals in that messy part of the national habitat not crossed by climate-controlled malls and processed-food emporiums. If people expect a grizzly bear to be benign, or think a glacier is just another variant of a theme park slide, it’s not the fault of the government when something goes fatally wrong.
Expect columnist Timothy Egan to be turfed at the NYT long before former Enron adviser Paul Krugman or totalitarian-China-sycophant Thomas Friedman.

Is Ron Paul worried about gold confiscation?

Most folks don't know that FDR confiscated privately held gold during GD I. And most have never pondered the possibility of gold confiscation happening again.

Ron Paul knows his history, and he may be pondering just such a confiscation happening again.

This weekend's Barron's points out that while Ron Paul discloses holdings of gold mining stocks worth well over $1 million dollars, he claims no physical gold.
To our surprise, Paul's financial disclosures reveal no holdings of physical gold, gold coins, or gold equivalents like certain exchange-traded gold funds, which is confounding, given his strident advocacy of the metal as an insurance policy against the almost-certain debasement of the currency by politicians and central bankers. So we dug around a little. In his financial-disclosure form for the years 1994 through 2002, Paul reported holding "semi-numismatic" coins worth between $100,001 and $250,000. But from 2003 onward, they were never mentioned…

Obama's unilateral amnesty declaration

Obama has, without a Congressional vote for amnesty, declared that he's going to stop deporting low-level illegal alien offenders.

These people cannot legally work here. So Obama wants to keep unemployable people here drawing welfare and food stamps and free health care and free schools.

I mean, it's not like the government's broke or anything, right?

I'm all for guest workers, but do it legally, and don't allow one unskilled agricultural or domestic worker to bring an entire family that will take tens of thousands of dollars in welfare, health care, and education services. Allow honest workers to apply for a permit to work here seasonally or year-round and send earnings back to their families back home. We cannot afford to provide tnes of thousands of dollars per family of first-class health care, education, and welfare in exchange for a little unskilled manual labor. We spend $30,000 per student for elementary education alone. No manual laborer's work ca…

It's not a how-to manual

Obama buys a copy of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

I suppose he already has Orwell's 1984 and Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron.

Devaluation: You're doing it wrong!

Now that it's becoming clear that QE1, QE2, Porkulus, 10% GDP deficits, etc., were all miserable failures and the economy still sucks like a hooker needing a meth fix, let's recall that this was all completely obvious to anyone without a Ph.D.:
Zero interest rates and buying assets from the banks serves only to bail out Wall Street and create asset bubbles that benefit asset owners, but this doesn't get money to the broad mass of consumers. The misguided theory seems to be that if the banks are made healthy, they'll eventually start lending to the little people. But people don't need more debt. Too much debt is what got them here in the first place, and more debt will only make things worse. What people need is cash to pay down the debt. If Ben Bernanke really wanted to solve the problem, he'd stop giving money to the banks and follow through on his "helicopter drop" threat to get the money where it's needed, to the people. One mechanism would be …

The Tea Party is the true descendant of the hippies

I've felt this way since the dawning of the Tea Party movement.

Though the Left fantasizes itself the continuation of the hippie movement, the hippies were all about freedom, liberty, and self-determination... exactly the opposite of what the Left stands for today.

Hippie-turned-moderate-Democrat Mickey Kaus agrees:
Paul Krugman decries “hippie punching.” This is now an accepted way to mock almost any contemporary criticism of unabashed liberals. I was a hippie – hippie adjacent anyway. I knew hippies. Hippies were friends of mine. They hated liberals. That goes double for the ’60s New Left. Liberals were the enemy, and many of the New Left’s critiques (e.g. of Big Labor/Big Government corporatism, interest-group politics and anti-participatory bureaucracies) were very similar to today’s Tea Party critiques.
How do you think the hippies would have liked Obama bombing children in Libya, by the way?

Greenspan's Body Count: Russell Armstrong

Most of those on Greenspan's Body Count become famous only in death, when debt and collapse have driven them over the edge.

Today's victim was already semi-famous from appearing on a reality show called "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." The show is apparently a voyeuristic pleasure for people who want to see the train wreck lives of debt-ridden and plastic-surgery-riddled neurotics.

Heeeere's Russell:
At the time of his death, Armstrong was more than $1.5 million in debt as a result of trying to keep up with expectations for the lavish lifestyle portrayed on the show, his lawyer told ABCNews.com. Greenspan's Body Count stands at 185.

Obama to propose Porkulus II

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WSJ:
President Barack Obama is considering recommending that lawmakers on a deficit committee back new measures to stimulate the lagging economy, people familiar with White House discussions said Tuesday.

[...]

These include extending unemployment-insurance benefits and a payroll-tax cut for employees, which expire at year end and together cost more than $160 billion a year, and an infrastructure bank that could cost as much as $30 billion. The White House is also looking at a payroll-tax cut for employers, worth perhaps as much as roughly $110 billion, and other tax breaks for businesses of as much as $55 billion.
Because Porkulus I, Cash-for-Clunkers, Cash-for-Caulkers, etc., all worked out so well!

How can we afford more stimulus when we are already running deficits of a Greece-beating 10% of GDP? Let's ask President Wimpy!



"I would gladly pay you in 2017 for a re-election-boosting stimulus today!"
Mr. Obama's recommendations could complicate the [deficit] committ…

John Stewart on the media campaign to sabotage Ron Paul

Paging Mr. Christie and Mr. Ryan

Karl Rove thinks Chris Christie and Paul Ryan might still jump into the race.

I sure hope so because the current field (excepting media outcasts Ron Paul and Gary Johnson) is thirty-odd feetofsuck.

Either Ryan or Christie would be fantastic.

CNN's Candy Crowley lies about Ron Paul's electability

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What, did Romney and Perry buy her a year's supply of donuts?



It's obscene that we allow these corrupt hacks in the media to rule out reformers like Ron Paul and Gary Johnson and support the status quo establishment crooks. And here the media admit that's exactly what they do.

John Stewart on Marcus Bachmann

It's a fair, point, I'd say, and one I'd noticed before. Doesn't marrying this guy make you (even more) suspicious of Michele Bachmann's judgment?

Maybe they just share a fondness for hot dogs.

Tea Partiers hate Rick Perry

Some links being passed around today by some of my Tea Party friends:

Rick Perry's Crony Capitalism Problem

We don't need another George W. Bush

14 Reasons Rick Perry would be a really bad President

We all wanted a knight to ride in and save us from a weak GOP field. But Rick Perry ain't it. Among the declared candidates, my Tea Party friends are enthusiastic only about Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, and they are still not getting their due in the media.

High art

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HT: FilmDrunk.com

Slippery slopes and the Left's contempt for the Constitution

Legal arguments of the "slippery slope" sort are often derided as preposterous extrapolations. The next time you hear a slippery slope argument, take it a little more seriously, especially if it's regarding the unconstitutional expansion of government powers.

Here's Clinton appointee Stanley Marcus' dissent on the ObamaCare individual mandate.

Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus dissented in the Georgia federal appeals court.  He called the views of the states and the two other judges approaching the case “wooden, formalistic, and myopic.”  Marcus wrote that Congress has long regulated health insurance and regulated parts of the system, including prescription drugs and the cost of health care through setting Medicare prices.

“The majority has ignored many years of Commerce Clause doctrine developed by the Supreme Court,” Marcus wrote.

Translation: We've been pissing on the Constitution so long that it no longer means anything at all, and Congress can do absolutely a…

Welcome Back, Carter!

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Economists expected today's consumer sentiment number to come in at 63.0. How's that working out for them? Survey says: 54.9, the worst consumer sentiment since Jimmy Carter!


Photo credit: Uncle Meat

Quotations from Chairman Varones

There are only three lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; another, wings. The third, an ammo box full of gold and silver bullion.

California drives young entrepreneur to flee to Texas

I'll tell you the story of Erica Douglass in a minute. But first, as an appetizer to cleanse your palate, a little macro news from the California State Controller. California Bleeding:
SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang today released his monthly report covering California's cash balance, receipts and disbursements in July, showing revenues were down $538.8 million (-10.3 percent) below projections from the recently passed state budget.

"While July's revenues performed remarkably similar to last year's, they still did not meet the budget's projections," said Chiang. "While we hope for better news in the months ahead, every drop in revenues puts us closer to the drastic trigger cuts that could be imposed next year."

Income taxes were above projections by $89 million (2.9 percent) in July. But sales taxes were down $139.4 million (-12.5 percent), and corporate taxes were down $69.5 million (-19.3 percent) in the same month.

The State face…

Dirty Fed: This economy is going to suck so hard we're going to have to keep giving the banks free money until mid-2013

Bloomberg:
The Federal Reserve pledged for the first time to keep its benchmark interest rate at a record low at least through mid-2013 in a bid to revive the flagging recovery after a worldwide stock rout.

The Federal Open Market Committee discussed a range of policy tools to bolster the economy and said it is “prepared to employ these tools as appropriate,” it said in a statement today in Washington. Three members of the FOMC dissented, preferring to maintain the pledge to keep rates low for an “extended period.”

The decision represents the biggest effort since November to spark the U.S. economy and revive confidence while stopping short of initiating a third round of large-scale asset purchases. Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his colleagues acted after reports showed the economy was slowing and an unprecedented downgrade to the U.S. credit rating sent stocks tumbling from Sydney to New York.

The Fed offered a dimmer view of the economy than it did in the last statement in late June. …

Obama responds to debt downgrade by proposing to make Social Security even more insolvent

Well, not immediately. His first reaction to the crisis and the deaths of the Navy Seals was to go golfing, obviously.

But when he finally rolled into the office around 2pm on Monday, Obama proposed to make the debt crisis even worse by extending the payroll tax cut. That's the tax that funds the already underfunded Social Security program.

Why stop funding Social Security? Because the extra 2% in people's paychecks will make them feel better now even if we are just stealing it from the future. And feeling a little better now might help get Obama re-elected.

47% of Americans pay no federal income tax already. These freeloading deadbeats are a big part of Obama's base. Now he wants to give them Social Security without paying for it too.

San Diego Tea Party responds to U.S. debt rating downgrade

Gee, this doesn't sound like the rubes or terrorists that politicians and the snob media tell us the Tea Partiers are:
No one here in San Diego, across the country, or elsewhere in the world, who has been closely following the news, is surprised that S&P downgraded this nation’s credit rating from AAA to AA+. The simple, bitter truth is that the United States of America spends money it doesn’t have. And S&P formally stated what the taxpayers of this nation have been saying loudly these past three years — you can’t spend us back to solvency.

The Tea Party was started in 2009 out of the growing frustration that our representatives in Washington DC were more interested in reelection instead of representation. The Republican Party had abandoned its fiscally conservative roots, approving more entitlement programs and agreeing to continue baseline budgeting that automatically increases spending levels. The Democrats, especially when they gained control of both Houses in 2007, dram…

Timmy the Tax Cheat joins Zimbabwe Ben in the Idiots or Liars Club

In May, we linked a video documenting a brief history of Ben Bernanke being completely, spectacularly wrong about absolutely everything. Bernanke is clearly either a habitual liar or a moron.

Tonight, Timmy the Tax Cheat Geithner joins Bernanke in the Idiots or Liars Club. As recently as April, Timmy said there was "no risk" the U.S. would lose its AAA credit rating. How's that working out for you now, Timmy?

Fullerton police officer involved in beating death of Kelly Thomas identified as Jay Cicinelli

The W.C. Varones Blog has friends who are police officers. Most police officers are faithful civil servants, and many are true heroes.

But when cops go bad, it's important to bring them to justice even more so than ordinary bad guys, because they operate under the color of authority. And the beating death of defenseless, unarmed homeless guy Kelly Thomas appears to be such a case.

It speaks poorly of police unions and police rank-and-file that they tend to rally to the defense of bad cops rather than admit that there are some bad apples and evaluate each case on the facts.

More on the Kelly Thomas beating death here and here. More on Jay Cicinelli here.

The beating was recorded on police security camera video, but the city refuses to release it. An onlooker recorder this video, where you can't see much but can hear public shocked reaction to the overwhelming force as well as the pleas of the dying man, "Dad! Dad! Dad!" The city has not suspended, even pending invest…

Global Competitive Devaluation comes to Switzerland

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Remember that Global Competitive Devaluation thing we've beentalkingabout? The idea is that when the US and EU start printing money and devaluing their currencies, all other fiat currencies will have to devalue in order to keep their export and labor markets competitive.

Well, here it is with a vengeance. The Swiss Franc, long known as a rock solid, safe haven currency, just went Full Bernanke. Goldman Sachs elaborates via Zero Hedge.

In reaction to the sharp appreciation of the CHF over the past couple of weeks, the SNB announced a rate cut this morning, reducing its 3-month CHF Libor target to 0.00-0.25%, from 0.00-0.75% previously. Given that the SNB was targeting 0.25% within the old range - and 3-month rates were actually below that target – this change in target should be seen mostly as symbolic. However, it also shows that the risks to the monetary policy outlook have shifted significantly and our rate forecast is under review. The SNB also announced that it would in…

Bonerpocalyse Now! Markets tank on horrible debt ceiling deal

Did you see all those sleazy politicians doing press conferences about how they had averted a crisis with their "compromise?"

Well, at the same time they were patting themselves on the back, the stock market was tanking. Tonight, markets around the world are dropping as well. The markets seem to share my view that the problem is the debt, not the debt ceiling, and the Republicans just threw away the only leverage they had to move the country toward a sustainable fiscal path and preserve the AAA credit rating.

Gold went nuts, by the way, up $40 to $1660 in the biggest one-day move I can remember. The markets realize that gold is one thing Bernanke can't print, Obama can't spend, and Boner can't surrender.

Boner needs to be primaried if the cowards in Congress won't remove him as Speaker.

Bill Gross: the debt deal is a complete fraud and the U.S. is still going to screw bondholders

It's always gratifying to have investment titan Bill Gross validate what we've been telling you here. And Bill Gross does not disappoint in his August Investment Outlook.
* ​Nothing in the Congressional compromise reached over the weekend makes a significant dent in our $1.5 trillion deficit.
* In addition to an existing nearly $10 trillion of outstanding Treasury debt, the U.S. has a near unfathomable $66 trillion of future liabilities at “net present cost.”
* Aside from outright default, there are numerous ways a government can reduce its future liabilities. They include balancing the budget, unexpected inflation, currency depreciation and financial repression.
And Gross's investment advice will sound familiar to readers of these pages:
Favor countries with cleaner “dirty shirts” and higher real interest rates: Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Germany come to mind. Shade equity and fixed income investments away from dollar based indexes towards those of developing nations…

Syria massacres protesters, Obama inexplicably still not bombing Syrian children

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It was good enough for Libya, right?

Bloomberg:
Syria’s army pressed its crackdown on Hama as thousands took to the streets of Damascus and other cities to protest the killing of more than 140 people by President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces.

On the first day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, artillery pounded parts of Hama, destroying four buildings, Mahmoud Merhi, head of the Damascus-based Arab Organization for Human Rights, said in a telephone interview.

Scheisse! Mark Meckler teaches silly Germans a thing or two about fiscal responsibility

You'd think people in a country currently being looted to bail out Greece would not be so cavalier about runaway spending and debt. You'd be wrong.

Nevertheless, Tea Party Patriots spokesman Mark Meckler (a great guy whom I've met) gives Der Spiegel a really good interview despite some really ignorant questions.