WC Varones

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

Advice for Zimbabwe Ben's victim Stephanie

Mish has good advice, but little consolation, for Stephanie, a senior citizen being crushed between Bernanke's food inflation and his 0% interest for her savings.

Zimbabwe Ben comes for your beer



$11.49 for a six-pack! $9.99 with club discount. And not at some ripoff convenience store, but at Vons, in the ultra-competitive Southern California grocery market.

Don't get me wrong. Stone is a great beer, but it never used to be $11.49 or even $9.99 before.

Will Zimbabwe Ben cause beer riots in the U.S. like he's caused food riots in Africa? Not yet. Our credit card is still working.

Travel Note - Nudie Scanner

I just went on a cross country trip with 50 or so professional colleagues. Now we had arabic folks in our group; we had mafia looking folks in our group; we had ugly folks in our group; and we even had folks that I'd consider a little sketchy myself if I didn't know them personnally in our group. And in all I only heard of 1 instance of the nudie scan being employed. It was on the hottest girl in our group.

Of course if I were a Soviet TSA worker working on a machine that's only purpose was to show nudie pictures of travelers, a machine that had no terrorist prevention attributes whatsoever, she'd be my only choice as well.

Well done comrades!

They're rioting in Africa

Ladies and gentlemen, the Kingston Trio:

The McDanger files

Charlie takes on the banko-political complex and American indifference: Pay attention.

yul take yer ejicashun an yul like it

Don't like the crappy public schools your kids are assigned to? Deal with it, or go to jail.

Chief Medicare Actuary: No, Obamacare won't cut costs, and No, you can't keep your current plan

Now they tell us the truth.

Everything they promised about Obamacare was a lie.

Paul Ryan's excellent SOTO response

Obama's SOTU was trite, heavy on platitudes, and light on specifics.

Paul Ryan's response was perfect. I'll let Jennifer Rubin explain.

Paul Ryan is one of the very few Republicans I could enthusiastically support for President. In fact, he might be at the top of that list right now.

David Crisp finally arrested three years after Bakersfield real estate fraud ring

When we first noted the busboy-turned-jetsetting-real-estate-hotshot back in 2007, we called Crisp "Casey Serin South."

But as the story unfolded, it became clear that this was more than just another young speculator who bought a half dozen houses for himself. It turned out that Crisp was the ringleader of a huge house-flipping ring where he, his employees, and their family members would sell houses to each other and straw buyers at rapidly escalating prices, using their other fake transactions as comps to make the appraisals pass at ridiculous prices.

Our earlier coverage:

7/4/2007: Apparent massive Bakersfield mortgage fraud
7/21/2007: Rent-to-owners got scammed
8/28/2007: Crisp sold a house without paying off a $149,000 line of credit on it
9/7/2007: His & Hers foreclosures
9/30/2007: Crisp family and associates have defaulted on $59 million of loans on 94 properties
12/8/2007: No bids on Crisp mansion, state files tax lien against Crisp and wifey
9/27/2008: More than a year after massive fraud ring revealed, state revokes Crisp's real estate license

... and then for more than two years, nothing. Finally, Friday, several members of the Crisp gang were arrested. It's about time. But even worse than the three-year delay on this open and shut case is the fact that DOJ is still going after broke, friendless little punks like David Crisp instead of the big crooks: Mozilo, Fuld, Thain, Lewis, and Paulson. But then what did we expect? The Ruling Class protects its own.

HT: Jeff.

P.S. You think Crisp squirreled away some cash or gold overseas somewhere during those years when he was rolling around in millions of dollars from stupid banks? Nah. If he had, he'd be on a tropical island right now. I shouldn't have to state the obvious, but next time get some cash and gold hidden away before you get caught!

Government-sponsored income inequality in the U.S.

Robert Shiller via Washington's Blog:
There have been political changes in the US that allow the extreme high end to garner more wealth. Ultimately, it represents a failure of our society to take account of the fact that the extreme high end can lobby and can organise for its own interests, and we’ve let it happen.

[...]

You might think that in a system of majority voting, the middle class and the poor would dominate and would prevent this kind of inequality from developing. But it hasn’t been that way – it’s been even less so that way lately, especially in the US.


Shiller doesn't give concrete examples, so allow me to list a few.

1) Wall Street bankers, through their lackeys Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke, threaten Congress with the end of the world if the banks don't get bailed out. The banks get bailed out.

2) Wall Street bankers insist that the American economy can't be competitive unless Wall Street banks remain Too Big To Fail. Financial reform is gutted and banks are allowed to become even bigger.

3) Even after the bailouts, banks remain insolvent, so bankers lobby for accounting rule changes that allow them to hide their insolvency. Banks get their accounting rule changes.

4) Even after the accounting rule changes, banks are still in terrible financial shape. So the Federal Reserve pins interest rates at zero percent so that the banks can generate giant profits by borrowing at zero percent and buying Treasury bonds.

Et voila! You have more obscene profits and bonuses on Wall Street just two years after Wall Street corruption and incompetence blew up the American economy. At the same time, Main Street still suffers with stagnant wages, high unemployment, and rising food and energy costs.

"Let them eat credit." Indeed.

Liberals always paint this as an issue of tax policy and campaign finance reform. But that is a naive view. Where there is money and power, it will find influence. The Wall Street - Washington cabal is far too deep and intertwined to be restrained by campaign finance rules, and they will always find a way to push the burden of higher tax rates onto the middle class while buying loopholes for themselves. The revolving door between Wall Street and Washington is far more pernicious than any campaign contributions. Hank Paulson was a Wall Street multi-multi-millionaire before he came to the Treasury and used his position to bail out his Wall Street buddies. And Timmy the Tax Cheat knows that he'll have a seven-figure Wall Street job waiting for him as long as he does Wall Street's bidding as Treasury Secretary. That kind of giant personal wealth incentive makes any campaign contributions seem quaint by comparison.

I simplify this somewhat by focusing on Wall Street, but the same principle applies obviously to government contractors, ethanol makers, TSA nudie-scanner makers, and every other industry funded, subsidized, or mandated by politicians handing out Other People's Money. Every department of the government is filled with bureaucrats at every level hoping to get rich by doing favors for, and then landing a cushy job with, private industry.

The answer was set out for us by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution. Only restraints on the scope and breadth of what the government can do will prevent the rich and powerful from seizing the levers of government for their own advantage. The government our Founding Fathers gave us was never supposed to be allowed to bail out private banks or manipulate interest rates for the benefit of the wealthy. The way to restore representative democracy and reduce government-sponsored inequality is to restore limited government.

Greenspan's Body Count: Angela Singleton

Kentucky.com has the tragic tale of Jason Edward Singleton and Angela Singleton of Richmond, Kentucky:
In a news release Friday night, state police said Singleton had been charged with murder in the death of Angela Singleton, 25.

[...]

He had a job that paid more than six figures annually, but he owes creditors thousands of dollars, and his house is in foreclosure.

[...]

BAC Home Loans Servicing sued in August for $137,668.52 owed on a mortgage on the Forest Hill Drive house. The company seeks foreclosure and wants the house to be sold.

LVNV Funding LLC, a collection agency, sued Singleton in September for $28,127.43 that he had not paid to Credit One Financial Solutions.

Finally, FIA Card Services N.A. sued Singleton for $9,344.92. The court file in this case contained four summonses notifying him about the litigation; the latest was dated Jan. 11, 2011.

State police and Madison Court records said Singleton is employed by Affiliated Computer Services Inc. in Lexington. On records in Somerset, Singleton listed his monthly income as $9,500. He listed the balance of his bank account as $30.

He listed one dependent child, age 10, and said he pays $763 a month in support, according to Somerset records. During his arraignment Friday, Singleton first said he planned to hire an attorney but then asked about having one appointed for him at public expense.

He told the judge he owns a home but it is in foreclosure and he owes more on the property than it is worth.

Zillow doesn't cover the house, and Kentucky hasn't got Redfin yet. But that's a nice looking house in the Kentucky.com photo, and similar neighboring houses are listed in the mid-to-high-$100's. So to be underwater on the house, Jason Singleton likely had a second mortgage in addition to the $137K Countryfried loan. "Credit One Financial Solutions" appears to be a credit card debt consolidator, and FIA Card Services is an ordinary credit card issuer. Good luck collecting now, you leeches!

Amazing how a guy can earn six figures in a very low cost-of-living area and still find a way to get into debt trouble. Thanks, Alan Greenspan!

Greenspan's Body Count stands at 152.

"Conservatives" insecure in their own sexuality run screaming from CPAC

... because gays and libertarians will be there.

This is just sad. DeMint is great on fiscal issues, but he's a girly man who's afraid to be in a room with gays or libertarians.

For Pete's sake, the senior Senator from DeMint's own state is a flaming homosexual!

Mystery solved: the difference between the deficit and the increase in national debt

For some time, bloggers have been noticing that the national debt is increasing a lot faster than the budget deficit would suggest. ZeroHedge in September:
[O]ver the past 47 months, or almost 4 full fiscal years, the US has accumulated a $3.3 trillion deficit, while over the same period, total Federal debt increased by $4.9 trillion, from $8.6 trillion to $13.4 trillion.


The ex-Wall Street types at ZeroHedge chewed on this but couldn't come up with a good explanation. Karl Denninger called it crooked accounting, but couldn't pinpoint the fraud. B-Daddy at the Liberator Today noticed the same thing and didn't have an answer. Then I threw the question over to the academics at Econbrowser:

If it's such a simple accounting identity, would you please reconcile the $1.9 trillion and $1.65 trillion debt increases in FY 09 and FY 10 with the alleged deficits of $1.4 trillion and $1.3 trillion for the same fiscal years?

And before you answer that it's the Social Security Trust Fund, intragovernmental holdings increased by just $320 billion over the two years.

So where's the other $530 billion?

None of the academics among the bloggers and commenters at Econbrowser could answer the question, until Menzie Chinn found an expert who could.

I and many others suspected the answer was in some off-budget shenanigans like Fannie/Freddie, GMAC, etc. It turns out we were right in general but missed the biggest specific off-budget item: student loans. In table S-14 of this FY2011 OMB Mid-Session Review shown to me by Menzie, you'll see that the financial asset "Direct loan acccounts" increased from $489 billion to $689 billion. And the prior Mid-Session Review (table S-15) shows that account at $196 billion at the end of FY08. So an increase in student loans accounted for $393 493 billion of the missing money over the two years.

There's also an increase of $100 billion in "Government-sponsored enterprise preferred stock" (Because Fannie and Freddie are assets to the Treasury, not liabilities, right! How are those preferred dividends working out for you, Timmy?). Together with the student loans and the change in intra-governmental holdings, that explains the vast majority of the difference between the reported two-year deficit and the actual increase in debt.

From an economic perspective, Karl Denninger is right when he argues that we should rely on the increase in debt rather than the reported deficit. The $100 billion "asset" in money-losing black holes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is an outright fraud. And the almost $400 500 billion in student loans is direct Keynesian stimulus: it gets spent at the colleges immediately, where it goes to pay faculty and staff salaries as well as facility construction and maintenance. Never mind that much of it will never be paid back to the Treasury due to default, forgiveness, or death.

Using the actual debt numbers rather than the massaged "deficit" numbers, it looks like we're heading into our third consecutive year of deficits well over 10% of GDP.

UPDATE: Mike Shedlock (Mish) has dug in with more commentary and analysis. Thanks, Mish!

MSNBC whacks Keith Olbermann

Howard Kurtz confirms:
It is true. MSNBC contract has ended. Olbermann is outta there. Lawrence O'Donnell moves to 8, the Ed Show to 10

It speaks poorly of MSNBC and its moronic viewers that it took this long. As we said back in November when they "indefinitely" suspended him before flip-flopping after a few days, they were looking for an excuse to dump this walking embarrassment.

Zimbabwe Ben causes shrinkage

We noted in Zimbabwe Ben comes to Trader Joe's that manufacturers and retailers are trying to hide inflation by sneakily shrinking packages rather than raising prices.

Now CNN Money reports that package shrinkage is happening all over the place.

Recently, some environmentalist commenters have cheered Zimbabwe Ben for his effect on gas prices. But causing package shrinkage is bad for the environment, as it produces more packaging waste per unit of useful product. Zimbabwe Ben is no environmental hero.

HT: Instapundit

On chihuahuas

1) If a bird tries to eat your dog, it's not a dog, it's a rodent.

2) Don't crash your truck trying to avoid running over a rodent.

Bill Gross: the Fed and Treasury are coming to rob you of your wealth

Via Washington's Blog:
Bill Gross had a great sound bite at Forbes' annual investing roundtable:

I don't know if the U.S. has reached a desperate point, but it is employing instruments and vehicles and policies that smack of desperation. We are not looking at a default here, but at years of accelerating inflation, which basically robs investors and labor of their real wages and earnings. We are looking at a currency that almost certainly will depreciate relative to other, stronger currencies in developing countries that have lower levels of debt and higher growth potential. And, on the short end of the yield curve, we are looking at creditors receiving negative real interest rates for a long, long time. That, in effect, is a default. Ultimately creditors and investors are at the behest of a central bank and policymakers that will rob them of their money.


Gross' statement came right after the following zinger from Marc Faber:

Janet Yellen, vice chair of the Federal Reserve, said about a year ago that if it were possible to push interest rates into negative territory, she would vote for that. This is a very important statement because it implies that the Fed will keep real interest rates negative as far as the eye can see. Negative real rates amount to expropriation and destroy one function of money: to be a store of value and a unit of account. If you measure the stock market not in dollars but gold, it is down 80% since 1999. I no longer regard the U.S. dollar as a valid unit of account. People shouldn't value their wealth in dollars because one day, in dollars, everyone will be a billionaire.

The dollar is still the most convenient medium of exchange. But it is absolutely not a store of wealth. Marc Faber has always had extreme views, but you don't get more mainstream than Bill Gross. And Bill Gross is telling you that dollars are for suckers. Those who haven't diversified out of dollars have been warned.

That's what you get for handing out Nobel Prizes like Cracker Jack toys

Obama urged to press Hu Jintao on freedom for his "fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate" Liu Xiaobao, who is a political prisoner in China.

Obama, of course, will make only a passing reference, if any, to Liu and human rights in general, as he's focused on making nice with America's biggest creditor (well, second biggest, if you count the Dirty Fed money-printers as creditors).

Perhaps they should ask someone who actually did something to earn a Nobel Peace Prize. Al Gore at least gave a PowerPoint presentation to get his. Maybe he could take a break from his massages and fly in on a private jet with a set of PowerPoint slides on human rights.

Zimbabwe Ben was here

Zimbabwe Ben has a little something for everyone. For the elderly, it's skyrocketing food and utility bills and 0.5% interest on their savings.

For us working stiffs, it's $3.59 unleaded. But on the bright side, a lot of people don't need to commute any more anyway.

Thanks, Zimbabwe Ben!

Ricky Gervais hosts best awards show ever

I never watch Hollywood award shows, but I am really sorry I missed this at the Golden Globes.

The opening monologue (with crowd reactions) can be seen here.

Wall Street calls B.S. on Bernanke

Some institutional Wall Street firms are beginning to say what little Fedbashing bloggers have been saying for a long time.

From the respected Leuthold Group's latest letter:
By keeping interest rates at extreme lows and printing money the Fed is trying to reflate, convincing consumers to spend, not save and investors to buy riskier assets. The Fed is trying to create a wealth effect.

* This new round of "Quantitative Easing" is not expected to be effective and likely will create more havoc.
* We see the perceived deflation threat developing into commodity based inflationary fears.
* The worst kind of inflation is monetary debasement, and yes we should also be fearful of this!

Greenspan's Body Count: Mark Schons, Jennifer Schons, Tynan Schons, Camden Schons

Haven't I told you people? If Greenspan's economic crash drives you to this point, go ahead and off yourself, but don't hurt the kids!

Greenspan's latest victims are in the Detroit suburb of Novi, MI.
A man who owned a now-defunct Howell-area party-supply store killed his 38-year-old wife and two children Friday at their home in Novi before taking his own life in a parking lot in Lyon Township, authorities said.

A motive is unknown — no suicide note has been found — but Mark and Jennifer Schons were deep in debt, had filed for bankruptcy in December and were considering a divorce, although they continued to live together with their children in their home on Applebrooke Drive in rural southern Novi, police said.

More:
The couple had filed for bankruptcy December 23, and had run up more than $200,000 in debt in recent years, mostly from credit cards, according to federal court records. A meeting with creditors was scheduled for next Wednesday.

More:
Investigators are pursuing several motives, including that the couple, who lived in a 2,500-square-foot, two-story brick home on an acre lot with an in-ground pool, apparently were having financial difficulties.

Molloy said the couple were considering divorce.

Their party supply store, Party Central on East Grand River in Howell, recently failed. They filed bankruptcy in December, claiming $581,000 in debt. Besides their home mortgage, most of the debt was from credit cards, authorities said. The Schons' store was recently sued by the business's landlord in 53rd District Court. Their house, bought in 2008 for $420,000, was listed Friday for sale on a real estate website for $574,900.

That house would appear to be 50880 Applebrooke Drive. They were trying to sell it for 37% more than they paid for it two years ago.

Greenspan's Body Count stands at 151.

Paul Krugman inspires Arizonan to action: James Eric Fuller

Shooting victim arrested for death threat against Tea Party leader.

Of course, the mainstream media's hatemongering campaign against conservatives had absolutely nothing to do with it.

UPDATE: Here's James Eric Fuller's profile on an online hypnosis community page where he exhibits mild symptoms of Bush Derangement Syndrome. "Non-physical disability" indeed!



He calls himself "thornking." This HuffPo user Thornking sounds like the same guy.
The HuffPo profile appears to have been scrubbed, but Google and Bing search still show this:
Navy veteran once stationed at Miramar NAS, (McCain's old hangars) numerous jobs in the corporate world and in govt.....

Thornking rants against Tea Partiers:
Let's kick these freak-out artists in the pants and send the Replunderc­an sociopaths back to their gated communitie­s with a black eye.

Violent rhetoric alert!

Gaia hates the 9th Circuit



Like the Taliban blowing up the Buddhas of Bamiyan, the leftist hatemongers on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have ruled that the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial cross must be destroyed, even if it's on private property, because of its religious symbolism.

What's next? Burning down California's historic Spanish missions?

Well, if you're a spiritual or religious person, God or Mother Nature smiled on protesters trying to save the cross today. It was an amazing warm, sunny day with spectacular panoramic views.

The Supreme Court still has a chance to save the historic cross, and San Diego's Congressional delegation is also working on legislative remedies.

Summer in January

Sunny and 70's.

Git on yer bike.

Double-dippin'

Well, the long-awaited housing double-dip is now well underway.

So what went wrong? Why has the Fed's money printing created huge inflation in stocks, commodities, food, and energy, but not houses? What separates houses from other speculative assets?

Answer: house prices are supported primarily by incomes, while other assets are bought by speculators using cash and leverage. The Fed has flooded the banks with money at 0% interest allowing the banks and their customers to have a speculative orgy in every asset class. Stocks, gold, silver, agriculture commodities, etc., are all up double digits -- some of them BIG double digits -- year-over-year.

But housing prices are not set by speculators playing with free money from the Dirty Fed. They are set by families who are limited by their ability to meet the monthly mortgage payment. And Bernanke's party for Wall Street hasn't done a damn thing to help working families.

Epic FAIL, Bernanke. You just drove up the cost of food, gasoline, and home heating oil, but you didn't create any employment or increase any wages. Unless your plan all along was to enrich the bankers at the expense of working families.

Vincent McCrudden proves Paul Krugman right about "violent rhetoric"

Now that's violent rhetoric!

BusinessWeek:
A New York asset manager, accused of running unregistered commodity pools, was charged with threatening to kill U.S. financial regulators, including the heads of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Vincent P. McCrudden, 49, was arrested yesterday at Newark [...]

“Go buy a gun, and let’s get to work in taking back our country from these criminals,” McCrudden wrote on one of his websites, according to the complaint. “I will be the first one to lead by example.”

That's exactly what Keith Olbermann tells me they say at Tea Parties!

But wait, there's more!
“You’re not getting away with this….Merry Christmas!” he wrote, according to the complaint. He also said he was “coming after” CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler.

About 16 hours later, he sent a threatening e-mail to the other CFTC lawyers listed on the press release announcing the lawsuit, according to the complaint.

[...]

The website of Long Beach-based Alnbri had an “Execution List” of 47 current and former officials of the CFTC, SEC, Finra and the National Futures Association, including Gensler, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro and Finra Chairman Richard Ketchum, according to the complaint.

“These people have got to go!” the site said, according to the complaint. “And I need your help, there are just too many for me alone.”

On Dec. 20, he updated the site to offer payments of as much as $100,000 “for personal information on the people named on this site, and also validation and proof of punishment against these criminals,” according to the complaint.

[...]

In a Sept. 30 e-mail, writing as Gensler, he threatened to kill an employee of the futures association, according to the complaint. “You’re a Dead Man!” the subject line read, prosecutors said.

“It wasn’t ever a question of ‘if’ I was going to kill you, it was just a question of when,” the e-mail said.

Wow! Talk about Team Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann all rolled into one, right?

Let's look at what kind of sick right-wing causes this guy is mixed up in:
MCCRUDDEN, VINCENT
MELVILLE, NY 11747
SELF-EMPLOYED/TRADER
DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE (D) $1,000
primary 11/12/09

McCrudden, Vincent
Melville, NY 11747
MAAM LLC/Trader OBAMA, BARACK (D)
President
OBAMA FOR AMERICA $2,300
primary 04/19/07

McCrudden, Vincent
Dix Hills, NY 11746
Self-Employed/Trader BISHOP, TIMOTHY (D)
House (NY 01)
TIM BISHOP FOR CONGRESS $1,000
primary 03/30/06

I guess he really wanted to bring a gun to a knife fight!

Oh, well. Right-wing rhetoric didn't cause this guy to make death threats, but we can be sure it will cause the next guy to do it!

Submit, you'll feel better

Charlie discusses unconstitutional searches and the fact that you don't mind them a bit. Come on, do you?

Present-day proverbs

Gold is the money of kings; silver is the money of gentlemen; barter is the money of peasants; but debt is the money of slaves.

- Norm Franz

What are central bank notes? The money of fools?

Jr. Deputy Accountant makes top 20 influential financial blogs

... on a list compiled by the U.K.'s Mindful Money.

Congratulations, JDA! And well deserved, I might add.

Most lists like this are crap, put together by some junior reporter who doesn't even read blogs. But this one is right on and includes most of my regular reads (the one glaring error being Olbermannesque buffoon Paul Krugman, who hasn't had an original economic or financial thought in years). Click on over to JDA for the whole list.

I'd also note that a good number of the sites on this list hate the Dirty Fed. Watch out, Zimbabwe Ben. We're watching you.

Obama Score Card

This is a fun video matching up Obama's promises with how he's done.


HT: Market Ticker

Jerry Brown's budget: huge taxes, no pension reform

Just as Obama is George W. Bush but worse, Jerry Brown may be Arnold Schwarzenegger but worse.

Jerry Brown wants to ask the voters to extend Schwarzenegger's huge "temporary" tax increases for five years -- while still ignoring the state's biggest problem: out-of-control government employee pensions.

How did that work out for Schwarzenegger when he tried it? Remember Prop 1A, Schwarzenegger's temporary tax increase with no pension reform? It lost 65% - 35%. Or the similar San Diego Prop D, which increased sales taxes without pension reform? It lost 63% - 37% despite a campaign of terror by police and fire unions.

Don't even think of asking the voters for more taxes until you've seriously reformed California's outrageous public employee pensions.

The SEC Pulls a Bernanke, Plans Some QE of Its Own



I am not so familiar with the Securities Act of 1933 and 1934 that I would know whether or not this is allowed but check it out, the SEC buys Treasurys.

Circle jerk money laundering operation, anyone?

Never let a tragedy go to waste

Leftists and big media (but I repeat myself) are jumping at the chance to blame the Tucson shooting on heated political speech.

For an antidote to the stupid and craven politicization of the murders, please see the following:

Temple of Mut: The media distortions of the Tucson tragedy.

Left Coast Rebel: Did Daily Kos incite shooting? and These people have by design, and presumably in the hopes of gaining some perverse political advantage, attempted to politicize the horrible events of Saturday.

Slate's Jack Shafer: In Defense of Inflamed Rhetoric:
The awesome stupidity of the calls to tamp down political speech in the wake of the Giffords shooting.

Embedded in Sheriff Dupnik's ad hoc wisdom were several assumptions. First, that strident, anti-government political views can be easily categorized as vitriolic, bigoted, and prejudicial. Second, that those voicing strident political views are guilty of issuing Manchurian Candidate-style instructions to commit murder and mayhem to the "unbalanced." Third, that the Tucson shooter was inspired to kill by political debate or by Sarah Palin's "target" map or other inflammatory outbursts. Fourth, that we should calibrate our political speech in such a manner that we do not awaken the Manchurian candidates among us.

And, fifth, that it's a cop's role to set the proper dimensions of our political debate. Hey, Dupnik, if you've got spare time on your hands, go write somebody a ticket.

Dupnik, by the way, is a long-time leftist who refused to enforce, and was a media hog speaking out against, Arizona's immigration law.

Nevermind that in this case, the shooter was a complete nut who's been listening to the voices in his head a lot more than he's been listening to political discussion.

This is an attempt if not to silence dissent, to blunt it by barring legitimate expression of outrage at government policy.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


You can take my political rhetoric when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds in WSJ: The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel.

And here's Pennsylvania Democrat Robert Brady, proud to be the first to wipe his ass with the First Amendment while at the same time codifying the protected Ruling Class:
Pennsylvania Rep. Robert Brady, a Democrat from Philadelphia, told CNN that he also plans to take legislative action. He will introduce a bill that would make it a crime for anyone to use language or symbols that could be seen as threatening or violent against a federal official, including a member of Congress.

And these people have a VERY broad definition of what "could be seen" as "threatening."

Exit pop quiz: Who said, "If they bring a knife to a fight, we bring a gun"?

Buy the Dip

Everything you need to know about investing in a Bernanke world.

(language warning)



Instead of Delivering Mail, (An Estimated) Third of the US Postal Service Attacks W.C. Varones

Wondering where your mail is? It's delayed, seems a third of the post office was busy attacking W.C. Varones in the comments instead of dumping junk flyers in your box.

Sorry, no mail for you today!

Yesterday was JDA's highest traffic day ever thanks to thousands of postal workers and post offices accessing the site from work - you know, when they should have been working. I don't care what people do at work unless they work for me and in the case of the USPS, unless you count Congressional lifelines paid for with my tax dollars, they're free to do whatever they want as I have no direct interest in what they do when they're supposed to be working.

Except when they aren't doing their jobs.

Nanny state California

If the high taxes, horrible econoomy and crazy cost of living aren't bad enough, now we have government-mandated calorie counts on the menus.

Like I'm at Taco Bell because I'm on a diet?

I wholeheartedly agree with Barack Obama

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

- Barack Obama, 2006

Jeffrey Goldberg, fear pumper

Charlie discusses Jeff Goldberg's panicky assessment of general aviation (i.e. private aircraft) security, published in the current issue of The Atlantic.
Lordy lordy. When enough idiots get enough uninformed opinions into respectable publications, we're in for it.
Click here for the Charlie's take.

The True Story of the Fed - In Easy Cartoon Format

It doesn't get much simpler than this. Check out the interview with the producer Tad Lumpkin as well. Makes a great argument for the movement to shut down big government and the Fed.

HT: Zerohedge

Greenspan's Body Count: Michael L. Cour and Janice Gervais

Greenspan winters in San Diego:
Police have recovered two charred bodies from a home that burned down after a man threatened to kill his wife, himself and anyone who tried to stop him from setting his home ablaze Saturday, authorities said.

[...]

County records show that the home has been owned by Michael L. Cour, 60, and Janice Gervais, 70, since 1999 and that World Savings Bank foreclosed on the property Dec. 6. The couple filed for voluntary bankruptcy June 30.

"The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake."
-- Alan Greenspan, June 1999


UPDATE: San Jose Mercury News:
According to U.S. Bankruptcy Court records, the couple filed for bankruptcy in June and owed more than $662,101, including $557,106 in mortgage debt, $56,000 in mostly credit card debt and $8,300 in taxes.

Gervais taught at Miramar College for 25 years but was laid off this summer, according to court documents. Cour also was unemployed.

The couple said in their bankruptcy proceedings filed in June that they did not bring in enough money to cover their monthly expenses. They reported their joint yearly income fell from $122,958 in 2008 to $29,535 in 2009, and was down to $5,383 by June 2010.


Greenspan's Body Count stands at 147:

Michael L. Cour
Janice Gervais
Darrin Hale
Paul Grothe
Eddie Bryant
Stacey Bryant
Jayne Peters
Corinne Peters
Wayne Zickefoose
Herminia Zickefoose
Thomas S. Piazza
Troy Fogel
Michele Fogel
Cynthia Dunn Cannon
Jocelyn Earnest
Lynda Clark
Gregory Bellows
Sallie Gist
Rayshawn Reed
Byron Reed Sr.
Byron Reed Jr.
Elisha Gist
Elijah Gist
Tiera Davidson
Christopher Oetting
Neal Jacobson
Franki Jacobson
Eric Jacobson
Joshua Jacobson
Vincenza Garcia
Bill Sparkman
Debra K. Gibbs
Otis Beckford
Carol Kennedy
Diane Ward
Edith Moreno
Diana Moreno
Scott Peters
Tom Blackmore
Kevin Daniel O'Connell
Julie Fay
Wallis Fay
Siu Fong Ng
Ernest Scherer Jr.
Charlene Abendroth
J.D. Wood
Cynthia Wood
Aubrey Wood
Dillon Wood
Betty J. Lipply
Dwight Deely
Linda Patrick
David Kellerman
Christopher Wood
Francie Billotti-Wood
Chandler Wood
Gavin Wood
Fiona Wood
Gil Weber
Gregory Graham
Randolph Graham
David Kelley
Ramona woman
Del Mar man
Wayne "Mike" Anderson
Jeffrey M. Pearson
Ervin Antonio Lupoe
Ana Lupoe
Brittney Lupoe
Jaszmin Lupoe
Jassely Lupoe
Benjamin Lupoe
Christian Lupoe
Steven L. Good
Adolf Merckle
Mike Upham
Randy Motts
Kristy Hunt
Joseph Nesheiwat
Tom Brisch
Alex Widmer
Brian Pugh
Marilyn Lewis
Sid Agrawal
Kirk Stephenson
Barry Fox
Dallas Dwayne Carter
David Hetzel
Sharron Hetzel
Cliff Kendall
Pamela Ross
Roland Gore
Mrs. Gore
Wanda Dunn
Karthik Rajaram
Subasri Rajaram
Krishna Rajaram
Ganesha Rajaram
Arjuna Rajaram
Indra Ramasesham
Joe X
Isabelle Jarka
Robert Wagner
Lt. Michael Howe
John Roberts
Palmer C. White
Dianne Pittman White
Ed Boesen
Edwin F. Rachleff
Carlene Balderrama
Troy VanderStelt
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Thomas Lizotte
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Salvador X
Lupe X
Jade X
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Kashmir Billon
Bill McMurtry

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

Johnny Silverseed

Spreading the word about sound money one person at a time.
“You need more dollars to buy the same gallon of gas than you needed 10 or 20 years ago. You need more dollars to buy the same size car or basket of groceries or a two bedroom home than you needed 10 or 20 years ago. Those things didn’t get more expensive; your dollars lost their value over that time so you need more dollars to buy the same thing today. This isn’t normal or natural. In fact it’s a deliberate act by the government. In effect, they’re stealing the value of your dollars from you because they’re printing dollars like crazy.”

[...]

“These coins are yours as part of your holiday tip. But there’s a catch. They’re going to become even more valuable very soon because the government has gone mad printing money. I want you to sign a promise that if you ever decide to sell or give them away, you’ll give me the first right to buy them back before anyone else. If you don’t want to sign that promise I won’t give you the coins, just the cash.”

[...]

“Here’s a list of coin dealers in the area where you can buy old worn out coins like these. They’re called junk silver and if you say those words they’ll understand. I suggest you try to buy $100 a month of silver and more if you can. You don’t need to buy collectible coins, just junk silver. Call ahead to make sure they have some in stock because they go fast. If you have a problem finding some, stop by my office and I’ll make a few calls and locate some for you. Is that a deal?”

I'm sort of an accidental silver holder. I started acquiring silver because of a California law that charges sales tax on small bullion purchases (until recently under $1000, now under $1500). If gold was trading at $800 and I only wanted one coin, I'd take $200 in junk silver to get over the sales tax hurdle.

More recently, I've bought physical silver not just for rounding on gold, but for its own sake. Gold is fine as a store of large-denomination wealth, but it's not convenient as a medium of exchange for small transactions. Silver is both a store of wealth and a convenient medium of exchange. I wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion to buy $100 a month or more in junk silver. But if you're in California, you may need to save up $1500 and buy once a year to avoid the sales tax.

In related news, silver is blowing through $31 this morning.

End the Fed 1984 video

New Year's Resolution: Stiffing the Dirty Banksters

Bankers are like lawyers, politicians, and government workers: leeches on the productive economy.

While the elderly earn far less than 1% per year on their savings thanks to Zimbabwe Ben's bank-enriching Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP), the banks are also ripping off the public by charging 2-3% on every credit card transaction. Think about that: merchants go to great expense to carry inventory, lease store space, and pay staff and have to sell products into an ultra-competitive marketplace. If they're lucky, they squeak out a few percentage points in profit margin. WalMart, Target, and Amazon, some of the most efficient retailers, have net margins of less than 4%. And yet the dirty banks take 2-3% for processing an electronic transaction that has almost zero cost. As if the banks didn't make enough money charging credit card users outrageous fees and interest.

You can see more precisely how your credit card bank rips off your retailers here. The site is a little buggy, but you can find out about your specific credit card by replacing the six digits in the URL with the first six digits of your credit card (which is totally safe -- those only identify the bank and card type, not your personal info).

Apparently, Americans aren't using the credit cards as much as the dirty banksters would like them to, so now the banksters are bribing consumers by giving them a cut of the money they are stealing from the retailers. I’m getting bombarded in the mail with giveaway offers. I’ve gotten $100 from one bank just for opening a n account and using it a little. I've got another card that gives 5% cashback on rotating categories including groceries, restaurants, gas, hotels, airlines, apparel, etc. I’ve gotten 2 free round-trip airline tickets for opening another card. I’m getting 2% cash back on everything on another card.

I've long wanted to stop using credit cards entirely, but the bribes are just too juicy. 5% cash back on groceries you're going to buy anyway? You'd be a fool to pass that up. Even 2% on other purchases is a pretty good monthly kickback. So here's my plan to hammer the Dirty Banksters:

1) Obviously, always pay off the balance in full so they don't rack up big interest and fees.
2) Use the 5% promotional categories as much as possible (for stuff I'm buying anyway). I seriously doubt they are charging the merchants the full 5% they are paying me.
3) Use cash instead of credit cards unless I'm getting at least a 2% kickback.
4) Abuse the introductory offers for free cash or airline tickets, then cancel the cards as soon as I collect.
5) If the incentives aren't good enough on an offer, send the postage-paid reply envelope back taped to a brick to cost them postage.

Stephanie Edwards is a dirty girl! KTLA 5 Rose Parade broadcast

I had the KTLA Channel 5 (LA) Rose Parade broadcast on in the background this morning, and long-time host Stephanie Edwards, a sweet little old lady type, said, in response to some factoid about some faces on floats being made of walnuts, "I'm going to apply some nuts to my face this year."

Well, that was funny enough, but toward the end of the parade when the Upland High School marching band came on, she pointed out that the Upland High Regiment's claim to fame was being in Urban Dictionary. I am not making this up. She really said that.

True, someone did put Upland High Regiment in Urban Dictionary. But the entry lacks the flair that we've come to know and love from Urban Dictionary.

I'll credit the Urban Dictionary line to an Upland High prankster sneaking it into their press kit. The nuts on the face? That's just pure broadcast magic.
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