12.29.2013

The year of the 1%ers

What bitter irony that in the year following the re-election of the most left-wing President in history, America's wealth and income inequality continues surging to new highs.

Real estate is re-bubbling, the stock market is skyrocketing, but job creation is slow and the new jobs tend to be low-paying and/or part-time.  Real median household income is still well below where it was a decade ago.

There are many reasons for the growing inequality.  At the top end, Fed easy money is at the top of the list for increasing stock and real estate wealth and incomes in banking, real estate development, and related industries.  The crony capitalist / corporatist regime in Washington D.C. is not far behind, with the Washington suburbs becoming one of the wealthiest areas in America based on buying and selling policies that rule the rest of us.

At the other end of the spectrum, automation and outsourcing certainly play a large role in the decline of the middle class.  But throughout history, jobs lost to technology have been replaced by new jobs in new industries.  Is this time structurally different?  The new Obamacare mandate certainly doesn't help.  Why would businesses hire more full-time employees with expensive Obamacare mandates when they can much more cheaply hire part-time, or even outsource or automate?  High consumer indebtedness, too, surely discourages business expansion, as there's no point making more products if the customers are maxed out.

What's the outlook for 2014?  Wall Street strategists see an acceleration in economic growth based on the housing rebound and the domestic energy boom.  That's certainly plausible, and even looks like the default scenario barring an unforeseen shock.  Rising health care costs due to Obamacare could certainly be one such shock, but would likely take more than a year to derail the recovery.  So a best guess for 2014 would be more of the same: Wall Street and Washington lobbyists getting richer, the middle class struggling under heavy debt loads and stagnant income.

Given that outlook, Charles Hugh Smith's timeless advice seems especially timely:
Debt is serfdom, capital in all its forms is freedom. The only leverage available to all is extreme frugality in service of accumulating productive capital.
Get out there and accumulate some capital. The outlook ain't getting any better for labor.







12.23.2013

Richard Riordan and Tim Rutten have absolutely no idea what they're talking about

It's bad enough when one person writes something obviously wrong (like Chriss Street did last week).

But how do two supposedly intelligent people collaborate on a short editorial and both not realize that what they are writing is ridiculous?

Richard Riordan and Tim Rutten in the Sacramento Bee, on whether to default on municipal bondholders instead of cutting pensions:
Some will argue that it’s better to hurt “fat cat” investors than retirees on fixed incomes. That’s nonsense, however. The majority of municipal bonds are purchased by funds whose shares are held by private pensions and individual 401(k) accounts precisely because they’ve been seen as low-risk investments. That means that trying to resolve a municipal bankruptcy entirely on the backs of bondholders just spares one group of working people by hurting another.
That's nonsense, however. Municipal bonds are tax-free (other than the short-lived Build America Bonds), so it would be financial malpractice to put them in a tax-sheltered account such as a pension fund or 401(k). The tax-free status is of most benefit to high-net-worth investors, and that's who owns the vast majority of municipal bonds (whether through a fund or held directly).

There are plenty of reasons not to advocate default before pension cuts. But pension funds and 401(k)s holding muni bonds is not one of them.

What to get for the WCV reader who has everything





Zombucks, the currency of the apocalypse. My favorite is the Walker (above), which is sold out but you can still find it on eBay.

12.21.2013

New York Times illustrates ObamaCare Cliff

As we've said over and over, it's all about the incentives.

ZeroHedge has pointed out the welfare cliff, where government payments punish work and reward quitting your job or cutting your hours.

Now there's an ObamaCare cliff: middle class families are screwed if they have to pay the full price of ObamaCare. The solution? Cut back on work.
Ginger Chapman and her husband, Doug, are sitting on the health care cliff.

Doug and Ginger Chapman with their son Charlie Galanes, 11. They are looking for new coverage after their plan was canceled.

The cheapest insurance plan they can find through the new federal marketplace in New Hampshire will cost their family of four about $1,000 a month, 12 percent of their annual income of around $100,000 and more than they have ever paid before.

Even more striking, for the Chapmans, is this fact: If they made just a few thousand dollars less a year — below $94,200 — their costs would be cut in half, because a family like theirs could qualify for federal subsidies.
Yeah, that's a great economic incentive for America. Punish work, reward people for cutting their incomes.

They'll turn us all into beggars 'cause they're easier to please...

12.15.2013

Not much thinking going on at American Thinker

At the "American Thinker," a relatively widely-read conservative web site with serious writers and real staff, Chriss Street makes the assertion:
One of the reasons the reported unemployment rate isn't higher is that the State of California's [sic] statistically considers all 1,427,000 welfare recipients to be "employed."
No evidence is given to support this assertion; the link is to a blog that makes the same unsupported assertion.

This statement was so ridiculous on its face that I responded instinctively:
Get your facts right, moron.

All welfare cases are not counted as employed in the official unemployment stats. Where would you even come up with something so absurd?
Admittedly, it's bad form to initiate a discussion by calling someone a moron, but the combination of ignorance and arrogance by a publication proclaiming itself the "American Thinker" is enough to make me do Very Bad Things.

Street responded:
It is referred to as "welfare to work". It can be training, counseling or education that is treated as "employed": http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_512CDR.pdf
... which obviously doesn't support the assertion, but does give an indication of where Street came up with such a dunderheaded idea.

My response:
If you have any sources to back up your assertion, I would be most interested to read.

From the link you provide: "As Table 3 shows, less than a third of parents in CalWORKs families were working at all in 2009 (27%)"

As I'm sure you know, the enforcement of the "job-related-activities" rules are pretty lax. Basically, you say you read the help wanted ads and put in a job application somewhere, etc., and they're not going to kick you off welfare.

But participating in a minimal job search or "training" enough to get TANF doesn't count as employment. The unemployment stats come from the BLS household survey, where they ask people if they're employed, looking for work, etc. Looking for work doesn't count as employed.

http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2006/02/art2full.pdf

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

So where do you get the idea that nonworking TANF recipients are being counted as employed?
Credibility is a precious thing, and easy to lose. American Thinker squanders it by publishing unvetted material from unproven writers.

12.14.2013

Colorado school shooter was a Keynesian

Of course.
In one Facebook post, Pierson attacks the philosophies of economist Adam Smith who through his invisible hand theory pushed the notion that the free market was self-regulating. In another post, he describes himself as "Keynesian."
It's a very short logical step from the Broken Window Fallacy to the Wounded Bodies Fallacy. Keynesians believe in breaking things, starting wars, and creating nonsensical busywork to boost their idol, Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Think of all the GDP that Pierson created.

HT: Ace.

12.13.2013

Obama's America


... where your mail from political dissident groups comes conveniently pre-opened!

365 ways to get rich

Great personal finance tips here from Forbes. Browse them all. It won't take that long.

Many are ideas we've discussed here over the years. Many will be new to you.

One I will disagree with is #353: Own gold through ETFs like GLD. We've discussed before why that's a bad idea. It's not clear that all the ETFs actually own segregated physical gold that hasn't been leased or swapped or otherwise encumbered by the big banks. Buy physical gold coins.

#352 is right on, though: Keep 5% of your portfolio in gold.

12.09.2013

Business opportunity

Uranus Gold Couriers:
India Gold Price Premium at 23.2%, Now at US $1514 US

12.05.2013

Fast food strike update

Today is a nationwide fast food strike, where workers in minimum-wage jobs demand "living wages." Hint: if you're trying to support a family while still flipping burgers, you're doing it wrong. Fast food jobs are for young people to learn job skills and customer service before acquiring education or other skills that will allow them to get real "living wage" jobs. They're also not bad for senior citizens to stay active and supplement their Social Security.

Our Los Angeles correspondent I.P. Freely will be reporting live throughout the day from McDonald's restaurants.

5:51 AM: 
Report: Meal number 1: no picket lines at first Mcdonalds at 5:30 a.m. Oh wait... that's cuz they're f'ing lazy!
Food: delicious


11:59 AM: 
Report: Meal number 2: Not a picketer in sight. I counted 14 employees working diligently behind the counter, of which I could see. This McDonald's is in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and probably has more lunch time volume than 90% of all McDonalds.
But the picket lines seems to have overlooked this one. I will try another later today. Service: extremely fast and efficient, even considering the size of the order when I bought for my entire office. Food: scrumptious



4:11 PM:
Report: Snack
Now, I'm not sure of the wages earned by people at Starbucks or Wetzel's Pretzels, but I assume you can classify them as fast food. All employees working there. No picket lines at the hub of transportation for Los Angeles, Union Station.
Food: Tasty


5:42 PM:
Report: Now in LA, when you go buy somewhere and shoot, it's called a "drive by," which I did for this McDonald's looking for picketers.... Disappointed, I saw none.


8:49 PM:
Report: Last and final fast food joint today. I did not get to see any protesters all day. I would have thought it would have been a little more difficult to enjoy the convenience of a quick, cheap bite to eat today specifically, according to the MSM. But no, a normal day. I have been satisfied gastronomically and I still have a good bit of funds in my wallet for an adult beverage served to me by someone smart enough to realize they are in an entry level job working their way through school, served to me well enough to earn an extra large tip for their enthusiasm. This is IP Freely reporting from the greater LA area.

12.04.2013

Friends in high places

Our friend Adrienne Gonzalez of Jr. Deputy Accountant has been named managing editor of Going Concern, the web's most popular (and funniest) accounting site.

JDA's hits over the years include getting the name "Zimbabwe Ben" in print in Time Magazine.

Let it never be said we don't have an eye for talent.


11.30.2013

Does media bias boost Dem advantage in GDP growth?

Over at Econbrowser, Professor Hamilton discusses a recent paper by Blinder and Watson that looks at the difference between GDP growth rates under Democratic and Republican administrations.  Growth is higher under Democratic administrations, but the researchers find that this is due to luck, not policy.  Republicans tended to be in office during GDP-killing oil shocks, while Democrats benefited from things like the productivity-enhancing growth of Walmart.

But the third factor after oil shocks and productivity gains cited by the authors is "more optimistic consumer expectations (as measured by the Michigan ICE)."  Could this be influenced by more optimistic media coverage of the economy during Democratic administrations?  Remember the relentless drumbeat of negativity in the media during the second half of the Bush I presidency? Surely that constant refrain begins to affect consumer sentiment.  A 2004 Federal Reserve study found that indeed, news coverage does significantly affect consumer sentiment.  Meanwhile, the entire Obama presidency has been a worse economy than Bush I in terms of unemployment, underemployment, welfare dependency, and the wealth gap, but the media coverage has been muted on the economy and fawning on Obama personally.

Media bias toward liberal views is well-documented, and the vast majority of national news reporters and producers reflect their New York - Washington DC surroundings and vote consistently Democratic.  It would be naive to believe these views don't affect their coverage of the economy, or that the tone of media news coverage doesn't affect consumer confidence.

11.29.2013

Obamanation permanent government dependency in action

Hear it from the mouth of the "beneficiary."  Is this the country you want?  Is this good for the recipients?



Incentives, people.  Incentives.

HT: Mish.

Businessweek reporter Kyle Stock is a blithering idiot

Proving once again that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Bloomberg / Businessweek reporter Kyle Stock beclowns himself by pretending to understand financial ratios.

Stock makes the attention-grabbing claim, "Hey, Shoppers: Black Friday Savings Are a Hoax" based on corporate operating margins:
Forget the door-busters, coupons, and “friends and family” deals. U.S. shoppers on the whole will be paying more over the next few weeks than they do the rest of the year. Turns out, retail profit margins tend to be higher during the holiday period, despite all the promotions.

Among the 15 largest U.S. retailers, operating margins in the holiday quarter last year were 11 percent, compared with 9 percent in the preceding nine months. Amid the year-end shopping frenzy, these companies padded their bottom lines, on average, by roughly one-quarter.

Wrong, moron. Higher holiday season operating margins do not mean shoppers are paying higher prices.

Kyle Stock doesn't understand the difference between gross margins and operating margins. Gross margins are what Kyle should be looking at, the markup from cost of goods sold to the price charged to the customer. Operating margins include all operating expenses, including wages, store leases, and corporate overhead. Operating margins can increase for a number of reasons, including higher sales. If the company increases sales over which to spread the fixed costs, operating margins increase. Did Kyle ever consider that sales might increase for some stores during the holidays?
Home Depot (HD) and Lowe’s (LOW) may be the only places where a shopper can expect to catch an honest break at the end of the year. Macy’s (M), Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), and L Brands (LTD), the company behind Victoria’s Secret, are particularly adept at producing opulent holiday returns.
Obviously, Home Depot and Lowe's have different seasonal trends than clothing stores, being more related to home and garden work and less related to drywall under the Christmas tree. If Kyle had bothered to take even a cursory look at the financials, he'd notice that gross margins for the two stores are fairly steady throughout the year, but operating margins are lower in winter because of lower seasonal sales.

Some stores, like Bed Bath & Beyond and L Brands, do have higher gross margins in the holiday season.  Macy's gross margins, on the other hand, are highest in summer.  But the seasonal differences in gross margins are small relative to the differences in operating margins, which are explained by large holiday sales volumes.

Not everyone understands the basics of financial statements. But for someone who is paid to write about this stuff for an alleged business publication to be this ignorant is truly stunning.

Businessweak.

Happy Buy Nothing Day!

Just Say No to crap consumerism. Get out there and Buy Nothing!

11.19.2013

Greenspan's Body Count: Harmandeep Singh and Karanjit Kaur

We were commenting just yesterday that Greenspan's Body Count has slowed down. Most victims of Greenspan's bubble have long since been foreclosed, gotten loan mods, found new jobs, or otherwise hung onto their houses long enough for Bernanke's echo bubble to bail them out.

Well, speak of the devil...

ABC Fresno:
Police say they have uncovered a critical piece of evidence that is shedding light on what lead to two deaths over the weekend at a Fresno home. The man who police believe shot and killed his wife and then turned the gun on himself left behind a note.

Family members Monday said Harmandeep Singh left a suicide note that was turned over to detectives. While the couple may have seemed to be all smiles around their family, police are finding there were some underlying problems.

[...]

Since Saturday, investigators have learned the pair had some financial problems police believe may have contributed to the murder-suicide.
Harmandeep Singh and Karanjit Kaur lived at 6577 West Celeste Avenue in Fresno, purchased for $470,000 in June 2007 and now worth $298,000 despite Bernanke's best efforts to equal Greenspan's bubble-blowing.

Greenspan's Body Count stands at 247.

11.15.2013

Thought for the day

Who would have thought that a guy with no understanding of economics trying to rule a command economy by executive order would be a problem?

11.13.2013

Zimbabwe Janet: I'm going to keep printing like a mofo

From the mouths of maniacs:
We have made good progress, but we have farther to go to regain the ground lost in the crisis and the recession. Unemployment is down from a peak of 10 percent, but at 7.3 percent in October, it is still too high, reflecting a labor market and economy performing far short of their potential. At the same time, inflation has been running below the Federal Reserve's goal of 2 percent and is expected to continue to do so for some time.

For these reasons, the Federal Reserve is using its monetary policy tools to promote a more robust recovery. A strong recovery will ultimately enable the Fed to reduce its monetary accommodation and reliance on unconventional policy tools such as asset purchases. I believe that supporting the recovery today is the surest path to returning to a more normal approach to monetary policy.
Sounds like she just took the December taper off the table.

Thought for the Day

"Most realists, they die sad and alone. You gotta bullshit some too." - Mike Tyson

11.03.2013

Bubbles

We've been thinking a lot about bubbles lately. Bonds are clearly in a bubble by any measure. Real estate has surpassed the highs of the last bubble in many high-end areas.

Stocks are at all-time highs, and at extremes by many valuation measures after four and a half years of double-digit returns. But as we noted in 2010, the government and the Fed can't afford to let stock or real estate prices fall. Since that time, the banks have earned their way back to healthy balance sheets thanks to free Fed money, but households and Federal, state, and local governments would all be devastated by a collapse in stocks and house prices. It's not CPI deflation the Fed is terrified of; it's asset price deflation. Therefore, the printing will continue as long as it's necessary to keep asset prices up.

John Mauldin has an excellent review of the history of financial bubbles over the last 100 years here. You'll have to sign up for his free newsletter to read the whole thing, but that's something you should do anyway. In summary, the history of the Fed is a series of asset bubbles in different asset classes. What's different this time is the deliberate intent and extreme measures of central banks to keep asset bubbles inflated.

So what's an investor to do in an era of infinite global fiat currency? It would seem to be a pretty good bet to buy any asset class that's not in a bubble, and then just wait until that asset class's turn comes around. We have been fortunate enough to invest pre-bubble a handful of times over the years: tech stocks before the late-90's tech bubble, commodities before the 2008 commodity bubble, Amazon.com between the first and second bubbles, and housing between the last and current bubbles. Of course, we've never been great about timing the exits, but even occasionally selling a fraction of a position during a bubble can be tremendously profitable.

What asset classes are not in a bubble right now? Try these for a start.


Emerging markets stocks


Commodities


Gold

Of course, it still makes sense for long-term investors to have a diversified, equity-heavy asset allocation. But adding tactical tilts to these three asset classes could give you a lot of bang for your buck.

11.01.2013

TSA worker goes postal at LAX [UPDATED: nope]



UPDATE: Nope?

10.28.2013

Obamacare rolls on

Adjunct professors, always a leftie Obamunist bunch, find their hours cut due to Obamacare.

Former Dem staffer who helped inflict Obamacare on America finds herself victim of... Obamacare!

The Schadenfreude alone almost makes Obamacare worth it.

10.27.2013

Is Dave Ramsey right?

I'm a regular listener of the Dave Ramsey Show, the radio advice show that's all about getting out of debt.

Ramsey's recurring spiel is to live on rice and beans until you have all your debt paid off, then pay cash for everything, invest in growth mutual funds, and give generously to charity. So far, so good.

But there are a few details with which I take issue:

1) 401(k) match: Ramsey recommends not saving or investing at all beyond a $1000 emergency reserve until you have paid off all of your non-mortgage debt. This includes 401(k)s. This is horrible advice to forgo maximizing your 401(k) up to the company match amount. You're giving up free money, an instant 100% return. You'd even be better off taking the match, then doing an early withdrawal of your contribution and paying taxes and penalties, and using that money to pay down your debt. Not that I'd recommend that.

2) Mortgages: Ramsey recommends only using 15-year fixed-rate mortgages with payments equal to or less than 25% of take-home pay, if not paying cash outright. While a noble goal, this is highly unrealistic in a world where house prices are set by other buyers paying 40% or more of income on 30-year mortgages. I'm all for paying cash for a house in San Diego where median home prices are over $400,000, but then I'm all for regular guys getting laid by supermodels too.

Let's say you have a household income of $100,000, far above the San Diego median of $60,000. Your take-home pay after taxes and other deductions is about $5600 a month, if you don't contribute anything at all to a 401(k). 25% of that is $1400 a month, which will service a $200,000 loan for 15 years at 3.25%. You've got a well above average income, but you can afford only half of an average house. Most Ramsey followers in expensive markets like California would have to be permanent renters at least until late in their careers, even though early home ownership has historically been a pretty significant contributor to household wealth.

3) Gold: Ramsey has been saying for years, since gold was way below $1000, not to buy gold. That's horrible advice, as gold has equity-like returns with great diversification properties because it is generally uncorrelated with equities and bonds. It is financial malpractice not to have at least a small allocation to gold, especially now with stocks at record highs and gold far below its Fed balance sheet fair value.

10.23.2013

Obamacare Web 2.0: latest iteration lies to public about cost of Obamacare

CBS News:
CBS News ran the numbers for a 48-year-old in Charlotte, N.C., ineligible for subsidies. According to HealthCare.gov, she would pay $231 a month, but the actual plan on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina's website costs $360, more than 50 percent higher. The difference: Blue Cross and Blue Shield requests your birthday before providing more accurate estimates.

The numbers for older Americans are even more striking. A 62-year-old in Charlotte looking for the same basic plan would get a price estimate on the government website of $394. The actual price is $634.

10.19.2013

Gold for the long run

In an otherwise sensible post, Graham Summers' Phoenix Capital Research makes this erroneous claim.
By the way, I continue to hear how great the Fed is for stocks. However, since we were taken off the Gold standard Gold has outperformed stocks dramatically. In fact the only period in which stocks outperformed Gold as an asset class was the Tech Bubble.
They are flat wrong. President Nixon closed the gold window in August 1971. Prior to that event, gold averaged $41 in July 1971. Gold closed September 2013 at $1332. That's an 8.6% annualized return.

The S&P 500 returned 10.2% or 10.3% compounded over that time through September 2013, depending what day you mark the beginning, clearly beating gold. What is Graham Summers missing? I'd guess he's looking only at price return, and forgetting dividends. Price returns were about 7% over that period, and dividends made up the difference.

As for the second part about "the only period in which stocks outperformed Gold as an asset class was the Tech Bubble," well, that's just sheer nonsense. Stocks outperformed gold by a large margin in 2012, and are delivering another thumping this year. There were obviously many other periods over the past 42 years when stocks outperformed gold, often substantially.

Still, gold is an essential part of any nutritious portfolio, providing equity-like returns with great diversification because it is generally uncorrelated with stocks and bonds. Get thee to your dealer.

10.17.2013

Gold is happy

The opposition party has just been vanquished. We'll have permanent deficits and a continually growing entitlement-class majority. The media will eviscerate anyone who even suggests a modicum of fiscal responsibility. And Zimbabwe Janet will be at the printing presses, monetizing as much debt as she needs to keep the Ponzi going.

Gold is happy.

10.13.2013

Taste so real...



... you'd swear that vegetables had lips and assholes.

10.11.2013

I'm selling my copy of "How Our Laws Are Made," free to all .gov "employees"



If anyone with a .gov needs a copy of "How Our Laws Are Made," published by the Government Printing Office, contact me and I will scan it for you.

57 pages, staple-bound, full of typical government BS that you tools can't seem to understand. I received this for attending the 2011 Spring meeting of Council with the American Institute of CPAs, when thousands of CPAs around the country attacked the Hill to rub elbows with Senators and Representatives for the greater good of the profession.

This edition is 2007, revised and updated from the John V. Sullivan version.

Get it while it's hot, clearly some of you dillweeds in Washington need it!

10.09.2013

Meet your new Fed head...



... Zimbabwe Janet!

Yeah, we announced it a month ago, but now it's official.

Apparently some people thought after being bitchslapped by Senate liberals over his bailout thug pick Larry Summers, Obama would want to show he's nobody's bitch by rejecting the liberal favorite Yellen in favor of Donald Kohn.  Well, he's somebody's bitch.

Like her predecessor Zimbabwe Ben, Zimbabwe Janet has never seen a problem she didn't think could be solved by printing unimaginable amounts of money.

Party on!

10.06.2013

Obama forces the elderly from their homes to punish America for its impudence

The government shutdown is being felt close to home for some locals. They say they're being forced out of private homes on Lake Mead because they sit on federal land.

Joyce Spencer is 77-years-old and her husband Ralph is 80. They've been spending most of their time in the family ice cream store since going home isn't an option.

The Spencers never expected to be forced out of their Lake Mead home, which they've owned since the 70s, but on Thursday, a park ranger said they had 24 hours to get out.
Since the 70's. There have been multiple "government shutdowns" since the 70's. But only Obama was cruel and vicious enough to do something as horrible as this to the defenseless elderly for political theater.

10.01.2013

Obama regime throws shutdown temper tantrum, takes down agency web sites

This is just pathetic.



They actually paid someone to take down the FCC web site and put up a childish temper tantrum page just to make sure that everyone knows that somebody somewhere is horribly inconvenienced by the shutdown?

WAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! We're taking our web site and going home! WAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

What if they threw a shutdown and no one cared?

Washington shuts down, stock futures mildly positive.



As they should be.

9.30.2013

Greenspan's Body Count goes to India

This is one of the most under-reported stories in the Western press. There's an absolute epidemic of debt-suicides in India. Most weeks, multiple Indian debt-suicide stories cross my desk.

The latest:
Three members of a weaver family who could not repay a loan they had taken to invest in share markets committed suicide in their house in Madurai district on Sunday morning.

The deceased were identified as Krishna Ram (51), his wife Brinda (46) and their son Upendiran (28) of Meenakshi Nagar in Sourashtra Colony near Vandiyur. Krishna Ram and Brinda were handloom weavers, and they and Upendiran ended their lives by hanging from the handlooms installed in the house, police said.

Upendiran, who completed an undergraduate degree, had invested in share markets along with a few of his friends. The losses he suffered when the markets fell forced him to borrow money from loan sharks. As the family members did not have any other source of income to repay the loan, they might have decided to commit suicide, police said, adding that the exact amount they had borrowed was yet to be ascertained.

9.29.2013

Shut 'em down

While Boner will likely repeat history and fold like a cheap suit, we can always dream...

George Will on the Dirty Fed

None other than the esteemed traditional conservative columnist George Will is sounding a lot like a Fed-bashing radical these days.

In the Washington Post, nonetheless! WCV readers will recognize some familiar themes (emphasis added).

Bernanke once hoped that economists might (in John Maynard Keynes’s words) “get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists.” But Bernanke speaks the heroic language of a central planner, talking about the Fed’s tasks of “economic management” and “economic engineering.”

[...]

ZIRP also makes the Fed an indispensable enabler of big government. By making borrowing, and hence deficits, cheap, ZIRP facilitates the political class’s bipartisan strategy of delivering current benefits while deferring costs. ZIRP also provides cheap credit to big government’s partner, big business.

9.25.2013

General Theory of Liberalism hits Obamacare

We've been saying for years in our General Theory of Liberalism that the central theme of all ill-conceived liberal policies is liberals' failure to understand incentive effects.

Now comes WSJ's James Taranto to point out that the only way Obamacare will not collapse is if gullible young people can be persuaded to buy overpriced insurance that they don't need and can't afford.
But the success of ObamaCare depends on enrolling large numbers of young people while making insurance both more costly and less necessary for them. One can argue that buying insurance is a rational choice, but any way you slice it, that argument will be weaker under ObamaCare than it was before.
Incentives, people, incentives!

9.20.2013

Rise of the Machines: textile manufacturing back, but without workers

Rise of the Machines is a recurring series here at WCV.

Today, the New York Times catches up to the trend with a front page story:
Bayard Winthrop, the founder of the sweatshirt and clothing company American Giant, was at the mill one morning earlier this year to meet with his Parkdale sales representative. Just last year, Mr. Winthrop was buying fabric from a factory in India. Now, he says, it is cheaper to shop in the United States. Mr. Winthrop uses Parkdale yarn from one of its 25 American factories, and has that yarn spun into fabric about four miles from Parkdale’s Gaffney plant, at Carolina Cotton Works.

Mr. Winthrop says American manufacturing has several advantages over outsourcing. Transportation costs are a fraction of what they are overseas. Turnaround time is quicker. Most striking, labor costs — the reason all these companies fled in the first place — aren’t that much higher than overseas because the factories that survived the outsourcing wave have largely turned to automation and are employing far fewer workers.
Longtime WCV readers will know that this Friday afternoon it is once again time to turn the speakers up to 11 and rock out to AC/DC's Who Made Who, with the video from Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive.

9.19.2013

Five years later: The Day Capitalism Died

It was September 19, 2008 when central planners and crony capitalists killed the last vestiges of a free market.

Rest in Peace, America.

9.18.2013

Dow, S&P hit all-time highs as Bernanke runs screaming from the Taper

Print MORE!!!



Don't fear the tapir




So Zimbabwe Ben and Zimbabwe Janet are likely to announce that they're going to print money slightly slower going forward than the trillion dollars per year pace they're currently printing at. Meh.

Real median household income at 17-year low

Hopenchange!



9.15.2013

Idiot Lawyer Who Shouldn't Own Cats Is Suing People Because He Killed His Own Cat



Alright, sorry to derail the titillating conversation here on WC Varones for a moment but instead of talking about Greenspan's victims and politics and whatever else it is we chat up, let's talk about cats.

Actually, first, let's talk about stupid lawyers who require the nanny state to regulate and label and identify every single danger to themselves and their pets because they are too stupid to take five minutes and check Google for "plants dangerous for cats" knowing they have a damn cat in the house. Here's a protip: Home Depot has an excellent garden section AND free WiFi, do what I do and log on from your smartphone at the store just to triple check you can take that nice little houseplant home to your army of feline companions.

Anyway, here is the story via the Pussington Post:

A lawyer purchased lilies for his wife. Within 24 hours their cat, Boogaloo, became dangerously ill  after chewing the leaves. The cat was rushed to an animal hospital where despite the best efforts of the vets, which included kidney dialysis and $1,542.47 of treatment, he died. The lawyer, Gee Bredahl, is now suing the florist on the grounds that a warning should have been put on the lilies.  There was a warning of the danger of consumption for human beings, but nothing specific for cats. According to the The Oregonian:
Gee argues that the responsibility lies entirely on the retailer and wholesaler to disclose the risk — not on cat owners to know it themselves.
“When you have a consequence as high as that, it’s up to the retailer or a manufacturer — who are making money off this product — to warn of these potential high consequences of buying the product,” he said.
His animal-law attorney, Dane Johnson, cited floral industry papers alerting retailers to the risk lilies pose to cats.
Gee, are you stupid or just a lazy piece of shit? A responsible cat owner knows there are HUNDREDS of potential toxins to a cat in our homes, from Lysol to onions to garlic to plastic bags (trust me on that last one, one of my idiot cats likes to chew on them and I swear one of these days he's going to end up in the hospital because he's a dipshit who likes to gnaw on plastic).

Guys like this are the reason highways in DC have to have big signs that say "NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN AHEAD" any time the DOT puts a few cones in the road because zombie morons that aren't paying attention might run off the road if you don't warn them 3 miles in advance that there are cones ahead. What next? Should we each have a special government worker assigned to us to make sure we have our shoes tied at all times and to make sure we're washing our hands with the proper antibacterial soap because God forbid if we don't and get an infection we could sue the CDC for not warning us picking our nose and eating it is dangerous? I mean really!

I suppose I need someone to put a government-mandated sticker on my windows that says "if you jump out of this, you might die" and HEY while we're at it, if I am speeding at 100 MPH in my Mazda down the freeway, maybe if I get in a horrible accident I can sue Mazda because they allowed my car to be built to go that fast in the first place.

It is terrible what happened to this jerk's cat but the only person responsible is HIM. He purchased them, he allowed his cat to eat them and he is the idiot who didn't know lilies will kill a cat. But it's so much easier to sue a bunch of people and blame them because you're a lazy moron, right?

I sincerely hope this ambulance-chasing loser is banned from ever owning a cat again since he clearly can't manage to do so on his own without a little help from a bunch of unnecessary regulations.

Edit: the cat miraculously lived.

Meet your new Fed head...




... Zimbabwe Janet!

Today, facing a very contentious confirmation hearing, Obama's thug pick for Federal Reserve Chairman, Larry Summers, withdrew from consideration. Fresh off rejection by the American public and Congress over his Syria military adventure plans, and having been rolled by Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, Obama didn't have any more fight left in him. Janet Yellen, while not yet officially nominated, is the candidate of least resistance to both the pundit class and to liberals in the Senate.

While Yellen is a money-printing maniac in the mold of Bernanke, she's actually a welcome alternative to the bullying, lawless Summers. The legendary Jr. Deputy Accountant returns from a long blog hiatus to tell us why. And Jefferies economist David Zervos wrote two weeks ago, Summers is the ultimate market-manipulating, central-planning, crony capitalist bailout thug:
Larry was one of the key architects of the auto sector bailout and the TARP bailout in 2008-09. He was also on record suggesting that letting Lehman Brothers go bankrupt would be a "grave" mistake - instead he preferred a bailout. He pushed for a full government takeover of FNM and FRE well before the actual takeover - again a bailout. And going back in time, he was a key player in the Mexican debt bailout (aka the GS bailout) of 1994. Finally, throughout the late '90s Larry was a member of the "Committee to Save the World" - a troika that utilized bailouts, backstops, and safeguards as part of the heavy-handed arsenal of government intrusion into the private sector, which stopped market forces from finding occasionally uncomfortable equilibria. The crown jewel of the CSW's tireless work was to architect/muscle a $3.5b "private sector" plan to backstop losses from LTCM - another bailout!
So good riddance to Larry Summers.   Summers would have brought a dangerous concentration of economic power to the White House.  He would have unified monetary (money-printing) and fiscal (crony capitalist bailouts) policy for the Obama regime.  Yellen will still have Obama's back for as much debt monetization as he needs, but she won't be making bailout calls from the West Wing.

But isn't it funny that four years after incessant talk of a Fed "exit strategy," Bernanke's female doppelganger inherits a Fed that not only hasn't exited, but is still going in deeper every day!

9.14.2013

You know... this used to be a hell of a good country

George Hanson: I can't understand what's going wrong with it.

Billy: Man, everybody got chicken, that's what happened. Hey, we can't even get into like a second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel, you dig? They think we're gonna their throat or something, man. They're scared, man.

George Hanson: They're not scared of you.  They're scared of what you represent to them.

Billy: All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.

George Hanson: Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom.

Billy: What the hell's wrong with freedom?  That's what it's all about.

George Hanson: Oh yeah, that's right. That's what it's all about all right. But talking about it and being it... that's two different things. I mean it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace.  'Course don't tell anybody that they're not free, because then they gonna get real busy killing and maiming to prove to you that they are.  They're going to talk to you and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's going to scare them.

Billy: Well, it don't make them running scared.

George Hanson: No.  It makes them dangerous.


- Easy Rider





9.13.2013

Happy Friday the 13th!

It's been a long dry spell for triskadecaphiles.  We haven't had a Friday the 13th since July of 2012.
That 13 calendar months without a Friday the 13th is the longest such stretch you'll ever see.  The last such dry spell was 11 years ago, ending September 13, 2002.  On that day, President Bush met with reporters, beginning to build the case for the Iraq war.  Today, President Obama is taking the day off.  On September 13, 2002, the S&P 500 traded up 0.3% to close at 890, near five-year lows.  Today the S&P has almost doubled from there for an annual total return of more than 8% and is near last month's all-time high.

The next such streak without a Friday the 13th will end September 13, 2019.  All 13-month stretches without a Friday the 13th end with a Friday the 13th in September or October.


9.11.2013

Never forget

... there was a time before this. There are still countries without this.






9.10.2013

It's like ray-ay-ain on your wedding day

Barack Obama's greatest achievement is the creation of a solid popular majority against foreign military adventurism.

Who would ever have imagined five years ago that Obama would not lead that movement, but that it would arise in opposition to him?

Greenspan goes to Greece

America's most prolific serial killer is terrorizing Greece:
Suicides increased by 45 percent during the first four years of Greece's financial crisis, a mental health aid group said Tuesday, warning there are indications of a further "very large rise" over the past two years.

The Athens-based group Klimaka said officially reported suicides rose steadily, accounting for an annual jump in deaths from 328 in 2007 to 477 in 2011, according to data from the Greek Statistical Authority.

The group said, based on its own research, the number of suicides has continued to rise through 2012 and 2013.

Greece still has one of the lowest suicide rates in Europe, but a dramatic rise in poverty and unemployment since the debt-strapped nation began imposing harsh austerity measures has been blamed for the increase in deaths.
"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

9.09.2013

What does the fox say?

This is the greatest thing to come out of Scandinavia since Iceland voters told the British and Dutch to pound sand on paying for a bank bailout.



9.07.2013

Sacre bleu!

If ever this blog is unkind to the French, it's because not all of them are as amazing as this guy.

Life Imitates South Park

South Park season 5, episode 7, "Proper Condom Use":
Stan and Kyle are playing with their Jennifer Lopez play set (and by playing, they are using a magnifying glass to melt it while Kyle does Lopez' screams of pain) when Cartman comes over to demonstrate something he learned from the Fifth Graders. The trio then run to Kenny's house where he then begins to masturbate Kenny's dog which leads to ejaculation, which they think is milking it and playing a game called "Red Rocket".
Encinitas Patch:
Mutilation Victim Puppy Finds his Happy Ending

9.05.2013

House negroes told to stay silent on Syria

Foreign Policy:
As an increasing number of African-American lawmakers voice dissent over the Obama administration's war plans in Syria, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has asked members to "limit public comment" on the issue until they are briefed by senior administration officials.

A congressional aide to a CBC member called the request "eyebrow-raising," in an interview with The Cable, and said the request was designed to quiet dissent while shoring up support for President Obama's Syria strategy. 

9.04.2013

Hasta la vista, Ariel Castro

So Ariel Castro, the psycho who kidnapped and imprisoned three women for years, did the taxpayers a favor and offed himself in prison. With a 20+ year life expectancy, it's safe to say he save the taxpayers at least a million bucks.

But let us not forget the silver lining from the sick and twisted tale of Ariel Castro: the discovery of the genius of hero Charles Ramsey, and the brilliant arrangement of schmoyoho.



9.03.2013

And now let's revisit the last Middle Eastern community that Obama re-organized

... Libya.
A little under two years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases” and to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural resources.

Yet now Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.

Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.

As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that Nato’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.

WAR!!! Boner supports Obama's Syria attack, Dow drops 80 points




9.02.2013

Young men want capital appreciation; old men want yield

In the days of my youth, I despised dividends. My living costs were minimal, so I didn't need to supplement my earned income, and the taxes generated by dividends were an annoyance. I had a hard rule not to own any mutual funds in taxable accounts because of the unwelcome, taxable dividend and capital gain distributions.

Now I've reached that age where I'm looking at the future cost of property taxes, utilities, and ObamaCare, and realizing I'm going to need a whole lot more income than Social Security will provide. Dividends and interest now represent security. I've been re-investing dividends in my blue chip stocks to increase the annual income. And despite what I said last year about bonds, I've even begun buying some munis after this year's epic bond slaughter.

Nobody wants to have to eat into his principal to survive in his old age, but that's the reality for most seniors in the era of Bernanke's financial repression. Best prepare for it if you're still young enough to take action.

Gee, that's going to be a tough sale



When has McCain ever not wanted to start a war?

Whose support is Obama going to look for next, Lindsey Graham's?

8.31.2013

Rand Paul on 1984 and 2013 America

Wow. This is refreshing. A legitimate Presidential contender doesn't stick to poll-tested campaign slogans but posts a serious (the Democrat media will say crazy) discussion of the dystopian reality of today's authoritarian America.

8.29.2013

Yes, we have no docile houseboys

The W.C. Varones Blog sincerely regrets disappointing its Iranian readers.

Happy Support Fast Food Day!

Union thugs are trying to organize a fast food strike today to destroy job opportunities for young people. We have no doubt that it will be a hilarious failure, and service at fast food restaurants will continue unimpeded, because the hard-working employed among America's youth are not foolish enough to fall for SEIU idiocy.

I don't generally like fast food, but I do love Chipotle, which is among the targets of the strike. I'll be supporting them today. Maybe twice.

Your humble blogger got his first work experience in the food service industry, and learned more there than he did in college. Why would we deny such a valuable experience to future generations?

More at Liberator Today.

8.28.2013

Fifty years later



From "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" ...

... to a race-baiting President and openly race-biased Department of Justice.

Obama, Kerry, Bush, Hillary discuss Syria on Facebook

With a surprise appearance by Carlos Danger.

8.26.2013

Here we go again

Who can forget Nariyah, the 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl whose testimony about Iraqi soldiers ripping babies from hospital incubators and leaving them on the floor to die convinced Congress and the American public to go to war with Iraq?



Yeah, it turns out she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador and her false testimony was part of a professionally organized PR campaign to drag the US into the war.

In totally unrelated news, Bashar Assad, who was apparently gaining the upper hand in the Syrian civil war, suddenly decided to do the one thing that would bring the full might of the US military down on his regime.

UPDATE: What the media isn't telling you about the Syrian chemical attack.

8.23.2013

#FalseFlag - Police arrest halfwit child molester as domestic terrorist

... egged on for months in his "plot" to kidnap and kill police officers by undercover police officers, naturally.
Undercover Metro officers infiltrated the group [Group? What group? It's one middle-aged child molester and a crazy old lady] and met with the suspects about 30 times since April, in the process learning of their detailed plans to "snatch and grab" random police officers, try them for treason in a “sovereign” court and execute them, according to arrest reports released Thursday. The undercover officers had posed as people interested in joining the Sovereign Citizens movement.

Police said Brutsche was a six-time convicted felon and registered sex offender for offenses involving a child in California.

Let's review what actually happened here. Las Vegas police stopped this guy several times for traffic violations, during which he ranted his crazy "sovereign citizen" theories about "your laws don't apply to me." The police then decided to send undercover officers to hang out with this guy and pretend to be kindred crazy spirits until they could catch him doing something illegal. It took months of hanging out with an angry desert loner to goad him into saying he wanted to kill cops.

And they certainly caught a couple of masterminds here:
Newman, 67, of Las Vegas was a bit nervous, according to a police report. She asked at one meeting to unplug the television because she thought authorities could use it to listen to their conversations.

That story made headlines on a national news radio program today as a serious "domestic terrorism" story.

Recall last year's Police give Molotov cocktails to dumb young Occupiers, then arrest them for domestic terrorism.

Ever get the feeling the authorities are trying really hard to create a domestic terror threat? And this is the best they can do?

8.22.2013

Jumbo rates cheaper than conforming

Jim the Realtor noticed in June that jumbo mortgage rates had gone cheaper than conforming.

At the time, I thought it was due to temporary dislocations in the Agency MBS market because of the violent move in Treasury rates. But the anomaly persists.

Wells Fargo:



Another explanation is that there are relatively fixed transaction costs (documents, appraisals, insurance, notary, etc.), and the larger loan balances give banks more value to spread those costs across. For the same reason, you can often easily get a no-cost refinancing on a $400,000 loan, but not on a $100,000 loan.

But the really good news here is that government guarantees via Fannie and Freddie are increasingly irrelevant. With good credit scores and down payments, banks are willing to lend without government guarantees at better rates than with government guarantees! Good riddance to those corrupt behemoths, and may the bankrupt FHA follow them soon after.

8.20.2013

Happy birthday, Ron Paul

America's godfather of liberty, Dr. Ron Paul, turns 78 today.

Honor his birthday with a donation to Audit the Fed. Easy Fed money is the root of much big government evil.

8.19.2013

Savers, elderly rejoice as Bernanke financial repression racket begins to fall apart

We've said many times before that Ben Bernanke's ZIRP and QE∞ are schemes to rob from savers and the elderly to give to banks and asset speculators. Bill Gross even has a term for it: financial repression.

Well, there are now cracks in the guard towers of the saver concentration camps. Fed-manipulated interest rates are starting to break free.



8.18.2013

Greenspan's Body Count makes RT News

RT News covers Greenspan's Body Count, telling several of the stories of the victims and mentioning our little site by name. The first half of the video is about Mitt Romney's government bailout at Bain. The discussion of Greenspan's Body Count begins at 3:08.


8.15.2013

Kill the White People

One of my favorite reggae songs from my youth.

I wish Eddie would have released a studio-quality single.


8.13.2013

Audience 1, Critics 0

The road comedy We're the Millers gets a 42% positive rating from critics, 81% positive from the audience on Rotten Tomatoes.  The audience is right, and the critics have sticks up their butts.  It's not Citizen Kane; it's just a lot of fun.

W.C. Varones' Third Maxim of Film is that it's impossible to make a bad road movie, and We're the Millers certainly doesn't break that rule.  It's like National Lampoon's Vacation updated to Hangover-style humor, with Clark Griswold replaced by a low-level pot dealer forced to assemble a fake family of oddballs to smuggle a load of pot in an RV from Mexico.  A bonus is a talented striptease by Jennifer Aniston, and there's full-frontal eye candy for the ladies, too.


8.06.2013

Where have you gone, James DiMaggio?

San Diegans were awakened in the middle of the night last night by their iPhones for an "Amber Alert," which is a government notification system for kidnapped children.  The kids had been missing since Sunday, when their mother's body was found in the charred remains of their suspected kidnapper's house, but the geniuses at Amber Alert Central thought it might be fun to delay the alerts to people's phones until late Monday night, when the Alerts overrode even nighttime Do Not Disturb settings.

San Diegans quickly learned how to disable Amber Alerts on their iPhones (Settings -> Notifications -> AMBER Alerts).

While media are focusing on suspect James DiMaggio's "crush" on one of the missing children, it turns out there's also a Greenspan's Body Count angle to the story:
Angelina Amati said the family called DiMaggio "Uncle Jim," and added that she believed DiMaggio was depressed because he was about to lose his home.
DiMaggio bought his house in remote Boulevard, California in 2009 for $235,000, and its current value according to Zillow is $184,677.



8.04.2013

Venice hit-and-run driver Nathan Louis Campbell's address listed at Covenant House for homeless youth

The vehicular killer in Venice has been identified as Nathan Louis Campbell of Los Angeles.

Directory listings show Campbell at 1325 N Western Avenue in Hollywood.



That's the address of Covenant House:
Since 1988, CHC has impacted the lives of more than 160,000 homeless youth out of our Los Angeles and Bay Area locations.
Nathan Campbell, in turn, impacted an Italian tourist and 11 other people.

7.23.2013

Is the middle class disappearing into the upper class?

Depends how you define "upper class." And "constant dollars."

I don't find this post very persuasive.



First, $75,000 household income is hardly "upper class." You can't even buy a house on that income in many areas.

Second, those "constant dollars" are deflated by CPI or some similar measure, which understate inflation due to flat screens, iPads, and computers getting cheaper while the cost of necessities (housing, food, and energy) increases. I am certain that $75,000 "constant dollars" in 1967 bought a lot more house, food, and gasoline than it buys today.

Finally, this is household income, and largely reflects the shift from one-income families to two-income families. Needing two incomes to scrape by is supposed to be good news?

7.15.2013

Partisanship over perverts

On Friday, when discussing with friends the San Diego Democratic Party's support for well-known creep and serial sexual harasser Mayor Bob Filner, I commented, "The only thing worse than a slimeball creep to a Dem voter is a Republican."

And now we have confirmation of that point from one of the victims.
She said the mayor did this to many women, and many people knew about it.

“It’s one of the worst kept secrets in town,” Woman One said. "Everyone in the power structure knew this,” she said of people in local government.

"I heard more than once, that people would rather have a single man in office that disrespects women, than a man in office ... representing an entire party that disrespects women," she said.
Women Democrats have so bought into the Democrat / mainstream media (but I repeat myself) canard about a Republican "war on women" that they actually supported and worked for a creepy old serial sex abuser over young, socially liberal, gay Republican Carl DeMaio.

The same thing happens with African-American voters. Joe Biden tells a black audience, "they [Republicans] gonna put y'all back in chains," and the media push the false storyline about voter ID being a Republican ruse to disenfranchise black voters. And despite the horrible, destructive effect of Democratic policies on the African-American community, blacks continue to vote overwhelmingly for the party of 19th century slavery, 20th century segregation, and 21st century multi-generational welfare dependency.

Democracy can't survive with such a corrupt, partisan, homogeneous news media.

See also The Collaboration of the Fourth Estate.

Granny uses gold as remedy for soft dong

Bloomberg:
Huong is among millions of Vietnamese who hold an estimated 300 tons to 400 tons of bullion to store their wealth -- valued at as much as $19 billion at domestic prices and equal to official U.K. holdings -- a legacy of more than a century of war, revolution and economic turbulence. The central bank wants to convert the hoard, much of it smuggled in, into dong deposits to strengthen the currency, which has slid 21 percent against the dollar in five years.

Private gold holdings “reflect both the Vietnamese cultural values as well as the lack of confidence in the dong,” said Trinh Nguyen, Hong Kong-based economist at HSBC Holdings Plc. “High inflation and depreciation of the dong in the past have caused people to keep their savings in gold.”
Instead of giving Granny the hard dong she so desires, the government of Vietnam is, like so many other governments around the world, making it more difficult and expensive for her to use her solid gold substitute.

7.14.2013

Things you probably shouldn't have to think about for a week

Escondido:
A mother visiting the Escondido library the morning of June 22 told police that a strange man followed her around the aisles.

The woman said she was at the library that Saturday with her two children, aged four and six, when the man eventually came close and then touched himself and winked at her children, police said.

After thinking on the matter for a week, the mother contacted Escondido police on June 29 to report the incident, according to police Lieutenant Neal Griffin.

7.12.2013

Facebook thinks I'm gay

... not that there's anything wrong with that.



You might want to work on that profiling algorithm, Zuckerberg.

I'm happy to click the DSCC link and cost Chuckie Schumer and Harry Reid a buck or two, though.

The politicization of the University of California is complete

Obama henchman Janet Napolitano, of Homeland Security thuggery and zero academic credentials, appointed to lead University of California.

For background on the bloated and corrupt University of California, please see here, here, and here.

7.08.2013

Hedge fund invests in Obama crony capitalist scam; is shocked when Obama changes the rules of the game

Reuters:
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, alleges that the Treasury and the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac violated a 2008 law that put the two mortgage companies into conservatorship as they faced insolvency at the height of the U.S. financial crisis.

The Treasury Department amended the bailout terms last year, forcing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to hand over most of their profits to the government, replacing a requirement that the companies pay quarterly dividends of 10 percent on the government's nearly 80 percent stake.

The suit names both Treasury and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Perry Capital, which began investing in both firms in 2010, claimed in the lawsuit that shareholder value was impaired when the government instituted a "dividend sweep."

The new arrangement prevents the firms from building capital that might have allowed them to redeem the government shares and eventually operate independently to the benefit of private shareholders.

[...]

"This lawsuit seeks to uphold the rule of law," Theodore Olson, a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and a former U.S. solicitor general, said in a statement.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! "Rule of law!" That's a good one!

7.07.2013

Notes on Asiana crash

A few things that might enlighten your dinner-table discussions:

- FAA sets a limit on pilots of 100 flight hours in any 28-day period. If your route is trans-Pacific, that means you do no more than four round trips a month. If there are four pilots on each flight, and the plane often is auto-landed, how proficient do you think pilots are at hand-landing the plane?

- News reports indicate police had to throw knives up to the flight crew to free passengers from their seats.  Thanks to TSA policy, no one on the plane had, or could have had, a knife to help himself or other passengers. Imagine slightly different circumstances--open field, slower response, faster fire--and this policy could have fried people alive.

- There's a decades-old joke that in the future, planes will each have a man and a dog in the cockpit.  The man will be there to watch the computer, the dog to bite him if he touches anything.  Too long in the making?

7.06.2013

Mortgage rates go Full Retard as Bernanke QEefing looks set to end

Bubbleinfo.com

And now the moment of truth arrives. Can Zimbabwe Ben seamlessly hand off a centrally planned economy to a new, self-sustaining free market economy?

Call me a cynic but I doubt it.

7.04.2013

Independence Day

Declaration of Independence:
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

[...]

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

6.28.2013

So much for that "smart diplomacy"

After being bitch-slapped by Hong Kong and Russia, Obama gets bitch-slapped by Ecuador:
"Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests," government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference.

In a cheeky jab at the U.S. spying program that Snowden unveiled through leaks to the media, the South American nation offered $23 million per year to finance human rights training.

The funding would be destined to help "avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity," Alvarado said. He said the amount was the equivalent of what Ecuador gained each year from the trade benefits.
Didn't America get some respect in the world back in the old days?

6.27.2013

Trader Joe’s ~ You’re So Close to Nirvana

Belo Horizonte ~ I found a gas station that sells unbelievable premium beer here in Belo Horizonte. In a country where light lager rules, the micros, Belgians and and local micro brew movement is taking a stand. It just happens to be at a Petrobras gas station, and I don’t mind.

The gas station even sells the finest Anderson Valley, Sam Adams and Rogue offerings as well as one of my favorite breweries in the world, Brew Dog out of Scotland whose mission is to replicate California’s IPA movement in the UK. Fantastic beer.

But the purpose of this post is to point out how Trader Joe’s teases to appease. Those that shop there in California will recognize this light lager offering from the Netherlands called Oranjeboom:

It’s a very satisfactory light lager if that’s what you are in the mood for. But I also found this ambrosia here in Brazil that TJ's fails to offer:


That 14 means what it advertises. This is a 14% “light” lager that is reeelllyyy graaatteee. I’ve had 3 so farrr and these stufffff are ggggrraaaaaattttt. Cave...saw...today...... theyyyy weeeeerrrr beaaauuuutttt…..beaaattii…….cool. Neeway, try (SCORE LIONS!) Oranjebooms 14, it’ssssss the wetlhdgfjhafljghkfalghklaru,…………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Supreme Court doesn't give gays the courtesy of a reacharound

Celebrating the Prop 8 ruling? Not so fast. The Supremes didn't rule on Prop 8 at all, just that Prop 8 supporters didn't have legal standing to challenge the lower court's ruling against 8. And since Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris don't like Prop 8 and refused to defend it, there's no one to take the case to court.

In fact, the ruling undermines the California initiative process by allowing the Governor and Attorney General to refuse to defend anything they don't like. How about Prop 13? Legal professors are already saying this opens a door to kill it. Somebody sues against Prop 13 in federal court, Brown and Harris refuse to defend it, et voilĂ , game over!

Gay marriage advocates deserved their day in court. They probably would have gotten Prop 8 ruled unconstitutional. They didn't get it. This was a trick by Brown and Harris that backfired, and a punt by the Supremes.

Brazilians LOVE soccer

Sign post in the Horto neighborhood of Belo Horizonte.

Riot: Brazil scored 2, Uruguay scored 1, Protesters scored 0. When Brazil wins an international soccer match ain't nothing going to stop the party or make people care about political issues afterwards. Thank goodness they won though. Had they lost things might have gotten nuts.

UPDATE: the destruction and violence I didn't witness was extraordinary yesterday here in Belo Horizonte. It's surreal how I can mingle in a section of the city that is in pure euphoria because of a soccer win while a nearby section of the city is in complete turmoil and violence.

I had a cab ride today with a cabbie that went off on how absurd this soccer tournament (Confederations Cup) is and how it's so negatively impacting the average Brazilian. Fifa is a mafia and I am pleased with the population that is rising up to illustrate this even if I somehow end up sections of town where all that matters is the game. That's a peculiar conundrum.

Thoughts on a #TradeWarTuesday

1) We're going to need to decouple from the evil Chinese regime. This started as a crazy Trump position but is now bipartisan consensus....