Greenspan's body count

In 2006, we said that Greenspan's reckless policies and pronouncements would drive people to such dire circumstances that there would be suicides.

It's happening:
Pierce told us her husband was a partner with David Jones in an home owner investment group. They would buy houses and rent them. But then the market tanked and the investments failed.

"Basically, any rent money goes right back into the mortgage, but it was never enough to cover the mortgage," she said.

That $1,200 a month rent only covered half the mortgage. Carolyn and her husband were hemorrhaging money with one house already defaulted and their mansion about to go into foreclosure as well.

Carolyn's says their financial situation was so bad her husband committed suicide.

It's probably fair to give Greenspan at least partial credit for this mortgage exec murder-suicide, too:
A high-ranking executive of a collapsed subprime-mortgage lender jumped to his death from the Delaware Memorial Bridge yesterday, shortly after his wife’s body was found inside their Burlington County home, authorities said. The deaths of Walter Buczynski, 59, and his wife, Marci, 37 - the parents of two boys - were being investigated as a murder-suicide, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. Walter Buczynski was vice president of Columbia, Md.-based Fieldstone Mortgage.


Help wanted

Bush, Fed Chief see no recession

I recognize Bush and Bernanke as two of the monkeys, but who is the third? Mozilo? Schumer? Paulson?


Celebrate good times!

Who could have foreseen this? We did, that's who! You mofo's are going to be paying cash for foreclosed houses with your precious metals profits. Well done!

In theatres

In a time of tedious, pretentious, and pointless movies like No Country for Old Men and (so I hear) There will be Blood, In Bruges is a pleasant surprise. It's a dark comedy that had me laughing out loud throughout the movie. The premise is two Irish hit men who don't know why their boss has sent them to quaint little Bruges, Belgium. Hilarity ensues as they meet the tourists and locals.


You've got me? Who's got you?

Superman: Easy, Miss. I've got you.

Lois Lane: You've got me? Who's got you?

This line from the original 1978 Superman film comes to mind as I read about the attempted bailout of the bond insurers by the banks. The insurers need a huge amount of capital to preserve their fictitious AAA ratings in the face of massive losses on bad mortgage securities that they've guaranteed. The banks also need to preserve those AAA ratings because the banks have huge exposure to the bad mortgage securities, and as long as there is "AAA" insurance on them, the banks can pretend there are no losses. Ponying up a few billion to prop up the imploding bond insurers for a while is less costly, in the short run, than confessing to huge losses on the banks' balance sheets.

What we have in reality is two Lois Lanes, plummeting through the air against the Metropolis skyline, holding each other and assuring themselves and the world that they are not falling.

There is no Superman.


San Diego Saturday

The California Libertarian Party Convention at Mission Bay:

La Jolla (upper left) and Scripps Pier (right) in the afternoon:

Highway 101 at Torrey Pines State Beach:

Ralph Nader is a Republican

That's the only possible explanation for him trying to split the Democratic vote again. AP is reporting that he's planning an announcement about his 2008 run for the presidency on "Meet the Press" tomorrow. Stay tuned.

I liked him a lot better when he was a "consumer advocate." You'd think that with downer cattle in the food supply, toxic toys/pet food/toothpaste/tires/everything coming from China, and environmental protections under attack, he could find something to keep himself busy.


Pot, meet kettle

Hillary has the gall to ask Obama supporters to "name one accomplishment."

Let's turn that around. Hillary supporters, can you name one accomplishment? Eight years as First Lady and what, one horribly botched attempt to nationalize health care? Seven years in the Senate and not a single notable piece of legislation?

What idiot on her train wreck of a campaign staff told her that accomplishments were a good issue to raise?

Election excitement

Go here to see the picture that inspired these captions:
  • Hillary’s Chilling Touch

  • Happy Never-gonna-be-the-President Day

  • Finally! A picture of Hillary that I can stand to look at.

  • Hillary the Sith Lady meets Queen Amidala (and her nipples!)

And then come back with a few of your own.


McCain: Helicopter Ben was too slow with the helicopters

As if I needed another reason to oppose McCain:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke should have been quicker to cut interest rates to try to avert a recession.

"I personally would have liked to have seen those rate cuts earlier,'' McCain said today on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos.'' "That doesn't mean I want him fired, it doesn't mean I've lost confidence,'' McCain said.

I guess McCain thinks we should just have 0% interest forever, and we'll be fine.

Beef... it's what's for dinner

Bringing a knife to a gunfight

McCain to Obama: "Pretty please, don't use your energized base and broad popular appeal to raise funds. That wouldn't be fair!"

Goes to show why McCain supports free speech bans and "campaign finance" restrictions. That's the only way a candidate despised by his base can compete.


Southwest takes your safety seriously

And you say it's a bad time to buy in Vegas

Here's the house I'm buying, as charted on Zillow. I think you'll agree, after studying the chart closely, this is a pretty shrewd move.


Happy Gerard Finneran Day!

This Monday, as you're hitting the slopes or otherwise enjoying the three-day weekend, please remember the man behind the holiday: Gerard Finneran.

Gerard Finneran was born February 16, 1937. Truly a renaissance man, Finneran was a multi-sport athlete who went on to an extraordinarily successful career in banking. The details of Finneran's long and storied career are chronicled here in a 2005 obituary. But he will always be remembered for that one, shining moment. A quarterback for the Air Force Academy, Finneran would come to be known for a far greater feat in the air.
... on a flight back from Buenos Aires to New York, Mr. Finneran had a bit too much to drink.

He drank snowballs and other cocktails, starting before take-off and continuing until a flight attendant decided that it would not be appropriate to serve him any more. He assaulted her, then then started shouting "Fuck the President, fuck him in the ass" while serving himself from the trolley. (History does not record whether he meant the President of Argentina or the President of the United States.)

Moments later, Finneran made the decision that entered his name in the annals of history.

He dropped his pants, pulled off his underwear, and took a shit on a service cart. When he had finished his business, he used linen napkins as toilet paper and wiped his hands on various work surfaces in the galley, smearing faeces throughout the first class cabin.

Gerard Finneran, we salute you.

The Mother of all Economic Indicators

Due to budgetary constraints, the Economic Indicators service (http://www.economicindicators.gov) will be discontinued effective March 1, 2008.

Budgetary constraints? They can drop millions of $600 checks from helicopters, but they can't maintain one basic web site that simply displays government statistics?

Kind of like the M3, huh? "Oh, it's too expensive to calculate. We don't have the resources. We're just the federal government. We'll have to leave it to someone with really deep pockets, some guy who runs a web site called ShadowStats."

Bankers beg for bailout again

Worried Bankers Seek to Shift Risk to Uncle Sam (WSJ):
The banking industry, struggling to contain the fallout from the mortgage debacle, is urgently shopping proposals to Congress and the Bush administration that could shift some of the risk for troubled loans to the federal government.

One proposal, advanced by officials at Credit Suisse Group, would expand the scope of loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration. The proposal would let the FHA guarantee mortgage refinancings by some delinquent borrowers.

Credit Suisse officials have met with senior officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which runs the FHA, and other policy makers to discuss the proposal.

The risk: If delinquent borrowers default on their refinanced loans, the federal government would have to absorb the loss.

Can I get a Federal Slot Machine Administration to absorb the losses if I have a bad trip to Vegas? That analogy is actually far too kind. Slot machines stand a much greater chance of paying off than the no-doc, no-down, cash-back, inflated-appraisal loans that these idiots made.


War is over, if you want it

The Global War on Terror is over.

Though George W. Bush for his own reasons denies that he's won, it's over. And it's over thanks in large part to the aggressive measures Bush took after 9/11: tracking down terrorist financing, intercepting communications, and unleashing military and intelligence teams around the world. And Guantanamo. Thank God for Guantanamo. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed sang like a canary after a little waterboarding. If you don't love waterboarding, you're not paying attention.

It is a remarkable achievement that we have not had another organized terror attack on U.S. soil in six years. How hard would it be for a few Islamist nuts to put together an Oklahoma City-style truck bomb? Or send a couple dozen suicide bombers into shopping malls in a simultaneous wave of attacks across America? Or even set off a dirty bomb in a big city?

The fact that the Islamists haven't been able to pull off even the easiest of attacks is testament to the job GW has done destroying their network. I am not just surprised, but amazed. But the record is what it is.

Now I'm not saying that we should stop the tracking of terrorist finances or the monitoring of overseas communications or targeted military strikes against terrorist targets. To the contrary, these routine operations are what keep the terrorists from coming back. But that's not war. It's ongoing security maintenance.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. Have you noticed how your airport TSA personnel have a less fascist attitude recently? They know the war is over. I got through a couple weeks ago with more than three ounces of toothpaste, which would have triggered a cavity search last year.

But most of all, the chief warriors in the Global War on Terror know that the war is over. GW Bush and John McCain are openly hostile to any attempt to secure the borders, which are obviously our most glaring vulnerability. They defunded the Secure Fence Act. If Al Qaeda wanted to put operatives in the U.S., it would be trivially easy to bring hundreds of them across the border from Mexico. GW and McCain obviously know what I'm telling you now: there is no threat of Al Qaeda operatives coming to the U.S.

I said some time ago that Osama bin Laden is a decrepit jackass hiding in a cave. That may have been giving him too much credit; he may well be dead. Regardless, it's clear that his network is not capable of what it was at the turn of the century. For that, we owe George W. Bush a debt of gratitude. But we don't need to heed Bush's, or his heir McCain's, call for perpetual war.


Bitter primary loser political signs

I'm thinking about ordering some custom political yard signs to show my displeasure with the results of the primaries. I'm looking for ideas. A couple of leading contenders:

McCain '08 --Less Jobs, More Wars!

McCain / Huckabee '08 -- because the Republican Party deserves to lose 42 states

Got any other ideas? If I get inspired, I'll probably order 100 or so and put them up around town.

Dumb government / mortgage industry bailout idea #107

First there was the Super SIV. Then there was Helicopter Ben on steroids, dropping real interest rates to zero. Then there was tax forgiveness for short sales. Then there was the subprime ARM rate freeze. Then there was encouraging rating agencies to lie about the financial health of bond insurers. Then there was the $600 tax rebate that saved the economy.

If you have a keen eye for detail, you may have noticed that none of these solved the housing mess.

Today, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson came up with the feeblest plan yet:

The new project involves a promise by top lenders to proactively contact homeowners who are 90 days or more late on their mortgage payments. Those borrowers would be sent a letter giving them a step-by-step approach that "may enable them to "pause" their foreclosure for 30 days while potential loan modification is evaluated," according to plan overview documents.

Ooohhhh, a letter! And a 30-day pause of foreclosure! Buy that dream house now, because prices are going to be off to the races again!

I've got news for Paulson: the lenders were already going to do a 30-day pause. Neither they nor the courts have the staff to process the volumes of foreclosures that are beginning to occur. And with a huge REO backlog already, the lenders are in no hurry to take more foreclosures onto their books. Far better for them to talk to the borrowers to try to convince some of the dumber ones not to walk away.

And as for the borrowers, anyone over 90 days delinquent is probably either so underwater that he doesn't want a loan mod, or in such a cash flow problem that a loan mod won't help.

Nice try, jackasses. What's next week's bailout scheme?


Yes We Can

Obama put out a video with the slogan Yes We Can which is very effective, meaningless propaganda. At least it's very entertaining.

Apparently some folks put together a McCain equivalent which is terrifyingly more realistic, 100 More Years:


Election 2008

"Less jobs, more wars" McCain vs. "Embrace Iran, invade Pakistan" Obama.


Like Paris Hilton with her virginity

I've never seen him, but Zeke tells me that PBS interviewer Charlie Rose is great: "He's like Larry King with a brain."

$20 down the drain

So last week, facing a McCain - Clinton race, I registered the domain name www.hillaryisanevilbitchbutimvotingforheranyway.com.

Now, with Barack Obama adding Maine to his Washington, Nebraska, and Lousiana victories, he's starting to show some serious momentum. Maybe I won't have to activate that web site after all.

It's kind of like blowing money on term life insurance. You're not really mad that it doesn't pay off.


AP poll: Americans have absolutely no friggin' idea what they're talking about

Americans are idiots, example #447128: AP poll: Leaving Iraq will help economy.
The way to get the country out of recession — and most people think we're in one — is to get the country out of Iraq, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

Pulling out of the war ranked first among proposed remedies in the survey, followed by spending more on domestic programs, cutting taxes and, at the bottom end, giving rebates to poor people in hopes they'll spend the economy into recovery.

Say what you will about war, but one thing it's not is recessionary. Soldiers are employed and defense contractors fire up the factories, consistently causing an economic stimulus.

End the war now and you'll send serving reservists back to compete with former realtors, mortgage brokers, and construction workers for a shrinking pool of job opportunities. Defense contractors' revenues will shrink, causing them to cut back on employment and purchases from their suppliers.

War does have its downside, but it's a bit silly to believe that the absence of war is the cure for the aftermath of the housing bubble. To the contrary, it would likely exacerbate the problem.


This must be just like living in paradise

And you thought your place was cool.

Look at these lovely new San Francisco dwellings, with all the amenities of living in a railroad yard.

True, you don't get a lot of sunset views through the windowless brown wall, but it does help a bit in cutting down the noise of the trains passing by.

At first I thought these were some brilliant new condos, and I was ready to put down a deposit. Alas, they are only for rent, and only to low-income folks. However, you can buy a 495 sq. ft. studio with no external exposure (kind of like living in a self-storage unit) just across the street "starting in the low $400s." $850/sqft plus HOA fees! Sign me up!

Jingle mail goes mainstream

Front page center on CNN Money: Troubled homeowners: Can't pay? Just walk away



Farewell, Republican Party

I was registered Republican just long enough to cast my vote for Ron Paul. That's enough for me.

If this is a McCain - Huckabee Republican Party, I want nothing to do with it.

I'm re-registering as an independent tomorrow, and I'll vote for Hillary or Obama over either one of those guys.

On the plus side, the electoral massacre that's going to happen in November will probably cause the Republican Party to repent and turn to young, energetic, principled reformers. Pence? Flake? Coburn? DeMint? Sessions? 2012 calls.

Please send helicopters

Nasdaq down 3%.

Where are you, Ben Bernanke? You have no idea how bad it is out there! NO IDEA!!!


Super Tuesday

If you're a Ron Paul supporter, get out and vote!

If you're a Hillary or McCain supporter, your primary is Wednesday.

One update -- I said earlier that California was lost to McCain. Now it's too close to call between McCain and Romney.


The media are starting to catch on

The San Francisco Chronic:


Congress is about to sell us the biggest fraud in American history. [...]

As part of the [stimulus] bill, Congress is set to rush through an increase in the mortgage loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (and Federal Housing Administration insurance, too) - from $417,000 to $729,750 - the first step toward a massive financial disaster in which taxpayers will end up paying through the nose.

Something is happening here but you don't know what it is... or do you, Mr. Jones?

The usually clueless mainstream media is waking up to the fact that the government is about to start guaranteeing jumbo mortgages for fraudsters, bailing out Wall Street and setting itself up for a bailout that will make the S&L crisis look like a picnic.

Toilette & Douche

Managers and business owners, do you pay for advice from Deloitte? Why not go ask some homeless guy on the corner for advice instead? Surely it wouldn't be worse than this:
Economist's Corner: The Housing Bubble Myth

Issue: July 2005
By Carl Steidtman, chief economist and director, Consumer Business, Deloitte Research


When you strip away all of the white noise around a housing bubble, what you find is a robust market for housing that is undergoing several profound changes all of which manifest themselves in higher home price indexes, none of which adds up to a housing price bubble.

If that's the wisdom of their chief economist, what does that say about the mental capacity of the line-level flunkie you're paying for advice?

HT: HousingPanic.


If you like warrantless wiretapping...

...then you'll love this. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week about an item in Bush's forthcoming budget proposal: "an estimated $6 billion to build a secretive system protecting U.S. communication networks from attacks by terrorists, spies and hackers."

Protecting private computer systems would likely require the government to install sensors on private, company networks, officials familiar with the initiative said. Amid divisiveness about other government-surveillance programs, having the government monitor Internet traffic, even in the name of national security, will be a hard sell to Congress and the public.


Former officials said the final price tag is approaching an estimated $30 billion over seven years, including a 2009 infusion of around $6 billion, though those numbers could change significantly as the plan develops.


Current and former officials said the effort could be scaled back to primarily protect government networks. They would then do what is possible to help the private sector improve its security. [Director of National Intelligence Mike] McConnell has said 95% of the problem lies with the private sector. [emphasis added]

Right. Like the gubmint knows more about computer security. Even a lefty like me isn't buying that one. On the other side, Varones and his ilk, I assume, ought to be outraged about the price tag and the privacy implications. Regardless, Bush is using the same top-secret playbook to get this one through:

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson...said he was particularly irked to learn that Mr. Bush had signed a classified directive that outlines how the White House proposes to bolster security of government networks weeks ago but "has refused to share [the directive] with Congress."

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the White House is giving "careful consideration" to Mr. Thompson's request for the Jan. 8 directive...


The disinformation and election interference is coming from inside the house

The FBI just admitted in court that Hunter Biden's laptop is real. Here are 20 minutes of Joe Biden, U.S. intelligence officials, and th...