California, the Pineapple Express, Axl Rose, and the High-Speed Fail to Nowhere

As we enjoy a little November rain thanks to the Pineapple Express, I think of Guns n' Roses' November Rain:

California is a lot like Axl Rose: it used to have amazing mojo and unlimited potential, but now it is just bloated and pathetic and waiting to die.

Our friend Leslie Eastman writes at Legal Insurrection on California's massive debt and the high-speed rail epic boondoggle:
In 2008, after millions of dollars in advertising, Californians were persuaded to pass Proposition 1A and provide $9.95 billion in bond seed money for the high speed bullet train, despite the fact was no hard evidence supporting any the claims made about ridership, pollution reduction, or job creation — and apparently forgetting the interest ($9.5 billion) costs of the bonds. Furthermore, the realities of construction have tripled the initial cost estimates and the first train won’t be running until 2033.
It's not just the high-speed train to nowhere. Municipalities and school districts are piling up billions in debt, all so they can keep spending recklessly today and leave the bill to the next generation.


Remedial investing

Seriously, what is wrong with you people?

Buy Nothing Day

Happy Buy Nothing Day, everybody!

Buy Nothing Day is the brainchild of Adbusters, who recently found infamy as the inventors of the filth-drug-and-rapefest known as the Occupy movement.

Since the WCV signed on to BND in 2008, the message has become not just anti-consumerism, but anti-capitalism.  The Adbusters, perhaps emboldened by the re-election of Barack Obama, are now open about their intent to smash capitalism.  I obviously don't agree with that, but I'll hold on to the anti-consumerism angle. What capitalism needs is savings and investment, not debt-fueled consumption.

Buy nothing today.  Really.  You don't need that sh!t.

UPDATE:  You're not going to listen? You're going to run with the cows? JDA covers the sick phenomenon of Black Friday in gory detail.


The lesson of the first Thanksgiving: socialism kills

Reposted from 2010.  More relevant now, obviously.

From Karl Denninger:
The first winter was disasterous - nearly half of the Pilgrims died of starvation, pneumonia and tuberculosis. Many claim that Bradford's first wife perished that first winter, but that is not quite true - she actually fell off the Mayflower quite close to land and drowned, never making it to Plymouth (he later remarried.)

During the first two years the colony lived under what could only be called Communism, enshrined in the Mayflower Compact. Each person was accorded a "share" of the totality of what was produced at the colony, and each person was expected to do their part in working toward the common good. The land, and that upon it, was owned by the colony as a collective.

It not only did not work out, it nearly killed them all.

William Bradford wrote in his diary "For in this instance, community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort. For the young men who were most able and fit for service objected to being forced to spend their time and strength in working for other men’s wives and children, without any recompense. The strong man or the resourceful man had no more share of food, clothes, etc., than the weak man who was not able to do a quarter the other could. This was thought injustice.”

After the second winter, realizing that the colony had survived only through the friendship and largesse of the native Americans, and would soon perish if changes were not made, Bradford tore up the Mayflower Compact. He instead assigned each family a plot of land to be their property, to be worked as the family saw fit, and with the fruits of that land to be their own. It was the beginning of private property rights in the New World.

The result? Again, from his diary: "It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction.”

From the very day that Bradford tore up the Mayflower Compact, Plymouth began to prosper. Within a year the colonists found themselves with more food than they could eat. Flush with a bountiful harvest far in excess of their need for food and having bartered for all the goods they needed to get through the winter, they had a feast of thanks with their Indian trading partners.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the leftist teachers unions to teach this lesson to your children. Better show them this video from Reason:


Greenspan's Body Count: Thomas Fernandez and Debra Fernandez

Police in Phoenix are investigating what they believe to be a murder-suicide after a couple was found dead in their bedroom.

Phoenix Police Department spokesman Sgt. Steve Martos said investigators believe the victim, Debra Fernandez, 46, and the 52-year-old suspect, Thomas Fernandez, got in a fight late Sunday night over financial issues.

Fernandez's two adult children in their 20s were in the home and heard "popping" sounds but didn't realize they were gunshots. Martos said five small children, all under the age of 5, were also in the home near 4400 N. 53rd Lane.
Debra Fernandez is listed at 4421 N. 53rd Lane, Apartment 1.

Redfin has more info on the complex, from the apparently identical four-plex across the street, which just sold for $139,150, or $35,000 per unit.

Nine people in a run-down three-bedroom 1970's apartment on the outskirts of Phoenix. Welcome to the Greenspan Depression.

Greenspan's Body Count stands at 230.


Where are they now: Gypsy Taub

Back in 2007, we linked Gypsy Taub's groundbreaking investigative piece, "Is Cheney about to blow up the Bay Bridge?"

Sadly, Cheney apparently was not about to blow up the Bay Bridge. Or if he was, his plot was foiled by Taub's crack journalism.

Even more sadly, we neglected at the time to link Taub's interesting places you can insert an American flag (NSFW).

Well, our blog friend of five years ago has hit the big time and is now getting coverage in the mainstream press. She's fighting to keep nudity legal in San Francisco, against the prudish authoritarianism of Supervisor Scott Weiner. Supporting Weiner is the Castro / Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association's Rob Cox.


An Ode to Hostess

Hostess closes its doors after years of producing something that, for good or bad, helped define Americana. I haven't eaten one of their products in recent or distant memory but I wanted to share a friend's take because growing up in the Midwest his comments resonate with me.
Today it was announced that Hostess is closing its doors, the grocery stores shelves will be absent another childhood memory. Gone are the sweet treats purchased by Dad at some out of the way gas station on Sunday drives through the Michigan country side. Gone will be the lesson, a rite of passage if you will, of standing in the school cafeteria line faced with the choice all teenagers must face, will it be the plastic wrapped sugar high or the school lunch which contained food sources of unknown origins. Missing from the back seat of your first car the empty wrappers of long ago devoured Dolly Madison cakes eaten on the way home after a long soccer practice. Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Snow Balls will no longer be seen as a quick fix to the hunger program that used to strike us at 3 a.m. after a long night out while on the way back to the dorm.

Wonder Bread, oh Wonder Bread, crusts on or crust off, rolled and squashed into squares and or balls of doughy, puffy goodness. Nothing flew a more accurate path than Wonder Bread when hurled at a sibling over morning breakfast. Served with Peanut Butter and Jelly stuffed into brown bags for those long day trips to some museum or factory where some poor kid with a healthy minded Mom would beg you to trade. On those days you were home sick from school grilled with American cheese to simple perfection by a Mom who made you feel like you were the only person in the world that mattered, was there ever a better meal?

Lost will be the smell coming from their small town commercial bakeries, where bleached flour, sugar and chemicals none of us could articulate were being blended, molded and cooked into tasty treats that had shelve lives longer than human life spans. Lost will be the clutter that gathers along the side of empty city streets, and in that clutter there smiling up at us would be Dolly, gently reminding us of simpler times and pleasures.


FHA needs a bailout; Gee, who could have seen that coming?

The Federal Housing Administration's projected losses hit $16.3 billion at the end of September, according to an independent annual audit to be released Friday, a much larger figure than had been forecast earlier.

The report strongly suggests the FHA will require taxpayer funding for the first time in its 78 years, though that won't be decided until early next year.

The FHA is required to maintain enough cash to pay for projected losses on the $1.1 trillion in loans that it guarantees. Last year, the independent audit said the FHA would have $2.6 billion after covering estimated losses.
The losses relate to loans made after the bubble burst, in 2008 and 2009.

Gee, who could have seen that coming? Certainly not the thousands of highly-paid bureaucrats in Treasury, HUD, FHA, etc., with their expensive models and experts.

Just some casual observer in San Diego with no particular industry expertise.
FHA is the new subprime

More precisely, FHA is the new put-option mortgage. As we said way back in January 2007 with Countrywide stock flying high around $40:
The mortgage industry calls them pay-option ARMs, because the buyer has the option to pay a full mortgage payment or a lot less. In reality, they are put-option ARMs, because the buyer is really getting a put option on the real estate market. If the market goes up, the buyer refinances or makes fully amortized payments on the loan. If the market goes down, the buyer makes minimal payments to live in a nice house for a period, and then hands the underwater house back to the lender. A no-lose proposition for the smart buyer!
Well, they're not ARMs any more. They are ridiculously low (~5%) 30-year fixed-rate loans. And the sucker is not a sleazy outfit like Countrywide. It's the FHA. That means you, the taxpayer.
These asshats in Washington either couldn't see, or didn't care, that making 3% down loans to deadbeats in a collapsing market would create huge losses for the taxpayer. They should all be run out of town on a rail.


Japan goes Full Retard with call for negative interest rates

When you paint yourself too far into a corner with debt and money-printing, you start to think creatively [i.e. psychotically].

Here's the latest wisdom from debt- and demographically-doomed Japan:
The yen hit its lowest level against the dollar since late April on Thursday and looked vulnerable to more losses after the head of Japan's main opposition party called for a move towards negative interest rates.

The euro rallied to a two-week high against the yen and also rose against the dollar, despite data showing the euro zone slid into recession in the third quarter of 2012.

Shinzo Abe, the head of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party and frontrunner in next month's election, wants the Bank of Japan to consider sub-zero interest rates and reverse the yen's strength.
So you borrow a million dollars from the bank, put it in a vault, and after a year, you give them back $990,000. Yeah, that will fix the economy!

We've got negative real interest rates here already (interest rates less than inflation). But you can't do the vault trick with just negative real rates.

Don't worry; we're not far behind Japan. Grab some popcorn (and gold, guns, and ammo, obviously!) and let the silliness begin!


Elmo cleared

Er... sort of.

No mention of whether the accuser received a settlement. There'd usually be a denial if he didn't.

Even if we take the retraction at face value, we've still got a forty-something guy taking advantage of an emotionally disturbed 18-ish kid for sex.  Way better on the criminal front, not so much on the creep front.

Meanwhile, shocking photos of Kermit the Frog have surfaced as the Sesame Street scandal continues.


A humble prayer

"Dear Lord, if you bless me with intelligent, ambitious daughters, let their ambition be something other than to bed down the most powerful man they can and then destroy his life. Amen."

Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash accused of sex with underage boy

Now don't tell anyone where Elmo tickled you!
The man who voices the puppet of Elmo on Sesame Street has taken leave amid allegations he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy.

Kevin Clash, 52, has taken a leave of absence from the popular children's show after the programme's lawyers were contacted by a 23-year-old man who claims he had a sexual relationship with the puppeteer seven years ago, when he was aged 16.

TMZ, who reported the allegations, said that Mr Clash had admitted he had a relationship with the man, but only after the accuser was an adult and said the accusations were both false and defamatory.
When Romney proposed cutting government subsidies to multi-million-dollar public broadcasting, was he also proposing cutting subsidies to a multi-millionaire child molester?


U R F'd: Why taxing the rich won't come close to paying for Obama's spending

America just voted resoundingly to give Obama a blank check to keep spending like a drunken sailor, under the misguided belief that taxing "the rich" would pay for it.

Good luck with that. There simply aren't enough rich people out there. If you are in the middle class, we are going to have to tax the crap out of you to keep up with Obama's spending... unless we just go Full Zimbabwe and let the Fed print all the money Obama needs.

Recuento de Víctimas de Greenspan: Amaia Egaña

Some say love is the universal language. I say the universal language is debt despair.

Fifty-three-year-old Amaia Egaña jumped four floors to her death as bailiffs prepared to kick her out after she failed to stay current on her mortgage payments. She is the second person in less than three weeks to commit suicide in the face of an impending eviction.
And of course the solution from just about every corner is to stop evictions:

A Spanish savings bank has halted all home-owner evictions after a ruined client threw herself out a window to her death, unleashing anti-bank street protests.

The weekend decision by Kutxabank, a lender in the northern Basque Country, was unprecedented in Spain, where banks and homeowners have been financially crushed by a 2008 property crash.

It was the second suicide linked to the eviction of a financially distressed home owner in 15 days.

Right-leaning Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy promised on Friday to offer proposals to ease the pressure on homeowners on Monday in talks with the opposition Socialists.


Rajoy said on Friday he hoped the talks with the opposition would include discussion of a 'temporary halt to the evictions which are hitting the most vulnerable families.'
Ending evictions is a great idea, because it would immediately end mortgage lending.  And that would be a great first step in ending debt slavery.


Tee hee

From the Amazon blurb for "All In," the Petraeus biography written by the woman he was banging:
Afforded extensive access by General Petraeus, his mentors, his subordinates, and his longtime friends, Broadwell embedded with the general, his headquarters staff, and his soldiers on the front lines of fighting and at the strategic command in Afghanistan to chronicle the experiences of this American general as they were brought to bear in the terrible crucible of war.

McDanger does ATC

Our man Charlie McDanger lucks into a gig as an air traffic controller for a day.


Boehner owns this

Who is the one man most responsible for Barack Obama's re-election and a likely permanent socialist majority?

John Boehner.

At every opportunity: the debt ceiling, the budget continuing resolution, every spending negotiation, Boehner abdicated his responsibility and let Obama keep spending at will.

Instead of insisting on responsible spending bills, Boehner let Obama run 8%-10% GDP deficits for four years running. He let Obama steal our children's future to create a sugar high and make the economy feel better, at least past re-election.

George W. Bush paved the way for Obama with irresponsible spending and reckless foreign wars. John Boehner just gave Obama a second term which he will use to entrench even more deeply the permanent dependent underclass... and a lot of the middle class will find themselves sliding down into that underclass.

When they write the epitaph for liberty and prosperity in America, George W. Bush and John Boehner will feature prominently.

P.S. Plus Zimbabwe Ben, who facilitates Obama's spending by monetizing his deficits.


"When a man tells me something never ceases to amaze him, I reckon he is a slow learner."
-Old Zeke's Almanac


More free sh*t! More free sh*t!

Screen shot from Yahoo News, not doctored.

America chooses Socialism!

Good luck with that one. How's it working out for Greece?

Americans could be excused for voting for Obama in 2008. He promised post-partisanship and hope and change. Four years later, his record is consistent as an unabashed statist and central planner, and a Nixonian political thug.

There are a lot of factors behind America's shocking and sudden embrace of socialism: the media being completely in the tank for Obama; the teachers' unions indoctrinating the youth; the Democrats successfully creating a giant, permanent underclass of voters dependent on government handouts; the swing state of Virginia being tipped by wealthy government bureaucrats and lobbyists in the Washington D.C. suburbs...

But that's all water under the bridge. America has embraced socialism. And what's done will not be undone. A continuing expansion of the dependency state will create a permanent voting majority for more dependency. More crony capitalism will direct more wealth to the politically connected, who will in turn use that wealth to further entrench their benefactors. The PRI ran Mexico for 70 years with a patronage system like this, and their resources and pork were trivial compared to the US federal government's.

Once you're gone, you can never come back

America, you had a hell of a run.


"Facebook exists so we can talk about everything we do, rather than doing things worth talking about."
-Old Zeke's Almanac

ObamaCare to hurt working poor by cutting their hours

Gee, who could have seen this coming?
Some low-wage employers are moving toward hiring part-time workers instead of full-time ones to mitigate the health-care overhaul's requirement that large companies provide health insurance for full-time workers or pay a fee.

Several restaurants, hotels and retailers have started or are preparing to limit schedules of hourly workers to below 30 hours a week. That is the threshold at which large employers in 2014 would have to offer workers a minimum level of insurance or pay a penalty starting at $2,000 for each worker.
If I've got a restaurant and I have 30 employees working 40 hours a week, I'll have to pay $60,000 in ObamaCare fines. Or I can just change the schedule and have 40 employees working part-time at 29.5 hours a week and I'm home free. National chains such as Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Yard House, etc.) are already doing the math.

What about just providing health insurance instead of paying the fines? Nope, the cost of ObamaCare with its new coverage mandates and complete failure to control costs would be much higher than paying the fine -- and far too much to pay for many low-wage service positions in restaurants and retail.

It always comes back to the General Theory of Liberalism: leftists don't understand them.

Happy Super Tuesday!