Saturday, May 01, 2010


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We are at a remarkable moment. We have an open, 2,000-mile border to our south, and the entity with the power to enforce the law and impose safety and order will not do it. Wall Street collapsed, taking Main Street's money with it, and the government can't really figure out what to do about it because the government itself was deeply implicated in the crash, and both political parties are full of people whose political careers have been made possible by Wall Street contributions. Meanwhile we pass huge laws, bills so comprehensive, omnibus and transformative that no one knows what's in them and no one—literally, no one—knows how exactly they will be executed or interpreted. Citizens search for new laws online, pore over them at night, and come away knowing no more than they did before they typed "dot-gov."

All this contributes to a deep and growing alienation between the people of America and the government of America in Washington.

Reprise: I'm OK, I Landed On A Taxpayer

Friday, April 30, 2010

Go Gabriella!

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A woman apparently named Gabriella gives the Tucson City Council Hell for contemplating a lawsuit against the state of Arizona SB1070.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

COTD: Burdens

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I have no idea what it costs in Europe to hire, but I do have an idea why companies are not hiring in the U.S. My family’s company is agriculture based and, until recently, had a lucrative side-business of leasing drivers and large (5 axles and up) trucks to construction companies that needed extra trucks. Tax burdens and obvious costs have been fairly steady over the past ten years; however, other regulatory burdens have greatly increased costs in non-obvious ways. For example, a change in regulations on required protective equipment on the back of semi-trailers resulted in two cost increases. The first was an increase in the raw cost of trailers by about 5%. The second cost was an entirely hidden result. Poorly trained Department of Transportation (DOT) officers started issuing tickets to trucks with the new trailers for failing to meet the now outdated standards.
The problem is not the obvious burdens of taxes, its the non-obvious burdens of regulations and requirements


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A few moments ago, I read a review of a new book, Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment, and the following sentences jumped out at me:

This is less a story of dissidents, so-called civil society, than of the bankruptcy of a ruling class–communism’s establishment, or “uncivil society.” The Communists borrowed from the West like drunken sailors to buy mass consumer goods, then were unable to pay back the hard-currency debts and so borrowed even more. In Eastern Europe, communism came to resemble a Ponzi scheme, one whose implosion carries enduring lessons.

I found myself wondering “And this differs from our political class…how?”

Olson developed the thesis that democratic politics must more or less inevitably degenerate into a mad scramble among interest groups seeking to corner ever-higher rents from their ability to swing votes

Red Tape

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Since no one apparently read – or had the time to read – the ObamaCare bill before it was passed into law, parts of it are just now coming to light that, to most, are going to be a surprise. For instance, a mandate having very little to do with health care but certainly a very costly tax mandate for business was slipped into the bill. Maybe this is why those additional 16,000 IRS agents are needed:

Under current law, businesses are required to issue 1099s in a limited set of situations, such as when paying outside consultants. The health care bill includes a vast expansion in this information reporting requirement in an attempt to raise revenue for an increasingly rapacious Congress.


Basically, businesses will have to issue 1099s whenever they do more than $600 of business with another entity in a year. For the $14 trillion U.S. economy, that’s a hell of a lot of 1099s. When a business buys a $1,000 used car, it will have to gather information on the seller and mail 1099s

As in Commie red tape.


In drafting the Obamacare bill they tried to time things for maximum political advantage, only to be tripped up by the complexities of the regulatory environment they had already created. It's like a second-order Knowledge Problem.

Possibly this is simply because Waxman and his colleagues are dumb, and God knows there's plenty of evidence that Congress isn't a repository of rocket scientists. But it's just as likely that adding 30 or 40 IQ points to the average congressman wouldn't make much difference.

The United States Code -- containing federal statutory law -- is more than 50,000 pages long and comprises 40 volumes.

No one on Earth understands them all, and the potential interaction among all the different rules would choke a supercomputer. This means, of course, that when Congress changes the law, it not only can't be aware of all the real-world complications it's producing, it can't even understand the legal and regulatory implications of what it's doing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's About The Arms

When will we learn we are not the center of the universe?

A nicely done video that ties together the most important causalities in real climate change on earth. It comes in several segments, but is well worth watching.

The basic ‘missing piece’ is that the spiral arm is a density artifact not the physical motion of a pack of constant stars. In essence, there is a wave of compressed density that travels through the stars rather than the arm being one batch of stars and us being a different batch.

So when we are in the low density areas, we’re spread out and not getting as much of a cosmic ray dose from nearby stars. When we’re in the high density areas, we’re crammed up close and personal with many more stars and with many more cosmic ray sources.

When The Overlord Is Mentally Ill

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April 28, 2010

UH OH: It’s sweet old ladies! Call the SWAT Team!

Okay, I think they’re just in riot gear, not SWAT guys. But the optics are bad. More here: “Protesters sang ‘God Bless America’ and apparently that was enough to invoke the riot squad. . . . Who gave the order to call in the riot police on protesters? Word is that Secret Service from inside the venue and the presidential team pressured local law enforcement, who were against the idea.”

What’s that phrase? Oh, yeah: “The people vs. the powerful.” Kind of like the treatment they gave gay rights protesters at the White House last week. The riot squad ain’t on the side of the people . . . .

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Holy Frejole

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This sums it up nicely:


O Bully

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Perhaps President Obama had forgotten an American civics lesson: The Supreme Court is the supreme law of the land. It is unseemly and disrespectful for a President to so bluntly and blatantly question the justices’ judgment and intent—especially right in front of their faces.

I can’t remember of any other President in my memory having done this. Nixon maybe? An unfortunate comparison, indeed.

Hmm, now that I think about it, nor can I recall any other modern President who has spent so much effort lambasting his immediate predecessor. Reagan didn’t do it to Carter. Clinton didn’t do it to the first George Bush.

And the worst part is, we’re barely calling out Obama the Bully on this behavior at all. We are becoming entirely too accustomed to it, failing to see it for what it really is: a striking lack of civility, and an overflow of divisiveness, from a President who had promised to give us precisely the opposite.

Planetary Misalignment

Fabrice “Fab” Tourre (Executive Director, Structured Products Group Trading): “I believe we have a duty to serve our clients…to show prices to our clients, to offer them liquidity.

Sen. Collins (sounding exasperated): “Should Congress impose a clear fiduciary obligation to act in your clients’ interests on broker-dealers?

Joshua Birnbaum (Former Managing Director, Structured Products Group Trading): “Conceptually, that seems like an interesting idea.

So it was no surprise when Blankfein said, at the tail end of a very long day, that “as I heard it, everything [Goldman did] sounds correct.” As the American people heard it, by contrast, everything Goldman did will have sounded most disconcerting. The gulf between ordinary Americans and those who work on Wall Street will have seemed vast, and not merely in terms of the amounts of money that the latter make. On questions of morality, the hearings prove that the two sides inhabit entirely different planets.

Maybe a few more years of this moronic grandstanding crap and our moronic "representatives" might figure out that they should have let Wall Street go bust. But if they ever figure it out they'll look at their list of campaign contributors and kill that idea pronto.

Umm ... Politicians ARE Religious Leaders For Libs

WHEN we fall under the spell of a charismatic figure, areas of the brain responsible for scepticism and vigilance become less active. That's the finding of a study which looked at people's response to prayers spoken by someone purportedly possessing divine healing powers.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Schjødt and his colleagues scanned the brains of 20 Pentecostalists and 20 non-believers while playing them recorded prayers. The volunteers were told that six of the prayers were read by a non-Christian, six by an ordinary Christian and six by a healer. In fact, all were read by ordinary Christians.

Only in the devout volunteers did the brain activity monitored by the researchers change in response to the prayers.

It's not clear whether the results extend beyond religious leaders, but Schjødt speculates that brain regions may be deactivated in a similar way in response to doctors, parents and politicians.

Monday, April 26, 2010


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“My maid just asked for leave,” a
friend in Beijing told me recently. “She’s rushing home to buy
property. I suggested she borrow 70 percent, so she could cap
the loss.”

It wasn’t the first time I had heard such a story in China.
Some friends in Shanghai have told me similar ones. It seems all
the housemaids are rushing into the market at the same time.

There are benefits to housekeeping for fund managers.
China’s housemaids may be Asia’s answer to the shoeshine boy
whose stock tips prompted Joseph Kennedy to sell his shares
before the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Another friend recently vacationed in the southern island-
resort city of Sanya in Hainan province and felt compelled to
visit a development sales office. Everyone she knew had bought
there already. It’s either buy or be unsocial.

“You should buy two,” the sharp sales girl suggested.
“In three years, the price will have doubled. You could sell
one and get one free.”

How could anyone resist an offer like that?

In The Shorts

"But now investors are even looking at the best of the best, including the United States."

That's also the concern of Michael Burry, the investment guru who predicted Wall Street's meltdown and made millions by placing bets against (or "shorting") the financial sector. Burry, one of the protagonists in Michael Lewis's account of the financial crisis, "The Big Short," believes the federal government is behaving like the companies that lost billions in mortgage-backed securities. He told me he sees the common mistake of focusing on short-term benefits -- whether quarterly earnings or the next election.

The world doesn't want America to go broke, he points out. Americans are the planet's greatest consumers. But if this is a bubble, it will burst with little warning, Burry said.

"Strictly looking at the monthly Treasury statement of receipts and outlays," Burry said, "as an 'investor,' you see a company you might want to short."

Without A Prayer

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I think this captures my feelings about the situation:

“[C]rony capitalism” has as much to do with real capitalism as praying mantises have to do with real prayer.” – Donald J. Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek

Boudreaux is responding to an article by Gerald O’Driscoll a few days ago in which O’Driscoll took on the notion that “crony capitalism” is simply an natural evolution of capitalism.  Boudreaux had a slight nit to pick with the author but his characterization of crony capitalism was dead on.

O’Driscoll covers many of the myths that those who want to characterize crony capitalism as a problem only to be found under a capitalist system.  In fact it has little to do with capitalism at all.  It’s simply cronyism and, once you understand what is being described, it can exist under any system that has a government.

You see, that’s the one ingredient that is necessary for it to exist.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Not What You Think, Part 2

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As the share of government spending in health care has been steadily increasing in the US, it has been inching downward in Europe. While first Bush and then Obama pushed through massive new public entitlements, governments from Stockholm to Rome have been grappling with real private reform.

Though conservatives especially like to sneer at the democratic socialism of Old Europe, it is precisely those cheese-eaters in France and Vikings up north who have been leading the world in privatization these last two decades, selling off everything from airports to sewage companies.

With this week’s news that General Motors is “paying back” one set of Troubled Asset Relief Program loans from another pile of TARP money, we can see why Europeans have a lot to teach us about separation of industry and state.
The solution to unsustainable budget deficits and precarious debt levels remains the same as when Barack Obama took office: Stop spending so much damned money.

Schiff On Financial "Regulation"

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The Knights Who Say NIE

Some observers say the Tehran government has been unnerved by the defections and point to the death of an Iranian physics professor more than three months ago as a sign that it has begun a crackdown designed to frighten would-be spies.

A U.S. official briefed on the progress of the new NIE said analysts are under pressure to avoid their predecessors' mistakes. The document is now scheduled to be delivered by August, the official said, adding that "there is an expectation that the previous one will be corrected."

U.S. officials said there will be a major difference in how the new estimate is presented. The previous document triggered headlines that Iran had backed away from its pursuit of the bomb largely because officials decided to release a version to the public. The officials said they now see that decision as a mistake and have no plans this time to make portions of the estimate public.


THE aliens are out there and Earth had better watch out, at least according to Stephen Hawking. He has suggested that extraterrestrials are almost certain to exist — but that instead of seeking them out, humanity should be doing all it that can to avoid any contact.

The suggestions come in a new documentary series in which Hawking, one of the world’s leading scientists, will set out his latest thinking on some of the universe’s greatest mysteries.

Alien life, he will suggest, is almost certain to exist in many other parts of the universe: not just in planets, but perhaps in the centre of stars or even floating in interplanetary space.

Hawking’s logic on aliens is, for him, unusually simple. The universe, he points out, has 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars. In such a big place, Earth is unlikely to be the only planet where life has evolved.

The answer, he suggests, is that most of it will be the equivalent of microbes or simple animals

COTD: Mentally Deranged Morons

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The outbreak of violence in Phoenix perfectly illustrates the insanity from the left. The same people who demanded that the government control every private decision they make in their health care are now vehemently opposed to showing a law enforcement officer their identification.

This country is being over run by mentally deranged morons who want what they want and the constitution and others rights be damned. That is reason enough to seal the borders and eject every illegal they can find.

csdeven on April 25, 2010 at 7:56 AM

Hidden Hitler History

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Roots of Islamic funamentalism lie in Nazi propaganda for Arab world, book claims
Roots of Islamic funamentalism lie in Nazi propaganda for Arab world, book claims

"Your only hope for rescue is the destruction of the Jews before they
destroy you!" Hitler said in a 1942 message, one of thousands broadcast
across the Middle East in an attempt to woo the Arab world.

In his new book, "Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World", Mr Herf
argues that Nazi propagandists offered a message that neatly dovetailed with
underlying prejudice.

"It is also a product of a mixture of some indigenous currents in the
history of Islam with the hatred of democracy, liberalism and the Jews that
were so central to National Socialism.

Mr Herf uncovered 6,000 transmissions, produced under the propaganda minister
Josef Goebbels and sent around the Arab world from 1939 to 1945.

The transcripts of the broadcasts were made by the American embassy in Cairo
during the war, and classified until 1977 in Washington.

"This propaganda campaign comprised an important chapter in the history
of the war,"