Friday, February 29, 2008

Raymond Zulueta

Bill said on November 27th, 2007:

These landowners, who owe $250,000 on an asset now worth $160,000, and are paying taxes on top of it, owe nothing to the bank. Many will walk away. And the bank will be holding the bag. The supply-demand imbalance is still pretty wide.

When Raymond Zulueta went into default on his mortgage last year, he did what a lot of people do. He worried.

In a declining housing market, he owed more than the house was worth, and his mortgage payments, even on an interest-only loan, had shot up to $2,600, more than he could afford. “I was terrified,” said Mr. Zulueta, who services automated teller machines for an armored car company in the San Francisco area.

Then in January he learned about a new company in San Diego called You Walk Away that does just what its name says. For $995, it helps people walk away from their homes, ceding them to the banks in foreclosure.

Last week he moved into a three-bedroom rental home for $1,200 a month, less than half the cost of his mortgage. The old house is now the lender’s problem. “They took the negativity out of my life,” Mr. Zulueta said of You Walk Away. “I was stressing over nothing.”

-NY Times, today

Raymond should have read Brick Oven, he would have saved $4200.

Afterthough Update: What a business model. I hereby announce the launching of my own service, called ‘You Drive Away.’ Clients wishing to take advantage of You Drive Away’s services need to follow our patented two step process:

1) Send You Drive Away a check for $800. That is nearly 20% cheaper than our main competitor.
2) Drive away. This is faster than walking.

You Drive Away is currently accepting franchise applications. For either opportunity, please leave a comment below.

Investments III-Other Commodities

Stuff has become more valuable. Or the dollar has become less valuable. Or both. The stuff that makes for the best investments is stuff that the government is likely to restrict access to.

Western water is a good example of this. There is a finite amount of it and the government has its fingers in the pie. A man who bought $10,000 of western water in 2002 saw his investment grow to $200,000 in 2004.

My next pick may make me sound ‘wingnut’, which I understand means a right wing lunatic:

Ammunition is a commodity, made of metal, sold in a competitive market. Its price has doubled with the fall of the dollar. The price of a round varies, but is in the neighborhood of a quarter. The government will try to restrict access to ammunition through taxes. Maryland has proposed a $5/round tax on handgun ammunition, which would raise the retail price of 9mm ammo over 3000%.

The best investment is in a style of ammunition most likely to be restricted; namely handgun and assault rifle ammunition. A case of Russian 7.62mm currently goes for $200.

Another commodity likely to be restricted is high-capacity clips. You can buy 40-round clips for around $30 and the Taleban-special super high capacity clips for just over $100. An investment in the thing that the clips attach to goes for $350.

Note: In trying to provide you with a picture, my access to , a retailer, has been blocked:

Reason for restriction: Forbidden Category "Other"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Financial Engineers

As a licensed professional engineer, people using the term ‘XYZ engineer’ never bothered me. One thing that does bother me is the presence of a profession that calls itself ‘Financial Engineers’. The link is to a group that calls itself:

“The International Association of Financial Engineers”.

The panel consists of one person from CITI Global Wealth Management, one person from Fitch Ratings, and one person from Bear Sterns. The group was hosted by Goldman Sachs. The name of the discussion is:

“The Boundaries Between Credit Risk and Operational Risk: Are They Real?”

The Panel agreed that 'risk disciplines' tend to operate in ‘silos’; “It is important to manage risk across silos and to include operational risk in enterprisewide risk dialogs.”

Which, I think boils down to a way of extorting money from the Federal Reserve.


Moody’s is a company that assesses risk. Moody’s lost half of its market value in 2007. Now why would a company that assesses risk tank in an era where risk assessment is more important than ever?

Collusion and resulting legal liability to investors.

In a proper system, a business enterprise would approach a bond attorney who would assess the enterprise's risk, and if his due diligence convinced him that the risk was manageable, would originate the bonds. A third-party assessment service like Moody’s would judge the judgments of the attorney and sell their judgment to the investing public.

In the boom, these three parties acted as a team and packaged investments that were attractive to investors. They would walk around together. The firms that got the work were the firms that would most reliably put a positive spin on the investment vehicle. Moody’s assessed the ‘sub-prime’ risk.

They sold out their reputations, and that will come home to roost.

Update: Another thought- Moody’s is a publicly-owned company, which means that institutional investors own the majority of it. Institutional investors have the most to lose by honest negative assessments. Wikipedia (take it for what it’s worth) states that Berkshire Hathaway is a major owner of Moody’s.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Investments II-Gold

King Priam’s ransom to Achilles for Hector’s dead body included ten bars of gold. All currencies since then that have not been tied to gold eventually fail. Ours in on it’s way due to the trade imbalance and unstable social spending. Precious metals are still a solid investment, even at gold $950/oz, but the easy money has been made.

People argue about holding bullion vs. some paper security. Choose bullion, you’ll pay a $30/oz. or so premium but you physically control the asset, unlike some fund or a mining company.

US Mint coins include the Buffalo and American Eagle. The Buffalo is purer gold but the American Eagle contains alloys which make it more durable. Buy the Buffalo. If things ever get bad, it would be easier to cut Buffalos into pieces for everyday commerce.


As a power plant comes under higher loading, the output voltage goes down. This is a way to control the flow of power throughout the grid.

If voltage drops to a certain level, power plants shut themselves down. Some version of this probably happened in Florida. Florida is a good illustration of how vulnerable our power grid is to a coordinated attack.

A friendly suggestion to take another look at the ‘Paranoid’ post from a couple of days ago.

Dead Brown Men

Top 16 Reasons Why McCain Is the Wrong Leader in His Self-Proclaimed ‘Long War’

1. If active, appear inactive;
2. If near, appear far;
3. If they are strong, avoid them;
4. If they are angry, disturb them;
5. If they are humble, make them haughty;
6. If they are relaxed, toil them;
7. When doing battle, seek a quick victory;
8. Do not stay on open ground;
9. Do not swallow the enemy's bait;
10. A protracted battle will blunt weapons and dampen ardor;
11. If the army is exposed to a prolonged campaign, the nation’s resources will not suffice;
12. When weapons are blunted, and ardor dampened, strength exhausted, and resources depleted, the neighboring rulers will take advantage of these complications;
13. Then even the wisest of counsels would not be able to avert the consequences that must ensue;
14. Therefore, I have heard of military campaigns that were clumsy but swift, but I have never seen military campaigns that were skilled but protracted;
15. No nation has ever benefited from protracted warfare; and one last one from the Washington Times:
16. "Anyone who is advocating a precipitous pullout of U.S. forces, believing this will be a catalyst for political progress, does not understand the realities of Iraq and the minds of the key political leaders," Gen. Keane told The Washington Times. "The U.S. military presence is the glue that is holding things together in Iraq and is the fundamental reason for the recent political progress. If you remove this presence, the political leaders in Iraq will believe they are on their own and will fall prey to their own fears and paranoia. ... They will bunker down and the political progress will come to a dead stop."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Investments I

In the age of modern Wall Street, stocks are overpriced, but they’re worth less than many think. Stocks are indexed to the dollar. Prices of commodities indicate that the dollar is worth about a third of what it was five years ago (wheat, corn, and gold ‘prices’ have tripled). By this analysis, the DJIA has fallen from ~11,000 to ~4,000. The true value is probably somewhere in between the two numbers.

The reason that I still consider the market to be overpriced is that the price-earnings ratio of a decent company like IBM, is fifteen. Compare this with a family plumbing business that, after paying all expenses and salaries, clears $100,000 in a year. I can state with a large degree of certainty that about 95% of owners in this situation would sell their business for $1.5 million. Probably 90% would cash out for a million. Stocks are demanding a premium because of their history and liquidity, but the fundamentals just aren’t there.

Bonds are riskier still with the impending bankruptcies of MBIA and Ambac.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Modern Left

Demi Moore throws a birthday party for Ashton Kutcher at an exclusive (root: exclude) $2 million New York lounge called Socialista (root: militant socialism), owned by Sting’s wife and Harvey Weinstein. The ground floor is a ‘peasant-style’ cafĂ©. There is a $600 per table minimum.

The doorman, Armin Amiri, was asked about the name on May 1st, 2007:

“What socialism really means is, I give you this and you give me that.”

“No one really makes an effort to dress up, or makes an effort to be different, to go out—they just basically feel that if you’ve got a Black AmEx, you’re just basically the shit.”

“I saw it and I just saw Cuba,”

“What’s great is, I envisioned this, and it’s here now—and that’s a beautiful process of imagination. It’s the same process as with acting.”

Later Mr. Amiri admitted he had never been to Cuba. All the guests in early February were exposed to Hepatitis by an immigrant with dirty fingers. The list includes Liv Tyler, Kate Hudson, and Salma Hayek.

Meet Mr. Amiri, who has announced that he is taking on new Clients:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Just Because You're Paranoid

Not that long ago, I had a dangerous job which lasted just over three years. The first three years were typically 100+ hour weeks and the risks didn’t bother me. The last month my workload was cut down to a forty-hour week and I got a chance to think about what we were doing. I was glad to leave at the end of that month.

A similar thing may be happening now. I sold a business around two years ago, which had had me working 100-hr weeks, and now I’m at a fraction of that. Maybe that is why the world looks so much more dangerous to me now than it did a few years ago. Or perhaps I’m paranoid.

In either case, somebody had shared either my situational awareness, or paranoia, or both, and asked about what a person should have in their house in case things go bad. It got me to thinking and here’s what I came up with:

Drinking Water
A squirrel knocked out the northeastern power grid. In a military strike, the first question is ‘how long do we want to take the electrical grid down for?’ It’s easy to take it down for a long time, taking it down for a short time requires creativity. If a terrorist cell was to hit the grid, they would not be creative. No electricity-no running water.

If the grid goes down, so would the food distribution system. You can buy two months’ worth of Rice for around $12. I’d spend $50 and keep the pantry stocked. The stuff seems to last forever. Same with lentels, beans, split peas, peanuts.

If the food distribution system goes down for any length of time, social order would break down in densely-populated areas. Dollar-for-dollar, you can’t beat an AK-47 knockoff for family security. If you can afford $500 for a decent pistol, that same money buys you a Yugoslavian AK-47 with folding stock (recommended). A Romanian one goes for $350.

Fishing Gear

Two things are certain to happen in the next twenty years:
(1) the Israel-Iran issue is going to come to a head, probably with wide-reaching consequences; and
(2) Our social safety net will fail

Either could change reality as we know it today. I sleep better being prepared.

A City I am intimately familiar with recently took out tens of millions of dollars in municipal bonds that they probably won’t be able to pay back (entering assumptions were builder fees from sustained growth when the new reality is zero and plummeting home prices and resulting tax revenues).

MBIA and Ambac insure bonds like this and are having their credit rating cut by Moody’s because of the reality on the ground. Both companies have lost nearly 90% of their stock value in the past year. If MBIA and Ambac go under the City’s municipal bonds, like a gazillion others, will be worth pennies on the dollar. Banks hold many of these bonds and don’t want to see the value of their portfolios drop.

So rumor is that the banks will invest $3 billion in Ambac, and it’s stock price rose 16% today. But it’s all a house of cards.

The City won’t be able to make its payments in 2008-dollars. Which leads to the next posting.

The Interbama

The Interbama (copyright 2008) is a collective responsible for modifying or deleting embarrassing Internet postings when exposed or when contemporary opinion makes previous policy positions untenable. The Interbama is in many ways similar to Minitrue, but is less predictable. It is loosely organized around the Obama Youth © and, to a lesser degree, the Obama Scouts ©.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Update: This post has been modified because my readings of some works at Brown University were incomplete. The problem was me, not Brown's website. In any case, here's George Orwell:

“Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other.

The aims of these groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim-for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious out of their daily lives-is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal."

Obama Youth

The Obama Youth © 2008 are a select group of college students receiving the $4000 annual government check. You can recognize a member of this proud organization by their distinct uniforms. The Obama Youth is an All-Volunteer organization, consisting of screened candidates.

In contrast, Obama Scouts © 2008 are those receiving the $4000 check, who are allowed to perform their duties out of uniform.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Now that we’re leaving Iraq, let’s get out of Kosovo too. It is a crime what our government has done to the Serbian people. Kosovo has declared it’s independence, and it’s time to let them defend it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


The zebibah, Arabic for raisin, is a dark circle of callused skin, or in some cases a protruding bump, between the hairline and the eyebrows. It emerges on the spot where worshipers press their foreheads into the ground during their daily prayers.

“In Egypt, it’s the way we pray; we probably hit our heads harder than most in order to get one,” said Ahmed Fathallah, 19, as he played dominoes one evening in a Cairo coffee shop.
-From a NY Times Article

The only thing creepier than zebibahs are the texts to which these people are banging their heads on the ground about.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Your Federal Reserve

Do you hear that sucking sound in your back pocket? That’s the printing presses keeping the banks afloat.


Caracalla was the son of Septimius Severus, who was as far as I can tell the first Roman Emperor of African descent. Septimius succeeded Commodus, who dressed himself up as a God and declared Rome "the Universal Colony of the Earth” (he was the guy in Gladiator). When his dad died, Caracalla killed his brother Geta and 20,000 Geta supporters.

Caracalla granted Roman Citizenship to all free men in the Empire and made a trip to Egypt to explore the culture.

The Egyptians, showing gratitude for their newfound Citizenship, began to riot. Caracalla executed the Egyptian Governor along with thousands of men of military age and removed the Egyptians’ freedom of movement.

Caracalla’s end came on the trip back while going to the bathroom.

Not too long after Caracalla, the Germans came knocking.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A River Called Denial

"Five youths were arrested in the capital after 28 cars and 35 garbage trucks were burned, Copenhagen police duty officer Jakob Kristensen said.

Several hundred Muslims gathered in central Copenhagen yesterday to protest against publication of the cartoon.

Police could give no reason, but said that unusually mild weather and the closure of schools for a winter break might have contributed.",23599,23228060-23109,00.html

4:89 Have no unbelieving friends. Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Enemies, Foreign and Domestic

My reading of James Madison’s Federalist 46 is that being armed goes beyond privilege, in many ways it is a responsibility for able-bodied men as de-facto members of the militia. Guns are still easy to get. Here’s some thoughts in case you’re in the market:


Handguns come in semi-automatic or revolver models. My preference is the semi-automatic pistol, which cycles bullets through the chamber by a combination of kickback and a spring. Some old-timers prefer revolvers, but they are not being rational. Semi-autos hold more rounds, have a simpler action, and can be reloaded more quickly.

If you are an able-bodied male, choose a 40 or 45-caliber pistol for its knock down power. If you are a female (other than Janet Reno), or a female may be the one to use the weapon, choose a 9mm.

People have a thing about Glocks, but I prefer the Smith and Wesson Military and Police line. In either case, the most important thing is that the weapon fits your hand comfortably.


Rifles are either single action, semi-automatic, or fully-automatic.

The government forbids you from owning a fully-automatic gun. I don’t see the point of a single action rifle other than maybe a safety issue with inexperienced shooters, or for marksmen or snipers working at long distances.

You can buy ‘dumbed-down’ semi-automatic military rifles at a dealer. The most common types are M-16 knock-offs and AK-47 knock-offs. All it takes is a driver’s license and a 5-minute background check in my area.

The military adopted the M-16 because it uses a smaller bullet (5.56mm) and has less resulting ‘muzzle-climb’ when fired in fully-automatic mode than the M-14, which uses a 7.62mm bullet. There is no reason whatsoever to purchase a 5.56mm knock-off because there is no muzzle climb in semi-auto mode.* People must like the look of the thing.

Buy an AK-47 knock off. They are cheaper and fire the more powerful 7.62mm bullet. You can buy the Romanian model for $350 or the Yugoslavian model for around $500. If you can afford the Yugoslavian model, it seems to be better made. The AK-47 is tried, true, and currently the weapon of choice in LA gang wars.

Take advantage of your 2nd Amendment rights; and I’ll argue your 2nd Amendment responsibilities. Ammo is good; more ammo is better.

*Update: Just saw a show that argues that the smaller bullet is better for killing people because the 7.62mm round punches straight through a body but the smaller caliber tumbles, tearing tissue. I’ll still stick with the bigger bullet.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Don't Doubt Me

Bill quoted the New York Times on 24OCT07:

"The loss in total real estate wealth is expected to range from $2 trillion to $4 trillion, depending on how far home prices fall, according to several economists."

And noted:

I think it may be worse than the ‘several economists’ estimate. At the peak, there was around $9 trillion in home equity and $10 trillion in mortgages. Entry level homes are now starting to move in a place I know at a ~35% discount relative to the peak. Most of that 35% comes out of home equity, not mortgage debt.

Extrapolating the 35% data point, around 70% of American home equity has gone away. That’s $7 trillion, not 2 to 4.

And now this report from the Bank of America today.

"The meltdown in the US subprime real-estate market has led to a global loss of 7.7 trillion dollars in stock-market value since October, a report by Bank of America showed Thursday."

For the record, this thing is not over.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bill Becomes a Protectionist

I remember taking a discussion and debate class in high school. In one of the debates, I was assigned the task of defending the concept of free trade. I lost the class vote and the protectionists won.

For some reason I was recently thinking about the claims that have been drilled into my head that at the beginning of the Depression, policymakers adopted protectionist policies that made things far worse than they would have been otherwise. My internet search yielded the above graph. It appears that the ‘Protectionists’ are getting a bad rap; customs duties were higher in the 19th Century that they were during the Depression.

It struck me as strange that, just about the time that the multiculturalism crowd started Balkanizing our society, customs duties dropped to next to nothing. I suspect that the same forces that pushed for unchecked immigration to lower their labor costs also pushed to drop customs duties for the same reason.

It looks to me like the American people lost control of their Country sometime in the 1960s. That is when the interlocking-corporate-directorship crowd seems to have come to power. Taxes on the population had to be raised to make up for the lost customs duties.

So I now reverse my high school position and declare myself a Protectionist.

Bill Endorses Obama

For student Rachel Niederer, 21, it was Obama's way with words that swayed her to his side.
"I love listening to his speeches," she said.

There are strong parallels between Barack Obama and Deval Patrick, the current Governor of Massachusetts. Both are affirmative action products of the Ivy League with no real experience outside of civil rights litigation, government work, and providing diversity in corporate boardrooms.

Both campaigns had/have a strong message of ‘change’ and ‘hope’. It is a powerful strategy when the electorate is broad, disenfranchised, and distracted. It can win.

The problem is that, if you win, you have to do the job.

Patrick made an ass of himself in the first few weeks, selling Romney’s Crown Victoria (‘the air-conditioner didn’t work’) and replacing it with a souped-up Cadillac DTS and some outrageously expensive drapes for his office with tax dollars. He was skewered in the press. Under fire, he claimed that his wife had some sort of mental breakdown and went into hiding. From his office’s statement:

‘‘…will work a flexible schedule for the next few weeks in order to spend more time with her and his family,’’
‘‘The family asks for the prayers and understanding of the public,’’
‘‘We also ask respect for the family’s privacy at this difficult time.’’

There are some jobs where you can’t fake it. The Presidency is a tough job in the good times. Given the fact that President Bush has saddled his successor with the looming downgrade of our national credit rating and an Iran that is on a mission from God, Number 44 is in for a rough ride. Even if he had a plan.

I’m ready for change.

Monday, February 11, 2008

“US Population will soar to 438 million by 2050, Hispanic population will triple” –USA Today

No it won’t.

Hispanic societies, when left alone, create economies that pay wages of $3/day in the international marketplace. We have been able to absorb our current underclasses because there is a certain percentage of jobs in our economy that can be done by low-skilled workers.

The employers get a higher profit margin by using immigrant labor, and the taxpayer picks up the bill for the worker’s needs. The typical high school dropout household costs the government $25,000 each year in school, health, food, etc., etc. The budget math has already stopped working and the government will be unable to borrow money within a decade.

Our Country will fundamentally change when this government goes broke. I believe that the Goldman-Sachs Globalist types are trying to engineer a tightly-held oligarchy, similar to the Central American model, that would emerge in the aftermath of the collapse. I also believe that these people are out-thinking themselves.

The combination of the Founding Fathers' legacy, 280 million firearms in the hands of private Citizens, and the inherent conservative nature of the military and police services will likely turn the power over to a group that restricts voter eligibility through means testing. This was how the Founding Fathers prevented most dumb, irresponsible, or lazy people from having a say in governance.

Regardless of who takes the reigns, neither form of government will want a surplus underclass. America-2050 will be exporting Malthusianesque populations like Mexico is doing today, not importing them.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


In my opinion, the biggest issue in this campaign is the looming failure of the social safety net, how to manage its fall, and how to manage the consequences. I try to keep an open mind about things, and looked at Obama’s website.

Barack Obama’s Plan
Restore Fiscal Discipline to Washington


Sounds good to me. Don’t see anything about addressing Social Security, Medicaid, or Medicare, but let's keep looking. These are all cut and pasted from his website:

* Obama will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty around the world in half by 2015, and he will double our foreign assistance to $50 billion to achieve that goal.
* Obama will cut income taxes by $1,000 for working families to offset the payroll tax they pay.
* …climate change plan will invest in America's highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers…
* Obama will also provide assistance to the domestic auto industry to ensure that new fuel-efficient vehicles are built by American workers.
* The Obama plan will increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training,
* Obama will also create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.
* Obama will also extend the Production Tax Credit,
* Obama will invest in rural small businesses
* He will improve rural schools and attract more doctors to rural areas.
* Obama will also increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to ensure it rises every year. [note: Union pay and government contracts are tied to the minimum wage.]
* Obama will create a 10 percent universal mortgage credit to provide homeowners who do not itemize tax relief.
* Obama will create a fund to help people refinance their mortgages and provide comprehensive supports to innocent homeowners.
* Obama will double funding for after-school programs,
* Obama will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.
* Obama will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules
* Obama will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state "zero to five" efforts
* Obama will quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both.
* Obama will also provide affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.
* Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law.
* Obama will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts
* Obama will double funding for the main federal support for after school programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
* Obama will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education
* Obama will also create Teacher Residency Programs
* To support our teachers, Obama's plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits.
* He will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
* Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit.
* Obama will develop domestic incentives that reward forest owners, farmers, and ranchers when they plant trees
* Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels
* Obama will double science and research funding for clean energy projects
* Obama will also create an energy-focused Green Jobs Corps to connect disconnected and disadvantaged youth
* Obama will establish a federal investment program to help manufacturing centers modernize
* Obama will create a Clean Technologies Venture Capital Fund
* Obama will significantly increase the resources devoted to the commercialization and deployment of low-carbon coal technologies.
* His plan will provide retooling tax credits and loan guarantees for domestic auto plants and parts manufacturers
* Obama will create a competitive grant program to award those states and localities
* Obama will pursue a major investment in our utility grid
* Under the Obama plan, full-time workers making minimum wage would get an EITC benefit up to $555, more than three times greater than the $175 benefit they get today.
* Barack Obama is committed to signing universal health legislation by the end of his first term in office
* Barack Obama will establish policies to help Americans currently facing foreclosure through no fault of their own.
* Barack Obama has re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act
* Barack Obama would expand the highly programs like the successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers.

…Late term democracy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Movie Review: Death Sentence

When I think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars I’ve been taxed over the past decade and what I’ve gotten in return from my government, I get angry. So when I saw a Kevin Bacon movie at the robovideo, that protrayed him as an angry white-collar guy with a shotgun, I paid my dollar.

Bacon plays the model father who gets pissed when a gang (white guys) cuts his son’s throat and is pronounced dead by a caring doctor (black guy). After going to the police (black lady), the perp will only get 3-5 years and Bacon takes the law into his own hands, killing his son’s murderer. The armed gang then threatens Bacon’s whole family with death.

Despite knowing that the gang is heavily armed, Bacon decides to guard his family with a baseball bat, and they are slaughtered in the living room. Bacon survives his wound and gets really angry. He brings cash into the underworld, and meets seedy people telling them he needs to buy guns (Bacon is hysterical at this point, grrrrr, guns bad).

He pays $5k for three pistols and a shotgun and then kills everybody. He should have bought a couple AK-47s with 40 round clips; he would not have needed to reload and would have saved $4k.

I’m disappointed that Kevin Bacon made such a stupid movie.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The NFL Is Racist

Gene Upshaw, NFL Player’s Association

The recitation of the Declaration of Independence piece before the Super Bowl was nice. But the document was misquoted as “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men, all men, all men are created equal” (the original reading didn’t have men of African descent repeat ‘all men’ three times).

If the NFL is so committed to preaching about equal rights, why don’t they reserve some of the minority coaching and front office quotas for Mexicans? What about Hispanics? No jobs for them under the NFL's institutionalized racism.

And, for the record, the NFL is taking a rhetorical flourish our of context. Jefferson on Africans:

“Their inferiority… is not the effect merely of their condition of life…It is not their condition…but nature, which has produced this distinction.”

“Their griefs are transient…their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection.”

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Jobs Report

Ding Ding Ding. The government reports a ‘loss’ of 17,000 jobs last month. Panic.

But look closer:

Construction Jobs: Down 27,000
Manufacturing Jobs: Down 28,000
Professional and Business Services: Down 11,000

We’ve been steadily hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs for a long time. You know, those jobs that create value and bring money into the economy.

Have no fear though:

Retail Jobs (Walmart): Up 11,000
Education and Health Services (mostly government entitlement programs): Up 47,000
Bars and Restaurants (All American Burger): Up 19,000

Just wait until Moody’s downgrades the government’s credit rating. We’re not electing a President this time, we’re electing a scapegoat.

Friday, February 1, 2008


"We've lost 126 soldiers since we've been here. One hundred twenty-six of my soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice," said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of Multinational Division Central, in a Jan. 23 briefing with military analysts. "And I'll be [darned] if I'm going to advocate giving up ground that they died for. We are just not going to do that. The place will go back in a heartbeat."

"If you've got an area that you've taken away and you walk away from it, 96 hours later the enemy is back--and he's intimidating the population (and) he's killing innocent people," said Lynch. "So we just have to manage this transition very diligently."

Translation: We need to police this population forever to save face.

General officers have a fiduciary duty to give their civilian commanders honest feedback, vigorous feedback if necessary. Our military leadership is failing this country.

Fall some forces back to a couple of remote bases to discourage the Chinese and Russians from making an oil-grab, and just send everyone else back home. The Iraqis do not want freedom and would not recognize it if it stared them in the face. Water in Iraq needs to find its own level. It won’t be pretty, but these people have been given their chance.

Thoughts and prayers with the forces walking the streets and their families. The ones making the sacrifices in this whole mess.