Friday, December 31, 2010

Once Again, All Together Now: The Chinese Give Two Shits About Global Warming (Good for Them)

Not long ago, I knocked the Friedmanite authoritarian-loving greenies down. Now here comes along George Will to kick them. That's just cruel.

While I Was Away

Enjoying the thaw out from the frozen tundra of North Cackalacky, some significant news of interest to me hit the wires:
- Chavez devalues the Venezuelan currency again, indicating that I was not wrong, just early, in my call that Venezuela would boil over for good this time. 2011 will not be kind to ole' Hugo.
- the Israelis find a triple special shitload of natural gas, which will have profound geo-political implications going forward. More later.
- and, of course, our local Big Apple union goons show the whole country why it's a bad idea to allow critical municipal functions to be carried out by unionized employees. No comment needed.

Foreign Policy Analysis from Experts

Shocker: Africa is still a mess. South America too. Thank God we have experts to tell us these things.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tierney Collects Winnings in Simonesque Bet

Resource pessimists, Armageddonists, whatever you want to call them are still losing bets decades later. Julian Simon's ghost is still haunting these buggers, but, frustratingly, these guys who keep getting it wrong don't seem to suffer any consequences - they keep winning awards and getting promoted.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rebound Schmebound

This echoes my thoughts (expressed here and here) about the logical stretch being done to equate the recent lame-duck legislative wins with a stunning Obama comeback. Dear Leader's problem is more fundamental - at best he is not as advertised (political moderate, world-class temperament, uniter, able to marshall the finest economic minds in the land, yadayadayada) and, at worst, he is a slick but completely overwhelmed blunderer and/or something just shy of the Manchurian candidate. Americans now understand the thinness of his resume and the shallowness of his character, and a one-sided (against us) treaty with a crumbling, two-bit power run by a bunch of lying thugs is not going to alter that fundamental calculus American voters. Voters are simply going to weigh chance to remove these deficiencies from office against what is currently an unknown alternative. The notion of these "political wins" having any bearing on Obama's re-election is missing the big picture, and missing it big.

What Do They Think We Are? Stupid? Wait, Don't Answer That.

As is noted over at Instapundit, Drudge is having fun, but the point is serious. The Obama administration has been telling us they'll get right on the economy for years now, but they are lying. They give two shits about the economy, the mistakes have been too elemental and the energy has clearly been on their policy agenda, the economy be damned. So when they now tell us that over the next two years they'll be focused on the economy, the reaction should be skepticism, fear or both.

A Word to the Wise

Note to all enemies, foreign and domestic: Do not ever try to invade Oklahoma

UPDATE: On the other hand, invading Rhode Island should be relatively easy...

And NPR (yes!) thinks they've spotted a trend. Gee, I wonder if Sarah Palin's increasing cultural influence has anything to do with this. She won't have to run for anything, if she's fostering a greater number of young women to get comfortable and proficient with firearms and the culture of independence and self-sufficiency that they embody, she will have done more damage to progressivism than if she were President for three terms.

When the Checks Stop Coming...

Regarding our iminent public pension crisis I have noted that nothing will happen until the checks, literally, stop coming in the mail. In this story, in a small Alabama town, they have, illustrating the common sense financial perceptiveness that sometimes (OK, all the time) eludes our elites (save for NJ Gov. Chris Christie) that "when you're broke, you're broke." I am sure Prichard isn't a big bond issuer so they likely hit the wall that much sooner without the last ditch resort of the bond market. But someday that last resort will not be open to many of our municipalities and states, and that is when we could be talking about a hundred Prichards, but with names like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.

UPDATE: There is actually more here going on than meets the eye. Wow. I'm not surprised. Many wise people always warned me that if the shoe was on the other foot...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Looking for Good News? Iranian Implosion Rolls On.

State of the world got you down? I hear you. But there are islands of hope out there. For one, the slow implosion of the Islamic Republic of Iran rolls on. The mullahs are dealing with pesky anti-regime militants, the fallout of misguided economic policies, and the increasing bite of sanctions that make it hard for the regime to conduct basic commerce. I don't see the mullahs pulling out of this nosedive, still though...faster please!


$90. That Team Obama doesn't get how bad this is for them is astounding.

Just for shits and giggles, let's operate the way back machine for a pearl:

"It is a virtual certainty that oil prices will rise by 2011, potenitally substantially. Here though is my less certain prediction (20% probability): gasoline prices over $4 during the heart of the election cycle will weigh on Obama in the polls and he will tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to mitigate high prices (e.g. save his ass). "

We're at $3 now and everyday that we don't drill in the Gulf of Mexico and the global economy grows is a day in which gas prices will go up.

N.B. American Businesses: Obama Not Pausing, Just Reloading

The "Net Neutrality" ram-through and the renewed push by the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases are large pieces of the body of evidence that Dear Leader is going to pursue his agenda through regulatory fiat, bypassing Congress, the courts, and ultimately the voters. Thus the lie that Obama is this new, chastened, centrist pragmatist is exposed. People seeming to think that because he chose to compromise with the Republicans on taxes and then held a CEO Summit (which was pure theatrics), that he's some sort of pro-business, recovering Keynesian. Poppycock. He is who he is and opponents ought not to let down their guard - he's a statist and anti-business will be until the day he leaves office. From my perch, talking to business leaders, I don't think anybody believes that Obama's posture over the next two years will be any less counter-productive to business conditions than the first two. Some are optimistic that the new congressional makeup will thwart Obama, but nobody sees a change of tone or direction at the top. Remember what I said long ago, all large American businesses think in terms of perpetuity and Obama is, potentially, only a four year headache. They will hunker down and wait for better days rather than play along and be co-opted by any charm offensive. Don't expect the wheels of commerce to suddenly start turning in Obama's favor.

UPDATE: It appears that great minds think alike.

START: A Treaty Between Two Deceivers...the Russians and Obama

Like many liberals, I suppose, Fred Kaplan still believes that Obama bargains in good faith. He seems to think that one form of opposition to the START treaty comes people who worry about our ability to develop defensive missile systems. Why worry, says Kaplan, because President Obama has assured us all that we will develop those defensive systems. Classic. It would never occur to Kaplan that nobody believes Obama any more. Nobody believes that what he says today will be what he does or says tomorrow. The list of flip-flops, course-changes and outright deceptions and betrayals is so long, my fingers just hurt thinking about typing them out for you here. There are places you can go for this rich history. When you have a President with such a sordid history of political thuggery, a two-year track record of "promise expiration dates", and a long-standing desire for radical nuclear disarmament - well, you just might say that Obama's say so isn't a reasonable enough basis to relent on principled objection to the treaty's specifics. And of course, the Russians are inveterate liars, so detailed and specific language in any agreement with them, irrespective of the US administration's character, is critical (OK, let the PC numb-nuts go into a tizzy, and put their ignorance of history on display, but the history is pretty clear on this point). Sure, I'll grant there are those that just want to deny Obama a perceived success, but the objectors to START stand on the solidest of ground.

The thing about this though, is this is not some meaningless corner of the vast regulatory apparatus, this is a major treaty with a less-than friendly/cooperative quasi-adversary. This treaty, if it proves truly restrictive and damaging, will get fall apart - a tough-minded successor to Obama will ignore it and/or the Russians will want out the day they realize that whatever Obama has put on the table is not forthcoming.

UPDATE: Ratified. I'll bet in 15 years this treaty will not be in force. The United States of America will pursue defensive weapons systems even if the Obama administration will not. And the Russians will bail out then.

UPPDATE: I'm wondering Obama will say at the victory presser..."I know Americans care very much about this critical foreign policy achievement and will ignore the prevailing 10% unemployment rate, rising gas prices, and the continued negative unanticipated consequences of our healthcare reform bill and applaud me for this critical improvement in our nation's standing in the world - because when we get weaker we are actually getting stronger because we are making the rest of the world stronger and we are no different from the rest of the world - and they'll want to reelect me as they see that I can do these really important foreign policy things..." Yup, a true winning hand, that.

Fitting: Our State is Broke and So Is Our Governor

Not that Andrew Cuomo is anybody's idea of a paragon of anything other than political connectedness and survivalism, but in a few short days new York will be free of an ongoing, inexplicable handicap, its flabbergastingly floundering and sleazy Governor David Patterson. This guy has made most New Yorkers pine for Eliot Spitzer, hookers and all. How a state as big and important as New York could entrust its executive office to such a worthless boob is a question for the ages. (A question, but not THE know what that is.)

Are We To Believe that Greed is Localized?

Mark Perry has penned a must-read, albeit brief, analysis of the financial crisis that debunks the myths that the crisis was a greed-fuelled, Wall Street created monster. To achieve this debunking Perry asks the questions that no one has asked - "Why then?" and "Why housing?" In the rush to serve their interest and goals, politicians and the media have bent every sail to pin everything on "Wall Street" and bankers, but no one asks, why, given that lending to creditworthy homebuyers has been a safe and profitable business for over a hundred years, did things change? Did bankers just wake up one day and cast aside decades of experience and prudent practice and go a little bonkers for the fun of it? Perry asks this and takes it further, why did the underwriting standards not collapse similarly in other finance sectors, how can we possibly claim that greed ran rampant in the housing sectors, but not elsewhere? If the political class's conclusions are to be believed, we have to then believe that you can somehow wall off greed? The answer, of course, is that distortionary structures created through government intervention created bad incentives and laid the foundation for misallocation of resources, which will always ultimately end in a reckoning (dot com bubble anyone?). This is nothing new, interventionism leads to corruption, not just in the legal sense but corruption of all things, corruption of the mind, of the conscience...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Failure of Civilization

The piracy threat to commercial shipping in the Gulf of Aden has not only not been addressed, it has gotten worse. The pirates have now widened the area of threat and are increasing their capabilities:

U.K.: Insurers Widen Somali Pirate Threat Zone
December 21, 2010
The United Kingdom’s marine insurance industry has widened the area of waterways deemed high-risk for Somali pirate attacks, industry officials said Dec. 21, Reuters reported. According to Neil Roberts, a senior technical executive with the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA), the pirates have large mother ships that can support operations much farther off the coast of Somalia than previously thought. The Joint War Committee, which groups LMA members with representatives from the London insurance industry, added the Gulf of Aden and a wider swath of the Indian Ocean to the list of waterways considered high-risk.

We are several years into this resurgence of a scourge that we in the civilized world know very well how to defeat and yet we are unable to deal with it effectively. In simple terms, it is because we are a bunch of namby-pamby, feminized, over-intellectualized twits. First, we very somberly declare in scholarly fashion that the root causes of piracy are too large to address immediately, that there needs to be an effective, politically stable government in Somalia that can give its citizens entry to the global economy and hope for a better future yadayadayada. Yeah well, keep waiting for the Great Pumpkin Linus. Second, the world's navies are deployed in the Gulf of Aden as a bunch of traffic cops to ostensibly protect ships where the threat is greatest. So the pirates simply move to strike where the navies are not. Duh. Finally, when we do capture some pirates, they are routinely released. Arghhhhh! What the hell are we thinking?!?! Send these damn shitheads to a watery grave at the bottom of the flippin' ocean and I guarantee the piracy threat will abate.

"Little-Noticed" My Arse

Scott Cohn at CNBC is, I suppose, trying to be a crack journalist and tell us something shocking that we didn't know, but he doesn't know what he is talking about. Mr. Cohn aims to stir up our interest and ire by revealing to us that a potentially misguided student loan reform provision went "little-noticed" into the healthcare monstrosity known as ObamaCare. The student loan reform is indeed misguided but it hardly slipped into the healthcare debacle unnoticed. It was, in fact, included in the healthcare bill as a matter of design by the Pelosicrat wing of the Democratic majority. This was their strategy. First, why risk trying to pass two bills when you can pass one, especially when both are takeover-type gambits designed to bring government into full control of a large section of the private economy? Second, the student loan bill was scored as a money-saver (which it won't be in time as the default rates soar as always happend when the government gets involved in leanding) so it could be lumped in and help ObamaCare game the CBO scoring process. So this is only a shock to people who weren't paying attention and/or faux neutral journalists who willfully suppressed the fraudulent legislative machinations that brought us ObamaCare.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oil Update

The outlook for the crude oil price is up, supporting my past contentions and long term hypothesis as to political ramifications. At least gas prices took a relative breather last week, they still went up, they just didn't gallop higher.

All this talk of an Obama rebound is a little hard to take given how the oil price is going and that Babs Streisand is disillusioned.

Note to Self

OK, Berlin wasn't high on my vacation hotspot list to start with, but now it's off...

Germany: Leftists Call For Attack On Tourists
December 20, 2010
An article in left-wing German newspaper Interim proposed a 2011 anti-tourism campaign for Berlin which called for attacks against hotels and tourist buses, setting fire to cars and creating garbage piles as well as swiping wallets and phones from restaurant tables, Der Tagesspiegel reported Dec. 20. The author of the proposed campaign said tourism fuels gentrification wherein rising affluence pressures poorer residents out of districts where they have lived for years, a growing complaint among Berlin’s left wing citizens. Officials from Berlin’s tourism industry and the Office of Criminal Investigation are taking the threats seriously, but the city-state’s domestic intelligence agency added that attacks on foreign tourists were not typical for Berlin.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Frack the Saudis

US Government: "Um, remember when we said there was an unf**king believable shitload of natural gas resources in US shale deposits? Um, well, there's double that." Now all we have to do to replace oil and ream the Saudis is to get fracking.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wikileaked: Chavez a Total Dumbass?

This is interesting. If true, it's hysterical. Also, if true, maybe the Venezuelan people will realize that a plundering crazy man runs their country - impoverishing them and enriching the Chinese - and they'll Ceaucescu him.

UPDATE: Bonus Socialist Idiocy!!

How To Create Illegitimacy

The START Treaty vote and the omnibus spending bill (hell, to a lesser extent even the tax cut bill, which I favor) currently progressing in the Senate are, frankly, the stuff that revoultions are made of. Or at the very least the stuff of endemic disobedience. Many citizens of certain South American countries don't pay their taxes because they don't view their governments as legitimate. After assessing the circumstances - a vote by a repudiated Congress on a massively inapproriate and profligate bill - how legitimate do you feel our government is? Given the polling results, not very. So let me ask you, do you want to send a few extra thousand dollars to Washington DC on the instructions of the 111th Congress? No you don't and pretty soon, if this doesn't change very soon, many of you won't comply with the dictates coming out of DC. And that is when it all falls apart - when the rot is too far along. If some time in the future, the United States of America as we know it looks significantly changed for the worse - lawless, bankrupt, and/or fraying - we'll look back on the 111th Congress as a visible marker along the way.


Government trade statistics, upon which tremendous political griping and mischief rests, are totally useless! Who woulda thunk it? Well, Don Boudreaux has been thunking this for a long time...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Speaking of Bond Market Vigilantes, what countries, after Greece, have the biggest exposure to foreign investors? Or put another way, what governments have been the least successful in forcing their banks to aid and abet the fiscally unsustainable social model? Answer: Austria and Belgium. Everyone simply assumes Portugal, Spain and Italy are next in line to cause trouble in the Eurozone. That may well be given their deficit/GDP ratios, but this assumes that a failure to impose enough austerity will be what triggers the next phase of the crisis. What if the bond markets impose a solution and differentiate little between peripheral economies. What if investors say, "Germany, UK, US...that's all that is really low risk, the rest is all just varying degrees of garbage." What if. Then throw Belgium and Austria right into the mix too.

We are a long way from this being over.

Oh, and just to give you a sense of what a bunch nimrods these Euros are...the city of Athens has 2,000 buses for its municipal system but they have about three times as many drivers on the payroll.

CEO Summit Charade

Bloomberg News puts a ridiculous spin on Obama's CEO Summit today into the title of its coverage - "Obama Meeting CEOs Shows Business President Who Delivers Gains". All the usual sycophantic CEOs get quoted as to how lovey-dovey they are now are with the President, who now apparently loves business. Of course, crony capitalist poseur Jeff Immelt leads the list, there is, after all, no charade that he will not go along with these days. Of course the truth here is, just as in the tax issue, Obama has his back to the wall and is doing this because he has to, not because he wants to. At least Bloomberg gives some nod to the many CEOs who see through the charade. Mort Zuckerman sums it up nicely, "The president's relationship with the business community has not improved" and Ivan Seidenberg delivers the delicious backhand compliment, praising Obama for "a willingness to learn." Translation: the dumb ass is finally coming around. (And if you know anything about Seidenberg, you that that is exactly what he is thinking.)

UPDATE: This was Obama's entire purpose in hosting this event, he wanted to say it so he can refer back and say he said it in order to combat the (truthful) accusation that he is anti-business. The other soundbite from the CEO Summit was that Obama...get this...wants ideas. He's two years in to his term, we were led to believe he has Buffett and Volcker at his beck and call, his entire (clueless) economic team has turned over, but he wants ideas??? My Bullshit Meter is beyond redlining. He doesn't want ideas. He wants to deflect this kind of stuff.

and a lame are Eric Schmidt and David Cote? These guys are always at every damn Obama publicity stunt and they've probably been to a zillion meetings that we don't know about. Do they still have real, constructive ideas to give Obama that they have not yet shared with him? Puhleeze. They are the last two remaining O-Bots left in the Fortune 500. Note that Jim Owens of Caterpillar was not there, he clearly won't let himself be a tool of Obama again.

UPPDATE: The Daily caller has the honest take.

OK, I am Taking Partial Credit for this Prediction

I said Stuxnet was basically a bomb, didn't I? Looks like it was just as good, maybe even better. I also said this (in 2006 no less): "Israelis have a strong culture of applied mathematics and economic theorizing. I would give them the strategic advantage in using tools like game theory and situational planning in the battles to come." Israelis can think outside the box better than almost anybody and, what's more, they have the capability to execute on what might seem like outlandish, out-of-the-box thinking. Stuxnet falls into that category. Genius. It is almost enough to wish Israel never has a moment of peace and serenity, so that they'll constantly be coming up with thrilling and unpredictable ways to stymie their enemies...almost.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Obama's Comeback Strategy: More Orwellian Hogwash!!

Via Say Anything we learn of the latest in Orwellian Horseshit that the Obama administration has come up with. Given that nearly every even semi-educated person in the freaking country has read either or both Animal Farm or 1984, you would think they'd be too embarassed to come up with this shit. Alas, no. Here's a quick list of the greatest hits with the latest addition at the top:
- Individual Responsibility Provision
- Overseas Contingency Operations
- Man-Made Disasters
- Quality-Adjusted Remaining Life Years
- Net Neutrality
- "The System Worked"
- "We need to reeducate the American public over the benefits of Obamacare"
- "We Gotta Spend Money to Keep from Going Broke."
- Employee Free Choice Act
- Shovel-Ready Projects

But They'll Keep Doing It Anyway...

Everything Is Belong to Us

I chafe at the typical liberal language on tax cuts...that they "cost" the government. Tax cuts are costs only in the very slimmest sense of opportunity costs. Sure, more and more tax dollars could be sucked into the Treasury, I suppose (let's ignore Hauser's Law here), but it is obvious that the real cost, bearing a reduction of resources, is to the taxpayer and the government is the recipient of the resources, usually known as an "earner". Thus the language is offensive to logic and sense, but this takes the perversion to its heights: “You have just witnessed a great bank robbery,’’ Leimberg adds. “The doors of the Treasury have been thrown open. The Republicans have robbed the bank and the estate and gift tax (change) is the jewel of the robbery.” You see, your wealth is actually the property of the US Treasury, it is sitting in the vaults as we speak, in tangible form. I bet you didn't know that. Wait of course you did, because you instructed the Republicans to actually go to a physical location and physically remove your wealth from the rightful possession of the US Treasury! And this Leimberg guy is apparently "a noted trust and estate lawyer". Who would hire a guy to plan an estate who thinks that all your money is actually the governments?

Typical progressive authoritarian: War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery and, apparently, Ownership is Theft.

In the Future, Everyone...

Now that everyone in the world has made a Hitler in the Bunker video, I predict that in the future everyone will make an XtraNormal video with those cute bears.

GE: Eco-magining Some Big Oil & Gas Profits!!!

I don't know if GE is still running that annoying "Eco-magination" ad campaign, but I sure know that Jeff Immelt is going around hyping GE's green saintliness. So just to set the record straight, GE continues to dive headlong/big time into the oil and gas business. I'm not criticizing the decision, just pointing out yet another company that has to make money and so invests in hydrocarbons, but has to maintain an acceptable public profile and thus must feed the enviro-gods with silly green posing. Tread carefully Mr. Immelt...I know of another company that got too wrapped up in it's eco-posturing...

Gameball to the QB Tormentors

It's not an easy task awarding the NBfPB gameball this week, it wasn't a stellar win by the G-Men and there wasn't really a standout performance. The running game was effective and put the points on the board, but I'm going to give the gameball to the defense after watching Tavaris Jackson get beat up and hobble around the field. This is like the seventh QB that the front seven have knocked out or otherwise rendered ineffective. So I'm gonna give out the gameball in recognition of the fierce play of the defensive front, in the person of a guy I really like who doesn't get enough recognition playing in the shadows of the likes of Tuck and Umenyiora. So...Game ball to Barry Cofield. Barry meet the Gov.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Big News

Just coming over the wires now, judge rules ObamaCare unconstitutional...still nothing anywhere though...

OK, it's all up everywhere. All I know is we have a constitutional brouhaha on our hands and I am chalking up another prediction in the win column (I know I said Texas, but it is all the same, and Texas is a part of the pending suit in Florida anyway.) I said I'd go 3 for 8 and I am right on pace although, I might be justified to claim partial credit for the Iran prediction given Stuxnet...sure seems like a bomb to me, just not what we conventionally think of as a bomb. And I'm merely early on the California and New York bankruptcy calls.

Bubba Takes Obama Down Several Pegs

I had a pretty busy Friday and weekend so I didn't have the opportunity to ponder and absorb the commentary on the Clinton succession of power from the Obama administration, but my first, gut reaction is probably the right one: I have it on good authority that Bubba loathes Obama (this should not be a surprise to anyone who is even modestly tapped in), and Bubba and the vast power structures behind the Democratic party has now concluded that Obama is just too damaging to the party (as I reckoned they would), so Bubba is all too happy to stick a knife in Obama but only in the right sort of way. This was perfect - Obama probably thought Bubba was lending a hand when Bubba probably knew he was sticking the knife in. Such is Obama's lack of smarts and such is Bubba's political genius.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Doctors to Quit b/c of ObamaCare

Shipping Insurers Will Launch Private Navy

A private solution emerges where government has failed.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Modest Discourse on Economic Vigilantism

I am generally a fan of Ed Yardeni but I disagree with his assessment of the recent sell-off in US government bonds, a so-called reappearance of the "bond market vigilantes." Dr. Ed attributes the reawakening of the Bond Market Vigilantes to the Obama-McConnell tax cut deal. I think this is totally off the mark. I have been expecting the BMVs reappearance for awhile now and I thought that seriously degraded creditworthiness would be the impetus for their return. I conceded that I misdiagnosed the BMVs' psyche, what really awakened them was inflation fears, more specifically, as Scott Grannis has posited, the combination of an improving outlook for economic growth combined with massively expansionary monetary policy. The problems with Yardeni's analysis are many but the first is timing. He doesn't notice the presence of the BMVs until just now. Granted the sell-off of a few days ago was quite something, but the BMVs' presence was more than noticeable well before the Obama-McConnell tax cut deal was struck. The second flaw in Yardeni's argument is one of magnitude. Dr. Ed thinks that the tax cut extensions putative negative effects on the deficit are the proximate cause of the BMVs' ire. Even conceding that the tax rate extensions will hurt the deficit (I disagree on this point) of all the profligacy that has emanted from the Obama White House and the Pelosi Congress, this tax deal is pure peanuts. Compared to all the other destructive fiscal policies that we've seen since 2006 and since Obama took office, this is the least of our worries. Basically, if creditworthiness were the true focus of treasury investors, no way could this have gotten them all worked up and into vigialante mode. If anything, the brightening prospects for growth that the tax rate extensions augur, placed against the background of QE2 and negative real interest rates, are what have accelerated the reemergence of the BMVs.

On another note, I have talked for nearly two years about the 'job market vigilantes" (see here, here, and here). My basic view is that a mix of policy and rhetoric emanating from the likes of Obama and the Pelosicrats has crushed the animal spirits of the economy and created a strong backlash from these job market vigilantes. While the toxic cocktail has been more parts policy than rhetoric, it is unwise to dismiss the role of rhetoric. While reality has forced Obama's hand on policy, he still clearly hasn't learned the role of rhetoric and you could make the argument that there is still enough poisonous rhetoric in the cocktail to make it toxic to the animal spirits of the economy. Dan Henninger notices this in today's column and wonders just how toxic the cocktail still might be... "But they've gone FDR and John Steinbeck one better. In the world of the Grapes of Wrath Democrats now gagging over Barack Obama's "sell-out" to the rich, the new economic royalists aren't limited to "the Ishmael or Insull." Now it's any single person or married couple in America with a pre-tax income at $200,000 or $250,000.

Will the nation's new economic royalists step forward, rope in hand, to produce enough economic activity to help Mr. Obama to a second term of retribution? Maybe not. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, some 70% of manufacturing concerns in the U.S. have owners whose business is taxed at the individual rate (S corporations and the like). These are the people expected to commit capital to new hires and equipment."

In thinking about the Obama-McConnell tax plan holisitically, which includes Obama's presser the next day, I am put in mind of an analogy from my principal hobby...if I give you a glass of fine wine and add some sewerage water, it matters not to its discreased appeal whether I add it via a beaker or a medicine dropper. Or in other words, an ounce of shit can be just as polluting as a gallon.

It's Just Music, or It Ought to Be

Don at Cafe Hayek reminds us that creative genius in the arts is usually accompanied by utter immaturity and/or ignorance in political affairs. I would add that this is often in inverse proportion, so the higher the heights of creative genius, the lower the depths of political and economic inanity.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Australian Job Bonanza

Australia doesn't seem to be having trouble creating jobs. I noted this before but recently they've just added 54,000 jobs. That is the equivalent of the US adding over 900,000 jobs. Why can't we do that? Well as Barack Obama has so perceptively pointed out "You've got me."

Bye Bye BABs

I failed to blog this yesterday but the moment I saw it, I knew it was a big deal. The tax deal yesterday killed Build America Bonds, which ought to be known as Bailout the States Bonds. The WSJ flags their importance today and Jimmy P. places this development within the context of the vast right-wing conspiracy's plan to stomp on a human face forever.

UPDATE: Just trying to make a funny on that whole VRC thing. No need to stomp on any faces, the disaster is baked in the cake so just let it unfold.

China's Climate Change Strategy: Appease, Follow Along, Use Carbon

I've had this conversation many times with folks, prompted by a reference to the now accepted wisdom - peddled by Thomas Friedman, amongst folks that read the New York Times in order to be peddled to by Thomas Friedman - that the Chinese are oh-so concerned and smart about global warming. They are smart alright, just not all that concerned. I have attempted to set the record straight in my private conversations with friends and business associates, but let me do so here: China does not care about global warming, er sorry, climate change. They basically think it is a scientific fraud cooked up by the West and fed by political neuroses (justifiably so). The strategy the Chinese have adopted is a genius amalgam of appeasement and resistance. The principal component of the Chinese strategy is to window dress, to make the West think they care by taking nominal steps to show the world that they are "taking action" against climate change. Going along to a small degree affords the Chinese some political flexibility in dealing with the West, more so with left of center powers (the Chinese understand that when righties are in power in the West the gripe of choice against them is their human rights record and when lefties hold sway the gripe is China's environmental record). There is also a practical side to this. The Chinese understand that they'll need scads of energy in the future so why not participate alongside the West in renewables technology and green initiatives on the off chance that one of these technologies actually is useful and economic one day. The Chinese have rarely gotten in on the ground floor of anything in the modern world and usually they have to steal technology. With green tech, they have been invited in and will be given any valuable technology, so it is certainly worth going along for the ride. But none of this is say that the Chinese will at all turn their back on traditional carbon energy sources. On the contrary, they are basing almost everything they do on the persistance of cheap, abundant carbon-based energy - coal, oil, nat gas. They are relentlessly securing access to carbon-based energy all over the world and are aggressively riding up the learning curve (buying and stealing) of the most technologically advanced industry in the world, energy exploration.

The Chinese strategy is open and transparent for all to see and they even spell it out for you if you ask them, but somehow the Friedmanite line has become the accepted wisdom in bien pensant circles, a testament to the success of the Chinese's aim to appease our environmental neuroses. It would help if we were clear minded about the Chinese stance, and thus it is good to see inconvenient truths such as this report from Sen. Inhofe's group making into the public discourse. We'll be much better off once we stop fooling ourselves about China's intentions and motivations surrounding climate change.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Lefties Have a Bad Day

What are two of the biggest things that fire lefties up? Wealth redistribution and decrying Israeli (anything really) settlements, of course. So what makes for a really bad day for a lefty? A day when low tax rates for all Americans, including the most productive, are preserved and when the US refuses to browbeat Israel about its housing development policy. Check and check.

Good Policy Makes Bad Policy Look Worse

One consequence of the tax cut deal that the Lightworker has struck with Congressional Republicans will be to make his moratorium that much more of a disaster. The coming boost to economic activity that will require more energy supplies will exacerbate the tightening supply conditions around the world, conditions made worse by the drilling "permitorium" in the Gulf of Mexico engineered by Obama's radical green team of Carol Browner & Co. Whoops, this just in, crude tops $90 for the first time in two years. This hurts US business and American consumers and helps Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Venezuela among others.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Liberal Weenies In High Dudgeon Over Obama Rope-a-Dope

As George Foreman is wont to say, "You heard of the Rope-a-Dope? Well, I was the dope!" Well, McConnell and Boehner just rope-a-doped the most astonishingly, awe-inspiringly intelligent Lightworker-philosopher king-kind of a God-President ever. So I've watched four cable news shows just to see what the typical liberal's reaction to the Obama-Republican tax deal is, and, man, they are pissed. They'd rather sock it to the rich, at least symbolically since the rich will basically pay what they want to pay, than get the economy going and/or give Obama even a modest chance at being successful. Republicans had him over a barrel and he did the only thing he could or the Republicans would have rammed the class warfare down the Democrats' throats from now 'til 2012 and made them chase it with a dose of 10% unemployment. They now hate their liberal Messiah for backing the whole party into a corner and having to even sniff in the hated Republicans' direction to keep the lights on. I even heard one of these numb-nuts on Kudlow say he wished he voted for Hillary. He doesn't really want Hillary, he just can't stand that his cherished "progressivism" is being barfed back up by the electorate and the Lightworker is a weakened shell. This tax deal will give the economy a shot in the arm, it's what the American people want as expressed in the last election, but these ass hats are whining like children because their blinkered view of an irreparably class-defined society is taking a back seat and their progressive deity is getting his ass handed to him in the hard knock arena of political reality. Cheer up ass-hats, now that chaps like me might not have to send a few extra thousand bucks to DC to get squandered on ass-hattery, I am inclined to hire some fine, hard working folks around here to do some productive stuff. So the "working class" (as if people who make nice money don't work) will catch a break...

UPDATE: I couldn't help but notice that the Dems point man in decrying the tax agreement in front of the cameras was the junior Senator from the boyhood home of Donny Baseball, the great state of New Jersey. Republicans should be secretly smiling everytime they see uber-mediocrity Bob Menendez leading the opposing troops. Weak Generals in the opposing camp is the best asset a fighting force can have, and it is no different in politics.

Gas Price Update

Wow, gas prices went against us last week. Really against us...10 cents per gallon nationwide, whereas functuations of a few cents is the norm. I regret to say that I saw this coming and have tracked it every bit of the way. We are now entering into the teeth of home heating oil season, so it is unlikely we'll get major relief from escalating fuel costs and the domestic energy exploration business remains shut down.

A Great Sign That the New GOP Majority in the House Gets It

Jeff Flake has been endoresed by Boehner for Appropriations. This is really really good sign that the GOP isn't on the road to f##king it up this time. Flake has been ignored for so long, I almost forgot he was still in Congress. He's the real deal. I first mentioned him five years ago. Good move by Boehner.

Are There That Few Economists Left Who Will Defend the Obama/Pelosi Program?

Christina Romer was not content to embarass herself and trash her credibility while working for the Obama administration, she's insisting on keeping the jibberish flowing after she's left the scene.

Bitter Bear Back to Being Big Dog

Not too much hub-bub surrounding this week's win. The 'Skins are terrible and it should have been 31-7 at least. Still, looking sharp in anticipation of the showdown with Philly in two weeks is a must, and it is good to have the two-fisted running game back. As for the NBfPB game ball, it's Brandon Jacobs. Big the Gov. Big question, will we get Nicks and Smith back healthy just in time for the Eagles (or the Cowboys for that matter...WTF)?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Something I Never Thought I'd Say...

I will drink to Max Baucus! (Note: drinking apparently is the appropriate salute) Actually, Sausage Maker Baucus is probably not genuinely doing us any favors, just bowing down to the reality that, whatever party is in power, we - meaning the hedge fund industry - play the game pretty well too (except for that whole Barack Obama thing).

Christie vs. Patterson

It's Over: Hillary to Obama: "Fire Me"

Or more accurately, "Get yourself a new Secretary of State." By announcing that she is done, preparing to downshift out of politics, she is announcing that her heart isn't in it, that she's mentally in the next phase. Obama may not be smart enough to see it that way (heresy you say? If the guy ain't smart enough to figure other basic shit out...) but he can't have a checked-out Secretary of State when foreign policy is really all he's got left. With this maneuver the Clintonite abandonment of the Obama Experiment is complete (how was that for a call!) and his lease on the Democratic Party is coming to its close. This is a key milestone in the Great Unravelling process that I have laid out extensively before - the rented loyalists would disappear, the out-of-ideas Democrats would be stuck with 10% unemployment for all of Obama's term, the radical green anti-hydrocarbon policy war would send gas prices higher, and the vicious attacks and rhetoric on business would put business leaders in the bunker (getting growth from temp workers and overtime, but avoiding hiring like the plague). Obama has made every wrong move and squandered nearly every bit of credibility he ever had, and we are all but approaching the end. Some will say the opposite, that he has merely enervated himself and his administration achieving historic things. I'm skeptical. Much of his agenda will be reversed in the coming years but that is a series of posts for another day. Bottom line here, his personnel problems are starting to mount and thus Obama's troubles are intensifying with this news today, not stabilizing.

UPDATE: Just hitting the wires...Obama is in Afghanistan talking to Karzai. I stand corrected, he at least is smart enough to figure out that Hillary is done and is taking measures himself. I certainly hope he is asking Karzai what the f%$k his relative is doing showing up in the UAE with $52 million.

They Told Me If I Voted for John McCain...Glenn Reynolds Wouldn't Have Enough Material for His Next Book...

...and they were right!!!!
These "They told me if I voted for [insert Republican here]..." nuggets are getting so numerous that they might even fill up It could be almost like a Bartlett's type chronicle of shrill lefty blather. Nah, a respectable publishing house would never go for it. It'll never happen.

Belated Big Blue Game Ball...and a Sour Note

There are only a small number of bigger Giants fans than me, but let me be the first to utter these two words..."Dumb" and "Ass".

Which reminds me, I forgot to award the NBfPB game ball this weekend. It's tough, there were so many elements that came together to rescue this game against the Jags - Eli came through as he mostly does in the clutch, Mario Manningham filled in for Nicks like it was nothin', Jacobs was like the Jacobs of old before he became a bitter bear, the defense that came out of the locker room for the second half was simply thrilling to watch (that goes for big name guys like Tuck and Osi to lesser knowns like Terrell Thomas and Jason Pierre-Paul). Tough. Very tough. A good rule of thumb though is that when everything comes together, when it all clicks like it ought to, the guy with the ultimate accountability should get the game ball by default to Tom Coughlin.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Millionaire? That's It? So Sorry.

Of course it is probably not news to any of you - but given the tax debate going on in Washington right now it always good to get a handle on reality - a million dollars is nothing.

Just a Reminder to Those Who Feel the Money They Earn Is Actually Theirs

For those of us who feel that the money we earn is actually ours and bristle to hear over and over that it "costs" the government when they can't take it away, the end of the year brings important deadlines for various tax avoidance strategies to remember. There is alot of juice out there - if you run an LLC and have a Simple IRA, you can take $11,500 in foregone compensation plus the employer match, which could be another $6,000 (which you pay yourself; remember the deadline is 01/30/11 to get all the $ in); there's $6,150 in HSA contributions that you can make pre-tax (12/31/10); there's that 529 plan to help you with the state tax collector (12/31/10); and grab all that mortgage interest deduction that you can while it's HOT!! There are special rules surrounding spousal IRAs, so don't run afoul of them, but check them out for some potential extra juice. Also, I hope you took out that HELOC at these peanuts rates and pumped the money into an accretive investment that you can monetize when Pelosi and Obama are working the lecture circuit.

And remember folks, NO CHEATING because we have to give those black farmers $5 billion, those unemployed 150 weeks of unemployment, and we have to fund all those TSA agents touching your pecker.

How Do We Stay Rich?

I am not a Bill Gross fan but I agree with his assessment in this CNBC interview, we are doing the wrong things to ensure a prosperous future. You can get all enbroiled in the politics of the day, but you have to ask yourself basic, but big, questions about our future. What will we do? Will we seek to manufacture things (China wants to manufacture pretty much everything)? Where will we get our energy (Brazil is drilling at full speed as far as the eye can see)? Are the incentives there for the next Apple, the next Google, or heck, even the next JPMorgan? Not just how many jobs will we create but what kind of jobs should we create? Will we be a nation of "technical support" supporting an ungodly expanse of modern, productive technology infrastructure and assets or will we be a nation of lawyers and "diversity consultants"? We can't stay rich just suing each other or concocting diversity policies for companies that don't employ anybody. Something to think about. And yes, until some good answers start popping up, capital is going overseas as I have said many times.

Anti-Oil Zealotry Still Wreaking Havoc in the Gulf

Despite the scientific consensus that a drilling ban is not justified, the Obama administration still insists on a de facto moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Here is just the latest tidbit in the ongoing disruption to the oil industry in the GOM that is resulting in lost jobs, lost taxes, higher energy prices and, ultimately, lost leadership in perhaps the most technologically advanced industry in the world.

UPDATE: Here is the head of the Institute for Energy Research, "It is now abundantly clear that the Administration and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will stop at nothing - lost jobs, tax revenue or a threat to national security - to enforce their vendetta against domestic energy production. Despite promises made to Senator Landrieu and the thousands whose livelihood depends on energy development, they continue to pursue an "all or nothing" approach to alternative energy that will do nothing more than weaken our economy, increase our dependence on foreign oil and eliminate thousands of well paying, secure American jobs."

That's about right. As for heating our homes and powering our lives, we'll need that energy and since we won't be producing enough of it here, we'll be importing it (do you really think we will live with less and "power down"?). How do you import energy? Tankers and pipelines, dear reader. Tankers and pipelines.

Government Ad Absurdum

2,000 page bills that no one reads create problems big and small. We tend to focus on the big problems, such as the ObamaCare bill clearly driving up healthcare costs right out of the gates when its putative intention was the opposite. However, the little problems are no less debilitating to economic activity and, ultimately, our prosperity because they create dead weight loss that our economy must absorb. We all know about the consumer products safety law that was passed and signed by President Bush that was intended to address toxic levels of lead in childrens' toys (although no specific harm was ever alleged, I believe) but that ensnared all sorts of small businesses and has devolved into absurdity. Well, chalk up another inane, quixotic pet attempt to micro-manage the world - retails are having to fight a provision that requires them to certify that no minerals from war-torn central African countries are in their products. The reasoning goes something like this - the mining of certain minerals in certain African countries is sometimes controlled by bad guys and the money they make sometimes then funds bad things, like civil war and violent power struggles, and bad things happen to innocent people when this happens, like women getting raped (never mind that alot of the rape comes at the hands of the supposedly good people sent to stop the bad things), so companies like Wal-Mart and Target need to know if any of the hundreds of thousands of products they sell use minerals mined in certain countries despite the extreme difficulty of knowing this as said minerals are also mined all over the world. Of course, this brilliant, world-saving idea is contained in the financial reform bill that was supposed to address our recent financial crisis by keeping banks from trading certain financial products. Got it?