Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jon Corzine's Extra Special Talent of Screwing the Little Guy

It wasn't enough to go down in a fireball of ignominy by engineering the 8th largest bankruptcy in American corporate history. It wasn't enough as a swan song to cause $1.2 billion of MF Global's customers money to disappear into a swamp of opaque fraud. Effectively wrecking certain commodities markets was not a finale grand enough. No, Jon Corzine, even though in hiding save for bouts of Congressional testimony, is still reaching out to effect the lives of everyday folk in that unique and special way that so few can...

Toll increases of as much as 53 percent, a boost set when Jon Corzine was governor, will start Jan. 1 on the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike, two of the busiest roads in the U.S.

The rate for passenger vehicles traveling the Turnpike’s length during peak traffic hours will be as much as $13.85 in cash, up from $9.05 currently. The maximum charge for tractor- trailer rigs with six or more axles also will rise 53 percent, to $56.85.

The rates were approved in 2008 under Corzine, a Democrat. Republican Governor Chris Christie, who defeated Corzine in 2009, said the tolls are impossible to roll back because the state sold bonds based on the anticipated revenue.

“This is the last, I hope, one of the last vestiges of Jon Corzine’s fiscal management of the state of New Jersey (STONJ1),” Christie, 49, told WOR-AM radio’s John Gambling today.

Some people just have a talent.

Big NatGas Find

Double-extra special shitload of fossil fuels found in remote corner of the world, far far from anything.

What's with all these big hydrocarbon finds right under our noses these days? I thought that it was a certainty that we can't drill our way out of our problems. I thought there is no more "out there" or no more of the "easy stuff" out there? What gives?

+1 on Pelosi Prediction

2011 isn't over yet but one of my predictions is unfolding as planned. We might not see it within the calendar year, but being early is still a score of +1.

Me on Jan 11, 2011:
- Pelosi Leaves Congress: She can't stand life as second fiddle after tasting raw, unrestrained power. She leaves. (Here's my long shot prediction for extra credit: Pelosi primaries Obama for the presidential election in 2012 claiming he has sold out the progressive movement.)
Plucked today from DR:
Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of House Minority Leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told Big Government this week that her mother wants to leave Congress–and that she remains in Washington only at the behest of her campaign donors.
BTW, one of my 2010 predictions was:
- Minor world leader is assasinated (three likelies: Assad, Calderon, Mubarak)
and this is what I said when it didn't come true:
A few of my other predictions will likely prove true (California going bankrupt and the assasination one are still pretty solid) but, alas, didn't come to pass in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten.
So, in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Eleven we saw Qaddafi get whacked, Mubarak narrowly avoid a whacking, and Assad is on the brink. Not a bad call way back when...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First the GOP, Then America, Needs to Grow Up Again

Hinderaker lays it down,

It is time for Republicans to get serious. After flirting with just about every candidate in a large presidential field, is is time to come home to the one candidate who has the demonstrated ability to run the largest organization in the United States, the Executive Branch of the federal government; who has never been touched by the slightest taint of scandal; whose success in the private sector makes him the outsider that Republicans say they are looking for; and who has by far the best chance of beating President Obama: Mitt Romney.

The “anybody but Romney” mentality that grips many Republicans is, in my view, illogical.
and I agree, as I have said.

Yes, it is time to get serious - serious about ridding us of Barack Obama and the ruthless and irreversible accumulation of federal government power over our lives (which will be solidified by the one or two SCOTUS picks that Dear Leader will potentially get in a second term - imagine not just four more years of Barack Obama, but 20 more years of him in the form of his 3-4 SCOTUS picks!) We've experimented and had our dalliances, now it is time to get serious.

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."

Classic Obama

Obama, who will shortly relentlessly demonize a former private equity executive as unfit for leadership office, has just appointed a former private equity executive for leadership office.
"The nominees are Jeremy Stein, 51 years old, a Ph.D. economist who did a five-month stint in the Treasury and White House early in the Obama administration, and Jerome Powell, 58, who was undersecretary of the Treasury for domestic finance under President George H.W. Bush...

A graduate of Georgetown University's law school, Mr. Powell worked before and after his Treasury stint at investment bank Dillon Read & Co. He also has worked at private-equity firms Carlyle Group and Global Environment Fund, and at Bankers Trust Co."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Republicans Ignore Uncle Milty At Their Peril

Apparently, Republicans botched the payroll tax politics. Sure, I guess. The WSJ had it right that they made the Lightworker appear to be a tax cutter, which is one mean feat. Fine, but is anybody who is paying attention really believe that Dear Leader is a tax-cutter?? Anywho...while I think that Boehner's point was worth making a stand on - two-month tax policy is the height of idiocy - and the Tea Party types in the House were right to want more spending cuts, clearly somehow, something went amiss.

And I know why. The Republicans failed to follow Uncle Milty's Axiom:
"I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible."
Two months? Dumb. Creates jobs? Not a chance. Harry Reid wants it? 'Nuff said. Still, they should have asked themselves "Does it pass the Uncle Milty test?" They didn't and it bit them in the arse. It's dumb, it's a waste of time, it won't create jobs, it further imperils the bankrupt Ponzi scheme we call Social Security, and it came from Harry Reid's Senate. Not an illustrious piece of legislation to be sure. BUT IT IS A TAX keeps money out of the hands of the government, full stop as they say.

Next time guys, use the Milton Freidman Test.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What's the Economic Chart of the Year?

Mark Perry is showing off his submission for economic "graph of the year." It's a good one. It shows off the phenomenon that I call the "Job Market Vigilantes" or the hiring that has not been done under the unrelentingly hostile business climate created by the Obama administration. Notice how the relationship between the two variables is tight until just about the beginning of 2009...hmmm...what happened at the beginning of 2009...??

Personally, my submission for graph of the year, hell graph of all time would be this one, which I think sums up all of economics in one easy to understand relationship (and which Perry has highlighted before). Look at that correlation! That is TIGHT!! The bigger government is, the crappier the economy is. Pretty simple.

See, economics ain't that hard!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Under My Plan...Costs Will Necessarily Skyrocket"

The EPA has finalized the Utility MACT Rule, one of the three major assaults on fossil fuel power generation that they have cooked up under Lisa Jackson. Read this take. I expect that this rule promulgation will have two effects: 1) it will prompt large campaign contributions into the coffers of the Republican nominee for President, who will be lobbied hard to reverse the Obama-era rules if he should win office; and 2) utility companies with the largest compliance bills coming due will sue and/or announce strategic generation capacity shutdowns (and when I say strategic, I mean "during the election campaign). The electricity generation industry has tried and given up working with the Obama administration in avoiding the regulatory push or then trying to keep the new regulations reasonable. They have failed and it is very likely war-of-attrition-time. It's gonna get ugly.

Of course, you know where the title of this post comes from, right?

Only Thing Assad Reforms Is the Daily Body Count

Looks like Bashar Assad's men are breaking his directive to only kill 20 or so people per day...

BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian troops assaulting a northwest town with machine gun fire and shelling have killed at least 100 people in one of the deadliest episodes of the 9-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime, activists said Wednesday.

Tuesday's attack on the town of Kfar Owaid in Idlib province showed the Syrian government was pressing ahead with its crackdown despite its agreement this week to an Arab League plan for bringing a halt to the bloodshed.

"It was an organized massacre. The troops surrounded people then killed them," said Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NYC Bureaucrats Tell Korean Restauranteurs How To Do Kimchi

I think most sensible Americans understand that although we like regulations in theory, they don't work and wind up giving us petty tyranny in the end. When are we going to wake up and realize that for every sensible regulatory regime we setup there are 50-100 like this...

Ever since she received seven violation points during a city health inspection in June, she's been fearful about how her restaurant prepares and stores kimchi, a traditional fermented dish that is a staple in Korean cuisine. The violation points resulted from five pounds of kimchi being left at room temperature and exceeding the city Department of Health's 41-degree temperature requirement for cold foods, according to the inspection.

"They don't understand the kimchi," said Ms. Park. "Many Korean restaurants with kimchi get points because the inspector, they don't understand what it is."

Korean restaurant and business groups say they are all too often unfairly penalized by the health department because their fermented foods are determined to be above 41 degrees, the temperature below which city rules require potentially hazardous prepared cold food be stored.

A bunch of bureaucrats telling restauranteurs in the foremost Korean-American community in the nation about kimchi and setting rules. I am at a loss for words. (Note to fellow citizens, this crap won't stop until you VOTE to make it stop.)

No Lightworker to Besieged Syrians

I love this. Here's your classic Realist vs. Idealist debate summed up and adjudicated right here. Airy, faculty lounge theories, of the ilk we are getting now in foreign policy, allow tyrants to flourish.

Hey, you guys may get Bush again after all...but don't bank on it, pick up some firearms and fight.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What the Heck Is Wrong With the Episcopal Church?

First there's Bishop Sisk waxing more Rawlsian than Christian. Now, here's former Bishop George Packard invading private property with a few hundred of his nearest and dearest OWS friends.

Just following orders, or more likely, trying to get promoted by responding to incentives.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Obama Officially Underwater, Despite Being Headed There for Some Time

So, a new AP poll is saying, for the first time, that a majority of Americans think President Obama should not be re-elected. This should not be a surprise, after all, you follow this polling data series, you know the Lightworker's approval trajectory has been, almost without exclusion, one way. (Read about those minor exclusions here and here.)

Just a reminder, I predicted Obama's meltdown back in February of 2009. As well, I predicted the "stimulus" would be a disaster for the country among many other things of which I will remind you all later. But let me return to the root of Obama's failure - here and here is the analysis I conducted early on that spelled out why Obama could have not have been anything but a failure.
Finally, and this is not a blunder but rather a fundamental flaw, Obama's legislative support is only as good as his public sheen. The reason he had to stack his administration with Clintonites is that he had no decent network to speak of. His limited experience in government, and life actually, has left him lacking in broad and deep connections to people who can achieve things and stand by him. His quick rise to popularity and electoral promise has attracted a cadre of government and business types to fill the ranks now, but they do so for the sake of Democratic power in and of itself. Does anyone think that previously loyal Clintonites/now Obamites will stay loyal if the bloom starts to come visibly off the rose? I truly wonder how much uphill sledding those around Obama now are prepared to endure. I guess some, but not much.

Directionally, I think this is all fairly obvious, but what matters is magnitude, which I can't estimate. If Obama's stumbles continue and are big enough, the massive expansion of government that is disguised as economic stimulus could run aground. I think the markets have a slight sense of this and are perking up at the thought that we aren't necessarily going to ride a wave of populism to monstrous government intervention in the economy. Bottom line, investors think Obama will be capable of alot less damage than they had originally feared, and the market is reflecting this cautious optimism.

Update On Another Green Fantasy

In 2006, when President George W. Bush spoke of ethanol from wood chips and switchgrass during a SOTU address, I said "God help us."
I see the wisdom in a "don't sweat the small stuff" attitude. Being able to understand what is at the core of an issue and to marshall your energies on real priorities is a hallmark of a good leader. Maybe that is how the White House approached the SOTU address - stand firm on the critical issues of Iraq, fighting terrorism, taxes; and, for the rest, just throw out any old nice-sounding political garbage. After all, you can't be a bulldog on everything. That has to explain the rubbish that Bush spouted about America's addiction to oil and the need for ethanol from wood chips and switch grass.
Well, here is a bit of follow-up on that point. Willing it such and throwing money at it has not made it such.

Most important, the Nancy Pelosi Congress passed and Mr. Bush signed a law imposing mandates on oil companies to blend cellulosic fuel into conventional gasoline. This guaranteed producers a market. In 2010 the mandate was 100 million barrels, rising to 250 million in 2011 and 500 million in 2012. By the end of this decade the requirements leap to 10.5 billion gallons a year.

When these mandates were established, no companies produced commercially viable cellulosic fuel. But the dream was: If you mandate and subsidize it, someone will build it.

Guess what? Nobody has. Despite the taxpayer enticements, this year cellulosic fuel production won't be 250 million or even 25 million gallons. Last year the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the authority to revise the mandates, quietly reduced the 2011 requirement by 243.4 million gallons to a mere 6.6 million. Some critics suggest that even much of that 6.6 million isn't true cellulosic fuel.

Chalk up another green fantasy dashed against the rocks of reality. Meanwhile, we are discovering and producing a treasure trove of useable energy previously thought impossible and yet we are actively undermining it. As the good professor is wont to say, the country is truly "in the very best of hands."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Canada Is Out of Kyoto

I called it back in 2008. Growth-minded nations simply will not sign on to a Kyoto successor plan. Sure enough, Canada has done what many others nations want to do - pull out of Kyoto - and likely will do now that we have a first-mover.

And check out this ridiculous piece of journalistic rubbish on Bloomberg:

"Obama Winning Climate Debate Opens China to Legal Accord"

1) Obama has avoided the Durban confab like the plague.

2) Nobody, China especially, has agreed to anything except to talk again. This is consistent with China's climate change policy of appease and appear to follow along.

Yet, somehow Bloomberg makes Obama's non-engagement on a failed Durban conference an active victory for him and the conference.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sports and Religion Go Way Back, But MSM Is Freshly Creeped Out About It

What on Earth is this journalist talking about?

He has led the Denver Broncos to one improbable victory after another—defying his critics and revealing the deep-seated anxieties in American society about the intertwining of religion and sports.

Deep-seated anxieties? Every post-game interview ever has some athlete giving the glory to God. Hasn't every football game ever ended with a bunch of large, sweaty bodies circled up and on bended knee in prayer? Haven't we prayed before high school football games since the Founding Era until just recently after the ACLU ceased to have anything to fill their time? Doesn't one of the most popular, iconic - and therefore televised - college football programs have a giant depiction of Jesus Christ overlooking their football stadium? Aren't religious schools disproportionately dominant in high school sports?

So, what the hell is Patton Wood talking about? Methinks he's talking about our Mainstream Media.

One last question. Wasn't Reggie White a Christian minister? Why did we not have all this hub-bub over Reggie? Ugh. The MSM is annoying.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Taylor vs. Krugman

A little spat, with big policy implications, has broken out between John Taylor and Paul Krugman. Here's Taylor's characterization of the spat:
Paul Krugman is wrong in his criticism of my brief summary of last week’s economic policy conference at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Krugman was not at the conference, which lasted a full day and went well beyond previous research by the participants. In general people focused on policies to restore strong economic growth and reduce unemployment in the United States.

First, Krugman incorrectly claims that I mischaracterized the research of my Stanford colleague Nick Bloom and his coauthors Scott Baker and Steve Davis presented at the conference. Krugman says my conference summary suggested that “Bloom, Baker and Davis had showed that fear of Obama was holding the economy down.” No, my summary said or implied no such thing; there is no mention of Obama, Bush, or any politician in my summary. It simply says that these authors “presented their empirical measures of policy uncertainty and showed that they were negatively correlated with economic growth.”
First, let me say that Taylor is a gentleman and a serious and sober economist, and Krugman, regardless of what he once was, is a frothing, radical leftist gnome. But, let me settle the argument, not on my biases, but on the merits. In the course of my job I speak to CEOs, CFOs, company Directors and all sorts of businesspeople from businesses large and small and I can unequivocally state that these people ARE most definitely scared of Obama, the Senate Democrats, and the regulatory apparatus carrying out the will of the Obama administration. There is not room for argument or dispute - business decisions are being made out of an environment of fear, uncertainty and pessimism and economic activity has most certainly been retarded as a result. Nearly every businessperson I talk to has a list of projects and plans that they are sitting on waiting "to see what happens in the election" meaning whether Obama will be elected or not. You cannot have a conversation with high level managers of corporate America today without November 2012 at the center of it. Krugman couldn't be more wrong on this point and Taylor is too coy in defending his point. He is exactly right but he seems reluctant to defend why he is right.

This debate is frustrating in that it smacks of these far too typical academic tussles backed by scads of "research" and academic mumbo-jumbo, but nobody seems to have asked anybody actually in the economic arena everday what is going on.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Yet Another CEO: Obama Doesn't Get It

Add yet another CEO who thinks Obama is clueless. Remember, it takes alot of guts to say this in public. Obama has overtly retaliated against companies that say things about him and these businessmen face the prospect of four more years where Obama could make life difficult for their businesses. The fact that they are speaking out means that they are beyond that point - the specific risk of White House retaliation is no greater than the risk of continuing to do business under the economic policies of Barack Obama.

Latest Addition to Feds' List of Orwellian Bulls##t ... "workplace violence". Yup, just another overworked stress case reacting badly to a bad boss or something. Add it to the list.