Saturday, October 31, 2009

Photo images of the day

Folks take their yard decorations quite seriously here in Rolando Beach.

(please click images to enlarge)

Happy Halloween, everybody!!!

College football Saturday open thread

We’ll miss our hi-def LCD out in the high desert but there is something to be said for scanning the dial and trying to pull in a scratchy AM radio signal out in the wilderness.

A relatively slow weekend as there are only two games featuring two ranked teams: #5 USC goes on the road to another one of those Pac-10 snake pits in Autzen Stadium on the campus of the University of Oregon and #3 Texas goes to Stillwater to take on #14 Oklahoma St.

And we would be remiss if we neglected to mention B-Daddy’s Midshipmen of Navy (6-2) hosting the Temple Owls (5-2).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Radio KBwD is on the air

We asked a hoops buddy of ours who plays drums in his church band, who the greatest drummer of all-time is/was. Lars Ulrich of Metallica was his first answer. Since that did not readily fit our KBwD narrative, we pressed. Second answer: "Dennis Chambers… he’s a jazz guy".

Ladies and Gentlemen, from Baltimore, Maryland here is Dennis Chambers performing live with our favorite soul/R&B band, Tower of Power.

Tales from Bailout Nation Pt. XXI

(scheduled post warning: author not responsible for stale content or fishy aroma)

The President has given access to his “ideas that stink” generator to Barney Frank and you just know that combination will yield something stupendous.

The concept Frank is working on would be to shield us taxpayers from pouring any more of our tax dollars into the financial institution bailout black hole. Sounds good so far, right? You are probably thinking that Frank is crafting legislation for stricter oversight of these institutions or possibly a tweak to bankruptcy laws that would allow for a softer landing for investors of failed financial institutions. If you thought any of that you would be wrong.

You see, the bailout gravy train is going to continue but the bailouts will be propped up by… wait for it, the other financial institutions.

Under the proposal, future rescues of large institutions would be paid for by other big firms. The proposal says that any financial company with assets of more than $10 billion would have to contribute to the rescue of a failed firm. The legislation emerged after community banks lobbied to ensure that small institutions would not have to pay for future bailouts.

You read that correctly. The outfits that are making money and are on sound financial footing will be forced at the butt of Barney’s gun to fork over cash to their under-performing competition.

In one fell swoop, Barney has simultaneously encouraged further risky behavior by the bad actors in the financial world as he is effectively eliminating the punishment for poor performance and has dis-incentivized strong performance by penalizing it.

We cannot imagine anything actually being more counter-productive to a healthy banking/finance industry.

We’re scouring our thesaurus to come up with language that would adequately describe what a complete ignoramus Frank is and we are failing… miserably.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quote(s) of the day

The history of this decision [on Afghanistan] is less important than the fact that the president is agonizing in public. A president ought to think long and hard about a strategy about war. There is nothing wrong with that.

But agonizing in public, leaving allies hanging — as we saw in the NATO meeting today, where all the others are waiting to hear what the United States is going to do — leaving the Afghans hanging, leaving everybody in Pakistan hanging … is a mistake.

If you want to have a private consultation, do it, but it's Obama's own strategy and he's responsible, and if he wants a reconsideration, it should be done in quiet …
- Charles Krauthammer

We don't necessarily agree. Victory in Afghanistan will be subtle and defeat spectacular and either way, we don't think history will remember the public nature of Obama's stalling tactics. Krauthammer's point is well-taken as applicable only to this very moment in time, though.


I think the president could improve his poll ratings markedly if he simply took all the things he has said about Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox News, the town-hallers, and his domestic critics and instead applied that invective to Iran, radical Islam, Russia, and Venezuela, and, in turn, took all the outreach things he's said the latter and applied them to the former.
- Victor Davis Hanson

Hanson is spot-on. One of the most ironic and disappointing things about this administration currently is that the concept of reconciliation, unity and post-partisanship upon which he campaigned and how he and his administration have actually behaved and governed 9 months in are two things speeding away from each other in opposite directions at the speed of light.

H/T: NRO's The Corner

Tales from Bailout Nation Pt. XX

Crony capitalism: an allegedly capitalist economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between businesspeople and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, and so forth.

It has been suspected all along but it is now a matter of public record that AIG, under the direction of the U.S. government, used their TARP money to bail-out other financial institutions:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Tuesday that it had no choice but to instruct American International Group last November to reimburse the full amount of what it owed to big banks on derivatives contracts, a move that ended months of effort by the insurance giant to negotiate lower payments.

Fed officials offered the explanation in a rare response to a media report after Bloomberg News said that the New York Fed, led at the time by then-President Timothy F. Geithner, directed AIG to make the payments after it received a massive government bailout. The officials said AIG lost its leverage in demanding a better deal once the company had been saved from bankruptcy.

Lawmakers and financial analysts critical of the payouts say it amounted to a back-door bailout for big banks. AIG, the recipient of a $180 billion federal rescue package, ended up paying $14 billion to Goldman Sachs over months and $8.5 billion to Deutsche Bank, among others. Before the New York Fed intervened, AIG had been trying to persuade the firms to take discounts.

The precise cost to taxpayers of these decisions is difficult to determine. Bloomberg, quoting an industry source, reported Tuesday that AIG was aiming to pay just 40 percent of the $32.5 billion it owed to the banks. Using those figures, the report concluded that the government needlessly overpaid $13 billion.

Capt. Ed is correct in calling this a money-laundering service with as little transparency as possible.

Recall the pitchfork-wielding mobs Congress was attempting to muster and the outrage they were eliciting over the AIG bonuses.

And recall it is the two-time tax cheat, Tim Geithner's very Treasury Department that is going after the “sheltered” money of U.S. taxpayers in overseas and Swiss bank accounts in an attempt to make them "pay their fair share".

Please keep that term “crony capitalism” and all the lessons we’ve learned together from Tales from Bailout Nation in your back pocket the next time you here someone rail on about the failures of capitalism.

Programming Alert

We're headed out to the desert, Joshua Tree National Park to be exact, so for the next few days blogging will be of the stale, pre-packaged variety. Sorry.

We'll hook up again with you all live Sunday evening or Monday morning.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


… like we’re supposed to get over this guy?

From Ronald Reagan’s 1964 speech in support of Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Presidential bid.

45 yrs. on. The man has passed but the message remains the same.

We’re out of here for a few days but let your hearts not be troubled as we’ve cooked up plenty of stuff in the meantime to take you through the weekend.

Can we get Congress a few rounds?

...and we'll help ourselves to a few of our own while they're at it.

President Barack Obama has only been in office for just over nine months, but he's already hit the links as much as President Bush did in over two years.

CBS' Mark Knoller — an unofficial documentarian and statistician of all things White House-related — wrote on his Twitter feed that, "Today - Obama ties Pres. Bush in the number of rounds of golf played in office: 24.

Took Bush 2 yrs & 10 months."

We don’t begrudge the President one bit for his frequent golf outings. The optimist in us says that if a round of golf clears his head and allows him to make sound(er) policy decisions then so much the better. Our inner cynic, however, is of the belief that his time on the links can potentially forestall anymore of his disastrous policies from actually being implemented. It's a win-win all the way around.

It has also been noted by the press corps that the President had his first female guest out on the links this past Sunday, one Melody Barnes, Obama’s chief domestic policy advisor (our cynic cries out: "See! This explains much".)

That certain groups were questioning when it was that the President was going to turn around the “men only” sign at his hoops and golf outings is another non-story.

We will however take a small degree of pleasure that they are being called on their insufficient devotion to the god of Diversity… a god of unparalleled standing in the liberal-Left pantheon.



H/T: Harrison

Whither Berlin

We’re following up some unfinished business from our post, here.

So, if the President has time to go over to Europe to make a pitch for the Olympics (no problem) and to pick up the hardware and cash for his Nobel prize (still, no problem) then why is he not swinging by Berlin to celebrate the toppling of the Berlin Wall which also represented the demise of the flagship franchise of the most brutal, deadly, freedom-loathing and totalitarian political ideology of all time (problem?).

In short: it’s just not his trip, dig?

Again, this all goes back to the man’s associations and bona fides. Precisely what is it about Obama’s educational, organizing and political careers that would suggest that he would think this is a big deal… an instance to celebrate? Now, intellectually, we’re sure the President thinks that all that killing in the name of or as a direct result of statist policy was pretty icky and even, at times, unseemly but there is absolutely nothing to the man of which we are aware that holds a principled revulsion to communism.

How could there be?

The man has spent his entire adult life surrounded by those who if not actively campaigning for collectivist ideals were at least apologizing for their agonizing results. There is nothing that we see in him either emotionally or intellectually that would view the 20th anniversary of the fall of this wall as cause for the supremely joyous, knock down – drag out, drunken bacchanal that it should be.

Which is giving us a few ideas for the evening of November 9.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quote of the day

"McChrystal is one of the best killers in the world, as he proved in Iraq, but I don't think he knows squat about diplomacy," Stark says of the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. "I mean, if he didn't have a gun, he'd be useless."

That from Pete Stark (D-Mars) and who could potentially be chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee if Charles Rangel is forced to step down.

When the print media goes the way of the Dodo, this is what we will miss about them because it has been thoroughly missing: a very well-written and entertaining article that exhibits no overt political bias.

Read L.A. Times article here.

A time but mostly a place for everything (UPDATED)

(please scroll down for update)

When you go to these management seminars one of the management-speak axioms you may learn is, “Under-promise, Over-deliver”.

This is the concept of initially lowering expectations so that you give yourself a greater opportunity of exceeding those same expectations when its time to deliver the goods later on and all of which makes you look like a star. It is a concept that is lost on the federal government when it comes to the H1N1 vaccination effort but to its credit, it can’ help itself.

Earlier this month, the government was forced to announce that only about 28 million doses would be available by the end of this month, about 30 percent below the 40 million it had previously predicted. That is not enough to satisfy panicky people who are lining up for vaccine around the country or desperately phoning their doctors and public health departments.

But the October shortfall was not the first. Indeed, since the outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu occurred in April, federal projections have been consistently and wildly overoptimistic and have had to be ratcheted down several times. As recently as late July, the government was predicting having 160 million doses by this month.

And to show you are hearts are in the right place, let’s just start by saying this is not an Obama thing just as Katrina wasn’t a Bush thing in the way it was portrayed in the media. What this is, however, is a big, unwieldy, emotionally-detached bureaucratic thing.

And when undertaking huge national efforts like this, we are not necessarily saying the federal government with all its assets and infrastructure is not the best entity to handle a massive undertaking as potentially vaccinating hundreds of millions of people.

As Americans, we accept inefficiencies and under-deliveries when it comes to efforts like this. We accept the fact that the armed forces are going to be an extremely wasteful and inefficient entity while waging war. The goal is victory and not the carbon footprint. And the goal here is simple: produce the vaccine, distribute the vaccine, and administer the vaccine. We said simple, not easy.

But the finer and more intricate details of healthcare and in particular the personal aspects of you and your family’s healthcare is not served well by this blunt force trauma “Win the War” mindset of the federal government.

This is why it is so curious to hear about the savings that will be accrued in healthcare by actually having more federal government involvement. The government will only make things more efficient, or more accurately, less expensive by limiting the choices to what health care options we have already. This is an inescapable fact.

At the end of the day, the federal government is no more qualified to be directly or indirectly involved in your personal healthcare decisions than was the Delaware National Guard in defeating the Nazis and Imperial Japan in World War II.

(UPDATE #1): B-Daddy has a more cynical take on Obama’s reasons for declaring the swine flu a national emergency but were not inclined to be so much so. The President is in a small bind here. Let’s say the swine flu does indeed blow-up – the President will look like he was not out in front of this. He’s hedging on the side of caution and for that we can’t blame him.

Now, we won’t deny that there is some political motivation behind this. With his current dithering on the Afghanistan question, he needs something… anything in which to appear as the more forceful and decisive Commander-in-Chief than what we are seeing currently.

Off-coverage = Off-shore?

Achieving our goals does not require us to build a flawless democracy, defeat the Taliban in every corner of the country, or create a modern economy—what we’re talking about is “good-enough” governance, basic sustainable economic development and Afghan security forces capable enough that we can drawdown our forces.

Reaganesque it was not but that was from Senator John Kerry last week.

So does bringing in an extra defensive back and only rushing 3 or 4, the equivalent of the off-shore strategy towards which the President appears to be hedging?

As far as tortured sports analogies go, we actually really like this one. KT has the details, here.

P.S. Tangentially, Michael Barone believes the President won't be able to squeeze in another 24 hr. trip to Europe, this time to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall in that same city because of the contrast between the current hedging and the much tougher talk regarding the Taliban and al-Queda in his speech he made in July of 2008 at the Tiergarten in Berlin.

We have some thoughts of our own which we may share later.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The other Freddie of nightmarish proportions (UPDATED)

You’ll be pleased to know that the Feds are taking swift action with respect to bonuses paid to executives of large financial institutions… particularly those that are taxpayer funded.

The government-controlled mortgage finance company is giving CFO Ross Kari compensation worth as much as $5.5 million. That includes an almost $2 million cash signing bonus and a generous salary that could top $2.3 million.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Freddie Mac, approved the pay package. A spokeswoman pointed to a statement that justified the agency's approval of the pay, which was done in part because the amount was comparable to what others in the financial services industry make.

This is the sort of hard-hitting action that we can expect now and in the future with respect to this government-sponsored entity (GSE) which has had $51 billion in taxpayer dollars pumped into it over the last calendar year and which was front and center in the subprime meltdown which started last year.

The White House and Congress which has been so intent upon tying pay to performance or not indulging the bad behavior of Wall St. does not seem so intent in doing the same or expressing the same moral indignation when it comes to one of their own.

(UPDATE #1): Good news/bad news on the Chris Dodd/Countrywide front.

At last, there's some good news for taxpayers in the Countrywide Financial loan scandal. On Friday night, House oversight committee chairman Edolphus Towns (D., N.Y.) and ranking member Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) reached an agreement to subpoena documents from the "Friends of Angelo" program. Named for former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, the program provided VIP mortgages to "friends" including Senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad.

Said Mr. Towns, "In line with the commitment to an ethical and accountable Congress, the subpoena to Countrywide covers records that could show special treatment for Members of Congress." This is significant, because a compromise plan floated last week would have authorized a subpoena covering—don't laugh—all federal officials except members of Congress.

Actually, passing that legislation would've made perfect sense in the most ethical Congress, evah.

But now for the bad, if not entirely predictable news.

But Monday's Wall Street Journal report about Countrywide Financial Corp., which refinanced mortgages for Dodd in 2003, threatens to put the brakes on his comeback by reinvigorating the issue that got him in trouble to begin with.

According to the Journal's account (subscription req'd.),Countrywide recorded phone conversations with borrowers in the controversial mortgage program that included public officials, but those recordings have been destroyed.

Now, we are in no way implying that those brave Congressmen who stood on ethics in getting that subpoena agreement had any foreknowledge - not in any way shape or form. It just seems to us, however, that these sudden fits of integrity are often bolstered by the fact that, you know, stuff happens.

Wind, wind, go away...

Although the temperature is forecasted to drop, one always keeps one’s fingers crossed down here in San Diego when we get a Santa Ana condition in late October as the Cedar fire of ’03 and the Witch Creek fire of ’07 took place at precisely this time of year and in very similar weather.

Picture is smoke from the Witch Creek fire rising up behind Mt. Miguel east of San Diego.

P.S. We had some connectivity problems which we are still recovering from which explains why things have been kind of slow around here today. We'll try to pick it up a bit.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Video of the day

“We’ve got a black man kickin’ it in the White House but where’s the man in the black household?”

Greetings, Racists!

Self-hating blacks. That’s the only reasonable explanation for the video below.

(we were warned that it was only going to be up on YouTube for a limited time so if embed no workie, click on over to PajamasTV and watch it, here.

In all seriousness, how much strength of conviction would a black person such as, Buddy Sosthand (the suited one in the video), have to possess to be an openly conservative black person?

When a few people in our dinner party crowd found out we were conservatives, it was a mild shock to their system (“You’re hip, charming, smart, funny and a real lady-killer… how can you be a conservative?”) so we can only imagine what it would be like to stand up to an entire culture and mindset of racial grievances and victimhood let alone be openly critical of the this country's first black President.

P.S. Yes, that is the young man and his lady friend of ACORN video fame.

George Soros: Tea Partier?

The big profits made by some of Wall Street’s leading banks are “hidden gifts” from the state, and taxpayer resentment of such companies is “justified”, George Soros, the fund manager, said in an interview with the Financial Times.

“Those earnings are not the achievement of risk-takers,” Mr Soros said. “These are gifts, hidden gifts, from the government, so I don’t think that those monies should be used to pay bonuses. There’s a resentment which I think is justified.”

Far from the unbridled capitalism run-amok model that statists love to portray Wall St., it appears that federal oversight and regulation has only enhanced the crony capitalism model as the prism through which we view the matter.

As such, the Wall Street bonuses dust-up represents an interesting convergence of liberal and conservative-based populist anger. B-Daddy has some thoughts on all this, here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

College football Saturday open thread

What mid-season lull?

There’s a reason why the term “dog days of August” is in reference to baseball. No such with college football. Again, great matchups abound across the fruited plain.

USC gets to exact some revenge against Oregon St. who has twice in the last 4 seasons represented the in-conference toe-stubbers that have thwarted the Trojans BCS title hopes.

Undefeated TCU (#10) goes on the road to BYU (#16) in one of those BCS-buster games.

San Diego native and freshmen QB Tate Forcier (pictured) leads his Michigan Wolverines hosting (#13) Penn St. at the Big House.

Touchdown Jesus will witness the Domers taking on the hated little Catholics of Boston College.

We’re probably out for the rest of the day so enjoy your college football Saturday.

A solution searching for a problem?

U.S. communications regulators voted unanimously Thursday to support an open Internet rule that would prevent telecom network operators from barring or blocking content based on the revenue it generates.

The proposed rule now goes to the public for comment until Jan. 14, after which the Federal Communications Commissions will review the feedback and possibly seek more comment. A final rule is not expected until the spring of next year.

"I am pleased that there is broad agreement inside the commission that we should move forward with a healthy and transparent process on an open Internet," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said.

The vote came despite a flurry of lobbying against the net neutrality rule by telecommunications service providers like AT&T Inc (T.N), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and Qwest Communications International Inc (Q.N), which say it would strip them of the ability to manage their networks effectively and would stifle innovation and competition.

Rest of the article can be found here.

As we read through it, the recurring question became: why?

Why is this needed? Is there currently a problem with the internet that needs fixing? Yeah, it’s extremely slow sometimes but how is FCC involvement going to help with that? Like mobilizing the National Guard to fix roadside flat tires.

So to rephrase the original question, how exactly is it that FCC regulation will make the internet better?

Hey, what’s this?
The rule would prevent operators from discriminating against any legal content a third party wants to deliver to consumers on their networks, though it allows for "reasonable" network management to unclog congestion, clear viruses and spam, and block unlawful content like child pornography or the transfer of pirated content.

(italics, ours)

Why does the federal government feel it needs to get into the business of saying what can and cannot be permitted on the internet that is not otherwise covered by other laws such as child pornography laws?

“Discrimination” has become a dirty word but we “discriminate” every day of our lives from choices involving what we eat, to the music we choose to listen, to the car we choose to purchase, to the very jobs at which we work.

Why should not private entities be allowed to practice “discrimination” regarding internet content?

A little over a year ago, this little blog of ours was shut down for about 24 hrs. There were several other conservative-leaning blogs that experienced a similar fate and there was a rumor going around that lefty trolls were “flagging” these blogs for offensive content and that Google was acting on these flags without performing due diligence or worse, was complicit in getting right-wing blogs shut down in the run-up to the presidential election.

We were ambivalent about the situation. We were angered that we were shut down because a) the internet is the epitome of free and open communication at an individual level and b) it just seemed petty and mean-spirited. However, we knew we were blogging on Google’s dime. We had this cool little toy here completely free of charge and if Google, for whatever reason they saw fit, decided to give us the bum’s rush, then we believed they were completely in their right to do so.

This is the way it is and the way it should remain.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Radio KBwD is on the air

You know the band but perhaps not the song.

Ladies and Gentlemen, liberated from the juke box of the Torquoise Lounge of the Riviera Club, it's the Zombies performing, "Don't Go Away".

So this is what post-partisan hope and change looks like

Unbelievable. We wish. This is truly some banana republic bull-shit we are witnessing. We really could go for some "fairness" and "neutrality" about now.

If you told us six months ago something like this would happen, we’d have told you that you were nuts and would’ve asked to see your Birther I.D. card.

Yeah, the administration’s policies are definitely not to our liking but barring an entire news organization? Dude, that is just straight-up whack.

Here’s what we think is going on: Obama, the politician has never had his politics or his world view challenged in any serious way and certainly not opposed to in the way it has been recently. So with no prior experience in how to respond to this withering criticism, he’s lost – he doesn’t know how to respond.

Into this response decision vacuum steps Axelrod and Emanuel. They know how to respond. In fact, "know", is inaccurate because their response is completely reflexive in nature: Attack!

Attack, Attack, Attack! Attack 24/7. And when you are done attacking, attack some more! And when the opponent appears to be tiring or even vanquished, Attack! And when you have finally destroyed the opposition and there is nothing left of it but a smoldering, wimpering heap of crushed beliefs and ideology, you… Attack!

And even when your attack causes you to lose credibility with the masses and even an entity that carried you across the finish line on its collective shoulders, you…. Attack!

They don’t know anything else. What we are witnessing is the political personification of the scorpion and the frog.

The administration is losing its ass, losing credibility, getting pounded in the polls and generally looking like a spiteful central American junta and yet they keep plunging that stinger into the back of the frog.

We’ve never seen anything like it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The BBC can't help but (heart) hate

To the outrage of many Britons, a white-supremacist fringe party riding a wave of electoral success has been invited to participate in a BBC prime-time TV show on politics.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party government says it is appalled that the far-right British National Party will get such high-profile exposure to millions of viewers. The BBC, however, says as a publicly funded broadcaster it must cover all political parties that have a national presence.

“It's not for the BBC to make decisions about what parties it does and doesn't like,” a BBC spokesman said yesterday on condition of anonymity, in line with company policy. “That, quite rightly, is a decision for the electorate.”

All you “net neutrality” and “fairness doctrine” types, chew on that while dreaming of your fair and balanced utopia.

A fringe party that most Britons find repulsive has found their way onto tax-payer funded British T.V. Because most of the other mainstream parties have been so scandalized over their own use and abuse of tax-payer money (does this sound familiar?), the Brits are now exposed to something they clearly don’t want. Too bad - all sides must be heard whether they like it or not.

Maybe, just maybe, we should leave well enough alone and let competing interests develop personalities, messages and formats that appeal to the broader public as the determining broadcast factor be it the radio, T.V. or the internet. Crazy, we know.

This current administration is playing its hand openly as to how they would like to see things operate with respect to the media.

That’s all fine and dandy when it’s your party in power, though, huh?

The irony in all this is that in the name of fairness, equal time, diversity or whatever you want to call it, political illegitimacy is being given a legitimate platform to broadcast their views.

Here, in America, they would simply be ignored, or more accurately, not heard as the decision as to who and what gets air time is left to the consumers.

Suspected racist wants you to know that TARP is going to hurt a lot more than you think

The TARP’s Special Inspector General issued a blistering report on Wednesday stating that the financial sector bailout will cost the tax-payers billions of dollars but that the government stands to lose much more than the money it’s pouring into companies and which further contributes to our growing suspicions that we will experience a double-dip recession which we wrote about previously, here.

Neil Barofsky, the TARP SIG, laid it out in essentially 3 points:

1. The hard cost of borrowing the money: We’ve been lucky in that the Treasuries we’ve sold to fund the $467 billion we’ve spent so far in this particular bailout have been at historically low interest rates. However, as our debt continues to grow, interest rates will rise in response as we need to sweeten the pot to get people to buy this debt. It sort of feeds on itself.

2. The cost of indulging bad behavior: Far from being merely psychological in nature, this continuing indulgence indicates we don’t seem to be learning the lessons of what got us here in the first place and appear very intent in repeating all the same mistakes. Double-dip recession.

3. Cost of political distrust: The lack of transparency in the TARP program, specifically with respect to how companies that have received TARP money are spending it causes the government to lose credibility with the public. And let’s not forget about those tax-payer funded bonuses TARP babies are getting. Barofsky believes this loss of credibility will harm the federal government’s ability to pass needed legislation in the future. It’s like, imagine if the current healthcare reform bill did not stink as bad as it does. What if it actually reformed something? Obviously, this public distrust thing cuts both ways.

The last two points are what has driven tens of thousands of people who have never protested or demonstrated a single day in their lives out to the streets. They may not know exactly or be able to precisely articulate every single detail and nuance of Bailout Nation. There is a well-grounded intuitive sense, however, that what is going on isn’t right.

Then again, Barofsky is probably just un-patriotic as well as racist.

So, what are we doing about all this? Absolutely nothing. In fact, we’re compounding the problem.

Again, “we” seem to lack the fortitude to face up to this mounting risk. Just this week, the CBO tabbed the current House version of health care reform at $900 billion. Remember, the President pledged that health care reform is to be deficit neutral so in order to fund it there will be cuts in medicare reimbursements to doctors and tax hikes.

The tax hike part of the equation is easy enough but what about effective pay cuts to the physicians? In order to get all those white lab-coated doctors back onboard, a $247 billion kickback to the doctors is making its way through Congress in a completely different bill… and with no professed way to pay for it.

Also, the President plans to buy off seniors to the tune of $14 billion worth of $250 “stimulus” checks to 57 million people… again, with no way to pay for it.

We hate to be pessimists, it’s not in our nature but the numbers quite simply do not add up. Any sort of rebound in the near or mid-term future looks like it will be thwarted by rising interest rates and tax hikes.

And because we do believe ourselves to be somewhat patriotic and somewhat not racist, we hope we are completely wrong.

P.S. More good news: housing prices are expected to drop 11% by next summer. The two big twins: housing and finance don’t appear to be getting any better. What are we missing?

Programming Note

Hey, we noticed we ahem, attracted two “followers” since we last checked. A big “howdy” to Galina and Ida_pai. Thanks for signing up and enjoying the ride with us.

We’re simultaneously stoked and humbled that people would actually sign up to read what we have to say. We can only hope we are worthy of the continued attention and support.

Maybe if we get a couple more, the congregation could be called “the Dirty Dozen”. And trust us, we will!

Just cracking into double-digit territory reminds us of that scene from “This is Spinal Tap” where Rob Reiner’s character asks the band about its declining popularity and smaller crowds. Without much wiggling at all, the band claimed that their fan base had simply become more “selective”.

So, we salute you “selective” ones. Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quote of the day (UPDATED)

“Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes are geniuses: They found a niche market — half of America.”

- Charles Krauthammer

Over at frequent commenter Harrison’s blog Just Politics? he has side by side debate going with Joseph of Let’s Talk Politics regarding Fox News and which can be found here.

As the White House continues its absurd, counter-productive and disappointing war of words with Fox News, we’ve seen the phrase “truth/reality has a liberal bias” suddenly blast upon the scene hoisted aloft by defenders of Big Media who appear offended that a singular network among dozens and dozens of major news outlets could so deviously formulate a format that results in ratings that are kicking everyone else’s ass.

Wasn’t it the liberal-Left that leveled the charge of “moral certainty” at President Bush and counted it as perhaps his biggest sin? Isn’t viewing the world in an entirely black and white manner one of the major faults of conservatism and that it isn’t sufficiently nuanced?

How then is this term “truth has a liberal bias” really any different than the shortcomings liberals see in Bush and conservatives?

And back to the White House vs. Fox… wouldn’t you think that the rest of Big Media would be the slightest bit embarrassed by the implication that they are BFF with the Obama administration simply because they aren’t Fox News and the administration isn’t including anyone else in their ranks in which to whine about?

H/T: NRO's The Corner

(UPDATE #1):

What we're facing now is a drive for a real one party press, not through free expression but through open intimidation by the top officials of our government... I cannot help but wonder what the substantive difference is between the administration's position and that in practice in the Soviet Union.

Who said it? Rush? Hannity? Beck? Nope, nada and nyet (although, the present-tense to which the Soviet Union is referred kind of gives it away as a dated quote).

The above is a quote from Norman Isaacs who was the president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and it was in response to what they felt was President Nixon’s and vice-President Spiro “nattering nabobs of negativity” T. Agnew’s attempt to chill free speech in the press back in the early 70s.

How we stopped worrying and learned to love the unions

... well, for now at least.

How it is that the manufacturing sector unions in the U.S. might derail the economically ruinous climate change deal in Copenhagen?

Secular Apostate has the details here.

Federalism for thee but not for ye

The White House has decided it will not waste federal resources in prosecuting medical marijuana users and suppliers but signed into law a ban on flavored cigarettes and of course deems it necessary for the federal government to get involved in your personal health care decisions.

B-Daddy asks: how the hell does all that make any sense?


Hey, do you remember when we were told that if we voted for McCain it would mean more politicizing of the Justice Department? Well, they were right.

The Holder Justice Department strikes again:

Voters in this small city decided overwhelmingly last year to do away with the party affiliation of candidates in local elections, but the Obama administration recently overruled the electorate and decided that equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without the Democratic Party.

The Justice Department's ruling, which affects races for City Council and mayor, went so far as to say partisan elections are needed so that black voters can elect their "candidates of choice" - identified by the department as those who are Democrats and almost exclusively black.

The department ruled that white voters in Kinston will vote for blacks only if they are Democrats and that therefore the city cannot get rid of party affiliations for local elections because that would violate black voters' right to elect the candidates they want.

Several federal and local politicians would like the city to challenge the decision in court. They say voter apathy is the largest barrier to black voters' election of candidates they prefer and that the Justice Department has gone too far in trying to influence election results here.

Kinston is under the jurisdiction of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and as such, any changes to their voting laws must be approved by the Justice Department. Nevertheless, how does one begin to justify the reasoning that blacks won’t be able to vote for their candidate of choice unless they know whether or not they are a Democrat?

And how can the Justice Department make a ruling that is so blatantly partisan?

What this reveals, plain and simple, is the soft bigotry of low expectations for the blacks of this town held by Holder’s Justice Department. You can bet your bottom dollar that is what you would hear, and rightly so, if the Bush administration had ruled in a similar fashion.

Programming Alert

Feeling like crap. Hence, the frequency and quality of posting will reflect that for a day or two so please bear with us.

Hey, saw this rolling down Harbor Dr. yesterday.

No idea what it was but it successfully negotiated a left-hand turn at 28th street on its way to...?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quote of the day

"Bullying us to step up the pace won't help," said Greg Miller, head of a new team created to speed up the bureau's permitting of renewable energy projects. "We're going to do this right; this land belongs to the American people."

Well, well, well. It’s Green vs. Green as energy companies hoping to become flush with porkulus bucks are lining up to install solar farms in the desert lands of Imperial County east of San Diego but are being held up by bureaucratic red tape and … lawsuits by environmental groups on behalf of lizards, tortoises, big horn sheep and anything else crawling around out there.

Years ago, we were working for a mom’n’pop tug outfit down in the south bay. Via arcane salvage rights laws, the owner of this company owned many of the derelict vessels that used to set in the south end of San Diego Bay. One day, while going through the mail, we opened a letter from the Army Corps of Engineers that was basically an order to remove all the derelicts as the Corps was going to dredge that portion of the Bay.

The owner started making all the necessary arrangements to clear out the derelicts but before he could, we received a letter from the federal EPA that was a cease and desist order as they had ruled that these abandoned vessels were a water fowl habitat and not to be disturbed.

The owner took the letters from the Corps and the EPA and faxed them respectively to one another. He then kicked his feet up on the desk and said, “Well, I think my work here is done for the day”. For the remainder of our employment (6 months), we did not hear anything further from the two groups.

The Corps must’ve ultimately won out because the derelict vessels were removed several years ago.

P.S. Yes, we know - the windmill isn't a solar panel nor is it a big horn sheep. It was just a cool picture we pulled from the not-ready-for-prime-time alternative energies archive

Some red meat for ya on a Tuesday

So what does world-wide adulation and praise get the President? Only comparisons to a communist tyrant that killed tens of millions of his own countrymen. Hey, this isn’t a tea party thing – this cotton is from the source.

(if embed no worky, please click here)

KT has a reading recommendation for Obama's communication director, Anita Dunn.

This first authoritative expose of the 1958-1962 famine prompted by China's collectivization plan, "The Great Leap Forward," comes at a time when the cult of Mao is alive and well inside China, and while agents of Chinese influence are able to arrange audiences with a President. Via his painstaking research and reporting that included two treks through interior Chinese provinces, Becker tells how the famine occurred because ill-trained peasants were forced to undertake a gigantic and centralized industrial and agricultural expansion. The new factories, canals, and irrigation systems failed spectacularly, and in contrast to propaganda boasts of having economically outstripped the U.S., when in reality the populace was driven by starvation to cannibalism, slavery, and madness.

And what's this? Another Mao-o-phile in the White House? Gateway Pundit has more, here.

Few things puzzle us more than supposedly educated people holding murderous thugs like Mao and Che and their ideology in any regard whatsoever.

Hollywood being given (another) golden opportunity to expose themselves as horses' asses. (UPDATED)

(please scroll to bottom for update)

President Barack Obama is enlisting Hollywood celebrities including actress Rosario Dawson and musician Will.I.Am to draw attention to his health care overhaul agenda.

The performers will act as celebrity judges for a TV commercial contest set up by Organizing for America, the Obama political organization that's part of the Democratic National Committee.

Organizing for America last month invited supporters to create and submit 30-second ads in support of remaking health care. The winning one will be aired nationally.

After soaking all these $250 K plussers it’s the least they could do but it also gives us an opportunity to re-air what is quickly becoming one of our favorite videos of all-time: The one the started it all… the veritable “Birth of a Nation” celebrity endorsement video and the one that is so sublime in its craptastic-ness, we cannot avert our eyes once it gets rolling.

Is it the childish and imbecilic idolatry? Is it the pompous self-importance that suggests any one of these tools actually thinks we care what they say? Maybe it’s the creepy prostration before The One? Or is it the supremely self-serving nature of the pledges… like they couldn’t be bothered with charity and good deeds before Obama was in office? You know what? It’s all of the above and suggests what we're in store for with the Obamacare Idol winner. Enjoy.

(UPDATE #1): We believe we have a front-runner. Please check it out, here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cheezburger of the day

This season, the NFL has wisely decided to honor the 50 year anniversary of its one-time rival league, the AFL (American Football League) but have unwisely decided to feature some of the uniforms of days gone by on teams that had their roots in the AFL.

We believe the candy-striped leggings above belong to the Denver Broncos.

Great moments in the history of statism Pt. III

Recessions make people do the wackiest thing. Over here, when recessions strike we chuck the free-market, limited government model and go Keynesian. Recall President Bush last December saying that he had “abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system”?

So what happens in workers’ paradises like Cuba when the jaws of the recession are crushing the economy? They start channeling Milton Friedman. Who knew?

As the Cuban government struggles through a deep recession, its leaders have begun picking away at socialism in order to save it. But experts say the latest buzz by the Cuban government is simply another desperate fix to stem the slide of a failed economy that buckled long ago.

Even one of Havana's leading economists recently said Cuba's economy needed to be turned upside down -- "feet up." So taxi drivers got private licenses, farmers now have their own plots of land and government workers have to pack their own lunches.

"I think what they are trying to do is prepare the people for a hard landing," said Cuba expert Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado of the University of Nebraska. "The government is really saying in so many words: We've got limited resources and can only do so much. I think they are stuck."

Imagine a politician over here saying that, as in, “we don’t have any money, you’re on your own”? It certainly has a nice ring to it but our elected leaders are notoriously bad at carrying that tune when the bad times hit.

In the 18 months since he took office, Castro restructured the nation's agricultural system to give idle land to farmers, hoping they would revive a deeply troubled state-run agricultural industry plagued by inefficiency. He also allowed taxi drivers to have private licenses; many were working illegally anyway.

The sad part is that no one will learn the lesson. When Cuba’s economy does rebound, these market-based reforms which will work, will be scrapped and Cuba will re-institute the full slate of economy-stagnating statism so as to not run afoul of The Revolution.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hubris Pt. IV

Pigs still can't fly, but this winter, the mayor of Moscow promises to keep it from snowing. For just a few million dollars, the mayor's office will hire the Russian Air Force to spray a fine chemical mist over the clouds before they reach the capital, forcing them to dump their snow outside the city. Authorities say this will be a boon for Moscow, which is typically covered with a blanket of snow from November to March. Road crews won't need to constantly clear the streets, and traffic - and quality of life - will undoubtedly improve.

The idea came from Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who is no stranger to playing God. In 2002, he spearheaded a project to reverse the flow of the vast River Ob through Siberia to help irrigate the country's parched Central Asian neighbors. Although that idea hasn't exactly turned out as planned - scientists have said it's not feasible - this time, Luzhkov says, there's no way he can fail.

Problem is, this tin foil hat brigade stuff gets some play over here and in particular within the administration.

You see the darndest things

Where you going to find Truthers, gay rights protesters, anti-war protesters, ass-bearing liberals and tea partiers all in the same place at the same time? In San Francisco (where else?) for a Presidential fund-raiser yesterday.

And down here in San Diego, a far more tame affair as the congregation gathered for an Eco-Tyranny Tea Party down at the Star of India and which had a special guest, Tina Fey. For reals.

Temple of Mut and The City Square cover both events here and here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

College football Saturday open thread

Our good friend “Jerry” is in Dallas for work and will be trying to get into the Oklahoma-Texas game aka The Red River Rivalry.

Other good games abound:

Trojans on the road against fortunate-to-be 4-1 Notre Dame.

And later on this evening, #4 Virginia Tech will be in Atlanta taking on #18 Georgia Tech and #2 Alabama will be hosting #22 South Carolina.

We may check in later but if not enjoy the rest of your college football Saturday.

BwD proposes budget savings through the elimination of California's Energy Commission

Every one is looking for ways to save California from itself and we think the best place to start is the state’s own Energy Commission.

We don’t know the entire scope of their regulatory powers but based upon their recent move to ban the sale of “energy-hungry big-screen televisions”, we believe it's indicative of their overall behavior and as such it's time for them to go.

Though valid, putting aside the “un-accountable busy-body bureaucrat” argument for a moment, the reason why this commission is useless is because this ban on energy-hungry T.V.s is totally unnecessary.

In the open and competitive market of big screens, the competition is driving technology that results in more efficient devices, so much so that the television industry will not have any problems meeting the commission’s phased-in restrictions.

"We're comfortable with our ability to meet the proposed levels and implementation dates," said Kenneth R. Lowe, Vizio's co-founder and vice president.

"Voluntary efforts are succeeding without regulations," said Doug Johnson, the association's senior director for technology policy. Too much government interference could hamstring industry innovation and prove expensive to manufacturers and consumers, he warned.

(full disclosure: we own a Vizio product. Mr. Lowe deserves a raise)

However, because the free market is to the commission as Sanskrit is to us, it results in the following:

"We would not propose TV efficiency standards if we thought there was any evidence in the record that they will hurt the economy," said Commissioner Julia Levin, who has been in charge of the two-year rule-making procedure. "This will actually save consumers money and help the California economy grow and create new clean, sustainable jobs."

Tightening efficiency ratings by using new technology and materials should result in "zero increase in cost to consumers," said Harinder Singh, an Energy Commission staffer on the TV regulation project.

Julia, Harinder… then why are you implementing the restrictions? The desired result of your eco-crusading is already happening. You may feel really good about what you are doing but in reality you’re not bringing anything to the party.

When we made our LCD purchase 3 months ago, we did so at the local big box store and we were inundated with choices from different manufacturers all touting their energy efficiency with the data to back it up. Why this rush to energy efficiency? Well, it may be the right thing to do but beyond that, energy efficiency costs the consumer less and thus makes one competitive in the market place.

It's time to put down the California Energy Commission because (paraphrasing an oft-heard quote) energy efficiency happens.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Radio KBwD is on the air

We missed our installment last week so we’ll try to make up for it with a two-fer today. No real significance to these clips just some great music from north of the border.

Ladies and gentlemen, from Canada and the distant past it’s Neil Young performing what may possibly be the most massive hook ever devised in folk-rock, “Long may you run”.

And Neil on the set of SNL back in ’89 performing “No More” from his Freedom album (wow, can it really be 20 yrs. on?)

Stick around for the send off. Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller, Nora Dunn, John Lovitz, Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon... definetely one of the up-cycles for Saturday Night Live.

(Post of this video contains a warning that it be used only for historical or research purposes.... so get out there and make some history today!)


L.A. Times: Hey, that fine on the uninsured in the Baucus bill? Yeah, it’s way too low.

But remember, they’re doing it in the name of “inclusiveness”.

Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.

Among the 778 such projects, known as earmarks, packed into the bill: $25 million for a new World War II museum at the University of New Orleans and $20 million to launch an educational institute named after the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

Allah Pundit correctly notes that the age-old budget dilemma of “guns vs. butter” has been re-racked to “guns vs. pork”.

Remember a few years back when Democrats were in full throat over the fact that Humvees in Iraq were not properly "armored-up"? Remember that? Just checking.
Foot in mouth award. Harry Reid on the savings that would result from tort reform: Pffft…. What’s $54 billion when you are talking a $2 trillion price tag for health care.

Harry, Rahm Emanuel is on line 2.
And finally, how about a ballot initiative that would prohibit union member money from being automatically placed into the accounts of union fat cats for political purposes? This would certainly put a dent in the unholy alliance between the public employee unions and Sacto power-brokers. Sounds entirely reasonable and plausible to us except for the fact that this is California so it probably doesn't stand a chance in hell but we can all dream, can't we? Temple of Mut has the goods, here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Like fish in a barrel.

Separately, the White House Thursday released a report estimating that 30,000 jobs have been directly created or saved by contractors who received money from the $787 billion stimulus package for infrastructure and social programs. Those companies had been awarded about $16 billion, of which they had spent $2 billion, by the beginning of this month, according to the report by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which oversees how the stimulus plan is carried out.

The Obama administration has labored to explain how the job numbers reported by contractors square with a projection from the Council of Economic Advisers that the overall package kept one million jobs in the economy in August that would otherwise have been lost.

(italics, ours)

labored... get it?

But 33,000 jobs? After all the hoopla and the sweeping rhetoric about how stimulus was going to be a "jolt to the economy" and all we have to show for it is 33,000 stinking jobs? Good grief. We predicted porkulus would be a flop but never in our wildest imagination did we expect it to be such the abject failure of monumental proportions that the numbers are revealing.

We suppose the good news is that we have only allotted $16 billion and have actually only blown through $2 bil of the $787 billion in porkulus. We can still pull the plug on this thing.

Anecdotal but certainly backed up now by the numbers: The picture above is representative of what we saw throughout Colorado on our roadie last month and what did these signs have to show for it?

C'mon BwD, you're just cherry-picking photos of workers just standing around?

We would be guilty of cherry-picking photos if there were some more actual workers out on the road. Nearly 150 miles of SR 470 and I-70 were littered with Warning: porkulus ahead signs and a grand total of 2 work crews (including the one pictured) were witnessed.

Not so random thought of the day

Precisely what is it about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, all of which are broke or are about to go broke that would suggest to anyone that Obamacare will not be in the same condition eventually?

Seriously. What?

But is that all included?

Just consider this our contribution to the housing crisis here north of the border.

It's the freedom, stupid. (UPDATED)

Regarding Honduras:

U.S. policy is mystifying since the ousted president’s removal from office was a rare example in Latin America of an institutional defense of democracy as envisioned by the constitution and interpreted by the Supreme Court that ruled that the president be removed.

Precisely. Isn’t a functioning democracy and one that is not a third-world socialist strong-man state what we want for our central American neighbors… hell, for everybody? Yet, we do everything in our power to subvert the sovereign decisions of a nation that acted in a constitutional manner setting a horrible precedent for all the other nations of that region striving for the free state of democracy.

Apparently, there is a legal analysis at the State Department prepared by their top lawyer that the State Department is unwilling to make public. Why? As it could possibly be another source of embarrassment for the administration’s handling of this affair? Stay tuned.

(UPDATE #1):

Oh crap

UN experts concluded that there was no coup in Honduras.

The study of the crisis in Honduras coincided with that conducted by the Library of Congress *** The study of the political crisis in Honduras was endorsed with official information received by the UN experts in the country visit last week coincided with the foreign ministers of the OAS. Washington, USA. A study by the Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations Organization (UNO) on the causes of the crisis in Honduras, concluded that the removal of President Manuel Zelaya, "was constitutional under the laws of the country," confirmed officials of that agency.

Did we have this whole Honduras thing wrong? Honestly. One begins to question oneself when the U.N. comes to the same conclusion.

Or does this just point to how monumentally the administration has botched this thing when even the Star Wars cantina scene can figure it out?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Coach!

“A true saint of circumstance and an intergalactic hero”

- Bill Walton (pictured above with Coach Wooden) on ESPN Radio this morning

The greatest basketball coach of all-time and living legend John Wooden turns 99 today.

From the article, our favorites of the 99 fun facts about Wooden:

3. As a boy, one of his role models was Fuzzy Vandivier of the Franklin Wonder Five, a basketball team that dominated Indiana high school basketball from 1919 to 1922.

As Pops can attest, they just don’t make names like that anymore.

22. In 1947, Wooden's basketball team won the Indiana Collegiate Conference title and received an invitation to the NAIB tournament in Kansas City. Wooden refused the invitation, citing the NAIB's policy banning African American players. A member of the Sycamores' team was Clarence Walker, an African American from East Chicago, Ind.

30. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories, later joined by Bill Sharman and Lenny Wilkens.

43. Inclement weather in Minnesota prevented Wooden from receiving the scheduled phone offer from the Golden Gophers. Thinking they had lost interest, Wooden accepted UCLA's offer instead.

44. Minnesota contacted Wooden right after he accepted the position at UCLA, but he declined because he had given his word to the Bruins.
48. He won five titles without Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton.

51. Another quote from Wooden: "Talent is God given; be humble. Fame is man given; be thankful. Conceit is self given; be careful."

79. Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" has become an organizational and inspirational tool for coaches everywhere.

80. The foundation for Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" is Industriousness, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation and Enthusiasm.

81. The peak of the Pyramid is Competitive Greatness.

99. One more quote from Wooden: "Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you."

… and a special BwD bonus 100: Streets in our hometown of Placentia, CA are named after both Nell (his late wife) and John Wooden.

Cool picture, questionable post

Reading this article out of Reuters, one cannot escape the near-inevitable conclusion that we are heading towards a double-dip recession with a second housing collapse leading the way.

We wrote last week regarding the back-slapping going on over at the Treasury Department because they were ahead of schedule in getting 500,000 people signed up for a TARP-funded loan modification program.

The plan has been plagued by red-tape delays and, some would say, a reluctance for banks to do their part so much so that only 17 percent of eligible borrowers have had the their loans modified. And trust us, that’s actually good news.

Instead of propping-up the housing market, the numbers suggest that this loan modification program is merely delaying the inevitable.

From the market's peak in 2005 to the second quarter of 2009, U.S. home equity fell 37 percent, or by $4.7 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. To put that into context, China's economic output totaled about $4.3 trillion in 2008.

There have been recent signs the housing market may be bottoming. But rising unemployment and "shadow inventory" -- homes that banks have yet to foreclose on -- raise the prospect of further price declines.

But here’s what really worries us:
Another problem is the number of borrowers who re-default on their modified loans. The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency says 56.2 percent of loans modified in the second quarter of 2008 re-defaulted after 12 months.

According to Amherst Securities, an even higher 70 percent of homeowners re-default within 12 months of a modification -- but it stresses its data does not include HAMP modifications.

So, it’s safe to say that government bail-out or no, well over half of distressed borrowers re-default within 12 months of a loan modification. That isn’t necessarily what we would call a “green shoot”.

There is a cultural aspect to this as well. We can rail all we want against the government, the greedy banks and unscrupulous real estate agents but it appears that we as individual citizens have totally lost our bearings in exercising any sort of personal/family fiscal discipline.

Mark Seifert, head of nonprofit agency Empowering and Strengthening Ohio's People said his group's re-default rate is around 30 percent because counselors help homeowners cut their budgets to keep their homes. This may involve not eating out and cutting all non-essential items.

Non-essential items like that new car you bought through that other un-godly government prop-up program and that totally sweet $4500 rebate you got for your perfectly functioning “clunker”.

And not to pick on any one person but check out this guy:

For homeowners like Jeff Latta, there was no help at all.

Latta, a 53 year-old retiree, pays $1,600 in monthly home payments that eat up 93 percent of his pension and he struggles to make child support payments.

To help pay his mortgage, Latta has slashed his bills by hunting for food in the wooded hills around his town of Albany in southern Ohio, and growing his own vegetables. He has resorted to selling pumpkins and firewood to make cash.

In March, Latta heard about Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, that allows mortgage payments to be reduced to 31 percent of a homeowner's income.
The plan was launched as a central plank of Washington's efforts to stem foreclosures.

Latta applied for a loan modification but was rejected. His bank said his income from selling pumpkins and firewood -- a net of $906 in 2008 -- was too high.

"Frankly, I'm disappointed," Latta said. "I thought I would qualify as I am at high risk of default."

Foreclosure prevention advocate Bryce Burton at Ohio Housing Finance Agency said Latta's bank miscalculated his income. "Jeff is a shining example of someone doing everything they should be to keep their house," Burton said.

Does anyone else see a problem here? We hate to rain on Mr. Latta’s golden years but did he seriously think that he was going to get by on $1700/month free and clear when he was considering retirement… at 53?

And a shining example of someone doing everything they should? Well, doing everything he should except perhaps finding a job which the article never bothers to consider.

But we’re such kill-joys for suggesting the same for a person who decided to put it on auto-pilot a full quarter century prior to his life expectancy expiration date. As far as the obligatory sob story, Rueters could’ve done a tad better.

We hate to be pessimists, it’s not in our nature but the numbers and anecdotal evidence doesn’t look good. Combine that with the fact that our gold-plated road-paving government is aiding and abetting this reckless behavior leads us to believe we are not getting out of this mess anytime soon.

Quote of the Day

If you are at the table but still on the menu... you must be dining with cannibals.

B-Daddy puts a twist on one of our favorite political phrases and wonders just what the hell Insurers, Doctors and Hospitals were thinking when they climbed in bed with the Democrats on healthcare. Read it here.

Photo image of the day

We were at Neighborhood last Monday night with a mate from Seminary and we were watching Brett Favre play just an incredibly masterful game against his old team the Green Bay Packers and for a brief moment… for one fleeting moment that passed before us at a blink of an eye we almost forgot what an insufferable diva the guy is.

Don’t know who the clever Viking fan is but Deanna Favre seems to approve.

For those of you out of the NFL geek loop, “Ted” would be Ted Thompson, the general manager of the Packers of whom Brett Favre has said repeatedly he holds nothing against and how playing for the Packers was not about revenge and how….. yeah, right.

H/T: Deadspin

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hey, maybe we were there for the oil, after all.

Well, some people at least. Democratic fund-raiser, activist and frequent Bush critic, Peter W. Galbraith has some ‘splaining to do regarding his ties to Kurdish oil interests.

H/T: NRO's The Corner

Spotting Ayn Rand in the produce section

Took us a little while to get to it but we wanted to share some thoughts on the Whole Foods Buy-cott on Saturday. (Roundup of the event can also be found at Temple of Mut, W.C. Varones Blog and The Liberator Today)

A good time was had by all as the right-wing mob descended upon the Whole Foods in La Jolla to bond, shop, eat and make a general nuisance of ourselves. Ostensibly, the buy-cott was to show support for the libertarian CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey. Show support for a fat cat? You bet, because this fat cat has had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the established status quo of healthcare reform and aggressively argue for free market reforms of healthcare much to the chagrin of many of his urban liberal patrons who have attempted to organize boycotts of his chain (incidentally, there were a handful of boycotters outside and from the looks of things inside their efforts were failing… miserably).

Anyway, one of the most interesting things of the day was the text of a speech Mackey gave at FreedomFest in Las Vegas a few years back and which was circulating around the assembled congregation of mob-goers. It’s a fascinating read and can be found here. It is an unvarnished critique of what he describes as the “freedom movement”. He doesn’t take time to define what this movement is but in reading his speech we take it to mean a coalition of libertarian and small-government Conservatives plus anyone else opposed to statism and general collectivist government policies, so we can assume we are squarely in Mackey’s self-described camp.

One of his criticisms of the freedom movement is that he believes it to be overly-provocative and he goes all the way back to Ayn Rand’s seminal Atlas Shrugged for deliberately conflating selfishness and self-interest and fast forwards to the 80s movie Wall Street and Gordon Gekko’s famous line, “Greed is Good”. He believes the freedom movement has allowed themselves to be painted into a corner as evil corporatists because of Rand’s original sin which was manifested in popular culture by Oliver Stone’s movie 30 years later.

We have used Gekko’s term on several occasions on these pages, with relish. When we have used it, we hope that we have left a clear signal that our tongue is somewhat in cheek because our use of the term is more a reaction to the general disdain the liberal-Left has for anything worthwhile resulting from the “profit motive” rather than an actual belief in the “virtue of selfishness” that Rand believed. We understand Mackey’s point though we aren’t dropping usage of the phrase solely because it’s so fun to say and it just totally cheeses-off the right people.

Here’s Mackey’s paragraph on profits, greed and the nature of businesses:

I believe that business has a much greater purpose. Business, working through free markets, is possibly the greatest force for good on the planet today. When executed well, business increases prosperity, ends poverty, improves the quality of life, and promotes the health and longevity of the world population at an unprecedented rate. This audience understands these truths, but how many people in our greater society comprehend it? The freedom movement has also poorly defended the social legitimacy of both business and free markets. A new paradigm for business and the free market is necessary — one that accepts the importance of profits, of course, but also one that recognizes that business has legitimate social responsibilities that go far beyond merely maximizing profits.

We’re running a little long so we’ll break things off here at the most awkward of points but we encourage you to read the entirety of Mackey’s piece. Later in the speech he talks about the fights that the freedom movement has mistakenly picked and how they have been hurt by it. We may have some thoughts on that at a later time.