Month: January 2008

Natalie’s Audition at Sudbrook

My daughter, Natalie, is in 5th grade, and so will be going on to middle school next year.

She decided that she wanted to audition for a spot at the Sudbrook arts-magnet middle school. And today she auditioned.

I don’t know what happened, parents are not allowed in the auditions.

Natalie has a lovely voice, though she needs training to project her voice, and she is studying violin.

Democracy for Baltimore Meeting Tonight, 7:30pm

7:00 for meet, greet, and eat.

We are hoping to have a representative of the Donna Edwards Campaign
in the MD-4 Congressional district.

At the Cosi Cafe, 9177 Reisterstown Road, Owings Mills, MD 21117

Directions: Located in the Valley Village Plaza Strip Mall, On
the Corner of Reisterstown and McDonough (to the west) and Craddock
(to the east) Roads, diagonally across from the McDonough Road
Proifessional Center.

Free Wireless Internet Available
Closing Time: 9:00 pm.

View Larger Map

Anne Applebaum is Stupid

Really, really, really stupid.

This time, she is claiming that capitalism created beautiful young Russian women.

I went to school with Russian emigres. I’ve seen what they look like. It was good.

There was no change in appearance. It’s just that access to the west was restricted to the well off before the fall of the FSU, and the well off mean middle aged, at least.

Anne Applebaum knows Russia, and I don’t. Anne Applebaum has been to Russia, and I haven’t. But based on my reading of her work through the years, she does not “hang” with us ordinary plebes, she hangs with the movers and shakers.

Russian women, as the saying goes, “clean up good”.

20 Years ago, that did not mean YSL or Chanel’s “little black dress”. I don’t know what Russian fashion was, but it sucked by western standards, though according to my dad, it sucked a lot less in Leningrad than it did in Moscow, at least in 1973.

Of course, Ms. Applebaum is so intent on showing the virtues of the klepto-capitalism that is Russia, she reduces what a woman is to her market value for her appearance.

C-Block Bidding: We Have A Winner, Actually TWO Winners

And one is the American wireless user, because whoever won, and the FCC has not announced a winner yet, will pay $4,713,823,000, more than the $4,600,000,000 required by the FCC in order for open access rules to apply.

The FCC has not announced a winner, and the bidders themselves are technically still gagged, but my guess is that it was not Google. They were willing to bid to win, but they were more interested in getting the open access, and why spend $113,823,000 more than the minimum to get that.

Of course, considering my record on predictions…..

Clean Coal, Toxic Water

Note that I have just added the Washington Independent to my blogroll…It’s a good source for news and commentary.

Check out this article on the toxic waste of “clean coal”.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s own research, coal ash dumping can lead to higher rates of cancer, developmental problems in children and adverse effects in women of child-bearing age. Despite the fact that coal ash contains mercury, lead, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, selenium, beryllium, and other toxic metals, the EPA has yet to categorize coal ash as hazardous waste. In addition, coal ash has been found to be up to 100 times more radioactive than nuclear waste, due to the concentrations of uranium and thorium that increase 10-fold after coal is burned.

Broder Calls Out George F. Will By Name

One of the rules of OP/ED bloviating is that if you disagree with another contributor to the editorial page, you never mention them directly.

Calling them out by name is unheard of.

Well, David S. Broder, the sultan of intellect free conventional inside-the-beltway thinking, just broke that rule, and calls out the bow-tied one.

Unelected conservative ideologues — such as Rush Limbaugh and George F. Will— can mutter in frustration, but Republican politicians recognize what was written here as long ago as last Dec. 2: “If the Republican Party really wanted to hold on to the White House in 2009 . . . it would grit its teeth, swallow its doubts and nominate a ticket of John McCain for president and Mike Huckabee for vice president — and president-in-waiting.”

Matthew Yglesias makes much of this, but I disagree.

This is not a sudden abrogation of the rules. Instead it is a conflict between two rules:

  • The unwritten first rule of the op-ed page — you do not talk about other writers on the op-ed page
  • John McCain is a straight shooter, and a good guy, and we love him.

In critiquing John McCain, George Will simply joined the Ancient, Hermetic, and Occult Order of the Shrill, and you are supposed to call out the “shrill” ones by name.

New Rule: Our Troops, No Midieval Clerics Get the Power to Judge People

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has been sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Hi crime, he “he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed”, and “distributed the tract to fellow students and teachers at Balkh University.”

He was not allowed a lawyer. He was not allowed to speak.

We’ve turned the most secular government in the Arab world into an ethnically cleansed theocracy, and because of the resources we pulled from Afghanistan to do that, Afghanistan is heading back towards becoming…well…Afghanistan.

Heck of a job, Bushie.

Economics Update

First-time jobless claims skyrocket to 375 thousand. Last week was 306 thousand, so it’s about a 20% increase, and well over the consensus estimate of 320 thousand first time claims, though week to week data points are always noisy.

That being said, Consumer spending slowing in December, up only 0.2% from November is a lot less noisy, and at least as scary. First, 0.2% is a drop in real dollars, and second, this was December, the height of greed and excess season.

And in the “another day, another downgrade department”, S&P is looking at downgrading about $500 billion more in mortgage related securities.

We are not near the bottom.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Jim Cramer Trashes “Laissez Fair”

Yes, this is the Cramer of “Mad Money”, and yes, he is generally to the right of Atilla the Hun, he supported Alan Keyes in 2008, and at a speech at Bucknell University, he condemned laissez fair politics:

“Do not be fooled by the sirens of laissez faire,” he told a packed audience at Bucknell University’s Weis Center for the Performing Arts in the continuing national speakers series, “The Bucknell Forum: The Citizen & Politics in America.”

“Ever since the (President) Reagan era, our nation has been regressing and repealing years and years worth of safety net and equal economic justice in the name of discrediting and dismantling the federal government’s missions to help solve our nation’s collective domestic woes,” he said. “We call it deregulation … a covert attempt to eliminate the federal government’s domestic responsibilities.”

When Jim Cramer is forced to come to his senses, you know something is whack.

And Now Bush is Maintaining that He Can Ignore Congress on Spending

In the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008, Congress prohibited the use of federal funds to “to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq” or “to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.” it also,

….requires intelligence agencies to turn over “any existing intelligence assessment, report, estimate or legal opinion” requested by the leaders of the House and Senate armed services committees within 45 days. If the president wants to assert executive privilege to deny the request, the law says, White House counsel must do so in writing.

Finally, Bush’s signing statement raised constitutional questions about a section of the bill that established an independent, bipartisan “Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan” to investigate allegations of waste, mismanagement, and excessive force by contractors.

Bush’s response, “Nyah, nyah, nayh, I’m president“, in a signing statement.

A prohibition on spending by the congress is legally binding on a president, even it makes his job “hard work”.

This is why having impeachment on the table is a necessary thing:


Economics Update

The Fed cuts rates by 50 basis points.
The discount rate is now at or below the inflation rate, well below the inflation rate using real world inflation.

There are no longer any monetary tools to use that will work, it has to be fiscal (spending), because any lower, and the Fed is paying people to borrow money.

Still, it makes sense, as GDP growth in the 4th quarter was only at a .6% rate annual rate. When you consider the fact that inflation is (at least) 3%, this means that real GDP is falling at more than a 2% rate.

The dollar has fallen currently at $1.4761:€1.0000, and $1.0003:$1.0000 CDN, so the Canadian dollar is above unity again.

And the credit crunch is spreading all over the world, the Swiss bank UBS AG has reported its biggest loss ever, in US real-estate related issues.

We also have Morgan Stanley using some serious weasel words to not call its write downs a loss, when it, “reclassified $7 billion of funded assets and $279 million in unfunded assets from Level 2 to Level 3.”

Of course, the fact that the FBI has dropped some subpoenas on their asses isn’t good news eithr.

Lever 3 assets are ones in which buyers are not easy to find, and it’s rapidly getting to the point where the buyers are getting harder to find than straight Republicans.

It looks like the bond insurers will be downgraded below AAA, which in addition to closing off a lot of their business, and making it harder to raise capital, will likely force investment banks towrite down $70 billion more.

Iraq Forever

Remember Bush’s comments about troop cuts in Iraq?

He’s “recondidering troop cuts“.

To Bush and His Evil Minions, winning is staying in, whatever the consequences, because it makes them feel like they did not dodge the draft in the 1960s.

Four months after announcing troop reductions in Iraq, President Bush is now sending signals that the cuts may not continue past this summer, a development likely to infuriate Democrats and renew concerns among military planners about strains on the force.

Mr. Bush has made no decisions on troop reductions to follow those he announced last September. But White House officials said Mr. Bush had been taking the opportunity, as he did in Monday’s State of the Union address, to prepare Americans for the possibility that, when he leaves office a year from now, the military presence in Iraq will be just as large as it was a year ago, or even slightly larger.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mr. Bush wanted to tamp down criticism that a large, sustained presence in Iraq would harm the overall health of the military — a view held not only by Democrats, but by some members of his own Joint Chiefs of Staff.