Month: October 2008

Well, Natalie’s Back

She, along with most of the rest of her class at Franklin Middle School, went on a class trip to a camp at North Bay on Monday, a camp located at the very north of the Chesapeake bay, and she came home today.

It was a science field trip, she studied the econolgy, turtles, stuff like that.

It seems to have calmed her down a bit…for a while at least.

Mithras is Dead Wrong

The proprietor of Tales of the Reconstruction is making fun of Sarah Palin, after she says something so stupid that you hope someone cuts her meat for her.

I’m cool with that, but then s/he says this, “She’s George W. Bush without the intellect. God, I hope this woman is a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination in four years.

No….What’s more, F$#@ no. I have occasinally quoted what my my father said in 1968, which was something like, “Those stupid bastards, they’ve nominated Nixon, there is no way that we can lose now.”

Never, EVER wish a bad candidate on the public. They might just win.

On the other hand, you should clikc on the link and read the blog post. Sarah Palin is very, VERY, stupid, and it’s fun to laugh at her.

The USAF’s Broken Procurement Program, and Remedies for This

The USAF is looking to cut more than 250 fighters from its fleet, in order to make budget space for the increasingly expensive F-35.

The problem is that, once again, the aircraft are too damn expensive. More is the enemy of “good enough”.

In the meantime,
David Axe points to a book which proposes a solution, which suggests smaller and lighter aircraft, America’s Defense Meltdown.

They propose two aircraft:

  • A 9 ton class air-to-air fighter with a 16 ton class engine with a, “cutting edge, all-passive with 360-degree infrared and radar warning gear” that is supposed to be cheaper than an F-16.

I do not find this one particularly realistic. Whenever you insert the phrase “cutting edge” in a phrase, you never get low cost.

The other one is more interesting:

  • A higher performance aircraft to replace the A-10.

Given that the rate of fire of the A-10 of the GAU-8 cannon has been reduced by about 1/2, because the accuracy requires further rounds, simply by reducing the size and weight of the cannon, and the ammunition loadout, along with using a more modern engine with a higher thrust to weight ratio, you easily get to a thrust to weight ratio at combat weights that approaches unity. With advances in things like Aluminum alloys and ceramic armor, performance could be further improved.

The problem is that while the Army would love such an aircraft, the USAF hates it, and has been trying to kill the A-10 since sometime around 1981, and so is completely uninterested in developing a successor.

$6 Billion on Mercs…so Far

Nathan Hodge uncovers this little bit of chocalatey goodness from the most recent report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

And that’s just the stuff that the SIGIR found.

What’s more the report says that the numbers should go up as the troops pull out, because, “requirements for private security services for DoS [Department of State] and USAID would likely increase to compensate for support previously provided by the military.”

Lovely. The US needs to sign onto the anti-mercenary treaty, and shut down this entire industry.

For the record: Strippers don’t really like you either.

It’s he last line of the Nitpicker’s commentary on the Maeve Reston disgraceful article, which sounded like musings on the end of a marriage about the relationship between the press and John Sidney McCain III.

It was headlined, “McCain was frank, garrulous and accessible — and then he wasn’t,” and I’m not sure who should be fired for it, Ms. Reston, or her editor.

Here is a snippet:

But I had come to respect McCain’s frankness and his willingness to admit he didn’t always have an answer. Watching the question morph into an embarrassing “gotcha moment” for cable television, my stomach churned and my cheeks grew hot.

It reads like a an effort by a 13 year old girl to write in the vein of the really bad romance novels that she reads.

Nitpicker wrote a great essay on this, but the last line should have been the headline, so I’m doing it here. This bit at the end says it all:

It’s high time for reporters to realize candidates aren’t supposed to be their friends and, I would argue, being buddies with the people you cover would seem to me at least unprofessional, if not explicitly unethical. Obama seems to know this and I’d be willing to bet McCain knows it, too. I’m certain he’s not sitting around moaning about his lost friends in the press corps. I would even guess that it’s likely John McCain only tolerated having them so close and kissing their asses because it garnered him “swooningcoverage for a decade.

For the record: Strippers don’t really like you either.

(emphasis mine)

Everyone on the internet seems to be a better writer than I am.

They also seem much less bald.

I Don’t Think that the Pentagon Has Enough Bullets

More on Hank Paulson’s bailing out my peeps program:

The swindle of American taxpayers is proceeding more or less in broad daylight, as the unwitting voters are preoccupied with the national election. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson agreed to invest $125 billion in the nine largest banks, including $10 billion for Goldman Sachs, his old firm. But, if you look more closely at Paulson’s transaction, the taxpayers were taken for a ride–a very expensive ride. They paid $125 billion for bank stock that a private investor could purchase for $62.5 billion. That means half of the public’s money was a straight-out gift to Wall Street, for which taxpayers got nothing in return.

Just lovely.

Can we throw him in jail, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Blame the NGOs for the Dead

Well, right now, there is something very close to a full blown war in the Congo going on, and the proximate cause is the presence of Hutu militias, largely led by the same men who directed the Rwandan Genocide, which is the Causus Belli for Gen. Laurent Nkunda, and his militia.

This problem has two sources, the original Rwandan Genocide, and the actions of NGOs like Oxfam, the World Food Program, CARE, the International Rescue Committee, Caritas Internalis, etc.

They NGOs provided food and support to camps on an indefinite basis, even when it was clear that they were run internally as military bases, so long as no one wore a uniform or carried a gun when in line for food.

While it was understandable in the context of the immediate crisis, it is less so on a continuing basis, particularly when it was clear that the militias in the camp were preventing refugees from returning home.

In so doing they took the tragedy of the Rwandan Genocide, and multiplied it by many times, creating death and warfare across Zaire, later the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As callous as it sounds, if they had had a firm end date in the 6 month range after the refugee flow, everyone but the perpetrators of the Genocide would have benefited, but that’s not the organizational imperative of the NGOs.

It was short sighted, and destructive, just as was their signing off on supporting Serbian concentration camps in Kosovo before the NATO invasion, but without refugees, these organizations have no purpose.

Think about that the next time you are contacted for a donation.

AIG’s Finances Beginning to Raise Serious Questions

Independent analysts are smelling something fishy:

American International Group is rapidly running through $123 billion in emergency lending provided by the U.S. Federal Reserve, raising questions about how a company claiming to be solvent in September could have developed such a big hole by October. Some analysts say at least part of the shortfall must have been there all along, hidden by irregular accounting.

Do I have to quote Inspector Renault from Casablanca?

They’ve already blown through $90 billion of their $123 billion loan, and there simply are not enough posh retreats in the world to generate a burn rate that fast.

It’s less than reassuring that they still haven’t said where that money has gone.

There are stories of conflicts within the insurance giant, and people who gave warnings being shunted to the side.

Expect more of this from the Hank Paulson, “Bail out my Buddies” plan.

Economics Update

First news is a question, can we please admit that we are in a recession? Please?

The economy contracted at an 0.3% annual rate last quarter, with a a 6.4% rate decline on purchases of non-durable goods, and a 3.1% rate decline on consumer spending.

This is not just a “recession”. This is a big MoFo.

There are predictions of a rate approaching 5% in the 4th quarter.

In any case, credit remains tight, though there appears to be some loosening, see here and here.

We are also seeing the first growth in commercial paper since the collapse of Lehman.

However, we also just saw 30 year mortgage rates spiked by 40 basis points, even though the Fed cut rates.

This ain’t over, and the Japanese have released details on a ¥ 5 trillion stimulus package, and the Germans have done so with a €30 billion stimulus package.

Still, the sounds of an oncoming train continue to drive oil prices down.

The dollar and Yen are both lower too.

Benedict May Freeze Pius XII Cannonization

We have a report that Benedict implied in an informal chat with Rabbi David Rosen.

Seeing as how there is a lot of dispute about Pius XII and what he did, and did not do regarding the Holocaust, and the Vatican has refused to released records, this is a refreshing change.

That being said, this is probably more about John Paul II than it is about Pius XII.

It appears (from the Wiki) that somewhere around half of all saints ever made were made by JPII, and my guess is that Benedict is looking at shutting down the pipeline that was left him, because he finds it excessive.

NSA Ignores Congress, Classifies Wiretap Report

This is such a surprise:

When Congress passed a landmark electronic-spying bill last summer, the measure included a key provision that ordered the inspectors general of U.S. intelligence agencies to produce the first-ever public report on President Bush’s warrantless-surveillance program.

The report isn’t due until next July—long after Bush leaves office. But when the inspectors general recently submitted their first “interim” report to Congress under the measure, it wasn’t made public. Instead, the brief document, written by CIA inspector general John Helgerson, was marked classified—a move that has drawn a stiff protest from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes.


Since when do Bush and His Evil Minions ever feel the need to obey the law?

Seriously, Do Chriso-Fascists even Read the Bible?

The grand high priestess of snark, Wonkette, notes that a Christian group has called for prayer to repair the broken financial system.

While the obvious rejoinder would be something about chasing money lenders out of the temple, that’s not my holy book, but Christo-Fascist (she says it’s because of gay marriage) nutcase Cindy Jacobs has done me the favor of allowing me to go seriously Old Testament* on these folks:

For these and other reasons Cindy is calling for a Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies on Wednesday, October 29, 2008. They are calling for prayer for the stock markets, banks, and financial institutions of the world on the date the stock market crashed in 1929. They are meeting at the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve Bank, and its 12 principal branches around the US that day.

“We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems,” she said. “While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.”

(emphasis mine)

Umm…Folks, bull, as in adult male cow, as in it was once a CALF, and Bronze is a GOLD colored alloy…..Gold….Calf….does that ring a bell?

On a more amusing note, that photograph really does look like the one from The Ten Commandments

*Normally, I do not use the term, “Old Testament”, I use the term Tanakh, because “Old Testament” implies that there is a “New Testament” out there, which is somehow divinely connected, and I do not accept the divinity of the Christian bible. In this case, however, the phrase, “Going seriously Tanach on these folks,” loses something in the translation.

Quote of the Day

It’s been on the radio, and I found a link through “the google”:

“Lately, he’s called me a socialist for wanting to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans so we can finally give tax relief to the middle class. I don’t know what’s next. By the end of the week, he’ll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”