Month: June 2010

Angela Merkel is Lucky That

The bar for worst German leader ever is so high.

In the latest episode of this show, Ms. Merkel screwed the pooch on a political beauty pageant:

Chancellor Angela Merkel licked her wounds Thursday after rebels in her coalition turned a straightforward presidential election into a humiliating debacle that made her look weaker than ever.

In theory, Merkel’s coalition had more than enough votes in an assembly of lawmakers and public figures to secure comfortably on Wednesday an election of the conservative Christian Wulff to the largely ceremonial job of head of state.

She may have a future as a reverse barometer in her next job.

Economic Datapoint of the Day

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Iceland’s falling GDP

Iceland’s low unemployment

Matthew Yglesias, as an afterthought in a post highlighting one of the truly trippiest campaign videos ever, notes that despite Iceland’s plummeting GDP, unemployment remains relatively mild compared to the other European* red-headed step children.

The difference is, of course, the fact that Iceland is not a part of the Euro zone, and as such is not locked into a monetary union with the Germans who continue to pursue an export driven beggar-thy-neighbor policy with a zeal that approaches that of the Chinese.

The real question about the Euro has always been whether it would survive bad times, but perhaps the question should be whether or not the Euro made sense in the 1st place.

*Yes, I know, Iceland is an island, and not a part of Europe proper, but the same could be said for Cyprus, and Iceland is even more tightly tied to western Europe.

Congressional Dems Opt for No Guts And No Glory

Congressional Democrats have just caved to Republicans on a tax to make banks pay for their next bailout:

Democrats on Tuesday planned to strip out a controversial tax from their landmark financial reform bill in order to win the swing votes needed to pass it through Congress.

With crucial Republican moderates threatening to withdraw their support, Democrats were weighing alternative ways to fund the most sweeping rewrite of the Wall Street rulebook since the 1930s.

Though a supposedly final version of the bill had been hammered out last week, Democrats in charge of the process called a fresh negotiating session, which got under way shortly after 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

Democratic lawmakers and aides said they planned to remove a $17.9 billion tax on large financial institutions. Instead, they would cover most of the bill’s costs by shutting down a $700 billion bank-bailout program.

Except, of course, that the next time that a big bank needs a bailout, they would get one.

Why Dems aren’t using ‘Phants coziness with the banks as a club with which to hit them is beyond me, except, of course, for the fact that President Hopey-Changey wants to have something on his desk soon, even if it sucks wet farts from dead pigeons.

Once again, keep Obama away from toilet paper, because he will sign anything.

Economics Update

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This may be the harbinger of an economic recovery

This is not a boating accident real estate recovery!

The The Chicago Fed National Activity Index [CFNAI] has risen to its highest level since March 2006 (see top pic) indicating that there might be some sort of recovery going on.

This is further reinforced by the fact that personal income, spending and savings all rose in May.

Of course on the other side the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence index fell nearly 10 points between May and June, and first time home-buyer traffic has fallen off a cliff, indicating that the recent bump in home sales was, as the experts* noted, was merely a sale-price time shift, not a real recovery.

*And loudmouth blowhards like yours truly.

Unsurprising News of the Day

4 out of 9 Supreme Court justices believe that there is a constitutional right to discrimination:

An ideologically split Supreme Court ruled Monday that a law school can legally deny recognition to a Christian student group that won’t let gays join, with one justice saying that the First Amendment does not require a public university to validate or support the group’s ”discriminatory practices.”

The court turned away an appeal from the Christian Legal Society, which sued to get funding and recognition from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. The CLS requires that voting members sign a statement of faith and regards ”unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle” as being inconsistent with that faith.

But Hastings, which is in San Francisco, said no recognized campus groups may exclude people due to religious belief or sexual orientation.

The court on a 5-4 judgment upheld the lower court rulings saying the Christian group’s First Amendment rights of association, free speech and free exercise were not violated by the college’s nondiscrimination policy.

I guess we can call them the hate caucus.

On Robert Byrd Passing

I have remarkably little to say.

He is from a generation of politicos who are 3 (perhaps 4) generations removed, and to the degree that he impinged on my consciousness, it appeared that most of his speeches were lamentations regarding an idealized past that probably never existed.

Then again, I am sure that I have a much more jaundiced view of Congress in general, and the Senate in particular than the distinguished gentleman from West Virginia.

In any case, my condolences to his family.

I Agree

This would be a vastly better world to live in if Matt Drudge decided to handle his emotional problems more responsibly, and set himself on fire.

For those of you whodon’t know, the preceedings was written by Dave Weigel on the private (and now shuttered) JournOlist listserv, and was subsequently leaked to right wing bloggers, leading to his resignation from his position at the Washington Post as their blogger covering the right wing movement.

It should be noted that a number of prominent conservatives have come to his defense.

I cannot speak to the ethics of leaking information from a private listserv, after all we see a lot of leaked private emails when the media covers other industries, but I think that whoever did this was a dick, though they might be an ethical dick.*

Needless to say, it all that the Washington, DC professional blogosphere is talking about right now, to which my response is to go back to covering the damn news.

BTW, if you read the Washington Post Ombudsman’s article on this, which is basically a plea to conservatives to like them, you will understand why you should not subscribe to the paper.

*Come to think of it, “Ethical Dick” is a should be a synonym for “good reporter.”

Weak Tea

My assesment of the financial reform bill that recently was released by the conference committee.

It’s better than I had hoped when the Senate first got its hands on it, but it is dangerously weak.

And here’s a surprise, it doesn’t have Blanche Lincoln’s derivatives restrictions, which is not surprising, that entire proposal was part of the incumbent protection in the US Congress, and with Lincoln having won the primary, it gets deep sixed.

Brian Buetler looks at and calls it a draw between liberals and the corruption caucus, but that’s only if you ignore the fact that the liberals had already ceded meaningful reform to the corruption caucus (and the WH, but I am repeating myself) early in this process.

Busy Day Today

My wife’s 1994 Honda Odyssey died 2 weeks ago, with 280,000 miles on it, and we have been looking for a replacment.

Well, we settled on a 2009 Mazda5 mini-minivan with about 36K miles on it. It seats 6, but is a somewhat smaller than our old Odyssey, and much smaller than what the Odyssey has grown into since.

It has a rather un-minivan-ish feel to it, and it drives nicely.

My wife is now pondering a name for it.

My though is that it’s an inanimate object, so just call it a car.

I Wish I Knew the Back Story

No picture, but we were on I-695, just east of I-83, driving through an area of construction, and in the median strip, surrounded by Jersey barriers, was a guy firing up, or at least setting up, a gas barbecue grill.

So, he was setting out to grill Italian sausage, or maybe, they were workers heat treating something on site, I don’t know, but I will always wonder.

I was driving, so I could not take any pics, sorry.

Jon Stewart Nails the Press … Again

The Best Journalist in America

This time, he’s angry at the press, Fox, or rather the idiotic Gretchen Carlson, in particular, but the press as a whole, over their coverage of the McChrystal affair.

He notices that everyone in the MSM is stunned and amazed that Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings was willing to piss off someone by doing his job, and thus not have him as a source again.

You see, a lot of bad reporting is driven by the fact that reporters have their tongues so far up well connected sources asses that they can taste tonsil, and it makes the mainstream media resemble a protection racket.

H/t the inner walls, aka my hairy barbarian elder brother, who dryly observes, “What a concept, doing the job comes first, careerism later.”

Back Home Now

I am working a 4 ten hour days, so I get 3 days at home.

Still trying to get my head around all this and figuring out how to balance blogging with all this.

Needless to say, this blog is not at the top of my work/family priorities, but I’ll try to stay on top of this.