Month: October 2010

Trick or Treating

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The Rubikuitous Charlie

The most Sanguine Natalie

For that thoughtful look with: her glasses on

We went trick or treating tonight.

Natalie tried to go upscale on her fangs for her vampire costume, and go with ones that just fit on her eye-teeth, as opposed to the mouth guard type ones, and it didn’t work, so she improvised using some sugary blood syrup that she got at the SCA event on Saturday.

Charlie’s costume, a Rubik’s Cube, however worked out very well, and he got a lot of compliments, though he did experience, as I had warned him, issues with comfort and mobility.

Still, they had fun, and took in a decent haul of hysteria inducing sugar, so they both considered their outing a success.

We had to return home at one point, because they needed gloves.

Neither of their costumes were amenable to the use of pockets to warm one’s hands.

I remember trick or treating when I was a kid, with my Dad watching, and now I am watching as my kids trick or treat.

It’s the whole “circle of life” thing, I guess.

So, ABC decided to have Andrew Breitbart as a contributor to their election night coverage, despite the fact that he has repeatedly punked the news media with deliberately false and deceptive “news” stories, and now they are trying to walk this clusterf%$# back:

Since conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart announced on his website that he was going to be a participant in ABC’s Town Hall meeting at Arizona State University, there has been considerable consternation and misinformation regarding my decision to ask him to participate in an election night Town Hall event for ABC News Digital. I want to explain what Mr. Breitbart’s role has always been as one of our guests at our digital town hall event:

Mr. Breitbart is not an ABC News analyst.

He is not an ABC News consultant.

He is not, in any way, affiliated with ABC News.

He is not being paid by ABC News.

He has not been asked to analyze the results of the election for ABC News.

Mr. Breitbart will not be a part of the ABC News broadcast coverage, anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. For the broadcast coverage, David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg will contribute reaction and response gathered from the students and faculty of Arizona State University at an ABC News/Facebook town hall.

He has been invited as one of several guests, from a variety of different political persuasions, to engage with a live, studio audience that will be closely following the election results and participating in an online-only discussion and debate to be moderated by David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg on and Facebook. We will have other guests, as well as a live studio audience and a large audience on and Facebook, who can question the guests and the audience’s opinions.

I have no objection to ABC using conservatives as either news analysts or “guests” on their discussions.

That is a basic journalistic activity.

That being said, when you do so, you have an obligation to bring on someone who has is own opinions, not his own (made up) facts.

Andrew Breitbart is an individual who has deliberately, and maliciously created fake news stories to pursue his political agenda, and he continues to do so.

If you are a news organization, and you don’t use the words, “professional liar,” before any mention of him, you are a piss-poor news organization.

The Nobility Gets the Best Sh%$ to Smoke

Instead of going to the Stewart/Colbert march for Sanity/Fear, Sharon*, the kids, and I went to TNT, an SCA event held by our local group (the Barony of Brighthills).

I got called up to receive a baronial award, the Order of Job, for selfless service to the Barony.

I’m a wee bit confused: I don’t recall doing much beyond cutting up some veggies, making the oldest recorded recipe for chocolate for an event, and washing a few dishes.

In any case, it was our 16th anniversary, and we enjoyed ourselves. We ate, we danced, we made glass beads using a torch.

I got my wife some books as an anniversary gift.

It’s so nice having a wife who doesn’t want to be surprised by such things: I just point her at the book seller, and she says, “Is this OK honey?”

This is much better than the expectation that I am a mind reader.

A good time was had by all.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

Not Gonna Happen……

The real reason for the UK independent deterrent

With the draconian British budget cuts, and the conversion of their carrier aviation from the STOVL F-35B to the CTOL F-35C, there is now talk of the British engaging in some form of joint carrier operations with the French:

London’s decision to fit catapults on its planned second aircraft carrier opened up the prospect of French Rafale strike fighters flying off a British flattop, with reciprocal rights for British aircraft off the French carrier, French Defense Minister Hervé Morin said Oct. 26 at the Euronaval trade show.

Morin asked the French military staff to assess whether the installation of catapults would allow French aircraft, such as the Rafale, to operate off the Royal Navy vessel, and the answer was: “Yes, it’s technically feasible,” he told journalists.

That opened up potential opportunities of interoperability and mutual interdependence between the British and French fleets, he said. With such cross-deck operations came the possibility of a “permanent presence at sea,” he said.

I just don’t see it happening.

While the French and British have on occasion used common aircraft, most notably the SEPECAT Jaguar, given the nearly thousand-year history of animus between the two nations (see “Yes Prime Minister” vid), I just cannot see them operating jointly in this manner.

Holy Sh%$

Last weekend, the US Military lost control of a missile squadron:

President Obama was briefed this morning on an engineering power failure at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming that took 50 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), one-ninth of the U.S. missile stockpile, temporarily offline on Saturday.

The base is a main locus of the United States’ strategic nuclear forces. The 90th Missile Wing, headquartered there, controls 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles. They’re on full-time alert and are housed in a variety of bunkers across several states.

On Saturday morning, according to people briefed on what happened, a squadron of ICBMs suddenly dropped down into what’s known as “LF Down” status, meaning that the missileers in their bunkers could no longer communicate with the missiles themselves. LF Down status also means that various security protocols built into the missile delivery system, like intrusion alarms and warhead separation alarms, were offline. In LF Down status, the missiles are still technically launch-able, but they can only be controlled by an airborne command and control platform like the Boeing E-6 NAOC “Kneecap” aircraft, E-4B NAOC aircraft or perhaps the TACAMO fleet, which is primarily used to communicate with nuclear submarines. Had the country been placed on a higher state of nuclear alert, those platforms would be operating automatically because the frequencies used to transmit nuclear codes would be interfacing with separate systems, according to officials.

(strike-through original)

This is about 19 of our land based deterrent.

Great googly moogly.

It’s Bank Failure Friday!!!!

No FDIC closures, so the count for this year remains at 139, see the full FDIC list, but there was a credit union failure:

  1. Phil-Pet Federal Credit Union, Pampa, TX

Full NCUA list

It does seem like the trend is slowing, but it’s still pretty awful.

So, here is the graph pr0n with trendline (FDIC only):

I would note that are now at the point where the utility of the least squares trendline is diminishing, but I’m keeping it here for historical purposes.

OK, Google™ Adsense™ Has Me Confused

So, I see an ad for Charles Loller.

He’s running for Congress in Maryland, as a Republican, in the 5th Congressional district.

Normally, this is the place where I would say, “What the f%$# is Google™ Adsense™ doing putting an ad for a Republican on my page?”

I know my reader(s) and they are NOT Republicans.

Only …………… The 5th Congressional district is Steny Hoyer’s district, and I have been consistently critical of him, so the Republican party running an ad for their sacrificial lamb,* in this district might actually meet the eyeballs of someone who is disgusted, as I am, with the distinguished gentleman from the 5th.

So, by the generally low standards of Google™ Adsense™, this actually appears to be a well done job, by virtue of being marginally competent.

Still, if I were running his campaign, I think that I might be a bit miffed that I was paying (fractions of a cent) for this.

Please note: once again, that I do not vet, nor do I endorse any ad that appears on my site, and I reserve the right to mock both the ads that appear on my site, as well as the advertisers.

Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google Adsense.

*No, I am not going to pivot off of the sacrificial lamb statement to make a “black sheep” joke, and I will note that if this race were at all competitive, this guy would not have gotten the Republican Party nomination, because the Republican Party does not want black candidates elected, the party sees them as nothing more than useful window dressing.

No, I Did Not See Obama’s Interview on The Daily Show…

I haven’t had time, or the inclination, though I have read excerpts.

The excerpts do not impress me, but then again, I’m not in the “Impressed by Barack Obama,” demographics, and and have not been since late 2007 (scroll down). I held my nose to vote for him in the general in 2008.

I just don’t feel any need to see it, though I probably will when the election passes.

Call it my own ‘enthusiasm gap’.

Well, Alaska Just Got Weird

With polls showing Lisa Murkowski in the lead, and the board of elections, in a transparent attempt to help her campaign, putting out a list of “registered write-in candidates,” for the first time in history, which is in court, but the Alaska Supreme Court is allowing the decision to stand for now pending arguments.

In response, Joe Miller and the Alaska Teabaggers have flooded the election office to register hundreds of write ins to be added to the list.

With Miller firmly in 3rd place in the latest polls, and these polls were before the release of his personnel files, I can understand why they want to move votes from Murkowski to him, but this would appear to move votes from Lisa Murkowski to Lisa Martini, or Lisa Murkin, or Lisa Murrow, which has the effect of boosting Democrat Scott Adams.

Pass the popcorn.


I Don’t Know What to Make of This

But it appears that someone in Yemen was attempting to send letter bombs to the United States:

Security officials in Britain and Dubai intercepted parcel bombs being sent from Yemen to the United States in a “credible terrorist threat,” President Barack Obama said on Friday.

He said the parcels were bound for “two places of Jewish worship in Chicago.”

Suspicion fell on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, which took responsibility for a failed plot to blow up a U.S. passenger jet on Christmas Day in 2009.

“Initial examinations of those packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material,” Obama told reporters in a televised briefing, calling it “a credible terrorist threat against our country.”

The White House said earlier that “both of these packages originated from Yemen” and that Obama was notified of the threat on Thursday night.

This is clearly an attempt at electioneering, even in Yemen, one would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to know of the election, but, unlike bin Laden’s statement just prior to the 2004 election, where he was clearly trying to throw the race to Bush, the intent here is unclear.

Some questions:

  • Is this an attempt to favor Democrats or Republicans?
  • Why were synagogues chosen?
  • Did the perps expect to succeed of fail?

Damned if I know.

The Most Morally Repugnant Industry on the Face of the Earth

It’s the private prison industry, which is lobbying for draconian immigrations laws, like Arizona’s “Papers Please” law, because more people in detention means more money for them:

NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.

The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.

The story leads off with a private prison pitching an immigration detention facility for women and children in Benson, Arizona.

There are certain functions that cannot be fobbed off on the private sector, and this is perhaps the most sterling example.

What Will Obama Do if the Dems Lose Congress?

John Quiggin Crooked Timber says that Obama will start engaging in zero-dimensional-chess:

Translation: Mr Obama and his aides plan a series of pre-emptive capitulations, after which the Republicans will demand the repeal of the healthcare act (or maybe abolition of Social Security). When/if that is refused, the Repugs will shut down the government, and this time they will hold their nerve until Obama folds.

That Republicans won’t work with him, even if he capitulates, is a certainty, if Republicans were to cooperate with him on sending the Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow to Gitmo, they would still be primaried by the teabaggers.

The supposition that he will lead with capitulation is almost certain, since this has been his modus operandi over the past 20 months.

Regardless of the outcome, Obama sill see it as an opportunity to do some serious hippie punching.

The zero-dimensional chess bon mot deserves a Pulitzer.

So Not the Next Sarah Palin

Say what you will about Sarah Palin, but she does not currently get drunk and engage in one night stands:

Three years ago this week, an intoxicated Christine O’Donnell showed up at the apartment of a 25-year-old Philadelphian and ended up spending the night in his bed. Here’s his story—and photos—of his escapade with the would-be Delaware senator.

When one finds a public who makes their mark with sexual “morality,” it does appear that they are railing against what they want to do themselves.

I wil note that the source is Gawker, with all that that entails, and the account is fairly stomach churning, not because of anything that Ms. O’Donnell did or said, but because of the attitude of the source.

Lines like, “When her underwear came off, I immediately noticed that the waxing trend had completely passed her by,” do not make kindly disposed to whoever he is.

In fact, it makes me feel a bit, and only a it, of pity for Ms. O’Donnell.

Getting drunk on Halloween and getting to 2nd or 3rd base really should be nobody’s business …… Unless, of course, you are a very public campaigner against any form of sexual activity out of marriage under all circumstances.

Still, it reads like a bad letter to Penthouse forum.

This is Unambiguously Good News

It’s “Jobless Thursday,” and the numbers are good, with initial claims falling by 21K to 434,000, the less volatile 4-week moving average fell by 5,500 to 453,250, continuing claims fell by 122K to 4.36million, and emergency claims (those extended past 26 weeks) fell by 414K to 4.36 million.

It’s still to high for a job recovery, it needs to be somewhere south of 400K for an extended period for jobs to recover, but this is only the 2nd time in months that it was below 450,000, so perhaps we are beginning to see the beginning of a trend.

Maybe the Blue Dogs Aren’t the Worst Democrats in Congress

I think that the Blue Dogs are wrong, but I get the sense that they are motivated by values and ego.

I think that many of them legitimately believe that women cannot be trusted with their bodies, that rich people should not be taxed, and that idiot sons of rich people are entitled to be rich ad infinitum.

The larger New Democratic Caucus (Melissa Bean who The Onion excoriates is a senior member of the caucus), however, is just a bunch of people who want to suck at the tit of big business, as Sebastian Jones and Marcus Stern ably document:

As Congress entered the final weeks of its struggle to overhaul regulation of Wall Street in May, several hundred friends and colleagues slipped out of Washington for a private weekend on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Most were lobbyists for large banks, pharmaceutical firms, insurance companies, and big-ticket trade groups. However, 28 were members of Congress, and 29 were legislative staffers, all part of a coalition of House Democrats with a business-friendly agenda.

The retreat was held in honor of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 69 lawmakers whose close relationship with several hundred Washington lobbyists has made their organization one of the most successful political money machines since the Republican K Street Project collapsed in 2007. In the past year and a half, New Democrats have pulled in more than $18 million in campaign contributions from their lobbyist fundraising network. The lobbyists, in turn, have mingled with lawmakers and their staffers at least 850 times during fundraising events and informal get-togethers.


These folks were hamstringing Barney Frank at every turn during work on financial reforms because they worked for the banks, and not the American people.

The Blue Dogs get the press, but when push comes to shove, it’s the New Dems who f%$# us.

Read the rest of the article. It’s long, but it’s long because it is exhaustive.

Economics Update

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H/t Calculated Risk for the September Philly Fed chart Pr0n

Since the tech bubble burst, the economy has been running on the consumer and on home sales, and both consumer confidence and home prices continue to disappoint.

Additionally, new home sales remain at pathetic levels, and mortgage applications increased, largely in response to lower rates.

Also, we did see the Philadelphia Bank of the Federal Released its State Coincident Indexes for September, and more states were up than down, though those advances were, once again, anemic.

The Definitive Word on Hamp

David Dayen summarizes it in a paragraph:

This is just a truism based on the Treasury Department’s own design for HAMP. Every trial modification payment reads as a default to the credit reporting companies. The Treasury Department could have set it up so that didn’t happen; they chose not to intervene in that reality. All of the money between the trial modification and the original payment that borrowers don’t pay during their trial period gets tacked on as part of the unpaid principal balance at the end. The servicers also tack on late fees. Treasury could have banned that. They chose not to intervene. The servicers can proceed with foreclosure operations during the trial period, arguing that the borrower is in default. They can’t actually foreclose (also in some cases they have). But they can go through the legal process. Treasury could have put a stop to that. They didn’t. Borrowers keep getting told they have to miss a payment to be eligible for HAMP. Treasury actually didn’t put that into the design. But they haven’t sanctioned a single servicer for this or any other violation of the program guidelines. They could have done something. They didn’t.

(emphasis mine, though inspired by Big Tent Democrat‘s similar exercise.)

I think that Mr. Dayen is far more forgiving than I am. He implies that it was combination of incompetence and timidity.

I think that it was actual malice. I think that the Treasury Department deliberately chose to deceive homeowners, because they thought that it would give the banks some breathing space.