Year: 2012

A New Year, More Caving

Your Obama Hat. Useful for Caving

Well, it’s not surprising.

New year, same old Obama. He caved, permanent tax cut, permanent reduction on the AMT, permanent reduction of the inheritance tax, and temporary continuation of extended unemployment benefits and a few other social programs, and 3 months on the debt ceiling.

Obama wants his grand bargain, where he guts Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and he’ll continue to subvert his own bargaining position so that he can have granny eating cat food.*

*In the interest of health, I would suggest that people eat dog food, and not cat food. Cats because they are one of the few true carnivores, do not need the complex carbohydrates and fats that people, and dogs do. As such, dog food is better for you than cat food because it provides carbs and essential fatty acids. A dog can go blind if it is fed on cat food, but a cat lives just fine on dog food. The phenomenon is known as rabbit starvation.

Not Gonna Happen Next Year

Not this, nor next year, will the Former Greek finance minister face criminal charges:

Greece’s coalition government called on Monday for the indictment of former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou for allegedly removing the names of three of his relatives from a list of Swiss bank account holders whose tax records were to be re-examined.

Seventy-one deputies from the three-party coalition signed the proposal to indict Papaconstantinou for allegedly tampering with a public document and breach of duty — offenses that would carry a maximum 10-year jail term, according to legal experts.

Papaconstantinou, 51, served as finance minister between 2009 and 2011 in the previous Socialist government. But his party, which is part of the new conservative-led administration, is backing the proposed indictment.

The former minister has angrily denied the allegations, insisting the names were removed without his knowledge.

Not gonna happen.

It’s not gonna happen because if he is put in the dock, he will talk, and if he talks, he will implicate most of the corrupt Greek ruling class, as well as the German and British banksters who were complicit in the fraud.

As an aside, for next year, can we please have our newsmakers have easier to spell names next year?

Let Us Start the Year the Way that Iceland Ended Theirs

And by that, I mean throwing our f%$#ing bankers into f%$#ing jail:

Two former executives at an Icelandic bank which collapsed in the 2008 financial meltdown were sentenced to jail on Friday for fraud which led to a 53 million euro loss, in the first major trial of Icelandic bankers linked to the crisis.

All three of the small North Atlantic island’s top banks collapsed in quick succession in October 2008 due to big debts incurred during a rapid overseas expansion.

Glitnir was the first to fall after the collapse of Lehman Brothers caused international credit markets to freeze up.

A Reykjavik court sentenced Glitnir’s former chief executive, Larus Welding, and former head of corporate finance, Gudmundur Hjaltason, each to nine months in jail, of which six months were suspended for two years. They had denied the charges.

Prosecutors said the two approved a loan to a company which owned shares in Glitnir so that the company could in turn repay a debt to Morgan Stanley.

The decision, taken outside the regular decision-making process, meant Glitnir was too exposed to the company and cost the bank at least 53.7 million euros (43 million pounds), the prosecution said.

It’s a good idea, even if it force me to spell Reykjavik properly.

H/t Americablog.

Why We Need to Destroy Big Pharma

Well, the first answer is a utilitarian answer, we do not need them.

If the government spends 5 out of every 6 dollars spent on medical research, then there is no reason to pay the excessive monopoly rents that they extract from out economy.

But there is also a moral argument, and it is that the large pharmaceutical firms are ineluctably evil.

We have yet another example of this when we discover that they colluded with the government of East Germany to turn their citizenry into unwilling Guinea Pigs:

Major Western pharmaceutical companies carried out tests of medications in the 1980s on patients in communist East Germany, in some cases without the subjects’ knowledge, a media report said Friday.

“We have documents showing there were contracts between Western drug companies and East German institutions for medical tests,” a staff member at the German national archive told AFP, partially confirming a report in the daily Der Tagesspiegel.

The newspaper, which examined the documents, reported that more than 50 Western firms had contracts with East Germany’s Health Ministry to carry out a total of 165 medical tests between 1983 and 1989.

In exchange, the communist authorities were paid up to 860,000 deutschmarks (around 430,000 euros today or $567,000), according to the report, at a time when East Germany was desperate for hard currency.

Der Tagesspiegel said the companies involved included Bayer, Schering, Hoechst (now Sanofi), Boehringer Ingelheim and Goedecke (today owned by Pfizer).

It said the test subjects often were not informed, citing seven specific cases in which patients said later they had been unaware they were involved in testing. The national archive said it could not confirm this.

The taxpayers front ⅚ of the money to do the research, but out of some sort of need to “set the free market loose, we give away the property rights so that they can extract monopoly rents.


This is an industry that exists only through the grant of exclusive rights by the government.  This is not free enterprise.

We need to make sure that if the taxpayers pay for the research, then the taxpayers own the research.

Jack Klugman Did the Wrong Thing for the Right Reasons

When actor Jack Klugman died recently, much was said about his career, but special note was given to his role in the passage of the Orphan Drug Act of 1983.

There can be no doubt here that his motives were good.  He wanted to see that diseases for which there was a limited number of sufferers, and hence limited profit, had drugs developed and produced.

Unfortunately, what seemed like a wonderful idea, subsidies and exclusivity granted to pharma, which had the added allure of providing a free market aura, has made things worse.

About ⅚ of the money spent on medical research is government money.  When one considers the subsidies present under the Orphan Drug Act, that number undoubtedly tops ⁹⁄₁₀ of the funds being from the taxpayers.

BTW, some of the Orphan drugs in question are such “blockbusters” as, “Abilify, Provigil, Vioxx, Botox, and Cialis.”

You see a similar effect with the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act and Colcicine, where a drug that had been in use for 3500 years (no that number is not a typo, the first documented use of the drug is from ≈1500 BCE) went from 9¢ to $4.85 a pill, a 5200+% increase.

The underlying flaw here is the idea that private business is an unalloyed good, so if there is something it will not do, the solution is to subsidize private businesses to do it, even when all indications are that having the government provide this function would provide the most benefit.

This is wrong, and we have seen nearly 40 years of this philosophy, it really became mainstream during the Carter years, has harmed society as a whole.

Astronomical Headline of the Year

Tell me that this was not the product of much giggles by the editorial staff:

Uranus takes a pounding more frequently than thought

Uranus isn’t just gassy, it’s also tilted completely sideways, such that instead of rotating like a spinning top, it rolls around the plane of the solar system more like a giant ball. Now astronomers think they know how this happened, and it means that Uranus has been pounded really, really hard not once, but twice.

Uranus’ axial tilt of 98 degrees means that it’s got one pole pointed almost directly at the sun, and one pole pointed out into space. As the planet revolves around the sun, these poles slowly switch places, meaning that if you lived there, you’d get 42 years of sunlight followed by 42 years of darkness, with a short time in between where things would seem almost normal.

Needless to say, this sort of behavior is a bit strange for Uranus, although nobody’s quite been able to determine how it happened. New simulations from astronomers at the Observatory of Côte d’Azur in Nice, France may have just figured it out, and the answer seems to be that Uranus has suffered from not one but two giant impacts..

H/t LD at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Turtle Power!

They beat us to the moon:

You might say the answer is Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and that other guy Michael Collins, the crew of Apollo 11. Or you could represent for the crew of Apollo 10, which reached the moon in May 1969 and then headed back to Earth without landing.

But there is a much stranger answer to this question, depending on how much you care about humans and what your definition of reaching the moon might be. Before any people arrived at the moon, other animals got there first. And unlike the dogs and monkeys that were made famous in early space shots and Earth orbits, the first vertebrates to reach the moon were a pair of steppe tortoises, Discovery’s Amy Shira Teitel reminds us.

The Soviet Zond 5 sent the animals around the moon — although not into lunar orbit — during a mission in the middle of September, 1968. The unmanned craft then returned to Earth and splashed down in the Indian Ocean, after which the Russians recovered the craft.

A month later, Soviet scentists revealed that the Zond had been a tiny ark, carrying the tortoises, “wine flies, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other living matter.” A small dummy packed with radiation sensors flew, too.

Later, the turtles took to living in sewers, fighting with Japanese weapons, and eating pizza.

Republicans Do Not Have a Monopoly On Stupid

Case in point, Senator Barbara Boxer is proposing to deploy National Guard to public schools:

Federal funds would be made available to deploy National Guard troops at schools under legislation introduced Wednesday by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in response to last week’s mass slaying at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

The Save Our Schools Act would leave it to governors to decide whether to call out the National Guard and how to use troops around schools.

“Is it not part of the national defense to make sure that your children are safe?” Boxer said at Capitol Hill press conference.

Yes, armed soldiers patrolling the corridors of our schools is such a good idea.

We really need to strengthen out Posse Comitatus law, not abolish it.

I Miss Madame La Guillotine

Roll Stewart!

Jerry Della Femina, who made his fortune on Madison Avenue, is whining like a baby about taxes, and claims that he is selling his posh Hamptons estate as a result:

He got taxed out of town.

Legendary advertising guru Jerry Della Femina is the latest Hamptons fat cat to unload his East End spread at the precipice of the dreaded fiscal cliff, The Post has learned.

The flamboyant Madison Avenue guru has sold his 8,500-square-foot estate — the host of many legendary Hamptons bashes — for $25 million, and blames his flight squarely on President Obama’s fiscal policies.

“I want the proceeds of this sale to go to my kids and my grandkids,” said the man behind iconic ad campaigns for Meow Mix and Absolut Vodka. “I don’t want my money going to Obama, and that’s what’s going to happen in the New Year. That’s why I sold right now, that’s why I wanted to get this done.”


This sort of sh%$ has me wishing for the return Maximilien de Robespierre.

I’ll leave it to Jon Stewart to express how I feel, though he was actually directing it to hack journo Bernie Goldberg.