Thursday, January 31, 2013

Time To Say Goodbye... Again

It's been an interesting exercise writing this blog from 2004 to now.  But now, after 3,149 posts, it is time to move on.  I've written about myriad subjects and issues.  Travel awaits; grandchildren await.  Perhaps other forms of involvement await.  The call of the keyboard is now an echo of the past.

To my many loyal readers, thank you.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Forgot What This Post Was Supposed To Be


[h/t Stephen Skousgaard]

Justin Bieber's Gun Assault


Recently, small children were suspended from school for pointing with their index fingers.  That was considered extremely dangerous behavior by the school.  Now Justin Bieber is being investigated for possible assault charges for tossing foam projectiles.

As Voltaire said: "Common sense is not so common."  Some of these so-called gun-control advocates have their anuses squeezed so tightly they are simply spewing shit through their mouths.


Economy Flat Due To Less Government And Corporate Spending


Economists tell us that in order to correct the federal government revenue/spending imbalance, we will either have to raise taxes or have no-growth or a declining economy... which is then used to justify spending even more.  Debt is a problem for the next generation.  We need to keep up appearances of prosperity.

A small taste of the impact of reduced spending appeared in the 4th quarter of 2012 as defense spending and corporate inventories shrank [companies produced from their inventories without adequate replacement] resulting in a Gross Domestic Product decrease of 0.1% from the previous quarter.  That's hardly reason for panic, but it does tell us that without excessive borrowing, economic measures will look anemic.

GDP contracts on tepid inventories, government spending drop.

The question is whether that is a bad thing.

Sequestration Cuts Will Lead to Floods, Plagues, and Pestilence...

But a drop in CO2.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bad Day For Democratic Politicians In Michigan


What do you call a former mayor who ran an organized crime ring in his office and a state supreme court justice convicted of bank fraud?  Why Democrats, of course.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Closing out its case against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and two others, the federal government today unleashed a barrage of text messages and secret phone recordings as a sort of exclamation point on its claim that an organized crime ring ran the mayor’s office. [more]

DETROIT (WJBK) -- Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway entered the federal courthouse innocently enough, but left a convicted felon.  She took a plea to bank fraud.
Here's the deal.  She will spend up to 18 months in a federal prison.  She will pay up to $90,000 in restitution, and she will pay a fine of approximately $30,000.  After that, she'll spend three to five years on supervised probation, and all the other charges against her will be dismissed.
"This is a crime that spanned almost two years, and so for a very serious, well thought out crime like that, I think it's important that the public see that people at the highest levels of government are held accountable," said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade. [more]

No surprise, of course.

4K Television Broadcasts Coming By 2025 Or Not


We've just gotten used to 4G for cell phones.  The next upgrade may come in the form of 4K broadcasting.  4K is roughly 4 times the resolution of a Blu-ray DVD.

Look for it sometime in the 2nd quarter of this century.  Meanwhile...

Japan to broadcast in 4K starting in 2014.

We could have it sooner, but that would mean your monthly cable bill would go up 100% or so.   And some people think that it is just not worth it.

Why Ultra HD 4K TVs are still stupid.


Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste


It seems that Egypt's President Morsi has taken some advice from President Obama's former Chief of Staff and now mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel.

Egypt's armed forces chief has warned the current political crisis "could lead to a collapse of the state".
General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, in comments posted on the military's Facebook page, said such a collapse could "threaten future generations".
He made his statement following a large military deployment in three cities along the Suez Canal where a state of emergency has been declared.
More than 50 people have died in days of protests and violence. 
Overnight, thousands of people in Port Said, Ismailia and Suez - where some of the worst unrest has been - ignored a night-time curfew to take to the streets. [source]
This crisis has allowed President Morsi to use the army to quell opposition to his Islamist constitution and imposition of Sharia law.

There seems to be something about people that resents elected officials who use their positions to try to fundamentally change their societies and trample the rights and freedoms that have been a tradition for centuries.  Fortunately, here in the United States, we don't have politicians like that, do we?

Hmmm.  We have fundamentally changed our debt.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Detroit - How Low Can You Go?


The Chicago Tribune ran this headline:

Analysis: Stuck in reverse, Detroit edges closer to bankruptcy

The story of Detroit's decline is decades old: Its tax revenue and population have shrunk and labor costs have remained out of whack. But the city's budget problems have deepened to such an extent that it could run out of cash in a matter of weeks or months and ultimately be forced into what would be the largest-ever Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy filing in the United States.
Frustrated by the lack of concrete progress, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, last month appointed a team to scour the city's books. The audit could result in a state takeover of Detroit's finances through the appointment of an emergency financial manager. Such a manager, who would seize control of the city's checkbook, could then propose federal bankruptcy court as the best option.
Snyder, who has called the situation "a crisis in terms of financial affairs," said the team would deliver its report in February.
I left this comment:
My wife and I moved to Michigan 5 years after the riots... she was not happy with the idea. But we took up residence in a suburb and stayed in that area for almost 40 years, during which I worked for periods in Detroit and watched it disintegrate physically, financially, and racially. Detroit's doom was sealed with Coleman Young and his "hate whitey" politics which quickly accelerated the white exodus to more welcoming places. Kwame Kilpatrick was the second version of Coleman Young and took corruption to new heights. But the black "super majority" seemed to take the approach that "he is a crook, but he's our crook" rather than kicking the bum out. That was left to the courts. 
Bankruptcy may take some of the urgency away from solving the myriad problems that are Detroit, but it only postpones facing the music. Detroit is a shell of its former self... a rotting shell. There are some enclaves of relative prosperity, but they are fragmented and disconnected from the whole. Ultimately, there is only one solution for Detroit... dissolution. 

Ignoring Immigration Laws And Calling It Reform


The people of the United States have had a principle that the rule of law rather than the whims of leaders was necessary and required to have this republic function properly.  As with any principle, this one can be and has been subverted many times for many "good reasons."  This subversion has occurred millions of times in ways small and subtle to presidential "recess appointments."  Even the courts of the land will jump and twist through legal "double think" to fit judgments to political expediency.

Therefore, is it any wonder that immigration laws are subject to the same whims?  On the one hand, you have millions of people who have followed the letter and spirit of the law in their efforts to come to America and become citizens of these United States.  On the other hand, you have millions of people who have simply walked or driven in, taken up residence, used up local and national resources, demanded cultural accommodations, and created a wide crack in our "rule of law."

Some local law enforcement agencies have attempted to enforce the immigration laws, but have been penalized by the federal government which claims jurisdiction.  The same actions have been taken against states that attempt to enforce these laws within their borders.  The problem, of course, has been that the federal government has been more interested in asserting its power than enforcing the laws.  Consequently, we now have somewhere in excess of 10 million illegal aliens residing in the U.S.

This same federal government which paid people up to 99 weeks for not working has argued that these illegal aliens benefit the U.S. because they take jobs that nobody else will take.  You may find that to be a non-issue, but others will rightly ask what are the jobs that illegal aliens take that others refuse?  Construction?  Agriculture?  Service jobs?  And isn't it illegal to hire illegals?  Or is this another version of "don't ask, don't tell?"

Now the federal government says it is going to get serious about illegal immigration.  It will come up with a "path to citizenship" that makes the 10 million illegal aliens not so illegal.  A so-called "gang of eight" congressmen are working on just such a proposal.

A bipartisan group of eight senators plans to announce they have agreed on a set of principles for comprehensive immigration reform. 
The deal, which will be announced at a news conference Monday afternoon, covers border security, guest workers and employer verification, as well as a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country. 
The eight senators expected to endorse the new principles are Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado; and Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona. [source]
The Miami Herald reports:
The Gang of Eight’s plan rests on four "pillars:"
1. Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required.
2. Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families.
3. Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers.
4. Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.
The plan is just a framework. So many of the hard details concerning how long people would wait for citizenship, how the border is declared secure and roughly how much it would all cost will have to be worked out in the coming months.
The Senate legislation, whenever it’s drafted, will also spell out how the visa process would be streamlined, what new types of work permits would be available and how the government plans to stop businesses from hiring illegal immigrants.

Read more here:
In other words, the law was not obeyed, so "let's make a deal."

I like that concept and think that should Sen. Diane Feinstein's firearms legislation pass that millions of American should simple ignore the law and force the federal government to "make a deal."  What?  You say that's not the same thing?  Of course not.  Senator Feinstein and her cohorts are attempting to ignore a Constitutional right that Americans have.  The "gang of eight" are simply trying to grant Constitutional protection to those who have broken the laws of the nation.  So, indeed, they are not the same thing.

If Women Combat Soldiers, Then Children Combat Soldiers?


I've written my position about women in combat:

Women Okayed For Combat Duty... But Is That Okay?
Others are not quite so equivocal:
On the Idea of Women in Combat.
Still others may not think that is "inclusive" enough:
Obama admin says the use of Child Soldiers in conflict is in the ‘national interest of the United States’.

More here:
The U.S. Can Do More to Keep Children off the Battlefield.
Not opposing "Child Soldiers" in other countries is not the same as advocating it for the U.S. ... yet.  But, hey, it might keep them out of street gangs.  That probably would be in the "national interest of the United States."

But for now, the president will start with community organizing various youth corps.
They'll set a goal that all middle school and high school students engage in 50 hours of community service a year, and develop a plan for all college students who engage in 100 hours of community service to receive a fully-refundable tax credit of $4,000 for their education. [source]
That could be expanded into areas more in line with the "national interest of the United States."  Protecting the Vaterland, so to speak.  Frogs in pots of water being heated.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Obama Explains The REAL Reason Assault-Style Rifles Are So Dangerous


A lot has been said about the fact that assault-style rifles are exceptionally dangerous despite the fact that many of them are virtually identical, mechanically, to non-assault-style rifles.  But the mechanical aspects are not important.  Neither are the pistol-style grips.  Neither are the shoulder straps or the carry handles.  Neither are the magazines.

No, President Obama has divined the real reason why assault-style rifles are so dangerous.  Read about it here.


The Egyptian Mafia


Most adults have at least heard about organized crime... often referred to as the Mafia.  It used to be just about Italians, but now it encompasses just about any ethnic group of criminals... Irish, Russian, etc.

This short video is part of a documentary about the Italian Mafia.

Now there is an Egyptian Mafia.  That's not what they call themselves, of course.  They go by the name of the "Brigade of Muslims."  Here's an excerpt.
An armed Islamic movement calling itself the "Brigade of Muslims" released a statement on Saturday threatening Egypt's Coptic Christians and asking them to pay tribute.  jizya, also spelled jizyah, Arabic jizyah ,  head or poll tax that early Islamic rulers demanded from their non-Muslim subjects.]
"Egypt is an Islamic country and will be ruled according to Shariah," the statement added. [source]

Meanwhile, the U.S. sends military equipment to Egypt and other Islamic countries to defend themselves against ???  Perhaps those Copts?

Economic Recovery Ending?


For those of you who may have missed it, the economic recovery is now in its fourth year.

So, it's not too unexpected that various national economies might be slowing down.

Profit warnings highest since 2008

However, in the U.S., the stock market has been plowing right along to 5-year highs.

IBM's Results Lift Dow Average to a 5-Year High

Does that mean the U.S. economic outlook is really good?

Economic Forecasting Survey

The unemployment rate registered a dramatic 0.5 percentage-point drop over the past two months, but economists in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey don't expect that pace of decline to continue.
"The general trend in the unemployment rate is lower, and this should continue to be true as long as the economy grows along the profile we project," said Joseph LaVorgna at Deutsche Bank. "However, the cumulative five-tenths decline over the past two months appears to be overdone."
On average, the 48 respondents, not all of whom answer every question, expect the jobless rate will still be at 7.8% in June of next year—matching the September figure released last week. The reason for the stagnation in the job market is expectations for lackluster economic growth during the rest of 2012 and into 2013. Through the first half of next year, the average forecast is for growth in gross domestic product below 2% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate.
Expansion is seen picking up as the year progresses, but isn't expected to surpass 3% through 2014. That means that even when the unemployment rate does begin to fall, the economists don't see it doing so quickly. On average, they still expect the rate to be at 7.1% in December 2014.
That's a "yes, maybe, no."

Friday, January 25, 2013

How Do You Tackle A Kid In A Wheelchair?

I can't see what could go wrong here, can you?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Breaking new ground, the U.S. Education Department is telling schools they must include students with disabilities in sports programs or provide equal alternative options. The directive, reminiscent of the Title IX expansion of athletic opportunities for women, could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms for years to come.
Schools would be required to make "reasonable modifications" for students with disabilities or create parallel athletic programs that have comparable standing as mainstream programs. [source]
Fits right in with sending women into hand-to-hand combat.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
George Orwell, "1984", first sentence


Indian Women Given "Weapons" To Protect Themselves


Friends, Romans, countrymen, send me your arms.

After a particularly horrendous rape-homicide in India, a political party has taken action.

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's radical Hindu nationalist party governing Mumbai has handed out kitchen knives and chili powder to women following a gang rape in the capital New Delhi that ignited a national debate on the best way to tackle sex crimes.
The Shiv Sena party, an ally of the main opposition BJP, said it had handed out 21,000 knives with three-inch blades to women in the city and surrounding areas and plans to distribute 100,000. [source]
So that's how "civilized" societies protect their women... pen knives and chili powder!  Let's look for that to spread quickly to the U.S. once Sen. Diane Feinstein gets her revocation of the 2nd Amendment passed through Congress and signed by the great Peace Prize president.

with love, Barack and Diane.

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
George Orwell, "1984", first sentence

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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)