Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

True helplessness....

Belmont Club:
"For others, there was no comfort in clinging to the hope that things would still turn out well; that the cavalry would come riding over the hill. Some believed that even his guilty plea was part of a cover-up, so no questions could be asked of the man who knew where all the bodies were buried. It was one of those things. Some of the victims who thronged the court for a look at the man who ruined them may have allowed themselves a moment of gloating as Madoff’s bail was rescinded and he was led off to jail. It was an unworthy thrill. But at least it was free."

There will always be Madoff's on this planet; and there is NOTHING that any of us (including Chucky Schumer and Nancy Pelosi) can do to stop that, other than to be vigilant and not be overly greedy ourselves. I'm sorry to disappoint you; but I am personally and professionally involved with quite a few of the victims. I feel for them; but in more than just a couple of cases, these (seemingly very wealthy) folks were victims of their own avarice. Apparently, Joe Nocera agrees with me.

As we are all finding out recently, we can never really escape God's sense of humor.....

Do you get the feeling that the man is just a fuck-up?

Smoothest Transition in History Update
...a third top Treasury nominee withdraws from consideration (see Mark's item, below) and Vivek Kundra, President Obama's Chief White House Information Officer, takes a leave of absence following the FBI's raid on his former office, the administration announces that attorney Tony West, who volunteered his services to represent John Walker Lindh (the so-called "American Taliban" convicted after making war against his country), is the president's choice to lead the Civil Division at the Department of Justice.

You can't soak the rich if they ain't within spitting distance...

Corporate oil booms in low-tax Switzerland:
"Yet a wave of energy companies has in the last few months announced plans to move to Switzerland -- mainly for its appeal as a low-tax corporate domicile that looks relatively likely to stay out of reach of Barack Obama's tax-seeking administration."
By the time Obama/Reid/Pelosi gets done, there won't be anyone to pay their taxes.....

Calling bull on ABC News & Time magazine’s apologists for Pelosi

Michelle Malkin:
As I reported (yeah, we can do that, too, MSM), one of the most notable e-mail exchanges I found in the docs (which was not spotlighted in JW’s release, but could be found by anyone who actually clicked through on JW’s site to the actual records) dealt with Pelosi’s absurd demand in December 2008 (that’s just three months ago, not “early in her tenure”) that the military move her jet from San Francisco airport to Travis Air Force base (where she had “business” and where she just so happens to have a country home nearby in Napa 30 minutes away!) Queen Pelosi didn’t want to drive 1.5 hours. She demanded that the military come to her. DoD officials pointed out that this had never been done before — not even for the Defense Secretary.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The US is not France...

Megan McArdle:
"If we get national healthcare, we will not get anything like the neat little systems proposed by academics who can assume away many of the political problems. I am aware that proponents would rejoinder, that yes, they know it won't be perfect, but . . . But I'm not making the perfect the enemy of the good. A national healthcare system in the United States will not merely be something sadly less than ideal--it will be nothing like most of the internally coherent proposals. It will be something jury rigged out of Medicare, S-Chip and insurance mandates, ugly and very expensive.

No, we won't be like France. In this narrow instance, it might be better if we were. Instead, we'll be like America, where public institutions are costly, inefficient and generally not very well respected."

Via Taranto:

The Times's view, then, is that science should trump ideology when the Times disagrees with the ideology, but ideology should trump science when the Times agrees with the ideology

Forwarned should have been forearmed...

“Acts of Retribution: There will be Blood”: Obama’s New Bestseller:
"Of course, anyone who was paying attention to the Obama dramaturgical troupe when its performance was still off-off-Broadway in previews knows that “A New Era of Responsibility” is running entirely according to script. Obama told us he was going to declare war on the affluent. Why are we surprised? Why are many Democrats and even such prominent supporters as Warren Buffett suddenly saying (in effect), “Hey, wait a minute, what do you guys think you’re doing?” As Mr. Henninger notes, as we approach the dénouement of this morality play, it is suddenly dawning on people that “something deeper is underway here than merely using higher taxes to fund his policy goals in health, education and energy.”"

Worth reading....

Bush Stem Cell Ban Wrong, But Not Anti-Science:
"There are good reasons why society puts ethical boundaries on science."

'Nuff said - read this!

Life is not a coin flip

(Long) Quote of the Day....

Transterrestrial Musings:
"I bet if the entire Obama Administration and Democratic Congressional Leadership were sentenced to hang on December 1, 2009, if the stock market were not above 9000 and unemployment were not below 7%, they would become raging tax-cutting pro-business libertarians overnight.

That is, I don’t believe they are so stupid and deluded as to believe their own hogwash right down to their core. They know very well they’re hanging a millstone around the economy’s neck, costing jobs and punishing capital markets. But they don’t care. They have ambitions — more government power for themselves, better status and pay for their supporters — and they actually don’t care that a bunch of plumbers and HVAC men are going to pay for it with their jobs, 401k’s, life savings invested in the new house. Can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, y’know."

Ever heard of the separation of Church and State?

Minn. State Agency Offers Islamic Mortgages

Read this and wonder why it's the responsibility of the State of Minnesota to make this more convenient.....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Banks start giving back..

Megan McArdle:
"It's also possible that some of the measures that express our collective rage at the bankers could tip the banks over the edge. It's satisfying to make AIG cut out junkets for independent insurance agents, but it also probably means that fewer AIG policies will be sold. Since we now own the company, we probably cost ourselves money in order to express our outrage. Similarly, watching the conga line of Merrill's top performers snaking up Wall Street to other firms, one can't help but wonder if B of A shareholders did themselves any favor by complaining about the bonus structure. The major assets of these institutions are client relations and human capital that tend to adhere to the individual, not the firm."

Who knew?
...Quebec, the OPEC of maple syrup

This is productive....

Debate Pits Ann Coulter Against Bill Maher
Tucked into an angular lounge chair in an Art Deco suite above Radio City Music Hall on Monday evening, Ann Coulter, the conservative author, was awaiting her would-be adversary, the liberal comedian Bill Maher. She and Mr. Maher had agreed to face off in a series of debates over the next three nights, and Ms. Coulter was concerned that their material might go stale from repeated performances.

In what might be described as one of the biggest ego fests of all time, we have the Schmuck vs. the Schmuckette. Two of the biggest blowhards that modern life has ever produced "facing-off" in what will surely be a battle to determine the outcome of history. Anyone pathetic enough to pay attention has only themselves to blame.....

Is the cabinet Caesar's wife?

Megan McArdle:
"The genesis of that crisis is that we have lost perspective on what the criteria for selecting and approving government officials ought to be. Financial trivia, minutiae from people's personal lives and political litmus tests have grown in importance while character, experience, intelligence, creativity and wisdom have fallen by the wayside. Ridiculous threshold obstacles stand alongside obscene ones and when taken with the relentless personal attacks associated with high level jobs in Washington -- the low pay, and the extreme difficulty of getting anything done -- we are seeing even those selected for senior jobs turn away in droves. We are at a moment of not one but an extraordinary array of great crises and challenges for America and we are effectively keeping the people we need most out of the positions we most need filled."

I don't really disagree with her here. We need good, intelligent people running the government; and the process seems almost too scary for any good person to subject themselves to. But in this particular case, Freeman seemed like the wrong guy for this job.....

Quote of the Day...

Belmont Club - “Nobody there”:
"One almost hopes it’s all due to carelessness."

Because we are fools....

Jonah Goldberg:
"Well, now we have the president, along with his chief aides, admitting — boasting! — that they want to exploit a national emergency to further their preexisting agenda, and there’s no scandal. No one even calls it a gaffe. No, they call it leadership.

It’s not leadership. It’s fear mongering.

Franklin Roosevelt said that all we have to fear is fear itself. Now, Barack Obama tacitly admits that all he has to fear is the loss of fear itself.

In other realms of life, exploiting a crisis for your own purposes is an outrage. If a business uses a hurricane warning to price-gouge on vital supplies, it is a crime. When a liberal administration does it, it’s taking advantage of a historic opportunity."

Michael Yon is usually right, so pay attention.....

The Pathetic Afghan Army & Will Obama Fumble Iraq?:
"The disconnect between reporting and reality on Iraq was dramatic during 2005. Media stories about the incompetence and hopelessness of the Iraqi army and police were like the soup of the day, every day. Yet month by month, before my eyes, Iraqi security forces were improving. Reporting this truth earned the label of “stooge,” because the soup of the day was Failure. Millions of Americans and Europeans apparently wanted Iraqis to suffer because those same Americans and Europeans seemed to hate George Bush.

Today Iraq is succeeding, but as Generals Petraeus or Odierno might say, the situation remains fragile and reversible.

Whereas the Bush-war ended in a new if messy democracy, this year we could see an Obama-war begin; the new President has sent a clear signal that we intend to mostly abandon Iraq during this crucial transition period. Today, the progress is obvious. But if Iraq descends back into chaos, the Obama-war, a newborn war, will not be a result of U.S. aggression, but of limp leadership intent on fulfilling campaign promises that were misinformed to begin with."

That's what you buy with big campaign donations.....

The End of the Secret Ballot:
"Whether the misleadingly named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)—known as “card check”—is introduced in the next hour or next year, it remains the central political objective of organized labor. It was also championed as a domestic priority by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats during the 2008 campaign. The EFCA would undercut the idea of a secret ballot in unionization drives and guarantee mandatory arbitration of many initial collective bargaining agreements. Canada’s experience with card check illustrates how it could further hobble the U.S. economy."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I can hear my Father laughing....

Considering Madoff for a List of the Century’s Villains:
"Years ago, the Brooklyn-born writers Pete Hamill and Jack Newfield talked about a possible magazine article that would identify the 10 worst people of the 20th century. Each made a list, but stopped after three names. When they compared notes, they discovered that each had written down the same men in the same order:

Hitler. Stalin. Walter O’Malley."

A government full of academics... what an idea!

Megan McArdle:
"....If you want a really nice chap who's spent a lot of time studying one fairly small aspect of the financial system, academics abound. If, however, you define experience as having a broad sense of how all this stuff works, and an intimate knowledge of the broad US financial regulation system . . . well, where exactly do you get experience with the whole US financial system without, like, working in the US financial system, as either a banker or a regulator?

Financial expertise is not nearly as interchangeable as most people think. For the same reason that you do not want your dermatologist removing your gallbladder, someone like Nassim Taleb would not make a good regulator of the financial system. Nassim Taleb knows a lot about the markets he trades in. He does not, I would wager, know much about the theory behind US securities law."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Never forget just how FDR saved the world....

March 9, 1945: Burning the Heart Out of the Enemy
The firebombing campaign, coupled with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are believed to have killed more than 1 million Japanese civilians between March and August of 1945.


Megan McArdle:
Apparently Congress' "buy American" clause in the bailout funds is having its desired effect: Bank of America has rescinded its job offers to foreign MBAs. I suspect that Bank of America is at least as motivated by a need to reduce headcount as it is by fear of Congress. But cutting your recruitment based on country of origin, rather than skills and fit, does not seem like the most efficient way to do it.

Quote of the Day...

Ultimate Backfire:
"...emotionally, leftists are stuck in middle school"

No experience necessary...

Megan McArdle:
"Perhaps we should just give up entirely on the idea of putting someone who, like, knows something about the financial system, in charge of the financial system. Is Dr. Phil available? Sure, he may not know much about banking, but he's very popular, and people like to watch him bossing other people around."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Oh, dear...

Fatal Distraction: :
"So, if it's not manslaughter, what is it? An accident?

'No, that's an imperfect word.'"