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Showing posts from September, 2008

Tomorrow (which is only in an hour or so): in the WNJ you'll find lil' ole me and the Blue Enigma Party

If everything goes according to plan (just ask those new good buddies Dubya and Nancy P about that), Beth Miller will have an article in tomorrow's WNJ/Delaware Online about the Blue Enigma Party's gubernatorial candidate Jeff Brown. Jeff lists himself as a Native Delawarean and long time community advocate ; Politics1 lists him as a bartender & stripper . I don't see the two descriptions as incompatible. Beth and I spent a good ten minutes discussing third parties in Delaware and across the nation; hopefully some of that will make it into print. In case you wondered, here's the platform of the Blue Enigma Party : The Delaware school system needs more teachers. Teachers are crucial to the development of Delaware’s future and growth. Through a comprehensive plan, we will eliminate the costly school districts and create a more unified state educational system; thus providing more money for teacher salaries and programs. The Blue Enigma Party supports the devel

Ratcheting down catastrophism again...

Two sets of thoughts. The first is from Coyote Blog, entitled Lenders Have to Lend : I know this may be pointing out the obvious, but I think it needs to be said: Lenders have to lend, just as much as borrowers have to borrow. I know most people understand the "borrower" part of this phrase, but they seem to act as if lenders are somehow only putting their money on the street as some sort of charitable activity, and if we don't sufficiently kow-tow to all their needs, they will run away and never help us all again. The fact is that people with large pools of money -- banks, pension funds, insurance companies -- HAVE to lend. And in a time where stocks are dicey, they probably have more, not less, cash than normal they want to lend, much of it short-term. Now, they may be temporarily scared off from doing so for a few days or weeks as they try to assess what is safe and what is not, but they can't stick their money in a mattress or buy tons of gold or invest in

Boston Tea Party endorses Libertarian Party of Delaware candidates

The Boston Tea Party , which is advancing its case as the potential nationwide replacement for the essentially non-functional Libertarian National Committee as the central organizing group for individual liberty and smaller government, has turned its attention to Delaware. The BTP has now formally endorsed LPD Congressional candidate Mark Anthony Parks and LPD/GOP 4th District House candidate Tyler Nixon . For Tyler, this endorsement can be added to his earlier seal of approval from the Liberty Caucus . Given that I'd suspect only a few Libertarians and not many others have heard of the BTP (running Charles Jay and Thomas Knapp as their Presidential ticket), what significance does this have for our candidates? Primarily, it's another piece of national exposure, however modest. Libertarian candidates run not just to win (go, Tyler!), but also to make a point about the erosion of civil liberties and the continuing encroachment of government on our freedoms--both economic a

Four sideways thoughts on the Bail-out (guaranteed to provoke somebody)

1. So if the lack of a bail-out results in a national or even global recession/depression that causes people to go bankrupt and poor and businesses to fail, won't the resulting reduction in the use of fossil fuels have a positive effect on climate change scenarios? 2. If the stock market tumbles, the real estate market collapses, and T-bills continue to be worthless, won't that be a just reward to China, which will then end up holding 500 billion to a trillion bucks of useless paper? 3. Imagine just how bad the chaos would be if legislators always demanded the right to read legislation before they passed it? 4. If my home still provides shelter for my family, and if I intend to still be living there a decade from now, what difference does it really make to me what the market says it's worth?

A Time to Ratchet DOWN the catastrophism....

kavips takes the failure of the Bail-out hard: The American Dream of what could have been… is over. I could find dozens, hundreds, thousands of impassioned posts on both sides. Throughout the Delaware blogosphere, a strange alliance of opposites from Tyler Nixon to cassandra have taken the opposite tack, remonstrating against this issue. But I'd like to emphasize a very salient point: There may well be a legitimate need to do something , but the best and the brightest among our professional economists argue strongly that there too much at stake to do something, even if it's wrong . Here is the text of a petition to Congress, sent a couple of days ago and signed by over 125 leading economists from all persuasions (including three Nobel laureates): To the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate: As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with th

Here's a thought....

Maybe I am just naive, but if we are going to have to live with a central bank issuing and manipulating our national currency, why not let the American people go directly to the discount window and eliminate the usury-loving, fee-grabbing banker-broker middle men?? I think I could handle having a reasonable line of available credit, especially if collateralized, directly available to American citizens at say...1.5% . Aren't we already being stuck with the bill for the failures of a credit system run by a central bank in the interest of...the banks. Seriously, is there a reason why the FED can't be made a direct lender to consumers (aside from the entire industry of " shylocks " * and cozy financiers and whores on the Hill who control the levers, get rich from it, and then walk between the acid raindrops they seeded)? [* Preemptive Political Correctness Alert : I use this term like underworld slang for 'pound of flesh' loan sharks, in NO way shape or f

Look, the Sell-Out is coming, so it's time to get ready

Congress will pass the Sell-Out plan, and we're moving into the phase of life when placing the blame for the mess or arguing about how much (and what kind of) regulation is needed become secondary to.... How is this all going to affect you or your family ? I started with this a couple days ago, and kavips has an important post up today. But those are first glimmerings. The reality for most people has yet to set in. Commercials on TV are still offering great values. Soccer games are still occurring. Movie openings are still pulling in millions of bucks every weekend. A lot of this is going to change, and perhaps I can give you a preview. I should probably sub-title this More than I want you to know; less than you need to know . For the past several years, we've struggled as a family and got into far more debt than was healthy. No, we weren't splurging on kitchen makeovers or Hummers, but medical bills, school expenses, and just a pattern of less than optional de

The Poet and The President - October 26, 1963

A month shy of 45 years ago President Kennedy spoke at Amherst College to dedicate the Robert Frost Library and memorialize Frost, who had died earlier that year. (My father graduated from Amherst in '62, missing the chance to see Kennedy's speech by a little over a year). Kennedy's address was powerful and timeless. He was an orator with the heart of a poet. In our current age of political doublespeak, sound bites and slogans Kennedy's remarks remind of an era when rhetoric wasn't so hollow and cheap. Thankfully we have recordings of great speeches like this to reflect upon. Some excerpts : "In America, our heroes have customarily run to men of large accomplishments. But today this college and country honors a man whose contribution was not to our size but to our spirit, not to our political beliefs but to our insight, not to our self-esteem, but to our self- comprehension. In honoring Robert Frost, we therefore can pay honor to the deepest sourc

Worth a 1000 words (or 700 Bajillion Dollars)

.... or "How I sold my soul to be George W. Bush's newest bestest BFF".

Now It's Starting to Get Personal, OR: Why you should be paying more attention to the Great Meltdown than the Presidential Election

OK I'll admit I'm dense, but it was not until today that I started thinking seriously about what it would mean if my bank failed. I bank at PNC; it's convenient if often usurious in its fees. PNC fail? Can't find it on any warning lists (and the FDIC doesn't publish its watch list, which is now up to 117 banks), so just on a lark I went looking. And there's my OH SHIT moment: From Mortgage University : PNC Bank owned by parent PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC) is offering $100 new customer bonus to raise capital. Why does PNC Bank need a large influx of capital? This may spell trouble for the bank. PNC Bank about six months ago ceased their home equity wholesale operation citing market conditions and high operating costs. It could also meaning PNC closed their home equity program because they finally realized their exposure to the higher default rates on home equity loans would cause significant losses down the road. PNC Bank Raising Capital

A Slippery Slope toward a Banana Republic?

During my years in the Virginia Army National Guard it was an annual event to see the infantry companies of the 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division (Light) going through Civil Disturbance Training with riot shields. On a variety of occasions our troops were called out in natural disasters (primarily floods), and had to provide security against looting in areas that had been evacuated. That part of the mission always worried me, even though I could accept the necessity. The key part of this use of military force in a civilian setting, however, is that when our National Guard elements were so used, we were mobilized by the State of Virginia, under the command of the Governor, and paid by the State instead of the Feds. This is a critical factor, along with the fact that 90% or better of the soldiers were citizens of the State in question. Now, however, the Federal government is openly prepared Regular Army units for use on American soil. From The Army Times : The 3rd Infantry Divi

Fannie, Freddie and Democrat Hypocrisy

As hypocrite Democrat partisans hysterically peddle the gigantic steaming whopper that "Republican policies" are to blame for the mortgage-centered "financial crisis", the truth comes out (HAT TIP to HUBE @ Colossus of Rhodey ) : Let's face it....the running meme of " we need more regulation [courtesy of Democrats] to fix things and the Republicans were against regulation so they are to blame " is pure, unadulterated horse crap. It is the denizens of the Democrat party who wanted loose housing credit on the pretext that it is better to allow lower-income people to "buy" homes they couldn't afford (and would eventually lose...along with their creditworthiness) than to have responsible lending criteria, even if this meant that, God forbid, people could not live beyond their means. (Living beyond your means has obviously never been a concern of the government-will-fix-all-we-can-just-tax-borrow-and-spend-our-way-to-solvency deficit cr

If tonight was the first time you paid attention to the Presidential race....

(and it apparently was for millions of Americans, as hard as that is for the rest of us to believe)... ...then with two caveats I think Senator John McCain won the debate. Caveat one: winning the debate has only a passing relationship to being right about the issues, or even getting your facts straight. I caught gaffes and intentional distortions on both sides, although I'd probably give the accuracy award to Senator Barack Obama by a hair. But that doesn't really matter: because tens of millions of people who watched all or part of the debate did not and will not do the fact check thing. They are going to go on gut feeling and stage performance [like assuming that Bush 41 checking his watch or Nixon failing to wear make-up had anything to do with Presidential qualification]. Caveat two: McCain did two things that Ronald Reagan would have approved of (although he did neither as well as the Gipper would have done): (1) he scored on the what-would-you-do-different-as-P

So what would happen if Congress did what it's best at: nothing

The best analysis of a no bail-out/no sell-out scenario is at Red State . You should read the whole thing, but here's the gist: What happens if we let Mr. Market handle the problem all by himself? At this point, credit markets are largely frozen in place, waiting on Congress to excrete or get off the pot. Financial institutions are extremely reluctant to lend any money to each other, even overnight, for fear of trading with someone who will declare bankruptcy tomorrow. That means the normal ebb and flow of ordinary commerce around the world is severely impacted. Every day we wait is forgone economic activity that will never come back, and over time that will make the economy smaller than it would have been. That means job losses and smaller retirement savings accounts. Now what if Congress pulls the plug and adjourns without doing anything? The credit crunch will then resolve itself with a large wave of bankruptcies by banks and financial firms, large and small, around the w

The amazing shrinking Barr campaign....

... could best be found (or lost) in the Bobster's home state. Insider Advantage had him at 7.6% in May. Insider Advantage had him at 5.6% and Zogby had him at 8% in June. Rasmussen had him at 5% in mid-July; Insider Advantage reported him at 5% by month's end. Rasmussen had Barr dropping to 3% in August. The highest Barr appears in any September polls is 3% in Strategic Vision and 1% in Public Opinion Strategies. Rasmussen, Insider Advantage, American Research Group, and Survey USA all found that Barr had completely disappeared from the radar , polling at less than 1% where he show up at all. This is clearly a Bob Barr collapse, and not a Libertarian collapse in Georgia, as the countervailing case of Libertarian Senate candidate Allen Buckley proves: Buckley was not even included in polling questions until August, when Mellman Group showed him at 3%. During the month of September (aided by a series of debate and forum appearances), Buckley has been placed at 2% (Rasmu

One of the consequences of the impending Government Sell-Out of the American people...

... is that it may cost the United States its AAA credit rating. From Newshoggers : One of the fundamental assumptions in finance is that the United States government debt is functionally risk free and that its AAA rating really is AAA rating. We have built that reputation for being good debtors because the US government has never defaulted on its debt. Furthermore while the absolute size of the debt is huge, most of the fiscal analysis ratios are not significantly troubling even though recent trend lines on the current account deficit are worrying over the intermediate term. However, the US government has engaged in a massive increase in its explicit liabilities in the past three weeks. We are now responsible for most of the US mortgage market, the largest insurer and bits and pieces of many other things that are bundled up in the MBS and ABS that we are bailing out. The AAA rating may be at risk.... Quoting the Globe and Mai l: Rating agency Standard & Poor's warn

Civitas tracks Chris Cole surge in the polls...

...and also points out that negative campaigning is actually benefitting the Libertarian candidate for North Carolina's Senate seat: “Despite relentless negative TV ads attacking her accomplishments in Washington, Senator Dole is able to hang onto a slim, two point lead. It appears that all of the negative attacks on Senator Dole have aided Libertarian Chris Cole not Senator Hagan ” said Francis De Luca, Executive Director of the Civitas Institute. This is critical: a Libertarian Senate candidate who is now both (a) outside the margin of error; and (b) being credited by a major polling organization as a factor in the race. Cole's numbers: May – Dole 45, Hagan 43 June – Dole 48, Hagan 38, Cole 1 July – Dole 47, Hagan 38, Cole 2 August – Dole 44, Hagan 41, Cole 4 September - Hagan 41, Dole 40, Cole 6

Taking an interesting plunge: The Boston Tea Party

I've probably spent a lot more time thinking about this than it probably deserves. Or maybe not. I believe that the national Libertarian Party is day by day proving itself a hopelessly lost cause for those of us who believe that the cause of limited government, personal liberty, and individual freedom can be furthered at the ballot box. I have been talking for several weeks about something like a Libertarian Alliance of state parties organizing from the bottom up. But while I think it's a great idea, I keep wondering whether or not it's viable, whether or not anybody will do the necessary legwork to create it. At least for now, I'm thinking that the Boston Tea Party represents the best vehicle currently available. Yes, I know the BTP has a checkered organizational past, and that this could be merely another incarnation for dreamers who are not necessarily doers. The BTP has a simple platform: The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of g

OK, I waited a full day, but I couldn't resist stealing this

... from A Secondhand Conjecture : Dear American: I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude. I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had a crisis that has caused the need for a large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you. I am working with Mr. Franklin Raines, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. You may know him as the Chief Economic Advisor for Senator Obama’s presidential campaign, and the former head of Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2006. Let me assure you that this transaction is 100% safe. Mr. Raines is completely trustworthy with your money. His record speaks for itself. This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are consta

One for kavips--and my bid for my own science Kavipsian

The news today in science is the discovery of a dark flow of energy in the universe unrelated to the general inflationary expansion : Patches of matter in the universe seem to be moving at very high speeds and in a uniform direction that can't be explained by any of the known gravitational forces in the observable universe. Astronomers are calling the phenomenon "dark flow." The key to this is not the description of the flow or how it was found, but this: The stuff that's pulling this matter must be outside the observable universe, researchers conclude. When scientists talk about the observable universe, they don't just mean as far out as the eye, or even the most powerful telescope, can see. In fact there's a fundamental limit to how much of the universe we could ever observe, no matter how advanced our visual instruments. The universe is thought to have formed about 13.7 billion years ago. So even if light started travelling toward us immediately after

In praise of real specialists and small town doctors

Dr. David Bell is the town doctor for the small community of Lyndonville NY, up near Lake Ontario. He set up his practice there in 1977. In 1985 there was a viral outbreak followed by an upsurge in cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which led him into what became his life's work. Or, I should say, his second life's work, as he continues to be the small town doc decades later. Along with Dr Peter Rowe at Johns Hopkins University, Dr Bell has become the foremost authority on Chronic Fatigue in the nation (he advises the CDCP). He is the specialist we drove to visit on Monday. The experience was amazing. In three hours, using no equipment more sophisticated than a blood pressure cuff and a reflex hammer, Dr. Bell managed to make my son's body demonstrate virtually every symptom we had seen at home over the past two years. He shared with us the technical names for all the phenomena we had observed (but could never find written down anywhere), and talked us through all t

I never thought I'd be happy for Senator Chris Dodd...

... but if he sticks by his guns on this one ... This from Al Jazeera : US congressional leaders have condemned the Bush administration's $700bn financial bail-out plan aimed at ending more than a week of turmoil on global financial markets. Chris Dodd, the Democrat chair of the senate banking committee, said on Tuesday: "What they have sent us is not acceptable. This is not going to work." Richard Shelby, the most senior Republican on the committee, said "We have got to look at some alternatives." This is clearly becoming an issue beyond party and beyond ideology. Thank God.

Another reason Michael Munger is too sane to become Governor of North Carolina...

... he doesn't allow the bureaucrats and the politicos to buffalo him into believing we're on the brink of the New Great Depression : When you hear someone say “The government bailout of Wall Street,” make a mental substitution: “The taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street.” And then remember that we have a federal debt bigger than Jupiter. Deficits are future taxes. The bailout is simply a way of allowing irresponsible lenders to escape unharmed. If you have a mortgage, and can't pay, then you are responsible. If AIG has debts and can't pay, our leaders want to soak taxpayers for the bill. The point is that you can't take money away from taxpayers who earned it, give it to the financiers who squandered it, and call that a good policy. There is no danger of another Depression, which was caused by a deflationary monetary policy. We are facing a temporary credit crunch, and it will sort itself out if we leave it alone. Things aren't so bad that a panicked bunch

Thirty-two words that will kill our Republic

“Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” If the US Congress so abdicates its duty under the US Constitution, and we stand by as it happens.... ....then we deserve everything that follows.

George Phillies proves that comparison shopping almost always makes sense

George Phillies provides the following list of upcoming campaign events for Ralph Nader: Sept. 24th, 2pm Nader/Gonzalez Rally Morgantown, WV West Virginia University, “Gluck Theater”, Mountain Lair Student Union Suggested Contribution: $10/ $5 students (312) 208-4687 or Sept. 24th, 7:30pm Nader/Gonzalez Rally Pittsburgh, PA University of Pittsburgh, David Lawrence Hall, Room # 120 Suggested Contribution:$10/ $5 students (504) 319-9312 or Sept. 26th, 2pm Nader/Gonzalez Rally Los Angeles, CA USC, Embassy Room- Davidson Building 3415 S. Figueroa St. Los Angeles, CA 90089 Suggested Contribution: $10/ $5 students (714) 803-9676 or Sept. 26th, 9:30pm Bill Maher Show/ Debate After Party with Ralph Nader Hollywood, CA Social Hollywood Club 6525 West Sunset Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90028 Contribution: $25-$100 Contact Rob: (202)471-5833 or events@votenade

Blogging withdrawal

Twenty-four hours or slightly more since my last post.... A visit to Dr David Bell, the renowned Adolescent Chronic Fatigue specialists, which was awe-inspiring and comforting in more ways that you can imagine (I'll blog about it tonight).... Eight hours of driving, arriving home around midnight (I'm not as young and capable of shrugging it off as I used to be).... Ron Paul endorses Chuck Baldwin, not Bob Barr.... The White House announces an imminent threat to America, asks Congress for hundreds of billions of dollars and a free hand to invade Iraq--no, wait, Dubya just wants to nationalize the entire mortgage banking system without any oversight--well, of course we'll pay attention to him when he says we don't have time to think or debate--just act stupidly now and depend on a surge in two or three years to get us out of trouble.... Oh, and the legislative death of free speech in America is proposed by Tom Tancredo (who has a full-scale spin machine out there

Curiously, the General Election still promises to be a near-run thing

I keep remembering, when one side or the other tries to tell me, "It's over," that neither Senator John McCain nor Senator Barack Obama was supposed to be his party's nominee this year. Now, it's the economy and the expected collapse of the Palin bubble that's going to sink McCain. Except that I don't think--as momentous as the economic news is--that the election is going to turn on the bailout. Why? Three reasons: 1) Most Americans don't understand what's happening, and the tax bill for all this will not hit until well after November. 2) Both candidates are now living on borrowed time, because both of them know that the major decisions will be made by Dubya before either gets into office, but that the resulting recession is going to tar the President who is actually in office when it really hits. So within the next two weeks you are going to see both McCain and Obama looking to bring other issues back to the forefront--because neither of th

Using lunacy to prevent the spread of Sharia law...

... is pretty much what Tom Tancredo's new Anti-Jihad legislation is about. Yes, it is absolutely chilling [as you can find digested in Fausta's Blog ] that Sharia Courts are now operating in the UK with full judicial sanction to handle everything from financial disputes to divorces to domestic abuse. Tancredo wants to prevent that by making the advocacy of Sharia law in the US a deportable offense for non-citizen Muslims. What a great idea, Tom! We'll fight a radical Islamic idea that would strike at the very foundations of our Republic with the designation of certain political ideas as being so unsuitable for political discourse that we will use the power of the State to deport those who don't think correctly. That will certainly save a country founded on the rights and freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights.

NOTA gaining ground? Dana Nelson and why we don't want or need a strong Presidency

Vanderbilt U. Professor Dana Nelson makes the case i nher new book, Bad for Democracy , that the imperial presidency is neither intended under the US Constitution nor good for democracy. Caught in an interview with Utne Reader , she explains The American Revolution was fought so that the people could have sovereignty. Imagining that our president will be our savior makes us reimagine democracy in opposite terms. The president has all the power and we get our power as a people from him, which is the way of a monarchy. It’s something that’s developed over a couple hundred years, but it takes us back to exactly the place that we as a nation tried to reject. She points out that part of this yearning for participatory democracy is Senator Barack Obama's appeal: Obama is interesting in big ways. He speaks the language of open systems. He’s talking about a coproduced democracy; he’s talking about citizen access, citizen input, and universal volunteerism. I think what people, especi

Another reason to be ashamed of the Barr candidacy...

... is that he believes in the right of the State to kill prisoners, as long as the State is careful about it. According to the AP , Bob Barr wrote recently to the Clemency Board in Georgia on behalf of convicted killer Troy Davis: Barr wrote the board Wednesday saying he is "a strong believer in the death penalty as an appropriate and just punishment" but said the proper level of fairness and accuracy required for the ultimate punishment has not been met in Davis' case. Maybe part of this non-Libertarian belief in the State's right to execute prisoners is part of the reason that Bob Barr is polling at 2% in North Carolina, whereas Dr Michael Munger--a death penalty opponent--is garnering 6%. Food for thought, eh?

Listening to the man who is "too sane" to become Governor of North Carolina

Here [courtesy Last Free Voice ] are excerpts from Dr Michael Munger's education commentary after he was again excluded from a major gubernatorial debate in North Carolina. First, on the debate itself: The Democratic and Republican candidates held another alleged debate today, sponsored by a supposedly non-partisan group, which excluded the third candidate in the race. Predictably, their answers focused on how they are going to fix the problem by using government power. The event was ironically held under the banner: “Education: Everybody’s Business.” Everybody, that is, except those who challenge the status quo, including a professor with nearly 25 years as an educator. Compounding the irony was the fact this “public” forum was held on private property and attendance was by invitation only. The program was recorded by the NC Telecommunications Association, another supposedly non-partisan group, and will be aired by WUNC on cable systems across the state. News14 Carolina aired