Wednesday, May 28, 2008

McCain is Dreadful!

I didn't know the ghastly Phil Gramm was a higher up in McCain's organization.

Message to America:

Obama may be far from perfect, he may even be subpar, but if you vote for McCain you are absolutely voting for more of the same Bushshit! And the consequences going forward will make what we have experienced to date pale by comparison.


Echoes of McCarthyism:

The lunatics will run the asylum if you let them. I offer as exhibit A, the following story:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Great Filter.

Was there life on Mars? This question is often dismissed by many of us as silly or even irrelevant. However, it is almost a given that most of us assume that answering yes to the question amounts to good news for our species. The logic behind our positive feeling is as follows: If there was life on another planet in our very own solar system, then the chances for life in some other part of the galaxy, let alone in the rest of the universe, must be excellent. Hurray, we are not alone! Unfortunately, according to Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, any revelations that life once existed on Mars, especially if that life was advanced, is the worst possible news for our species going forward. For anyone interested in understanding why this is so, (today's blog entry title is a hint) I highly recommend reading the fascinating article at the link below.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Take Him Out, Put Her In!

The headline reads, "Mother sentenced to 20 years in jail for keeping son in cage." Upon reading the story, it seems clear that the mother in question is less a criminal then simply off her trolley. Then again, a lot of criminality can be laid at the doorstep of madness. Well, that's my view. So what can we say about a culture that either can't properly understand a crime such as this, or does have an awareness, but chooses to ignore it in sentencing.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

$100 Oil?

The worrisome headlines and frightening articles about the present and future price of the second most precious liquid on the planet, oil, are coming fast and furious. Those with a contrarian bent love to see this sort of thing, as it usually portends a top of substantial portions. We'll just have to wait and see if the very alarming but not unexpected trend continues, or if the bull market in Texas Tea, the one being cheerlead to a fare thee well by such dubious Wall Street operators as Goldman Sachs, goes into a serious, albeit temporary, nosedive.

No one should be surprised if somewhere between here and $150 dollars a barrel, oil does decide to take a detour to, oh, say, $100 dollars a barrel. That's what markets do without fail, fool the overwhelming majority at just the point when they are most committed to a trade. One should remember that (fictitious government numbers aside) the nation is in a recession that is bound to get worse, and so there are ample reasons going forward for oil to take, at least, a breather. And should it come to pass that we do see a fast and furious twenty percent swoon in the price of oil, that would likely represent an excellent chance to top off one's tank, so to speak, because the discount probably won't last very long.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Remember Bismarck's Dictum.

"Never believe a rumor until it has been officially denied", said the Chancellor of Germany, Otto Von Bismarck. And then there are non denial denials like the following one issued today from The White House regarding recently alleged military intentions on the part of the Bush Administration towards Iran. The story is at the link.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Take a Hike, Mr. President

The Saudis have politely told the The President of The United States to take a hike regarding his request that the House of Saud pump more oil in order to drive down the price. One commentator put it thusly:

"Saudi Arabia does not have customers that are making requests for oil that they are not able to satisfy," Stephen Hadley said on a day when oil prices rose above $127 a barrel, a record high. "What the Saudis wanted to tell us was we're doing everything we can do ... to meet this problem, but it's a complicated problem."

A complicated problem? If one subscribes to the work of historian William Engdahl, at least twenty to thirty dollars of the present price of oil is due to hedge fund activity. His thesis, which you can read over at the website is well thought out and plausible, but then he isn't a Peak Oil advocate. Peak Oil proponents assert that the price of oil is still entirely too low. By their runes the Saudis are likely pumping about as much as they can now since their fields are past their peak rate of production during a time of tight demand. Maybe this is so, but then access to reliable data about the condition of, Ghawar, for example, the largest oil field in the Saudi realm, or anyone's realm for that matter, is, at best, sketchy.

One would like to know more about the particulars of Mr. Hadley's first sentence regarding Saudi Arabia's "customers." That sentence, qualified as it is, has the ring of lawyer/politician speak, and as such, rings as less than forthright. What customers? Given that a lot of nations are said to be getting priced right out of the market, has Saudi Arabia's customer base changed appreciably in recent times? Perhaps customers other than the U.S. have made requests to the Saudis for oil that have not been satisfied and so they no longer are customers. After all, while the Saudis do offer an excellent grade of light sweet crude, they do not offer the only viable grade of crude oil. Perhaps some erstwhile customers are purchasing inferior grades of crude at lower prices elsewhere. One would very much like to get to the bottom of this "complicated problem." In the meantime, as summer driving season approaches, so, it would appear, does four and five dollar gasoline.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Same old same old.

John McCain, like most, if not all of his fellow Republican nominees before him, has announced that he is opposed to "partisanship." Hurrah! And an inflation debased dime will get you a thousand points of the following reconstituted turd, "The United States has had several years of marvelous growth." Well, Senator, if one counts the tumorous growth of instruments of financial destruction such as MBSs, CDOs, CDSs, and the like, then yes, absolutely! And if one subscribes to utterly fictitious government numbers like the ones released yesterday that asserted that fuel prices dropped in April, then no doubt, we have almost certainly had robust economic activity of a sort. We've certainly had a lot of growth in housing foreclosures over the last several years. Was that the sort of growth you had in mind, Senator?

Here are some more inspiring gems from the presumptive Republican nominee:

"A League of Democracies will supplant a failed United Nations." (Paraphrased)

Hmm. Given that the U.S. spends most of its time thwarting the work of the U.N., what point is there to forming another organization dedicated to preserving peace and assisting less fortunate nations. Then again, as the U.S. isn't much of a democracy anymore, except nominally, perhaps a League of Democracies might have a decent shot at fulfilling its purpose if the U.S. and it's tottering kleptocracy were left out of the proceedings. And finally, I can't resist taking a swipe at the stunning lack of originality in the name, League of Democracies, what with its deafening echoes of Woodrow Wilson's failed League of Nations.

But wait, there's more:

"The Taliban threat in Afghanistan has been greatly reduced."

Perhaps, but it's a fact that the poppy fields are producing like they haven't in years. But that's good, right, since therein lies a lot of untaxed profits that will bolster the depleted coffers of our kleptocratic empire.

Mark his words:

"There is a time to campaign, and a time to govern. If I'm elected president, the era of the permanent campaign will end; the era of problem solving will begin."

Are you planning to take money out of politics? Your fund raising during the most recent campaign make one skeptical of your commitment to such an eradication, Then again, as long as you got yours in time to snatch the Presidency, that's all that matters, right?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Real Disasters

Given the title of this site, there is no excuse for me to not remark on the astonishing natural events that have occured over the last few weeks. I say astonishing because the awesome destructive power of nature has manifested in what seems like extraordinary temporality all over the planet. The immediate result has been death in the hundreds of thousands and what I imagine is hundreds of billions of dollars in property loss.

From China, most recently the scene of a massive earthquake, to Myanmar, site of cyclonic devastation, to the interior portions of the U.S., where tornados have flattened small towns for weeks on end, to Chile where a volcanic eruption just commenced, natural devastation is truly planet wide. I have nothing more to say about any of these catastrophes except that the next time some idiotic preacher says that a scourge of nature like AIDS is God's judgement against a certain select group, ask him who The Almighty was targeting for punishment with those tornadoes that ravaged the deep south and the midwest.

Who To Believe?

While Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comment yesterday that the Banking sector's condition is "far from normal" and Secretary of The Treasury, Hank Paulson's and Citibank's head honcho Vikram Pandit's view that "the worst of the credit crisis is behind us" are not diametrically opposed perspectives, they don't exactly converge either.

Who should we believe? Intuitively, I can't subscrbe to Mr. Paulson or Mr. Pandit's public stance, because, at least where Mr. Paulson is concerned, The Secretary's judgement has been, to date, very poor regarding the ongoing crisis in the financial sphere. I offer as evidence, (of either rank dishonesty, incompetence, or both), the Secretary's opinion, offered last summer, that the "sub prime crisis is contained." As for Citibank, they are clearly bankrupt, and their continued borrowings at usurious rates from sovereign wealth funds to shore up their massively depleted capital base gives the game away. All is far from well, at least where they are concerned.

Ben Bernanke clearly operates from the same playbook as his infamous predecessor, the mendacious maestro himself, Alan Greenspan. However, despite Mr. Bernanke's propensity to act as Wall Street's best friend at the expense of the general public, I believe he is a grade more forthright about what he is up to and the state of play out there in banking land. Then again, except amongst the mainstream media, their followers, and those who simply have not been paying attention, it is impossible to play hide the hotdog where the banking system's unprecedented troubles are concerned. So, a modest portion of honesty in this case isn't so much a laudably moral choice on the part of The Chairman of The Federal Reserve Board as it is an unavoidable necessity.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Money, Money, Money....Money!

It seems I was incorrect about the amount of boodle Hillary "borrowed." It was not six million that she tapped, but eleven million. Now, as a result of that and the Clinton campaign's rapid demise, the course of national politics seems to be hanging in the balance in a rather bizarre and ironic fashion.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Memo to Hillary: You've Been Beaten!

The race is over and everyone seems to know it except Hillary Clinton, her most devoted followers, and a large portion of the MSM. Barack Obama has very shrewdly taken to ignoring his vanquished foe and is instead focusing on his Republican adversary, John McCain. This is as it should be, as Obama, who is gathering super delegate support in droves, and is now ahead of Hillary Clinton, ought to act like the victor he is, even though, for the sake of propriety, he must wait for time to pass and (pro forma) ritual to occur before victory is officially declared.

In the meantime, in the absence of any sensible refereeing such that the effectively punch drunk Hillary Clinton can not be declared down for the count, the rest of the party is effectively throwing in the towel on the Hillary for President campaign. With all the super delegate defections to Obama, they seem to be saying, fine, let the crazed, and/or punch drunk Hillary continue to swing wildly about in the ring, but we know who the winner of the contest should be, and we want him to begin training for the main event now. For his part, McCain, seems, by his rhetoric and stance, to agree that the winner of the democratic contest is, in fact, Barack Obama. It's a very strange state of affairs to be sure, but almost certainly a healthy one. After all, when a contestant doesn't know that they've lost, victory must be declared, and the game allowed to move forward.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Bye Bye Hillary?

If Hillary Clinton has a sense of self preservation, and I'd say she has a heaping helping of it, she will bow out of the race for Democratic nominee in the next 48 hours. For her, the party, no pun intended, is well and truly over. The putative momentum Ms. Clinton built up due to her victory in Pennsylvania, combined with her and the national media's fanning of the Reverend Wright flames, seems to have been illusory, at least where North Carolina and Indiana voters were concerned. As a result, she is now all but mathematically out of the race.

In practical terms that means that she should leave the race, pronto. However, given that she just borrowed six and half million dollars for her campaign, it doesn't appear that Ms. Clinton is going to come to her senses and depart before she ruins what is left of her good name. Personally, I'd be happy for her to waste millions of her personal fortune on an effort that would almost certainly be politically, if not financially, ruinous, since I think she's part of the problem, not the solution, as they coined the phrase back when Hillary and Bill Clinton were still undergraduates. And while I am far from convinced that Obama will make a decent President, I'm sure I wouldn't like HRC.

In any case, I have always been eager to see Obama versus McCain. It's a much more interesting match, for obvious reasons, youth versus age, black versus white, short versus tall, etc. etc. Perhaps Ms. Clinton will come to her senses and stop standing in the way of inevitability long enough to save herself some portion of the six and half million she just borrowed to keep her own personal good ship lollipop from sinking beneath the political waves. Given Ms. Clinton's obvious desperation to occupy the Oval Office, I, for one, am not betting on it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Stupidity and Ignorance (in just one short paragraph)

The quote below comes from a blog entitled "The Natural Truth" by someone named Michael Graham, a "right wing" radio jock in Boston. Anyone who has spent any time parsing government employment stats knows that (due to the absolutely dishonest metrics used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, such as The Birth/Death model, Hedonic price adjustments, and sundry seasonal factors, to name but a few of the deceptions employed) the employment and inflation numbers presented by the government are more divorced from reality than a Marvel comic book. But what can one expect from someone who trumpets the words of a clueless President Shrub and the absolutely least respected economist around, Larry Kudlow. Try reading Paul Kasriel sometime, Mr. Graham, he knows what he's talking about, and he says we are in recession now, and it's going to get worse.

Your Natural Truth For Today “[O]n Friday, after the most recent jobs report — which produced a much-smaller-than-expected decline in corporate payrolls, a huge 362,000 increase in the more entrepreneurial household survey (the best gain in five months), and a historically low 5 percent unemployment rate (4.95 percent, to be precise) — the president told reporters: 'This economy is going to come on. I’m confident it will.' We’re in the midst of the most widely predicted and heralded recession in history. Problem is, so far it’s a non-recession recession.

[Says] Stanford professor Robert Hall, who heads the recession-dating committee at the National Bureau of Economic Research: 'It seems unlikely that we would ever declare a peak-date when real GDP continued to rise.' Interesting — isn’t it? — just how durable and resilient our low-tax, free-market, capitalist economy truly is. Hit by soaring food and energy prices, a bad housing downturn, and a Wall Street credit crunch, the economy continues to expand, albeit slowly.” -- Economist and CNBC host Larry Kudlow.