Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gridlock, Despite Democrat Control of Everything!

No budget, no tax bill, no jobs, no more!

Individual Charitable Giving Declines Nearly 5% Between 2008 and 2009

Caroline Baum reports some interesting figures for about the relatively puny contributions people have made to the US Bureau of the Public Debt:

Last year, the Treasury received more than $3 million in gifts, the biggest annual take since 1995’s $7.3 million. ...

Public Law 87-58, “Gifts to Reduce the Public Debt,” was passed on June 27, 1961, in response to a generous bequest of $20 million dollar from an estate. ... Since then the single largest gift was $3.5 million in 1992, also a bequest from an individual’s estate.

In the first 10 months of fiscal 2010, which ends today, Treasury received $2.7 million in gifts.

For all the handwringing that goes on about the growth of deficit spending, you'd think the numbers would show a little more civic-mindedness, but they don't. Compared with giving to private charities, this tells you all you need to know about where people think their money will do the most good, and it sure isn't the government.

Boston College's Center on Wealth and Philanthropy reports the latest numbers:

Individual charitable giving in 2009 amounted to $217.3 billion . . . $228.5 billion total in 2008. ...

The American people still believe there is a huge need out there which government spending through forced taxation is not meeting, and despite that taxation they open their wallets to address it. But what should disturb more people is the recent decline in giving due to the financial meltdown, a casualty of this country's war on the middle class:

[T]he total decline in inflation adjusted dollars [was] $25.3 billion between 2007 and 2009.

Follow the links for the stories.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On The Theory of Evolution

"There is no other explanation for the existence of the Democrat Party than descent from the apes."

-- Imam John

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"The Economy Has Slowed . . . to Near-Stall Speed"

Rosie wonders here why the administration continues to propose more stimulus spending, why the Fed again is signaling it's ready for more quantitative easing, and why credit unions suddenly needed a government bailout last week if in fact the recession ended in 2009 and we are in a recovery.

Well yeah.

Monday, September 27, 2010

You Can Always Tell A Harvard Man, But You Can't Tell Him Much

Writing for The Providence Journal, Bruce Bartlett of Reagan administration fame relates an illuminating episode for the character of President George W. Bush, who intended from the beginning that his tax cuts sop up the Clinton surplus:

One morning in 2001, one of President Bush’s most senior economic advisers walked into the Oval Office for a meeting with the president. The day before, the adviser had learned that the president had decided to send out tax-rebate checks to stimulate the faltering economy. Concerned about deficits and the dubious stimulatory effect of such rebates, he had called the president’s chief of staff, Andy Card, to ask for the audience, and the meeting had been set.

As the man took his seat in the wing chair next to the president’s desk, he began to explain his problem with the president’s decision. The fact of the matter was that in this area of policy, this adviser was one of the experts, really top-drawer, and had been instrumental in devising some of the very language now used to discuss these concepts. He was convinced, he told Bush, that the president’s position would soon enough be seen as "bad policy." This, it seems, was the wrong thing to say to the president.

According to senior administration officials who learned of the encounter soon after it happened, President Bush looked at the man. "I don’t ever want to hear you use those words in my presence again," he said. "What words, Mr. President?"

"Bad policy," President Bush said. "If I decide to do it, by definition it’s good policy. I thought you got that." The adviser was dismissed. The meeting was over.

The rest should not be missed, here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Obama The Lazy: No Intellectual Curiosity

Ulsterman for claims to have the following from a White House insider, there from the beginning but recently out:

Obama the tireless, hard working candidate became a very tepid personality to us. And the few news stories that did come out against him were the only things he seemed to care about. He absolutely obsesses over Fox News. For being so successful, Barack Obama is incredibly thin-skinned. He takes everything very personally. ...

I’ll tell you this – if you want to see President Obama get excited about a conversation, turn it to sports.  That gets him interested. You start talking about Congress, or some policy, and he just kinda turns off.  It’s really very strange. I mean, we were all led to believe that this guy was some kind of intellectual giant, right? Ivy League and all that. Well, that is not what I saw. Barack Obama doesn’t have a whole lot of intellectual curiosity. When he is off script, he is what I call a real “slow talker”. Lots of ummms, and lots of time in between answers where you can almost see the little wheel in his head turning very slowly. I am not going to say the president is a dumb man, because he is not, but yeah, there was a definite let down when you actually hear him talking without the script. ...

Bill Clinton is a smart guy – he would run intellectual circles around Barack Obama. ...

When you take away the crowds, Obama gets noticeably smaller. He shrinks up inside of himself. He just doesn’t seem to have the confidence to do the job of President, and it’s getting worse and worse. Case in point – just a few days before I left, I saw first hand the President of the United States yelling at a member of his staff. He was yelling like a spoiled child. And then he pouted for several moments after. I wish I was kidding, or exaggerating, but I am not. The President of the United States threw a temper tantrum. The jobs reports are always setting him off, and he is getting increasingly conspiratorial over the unemployment numbers. ...

Obama is not up to the job of being president. He simply doesn’t seem to care about the work involved.  You want to know what? Obama is lazy. He really is. And it is getting worse and worse. Would another four years of Obama be the best thing for America? No it would not. What this country needs is a president who is focused on the job more than on themselves. Obama is not that individual. I actually hope he doesn’t run again. ...

Much more here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Foreclosure Crisis Not Even Half Over

Based on Richard Suttmeier's take on the data here:

About 2.5 million homes have been lost to foreclosure since “The Great Credit Crunch” began in March 2007, and another 3.3 million homes could be lost to foreclosure or distressed sale before “The Great Credit Crunch” comes to an end.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wal-Mart Moms Think Obama is Overwhelmed by the Presidency

Pretty stupid when you consider that he's finally having the time of his life. Golf every Sunday. Parties every Wednesday. The world is his oyster.

Call it female projection syndrome. They are the ones who are overwhelmed, so he must be too.

They don't know the truth, don't see it, don't have time for it, don't have the money to find out about it, nor the inclination. And if the truth breaks through occasionally, they think "If it could only be me."

And that is precisely what the Democrats continue to count on. The effeminate party is an easily distracted party.

The story is here, in USA Away. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Congress Votes to Purge Phrase "Mental Retardation"

According to this report:

Disabilities advocates are applauding Congress for passing legislation that eliminates the term "mental retardation" from federal laws.

The phrase can still be used on this blog according to the editor, especially as a synonym for "member of Congress," as in "A congressman who thinks an island can tip over if it gets too populated on one side of it is a mental retard."

Decline in Household Debt Due to Defaults, Not Deleveraging

So concludes Mark Whitehouse for The Wall Street Journal, here. Of a decline of $610 billion in debt, only $22 billion is due to deleveraging. The vast majority of the decline is due to default, over a half trillion dollars.

Michael Pento here apparently hasn't gotten the message, but points out that whatever else may be said about consumers not adding to their debt profile, the government has picked up the slack, and stratospherically so. For that reason he abjures all talk of debt deflation.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A.A.R.P.: Armed And Really Pissed

Up Yours, Obama, You Marxist Jackass

"Cool" (as in Deceiver)

An adjective of Dutch derivation,
neither zealous, nor ardent;
neither angry, nor fond;
in short without passion,
a deceiver.

-- Samuel Johnson's Dictionary


What is a communist? The One who has yearnings
For equal division of unequal earnings.
Idler, or bungler, or both, he is willing
To fork over his penny and pocket your shilling.

- Ebenezer Elliott, son of "Devil Elliott", adapted

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Liberty or Slavery? Which Will It Be?

"And whenever their constituents neglect to call [their representatives] to account for such their neglect and breach of trust, they are not worthy the name of the SONS OF LIBERTY, the name of slave is more suitable, for slaves they really are, and are fit for nothing else."

-- A Countryman, 1765

Fried Fruit Cocktail

"Politics is like a cookbook where the recipe for everything is to fry it."

-- PJ O'Rourke, here

Decades of Economic Shrinkage Ahead

"Just as the housing sector and the related debt was the driver of the US economy over the past several decades, I believe that the deflation of the housing market could spell an equally drastic period of shrinkage in economic activity in the US and around the world."

-- Chris Whalen, here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Heard After the Colonoscopy

"Doc, would you write me a note for the wife stating that you checked twice and my head is most definitely not up there?"

h/t Theo

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Army General Equates Christians With Bigots and Racists

Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, Army Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of personnel, quoted here:

"Unfortunately, we have a minority of service members who are still racists and bigoted and you will never be able to get rid of all of them. But these people opposing this new policy [repeal of DADT] will need to get with the program, and if they can't, they need to get out. No matter how much training and education of those in opposition, you're always going to have those that oppose this on moral and religious grounds just like you still have racists today."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poverty Stats Worst Since 1960s

The Washington Post has the story:

The ranks of the working-age poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s as the recession threw millions of people out of work last year, leaving one in seven Americans in poverty.

The overall poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people, the Census Bureau said Thursday in its annual report on the economic well-being of U.S. households. The report covers 2009, President Barack Obama's first year in office.

The poverty rate climbed from 13.2 percent, or 39.8 million people, in 2008.

According to the story, the rate of 14.3% would have been higher still had there not been an increase in Social Security and federal emergency unemployment outlays.

Read more here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Want Cheese With That?

h/t Theo

Liquidity Defined

"That's when you look at your investments and wet your pants."

-- Randy Glasbergen

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Change He Hoped For: Record Increase in Poverty Under Obama

As reported by Yahoo News (on Saturday, Sept. 11, when you weren't paying attention):

The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Barack Obama's watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty.

Census figures for 2009 — the recession-ravaged first year of the Democrat's presidency — are to be released in the coming week, and demographers expect grim findings.

It's unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections when control of Congress is at stake. The anticipated poverty rate increase — from 13.2 percent to about 15 percent — would be another blow to Democrats struggling to persuade voters to keep them in power.

More government. More poverty. The change he hoped for.

Read the complete story here.

Freedom Absolutists

Birds of a feather flocked together:

Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer, a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance. Or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risks, but not be job-locked because a child has asthma or diabetes or someone in the family is bipolar. You name it, any condition is job-locking.

-- Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, dependent of the American people

[C]ommunist society ... regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, as the spirit moves me ...

-- Karl Marx, unemployed academic and journalist, dependent of Friedrich Engels

Without the notion of patriotism and national borders, people would live wherever and however they prefer, practice the religions they want, marry whomever they desire, and produce, exchange, and prosper in whatever way they see fit.

-- Kel Kelly, libertarian author and ingrate, here

It should bother more Democrats and Republicans that their country and political parties have been invaded by people who all drink from the same well of failed utopianism, whether they be socialists in the Democrat party, or libertarians in the Republican. Vote for such at your peril.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Federal Reserve Given Until October 19 To Appeal To US Supreme Court reported on August 27th that the Federal Reserve has won yet another reprieve as it seeks to escape rulings requiring it to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request for the names of firms receiving approximately $2 trillion in taxpayer loans:  

The Federal Reserve Board was given 60 days to decide whether to take a Freedom of Information Act case to the U.S. Supreme Court or disclose documents about loans it made to banks during the credit crisis.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York today acceded to the Fed’s request to delay implementation of a ruling that compels the central bank to release the reports, giving the bank until Oct. 19 to appeal. The clock began to run on Aug. 20 when the court refused to revisit its earlier ruling against the Fed.

At issue are 231 “term sheets” documenting Fed loans to financial firms during 2008. The records, which include the banks’ names and the amounts borrowed, were originally requested by the late Bloomberg News reporter Mark Pittman through the FOIA, which allows citizens access to government papers.

Expect an appeal to be filed by the Fed on the Oct. 19 deadline to avoid if at all possible having to disclose the explosive information before the Nov. 2 midterm elections.

The complete story is available here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Obama's Brain is Baked

"Boring. Obama. Presser. Is. A. Flop. If Reagan had stammered like this, the media would be talking dementia."

-- Rush Limbaugh, today

The reason the guy can't spit it out is long term exposure to THC. His head is a bakery, man. That's why he needs those teleprompters.

Crusaders Got It Right The First Time

There's much more from Sheik Yer'Mami here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

German Leftist Says Importing Guest Workers A Gigantic Error

From the jobs-Germans-won't-do department, Thilo Sarrazin of the German Social Democrat party and a Bundesbank board member has written a book which has had multiculturalists everywhere in an uproar:

In the book, Sarrazin says Europe's top economy is being undermined, overwhelmed and made "more stupid" by poorly educated, fast-breeding, badly integrated and unproductive Muslim immigrants and their offspring.

"If I want to hear the muezzin's call to prayer, then I'll go to the Orient," he says, saying that allowing in millions of "guest workers" in the 1960s and 1970s was a "gigantic error."...

According to a study from Bielefeld University, one in two Germans thinks there are too many foreigners in the country.

And that's what the left in Germany thinks.

For more, go here.

One Bourbon, One Cymbalta, and One Beer reports disturbing news about our disturbed population, which shelled out $234 billion in 2008 for prescription drugs, saying nearly half the population is on something or other. And then there's this little tidbit at the end:

For adults ages 20 to 59, antidepressants, including Eli Lilly and Co.’s Cymbalta and Pfizer Inc.’s Zoloft, were the most-used drugs.

I note from this source that in 2007 the top five antidepressants were prescribed at a rate in excess of 100 million times. The thirteen antidepressants listed were prescribed an astounding 201.9 million times. That's a lot of Americans walking around emotionally medicated, perhaps between 16 million and 50 million people. How does that compare with the depressants we consume?

Despite this headline back in March, "Alcohol Sales Sober in 2009," the economic downturn did not result in an overall decline in alcohol consumption in 2009:

Distilled spirits and wine experienced positive results, albeit at a much slower rate than in the past, while beer saw unprecedented declines. ...

Distilled spirits grew 1.7 percent in 2009 to 188.7 million cases, marking the 12th consecutive year of positive results for the category. However, the spirits market's expansion slowed from the 3.2 percent gain posted in 2007 and 2.1 percent in 2008. ...

Wine experienced a slight slowdown in its 2009 growth rate. Wine consumption increased 0.8 percent, only 0.1 percent less than its 2008 gain, and finished the year at 297.1 million 9-liter cases. ...

Total beer consumption declined 1.4 percent in 2009 to 2.9 billion cases.

I put that at about .8 cases of booze for every adult per year, 1.3 cases of wine, and 12.7 cases of beer, assuming an adult population of 228 million in 2008. That comes to about .78 ounces of booze per day, and 10 ounces of beer. In other words, a shot and a beer. And less than a glass of wine a week.

And maybe a Zoloft.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Roubini: Corporate Profits Came on Backs of Unemployed

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports on the Ambrosetti conference at Lake Como, where Nouriel Roubini made the remark:

Dr Roubini said US companies have plenty of cash but are boosting profits by a policy of “slash and burn” on labour costs. “We’ve lost 8.4m jobs and if you include the loss of hours worked it is equivalent to another 3m. We need to generate an extra 450,000 jobs every month for three years to get it back,” he said.

For more go here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"King" Quotation on New Oval Office Rug Belonged to Theodore Parker

Martin Luther King Jr.'s freewheeling habit of quoting without attribution plagiarism is now memorialized on the new rug in Obama's Oval Office.

The story is here.

On "Gin"

This limerick’s for purging my sin,
Ousting lust and desire from within,
Which leaves oodles of space
For agape and grace,
Plus humility, virtue, and gin.

-- Robin Kay Willoughby

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Keynesian Stake in the Term "Depression"

The Keynesians need it to be a depression as much as the Austrians, and John Judis of The New Republic explains the former's point of view, here:

In its basic contours, the current downturn is much more similar to the depressions of the 1890s and the 1930s than to the post-World War II recessions. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

ZIRP is Legalized Theft

The line of the day comes from Chris Whalen, writing at here about the damage the Fed's zero interest rate policy is doing to the country:

Fed Chairman Bernanke and the other members of the FOMC are killing the real economy to save the banks — but none of the benefit flowing to the banks is reaching US households. In fact, the Obama Administration has been providing political cover for the Fed to conduct a massive, reverse Robin Hood scheme, moving trillions of dollars in resources from savers and consumers to the big banks and their share and bond holders.

Read the rest at the link, at your peril.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Problem Bank List Update: 829, or 2500?

The latest data on problem banks has been updated by the FDIC, showing an increase from 775 in the first quarter to 829 in the second, according to this story. An unofficial list of the problem banks receives regular updating here.

Compare that with these remarks from an anonymous commercial banker from California offered at Mish's blog here in an on-going series of posts about insufficient loan loss provisions at banks:

In my estimation, if every bank had the collateral of all loans accurately appraised and each loan’s loan grading was finely tuned for an expected loss based on financial performance and collateral values, the number of essentially bankrupt banks in this county would increase by a factor of 4-5 from the current level.

In other words, there is a potential pool of 2000-3000 banks that would be on the FDIC radar's for getting closed.

The health of the industry is not accurately reported by any means.

What continues at the heart of this issue is asset valuations and the accounting rules which govern them. Banks want the most liberal rules they can get, while taxpayers who end up footing the bill for bank malfeasance do not. Elected government officials and unelected bureaucrats in the middle have been and continue to be on the bankers' side, with a few notable exceptions, at a horrible cost to the taxpayers, who rightly feel that they have no voice.

And that's a big part of what all the fuss is about as the midterm elections loom.