“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, January 18, 2008

President Speaks Stimulus. Market Not Assured .

I listened to the President's talk about a stimulus package and it sounded a little too much of the "my way or the highway" tone to it. The market must have felt the same and the nice gain in the morning headed south of Crawford. Why can't he pick up the phone and have the Europeans, Brits and the US Central Bank all notch a point off the interest rates? That would neutralize the currency swing and put some juice into the economy.

A stimulus package will end up being a pig's breakfast. It is also time to start getting tough with the Gulf OPEC cartel. They get all that free US protection. Maybe two or three aircraft carriers returning to California would give them something to think about.

U.S. stock rally fades as financials lead slump

President Bush's talk of fiscal stimulus fails to cheer investors

By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch
Jan. 18, 2008

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks on Friday erased early gains, with financials weighing on the market as new concerns about bond insurers overtook cheer that came with solid quarterly results from International Business Machines Corp. and General Electric Co.

Talk from President Bush on the need for a fiscal stimulus package failed to bolster sentiment. See full story.
"Most people know this is just political noise; our problems are a lot bigger than this," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak.


  1. Because the Federal Reserve System, the US Central Bank, is not directly answerable to the President, nor Congress, nor the Courts.

    By design.

    The Federal Reserve is a power unto itself, a private corporation, chartered by the Federal Government to control the money supply and the economy.

    If Mr Bush made that call, and came up empty. The ill effects would be greater than his inaction.

  2. To withdraw the aircraft carriers would leave our troops in Iraq with less support than they may need.
    The decision to withdraw from that theater, full of domestic political repercussions.

  3. Doc99 said...
    Were I the leader of Argentina, I would have my generals prepare plans to retake the Falklands.

  4. ", Lieutenant General David W Barno, in the prestigious journal Military Review. ... Barno claimed the US counter-insurgency strategy during his period produced 'positive and dramatic' results" but that NATO ineptitude had thrown it all away.

    "According to Barno, the slide began in mid-2005 after he and Khalilzad were reassigned.

    Washington then decided to publicly announce that NATO was assuming responsibility for the war and that the US was making a token withdrawal of 2,500 troops.

  5. The Fed does need to cut another one percent. They should have done an inter-meeting cut. The rest of this is just some blatant election-year vote buying.

    Btw, we've been looking at some really strange employment/unemployment statistics, recently. A fall of six tenths of a percent from the low has ALWAYS signalled recession; However, the new unemployment claims the last two weeks say, "No way." (the "new" claims this week were only 300k - a very good number.)

    I'm sure the turbulence in the labor statistics has something to do with the crackdown on illegal labor, but it's hard to get a handle on just how it's playing out.

  6. Life has its ups and downs.
    The pendulum swings both ways. There good times and bad.

    Now, we find that another bubble has burst and according to the unrelentingly pessimistic MSM, the wolf is at the door. It's no wonder that the fear of recession is palpable.

    We are soft, fearful sheeple stampeded by shadows and running in a herd.

  7. "Washington then decided to publicly announce that NATO was assuming responsibility for the war and that the US was making a token withdrawal of 2,500 troops."
    I'm not going to waste my time trying to convince the BC crowd, but the POLITICAL DECISION pointed to above was critical, as I think a reading of Yon at the time would confirm.
    "Why Iraq should "suck away the oxygen" from Afghanistan is unclear"
    Yeah, when Blaming Bush is off the table!

  8. Rufus,
    California is a big enough economy to effect the country.
    Due to liberal incompetence and corruption, giving the state away to Mexico, CA is in deep shit that keeps getting deeper.

  9. There is a danger of inflation.
    There is a danger of recession.

    We need to spend more to avoid a recession.
    Consumer spend has fueled inflation.
    We need to spend less and save more.

    We need to raise taxes.
    We need to lower taxes.

    Low interest rates are killing the dollar.
    We need to lower interest rates.

    Nobody knows what the hell is going on.

  10. That should have read: "a rise of six tenths of a percent from the low."

  11. Entitlement spending is bankrupting us.

    We need universal health care.

  12. A high productivity/low welfare economy such as ours won't, under any circumstances, have too much inflation. Don't confuse price increases in a certain commodity like oil with inflation.

    The value of the dollar is mainly effected by trade deficits, and perceived future trade deficits.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. I think a big worry of folk at the fed and now at the white house are major bank failures. The bond insurers not covering their promises could be fatal for many an institution dependent upon maintaining decent capital ratios. Pension funds seem to have invested in munis only if they are insured. If the insurance is not good then the funds pull out of munis and dominoes continue to fall.

  15. Doug, I haven't thought much about California, but, being a highly productive economy, and the seventh, or eighth biggest economy in the world it might not be in as bad a shape as some think.

    It's deficit isn't really all that big for an economy that large, and a lot of their current investment in "green" technologies, and education might very well look downright "prescient" sometime in the future.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. An internal European Commission study, seen by AFP Friday, criticises an EU plan to boost the use of biofuels in transport, concluding that their costs outweigh the benefits.

    A Commission spokesman downplayed the study and insisted that the use of biofuels remained at the centre of its strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Europe.

    The unpublished working paper by the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission's in-house scientific body, makes uncomfortable reading for the EU's executive body ahead of a meeting Wednesday where it is to detail a plan for biofuels to make up 10 percent of all transport fuels in the EU by 2020.

    The cost-benefit study looks at whether using biofuels reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves security of supply and creates jobs and delivers an unenthusiastic opinion on all three counts.

    "What the cost-benefit analysis shows is that there are better ways to achieve greenhouse gas savings and security of supply enhancements than to produce biofuels," says the report.

    "The costs of EU biofuels outweigh the benefits," the researchers state.

    Read more

  18. Read General Barno's comments a couple of days ago, doug. The effort in Afghanistan is worse than comical.
    The barometer of success, poppie production. The more poppies grown, the more successful US policy has been.

    40,000 Coalition troops, not enough to secure Anbar, Iraq. Let alone the whole of Afghanistan.
    The lack of aircraft available the most telling example of overall ineptitude. But the lack of an Afghan Army, just as telling.

    In Iraq, 425,000 have been trained, armed or supported by US
    In Afghanistan, a larger country in geography and population, we've put 70,000 in the field. We have been in Afghanistan longer.

    Taste the pudding, that's where the proof is.

    I recall we wondered, why would Corporal Tillman get double tapped, at 300 meters.
    A soldier that is independently wealthy, liberal and patriotic, he'd be a hard man to bribe or even intimidate, even if it was just to look the other way, as the loads of poppies went by.
    Not likely to "go with the flow"

    Based upon both oil and gold, the dollar is worth 1/3 of its' 2001 value.
    As rufus stated earlier, US oil consumption remains static. OPEC expects a 1.5% demand increase in 2008, to around 87 million barrels per day.

    Oil demand, if back out 7 years, is 12% higher than 2001, plus or minus.

    That does not explain a tripling of the price. Nor does the rise in gold prices, from $300 to $900 per once.

    What Can We Infer from $900 Gold?
    By Paul Hoffmeister

    So during this period of record high gold prices, we should remember that gold is expensive because the dollar is weak and excessively abundant in supply. And furthermore, we shouldn't be adjusting gold for inflation, but instead should recognize that gold itself is an inflation indicator forecasting an incipient rise in the general price level of dollar-denominated goods and services.

    Paul Hoffmeister is chief economist for Bretton Woods Research.

    Even the adjusted "Core Inflation" numbers are beginning to rise. Statistical slieght of hand no longer able to hide the inflation from the public's perception.

    Further increasing the dollar supply will not stem the rising tide of inflationary pressures, anything but.

    The $75 to $125 Billion borrowed and spent on hardware and personnel in Iraq, annually, beginning to take its' toll on the overall economy.

    As rufus has told us, but for Iraq, we'd be better balanced. Which is possibily true, but for Iraq. Trouble is, there is Iraq and there will be Iraq for the foreseeable future.

    What was Osama's stated goal, but to engage the US in a "Long War" that would exhaust both our resolve and our treasury?

    Team43 played the game, according to Osama's play book, but doubled down on the projected theaters and expeditures.

    Six years and counting, with no end in sight, in any real terms.

    $1 Trillion soon to have been spent, with little or nothing to show for it.

    If it were not for that, man, we'd be made in the shade.

  19. UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon designated George Clooney as a U.N. "messenger of peace" Friday to promote the world body's activities, especially in its far-flung peacekeeping missions.

  20. "The conclusions are crystal clear -- the EU should abandon biofuels and use its resources on real solutions to climate change," he said of the leaked report.

    That would be population controls.

    Less people consume less stuff.
    Or demand that each person consume considerably less than those that came before them.

    The EU population is already in decline, but for immigration.
    So the borders must be sealed, as the Italians & Spanish are doing, in concert with Libya.

    The migrants transiting Libya being turned back, to the outrage of some in the UN.

    The solution to greenhouse gases, depopulation. Pretty much the only way to gain the targeted levels.

    Clear cutting Brazil or tropical Africa, then replanting it in sugarcane, not exactly what the "Greens" have in mind.

  21. MORE Money for an Education system that Graduates large numbers of near-illiterates and doesn't graduate the other 50%?

    I beg to differ, Rufus, and the off-the-books debt, bonded indebtedness, and mandated state employee retirement benefits, add to their woes.

  22. 'Rat,
    Read "John Lynch" at BC.
    Afghanistan/Pakistan don't matter, anyhow!

  23. The quickest solution, 'Rat:
    Nuclear Annihilation.
    Green World Achieved!

  24. Think about the REAL decline in Real Estate Wealth on a constant Dollar Basis, 'Rat!

  25. Would make me puke, doug.

    Reading the BC or the real value of my 20 acres of mountain top.

  26. Fear the Islamic nuclear weapons, except where they exist. Means, to me, there is no real Islamic threat. If one believes that the nukes of Pakistan can be discounted.

    The majority of the Iranian issue is smoke and mirrors. Fear mongers and weapons salesmen beating the drums.

    Or those concerned more for Israel than of the US. I would agree that the Iranians and the Saudis do pose a long term threat to Israel.

    No previous Crusader State has lasted, there. Neither has any previous Jewish State.
    Demographics and/or superior fire power did them all in, eventually.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Fri Jan 18, 05:52:00 PM EST

    That is the way forward.

    Africa and the Mussulman, about 20% of the world poulation, maybe a tad more, by the time the endgame is reached.

    The Israeli will take 300 million or so with 'em, when they go down.

    50 to 60 million dead in Pakistan, thanks to the radicalized Hindus.
    The Hindu could lose that same amount, but would survive the exchange.

    Deaths in Africa to ebola, AIDS and starvation, couple of hundred million more.

    Then there is Mexica, good for almost 100 million, if they get to uppity with US. We'd still get the land and the assets.

    The Tri-lateral nations of Europe, Asia and North America, survive.

  29. There is a danger of inflation.
    There is a danger of recession.

    We need to spend more to avoid a recession.
    Consumer spend has fueled inflation.
    We need to spend less and save more.

    We need to raise taxes.
    We need to lower taxes.

    Low interest rates are killing the dollar.
    We need to lower interest rates.

    Nobody knows what the hell is going on.

    :) Well, said, Whit.

    Too much employment causes inflation, people are out of work, welfare payments rise.

    But the paper boy can always make a living!

  30. From Texas ...
    More core Republican Values

    It just gets better and better.

    HOUSTON (Associated Press) -- The highest reaches of the Texas judicial system were consumed Friday by a real-life legal thriller that could be titled "The Runaway Grand Jury."

    A grand jury indicted a Texas Supreme Court justice Thursday on arson-related charges. But on Friday the district attorney's office that brought the case to the grand jury in the first place dropped the charges, angering members of the panel and drawing allegations of political backscratching.

    Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, who is himself embroiled in a scandal involving inappropriate e-mails found on his office computer, said there was insufficient evidence to support the charges against Justice David Medina, a fellow Republican.

    But the move outraged the grand jury foreman, who threatened to reconvene the panel and issue the charges again.

    "One could speculate it was political pressure. I could see no other reason," foreman Robert Ryan said Friday. "It depends on who your friends are."

    Ryan told the Houston Chronicle: "If this was David Medina, comma, truck driver, comma, Baytown, Texas, he would have been indicted three months ago."

    Medina was appointed by the governor to the state's highest civil court in 2004 and elected to a full term two years later.

    His wife, Francisca, was accused of setting a fire last summer that destroyed the couple's suburban Houston house and damaged a neighbor's residence. Her husband was charged with evidence tampering in the June 28 blaze, which caused nearly $1 million in damages.

  31. Got $800 from the man in the cowboy hat, give a thousand i'm looking for a thousand let me see a thousand now 1000, a 1000, a 1000 who'll bid a thousand now on this shiny new tax rebate...

  32. The plague had a lot to do with it. The desert folk escaped from the plague. Dropping like flies in Constantinople.

  33. The Christians had Greek fire.

  34. I hate to disagree with both whit AND bob, but what is going on is hiding in plain sight.

    A trillion dollars spent with nothing to show for it.

    Borrow a trillion bucks and burn it.
    No matter the size of the economy, it'll have an effect.

    When CitiBank is worth $6 billion.

    The Sovereign Funds of the Sauds & Dubai, that we've been speaking of, worth under $400 Billion, combined.

    rufus can count the "debt" any way he wants. He can discount statutory unfunded liabilities, and in a legal sense, he is correct.

    In a real sense, that makes no sense.

    Regardless the printing presses are running, flat out. If the bankers have manipulated the reporting of that fact, the markets know the deal, regardless.

    $900 per ounce for gold tells the real tale of inflation in the money supply.

    The confusion is spin, smoke and mirrors.

  35. Greek fire was largely responsible for many Byzantine military victories, and partly the reason the Eastern Roman Empire survived as long as it did. It was particularly helpful near the end of the empire's life when there were not enough inhabitants to effectively defend its territories. It was first used to repel the Muslim Arabs at the first Siege of Constantinople (674), the Battle of Syllaeum (677), and the second Siege of Constantinople (718). wiki

  36. Where's the money coming from for the tax rebate? From us, I know, but I mean, in the budget?

  37. Food is high, home prices lower. Wheat higher than a cat's ass.
    Some big Vegas casino is going bust, I don't think it had even opened but can't recall the details.

  38. As to your paper boy, bob
    Newspaper circulation is going down the tubes

    Daily circulation of American newspapers peaked in 1984 and had fallen nearly 13% to 55.2 million copies in 2003, according to the Newspaper Association of America. At the same time, advertising revenue -- adjusted for inflation -- has barely budged. In 1985, newspaper advertising, adjusted for inflation, was $43.04 billion, not much less than the $44.94 billion reported in 2003. That's just 4.4% real growth over 18 years. During that same period, the gross domestic product, measured in current dollars, grew 161%

    Circulation dropped 13%
    Revenue rose 4.4% in dollar value
    Using a Gold Standard, even you'd puke

    Your paper boy, he'll be out of work, too. The papers are dying.

  39. Hewitt/Rudy Transcript up later.

  40. Investors wanted: Cosmopolitan Foreclosed If we could pool some bucks, we could buy in and name the bar The Elephant Bar.

    So far here there's always an ad for a paperboy, though without a paper, you're right.

  41. No one is buying the homes, those numbers are way off, no matter the prices.

    The worse hit are those houses above $300,000 to $450,000 in loan value, the paper reports.

    Sure, discount enough and there may be a sale, but those that are living in their homes, seem to be standing pat. Those speculators that are in foreclosure, are waiting on the bank, the houses vacant.

    Lots of the the houses are on those NINJA loans, that are in need of a roll over, soon.

    Never seen so many "For Sale" signs in my little Phoenix neighborhood. The market for the highest priced of them reached the $300,000, $350,000 mark, maybe a tad more, at the peak.

    Inventories of existing homes are high, not dropping either. Prices are trending down, but not enough to stimulate real buyers.

    Worse than the S&L fiasco of the 80's, seems to me, at least here, now.

  42. If you think Vegas prices are bad, try Zimbabwe--New $10,000,000 Note Introduced

    Tain't funny, McGee.

  43. Newsprint costs went up a lot more than 4.4% in those years, believe you me.

  44. In June 2000, an issue of industry newsletter Pulp & Paper Week put the transaction (or actual) price of newsprint at about $560 per metric ton.

    Dow Jones Newswires 4/5/2006 reported 30-pound North American newsprint at $655 to $665 a ton as of April 1, up $15 from March 1.

  45. The bark, mostly from cedar and pine I think, that U of I uses as fuel, that stuff used to be burned in tepee like furnances at all the little mills, most but not all gone now, around here. Burn it just to get rid of it.

  46. All Aboard!

    Politicians of almost all stripes are trampling over each other in their rush to come to the aid of Bernanke, and add a fiscal stimulus to the monetary policy weapons he has deployed to shore up the economy. What started as a possible $70 billion stimulus has been bid up to $150 billion, a bit more than 1 percent of GDP. Even that larger sum seems "reasonable" to Bernanke, who believes that anything in the $100 billion range would have a "significant" positive impact. If history is any guide, by the time the legislative Christmas tree is fully decorated, the final package will cost close to $200

  47. Coastal CA prices stood firm earlier in the meltdown, sister's Realtor friend says those have stopped moving now.

  48. Write your congressperson!
    We want MORE of our money!

  49. "Siphons!" the old man said, as gouts of flame filled the darkness, pouring from the carved heads.
    I stumbled backwards, the back of my skull cracking against the ground. Pain blinded me, and I clutched at my scalp, hearing my sword clattering on the stone. Hot blood wet my hair as fire spilled across the rock. As I tried to rise, it fulminated over my shins. ...
    The old man walked forward as soon as the torrent receded. Drips of blazing light continued to drool from the stone dragons' beaks.
    "Naphtha, lime and old bones," he said, without a hint of anger or fear.
    "Not Greek!" Marlow said from within, his voice falling to a stammer. "My own formula!"

  50. Where in the hell did you get that from?

  51. I'm writing my congressman now. Dear Congressman, I want more of Doug's money. Signed, your voter.

  52. P.S. And Rat's money too, and Whit's and the others.

  53. gouts of flame is good. If you've ever had gout as I have you'd know what I mean. A correct diet can control it.. Grandpa had it bad. It's genetic.

  54. Gout That cartoon in the article is how it is.

  55. Indomethacin works like a charm. The father of one of my tribal tenants had it bad, and I gave him some, fixed him right up. Now he knows to get his own.

  56. Bobal asks:

    "Where are thou stimulus money cometh from, deareth gov?"

    Inflationary borrowed money sir, simply pu. The Bush tax cuts a farce, giving money to whom not need it and now, too late, trying to put money in folks pocket whom my spend it...

    ...paying off the evil Shylock whom put them in the vise....

    times truly are tough. Even if interest rates were 0 (i.e. Japan) ya still gotta pay the money back. Bobal, Dougo, what say you? Gotta million dollars for you to spend - ya just gotta pay it back ... someday. Really, you are supposed to actually earn the cash and give it back; even if the cost of capitol is zero.

  57. We'll get it all back on Iranian Oil Revenue, Ash, after the war costs are paid in full.
    Piece o Cake.

  58. RWE said...
    ueAs I have said in these pages a number of times before, Afghanistan is a war that is both unwinnable and pointless – at least by the any measures that we would be willing to accept. The only thing that matters there is that the guy in charge in Kabul does not give us the finger when we tell him what we need to do. So the Pastun out in the hinderlands are upset over not getting a Piece of the Action? Big Effing Deal! They made their choice, lost big time, and can sit around the campfire singing “Please Mr., Please, Don’t Play B-52” until the cows they don’t have come home.

    The Left’s alleged enthusiasm for war in Afghanistan is based on their limited grasp of the War on Terror, Clintonian foreign policy attitudes, and a healthy dose of CYA. This is greatly encouraged by the fact that Afghanistan really doesn’t matter, which under Clintonian foreign policy principles means it is of great interest to people who don’t matter either.

    As for Pakistan, I have always felt that the idea of the nuts in the mountains taking over that country’s nuclear capability is about as likely as Ted Kazinsky becoming the Commander in Chief of Strategic Air Command. If anything, fooling around too aggressively in Afghanistan is more likely to lose Pakistan than the reverse.

    And then there is NATO – it’s d e a d. The end of the Cold War gave it a bad case of the geriatrics. Bosnia/Kosovo proved it to be worthless, rift with serious fissures. Finally, Gen. Wesley Clark’s arrogant ineptness caused life support to be turned off. The big anniversary celebration in May of 1999 was in fact a wake.

    Wretchard raises a good point. “Who really defends the North Atlantic?” That translates into Nuclear Deterrence – which NATO is a bit short on.

  59. Actually, large corporations, and successful countries DON'T have to pay any money back. They just roll it over.

    Don't get me wrong. You can't take this theory TOO far. Many years of deficits running over, say, 2% of GDP Could result in a few people (or more) requesting their money back.

    As for "Gold;" well, gold is a malleable, beautiful metal that is ideal for making jewelry. People in Cultures with a history of monetary upheaval desire it for many reasons. Also, keep in mind that it is rare. You could put all of the gold that has ever been mined, anywhere in the world, in Bloomingdale, NY's display cases. It has risen greatly against all the world's currencies in the last few years; but, keep in mind that it's price is still $1,100.00/ounce below (in inflation adjusted terms) where it was at it's peak in the late seventies (?), early 80's.

    Inflation is NOT caused by people working and producing; inflation is caused by excessive wealth transfers from productive people to non-productive people. This increases demand for goods without increasing the "supply" of goods. Ergo: Too much money chasing TOO FEW GOODS.

  60. Ash, the tax cuts helped me. And I don't consider myself one that doesn't deserve it. The capitial gains for instance. Since I have held my investments forever practically speaking, and farmed them at break even for many a year, feeding the thousands, when I get to my age, it's nice not to have a huge chunk go to unca sam. As it is, I still look at doing a 1031 tax free exchange if I sell something to get away from the lower tax. Justify to me if you can, why, when property is held, at this point, for over eighty years,(I'm the third generation) and when much of the increase in value is due to eighty years worth of inflation, why should I give 40% or so to unca, when I sell it?

    That's one reason why I think the FAIR tax ideas won't work, the econmy is too complex for any simple fix like that.

  61. Lowering the capital gains tax rate freed up a lot money to begin circulating in the economy. If the tax is too high people say the hell with the idea of selling and giving the proceeds to unca.

  62. Dr. Death Kervorkian says all us older white guys are wimps, Nazis(how both can be true I don't know), launches into the govmint, the 9th Amendment, other matters. Kervorkian Let's It All Hang Out Dupes, we are, fools, wimps, nazis.

  63. The tax on inflation most severely punishes the elderly, low-income, middle-income, and less successful investors, because these people are less able to adjust the timing of their investment decisions than investors with higher incomes.

  64. This comment has been removed by the author.

  65. rufus tell us

    "inflation is caused by excessive wealth transfers from productive people to non-productive people. This increases demand for goods without increasing the "supply" of goods. Ergo: Too much money chasing TOO FEW GOODS.

    Which is accurate. When $1 TRILLION USD is pumped into the economy, over six years, and there are no goods or services that correspond to that influx of cash.

    Those "g0ods being attack aircraft, tanks and soldiers pay", not economic goods circulating in the economy, the result is inflation.

    In 1998 the Federal Government's expeditures were $1,771.4 Billion USD

    In 2008 they are projected to be
    $2,537.9 Billion USD.
    The average for the ten years $2,154 Billion. Close enough for envelope figurin'

    From 2001 - today, the seven years of Team43, the Federal spending being $15,000 Billion, more or less.

    The War on Terror amounting to almost $1,000.0 Billion since 2001

    The War stimulus of $1,000 Billion being 6.66% percent of the Budget.
    Over and above normal defense spending, the War being "off budget", funded by supplementals

    That 6.6% of the Budget being money injected into the civilian economy chasing no purchasable goods.

    6.66% compounded inflation over seven years.
    $100 becomes $43 in equivilent buying value. Almost mirroring the dollars' declining value under a Gold Standard methodology.
    If the equivilent had reached $33, it'd be an exact match.

    The Dollar Standard GDP growth has been 5%, annualized. That accounts for the variation of the valuation.
    The Core Inflation number , 2000 through 2006 being acknowledged at 2.85%. Making real growth on the Dollar Standard = 2.15% annually.

    Figure it all out, the Trillion Dollar "War on Terror" is inflationary. Not a "but for"

    Being an extra 6.66% excess in free cash flow being injected into the economy, all borrowed money.

  66. I think I follow that. You have one B where it should be a T I think.
    What would oil be without the war is a good question. Unanswerable, I quess.

  67. No More Burnt Toast!
    A new transparent toaster (pictured) allows you to watch your bread as it browns. A slice of bread is placed between two panes of "heating glass" and toasted in full view so it can be ejected at just the right moment. The toaster is currently in the concept stage. More at Ananova.

    But who wants to watch toast toast?

  68. California Blues
    [Victor Davis Hanson]
    Our poor state is $14 billion plus now in the red, and the Governator has promised no new taxes, wise inasmuch as our sales and income taxes are already among the highest in the country. The University of California system is panicking and sending out emails to us alums, to march en masse on Sacramento for redress!

    But lost in the furor is any self-reflection, such as why would UC Davis recently pay John Edwards, multimillionaire trial lawyer, $50,000 plus to give a brief lecture on poverty? Such questions are never answered, much less raised, since the problem is always framed as a matter of a shortage of income, never a surfeit of unnecessary expenditure.

    We in California, given the past budget implosions, know the script to follow. We expect that police, fire, prisons, parks, etc. will be threatened with cut-backs and closure, while the state-funded "Center for this" and the "Department of that" will remain untouched, since cutting the essential while protecting the politically-correct superfluous is the only way to scare the voter and achieve higher taxes.

    At some point we Californians should ask ourselves how we inherited a state with near perfect weather, the world's richest agriculture, plentiful timber, minerals, and oil, two great ports at Los Angeles and Oakland, a natural tourist industry from Carmel to Yosemite, industries such as Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and aerospace — and serially managed to turn all of that into the nation's largest penal system, periodic near bankruptcy, and sky-high taxes.

    "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

  69. Obama running against two phoniest Democrat losers on the Planet.
    Weak End Update [Mark Steyn]
    This is pretty good knockabout:

    Obama began by recalling a moment in Tuesday night's debate when he and his rivals were asked to name their biggest weakness. Obama answered first, saying he has a messy desk and needs help managing paperwork - something his opponents have since used to suggest he's not up to managing the country.

    Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said his biggest weakness is that he has a powerful response to seeing pain in others, and
    Clinton said she gets impatient to bring change to America.

    "Because I'm an ordinary person, I thought that they meant,
    'What's your biggest weakness?'"

    Obama said to laughter from a packed house at Rancho High School.
    "If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. And then I could have said, 'Well, ya know, I like to help old ladies across the street.
    Sometimes they don't want to be helped.
    It's terrible.'"

    Game, set, match, Obama!

  70. (not an endorsement)
    Vote for Huckabee

    Ruffini outlines my greatest fear right now:

    How is JOHN McCAIN, of all people, going to be STOPPED?