“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."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Will Obama Piss into the Wind?

Eisenhower talking to Lyndon Johnson about Viet Nam

The Germans are going to send 600 troops for security purposes. Germany would use more police than that for a gay rights parade.

Pakistan has decided it would be a good idea to let a big chunk of their population be guided and ruled under Sharia law. Pakistan is folding to the Taliban and Islamists. Meanwhile President Obama is thinking thirty thousand more.

I am old fashioned. I admit it. I remember another liberal president calling for more US troops in Asia, except then it was "fifty thousand more."

It went to fifty-thousand-more times ten.

Fighting a land war in Afghanistan against the Taliban, while Pakistan is folding to Islamic radicalism in Pakistan, is a bridge way too far. We will not fight to win. We will not use the full strength that we have. This is a cultural and political quagmire where we know nothing.

Forget this foolish mistake. Let the bastards return to the dark ages. The Taliban did not attack the US, Saudis did. Promise all the Islamists hell if they return to US shores.


Obama To Decide "Shortly" On Additional Troop Levels For Afghanistan

February 17, 2009 5:03 a.m. EST

Kris Alingod - AHN Contributor

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - The White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama would decide "shortly" on how many additional troops will be deployed to Afghanistan, where about 34,000 U.S. military personnel are already posted.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said aboard Air Force One the President has "been working on this in consultation with military leaders and in conjunction with his foreign policy team."

"I would expect that the President's decision could come shortly... I don't think it will go -- without getting into broad time lines, I don't think this is anything that involves weeks,"Gibbs added.

The President last week ordered a policy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan ahead of a NATO summit in April. The administration is still currently reviewing the policy on Afghanistan, according to Gibbs.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has said he expects no more than 30,000 troops to be added to the U.S. presence in the war-torn nation, where violence has increased.

Defense Sec. Robert Gates said in a press briefing last Tuesday "there is no cap" but that the 30,000 requested by Gen.David McKiernan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, would likely be enough.

"I think it is better to focus on units and capabilities as we talk about this," Gates said. But I have said... if the president agreed to -- ultimately to satisfy the standing request from General McKiernan, I would be deeply skeptical about further troop deployments beyond that.

"In the short term, the goal of those troops is to bring greater security in places like Helmand by being a permanent presence there... in terms of the mission for those troops long term, I think that's what will be recommended by the strategic review," the secretary added.

Appearing in the same press briefing, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. James Cartwright also said, "In addition to the local security are the local Afghan forces and the Afghan army, and bringing them into the mix, training them in the area, getting their proficiency up. That's what's going to relieve the stress on our forces. The sooner we can do that, the sooner our forces can come down."

Gates had said last month in testimony before Congress that Afghanistan is currently the nation's "greatest military challenge" but that there is "no purely military solution in Afghanistan."

At about the same time, the President made his first visit to the Pentagon and said his administration would ease some of the pressure on the military but that tough decisions face the nation about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We're going to have some difficult decisions that we're going to have to make surrounding Iraq and Afghanistan," Obama had said. "We had for a long time put enormous pressure on our military to carry out a whole set of missions, sometimes not with the sort of strategic support and the use of all aspects of American power to make sure that they're not carrying the full load. That's something that I spoke with the Chiefs about and that I intend to change as President."


  1. Looks like Bob won't be receiving my precious store of Genova Tonno. And that's a shame; as I've said, it'd be good eatin' under the bed.

    Take it from James Wolcott: "Only three weeks since taking the oath of office and Obama has already etched himself in conservative psychodrama as our first socialist-fascist-satanist president, a hat trick even Bill Clinton didn't achieve during his first term.

    "If these blog pundits don't learn to sink into the soft center of their breaths, sand down their hyperbole, and pace themselves for the long haul, they may (I fear) fall prey to Obama Derangement Syndrome, and find themselves wandering lonely and forlorn on the ragged outskirts of polite society, muttering as history passes by."

    Pace yourself. It's good advice.

    Belmont is back in full swing with The End of Western Civilization As We Know It (or As We Knew It, depending on the day of the week and those gathered round the campfire) - someone even suggesting TCM as the cure for what ails (some of) us. As a longtime devotee of that channel and "high pants, fast talking" movies in general, I can only say that many of our finest films were made when Uncle Sam was taxing and regulating the shit out of everyone and everything; the Reds were burrowing into our institutional framework; and Our Fighting President was busy altering the very fabric of the nation, complete with propaganda shorts introducing each Depression-era feature, which might raise an eyebrow or two today.

    Ah, those were the good old days.

  2. It's a whole new world...

    Well no...

    BHO sends Clinton to BEG for NKor to pretty please give up nukes...

    The Paki's? Appeasing the Taliban

    The Brits? Caved to domestic Dhimmihood years ago...

    Yep BHO PLAN?

    Let the world burn, he's going to fix America 1st...

    President for LIFE BHO, our Great Father...

    Next? Look for our Great Father to ask for BILLIONs and Millions BACK from the "rich" to give to the jobless...

    Time to redistribute wealth...

    but watch out all you "richie rich" the Great Father's reach will not stop at the billion and millionares...

  3. Marginal Revolution:

    Free Market Bank Nationalization
    Alex Tabarrok

    I believe that bank nationalization is now very likely. It may even be desirable. The term nationalization, however, clouds judgment on both sides of the debate. It's better to think of what we want to do as bankruptcy. Many of the major banks are insolvent. When the liabilities of an ordinary firm exceed its assets the firm enters one of a variety of types of bankruptcy procedure during which management is often removed, the firm is sold or reorganized and liability holders take ownership or are paid off at a discount. Notice that we do not call a bankruptcy procedure, nationalization, even though it typically occurs under the auspices of a government employed judge.

    When it comes to the banks the issue is more complicated than with an ordinary firm because the major liability holders are depositors whom the government has guaranteed. As a result, the ultimate liability holder is the government. But now, as a thought experiment, imagine that we had private deposit insurance. What would a private insurance firm do in this situation? Would it pander to the current bank management and carry the zombie banks on its books, hoping and waiting for a miracle? Or would it step in, remove current management, pay off the depositors, reorganize and then sell the banks to recoup its losses? I believe a private insurer would follow the second path, the fact that the government is not yet ready to do this indicates how powerful bankers are in Washington. Thus, given deposit insurance the procedure most consistent with free market principles is bankruptcy, preferably a speed bankruptcy procedure under the auspices of the FDIC which has significant expertise in this field.

    A speed bankruptcy; 1) punishes current management reducing moral hazard, 2) will be less politicized if done under the auspices of the FDIC than if done piecemeal with congressional involvement and 3) will get the banks working again as soon as possible.

    Notice how the term nationalization confuses the issue. First, it suggests government ownership of the banks which would indeed be a disaster. People in favor of free markets will rightly want to avoid any such outcome but ironically it's the current situation of "wait and see," and "protect the banker," which is likely to lead to an anemic recovery and eventual government ownership. Second, it confuses people on the left who think that nationalization is a way to insure that taxpayers get something on the upside. That idea is a joke - there is no upside. Taxpayers are going to have to pay through the nose but the critical point is that the taxpayers must pay the depositors whom they have guaranteed not the banks.

    The debate so far has been framed between a "bailout" and "nationalization." But the public rightly sees the bailout as a way to protect bankers and thus we get pressure for government ownership, which has already happened in part through government control over banker wages. Bankruptcy in contrast is a normal free market procedure, it emphasizes that the firm has failed and current management should be removed. Framing the issue in this way, for example, makes it clear that only the depositors should be protected and under reorganization there should be no control over wages on future management (wages are going to have to be high to get anyone to take on the task). Finally the idea of bankruptcy makes it clear that the goal is to get banks solvent, under new management, and back under private control as quickly as possible.

    February 17, 2009 at 07:31 AM

  4. UN crime chief says drug money flowed into banks
    Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:17am EST

    VIENNA, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

    Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

    "In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."

    Profil said Costa declined to identify countries or banks which may have received drug money and gave no indication how much cash might be involved. He only said Austria was not on top of his list, Profil said. (Reporting by Boris Groendahl; Editing by Charles Dick)

  5. Michael Barone, apparently in league with Paul Krugman, says: It was WWII that finally lifted us out of economic depression and, further, staved off a relapse.

    Where's WWIII when you really, really need it?

    Maybe we'll get lucky.

  6. Where's the Wehrmacht when they could be useful?

    The pushers are being useful.

    In 938 CE, a Vietnamese lord named Ngô Quyền defeated Chinese forces at the Bạch Đằng River and regained independence after 10 centuries under Chinese control.[3]

    Selecting a Catholic to run a Buddhist country is an error.

    Particularily in a coutry that had fought the Chinese for so long, and the French and Japanese, had shown we just want to be free.

    So now with the alien Marxist philosophy from far away fading away they'll be back at square one.

    We had no choice but to go into Afghanistan. The Big O's got the job now. Soon it will be felt to be his war.

    If BClinton had been on the job, instead of the blowjob, and gotten Osama it wouldn't have happened. Not to worry HClinton is on the job now.

    I never believed that line about 'I never had sex with that woman'.

  7. Contemplaing the headline

    U.S. Muslim TV network founder charged with beheading wife...

    that's been around for a bit, one wonders why he didn't make a video, like the devout of his group do.

    That guy is no true muslim.

  8. ...cooling down after this.
    (from a BC thread)
    There’s usually somthin left to lose, whether you realize it or not:
    Take a nite’s sleep,
    and a hundred books or so,
    two computers that I have hopes didn’t get wet enough to finish off,
    shoes, paper products, etc etc.
    Lucky we have tile floors,
    else the three slightly flooded rooms would be a REAL mess.
    …sprinkler system malfunction….
    we’re thankful we’re not in Buffalo:
    The poor workers there had to thaw blocks of ice from all the firefighting to separate the plane pieces from the house pieces, from the people pieces.
    as we say here:
    “Lucky we live Hawaii!”
    (and now I can add, that I didn’t have to learn about communism growing up, thanks to two by)
    …course they say it’s harder to teach an old Doug new tricks,
    so we’ll see how I adapt, won’t we?

  9. ...maybe Obama pissed into the house and I blamed the sprinkler to save the Savior?

  10. Lizzie Borden took an axe
    And gave her mother forty whacks.
    And when she saw what she had done
    She gave her father forty-one.

    Elizabeth Montgomery depicted Borden in William Bast's two hour television movie, The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975). In the movie, Lizzie Borden performs the murders after stripping naked (thus explaining the lack of bloodstained clothing).

    Borden was distantly related to the American milk processor Gail Borden (1801–1874) and Robert Borden (1854–1937), Canada's Prime Minister during World War I.[28]

  11. We didn't have the NEA back then, Trish.
    Hollywood made movies for America, not for the Saudis, the Commies, (after Reagan) France, or Soros.
    The Black Family still existed.
    Mexicans learned English and wanted to be like us.
    ...and TV hadn't dumbed down everybody but me to the common denominator.
    (a bit of license for the ego,
    but also a grain of truth)

  12. ...there WERE those of us not put off by the fact that this Marxist Scumbag sent his kids to KKK Sunday School.
    Kinda telling, by my book.

  13. Hawaiian culture for us little kids. And, yes, Dad had the album.

  14. More than a grain.

    In truth

    More like a full head.


    Maybe even a bushel.

  15. We didn't have the NEA back then, Trish.
    Hollywood made movies for America, not for the Saudis, the Commies, (after Reagan) France, or Soros.

    - Doug

    One of my very favorite movies is The Best Years of Our Lives. Simply superb story-telling. And yet, the big speech given near the end by Frederic March is very, very, ah, Progressive. IN other words, adopted as a politico-economic philosophy, it's welfare statist.

    Remove it, however, and the movie wouldn't be the same. There are countless others of the time, beautifully made, that anyhow convey a certain collectivist idea. Capra was not immune to this.

  16. Walcott can suck my Dick!
    ...writes like he'd be good at it!

  17. Yeah,
    Capra was a Commie,
    ...and Jimmy Stewart too!

  18. Walcott can suck my Dick!

    - Doug

    Well I believe he's happily married so you'll have to find somebody else.

  19. ...yeah, some people believe they can judge a book by it's cover.
    In this case, not deep enough for me, thanks.

  20. In '79
    When I met my madonna there
    A singer named boddy browne
    Stringed for us for free
    He never made the news
    But storied in my mind
    And since he was so kind
    I bought his records too
    After he played for us for free
    On a street in Honolulu

  21. Watching the stock ticker drip drop, drip drip drop. A 3 1/2% drop today aint what a 3 1/2 % drop was a few months ago.

    The stimulus package is kicking in.

  22. I stand by the bottom that I stated a few months ago. Whatever that was. Seven thousand and change.

  23. Fighting a land war in Afghanistan against the Taliban, while Pakistan is folding to Islamic radicalism in Pakistan, is a bridge way too far. We will not fight to win. We will not use the full strength that we have. This is a cultural and political quagmire where we know nothing.

    You should know enough not to give them money, not to give them weapons, and not to give them support of any kind. But apparently you don't.

  24. And now China India Russia Europe Africa Philippines Australia Israel have to deal with the idiotic mess that you've created.

  25. I don't think its gonna work, this stimulus. I made a prediction too I think, but hell if I can remember what it was.

  26. Japan’s Finance Minister to Quit After G-7 Blunder

    Shoichi Nakagawa had raised eyebrows for slurred speech and muddled answers at a news conference.
    The Lede: ‘Drunk Finance Minister’ YouTube Tag

    His Shit Is Fucked Up!

  27. Whatever it was, I took Roubini's lowest and subtracted 200 more.

  28. Understanding BHO's vacation:

    The One will say he read it,
    leaving him to be truly
    THE One
    who has.

  29. Barry Still wants to be stimulated al-Bob.
    We'll see what gets up.

  30. The Face of the Party these days is a Dickhead.
    ...but he does give good head, also.

  31. hardehar

    These fee-nance ministers will fix things

    but not up

    got to get busy

    thanks for that tune al-Doug

  32. re:
    Japan's Finance Minister.

    Here, if one of our honorables hosts functions for same-sex pedophiles, he is moved up on the Senatorial Pecking List.

    Whata Country,
    Whata Party!

  33. 7400 IIRC

    No. We've formed a triangle/wedge. If the triangle breaks, it will be MUCH MUCH lower than 7400. More like 3500.

    11,500 - 7,500 = 4,000
    7,500 - 4, 000 = 3,500 !!

  34. Well. Good thing I've got all that tuna.

    And a government unto myself.

  35. And rooms full of missing money, Heroin, and Cocaine.

  36. One does not fry canned tuna.

    Freshly snipped chives, a little lemon squeezed into mayo. Gently stir.

    Some thinly sliced Roma tomatoes, a few slices of toothsome ciabatta or similar.

    The only sandwich I can think of that approaches that level of nirvana is a BLT.

  37. One does not fry canned tuna.

    Again On The Two Wolves
    by Paolo Pezzutti

    I want to propose a slightly different perspective of the two wolves, the "bad" and the "good" one. Trading wolves move in packs. They are territorial and wait for their preys to graze standing ready to attack when they are distracted. Wolves can also establish some type of coordination during the hunt. They conceal themselves as they approach the prey, targeting the easiest options available, the weakest animals of the herd. Sick or young animals, even pregnant females. They look for preys they have seen already. They do not take much risk, do not even engage in long chases, and rather wait for their prey to die because of the wounds. Sometimes wolves have to yield to their prey and their killing success rate may be low. But they know that their prey will be there in the same place at the same time the next day. It is only a matter of time, sooner or later the wolves will get it. These traders are deadly, but the current downturn might have killed many of them. They have taken too much risk, too much confidence in their strength. These wolves have become preys themselves in this phase of the market. Those who will survive, however, may become even stronger and be able to adapt their techniques to the new environment. Single trading wolves can also be found, but less frequently. Lone traders can be old specimens expelled from the pack or young animals in search of new territory. Solitary wolves target smaller animals and many deaths are due to other wolves' attacks. Being alone in the wild can be very dangerous. These traders have to find niches, small inefficiencies left over and disregarded by the wolves packs. They have to be adaptive. They have to learn how to survive. I feel one of the lone wolves. Hopefully I will survive and learn how to be a "good" wolf.

  38. Out of the shower and going out the door...

    The only sandwich I can think of that approaches that level of nirvana is a BLT.

    Redheads must have a thing for BLT's, I can remember my mom and sis loving those BLT's!

    Look at that graph at Drudge now. I call that the golf club graph.

    The Driver.

    Damn, I like that tune, al-Doug!

    How do you think I feel
    When I see the bellboys smirk
    She's gone with the hula hula boys
    She don't care about me....

    Only a fool would fry a can of tuna.

  39. Nothin' quite compares to fried Twinkies.

    My bet is that in 2012 there will still be more applicants for legal immigration into the US than we'll be willing to let in.

    Permanent emigration from the US will still be next to non-existent.

  40. Hmmm,..

    I never understand the fascination with this or that food. Must be some psychological barrier I will never penetrate.

  41. Though I've yet to eat a tomato grown in North America that doesn't taste like plastic.

  42. Here's one, mat, in the NYTimes that you'll get a kick in the ass out of.

    I Dream of Denver

    Published: February 16, 2009

    You may not know it to look at them, but urban planners are human and have dreams. One dream many share is that Americans will give up their love affair with suburban sprawl and will rediscover denser, more environmentally friendly, less auto-dependent ways of living.

    Those dreams have been aroused over the past few months. The economic crisis has devastated the fast-growing developments on the far suburban fringe. Americans now taste the bitter fruit of their overconsumption.

    The time has finally come, some writers are predicting, when Americans will finally repent. They’ll move back to the urban core. They will ride more bicycles, have smaller homes and tinier fridges and rediscover the joys of dense community — and maybe even superior beer.

    America will, in short, finally begin to look a little more like Amsterdam.

    Well, Amsterdam is a wonderful city, but Americans never seem to want to live there. And even now, in this moment of chastening pain, they don’t seem to want the Dutch option.

  43. America will, in short, finally begin to look a little more like Amsterdam.

    Yeah, in your racist dreams, America.

  44. And what you gonna do with all the black people, America?

  45. I don't think its gonna work, this stimulus.

    As long as they're throwing money at the banks, no it wont work. Banks don't lend money that leads to capital formation. Banks only lend money to those that have collateral. The real estate market still needs to correct itself. Probably another 50% from today's level. And the banks should be forced to eat their loss. Even it they all go bankrupt.

  46. The chatter overnight is that Harry Reid, Senate Majority leader from Nevada, was able to secure this new item. The reason: he and his constituents have had their eye for some time on a Las Vegas-Los Angeles high-speed rail line.

    I'm not really for high-speed rail, and I'm not against it either. High-speed rail just happens to be low on my rail hierarchy, which starts with Commuter Rail, then Light Rail, then Heavy Rail, and finally High-Speed Rail. My reasoning is simple: the efficacy of rail investment is measured in how many car trips can be wiped out by each new line. In addition, there is a multiplier effect on other motorists who will spend less time on the road as a result of de-congestion. The value proposition of rail therefore is to capture productivity along the entire energy-time spectrum. This is usually best done in cities.

    McLarty then comments:

    Legalize gambling in LA, and tax winnings heavily. Poof, the need for a LA-LV rail evaporates, along with many unproductive hours, and it moves the LV water shortages to the coast...where the new tax dollars could justify desalination investment.

    In other words...Instead of figuring out how to move gamblers and water to the desert faster, keep the gamblers on the coast, with the water.

    How many birds was that, with one stone?


  47. You Can't Fool Gold

  48. In a summer somewhat out of time
    When first I met my madonna there
    A singing master named bobby browne
    Sat singing for us for free

    Such songs as made the palm leafs move
    And created the rhythms of the seas

    His name was never in any news
    Or any station or page of
    Artful publication
    And his face and name and knarled hands
    Had tided out of memory
    To lay hidden deep in the locker of my mind

    Until now a post of our good al-Doug
    Drifted here from Hawaiian ways
    Has floated a remembrance of this art
    To a present eddy of my delight

    And since this player was so kind
    And his playing had pleased us so
    Playing for us sans normal fee
    I thanked him then to his songful face
    And bought his records too
    After playing for us there
    On shadowed street by songful sea

  49. So you see why I went farming :)

  50. TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT files for bankruptcy...

    But I ain't worried til Circus Circus goes under.

  51. So you see why I went farming :)

    Wait til Monsanto finds out where you live.

  52. California existing home sales are up 85%, YOY. This "crisis" is over. from Carpe Diem blog.

    There, now don't you feel better.

    You just gotta look at Afghanistan for what it is. A very expensive, but useful, testing ground for new, high-tech weapons. Nobody can (or, was ever able to) win in Afghanistan; but, we'll keep the Jihadists occupied while the rest of the world figures out how to adapt to Peak Oil, and, soon enough, coal, and Natural Gas.

  53. Home Prices in U.S. Slid 12% in Fourth Quarter, Most on Record
    By Kathleen M. Howley

    Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Home prices dropped the most on record in the fourth quarter as foreclosures dragged down values and the recession pushed buyers out of the market.

    The median price of a U.S. home declined 12 percent to $180,100 from a year earlier and sales of properties with mortgages in default accounted for 45 percent of all transactions, the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors said today. Prices declined in almost nine out of every 10 cities.

    The worst U.S. housing slump since the Great Depression is deepening as foreclosures drain value from neighboring homes and the economic recession worsens. The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits rose to a record 4.81 million in the last week of January as companies such as Caterpillar Inc. and Home Depot Inc. slashed jobs. The U.S. lost 2.6 million jobs last year in the biggest workforce reduction since 1945.

    "The housing sector was already weak, and now we are seeing deeper employment reductions," said Brian Bethune, chief financial economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. "Every round of job cuts means fewer people who can get a mortgage and buy a house."

    Prices slumped in 134 U.S. metropolitan areas, rose in 18 and were unchanged in one, the biggest share of declines in data going back to 1979.

    The steepest price decline was in Florida's Ft. Myers metropolitan area, down 51 percent, according to the Realtors' report. Saginaw, Michigan, was second, with a 41 percent drop. The next five biggest decreases were all in California: Riverside, 41 percent; San Jose, 38 percent; San Francisco and Sacramento, 37 percent; and San Diego, 36 percent.

    Mortgage Rates

    Home prices and sales are tumbling even as mortgage rates are near all-time lows. The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed home loan is 5.16 percent this week, down from 5.25 percent a week earlier, Freddie Mac said. The rate dipped to 4.96 percent during the week of Jan. 15, the lowest ever recorded.

    U.S. foreclosure filings exceeded 250,000 for the 10th straight month in January as falling prices trapped owners in homes worth less than the mortgage, RealtyTrac Inc. said in a report today.

    A total of 274,399 properties got a default or auction notice or were seized by banks, the Irvine, California-based seller of default data said. It was the 37th straight year-on- year increase in filings.

    A foreclosure reduces the value of each surrounding home by an average $8,667 because it sells at a reduced price which is then used by appraisers to set values for other properties in the area, according to the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham, North Carolina.

    The world's largest economy will contract 2 percent this year, half a percentage point more than last month's forecast, according to the median of 50 projections in a Bloomberg News survey taken Feb. 2 to Feb. 10. The U.S. unemployment rate may climb to 8.8 percent this year, according to the monthly poll.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen M. Howley in Boston at
    Last Updated: February 12, 2009 11:46 EST

    So, 12% decline per quarter, about 50% per year. Another year plus to stabilize. Sounds about right.

  54. Honda Insight handily outselling projections in Japan
    by Jeremy Korzeniewski on Feb 17th 2009 at 3:46PM

    So far, all indications are that Honda has got a hit on its corporate hands in the form of its new Insight hybrid hatchback. The automaker had been hoping to get 5,000 orders per month in its home market of Japan for the new Insight, but that sales target was eclipsed after just over a week on the market. According to Honda, there were already 5,000 advance requests for the car before it was even available to order.

    This early sales success may bode well for Honda, which will be launching the new Insight in Europe in March and in the United States in April. When it finally does reach dealerships, the Insight will cost well under $20K, undercutting its primary competitor, the Toyota Prius, by a few thousand dollars.

    It's no secret that we're in a tough market and it could have been a case of very bad timing to launch a brand new global vehicle line. Fortunately for Honda, this seems like the right car at the right time. It will certainly be interesting to watch Toyota roll out its new 2010 Prius hybrid later this year.

    By comparison, GM will be selling the Volt somewhere around $50,000. Good luck with that, GM.

  55. You're probably getting pretty close to the bottom in home prices. The Housing Affordability Index is at an all-time high. People are scooping up the foreclosures, and as fewer of them become available housing prices will start to trend back toward "replacement" costs.

    The Recession will linger for another four, or five months (maybe,) but we might get enough growth in the 3rd, and 4th quarters to make the calendar year a, more or less, wash.

    I predicted 6,970; but I don't think we're going to make it that low. I think we're probably double-bottoming, now.

  56. Foreclosures continue to drive down prices

    By Tom Bayles & Aaron Kessler
    Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.


    A broader phenomenon

    Florida's overall sales rose 27 percent to 11,053 while the median price fell 27 percent to $155,500 in December.

    The biggest increase was in foreclosure-plagued Fort Myers-Cape Coral, with a 146 percent increase to 1,064 homes. That market also had the biggest decline in price: 50 percent to $106,900.

    Nationally, sales rose an unexpected 6.5 percent, while the median plunged 15.3 percent to $175,400, the lowest since May 2003 and the biggest drop on records going back to 1968. Removing seasonal factors, nationwide sales would have been up 1.1 percent.

    Job losses will continue to hammer the real estate market. It will take a year plus for thing to stabilize. A projection of another 50% drop from current levels is not unreasonable.

  57. As for the big banks: either I'm completely bonkers, and things are going to get one hell of a lot worse than I think, or the banks aren't in nearly as bad a shape as the doomsayers say.

    All I can say is this: I've sometimes been wrong; but the Doomsayers have ALWAYS been wrong. And, before you throw Roubini, et al at me, remember, Theyve been promising Armageddon for several years, and all they've really gotten out of it is a vastly over-hyped scare, and garden variety recession.

    Admittedly, if it weren't for some quick footwork by Bernanke, and Co it really could have been a "disaster;" but we did get the heroic response, and we DID NOT plunge over the catastrophic cliff.

    We'll have positive GDP growth in the 3rd quarter, maybe, even, the 2nd.

  58. We'll have positive GDP growth in the 3rd quarter, maybe, even, the 2nd.

    To me this is voodoo economics. And I don't believe what's implied by these numbers.

  59. 57. blert:

    @ CR 52…

    That stems from his tutu ( ie grandmother )…

    I lived one floor down in the same condo as her. That was twenty-six/ seven years ago. It’s a really upscale condo within walking distance to Punahou.

    When Barry would visit on the holidays he was a sight. So tall, handsome and COLORED, in an area of town that was yellow and white. He towered over her. What a study of contrasts: beauty, height, youth — and submission vs not pretty at all, short, old — and ultra-dominant.

    I’d step in the elevator, and they’d already be at it: she’d be balling him out over something. Barry would stand in silence. Not a peep.

    You are free to google around on her, she’s been written up by others. She was quite the leftist ground breaker in her day. Every article I’ve read details her Drill Instructor demeanor.

    Naturally, seeing his grandmother acting in a PARENTAL manner had my head swimming: where the hell was mommy or daddy.

    Who knew that daddy was already dead: Frank Marshall Davis.

    Who knew that mom was on the road forever.

    BHO is the kind of person you never forget.

    The whole vibe of grandmom and grandson is so ODD — I’ve never seen it before nor since.

    But that’s when he got pussy whipped: operant conditioning at its ultimate.

  60. "To me this is voodoo economics. And I don't believe what's implied by these numbers."
    Proof Positive of Anthropogenic Climate Change!

    ...why ignore the obvious?

  61. Japan has welcomed Clinton's visit as a sign that Washington will maintain strong ties with Tokyo even as the U.S. seeks a closer partnership with China.

    In addition to Indonesia Wednesday, Clinton has stops scheduled in South Korea and China. She says the Obama administration wants to show that its relations with Asia-Pacific nations are "indispensable" to addressing global challenges.

    Authorities have boosted security ahead of Clinton's Jakarta visit.

    Missile Test

  62. “We fully understand the need to adapt to significantly reduced annual U.S. sales and to national concerns over energy security and climate change,” Chrysler’s chief executive, Robert L. Nardelli, said in a statement.

    “Chrysler will be viable,” Mr. Nardelli said. “An orderly restructuring outside of bankruptcy, together with the completion of our stand-alone viability plan, enhanced by a strategic alliance with Fiat, is the best option for Chrysler employees, our unions, dealers, suppliers, customers and certainly the taxpayers.”

    Mr. Nardelli said Chrysler would plan to begin repaying its debt to the government in 2012.

    Loan Request

  63. Both Democrats and Republicans welcomed Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

    Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican defeated by Obama in last November's presidential election, described the situation in Afghanistan as "dire." But he also called on Obama to spell out a clear strategy.

    "There still exists no integrated civil-military plan for this war -- more than seven years after we began military operations," McCain said. "A major change in course is long overdue."

    Troops to Afghanistan

  64. Proof Positive of Anthropogenic Climate Change!

    C'mon, Doug. You have the greatest engines of economic activity in the US, the real estate market and the banking sector, down to zero and gasping for dear life, and Rufus here is claims we're due for positive GDP. If you can't smell this as dead rotten smelling to high heaven bullshit, you might as well check yourself in as terminally brain dead.

  65. So let's see:

    Auto: dead
    Real estate: dead
    High tech: dead
    Manufacturing: dead
    Banking: dead
    Stock market: dead

    Canned tuna is still going strong.
    Yey, that should give up a nice boost in GDP!

  66. February 17, 2009
    Dead End in Detroit for White-Collar Workers

    DETROIT — For all the ups and downs, and more downs, that white-collar workers here have lived through, they have always managed to put on a brave face, assuring one another that the American auto industry will come back stronger than ever.

    But now that resolve has given way to grim resignation, as General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler have announced wave upon wave of job cuts.

    After closing plants and shrinking their blue-collar work force, Detroit's troubled Big Three are cutting white-collar jobs in their hometown at an unprecedented pace — more than 15,000 in the last year, with more to come.

    Unlike union workers laid off from idled factories, salaried workers have no safety net of health care or guaranteed income for a year. At best, it's a small severance or buyout, and a voucher for a discount on one of the hundreds of thousands of unsold cars that G.M. or Chrysler has sitting in inventory.

    White-collar workers who walk out of the headquarters of the auto companies face few prospects in the Michigan economy. And with G.M. and Chrysler surviving on federal loans, facing a deadline Tuesday to submit new and broader restructuring plans to the government, the outlook grows only more bleak.

    The market for the skills of auto engineers or designers in the prime of their careers has evaporated, with no hope in sight for a turnaround. Moving to another city is hardly an option when there are so few buyers for the suburban homes that would have to be sold first.

    "I know it's not great everywhere, but this is probably the worst place to find a job," said Doug Zupan, a designer who took a buyout in November after working at Chrysler for six years. He was one of 5,000 salaried workers who accepted a buyout the day before Thanksgiving from his job at the Chrysler Technical Center in Auburn Hills, Mich.

    Mr. Zupan, a 35-year-old father of three preschool-age children, said he was stunned by the sudden and rapid decline in an industry suffering through its worst sales in more than 25 years. "I am going to do my best to get out of the auto industry," he said.

    G.M., Ford and Chrysler have eliminated a total of 120,000 manufacturing jobs in the last three years. And now the cuts are drastically thinning the ranks of white-collar professionals, turning the once-bustling office towers of the companies into half-empty monuments to better days.

    G.M. delivered another blow last week when it said it would reduce its global salaried work force by 14 percent, or 10,000 workers this year. In the Detroit area, that could mean an additional 3,000 workers will be out of a job by May 1. G.M.'s next round of white-collar cuts will not include buyouts. Chrysler has not said whether it plans more cuts.

    "I am going to do my best to get out of the auto industry," he said.

    You betcha!

  67. Negotiations are progressing with advisors of the ad hoc bondholder committee. Term sheets have been exchanged and due diligence regarding GM's restructuring has commenced.

    The company anticipates that the bond exchange offer will commence in late March, consistent with requirements in the U.S. Treasury loan documents. Under the term sheet proposal, a substantial majority of the pro-forma equity in GM would be distributed to exchanging bondholders and the UAW VEBA.

    Discussions with representatives of the UAW VEBA have also been progressing, and due diligence is also proceeding with respect to reaching agreement to convert at least half of future VEBA payments to equity. A draft term sheet has been provided to the UAW, and they have indicated their desire to discuss the VEBA situation with government officials prior to signing any such term sheet.

    UAW and Bondholders

  68. Mətušélaḥ said...
    So let's see:

    Auto: dead
    Real estate: dead
    High tech: dead
    Manufacturing: dead
    Banking: dead
    Stock market: dead

    Arms Sales?


    I'd buy weapons systems makers..

    Only thing more fearful than an Imperial USA?

    A pussy whipped USA in withdraw....


  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

  70. Mat, 2 things you can always bet on - Recessions, and "End" of Recessions. The only question is the timing. I just think that with EVERYTHING going down so fast we won't Stay Down as long.

    Obama's TARP deal tomorrow, though, could screw that up if it puts everyone into a "Wait-and-see" delay mode. We'll see.

    It's not, really, all that big a deal.

  71. Some lawmakers have suggested the timetable set by the Bush administration could be extended if GM and Chrysler make meaningful progress but need more time to prove viability.

    Others, however, say that keeping the deadline firm will keep pressure on the companies, labor and bondholders to reach the necessary concessions and take other steps to prevent bankruptcies.

    "I do think it would be very helpful for the Obama administration to say, 'Look, this is a line in the sand. These things have to occur," Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, a Republican, told CNBC.

    Task Force to Convene

  72. From one of Mark Halperin's 25 Best Blogs: Freakonomics. And yes, I think I'm one of only five Americans who hasn't read the book.

    Freakonomics - New York Times Blog
    February 9, 2009, 11:16 am
    Los Angeles Transportation Facts and Fiction: Sprawl
    By Eric A. Morris

    In a previous post I challenged you to identify which of six common stereotypes about transportation and land use in Los Angeles is actually true. The first is that Los Angeles has developed in a low-density, sprawling pattern.

    Answer: False.

    As of the 2000 census, the Los Angeles region’s urbanized area had the highest population density in the nation. Yes, that was the word “highest,” not a smudge on your monitor. At 7,068 people per square mile, Los Angeles is considerably denser than New York-Newark, which ranks fourth at 5,309 people per square mile (behind San Francisco-Oakland and San Jose as well as Los Angeles). How could this be?
    Facts and Fiction

    Eric Morris discusses stereotypes about Los Angeles transportation in this six-part series.

    * Los Angeles Transportation: Facts and Fiction, Introduction

    It is true that Los Angeles’s downtown disappoints, especially when compared with such thriving urban cores as Midtown Manhattan, Downtown San Francisco, or Chicago’s Loop. See this paper from my U.C.L.A. colleagues Donald Shoup and Michael Manville for more on this phenomenon and why it may have occurred.

    However, despite the fact that Los Angeles’s center is comparatively low-density, its peripheral areas are considerably denser than the suburbs of other cities.

    Los Angeles’s homes sit on very small lots, in part due to the difficulty of providing water infrastructure to new developments. (Other southwestern cities share this trait.) Moreover, Los Angeles has a large immigrant population that lives at very high densities. The area also has very few vacant lots.

    So if the fundamental characteristic of sprawl is low density, Los Angeles is the least-sprawling city in the nation. (The least dense among the 40 largest metro areas is Atlanta.)

    If you already flunked the quiz, you may need to stop watching Annie Hall so often and take a trip to Southern California to see for yourself. For those of you still alive in the competition, there are five stereotypes to go:

    * Angelenos spend more time stuck in traffic than any other drivers in the nation.
    * Los Angeles’s mass-transit system is underdeveloped and inadequate.
    * Thanks to the great distances between far-flung destinations, and perhaps to Angelenos’ famed “love affair” with the car, Angelenos drive considerably more miles than most Americans.
    * Los Angeles’s air is choked with smog.
    * Los Angeles is dominated by an overbuilt freeway system that promotes autodependence.

    More in the next post.

  73. Here's the smog one:

    As part of an ongoing quiz about transportation in Los Angeles, in the last post I challenged the notion that the city is sprawling. But sprawl or no, Los Angeles’s air is choked with its world-famous smog. Isn’t it?

    Answer: A half-truth.

    Thanks to clear and sunny skies, warm temperatures, stable air, and an onshore sea-breeze, the Los Angeles area is an outstanding natural smog cooker.


    So the air is not great, but it is vastly better — hence the designation of this stereotype as a half-truth.


  74. Posted @ BC:

    Illegals were part of the problem in Housing Costs and Fraud.
    We don't Need No Stinking Law and Order!

    Groups wage battle over adding E-Verify to stimulus bill

    Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, said in a statement. "We are hopeful that the incoming administration will agree that E-Verify is the wrong solution at the wrong time."

    The Chamber of Commerce's lawsuit challenges the government's use of a presidential executive order coupled with a federal procurement law to make E-Verify mandatory for federal contractors with projects exceeding $100,000 and for subcontractors with projects exceeding $3,000.

    The Chamber of Commerce also challenged the expansion of E-Verify to require the reauthorization of existing workers. Also joining in the lawsuit are the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Society for Human Resource Management, the American Council on International Personnel and the HR Policy Association.
    So what if it is a National Security Issue?
    So what if it is bankrupting our schools, hospitals, prisons, and welfare systems?
    So what if approximately 40,000 US Citizens have died at the hands of illegals over the past 8 years?
    So what if it exerts downward pressure on the low end of the wage scale with unfair and unequal competition?
    So what if Illegal gangs import drugs and assasinate innocent Black kids in their own neighborhoods?
    etc, etc. think that the Chamber of Commerce was once considered to be a respectable organization.
    Too much to expect US Politicians to stand on the side of US Citizens, of course.

  75. The only question is the timing.

    I pray to god that green infrastructure will save us. Europe is dead. China has no consumer market. Japan is overpriced with the Yen. Russia and Eastern Europe in turmoil. And oil is about to make a run to $70 so non OPEC supply can kick in.

  76. "They said if I voted for Goldwater, I'd wind up with a large-scale war in Vietnam. They were right."

    Yes. He's going to take the plunge to some degree. It would take a President much stronger and wiser (experienced is a double edged sword, as John McCain illustrates) to oppose the choices he's being presented. They don't know yet how big of a jump it'll be. As I said before - originally they had big dreams, but now they're extremely worried, realizing just how clueless they were, on the outside yelling in. Indeed, it is easy to be ignorant and responsibility-free, as the crew from Center for a New American Security, and like-minded, are about to find out.

    The "review," probably the 3rd or 4th such review in the past year and a half or so (each of which predictably gets more pessimistic in its conclusions), is intended to buy them just a little more time to figure out some wonder solution. It remains to be seen whether they'll swallow the wild-eyed COIN dogmatists like Nagl and Kilcullen. Unfortunately, there isn't much pushing against it due to a lack of coherent alternatives being put forward. Even those who see clearly enough that a massively expanded presence is incredibly dangerous and probably not the answer haven't yet, or at this point are still unable to, come around to the realization of just how bad the strategic situation actually is. There's also precedent of partial success in Iraq tugging at them on a number of levels (which is actually to some extent a badly misunderstood model in Washington right now...but that's a story in and of itself). Working with locals is always a good idea, but it doesn't solve the mid or long-term problems with a nation-building strategy.

    Even if they were being provided with level-headed advice they'd still have to deal with the problem of political feasibility and inertia. On that front, Gates and company are smart enough to realize that they need desperately to reduce expectations, but they were so unrealistic to start with that they can only go so far so quickly.

    "The Germans are going to send 600 troops for security purposes. Germany would use more police than that for a gay rights parade."

    They'd also be more proud of it. (Not that there's anything wrong with gay rights parades, as long as they keep their clothes on and stay orderly.)

    "Pakistan has decided it would be a good idea to let a big chunk of their population be guided and ruled under Sharia law. Pakistan is folding to the Taliban and Islamists. Meanwhile President Obama is thinking thirty thousand more."

    It certainly reflects the true weakness of the Pakistani federal government in the NWFP. Same is true in the rest of border areas. But then again, it's always been that way. It's occurred before that what went on in those areas threatened the rest of the state. Nonetheless, there were, and will continue to be some serious battles going on there, and the Pakistani Army generally isn't doing too good.

    But at least it isn't Pakistan proper, yet. People who are complacent about Pakistan's general stability are idiots. It might hold, but it might now. Our predictive abilities there are shit. But our presence in Afghanistan has very little influence over Pakistan's health, and whether that influence is negative or positive is itself up for debate.

    "I am old fashioned. I admit it. I remember another liberal president calling for more US troops in Asia, except then it was "fifty thousand more."

    Except of course there's a hard ceiling on how high we can go. Because, as I said months ago, people who think we can supply everything for a major military effort through airlift are dreaming. The tonnage is not there and never will be.

    Throw in a major counterinsurgency effort, complete with reconstruction, and it's even more unlikely. We are dependent on supply lines through Pakistan and whatever we negotiate with the Russians. Airbases in the Stans are not enough, you need rail or shipping. One goes through Russia, the other Pakistan.

    And for historical perspective, even the Russians, when they had full control of the Stans, and an army that used much less supplies, couldn't sustain more than 130,000 troops or so in the area, the majority of which were occupied in maintaining those supply lines. Of course, they also were fighting the entire country. We're not there yet, but given a few years of major combat in the south and opportunistic "Afghan" politicians in the rest of the country, and it's possible. Picking an open fight with Karzai right now? Not smart, morons.

    The dirty little secret is that despite the focus on the Taliban (which is far from a monolithic organization, though we certainly wish it was), much of the rest of the country is only secure to the extent we're not messing around with it. I.e., it's under control of warlords, who are inserted into the government at various levels.

    The Taliban is simply what we we're currently focusing on. You could disappear it tomorrow and our prospects of creating a viable Afghan state at peace with itself would still be long.

    "This is a cultural and political quagmire where we know nothing."

    We're learning quickly. Unfortunately, the more we learn, the more realize just how long the odds really are.

    "The Taliban did not attack the US, Saudis did."

    Don't go down that road. The Taliban harbored, were partially linked at the hip with, and aided those who did. All of which are even more true today. There's a debate to be had over whether what's left of Al Qaeda is best dealt with, or worth, the current effort in Afghanistan. I WELCOME that one. But they are still who they are.

    "Promise all the Islamists hell if they return to US shores."

    Define hell. Define the targets. Strikes me as vague rhetoric that in any case will certainly never be acted upon by our current leadership.

    My personal view? Our best best is stay for the short-medium term, ditch the nation-building strategy, heavily minimize our commitment, and work through the anti-Pashtun groups within the country, and with most of the neighbors. Put them on the hotseat. And let the Taliban and Al Qaeda fight their personal war and tear themselves up against whomever, backed by whatever support it is prudent for us to give them. Contra to the nonsense that's been spouted over the past however many years the transnational core of Al Qaeda, which is the most dangerous part for us, is not some magical regenerating networked organizations, but a unique (amazing) and somewhat fragile organization built on personal ties. Years of ongoing warfare and targeted killings won't treat it well. Certainly start laying the groundwork to get the hell out there, with the expectation that you are probably not going to leave a stable Afghan state. Focus on other goals.

    Odds it's going to be implimented? Not anytime soon. But, provided things don't get better (and it should be said there is a chance the military situation in the south could get better, if you can have some series of fortuitous developments like those that that greatly aided the Surge), you're going to start having countries dropping out of the Coalition over the next few years. And that's going to put pressure on the rest, adn so on.

    Then people might be open to some changes.


    Oh yeah, and Wolcott's a fucking idiot.


  77. This comment has been removed by the author.

  78. It's never occurred before that what went on in those areas threatened the rest of the state, however.

  79. We made the classic #2 woody driver golfclub formation today, aka a downpecker and a piss, but is this the end of a double bottom or the beginning of a triple bottom or will the market remain flaccid? Look for an updick and later some lateral drift before the market decides whether to---all hell just pin the stock page on the wall, throw darts, and buy or sell on the flip of a coin, you'll do as well as anyone else. And if you can't hit the Wall Street Urinal page on the wall with a dart, stay out of the market altogether.

    In other economic news, farmers around the nation began preparations for spring planting,
    and dreamed of old songs sung by a rhythmic sea...

  80. Join AARP now, while you're still kicking.

  81. AARP

    For that last 'burst' of life.

    Where else could you find an article like "Modify Your Home To Age The Place"?


  82. Did you know that if you have 'whole life' life insurance like I have, you can sell the policy out from under your wife for a lump sum on the open market, the buyer paying the premiums and betting you bump off early? And take the cash and run off with a cutie to Las Vegas? This is the only situation I know of where being a smoker is of some benefit. The buyers, they're lookin' for smokers.

  83. Here you go---

    First Hour: Financial advisor Mish Shedlock gives an update on the economy.

    Coast to Coast for your financial needs.

  84. My point is we can have both a dead economy and anthropomorphic Global Climate Change, Mat.

    ...they are not mutually exclusive!

  85. Man, I gotta tune in!
    Can't miss Mish Shedlock!

  86. Can't miss Mish Shedlock!

    But you did!!
    See: Tue Feb 17, 03:02:00 PM EST

  87. Rufus,

    Two words:
    generational spending

  88. Well I tuned in to Mish even if you thoughtless turkeys

    S&P 500 at 600 if I heard him correctly. And maybe lower.

    Mish is often quoted in The Wall Street Urinal, match that if you can.

    Gem of wisdom: "A bear market exposes fraud, and there's a lot more to come". mish

    He may be on to something there.

    As for me, I'm throwing darts at the wall, missing the stock page posted there, and staying out of the market.

  89. This comment has been removed by the author.

  90. Obama Considering the 'Swedish Model' of Banking

    I too have considered various Swedish models.

    Knew he'd come around.

  91. jeez Doug, I'm going on to the next, that's too gruesome.

  92. I couldn't tell what I was looking at in the photo.

  93. Moreover, Mish said the shit's going to hit the fan with some life insurance companies and companies like State Farm, where people are not continuing to pay their auto insurance premiums.

    If you can afford it one might want to get full coverage on your car, in case the other guy doesn't have any. You can't sue money out of a deadbeat.

  94. We got State Farm on the Cars!

  95. You'd be in safe hands with All State.

    I've got a Farmer's umbrella. Not even Yellowstone worries me.

  96. My life insurance is with Northestern Mutual Life: "The Quiet Company"

    When they go under, no one will hear about it.

  97. When I "go under" not many will hear about that, either.

  98. Last week we passed a landmark when Heidi Fleiss, the Hollywood madam, announced she was giving up plans to open The Stud Farm, Nevada's first male brothel. Instead, she is putting her money into alternate energy.

    "It's where the money is," she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's the wave of the future."

    Alternative Energy--The Next Subprime Mortgage Meltdown

  99. Bob,

    Youz just gotta stop posting links to them vile propaganda sites that are sponsored by the vile oil/car/military/nuclear mafia.

    And if the nuke fuel is so great for reprocessing, why wasn't it sold to France instead of forcing the public to pay hundreds of billions to store it.

  100. Think of it!

    Electric scooters will clean up the environment, and the whore houses too:)

    Mat, you're a genius!

  101. Much better on the scooter than in a Honda Civic. Ask any Italian girl. :)

  102. I guy at the place where I work out told me yesterday that he'd just been laid off by citi bank. He said the bank is on the way to being sold off. in a year they've gone from 250 billion in assets to 15 billion.

    He's looking for work. I told him there's likely plenty of government jobs soon to be available. He'd already put in his applications for government work..