Friday, November 6, 2009

The Army Gunman Was a Psychiatrist

at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Another Government Agent Killing Spree
(Karen De Coster, 11/5/09 LRC Blog)

"The Army Major who went on a killing spree at Fort Hood killed at least twelve people and injured more than thirty at present count. And his business was tending to (and “repairing”) the mindsets of the guys who were sent overseas to kill for the state. He was a psychiatrist.

The alleged shooter, Maj. Hasan, was a psychiatrist who had been recently promoted to major and transferred to Fort Hood from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Maj. Hasan’s professional specialties included post-traumatic stress disorder, combat stress and other emotional issues common to the troops implicated in earlier incidents of military fratricide. He was slated to deploy to Iraq in coming weeks, according to military officials.
"If this had been a non-military incident, with some regular Joe plotting and pulling off a slaughter of dozens of people, the media coverage would be loaded with anti-gun hysterics calling for immediate gun control laws. Yet all Obama could muster was, “It’s difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas.” Why does no one seem interested in the mindset of an Army psychiatrist who was about to be sent to Afghanistan to fight an unwinnable war?"

H.R. 3962 House Health Care "Reform" Bill for Vote Saturday

Democrats are so eager to own it.

(Update) Democratic leadership suggesting that they may postpone the vote to Sunday or early next week because of internal opposition. See this article.

House Prepares Health Vote, Undaunted by Elections (Update1)
(James Rowley, 11/5/09 Bloomberg)

"Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) -- House Democratic leaders, undeterred by delays in the Senate or this week’s Republican electoral triumphs, plan to call a vote Saturday on the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. health-care policy in four decades.

"The House will move on the $1.05 trillion legislation that would cover 36 million uninsured people and create a government plan to compete with private insurers even after the election of Republican governors in New Jersey and Virginia. President Barack Obama will go to Capitol Hill tomorrow to meet with House Democrats, as they seek the 218 votes they need to pass the bill, a Democratic leadership aide said.

"Party leaders signaled they’re ready for a debate on the legislation and a vote on its final passage by filing a 42-page amendment that made last-minute changes to the bill. The Nov. 3 filing triggered a 72-hour waiting period that Democrats pledged to give Republicans before a vote."

You can read the entire article by clicking on the link above. But the last paragraph cited above needs clarification. Yes, Pelosi posted the amendment, but that is not what she had solemnly promised, which was to post the final draft of the legislation itself 72 hours in advance of the vote.

So, the former H.R. 3200 has morphed and bloated into H.R. 3962, retaining almost all the controversial sections and more, to the tune of $1.05 trillion dollars over 10 years. $29,167 per uninsured person.

Pretty much in line with this government's idea of "bang for the buck". The cash for clunkers program generated extra 125,000 sales at the cost of $3 billion, or $24,000 per car. But both cash for clunkers and health care "reform" vastly outperform the stimulus package, which so far generated or preserved 640,329 jobs for $207.3 billion spent so far. $323,739.83 per job created or saved (of course there's no breakdown of "created" and "saved").

There are 256 Democrats out of 435 House members, and they only need a simple majority of 218 votes. Democrats don't need a single Republican to pass this bill that promises so much for the supporters of bigger bureaucracy. After all, this is basically the same Congress that passed the bankers bailout bill (TARP) last fall against the overwhelming opposition from the taxpayers.

I only peeked into H.R. 3962 (1990 pages by the way) as I just couldn't stand it long enough. I will try to peek more later, but according to many people who have been going through the bill, the legislation would create 13 new taxes.

HR 3962: 1990 Pages, Thirteen New Taxes (10/29/09 Left Coast Rebel)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Jon Corzine for Bank of America CEO?

rumor that makes some of you want to puke.

After a sound rejection by the New Jersey voters in the gubernatorial election, Jon Corzine may be staging a comeback already. This time, as the new CEO of Bank of America.

Overheard: Corzine's Comeback? (11/5/09 Wall Street Journal)

"From Trenton to Charlotte? Bank of America's chief executive search has highlighted the paucity of available executives with a history of running complex financial organizations. But one has just come available. Fresh from his rejection as governor by New Jersey voters, former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine already is being whispered about as a dark horse candidate. With BofA still under the government's thumb, his political experience could come in handy."

It would make sense politically for Bank of America. As one of the non-Wall Street banks (another major one is Wells Fargo) with an outsider CEO like Ken Lewis who seems to have been targeted by the regulators (Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner) to be stepped upon repeatedly, having a former CEO of Goldman Sachs and a darling of the administration might improve their lot.

All I can say is that the founder of Bank of Italy in San Francisco which evolved into Bank of America, would be so disgusted to see his bank now. The founder Amadeo Giannini was an entrepreneur who believed in people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps (the very spirit that was ridiculed by the way at the Democratic convention that nominated the then-candidate Obama):

"The Bank of Italy[17] was founded in San Francisco by Amadeo Giannini in 1904, based on catering to immigrants. Amadeo was raised by the Fava/Stanghellini family when his father was shot while trying to collect on a $10.00 debt.[citation needed] When the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck, Giannini was able to get all of the deposits out of the bank building and away from the fires. Because San Francisco's banks were in smoldering ruins and unable to open their vaults, Giannini was able to use the rescued funds to start lending within a few days of the disaster. From a makeshift desk of a few planks over two barrels, he lent money to anyone who was willing to rebuild. He took great pride in later years that all of these loans were repaid." (from

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Al Gore, Criminal Billionaire

In his testimony in Congress on April 24, 2009, former Vice President Al Gore sneered at a Congresswoman who simply asked him about his interests in green business (that include carbon trading venture with ex-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson), and went into a taunting tirade: "Do you think there is something wrong with being active in business in this country?" (Here's the link to the video. You can watch Al Gore's staff sitting behind him laugh and sneer as their boss does.)

Well, first, the Congresswoman was not asking whether or not there's something wrong with being a businessman in this country. Second, in your particular case Mr. Vice President, yes it is a crime, even if you won't be the first one to profit immensely from government connection. John D. Rockefeller did, J. P. Morgan did. It's a fine American tradition of crony capitalism, but don't tell us it's a rugged entrepreneurism. (Investing in Apple Inc.'s stocks doesn't make one an entrepreneur.)

Lew Rockwell seems to share my disgust.

Al Gore, Criminal Billionaire (Lew Rockwell, 11/4/09 LRC Blog)
[emphasis is mine]

"Al may become the first man to rip-off a cool billion through government carbon tyranny. When a man becomes rich in the market, it is because he has been highly successful in serving consumers. When a hereditary member of the power elite like Gore becomes even richer through the state, it means he has been very successful in pushing the faces of consumers into the mud. He promotes climate lies and then poverty-producing state intervention because of the lies, and then makes big bucks from special deals with companies he helped enrich through the state. What a monster."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Time Change Is Hazardous to Your Health

Now I know why I have been extremely tired, groggy, unfocused ever since Sunday. I just learned that daylight-saving time does not conserve energy, and what's worse, it has negative, potentially deadly consequences:

Time change could prove hazardous to your health
(William F. Shugart II, 10/29/09 [emphasis is mine]

"Although daylight-saving time was sold politically as an energy-conservation measure, it does no such thing. Studies conducted in Indiana prior to 2006, when that state operated under three different time regimes, show either no difference in energy consumption or a small increase in power usage during the months after clocks were moved one hour ahead.

"The annual ritual of springing forward and falling back thus possibly produces no energy savings and may be counterproductive. It also requires those who live in places where daylight-saving time is observed to waste time twice a year adjusting their clocks and watches.

"Yet the costs of switching between daylight-saving and standard time go far beyond the hassles of “losing” an hour in the springtime and “gaining” it back in the fall.

"I am not a doctor and I do not play one on TV, but the medical profession — as Dr. Osvaldo Bustos of George Washington University's School of Medicine pointed out to me recently — has known for years that shifting time forward or backward has negative, and possibly deadly, health consequences.

"A Swedish study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Oct. 30, 2008, reports increases in the incidence of myocardial infarction (heart attack) after the beginning of daylight-saving time and the subsequent return to standard time. Depending on whether the shift occurred in the fall or spring, men and women were found to vary in the extent to which their heart attack risks were increased, but the study's authors concluded from the clinical evidence that time change triggered more myocardial infarctions in the two groups overall than they would have suffered otherwise.

"The underlying causal mechanism has to do with how the hypothalamus regulates humankind's circadian rhythms. When the “clock” that governs those rhythms is abruptly shifted one hour forward or backward, it struggles to adjust the body's internal physical, chemical, electrical, hormonal and immunological environment to the new conditions.

"Most people, fortunately, are made aware of the hypothalamus' attempts to cope by having to put up with feeling groggy and being less productive at work or at home for a few days only. Others, however, apparently experience more serious effects, including having a heart attack, from which, it is to be hoped, most recover."

So if I've been lazy in posting in the past few days, it's not me, it's adjustment back to standard time. Now I feel slightly better.

(If it doesn't actually save energy and if it is potentially bad for your health, why does the government do it?)

October Auto Sales: The Winner Is...?

So far, the following auto companies announced their October auto sales figures.

Porsche (POAHF): up 15%. Third consecutive Y/Y increases

Ford (F): up 2.6%.

Daimler (DAI): up 9.4%. Heavy decline on Smart (-70%).

Nissan (NSANY): up 5.6%.

Chrysler (FIATY): down -30%. Across the board decline.


Government Motors (aka General Motors): up 4.1%

Toyota (TM): down -3.5%

(Toyota was a surprise to me. Wonder what kind of counting was done at GM.)

KIA: up 45.3%

Honda: down -4%

(I suspected KIA to be a big winner. Toyota and Honda taking a breather from cash for clunkers sales, I suppose.)

Gold Jumps to All-Time High (Nominal) on IMF Gold Sale News

Gold surges to new record high (11/3/09 AFP via Breitbart)

"Gold surged to a new record high price of 1,085.07 dollars an ounce Tuesday, a day after an announcement of a massive sale of gold by the International Monetary Fund to India.

"Prices in London hit 1,085.07 dollars per troy ounce and New York prices reached 1,084.70 dollars, breaking records set last month.

"The latest surge came a day after the International Monetary Fund announced it sold 200 tonnes of gold to India's central bank over a two-week period last month for a total of 6.7 billion dollars to bolster its finances.

"The IMF said the transaction, which was in the process of being settled, involved daily sales that were phased over a two-week period during October 19-30. "

It was off-the-market transaction. India's gold reserve is now 557.7 tonnes, or 6% of the country's foreign reserve.

It was widely speculated that it would be China who would grab IMF gold. China (1054 tonnes, 0.9% of foreign reserve) may still go for the remaining half. Other contenders include Russia (524 tonnes, 4% of foreign reserve), any of the Gulf states, and South East Asian countries.

During this sales operation, gold price had a minor correction. It went from $1065 on October 19 to $1026 on October 28, and ended October 30 at $1045. So, the much-dreaded correction was mere $39, or 3.7% at most.

Monday, November 2, 2009

October Bank Closures Jump to 20

Highest since July.

And as Chairman Bair of FDIC expresses her anger against banks "resisting the reform" (the article is linked below the chart), her own organization remains technically insolvent. In fact, it has been insolvent since June 2008 when the reserve ratio dipped below the mandated 1.15% (see my post), and all the while she has kept repeating the mantra "No one lost money with us, your money is safe with us." (Of course it is safe, who does she think it is ultimately back-stopped by? Us! We pay money so that we may have our money back.)

Anyway, bank closures in October ballooned toward the end of the month to 20, the second highest this year after July (24). By their own admission, DIF was already negative at the end of September.

And here's Chairman Bair's anger, as summarized by an article by Reuters:

"Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, said on Monday that some in the financial services sector are trying to argue that regulatory reform would stifle innovation and impede economic growth.

""That makes me angry," Bair said in a text of remarks prepared for a lecture at Kansas State University.

"Bair said the extreme market interventions that have occurred during the recent financial crisis have been difficult for her as a life-long Republican and market advocate.

"But she said they were necessary and that government needs even more tools to discourage financial firms from getting so large that taxpayers are forced to provide assistance if the firms become unstable.

""The government has been going into places where we don't want to be," Bair said, but she added: "We simply cannot afford to maintain the status quo.""

Her institution bends over backward to maintain the status quo by helping big banks in every way she can so that they not only survive but prosper. Remember the backdoor deal that almost went through last year regarding Wachovia? Citigroup was going to get that bank at a bargain price, with all the bad assets backstopped by FDIC.

And talk about financial innovation. Again, her institution is on top of that too. FDIC has been backstopping assets of the failed banks as purchased by new owners and backstopping bond issues by financial institutions while failing to maintain even a ridiculously low reserve. Compared to FDIC, Bear Stearns and AIG are the paragons of conservative operation.

One of the unintended consequences of FDIC's backstopping the mortgage losses of the failed banks is that the new owners would rather foreclose on the property because it is so much more profitable for them. It's free money. (For more, please read the first link (Is FDIC Killing Short Sales?) in my post in early October.)

To me, for her to say she is angry at the financial institutions is totally laughable. I even get angry myself when I hear her squawk about protecting consumers while FDIC backstops mortgage losses for billionaire investors who foreclose on the homeowners. I share the sentiment that Karl Denninger has about her.

California to Withhold Bigger (10% Bigger) Chunk of Paychecks

Not to be outdone by Hillary, the State of California has just started to withhold the state tax 10% more than it already does.

California to withhold a bigger chunk of paychecks
(10/31/09 LA Times)

"Reporting from Los Angeles and Sacramento - Starting Sunday, cash-strapped California will dig deeper into the pocketbooks of wage earners -- holding back 10% more than it already does in state income taxes just as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks into gear.

"Technically, it's not a tax increase, even though it may feel like one when your next paycheck arrives. As part of a bundle of budget patches adopted in the summer, the state is taking more money now in withholding, even though workers' annual tax bills won't change.

"Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan: You'll be repaid any extra withholding in April. Those who would receive a refund anyway will receive a larger one, and those who owe taxes will owe less."

It feels like an outright theft. This 10% extra withholding was one of the little-noticed provisions that were approved during California's budget crisis this summer. By raiding the paychecks of Californians, the state will be able to raise $1.7 billion.

California has also raised the sales tax. With local governments heaping their own additional sales tax, the total sales tax for my area is now 9.25%. Less than a year ago, it was 8.25%.

"Change we can believe in." I truly honestly wholeheartedly believe that change has happened. It's just not the change for the better, that's all. (Or my definition of "better" is vastly different from that of the White House honchos.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hillary Scolds Pakistan for Not Taxing Enough

... dead or alive, we tax, and that's the American way that Pakistan should follow.

State Secretary Hillary Clinton scolded the Pakistanis for not doing their part in hunting down the leadership of Al Qaeda. In her rather blunt message to Pakistan, she inadvertently revealed the reality of the U.S. tax system.

Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan: Hillary Clinton
(10/30/09 Daily Times)

After expressing her firm belief that Al Qaeda is in Pakistan and strongly insinuating that the Pakistani government is complicit in the affair, Secretary Clinton said the following:

"“Maybe that’s the case; maybe they’re not gettable. I don’t know... As far as we know, they are in Pakistan,” Clinton told senior Pakistani newspaper editors in Lahore, AFP reported. “The percentage of taxes on GDP (in Pakistan) is among the lowest in the world... We (the United States) tax everything that moves and doesn’t move, and that’s not what we see in Pakistan,” she said."

So, the reason why the Pakistani government is having a tough time hunting down Al Qaeda may be the lack of fund, as Pakistan's tax collection is low? And she sounds disappointed that Pakistan is not doing what the U.S. does - tax everything that moves and doesn't move.

Oh boy. (Maybe her meds are off again.)

Well, at least in the U.S., even people who don't move any more can vote, along with Mickey Mouse.