October 25, 2007 archive

Holy Crap on a (Chinese Made) Pogo Stick


I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.

In a diary on mortgages, now frontpaged, a comment was made about the Chinese moving in to your home when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

My initial reaction – that sounds just a tad farfetched to me. After all, China does own a lot of our government debt, but I seriously doubt they own much in the way of our personal debt.

Well, since Google is our friend, I decided I better test my theory before spouting off.

And thus, the title of this essay.

Looking for political leaders…look south

I have become convinced that if we want to find courageous leadership these days, we might want to look south. There are some very interesting developments going on in various countries in South America. We hear alot about Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and maybe a bit less about Evo Morales in Bolivia. And after the news that Chile had elected the first woman as President, Michelle Bachelet, we haven’t heard much about her.

But I had heard nothing about President Rafael Correa of Ecuador until I found a wonderful story over at The Latin Americanist. He has let the world know that he is willing to continue allowing a US military base in his country if we allow him to establish one in Miami. Here’s some bits on the story from Reuters:

Pony Party, change the world

WARNING concerning economic upheaval: ANY mortgage is subject to foreclosure

There’s a dandy one going around best illustrated by what followed this question at the big orange junior high finance class:

I was informed a month or so ago that my mortgage (30 year fixed) was sold to Citigroup. Any idea what this means for me? I can only imagine that it is not good.

A helpful but underinformed diarist’s response:

It’s unsettling to have your personal loan vanish into the virtual world of equity-backed securities. But Citigroup, or whoever they sold your mortgage to, cannot unilaterally change the terms of your legally binding loan contract. As long as you make your payments on time, nothing changes for you.

Not usually so.  The question came up a year ago elsewhere… after we had luckily been able to pay off a mortgage.  I called my lending institution’s vice president, who is a friend of the family, to ask him about the issue.  Line by line, he went through the standard contract used in the industry with me…

Docudharma Times Thursday Oct. 25

This is an Open Thread: Can We Talk?


New Steps by U.S. Against Iranians
Published: October 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 – The Bush administration will announce a long-debated policy of new sanctions against Iran on Thursday, accusing the elite Quds division of the Revolutionary Guard Corps of supporting terrorism, administration officials said Wednesday night.

The administration also plans to accuse the entire Revolutionary Guard Corps of proliferating weapons of mass destruction, the officials said. While the United States has long labeled Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, the decision to single out the Guard reflects increased frustration in the administration with the slow pace of diplomatic negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Then There Is This
Buried in the $196.4 billion supplemental war spending proposal that Bush submitted to Congress on Oct. 22 is a request for $88 million to modify B-2 bombers so they can drop a Massive Ordnance Penetrator
the bombs came in response to “an urgent operational need from theater commanders.” […]

Previous statements by the Defense Department and the program’s contractors, along with interviews with military experts, suggest the weapon is meant for the kind of hardened targets found chiefly in Iran.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

Random Economics Question

Easily my favorite thing about blogger Megan McArdle (the former Jane Galt) is her willingness to deal with economics questions in conversational terms, without often resorting to mathematics or theory.  Often, it makes her look bad to the casual reader, but I generally find it to be extraordinarily daring.  Politics is a realm where the ultimate sin is to say anything, true or false, in a manner which can be taken as offensive (paging Rep. Stark!). 

Today, Ms. McArdle made a post about charity in response to a comment which Ezra Klein highlighted on his blog.

Interestingly, this is exactly the argument that was offered for why socialism would be better than capitalism. I don’t find it ridiculous; indeed, in 1935, I’m sure I’d have found it incredibly compelling. It took a genius like Friedrich Hayek (and ultimately, the collapse of the Soviet Union) to show why giant national solutions rarely outperform a competitive market.

The problem, it turns out, is that the central planners with the big picture have to design one-size-fits all programs that by their nature have more error built in because they don’t have good local information. Also, when the planners make mistakes, as they inevitably will, those mistakes are bigger. They are also harder to detect because again, the planners have a much poorer grade of information about what is happening on the ground than local players do. And because there’s no competition, there is no one to grade your performance against, and also, much less incentive to fix mistakes–particularly since those mistakes tend to generate constituencies devoted to protecting them. (See subsidies, farm.)

(You should follow the link to see the comment from Klein’s blog and the full response from McArdle)

Michelle Malkin: Walang Hiya

Michelle Malkin is a Filipino American who was born in the US in 1970 to Filipino parents.  Filipinos are the second largest group of Asian immigrants in the US, and their presence has not always been appreciated.

Historically, Filipinos have been treated as second class citizens in the US. In Northern California in the 1920s and 1930s there used to be signs that read “No dogs and no Filipinos allowed.”  Anti-Filipino riots broke out and Filipinos in the US at that time were victims of  racial violence. Miscegenation laws prevented Filipinos from marrying Caucasians in many states, and this held in some states until 1967 when the Supreme Court found such laws unconstitutional.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

I like to read a lot, it’s one of my chief pleasures.

I was enforced in my addiction early in life living a mere block away from the local library.  Well equipped in Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, and other classics I soon outgrew the basement kids section and got my ticket to the tall shelves.  As soon as I got to Junior High I started ditching study hall to be a volunteer librarian.

I have a huge collection myself, most of it in boxes.  Dime a cover library sales of my very same childhood classics, I can show you the sign out cards.  Paperbacks when they didn’t cost $10.

Among the authors I like that don’t get talked about much are Dorothy Sayers and Rex Stout the Emily and Richard of Lord Peter Death (and that’s Death as in dead not Deeth you wienie) Bredon Wimsey and Nero Wolfe as recorded by Archie Goodwin.  Peter and Archie have Harriet and Lily, Nero has history.

If you haven’t read Flashman by George MacDonald Fraiser you don’t understand me at all, big C.S. Forester fan too.  I’ve had a Maria in my life.

My Interview of Friends of the Earth Action President Blackwelder Re Edwards Endorsement

Last week, Friends of the Earth Action (“FOE Action”) endorsed John Edwards.

This week, I interviewed Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth and FOE Action, about the endorsement of John Edwards.  Part I of the interview is in this diary. 

Here’s a little about FOE Action for those unfamiliar with it:

Founded by David Brower in 1967, Friends of the Earth Action has established a 35-year record of not only fighting the tough battles, but winning them too.  FoE Action provides extra political muscle on legislative battles here in the U.S. for to our sister organization, Friends of the Earth, which is part of a network of affiliates in over 70 nations around the world. 


FoE Action looks beyond the symptoms of environmental degredation, to the systemic causes.

FOE Action

Come around after the fold to hear a real hero of the struggle to save our planet.

How Serious (imminent, scary, threatening) is Climate Crisis?

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I won’t editorialize too much, so as not to influence the poll and responses too much.

Of course no one really knows…..for one thing things are developing to fast, lol! Ooops, that was editorializing!

I am very curious about how concerned folks are and interested hearing what the consensus here seems to be.

Here is the latest in conservative ‘thought.’

Ray L. Hunt: Catalyst for Cataclysm

Why on earth have tensions suddenly escalated along the Turkish border with Iraq? Why have Kurdish PKK guerrillas been going out of their way in recent weeks to provoke a conflict with Turkish forces and draw the Turkish Army into a cross-border incursion into the Kurd-administered region of northern Iraq?

The most important clue may lie in the persona and actions of Ray L. Hunt, CEO of Hunt Consolidated, Inc., member of the Halliburton Board of Directors, Bush “Pioneer,” major Republican fund-raiser, and, oh, by the way, member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB).

Hunt is no mere peripheral bit player; he has donated $35 million to his alma mater, Southern Methodist University, for purchase of an apartment complex that seems destined to be the site of the Bush Presidential Library and possibiy an affiliated think tank (oxymoron alert).

In short, Ray L. Hunt is a poster boy for Republican, Texas Big Oil, crony capitalism.

Below the break let us ponder how Hunt appears to be a primary catalyst for cataclysm in the Middle East.

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