Thursday, August 31, 2006

I think we have a front-runner for the "Stupidest Thing Ever Said" award...

Talking about the future of manned space exploration, a young under-bean-counter uttered the following statement to the press:
"Space is no longer going to be a destination that we visit briefly," NASA associate administrator Scott Horowitz said at a news conference at NASA headquarters Thursday. "We're going to learn to live off the land like the pioneers did."
Several of his audience apparently died of massive and immediate brain aneurysms and one poor news photographer's lower intestine crawled out his ass and plugged itself into a 220v. outlet to relieve the pain ...

And who says the people in this adminsitration are not committed to excellence in their dealings with the media and the public?

mojo sends

Support the Troops! Gouge those suckers!

This is just unacceptable:

The report says “payday loan” stores (so named because their loans are often due on a borrower's next payday) have sprung up by the thousands around military bases and elsewhere in the past decade.

Lenders typically charge $15 to $25 per $100 loan for two weeks, and most loans are extended for several weeks. The report says the average loan is $350 and has an annual interest rate of 390% to 780%. The average borrower, it says, pays back $834 for a $339 loan.

The report cites estimates that 13% to 19% oservicemenrs — at least 175,000 people — took out high-interest, short-term loans last year. It said nine out of 10 loans go to borrowers who get five or more over a year.

I haven't been on a military base in many years, but are there really no financial services provided to service members on base? Would not a credit union that provides financial services be appropriate here?

Congress ordered the Pentagon to conduct the lending study. This year, the Senate passed an amendment to its annual defense spending bill that calls for a 36% cap on interest for loans to service menbers. It would not affect loans to civilians. The House version of the defense bill doesn't include the amendment. A joint committee will begin working out differences between the two versions next month.

36% is still outrageous where credits unions and other financial entities can provide these services at more competitive rates. The industries response is a charming combination of spin and condescension:
Such lending, the report says, hurts readiness and morale and “adds to the cost of fielding an all-volunteer fighting force.”
That's a misguided critique of a valuable service, says Darrin Andersen, president of the Community Financial Services Association of America, the payday lenders' trade group. The Pentagon, he says, “is in over its heads when it comes to … complex personal finance and lending issues.”

Ummm..The Pentagon manages a 400 billion dollar budget and a payroll of over a million people. I think they could figure out the loan shark business if they put their minds to it. Better yet, form service member credit union that has branches at every base that service people can use to provide these services. Put the offices right next to the sharks, errr, the payday lenders and let the glorious free market determine who is in over their head. I think it's time for some Creative Destruction.

Master Sgt. Leah Caldwell, who manages training and deployment for a squadron of the Missouri Air National Guard, says she has had several airmen get so deep into debt with the loans that they lost their security clearances, jeopardizing their deployment. One airman, she says, took out a $500 loan and after refinancing it several times saw it grow to a $2,600 debt.

The whole *alleged* deregulation of the financial industry was to allow consumers to reap the benefit of competition among financial entities. It's allegedly one of the reasons why Banks and S&L's were allowed to get into each others business, although that particular idea didn't live up to the hype.

Where is the American Legion? Veterans of Foreign Wars? College Republicans? You people are all into our shit when we protest the war. You get all assed up when someone burns a flag, (although wearing it as butt floss seems just peachy), yet service people are being ripped off and you people are silent as near as I can tell.

I have a particular hatred for payday lenders. I think it's exactly the business that gives markets a bad name and is a poster child for imposing strict regulations on companies that provide financial services. It's legal loan sharking, now backed up by a draconian bankruptcy law that gives these people more power to ruin lives than having their hired muscle break someones fingers. IF a constituency that gets as much attention as the military can get exploited in this way, what about the rest of us who aren't spoken of in such reverent terms? And yes, I know the reverence for the military is mostly talk. As Ezra Klein points out, this is what John Edwards and others mean when they state that being poor is expensive. Drive through an urban low income neighborhood and count the chain grocery stores. You won't find very many, if at all. What you will get is liquor stores and small stores that charge much higher prices. That is typical of many consumer services we take for granted. With the exception of WalMart that sometimes can be found in these places, but causes plenty of other kinds of economic havoc.

What really pisses me off is this is fixable. It doesn't take a huge program or a vast new bureaucracy to make services more accessible or other things to improve the quality of life for people who occupy lower rungs of the income ladder. It just takes some will and effort, and not placing the needs of shareholders and CEO's above everyone elses all the time without exception. Cut the little guy a break every now and again.

There I go again, talking that hippie Socialist talk...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Roy Edriso is the man

Sorry for the format of the following links, my browser at home will not display the complete toolbar in Blogger... (ed: fixed)

Roy Edriso at AlicuBlog provides us with our 2006 campaign slogan. Read the whole post and the bumper sticker at the end.

More suggestions in the same vein? I'll take a stab:

It's a pussy, not a choice!

Monday, August 28, 2006

It's Time To Test The West

Via The mighty Glenn Greenwald, we learn fromThe San Francisco Chronicle that the United States of America has begun forcibly ex-patriating its citizens.
(08-26) 04:00 PDT Sacramento -- The federal government has barred two relatives of a Lodi man convicted of supporting terrorists from returning to the country after a lengthy stay in Pakistan, placing the U.S. citizens in an extraordinary legal limbo.

The crime here that seems to be keeping these two Americans from returning to the only country they're legally allowed to reside is either A) being related to somebody convicted of supporting terrorism, or B) refusing to be interrogated by the FBI without counsel present, except it's hard to tell— because the Americans in question haven't been charged with anything.

They're just not being allowed back into the country.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Somebody Set Up Us The Bomb...

...How are you gentlemen? All Your Base Are Belong To Us...

Is there anyone else out there who thinks that it is more than just a passing possibility that the "kidnapping" of two FoxNews guys in Gaza is complete bullshit?

There is much about this story that does not compute. An entirely unknown new group, that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbollah, Fatah, Al Aqsa, et al. claim absolutely no knowledge of? Kidnapping of American journalists? (not unheard of, but pretty damn rare in the Territories), Political demands of America, not Israel or the P/A?

Here is the passage from the "Holy Jihad Brigades" that really put the skepticism hook in me:
And to add to the bitterness, they placed infidel regimes they called "Democratic" regimes that want to bring us justice and freedom. So some ran [to embrace such regimes] while they knew by heart "(Illegible)".

God is the only legislator. He is the final Judge in all matters. Like parrots, they all started to shout "Democracy, freedom, elections, referendum". They did not know — or maybe they did but neglected to do what they were supposed to under the pretext that this was not happening on their own soils — that they were only praising states of mental illnesses through which the West went through in its intellectual and ideological struggle to achieve the heavenly justice, and they [Westerners] did away with the causes of their backwardness to prosper, so you can obey them and they can play God. "Fie upon you, and upon the things that ye worship".
"Fie upon you?"
"Curse You George Bush... You and your Democracy Legion Super Friends have won again, but you will be no match for our evil weather manipulation machine..."

Come on... I'm supposed to believe this shit?

Look, I know that I'm being all impolite and impolitic by not holding my breath and offering continual silent rosaries 24 hours a day for the safe return of these two, while heaping prayers of hatred and violence upon the wicked, swarthy heathen brown Asian man, and if these guys are truly in danger, then I apologize for my insensitivities.

On the other hand, this is exactly the kind of ham-handed, melodramatic stunt I would expect from the sideways reality engineers and Republican Party hacks of FoxNews.

Sorry, this thing simply does not pass the sniff test. And I would be Jack's complete-lack-of-credulity-and-surprise to learn that this was all a FoxNews publicity trick to "alert us all to the dangers of international terrorism..." or something...

Is there anyone else out there expressing similar thoughts right now?

mojo sends

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Explosive revelation out of Canton Ohio. Apparently, sexual ignorance can lead to unplanned pregnancies:

CANTON, Ohio -- An Ohio school board is expanding sex education following the revelation that 13 percent of one high school's female students were pregnant last year.

There were 490 female students at Timken High School in 2005, and 65 were pregnant, WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported.

The new Canton school board program promotes abstinence but also will teach students who decide to have sex how to do so responsibly, bringing the city school district's health curriculum in line with national standards

Nice JOB RED STATE! Apparently, the curriculum at Timken was abstinence only prior to the revelation about the pregnancy rate. Props to the school board for addressing it rather than devolving into the usual rhetoric of blaming the usual strawman, that is to say providing accurate biological information on sex. I wonder how many of these kids took the abstinence pledge?

Just for the record, I don't object to abstinence being a part of a sexual education curriculum. My objection to the sexual education abstinence-only curriculum promulgated by the White House is that it almost always distorts the facts about the effectiveness of condoms to prevent STD's and pregnancy, and frequently makes the false assertion that early sexual activity leads to mental illness and chemical dependency. Their oft repeated claim that HIV can be transmitted through tears is patently false and a disgraceful and blatant attempt to stigmatize gay people.

I think that ALL sides of this issue tend to overstate the impact of sexual education and wildly misinterpret the impact of culture. But in the case of Timken, it seems like a reasonable deduction that educating students on available birth control might lower the teenage pregnancy. It's a cost effective, low risk way to address it that lays within the scope of the schools mission. Pushing them into programs that are slightly disguised recruitment efforts for evangelical Christian churches who *officially * regard premarital sex as sinful is clearly not within their scope.

Monday, August 21, 2006


The Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays For War are asking WTF? I confess, I don't have a coherent answer for them. I wish I did, but the facile and obvious answer, i.e. the international bourgeois conspiracy, just doesn't hold enough water.

On the other hand, there is always Dr. Strychnine's Immortal Advice To Would-Be Conspiracy Theorists: never propose conspiracy as an explanation where mere stupidity will suffice.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Impending Mortgage Reset Wave

I've occasionally written about this problem, most recently here and here. Now, via Calculated Risk, comes this scary article from The Baltimore Sun [my emphasis added].
To head off potential problems, the largest mortgage originator in the United States, Countrywide Home Loans, quietly has begun sending out letters to thousands of borrowers who have been making only the minimum payments on the company's popular "PayOption" adjustable-rate mortgages.

The letters explain that "this is an early message to alert you that, based on your current payment trends and potential future interest rate changes, the monthly payment you will be required to pay may increase significantly."

A model letter provided to me by Countrywide includes this hypothetical example of what could be ahead for a California homeowner currently making only minimum payments monthly on a $402,000 loan.

The current full interest rate on the loan is 7.6 percent, but the borrower has been paying just $1,348.47, far less than what's needed to fully amortize the mortgage over its 30-year term.

If the loan reset at today's rates, the letter explains, the full payment required would be $2,887.50 - more than double what the homeowner has gotten used to paying. Future reset rates could be even steeper, making the potential payment crunch much worse.[...]
I bring this to your attention with the key phrases emphasized that way, because it's not clear to me that everybody understands compound interest calculations well enough to understand how they will be so well and truly fncked when their mortgage resets.

Now that you've internalized that side of the problem, look at this graph again:

All those wonky PayOption and interest-only ding-a-ling mortgages taken out over the last two years to "bridge the affordability gap" are going to start resetting in a huge wave, the leading edge of which is just starting to swell up now, and it will really be rolling quite seriously over America in about six months. Americans don't have the savings to indicate that they've been using these exotic instruments responsibly. There is a financial hurricane coming.

I have a 30-year fixed rate mortgage on a detached house in San Francisco at 5.67% and no 2nd mortgage. On paper, the balance of my loan is a little less than half the comparable price in my immediate neighborhood. I think I'm in a pretty good position to ride out this wave, but I'm still nervous. There are a lot of people who are going to have their lunch money stolen in this market correction. I expect the financial suffering to be horrendous, and in that kind of upheaval, even the people who managed their risks responsibly tend to get the shaft. If you don't believe that, I'd like to send you on a tour of gulf-coast Louisiana and Mississippi.

Friday, August 18, 2006

We Are Not Worthy!

Our Monkey's Kung Fu is Not Strong!

Even though it is a link to a Daily Show segment, this bit of descriptor was wonderful, and I would like to think, literally true:
"You know, I'm a big fan of The Daily Show and Colbert Report. But I can say that this is the first time that Bill Hicks -- who did not die, but transcended mortality -- out on the border between the Real universe and the Chaosium from whence the Cthulhic Horrors spring, way out there on the border where he fights the Creatures of Madness with Elvis's old six-shooters powered by his own prodigious sex magicks ...

This is the first time Hicks looked back over his shoulder at us and smiled."

mojo sends

Do Not Mock the Powerful Oracle-Like Nature of the Mojowire

Well, it looks like we may have the beginnings of a real ballgame! [c.f. Kurds flee homes as Iran shells Iraq's northern frontier]
"Turkey and Iran have dispatched tanks, artillery and thousands of troops to their frontiers with Iraq during the past few weeks in what appears to be a coordinated effort to disrupt the activities of Kurdish rebel bases.

Scores of Kurds have fled their homes in the northern frontier region after four days of shelling by the Iranian army. Local officials said Turkey had also fired a number of shells into Iraqi territory."
Well, what can I say that I didn't say here about two or three weeks ago. It's like a slo-mo car wreck. You have to watch, you have to look.

Ah yes, strange and ominous rumblings and rumors of war cross the web today. There are various reports that Turkish generals are considering unilateral, large scale cross border incursions into Northern Iraq. Iran is placing thousands of troops on the border. The PKK is getting close to telling the Americans to get bent if they won't help them establish a Greater Kurdistan in Northern Iraq.

Okay Chucklehead... bet's to you, call or fold, chump!

mojo sends

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Joseph Darby Emerges

Via Digby's Hullaballoo, we learn that Joseph Darby has written a feature article for GQ's online presence this week. Those who know me offline will recall me asking whatever happened to Specialist Darby. I haven't read this article yet, but I'm relieved just to see it in print.

Update: I've now read it. Let your jaw drop with mine as you read this paragraph:
Well, it didn’t work out that way. About a month after Graner and the rest of them left Abu Ghraib, we were up in Camp Anaconda, and I was sitting with ten other guys from my platoon in the dining facility. It’s a big facility, packed with like 400 other soldiers, and I’m sitting there eating when Donald Rumsfeld comes on during the damned congressional hearings. It was like something out of a movie. I’m sitting there, and right next to me there’s a TV, and Rumsfeld is on it when he drops my damned name. Almost nobody in my unit knew what I’d done until he dropped my damned name. On national TV. I was sitting midbite when he said it, and I was like, Oh, my God. And the guys at the table just stopped eating and looked at me. I was like, Fuuuuuck. And I got up and got the hell out of there.
I hope that motherfucker Rumsfeld has a debilitating stroke and spends the rest of his unnatural life paralyzed and unable to speak.

No Kings

Headline: Judge Pulls Plug on NSA Wiretapping

Well, it's a dark day when we actually needed a federal judge to tell us that "there are no hereditary kings" of the United States...

Thank God that at least there was still someone on the federal bench willing to stand up and say so, even if their opinion (and for a district bench opinion, this is a pretty long at 44 pages) is likely to be whacked out by the Fifth Circuit, and upheld by the newly reconfigured Supremes...

Of course the bloodless ghouls of Freeperville (sorry, I don't have the emotional energy to link there) have completely spun out... I think they are over their cognitive dissonance and have finally embraced their fascist leanings, openly saying that the Preznit should just ignore the court, under the rubric of "Oh yeah? Well, who's gonna make us stop? You?" That and of course, that the court is actually in support of terrorism, so anything they say should not count...

mojo sends

A reasonable call for skepticism

WARNING SIGN - skepticism
So, how much credibility are we supposed to give the governments of Britain and the United States regarding the recent alleged plot to blow up a bunch of U.S.-bound airplanes?

Harry Shearer writes something I have been thinking for the past few days, and manages to find a go-to guy for a little reasonable questioning of the official party line in one Craig Murray former British ambassador to the Central Asian garden spot of Uzbekistan.

To wit, Mr. Murray says:
"In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is deeply political. This is more propaganda than plot. Of the over one thousand British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only twelve per cent are ever charged with anything. That is simply harrassment of Muslims on an appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few - just over two per cent of arrests - who are convicted, are not convicted of anything to do terrorism, but of some minor offence the Police happened upon while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered.

Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical.
This does not mean that I believe the whole thing is some sort of a put up job. But I am deeply suspicious of the timing and the alleged advancement of the plot, in particular, the idea that James Bond and a team of MI-5 specials rolled into Imam Goldfinger's secret underwater mosque/lair and foiled the plot at zero-hour... Look, it is hard to go wrong betting on mendacity and exaggeration when it comes to the actual level of terrorist threat as purported by either of these governments.

And in looking at Mr. Murray's comments, I am also wondering how much of this is also going be responsible for a resurgence of the political viability of groups like the openly and violently racist British Nationalist Party and act as a pretext for more conservative elements at all levels of government in Britain to bring back the bad old days of the late '60s and '70s where Irish immigrants working in urban areas were under constant suspicion, routinely arrested without charges, imprisoned without cause, beaten, abused, and generally made to feel unwelcome...

And I wonder, how much of this is going to serve as an object lesson to conduct the same kind of political purging, and suppression here in the United States?

mojo sends

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Stamp Out Heterosexuality Now!

Via TBogg (and The Mighty Atrios), comes this anxiety-inducing nightmare at BlackFive.Net:
That we pursue war without thought of the children. That we do not turn aside from the death of the innocent, but push on to the conclusion, through all fearful fire. If we do that, the children will lose their value as hostages, and as targets: if we love them, we must harden our hearts against their loss. Ours and theirs.
I think I've never, in my entire life, heard a more strident polemic against heterosexuality, and remember— I live in San Francisco.

Update: Oh yeah, don't read the comments. I mean it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

What do DHS agents do on a Sunny afternoon?

Andrew Sullivan today posted some photo's purportedly from ANSWER anti-war rallies in in Montreal and San Francisco:

I'd like to thank the agents for Homeland Security for stopping by the ANSWER rally.

The Freedom and the Liberty and the Creamy Democracy Filling...

A couple of days ago, s9 wrote in the comments section of this post about : "I hope I don't have to point out to anyone that our President and his NeoConClownCarCrew™ are using the words "freedom" and "terror" now as completely meaningless antonyms of one another. It's quite orwellian, actually."

Well, Preznit Chucklehead buried the needle on meaningless political methane emission this afternoon when he went on a drunken extended rant about our "Forward Strategy of Freedom."

Now, you see, I thought it was just bunkering down in Bagdad and Kabul trying to get blowed up, but no ... apparently it is just our "Forward Strategy for Freedom."

Here, I'll just let Maximum Leader explain it to you:
Yet, the lack of freedom in the region meant anger and resentment grew, radicalism thrived, and terrorists found willing recruits. We saw the consequences on September 11, 2001, when terrorists brought death and destruction to our country, killing nearly 3,000 of our citizens.

So we launched a forward strategy of freedom in the broader Middle East. And that strategy has helped bring hope to millions and fostered the birth of young democracies from Baghdad to Beirut.

Forces of terror see the changes that are taking place in their midst. They understand that the advance of liberty, the freedom to worship, the freedom to dissent, the protection of human rights would be a defeat for their hateful ideology.
So the terrorists are striking back with all the destructive power that they can muster.
Some say that America caused the current instability in the Middle East by pursuing a forward strategy of freedom, yet history shows otherwise.

We didn't talk much about freedom or the freedom agenda in the Middle East before September 11th, 2001
History's clear: The freedom agenda did not create the terrorists or their ideology, but the freedom agenda will help defeat them both.
The problem in the Middle East today is not that people lack the desire for freedom. The problem is that young democracies that they have established are still vulnerable to terrorists and their sponsors.
The message of this administration is clear: America will stay on the offense against Al Qaida. Iran must stop its support for terror.
Yet millions of people in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere are equally determined to live in peace and freedom...They reject the hateful vision of the terrorists
We seek to advance the cause of freedom in the Middle East
The way forward's going to be difficult. It will require more sacrifice. But we can be confident of the outcome because we know and understand the unstoppable power of freedom.

In a Middle East that grows in freedom and democracy, people will have a chance to raise their families and live in peace and build a better future. In a Middle East that grows in freedom and democracy, the terrorists will lose their recruits and lose their sponsors and lose safe havens from which to launch new attacks. In a Middle East that grows in freedom and democracy there will be no room for tyranny and terror, and that will make America and other free nations more secure.

Now I'll be glad to answer a couple of questions...
Sure Chucklehead... I gots a couple questions for ya... First, exactly how drunk do you have to be to stand there with a reasonably straight face and deliver hideously wonton rhetorical crap like this? Really, what is it? A dozen Jack Daniels shooters? A case of Coronas? A couple of mason jars full of 160 proof Tennessee Moonshine? 500cc IV push of MDMA or Mescaline

Next question, after what sounded like a tirade fueled by cheap tequila and meth, I would like to clarify that the only thing standing between the people of the Middle East and their freedom is the governments in Syria and Iran... mostly Iran. So my question is basically when do you anticipate to begin the bombing?

We are so screwed...

mojo sends

Sunday, August 13, 2006

"A Failed Military Concept For Ninety Years"

Read the latest dispatch from the mighty Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker. You will be horrified. I lost track of the number of terrifying things Mr. Hersh reports in this article.

I'll just quote the last one (with my emphasis added to the really scary bits).
The Times also reported that Rice viewed herself as “trying to be not only a peacemaker abroad but also a mediator among contending parties” within the Administration. The article pointed to a divide between career diplomats in the State Department and “conservatives in the government,” including Cheney and Abrams, “who were pushing for strong American support for Israel.”

The Western diplomat told me his embassy believes that Abrams has emerged as a key policymaker on Iran, and on the current Hezbollah-Israeli crisis, and that Rice’s role has been relatively diminished. Rice did not want to make her most recent diplomatic trip to the Middle East, the diplomat said. “She only wanted to go if she thought there was a real chance to get a ceasefire.”

Bush’s strongest supporter in Europe continues to be British Prime Minister Tony Blair, but many in Blair’s own Foreign Office, as a former diplomat said, believe that he has “gone out on a particular limb on this”—especially by accepting Bush’s refusal to seek an immediate and total ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. “Blair stands alone on this,” the former diplomat said. “He knows he’s a lame duck who’s on the way out, but he buys it”—the Bush policy. “He drinks the White House Kool-Aid as much as anybody in Washington.” The crisis will really start at the end of August, the diplomat added, “when the Iranians”—under a United Nations deadline to stop uranium enrichment—“will say no.”
Apparently, those darned Iranian flying saucers must be stopped. Stopped, I say. You don't believe me? Pish tosh. Why do you hate America?

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I'm beginning to think that's the kind of idiocy we're beginning to see emerge here now. Idiocy so airtight that it's completely impervious to the future...

A reprint from The Wall Street Journal today tells all you need to know about what's happening in the American mortgage lending market.
Credit-counseling agencies say that in the past few months they've seen a growing number of homeowners pinched by rising mortgage payments. Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City says it's been "flooded" with calls from borrowers who took out ARMs two years ago and whose rates are now resetting for the first time. And Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Atlanta, which works with borrowers nationwide, says it has tripled its housing counseling staff in the past six months to keep up with increased demand.

Until recently, most mortgage-payment problems were an unfortunate byproduct of major life changes, such as job loss, medical problems, divorce or a death in the family. But for the new wave of troubled borrowers, the problems stem largely, or in part, from the structure of their mortgage, housing counselors say.

In the past, the home mortgage "was a steadying influence; it neither rose nor fell over time," says Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor who has studied consumer bankruptcies. "All that has changed in the last half-dozen years," she adds. "The mortgage payment is now more variable than any other expense for millions of people. We're working in completely uncharted territory."

Rising mortgage rates are causing problems for first-time home buyers such as Edward Snyder, a product manager who bought his house in St. Paul, Minn., two and a half years ago. Mr. Snyder financed the $210,000 purchase with a $168,000 interest-only ARM that carried a fixed-rate of 6.15 percent for the first two years and a $42,000 second mortgage with a 9.4 percent rate that is fixed for the first three years.

Mr. Snyder says he was stretched even before a rate adjustment on his ARM boosted his monthly payments by $200 in May. Since then, he has fallen behind on his water bills, car payments and student loan. "Now, it's a choice of what gets paid late," Mr. Snyder explains. Last month, he received a letter from his lender with the words "rate increase" on the envelope. Mr. Snyder says he hasn't opened it "because it gets too discouraging." This week, he's meeting with a mortgage broker to discuss his options.

"If I had been aware both loans were interest-only, I would have probably turned the loan down," says Mr. Snyder, who says that the terms of the mortgage were never properly explained to him. "I believe this loan is built for failure. There's no means to build up equity."
Hmm, "built for failure," eh? That's just CRAZY-TALK, MISTER! And, if you think your situation is untenable now, then just you wait until the price of 9-month benchmark crude goes to €120/bbl.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Victory For The Netroots!

Via RedState.Org, we find yet more reason to be excited about the emerging power of blogofascism!
Today is election day in Michigan and we are hoping Tim Walberg wins. Walberg is a pro-life tax cutting Republican who will work to reduce government and encourage the free market. We've been reviewing the top ten reasons why Joe Schwarz Must Go.
And the number one reason? "1. It will send a message to Republican leaders in Congress."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cheque, Please!

You want depressing? I've got your depressing. Read this comment (reprinted without permission) by Graydon Saunders over in the comments at Making Light.
It's very, very clear that Rummy wants a different army; the re-organization of the mech brigades makes that very obvious, if nothing else -- such as purging the ranks of the general officers, or (mostly successfully) attempting to inculcate millennialist Christianity at the Air Force academy (presumably so they'll have pilots who will obey nuclear first strike against a non-nuclear power orders) -- has managed to do that.

To my mind, the question is whether or not Rummy's willing to expend the army he has deployed in Iraq to get the pretext he needs to run roughshod over the objections -- the generally very sensible objections -- of the professional military on the way to getting the army he wants.

Put in those terms, well, of course he is; such a plan would differ only in rate of expenditure of troops from what is being done now, so it's clear that SecDef Rumsfeld possesses no fundamental objections to achieving his ends by such means.

The current professional Army, in such a scenario, would mostly be dead; the forty percent or so gone when the army on the ground in Iraq was destroyed, and then the other forty percent of maneuver units gone in the counter-attack out of Kuwait or otherwise into Iran before the mercenary army could come in behind them. Much of the remainder would go when used as cadre for elements of the mercenary army, which will probably not be officially called that.

Note that the current mercenary forces are by no means themselves adequate in numbers to provide meaningful maneuver elements for a field army; they are, however, heavily drawn from former US army special forces personnel, and are heavy with people whose separation ranks were from the junior end of senior NCOs. They'd be entirely capable of training a mercenary army, should the recruits be provided to them. (Though they themselves are likely to be independently retained on grounds of greater reliability and whiteness.)

At that point, not less than two years in the future, you're dealing with scattered veterans of the professional army, not in formed units and not provided with heavy weapons, being the only remaining elements of the professional army available to oppose the use of a mercenary army to quash dissent.

Those veterans of the professional army would, in that scenario, lack a snowball's chance under any circumstances short of a committed general uprising.

I would judge a general uprising impossible in the United States; too much of the population is generally pro-authoritarian for that to occur.

It is also worth noting that the areas most likely to rise in defense of their traditional liberties are those areas being systematically stripped of military materiel and infrastructure by the current National Command Authority.
This gives voice quite nicely to one of my own ongoing unstated concerns. I haven't had the inspiration or the ability to put these views into words, but now that Graydon has done so, I can just point to them here and say, "Just read that if you want to know what I think."

Update: And here you will find Max Boot explaining why you should lie down on the floor, keep calm, and always remember that America prevails.

Put your Quatloos where your wrinkly braincase is..

Provider #3 wagers 35,000 quatloos that Lamont edges Lieberman by 6%.

You know, I don't really have much of a stake whether or not Joementum keeps his job or not. But the more Lamont gathered momentum, the more the beltway dweebs like Broder, Matthews, Cokehead..err..Cokie got their panties in a bunch. The wailing and gnashing of teeth is deafening. I almost sorry the primary is upon us, I wanted to read more column where beltway sychophants firmly lodged between Karl Rove's buttcheeks rend their garments in faux outrage at how the Democratic Party will destroy itself in purging Lieberman.

Just for the record, my problem with Joementum isn't really about the War, at least not entirely. My problem with Joeboy is his career is one long slow wet blowjob for the worst excesses of the financial services industry. No Joe, we were not decieved by your oh so clever no vote on the bankruptcy bill. No one deepthroated his colleagues deeper and more often than you on this subject through the cloakroom gloryhole. If there is one legislative product of the last decade that is more cloven hoofed, brimstonesmelling, orphanstarving evil, it would have to be sponsored by Satan himself. Even he wouldn't put his name on that wretched piece of crap.

I won't even get into Joe's key role in running Arthur Leavitt off the hill back in the 90's when he wanted to push some reforms amidst the Roman orgy of the boom. When the bell starts tolling for all the people in hock up to their eyeballs in mortgage debt with ARM's and the rest of those "innovative" loan products they pushed on people with bad credit and limited capital, where is Joe going to be? Getting feted by the lads at Heritage and AEI for being their kind of Demcocrat. Even if Joe opposed the War, he would still be a venal little biatch.

Good Riddance.

Update 1.0: And the results are almost official. It's Lamont, 52-48.

Friday, August 04, 2006

And now for something completely different!

A little something to wash the taste of the previous discussion out of our mouth:
Kevin Drum pointed us to:

Ask a Science Blogger:

What movie do you think does something admirable (though not necessarily accurate) regarding science? Bonus points for answering whether the chosen movie is any good generally....

A lot of people like Kevin chose Real Genius, which is an excellent choice.

My current choice would be Warm Spring, which I just saw on HBO. Essentially, the movie is about FDR right after he contracts Polio and his experience coming to grips with his disability. The something admirable is that the film brings home the impact of diseases like Polio, and the enormous contribution made by Science in coming up with the Polio Vacine. The advances made by Medical Science in the twentieth century, particulalry the victories against Polio and Smallpox cannot be overstated.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Politically Incorrectly Wrong!

Bill Maher at the Huffington Post offers an analogy:
As I watch so much of the world ask Israel for restraint in a way no other country would (Can you imagine what Bush would do if a terrorist organization took over Canada and was lobbing missiles into Montana, Maine and Illinois?) - and, by the way, does anyone ever ask Hezbollah for restraint. you know, like, please stop firing your rockets aimed PURPOSEFULLY at civilians? - it strikes me that the world IS Mel Gibson. Most of the time, the anti-semitism is under control, but that demon lives inside and when the moon is full, or there's been enough alcohol consumed,or Israel is forced to kill people in its own defense, then it comes out.

This is just flat out wrong. Israel is a democracy and a nation of laws. Deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime. It doesn't matter if the other guy started it, this is childish logic. Tell me Bill, in your hypothetical, did the United State invade Canada like Israel invaded Lebanon? Did an American General massacre refugees like Ariel Sharon did? Did the US occupy Canada for decades? Hezbollah didn't just appear out of the ether. This conflict, like the rest of the mess in the Middle East, has deep roots and many fathers. Try to pretend like you understand that.

Holding Israel to a higher standard than Hezbollah is self evident. Criticizing them for the immoral and illegal targeting of civilians isn't anti-semitism, its called valuing the lives of innocent Lebanese as much as we value innocent Israelis. For those of us who don't subscribe to the fantasy world of NeoConservatism, it's also called good strategy not engage in a futile conflict that moves you no closer to the political settlement. You know, a political settlement, the only thing that has a hope of ending the bloodshed.

The world is not a drunk religious zealot who belongs to a sect that reveres a form of medieval Catholicism that perpetuated anti-semtism. What is far more prevalent in this country is a religious bigotry deeply embedded in the Dominionist strain of Evangelical Christianity that despises Islam, Secular Humanism, the Enlightenment, Atheists and a cornucopia of other "isms", including ones completely fictional that exist in their own heads. By the way Bill, is it or is it not anti-semitism to support Israel only because you hope it brings about your own Doomsday mythology where your faith's adherents get dropped into eternal damnation. Welcome to James Dobsons and George Bushs Middle East policy. Now does it occur to you why maybe they are drawing out this conflict? Or that the Vice President and pack of deranged whackjobs want to use Israel and spill the blood of her children to play out their foreign policy fantasies?

Mel Gibson is the world, huh? Well, then the world is one ugly drunk.

Stress Fractures...

Once again, we bring the word via The Mighty Billmon, who asks the direct questions we were hinting at a week or two ago regarding the stability of the regimes in Damascus, Riyadh, Cairo and Amman.
I don't know -- maybe things would have to get infinitely worse before Arab soldiers would turn their guns on their officers, or Mukhabarat attack dogs would sink their teeth in the throats of their masters. Maybe the pain and humiliation of watching Lebanon destroyed by American bombs dropped from Israeli planes isn't enough. But the puppets themselves are showing signs of a growing unease. They know how much depends on the loyalty of the hired help -- or at least its continued willingness to obey orders.
I think this is the central issue that our foreign policy wogs should be obssessing about right now, because the fact that there are still nominally working governments in these capitals is one of the last lynch pins preventing a real World War III from starting.

And if the leaders of those governments get to a point where they have to choose between openly supporting Hizbollah or face an increasingly restive population, not to mention security services, which side do you think they will come down on?

mojo sends

I'm Still Supposed to Believe the Greens are Legit...

And not just an anti-dem put up job?

They're either incredibly dumb, or utterly corrupt and coopted...

mojo sends


Overheard on KNX 1070 by morning anchor and assclown Dave Williams, regarding unprecendented warm water temperatures at the beach.

"some might be tempted to think this is about global warming... but no, sorry. Local officials say this is just storm generated warm currents or wind driven warm water from the south."

And KNX is one of L.A.'s two regular "straight news" stations.

kill. me. now.

mojo sends

The Dominoes Begin to Tumble?

News Item: Mortgage Defaults Soar 67 Percent.

Here's the nut:
A notice of default is the prelude to foreclosure, but very few homes end up there. People tend to sell a house before suffering the ignominy of letting the bank seize it.

Even so, the number of foreclosures in the state is rising too. The second-quarter total was 1,901, according to DataQuick, a 215% jump over the 604 in the same period last year.
[Emphasis Added]

"Housing bears will tell you the world is coming to an end," said Scott Simon, mortgage portfolio manager for Newport Beach-based investment giant Pimco. "But by every historical standard, this is still insanely low," he said of the latest DataQuick numbers.

On a scale of zero to 10, Simon suggested, the current level of defaults is about 1.

At the peak of any housing boom, foreclosures and default notices are nearly nonexistent. That's because home values are rising so fast that they cover up any financial missteps by homeowners, who can draw down their equity to get out of trouble.
You hear that, hippies? Enough of your liberal doom and gloom. All is well! Continue consuming!

Of course, Mr. Simon's Fantasy about ever-increasing home prices in his beautiful gated community of Villa-del-Costa-de-Coto-de-Potro de la Brillo de la Princesa is of course predicated on this being some sort of statistical anomaly, a burp after a particularly filling and expensive meal... and not really the first signs that the Superior Vena Cava now resembles the I-110 going through downtown Los Angeles at 5 p.m...

No, just order another drink... you'll be fine...

mojo sends

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Florida GOP Jettisons Mrs. Ed

mrs ed in colorNews item from various TDM sources this morning: GOP Puts Mrs. Ed Out to Pasture

Apparently, a leading cadre of the "party elite" have told Mrs. Ed...errr...Rep. Katherine Harris of Florida -- the rhinoplasty disaster that walks -- that her incipient bid for the U.S. Senate has become a political trainwreck, trailing Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson by nearly 40 points in most polls.

You know, I think Aaron Sorkin in his movie The American President may have said it best: "You know, the time it takes a person in this town to go from national power player, to late night talk show joke punchline can be measured with an egg timer..."

71372090JR002_Katherine_HarI think, arguably the most pathetic thing has been her inability to take the hint, though. She has had mass defections of her senior staff, turning them over twice now, she still might be indicted for her associations with Jack Abramoff, at this point Gov. Jeb Bush is openly recruiting primary opponents to run against her, and she has utterly failed to raise the money necessary through normal channels and has been having to loan her campaign money.

And now, the party has finally just sent her a letter telling her enough is enough, and to stop embarrasing herself and her party in public:
"Katherine, though it causes us much anguish, we have determined that your campaign faces irreparable damage. We feel that we have no other choice but to revoke our support.

"The polls tell us that no matter how you run this race, you will not be successful in beating Bill Nelson, who would otherwise be a vulnerable incumbent if forced to face a stronger candidate," it said.
Shorter: "Stoopid cow, yer doomed, stop embarassing us!" And yet, she still doesn't seem to get the hint. In the previously linked Fishwrap on the Potomac article, Mrs. Ed says that the Florida State Party's High Komissar Carole Jean Jordan had never expressed any concerns about her campaign to her, in spite of issuing another statement today to the effect that Mrs. Ed is done.

So the hits just keep on coming, right after replacing her senior staff for the second time, after they all went over the wall, telling tales of a campaign that more resembled the screenplay for "Mommie Dearest" and the one seeming exception to the rule that no matter how much money you pump into a campaign that sometimes these things are simply not to be... My guess, is that since the letter was actually sent to her on May 7 (mojo's birthday by the way ... thanks Ms. Jordan!), they wanted to give her one last chance to step aside with whatever shreds of dignity, self-respect and personal fortune she could hang on to.

But she obviously did not heed them, so the letter went public, and now everyone knows that Mrs. Ed is cold-product and yesterday's news in politics. I doubt she'll even be allowed to run for dog catcher in Florida ever again.

Couldn't happen to a nicer talking horse...

mojo sends

Go the Mattresses

James Zogby at the Huffington Post offers a drubbing of the White House over it's policy on Israel and Hezbullah. He said something though that grabbed my attention and that I wanted to talk a bit more about:
Where are the Democrats who seek to lead in 2008? Why have they not called for a ceasefire and negotiations leading to a resolution of this conflict before another Qana occurs?

I haven't checked carefully to see if any Democrats are doing that, although I suspect some are in one way or another. But If I was the parties chief political advisor, you know what I would say: Say as little as possible. Get to work in your local races talking about Social Security, You want to talk about War, talk about iraq and bringing the troops home and attacking the White House's failures.

I would advise this for the following reasons:

1. Nothing you say will impact the Policy of this White House. They don't care what Senators from their own party say, let alone the opposition. If you tell them what you want, they will try to do the opposite. Their contempt for Democracy is so blatant, it's a wonder anyone other than James Dobson even bothers to offer policy alternatives. Karl Rove is focused on winning elections, and he knows he can't do that by taking advice from Democrats, even they handed him a perfect solution. He and his president will destroy the Middle East before allowing the Dems or any Republican not 100% supportive of the President any credit.

2. Nothing you say will be reported accurately. If two Democrats say anything that isn't exactly, and I mean EXACTLY alike, process stories will appear in the New York Time and The Washington Post talking about how Democrats are divided over Israel. Any Democrat who calls for a ceasefire will be tarred as a cowardly Hezbolah lover who hates Israel. Not by the RNC, they don't have to. It will be done by Matthews and O'Reilly and Hannity and the talk show bots. Any Democrat this doesn't happen to is living on borrowed time. See Election 2002 for details.

3. You will still be pilloried for not standing for something. Every Democrat stand, even on core Dem values like Social Security is reported by "objective journalists" as a strategy. This is in large part the fault of Democrats, who need to shut the FUCK UP about strategy to reporters. If one more Democratic office holder or hopeful starts in on the meta-conversation about "what Dems need to do", Rahm Emannuel should put a severed horse head in their bed.

Sean Connery in the Untouchables asks the only question that Dems should be asking. "What are you prepared to do?". They cannot influence policy in the minority unless they go to extreme legislative ploys that carry substantial risk of blowback and retaliation. All other venues are closed to them. So it's time to get your hot human blood temporarily removed from your body and replaced with that ice cold concoction that Karl Rove uses for Blood. Attack the GOP and the White House any way you can. They call you gay, you call them Nazi's. They Swift Boat one of yours, you Daisy AD one of theirs. That is the Chicago way.

Do you know what a blood oath is Mr. Dean?