Wednesday, January 30, 2008

To make sure the feds stay off my tail

I'm moving again(!). Here.

Moving to typepad will allow me to do some additional things I can't do in blogger. See you over there.

Predictions Update

Thoughts on my predictions:

Giuliani was spot on, although my Romney call is looking weaker by the day. It will be interesting to see how aggressive he gets over the next 5 days, which is about all the time he has left to turn the ship around. My guess is that he doesn't get very nasty and that this race is over. But what do I know?

Edwards dropping out is a big surprise, well the timing is anyway. I still think that Obama can win it. Hillary really annoyed me with her comments post Florida yesterday, both about Florida and Michigan. It re enforces the meme that she is untrustworthy and willing to jettison rules not written to her favor. That is something I don't want from a nominee.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Posted with minimal comment

From today's endorsements in the NYT.

On John Edwards:

We have enjoyed hearing Mr. Edwards’s fiery oratory, but we cannot support his candidacy. The former senator from North Carolina has repudiated so many of his earlier positions, so many of his Senate votes, that we’re not sure where he stands.

On John McCain:

We have shuddered at Mr. McCain’s occasional, tactical pander to the right because he has demonstrated that he has the character to stand on principle.

One "repudiates earlier positions", the other one engages in "tactical pander[ing]" (like embracing Jerry Falwell?). If I didn't know better, I'd say there is some meta-story at work here.

Another quick thought

Does anyone else find it a bit weird that banks are being asked to pony up money to shore up the capital position of monoline insurers? The same monoline insurers who are insuring dubious financial instruments currently held on (or near) the balance sheets of banks?

Seems like a circular firing squad to me (and what does it say about the true value of the bank assets?).

Jesus Floyd, stop talking

Floyd Landis recently gave an interview to Velonews. It didn't go well. I'm going to handle it in bits, because reading it makes my head hurt.

First up, Floyd talking about Tyler Hamilton:

(Landis speaking): Let's look at Tyler Hamilton. You can think what you want about Tyler. But it's irrelevant at this point. He's served his suspension. People who are released from prison because of armed robbery after three years are not prevented from ever living as a human being again. They've served their time; let's give them a chance, right? I'm not saying he is guilty or innocent, I don't know. All I'm saying is he served his time. There is no reason for everyone to say Michael Ball is somehow condoning doping because he wants to hire Tyler Hamilton. Tyler has a legitimate license...I can see it from the same point of view as everyone else. But if you want to create a punishment of some kind for lying, then create a punishment for lying. But right now what you have is a system where, if a person is convicted, they get a suspension of a defined amount of time. There's nothing that says we're going to treat you like shit afterwards if you don't admit to it, and if you do admit to it, you're fine. If you want to add that to the rules, add it to the rules. But if you don't add it to the rules... it just leaves people completely in limbo.
I'm not even sure how to begin unpacking this. Let's start with "ever living as a human being again". I'm not aware of too many CFO's who, after serving time for embezzlement, go back to their former jobs. Hamilton doesn't have a right to race bicycles and nobody is saying he can't work at all. Teams, understandably, may be a bit shy about hiring a guy who is still maintaining that he did nothing wrong even after he's come up positive and continues to be associated with some of the larger doping scandals in Europe. To not understand why teams wouldn't hire Hamilton today, and why it's such a big deal that Ball did, is to not understand the business and the current state of cycling. And the ridiculous hyperbole about being treated like a sub-human reminds me of Vino's infamous comment that being asked to provide blood for doping controls was a violation of his human rights. But the Landis riff on Hamilton did lead to this classic exchange (remember, Landis introduced Hamilton into the conversation):

[Velonews]: Who specifically is treating Tyler like shit? Are you referring to the UCI, USA Cycling, or the media...?
FL: I don't know. Look, I don't mean to point out Tyler in this whole thing. It's not just Tyler.

Anyone finding Floyd's straw man, please return it to him. BTW, why doesn't the media ask this same follow-up question to sitting or potential US presidents?

Hold your nose and read the whole thing if you can. I'll be posting some other topic from the interview as my stomach settles.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'll believe it when I see it

a.k.a. "Please, oh please let this happen"

From Velonews:

Could Levi Leipheimer and defending champion Alberto Contador be left out of the 2008 Tour de France because of the bad-news legacy of the Astana team? That's what French and Spanish media reports are suggesting as the Tour de France organization mulls its invitations for the upcoming edition. Sources say lingering questions over whether Contador is linked to the OperaciĆ³n Puerto investigation and Astana's scandalous legacy from 2007 might prompt Tour organizers to leave the team out of the season's most important race when invitations are announced in the coming weeks.

Ahh, a boy can dream can't he?

Super busy

but here's a quick thought. The Fed can cut rates as much as it would like (hell, they're already negative in real terms) and it won't make a bit of difference as to whether we are moving into recession (btw - I think we're there already). The reason is simple - Americans can no longer fund their profligate spending by extracting equity from their homes. They can no longer prime the auto and credit card pumps through rising home prices. It doesn't matter if you make it cheaper for them to borrow, because they can't borrow anymore. The well is dry.

Ditto on a bullshit $300/family tax rebate (or whatever the final deal is). We are in for a long structural economic change that will take years to play out. Things are going to be pretty dismal until people readjust their habits to incorporate the new financial realities, like living reasonably within their means. That takes time.

Like 2010.

With that, I'm back to work.

Best Headline Ever

No more entries please, we have a winner:

Goodbye Rudy, Tuesday

Pretty good story too:

It’s worth stepping back for a moment to recall how far and how quickly Giuliani has fallen. For most of the summer and well into the fall, he was the Republican frontrunner. His campaign consisted of a hagiography: the hero of 9/11. His fundraising was strong. Now the campaign is all but broke and he’s getting his clock cleaned in some states by Ron Paul – Ron Paul! – the 97-pound libertarian who thinks the war on terror is bogus...
More broadly, you can summarize Giuliani’s problems in the line he no longer uses. When the World Trade Center towers came down, he turned to his loyal sidekick Bernie Kerik, and said he was glad George Bush was president. Now, that line is a triple loser. Kerik, his police commissioner, is under federal indictment, in a sea of troubles. Bush is despised by two-thirds of Americans, and even a majority of Republicans want to go in a different direction. As for the big scare, give Senator Joe Biden credit for writing what may be Giuliani’s obit: “There are only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11.”
...Yet Giuliani still wants to frighten people into voting for him. Maybe that’s why he hired the gothic-faced actor Jon Voight to stump for him in Florida. What, christopher Walken wasn’t available?

Too bad he's out, material like this is hard to come by. Oh well, I guess there's still... every other Republican candidate and the current Bush administration.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thompson's Out

Funniest line I read about that all day is that Rudy can now brag that he's surging, finishing 5th in all the future primaries instead of 6th. Forgot where I read it though.

Monoline Insurers

I'll have more on these companies at some point in the future (including a question as to why a AAA-rated company (MBIA) has to borrow money at 14%), but for now, check this out:

Ambac Financial Group, Inc., the first monoline bond insurer to see its AAA credit rating wiped out because of ill-timed mortgage exposure, said it is pursuing “strategic alternatives” after reporting a $3.2 billion quarterly loss — that’s $31.45 per share — on Tuesday.
Losses of $31.45 a share? Wow. It will probably surprise nobody that they closed today at $7.92, down from a 52-week high of $96.10.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Update on Predictions

It's all coming together:

To wit, numbers from his native New York today. McCain leads Rudy 36-24. A month ago, Rudy was up over McCain 48-15. If he can't hold a lead in New York after taking so many early hits, where can he?
Get ready for some more embarrassing 9/11 references between now and early February as Rudy finishes surrendering all of his self respect and preempts all attempts at parody, but after then our balconies should be safe. Ciao il bambino Mussolini.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sigfried, Roy and White House Email

Recently, someone reminded me of a classic Chris Rock bit that goes basically like this: People keep saying the tiger went crazy when it attacked Roy, the tiger went CRAZY. No it didn't. The tiger went tiger. The tiger went crazy when it was riding around the ring on a bicycle playing the trumpet.

That pretty much sums up why I've been fairly silent recently on the mendacity and lawlessness of the Bush administration - it's not news when a tiger acts like a tiger. At least it shouldn't be. But when a tiger kills its prey, eats some of it, then sodomizes the lifeless corpse, well that's news.

Let me present then, the White House email scandal, certainly not the most heinous example of White House lawbreaking, but one where the administration definitely is caught sodomizing the barely breathing body of the rule of law:

There is much cause for outrage over the White House's brazen disregard for federal public records law, which may well have resulted in the destruction of millions of official e-mails... The law is clear that e-mails sent and received by anyone in the White House -- just like all official White House documents -- should be instantaneously and automatically archived. So someone in the White House should have been making sure the law was being followed, and that all e-mails were indeed being properly stored for posterity... The matter in the news today relates not to those e-mails, but to as many as several million others -- these actually on the accounts -- that seem to have vanished.

Which ones vanished? Why the emails from 2001 to October 2003, a period that just happens to cover the run-up to the Iraq invasion, the Plame leak and the destruction of the CIA interrogation tapes. How convenient. But if they are missing, why not just go to the backup tapes?

E-mail messages sent and received by White House personnel during the first three years of the Bush administration were routinely recorded on tapes that were "recycled," the White House's chief information officer said in a court filing this week.
A more clear example of the White House acting with utter disregard (and contempt) for the law would be hard to point out. Someone needs to go to jail for this.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Prediction Time

Giuliani will not win Florida. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that (if he's still in the race) he won't win NY either.

I believe Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee.

John Edwards will not win South Carolina.

I believe Obama will be the Democratic nominee.

And an observation:

Mike Huckabee is batshit insane.