Friday, March 27, 2009

Spats (1996 - 2009)

Another bad day. We had to take Spats in to be euthanized today. A month to the day after Pistachio had died we discovered that Spats was dying of cancer. She had been slowly whithering away these last few months, and a couple of days ago she stopped eating altogether. Her decline was quick, but not so fast that she wasn't likely to last a few more days. So we gave her the last mercy we could.

I am sure that over the coming years Kim and I will have many more cats, and I'm sure we'll love them all. But Pistachio and Spats will always be first in our hearts.

Kim told the story of how we came to adopt Pistachio:

In July 1998, T and I moved into a new apartment, one that allowed pets. I had grown up with cats and had been looking forward to getting a kitten to add to my and T's new family.

Being conscious of pet issues and such, T and I knew we were going to get our new pet from a shelter. Gainesville Pet Rescue had a great reputation, and we decided to make their organization our first stop. Like any good rescue organization, they had several kittens to choose from. We looked at them, and they were all very cute. But seeing how tiny they were and how much work raising a kitten would require, we realized weren't quite sure we would be good parents to a kitten.

The rescue worker understood out concerns and asked how we would feel about an adult cat. Then she showed us Pistachio. Pistachio was a full-grown female, about two years old. She had a beautiful calico/tortoise coat and the greenest eyes I had ever seen. The rescue worker told us she had been with them for about two months. They were have problems adopting her out because she was an adult and most people wanted kittens. They opened her cage to let me pet her. I scratched her under her chin, and she curled her head into my hand. I was in love instantly.
The first few weeks with Pistachio were great. But as we both transitioned into spending more time at school we became worried that Pistachio was getting lonely. So we went to the same place we had found Pistachio and adopted a second cat, Spats.

From Pistachio's point of view we could not have done worse, but Spats also found a home in our household, especially with Kim. Spats & Pistachio were very different cats (Spats being part jackaloupe) but they complimented each other well, Pistachio's irritation notwithstanding. (Pistachio and I shared this personality trait: we both always seem to be irritated. If it hadn't been Spats's presence that bothered her it would have been something else.)

I am just too burned out at the moment to do either of them justice, but Pistachio & Spats will both be sorely missed in the future. I'm sorry we couldn't have more time together, kittens.

Addendum: The hardest part is that the house now feels empty. It's been years since we didn't have our girls waiting for us when we came home. The only reason the house hasn't felt more empty than it has, with Pistachio's absence, has been because of our concern for Spats. But Kim's napping now, and the house just feels empty with them gone. When we moved back to Florida, the girls moved into our new place before the furniture did. A house with cats and no furniture felt friendlier than a house with furniture and no cats does now.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ass-

Bowl.

Note that he quickly sought and received absolution for his assholery from another Democrat.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Soon to be deleted Comment Madness

Over at Dave Schuler's blog I've left a comment (directed at Michael Reynolds) that I fully expect to be deleted. Here it is, with some links that I should have put in the original.

I will not gamble with a man who has claimed that I am worse than a Nazi for supporting lower marginal tax rates. You are a lying sack of excrement, and only marginally better of a "human being" than the armed thugs who invaded my mother's house last year. Incidentally, they were also Obama supporters. Say "Hi" to them at the next meeting for me.

I understand that 6 weeks is a very, very long time. For my kids. But I wonder if we might not agree that repairing the staggering damage done to this country and this economy by members of your party might take just a bit longer.

Typical of an Obama supporter. (When they aren't robbing little old ladies at gun point, that is. But I guess that was okay, because my Mom is just a "typical white person" and I know how you Obamabots hate "typical white people".)

You have not addressed one single issue. You claimed that Obama would be competent, and that his Administration would be as well. Well, Obama nominated a tax cheat to oversee the economy and the IRS on the claim that Geithner was the ONLY man for the job. Despite Geithner being an experienced insider, and having plenty of lead time, he hasn't even been able to name his staff. Where's the competence there? Or is that failure also the fault of Rush Limbaugh?

Geithner has also not been able to do the ONE thing he said he would do, and the one thing he NEEDS to do. He was supposed to have a bank rescue plan before Congress WEEKS ago. Where is it? Is that also Limbaugh's fault, or is it Karl Rove's? (I'm sure it's another one of those evil "typical white people" whose guts you hate.)

Where's the competence at the State Department that can't even translate one single word correctly?

Where’s the competence with a President who claims that we’ll have six percent economic growth in the future to HALVE the size of the budget deficit?

Address what's happened in the last six weeks, asshole. You won't though, because that would require that you actually engage in honest debate, and you are as incapable of honesty as you are of any basic human decency.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Reset; Retry; Abort; Fail [UPDATED]

Hillary tried to do the diplomacy thing today. The results were less than stellar.

GENEVA, March 6 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a red "reset button" to symbolise improved ties, but the gift drew smiles as the word "reset" was mistranslated into the Russian for "overcharge".

"I would like to present you with a little gift that represents what President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying and that is: 'We want to reset our relationship and so we will do it together," said Clinton, presenting Lavrov with a palm-sized yellow box with a red button.

Clinton joked to Lavrov: "We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?"

"You got it wrong," said Lavrov, smiling as the two pushed the reset button together before dinner at a Geneva hotel.

He told Clinton the word "Peregruzka" meant "overcharge", to which Clinton replied: "We won't let you do that to us."

"We mean it and we look forward to it," she said of "resetting" the relationship, a phrase that Joe Biden first used at a security conference in Munich.

Lavrov said he would put the gift on his desk. (Reporting by Sue Pleming; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
Judas H. Priest, the State Department can't even come up with decent Russian translations anymore. This Administration is beyond parody.

UPDATE: More stupidity from our new Secretary of State. In front of the European ParliamentClinton compared the complex European political environment to that of the two-party U.S. system, before adding:
"I have never understood multiparty democracy.

"It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy."

The remark provoked much headshaking in the parliament of a bloc that likes to trace back its democratic tradition thousands of years to the days of classical Greece.

One working lunch later with EU leaders, Clinton raised more eyebrows when she referred to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who stood beside her, as "High Representative Solano."

She also dubbed European Commission External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as "Benito."
On the plus side, she's doing better than the Secretary of Treasury.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Holy sh--....

Holy effin' sh!t. This is extremely bad, as Bill Quick notes. This is a tacit admission that our banking system isn't simply teetering on the brink, but that it has fallen over the edge.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration continues to piss around with side issues. To wit, Obama continued with more of his Management Seminar Presidency, today's topic being health care. Apparently his aides are thrilled to be working on the easy topic of health care reform. Read the whole article, but here's the part that struck me:

"You know what makes everything so hard?" [the unnamed Obama economic aide] asked me [David Corn]. Before I could answer, he stepped closer to me.

"It's the economy," he remarked. "We could deal with any of this"—referring to the assorted financial crises underway—"if the economy wasn't so bad. You have one big insurance company that goes bad? Okay, you can go out and find other companies that will buy up parts of it. You can work something out. That's not difficult to do. But now there's no one out there to buy. You have a home foreclosure crisis. You can put together a plan. But there's no plan that's going to work if the guy who's foreclosed on loses his job and can't make a house payment. You have a major auto company go bust? You can prop it up, throw it some capital. But if no one is buying cars, it doesn't matter. Look at Toyota. It's one of the best run companies in the world. And it can't make it these days."

As he said this, he shook his head slowly. He looked deeply perturbed.

"We can come up with all sorts of solutions," he said. "But it's the economy." He noted that he and other administration aides are working around the clock, that every day he jumps from one crisis to another, and that he feels that he and other administration policymakers have plenty of latitude to craft innovative responses to the assorted economic problems. Yet he said that he and his comrades cannot change the economic environment within which these policies are to be implemented.
Notice that the unnamed official keeps offering the poor state of the economy as the reason the Administration can't fix this problem or that, but neither he nor the Administration seem to recognize that the economy is the real problem. Instead Obama & Co. get bounced from crisis to crisis, ignoring fundamental issues (Where's the bank reform, Geithner?) while expending effort on non-essential issues. The economy hasn't tanked because we haven't built enough bridges. The economy hasn't tanked because we don't have enough wind mills. The economy hasn't tanked because of rising medical costs. The economy has tanked because of crappy financial decision making, crappy governmental policies, and because greed made the nation (in whole and in parts) take leave of its senses. NONE of Obama's major initiatives address these issues, save perhaps as palliatives.

Obama doesn't grasp that circumstances have changed. The issues he choose to campaign on in 2006 must, in 2009, take a back seat to larger issues. Back in November I wrote, "Neither [Presidential candidate] has shown any ability to adjust their policy goals to meet current conditions – that is what the financial crisis has taught us." Recent events have confirmed my speculation.

Furthermore Obama is trying to do everything at once. (Except actually address the underlying economic problems.) Whenever he speaks about any topic he exhorts us thus, "We cannot delay this discussion any longer," or "We have to act and act now." He never modulates his tone, nor does he prioritize the tasks at hand. The lack of modulation demonstrates poor leadership, while the inability to prioritize illustrates poor management skills. Not being able to identify the key problems shows that Obama has no insight.

It's gonna be a long, dismal Presidency.

NOTE: Sorry Kim, I couldn'd resist. But I'm going to bed now! Or at least to the couch. I'm going to stay out here a while to keep an eye on Spats & the heating pad.

Obama's First Pardon

Obama's first Presidential Pardon should go to Wesley Snipes.

WTF?

Apparently 22 out of 236 Georgia state legislators are KNOWN tax cheats. I've been expecting increasing levels of non-directed violence in the country over the next few months (possibly years) but as more of these kinds of stories come out I'm starting to wonder if I was too optimistic (Again! Damn it!) in believing that an actual revolt would not happen.

I also note that InstaPundit has linked to several more stories of government incompetence and corruption this morning, although at least a couple of them are stories I mentioned first.

Perhaps you'd like a side of crow to go with that turkey?

And if you feel the need for a snack, we'll have more crap sandwiches latter.

I'm really enjoying all the hand wringing by Obama's media supporters. Obama is basically doing EXACTLY what he said he'd do, and they're surprised. (Perhaps they should be. Obama may be the first President I can remember who has done what he said he'd do during the campaign.) But if Obama has lost Dowd, then he's going to be in very deep shit, and soon. No wonder Obama's already going gray.

I am also enjoying all the other circuses/crises. Obama has ignored the economic turmoil except as a method of forcing huge government spending increases down our throats. (Obama doesn't even understand the basics, so perhaps we're better off if he doesn't really focus on the economy. Except that the vast expansion of government spending will have large negative consequences.) His Treasury Secretary speaks only when it will create more chaos in the market place. Obama has selected one tax cheat after another for important posts, and has even put one of the tax cheats in charge of both the IRS and a new effort to hunt down tax cheats who use off-shore banking to hide wealth. (The Obama Administration needn't bother with this, though. Pretty soon there won't be any wealth to hide.)

But that's not all! Obama has insulted the British PM, turned his back on our allies in Eastern Europe so that he can play the fool for Putin & co., decided to give $1 billion dollars to Hamas while criticizing Israel for not letting their citizens be killed more efficiently, and has made a public pissing match with a fat & happy radio host THE central issue of his Presidency.

The ongoing spat with Rush Limbaugh demonstrates that the Obama team has far more interest in campaigning than in governing. While Geithner kept the banks in the dark as to how he plans to stabilize the finance sector (mainly because even he has recognized that his ideas are crap), Obama's team has been consistent in their orchestrations of a campaign against Limbaugh. Campaigning is easier than governing, so we shouldn't be surprised that is where Obama is focusing his energies. (I had foreseen this state of permanent campaign back in July of 2008. People will be yearning for the aloofness of the Bush Presidency 'round about autumn, I suspect.)

But at least Rush has a large audience. What's the point of also going after Jim Cramer and Rick Santelli? In the face of NO meaningful opposition to his agenda Obama has decided to demonize anyone he can in order to distract from the fact that he doesn't know how to govern.

As I write I see that Iran has stated that they can attack Israel's nuclear sites via missile, Israel is considering a solo attack on Iran to prevent Iran from creating nuclear weapons (assuming they haven't already), Venezuela's Chavez has stolen more American assets, the Swiss have become restless over US attempts to bully their banks, the Obama Administration has decided that making energy more expensive is key to getting the economy back on track, and one of Obama's new intelligence appointees is under investigation for ties to foreign governments.

The story about the appointee to chair the National Intelligence Council demonstrates some of the basic competency problems with the Obama Administration.

The director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, last Thursday named Mr. Freeman, a veteran former diplomat, to the chairmanship of the National Intelligence Council, known inside the government as the NIC. In that job, Mr. Freeman will have access to some of America's most closely guarded secrets and be charged with overseeing the drafting of the consensus view of all 16 intelligence agencies.

...

Mr. Freeman has not submitted the financial disclosure forms required of all candidates for senior public positions, according to the general counsel's office of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Nor did Mr. Blair seek the White House's approval before he announced the appointment of Mr. Freeman, said Mr. Blair's spokeswoman, Wendy Morigi.

"The director did not seek the White House's approval," Ms. Morigi said. "In addition to his formal background security investigation, we expect that the White House will undertake the typical vetting associated with senior administration assignments."

The Obama Administration will vet the candidate AFTER they have nominated him! Outstanding. This has occurred because of a breakdown in command - Blair should not have made this decision without having gone through the White House vetting procedure. But between the new head-vetter's problems with his own background and the Obama White House's infatuation with AM radio, this Administration does not possess the needed competency for even cursory vetting of nominees.

For the moment Obama's polling numbers remain high, but that won't last. I wonder how many more stories we will read about Michelle Obama's well-toned arms or hard-hitting pieces about Obama's soft drink of choice in coming months? Or how many more cheery stories we'll see about the new Cheap Chic or the unexpected happiness of some unemployed people because now they have time to decompress? At some point the public will likely turn on Obama, and the media will probably suffer for having been nothing less than the Obama Propoganda Machine. It's going to be an ugly summer. If the temperatures are unusually hot this summer....

UPDATE: Holy leg tingles! Obama is losing Matthews!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Conversational Snippet: The Bob Newhart Show Edition

Tonight Kim and I heard the following exchange on TBHS. Jerry has been depressed because his girlfriend dumped him, and his friend Carol is attempting to help him work off the aggravation. (Just ignore the global warming. Why shouldn't you? The climate has.)

Carol:And I know exactly what you're going through, trust me.
Jerry: Oh yeah? Have you ever been thrown over for a 22 year-old guy?
Carol: As a matter of fact, yes.
Kim: Could they say that back then?
Me: Yes. You could say all kinds of things on TV back then. Oddly enough the country has become more prudish while simultaneously becoming more vulgar.
Kim: Oh, you mean like the way we've simultaneously infantalized and sexualized children.
Me: Exactly. [pause] Our country has gotten really fucked up in the last few decades.

More commenty goodness

In the past XWL once accused me of leaving most of my best stuff in the comment sections of other people's blogs. That's probably true, although it's a low bar.

Amba had a post about Obama and some of the opposition that has developed around Obama. In "Barack has met the enemy, and he is us" Amba mentions several InstaPundit items today and concludes, "It's gonna be another long four years." Naturally this led me to make my own long-winded comment about various matters.

Perhaps the most insightful bit on Instapundit was a quote he took from an Althouse commenter:
“Does anyone really think Team Obama’s focus on Limbaugh reflects their success so far in office?”
Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal notes that the market is not happy with Obama's plans. But they're not being wholly fair to Obama, and it appears they haven't fully come to grips with the problem. Look at this quote from the linked editorial:
Housing prices have fallen 27% from their Case-Shiller peak, or some two-thirds of the way back to their historical trend.
Hmm. That would suggest that housing prices still have plenty of downside before we hit bottom. And since I've already brought up Professor Shiller, I may as well drop another indicator of his that we haven't entirely hit bottom:
There were four massive stock bubbles in the 20th Century: 1901, 1929, 1966, and 2000. During each of these bubble peaks, the S&P 500 neared or exceeded 25X on professor Robert Shiller's cyclically adjusted P/E ratio.* After the first three of these peaks, the S&P 500 PE did not bottom until it hit 5X-8X. We're still in the middle of the last one.

The most recent bubble peak, 2000, was by far the most extreme we have ever experienced. In 2000, the S&P 500 by prof. Shiller's measure exceeded 40X (it had never before exceeded 30X). With the S&P 500 hitting 700 today, the PE has now fallen back to 12X.
The linked piece explains that there’s more than one way to hit bottom on this index, though. Stock prices could already have bottomed out but will stagnate for years.

And here’s another indicator of how bad things got last year, this time from the New York Times:
Last week, Fannie Mae announced that it lost $58.7 billion in 2008, more than all its net profits since 1992. Freddie Mac is also expected to reveal record losses in coming days.
Obama’s impact on the housing and financial problems prior to his election were minimal, although he seems to have supported all the wrong policies, but he was hardly alone on that front. So as I wrote elsewhere, Obama doesn’t deserve the blame for this mess. He will and does deserve blame for his actions in office, however, and some discounted share of blame for the transition period between the election and the inauguration. And here the WSJ editorial is correct when they assert:
The market has notably plunged since Mr. Obama introduced his budget last week, and that should be no surprise. The document was a declaration of hostility toward capitalists across the economy. Health-care stocks have dived on fears of new government mandates and price controls. Private lenders to students have been told they're no longer wanted. Anyone who uses carbon energy has been warned to expect a huge tax increase from cap and trade. And every risk-taker and investor now knows that another tax increase will slam the economy in 2011, unless Mr. Obama lets Speaker Nancy Pelosi impose one even earlier.

Meanwhile, Congress demands more bank lending even as it assails lenders and threatens to let judges rewrite mortgage contracts. The powers in Congress -- unrebuked by Mr. Obama -- are ridiculing and punishing the very capitalists who are essential to a sustainable recovery. The result has been a capital strike, and the return of the fear from last year that we could face a far deeper downturn. This is no way to nurture a wounded economy back to health.
They fail to mention that the government is taking over the mortgage lending market and has no intention of letting go of its newly found powers. But the NYT’s article I linked to explains exactly that, and also explains how even the people brought into Fannie Mae to fix the problems have started bailing out because of too much government interference.
In the last six weeks alone, the Obama administration has essentially transformed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into arms of the federal government. Regulators have ordered the companies to oversee a vast new mortgage modification program, to buy greater numbers of loans, to refinance millions of at-risk homeowners and to loosen internal policies so they can work with more questionable borrowers.

Lawmakers have given the companies access to as much as $400 billion in taxpayer dollars, a sum more than twice as large as the pledges to Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, General Motors, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley combined.

Regulators defend those actions as essential to battling the economic crisis. Indeed, Fannie and Freddie are basically the only lubricants in the housing market at this point.

But those actions have caused collateral damage at the companies. On Monday, Freddie Mac’s chief executive, David M. Moffett, unexpectedly resigned less than six months after he was recruited by regulators, having chafed at low pay and the burdens of second-guessing by government officials, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Fannie Mae has also experienced a wave of defections as people leave for better-paying and less scrutinized jobs.
I imagine that we will see another wave of political appointees to fill the empty slots at Fannie Mae, which is a part of what got us into this trouble in the first place. (Need I mention that the political appointees are likely to have little experience and less competence for their new jobs?)

Ah well, we’ve taken a bad situation and we’re making it worse. The bigger problem isn’t Obama, or the Democrats, or even our political leadership in general. The bigger problem is that the electorate has decided that government can and should take care of everything. We are the enemy. Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Bush, McConnell, Boehner, etc. are just the foot soldiers we the generals have sent to the front lines.