Last open thread

I’m a third of the way home and have just a few random thoughts.

I gather from emails that people in the blogosphere are very excited by what happened on the Chicago trading floor the other day. I’m not. It’s too little too late. Obama is prez for 4 years, an overwhelmingly Dem Congress is locked in for 2 years, and the spendulus bill is law. The last was not a surprise. Anyone paying the tinyiest bit of attention saw it coming. The rationality after the mass hysteria is cold comfort.

Speaking of cold, we went to the hot springs in Steamboat yesterday. Not only was the water delightful — perfect temp and that mineral smell — but we loved the sight of lifeguards in full winter attire. Not something we often see.

And my last thought for this post: Flying into bouncy-bouncy Denver, it was very comforting to know that both pilots were Navy trained. (And have you noticed that, since the miraculous Hudson landing, people pay more attention to the ore-flight safety spiel? It finally seems possible that it will matter.)

One more thing: yay! Regarding Bibi in Israel.

Oh, and if you check put the American Thinker blog (and I can do the link using an iPhone), you’ll see that Obama’s two newest appointees are, respectively, an ignoramus and an antisemite. With a lineup like that, we need all the hope we can get.

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Comments

  1. Danny Lemieux says

    Should you ever want to become a refugee from California, Book, you might want to consider Colorado. Lived there five wonderful years and I will probably end-up back there. Front-range weather isn’t San Francisco…but it is pretty mild overall. Summmers are warmer and sunnier than San Francisco.

  2. Oldflyer says

    Navy trained, yeah.

    On the other hand after I had firmly planted a 727 on the runway, again, I was pointedly reminded that airliners were not designed to make carrier landings.

  3. Deana says

    Bookworm –

    I hear what you’re saying about Rich Santelli’s speech on the floor. You are right.

    But to hear what he said . . out loud and with such force . . . was just a breath of fresh air. Before that, I wasn’t sure if anyone felt that (well, other than most of us here in your lovely little salon!).

    It is too late. We lost this fight way before Nov. 4th. But I’m just feeling better perhaps because there are people out there who aren’t going to give up with out a fight. We aren’t just going to hand this over without a peep.

    I’m trying to be optimistic, I guess, in the face of a lot of worry.

    Anyway, I’m glad you had a good vacation. Safe travels.

    Deana

  4. Oldflyer says

    Deana, I understand what you are saying. Like most thinking people I am pretty gloomy. On the other hand, I am not prepared to accept that it is too late.

    I have vowed to get more politically active at the grassroots level. In the next couple of years, I will not throw all of the RNC fund appeals in the trash; although I will continue to focus on specific candidates whom I trust. I will continue to bombard friends and family, especially the busy, liberal, younger ones, with facts about what is going on. I am sure I will strain some relationships, but it is too important to shy away.

    I am targeting 2010. The first step toward recovery is to make inroads in the Congress. Until then we are in the midst of a perfect storm created by an ideologically driven, dishonest, and possibly incompetent Executive and Legislative double team.

  5. says

    Well, the reason *I* stood up and cheered when I heard Santelli, is that this is the FIRST time we’ve heard someone in the Legacy Media (and this was MSNBC, right?) say anything similar for years and years and years……

    That this guy felt emboldened to speak out while on the air is incredibly encouraging, I think….. And that’s why I would argue with Bookworm about it being “too late”. Too late to prevent the stuff that’s already happened, but not too late to beat back what’s been planned for us.

    If we all say “Oh, it’s too late.” then we’re going to really get hosed – and that means “Worse than we have been already.” Don’t let anyone think it can’t get worse…..if we give up, it will most definitely get worse.

    Much of the Porkapalooza will not even be running by 2010 — it’s possible that a lot of stuff could be reversed if we have better people in Congress….so let’s get active!

    If you want more incentive, did you hear that CNN (I think) report on the school where Obama signed the bill? One of the Honors classes was filled with kids who “get it”….and spoke out. I was floored that this would appear in the Lame-Stream Media, but it did.

    Everyday people aren’t fooled in great numbers – they know this isn’t stimulus, and they’re angry. Most of us feel that if we want to give money to losers, we’ll hand it to the homeless guy on the freeway offramp….we certainly don’t want Uncle Sugar taking it away from us and showering the laziest or most irresponsible among us with cash!

    And, for the record, I know that many who are losing their homes are neither lazy nor irresponsible…..but I’ll tell you this, for every careful and prudent citizen in trouble, there are 50 who “went for it” and bought more than they could handle unless everything worked out just right. That ain’t responsible, folks…..and I really wish the Federal government would allow the lesson to sink in, rather than bail these folks out by taxing those of us who were wiser.

  6. Oldflyer says

    Earl, there is a sad lesson that seems to get lost time after time. Bubbles can be pretty things, but they always burst. I have been around long enough to see it happen time after time. I suppose each generation has to go through it to learn for themselves that it is very imprudent to go aloft on a bubble.

    Unfortunately, the government has apparently decided to keep this bubble intact for the time being; which I suspect means that it will continue to grow. When if does finally burst it will be an even bigger mess.

  7. Charles Martel says

    Like Deana, I am extremely concerned about this country, almost to the point of despair.

    But not quite, and here’s why. The current crowd running this country is probably the biggest collection of either stupid or deluded people in our political history. Biden, Pelosi, Reid and Obama are an ensemble totally lacking any intellectual heft. When you combine their ignorance, witlessness and arrogance, it’s a sure recipe for failure. They will continue to make themselves look venal and stupid, and Santelli’s beautiful rant will be remembered as the opening shot of “The Republic Strikes Back.”

    This is not Russia in 1917, when a tight-knit group of coup artists in a backward country with no real mass communications could overthrow a monarchy. We have on our side vastly superior intellectual firepower, better humor, the Internet (and other forms of firepower). These nancy boys think they’re going to take us to the mat. Let them enjoy their fantasy for the short time they can.

  8. suek says

    Humor’s good. Guns are better.

    I understand that Montana is enacting legislation to emasculate the federal gun registration laws.

    Wonder what land’s going for in those parts…

    Of course, it’s either up down or all white…. Nice place to visit, though,
    I’ll bet…

  9. says

    Well, suek….I probably shouldn’t be broadcasting this, but since I’m among friends……

    Montana is NOT either up, down, or all white! While at a conference there in Missoula, I was driving around town just MARVELING at the beauty – physical, climatic, etc., and telling myself that the winters were so terrible that that beautiful summer couldn’t repay me for them.

    Then I stopped to chat with a resident, who turned out to be a displaced (northern) Californian….and he said that Missoula winters are NOT nine months long, do not freeze the b**ls off a brass donkey, and simply weren’t anything to worry about.

    I stored that information away and have never forgotten it….and then in one of my classes this year was a student from Montana. I asked what part, and he said Northwest…..I mentioned up and down and all white, and he said he was in Montana’s “banana belt”, and although the winters were not as mild as Chattanooga, TN (my current abode until summer, when we move to Bend, OR), they simply weren’t what everyone thought of when they looked at a map.

    Soooooooo…….before you dismiss it, you need to check it out more carefully. I suspect that it might turn out to be a place you could really enjoy.

    By the way, did anyone read the recent Texas Declaration of Independence (my title)? Here’s the link:
    http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/81R/billtext/pdf/HC00050I.pdf

  10. Mike Devx says

    Does anyone have a link to the Santelli statement or speech?
    I’d like to see the video AND read a transcript…
    I’ll be looking for it later this evening on the Web.

  11. suek says

    Thank you, Earl…

    I’ll bear that in mind. I’m of an age where the next move is likely to be the last one (of course, I said that last time) and I have at least one son thinking of moving into a sparsely populated area and establishing a family compound of sorts. His wife seems to like the idea. They were considering Mo, but it seems she got access to some map that assessed the number and locations of nuclear targets in various states, and Mo is rated as maybe the second ring out on a bullseye. She decided maybe some other relatively godforsaken state would be preferable. I’m not sure why Montana entered the equation, but it did. I can’t imagine pulling up stakes again and starting over – again – but the internet makes anywhere a neighborhood.

    I’ve heard of the “banana belt” but associated it with Idaho…
    I’ll definitely look into it a bit more.

  12. says

    Check out Missouri’s vulnerability to a devastating earthquake, too, suek. The New Madrid fault has produced them in the past, and some say it’s due again.

    Besides, are you aware of Missouri’s climate? I guess if you’re not from the West, that’s not such an issue….for a native Californian, July and August in Tennessee is torture….Kentucky is worse, and Missouri doesn’t look very good to me.

    I’ve lived three complete cycles in the Front Range of Colorado, and understand that Bend is similar — I’m very much looking forward to getting back to that!

  13. suek says

    Here’s where I started…interesting.

    http://www.city-data.com/forum/montana/206486-banana-belt-towns-windy-cities.html

    I’ll do more tomorrow.

    I’ve lived in Md, Va, Ohio, New Jersey, Ga…I don’t think Mo can be worse than _all_ of those. I assume you mean 95 degrees with 95 – 99% humidity? It would be a shock to go back to that.

    And oh yeah…Montana has the mighty Yellowstone proximity…that’s going to blow one of these days. No matter where you go, there’s always something.

  14. Charles Martel says

    You might consider St. George, Utah, which refers to itself as “the Dixie of Utah.” It’s located in the southwest corner of the state, about 125 miles from Las Vegas and maybe 20 miles from glorious Zion National Park.

    The town’s January average is 25 degrees (summer average is 86), which ain’t too bad for a high desert place far inland. Over the past 20 years it has increasingly drawn “Gentile” retirees attracted by the lower cost of living, the town’s scenic redrock setting, and the very efficient and civil local society that Mormons seem to have a knack for setting up.

    I’m looking into that and southern Oregon, which has a fairly dry and mild climate, access to great cultural amenities like the Shakespearean and contemporary theaters at Ashland, and a local university that is well versed in addressing senior issues. Oregon doesn’t have an income tax and has not yet been overrun by the parasite class that now owns California.

    And, believe it or not, I’m thinking of Texas. I’m coming to believe that Texas may be the linchpin if it ever comes to a second civil war or a rebellion against the States. Folks there still take their freedom seriously, and are armed to the teeth, a combination that works for me.

    There’s the story of the English nobleman traveling through Texas in the late 19th or early 20th century who comes upon a cowboy. Looking for who’s in charge, he asks the poke, “Who is your master?”

    “That son of a bitch hasn’t been born yet,” the cowboy replies.

  15. Deana says

    I can’t believe people are talking about this.

    I’ve said nothing to anyone (I know most people would think I’m crazy) but in the back of my mind, I’ve been thinking of what places would be better to live in the event that things got bad.

    I’ve done no research but I automatically feel drawn to Wyoming, Montana, or Texas. Maybe Alaska. I want to live in a place where the vast majority of the people are fiercely independent and naturally suspicious of government.

    I just want out of Illinois. I’m disgusted with the politicians and the enormous number of freeloaders who are such a drag on the wonderful city of Chicago.

    It makes my heart sick to pay taxes to this state. I’ve never lived somewhere that had such high sales taxes. And for what use?

    I never thought I would be thinking of moving for such a reason. My family has been in Illinois for generations. But I can’t shake this feeling I have. I want to be in a place that reminds me of the America I love.

  16. says

    For health reasons, I’m a slave to a moderate climate. The only other state in which I can easily imagine living, climate-wise, is Hawaii, which is even worse than California. Still, I can envision a point where health takes a back seat to sanity, and then off we go. I adore Texas because of its people, but shudder at facing that heat again. And I think places such as Montana and Wyoming and Alaska are magnificent, but I don’t think I can tolerate the cold.

    Maybe Denver….

  17. Charles Martel says

    Speaking of Colorado. . . In southwest Colorado is the town of Durango, gateway to the San Juan Mountains, the remotest range in the state. The two-lane highway that heads north from there, old U.S. 550, eventually leads to Ouray, population 1,000. Laid in a narrow valley between towering 1,500-foot cliffs, Ouray, at 7,800 feet, is the place where Ayn Rand got the inspiration for the vale to which John Galt and his peers exiled themselves in “Atlas Shrugged.”

    This is a part of the state where people don’t take too kindly to socialism or metrosexualism. The weather is pretty good (Durango is not in the mountains themselves), and Utah, home to manly men and womanly women, is not that far to the west. On the way to Ouray, you can stop at Silverton (9,300 feet) where the inhabitants wrestle with bitter winters and a bare landscape—not exactly the makings of a Democratic whinerville like Berkeley or Boulder.

    (The drawback here is Telluride, which the Bobos have discovered and are now in the process of ruining, lies only a few miles west of Ouray. However, there are 13,000-foot mountains between the two towns, and it is widely known that “progressives” are not big brown pants fans. Brown pants are the clothing that prudent people wear if they choose to take the Jeep “shortcut” that connects the the two burgs. Otherwise it’s 62 miles between them by paved road.)

    If you look hard enough, there are pleasant places in the States where you can find independent, well-armed people who really don’t want to live immersed in progressive bullshit.

  18. Mike Devx says

    There are three ways to wipe out your investments:
    A. The investor buys low, sells high
    B. Demand for your investments decline, causing the stock value to decline, as
    sells exceed buys.
    C. The government prints more money than the economy itself needs, causing
    inflation: the dollar value of the investments declines

    While you can avoid the stupidity of “A”, there’s not much you can do when the Obama Administration (and the Bush Administration) kill your net worth via “B” and “C”. Trillions of dollars have been printed, are being printed, with no other goal than providing the American people temporary comfort and reprieve from the debt crisis – and yes it *is* only temporary relief, and will cause far worse economic pain down the road for all of us.

    How much worse will this be than Jimmy Carter’s stagflation collapse in the late 70’s? We will see. That stagflation collapse occurred without a monstrous debt hanging over us. This time we face the same economic conditions AND we’ve got truly massive debt providing no way out.

    Reagan and Volcker wrung the poisons out of the economy with drastic measures from 1981-1983, and it caused a nasty recession that blessedly was short – AND they alleviated the pain of that recession somewhat by running up the first of the massive set of multi-year national government deficits that we’ve seen over the last thirty years. This time, The Obama administration is running up another set of massive multi-year deficits (as did Bush), but these deficits are in support of pure Pork, not economic alleviation. And they’re doing nothing to wring out the problems in the economy. (Please refute that statement if you can!)

    Santelli focuses on the poor people who, due to broad and deep government stupidity – bought more house on debt than they could possibly afford nor pay. I’m still looking for statistics that identify how much of the housing crisis was caused by THEM, vs how much was caused by rich people buying more and more housing and condos for the sole purpose of flipping them to skim the profits, as the housing speculation bubble rose and rose. We continue to ignore the effects of the millions of high-priced houses and condos being flipped by the rich… until the housing bubble burst, and they were left holding so many high-priced properties that could no longer be flipped.

    I’m still not willing to blame the mortgage crisis (MBS/CDS, etc) solely on poor people until I see the stats on how much of the opaque housing debt contained in those Mortgage Backed Securities and Credit Default Swaps was caused by “poor debt” vs “rich debt”. Much of Europe is still being hit by the same effects, and I can’t see any statistics on whether they were hit by “poor debt” or “rich debt” as well. I just can’t find the statistics anywhere.

    All I know is, the worst of the debt was generated in the areas where the housing speculation bubble was worst: California, Nevada, parts of Florida, ie Miami.

  19. says

    Mike: I’m quite sure that the poor are a small part of the current mess.

    The massive problems we have arose when the “get-rich-quick” artists in the financial industry, using the incredibly loose lending standards the politicians forced on what was a sound business plan (ostensibly to benefit worthy poor folks – but see below), began to push the house-flipping orgy that you mention. THAT is where all the real debt is located, it seems to me…not with the poor.

    My problem is that what happened before is likely to happen AGAIN- – the federal government is going to start a program to help worthy people out of their problems, and the leeches and drones are going to take advantage of it……so that the productive people will be subsidizing the bad behavior of people who decided to take a big gamble in order to “hit the jackpot”.

    I don’t want to participate, even if it means that some worthy people don’t get what they “deserve”. Remember, the worst that would have happened to those (rather few) worthy poor people who couldn’t afford to buy a home under the old lending regime was to have stayed in a rental unit rather than get their own place. Is anyone trying to say that ALL of us, including those worthy poor, would be worse off if we had insisted they continue to rent, rather than set off what we have now, in order to get them into a house?

    Same thing now — watching a relative few folks, who are upside down and will go bankrupt through no fault of their own, suffer “unfairly” would yield a much better outcome than what we’ve begun to do. In order to rescue those worthy people, we are subjecting the American taxpayer to a raid on their net worth by all of the parasites who played the lottery on real estate over the last 20 years.

    Understand, this misery for the productive people of the United States serves the purposes of the left…..and THAT is why we are having it imposed on us. Many voters (who are otherwise middle class in values) decided they wanted goodies paid for by someone else — most of them are going to come to bitterly regret abandoning their principles with that vote.

  20. says

    Suek, Charles: Everyplace has its downsides. I’m heading to eastern Oregon because that’s where my granddaughter lives. I am NOT happy about their legalization of “physician-assisted suicide”, along with the knowledge that the state will buy you a lethal dose of drugs at the same time that they refuse to pay for your dialysis – based on the judgment that people over 70 aren’t worth spending money on that sort of care.

    Right now, I think that kind of calculus is applied in Medicaid, but Medicare is not likely to be far behind… Of course, it looks like every state is going to be the same, soon — if the gang in D.C. get their way.

    Texas looks good to me, although I know there was a notorious “futile care” case there — where the hospital told the family that continuing to treat their parent’s condition wasn’t worth it, and refused to continue his care. I’m getting older, and I don’t want a small group of “bioethicists” and accountants deciding what kind of care I am eligible for. Understand that this standard is applied whether or not you are able to pay for the care you need to keep you alive. Again, this is exactly what Daschle, et al have in mind for everyone except “the elect” who make the rules but don’t expect that they will be subject to them. Throw the bastards out!!

  21. Mike Devx says

    Earl,
    I’ll add another wrinkle to the mess. In the Clinton 90’s, the “leveraging” that investment firms and banks were allowed to assume was relaxed from something like 12X their worth to 30X their worth.

    I think it was AIG that, upon their bailout, was sitting firmly at 30X leveraging. Some others had somehow managed to leverage themselves at 70X. I don’t know how.

    Now “leveraging” is really just another word for debt. These firms had borrowed to 30X and 70X their worth!

    The wrinkle is, I think that the housing debt they assumed – whether it be “poor” or “rich” housing debt, was only about a 1/3 of their total debt assumption. WHAT comprises the other 2/3 debt? (If my memory is correct on the ratio…)

    Prior to the Clinton 90’s, none of these kinds of debt were allowed to be traded on stock exchanges. In the 90’s, various debt instruments were invented, under the umbrella called “Mortgage Backed Securities”, which put high-quality debt onto the market. Credit Default Swaps were the most complex, and their use went from hundreds of millions of dollars worth as of 1999 to 63 TRILLION as of early 2008.

    So… where did all that debt come from? Europe bought heavily into the schemes as did our firms, and THAT is where all the pain is coming from, as the debt schemes collapse.

  22. Danny Lemieux says

    MikeD – the bank leveraging ratios are/were a huge part of the problem. While U.S. banks have a 30x ratio, the EUtopian banks have a 40x ratio. What threw me off in early 2008 is that when they reported that “only” 1.5% of mortgages were at risk, I didn’t make the connection to the high leveraging ratios and that “only 1.5%” might be plent enough to tip the first domino. The crash actually began in Iceland and the UK.

  23. Deana says

    Mike D –

    I can’t find the text of Santelli’s speech on the floor to see if he specifically mentions the poor. But when I heard what he said several days ago, I didn’t get the feeling that he’s comfortable helping out people who are in trouble because they were trying to flip houses.

    I think he doesn’t want ANY of this happening.

    I am furious at people who extended themselves so far beyond their financial means, whether they bought one house that was much more than they could afford or whether they bought investment properties that represented more risk than they could afford.

    Either way, it is irresponsible and I don’t want either of them bailed out. We can’t continue to reward stupidity.

    But yes, I, too, would love to see the statisitcs. Having lived in D.C. for the housing boom, I saw people on both ends of the spectrum get in over their heads. I’d love to know what the breakdown is.

    Deana

  24. says

    Suek: I think he’s trying to say that if America were armed, and the “play-by-the-rules” and “pay-your-bills” types learned what was going on, then there would be a revolution — and like all elites anywhere, ours would like to have a monopoly on the firepower.

    What he is alleging occurred is that the high-flying financiers paid off the politicians to let them perpetrate an enormous gamble with the down-side risk being covered by the taxpayers. In short, together they looted what the hard-working of America had built up over decades. I think there is significant evidence for that, and if it doesn’t make YOU want to reach for your gun, then you’re made of something different from me!

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