Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I doubt Soderbergh or Stone or certainly the director’s wife ever spoke with Huber Matos, perhaps the most moving speaker at the Echo Park demonstration. In his nineties now, Matos was one of Fidel’s original comrades in the fight against Batista . But he made the mistake of voicing concern that the revolution was turning communist. For that, Che, in his typical fashion, wanted to put Matos in front of a firing squad (Al paredon!), but Fidel, not wanting to turn him into a martyr, intervened. Instead, the Caudillo incarcerated his former comrade for his views in the notorious prison at the Isle of Youth. There, Matos was tortured and had his cojones cut (quite literally) as he waited for twenty years to get out.
It would be interesting for a group of Anti-Castro Cubans to get red paint and throw it onto anyone wearing a Che shirt. It would server them right for supporting a confessed mass murderer and racist scumbag like Che.
Speaking at Andrews air base outside Washington, Obama said, "This is not a decision that I've made lightly." He addressed the expected outcry from disappointed environmentalists by saying he had studied the issue for more than a year and concluded it was the right call given the nation's voracious thirst for energy and the need to produce jobs and keep American businesses competitive.
Now all he has to do is reverse the Carter era ban on recycling nuclear fuel and his energy policy will closely match mine. If the Russians raise a non-proliferation stink then just point to France and Japan since they recycle most of their fuel already without proliferation (France is a nuclear power also.) That alone will solve the entire Yucca Mountain problem and erase the "what do we do with the waste" problem with nuclear energy.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Jim O'Connor, an actuary with the independent consulting firm Milliman Inc., came up with similar estimates of 10 percent to 30 percent increases for young males, averaging about 15 percent.
"Young males will be hit the hardest," O'Connor says, because they have lower health care costs than young females and older people who go to doctors more often and use more medical services.
What is worse is that you have to pay that extra premium when it is already to find a job coming out of college or you will be forced to pay from $695 - $2,085 fine at tax time. I'm pretty sure that some kid living with his parents and looking for work cannot come up with $2K to pay the government. So he gets to go to jail for non-payment of taxes. I hope that makes them feel much better for voting for Obama.
Accounting basics: when a company experiences what accountants call "a material adverse impact" on its expected future earnings, and those changes affect an item that is already on the balance sheet, the company is required to record the negative impact--"to take the charge against earnings"--as soon as it knows that the change is reasonably likely to occur.
Hell, I learned this stuff in Business Administration in High School. Maybe Waxman was asleep in this class or something. Companies need to take charges as soon as possible so they don't run afoul of the SEC or Sarbanes-Oxley problems. Didn't Waxman help draft that bill? Shouldn't this be common knowledge for the head of the "Commerce" Committee?
Monday, March 29, 2010
It is unimaginable that the President would treat any of our NATO allies, large or small, in such a degrading fashion. That there are policy differences between the U.S. and the Netanyahu government is no excuse. Allies often disagree, but remain respectful.
However, Obama may have treated an Israeli head of state about as badly as you can treat anyone. The idea of leaving a meeting with a democratically elected leader of one of our most important allies so he can eat with his family is downright disgraceful. I would be willing to bet you that Assad or Almadinjoke would not have received even a 10th of this ill will. Jewish Democrats that care about Israel need to come out against Obama at once because if Iran gets the bomb (and they will under Obama) then all bets are off.
On top of AT&T's $1 billion, the writedown wave so far includes Deere & Co., $150 million; Caterpillar, $100 million; AK Steel, $31 million; 3M, $90 million; and Valero Energy, up to $20 million. Verizon has also warned its employees about its new higher health-care costs, and there will be many more in the coming days and weeks.
As Joe Biden might put it, this is a big, er, deal for shareholders and the economy. The consulting firm Towers Watson estimates that the total hit this year will reach nearly $14 billion, unless corporations cut retiree drug benefits when their labor contracts let them.
So of course the no-accounts that didn't read the bill or listen to the Chamber of Commerce 9or the American people) are going to raise a political ruckus.
Meanwhile, Henry Waxman and House Democrats announced yesterday that they will haul these companies in for an April 21 hearing because their judgment "appears to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs."
I guess they can a simply answer that they got dinged for their own generosity in providing their retiree's a drug benefit and now those same retirees will be unceremoniously dumped into Medicare. Now I wonder how AT&T will get that 1 billion back? Perhaps by laying off more workers?
Only 34 percent of Florida voters support the new law while 54 percent are against it, according to the poll. Opposition is significantly strong among two crucial blocs: those older than 65 and voters with no party affiliation. Seniors disfavor the bill by a 65-25 percent margin, while independents oppose the law 62-34.
Leboon’s video also makes reference to Cantor’s Judaism – Cantor last week said he has received anti-Semitic threats in the past.
“Remember Eric at our judgment time, the final Yom Kippur has been given,” according to a transcript of the video in the affidavit. “…You’re an abomination, you receive my bullets in your office, remember they will be placed in your heads. You and your children are Lucifer’s abomination.”
Friday, March 26, 2010
The temporary payment reductions only seem to last 3-6 months. Given the long-term unemployment problems we're now facing, I'm not sure how much this will help--and if it does help, it seems likely to assist only the least needy. In fairness, however, it at least keeps people with a brief job loss from racking up arrearages that send them into an otherwise unnecessary foreclosure.
All this does is push the foreclosure back by 3 -6 months and resets the late payment clock. It doesn't help anyone that bought too much house. Also there is a plan to reduce principal so that the FHA can buy the mortgage. That moves the loan from the banks books to the governments books.
After all this I would be willing to bet you that it will only be a few hundred dollars cheaper a month. The same default will still come to pass but just further into next year. It would be better for the government to simply buy the home for the face value of the loan and then take it off the market. That lowers the supply until demand has a chance to work back up. Keeping people in underwater homes who can barely afford the mortgage is a fools errand.
Benjamin Netanyahu was left to stew in a White House meeting room for over an hour after President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of tense talks to have supper with his family, it emerged on Thursday. The snub marked a fresh low in US-Israeli relations and appeared designed to show Mr Netanyahu how low his stock had fallen in Washington after he refused to back down in a row over Jewish construction in east Jerusalem.
What would have been wrong about just sitting down and having a "working dinner" of a few sandwiches or something while they kept meeting? Instead Obama leaves a world leader to cool his jets for an hour while he has dinner with his family? That was an outrageous snub.
Netanyahu isn't the head of the 4H or something but the leader of a nuclear power that is our only ally in an area rife with our enemies. Treating him like some minor official has to be the worst foreign policy blunder that I have seen in a long time. I really hope it isn't some sort of deep seated anti-Israeli sentiment on the part of Obama. But the take away is surely Israel has no friend in the White House at least until 2012.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
The re-default rate of loans modified in the first quarter of 2009 was 51.5 percent by the end of the year, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision said in a joint report today. The figure, which measures payments at least 30 days late, climbed to 57.9 percent for changes made in the prior 12 months.
I mean most of the time when you modify a mortgage the monthly payment usually drops by a few hundred dollars. So if a person could not afford to pay $2,500 a month for a mortgage they probably can't pay $2,200 a month either. So it might have been a good idea for this person to rent a different home instead. Oh well, more money burned by the government.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, conducted on the first two nights after the president signed the bill, shows that 55% favor repealing the legislation. Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal. Those figures include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal and 35% who Strongly Oppose it.
I know how the "tea party" people feel, the anger, venom and bile that many of them showed during the recent House vote on health-care reform. I know because I want to spit on them, take one of their "Obama Plan White Slavery" signs and knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads.
JIM LEHRER, HOST: Senator, as you know -- much has been made of this -- that, through history, recent history in particular, Republicans have opposed things like Social Security, Medicare, even civil rights legislation, but then, once they lost, they took some deep breaths and moved on, and then finally ended up embracing many of these major changes in -- in laws and in the way we do business here.
Is that going to happen with health care reform?
SEN. JON KYL, (R-ARIZONA): Jim, could I argue a little with the premise of your question?
LEHRER: All right. OK. Sure.
KYL: The civil rights legislation was pushed by Republicans, as you will recall. It was the Southern Democrats who filibustered it, who fought against it.
"There has been a fourfold increase in the number of syphilis cases detected with more young women being affected.
"I don't get the names of people affected, just figures, and I saw that several of the people had met sexual partners through these sites.
"Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex."
In Teesside there were 30 recorded cases of syphilis last year, but the true figures are expected to be much higher.Hmm, maybe these young British women need to think about practicing safe sex with their Facebook hookups (Hookbooks or Face-ups or even Hookfaces.)
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has adopted Obama’s original demand as his own: He’s saying he won’t begin even the indirect, “proximity” talks he previously agreed to until Israel accepts the Clinton terms on Jerusalem. How could he do otherwise? The Palestinian leader cannot be less pro-Palestinian than the White House. But Abbas cannot climb down from his position so easily -- which means that, for the second time in a year, the Middle East peace process has been stalled by a U.S.-engineered deadlock. U.S. and Israeli negotiators worked until 3 a.m. Wednesday in an attempt to come up with a formula that would allow the talks to go forward. They met again Wednesday morning. So far, no luck.
So Obama essentially tied Abbas's hands with his demand to "stop all settlements." Abbas certainly can't say East Jerusalem settlement activities are okay when Obama himself has said that all settlements must be stopped in order for the two sides to even sit down. That is a demand that Israel can't 100% back since most building in the Israeli parts of East Jerusalem seemed okay until now. Then he treats Netanyahu like a tin-pot dictator:
Finally, Obama has added more poison to a U.S.-Israeli relationship that already was at its lowest point in two decades. Tuesday night the White House refused to allow non-official photographers record the president’s meeting with Netanyahu; no statement was issued afterward.
Um, wouldn't if be a better idea to have had that joint press conference to say that you stand behind one of your only allies in the entire Middle East? Instead it seems like it was a calculated insult to get some "payback" for humiliating Biden.
I can see this behavior toward Iran but why Israel? Could it be that Obama subscribes to the Israel is the enemy and Palestinians are all blameless that infects the left? Maybe it is time for Jewish Americans to abandon the Democratic party because the Obama White House seems almost hostile to Israel and likes to treat their leader like he was a nobody.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Long Certain Health Insurers:
"It doesn't look like they're in the fight of their lives," said Les Funtleyder, an analyst with financial firm Miller Tabak. "If you remember the Clinton days, there was a 'Harry and Louise' ad on every couple of minutes. We're not seeing that anymore."
And stocks of insurance companies are way up over the past year — even beyond the gains in the broader market.They don't look like they are in the fight of their lives because they have just gotten one of the the biggest kickbacks in the history of American business. No other industry has ever gotten a mandate for 31 million people to buy their product on pain of jail or fines. I'm sure some people will pay the fines but not enough to hurt their bottom line.
There are restrictions but I'm sure United Health (UNH) will find some way to get around them. They might even tack on record premium increases before 2014 in order to "pay for the fixes."
However a company like Humana (HUM) that gets much of their income from selling Medicare Advantage plans will feel some pain in the short term. Look for companies that help roll out prescriptions and manage pharmacy services like Express Scripts (ESRX) and Medco (MHS) to go strait up as well. 31 million people might need quite a few more drugs.
Long Drug Makers and Really Long Biotechs:
Some people are saying that closing the "donut hole" in prescription drugs will be a 5% or better revenue gain for Big Pharma. Plus more people will see the doctor and thus get perscriptions for all sorts of things that they might have put off in the past. I can see the so-called "Death Panels" as prescribing more generics as well so a Teva (TEVA) will make a pile of money. However the big winner seems to be Biotech:
Obama's plan gives new biotech drugs 12 years of competition-free sales — a victory for the biotech industry. Consumer groups and the generic-drug industry had been pushing for exclusivity of seven years or less, saying it would bring down costs.
Suddenly, every Big Pharma firm will either start biotech arms (or pour billions of extra R&D funding into them if they are already in place.) Or they will simply purchase biotech companies.
The idea of cranking out a biotech drug and then getting 12 years of exclusivity sounds like a gold mine. Look for the Biotech industry to easily rival the size of current Big Pharma in the next several years. I can already foresee a Pfizer-Celgene Inc. (or some other Big Pharma/Big Biotech merger) coming down the line in the next few years.
These stocks will be another big winner since many of them were held down by fear of uncertainty from what ObamaCare contained.
Increased insurance coverage will go a long way toward easing hospitals' financial pain.
With the expansion of Medicaid and a mandate to buy coverage, hospitals will erase most of their bad debt within five years, Mendelson said.
I can see these stocks going up as long as that Medicaid money starts flowing. The big loss-leader for hospitals seems to be people using the emergency rooms as a primary care physician or strait-up not paying for service. If the government pays so that these people can go to the hospital during office hours this will bring overall costs way down.
Plus, there is nothing like a government edict that forces 31 million more people to use your service. These newly insured might even overuse your service to the tune of future pricing power increases. Can you say "weekend appointment surcharge or hospital booking fee?" Jumping the line is a great way to increase your revenue.
They also cut a deal with Obama to keep Medicare cuts to less than $155 billion so this should settle the uncertainty that comes with how severe these cuts are going to be. It is $15.5 billion a year no matter what. That certainty puts a nice floor under these stocks. I have been looking at a few like: Community Health Systems (CYH,) Health Management Associates (HMA,) Lifepoint Hospitals (LPNT,) and Tenet Healthcare (THC)
One other intriguing stock in this space is Psychiatric Solutions (PSYS) which runs a number of inpatient behavioral health facilities and residential treatment centers. ObamaCare added this little tidbit:
Other provisions in the bill would require that insurance cover both rehabilitation and habilitation services in addition to providing mental health benefits.
In other words more cashola will go into the pockets of companies that run these behavioral health centers. It sucks to be forced to pay for some other guys mental problems or smoking cessation. But I will feel much better by being long a company that will benefit from this governments largess
Hold Medical Devices:
Although they didn't cut a separate deal with Obama I have to disagree with this:
Companies like Medtronic Inc. and Boston Scientific Corp. will face $20 billion in new taxes over the next 10 years, with little certainty they can make it up in new sales.
Analysts say hospitals may simply use medical scanners and other existing devices more often, without actually buying much more equipment.Which would make sense but with more patients come more artificial knees and hips. By forcing insurance companies to take on people with preexisting conditions means more stents, and pacemakers for that 31 million more people joining the insured.
You might also need to buy a few more MRI or mammogram machines with all these new customers suddenly flooding your hospital. The threat of $2 billion a year of new taxes will be passed right along to the consumer so that should not be much of a threat at all.
Hey, if you are long the right stocks you might even be able to afford that new "Gold" plan from United Health that you have to buy from the Obama Health Care minimart.
I mean it is either that or join a prison gang when you are forced to go to jail if you don't pay the "most glorious fine imposed upon the wreckers and anti-Communist sympathizers who fail to purchase the most excellent and virtuous Health Insurance." (The Chinese provided this name as a part of their American ownership rights.)
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Monday, 51 percent of respondents disapprove of Obama's job performance and 46 percent approve of it.
This is in a CNN poll (read biased more toward the liberal side.) I wonder what these numbers will be like when people finally start to find out about how bad ObamaCare will be.
On this first picture you can witness the comfort of world class state provided healthcare. Now, my son is obviously too young to use the bathroom, but this room was in the pediatric service, where kids up to 14 years old actually resided while trying to recover. Notice the seatless toilet (great for kids!), the mold in the corner, the paint job… all a kid needs to ‘get well soon’ at a “world class” level.
The once mighty community activist group ACORN announced Monday it is folding amid falling revenues — six months after video footage emerged showing some of its workers giving tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute.
"It's really declining revenue in the face of a series of attacks from partisan operatives and right-wing activists that have taken away our ability to raise the resources we need," ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said.
But I can see them coming back in another more subtle form in the coming years:
Several of its largest affiliates, including ACORN New York and ACORN California, broke away this year and changed their names in a bid to ditch the tarnished image of their parent organization and restore revenue that ran dry in the wake of the video scandal.
So they are still going on and helping people cover up their sex slavery businesses but with a new name and clean books. They will probably have the same people working for them as well. Well as long as people stay vigilant then it doesn't matter what form these vipers take.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Since it is capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again, there may be no natural limit to its life span. Scientists say the hydrozoan jellyfish is the only known animal that can repeatedly turn back the hands of time and revert to its polyp state (its first stage of life).
I wonder if we can cull the secret of immortality from these weird creatures. The look just like some kind of alien to me.
The Hagars built their 2,700-square-foot house by stacking tire bales—five-foot-wide blocks of compressed tires—to form the exterior walls. They plugged gaps between the bales with cans, bottles, plastic plates, and other junk and moved in toward the end of 2008.
"We lovingly call it the trash house," Ms. Hagar says. The Hagars covered up all that trash with concrete, clay and stucco and installed south-facing windows to capture light, heat and views of the snowy slopes.
To pay for it, the Hagars in 2007 took out a $240,000 line of credit from Red Rocks Credit Union in suburban Denver. In the old days of easier credit, appraiser Lori Slota couldn't find another tire-bale home that had recently sold but said the house would be valued at $500,000 when complete, citing the listing of a straw-bale home as well as other houses in the area.Who would pay $500K for a house made out of old tires? This is the exact thing people talk about when they say that environmentalists live in their own fantasy world.
Should he squeak it out, Obama’s “victory” would come with a heavy price. Gone is the image of a policy sophisticate (try watching that Bret Baier interview a few times without wincing). Gone is the “moderate” moniker. And gone is the notion that he’d usher in a new era of less contentious and less corrupt politics. (It’s a new era, perhaps, but hardly a better one.) There is no mistaking now the depth of the campaign deception. The public has figured out what he is all about. And increasingly, they dislike what they see.
I have to agree with this as well. A "victory" would be Pyrrhic as well because he expended all of his goodwill and has antagonized a wide swath of the country. The kick-backs and dirty dealing in ObamaCare are staggering and the whole sordid business will see a lot of Dems out on their asses. At least he will get his "historic victory" but the cost is everything else he would have wanted to do as President.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
One caucus member told POLITICO that Obama won him over by “essentially [saying] that the fate of his presidency” hinged on this week’s health reform vote in the House. The member, who requested anonymity, likened Obama’s remarks to an earlier meeting with progressives when the president said a victory was necessary to keep him “strong” for the next three years of his term.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
From the Republican side, it's the second group that matters. Just like Democrats need 216 votes to pass the bill, Republicans and their Democratic allies need 216 to stop it. I just got off the phone with a well-placed House GOP source, and the Republicans' latest count is that there are 209 votes against the bill at this moment, leaving opponents seven short of being able to defeat it. By the same count, there are 204 votes for the bill, leaving the Democratic leadership 12 short of being able to pass it. There are 18 votes thought to be undecided.
Idaho took the lead in a growing, nationwide fight against health care overhaul Wednesday when its governor became the first to sign a measure requiring the state attorney general to sue the federal government if residents are forced to buy health insurance.
Similar legislation is pending in 37 other states.
I'm, still not understanding how forcing 30 million more people to buy something that the President has railed against for months is "reform?" He keeps saying "those evil insurance companies" while giving them one the biggest windfalls in their history.
If Microsoft was able to get a mandate that forced all Americans to install Windows 7 on their machines there would be outcry from everyone in Washington. But when it happens to the insurance industry even staunch socialists like Kucinich are falling into line behind this corporate give away.
Obama asked his audience for a show of hands from people with employer-provided coverage, what most Americans have.
"Your employer, it's estimated, would see premiums fall by as much as 3,000 percent," said the president, "which means they could give you a raise."
A White House press spokesman later said the president misspoke; he had meant to say annual premiums would drop by $3,000.
Yeah 3000% or $3000 it doesn't matter when you are cramming a bill down the throat of the American people when they are 3 -1 opposed to it. The funny part is if Bush made this type of gaff then that would be the lead story. Instead you have to search for this in some AP fact check article.
"There's no question premiums are still going to keep going up," said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a research clearinghouse on the health care system. "There are pieces of reform that will hopefully keep them from going up as fast. But it would be miraculous if premiums actually went down relative to where they are today."So what is the reason why they are rushing to pass this thing? It won't mean anything to the 70% of people that have insurance since they will see their premiums rise no matter what. I would be willing to bet you that if ObamaCare passes we will see 50% or more premium increases to make up for allowing anyone to buy insurance no matter what they have. Any way you slice this the insurance companies will make out like a bandit.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
"Mike Tyson and Animal Planet? They don't seem to go together, do they?" said Tyson. According to the N.Y. Post, the former heavyweight champ owns "a few hundred birds" at lofts in New Jersey and Brooklyn.
He has been raising them since he was a kid so the show will be pretty interesting. As long as he doesn't punch an opposing pigeon racer I guess it will be an interesting show.
Both coal and natural gas have seen some noteworthy price swings over the past couple of years, including a difficult period in which utilities switched from burning coal to temporarily cheaper natural gas. Over the long run, CONSOL's dual exposure will smooth out the peaks and valleys of such price volatility. Toss in CONSOL's recent success in exporting coking coal directly to China, and it's easy to see why CONSOL retains this Fool's uninterrupted nod as the top name for coal in the Appalachian region.
I agree with the idea of being a leader in both coal and natural gas will set them up for greater profits going forward. If both commodities start to head higher we might see that -10% made back up and maybe much more. This is especially true when interest rates go up and the dollar weakens. Having a diversified energy portfolio has never been a bad deal when one commodity or the other is down. If the dollar weakens then you might see both go up instead.
Another stock I have been looking at in the coal space is Arch Coal (ACI) basically for the pick up in demand for coking coal for steel mills. I think steel demand may start to go higher as the Red Chinese start to ramp up their economy again. Iron ore miners have already guided higher due to this demand and coking coal might not be far behind.
Spot market prices for iron ore have soared above $130 per tonne, spurred by strong demand from Chinese steelmakers and global strength in commodities markets.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Netanyahu consulted Sunday with the forum of seven senior cabinet ministers over a list of demands that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made in a telephone conversation Friday.
Clinton harshly criticized the announcement last week of plans to expand the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in East Jerusalem while U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel.
Yup, a list of demands after Netanyahu had already apologized for showing up Biden. The US seems openly hostile to Israel for the first time in years. I think Israel may need to come to the realization that the US will not help them as long as the Dems are in power. I think Iran can now play the nuclear game with a totally free hand. Only Israel has the potential to stop them now.
Obama's plan wouldn't require employers to provide insurance to their workers, but it would hit them with a stiff fine if even one of their workers gets a federally subsidized coverage. Companies with 50 or fewer workers would be exempt, and those with 25 workers or fewer could get federal assistance.
But the fines could turn into a big headache for many employers, particularly since they may not be able to tell if their workers are getting benefits from the government. For example, a company with 100 employees that fails to provide coverage could face a fine of $140,000 under the plan Obama unveiled Feb. 22. Getting the bill from the IRS would become a dreaded moment for business owners.That fine will be passed on the customers I can tell you that. Also if I were the owner of a company with 51+ workers I would put an "at-will" employment plan in force where I could fire anyone who bought their own insurance with federally subsidized coverage no questions asked.
The last thing I would want is a $140K fine to hit my bottom line because someone decided to buy their own insurance and did not disclose that fact to HR. I would also ask them to disclose their insurance plan as an interview question so I could avoid anyone who bought their own insurance. That means if you were self-employed and buying your own insurance through the Exchange it might be harder for to find a job if you wanted to work for a bigger company again.
Also this will hit food service and bars right in the chops. Most of them can't afford to cover their workers and will actively avoid anyone who has bought insurance through the Exchange to avoid paying the fine. That means if you want to be a bartender or work at Chili's and you are over 26 (which means you aren't on your parents plan) then you may be forced to go uninsured to keep your job. Plus if your parents bought their insurance through the Exchange you would also trigger the fine as well.
The worst part is that it takes away the choice from a potential worker. Let's say that this person wanted to drop out of the company provided plan in order to get abortion coverage or to get some benefit that is not covered. They will damage their own employer and possibly lose their job if they make that choice. Now that is change you can believe in.
Friday, March 12, 2010
The sheer shrillness of the true-believers, such as Nature’s zit-bespattered editors, has woken up the sleeping giant of public opinion, and the giant will not go back to sleep however often Nature maunders on about the fundamental science being agreed among all parties. After 15 years with no statistically significant “global warming” (Nature didn’t tell you that), nine years of a rapid global cooling trend (Nature forgot to mention it), sea level growing at just 1 foot per century (Nature didn’t get around to reporting that), and sea ice showing no global trend in 30 years (Nature somehow missed that one), no one is believing the true-believers any more.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Having determined that they lack the votes in the House to pass the Senate bills as-is, House Democrats are attempting one of the most breathtakingly unconstitutional power grabs ever witnessed - a maneuver to deem the Senate bill ALREADY PASSED by the House by rule, despite the fact that it clearly has not.
The Dems are just thinking of saying the Senate Bill will declared as "passed" and send it on to the President to sign without voting on it in the House. Then they will use reconciliation to "fix" the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, the Union giveaways, as well as the Taxpayer funded Abortion provisions in the Senate Bill.
I'm not sure how they can just say "the Senate Bill has passed" by Slaughter Fiat or whatever and hope to get away with it. The Dems are looking more and more like a bunch of Kamikaze Pilots drinking their sake tucking their Katana under their arms and running briskly toward their Zeroes at the Battle of Okinawa. I think they are hell bent on going down in flames in a historic fashion come November.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected two legal challenges by Sacramento atheist , who claimed the references to God disrespect his religious beliefs.
"Judge Carlos Bea wrote for the majority in the 2-1 ruling. " serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded."They also upheld the "In God we Trust" on our money: is constitutional,"
In a separate 3-0 ruling Thursday, the appeals court upheld the inscription of the national motto "In God We Trust" on coins and currency, saying that the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic, not religious.
I think they are finally coming around to the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation and these sayings are just commemorating that fact. Even though we have changed some of the traditions we are still generally a Christian nation. Atheists might not this but it is still a fact.
Covington has stressed that the district's buildings are only half-full as its population has plummeted amid political squabbling and chronically abysmal test scores. The district's enrollment of fewer than 18,000 students is about half of what the schools had a decade ago and just a quarter of its peak in the late 1960s.
Many students have left for publicly fundedParents just took their kids out of these failing schools and made sure that they got a decent education. I can see these alternative schools being very popular as more parents find out that the normal public school in a lower income area will never get any better. Test scores will always be abysmal and they will always get either the dregs of the districts teachers or young teachers who will quickly become disillusioned and move to these alternative schools. I think the charter school might be the end of public education as we know it. , private and and the suburbs. The school district also isn't the only one serving students in Kansas City; several smaller ones operate in the city's boundaries.
GameStop(GME) is spiking on rumors that it may be acquired.
The video game retailer is climbing 5.6% to $19.31 in afternoon trading as investors mull the probability of it being taken over by a private equity group.
"The company generates strong free cash flow and is not getting respect as a public company," Sterne, Agee & Leach analyst Arvind Bhatia says. Thus, a takeover by a private equity firm, according to Bhatia, would make sense.It would make sense as it is one of the few big time sellers of used games where the margins are incredibly high. The regular game retail side of it has to compete with many different sources while the used game side is a goldmine.
I know many gamers that trade in their new games as soon as they pass them and then buy any used games that they might like. They then turn in the used games when a new title they like comes out. That cycle is highly profitable for a company like GameStop who is making a profit on both sides of the trade-in.
The best part is that Wal-Mart and Best Buy cannot compete with this model since they don't have a trade in system in place. (If they do then it isn't advertised enough to clue a gamer like me in on it.) In any case I would love to see the rumored take-out price to see what kind of premium the stock might have.
Not everyone is convinced. A few days ago, another Secretary of Education—Lamar Alexander—inveighed in WaPo on what the folks at Department of Education “haven’t told us.” Senator Alexander notes that DOE plans to borrow from the Fed at a 2.8 percent interest rate, lend to students at 6.8, and splurge with the difference with a massive new spending program. He reports that the Congressional Budget Office has lowered the estimated savings from kicking out the private lenders from $87 billion to something like $47 billion. Some 2,000 private lenders will be forced out of this business. Services to students driven by industry competition will be eliminated in favor of typical federal bureaucratic “efficiency.” And those “educators, engineers and computer scientists—the backbone of the new economy”? They will be spending years longer and paying lots more to pay back loans that are actually being used to fund Congressmen’s favorite edu-pork programs.That part about borrowing from the FED at 2.8% interest rate and lending to students at a 6.8% rate sounds like some kind of scheme to create a stealth source of cash. I can't understand how the Department of Education gets to take out loans from the FED in the first place and then charge a higher rate to students.
Why can't the DOE just charge 2.8% to the students or like 3% and keep that .2% for administrative costs? I thought this was about trying to get more educators, engineers and computer scientists into the economy. You would think these students would rather spend a lower amount of time paying back a below market interest rate rather than an above market rate.
Also the conspiracy theorist in me kind of thinks that the DOE might have the opportunity to deny loans to business majors and pass through loans going to socialist theory majors. Perhaps there will be a secret list of "approved majors" that the government will allow. Then if you take the wrong classes or study something that is "too capitalist" you suddenly find your loan money cut off. I wonder if members of the Young Republicans or the Students for Israel will see their loan money cut off as well?
It all sounds even spookier how they want to graft this thing onto reconciliation for an unrelated health care reform bill as well. It kind of sounds like an end-around that will only come to light years down the road when you read an article about how business schools in America are starting to close.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The number of Americans who can call themselves millionaires has gone up in the past year, according to a report released Tuesday by Spectrem Group.
The number of U.S. households with a net worth of at least $1 million, not including primary residence, increased 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009, according to the group's press release.
The number is up from 6.7 million in 2008. That follows a 27 percent decline in the millionaire population in 2008.
There is nothing like a recession to make people some money. As long as you weren't 100% long stocks when the market fell apart you would have increased your take considerably. I guess all that talk about "stealing from the rich" doesn't meet reality when it comes to Obama.
Barack Obama hits the campaign trail again this month in support of a tremendously unpopular ObamaCare bill — and his numbers have started nose-diving again. Rasmussen’s latest daily poll shows Obama now at 43% approval, with 56% disapproving, the lowest figures of his presidency. His “passion index” has once again hit its lowest level at -21, as less than a quarter of registered voters now strongly approve of his performance:
That quarter is obviously liberal America where he can do no wrong. In the vast center and right he will have crippled his presidency to ram through ObamaCare.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
The bounty hunters in this case would be private auditors armed with sophisticated computer programs to scan Medicare and Medicaid billing data for patterns of bogus claims. The auditors would get to keep part of any funds they recover for the government. The White House said a pilot program run by Medicare in , New York and Texas recouped $900 million for taxpayers from 2005-2008.
I would love to get my hands on that Medicare and Medicaid billing data itself to make sophisticated investing decisions. I would query the database for the amount of fake hips that are being paid for and what company produces them and their growth rate year to year. You can also see exactly how many times certain medicines are prescribed and in what part of the country as well.
That database would be a treasure trove for any Health Care oriented Hedge Fund. I bet Goldman Sachs' will have a Medicaire fraud database division up and running before the end of the week this thing is signed into law. They will just plug this data into their investing black boxes and roll in yet more cash.
And knowing that the Government will run the program I would be willing to bet you any money that billing information will not have the patients names redacted as well. So if you have some terrible disease then that data is only safe if some faceless shlub working for the Department of Health codes the database correctly.
These are the same people that accidentally added 100s of fake districts to the US and made a mess of how many jobs each of these districts were "saving." It is sad when even "populist" proposals can be subverted so quickly.
Abbott said it would acquire Facet for $27 per share in cash for a net transaction value of approximately $450 million, which includes a purchase price of approximately $722 million less Facet's projected cash and marketable securities at closing of approximately $272 million.
I mean the stock closed trading at $16.21 and Abbott came in with a 67% premium to that price in their buyout offer. That is quite a big premium. Abbott is not even getting any Phase 3 drugs in the deal. Facet is mostly made up of Phase 2 and Phase 1 drugs. Abbott paid that premium simply for the pipeline. Imagine how much of a premium they would have paid if the company had some Phase 3 drugs in that pipeline?
I can understand Abbotts reasoning as well. They are looking at extra years of exclusivity that comes with getting a biotech drug approved. I mean many Big Pharma companies are already running into patent expiration for their blockbusters so they need to find new revenue streams. Abbott might be buying up to 10 years of extra exclusivity in this deal.
This might also be the first winds of a coming consolidation storm when it comes to Biotech. I mean many of these biotech companies have been burning their own capital for years to get their drugs to market. All Big Phama needs to do is write a big check and they can reap the fruits of the biotech firms labor for another decade. They just plunk down $272 million and they walk away with 3 or 4 drugs that have 10 years or more of patent protection.
In many ways this has the look and feel of when tech start-ups get snatched up by a Google or whomever. The interesting thing is that I don't remember many tech giants paying that much of a premium for their buyouts though. In fact Ebay only paid a 15% premium to acquire Paypal. I guess this means that biotech as an industry group is woefully undervalued.
"The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court — according the requirements of protocol — has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling."
Yup, it is as if the President of the United States forgot where he was and attacked them in an idiotic way. I kind of felt the same way as the episode of Boston Legal where James Spader berates the Supreme Court to their faces. He would have been thrown in jail so fast for contempt it would make your head spin.
I mean they are the highest court in the land who can hold the President and Congress accountable and should be shown some kind of decorum from the other two branches. I really think they should not appear at any future State of the Union speeches because they aren't required to by the Constitution. Especially when they have to sit there like lumps and take a beating from the President.
Rifleman James McKie from Recce Platoon, 3rd Battalion The Rifles was under fire from three directions on a roof when the grenade hit his platoon commander and landed at his feet.
"My first thought was I hope this doesn't hurt too much," the New Zealander said. "That, and I've really only got one chance to do this.
"If it fails, either way, doing nothing, I'm going to get the same amount of hurt. So I picked it up and threw it off the roof."
It exploded in mid-air just seconds later, sending shrapnel flying.
Monday, March 08, 2010
The president's pitch was part denunciation of insurance companies — "they continue to ration care on the basis of who's sick and who's healthy," he said — and part criticism of his Republican critics. "You had 10 years. What happened? What were you doing?" he taunted members of a party that held the White House for eight years and control of Congress for a dozen.
He is still pounding the insurance companies at the same time he is promoting a bill that will force people to buy their product under threat of jail. The reason why you don't hear anything from Big Insurance is that the Dems will give them 30 million extra customers for life. They are even going to give them a huge billion dollar subsidy in the form of "helping families pay for health care." The whole Dem bill is flawed nonsense.
Also what were the Republicans doing? Um, fighting two wars and cutting my taxes. That was exactly what I wanted them to do. The Dems are going to force everyone in America to buy insurance and run the deficit up by another trillion. Exactly what I don't want them to do. I think Americans just want this whole debate to go away and have the President fired up about creating jobs.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Conservative activists across the country are planning to sponsor town hall meetings, rallies, debates and visits to district offices to voice their objections to the health care reform bill, starting as early as next week. The big push will come during the two-week congressional recess that starts March 29.
"We're gonna hit 'em when we know they're back in (the) district, and we're gonna hit 'em hard," said Tom Gaitens, a Tampa Tea Party organizer who coordinates with FreedomWorks.
Undaunted by a rash of scandals over the science underpinning climate change, top climate researchers are plotting to respond with what one scientist involved said needs to be “an outlandishly aggressively partisan approach” to gut the credibility of skeptics.
In private e-mails obtained by The Washington Times, climate scientists at the National Academy of Sciences say they are tired of “being treated like political pawns” and need to fight back in kind. Their strategy includes forming a nonprofit group to organize researchers and use their donations to challenge critics by running a back-page ad in the New York Times.
I think the "aggressively partisan approach" is more important then just getting the science right and clearing up the doubt that people toward their science. Their entire field has been given a black eye by all this and they want to form some non-profit to gut their critics.
One of the people in this "partisan approach" to science is Paul Ehrlich who sounds like a kinder, gentler Eugenicist that some environmental whackos just love:
Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, which also included this interesting advice for governments of the future: that they should put “temporary sterilants” in the water supply and then closely regulate the antidote in order to choose who could reproduce and when. If he’s the leading light of AGW theory, that explains (a) why it’s not science-based at all but rather a screen for statist control, and (b) why it’s collapsing as a science.
Nothing like a call to dope the water supply of Third World and Asian countries (where there is population growth) with sterilants to put you right at the fringe of Red Skull level Eugenics. I wonder if the "racially pure" get to drink special water to avoid this fate? Maybe this Ehrlich was reading some long lost Nazi documents and had an "Ah Ha!" moment.
Bedell pulled a handgun at a Pentagon entrance, shot two police officers and was mortally wounded in an exchange of gunfire, authorities said. The two officers were hospitalized briefly with minor injuries.
A blog connected to Bedell via the social networking site LinkedIn outlines his growing distrust of the federal government. It gives credence to the idea that a criminal enterprise run out of the government could have staged the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The thing I didn't like was that CNN aired excerpts from this crazy persons manifesto this morning. Um, the last thing we want to do is publicize the words and musing of some crazy shooter. The last thing we want to do is make these people into pseudo-celebrities.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
And (since the recession wasn’t U-shaped, as Roubini said it would be) the right multiple to put on those earnings wasn’t 10 or 12, but something quite a bit higher. So instead of falling by 20% as Roubini predicted, stock prices have risen by 49% over the subsequent twelve months—one of the greatest one-year rallies in the history of publicly traded equities. Roubini’s clients must have been pleased with his advice.
I have to say that recoveries create the best sort of rallies. The old adage "when there is blood on the streets buy property." Just make sure you had your money out of the market when that blood was being spilled.
I think the only real thing that could derail growth now is a European debt crisis that moves from Greece then to Portugal, Spain, and to Ireland. That is a double dip recession automatically.
I am less worried about Obama's spending his way into the poorhouse now that the Dems are drinking their sake and lining up to crash their Zeros in the Battle for Obamacare. 2010 will see a either a changeover in the Congress or at least an obliteration of any meaningful Democratic spending scheme.
What is the Ryan plan , and why is the Obama administration seemingly obsessed with it? Ryan calls his proposal, published in January, the Roadmap for America's Future. It's a remarkably comprehensive, daring manifesto that tackles every part of the budget on a presidential scale, from Social Security to tax policy to health-care reform.
The goal is to eliminate the deficit, and eventually all federal debt, without any crippling tax increases. Under Ryan's plan, for example, federal spending would reach just 24% of GDP in 2035 and then fall, vs. the CBO's projection of 34% and rising from there. Ryan would make the deficit disappear by mid-century.A plan to reduce federal spending to 25% of GDP sounds like madness but if we can get rid of the deficit by the time I retire then I am all for it. I was figuring that we would have a permanent deficit like Japan. I love his health care reform plan myself.
His prescription for health care is radical: Ryan would eliminate the exclusion allowing companies to lavish on employees tax-free benefits and give the tax breaks to the workers themselves through a rebate of $5,700 a family, or a check for that amount if they don't pay taxes.
If they gave me $5700 check to buy my health insurance I would rejoice. First of all I would study every plan in existence and try to get the exact plan that fits my needs and then bank the rest of the money. The opportunity to put thousands of dollars in my pocket just for doing some homework on what Health Plan fits me best is well worth it.
"The problem with both Medicare and private plans is the third-party-payer system," says Ryan. "Consumers, spending their own money, will drive down prices." Ryan proposes a classic flat-tax solution: Americans could choose between using today's byzantine rules and a simplified, post-card model with two rates, 10% and 25%. Believe it or not, the simplified system would disallow mortgage and other deductions.
He also backs the Reagan-era simplified tax rates as well? If I can fill out a postcard and mail a check when it comes to doing my taxes I would elect this guy in a heartbeat. He also sounds like some kind of throwback to when Congressmen actually worked hard to perfect their craft.
In Washington he pursues an almost ascetic work ethic. He studies budgets and spreadsheets until 11:30 p.m., then crashes on his cot or on a mattress at his sister-in-law's home in Bethesda. He seldom travels to campaign for politicians in other states or to burnish his national image. Instead he grabs the first flight to Wisconsin after the last vote on Thursday or Friday to join his wife and three young children at home.
Now that is the kind of person I want running this country. He loves his family and he works his ass off. That work ethic sounds almost Lincoln-like in many ways. His first campaign slogan can be "Lincoln was the first Republican President and Paul Ryan will be your next one." Hmm maybe a Ryan/Petraeus ticket would be in the offing. "Lincoln and the General: For America's future!"
Plus he is a economics(!) and poli-sci major that went to Miami of Ohio and not some Ivy-league frat boy like Bush or Gore. He is well clear of that East Coast elite milieu that has done so much damage to our economy in recent years. This part sounds nuts as well:
Back in Washington on Monday mornings, and during the week, he leads about a dozen congressmen, including former football player Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), through a workout called P90X, a punishing bipartisan series of pushups, pull-ups, karate, and yoga.
This will give him a prime advantage if he has to get into a best 2 out of 3 falls cage-match with Putin. I like the idea that our President could literally beat the crap out of Ahmadinijoke or Kim Jong Il.
The voted 23-22 to approve the , which calls on President Barack Obama to ensure U.S. policy formally refers to the killings as genocide.
The action cleared the way for the measure to be considered by the full House but it was unclear whether it would actually come to a vote there. The Obama administration and Turkey had pressed lawmakers to drop the matter.
The vote triggered an immediate condemnation from, who recalled Turkey's ambassador to Washington for consultations. Erdogan said he worried the measure would harm Turkish-U.S. ties and efforts by Muslim Turkey and Christian Armenia to end a century of hostility.
The idiot Dems just can't let things that happened nearly a 100 years ago stay buried. The Ottoman Empire might have committed genocide of the Armenians but there is no reason to rub Turkey's nose in it.
It is as if the Turks passed a bill stating we committed genocide against Native Americans. They would be right but who are they to comment about it in their Parliament.
All I can think of is that the Congress still thinks that the Ottoman Sultan is still in charge in Istanbul. I bet the next thing they are going to do is bring Mehmed VI in front of a criminal court and try him for crimes against humanity. Wait, he died in 1926.
Maybe that idiot Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman D-CA can round up some 100+ year old Turks and try them instead. What a joke these Dems are.
He should know that this is a sore point with the Turks and there is absolutely nothing to be gained by bringing it up. They are one of our only Muslim allies in the area and all this does is antagonize them. I think Obama needs to come out and condemn this action immediately to prevent further damage. Then we need Congress to get back into the hands of people that do not alienate our allies.
Two game studio heads fired by Activision this week are suing the , saying it let them go to avoid paying hefty royalties from the popular "."
In a lawsuit filed in Jason West and Vince Zampella are seeking damages "in excess of $36 million," as well as future royalties.on Wednesday,
This should be the talk of the gaming world once it goes to trial.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Perry handily defeated his main primary challenger, , by a 13-point margin, and his 51 percent share of the vote meant that the two heavy hitters in Texas politics wouldn't have to weather a run-off later this summer.
Even if you are a long time Senator you will still be tarred with the Washington elite. I think every incumbent need to watch themselves or some Tea Party Outsider is going to oust them from power. I think Great Silent Majority of Nixon fame is finally starting to flex their muscles.
Just a few years ago, drones occupied only a fraction of the airspace over Iraq and Afghanistan, much to the chagrin of , who wanted to institutionalize the capability within the Pentagon and the Air Force, in particular. Mr. Gates at one point said it was like “pulling teeth” to get the Air Force to respond to the demand of today’s wars and to field platforms such as drones. Now, planes like the or the are far more ubiquitous, and the demand for their imagery isn’t going away.
Gates pretty much doesn't like piloted missions in billion dollar aircraft and loves unmanned missions in million dollar drones. I can see where he is going with this because you don't need giant airfields to launch a drone. You just need a forward operating base and a dirt runway. Then you control the thing from Las Vegas. Too bad it is taking away a flesh and blood pilots job.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Last night reports began to spread across the Internet that something was happening at Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward's offices. G4 then reported on a tip that non-uniformed "bouncers" showed up at Infinity Ward's offices, and refused to answer questions from employees. Soon after, it became clear that cofounder Jason West has left the company, either forcibly or by his own choice.
Wow, talk about a heavy handed move to get rid of one of the co-founders of the company that created some of your biggest hits. If his creative team follows him out the door then there might be some doubt about a Modern Warfare 3 being half-way decent.
If you think about it in terms of a company like Apple. It is as if the IPhone division head was suddenly escorted out of the building by thugs after making nearly a $1 billion on a new release. That can't be good for the stock price going forward.