Monday, January 31, 2011

Google Outflanks the Egyptian Firewall: Allows Twitter By Phone

All you have to do is call certain numbers and leave a voicemail message that instantly turns into a Tweet.

"Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service -- the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection," they said.

Voice mail messages left at +16504194196; +390662207294 or +97316199855 will instantly be converted into text messages, referred to as tweets, and posted at Twitter with an identifying "hashtag" of #egypt.

Twitter hashtags are intended as search terms so people can more easily find comments related to particular topics or events.

I wonder how long it will be until the Egyptian Authorities block those numbers? I guess you can use call forwarding to get around it but it is an ingenious service. Too bad people can't switch their phones to some kind of satellite feed to get around the Egyptian Authorities blocking cell service.

Democratic Republic of Saudi Arabia? Here's Some Brainstorming

Other then creating a constitutional monarchy with a Prime Minister and such here is a system I am just brainstorming. My idea would be to create a 2 House System with a Court of Islamic Scholars.

The Upper House would be called the House of Saud. Make them kind of like the House of Lords but each one has a vote on who will be King. Each of the 100 something heirs to the throne as well as representatives of all of the major Saudi families have representation in this house. They don't create the laws but only accede their legitimacy. This would kind of be like the Diet in Japan. Maybe they could have a "Islam Legitimacy Veto" where laws that are against Islam would be passed on to the Court of Islamic Scholars for review.

The Lower House would be called the House of the People. They will be the legislative branch of government elected by local election and serve 6 year terms. They will create the laws and vote on them and pass them up the line. They would also be responsible for setting the budget and appropriating money for defense. They are also in charge of handing out oil wealth by overseeing the Oil Ministry. Also the Oil Ministry is Audited every year by an outside firm to make sure no-one is stealing from it. You can make it a Senate system where each region has like 5 House members or maybe a weighted representative system depending on population.

The Court of Islamic Scholars would be a separate body that would interpret laws and make sure that they are following the structures of Islam. Their veto can only be overturned by a Super-majority of both the House of Saud and the House of the People. You could either have them vetted by the House of Saud or have them elect their own members in a totally transparent process.

This Court would be the authority in all non-secular matters and be an engine for advanced Islamic thought. Kind of like the Brain-trust for the Islamic World.  Their job is to be a counterweight against the Madrassas and other radical Islamic groups that misinterpret the Koran. These guys would be the best and the brightest the Islamic world has to offer and they can even invite members of other Islamic countries to join them. These Honored Men would become Saudi Citizens after a certain period of service to the Court but in the meantime they would not be able to vote. Being appointed to this body will be one of the greatest honors you can bestow in the Islamic World. Its Council of Elders would be the most learned, respected and pious men in all of the Islam. They would also be responsible for all Holy Sites in Saudi Arabia and have their headquarters in Mecca.

Finally, instead of a Hereditary King you would have an elected post. The House of Saud would vote for the King with each of its members getting one vote. The King would serve for 8 years and can run for another 8 year term. After that he would retire from public life but may be able to rejoin the House of Saud. The King can also come from another royal house or even be a commoner depending on who the House of Saud Picks. Then the Upper House would have its name changed to that persons name. So if the Kings family name is Bin-Ali the name would be changed to the House of Bin-Ali.

The post of King would not just be ceremonial but instead be the face of Saudi Arabia to the world. He would be in charge of foreign affairs, the economy (through an Islamic Central Bank,) the intelligence forces (who cannot be used domestically for anything except for counter-terrorism,) and be Commander and Chief of the armed forces. Of course declaring war would have to be a vote from the King, the House of Saud and the House of the People. The King can be deposed with a super-majority of both houses. Also the Court of Islamic Scholars can bring a no confidence motion against the King (but cannot directly depose him) if he acts in a manner that is against Islam. That would be a grave censure that most Kings would immediately resign rather then have this black mark upon their resume.

I'm sure there are all sorts of problems lurking in these ideas but it would be an interesting thing to see a bunch of Saudi Citizens with those purple fingers saying that they have voted. I also would love to see one body in charge of the more intellectual aspects of Islam. That body, if given enough weight in the Muslim World, might even see Sunni and Shia heal their centuries old rift. I mean if you get enough respected thinkers in one place anything would be possible.

Mohamed ElBaradei Implores US to Stop "Providing Life Support For the Dictator" Yeah I Agree

Hmm maybe it is time for the US to stop hedging and go long the Democracy protesters.

Dr. ElBaradei, who joined thousands of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square in the early evening, said the time has come for the US to stand with Egypt's protesters. 

"The American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years would be the one to implement democracy. This is a farce," he said on CBS's Face the Nation. "The first thing which will calm the situation is for Mubarak to leave, and leave with some dignity. Otherwise, I fear that things will get bloody. And [the US] have to stop the life support to the dictator and root for the people." 

Yeah, maybe it is time to back the Democracy Horse and let the "Strongman Model" fade into the mists of history to join Global Communism and Acid-Washed Jeans. I mean all this talk of democracy not taking hold in the Middle East sells these people short because it seems to be happening like dominoes.

I mean lets say the "Egyptian Jacobins" gain power and put elBaradei at their head. Why would he suddenly be anti-Israel and be our enemy? Hell, if we get in on the ground floor we could even help them write their Constitution. We could be Egypt's France in their War for Independence.

Imagine one of the largest Muslim nations in the world as a thriving democracy working with us hand-in-hand. As long as they stay nominally secular it would be a great win for region and the world. About the only bad thing is we would have one less place for the rendition of our Al-Quida prisoners.

One interesting parlor game is what is the next "Middle Eastern Democracy Domino." I'm hoping for Iran and Syria but the smart money is probably on Saudi Arabia or Jordan. The idea of electing the King of Saudi Arabia would sure be an interesting change. Maybe a Holy Roman Empire system where different Saudi families each vote on the King would be an interesting thing to think about.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

GOP Float Trial Balloon on Medicare Voucher Plan: You Need a Tech Twist Though to Make it Work

This sounds like a very interesting idea as a way to get Medicare costs under control.

Under Ryan's plan, current Medicare recipients would get to stay in the program. People within 10 years of eligibility — ages 55 to 64 — would also go into Medicare. But those now 54 and under would get a fixed payment from the government when they become eligible at age 65. They would be able to use the voucher to buy a Medicare-approved private plan from a menu of coverage levels and options.

The amount of the voucher would be based on total current Medicare spending and indexed to grow year by year thereafter. But that growth would be less than the torrid pace of health care inflation now. Proponents say it would be like putting the health care system on a diet, forcing every player from drug companies to hospitals to be more efficient.

As long as the cheapest plans have halfway decent co-pays I don't see a problem with it. One positive off the bat would be the ability to index Medicare to inflation or some similar metric. You won't see 12% a year growth in health care costs if people will only be willing to pay 2% extra. We are talking about a market of millions of people so pricing power will drive costs down. Plus the Medicare Approved label will be like gold to a health insurance company because people will flock to them in large numbers. Make Medicare Approved be as hard to get as getting a drug through the FDA and it will be a gold-plated label.

One good thing is it could only start by 2021 at the earliest. That is pretty far off and would allow the people that are already in Medicare to keep their open-ended coverage. It would just be new people that will be affected. I figure that with all the debt being piled on by Obama I wouldn't see Social Security or Medicare anyway. So I am all for whatever Congress can do to fix these programs so they are solvent when I am eligible in 2041.

What would be an interesting twist is by 2021 I would be willing to bet you any money that there will be a raft of like "Medicare insurance aggregators" out there that will help you pick the best plan that suits your lifestyle. If you are active senior at such-and-such weight, non-smoker you would plug that data in and it spits out certain choices that will suit you. Then you could change your coverage year-to-year as new products come on-line and your needs change.

Hell, I bet you by 2021 there will be advanced genetic testing that could map out the chance of you getting expensive diseases and raise or lower the amount of your coverage accordingly. Also it should allow you to buy a cancer rider or a heart disease rider for like $20 a month extra or something. This would pay for the entire battery of surgeries and tests if you happen to get something like this. In fact I would be willing to bet you that by 2021 (and for sure by 2041) medical science would be so far advanced that maybe heart disease and cancer would be a thing of the past.

In any case study away GOP. I want Medicare that I can actually pay for without the Red Chinese underwriting it going forward. I think open-ended Medicare was a great idea for current Seniors and Boomers who lack tech savvy. But Gen-X, Y and the Millennials need something that gives us more choices and is actually solvent when we need it in 20-30 years.

Its the Liberal Revoltion of 1820-1826 All Over Again: Yemen Joins Egypt and Tunisia in Pro-Democratic Rioting

Well I'm not a big fan of rioting but this might be seen as quite a good deal going forward.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis demanded the president step down in nationwide protests Thursday, taking inspiration from the popular revolt in Tunisia and vowing to continue until their U.S.-backed government falls.

Yemen is the latest Arab state to be hit by mass anti-government protests, joining Tunisia and Egypt in calls for revolutionary change. The demonstrations pose a new threat to the stability of Yemen, the Arab world's most impoverished nation, which has become a haven for al-Qaida militants.

Yemen would be especially good to add to the pro-democracy column because of this tie to Al-Quida. Imagine if they could get an elected leader in power and invite the US or Europe in to help them with their economy/kill off Al-Quida militants. A democratic Yemen would be great not just for the Yemeni people but the whole world as well.

In many ways seeing these Muslim countries try to form democracies by rioting reminds me of the Liberal Revolution of 1820 - 1826. This is when there were riots in Portugal to reinstate the King Joao and make their government a Constitutional Monarchy. These ideas spread throughout Europe and were put down with force by more conservative governments.

In one of my favorite video games Victoria: a Place in the Sun when this event happens Liberal Revolutionaries appear in nearly all European Cities. You can stop them from appearing by either putting troops on all of your lands to kill off any revolutionaries or change your government to a Constitutional Monarchy or a Republic. I usually play as one of the German Minor states so when the governments of my neighbors fall I quickly get in there and Annex them.

In any case these pro-democracy riots are kind of following in the footsteps of that event just few hundred years later. I'm hoping that the next revolution happens in Iran. Now that would be big news and would give Obama another shot at backing the protesters now that his meeting with Ahmadinajoke "without preconditions" is yet another failed campaign promise.

Senate Votes to Not be So Contentious

I guess that Date Night thing during the State of the Union Speech did some good after all.

Senate leaders said Thursday they have agreed that minority Republicans would filibuster fewer bills and nominations in exchange for a promise by the Democratic majority to give them more chances to offer amendments.

The gentleman's agreement announced by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell was part of a package of measures to make the Senate a more workable and less contentious place. It also included support of a resolution, to be voted on later in the day, to end the practice of one senator being able to secretly block votes and a rules change that would slash by a third the number of presidential appointments that need Senate approval.

The Senate used to operate under a system like they were the adults who would look at legislation and then work together to pass them with input from both sides of the aisle. Now we have idiots like Al Frankin cutting off 20 year Senators like Joe Lieberman things are going beyond the pale. If the Senate can get back to the peoples business and not treat each other like children then maybe we can finally tackle this 9% unemployment.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Yet Another Facebook Security Hole to Plug

Yeah Facebook transfers your credentials in the clear without encryption unless you make the change outlined in this article.

Facebook has at long last offered an option to use the encrypted "HTTPS" protocol, a feature it will begin rolling out today but won't finish for a "few weeks." You should check now if it's available, and sign up as soon as it is enabled for your account. The performance overhead is minor—zippy Gmail, for example, uses HTTPS for everything—and it's an important step to keep your Facebook account safe from being hijacked on an open or poorly secured wireless network.

By default, Facebook sends your access credentials in the clear, with no encryption whatsoever. Switching to HTTPS is important because a browser extension called Firesheep has made it especially easy for anyone sharing your open wireless network—at cafe or conference, for example—to sniff your credentials and freely access your account. One blogger sitting in a random New York Starbucks was able to steal 20-40 Facebook identities in half an hour. HTTPS solves this longstanding problem by encrypting your login cookies and other data; in fact the inventor of Firesheep made the software to encourage companies like Facebook to finally lock down their systems.

Oh well, yet another thing you have to make sure to set when you are using Facebook. Why HTTPS isn't in place as a default I have no idea but oh well.

UN Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Rife With Corruption: Germans Stop Payment

Well it looks like yet another UN run fund that takes money from rich countries and is supposed to go to a worthy cause turns out to be rife with corruption.

The AP reported that the fund's investigators had examined a tiny fraction of the grant money dispersed so far and found "pervasive fraud" with up to 67 percent losses due to faked invoices and other requests for payment for AIDS, TB and malaria work in the western Sahara nation of Mauritania, where the U.N. Development Fund manages the programs.

The fund also halted grants to neighboring Mali worth $22.6 million, after the fund's investigative unit found that $4 million was misappropriated. Half of Mali's TB and malaria grant money went to supposed "training events," and signatures were forged on receipts for per diem payments, lodging and travel expense claims.

The fund says Mali has arrested 15 people suspected of committing fraud, and its health minister resigned without explanation two days before the audit was made public.

The bad part is Mali is pretty hard hit by malaria and that money might have done some good. Instead some shady characters in their health department went on trips or stayed at fancy hotels or whatever. This fraud is in a fund that has only $21 billion in it. Imagine what sort of fraud would come out of a $300 billion UN Climate Change Fund. That kind of money would make every corrupt minister in Mali pull 24 hour days to figure out a way to skim that money.

Time to un"like" Everything on Facebook: Advertisers is Using that Data without Your Consent

Well, it looks like one more thing about Facebook that invades your privacy.

Facebook users who check in to a store or "like" a brand may soon find those actions re-transmitted on their friends' pages as a "Sponsored Story" paid for by advertisers.

Currently there is no way for users to decline this feature.

I love how you cannot opt out of the resale of your "likes" without your consent. At least it is just to your friends pages and not to all of Facebook. That is small consolation to a person who gets to be an unpaid spokesman for a product simply by putting a "like" on it.

The funniest part is that Facebook makes money from the advertiser but the person clicking the "like" button doesn't get a cent. Of course they will hide an opt out button in a few weeks after sufficient ire builds but the money will already be in Facebook's bank account. Most people won't opt out and they put one over on their users yet again. Is it just me or does Facebook look more and more like Microsoft?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Woman Falls 23 Stories and Lives: Good Luck All Around

Now this is the kind of thing that has you thinking about people being protected by a Higher Power sometimes.

The woman landed in a sitting position on the roof of a taxi whose driver got out just before the impact deeply dented his roof and shattered the windshield.

The woman, a 30-year-old Argentine, was rushed to the nearby Hospital Argerich, where she was being operated on for injuries including internal bleeding and broken hips and ribs, Alberto Crescenti, director of Argentina's Emergency Medical System, told the government news agency Telam. He estimated that she fell nearly 100 meters (330 feet).

What is even more lucky is she didn't kill the taxi driver of the car she fell on. This is just luck (or Divine intervention) to the Nth degree.

The taxi driver, Miguel Cajal, told the C5N television station that he jumped out of the car because he saw a policeman stopping traffic and looking up. Moments later, the driver's side of the car was smashed by the woman's body.

So this guy sees a cop looking up and stopping traffic. Instead of just leaning out the window like some people would do or just ignoring the cop he jumped out of the car. That one moment of curiosity probably saved this guys like. I wonder if he had some sort of premonition or something that told him to vacate the vehicle? In any case I'm glad everyone made it through.

Chrome and Firefox adding "Do Not Track" Add-Ons. Hopefully Facebook Will Follow Suit

It seems that browsers will get a new tool against advertisers tracking their every move on the Internet.

Alex Fowler, a technology and privacy officer for Firefox maker Mozilla, said the "Do Not Track" tool will be the first in a series of steps designed to guard privacy. He didn't say when the tool will be available.

Google Chrome users can now download a browser plug-in that blocks advertisers — but only from ad networks that already let people decline personalized, targeted ads. According to Google Inc., these include the top 15 advertising networks, as rated by the research group comScore, a group that includes AOL Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Google itself.

Let's hope Facebook will now come out with a do not track tool for the information that you send to them when you sign up to play games on their site.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What? State Bankruptcies? Newt are you Nuts?

Well, I guess it is time to look through your Municipal Bonds and dump the losers because this talk coming out of Washington will make their prices go down the toilet. Well, I guess it is time to sell my Tax-Free Muni bond fund that I have owned for years.

For now, the fear of destabilizing the municipal bond market with the words “state bankruptcy” has proponents in Congress going about their work on tiptoe. No draft bill is in circulation yet, and no member of Congress has come forward as a sponsor, although Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, asked the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, about the possibility in a hearing this month.

House Republicans, and Senators from both parties, have taken an interest in the issue, with nudging from bankruptcy lawyers and a former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, who could be a Republican presidential candidate. It would be difficult to get a bill through Congress, not only because of the constitutional questions and the complexities of bankruptcy law, but also because of fears that even talk of such a law could make the states’ problems worse.

Um are these guys crazy? Class 1 State Municipal Bonds generally have a .24% chance of defaulting. That is why you accept a lower interest rate to own these things. Now we have Gingrich of all people advocating that states go bankrupt in order to get out of their pension obligations? Or maybe he is thinking this is just a sneaky way to stick it to public workers unions.

In any case does he know there are $1.8 trillion worth of these things floating around out there? Plus like 60% or more are owned by individuals and mutual funds that sell to individuals. That is Main Street Newt. Plus many insurance companies are forced to hold a certain amount of them as part of doing business.

If these people aren't made whole and have to accept 60 cents on the dollar or something then who knows what will happen next? One big state bankruptcy like Illinois or California could cause millions of people to possibly lose their interest payment for a while or worse-comes-to-worse a big chunk of their principal. That could mean billions of dollars in pain and turmoil in a market that is usually rock solid to just bail out States that spent like drunken sailors.

What it will mean is that Muni prices will tank across the board as a brand new thing called "state bankruptcy risk" will get factored into the equation. I for one will not invest in something that could be damaged by the mere fact that some public employee union got a gold-plated pension that the state can no longer pay for.  Why should I shoulder the risk so that some legislature can give themselves a 36% pay raise?

I would much rather take my "staid and true" money and invest it in a huge corporation that actually has people watching the till. That company not only balances their budget but generates billions in profits as well.

If the choice is between a Legislature in Sacramento or  Springfield , Ill who thinks taxpayers money is Monopoly money and Exxon Mobil Corporate Bonds you know who I would pick going forward. If Newt and his friends actually gets this thing to pass through Congress I can't wait to pull the lever for any GOPer besides him.

Oh oh, Pin Coming to Pop Gold Bubble?

At least the Doug Kass, president of Sea Breeze Partners Management thinks so according to this statement.

Lee brought in Doug Kass, president of Sea Breeze Partners Management, to talk about the rapid decline in the gold. He said there were compelling reason to own gold as it climbed from $250 an ounce 11 years ago to $1,340 an ounce today, but those reasons have substantially diminished. He said the price of gold will be volatile. He said it may touch $1,050 an ounce and will probably end the year $150 below what it is today. 

I think $1050 gold will make those Mall Gold Buyers close up shop and hit the road going forward. I wonder if the Gold Guys with their shop at Ward Center are hedged against a decline. I love seeing a bubble building and recognizing the signs in anticipation. The pop part is the hard thing to time. But it always comes.

Scathing Indictment of Arby's in the Financial Press: I Have to Agree

This article is a pretty good run-down on why some US Fast Food Chains are doing great (The Chinese love the Colonels 11 Herbs and Spices) while others are floundering mightily (Arby's and Long John Silvers.)  The authors seriously sticks it to Arby's though:

Second, even in fast food, quality matters -- the quality of the product, the advertising, and the business strategy. Raise your hand if you've eaten at an Arby's lately. (I did recently, for the sake of journalistic investigation. And I'm still having flashbacks.) 

There's no way of saying this politely, but here it is: Building a business around a pressed, processed protein product that bears little resemblance to roast beef and then trying to make it more appealing by covering it with a glop of molten goo that bears little resemblance to cheese doesn't seem like a particularly good idea. And when's the last time you saw a good ad for A&W? The chains being sold, for whatever reason, lost the ability to differentiate themselves in a crowded market.

I have eaten at Arby's quite a bit and I do enjoy their food for the most part but I have to agree that if it wasn't at the mall near where I work I would not have eaten there in like 15 years. There is nothing that draws you into the store so you can try it out. I'm not rushing out to eat a pile of gray meat covered in cheese-like liquid all on a yellow onion roll.

The only reason I go is as a "let's try something new today" diversion. If there was a Wendy's nearby I would probably never go to Arby's at all because Wendy's just seem to have better food. Plus, Wendy's baked potatoes are about 100 times better than the one you can get at Arby's. You figure that they would be similar because they have the same parent but you never know.

Paul the Psychic Octopus Gets a Memorial

Now this is a nice gesture by the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen.

The Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen unveiled the 6-foot plastic replica of Paul clutching a soccer ball in his eight arms on Thursday.

Aquarium spokeswoman Tanja Munzig says Paul's cremated ashes were placed in a gold-leafed urn inside the ball. Paul died three months ago.

Munzig says fans around the world had asked for a memorial.

Here is a look at the memorial. That opening on the right contains the ashes of the celebrity cephalopod.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

GOP Attempting to Take a Meat Cleaver to Spending

Now this is what I'm talking about when it comes to cutting some of that out-of-control spending in Washington.

The study committee proposed eliminating several programs outright, including the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal help to people who can't afford a lawyer; Amtrak subsidies; community development grants popular with local officials, and economic aid to Egypt. It advocated a five-year pay freeze for federal workers, and cutting the federal work force by 15 percent through attrition.

"The pledge, the $100 billion, is simply a start," freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., said. "We want more. We will be looking for ways to cut the deficit and the debt more than is in the pledge."

That first thing is a pretty easy one because you can back-load it by requiring state bar associations to come up with some pro-bono hours to cover the slack. I think Amtrak needs to be outsourced to someone that can modernize it and run it profitably if it is possible. If not then shut it down and let capitalists have a hand at nationwide train services.

From what I know about community development grants they are rife with corruption. Maybe they can get more churches and non-profits to pick up the slack. I'm sure they can paint schools or build community centers without federal matching funds.

Also economic aid needs to cut across the board not just to Egypt. Maybe they could change it to some sort of trade concession instead. Like reduce tariffs on Egyptian goods or something. Instead of writing them blank checks make the goods and services they produce worth more to us.

And finally, the pay freeze sounds about right and cutting the federal workforce should have been done years ago. I'm sure there are 15% attrition out there somewhere. Even making federal workers take furlough days should be in order to get our spending under control. In any case, Bravo GOP, for stepping in and making sure my tax money isn't being squandered on some crap going forward.

My Short Treasuries ETF popped today: The Debt Ceiling is to Blame?

I have been short treasuries via the ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasuries ETF (TFT) for a while because I think the government running the money printing presses will drive up inflation (and commodity prices) and thus hurt treasuries. However there seems to be more afoot according to this article.

The “big deal” is that the newly elected Congressional leadership is proposing a Constitutional Amendment which would require a balanced budget and this amendment will be tied to the passage of a debt ceiling increase. In other words, this will be the last time the debt ceiling will ever be lifted…assuming Congress doesn’t change the rules again (yes, I know a BIG assumption).  A Constitutional Amendment requires a 2/3 majority to pass, while a singular vote on the debt ceiling would require only a simply majority. It is this dynamic that is rattling the bond market.

I'm not sure how Congress can back-load a Constitutional Amendment like that but it sure seems to be freaking someone out. The amendment makes sense but it might damage things like NASA and our military preparedness if it isn't handled right. In my mind the idea of coming up with $1.171 trillion dollars to plug the budget hole every year is just mind boggling.

You figure a cap on the debt to GDP limit or something would be more feasible. Or maybe even tying spending raises to inflation or something would be an interesting fix. A back-loaded balanced budget amendment would be nuts right now. In any case here is the bear case for treasuries from this article.

Believe it or not there are credit default swaps (CDS) on US government debt. (I am not sure who will have any money left to settle the transaction if the US government ever did default, but that is a discussion for another day.)

As of yesterday’s close US government CDS prices have reached all time highs, suggesting the risk that the US will default on its debt has never been higher!

I had no idea that there was someone out there selling an instrument that protected against the potential default of the US government debt. You would think that this kind of thing wouldn't exist. If the US government defaulted on the debt there would be a world wide panic that will make Black Monday look mild profit taking. I guess there is always someone making a buck by insuring against (or betting on) a catastrophe like that. The fact that these things are at an all-time high should be quite worrying and higher interest rates are the least of these worries. The debt ceiling chicken might be a pretty good deal for TFT going forward.

Democratic Lawmaker Steve Cohen Invokes the Holocaust to Prove Political Point

Here are his remarks which are pretty reprehensible by any measure:

They [Republicans] say it's a government takeover of health care -- a big lie just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That's the same kind of thing.

Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it — believed it and you have the Holocaust. We heard on this floor -- government takeover of health care.

Yup he just used the Holocaust as a debating point about the "government takeover of health care." The part that is the most ironic is that Nazi Germany had universal health care.

In 1901 transport and office workers came to be covered by public health insurance, followed in 1911 by agricultural and forestry workers and domestic servants, and in 1914 by civil servants. Coverage was extended to the unemployed in 1918, to seamen in 1927, and to all dependents in 1930. In 1941 legislation was passed that allowed workers whose incomes had risen above the income ceiling for compulsory membership to continue their insurance on a voluntary basis. The same year, coverage was extended to all retired Germans. Salespeople came under the plan in 1966, self-employed agricultural workers in 1972, and students and the disabled in 1975.

This "public health insurance" that the Germans and later the Nazis had would be something liberals would probably rush out to support. This so-called "socialized medicine" was a carryover from Bismark from 1883 but the Nazi's continued the trend but with Jews and "unproductive people" left out of the system. It is just a case from history when a totalitarian government controls the distribution of resources they always kick a group they hate out of the system. I mean the Soviets did it to any ethnic group that happened to be "not Soviet enough."

That is what people are afraid of when they feel there is a "government takeover of health care." They would get kicked out of the system for having too high a carbon footprint, or listening to the wrong radio personalities, making unacceptable amounts of money, or simply attending the wrong political rallies. They would be at the mercy of a government they distrust and seems to never have their best interests at heart. Invoking the Holocaust to rally support for such a system is perhaps the worst low blow you could imagine.

American Idol Viewership Drops: I'm Not Sure if People like Tyler and J-Lo

Well the numbers are in and they are disappointing.

Total average viewership dropped 13% to 26.1 million, down from the 29.9 million viewers who tuned in to the ninth season premiere. 

The show posted a 9.7 Nielsen rating among adults ages 18 to 49, an 18% drop from the 11.8 rating for 2010's season opener.  

The show's viewership dropped 16% in season 9 from season 8 and last year its finale delivered its weakest numbers ever for the series' season-ending show. 

I'm just not sure if people are rushing out to see J-Lo and Steven Tyler judge a bunch of singers. At least with Simon you got someone that was hard but when a good singer came along he would acknowledge that.  It seems like there are just 3 Paulas on the show now and people are tuning out. I watched it for little while last night and the new judges were pretty cringe inducing. I wonder if this might be the end of Idol going forward?

3D Not The Boon That Electronics Makers Think It Is

Well it seems that 3D cannot be appreciated by almost 1/4 of viewers out there.

Optometrists say as many as one in four viewers have problems watching 3-D movies and TV, either because 3-D causes tiresome eyestrain or because the viewer has problems perceiving depth in real life. In the worst cases, 3-D makes people queasy, leaves them dizzy or gives them headaches.

I am in the "problems with depth perception" camp when it comes to 3D. What it looks like to me is one thing in front of another similar to seeing a wooden cutout in front of another wooden cutout. It is supposed to pop into your living room but all I see are flat planes interleaved in front of one another. So I wouldn't pay $1 extra for a 3D TV and I may not be the only one. If I got sick from 3D then I would pay money to NOT watch it.

3-D TV sets were available in the U.S. for the first time last year, but shipments came in below forecasts, at just under 1.6 million for North America, according to DisplaySearch. Nevertheless, TV makers such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Panasonic are doubling down on 3-D and introduced more 3-D-capable models this month at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Those models cost more than regular ones and require glasses, just like in theaters.

I have a feeling that these models won't sell up to expectations either. I mean other then certain Blu-Ray content DVDs there really isn't much you can watch on 3D. I know ESPN was pushing their 3D a while back but I don't hear about it much anymore. Perhaps when there is a critical mass of 3D content they will start to take off but I know I (like the 1/4 of people that can't see or get sick from 3D) would be giving the whole thing a wide berth.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The New Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence Sounds Like an Airhead

I really hope she isn't the norm for young actresses coming up because this story makes her sound like a total dumb-ass.

Lawrence said that she hadn't seen the first three "X-Men" movies when she first auditioned for the role, and her unfamiliarity with the role of Mystique nearly cost her the part. She told me she auditioned a few times before finally sitting down to watch the original trilogy. Once she did, she said, "I realized I was doing it completely wrong, and I was like, 'Why have they been calling me back?'" Seeing the first three films, she saw that Rebecca Romijn played the role "kind of cold and cool and snakelike... I was doing my Raven kind of sweet and teenybopper, because I didn't know what else to do."

Um, what? She didn't research her role at all before she first auditioned? Research didn't involve visiting the persons home town, or reading a pile of books, or calling Marvel and sitting down with the creator. All she had to do was watch 3 movies? In fact she didn't have to watch all 3 movies and could have just watched the first X-men film and got the gist of playing the character. She could have looked up Mystique on Wikipedia and got more information then she did.

I know she is a busy young star with accolades from some movie called Winter's Bone but all she needed to do is pop in a DVD and fast forward to the parts that had Mystique in it. She could have fiddled with her IPhone the whole time and still been able to tell that Mystique wasn't a sweet teenybopper.  The fact that she was kept on and not canned on the spot tells a lot about how X-Men: First Class is going to be when it comes out.

Here is a pic of Lawrence before and after her makeup session:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wow, Apple is a Monster: 71% Revenue Growth? Unfortunately, my Feeling is Jobs won't be Back

This company just can't be beat.

Net income for Apple's fiscal first quarter rose to $6 billion, or $6.43 per share, up from $3.4 billion, or $3.67 per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast $5.41 per share for the quarter, which ended Dec. 25.

Revenue climbed 71 percent to $26.7 billion, more than the $24.3 billion analysts expected. It was $15.7 billion in the same quarter a year earlier.

The bad part is I think Jobs might be hard pressed to come back to the company. His cancer seems like a pretty bad deal and he looks very gaunt and sickly in most articles I have read about him. In many ways he looks like my ratty pal Cinderbottom when he was near the end of his battle with his lung ailment.

The thing that got me thinking is the fact he doesn't shake hands as he is afraid that his weakened immune system cannot take the germs that the other person might be carrying. That is pretty serious stuff and it is just a gut feeling but I don't think Jobs will be returning to Cupertino for a long time.

I am seriously wondering if the heart and soul of the company would leave with Jobs or not. People are praising the interim guy Tim Cook as a person of the same mold but does he have the charisma of Jobs? Will the next I-Something-or-Other be as must-have (or as big a seller) with Cook giving the keynote at Apple's big shindig? I guess that question needs to be answered if they are to go up another 71% for next years revenue.

Sorry US Investors: Facebook Stock is Only for Foreigners

It seems that all the hype around the Facebook deal is too much for Goldman to get past US regulators.

Under an SEC rule known as Regulation D, private placements like the Facebook deal "cannot be the subject of advertising, general promotional seminars or public meetings in connection with the offering."

Rules outside the U.S. governing private placements are less strict about publicity as long as the deal is offered to individuals and institutions that qualify as "professional investors." Goldman likely won't come under fire in foreign markets for the hype that has accompanied the offering.

I guess Goldman just wants to keep its nose clean when it comes to these sorts of deal know that they are under intense scrutiny from US regulators. I bet they wish there were still in the IPO Wild West during the era when they made tons of money floating IPOs of companies that essentially crashed and burned. I mean it was Goldman that was the lead underwriter for the IPO of Webvan back in 1999. I'm not saying Facebook is a Webvan in the making but I still don't understand how it is worth $50 billion.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Insane Arizona Assassin a Gamer? It was Earth Empires and not Call of Duty If You Are Wondering

Well I guess the media can point to another scapegoat as to why this Loughner scumbag killed those people and wounded Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona.

Gaming appears to have been an important part of Mr. Loughner's life. In the 7th grade, he and a friend, Alex Montanaro, began playing the multiplayer online games Starcraft and Diablo, which featured complex virtual worlds where players assume roles and play against other people around the globe, Mr. Montanaro said in emails over the weekend and Monday.
Around the 9th grade, recalls Mr. Montanaro, Mr. Loughner abandoned the old games and started playing Earth: 2025, now called Earth Empires, a text-based game in which players assume the form of a country and develop its economy. Players form clans and battle other clans.

The game includes social networks built around the clan alliances—private online forums in which players conversed. In those forums at that time, Mr. Loughner often spouted conspiracy theories and got into heated debates with others, according to a forum participant who has been reading Mr. Loughner's posts for years. Mr. Loughner originally played under the pseudonyms Cries and Cry. At various times he also used the aliases Heroin, XTC and Erad, according to two people familiar with the matter, and played for various clans.

Yup, there is nothing like an online text game about forming countries and developing its economy to make someone go on a shooting rampage. I would be willing to bet that some media person is going to talk about Call of Duty and how it is so violent and it might have got the guy to kill and other nonsense. Just like how Doom somehow got the Columbine shooters to do what they did.

For the record he played Earth Empires and that game did not get him to kill anyone. He killed those people because he was insane and after a jury trial he will be given a lethal injection and then buried in an unmarked grave on the grounds of the prison. Too bad no one in the crowd had a concealed carry permit and gunned this freak down so that they could have saved the state millions to house and feed this animal before he gets to be "dead man walking."

And before the liberals rush out to ban guns. This crazy could have very well just rammed a truck into that crowd as he did shoot at them. The focus should be on mental health and getting these guys locked up and treated before they commit an atrocity like this. I think there are just too many crazy people out there and the government should set aside some funds to help them.

However, I did find that this part of his online posting links him to that other scumbag Cho who shot up Virginia Tech:

On May 5, he started a thread titled "Talk, Talk, Talking about Rejection." He solicited stories of rejection by the opposite sex. The next day he wrote, "Its funny...when..they say lets go on a date about 3 times..and they dont....go..." Three days later, he wrote, "Its funny when your 60 wondering......what happen at 21."

Yup, rejection from girls seems to set these crazies off. In my opinion if Cho met a decent girl and was made to see a good psychiatrist that Virgina Tech rampage might not have happened. I think the same thing about this Loughner scumbag. If he met a decent girl as well as easier access to mental health facilities those 9 people might be alive today. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Is There a Facebook Bubble?

I was checking on some tech stocks recently and came across this article saying that Facebook is worth $50 billion in market cap. I just couldn't believe my eyes and started to think that this Facebook might just be a tech bubble slowly (or maybe quickly after Goldman is throwing money at them) inflating. I think I might be short Facebook and here are my reasons.

1. The "Facebook Movie" the Social Network seems to be everywhere. I didn't see it but I will probably check it out if it gets on Netflix. I really liked the main actor Jesse Eisenberg when he was in Zombieland so I figure his performance should be worth putting the movie in my queue. But the movie seems like it was everywhere even following me when I was watching the NFL Playoffs. Also it will probably win a raft of awards so it is probably just the beginning of its over-saturation. I always think the high water mark of a bubble is when they are making movies about the inflating bubble. Maybe a Facebook TV show (if there is such a thing) would be the actual "Shark Jump." I spoke to soon.  There seems to be something in the works at Comedy Central. Usually, when something jumps to "a different media" is when you know that there is a bubble starting.

2. Are people really on Facebook as much as the media will have you believe? I must be a neo-Luddite because I still don't understand how people can be on Facebook so damn much. I mean this article on "tech detox" mentions Facebook 3 times. It even tells you to use Facebook to let people know you are doing the "tech detox" in the first place. Are people really spending hours posting photos and playing Farmville? It says here that people are on Facebook 7 hours a month. I'm pretty sure I have never spent 7 hours all last year on Facebook. I guess I just haven't discovered the magic formula that compels you to be on it for that amount of time.

3. How can you monetize it for the long haul? I can see how Google makes money through advertising search hits. They get people pay to be first in line whenever someone does a search. With billions of searches a day it is worth it to be at the top of that search.  But I really don't know how Facebook makes money. I guess they do it through selling ad space. I just wonder how effective these ads are. Before I read this article I was not even aware that these ads existed. I guess someone is willing to shell out millions a year to reach the people that are supposed to be spending 7 hours a month on it. It  just seems that glorified banner ads accounts for nearly 3/4s of their revenue. I just immediately thought about the tech-bubble when someone is telling me that banner ad growth is actually worth $50 billion in market cap.

4. Does it seem like nothing more than a gaming platform to you? I'm sure there are people obsessively tagging photos of their friends or updating their status every few minutes somewhere out there but it seems that most of the meat of Facebook is just games like Farmville, Mafia Wars, and CityVille. I played some of these games to see what they were all about and I just couldn't get into them. It was fun to build a farm and harvest food or run a "SimCity For Dummies" city but I just grew tired of them pretty fast. I guess I am just too much of a hard-core gamer to really get into waiting a day to harvest some virtual Bell Peppers or for your city to accumulate enough coins to do anything. This idea of having to wait for days to get anything done just calls out for me to move onto something else.

Maybe that wait is the charm because it took you months to get where you are in the game so you a loathe to leave it behind. However, I know of several people that have spent the requisite weeks building huge farms and paid real money for virtual cash just abandon what they built because they moved on to other things. I wonder if the chores of a virtual farm got to be too much for a real life?

The problem I am seeing is that mobile gaming on IPhones and Android might do much of the same thing that Facebook is doing right now. I mean how hard would it be for people to play FarmVille on an IPhone? Does telling all of your friends that you have found a Lost Puppy on your farm really worth logging onto Facebook?

Also some of these games have privacy concerns as well. I'm pretty sure an IPhone game wouldn't transmit my name to advertisers or data firms that track my online activity. The idea of playing Angry Birds and having it send my name to some hacker or ad company that will sell it to spammers would be pretty damaging to Apple. Facebook seems to be surviving the bad press for the most part and I think it might have to do with it being a media darling.

5. These privacy concerns would seem pretty scary to a company that gets most of its revenue from people viewing ads and playing games on its site. There are lots of tips on "guarding your Facebook privacy" out there. Most of Facebook is now segregated into privacy fences so that they can keep the spammers and the hackers out. So if you search for your friend all you will see is their blank white page until you send them a friend request. The issue here is will a new user, who is not a gamer, stick around for very long if all they see are segregated white fences surrounding most of the so-called content?

The scenario I envision is a new user will search for their friends send out a few requests that won't be quickly answered and then give up on Facebook. They will not click through to the ads (or even see them for very long) and not play FarmVille because they only joined to see what everyone was talking about. This person isn't one of the 500 million users that Facebook says that they already have. These people are part of the next 500 million more users that will justify their continued revenue growth going forward. This idea of the white fences might be overblown but I still don't see what it is other than hype that will draw in new users several years from now.

In any case with Goldman inflating the bubble most of these points are moot. We will probably see a much-ballyhooed IPO and the stock will go through the roof. Then the real bean counters and short side analysts will get into the guts of their revenue model and hopefully find out what I am suspecting about Facebook. It seems to be nothing more than banner ads and a gaming platform that sells your vitals to spammers and not some long term sustainable model. Maybe I'm wrong but I just don't see $50 billion in value when it comes to Facebook.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Ark of the Future: It Looks Pretty Cool

Ever since I played Sim City years ago I remember there was this building that was called an Arcology. Here is an artist conception of one by a guy named Alexander Remizov.

I'm not quite sure what that tower is on top but I suspect it is some sort of power plant. The only problem with this arcology is it seems pretty small. In Sim City I remember the things being massive and were self-contained. That means the power supply, homes, and jobs were all in the one huge building. It was kind of a small town all housed in one building.

Although it would still be cool to live in this thing since it seems like it is quite green and inviting. I guess you would live in an apartment surrounded by food plants on your balcony. I wonder what the precautions would be against non-Fancy rats that would live amongst these plants? Also where do you park or does everyone walk or bike in the world of the future?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Congressional Constitution Reading Marred by Birther

What seemed like a pretty interesting exercise in civics was interrupted by some birther screaming about Obama.

House Republicans' reading of the Constitution was interrupted Thursday by a woman who shouted "except Obama, except Obama" to the venerable document's words on a U.S. citizen's eligibility to be president.

Just as Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., was reading "no person, except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States" is eligible for the presidency, a woman in the visitor's gallery yelled out that it did not apply to President Barack Obama.

In any case I think Congress should read the Constitution aloud at the start of every new Congress as a reaffirmation of the founding document. I mean if not for that scrap of paper those people could not even justify their own jobs. In fact you could say that if not for the Constitution we (and possibly many other nations) might not even have a democratic government at all.

Study Linking Childhood Vaccine was Faked: Wakefield the Next Science Fraudster

Well it seems that it isn't just Climate Scientists "hiding the decline."

A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to hospital records, that Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their study.

The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found that despite the claim in Wakefield's paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children's parents.

I wonder if this Wakefield paper also started with an assumption and then had to doctor the findings in order to prove that assumption correct? The idea that vaccines cause autism like Climate Science has become a near religion and has probably hurt the research into what is really causing the illness. Scientists are wasting their time proving a negative by saying that these vaccines are safe.

There is an actual cause to autism because it seems to be exploding in the West. The idea that 1 in 20 Military families have kids with autism is just too many for there not to be a deliberate cause. If that cause is prenatal drugs, or genetic changes, cell phone use, or being around certain radio frequencies these scientists should be focusing eliminating them one by one. Scientists should no have to go back to the well to disprove something that some scumbag scientist faked back in 1998.

Obama May have Found Religion when it Comes to Corporate Taxes

I think he might have picked up an actual economics book and not something written by some socialist "economic thinker." This idea makes so much sense I am surprised it came out of the White House Council.

Executives on Mr. Obama's Export Council last month said the U.S. corporate-tax code, with its top rate of 35%, puts U.S. companies at a disadvantage against rivals from countries where tax rates are lower. To be sure, many companies don't pay that top rate. The panel recommends a federal rate of 20%.

A blue-ribbon fiscal commission appointed by Mr. Obama also recommended sharply lower corporate tax rates, along with elimination of targeted business tax breaks. 

The idea that we should charge all corporations less taxes while at the same time eliminating stupid tax breaks makes a lot of sense. The only reason that most companies have those targeted tax breaks in the first place is because they have powerful lobbyists or come from a state with a powerful Senator. Most of them make no sense in the first place and are just an example of Congress picking winners in the economy. However, getting rid of some of them will be a monumental so hopefully the GOP are up to the task.

Pope Says God Behind Big Bang: It Makes Sense

I have always thought this was the case and Pope Benedict seems to agree.

"The universe is not the result of chance, as some would want to make us believe," Benedict said on the day Christians mark the Epiphany, the day the Bible says the three kings reached the site where Jesus was born by following a star.

"Contemplating it (the universe) we are invited to read something profound into it: the wisdom of the creator, the inexhaustible creativity of God," he said in a sermon to some 10,000 people in St Peter's Basilica on the feast day.

Scientists cannot say what happened before the Big Bang or what caused the event in the first place. However, the idea that first there was nothing at all that means no atoms, no quarks, no hydrogen, nothing at all except for one infinitely dense particle. Then by happenstance something shifts in the particle and suddenly the universe is created by mere chance is hard to stomach.

I figure that whatever caused the Big Bang is God since the universe was created due to its action. The idea that it was some infinitely powerful force or being can be given the same credence as some space time shift or whatever.

Next you go come to the question of what created the infinitely dense pre-Big Bang particle in the first place. Was it mere chance that the particle was created or was it a contraction of a previous universe or what? You can easily believe that God packed the particle like He was creating a firework and then set it off. It is a much more succinct idea then just by mere chance this particle was created and then mere chance set the thing off.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2011 Predictions: Entertainment and Sports


1. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie finally split after several acrimonious months. They reunite by the end of the year.

2. Reality TV starts to become less popular with record low ratings for American Idol and Survivor. TV is still dominated by action packed series like Hawaii 5-0 and NCIS: various. Law & Order finally vanishes from TV all together.

3. Facebook starts to see a backlash after it IPOs and it begins an inevitable decline. People start to use it less and less while it is hyped more and more. It is used more or less like a games server rather than a transformative service of the future that will revolutionize everything. Twitter also meets the same fate but much quicker as people stop updating their status and eventually forget their passwords. People look back on 2010 as the high-water mark of both services.

4. Apple still moves forward like a Juggernaut as the IPad 2.0 is scooped up in record numbers. A color Kindle is introduced but the device continues to suffer until it becomes less of an E-Reader and more of an IPad clone instead using Android. The gadget market is divided right down the middle between Apple and Google.


1. The following teams win:

College Football National Title: Oregon
College Basketball National Title: Syracuse
NFL: New England Patriots
NBA: San Antonio Spurs
MLB: Philadelphia Phillies
NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson
NHL: Detroit Red Wings
Premier League Title: Chelsea

2011 Predictions: Politics and the Economy


1. Gridlock will typify Washington for 2011. Hardly anything gets done with most GOP bills stalling in the Senate. Some compromise measures go through but they are few and far between. More partisan rancor occurs but little of anything is done to stem the tide.

2. There is a massive fight over raising the debt ceiling with the GOP attaching various amendments to the "must-have" legislation. Most of the amendments pass and this becomes one of the few "bipartisan" things that come out of Congress/

3. The Supreme Court rules that parts of ObamaCare are unconstitutional. However, the entire legislation is not scrapped with only parts of it becoming null and void. Health Insurance goes up 12 - 20 % in one year with little or nothing the Obama Administration can do about it. Health Insurance companies become as hated as banks were in 2008.

4. The following people become big names for the GOP nomination for 2012. Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Eric Cantor, David Patreaus and as a big surprise Paul Ryan. Sarah Palin becomes more powerful but does not plan to run in 2012 believing that she is the only one that Obama can beat.


1. It is a banner year for the economy as it slowly starts to recover. Retail Sales, Home buildings, Durable Goods Orders, and Industrial Activity will all be markedly higher as companies start to deploy the trillions they have in capital. They are finally free to make decisions without worrying about what will happen in Congress.

2. The stock market roars throughout the year making many consumers feel rich. This pushes up spending as more people save less and spend more on the luxuries of the past. Retail Sales recover from this switch from frugality to luxury.

3. Unemployment drops down to 8% as companies start to hire again. They see growth and new opportunities ahead without interference from Congress or the business-haters at the White House. The EPA and other White House agencies lash out at certain corporations but these actions do not wreck the recovery.

4. Europe continues to limp along with Germany in the lead and the ailing economies still ailing. There are no debt defaults and many European austerity plans start to stabilize things. There are more riots but things start to settle as Europeans start to settle for a bit less than before. European stocks lag their American competitors while the dollar is made artificially weak.

5. The rest of the world grows at very high levels and this includes the emerging markets that are not dependent on European consumption. The order of GDP Growth from highest to lowest is: Brazil, Emerging Markets, China, India, Russia, US, Japan, Germany, rest of the Eurozone.

6. These are the numbers for the various indices at the end of 2011:

Dow: 13,200
NASDAQ: 3500
S&P500: 1700
GDP Growth: 4.5%
Gold: $1150
Silver: $25.50
Oil: $98

Wow I'm Uncannily Good: Jaylor is No More

My Headline from the Future is Nostradamus accurate.

We hope you're sitting down for this one! Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor Swift have broken up.

Yes, sources confirm to us that Jaylor entered splitsville last month.

So what went wrong? And is there any bad blood?

While friends are mum on what officially ended the romance, insiders close to the former couple insist both parties are separately "very happy."

Monday, January 03, 2011

2010 Predicitons Revisted

Well, it is time to look back on the Predictions I made for 2010.

1. The Democrats will be ushered out of office in large numbers but it will not be as bad as the Contract With America Rout in 1994. Harry Reid will lose in Nevada but Dodds will still stay on in Connecticut. Although ill-health will have him retire in the next few years and a special election will be held. Blanche Lincoln will also lose her job as well. Democrats will also lose Obama and Biden's old seats.

I didn't do too badly on this one. I had the Dems out in large numbers and the 1994 included a switchover in the Senate so I was close. Reid won but Dodd left due to ill health. Lincoln lost and the Dems lost Obama's old seat but not Bidens. If the GOP ran a decent candidate who wasn't a former witch/nut job they would have won it easily.

2. Health Insurance Reform passes but is widely hated by many Americans. It will be an albatross around the Democratic neck for decades. The insurance mandate will be struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Insurance will become even more pricey then before.

This one was spot on. Americans hate Obamacare with special relish. The insurance mandate has been struck down by a lower court and it will move to the Supreme Court before too long. Plus insurance going up was a perfect pick.

3. Cap and Trade will be a spectacular failure with coal state Democrats coming out against it. Climate Change will start to recede from national consciousness and the Mexico climate conference will be a back page story that mostly mentions protester violence.

Cap and Trade was a terrible bomb and is so politically unpalatable it will probably fail in any form going forward. Climate Change is still lurking in the background but it is no longer a big deal to most Americans. Even the Germans and Brits are starting to cool toward it. The Mexico climate conference was a back page story but was luckily violence free.

4. Much of the bloom will be off of the Obama rose as he is considered even more Carter-like by the day. The press will talk openly about his "failed promise" and "rhetoric without substance." Obama will be angered by this and have an unscripted and public tantrum sometime during the year. His approval ratings remain dismal throughout 2010.

This was spot on for the most part except for the public tantrum. He has lost most of his promise and he could easily be considered Carter v2.0.

My foreign affairs predictions were more or less unfulfilled. I guess I had too much wishful thinking and not enough pragmatic analysis. Oh well on to my 2011 Predictions.