Monday, April 29, 2013

Links on a Potential Collapse

This post at Capitol Hill Daily talking the "Inevitable Economic Default" led to this one at the Western Center for Journalism regarding the aftermath.

First, I think that Mr. Biancuzzo correctly identifies the problem as a Federal Reserve-induced bond-bubble:

By doing so, they essentially solved the problem with the same exact measures that created the problem in the first place.

They created another bubble.

Only this time, it’s within our Federal Reserve. And when it pops, like every bubble does, it will take us all down with it.

This is what Denninger refers to as Bondzilla, the monster that awaits just over the horizon.

It looks like Mr. Brown at CHD is going to make a series out of his thoughts on what will happen in the wake of a government default/collapse, so it might be interesting to follow.

I don't really think even a default will actually collapse the government.  A lot of bad things can happen in the wake of a major financial crisis, especially when there are literally millions depending on a government check to eat, pay the rent, electricity and cable.

I have referred to the Argentine model.  One big difference is that we here are the United States.  Many of the states are well-governed and well-funded.  Parts of even the worst states are strong and solid.  Illinois has two major problems -- Chicago and East St. Louis, but Springfield, in which I have spent much time for work, is a fairly stable little government town.  Most of Illinois is just good farmland.  Northern California and the Imperial Valley could take care of itself.  Los Angeles will probably burn, but I would not be surprised to see San Francisco make it through all right.

You could get someone like Obama or Clinton stepping up to try and play FDR or Lincoln, seeking despotic authority on the grounds of quelling chaos and unrest.  People might go for it.

As I may have mentioned, I attended a retirement seminar a couple of weeks ago.  One of the question was whether or not the Social Security system was sound.  The presenter, who is a very nice man, said that it was.  As long as those who are working are paying in, there is money to send out the checks.  But -- old people like me can sit and scream, "It's not an entitlement!  We paid in!"  all we want,  we are soon not going to have the votes or any other leverage to prevent the flow of funds from being cut off.  If I were going to predict one big impact of a default, that would be it:  an end to the Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid system. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Massachusetts Gun Control Success Story

Two sources among many. 

The USA Today report is fairly even-handed

The New York Magazine version is a little more cynical.

As Hartmann of NYM points out in her article, if there was only one gun belonging to the older brother, it makes more sense that the punks murdered Sean Collier for his weapon:

Authorities are issuing other corrections about the manhunt. Now they say they only recovered one gun, believed to be used by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, while initially it was reported that they found three.

Three and one are both odd numbers.  Anybody could count one gun three times.  It happens. 

Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of the "fog of war" excuse. This is not a war, at least not a war of citizens against police, though it is starting to look a little like the police are warring against the people.

No shots were fired at the homeowner who discovered the fugitive in his boat.  No shots were fired at the police who riddled the boat with bullets for no particular reason.  What?  Did they think he had a dog in the boat? 

Armed with cooking utensils, firecrackers, and a handgun, two amateurish Muslim terrorists disrupted one of the biggest sporting events in the country, murdered four people, maimed numerous others, and completely shut down one of our oldest and largest metropolitan areas at a cost of millions of dollars.  Despite the combined efforts and expertise of the Boston police, the Massachusetts state police, the National frederic-chopin Guard, the FBI, and the CIA, "authorities" cannot even get the most basic of facts correct in their press releases. 

You know who needs to give up their "assault weapons" and "high-capacity magazine clips"?  It ain't us. 

Mistakes Were Made

The LAPD coughs up $4.2 million in a settlement to the two women who were mistaken for Chris Dorner:

Police had been on the lookout for Dorner's gray Nissan Titan truck, and officials have said the officers opened fire after mistaking the blue Toyota Tacoma the women were driving for Dorner's truck.
Cut the cops who did this some slack.  They had probably just seen Cars 2 where Mater the tow-truck goes undercover disguised as a limo.  Mistaking a blue Tacoma for a gray Titan -- hey, they both begin with 'T' -- is one thing, but:

Emma Hernandez, 71, was shot twice in the back and her daughter, Margie Carranza, 47, suffered hand injuries from flying debris when two officers opened fire on them before dawn on February 7.
 Mrs Carranza was hit by debris, but SEVENTY-ONE YEAR-OLD Mrs. Hernandez was visible enough to the officers to take two shots in the back -- probably through the body of the truck, which may be why she is still alive.

Denninger and his commenters loose the dogs of mockery better than I can.

For the thugs running the police union and mau-mauing the city hall suits, the answer to this will be more "training".  Stupidity, arrogance, and a tyrannical disregard for the lives and property of honest citizens -- you know, the people you are supposed to "serve and protect" -- cannot be cured by watching "Adam-12" videos in the training room.  The answer that would do some good is jail time in the general population.  The shooters are incompetent, but they also know that the department, their buddies, and the union will act as a buffer against any actual punishment.  The worst that will happen is that they will be terminated with a reduced pension.  In fact, the worst has already happened to the LA tax-payers.

Dorner was a punk who murdered innocent people.  If he had confined his attacks to armed police officers, he might have had a shot at being viewed as some kind of twisted anti-authority quasi-folk-hero.  But Dorner, apparently not too unlike the officers he maligned and threatened, was a big, mouthy loser who was too dumb and lazy to manage to remain in the ranks of an organization renown for its dumbness and laziness, not to mention its corruption.

Here is government at its finest.  There are a lot of good, decent, intelligent police officers out there.  There are also some corrupt and stupid men and women who think a uniform, a badge and a gun or a government title or position of some sort makes them the masters of the hapless citizens who are unfortunate enough to get in their way. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lying to Congress

Did you know that Hillary Clinton was one of the Congressional staff attorneys working to expose Richard Nixon in the Watergate investigation?  Can you tell me how many people died as a result of the Watergate break-in?

Hillary Clinton lied to Congress.  She lied publicly in her testimony.  She lied under oath. 

House GOP faults Clinton.

Saying "GOP" makes it sound political.  This is the report of a Congressional committee.  Yes, I'm sure the Democrats on the committee disagreed with the conclusions, but the facts are not really in dispute.  From the CBS link -- chosen because it's not Fox:

... Clinton approved security reductions at the consulate, pointing to evidence such as an April 2012 State Department cable bearing her signature.
I'm pretty sure Clinton said this didn't happen, but there is her signature.  She lied.

... after a Sept. 15, 2012 meeting, administration officials removed references to the likely participation of Islamic extremists.

The report also contradicts administration claims that the talking points were changed to protect classified information. None of the email exchanges reviewed ever mentioned a concern about classified information, according to the report.

There is no question about this.  Emails were altered and both the altered emails and the originals were found in the archives.  The Obama administration tried to divert attention to the Youtube video so as not to lose the positive spin from the "Arab Spring" narrative and Obama continuing support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies in Libya. 

This was a coverup.  Islamic radicals, armed and funded by American dollars, attacked a U.S. consulate and murdered American citizens.  Obama refused to call it terrorism.  The media covered for him and Clinton, and we are stuck with this despicable weasel for four more years.  Not that Romney would have been much of an improvement, but at least the media would have attacked him. 

Knives Save Lives

From Blade magazine's "Blog of Steel":  Knives Save Lives, Period.

It's a nice write-up by EMT and former New Hampshire state representative, Jenn Coffey, regarding the usefulness of knives in emergency situations.  Coffey is also advocating for automobile dealerships to help their customers and themselves by including something like a CRKT Exitool with a dealer logo in the vehicles they sell.

I had never paid attention to the Exitool because I always have a blade or two on me, not mention a flashlight of some kind.  I can see, though, where it would be something I could attach to a seat belt strap for use by my wife, daughter or granddaughter in the cars they usually drive. 

I was driving home one night many years ago as it began to snow.  I was hurrying a little trying to beat the storm, which was supposed to include significant accumulation, but the temperature was starting to drop and ice was already forming on parts of the road surface.  I discovered that when the little 2WD Ford Ranger I was driving broke loose and went into a series of spins.  I went airborne over the edge of a fairly high embankment.  (I don't know why they say "airborne".  The air ain't bearin' nothin'; it's all gravity and forward momentum.)  Anyway, I crashed pretty impressively and rolled, coming to rest upside down, hanging from the harness.  The passenger side was mashed up, but my side was not too bad.  All I had to do was press the button on my seat belt, whereupon I dropped to the roof, opened the door and got out. 

Lessons from that?  I always assume that if it's anywhere near freezing, the road is slick.  I no longer buy rear-wheel-drive only pickups.  I always buckle my seat belt.  And I always try to have something at hand that would help me find and fight my way out of a vehicle if I should crash. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On Cop-Hating

As a result of what looked much like martial law imposed on Boston last week following a pitched gun battle between police and a couple of Muslim punks, a lot of people out here have been critical of the police.  To counter that, several bloggers and others have pointed to the actions of one police officer in particular who delivered milk to a family during the lockdown.  As one of the comment there at Lagniappe's Lair says, there was probably a lot of this going on.

This retired police officer gives a good defense of the actions taken from his perspective.  It's readable and makes good sense.  I agree that the police were in a bind and would be criticized either way -- certainly everybody would be on their case, calling them incompetent goons if the wounded Muslim punk had managed to hurt someone else.  No one could know that the fight had been taken out of him.  The police had to assume that it was not, that he still intended to actively continue on his chosen path of death and destruction.   

Despite my jab at police unions and my utter disdain for public sector unions in general, I am quite familiar on a personal level with the courage and dedication of individual police officers.  I have stood in a line with and fought alongside law enforcement officers.  For me it was a job, a paycheck for a brief period rather than a career choice.  Were a bunch of them losers?  Sure.  But when you needed back up, you didn't really care all that much which ones showed up, because they would all pitch in to bust heads or pull somebody off you just the same.  When it was all over, you might have to help them write their reports in those days when the only spell-checker was the guy sitting across from you, but we got the job done and nobody was too badly hurt or dead.   

So let's put aside for the moment, how we feel about Officer Friendly or Deputy Fife, and focus on the legality and more importantly the constitutionality of what was done in Boston.  It's perfectly legal for a state to call out the National Guard in the evident of an emergency.  Technically, this was an emergency.  Mad bombers were on the loose.  We'll give them that one. 

Were there legal and constitutional grounds for a lockdown?  No.  Did it make the job the police were doing easier to the extent that the citizens of Watertown complied with that request?  Yes.  Requesting people to stay off the streets and remain in their homes, if possible, was a reasonable if somewhat extreme measure.  But if the authorities demanded that they stay in -- and that seems to be what some are saying, it is pure police state action.  People who were advised of the risk and issues involved and were willing to be mistaken for a perpetrator, as the ladies delivering newspapers during the Dorner manhunt, should be allowed to go about their business.  I think the police and the state were wrong here.

Involuntary searches of residences appear to have been conducted by the police.  If people were forced out of their homes and forced to permit law enforcement officers to enter and search those homes -- if that took place, it cannot be justified constitutionally.  Seeing a fleeing perpetrator enter a residence and pursuing that individual is very different than saying a perpetrator might have been seen in the "neighborhood" and then forcibly trespassing.  Did the police do that in Watertown?  Were weapons confiscated?

I don't think it is cop-hating to be concerned about increasing militarization of local police forces.  I don't think it is cop-hating to question whether actions are constitutional.  I don't even think it is cop-hating to suggest that a lot of those guys were out there and happy to be getting the overtime -- although I will admit that given the fact one officer was killed and another nearly so, that is a rather insensitive and cruel joke.

I do not need the police to take care of me, look out for me, or protect me.  I can do that myself.  They do a lot of thankless, routine work under difficult conditions.  They take a lot of harassment from the people they are paid to help.  They make mistakes.  Some have exemplary character and are worthy of our respect.  Some are thugs.  So long as the police remember they are working for the taxpayers and not the tax-collectors, we should all be able to get along fine. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

We're Already Dead!

"In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half." — Life magazine

Tanning beds are our only hope.

"At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it's only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable." — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
At least nitrogen composes 78.08% of Earth's atmosphere, as opposed to the less than 0.97% that includes carbon dioxide.  

"By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate… that there won't be any more crude oil. You'll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill 'er up, buddy,' and he'll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn't any.'" — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
Gas stations attendants have been wiped out. 

"[One] theory assumes that the earth's cloud cover will continue to thicken as more dust, fumes, and water vapor are belched into the atmosphere by industrial smokestacks and jet planes. Screened from the sun's heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born." — Newsweek magazine

 Water vapor is falling from the sky!  Run for your lives!

Forgot to add, for our environmental Cassandras, the Firefly quote, from "Out of Gas".

River Tam speaking to Shepherd Book:  You're afraid we're going to run out of air.  That we'll die gasping.  But we won't.  That's not going to happen.  [Book looks up with a glimmer of hope.]  We'll freeze to death first.

Caterpillar and the Global Economy

Caterpillar came up short by quite a bit in the first quarter.  This is part of the reason stocks are off so far today.  From the link, projections for the rest of the year:

  • Global GDP will grow 2.5% this year.
  • Central banks will lower interest rates further.
  • Copper prices will average $3.25 per pound.
  • The Federal Reserve will expand its balance sheet by at least 30 percent.
  • The Eurozone will contract by 0.5% this year.
  • Japan will grow by 1% thanks to the Bank of Japan's aggressive monetary policy.
  • China will grow by over 8%.
"Average" on copper is an interesting statistic.  Copper was pretty high earlier this year.  Right now it is slipping yet again today and is currently at $3.12.  Updated to add, I was just looking at a copper chart.  It was above 3.60 for January and February, as high as 3.72 or so, then most of March above 3.40 -- how low would it need to go to "average" 3.25, or how low could it go to still hit that?

Japan is dead in the water, but the dollar is knocking on 100 yen and hit 99.90 earlier today.  I wonder if I'll be able to get a new Ninja 300 with ABS for under $4000.  Those kinds of deals on bikes, electronics, and Toyotas might bump Japan up 1%.  The problem is the price they are paying internally for that.  I predict a big boom, like the top going off Mount Fuji.

OK, we all agreed the EZ is in trouble.  Half a percent contraction looks like irrational exuberance to me, but what do I know.

Central banks will lower interest rates below zero.  They will pay you to borrow money.

The Federal Reserve will expand its balance sheet to cover our trillion dollar deficit, and it will not do a bit of good.  The year will end with an official unemployment number above 9%.  I only say this because I'm always wrong, so it will really end below 7% with a labor force participation rate of 55%.  I have to hit it one way or the other, right?

China makes up their numbers anyway, so who cares.

Money is quietly moving from equities to treasuries -- rates on 10 and 30-year bonds are back down to what they were some months back.  Gold and silver are reviving even as the euro slides just a little.  Crude is fluctuating but seems to want to head lower.

All in all, this is a pretty modest positive spin.  As they say in Boston, be prepared to "shelter in place".   

Exchanging the Illusion of Security for Liberty

Start off with Denninger from Saturday.

Several things bother me about the Marathon bombing.  First, these were Muslims who had left a digital trail of association with radicals.  It's a free country with free association endorsed in the Constitution (of course, the right to keep and bear arms is also endorsed there), but, if we advocate violence, support and associate with people advocating violence -- especially the violent overthrow of the United States government, we should expect to be watched a little closer than Grandma who posts pictures of sleeping cats.

Second, I do not like the sealing off and shutting down of an entire urban area in the search for one person.  This is what our military does in Afghanistan and Iraq.  This is exactly the kind of action that caused problems in Boston and its environs 240 years ago.  And it was completely ineffective.  What would have been much more effective would have been to simply shift some uniformed patrols into the Watertown area, station some officers around strategic intersections, bridges and exit points, to have Officer Friendly out walking around and talking to the residents, reminding them to be on the alert because the perp was last seen in their area, probably wounded -- they had seen the blood trail, armed and dangerous.  How do I know that would have been more effective?  Because that is exactly how the perpetrator was located.  Some citizen noticed something amiss, checked it out, and called it in.  This happens all the time.

Terrorists are not superhuman any more than an ordinary criminal.  They are subhuman in their disregard for the pain, death and suffering they are willing to visit upon their fellow citizens.  They lack the basic moral restraints that govern most of us, but they have to breathe, move, eat, sleep, and eliminate just like the rest of us.  They are vulnerable to weapons -- no kryptonite or super-secret ninja plasma swords are needed.  A plain old .30 caliber 168-grain or 180-grain .40 caliber projectile or an ounce of buckshot will generally get the job done.  If someone like this were loose in our area, we would check our locks and keep our firearms and cellphones within easy reach. 

Criminals cleverly escape from prisons every so often.  They are sometimes murderers and other desperate and dangerous types.  They may well, like terrorists, look to go out in a blaze of glory -- "Top of the world, Ma" goes way back.  We don't call out the National Guard for a couple of prison escapees.  We let the citizens know what's going on, increase patrol activity, and station people at choke points.  It generally works.  If one shot-up kid caused this much havoc, what would these tricked-out Fifes do if they had to deal with Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger, or Charles Arthur Floyd?  What are they going to do as gangs and drug cartels increase their presence in American cities?  What are they doing now in the face of daily violence and death in urban centers?

It is risible that the Boston police were shocked to learn that the bombers did not have permits to carry their firearms.  What is the world coming to?  I mean, if you can't trust mad bombers to play by the rules, who can you trust?

I think, though, it all comes down to what Eratosthenes says ( as quoted in part last week in the sidelines at AD):  

So, tentative conclusion: We are experiencing a conflict of cultures: The ready versus the unready. One guy has a metal lunchbox with an industrial-grade construction workers’ thermos, just in case, in his huge truck that has four-wheel drive, just in case, with a pack of road flares and a winch and a set of jumper cables, just in case. And bottled water and energy bars and candles and dry matches AND a gun. The other guy is out walking, without packing anything at all, relying on his next kiosk-encounter for the next dose of hand-sanitizer, doggy poop bag, wet wipe, iPod recharge and energy drink.

So yes, it is more about control than about the guns. But a lot of the gun-control advocates will protest that they have no designs on controlling anyone, be they friends, foes or complete strangers. And they’ll be right about that. Their cause is one of: I am not ready, and I don’t want that other guy to be ready either.
In other words, the rest of the world does not like prudence, wisdom or foresight, strength or competence because it makes them feel foolish and inadequate.  This goes to my complaint about unions being mainly for people who don't like to work and probably aren't very good at their jobs.  If you are good at what you do, a union just gets in your way because whoever is paying you to do it can't bring you up without bringing along the rest of the barely-functional. 

And all those cops in Boston were getting time-and-a-half.  No wonder they couldn't find the bomber.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Survival Attitude

The bombing in Boston and the massive plant explosion down in the little Czech town of West, Texas remind us that we never really know what we are preparing for.  Preparing for disasters can give us resources which we can use or share as the situation requires, but often it’s not the material resources available that make a difference.  Rather we fall back on our skills, including communication and social skills, attitude, and strength -- physical, emotional, and mental.

The strength of a very old and close-knit community will help the people of West.  Bostonians were rallied at a hockey game, coming together to sing the national anthem -- and a bunch more videos of it here. Most of the time life – whether we are talking about natural disasters, industrial accidents, terrorist attacks or just getting the kids to school – is about making it until the end of the day, through a cold night, or one more mile.  That requires toughness and resilience more than Spam. 

What do you do if your house is leveled or your family member dies senselessly or your job disappears?  Having a well-stocked pantry and a gun safe full of weapons and ammunition will help us through hard economic times but only if we have the perseverance and endurance to keep going.  I am no prophet.  The only thing I know about the future is that tomorrow is usually a lot like today, except a little better or a little worse until it is not, and that sometime something will happen that I never expected.

There is no steeling ourselves against the unknown unknowns, against the unpredictable, against meteors striking out of a clear sky.  There is only looking around at what we have left, which maybe little or nothing, and deciding that we might as well see what is going to happen tomorrow.  I have a Bible or New Testament with me almost all the time.   I have audio versions of favorite books on my mp3-player.  Those are good, but what I rely on most is what I have in my head, what I have memorized, intentionally or incidentally.  And I don’t need anything to pray.    

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No More CCW Scanning

·        Via email -- 

         BREAKING: Gov. Nixon announces that the Department of Revenue will no longer scan or retain concealed carry weapon certificates.

“It has been determined that the scanning and retention of concealed carry certificates are not essential to the integrity of the license issuance process,” Gov. Nixon said in a statement. “We will continue to work with policymakers to ensure the security and privacy of our license issuance process.”

     No kidding?  How long and how many of you fascist bastards did it take to figure that out? 

And if that's the case, why did you start it in the first place?  Please feel free to explain exactly what you were thinking when you thought this would be a good idea.  We'd like to hear it in detail.  

And one more thing, Gooberner Nixon, would you be interested in revisiting you comments from last week about the "magic databases"?  Perhaps you could explain why it was you dismissed our concerns and called us, in effect, conspiracy nuts.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sorry I Mocked Goldman

Back in January, I posted a link to a Goldman-Sachs call for gold at $1200 by 2018

I made fun of it because they claimed to be basing their analysis on economic recovery in the next couple of years.  I honestly thought we had seen the last of gold below $1500, let alone at $1200.  It doesn't surprise me that the news out of China was what it was, and the effect on commodities is not all that surprising.  An awful lot of people were suddenly forced to sell off and turn up some cash.  In that regard, what happened today doesn't match up exactly with what G-S seemed to have in mind in terms of the dynamics or the time frame, and it's not down to $1200 yet -- though it could be tomorrow.

Is there manipulation of the markets by the heavy hitters?  Does the player with Boardwalk and Park Place, Pennsylvania, Pacific, North Carolina, and all the railroads have an advantage in Monopoly?  Or maybe a better comparison is Dungeons and Dragons.  I never played D&D, but I had some family members, especially a brother-in-law, who were players.  My brother-in-law was a college professor and a Dungeon Master.  "The Dungeon Master can get you," he said. "Sooner or later, if he wants to take you out, you will lose."

MO Department of Revenue Director Brian Long Resigns -- Update

No link yet.  I got the news via e-mail from a state worker.  I'm sure there's a press release involved but I have a meeting coming up and no time to check.

Nixon is trying to save his own butt by shoving Long's head into the stock for the unauthorized release of CCW license data to the federal government.  I'd like to see them all come down.

Here is the Missourinet link.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s office says director Brian Long has resigned and deputy director John Mollenkamp, who has been a key figure in the investigative hearings, is taking over as acting director. Nixon spokesman Scott Holste says Long was not asked to step down, but that his letter of resignation says the recent investigation has taken a tremendous toll on his family life.

The rather weird thing is that Mollenkamp has been deputy director of Revenue since sometime in 2011.  Long has been director a grand total of four months.  If I had to take odds on which one of those two authorized "the illegal scanning and keeping of personal identification information for those seeking driver licenses and conceal and carry weapons licenses", I would bet on Mollenkamp.

This is the stupidest cover-up ever.  

China and Commodities

Gold and silver are acting like commodities today.  It's kind of amazing to watch the collapse based on acknowledged weakness in the Chinese economy.  For all its efforts to create its own internal consumer economy, China remains a country with a very small upper class of Communist Party politicians and FOPs (Friend of Politicians), a small middle class of tech workers and engineers, and a huge class of poor workers who are exploited by the state-run mining and manufacturing sector. 

China is the extreme version of the collapsed pyramid model that we saw in Argentina, that is rapidly developing in the Eurozone, and that is headed for the U.S. if we don't change our ways.  Without a viable, functioning middle class and freedom of movement between classes, you cannot support a consumer economy.  If all the capital is being siphoned off for non-productive government workers, you eventually go off the cliff.  Because of globalization, the American middle class has funded parasites around the world for the last thirty years. 

What did people in Europe do with the money?  They used it to pension off over-paid, unnecessary government functionaries in Greece, Italy, Spain, etc.  The Chinese have used it to build up their military and related industries. 

Today's news is just one more brick in the wall, another indication that the big-rig we see fast approaching in the rear-view is not Santa Claus but reality.  The throttle appears to be stuck and the brakes are out. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Is Governor Jay Nixon Lying or Ignorant?

On Wednesday, Emily Wood, an afternoon anchor on Springfield KY3, asked Nixon directly about the transfer of CCW information to federal agencies.  Here's Nixon's rather dismissive response, in part:

“First of all, the Department of Revenue has been very clear,” Nixon said.  "There are no documents being sent to some federal government magic database somewhere to do something.”
 Then, of course, Revenue along with the Highway Patrol admitted that they did share information with the feds.  Major  (Oops) Colonel Replogle of the MSHP claims the information was sent without his knowledge or approval, and that he would not have approved of it had he known, acknowledging that the sharing the data was inappropriate.  (I would say, "illegal".)

I find it hard to believe that Replogle didn't know what was going on.  But the person who looks really stupid is Nixon.  Of course, he is going to claim that he repeated what he was told.  However, the video of his response leaves me feeling somewhat uneasy.  This is one of several times the question has come up, and Nixon's response has been the same.  If he actually didn't know, his first response should have been to admit that while saying that he would find out.  That's not what he says here.

“This is a distraction from the issues that we have in front of us, and while I am certainly cognizant of legislators’ and folks’ ability to ask questions, there is no secret database, there is no desire to keep information," Nixon continued on Wednesday. 
Shades of "What difference does it make?"  Nixon is channeling his buddy Hillary in that video with a blatant move to belittle and dismiss questioners while changing the subject.  In fact, it strikes me as being very much like a cover-up.  I'll give Colonel Replogle and Governor Nixon the benefit of the doubt in accepting that they did not give direct prior approval to the transfer.   It's just asking too much, however, to think they didn't approve of the concept.  I also think it's clear, especially in Nixon's case, based on the way he insists on answering the question, that they knew about and have known about the transfer of information for quite some time.  The problem lies in trying to obfuscate the truth for political reasons.

You'd think a guy named Nixon would know better than that.

Anyway, I doubt that the legislators will move to impeach the governor, and our turncoat Democrat AG Koster will not be charging anybody with any crimes.  The main thing to take away from this is that we cannot trust politicians or government agencies to be honest with us.   

When the Law Breaks the Law

It's bad enough that the MO Department of Revenue keeps track of this stuff to mark operator licenses.  You can sort of make a case for turning this information over to law enforcement -- such as the Highway Patrol.  However, it is hard to understand how it might be legal or even useful for the MSHP to give the lists to the federal government via the Social Security Administration

I'm really shocked to learn that you can't trust your government.  One of the reasons I carry knives and other means of self-defense is because I have been reluctant to have my name put on a list as a person licensed to carry a concealed weapon.  I have a hard time figuring out why concealed carry permits are needed, and when the issuance of such permit leads to information being provided to government entities without the knowledge or permission of the permit holder, it makes the permit system seem more like a tracking and control system.

You know that if you provide information such as your address and phone number to a private company you are able to opt out of any solicitations by that company or its subsidiaries and affiliates.  On my ancient SSN card it specifically says that the SSN is not to be used for identification purposes.  It should not be on your driver's license.  You should not have to provide it to anyone except your employer and the government for tracking of Social Security and income tax contributions.  That's what it was for.  Other agencies do not need it.  I had a six-digit student identification number when I was in college -- which I can still recite after forty years -- not my SSN.

I do not advocate violating the law, though there are many laws that run contrary to the Constitution these days.  I think concealed carry permits violate the Second Amendment, as do most firearms laws.  I think it is perfectly reasonable for a private business to tell me to leave if I am carrying a firearm openly or to say that it doesn't desire my patronage if I am carrying concealed.  I don't even mind the folks down at the county courthouse telling me I can't enter the courthouse armed.  But that's about it.  Other than that, it's nobody's business but my own.  I'm seriously thinking about joining the open-carry folks -- legal here without a permit, just because MSHP is run by a bunch of Gestapo-wannabes. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Wisdom of Laziness

Perhaps only at MU would somebody deliberately breed lazy rats.

If we think about it, in nature, pointless activity and exertion are generally not adaptive.  In the absence of an abundant, ever-present source of calories being "lazy" will keep a creature alive.

Not only is lunch not free, actions have cost.  Muscle, in particular, is expensive to feed and maintain.  Fat is fuel.  Muscle is the engine.  My V-twin bike gets a little over 42 mpg.  My V-8 truck usually averages a little over 16.

Strength is good.  I do bodyweight exercises and lift weights in addition to riding a bike and jumping rope.  In bad situations, we need explosive power that cannot be developed by running marathons.  But we pay the price in calories burned.

If we find ourselves in a subsistence situation, it is important to invest our efforts where they will produce the most calories for the calories burned.  When we have the luxury of cheap fuel and mechanical power, we can afford to be extravagant.  If it ever comes down to human and animal power, the equation shifts.  That's when we will recognize the value of permaculture, and when grains and beans and potatoes will take priority over lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.  I love tomatoes, but if space and resources are limited, growing some kidney, black, or pinto beans would make more sense. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

This Is Your Rifle

I did not watch "60 Minutes" last night, but I did see the promotion for the program's continued attack on gun ownership via Sandy Hook.  The left simply cannot believe that it is not going to get its way.

One of the current internet conventions in vogue is that guns are phallic substitutes.  This is based on Freudian thinking (also possibly popular culture depiction, e.g., Palahniuk), and Freud is hardly the pinnacle of modern psychological research.  Freud was a pioneer in psychology and psychiatry.  His sex-centered theories were a valuable starting point but are invalid, for the most part.  I'm not saying that sexually frustrated people don't act out using firearms.  Rapists act out their frustrations and twisted urges on a fairly regular basis.  No one, outside of a few feminists, is suggesting that all males be turned into eunuchs -- not yet anyway.  (If I were looking for something that was a phallic symbol, I think I would look at swords and spears.  Sword-and-sheath jokes go back, I'm sure, well before Aristophanes, and a bit of ceremonial spear-play is depicted in the opening scenes of Zulu, to the embarrassment of Witt's daughter.)  Most of us can tell the difference between a firearm and an appendage.  With regard to guns, these speculations are without a scientific basis of any sort but are presented in the typical everybody-intelligent-believes fashion that characterizes left-wing thinking.

Another argument relates to suicides.  Firearms are widely used in suicides, and I cannot disagree that they are a convenient and deadly means of ending one's own life.  The rationale goes that if people had less access to firearms, they would be less likely to commit suicide.  There may even be some validity to the point that if a person could not access a firearm, they would not kill themselves at all.

Here's the problem:  no one is proposing laws to eliminate all firearms.  The debate is about actions and configurations, magazine capacities, and background checks on individual sales.  People who commit suicide are almost invariably people who would pass a background check with flying colors.  The main part of the current gun-control push, to ban certain types of firearms and to limit magazine capacity is so totally unrelated to suicide as to be missed by those who present the case.  The style or type of firearm available would have no influence on suicide statistics.  Hunter Thompson, I believe, used a 1911 (invented more than 100 years ago -- hence the name) with a magazine that holds seven rounds.  He could have done just as well with a single-shot.  Hemingway blew the top of his head off with a double-barrel shotgun -- a firearm that can be acquired even in places as hoplophobic as England.  Old fashioned revolvers are as deadly and often much more so than modern semi-autos.  Robert E. Howard used a .380 auto which, with the anemic ammunition available in 1936, guaranteed an immediate end to consciousness but left his heart beating for eight hours.  

As I have said before, I grieve with the parents of the children murdered senselessly at Sandy Hook, with the loved ones of those who died in the movie theater in Aurora, of the those left behind by the Tucson shooting.  But if you want to stop this sort of thing, you might want to look at the causes rather than at the tools used.  That's what a firearm is -- a tool.  Not a phallic symbol.  Not a substitute for something else.  It is a tool that can be employed by a human will.  Whether an AK-47 or hatchet or a knife or a golf club is used for good or evil depends entirely on the person using it.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

As Montgomery Scott Might Say:

Captain, I don't know how much more emergency power we can take before we start to break up.

Japan thinks it needs to devalue the yen some more.  That'll fix 'er.

On the Market Ticker's thread about today's elevated UI claims numbers, there is the following comment: 

Since 2010, a pattern has materialized. By some amazing coincidence, the data starts to soften and the Euro boogeyman comes back EVERY time the Treasury market starts to show significant weakness.

Just look at the past few weeks. The 10 year was threatening to break key technical resistance above 2.15, only to be saved by Cyprus, ****ing Cyprus? Are you kidding me?

This thing is being manipulated/rigged beyond the willingness or ability of most observers to comprehend. The US is the ultimate too big to fail, and everyone's in on the game.

The overall downward trajectory on long term money costs has to be sustained to keep the economy above water, and despite popular belief, the Fed cannot do it on its own.

10 year low yield of 2.31 in 2010, 1.73 in 2011, 1.43 in 2012. See a pattern?

Coming soon: 1% 10 year money.

European and Japanese central bank maneuvers serve to shore up the Fed.  The Fed returns the favor by showcasing a crisis whenever the euro or the yen start weakening excessively.  I'm sure it's just coincidence and not intentional collusion on the part of the various banking godfathers.  And, one could argue -- if one were as stupid as Paul Krugman -- that if Japan or Europe were to crash egregiously, the United States would be pulled down and the same is true of the opposite case.  So even if there is some behind-the-scenes colluding going on, it's really in everybody's best interests.

I think it's reasonable and even charitable to assume that the planners and manipulators are trying to engineer a glide path for the ultimate, unavoidable crash that does not resemble that of a brick tossed off the edge of the Grand Canyon.  Perhaps they think that, at the very least, we won't pick up too much speed in the last 100 feet or so.  By trying to provide a cushion for their banker-buddies, they think it will save civilization from utter destruction. 

If you are wondering, the cushion is being made out of the working class.

Anyway, as long as the media misdirections can be timed correctly, the illusion of mere stagnation can be maintained.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Not Sure What This Means

The copper price chart for the last five days has a rather distinct profile

We have seen a lot of fluctuation in copper over the last several months.  About this time last year, I noted copper had fallen from 3.92 to 3.63.  Today, it ended at 3.32.  Most likely it will be up some tomorrow, but the overall trend appears to reflect decreasing demand in manufacturing and construction.   

A colder than normal Spring across much of the U.S. and in the UK could be depressing construction.  If Friday's unemployment numbers turn out to be less than encouraging, there will be lots of excuses, including Sequester! and the weather. 

I'm reminded of that disturbing scene in True Grit, especially graphic in the 2010 version, where Rooster rides Little Blackie to a tortured collapse.  At least he had a good excuse and was trying to do the right thing.    

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Freedom, or Nothing Left to Lose

Monty Pelerin points us to a map from the Mercatus Center which evaluates and ranks the states in three categories then assigns an overall ranking of the degree of freedom.

The top five states are North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Oklahoma.

My own state of Missouri ranks #7 overall, eighth in personal freedom and ninth in fiscal freedom but is pulled down by its middle-of-the-road regulatory freedom as twenty-sixth.  North and South Dakota derive their high overall rankings from regulatory freedom -- being #4 and #6 respectively.

If scripts are enabled in your browser, the map is interactive, and shows the breakdowns in the lower right as you move the cursor over a state.

I like personal freedom, but I have a hard time separating the idea of personal freedom from regulatory freedom.  South Dakota is #46 in personal freedom, but #1 in fiscal and, as noted, sixth in regulatory.

Here are the lists and links about what is considered for each category.  

Alaska is tops for personal freedom -- unsurprisingly -- followed by Nevada and Maine.

The red/blue correlation with the overall ranking is present but hardly perfect.  I believe four of the top five are reliable red states and New Hampshire used to be red.  The second tier are red except Virginia which has been polluted by federal government employees crossing the river and voting en bloc for big government and their paychecks. 

The bottom five states, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Jersey, California, and New York, are all dark blue. 

The ten states just off the bottom include the usual suspects of Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, Connecticut, and Vermont -- even Maine is not too surprising.  But we see the red state of Wyoming, along with Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia.  Wyoming suffers most in the fiscal sector which includes government employment, while West Virginia, Louisiana and Mississippi are regulatory nightmares -- #49, #46, and #45, respectively.  Also, Louisiana and Mississippi are shockingly low on personal freedom while Wyoming is only moderately better. 

The top ten of the lower half -- ranking from 26th to 35th overall -- include the blue states of Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.  Ohio, the once swing-state, now swung blue, is also below average in fiscal and personal freedom and moderate in regulatory freedom.  Red states in this group are Arkansas, Kansas and Kentucky.  Kansas suffers from too much fiscal restriction -- probably too many government employees.  Arkansas and Kentucky are lower tier when it comes to regulations and their top-twenty ranking of personal freedom is not sufficient to pull them up. 

At the bottom of the next tier, 25th overall, is the blue state of Iowa which benefits from being ranked #3 in regulatory freedom.  The new blue states of Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico are 19th, 20th, and 21st.  All three benefit from high personal freedom rankings -- this would include laws on drugs and prostitution.  Colorado will certainly fall lower with their new firearms regulations.  Too-often blue Florida is also in this group, ranked 23rd, primarily due to its fiscal freedom.

Indiana is 16th, being #1 in regulatory freedom and an admirable #7 in personal freedom.  My great-grandfather moved to Missouri from Indiana in the 1800s.  Good to see that all the Scots haven't left.  Alabama comes in at 18th overall, buoyed by a fiscal ranking of fifth.  Nebraska is #22 and North Carolina is 24th.  Nebraska's strength is regulatory freedom (#5) and North Carolina is #14 in both personal and regulatory.

The problem is that these are relative rankings.  Yes, Oklahoma is better than New York, but New York is really, really bad.  More than half the country is a virtual police state and even the best would likely be deemed tyrannies by our Founders.  Still, the states are where we have to start.  The federal government is simply too big and too distant with too much power for individuals to effect much change.  Fight for freedom in the states and urge your state to stand up to the federal government. 

Just because the southern states were wrong about slavery and were overrun by Yankee conscripts 150 years ago does not mean that the states are not sovereign.  Shoot, Europe fought two big hot wars and one long, cold one in one 75 year period last century.  There's no reason to quit because of what happened at Appomattox in 1865 or what happened in 2012. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

In a Time of Universal Deceit ...

... an April Fools' joke is a  revolutionary act.
So, the University of Missouri -- bastion of journalistic mediocrity -- has a student organ called The Maneater -- 'cause we're Tigers.  It was a pathetic excuse for a paper forty years ago; I am now certain it has not improved.  Every year, until 2013, the paper did an April Fools' edition.  Last year, they did a spoof called The Carpeteater.  I'm sure that was just hilarious. 

But, instead of being ashamed to ever show their faces in Harpo's or Flat Branch because they were unforgivably lame, the managing editor and editor-in-chief resigned because they should have known better than to try and make fun of a protected class. 

Too bad they didn't do a Christeater edition that mocked space gods and Catholic cannibalism.  That would have been perfectly acceptable. 

Editor-In-Chief Kelly Olejnik said it takes a lot of time and energy to create a spoof paper, and it shouldn't be done if it can't be done well.

In other remarks, an unnamed source added, "Also, thinking and stuff, that's like really hard, and we don't have anybody on the staff that does that well, either.  So we decided to just write whatever they tell us and limit our mods to ironic spell-checking and subversive punctuation."    

Better Than on the Economy

Obama shoots 2-for-22 (apparently the hits were not from the freethrow line).  Still, this is an improvement over his performance with regard to the American economy which remains at 0-for-50 and counting. 

He took several throws, which missed. 
Obama moved closer to the net and made a basket.
 Of course, White House freakshow Carney has an excuse:

.... Carney downplayed Obama's misses on the basketball court.
"The president doesn't get to practice probably as much he would like to," he said at the press briefing Monday afternoon, adding that "having done a few shots with him, he's pretty good."
Basketball is one of the president's favorite sports and he's coached his daughter's school teams.
When one reporter pointed out there was a court in Obama's backyard for the president to use, Carney replied: "These are busy times."

First, who says, "having done a few shots with him" when they are not talking about knocking back tequilas?  Probably more like jello shots for this bunch of wusses. 

Second, I can certainly understand that all the golf outings cut into NMP's time.  It certainly isn't a result of doing any actual work.  How did the poseur do on his NCAA brackets this year?  Maybe he confused them with the NAACP brackets.