Friday, November 30, 2007

Republicans less likely to be batshit crazy than Democrats 
This is news?

From Gallup:

Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to rate their mental health as excellent, according to data from the last four November Gallup Health and Healthcare polls. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans report having excellent mental health, compared to 43% of independents and 38% of Democrats. This relationship between party identification and reports of excellent mental health persists even within categories of income, age, gender, church attendance, and education.

Remember, a big portion of the people in the Democrat column are made up of perrenial complainers, professional purveyors of outrage, jobless activists, welfare recipients who vote their pocketbook, the permanently unemployable (due to attitude problems and personality disorders) and the pathetic losers who sought mental health services in Boca Raton after John Kerry lost the 2004 election.

Woman, behold your constituency.

Splash, out


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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kraut bankers are snooty? 
Say it ain't so!

The “snooty” attitude of bankers and financiers who thought they were cleverer than everyone else is largely to blame for the global credit squeeze “disaster”, Germany’s finance minister has said.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Peer Steinbrück played down the impact on Europe’s largest economy of the turmoil but said steps had to be taken to raise risk awareness.

German proposals before the squeeze for increasing transparency had been “mocked” and sometimes deliberately misunderstood as an attempt to impose regulation rather than voluntary codes, Mr Steinbrück said, but were now winning support.

In a swipe at finance industry leaders, he said the “quality of managers” had proved a weakness. “The snooty attitude that we have sometimes seen – under the motto of ‘we are cleverer than the others’ – ended in disaster,” he said.

The finance minister said the bankers were "unable to cope with the complexity of the products in which they were investing."

That's ridiculous. There's nothing "complex" about collateralized mortgage pools. Even if you've carved them up into a few tranches, strips, etc., these are very basic investments that any experienced banking professional ought to be expected to understand.

Regardless of how they're tranched off, either the borrowers repay their loans and they are correctly underwritten for risk or they are not.

In an environment where half of new loans originated were interest only loans in some markets, and in which the waiter at the local Longhorn was hawking mortgages when he brought you the side order of broccoli, and X percentage of these loans were "no docs," and/or adjustables sold to people with no assets in an environment where homes had already far outstripped their intrinsic worth based on rental values, these bankers were more than "snooty." You can be prudent and still be snooty. These bankers were negligent.

They applied not the slightest due diligence on behalf of their investors.

And their idiot boards of directors, eager to keep up with the next bunch of idiots on the block, prevented any prescient managers they had from rolling back their exposure to the riskiest loans (though once the money is lent, there is no eliminating that stupidity. It can only be transferred from one institution to another).

Here's a passage from a terrific book called The Warren Buffett Way, by Robert Hagstrom:

"The final justification for the institutional imperative is mindless imitation. If companies A, B, and C are behaving in a similar manner, then, reasons the CEO of company D, it must be all right for our company to behave the same way. It is not venality or stupidity, Buffett claims, that positions these companies to fail. Rather it is the institutional dynamics of the imperative that make it difficult to resist doomed behavior. Speaking before a group of Notre Dame students, Buffett displayed a list of thirty-seven failed investment banking firms. All of these firms, he explained, failed even though the volume of the New York Stock Exchange multiplied fifteenfold. These firms were headed by hard-working individuals with very high IQ's , all of whom had an intense desire to succeed. Buffett paused; his eyes scanned the room. " You think about that, " he said sternly. " How could they get a result like that? I'll tell you how, " he said, "mindless imitation of their peers."

Emphasis added for emphasis.

I might add that military officers, and those responsible for promoting them, should likewise take note.

We need a broad spectrum of military thought and leadership styles. We were not well served while kinetic thinkers ruled the officer corps while counterinsurgent theorists like Nagl and Petraeus were the exceptions and dissidents.

It's likely too easy to go overboard with Petraeusism, too. Petraeus seems like the right man in the right spot for this war.

But we have other wars to fight. And we need a diversity of opinion and approaches as well. Kineticism has not been discredited. We may well need to get uberkinetic on someone's ass very soon.

And what's beyond counterinsurgency? What's the post-Petraeus approach? Do we need to look at retirees from the Clinton era OOTW people? Is that the next phase in Iraq? Do we then gather our kinetics and our counter-I's? Do you pair kinetic commanders with counter-I deputy commanders? Can you synthesize them?

Splash, out


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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Imagine something that's f*cked up. 
No, I mean reaaally f*cked up.

Now imagine something more f*cked up than that.

If Satan exists, this is how he works.

Splash, out


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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Quote of the year 
"Any well-made uniform should maintain its stitch in virtually all combat situations except direct fire."

We have uniforms that maintain their stitch against indirect fire? Bring it on!

The Army is retrofitting 1 million uniforms to bolster pants that have been tearing during the rigors of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Soldiers in Iraq began reporting "crotch durability problems" with their combat uniforms in July 2005, according to the Army. Jumping into Humvees, hopping from helicopters and scrambling after insurgents have popped inseams on the baggy pants.

Rougher terrain in Afghanistan prompted complaints this past August from soldiers who said their uniforms gave out quickly.

"This is a result of soldiers working in steep and harsh terrain and literally sliding down steep hills and mountains," Army spokesman Sheldon Smith said in an e-mail.

Single-stitching has caused most of the blown-out inseams, said Erin Thomas, an Army spokeswoman. The new trousers are more durable, she said.

Now, how in the world did we manage to field a combat uniform that features single stitching in the inseam? That's just retarded. And having blown out the crotches on a couple nomex tank crewman's uniforms, I'm hear to tell you, it sucks!

What sucks even more is that in 2003 at least (God, my experience is getting old! I need another deployment before this blog gets totally stupid!), a soldier could blow out the crotch or backpiece of a set of DCU trousers and it took weeks to get a replacement.

Guard troops only got two sets of DCUs then, which was supposed to last us a year. Not very much for a combat infantry unit. We don't just wear them between the office and the chow hall and the laundry facility, and were doing laundry in a river or a bucket for months. But the ringknockers decided guard infantry only needed two pair for a year (active troops were issued four. This was part of the same decision making process that led the active army to conclude that National Guard infantry units fighting in Ramadi did not warrant the expense of being provided with modern body armor).

What's even more retarded is it took us until last year to decide to use flame- retardant uniforms! Burn treatment programs are long and expensive, guys. So are death benefits. But way to save money in the short run!

Splash, out


P.S., USA Today didn't call the vendor(s) for a comment?


Monday, November 26, 2007

With a straight face ... 
Former Clinton secretary of the Treasury and former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers argues that the cure for the damage that stupid lending has done to our economy is ...

... more stupid lending.

I shit thee not.

" The time for worrying about imprudent lending is past. The priority now has to be maintaining the flow of credit."

What a frigging retard.

In the same breath, within the same column, Summers further simultaneously argues that we must keep demand high. And of course the way to stimulate demand is to keep prices high.

Granted, that's true for fish. Nobody wants to buy fish from the discount shelf. So there are some arguments to be had that, way, waaaaay out on the margins, a high price creates its own demand.

That's a good way to reward the most irresponsible among us at the expense of hard working and prudent young families just starting out who have been squeezed out of the real estate market by rank speculators, corrupt mortgage brokers, and a bunch of colluding real estate brokers and appraisers who were all in on the con.

The entirety of Summers' thesis is bad. He's concentrating on price fixing, but doing nothing to address the underlying fundamental value of the asset class. In essence, he's arguing for a massive bailout of the wealthy on the backs of the renters, when it was the landowning class who were abusing the financial system in the first place, by leveraging their homes to the breaking point to finance their Lexus purchases, then foolishly leveraging them some more by misstating their income, failing to insure properly, and lying...or turning a blind eye while paying others to lie... about the market value of their homes.

The true value of real estate is that which provides a reasonable expected rate of return of capital to property owners and allows for positive cash flow on newly acquired properties at about a 75% debt to equity ratio.

Growth is gravy.

You can quibble about the percentage, and you can make adjustments to account for high-growth vs. low growth and quality of life issues. But any government action that tries to substitute some new and alien metric to try and distract us from the cold, hard analysis of cash flows is counterproductive. It's a shell game. And it will eventually discourage the development of new housing

Splash, out



Phony Soldiers are Committing Suicide at an Alarming Rate. 
Alternet has the "details."

Earlier this year, using the clout that only major broadcast networks seem capable of mustering, CBS News contacted the governments of all 50 states requesting their official records of death by suicide going back 12 years. They heard back from 45 of the 50. From the mountains of gathered information, they sifted out the suicides of those Americans who had served in the armed forces. What they discovered is that in 2005 alone -- and remember, this is just in 45 states -- there were at least 6,256 veteran suicides, 120 every week for a year and an average of 17 every day.

I'm getting all emo and shit. I think this is up there with Gloria Steinem's idiotic claim that 150,000 women were dying of anorexia every year.

JustOneMinute has perspective.

These people will do anything ... ANYTHING ... to infantilize veterans or turn them into victims.

Splash, out


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Hmmmm...I think I can see what the problem is. 
From the Wall Street Journal:

In Granada Hills, Calif., Natalie Brandon is fighting to keep the three-bedroom ranch house she bought in 1985 for $105,000. Mrs. Brandon, 51, does medical billing for doctors; her husband is a dispatcher for a local gas utility. Last year, she got a $625,500 mortgage from Argent, now owned by Citigroup. Her 7.99% interest rate isn't set to rise until next June, but she already is behind on payments.

Over the past five years, she has refinanced her home five times, each time taking out cash and paying prepayment penalties. Last year, all she had to do to refinance was state that she and her husband earned a combined $100,000. She says she used the proceeds to pay off $30,000 owed on her white Lexus.

This year, she says, their income fell after she suffered a short-term disability. Mrs. Brandon figures if she sold her home today, she wouldn't get more than $450,000 -- what a nearby home sold for in foreclosure.

These aren't people to be coddled.

Splash, out


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Monday, November 19, 2007

Wall Street to Pay out Record Bonuses This Year 
Ever wonder where your expense ratios and trading fees go? Wonder why you haven't been beating the market, after costs?

Well, because Wall Street is going to give a big, fat, huge, honking bonus to the moron analyst at Goldman Sachs who just rated Citigroup a "sell," AFTER it had already plunged by 40% this year.

Splash, out



Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Quant Approach to Gangsta Rap 

Hat tip: Lee Distad


Al Qaeda gets Clobbered in Tarmiyah 
The Long War Journal is reporting a significant engagement in Iraq:

The battle was initiated after soldiers spotted fighters and called in close air support to attack. The al Qaeda teams engaged the Coalition aircraft with anti-aircraft weapons before moving to a secondary fighting position and then other buildings. Also uncovered at one of the sites was “two substantially large weapons caches” which “included numerous anti-aircraft machine guns, surface-to-surface missiles, rifles, pistols, grenades, mortar rounds and artillery shells. Coalition forces also found a large quantity of ammunition and components used to manufacture improvised explosive devices.” No Coalition casualties were reported.

This is the real deal, folks. Run-of-the-mill loser insurgents don't normally have anti-aircraft weapons and surface-to-surface munitions to pop off.

The superb Bill Roggio tries to read the tea leaves:

During the hunt for Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the Task Force fought frequent, large-scale engagements in the Yusafiyah, Samarra, and Baqubah regions before Zarqawi was finally found in Baqubah and killed in an airstrike. One of the features of these engagements was encountering al Qaeda anti-aircraft teams, which were assigned to protect the senior leaders from Coalition air support. Another feature was the steady stream of al Qaeda leaders and operatives close to Zarqawi who were killed or captured during a short period of time.

Along with the killing of Tha’ir Malik, the Task Force captured Yasin Turki Mahmud Slaih and Marwan ‘Abdullah Ahmad ‘Abd, two members of al Masri’s personal security detachment. Both of al Masri’s bodyguards were captured near Tarmiyah. Forty-five senior al Qaeda in Iraq leaders were killed or captured in October alone.

Seems like someone staged a narrow escape.

Splash, out


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Monday, November 12, 2007

Compare and Contrast 
"The big difference between conservatives and liberals is that killing doesn't seem to bother the conservatives at all."

--Kurt Vonnegut

"F*ck them. I feel nothing."

--Markos Moulitsas, on the murder and mutilation of four American citizens in Fallujah.

Splash, out


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Sunday, November 11, 2007


He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim, -
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls' waists are, or how warm their subtle hands;
All of them touch him like some queer disease.

There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now, he is old; his back will never brace;
He's lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.

One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,
After the matches, carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,
He thought he'd better join. - He wonders why.
Someone had said he'd look a god in kilts,
That's why; and may be, too, to please his Meg;
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts
He asked to join. He didn't have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie; aged nineteen years.
Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt,
And Austria's, did not move him. And no fears
Of Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.

Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
To-night he noticed how the women's eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don't they come
And put him into bed? Why don't they come?

--Wilfred Owen

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The problem with school shootings 
is that they never seem to kill enough administrators.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Impending Victory literally causes "panic" among the anti-Bush crowd 
But don't take my word for it. Take it from Brandon Friedman, a Kos poster!

As U.S. casualties have continued to drop, many people on the anti-Bush side of the aisle have begun to quietly panic in recent days over this question: "Could George W. Bush and Frederick Kagan have possibly been right about the surge?"

Simply put, the answer is no.

These vile creatures would rather see Bush fail than see Iraq and freedom succeed. They cannot think past the 2008 elections.

They're pond scum.

Even in the comments, while some object to the wording, mostly they do it because it gives wingnuts ammunition with which to attack their patriotism.

You're G-d damned right it does.

Splash, out


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To anyone who ever accused me of setting up a straw man 
I give you this, from what I understand to be a North Carolina resident.

Small note to all US Citizens: Please don’t act as if the soldiers were oppressed in this picture. No, they came into Baghdad as oppressors - raping women and little girls, beating up boys, killing women and children, torturing innocent Iraqi citizens (i.e., Abu Ghraib etc.), insulting Iraqi citizens (even children), supporting the oppressive Shi’a Government, and so on. You’ll never find that the Mujaahideen do such evil acts because unlike your religion, we actually believe in ours.

But don't you dare question his patriotism!

(Warning: Graphic photos. Not kid-safe.

No. Really. I mean it.)

Dr. Shackleford has more, though I think the commenters should at-ease with the death threats. Not that I'd have the slightest hesitation of offing this little two-bit moojie propaganda warrior myself, you understand. I just think that slaughtering him like the swine he is would be, in the broader sense, counterproductive.

Then there's the whole first amendment thing, which I think applies here (but does not apply in Phelps' case.)

Splash, out


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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Just how dumb are liberals? 
How is it that holding Fred Phelps liable for damages caused due to severe emotional distress, deliberately inflicted, cause for grave concern over our eroding first amendment freedoms among liberals. But yet none of those goons batted an eye when we decided to prosecute pro-life demonstrators under the RICO Act?

Splash, out


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The Obama Tape 
An analysis from a very sharp longtime correspondent of mine, a LTC now serving in Iraq:

I don't know how this is being breathlessly covered by our MSM, but what
they ought to be saying is that this is an indicator that AQ leadership
is shattered. This is UBL trying to salvage what amounts to a failed
strategy by going 'over the heads' of the AQ in Iraq leadership to
appeal directly to the troops, telling them their leaders have failed.
He's even appealing to the 'extremists on the other side of the aisle' -
the Shia thugs of JAM & BADR to stop the in-fighting to unite against
us. He's asking a very family/tribal oriented people to reject family,
tribe, and country to unite with him instead: the AQ leader appealed to
his followers to be loyal to the "Islamic nation," not to individual
leaders, groups, tribes, or countries. It's an uphill battle on a slope
where he's got downhill momentum.

Here's a passage from an analysis of the tape: Many articles on Monday
noted bin Laden's frequent use of the word "mistake," when he said,
"Everybody can make a mistake, but the best of them are those who admit
their mistakes. Mistakes have been made during holy wars but mujahedeen
have to correct their mistakes." For crying out loud, if Donald
Rumsfeld had said something like this our press and congress would have
lept on the opportunity to cry for his head because he'd have been
admitting failure. The difference is that in this case Bin Laden really
is (Rummy would never admit to failure and it's a good thing because we
haven't failed and are moving toward success every day). Are our media
treating this tape like they would Rummy or are they treating this like
some grand expression of UBL's leadership?

Nobody in the MSM wants to believe us when we say it, but now we've even
got UBL tacitly admitting that the AQI strategy of blowing up
infrastructure and killing women and children was a disaster. We would
never have achieved the successes with reconciliation that we have with
the Sunni (and now some Shia) had it not been for AQI committing
atrocities that are deemed pathological even in this part of the world
where individual human life & freedoms have lower priority than in our

In the tape UBL is calling for unity between Sunni & Shia to attack us.
He's calling for the Arabic Muslims of Iraq to come together to bring
even more war to this country that is finally seeing a modicum of peace
after nearly 5 years of war. WE are calling on ALL Iraqis to come
together to build the peace and prosperity that has begun to emerge.
Which message do you think the Iraqis will heed as they grow weary of
extremists destroying their communities and murdering their families?
I'm pretty sure our message is beginning to resonate much more than

Splash, out


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