Dr. Doom speaks

The real Dr. Doom, not the Iranian wannabee:

swissinfo: How does the present crisis differ from previous ones?

M.F.: In the past few years everything went up – shares, commodities, consumer goods, real estate values, art and even bonds. Such a combination is extremely unusual. We saw the biggest investment bubble in the history of humanity. The current situation is possibly worse than the global economic crisis of 1929. And that is thanks to Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke [the former and current US Federal Reserve Board chairmen]. These two gentlemen must account for massive errors.
swissinfo: Governments are offering guarantees and are pumping thousands of billions into the markets. Is that a mistake?

M.F.: Yes. The losses are there and someone has to bear them. There are two possibilities. Banks go under and the stakeholders are left with nothing, as is the case with Lehman Brothers, or governments pump money into the financial system so that the incompetent financial clowns in Bahnhofstrasse [Zurich’s financial centre] and Wall Street can continue to eat in fancy restaurants.

I am clearly in favour of the first because the consequences of these state interventions are massive budget deficits. To finance these, governments have to acquire money. For that they have to borrow money, which makes state debt and interest payments soar. US economists have come to the conclusion from the trends that there will be a US state bankruptcy.

Don’t get too excited about the coming bear rally that should be kicking off soon. It doesn’t mean that anything is over, it’s just the usual down-up-down business.

Voxiversity II

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to start turning those pages. Today, Voxiversity II kicks off with our group study of America’s Great Depression by Murray Rothbard. You can download the entire book on PDF or bookmark the online text at the Mises Institute. However, Voxiversity I participants tended to find having the physical text on hand to be helpful, so you may wish to consider ordering the book from the Mises bookstore if you haven’t done so already.

Let me know if you’re planning to participate so I can keep a rough count of how many start and how many finish. Last time, we had about 100 start Thucydides and about a third that number completed it. I don’t actually care, I’m just curious about these things. The first reading assignment is the five Introductions to the five editions and the first quiz and subsequent discussion will be this Saturday.

CS emailed to ask: “I am interested in participating in Voxiversity II…. I know sweet f— all about economics (although I’m trying to learn) – am I too far behind in terms of background knowledge or is it worth it to give er’ a go??”

I would actually encourage those who don’t know anything about economics to participate, first because few of those who studied economics in college learned anything about Austrian theory anyhow, second because this will present an unusual opportunity to ask as many questions as you like of a fair number of people who have a decent grasp of the material. I would also encourage those who have such training to be patient and avoid the use of jargon when answering questions, i.e. don’t just say “marginal utility” or “IS/LM” and expect everyone to know what you mean.

In other, unrelated news, after consulting the OC, I have decided we will do the Summa Elvetica surge on Election Day so we can watch the Amazon numbers climb as the election returns come in. This will only be a 12-hour surge, so make sure to place your orders between 12 noon and 12 midnight EST on Tuesday, November 4th.

I blame the Ilk

Once you’ve paid off your debt, it’s time to go shopping:

Americans have cut back on buying cars, furniture and clothes in a tough economy, but there’s one consumer item that’s still enjoying healthy sales: guns. Purchases of firearms and ammunition have risen 8 to 10 percent this year, according to state and federal data.

My guess is that the regulars here account for at least 1.5 of that 10 percent. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about how y’all are doing your Keynesian damndest to keep the American economy from contracting.

Why they hate Palin

I’m just talking about the Republicans, mind you. The reason is that the neocons and other faux-conservatives doubt her malleability and they are frightened of her star power:

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain’s camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain’s decline.

“She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the plane,” said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to “go rogue” in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

“I think she’d like to go more rogue,” he said.

Palin’s vice-presidential revolt is interesting. She did exactly as she was told once selected, which got her into a lot of trouble. She’s not unintelligent; her weird answers and stilted performance in the early interviews were signs of someone who has been completely overcoached and is trying not to make a mistake. It’s important to remember that this was her first appearance on the national stage and she held her own in the vice-presidential debate despite being unprepared for the Biden BS storm.

(Someone like Biden is very difficult to handle if you’re not prepared for shameless lies, but if you are, they’re the easy people in the world to publicly demolish. The challenge is to be able to correctly anticipate the direction of their BS and have the facts on hand to discredit them once they start making stuff up.)

Neocons like Frum and Kristol, and RINOs like David Brooks and Ben Stein dislike Palin because she’s insufficiently impressed with the East Coast imperative, and despite her Christian Zionism so typical of the average evangelical, she simply doesn’t share their Israel-uber-alles perspective. While many of her views run pretty much in parallel with theirs, she’s not wedded to them, which makes her untrustworthy in their eyes. For example, what real conservative populist is going to continue funding foreign aid or further American adventures in the Middle East after another year of economic carnage?

The economic situation means that whoever wins this year is likely to be a one-and-done president. Palin is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination in 2012, so unless the New York-Washington Republican axis can blame a McCain loss on her somehow – which is absurd in light of the stock markets’ meltdown, if Obama wasn’t such a ridiculous candidate McCain would be losing in a huge landslide – she will be the favorite to win the general election. So, expect a significant part of the “conservative” commentariat to devote itself to destroying Sarah Palin over the next few years while attempting to build up other, less conservative figures in the mode of Giuliani and Romney.

Jindal and Bloomberg are the two obvious possibilities at this point in time. Normally, I’d say Bloomberg would be a ludicrous stretch, but then, they tried it with the Lisper, so who knows where the line is. Of course, Palin should never have paid any attention to the handlers in the first place. That was her fundamental mistake.

UPDATE – Right Wing News just published a poll which tends to support my contention. The vast majority of Republican bloggers love Sarah Palin, so it’s pretty much only the supposedly conservative media commentators, whose allegiance to conservative principles is extremely dubious anyhow, who dislike her. And note my votes in bold below, I was one of only six who expressed a negative view of her.

2) Do you think Sarah Palin has been a plus or a minus to the ticket?

A) Minus: 9% (7)
B) Plus: 91% (68)

3) How do you feel about Sarah Palin as a candidate?

A) I really like her!: 80% (61)
B) She’s so-so.: 12% (9)
C) I’m not a big fan!: 8% (6)

Monday column

Today’s column concerns the economic situation, but it is, admittedly, a bit unusual. I don’t expect critical analysis or anything, but I shall be very disappointed in those who don’t recognize the source. And yes, I will be posting specific information about Voxiversity II later today.

VPFL Week 7

65 Alamo City Spartans (6-1-0)
42 Masonville Marauders (2-4-1)

76 Burns Redbeards (5-2-0)
59 Valders Valkyries (4-3-0)

49 Winston Reverends (2-5-0)
31 Mounds View Meerkats (4-3-0)

70 Judean Peoples Front (3-4-0)
65 Greenfield Grizzlies (2-4-1)

91 Silver Spooners (3-2-2)
34 Black Mouth Curs (2-5-0)

It looks very rough this week with half my team on a bye week and everyone else playing on the road. I’m just going to go ahead and write this one off ahead of time.

VP-AFL

117 Supernaut’s Jihad (4-3-0)
77 COS McRays (1-6-0)

108 Cranberry Bogs (4-3-0)
89 Bukkakelypse Boyz (3-4-0)

106 Masonville Marauders (6-1-0)
82 Alamo City Spartans (3-4-0)

101 Carpe Oro (2-5-0)
99 The Thunder (4-3-0)

80 Village Valkyries (2-4-1)
80 Az Hammeroids (5-1-1)

UPDATE – Mike Singletary may have lost, but he just gave the best post-game press conference rant since Denny Green’s famous “They were who we thought they were” speech.

“I’d rather play with 10!”

SNL smells victory

They’re finally able to find humor in the Democrats. Although not, of course, dear B. Hussein. But never mind, the Murtha character is hysterical.

More Obama weirdness

John Edwards may not have been the only Democratic candidate for president having an affair:

Who is Vera Baker?

Some people in Chicago claim she was Obama’s Finance Director for his 2004 Senate campaign. FEC Senate campaign records show she was paid a pretty penny as “Finance Director”. However, people familiar with Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign say Claire Serdiuk was Obama’s Finance Director. Looking through everything we can see online for that 2004 campaign, Claire Serdiuk is consistently listed as the Finance Director – because that’s what she was.

There’s no mention of Vera Baker…but Vera Baker was paid as the “Finance Director” too. And then, suddenly, Vera Baker was relocated to New York.

Right around the time Michelle Obama got incredibly angry about something. We know it was hard to tell, because Michelle’s angry about something on a good day…but this was EXTRA angry. And then, even more suddenly, Vera Baker was relocated to the island of Martinique, where she remains.

Better yet, she’s “working” there on the dime of “someone who is a big, shiny part of the dirty Chicago political machine”. And Obama is suddenly too busy to campaign because his grandmother is dying as a result of injuries she incurred when he threw her under the bus this summer. This could be just another Internet rumor, on the other hand, this actually looks more inherently suspicious than the Edwards rumors that turned out to be true. Maybe if we’re lucky, the mainstream media will stop investigating Joe the Plumber long enough to send someone to Martinique before Miss Baker accidentally overdoses on cocaine.

Blackfive has an interview with a Democrat who’s up on the expose and promises more on Monday. It will be interesting to see if this and the African Press International report about Michelle Obama checks out or not. However, his source believes the media will break the scandal AFTER the election in order to serve their own interests by dragging it out. If Obama loses, then the story ends. If he wins, however, it’s a story that lasts months. Anyhow, it’s just as likely that she’s making herself scarce because she was involved with illegal fundraising as with the candidate.

Either way, consider the thought of President Biden… now that would be a gift that would never stop giving!

UPDATE – I just received an email informing me that ABC News has been privy to this story for some time now, and that Vera Baker is not the only woman that may have been involved with Sen. Obama.

Anyone can run for president

Anyone in the world:

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Barack Obama’s qualifications to be president…. Surrick ruled that Berg lacked standing to bring the case, saying any harm from an allegedly ineligible candidate was “too vague and its effects too attenuated to confer standing on any and all voters.”

It is becoming ever more clear that what passes for “the law” in the USA as a complete charade. If an American citizen who is registered to vote doesn’t have standing to call a candidate’s eligibility into question, then who does?

So, perhaps we’ll get to see President Schwarzenegger one day after all!

Yes, they are propaganda houses

A career journalist admits the obvious:

[W]hat I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side – or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for Senators Obama and Biden. If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as President of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography. That isn’t Sen. Obama’s fault: his job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media’s fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Why, for example to quote McCain’s lawyer, haven’t we seen an interview with Sen. Obama’s grad school drug dealer – when we know all about Mrs. McCain’s addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Senator Biden’s endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber. Middle America, even when they didn’t agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a Presidential candidate. So much for the Standing Up for the Little Man, so much for Speaking Truth to Power, so much for Comforting the Afflicted and Afflicting the Comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by.

I learned a long time ago that when people or institutions begin to behave in a manner that seems to be entirely against their own interests, it’s because we don’t understand what their motives really are. It would seem that by so exposing their biases and betting everything on one candidate over another, the traditional media is trying to commit suicide – especially when, given our currently volatile world and economy, the chances of a successful Obama presidency, indeed any presidency, is probably less than 50:50.

I laughed when I read this, because it brought to mind an angry email I once received from a newspaper reporter who had, to be fair, written a perfectly reasonable article about my father. He objected to my blatant contempt for his profession, unfortunately, he cited academic credentials as a defense. Needless to say, that didn’t quite cut it in my book.

For the most part, journalists aren’t actually stupid, but they’re functionally stupid. Theirs is a necessarily superficial perspective – which is not their fault, it’s built into the job description – but also an arrogant, self-deceptive one. It’s the only group of people I’ve ever met who seriously appear to believe that an impressive Address Book is a substitute for actual knowledge and experience. This perspective is the analog predecessor to the modern Wikipedia myth, which is the idea that if you know where to find the information, it’s the same thing as actually possessing the pertinent knowledge.

For a blatant example of this blatant superficialism and bias in action, look no further than the NYT’s endorsement of Obama. In a cursory scan of it, I counted no less than 21 errors in it, and that’s not counting opinions that cannot be logically supported by the facts.

Few regulars here still do, but if you are one of the few who still subscribe to a daily newspaper, watch the evening news networks, or read mainstream magazines like Time and People, you should be ashamed of yourself. Because it’s people like you who give these outmoded organizations the power to influence the less intelligent and the maleducated.

This, of course, is why I have always made it very clear to all and sundry that despite my three national syndications, I am not and have never been a journalist.