Kagan not kosher

I’m not sure, but I think the rabbis just called her a pig:

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is “not kosher” — meaning she is not fit to serve on the court — according to more than 850 Orthodox members of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. That’s the term the rabbis used about Kagan in a press release issued Thursday, saying “Elena Kagan is not kosher. She is not fit to sit on this Court — or any court.”

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the alliance, told CNSNews.com on Thursday that “a great deal has been made about the fact that she would be the second Jewish woman on the court, and we want to signal to people across the country that we take no pride in this.”

I can’t muster much concern about Kagan one way or the other. I mean, the only surprise was that she wasn’t black. I was expecting Obama to appoint a black Marxist lesbian, so the fact that he went with a Jewish one instead doesn’t fill me with alarm. It’s not like the Supreme Court matters anymore, it’s about as relevant as the Imperial Roman Senate.

More extend and pretend

These so-called financial reforms will do absolutely nothing to bring the nation out of the financial crisis and economic contraction. It doesn’t address outstanding debt, it doesn’t address mark-to-fantasy, it doesn’t address bank insolvency, and it doesn’t even slow down the increasing amount of bank fraud. It’s merely yet another attempt to protect the banks while deceiving the public into thinking that the government reining them in:

President Barack Obama declared victory Friday after congressional negotiators reached a dawn agreement on a sweeping overhaul of rules overseeing Wall Street….

One financial analyst, Richard Bove of Rochdale Research, said he believed the measure would have little impact because banks would find ways to hit consumers with more fees. “The good things coming out of this bill is virtually zero,” he said. “Did it help the U.S. economy? Did it solve any problems? The answer is no and no.”

Financial stocks rose in early trading Friday, as traders were relieved that banks would be allowed to continue most kinds of transactions. JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 2 percent, while Citigroup Inc. climbed 2.1 percent.

Translation: the casino remains open.

Lessons from Greek history

This is neither the first nor fourth time that Greece has faced a serious default situation. But, as Michael Pettis of China Financial Markets explains, because so many different things have happened before, the question is less whether history will prove a guide to the future, but rather which historical example will prove to be the relevant one:

The economic recovery in the countries hit by crisis will not begin until they are recognized as insolvent and receive debt forgiveness from their creditors. Preceding every sovereign default is the fiction that the creditor country is simply facing a short-term financing problem, and that with a lot of discipline and a little bit of good will it will be able to work its way out of the crisis. During this period a number of restructuring “solutions” are proposed – all of which involve increasing debt, and often in the most financially destabilising way – which inevitably make the final resolution of the crisis much more difficult and which sharply raise financial distress costs. The most notorious recent example of these terrible “solutions” was Argentina’s disastrous debt swap in 2001, in which it dramatically increased the country’s total obligations while it desperately tried to maintain the fiction that it could somehow grow its way out of its impossible debt burden.

Greece, and probably two or three other countries, simply cannot repay their outstanding debt amounts. Ultimately they are going to default, and then in the restructuring process they will receive enough debt forgiveness that allows them to return to a sound footing and with a reasonable repayment prospect. But as long as they maintain the pretence that they can and will repay the full outstanding amount, and struggle with the burden, the resulting distortions in the economy will mean that businesses will disinvest and the country will not grow.

Historical precedence makes it clear that as long as the sovereign borrower is forced to struggle with an unrepayable debt burden, it will not grow. Eventually, as has happened in nearly every previous case, creditors and borrowers will acknowledge reality and will work out a debt forgiveness plan that will allow the economy to return to growth. Until then, expect weak growth, high unemployment, and constant battles over debt.

Although most US-based economists are convinced that the special status of the dollar somehow renders the USA impervious to economic laws, the danger of US debt default is nearly as great as it is in Europe. The fact that the defaults are likely to begin in the next two years with the state and local governments does not mean that they are going to end there. However, a partial default would be much more likely than a general one, with the USA defaulting on the third of its debt that is presently held by China coming as a prelude to war between the waning superpower and its self-appointed would-be successor.

Major economic and historical transition points are almost always accompanied by large-scale war. I see no reason to believe that this will not be the case again in this repetition of the cycle.

When the punchline writes itself

“Yawning is a sign of sexual attraction, scientists claim.”

Right, guys. And when a woman doesn’t laugh at a scientist’s bon mot, it’s a sign she thinks he’s really charming. Given that the average scientist couldn’t score at a convention of nymphomaniacs with daddy issues, I should think they would be among the least credible people on the subject.

Still the master

Ender has been playing a lot of Maddens and started thinking he was pretty good. And, to be fair, he is getting pretty good; at one point in the second quarter I was down by 10 and he had the ball on my four-yard line. But a very timely interception in the end zone followed by a quick 95-yard touchdown pass got me back in the game and I had a one point lead at halftime.

As in real football, the key to success in two-player Maddens is making adjustments. Ender had been chewing up my defense with deep passes to the right side of the field and my front four wasn’t getting any pressure on him, so I switched to a dime formation and began blitzing from the left. On offense, began calling more audibles to take advantage of his tendency to cheat the free safety. That rapidly changed the game, to such an extent that he began muttering about how I could possibly know when he was going to try to stop the run versus the pass.

The final score was 56-40. We both threw for over 400 yards; the difference was that I had another 200 on the ground. He put up a much better fight than the previous New School challengers I’ve beaten down over the years, but I don’t like my chances once he figures out how to better mix up his playcalling. As I explained to him afterwards, he already knows how to think about his actions, so now he has to take the next step and begin to anticipate his opponent’s actions.