The Weiner has landed

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) will resign from his seat in Congress, heeding calls from President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and dozens of other congressional Democrats, sources confirm to POLITICO.

Trade and the Libertarians

Ian Fletcher takes on the free trade Libertarians at WND:

I recently gave a podcast interview to Vox Day, a prominent Christian libertarian, explaining why free trade is bad for America. He followed it up with an article making many of the same points.

Finally, a libertarian gets it.

This did not go over well with some of his followers.

I’m not qualified to speak to the “Christian” aspects of free trade – whatever those are – beyond observing that globalism, of which free trade is a part, certainly looks like the Tower of Babel. But as one prominent libertarian has now seen through the free trade delusion that generally grips his fellow libertarians, this is probably a good time to explain what he got and they didn’t.

Followers? I have followers? And here I thought I merely had Ilk. Anyhow, Fletcher’s casual observation connecting Babel and globalism is one that should give any Christian, libertarian or not, food for thought.

What Fletcher is saying without specifically articulating it is a variant on a point I have previously made with regards to abortion and immigration. There is a difference between liberty of opportunity and liberty of result. But liberty, unlike equality, is a desired net outcome. It is not desirable that everyone be the same, whereas it is desirable that everyone have the maximal amount of personal freedom. This means that contrary to the way in which equality of opportunity is to be preferred to equality of result, liberty of result is to be preferred to liberty of opportunity.

Furthermore, it is no more intrinsically unjust that foreign corporations are forced to pay a tariff in order to sell their wares – or even not be permitted to sell them at all – than foreigners who are not resident in the USA are not permitted to vote for the U.S. president or collect AFDCTANF payments. The so-called moral argument for free trade to which many Libertarians appeal is not only unjust, overtly anti-American, and anti-Constitutional, it is an important tool in the service of one of the most fundamentally evil concepts in the history of humanity, a centralized international government with global authority.

Two collapses

Nouriel Roubini finally latches onto the fact of the collapsing European currency:

So given these three options are unlikely, there is really only one other way to restore competitiveness and growth on the periphery: leave the euro, go back to national currencies and achieve a massive nominal and real depreciation. After all, in all those emerging market financial crises that restored growth a move to flexible exchange rates was necessary and unavoidable on top of official liquidity, austerity and reform and, in some cases, debt restructuring and reduction.

Of course today the idea of leaving the euro is treated as inconceivable, even in Athens and Lisbon. Exit would impose big trade losses on the rest of the eurozone, via major real depreciation and capital losses on the creditor core, in much the same way as Argentina’s “pesification” of its dollar debt did during its last crisis.

Yet scenarios that are treated as inconceivable today may not be so far-fetched five years from now, especially if some of the periphery economies stagnate. The eurozone was glued together by the convergence of low real interest rates sustaining growth, the hope that reforms could maintain convergence; and the prospect of eventual fiscal and political union. But now convergence is gone, reform is stalled, while fiscal and political union is a distant dream.

Greece’s credit rating was recently reduced to CCC. Ireland and Portugal aren’t much better off. Spain is also in serious trouble. But just as Roubini has been late on the developing eurodisaster, he’s probably too generous in thinking that it’s going to take five years for nations to begin leaving the Euro.

Complicating matters is the fact that it looks like the U.S. mortgage scandal is on the verge of entering the next stage, which threatens both the banking industry and the housing market. As usual, Karl Denninger has the details at the Market Ticker:

The principal issue ripe for determination by this Court, and which was left unaddressed by the majority in Matter of MERSCORP (id.), is whether MERS, as nominee and mortgagee for purposes of recording, can assign the right to foreclose upon a mortgage to a plaintiff in a foreclosure action absent MERS’s right to, or possession of, the actual underlying promissory note. However, as “nominee,”MERS’s authority was limited to only those powers which were specifically conferred to it and authorized by the lender (see Black’s Law Dictionary 1076 [8th ed 2004] [defining a nominee as “(a) person designated to act in place of another, (usually) in a very limited way”]). Hence, although the consolidation agreement gave MERS the right to assign the mortgages themselves, it did not specifically give MERS the right to assign the underlying notes, and the assignment of the notes was thus beyond MERS’s authority as nominee or agent of the lender.

It’s only a small matter of something like 60% of all US mortgages. But the court has noted that it’s unlikely to be impressed by the “too big to fail” defense. “This Court is mindful of the impact that this decision may have on the mortgage industry in New York, and perhaps the nation. Nonetheless, the law must not yield to expediency and the convenience of lending institutions.” It’s about time. But the fact that the various crashes and cleanups are absolutely necessary doesn’t mean they are going to be a lot of fun for everyone.

To put in perspective the seriousness of the present situation, consider the current interest rates on various two-year government bonds, (the price of government borrowing), as of June 15, 2011. Higher interest rates indicate an anticipated increased degree of risk.

0.445 USA
0.767 USA 2010

25.628 Greece
8.637 Greece 2010

11.621 Portugal
3.090 Portugal 2010

3.402 Spain
2.946 Spain 2010

1.586 Germany
0.511 Germany 2010

Bet on the late bloomers

Over at Alpha Game, I consider the implications of a new study concerning the impact of starter sex on the statistical probability of divorce, while the resident omega explains the value of cold approaches even when they don’t appear to be getting him anywhere. And Susan Walsh explains why you don’t get two chances at an initial impression.

And we’re back to the Ice Age predictions

I hope you all enjoyed the brief, but glorious Anthropogenic Global Warming/Climate Change era, as it appears Science (ever to be praised, never to be doubted) has now changed her mind again and the Earth is going to be getting colder. But this time it’s not Man’s fault, but rather the Sun’s.

What may be the science story of the century is breaking this evening, as heavyweight US solar physicists announce that the Sun appears to be headed into a lengthy spell of low activity, which could mean that the Earth – far from facing a global warming problem – is actually headed into a mini Ice Age.

The announcement made on 14 June (18:00 UK time) comes from scientists at the US National Solar Observatory (NSO) and US Air Force Research Laboratory. Three different analyses of the Sun’s recent behaviour all indicate that a period of unusually low solar activity may be about to begin.

The Sun normally follows an 11-year cycle of activity. The current cycle, Cycle 24, is now supposed to be ramping up towards maximum strength. Increased numbers of sunspots and other indications ought to be happening: but in fact results so far are most disappointing. Scientists at the NSO now suspect, based on data showing decades-long trends leading to this point, that Cycle 25 may not happen at all.

The amusing thing isn’t so much the about-face, or even the way in which news sites that previously bought into the AGW/CC myth were quick to attempt to minimize the announcement. “However, the temperature change associated with any reduction in sunspot activity would likely be minimal and not enough to offset the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming, according to scientists.”

Of course. How could even a minimal cooling manage to offset something that isn’t even happening. But the statement is literally true since there is no impact of “greenhouse gases”, also known as “carbon dioxide”, on global warming and they were careful to utilize the word “likely” to cover their posteriors in case they happen to be wrong. Again.

But whether the Earth is headed for a mini Ice Age or a maxi Heat Age, we can be certain of one thing. The only possible solution recommended by Science will involve handing over more money and political power to whatever government authority pays the salaries of the scientists involved.

The carnage expands

As Wisconsin becomes the 49th state to permit citizens to defend themselves, we’re still waiting for the rampant bloodbaths on the streets that we were promised in 1993 (Texas) and 2003 (Minnesota):

The Wisconsin Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow concealed weapons in the state Capitol and other public places, but not in police stations, courthouse and other specifically exempted locations. The final vote was 25-8, with all 19 Republicans and six Democrats supporting it, and the other eight Democrats opposed. Wisconsin would become the 49th state to legalize carrying hidden guns.

It may amuse you to know that the first political op/ed that I ever wrote was published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, of all places, sometime in the early 1990s. It was in support of an early, unsuccessful attempt to pass a concealed carry law and noted how all the ominous “blood in the streets” warnings of the anti-gun crowd had been proven to be false in the dozens of states that permitted it.

92 percent Austrian

I only scored 92/100 on the Austrian quiz when answering with my own views rather than the official Austrian ones. Of course, I knew what the official Austrian answers were, I simply happen to disagree with the Mises Institute-declared Austrian positions on 1) free trade and globalization and 2) the stock market. In both cases I found that the “socialist” answer was closest to my perspective. I find it rather interesting that those two “incorrect” answers were two of the only three answers which did not come provided with a quote supporting the position from the canonical literature.

I know the issues on the free trade side and understand its logic, but I really fail to comprehend how Austrians can possibly support the idea of a government-regulated stock market in anything close to its current form. There is simply no free market to be found in the stock market; the rules and the technology are stacked in favor of insiders and merely being listed requires paying a vast quasi-tax to the government-favored investment banks.

They were right after all

The media is disappointed to discover Sarah Palin isn’t actually illiterate:

AOL Weird News brought samples to two writing analysts who independently evaluated 24,000 pages of the former governor’s emails. They came back in agreement that Palin composed her messages at an eighth-grade level, an excellent score for a chief executive, they said.

“I’m a centrist Democrat, and would have loved to support my hunch that Ms. Palin is illiterate,” said 2tor Chief Executive Officer John Katzman. “However, the emails say something else. Ms. Palin writes emails on her Blackberry at a grade level of 8.5.

“If she were a student and showing me her work, I’d say ‘It’s fine, clear writing,'” he said, admitting that emails he wrote scored lower than Palin’s on the widely used Flesch-Kincaid readability test…. [Editor’s Note: In the interest of fairness, the writer submitted his own work for scrutiny. His recent piece, on a New York man trying to row across the Atlantic Ocean is on the 8.8 grade level, Payack said.]

Out of curiosity, I popped my most recent column into the Readability Calculator: “Flesch Kincaid Grade level: 13.10”. And my recent email to KW came in at 14.74. How fortunate that so many more Americans are now attending college, otherwise I might fear for my mass appeal. Still, I am forced to conclude that the newspaper editors of America knew precisely what they were doing when they uniformly, (with the sole exception of the Dallas Morning News), turned down my column during my brief, but glorious career as the UPS-designated heir to WFB.

But there are less accessible writers out there. I was a little surprised that Joseph Schumpeter scored only 13.35, as I’d have assumed he was over 15 at a minimum.

The dark heart of Europe

Whether it is the European Commission, involuntary euthanasia, or murderous pedophiles, there always seems to be something deeply amiss about those bloody Belgian bastards:

The organs of people killed by euthanasia in Belgium are being harvested for transplant surgery, a report revealed yesterday. A quarter of all lung transplants in Belgium are from people killed by lethal injection….

‘Given that half of all euthanasia cases in Belgium are involuntary it must be only a matter of time before the organs are taken from patients who are euthanised without their consent. The matter of fact way the retrieval process is described in the paper is particularly chilling and shows the degree of collaboration that is necessary between the euthanasia team and the transplant surgeons – prep them for theatre next to the operating room, then kill them and wheel them in for organ retrieval. All in a day’s work in Brave New Belgium.’

He added: ‘Doctors there now do things that those in most doctors in other countries would find absolutely horrific.’

So much for the Hippocratic Oath. Once the medical community threw it out on behalf of evil women demanding abortions, it didn’t take very long for doctors to start killing adults. Remember that the next time someone asserts that there is no slippery slope in ethics.

The Fed is going to go bankrupt

It’s certainly a daring prediction from Jim Rogers. I very much like how he points out that the Federal Reserve is the THIRD central bank in the United States. Central banks are neither omnipotent nor eternal, they are merely financial parasites on the nation, and like any other parasite, they have a finite lifespan. One merely hopes that like the previous two, the current central bank will not outlive its host.

I particularly enjoyed this exchange:

“Bernanke seems to be out of ideas recently.”

“Mr. Bernanke’s been out of ideas since he went to Washington. What’s wrong with you? He’s just an Ivy League professor. Are you kidding? Why do people think he knows anything? For God’s sake, I went to an Ivy League school. They didn’t know anything.”

Unlike most Fed observers, I have actually read Mr. Bernanke’s Essays on the Great Depression. The primary thing I took away from it was that he places too much stock in government statistics and far too much faith in monetary policy. He’s less an economist than an econometricist.