Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Archive for November 2010

links for 2010-11-30

  • Yet ANOTHER Zerohedge classic showing up on Balloon Juice! You guys are going to rue the day you told me to read your liberal blog. Another day, another libertarian conspiracy theory adopted by the other side. What's next, a Mises link?
  • QUOTE OF THE YEAR: "Then, with some exceptions, we have the group which — so very revealingly — is the angriest and most offended about the WikiLeaks disclosures: the American media, Our Watchdogs over the Powerful and Crusaders for Transparency. On CNN last night, Wolf Blitzer was beside himself with rage over the fact that the U.S. Government had failed to keep all these things secret from him…"
  • I finally found it! The most insightful article I've read in 10 years, originally posted in 2001. I think this article explains, better than anything where our culture is headed as these kids come of age. "They are disconcertingly comfortable with authority. That's the most common complaint the faculty has of Princeton students. They're eager to please, eager to jump through whatever hoops the faculty puts in front of them, eager to conform."
  • For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron emails. Why were these so valuable? When Enron collapsed, through court processes, thousands and thousands of emails came out that were internal, and it provided a window into how the whole company was managed. It was all the little decisions that supported the flagrant violations.
  • "These messages criticizing other world leaders and revealing how diplomats use, you know, diplomacy to get shit they want is stuff we really don't need to know."
    (tags: wikileaks)
  • According to a Google News search by New York Times blogger Nate Silver, Palin's name has been mentioned in about 20,300 articles this year, compared with 3,640 for Romney, 3,280 for Newt Gingrich, 2,980 for Pawlenty and 1,870 for Mike Huckabee. She has been Googled six times as often as these four gentlemen combined.
  • This morning Europeans once again are reminded that the best performing asset in 2010, on an absolute and relative basis, continues to be gold, as EUR-denominated gold passes its all time high yet again.
  • "In order for there to be a market, there has to be information. A perfect market requires perfect information." — Julian Assange Bonus quote: "So as far as markets are concerned I'm a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free."
  • Big confirmation on the US Dollar today. DXY0 is now poised to rocket much higher, even if it takes a correction near-term. Euro is inverse the dollar, so a plunge is imminent. If DXY0 breaks 83.6 to the upside and/or EURUSD breaks 1.258 to the downside, then it's off to the races: USD will make new highs and EUR will make new lows in short order after that. However, I think the race has already started and USD has already taken a clear lead. The USD carry trade is in grave danger of coming completely unwound in short order. Trillions of dollars worth of short positions are bleeding traders white right now, and that's only going to get worse. The potential is there for the mother of all short squeezes in USD.
  • Trying to buy the 364 items repeated in all the song's verses — from 12 drummers drumming to a partridge in a pear tree — would cost $96,824, an increase of 10.8 percent over last year, according to the annual Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management.
  • The best protection? With a dash of irony Icelandic Wiki­Leaks staffer Kristinn Hrafnsson suggests that companies change their ways to avoid targeting. “They should resist the temptation to enter into corruption,” he says. Don Tapscott, coauthor of The Naked Corporation (Free Press, 2003), agrees. His simplistic conclusion: “Open your own kimono. You’re going to be naked. So you have to dig deep, look at your whole operation, make sure that integrity is part of your bones.”

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 30, 2010 at 23:01

Posted in Uncategorized

links for 2010-11-29

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 29, 2010 at 23:02

Posted in Uncategorized

links for 2010-11-28

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 28, 2010 at 23:01

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links for 2010-11-27

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 27, 2010 at 23:11

Posted in Uncategorized

Tiger Reduction Program expected to slash tiger threat

NOT a pumaI am pleased to report after a year of following my Tiger Reduction Program, I have repelled or destroyed 1,200 tigers in the Lubbock area alone.

I realize some of you may be skeptical of this claim, having witnessed no appreciable tiger activity in your area. But that very absence of tigers is proof that my plan is working. Imagine how bad our tiger situation would be if we had just sat back and done nothing, as many pro-tiger elements in our legislature have suggested.

Building on the success of our intial Tiger Reduction Program, I would like to propose another round of Tiger Reduction, known henceforth as TR2.

While there can be no permanent solution to the problem of tiger attack, I am confident that the deployment of TR2 will reduce the risk of tiger attack by 30-60% in the 1st quarter of 2011,

In the past year, we have heard many objections to TR2. Some critics believe the theat of tiger attack is overblown. Some believe the $250,000 price tag is too high. Some have expressed concerns about the bonds being routed through my former employer, Duff Savings and Loan.

I would like to assure you that I have no formal connection to any of the board members at Duff Savings and Loan and that the subject of tiger bonds was not discussed at Thanksgiving.

So please, don’t consider the cost of this action against tigers. Consider the cost of inaction on your family, and the benefits of the tiger-free community that we continue to enjoy.

P.S. I would like to remind everyone that the animal attack observed last spring was perpetrated by a puma and that puma attack prevention is beyond the scope of this program.

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 27, 2010 at 17:48

Posted in Humor, Politics

When the reckoning comes, it won’t matter who the President is

Consider this Part 2 of the screed that began with Republicans are sabotaging the economy!

Clearly, our two national parties have irreconcilable differences. I am so tired of this oscillating Nanny State/Daddy State bullshit, I’m tempted to see a judge and have myself declared an Emancipated Voter, just so I can get out of the house.

The parties are so devoted to their bunker mentality, they honesty can’t imagine the existence of a larger world. And they certainly aren’t smart enough to learn from Europe.

No one can see further than the next election. That’s why my mantra for the next decade is, “When it finally comes time to cut spending, it won’t matter who the President is.”

You think Ireland wanted to cut spending? You think Greece wanted to implement austerity?

Now that I’ve seen the exceptions, I’m ready to declare a rule: No democratic government can voluntarily cut spending. With the corollary, No democratic government can voluntarily raise taxes.

There are minor exceptions, so I have to add the unspoken clause “enough to matter” at the end of these.

The Republicans have a tentative mandate to cut spending as they take back the House in 2011, but they have already declared that Medicare and Social Security are off-limits. So where are they going to cut, defense?

The problem facing us is so huge, you could cut billions from discretionary programs without making a dent. And the bunker mentality assures us that the Democrats will fight every cut as if it were a bullet fired at grandma.

Expect to see huge fireworks over health care and the Bush tax cuts but these issues are sideshows to the main event. The eventual compromises will be so small, the final products will be so neutered, their effect on the deficit won’t even be a bump on the graph.

And no, they won’t do much for jobs, either.

America isn’t ready to cut spending yet. I would argue that is electorally impossible for either party to cut spending or raise taxes enough to matter. Any reform big enough to solve the problem would make the offending party unelectable in the next cycle.

The changes must come from outside. There must be a third party that both sides can blame. We must blame Europe or China or the bond market. My personal choice would be to blame the banks and host a bipartisan mortgage-burning on the White House lawn.

But that reform looks impossible, too, as long as both sides remain terrified of bank runs and civil unrest.

Keep one thing in mind, as you read the headlines this year. If Ireland and Greece could print money, they would still be spending. Hell, they still are spending, and will continue to do so, as long as Germany and France are willing to incur debt on their behalf.

There are only two ways this can end. Spend until debt is so expensive you can’t borrow anymore, or print money until you reach a hyperinflation tipping point.

The PIIGS can’t print, so they’ll stop when Europe stops subsidizing their debt. America CAN print, and the value of the dollar is being offset by the weakness of the Euro and the deflationary impact of the mortgage crisis, so we’ve probably got another decade before austerity is imposed upon us.

Everything that happens in the meantime is posturing and theater. Republicans and Democrats are fighting to see who will be Captain of Titanic when the music stops. When the reckoning comes, it won’t matter who the President is.

Personally, I hope it’s a Democrat, so Blue Team can spend 80 years of debt-financed “credibility” repealing the programs they created.

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 27, 2010 at 17:09

Posted in Politics

Republicans are sabotaging the economy!

I really shouldn’t read Balloon Juice first thing in the morning. Fine to have it in the regular rotation but I should probably warm up with stuff I agree with first.

I was struck by this post, Listen all y’all, it’s sabotage which repeats Steve Bensen’s allegation that the Republicans are trying to deliberately sabotage the economy so they can blame Obama for it in 2012.

I already knew that Republicans lived in a self-referential world of conspiracy theories and circular logic. Nice to see the Left is keeping up.

You see how brilliant this is psychologically? If you’re convinced that spending cuts are bad for the economy, Republican attempts to fix the problem will be indistinguishable from sabotage.

If you’re convinced that tax cuts hurt the economy and reward the rich, any attempt to cut taxes will be indistinguishable from sabotage.

It’s not enough to admit that Republicans and Democrats subscribe to two diametrically-opposed economic theories. Democrats are so steeped in Keynesian orthodoxy they assume that even Republicans believe it, and are deliberately sabotaging the economy with spending and tax cuts.

You have to assume that your position is so perfect, so self-evidently correct, that no sane person could deny it.

I’ve heard this argument before. From Ayn Rand. Objectivists (at least the ones I argued with) believe that there can be no principled objection to capitalism. The benefits of capitalism are so overwhelming and so obvious, anyone who opposes it is, by definition, evil.

No rational personal can deny the benefits of capitalism, so anyone who denies them is doing so because they hate life itself. They “hate the good for being good” and should be judged accordingly. So ultimately, the only question worth debating with a Progressive is, “Why do you hate life?”

How amusing to see this same logic employed by the Left. They can’t just sit down with the Republicans and assume they’re serious. There can be no honest objection to Keynesianism, so this has to be some kind of PLOT to frame Obama and seize the White House!

Good job, guys. Ayn Rand would be proud.

I’m appalled by how narrow and petty this world view is. I knew this Red/Blue thing was out of control, but I hadn’t come face to face with the psychology of it before. Republicans and Democrats are so trapped in this paradigm, so steeped in their eternal turf war that they can’t imagine a bigger world — a world where tax increases drive capital to emerging countries and government borrowing increases the interest payment on the debt we already have.

Their myopia is staggering. Like a pair of boxers so intent on their opponents that they can’t see the stadium burning down around them.

Look around, guys. The world is bigger than your boxing match, and if you don’t come to your senses and start playing like grownups, the ref is gonna break it up.

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 27, 2010 at 16:25

Posted in Politics

links for 2010-11-26

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 26, 2010 at 23:11

Posted in Uncategorized

links for 2010-11-25

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 25, 2010 at 23:21

Posted in Uncategorized

links for 2010-11-24

  • Palin's backers say that the Left constantly attacks her because it is afraid of her. I think most liberals detest Palin, but I don't think they fear her. On the contrary, I'm pretty sure most liberals fervently hope that she will be the Republican nominee in 2012, and they put the spotlight on her in part because they think it weakens the GOP and the conservative movement if she is our most visible spokesman.
  • Where are the liberals outraged at this government intrusiveness? Where is Paul Krugman? Where is Arianna? Where is Frank Rich? Where is the New Republic? Oh sure, civil libertarians like Glenn Greenwald have criticized TSA excesses. But mainstream liberals have rallied around the Department of Homeland Security and its naked pictures: Dana Milbank channels John (“phantoms of lost liberty”) Ashcroft…
  • In April, Bradford had decided that each household should be assigned its own plot to cultivate, with the understanding that each family kept whatever it grew. The change in attitude was stunning. Families were now willing to work much harder than they had ever worked before. In previous years, the men had tended the fields while the women tended the children at home. “The women now went willingly into the field,” Bradford wrote, “and took their little ones with them to set corn.” The Pilgrims had stumbled on the power of capitalism. Although the fortunes of the colony still teetered precariously in the years ahead, the inhabitants never again starved.
  • I want to know who the mastermind is behind Sarah Palin. Some Karl Rove protege has latched on to this woman and taught her how to hit all the right populist buttons. I can't take Palin seriously as a politician or as a media figure, but somebody smart is trying to use her as a weapon against the Republican establishment.
  • Salon's Glenn Greenwald destroys a shameful, fact-free smearjob in The Nation that accused John "Don't Touch My Junk" Tyner of being a Tea-Party-stooge duped by the Koch brothers; and goes on to accuse everyone who believes that the TSA's sexual harrassment security theater is unwarranted and illegitimate of being a tool of some shadowy right-wing conspiracy. Hey, Nation: I remember when being anti-authoritarian, pro-dignity and pro-freedom were values of the progressive left. Some of us still embrace them.
    (tags: tsa rights travel)
  • Your crazy uncle Henry may never take your advice to sell his stocks and buy precious metals but he just might take your advice to stock up now on essentials, before the prices skyrocket. Tell him that if he's going out to buy a new pair of pants, he should buy two. Tell your sister that instead of just buying her kids' winter coats for this year, she should buy coats for next year, too. Tell your cousin that instead of buying groceries every week to, instead, buy a whole dressed-out cow and put it in the freezer along with all the other dried and canned goods she can store.
  • A video is worth a thousand indignant essays.
  • And judging by the market's reaction, and the dollar resurgence overnight it appears that everyone has read through this as just posturing. Furthermore, keep in mind that Russia was not even a top 10 trading counterparty of China in 2010. If China does the same with any of its top 10 partners then there may be a reason to worry. For now, China is merely testing the waters, and has absolutely no intent on isolating the US, nor making its nearly $3 trillion US FX reserves lose a double digit percentage of their value overnight.
  • China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday.

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 24, 2010 at 23:01

Posted in Uncategorized