Friday, July 30, 2010

Steve the Lawn Mower Guy

Steve from Louisiana likes to get drunk and ride his lawmower. Real or are these actors? The voice of Steve's crazy wife is a little too clear.





Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Basil Marceaux for Tennessee Governor

WTH? I mean, really. WTH?

Democrats theorize that Alvin Greene is a plant by the Republicans. Maybe Democrats dredged up Basil Marceaux in response.

Let's say these two are both faux candidates. This would tell me that the clowns running these two parties don't think very much of us voters.

Bad stuff ahead

The Arizona immigration law was shot down. I don't think our elected officials fully grasp how polarized Americans are about this. The anger is genuine, and judging from what I read on blogs like Calculated Risk, the anger about 30 million illegals is felt on both sides of the political spectrum.

We have a really big problem on our hands, and the people we elected into office aren't doing anything about it. What we get is either "send 'em back and build a Berlin Wall" or "comprehensive immigration reform," whatever the hell that means.

I doubt they will do anything about it until something really bad happens.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jon Hamm for Fed Chairman

Jon Hamm, chief executive of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, nailed it in a letter to CalPERS in early 2003 (small pdf). He knew exactly what would happen, and he clearly spelled it out.
Jon Hamm is chief executive of the 14,000-member California Association of Highway Patrolmen, where he has worked for 26 years. He has never held a position in finance or economics. Rather, he is an economics junkie who pores over financial websites in his free time. “I don’t count myself to be an expert,” the 51-year-old Hamm says.

Members of his union and acquaintances have been among Hamm’s key economic indicators. Around the time he sent the letter, he had been mentally filing away anecdotes about highway patrol officers and friends purchasing $400,000 homes. Hamm negotiates union members’ salaries–officers earn an average of around $60,000 a year–so his antennae went up.
The madness went on another 4 years. And since Hamm sent his letter,
Investment losses at CalPERS, stemming from general market declines but also from real estate and venture capital deals that flopped, resulted in a $601-million increase in the amount that state taxpayers put into the pension system this year.

Although California has always been expected to contribute some cash from the state budget, the total taxpayer contribution in the current fiscal year is nearly $3.9 billion, up from about $156.7 million in 2000.
I wouldn't care if this was just California's problem, but the fact is it's a problem for all of us because of the federal bailouts to state governments. We're just shifting the costs around and obfuscating where the money goes via grants and "loans" that likely won't be paid back.

Friday, July 23, 2010

No Regrets about a massive Oxnard hazardous chemical spill

I thought California has a budget crisis and they have stripped and ravaged their state payrolls to a bare minimum. I was wrong.
(A)n Oxnard small-business owner finds himself in deep over a little spill that became a big production.

The incident started on an afternoon in late June when Steve Pettersen of No Regrets Painting upset a can of water-based paint inside his van, parked on a client's driveway at Mandalay Bay.... (Pettersen) was able to scoop up most of the contents of the toppled gallon and capture it in a container. (H)e then sopped up the residue with rags, as he had learned to do through the process of getting his California contractor license.

Cleanups are messy affairs and a small quantity of the paint oozed onto the driveway. When it appeared the paint would stain his customer's attractive and recently installed drive, he used the garden hose to rinse it off the pavement.

With the curb appeal restored, he went back into the house to complete the job.

A while later, he came outside to get something from his van and froze in his tracks.

Before his eyes were two firetrucks, each staffed by three firefighters, including paramedic and hazardous-materials specialists. There were two city of Oxnard code compliance officers. A Harbor Patrol vessel had been dispatched. A California Department of Fish and Game warden also responded. The scene was short only moon suits and a hovering helicopter.

In all, 13 public officials arrived on the scene.
I am surprised Rob didn't pick up on this.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fuera

I'll wager there are a lot of cities like Bell.
Hundreds of residents of one of the poorest municipalities in Los Angeles County shouted in protest last night as tensions rose over a report that the city’s manager earns an annual salary of almost $800,000.

An overflow crowd packed a City Council meeting in Bell, a mostly Hispanic city of 38,000 about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, to call for the resignation of Mayor Oscar Hernandez and other city officials. Residents left standing outside the chamber banged on the doors and shouted "fuera," or "get out" in Spanish.
It's not (D) or (R), it's about the wholesale looting of hardworking taxpayers by an elite class who get away with it because the nation's news media doesn't do its job. The looting has been going on for years, and only now they're getting around to reporting it?

Good for the residents of Bell. If we're to survive as a country we need a lot more of this.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Those damn Israelis

It's disgusting what they've done, invading a foreign country, dividing the native homeland and killing refugees.
Just a few years ago along this fence,
(A) number of migrants died (sources put the casualties between thirteen and eighteen people) and more than fifty were injured.
There are two of these sealed-off enclaves. One is called Ceuta, the other is called Melilla. European enclaves on the African continent, where Spanish soldiers use deadly force to keep Africans out of their own homeland.

Curiously, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is critical of the Israelis.
MADRID, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Spain called Saturday for direct dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and urged Israel to lift its current embargo on the Gaza strip.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

They're just regular folks like me and you.

President Obama still doesn't get it.
Arriving in a small jet before the Obamas was the first dog, Bo, a Portuguese water dog given as a present by the late U.S. Sen Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.; and the president's personal aide Reggie Love, who chatted with Baldacci.
I know that many of my online friends are progressives and don't like to see the sniping, but you have to admit this looks terrible. Then again, this could be his "Nancy Reagan orders new china" moment, soon forgiven as the economy improves and people go back to work.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I am proud to be from Houston

Our congresswoman, Sheila Jackson Lee, is the best.
"Today, we have two Vietnams, side by side, North and South, exchanging and working. We may not agree with all that North Vietnam is doing, but they are living in peace. I would look for a better human rights record for North Vietnam, but they are living side by side."


The late, great Barbara Jordan must be rolling over in her grave.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

China Bubble

The South China Morning Post reports that,
Yi Xianrong, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank in Beijing, noted estimates from electricity meter readings that there are about 64.5 million empty apartments and houses in urban areas of the country, many of them bought up by people wagering on a constantly rising property market.
This makes the US bubble look like a pimple. It's far bigger than even the Dubai bubble. I've seen arguments that there is no Chinese real estate bubble because there are over a billion people there, ergo those empty units will be filled. The reality is there are over a billion people in China, but most of them are still poor and cannot afford even the downpayment on one of these unfinished flats.

This won't end well.

Barack Obama's next move

I can't figure out the game plan. Obama is a combination of the worst of Bush and Carter. It seems that he's going out of his way to alienate literally everyone. Conservatives, progressives, Republicans, Democrats, governors, European allies... and it's all reflected in the polls. He's even more unpopular than George Bush.

What can he possibly be thinking? Are his handlers just stupid? Is there a total vacuum chamber over the White House, and no one inside can see or hear what is going on in the real world? His #1 goal should be encouraging the creation of private-sector jobs. That's it. Yet everything he's done so far will accomplish precisely the opposite.

In all likelihood, this will be his next move.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

B&W

It seems to me that race relations are the worst that I can remember in my lifetime. Everyone's calling everyone else a racist. At least, that's what I hear on the news, on the radio, and on the blogs. But on the streets and in the offices we're all just hustling to get by and survive. Regular people have other things to worry about.

People like me (and you) are wound tight right now. Not because of race, but because of the economy. I wonder why this old-fashioned racemongering is being egged on.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Purpose of the Home Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction

Steve-O found a comment posted to the NYT:
The purpose of the federal mortgage tax deduction is to allow homeowners to use what is usually their largest asset -- their home -- as a nestegg for their old age.
According to the NAR:
The tax system supports homeownership by making it more affordable. While it is true that only about one-third of taxpayers itemize deductions, it is also true that, over time, more than one third of taxpayers receive the benefit.
Of course the NAR will argue for the deduction as a tool to make housing affordable. However, the reality of the mortgage interest tax deduction is different.
Dallas physician Steven Davidoff doesn't fit the stereotype of someone who needs a housing subsidy: raised in Plano, educated at Tulane University Medical School, working as a pulmonary critical care physician.

But Davidoff, 35, is like tens of millions of other Americans who benefit from tax policies that reduce the cost of buying a home. Most of them are like him – affluent enough to buy a home without help, but happy to use a tax deduction for mortgage interest, even though it will cost the federal treasury about $103 billion in lost revenue this year.

"I honestly view it as a bonus, not something that I [considered] when we were looking at homes," said Davidoff, who works at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano. "The larger the home, the larger your deduction can be. That certainly is an added benefit."
The mortgage interest tax deduction is welfare for the wealthy and it does nothing to make housing affordable to the middle class. It just distorts the market. We all agree that the nation's deficit hole needs to be plugged up, and that $103 billion would make a good-sized plug.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Adios, Housing Bubble Bust Blog

The Housing Bubble Bust Blog hasn't been updated in almost a year, which is a shame. Somesh Gaur compiled an immense wealth of data going back 30+ years. Maybe he just got tired of punching numbers into Excel spreadsheets.

Let's kill some more American jobs.

Heckuva job, Barry.
Diamond Offshore announced Friday that its Ocean Endeavor drilling rig will leave the Gulf of Mexico and move to Egyptian waters immediately — making it the first to abandon the United States in the wake of the BP oil spill and a ban on deep-water drilling.
What did Nancy Pelosi say?
And when you do, just remember these four words for what this legislation means: jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs. Let’s vote for jobs.

Friday, July 9, 2010

This job is beneath me.

Recent college graduate turns down a $40k job as an insurance adjuster. During a severe recession.
Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder.
$40k to start for a guy with a BA in Political Science in this economy? He has no wife, no kids, and his family paid for college so he has no debt. I think it sounds like a pretty good starting gig. Even in an expensive place like Massachusetts, it's enough for a small apartment, a good car, party money and some savings.

New York Times readers are beating up on him.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tired Gay succumbs to Dix in 200 meters

Oregon (Reuters) - Olympic bronze medalist Walter Dix edged out Tyson Gay in the former world champion's hotly-anticipated return to the 200 meters at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lehigh Acres, FL

I quit posting to the HBB years ago, but Ben traveled to Florida recently and I have been looking at the photos. Lehigh Acres, Florida is really screwed. Page after page of photos like this. There must be thousands of houses there constructed over the past decade that are uninhabitable. It reminds me of what I saw as a kid in Houston during the 1980s, only x10. What a waste.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Slaves built your iPhone

EETimes:
Up to 100,000 students have been ordered to travel from the central Chinese province of Henan to Shenzhen to take up three-month internships with Foxconn, the world's largest maker of electronic and computer systems, according to a China Daily report.

The students, some as young as 17 years old, have little choice but to comply; the only other option is to drop out of school where many are on vocational courses, the report said. The students were informed on June 17 and were told that they must be ready to leave for Shenzhen nine days later, the report said.
"Interns" being ordered by the government to report to a factory owned and run by a private company. Nice. Think about that next time you bitch and moan about how much your iPhone/Wii/PS3 cost.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Have a great Independence Day

Some kryptonite for my progressive friends. :-)