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Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

From kgw.com :

PORTLAND, Ore. — Immigration officials have revealed a plan to create holding cells in Portland’s slowly up-and-coming dying South Waterfront neighborhood.

fixed that for you.  A brand new ICE jail for transient prisoners is just what the John Ross condobacle needs to sell those last few units (at 60% below original list price).

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Arizona turns off its photo ticket contract.

The cameras, which included 76 units either mounted near the shoulder or operated from vans, were adept at snapping speeders as they whizzed past sensors, but getting offenders to pay after the tickets were mailed to them was another matter. Less than a third of the 1.2 million tickets issued were paid, and the state collected $78 million, far below the projected $120 million annual revenue. Some of those tickets, typically $181 apiece, no doubt were lost in the mail…

no doubt.

… others no doubt were not paid as violators tested a legal theory that they needed to be served in person.  Process servers who were supposed to follow up could hardly keep up with the load.

Oh.  That’s much more likely.  Wonder what it costs to hire a cut-rate process server in Arizona?  $80 per attempt?  $50?  What with the vendor’s rake-off for running the system, I bet nobody did the math to figure out whether they’d ever break even.
But WTF is this about?

Lawmakers at the hearing were concerned with more than just accident statistics. State Representative Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) was also upset to learn that the Redflex freeway cameras have been recording video twenty-four hours a day to track the movements of drivers not accused of any crime. Last September, TheNewspaper first reported the plan to link all continuously recording photo enforcement cameras into a nationwide surveillance network.

Jesus on fishhooks.  Sometimes when I read stuff like this I wish I was actually MORE paranoid than I am.

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The NRA has announced its opposition to the Elena Kagan nomination. By picking such a weak nominee, Obama was really  just asking for it:

We have carefully examined the career, written documents and public statements of nominee Elena Kagan and have found nothing to indicate any support for the Second Amendment. On the contrary, the facts reveal a nominee who opposes Second Amendment rights and is clearly out of step with mainstream Americans.

Therefore, the NRA is strongly opposed to Kagan’s confirmation to the Court.

See, here’s the thing.  She’s got no record to speak of.  No proven philosophy.  No demonstrated commitment to progressive causes, or women’s causes, or, hell, any causes at all for that matter.  The only thing that Democrats could use to justify supporting her nomination is that Barry Picked Her.

And that might have worked!  As long as nobody serious and organized bothered to point out any of the reasons to object to the nomination. Since the NRA is both serious and organized, they seized on the flaws in Kagan’s background and are using them to whip Republicans into opposition.

If Obama had picked someone that liberals could rally behind, there would be a groundswell of support for the nominee to stand against the NRA’s objections. As it is, the NRA is making essentially the same complaints that many on the left have been making ever since Kagan was named as the nominee: (a) we don’t know anything about her philosophy, (b) she has no relevant experience, and (c) there are reasons to suspect she might actually do more harm than good. See, for example, Glenn’s excellent coverage here.

If the Administration had listened to Greenwald’s substantive objections before the nomination, and picked someone that liberals could support without holding their noses, they could lean on that support now. Instead, liberals have no reason to rally behind this nominee, and so there are no voices to oppose the NRA. And if her nomination fails now because she is a blank slate, well, Obama only has himself to blame.

[this post was edited later that night for clarity]

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Zero hedge points out the logical disconnect between GOP rhetoric and fiscal reality:

[W]hile the noise out of Washington is trying to convince us that these deficits are ruinous, the ten year Treasury bond yields we saw yesterday at a stunning 2.97% are telling us that, in fact, they are no problem at all, and that the government can now borrow nearly infinite amounts of money at the lowest interest rates in history.

And what does all that deficit spending get us?

Out of a current projected budget deficit of $1.3 trillion, $700 billion, or 54% comes from the Bush era tax cuts, $320 billion (25%) from a tax revenue fall off caused by the Great Recession, $200 billion from the wars in Iran and Iraq (15%), and $50 billion (4%) is generated by Obama’s recovery measures. The TARP and the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so small, they don’t even register on the chart. All of the angst, complaining, moaning, blustering, and carping is about the 4%.

So all the sound and fury about austerity and fiscal discipline is just so much bullshit, to distract the focus of public attention from where it would otherwise be directed.  If anyone was really serious about cutting federal deficits, there are three big fat juicy targets: repeal the Bush tax cuts, end the pointless occupations, and put Americans back to work by having the government hire them directly.

It’s not rocket science.

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More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars are seriously delinquent, according to data compiled for The New York Times by the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic.By contrast, homeowners with less lavish housing are much more likely to keep writing checks to their lender. About one in 12 mortgages below the million-dollar mark is delinquent. emphasis added

from The Big Picture.  I’m sure that somehow this can be blamed on lazy brown people.  I’m a bit less optimistic that we’ll see any retractions of all the “subprime” stories that started running in summer 2007.

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You might think that the people who have been running the US operation in Afghanistan for the last few years would show a bit more maturity than a bunch of fourteen-year-old valley girls.

You’d be wrong.

On Friday, however, officials close to McChrystal began trying to salvage his reputation by asserting that the author, Michael Hastings, quoted the general and his staff in conversations that he was allowed to witness but not report.

“You said you wouldn’t tell anyone!  You pinky-swore!  I thought we were friends!  I’m never going out to the movies with you ever again!”

Oh, and this:

A U.S. military spokesman in Kabul, Air Force Lt. Col. Edward T. Sholtis, acknowledged that Hastings, like other reporters who have interviewed McChrystal over the past year, was not required to sign written ground rules. “We typically manage ground rules on a verbal basis,” Sholtis said. “We trust in the professionalism of the people we’re working with.”

Ground rules?!  What the fuck are you talking about “ground rules?”  You assholes are using my tax money to murder innocent people in a country halfway around the world for no goddamn reason at all, and you’re openly slagging your boss in front of a MAGAZINE REPORTER for christsakes, and the reporter went and REPORTED your borderline-treasonous insubordination, and now you have the fucking gall to whine about “ground rules?”

Here’s a ground rule for you, you worthless bag of guts: be happy you haven’t yet been charged with committing war crimes, and shut the HELL up before someone corrects the oversight.

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Everyone in patent law (and in software, and in pension management) is waiting breathlessly for the Supreme Court to issue an opinion in Bilski.  Everyone agrees that it’s probably Justice Stevens (who is regarded as a patent minimalist) authoring the opinion.  Likewise everyone agrees that the decision, when it comes,  will be bad for business-method patents.  People with idiot business-method patents, like Jeff Bezos and his infamous Amazon 1-click patent, are sad about this.  On the other hand, most people who actually create and invent stuff are genuinely happy.  The only real controversy at this point is how far the court will go: will it strike only business method patents, or will it rule that no software should be included in the list of patentable subject matter.  But the thing is, it’s (at least nominally) Bilski bringing this fight, trying to keep his ridiculous business method patent alive!  If it seems so clear that he’s going to lose, why not just give up now and avoid setting precedent?

I make no bones about my position- I’m anti-patent in general, and anti-biz-method / software patent in particular.

So when I saw this post from George Washington Law Prof John Duffy at Patently-O, I was afraid at first that he was giving Bilski to escape being hoist on his own flawed petard.  But when you get to the end of the article you find this gem:

I had previously thought that “irrational exuberance” provided the best answer—that the Bilski petitioners were likely to remain unrealistically optimistic about their chances for success right up to the end. But the presence of a multibillion-dollar corporation controlling the litigation decreases the chances that the strategy is due to simple inventor over-optimism.

It seems that Bilski sold the patent at issue … to a corporation that apparently wants to have business method patents killed off entirely.

Oops.

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