The end of Obama’s Syria policy.

February 4th, 2016

aleppo.sized-770x415xc

The US foreign policy conducted by the Obama administration has been a disaster all along. He abandoned Iraq and the rise of ISIS has followed. I have read “Black Flags,” which describes how the al Qeada organization of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has morphed into ISIS after Obama pulled US forces out of Iraq. Now, as Richard Fernandez explains in another masterful analysis, Assad is about to rout the last of the non-ISIS opposition.

Reuters reports that Bashal al-Assad’s forces have made major advances behind a major Russian air offensive and are now poised to destroy the non-ISIS rebels opposing the Syrian government is rocking the foreign policy establishment. “After three days of intense fighting and aerial bombardment, regime forces, believed to include Iran-backed Shia militias, broke through to the formerly besieged regime enclaves of Nobul and Zahra.”

The Russians have been surprising US military leaders in ways that are very unpleasant.

The performance of the miniature, “rust bucket” Russian air force has formed an invidious baseline to what the USAF has achieved. The Independent reported:

Their army’s equipment and strategy was “outmoded”; their air force’s bombs and missiles were “more dumb than smart”; their navy was “more rust than ready”. For decades, this was Western military leaders’ view, steeped in condescension, of their Russian counterparts. What they have seen in Syria and Ukraine has come as a shock.

Russian military jets have, at times, been carrying out more sorties in a day in Syria than the US-led coalition has done in a month.

We are not serious and the US military has to wonder what will happen if Putin decides to take the Baltic republics.

All this is happening alongside the weak consequences of Hillary Clinton’s massive breach of security in her “e-mail server.”

Remember, Mrs. Clinton reviewed her e-mails before finally surrendering them to the State Department, and she initially insisted there was no classified information in them. Now, it turns out they were so threaded with classified information that the State Department and intelligence agencies have fallen hopelessly behind the court’s disclosure schedule: The task of reviewing the e-mails and redacting the portions whose publication could harm national security has proved much more complicated than anticipated. Thousands of remaining e-mails, and any embarrassing lapses they contain, will be withheld from voters until well into primary season.

From the level of disinterest in this matter shown by Politico in its piece about Clinton’s “vulnerabilities” in the Democrat primary race, there seems to be no interest at all in foreign policy by Democrats. That may change if the Baltic republics are in jeopardy but, perhaps not. Democrats seem to believe that the US is the root of all evil, not our enemies.

As America’s foes gain in the Middle East, the confusion surrounding the administration’s goals correspondingly grows. If Aleppo falls, and its defenders and inhabitants massacred it will prove that Obama cannot protect anyone. A huge humanitarian disaster whose spillover Europe must inevitably endure will ensue. There is genuine international cooperation. Russia generates refugees and Germany absorbs them.

And as for Geneva, well what of it?

Someone has to ask: what goal does America still have in the Middle East beyond defending the tattered political image of president Obama?

I wonder ?

Schizophrenia’s cause ?

January 28th, 2016

nature13595-f1

Today there is an article in the Washington Post that describes a genetic site that may be the source of schizophrenia.

The researchers, chiefly from the Broad Institute, Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, found that a person’s risk of schizophrenia is dramatically increased if they inherit variants of a gene important to “synaptic pruning” — the healthy reduction during adolescence of brain cell connections that are no longer needed.

In patients with schizophrenia, a variation in a single position in the DNA sequence marks too many synapses for removal and that pruning goes out of control. The result is an abnormal loss of gray matter.

For years that has been a search for the reason why this mental illness appears in adolescence in people who seemed normal until that stage of development. It is known that adolescence is the time for”pruning” of excessive neuron synapses. Now, it seems that this may be the target f the genetic defect.

The fact that the answer might come from genetics has been known for a while.

To date, around 30 schizophrenia-associated loci10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 have been identified through GWAS. Postulating that sample size is one of the most important limiting factors in applying GWAS to schizophrenia, we created the Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC). Our primary aim was to combine all available schizophrenia samples with published or unpublished GWAS genotypes into a single, systematic analysis24. Here we report the results of that analysis, including at least 108 independent genomic loci that exceed genome-wide significance. Some of the findings support leading pathophysiological hypotheses of schizophrenia or targets of therapeutic relevance, but most of the findings provide new insights.

The new paper, just out yesterday in epub, has narrowed the search to the C4 gene on chromosome 6.

After conducting studies in both humans and mice, the researchers said this new schizophrenia risk gene, called C4, appears to be involved in eliminating the connections between neurons — a process called “synaptic pruning,” which, in humans, happens naturally in the teen years.

It’s possible that excessive or inappropriate “pruning” of neural connections could lead to the development of schizophrenia, the researchers speculated. This would explain why schizophrenia symptoms often first appear during the teen years, the researchers said.

This is huge news. I have a chapter on my own experiences in treating schizophrenic men in the early 1960s in my book, War Stories: 50 years in medicine.

My teacher, George Harrington, told me he thought schizophrenia had to be organic in origin and he speculated that it could be deficiency of an unknown vitamin. Genetics were very primitive in those days. The discovery of the number of human chromosomes had only recently been announced when I began medical school. The number was only discovered in 1956, six years before I began medical school.

Using postmortem human brain samples, the researchers found that variations in the number of copies of the C4 gene that people had, and the length of their gene, could predict how active the gene was in the brain.

The researchers then turned to a genome database, and pulled information about the C4 gene in 28,800 people with schizophrenia, and 36,000 people without the disease, from 22 countries. From the genome data, they estimated people’s C4 gene activity.

They found that the higher the levels of C4 activity were, the greater a person’s risk of developing schizophrenia was.

The researchers also did experiments in mice, and found that the more C4 activity there was, the more synapses were pruned during brain development.

This is not therapy by any means but it is a huge step toward something that may prevent the disease is susceptibles.

Trump’s sense of humor.

January 26th, 2016

I am not a Trump supporter but I enjoy the outrage which the corrupt GOP establishment views him in.

Now he has done it ! He won’t be in the Thursday debate. I agree that Megyn Kelly acted like a school girl in the first debate. I don’t blame him for resenting the way she acted. The establishment GOP are criticizing Trump for dropping out. Personally, I think a Trump-Sanders debate would be entertaining. The Weekly Standard is as looney as The National Review.

Then, he dropped a bombshell !

1barry

Personally, I think this is hilarious. Hillary was the source of the original questions about Obama’s birth. I think he was born in Hawaii but I also think he used his alleged foreign birth as a way to get favors at east coast colleges, like Columbia and Harvard. Nobody seems to remember him at Columbia.

I, for one, am enjoying the show.

Will California real estate prices collapse ?

January 26th, 2016

I sold my house in 2010 and moved to Lake Arrowhead where I bought a house on a rare level piece of land that I fenced for my dog.

After, living there for two years, I found that I could not tolerate the altitude, even though it is only 5200 feet. I was short of breath and had trouble sleeping. I had to sell the house and move back to sea level. In doing so, I lost a lot of money and have been renting since 2012, first a small condo and now a three bedroom house in Mission Viejo. I have slowly rebuilt my funds and have started to think about buying another house. I would really like to move to Tucson but my children are in California and I would be alone in Tucson. Jill and I are back together since 2014 and so one reason for staying here is less important. I would not be alone.

The other reason why I am reluctant to buy another house in southern California is the insane level of real estate prices. In moving to Lake Arrowhead, a resort, I found the only real estate market that is NOT increasing in value. Mission Viejo, where I have lived since 1972, is in Orange County and has some very high real estate values. I have been nervous about another collapse in prices and don’t want to buy at the peak of the market.

Recently there have been a few signs that the party may be over.

In the 1980s, there was a surge of buying from Japan as Japanese used the towering real estate prices in Japan to borrow and buy expensive houses in southern California. When Japan entered the present 25 year slump, the prices of southern California homes also dropped and many were sold for a fraction of the previous price. An impressive example, is what happened at the Pebble Beach golf resort. In 1989, a Japanese investor bought the resort for an amazing price. Ten years later, he had to sell for a fraction.

The sale will end nearly a decade of Japanese ownership of Pebble Beach, which became a symbol of the exorbitant prices paid and, subsequently, the massive losses suffered by Japanese investors who flooded into U.S. real estate during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“We think it’s the best golfing place on the globe,” said Ueberroth, who began negotiations to purchase the property in March. “I’ve been lucky enough to have played there over the last 40 years.”

The purchase of Pebble Beach Co. includes the Pebble Beach Golf Links and three other nearby courses; two luxury hotels, the Lodge at Pebble Beach and the Inn at Spanish Bay; and 17-Mile Drive, a popular tourist destination.

Pebble Beach Co. is owned by a partnership between Taiheiyo Club Inc., a Japanese golf resort company, and Sumitomo Credit Services Co., one of Japan’s largest issuers of Visa cards. The partnership purchased Pebble Beach in 1992 from golf tycoon Minoru Isutani, who bought the company only two years earlier from a group headed by oilman Marvin Davis. However, the debt-ridden Isutani was forced to sell the property at an estimated $350-million loss.

That’s a big loss and an example of what happened. Now, China is is seeing a stock market crash similar to the Japan real estate crash in 1990.

china

China is still going through a difficult transition from socialism to capitalism, meaning its government that once tightly controlled the economy is slowly letting the global market take the wheel. That’s a tough process, particularly for a government that is used to being able to turn the economic knobs as it pleases. It still likes to do so from time to time, as it did on Thursday — a currency move that will get to in a bit.

But to show how precarious things are, a relatively small tweak sent investors into a pretty steep nose dive. And when China dives, so does everybody else, as evidenced by the market declines around the world.

So, how much effect will that have on Los Angles real estate ? This much.

Prices for the top 5 percent of U.S. real estate transactions remained flat in 2015 while all other houses gained 4.9 percent, according to data from Redfin Corp., a real estate brokerage and data provider.

In the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia, where Zhang is struggling to sell the six-bedroom home, dozens of aging ranch houses were demolished to make way for 38 mansions built with Chinese buyers in mind. They have manicured lawns and wok kitchens and are priced as high as $12 million. Many of them sit empty because the prices are out of the range of most domestic buyers, said Re/Max broker Rudy Kusuma, who blames a crackdown by the Chinese on large sums leaving the country.

And now, the Chinese market is crashing. Hmmm. Can southern California real estate be far behind ? I’m waiting. Meanwhile, I still like Tucson where prices are much lower.

For example. We are still thinking about it.

National Review goes bananas.

January 23rd, 2016

National Review has now gone off the deep end on Donald Trump.

This strikes me as fear and panic but about what ?

But he is not deserving of conservative support in the caucuses and primaries. Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.

Cue pearl clutching. What exactly has “the broad conservative ideological consensus” achieved the past 20 years ? Personally, I think Reagan began the problem by choosing Bush for his VP. Bush was antithesis to Reagan’s message and had ridiculed his economic plans.

Sam Houston State University historian, writing on the Forbes web site, has a very odd blog post this morning. He criticizes MIT economist Simon Johnson for attributing the term “voodoo economics” to George H.W. Bush. Domitrovic calls it a “myth” that the elder Bush ever uttered those words. “You’d think there’d be a scrap of evidence dating from 1980 in support of this claim. In fact there is none,” he says.

Perhaps down in Texas they don’t have access to the Los Angeles Times. If one goes to the April 14, 1980 issue and turns to page 20, one will find an articled by Times staff reporter Robert Shogan, entitled, “Bush Ends His Waiting Game, Attacks Reagan.” Following is the 4th paragraph from that news report:

“He [Bush] signaled the shift [in strategy] in a speech here [in Pittsburgh] last week when he charged that Reagan had made ‘a list of phony promises’ on defense, energy and economic policy. And he labeled Reagan’s tax cut proposal ‘voodoo economic policy’ and ‘economic madness.'”

It’s amusing to see people try to deny facts. Some argue that Bush did not oppose “Supply side” theory. Still, that is what “Voodoo Economic Policy” referred to. What else ?

Bush promised “no new taxes” in 1988 but then raised taxes in 1990 creating or deepening a recession that cost him re-electiion and gave us Bill Clinton.

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Greg Abbot’s Constitutional Convention

January 18th, 2016

Texas Governor Greg Abbot has called for a Constitutional convention of states.

A convention is one of two ways that the U.S. Constitution can be amended, and it’s described in Article V. One way is that Congress can propose amendments approved by two-thirds of the members of both chambers. The other method allows two-thirds of the state legislatures to call for a convention to propose amendments. Republicans backing the idea are confident that because they control state government in a majority of states, their ideas would prevail.

Democrats are horrified. The Huffington Post first ran this post with a headline that he wanted Texas to secede! I guess they thought better of the scare tactic.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday proposed a series of amendments to the U.S. constitution that would permit states to override the Supreme Court and ignore federal laws.

One of the proposed measures would allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override federal regulations, while another sets the same threshold for overturning decisions by the Supreme Court. The governor also wants to change the Constitution to block Congress from “regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state,” and to require a supermajority of seven Supreme Court votes before a “democratically enacted law” can be overturned.

OK. That’s fair enough.

The plan lays out nine specific proposed amendments that would:

Prohibit congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
Require Congress to balance its budget.
Prohibit administrative agencies from creating federal law.
Prohibit administrative agencies from pre-empting state law.
Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law
Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a federal law or regulation.

Balancing the budget is probably pie-in-the-sky but the others sound reasonable to me.

Glenn Reynolds, who is a Constitutional Law professor thinks so, too.

This proposal has shocked some people. Writing in The Washington Post, Catherine Rampell — apparently unaware that the Constitution itself provides for amendments — is appalled, saying that Abbot wants to ”blow … up” the Constitution. According to Rampell’s analysis, if you love the Constitution, you can’t simultaneously want to change it.

This would come as a surprise to the framers, who actually ratified the Constitution and then, immediately, passed 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights. They then followed up in short order with the 11th Amendment — protecting state sovereignty from federal courts — and the 12th Amendment, which corrected serious problems in the way presidential elections were conducted.

In fact, such a convention has been discussed for years but there have been fears that a state Constitutional convention could get out of hand.

opposition to a convention is more about locking in changes made through other means — Supreme Court decisions like Roe v. Wade and Baker v. Carr, or just longstanding bureaucratic practice that courts and the public have come to accept — rather than through a formal convention where the changes would have to be approved by the American people as a whole.

The real fear, I suspect, is that the proposals urged by Abbott, which would roll back much of the political class’s successful power-grab over the past century, would prove popular enough to pass. If that happened, the federal government would become both smaller and more accountable, two political-class nightmares.

In an era when Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump lead the two parties’ presidential campaigns, such fears seem a bit overwrought.

Reynolds’ conclusion is also apt.

Another nice feature of Abbott’s proposal — which is, as the Houston Chronicle notes, “well within … the mainstream of Republican governors” — is that it doesn’t depend on controlling the White House. The Constitution provides numerous checks and balances, and the Republicans are wise not to depend solely on the presidency.

I’m not yet ready to say that a convention to discuss constitutional amendments is a good idea. But to the extent it panics our current political class, which I believe to be probably the worst political class in our nation’s history, it’s looking like a better one.

Mark Levin, who I consider to be too strident, is also a Constitutional lawyer and wrote a book about a proposed convention in 2014.

Levin’s amendments include:

1. Term limits, including for justices.
2. Repealing Amendment 17 and returning the election of senators to state legislatures
3. A congressional supermajority to override Supreme Court decisions (overruling what could be a stacked court)
4. Spending limit based on GDP
5. Taxation capped at 15%
6. Limiting the commerce clause, and strengthening private property rights
7. Power of states to override a federal statute by a three-fifths vote.

There is some similarity to Abbot’s proposal.

The Muslim war on immunization.

January 16th, 2016

If anyone wonders about the level of civilization in Muslim countries and especially those in “radical” or “takfiri” subsets, the war on polio immunization should be a clue.

Recently, a suicide bomber attacked a polio immunization center in Pakistan.

The World Health Organization’s anti-polio vaccination program inside Pakistan has been a prime target of the Taliban. Mullah Fazlullah, the emir of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, was one of the first leaders to have opposed polio vaccinations. On his radio program, Falzullah, who is also known as Mullah Radio, denounced polio vaccinations as Western attempts to sterilize Muslim boys.

Other Taliban commanders, including Mullah Bahadar and Mullah Nazir, who was killed in a US drone strike, as well as Pakistani clerics and leaders in the tribal areas, suspended polio vaccinations in areas under their control until the US ceased drone strikes against Taliban, al Qaeda, and other jihadist commanders.

Taliban commanders have also accused vaccination programs as serving as cover for CIA and western operations to target jihadist leaders inside Pakistan.

The largely Muslim state of Uttar Pradesh in India has been the last outpost of remaining polio cases in the world.

India was declared free of the wild polio virus in January 2011 however cases of flaccid paralysis continue to be reported in thousands from across the country. “In spite of the WHO declaring India polio-free, there has been an increase in the cases of non-polio paralysis. It is a huge cause of concern,” said Dr SD Gupta, president, IIHMR University.
In 2004, 12,000 cases of non-polio paralysis were reported which increased to 53,563 cases by 2012. According to the data published by the union health ministry in July, 2015, the total number of non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP) cases across the country were 18,141, of which 5918 were reported from UP, 668 from Rajasthan, 102 from Telangana, 385 from Karnataka and 865 from Maharashtra, among others.

What is going on ? It seems that new enteroviruses may be involved. India has been largely successful in eliminating wild Polio virus.

India’s success in eliminating wild polioviruses (WPVs) has been acclaimed globally. Since the last case on January 13, 2011 success has been sustained for two years. By early 2014 India could be certified free of WPV transmission, if no indigenous transmission occurs, the chances of which is considered zero.

Great efforts were made.

The VE against types 1 and 3 was the lowest in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where the force of transmission of WPVs was maximum on account of the highest infant-population density. Transmission was finally interrupted with sustained and extraordinary efforts. During the years since 2004 annual pulse polio vaccination campaigns were conducted 10 times each year,

Muslims are determined to stop this effort. More evidence that they are not ready for civilization.

The Western Spring.

January 10th, 2016

migrants

Belmont Club and Richard Fernandez have come up with a good term to describe what is happening now.

It’s on, the long awaited fight against PC orthodoxy is finally on. Trump is unlikely to apologize, CAIR even more unlikely to back down. With 3 million Middle Eastern and African refugees due to arrive in Europe this year the clashes between German protesters are only likely to intensify.

The commotion you hear is not going to stop, it will only get worse. The Western Spring is finally here, and before it’s done it threatens to change everything.

The “Arab Spring” has proved a disaster for the Middle East. Much of that disaster was midwifed by Obama and Hillary. Obama hleped The Muslim Brotherhood overthrow our ally, Mubarak. The Washington Post was very optimistic.

CAIRO – It was sparked on social-networking sites, and inspired by a revolution in Tunisia. In 18 days, it grew into something astounding – a leaderless people’s movement that at every turn outsmarted a government with an almost unblemished 30-year record of suppressing dissent.

Of course, it didn’t turn out the way they expected.

Despite the government’s efforts to sow violence that could be pinned on the demonstrators, the vast majority did not take the bait.

In the first days of the protests, they were attacked with high-pressure water hoses, tear gas, birdshot, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Protesters responded with rocks, but also with pamphlets instructing demonstrators to appeal to the police as fellow Egyptians.

When police withdrew from the streets and prisoners were released from their cells, Egyptians formed security committees to protect their neighborhoods. And when pro-Mubarak forces – many of them thought to be paid thugs and undercover police – attacked anti-government demonstrators, the protesters fought back but did not escalate the violence.

More than 300 people were killed over the past 18 days, with each death giving the movement more momentum. In Tahrir Square, posters of the dead grace every corner. A curly haired girl named Sally, a man named Hassan, a boy named Mohammed.

The leftist innocence drips from the article. Mubarak believed that the US conspired to bring him down. Knowing Obama, he was probably correct. Of course, we should follow Napoleon’s rule, “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.”

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The Coming Financial Armageddon.

January 7th, 2016

An interesting piece in New York magazine describes the opinions of the man who wrote the book, The Big Short.

He is not optimistic.

Dodd-Frank really worked, and they kind of disagreed with the end of the movie, which implies that this is all going to happen again.
It sort of worked. One thing it has not changed is the sheer size of these institutions, they’ve gotten bigger rather than smaller. And I don’t understand that , I would have thought that from Too Big To Fail we would have found a way to make them small enough so that it was ok for them to fail. And know there’s all this complicated language about how you can resolve them in bankruptcy but I don’t believe it, and the markets don’t believe it. The bigger thing is — I regarded this crisis at bottom as a problem of incentives. People behaved badly because they were incentivized to behave badly, and the incentives haven’t really changed that much.

No, they haven’t and ZIRP is one reason. ZIRP is “Zero Interest Rate Program.”

I think they should have broken up the banks.

And in your opinion, why didn’t that happen?
It didn’t happen because the Obama administration decided that it was worse than the course of action they took. They considered it, kind of. If you asked Tim Geithner why it didn’t happen, he would say how am I going to do that? I am going to have to nationalize these banks, and then break them up. Well, we’re really not equipped to run the entire financial system out of the Treasury. And the system is in such disarray and chaos that we are more likely to create more crisis, than resolve the crisis if we do that. Which is not a terrible argument.

Geithner is, of course, the villain of Sheila Bair’s book, “Bull by the Horns.” My review of her book points out this statement.

Her tenure was stress filled and some of that stress came from the actions of soon-to-be Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The story opens in the crisis of late 2008 when the TARP legislation was first defeated by the House, then finally passed. She notes that the purpose proposed for the bill was immediately abandoned after it was signed. It was supposed to fund purchase of the toxic assets held by banks and by investors but quickly became a bailout for the big banks, judged too big to fail. Much of her time was spent fending off Geithner as he seemed to be obsessed with the welfare of CITIBank, a huge and weak international player. She is very critical of his efforts and of the CITIBank management.

Soon after this he became Treasury Secretary for Obama. Like a lot of people, he was thinking this.

Another kind of reform, which would eventually cause them to shrink a lot, would be vastly increasing the capital requirements, which has been floated by people, require them to hold not just about 7 percent or 6 percent but 20 percent, and what happens is they’d become a lot less profitable, they can’t take big big bets and no one would want to invest in them or work for them. But that has been roundly defeated at the regulatory level. I think, beneath that, the bigger problem is, virtually everybody at the table, even well-meaning government employees, when they are talking about what to do about these places, have — even if they aren’t thinking about it consciously, cannot help but consider the likelihood that the way they are going to make a living, a very good living, when they get done with government work, is to go work for one of these places.

That is called Moral Hazard and it has defeated any attempt at reform. And it may now be too late to fix it.

Analysts also point to concerns over Chinese market regulators, who they believe do not appear to have a good grasp of the market, even with the introduction of the circuit breakers. In an attempt to stabilize markets, China’s securities regulator has issued new rules to restrict the number of shares major shareholders in listed companies can sell every three months to 1 percent.
Marc Ostwald, a strategist at ADM Investor Services, believes that Soros’ comments — alongside a gloomy report Wednesday from the World Bank — only serve to cast a “long shadow” over global markets.
“It should be noted that the current turmoil distinguishes itself from 2008, when reckless lending, willful blindness to a mountain of credit sector risks and feckless and irresponsible regulation and supervision of markets were the causes of the crash, given that central bank policies have been encouraged and been wholly responsible for the current protracted bout of gross capital misallocation,” he said in a morning note.

Why is this different from 2008 ? It isn’t.

people didn’t want to know there was a bubble in the housing market, even though everyone knew something bad was going on.
It was really true, I remember coming across this phenomenon, on the wrong side of things: People were just thinking, “This doesn’t have to last very long for me to do well. And if it all goes down it’s not going to affect me. So why think about it too much?” There’s a great line in the movie: “You tell me the difference between corrupt and stupid and I’ll have my wife’s brother arrested.”

This explanation is still relevant.

For five years, Li’s formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels.
His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to ratings agencies and regulators. And it became so deeply entrenched—and was making people so much money—that warnings about its limitations were largely ignored.
Then the model fell apart. Cracks started appearing early on, when financial markets began behaving in ways that users of Li’s formula hadn’t expected. The cracks became full-fledged canyons in 2008—when ruptures in the financial system’s foundation swallowed up trillions of dollars and put the survival of the global banking system in serious peril.

That was part of it. The rest was the corrupt bargain that Democrats had with lobby groups for minorities.

I wrote about this in 2008 as it was happening.

Things did not begin to heat up again until the end of the Clinton Administration. The internet stock bubble left a lot of people with money to invest but few good opportunities. Many had taken their money out of the stock market after making plenty of money. Secondly, after 9/11, the Bush Administration was determined to avoid a recession brought on by the huge capital loss of the WTC collapse. The Panic of 1907 was precipitated by the San Francisco Earthquake and the huge losses to insurance companies. The Great Depression was partly a reaction to the default of war loans from World War I and the reparations demanded of Germany. There was fear that another severe financial panic would follow 9/11. In fact, that may have been a large part of the plan by Osama bin Laden. As a result, the banks had a lot of money to lend and they soon ran out of worthy borrowers. What to do ? Lend it to people with less than sterling credit. After all, houses were going to keep going up in price, weren’t they ?

Enter the chislers and scammers. Some of whom were former Clinton Administration members who got themselves appointed to the boards of the two big mortgage lenders. Did they have a broad background in mortgage banking ? No. They were politicians, like Jim Johnson who recently left the Obama campaign where he had been serving as the co-chair to vet potential VP nominees. What was his background ? Politics, not finance.

James A. Johnson is a United States Democratic Party political figure. He was the campaign manager for Walter Mondale’s failed 1984 presidential bid and chaired the vice presidential selection process for the presidential campaign of John Kerry. In the 2008 election, he is a member of the vice-presidential selection process for the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama.

From 1991 to 1998, he served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the quasi-public organization that guarantees mortgages for millions of American homeowners. Previously, he was vice chairman of Fannie Mae (1990-1991) and a managing director with Lehman Brothers (1985-1990).

The rest is history but much of it is at that link.

Winston.

January 5th, 2016

My basset hound is ill and it may be cancer. We will find out tomorrow and, as he has spine problems, if it is cancer it is incurable and he is in pain. He has been my loyal guy for nine years. My life has gone through several stages and he has been with me through it all.

Baby Winston

He came as a Christmas puppy when Annie was 15.

AnnieWinston

He and I have been a pair for nearly ten years.

winston snow 2
He went to Arrowhead with me.

Sleepy

He wasn’t always happy about it.

Winston

He explored the mountains.

Winston and Bradley

He met my friends.

Bigger Winston

We’ll know tomorrow but if it is bad, he won’t die alone.

WinstonEnd

Well, the biopsy was bad and Winston has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. His passing was easy. They had him heavily sedated as he was in pain with increasing neurological deficit. We were with him in the end and I rubbed his ears and scratched his chest, which he loved. When the folks at the vet hospital wheeled him into the room, as sick as he was, he wagged his tail when he saw me. It just breaks my heart.

WinstonSick

It went quickly and we are home. So sad. He was sick only two weeks. About six weeks ago he had the first sign, which was that he could not jump onto the bed. I ordered pet steps thinking he was just getting old. Then a few days later, he was jumping on the bed again until a week ago Tuesday. Then he looked sick and we took him to the vet where we found the first sign of any neurological problem in his right hind leg. By Saturday he was worse and we made an appointment with the vet neurologist for Tuesday, still thinking it was probably a disc.

And here we are.

WinstonLast

Goodbye big guy.

Ed says when we get to Heaven all the dogs that loved us will be there. I don’t know if I’ll get there or even if there is a Heaven but I’ll settle for a hallucination as I am dying that all my dogs have come to see me. I miss them all.

Today, we drove up to the Basset Rescue Ranch in Acton, near Palmdale north of Los Angeles. I adopted Charlie there about 12 years ago.

Today, we found Juliette and brought her home.

Juliette1

Juliette is a demure female about 6 or 7 years old whose owner had broken her hip and had to surrender Juliette to the shelter. She had only been there a week or so and is used to a nice home. She is not Winston and will never totally replace him in my heart.

Still broken hearts heal.

Juliette2

She is making a good start.

Juliette3

I miss Winston but he is gone and nothing will bring him back. I don’t know if she will have his personality but we are hopeful.