Monday, April 27, 2009

Thoughts on the Mexican Flu

Last time I can remember having Mexican fever was watching Salma Hayek in From Dusk til Dawn.    I am much less excited about our contemporary version.   Technically, they both involve rather gruesome deaths, but at least battling vampires is scary in a fun way, whereas my new boogieman, the cytokine storm, is just hide-in-the-basement terrifying.

When something freaks me out, I tend to read about it incessantly.  The additional knowledge, even if dispiriting, at least gives me the illusion of control.   To that end, I recommend the site    

In particular, I want to point you at this thread here (nerd alert!  this is extra nerdy stuff).  I found the discussion fascinating.  The fact that this level of detail is available this quickly is simply amazing to me.   I am a layman, obviously, so this might be old hat to the researchers among us, but I guess the fact that this data, and accompanying analysis,  is actually available to a layman like me is part of what amazes me.

Now I have a question for the researchers of KP.  On one of the other blogs I read, a couple of commenters made the argument that it is just a matter of time before this Mexican flu strain ends up infecting someone that is also hosting one of the virulent Asian flu strains.  A couple of recombinations and other genetic hoodoo later, and they stated that it was virtually a certainty that a virus emerges with the unique genetic code of the Mexican strain combined with the virulence of the Asian strains.    The discussion on the thread above obliquely suggested a similar conclusion.   So KP brains, is that a reasonable conclusion?  Is this destined to turn into a superflu next winter after some Asian tweaking or is it more likely to join the pantheon of false alarms flus?

While we're at it, let me pose another question.   The whole cytokine storm thing really bothers me.   Not only am I smack in the middle of the 20-50 age range that takes the brunt of cytokine storm fatalities, but philosophically, I'm annoyed that my own immune system would go Benedict Arnold and betray me.   I'm defending the Alamo here, and I look over to see my artillery men doing shots with Santa Ana as they turn their cannons on me.    Thanks, dicks!

My question, and I actually mean this seriously, is whether, in the face of a known flu pandemic where otherwise healthy people are getting capped, it makes sense to purposefully degrade my own immune system.  If a stronger immune system leads to a heightened risk of a cytokine storm fatality, shouldn't I greet the news of a serious flu pandemic with all-night sessions of Marlboro Reds, bottom-shelf tequila, and Ho-Hos?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not so outrageous any more

Well, the least likely of my outrageous predictions has shown some legs.   To recap...

Secession discussions begin
Of all the unlikely happenings suggested above, this is by far the least likely, but it will eventually happen, just maybe not in 2009. As it becomes increasingly apparent that the federal government cannot meet its obligations, or conversely, as the tax load required to meet those obligations explodes, there will start to be discussions in states about secession. At first, it will be quackery, but as the situation worsens, it will gain traction with people. It is unlikely to actually happen, but the thought alone that people might start to take the idea seriously is by itself remarkable. The most likely candidate, of course, the Republic of Texas.

You scoffed and rightly so.  But read this.   Very surprising, especially from a governor.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More on tax revolts

Between his various ad hominem attacks, Aztec actually made an interesting comment regarding tax revolts...

Now, it's nice to see that GG is concerned about civil servants' pensions because she doesn't give a shit about the pensions of union members. And I really hope all of the traders really do take to the streets in full scale tax revolt. Surely the general public will understand the OUTRAGE of having to pay an additional 4% of income tax on ever single dollar earned above $375,000. How will Obama sleep at night knowing that poor hedge fund managers will be forced to liquidate their Hampton beach houses because soon they will be taxed not at the capital gains rate, but at normal income tax rates? Yes, please let them REVOLT at the mere thought of being treated just like everyone else.
Aztec is probably correct that Obama's tax increase on the "rich" is unlikely to ruffle many feathers. The targeted population is small enough and generally well-educated and conservative enough that they won't start brandishing torches. If anything, Obama's policies might lead to a slow-motion capital strike ala Atlas Shrugged, but it will be difficult to separate that behavior from the overall recession.

But Aztec is missing the point by focusing on federal income taxes. The anger behind the tax revolts is focused on two separate problems. One, the federal government is spending like crazy, and most Americans are smart enough to understand that this will translate to a heftier tax burden down the road. Two, and this is much more visceral, is the anger at rising state and city taxes, particularly property taxes. Mish coincidentally just discussed the problem, and I have personally seen multiple examples over the last week. A friend in Hoboken, NJ just saw his property taxes raised from $4K to almost $12K. Add to that the increases in NJ income taxes, and you have the recipe for an angry electorate. Many other states are doing similar things. Rather than cutting spending to reflect recessionary conditions, they are raising taxes on an already strapped middle class.

As an aside, I also want to address one of the most unjust but least talked about side effects of rising property taxes, the forced sales of properties by elderly people. I know of three cases personally of elderly individuals living on fixed incomes who are being forced to sell their properties because they cannot meet the rising tax burden. One couple in NY bought their home two decades ago for less than $150K, but they now face an annual tax bill above $20K a year. They have to sell. Another woman I talked to today is putting her MD property of 30 years on the market because she can no longer keep up with the tax obligation.

These are people who own their homes outright and have for years. For the state to essentially force them to leave is immoral and ought to be criminal, but it is happening all over the U.S. now has governments looks for new sources of revenue.

A nationwide tax revolt is coming. It might not reach critical mass this year, but it is just a matter of time.

In any case, I will be marching April 15th. And not for my 4% as Aztec smugly suggests, but because out of control government spending threatens the basic values of life, liberty, and property, and apparently the only way to stop it is to take credit card from the politicians' hands.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pavlovian Aztec

Ah, Aztec. Thanks for proving yourself to be as predictable as always. I knew we'd get that link out of you; arch-typical, straight out of the playbook, knee jerk leftist crap.

1. My link was a response to your pathetic Sarah Palin attack link, which was in poor taste, required zero research, and less relevant than BO's bow/denial. The fact that you responded to GB's callout with such venom says a lot.

2. I always hated the fact the the Bushes and their clan are so tight with the Saudis. Unlike you, I am not a hyperpartisan automaton, incapable of criticism of those toward my side of the political spectrum. My post wasn't about Bush. It was about Obama and his administration's denial of the obvious. He should be honest with the people rather than following the Clintonian playbook. Of course, I never would expect you to admit that a simple admission of a misstep would have been a better response from BO.

3. I love how I can poke you in your leftist cage and you come out smearing anything on the right. The condescending tone is a nice touch, too. Especially when you don't even address the issue. I'm surprised you haven't tried to get a job on one of BO's hit squads.

Wingnuts Angry That Obama Didn’t Suck Off Saudi King, Like Bush Always Did

This is why I wish Hoss would post more often.  Responding take no research (except the ocassional Snopes check) and let's me feel less guilty about reusing Wonkette posts wholesale.  It also obviates the need to cut and paste portions of the Freeper message boards. 

Keep posting Hoss.  Don't let the crypto-objectivist/libertarians dominate the right wing discussion on KP. 

BTW, can some of the KP vets post on the Gates Budget?  Voodoo, I'm looking at you.

via Wonkette by Ken Layne on 4/8/09

Faggots.Oh noes the wingnuts are very, very upset! Why? This street negro, Barack Obama, allegedly kowtowed to the Saudi King while meeting said Saudi King at the G-20. (The White House says, "Uhh, Obama is a lot taller than that old dwarf, so he bent down to look at him.") It is shameful for an American president to politely bow one's head while being presented to a Saudi Prince/King. You are supposed to smooch him up and hold his hand and walk him around your ranch and then give him a loving blowjob, like George W. Bush Junior always did! Let's remember the good times, together.

We'll have a gay old time!See, black people nod politely to the Royal Head of State Monarch, while white people romantically caress the fat old dude's hand — foreplay, it is called — and then robustly lick his ass for a few hours.

And then you just get in close with that Grecian-formula goatee and jam that tongue in there, old school:
Just For Men.
Thanks, Wingnuts! Without you people, American might've forgotten the proper way for an American president to deal with the Arab Monach: just cold suck on his peter.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Obama - Abdullah's Bitch

What a disgrace. What is even more disgraceful is the response of the administration - total denial. I would have a lot more respect for the adminstration if Obama would simply acknowledge his error. Next we'll probably hear that it is Bush and Cheney's fault.

Maybe next time he'll drop completely to his knees.

Obama's a bitch. Only Jimmy Carter projected more weakness as President.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ron Paul on the 15-year Depression

From the FT.

Fifteen years sounds about right to me.  I tend to be a believer in historical, generational cycles, from the Kondratieff wave to even some of the sort of tin-foil literature on cycles like The Fourth Turning (which I have not actually read).   While I can understand skepticism of this kind of analysis, I am of little doubt that national psychology seems to go through huge generational shifts.  For example, virtually ever one I know whose grandparents suffered through the Great Depression remember them as pack rats, storing stuff that would strike us as disposable.   Most of the generation is now dead, and their experience largely forgotten.  

The approach of that generation towards "stuff" is basically the polar opposite of our generation's willingness to junk something at a moment's inconvenience to buy a new one, but I think we are witnessing the very beginnings of a shift to that generation's mentality.  Over the last few months, I've noticed a pronounced tendency in the media to celebrate the coolness of being frugal.  The hipness of frugality will subside as things worsen and frugality becomes a requirement rather than a fashion statement.    I'm afraid that when our generation emerges in the 2020s, we may not think so differently than our grandparents, and, unfortunately, that kind of polar shift in psychology can only come as result of severe national trauma.  Which, as you know, I am forecasting.

The optimistic counterpoint is that might see a renaissance for our republic as people start to spend less energy debating the American Idols on TV and more debating the American Idles in Congress (god awful pun copyright Gammaboy 2009).    Perhaps we might actually see more from real political thinkers in Congress (RP to start) rather than the daily idiocies of clowns like Barney Frank.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pension update

There have been about a dozen different important threads that I have been meaning to link and expound on, but I haven't had the time, so I am afraid many of them are lost in the ether of good intentions.    Since I just railed on Aztec's posts with proper invective (surprisingly alcohol free),  I thought I would add an update to my prediction concerning pensions.   I still think the pension crisis will be one of the big headlines come year-end, and frankly, the situation looks worse than I had imagined.   Read this story.  

As far as other big picture economic data, everything has been coming in disastrously, the current stock market rally notwithstanding.  I have actually been quite long stocks all year and think we probably have one more leg up in this rally through early May before things really start to go downhill this summer.   April 15th should be interesting.  I am hoping, rather desperately, that the various tax protests taking shape will get some footing, but I frankly think turnout will not be big enough to be more than a footnote on the evening news.   Regardless, once the government starts counting its dough in the weeks following, I expect the deficit to come in significantly worse than expected, and the financial crisis to begin its next calamitous chapter.   The summer of 2009 certainly has the possibility of becoming one of those landmark periods in American history like '68.  Interesting times, as per the Chinese.

I'll also reiterate my possibly eyes-wide-open, possibly I-am-taking-crazy-pills, suggestion that everyone have some place well-stocked and far from the urban streets to flee should things get, well, crazy.  I realize the notion has a survivalist-tinged ridiculousness to it, this being America and all, but just in case, do yourself a favor and have a plan.   It costs nothing, and with full knowledge of the future mocking I risk should this (hopefully) prove to be hyperbole, it might literally save your life.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Gift that Keeps On Giving

Remember the heady days with Sarah Palin gave the GOP its own dose of much needed energy and hope?  As it turns out, Palin was a gift to the Dems that keeps on giving.  How many meth dealers, cat burglars, and bundling teens can one extended family have?

Obama's Bitch

Mark Stanford is Obama's bitch.  He took the money even though he still doesn't have his state legislature's promise to use state funds for debt relief.