Be still my beating heart!
Durable Goods Demand Falls Most in 3 Years; Down 4%
New orders for U.S. manufactured goods fell in January by the most in three years as demand fell across the board from machinery to aircraft, suggesting the economy started the year on weaker footing than expected.
Caution: Sooper Geen-ee-yusses in charge.
Israelis reportedly don’t plan to notify US if decision made to strike Iran
Israeli officials say they won’t warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, one U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions told the Associated Press. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill.
Israeli officials said that if they eventually decide a strike is necessary, they would keep the Americans in the dark to decrease the likelihood that the U.S. would be held responsible for failing to stop Israel’s potential attack. The U.S. has been working with the Israelis for months to persuade them that an attack would be only a temporary setback to Iran’s nuclear program.
Worried the U.S. “held responsible”? Oh, HELL no.
It’s because they know Obama’d be trying to make points and on the phone to ImADinnerJacket so fast, it’d have your head spinning like Linda Blair’s.
Rich Jerk Tips 1% and Advises Server to ‘Get a Real Job’
There’s nothing I like more than sitting around the table on a Saturday night with my beloveds, eating a big bowl of mussels, solving all the world’s problems and polishing off a jug or three of wine.
Family time is the most precious gift we have, friends. Enjoy and cherish every second.
For Valentine’s Day I brought home some presents for my Girls from the 1% Bake Shop around the corner from my office
I have no idea how I was not assaulted on the bus. These things smelled and looked so yum that there were many many covetous looks cast my way.
Oh and they tasted pretty darn yum, too.
Of course, as my office is in Nanny Bloombergistan in the shop each cupcake was labeled with its name, its price…and its calorie count.
Why Apologize to Afghanistan?
The reaction to an accidental Koran-burning was inexcusable.
We have officially lost our minds.
The New York Times reports that President Obama has sent a formal letter of apology to Afghanistan’s ingrate president, Hamid Karzai, for the burning of Korans at a U.S. military base. The only upside of the apology is that it appears (based on the Times account) to be couched as coming personally from our blindly Islamophilic president — “I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident. . . . I extend to you and the Afghani people my sincere apologies.” It is not couched as an apology from the American people, whose frame of mind will be outrage, not contrition, as the facts become more widely known.
The facts are that the Korans were seized at a jail because jihadists imprisoned there were using them not for prayer but to communicate incendiary messages. The soldiers dispatched to burn refuse from the jail were not the officials who had seized the books, had no idea they were burning Korans, and tried desperately to retrieve the books when the situation was brought to their attention…
2 NATO troops killed at ministry, Afghan officials say
…Two U.S. military advisers were killed Saturday at the Afghanistan Interior Ministry in Kabul, though accounts of what led to the clash were unclear.
CNN has more details:
2 American officers killed in Afghan ministry
Kabul (CNN) — The Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack Saturday inside the Afghan interior ministry that killed at least two American officers.
NATO and Afghan officials reported the deaths of two American officers inside the ministry in Kabul, prompting Gen. John Allen to order all military advisers with the International Security Assistance Force to withdraw from government ministries in the Afghan capital as a safety precaution.
According to ISAF, initial reports indicated that “an individual” turned his weapon against NATO service members. The agency did not provide the nationalities of the victims, but an Afghan police official confirmed they were American.
Gen. Allen is going to have a hard time keeping a lid on his troops, let me tell you what.
I’m curious what our Great National Apologist is going to have to say after this.
ths adds: I wanted to say that we all need to keep every one of the Americans in Afghanistan in our thoughts and prayers right now. I can’t imagine how volatile and horrible this hideous situation is, surrounded by howling Stone Age savages ~ or worse, ones in “friendly” uniforms ~ that you’ve spent your blood, sweat and friends’ lives trying to give THEM a better existence. And I agree with JeffS. Get them HOME and hurt anyone who gets in the way.
One hair gets harmed HERE in an American city afterwards and we blow them off the face of the earth.
…for the administration when World News Tonight ran the opening salvo the other evening. Right on cue, lookee here what I found in my inbox from my least favorite Senator on earth:
Gas prices most places are pushing $4 a gallon – again. And news reports say it could be $5 or more by summertime. That’s outrageous – and unjustified.
Whether it’s the continuing threat of unrest in the Middle East or the lure of quick profit, the price of oil is driven in big part by traders, speculators and, of course, fear.
There’s been unrest in the Middle East for thousands of years, as we’re seeing right now with Iran and the Strait of Hormuz. Every time we’re faced with this international uncertainty, especially in the Middle East, we’re reminded why we must get off of foreign oil. Nothing’s going to eliminate the volatility in oil prices like becoming less dependent on foreign energy sources.
But we’ve also got to stop a new brand of oil trader who has emerged in the last decade, a middle man of sorts, who’s also driving up the price we pay at the pump.
Many experts agree we should not allow these traders to bid up the price of oil and flip futures contracts like condos. Yet in the last ten years the share of the oil market controlled by investors and speculators has more than doubled.
During the same time, American drivers have seen the price of gas at the pump go from about $1.56 per gallon to around $3.61 per gallon or more. By bidding up oil futures, speculators also increase costs for our airlines, industrial energy users and other businesses. And these higher costs are passed on to consumers like you and me.
Fact is, the level of speculation in today’s energy markets greatly exceeds the historic norm. If you want to know the truth, it’s partly the fault of broken-down policies from a Congress dominated by partisanship and extremism. Congress deregulated oil traders in December 2000. And it hasn’t tackled a comprehensive alternative energy policy since Nixon and Carter first talked about one in the 1970s.
Anyone can push for gas-tax holidays and the Keystone Pipeline. In fact, I support the pipeline as long as it’s in an area where it’s not as much of a threat to the entire Midwest water supply and we require that the oil stay here at home and not be sold to foreign countries.
We’ve already given the oil companies more than eight million more prime acres in which to drill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now we should curb the activities of speculators. And, in the long term, we must develop alternatives to gasoline.
I think Congress should pass legislation that aims to drastically limit the ability of speculators to artificially drive up energy prices. If this bill passes, there would be the first-ever limits on how much of the oil market speculators can control. The chief cosponsor of my bill is Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
Plain and simple: the legislation says no single investor could hold more than 5 percent of the oil futures market, thereby greatly reducing speculators ability to manipulate prices.
Does this sound like an idea you could support? Please let me know. Also, let me know what else you think we could do to bring down gas prices.
WAR in the Middle-East? Oh, gosh, things are always unsettled. Barack didn’t do that! The team is getting into position with a unified message.
Why did the Obama administration agree to a “robo-signing” settlement that barely punishes the huge banks behind the foreclosure crisis?
Glenn’s answer is “Have you looked at his donors list lately?” and that, in any other circumstances, would be the go-to assumption. I would like to posit another, more sinister reason.
It’s to keep the whipping boys under control. They are being set up to be demonized at the level of, if not worse than, bail-out time, and they need crumbs to keep them just bumping the doors in the stable out of frustration. If they protest too loudly, try to kick the doors down in rage, squawk in indignation at the brush they’re being painted with, SOMEBODY will quietly point to these “little” favors the industry owes the administration. The “look what we did for you here and this is how you treat us?” effect. Sending them whimpering about the injustice of it all back to their Aladdin’s Caves, while the gas prices tar brush flies.
Watch “The Godfather”. Same means and effect.
“What a Bunch of Hogwash!“
Makes my leg tingle…
A politician inadvertently speaks the truth
ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greece is planning to launch on Friday a public offer for a massive bond swap designed to knock €107 billion ($142 billion) off its debt held by banks and other private investors.
The formal announcement, expected later in the day, follows a Cabinet meeting which discussed implementation of the debt-crippled country’s new austerity program.
“We have made a titanic effort — and I believe titanic is the right word — to complete prior actions required for approval of financial support for the country and the process of the private sector involvement which will be officially launched today,” Prime Minister Lucas Papademos told ministers.
This rates more like a full-fledged soul-emptying retch
(CNN) — A former aide and a former mistress of one-time presidential candidate John Edwards have settled a civil lawsuit between them that, among other measures, mandates the imminent destruction of sex tapes featuring Edwards and the woman.
…A gag order prohibits either of the parties from discussing the settlement.
Now if you’ll excuse me…
Some Flying Monkeys, too.
A good friend sent me these pictures from Brazil of ribs being smoked last week for the revelers during Carnaval
Nuts, eh? Huge slabs of water buffalo and tons of eucalyptus.
Man, I’m starving now.
Gas Prices: Wall Street at Fault?
Financial regulator says big banks gambling on oil are to blame.
ABC’s World News Tonight wants to make sure you know WHO to point the finger at…in the voting booth as well, I’m guessing.
(Just listen to how many times they say “Wall Street”…)
Nice to get an assist like that.
Obama talks gas prices
…”Gas prices are killing folks,” Obama said. “I got an email from a friend of mine; it says, just in case you’re not living in the real world, being driven around by Secret Service, it just cost me $85 to fill up my tank.”
Referencing his Pennsylvania ad, which features Obama in at a gas station decrying the price of gas, Obama said Exxon-Mobil had made $11 billion in profits just last month. In Pennsylvania, according to the Web site, PennsylvaniaGasPrices.com, the average price of gas is $3.28 a gallon. One year ago, it was $2.69 per gallon.
“They have been in fat city for a long time,” Obama said of Exxon and other oil and gas companies.
“They are not necessarily putting that money into refinery capacity, which could potentially relieve some of the bottlenecks in our gasoline supply.
And so that is something we have to go after. I think we can go after the windfall profits of some of these companies.”
The man connects REFINING CAPACITY = GAS PRICES right there in that very sentence, almost 4 years ago and danged if, in the middle of all this administration’s current energy tapdancing, lying and fingerpointing exercises, my aged memory didn’t remind me that Obama’s EPA is front and center in shutting down one of THREE (!) Pennsylvania refineries that are closing:
Sen. Toomey Meets With EPA Regional Administrator About PA Refinery Jobs
Friday, Oct 14
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) met Wednesday with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin.
The senator spoke to Mr. Garvin about a number of matters of importance to Pennsylvania, including the future of three refineries in Philadelphia, Marcus Hook and Trainer, whose owners have announced within the last month that they plan to sell, and if no buyers are found, close down. Some of the biggest expenses facing the facilities are related to environmental compliance. At the Trainer facility, the EPA may mandate the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to require the installment of new cooling towers, which will likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The EPA has also proposed new rules on water intake structures that may cost millions more.
If these refineries are forced to close, more than 2,600 people will lose their jobs. Another 5,000 to 6,000 workers – largely employees of contractors and suppliers – indirectly rely on these facilities for their paychecks and would be impacted by their closures. In addition, local townships and school districts would be hurt by the loss of tax revenue.
But by the time Senator Toomey had his meeting with EPA officials last October action had already been taken:
…In addition, ConocoPhillips stopped producing gasoline and other petroleum products at its Trainer facility in September with a plant closure anticipated for the first months of the new year.
So refining capacity was already off-line, thanks to the impending EPA regulations and decision to unload the facility, the consequences of which (from the same article) could be, um, bad. From December:
Feds: Refinery closings may lead to price hikes
If three Delaware Valley refineries close, gasoline prices may soar and the market may suffer spot shortages, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
In November, a congressional contingent including U.S. Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, Robert Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia and Chaka Fattah, D-2, of Philadelphia, and U.S. Sens. Robert Casey, D-Pa., and Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., asked the U.S. Energy Information Administration to independently assess the situation.
The EIA is the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. It released an eight-page “Reductions in Northeast Refining Activity: Potential Implications for Petroleum Product Markets” today.
In September, Sunoco executives announced plans to sell their Marcus Hook and Philadelphia refineries, with the intention of closing the facilities if a new owner isn’t located. In December, the company issued a 90-day layoff pronouncement for the Marcus Hook employees; Philadelphia is slated to shutd own no later than July.
…The report analysis looked at several aspects of what kind of impact such actions would have on the region and nationally.
It states that the transition for a supply sources shift could be “problematic” for ultra-low sulfur diesel, gasoline and jet fuel supplies.
“Reduced short-term product supply flexibility due to longer delivery times and potential transportation bottlenecks for sources outside the region could also increase price volatility,” it states.
It also said a higher cost would have to occur in order for wholesalers to move the product to the region.
The headline of the article is also sort of misleading, because, when you see “Feds”, you think something tied to the administration. But, no. This isn’t who these guys were ~ this was a federal Congressional delegation of supplicants going to a federal agency for a report that would hopefully swing their way.
Again, I have heard, in every discussion of the refinery issue in the bigger picture of gas prices, someone mentions “closing the refineries near Philadelphia” as yet another catalyst for pricing spikes. If an analyst is really saavy, they’ll throw in an EPA zinger, yet nowhere is it EVER a subject for discussion when the Administration touts ALL the areas they’ve opened for drilling (!) and similar balderdash.
But they must have been watching the same programs I was watching and Pennsylvania IS kind of an important state this year. Lookee here what somebody got for a Valentine’s Day present from the state:
Pennsylvania DEP Renews ConocoPhillips’ Trainer Refinery Discharge Permit
HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Department of Environmental Protection today issued a renewal of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for ConocoPhillips’ Trainer Refinery in Trainer Borough, Delaware County.
The draft permit was announced in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Dec. 31, 2011. The permit being renewed has been in effect since 1978.
Until the refinery recently ceased operations, it processed crude oil into petroleum-related products, such as gasoline, fuel oil, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas.
“The renewal of this permit continues to protect an important environmental asset, the Delaware River Estuary,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “Also, even though the facility is currently idle, this permit renewal is a necessary and critical step in putting the refinery in a position to be acquired by a new operator, which we hope will happen.”
Can an EPA sweetner for a buyer be far behind? After all ~ a long, long time ago, I can still remember a President who connected REFINING CAPACITY = GAS PRICES when it was convenient for him. And it makes me smile.
ths update: And gasoline has started the day at $3.10 gal on the whlsl market. Nowhere but UP, my friends.
ths update redux: Ended the day at $3.11, with a NICE assist for Obama from World News Tonight’s piece on how it’s all SPECULATORS (They must have said WALL STREET fifteen times, with disdain positively dripping and oozing from their voices) causing the high gas prices.
WALL STREET, ee-ville WALL STREET is to blame for it ALLLLL. You read it here.
In a pale and pathetic impersonation of our beloved Southern brethren I made some gumbo over the weekend.
Of course, as is usually the case, I just sort of made it up as I went along.
Cajun Trinity: onion, celery, bell pepper
Bingley Trinity (of the moment): onion, celery, fennel
Being desirous of their flesh I beer-canned a couple of buzzards
And while they were cooling down I got my Murder on the Roux Morgue going. Various sources gave me different numbers for the flour/oil ratio, I ended up going for 50/50
As it simmers along one is told to let it turn a nice “walnut” brown…and the next sentence is always “but if it goes too far it is ruined and you have to start again.” This little detail convinced me that my family would not suffer if I opted for “sort of matches the cherry cabinets” instead of “walnut” as my target color
in goes the Bingley Trinity
stir, saute for a couple of minutes and add lots of garlic
and then a goodly portion of the by now shredded buzzard (about 1 whole bird’s worth)
This being New Jersey “real” andouille sausage was in somewhat short supply, so this would have to do
so with about a quart of chicken stock and various cajun-esque spices (1 heaping tablespoon each of Emeril’s Essence and a blackening seasoning I found somewhere) into the pot it all went
oh and a can of diced ‘maters, juice and all
and of course a pound of frozen
Now frugal cheap Scot that I am I took the other buzzard and parceled out the meat into roughly one pound lots for freezing and
anyhow, like I said, I vac-sealed the leftover chicken for later meals
and made sure my Bride and myself had sufficient libational reserves to carry us through the couple of simmering hours until the gumbo was ready.
I’ve always liked this Lindemans Bin 65 as a good, cheap, full bodied Aussie-style chardonnay. You can almost always find it for around $6. Now I have to say they’ve changed it, in my opinion. It used to be rather oakey, which I lurved, and now the oak is much less pronounced than before. Still a great buy but not the style that I’ve come to prefer.
Something in the style that I do prefer are bacon/romano drop biscuits
and fresh out of the oven
put some brown rice in a bowl, ladle on the gumbo, add a couple of biscuits and
Yo! Let them good times roll, youse guys!
Forgive me Rob, for I have sinned…
Gasoline Price Spike Has Temporary Offset
How much rising gasoline prices will pinch consumers has yet to be seen, but energy savings from the warm winter may have already helped consumers avoid some of the pain.
Deutsche Bank chief U.S. economist Joseph LaVorgna crunched the numbers and says consumers may have seen about a third of the recent rise in gasoline prices offset by cheaper natural gas and lower utilities costs this winter.
Global warming has SAVED YOU MONEY THIS WINTER, so what’s all the moaning and groaning about gas prices for, and STFU already, why doncha?!?!?!
$500M salvaged treasure being returned to Spain
(AP) TAMPA, Fla. – The transfer of 17 tons of shipwreck treasure wrested away from deep-sea explorers to the Spanish government will be made later this week from a U.S. Air Force base in Florida, officials confirmed Tuesday night.
MacDill Air Force Base said in a statement that it is cooperating with Spanish government officials in the transfer of the 594,000 silver coins and other artifacts that were brought to the surface off the Portuguese coast and flown back to Tampa by Odyssey Marine Exploration in May 2007.
…The treasure is believed to be from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, a galleon that was sunk in 1804 by British warships in the Atlantic Ocean while sailing back from South America. More than 200 people were aboard the ship when it sunk.
…Odyssey, which uses remote-controlled vehicles to explore the depths and bring the tiniest of items to the surface, argued that as the finder it was entitled to all or most of the treasure. The Spanish government filed a claim in U.S. District Court soon after the coins were flown back to Tampa, saying it never relinquished ownership of the ship or its contents. A federal district court first ruled in 2009 that the U.S. courts didn’t have jurisdiction, and ordered the treasure returned.
Odyssey argued that the wreck was never positively identified as the Mercedes. And if it was that vessel, then the ship was on a commercial trade trip — not a sovereign mission -at the time it sank, meaning Spain would have no firm claim to the cargo. International treaties generally hold that warships sunk in battle are protected from treasure seekers.
The company blamed politics for the courts’ decisions since the U.S. government publicly backed Spain’s efforts to get the treasure returned…
Speculation is that this could be the richest shipwreck in history. Good to know you’ve got your own country at your back when you go into this sort of thing…and when you don’t.
…I drive a 1998 Ford Explorer. The sport model. I’ve owned it since it was new and it’s got 160k miles on it…
…while laudable, is a baby booming slacker by casa de major dad standards.
In the driveway at the moment:
1) The “new” car: 2002 Mercedes E430, purchased in 2008 with 47K miles. Has a shade over 76.5K now.
2) Elinor, the ’96 Camry: purchased in 2005 with 55K and standing at 110.8K now. Our chug-along, dependable gal.
3) MY Sadie baby: 1992 BMW 525i, purchased in 2007 with
169 159K, heading toward 189K and a bag of worms from the get-go, but we knew that. I ADORE her.
Lately left us:
4) The Commando Wagon: 1987 Pathfinder, 360K or so miles, given to Ebola just a year ago, purchased in ’97 with 197K on her and my vehicle for all those years. Amazing, wonderful, incredible piece of machinery and just AWESOME looking to boot. It’s terrorizing Tucson now, God bless it.
5) The Little Red Truck of Death: purchased brand spanking new in 1985, it was a Toyota SR5 short-bed 4X4 and my running the roads vehicle during our years in California. Carried Marine Corps aircraft parts all up and down the West Coast, not to mention cross country jaunts with major dad. It taught Ebola the wonders of a stick shift and finally left our driveway UNDER ITS OWN POWER (with a new owner) after twenty years of faithful service. We saw it hauling ass around town here for another couple years after that. Damn. Wanted it back bad, too.
6) Der AudiSchnitzel: 1986 Audi 5000 CS Turbo, purchased with 3K miles on it. major dad’s first real screamer of a power car, we had that gorgeous baby here until one too many transmissions (and too few mechanics who could handle fixing it) finally caused us to pull the plug. If we had the guy we have NOW back then, there’s a 99% chance it’d still be in the driveway, ’cause THAT’S how we roll.
Don’t even get me going on Asshat’s “Cash for Clunkers” scheme. Around here that was code for “Murder, He Wrote”.
Rick Santorum Arrives at the Republican National Convention
(I can’t take credit for it ~ John Podhoretz had it on his FB page last night and I about lost my cookies. )