Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mike Yon falls for the Mexican Gun Canard... Or is it Mexi-Canard?

Alas, the wonderful reporter Mike Yon says he trusts nobody, but prints only the very deceptive version of one side.

Including the standard party line, "Weapons sources typically include secondary markets, such as gun shows and flea markets since—depending on State law—the private sale of firearms at those venues often does not require background checks prior to the sale or record keeping."

Complete with the usual zero examples.

(Messrs. Hoover and Placido might have said exactly the same thing about the cars and airplanes used in the drug trade, too. Where's the OUTRAGE (tm) over that?

Close the car classified loophole!!!)

And the most interesting thing they left out is a simple number- how many guns were seized?

Here's how the figures they provide are silly- "submitted for tracing". In ordered to be accepted for an ATFE trace, a gun submitted from outside the US must have some indication of lawful sale or production inside the US. ALL guns imported into the US MUST have a permanently stamped import mark.

I believe the ATFE will not trace or accept a submission for tracing of a foreign made firearm that does not bear a US import stamp. (I've submitted guns for tracing, but I'm not a foreign country, so I can't say that from personal experience.) Such weapons were never lawfully in the US, they never moved lawfully in any part of the US stream of commerce, and their numbers do not appear on any ATFE record or database. Even trying to trace them is a waste of time. Even if Mexico DID submit the million for tracing, and ATFE accepted them for tracing, if they had never moved lawfully in the US stream of commerce, they would NOT be among the guns that "could be traced".

So yes, it is entirely possible for the Mexican government to have seized a million guns, out of which only 1500 "could be traced". So even in this scenario, Mexico submits a million guns, ATFE traces them all, 1500 show up in the database, a million can't be traced, 1350 have US sources, 150 have no US source. So "Of 1,501500 guns, 90% of those that could be traced come from US sources. " is actually true, and sounds terrible.

1501500 x 90% = 1350.

Talk to anyone at ATFE, or anyone who submits guns for tracing.

Find out how many actual guns were seized in fiscal 2007, not how many were submitted.

Find out how many of them were made in the US after 1968, which is when very poor records were first kept.

Find out what the ATFE trace database actually covers.

Find out how many of the traced guns were stolen from their US owners.

He's a better reporter than this.

Merci au the Armed Schoolteacher for the original term.

Monday, March 30, 2009

General Motors' Highest Value Is As A Power Base Expander . Or Dependency Expander....

Power base expander ? Dependency Expander ? * What are those?

Do please follow along with me...

(Work in progress here.)

We all know that a given market does only one thing- discover the highest use, or "value", for a given good or service to the people in that market at that moment. Even if the owner thinks the item belongs in the toilet, or even at the dump, the market knows better. The world experts may think an item is worth a certain sum, they can be very wrong. In both directions.

Old paintings burn like crazy. But even if you WANT to sell that Watteau for one pound as a fire starter, if you are in the market where Watteau people can set the price, the market won't let you.

And what does that mean about the buyers in those markets?

People who buy are buying because think that they can make the highest and best use of the item. If anyone else thought so more, that person would buy the thing.

Think about that little wedge of property between your house and your neighbour's. Too small to build on, a leftover of land division. You can use it, your neighbour can use it, but no one else can.

But neither of you buys it- because there's no higher use in your minds. It's always going to be vacant land.

Which brings me to the General Motors "bailout".

There's no more transparent, accessible to people in the business, instant feedback market than the NYSE. Since it's public, and there are always bid and ask prices, it's impossible to conceal value. (Absent fraud of course.)

And in a transparent market like that, there are plenty of people looking for undervalued things- people who believe the market is wrong. If they are , of course, they make a new market by their buying decision, like Morgan did with Bear Stearns.

A transparent market isn't "never wrong", but it's seldom wrong for very long. As I told my genius broker when I wanted to buy $10,000 worth of Bear Stearns options at $4...

So, what is General Motors? Is it a scrapeoff, or fixer upper?

The market has told us. No one in the car business is even interested in GM as a car making company. If it had value for that, plenty of people in that business would have bought it, EVENTUALLY, as its share price dropped. Hell, I'd have paid $100,000 for it.

But who has bought it? A car maker? A takeover/breakup shark?

No, the United States Government is the buyer.

And just in case that fact isn't enough, it was bought at a price that was, I think, greater than the open market capitalisation!

That is to say, You or I, or a consortium of our friends, could have bought General Motors for less than the "bailout" sum.


That's right, we paid more than the price tag, it without buying it!

Cherchez l'argent. No matter how apparently stupid, it is never waste- because something is gotten in exchange.

It's not a scrapeoff- there's no intent to close it down. In fact, the opposite is the plan.

So, what did "we" get for our money? What actual use are we going to make of GM? Because it's jolly well ours now.

OOh, I know! We're going to do with it what it does!

It's like that ragged house down the road which just sold. The new owner is going to resell it, fix it up, or tear it down. Because that's all he CAN do. He can't drive it to the store or sail it across the river or open up a steel mill. The house won't do any of those things.

So what else is GM other than a car maker and lender of money?

Its value IS to be "bailed out". I say this in all seriousness.

It's a huge interface with millions of voters- and their livelihoods, savings, pensions, debts, mobility, their health...

The only thing that makes GM valuable at this price is that it is a ready made conduit, all set up. What for?

Delivering loyalty payments from "the government" to reliable voters. Buying new loyalty from stockholders. Buying gratitude from the workers kept on who aren't paying their way. Patronage, from contracts and positions.

That, and an unrealistic pension/medical benefits scheme which, when it fails, can be "rescued". Think of how thankful all those sick old people will be!

And, of course, it's a laboratory for any scheme our masters want to "test" in the "real world".

And a sales tool for plundering and enslaving us all- so we'll hear, "Of COURSE the government can make universal health insurance work- look at GM!" "Of course we can borrow our way to prosperity- look at GM!"

It's an extortioner's dream- because the tache d'huile of GM spreads allll over...

"Not controlling (name of thing or process) will negatively impact all those jobs and pensions at GM, therefore..."

It's a thrill for the lefties, too. When they were growing up, GM, the world's largest industrial corporation, was an exemplar of evil. Exploiter. Obscene profits. Grinder of the faces of the poor. Union buster. Destroyer of the Earth, our home. Even Vietnam, since one of its great architects came from GM.

You'd think they would WANT GM to die. But now, they will sit on the board.

For the greater good, of course. Such a sacrifice.

What, you thought GM's purpose was to create and sell high quality, inexpensive vehicles and thereby increase share value?

Who are you, the ghost of Billy Durant or Eddie Rickenbacker?

That's SO 1910.

If you study its history, actually GM was mainly a financial company created to profit from the shakeout of profitable/unprofitable car makers. It (as opposed to its carmaking divisions) has at least since 1920, been a financiers' and accountants' company. Raskob and Sloan basically invented stock price valuation as a management tool.

The chickens are in a way coming home to roost on this one.

* "power base expander"


1. A business enterprise, organization, property, or other entity which was designed to do one thing but is used for its ability to increase a power base, usually political.

"General Motors was worthless as a car company. But it made a great power base expander for the Obama administration."

[Origin: 2009. Coined by Sciencegirl, first lexicographic publication by Staghounds.)

I prefer "dependency expander", which is what's happening here. But there are other power base expanders which might not be used to increase dependency at all, so that phrase is more useful.

It's not "founding fathers" or "cold war", nor is it as funny as bifixtural, but it is actually useful to describe a phenomenon I've not heard named before.

It might catch on.

Inspired by reflection on Tam's post today.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Smoking soles!

All retro this week. I lurve to see someone have fun dancing.

When I was little, my other granddam- the drinky, fun one- taught me to Charleston, at which she seems to have been something of a sensation when it was new and she was hitting the speaks.

(Sort of like having learned to drive from Eddie Rickenbacker. Which I didn't, but he did give me some driving tips, for when I got old enough.)

I am surely glad that it's one of the things one doesn't have to be very good at to enjoy. But twentythreeskidoo is pretty good-

And her YouTube page has lessons!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Dress A Day- Who Knew There Was A Blog About Dresses?

I put ADAD on my bookmarks a long time ago, but forgot to mention it here. Eejit me.

She did quote Sylvia of Hollywood- "...just go to a museum and take a look at the early Egyptian figures. Notice their sitting posture. You will see there wasn't a slumping abdomen in a tombful..."

But what I really like is The Secret Histories of Dresses.

"I knew there was trouble when I saw the grocery store. I mean, look at me, I'm not a grocery-store kind of dress..."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Provocative Clothing...

No, not that kind. But I'm sure I'll get hits from illiterate searchers.

No, Tam's post of yesterday reminded me of my first time wearing provocative clothing. It was on my first trip to England. I had lots of hunting laid on, and the bag with my black coat in it had failed to follow me. So I went to the Camden Lock flea market, which at that time was still fairly new. Rooted around among the previously owned clothing and found a passable black coat- only six pounds! As I paid with a 20, I told the girl that she had really helped me out in a crisis, and to keep the change. She asked what crisis, and the result was dramatic. She got all red, threw the money down (behind the counter), and started shouting abuse at me.

As did the other extras from "Trainspotting" in the shop. A couple of things were thrown at me, poorly, and so I retreated under fire. They pursued me for a little distance, too.

I agree with Fran Lebowitz that "If people don't want to listen to you what makes you think they want to hear from your sweater?", but now and then I'll wear a shirt or cap with a Hunt logo on it in urban England. It's good for a few hisses and "Hunt Scum!"s every time.

To which I always reply with a big smile and an invitation to come out for a day. None has yet said yes, but I'm hopeful. A day out in the country with happy people is always a benefit.

Good fun.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

NPR Journos Finally Notice Old Story, Get It Wrong...

So this morning K called me to tell me that NPR had a story in which their experts decided that the gun industry was not just recession proof, but recession driven! That's right, the trained gatekeepers of information noticed that S&W and Ruger stocks went up, and decided that since there's a recession, that must have caused it!

Tomorrow, NPR finds out that wet streets cause rain!

(To be fair, she told me that at the very end there was a line about "And maybe Obama has something to do with it.")

I haven't heard the piece, still looking and will post a link if I find it.

This has been a story in the internets for well over nine months, and we in the 2A world know exactly what drives it. The failure to see it is a pure example of the Pauline Kael effect. As I said, no one at NPR is, or will admit he is, or admit he knows someone who, came home from the gun show/ Wal Mart/ gun shop/ rural general store, or international ship unloading port and said, "#$%^&*, I can't believe how people are buying ammunition, magazines, and AR receivers."

Because admitting that you know even know someone who doesn't mean a shiny paper thing when he says magazine is probably career death at NPR.

There's some agenda going on here too, though. Remember, TheOne told those bitter, clingy gun nuts that he was no threat! All the Journalistic Experts agreed! Guns are a dead issue, it's Hope and Change and Stimulating the Economy!

The idea that there are enough Americans- and remember, gun nuts are Lower Middle Class Community College graduates at best- to keep the vast, shadowy, evil Gun Industry bucking a nationwide economic trend is scary! That must mean that huge numbers of people- dumb people, who should listen to the experts- don't believe what those experts are telling them!

Not only that, but they disbelieve to the extent that they are spending their about to be laid off paychecks directly and specifically on that disbelief.

It is, of course, a mistaken disbelief- those millians of "ordinary" Americans can't be right that TheOne was lying.

No! Get back on that mental reservation!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Gun Show of Shame...

So Saturday, after hunting with two packs (report tomorrow), Home Hunt had its annual do. On Sunday's menu was a drive to meet visiting friends at National Gun Day. I went directly from the thrash, arriving in plenty of time.

So I got out of the truck, still in my wing collared pleated shirt, cummerbund, striped trousers, and dancing slippers.

Tam gave me only the slightest raised eyebrow- she knows me too well- and I said, "Gun Show of Shame". *

Which phrase has apparently not made it into the mainstream of over 25, non hunting U. S. culture yet, judging from the blank stares which greeted me whenever I used it. Pull yourselves into the eighties, people!

My slightly anti friend K thought I'd get grief over how I was dressed. Only a couple of questions as we walked the aisles. My favorite was a dealer who watched me approach and decided to have a giggle- elbowing his audience and saying "You sure look pretty".

S- "Thank you, that's very flattering, but I'm afraid I'm only attracted to women. Keep trying though, I'm sure you'll find someone here."

All his chums larfed.

*Not technically correct, since I was the mighty Casey as usual.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Protestant Total Abstinence Union...

No fun of any kind!

I'll bet their meetings were a barrel of laughs.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Hunt Difficulties...

I've not been writing much lately, just not fired up. Perhaps because of a couple of hunt related difficulties.

In England, Exmoor is about to be a real wreck. Everyone knows the stereotype that we're stupid-

"Did you hear about the stupid foxhunter? So stupid that the others noticed".

But we aren't so dumb that we don't know what a pyramid scheme is. Alas, someone has started one up on the moor, and people are buying in. The two I heard of were three thousand and five thousand pounds to get into.

Now this is just a way to steal from one's neighbors. Whether it's legal (it's not, but I've heard people talk themselves into thinking it is), whether anyone is prosecuted, its wrong.

It's particularly disturbing that the Masters aren't speaking out against this evil. I've even been told that some are participating!

I hoped we were better than that.

And when it all collapses, there will be so much anger. You can sell someone a bad horse, or run off with his (or her) spouse, and he will get over it.

But he will ALWAYS miss that three thousand pounds.


Closer to home, my local hunt has split up after a quarrel. It must be what divorce is like for a child- "But I don't want joint custody! I want Father and Mother to be back together! What will we do about Christmas?"

These rifts happen from time to time in the hunting world, they are always ugly and sometimes just awful. We've been fortunate up until now, but the "perfect storm" arrived.

All these people, for me, are what family is supposed to be. As I said when the snit was getting out of hand, when elephants fight, all the grass can do is get trampled.

So I'm trying to be Switzerland, but it's difficult.

And of course, politics and economics are just awful. I finally get enough money to think about knocking off work, and now it will be worthless!

But none of these things are within my control or influence. Irritating none the less.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Global Warming Defective!

Hunting cancelled today, too. Lightweights.

It's never too anything to hunt.

Hunting friend told me they have 6 inches of snow there.

Later I had this conversation-

K- "Six inches of snow in Nashville? I'm in Detroit, and there's no snow at all!"

S- "Their Global Warming is broken! Call AlGore! It's a shame he can't keep it running in the place where he's supposed to live."