The Deadman Night Rider

A forum for evening students of the SMU Dedman School of Law and other outlaws..

Friday, July 29, 2005

He is here -

Word is in - Liam is here. Born 1:29AM July 29, 6 lbs. 12 oz, 21 inches long. Ryan, Steph, and Liam are all doing well. Congratulations - we have a new Turner!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Who knew??

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE** I've got a text message that the epidural is in place. It's 12:30 in the AM - the Deadman is going to catch some sleep, but the target time is 4AM, so we'll post it as we get it.

In the last update, RK and Steph were deep into their breathing exercises - but since they never got to finish their Lamaz classes, they were using the techniques they'd learned in yoga. Who knew those yoga classes would come in so handy?

This is not a drill, this is not a drill....

Exclusive!! The word is that at 9:30PM we had water breakage. Dilation currently at 4 cm and expanding - 10 is the magic number. It looks like we might make July 28 after all - stay tuned.

We'll be up late here to see what happens and blog it on the spot!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The word is go...

The Deadman has just received word that Liam is on final approach. It looks like July 28 is the day - the docs will induce some labor tomorrow morning. Instructions from Kellus are to fire off a prayer at the top of every hour. Steph is doing fine and everything looks good. Ryan, this is the best I could find on short notice - a dancing R2D2 for Liam's entry from orbit.

Everybody else - stay tuned and the Deadman will keep you updated on breaking news...

UPDATE: Our anonymous source close to the events reports a launch delay 'til Friday. The Deadman is too squeamish and inexperienced in this area to fully understand the technical reasons for the delay, but the upshot is that Steph is just fine and that things are progressing normally (email me if you want more detail). So July 29 is the new target date.

For the record, the anonymous source also assures us that Steph is not, and has never been, an officer for the CIA and is under no official cover.


OK - headed home now. It's 7:15 and I'll be incommunicado for about an hour til I hit Ft. Worth, by which time we should have a Liam update. I'll post the outcome if we have it.

Back on Stork Watch -

The Deadman has been put back on stork watch as of 3:15. Based on Steph's condition, if her protein levels remain high this afternoon and into the evening, the doctors are going to induce labor at 8PM Texas time. Whoever had July 27, you're ticket is looking good!!

The Deadman will continue to provide breaking news as it develops - Come on, Liam!!

False Alarm

It looks like Liam gave us a head fake - we're back off active stork watch for now. RK, Steph - we're thinking of you, and awaiting the arrival anxiously.


Ok, people - we are officially on stork watch. It looks like Liam could be set to reverse a generations-long Turner trend and arrive early - the Deadman will keep you updated...

Friday, July 22, 2005

Enough is enough...

The AP has a story up on former intelligence officers testifying before Senate and House Democrats today. Patrick Lang, a retired Army and defense intelligence officer, was quoted as saying foreigners thinking of cooperating with US operatives would be deterred due to the message the President's handling of the Wilson/Plame debacle is sending.

"This says to them that if you decide to cooperate, someone will give you up, so you don't do it," Lang said. "They are not going to trust you in any way."

Foreign assets don't have to worry about Karl Rove giving them up - the CIA does a good enough job of that on its own. In fact, the whole reason the law they're trying to ding Rove with was enacted was because the Agency was so lax in protecting the cover of its officers and agents. What's really got these guys steamed is that now everyone knows what their idea of human intelligence is - providing one self-interested diplomat (tapped by his wife, who walked through the front door at Langley every day) an open expense account to go meet with another self-interested diplomat to pick up a forged document. Not exactly John le Carre...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Walk the walk, Musharraf -

Pervez Musharraf, obviously hoping to defray some bad mojo coming his way over the first string of London bombings, made a televised address to the people of Pakistan even as the second wave of bombs went off today. Noting that the UK should do more to crack down on Islamist extremists in their country, including groups issuing fatwas for the death of Musharraf himself, he promised some new steps to combat militants inside Pakistan such as registering madrassas, restricting funding to banned groups, and cracking down on hate literature. Basically the same ineffective half-measures warmed over.

We've heard all this before. Pakistan, we've covered your back - India isn't going to get a Security Council seat, and we're watching their nukes. It's time to start seeing some bleary-eyed, unshaven dudes in handcuffs loaded on planes bound for London and Gitmo or better yet, some dust clouds raised in Waziristan.

Stand Fast II

One of the Deadman's comrades-in-arms has suffered a gross injustice. As usual, names must be withheld to protect the guilty. In solidarity with our brother, we say Stand Fast.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Prince Bandar resigns...

This article from Al-Jazeera confirms that Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi ambassador to the US for more than 20 years, has resigned. The Deadman doesn't know much, but it knows talent when it sees it - besides having a name befitting a Flash Gordon character, this guy has forgotten more about real politik, holding your cards close to your vest, and playing both sides of the street than most professional shysters will ever know.

I'm sure the Prince will be, and has been, well rewarded, as he has served his King and his realm well, usually to our detriment. Here's to wishing for a much less cagey successor...

Don't really have anything to say - I just like this photo from Yahoo news...

Monday, July 18, 2005

NYT still trying to reverse-engineer lemons out of lemonade…

The editorial page of the New York Times has been beside itself the past few months over the dearth of bad economic news coming down the pike. Since their attempts at manufacturing bad news, including breathless reports of the impending demise of the middle class, have been failures in the main, they’ve now turned to trying to parse bad news out of good. First there was Bob Herbert complaining that the recovery has produced too few jobs for high school dropouts and unskilled workers (which we used to be warned would be the only jobs left after the evil scourge of outsourcing had exported all the high-skill, high-wage jobs overseas), and today Paul Krugman opines that our 5 percent unemployment is just a chimera, lipstick on a pig.

Like a lot of other commentators recently, Krugman zeroes in on the fact that the government doesn’t count people who aren’t looking for work as unemployed – thus the disaffected, disenfranchised masses that have despaired of ever finding work and just given up aren’t included in the figure. This is a problem that, much like homelessness, only seems to occur during Republican administrations.

PK cites this report from a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank that claims the ‘true’ unemployment rate might be as high as 8%, calculated by comparing the proportion of non-working to working populations of various age groups at different points of past business cycles. He claims the study proves that there are millions of Americans out there who would be looking for jobs if there were more jobs to be had, which is like saying there would be a lot more hungry people if there were more food available. In fact, if you read the study itself, it concludes that the lower participation rate is not a result of reaction to the labor market, but due to other factors, including what it terms a ‘secular downshift’ in women’s participation in the workforce, a trend that was established even before the recession began. The other large drop off in participation was among teens, which surely ties into the increasing enrollment in college and tech schools – another positive development.

Even at the outside, 8% unemployment isn’t exactly soup lines and brother-can-you-spare-a-dime, but that doesn’t deter Krugman. He points to a Gallup poll revealing that only 3 percent of the respondents called the economy ‘excellent’ and 33 percent rated it ‘good’. He sarcastically suggests that perhaps people are just ungrateful, or that they’ve been misled by media reports. My feeling (just as much conjecture as Krugman’s) is that we are still clinging to the unrealistic hope the tech boom will re-occur. It’s tough to impress people who watched the Dow shoot from 3500 to over 10K in recent memory.

Krugman wraps it up with a telling question: where will future expansion come from, given the fact that we’ve cut taxes and interest rates so far? It’s no wonder he’s so pessimistic – his conception of the engine of economic growth is government. Have fun sucking on that lemon, Paul.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Four weeks and counting -

Four weeks ‘til the Deadman. It’s been a long time coming – so long I honestly thought it would never get here, and the road had so many twists you could never see far enough ahead to know if you were lost or still on the path. The summer – the whole year really – has gone by like a blur. But we’re ready. Here’s to the summer of 2005…

Friday, July 08, 2005

The wires are reporting today that Uzbekistan is reconsidering its support for the US military base located on the country's southern border. We should make this decision easy for President Islam Karimov - move the base to Afghanistan where it belongs and deprive this tin-pot, backward dictator of the revenue and support he has so undeservedly benefited from in the war on terror. He and his family have done their level best to drive their country into the ground to line their own pockets and it's high time we stopped aiding him in doing it.

Further south, Pakistan has promised to send another 4,000 troops to try to secure their border with Afghanistan to augment the purported 70,000 soldiers already on duty there - another empty, symbolic effort to try to hide the fact there are doing next to nothing. This New Zealand paper asks the question we should be seeing in bold print in every US news outlet: has Pakistan delivered in the war on terror? Obviously not.

Four years down the road, enough is enough. It's time for Pakistan to either deliver up bin Laden, or prove that he is not on their soil by eradicating the al Qaeda forces they've been turning a blind eye toward all this time. If Musharraf truly is unable to control that territory, then he should grant us leave to cross the northern border and we can do him the favor of pacifying it for him.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Stand fast -

On behalf of the The Deadman, stand fast London - Texas is with you...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Check out The People’s Tax Lawyer when you get a chance – a new blawger out there from Colorado. Even if you’re not a tax freak, I think he’s got an interesting take on things and isn’t your average bean-counter. (I’m wagering that instead of a Mao/Che thing, the name of the blog is a reference to either The Young Ones or The Rock, but that’s just me…)

The PTL has a good post on the uncertain link between the President’s broader ‘Ownership Society’ theme and various tax breaks for education, healthcare, retirement, and home ownership. He starts out by making a point that is generally lost in the media: the effect of these incentives is diluted as you go down the income scale because (as I’ve noted in a post below) an increasing number of tax-filers come out with no tax liability. As they say, if it bleeds it, it leads – and stories about low-income workers getting more from the EITC doesn’t play well beside glowing reviews of Nickel and Dimed or 30 Days.

I think the PTL is a little too pessimistic about these incentives, though – mostly because I believe he misidentifies the people they are targeted for. I’m, of course, going to do what anyone does when assessing tax policy – take my own situation and hold it up to be the norm :) There is absolutely no bigger fan of the Hope and Lifetime Learning credits than me – in the years that I was getting ready for the CPA exam and my wife was in undergrad and grad school, these credits were tremendously important to us. (Credit where credit is due – these are Clinton’s) During that time, we lived on one income ranging from $35 to $40K, with no kids – squarely middle class.

We were lucky enough to escape a lot of credit card debt, which PTL points out many people are dragging along. But if we had been borrowing on consumer credit, those educational incentives would have been even more vital for us – in effect allowing us to divert money from taxes to pay down our debt rather than from our educational expenses. The same would have held true for a mortgage if we’d had one.

On that score, he worries that the incentive toward home ownership might be perverse now, given the fears of a housing bubble and the fact that interest rates are expected to rise. This will put buyers of adjustable rate mortgages at a risk of higher rates of foreclosure. The simple solution to that is for people not to buy ARM’s when they know interest rates are going up. That’s really the problem at the heart of all this, though: tax incentives, any incentives, only work for people who make the right decisions. To put it more cynically, the fact that there are so many households with little or no savings isn’t an indication that the tax incentives for savings aren’t working – it’s that there is a large number of Americans who can’t be induced to save by any voluntary mechanism.

PTL has a point, though, that to reach that section of people - to pull them into the Ownership Society - is going to require non-tax measures. He suggests strengthening usury laws by capping credit card fees, which just seems like enabling to me - I'd prefer stronger truth-in-lending provisions to make borrowing more transparent. We've all seen the microscopic print in credit card agreements, and my simple little mortgage wasn't much better. Even as a CPA, I couldn't walk back and forth between my stated interest rate and my 'effective rate', as disclosed by federal mandate. Sadly, when I called my lender they couldn't either, since they didn't know all of the factors that went into the equation - which pretty much destroys any comparative value in the figure. I've read that is the state of the industry - and there's no way I believe that isn't exactly the way it was intended.