Bits & Pieces (Tuesday Night Open Mic)

The intellectual difference as to how men and women frame their personal narratives.

Can men and women just be friends?

The men answer no, but leave out the obvious answer: “Well, sure, if she’s not attractive.” 😉

I love the fact that, after listening to all these women say that men and women can be “just friends”, he asks the follow up question: “So, do you think he would hook up with you, if you gave him a chance?”

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All the pictures you could ever want to permanently crush any hope you might have ever held for the future of humanity.

President Gingrich

I’ve noted elsewhere that lots of people don’t think Newt Gingrich has a prayer of becoming president, not even the Republican nominee.

Lee Stranahan thinks Newt Gingrich is inevitably our next president. Well, that makes two people (Newt, and now Lee). I still remain very dubious.

From back when the Gingrich campaign was imploding, The 11 Craziest Things Newt Gingrich has Ever Said.

Is This Legal?

 I ran across this at one of the lefty sites.

Offering a candidate money to stand down is one of the tools used to suppress opposition activity in banana republics. If the offer made by Michael Savage isn’t against the law, it certainly should be. From the Savage Website (all caps in the original:

SAVAGE OFFERS GINGRICH $1 MILLION TO DROP OUT OF THE RACE — WILL ANNOUNCE ON SHOW TODAY

(SUBJECT TO ALL THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS TO BE EXPRESSLY STATED BY DR. SAVAGE, INCLUDING GINGRICH DROPPING OUT WITHIN 72 HOURS OF TODAY)

Does this violate USC 18.I Ch 29 § 600?:

§ 600. PROMISE OF EMPLOYMENT OR OTHER BENEFIT FOR POLITICAL ACTIVITY

Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Morning Report

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1237.7 8.4 0.68%
Eurostoxx Index 2273.8 4.330 0.19%
Oil (WTI) 98.44 0.670 0.69%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 79.53 -0.035 -0.04%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.05% 0.04%

Markets are rallying this morning on a better-than expected bond auction in Spain. Retail Sales came in lower than expected, though. Retail Sales came in + .2% vs expectations of +.6%. Retail sales less autos and gas came in +.2%. Later this afternoon, we will get the FOMC decision. Nobody expects any changes, but the market will focus on the language. It will be interesting to see how Europe is addressed. While US banks don’t have huge exposure to Irish and Greek banks, they do have massive exposure to the UK, German, and French banks.

Best Buy is down premarket after stinking up the joint with a lousy 3Q earnings report. The miss was largely attributed to “promotional costs,” which is retailer-speak for “we had to cut prices more than expected to move the merchandise.” This has been a consistent theme – the consumer is back spending money, but they are very price-sensitive.

The MF Global hearings will continue this afternoon with testimony in front of a Senate Panel. Jon Corzine will be there, as well as MF Global’s CFO and COO. The CFO and COO have stated in prepared testimony that they don’t know where the customer funds went either.

Debtors’ Prisons

I read a couple of pieces this morning that literally shocked me.  Apparently in a few states the collection agencies have found creative ways to get around the rights of debtors.  It’s easy really, you just file a lawsuit and ostensibly serve a notice to appear, then if and when they don’t show, voila, an arrest warrant.  I could tell some stories regarding collection agencies, and maybe I will, but for now suffice it to say when we get calls here at work asking for our collection business, I’m uncharacteristically rude.

First I read this:

Take, for example, what happened to Robin Sanders in Illinois.
She was driving home when an officer pulled her over for having a loud muffler. But instead of sending her off with a warning, the officer arrested Sanders, and she was taken right to jail.
“That’s when I found out [that] I had a warrant for failure to appear in Macoupin County. And I didn’t know what it was about.”

Sanders owed $730 on a medical bill. She says she didn’t even know a collection agency had filed a lawsuit against her.

“We hear time and again from the legal aid lawyers who ultimately find out often about these people when they’re in jail that people didn’t even know there was a lawsuit against them, let alone a judgment had been entered,” Madigan told WBEZ. Her office is investigating agencies that may be abusing the law, and said judges need to be fully aware of debtors’ rights before such hearings.
Madigan said such practices could lead to modern-day debtors’ prisons, and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation hopes to ban the practice altogether next year.
Arrest warrants for debtors are “flourishing statewide,” Madigan told the Wall Street Journal, but Illinois is not alone. The paper reports that judges in nine counties across the country have signed off on 5,000 debt-related warrants since 2010. 

And then this: 


With a slow economy, the number of debtors going to jail in Illinois is on the rise.
It’s illegal in Illinois to throw a debtor in jail for not being able to pay, but some creditors are getting around that. A collection agency can file a lawsuit which might require a court appearance. If the debtor doesn’t appear at the hearing, a warrant can be issued for their arrest.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in some cases, the court notices aren’t being served.

This one’s behind the WSJ paywall:

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, in an interview, vowed to push state-court judges to quash arrest-warrant requests by lawyers representing the fast-growing debt-collection industry. Ms. Madigan also said she will file enforcement actions against companies that “abuse” their power to seek arrest warrants under Illinois law.
“We can no longer allow debt collectors to pervert the courts,” said Ms. Madigan, a Democrat who took office in 2003. 

Another WSJ piece I was able to read:

Earlier this year, Vanderburgh County, Ind., Superior Court Judge Robert Pigman asked Indiana’s highest court to review the legality of debt-related warrants after law-enforcement officials complained they can’t quickly access arrest orders for dangerous criminals because their computer system is clogged with debt cases. The Indiana Supreme Court hasn’t responded to the request.
In September 2009, Jeffrey Stearns, a concrete-company owner, answered a knock at the door from a Hancock County, Ind., deputy sheriff. The deputy was holding a warrant to arrest Mr. Stearns for not paying $4,024.88 owed to a unit of American International Group Inc. on a loan for his pickup truck.
After being handcuffed in front of his four children, Mr. Stearns, 29 years old, spent two nights in jail, where he said he was strip-searched and sprayed for lice. Court records show he was released after agreeing to pay $1,500 to the loan company. “I didn’t even know I was being sued,” he said, though he doesn’t dispute owing the money. “It’s the scariest thing that ever happened to me.”

Does anyone else find this as alarming as I do?

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