Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Marshmallow Cut
























I am told that my nieces call a marshmallow that's toasted this way an "Uncle Will marshmallow". I assumed it was because I'm so warm and sweet but suspect it has more to do with my hair style and the increasingly expanding size of my forehead.

There is a bit of a resemblance. . .

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Freeze or Get Down?

"Well, which is it, young feller? You want I should freeze or get down on the ground?" A great line from Raising Arizona. The confused bank customer asks this of an inept bank robber who has ordered everyone both to freeze and to get down on the ground.

The same scene will be replayed today at the White House when Barry O'B reportedly will sit down with a couple of too-big-to-fail bank CEOs. On the one hand, they've been told they screwed things up. They were greedy and preditory for making the loans that created the real estate bubble and the resulting meltdown of the financial system. They took too many risks and had to be bailed out at tax payer expense.

Now that they have become more cautious (the only thing in banking worse than not making a loan is making a bad loan), they're being told they're greedy for hoarding cash. They're not loaning money to small businesses to create jobs. This, of course, leads to higher unemployment which leads to such inconvenient outcomes as tea party protests and plummeting presidential popularity polls.

Well, which is it going to be, young feller? You want we should make good, safe loans that have a chance of being repaid or you want we should make risky small business loans that may in the short run create jobs and take the pressure off of you, Mr. President, but will surely add to the risk?

Loaning money to small business loans is tremendously risky. That's why Congress created the Small Business Administration--to make the loans that were too risky for bankers to make. You see, bankers have to make a profit or they go out of business. The SBA has never been profitable because even with government regulation, too many small businesses fail and default on their loans. Without the government backstop, many of those loans would never be made because they're too risky. (Kind of like the subprime loans that never would have been made had not the banks been pressured to do so by government regulators.)

In the end, tho, it just doesn't matter, Mr. Banker CEOs. You're too big to fail. Just make the loans, take the risk. The Government will just bail you out: it's Fannie and Freddie all over again.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Little Cash

Don't know why I like this so much other than that, philosophically, it's classic Johnny Cash.

"What's done in the dark will be brought to the light." Don't get above your raisin'.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crunchberries not a fruit?!?!?



Very disappointed to learn that Cap'n Crunch Crunchberries are not a fruit. An neither are Fruit Loops. So says a judge in California, the land of fruits and nuts.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Real Estate Doom

At this point, there is no light at the end of the tunnel--the real estate deflation tunnel. Read about it here.

More homes are in or are entering foreclose than there are homes for sale. Ballooning supply and no demand.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"disingenuity"


I made that word up. It's being disingenuous with ingenuity. The White House and our Congress are superstars of disingenuity. Two examples.

"The President will not sign a health care bill that is not budget neutral."

Ingenious. Fool people into thinking that insuring 20 to 30 million people will be "budget neutral" so the bill can be rammed through Congress. We'll all feel better bc. so many more people will be covered and it won't cost a thing.

Disingenuous. Take a government class,voters. The President doesn't get to make that decision! Congress does. What has Congress's record been on limiting the cost of entitlement programs? The bill that's out there now requires 500 billion dollars in Medicare cuts in order to achieve budget neutrality. When was the last time Congress cut Medicare? Let's try maybe, never. Do you trust Congress, Pelosi, & Co. to make those cuts in order to keep the President's budget neutrality promise? It will never happen. Barry O'B can sign all the "budget neutral" bills he wants but the resulting behemoth itself will never be budget neutral.

Second example: "I promise, those who want to keep their health insurance will get to keep it."

Ingenious. Fool people into thinking that they can keep their health insurance no matter what the government does. We'll all feel better bc. so many more people will be covered and our insurance won't change.

Disingenuous. The President and Congress don't get to decide what insurance most people get. For most working American families, the employer provides the health insurance options. For most people, the individual doesn't "decide" and certainly the government doesn't decide. (And you know why? Bc. during World War II the government stuck its nose into the private sector by setting controls on salaries. Companies then began providing pension and health care benefits bc. it was illegal to raise salaries.) The point is, despite what Barry O'B and his Congressional cohorts say, no one in the government can guarantee that you will get to keep your insurance because it's your employer who decides what kind of insurance you get. His promise is hollow, conniving, rhetoric.

The question that needs to be asked is, when faced with a government option that is cheaper (and, therefore, will provide a lower quality of care), do you trust your employer to continue offering you what you have now? Or, do you think your employer--in this climate, in this competitive world economy--will say, "tough tootie, take the government option." Either way, it's your employer--that "evil corporation"--and its shareholders who will decide whether you get to keep what you have. Not Barry O'B. What will be better for the shareholders' bottom line--continuing Cadillac plans or shuffling employees off to the government option?

The mystery remains. . . does Barry O'B really believe what he's saying? Someone that bright has got to know that he's making promises he can't keep. In which case he's both disingenuous and politically ingenious.

Or maybe he's just not that bright.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Randolph-Macon 0, Florida 45


Yes, little Randolph-Macon visited The Swamp and only lost by 45. Of course, the year was 1942 when The Swamp held a mere 22,800 Gator fans.

The Yellow Jackets only played three games that year, losing 45-0 to Florida and 40-0 to William & Mary. They did pound Richmond 6-0. The question is, why were they even playing football a year after Pearl Harbor? Dr. Scanlon explains that, at the time, many Virginia high schools ended at the 11th grade and, therefore, 17 year olds had a year before they were eligible to serve. Even so, hard to imagine there was room on the train for a frivolous football adventure.

Interestingly, as best I could find, the Jackets did not play Hampden-Sydney that year. The Tigers played four games, losing to W&M, UVa, W&L, and Richmond.

I wonder if there are any alumni left who remember that trip to Gainesville. It would be fascinating to hear that story.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Done Deal in Virginia?

I love watching the Intrade election futures market. At Intrade, people put down real money on upcoming elections as well as such doozies as the amount of snow to fall in NYC and academy award winners.

Supposedly, no candidate who ever hit $75 at Intrade (meaning, the market is predicting a 75% chance of winning) has ever lost an election. Don't know if that's true or not, but I do remember that Senator Webb hit $75 within a day of George Allen's infamous macaca flub.

Right now, McDonnell is trading at $95. Doesn't look good for the Dems in Va.

The New Jersey race is much more interesting with Dem incumbent Corzine at $64.50, Republican Christie at $35, and independent Daggett at $2.50. The Real Clear Politcs polls average has Corzine ahead of Christie by only 0.2% (39 to 39) with Daggett trailing at 15%. New Jersey Republicans had better win by more than the polls suggest bc. they don't have a prayer of winning a recount (ref. the jackass Senator from Minnesota).

The most pathetic thing at Intrade? "Charles Rangel departs as Chairman of the the Ways & Means Committee" by 12/31/09 is only selling for $20. What a crook. And it just doesn't matter.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

get out

It’s time to get out of Afghanistan.

Back in my UU days I wrote a piece on the reasons for going into Iraq for round two. Try as I might, I can’t find that bit in my computer files, but from what I remember there were six or eight reasons for invading Iraq. This is what I can remember:

1. Saddam was a tyrant and a threat to Middle East stability. No one on any moral level could possibly defend the system he had created.

2. The American public was behind it.

3. The terrain in Iran was flat—good for us. We would be able to fight on our terms. We were going to win, militarily, without a doubt.

4. Arabs historically have been pathetic warriors. They quit rather that fight.

5. Iraqis were a relatively well-educated population with a history that had included visions of democratic rule.

6. Iraq had oil. Yes, stability in the oil markets was worth fighting for.

7. Fight them over there and we wouldn’t have to fight them here. Or, at least, it would be less likely that we would fight them here.

I can’t remember if those were exactly the same things I listed in those days before Facebook but it’s pretty close. At any rate, let’s apply this list to Afghanistan today.

  1. The government in Afghanistan is not a tyranny. Surely it’s corrupt when measured by Western standards, but the Taliban has been overthrown.
  2. The American public has turned against involvement in Afghanistan. O’Reilly says 60% are against it but I’m too lazy to fact check that.
  3. The terrain in Afghanistan is anything but flat. We can’t roll in the tanks. The mountainous topography favors those who walk it, who grew up in it--not those (Americans) who are interlopers.
  4. Afghanis are historically tenacious fighters. Ask the British, ask the Soviets. Does no one read a history book? These guys have been at war for decades if not centuries. It’s what they know. They will never quit.
  5. There is little history in Afghanistan of any sort of respect for, desire for, or vision of democratic institutions. It’s a tribal society that rejects central authority. Good citizens put tribal interests above the rule of law. They’re not buying what we’re trying to sell them.
  6. They don’t have oil. They have opium and pistachios. We need neither. Grandma will not freeze in the winter when the opium and pistachio supplies are cut off. Afghanistan is missing the key ingredient of democratic governance—a stable, prosperous, educated middle class. And they won't have that ingredient in this lifetime.
  7. They are not a threat to us. Sure, when we leave, the Taliban will take back over and Al Qaeda will re-establish training camps. That’s what cruise missiles are for. (Do we still have neutron bombs?) And, sure, it will be seen internationally as a defeat for America. That’s why we have aircraft carriers and B-2 bombers. If things get too bad, we can turn Venezuela into a modern-day Granada to re-establish our standing as a superpower.

My Pa spent a Christmas or two of my childhood away from home on a submarine dropping frogmen off on the shores of North Vietnam when he could have been home with his wife and kids. To this day I judge the sacrifice he and his family made with one simple question: for what? It’s clearer to me why it was that Pa missed Christmases in my youth than it is clear to me why we are sending soldiers to die in the mountains of Afghanistan. For what, I ask.

What makes this worse? The Obama government is quite simply incapable of dealing with Afghanistan. They lack the will to succeed. On the stump, O’B called this the just war so that he could be elected. But he was elected by folks who don’t want war. He can’t back down without the demagogues on the right crushing him and he can’t crack down without alienating his base. In the meantime, our soldiers are dying every day as they, their families, and Americans everywhere ask, for what?

We can’t fight this war half-way and expect to succeed. I don't think we even have a vision of success. A request for more troops is not the same as the request by some Ivy League professor for tenure. A tenure request requires months of meetings and “input”. Deliberation. Contemplation. White House politicos sit around holding meetings and deliberating and studying whether or not they think the Karzai government deserves our support—as if war strategy were some sort of trifling academic exercise. All this as American kids are dying. That reality ought not be taken so lightly. What a waste. And for what?

The will is not there to do what it takes to win.

So get out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

If "We Take"

Dennis "Ooogo Chavez" Kucinich (D-Ohio) says, "we" should "take" all of the insurance industry's profits to pay for ObamaCare. "If we take that money . . .and put it into care we cover everyone." He sounds like he's trading marbles on the play ground.

Who's "we" and who gives them permission to "take", Denny? Questions for another time.

My question for now is who's right on what it is the HMOs make? Dennis K. says they make $800 billion with a "b" a year. IBD says that all together HMOs only make $13 billion. So according to IBD, total gross profit for all the HMOs is the same as the annual gross profit for WalMart, the same as for Johnson & Johnson. Oracle's gross profit is running at an annual rate of $18 billion. If Dennis K. is right, we can just nationalize the HMOs and pay for everyone. If IBD is right, "we" could "take" 100% of HMO profits over ten years and it wouldn't even pay for a fifth of the Baucus plan.

The Baucus plan in the Senate also would tax HMOs $6 bil. a year, just under half of the HMOs' annual profit (using the IBD figure). HMOs would either have to eat about half of their profits (if IBD is right) or pass the $8 billion on to its customers, thus raising rates.

So which is it--$800 billion or $13 billion?

There's not enough money in the world to pay for this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ham & Sue


Wifey, #3 son, and legendary Steelers linebacker Jack Ham, anchor of the Steel Curtain.

At the Penn State game, of course.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

So True

"Good economics is horrible politics and good politics is horrible economics."

Craig Smith
CEO, Swiss America on the Cavuto show today

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Teabagger Signs

Here are my faves from watching some of the Tea Party coverage out of D.C. yesterday--in no particular order. Man, is some of it harsh:

"No Child Left a Dime"
"You Are Not Entitled to What I Earn"
"Obama Been Lyin'"
"The Constitution: The Other Document They Didn't Read"
"The IRS is 96 Years Old--Let It Die"
"Obama is a Dick-tator"
"Bankrupt America, Yes We Can"
"I'm Not Your ATM"
"NOBAMACARE"
"Change We Can't Afford"
"Karl Marx is Not a Founding Father"
"Bury ObamaCare with Kennedy"

My personal favorite. . . .
"Chains We Can Believe In"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

There he goes again. . . .

Which is the BS statement in Barry O'B's speech? That part that he wants to work together to come up with a solution? Or that part where he blames the problem on the previous administration and the greedy insurance executives and then calls people who disagree with him liars?

Can't have it both ways, dude. Tho, it's certainly not the first time you've talked out of both sides of your mouth.



Thanks, John.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Taxing Effect

Start with a dollar, double it every day ($1, $2, $4, $8. . .) and you'll be a millionaire sometime after lunch 20 days later.

Do the same thing, but this time pay a daily 35% income tax and in 20 days you will have a whopping $22,371. That's no typo--$22,371 versus $1,048,576.

What lessons should we learn from that?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

#1?--"Yo, Adrianne!"


The first movie I ever took a girl to see.

Go Philly!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

BOOOOOO Santa


Philadelphia Eagles fans really did boo Santa Claus. Of course, it wasn't the real Santa, but rather a 170 pound draftee who was plucked from the stands when the real Santa failed to show up. "Santa" claims he wasn't drunk, altho, folks who were there testify that he was stumbling.

Hilarious.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

No More Viagra Under ObamaCare

Page 643 of the House bill says no more Viagra under the new health care insurance reform. White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs argues that Viargra use leads to more pregnancies which leads to more children, greater health care costs, and more severe climate change due to the increased carbon footprint that new borns create.

(Kidding, kidding, I'm just trying to get on the White House list of bloggers spreading "fishy" disinformation.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Break Out the Champagne

"We're losing jobs at half the rate we were at the beginning of this year," says Barry O'B.

Woohoo!

Guess that's why I'll never be Pres. The remark, made at a campaign rally for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Virgina, was met with great cheers. He was bragging. Bragging when unemployment continues to increase? I won't be Pres. bc. I could never brag about an increase in unemployment. Even if the rate of increase is slowing.

The campaign never ends.

Friday, July 31, 2009

I Love This



Two of my favorites, Emmylou and Dave Mattehws, paying tribute to The Best. A wonderful version. Haunting.

Surprised to find out Johnny Cash didn't write this.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Classic

This is classic. In a sickening sad sort of way. At Friday prayers, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, said, "Iran's laws do not allow vote-rigging." Since it's not allowed, I guess it doesn't take place.

Vote rigging is bad [HA!] but stoning women and gays to death is perfectly fine. Savages.

Perhaps an even more revealing quote found in the same Friday prayer sermon: "I will not succumb to illegal innovation." Therein lies the problem. It's all up to the Supreme Leader and he doesn't want change. He certainly can't have any innovation.

This is what happens when you mix politics with religion.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Will the FBI Come Arrest Me. . .

If I suggest that this tactic might work well if applied to Capitol Hill?

Helicopter load after helicopter load of rat poison. Hell, it worked in Alaska. . . .

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Stanley Cup tonight!


It ends tonight. (They don't fight in the playoffs.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Too Poor to Divorce?

This study concludes that fewer Brits are divorcing bc. of the hard economic times. Let's stand it on its head: maybe more Brits are staying married bc. they're having more sex. It's free. Much cheaper than a night out for dinner and the opera in London. . . .

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Millionaires Aren't Stupid

Pick on them and they move out of state. Says the Wall Street Journal:

Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. . . .One year later . . . one-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000. . . . On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates.

So Maryland is $206 million behind in estimated revenue from the special millionaire tax. Of course, correlation does not mean causation. Some of the 1,000 in that bracket may only have been in that bracket temporarily because of one time capital gains and many probably have dropped out of that bracket due to the economy.

My guess? Many of them are folks who own vacation condos in Florida, which has no state income tax, or second homes on a beach, lake, or golf course in Virginia or the Carolinas--all of which have lower state tax burdens than Maryland. These people just changed residency.

Of course, the Maryland Mistake is compounded by the federal alternative minimum tax. The AMT limits the amount of deductions taxpayers in these high tax brackets can take. Thus in high tax states like Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, folks pay the onerous state taxes and then can't fully deduct them on their federal income tax returns. Double whammy.

Don't be whiney babies, you say--they're rich so they can afford it. Fine. They just won't be affording it in Maryland any more. They'll go to Virginia or Florida or Texas where they can afford it a little easier. So where does that leave Maryland? And . . . where does that leave VA, FLA, and Texas?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

North Koreans


This wins the prize for Best Blog Post Title for this week:

If John Bolton writes a column predicting that I win a hundred million dollars, I’ll split it with him

A week ago, former US Ambassador to the UN Bolton predicted in the NY Times that North Korea was preparing to test another nuke. Personally, I can't put this on Barry O'B bc. the North Koreans are crazy. How do you deal with that?

Who're also crazy are the Lefties who attacked Bolton for his prediction. My guess is that even today they are refusing to eat the crow.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Solution to the Gitmo Problem


All that rancor between Cheney and Barry O'B last week. It suddenly struck me: let's just re-name it Tuantanamo? Titmo.

It worked with Congressional pork which is now "investment" and new taxes which are now called "revenues". Liberals have become "progressives". Global warming is now "climate change"--something that everyone knows we need to work to prevent. Bush's War on Terror has morphed into the "Overseas Contingency Operation". Illegal aliens are now "undocumented" something-or-others.

Think of the wrench this new name would throw into the terrorist recruiters' game plans. It used to be all that the recruiter had to say was, "Hey, Abdullah, do you want to blow up some Americans? They are evil: they pour water up our Muslim brothers' noses. They play loud music to keep them up late at night and lock them in boxes with caterpillars. It all happens at Gitmo. Let's blow up some Americans and they will close Gitmo and our Muslim brothers will stop being tortured." The Abdullahs of the world evidently have been jumping all over that.

But if Guantanamo were re-named Tuantanamo, when the terrorist recruiters mention these abominations, the Abdullahs of the world will reply, "Get out of here: there is no Gitmo any more. There's been change in Washington. Gitmo has been closed."

Replies the recruiter, "Don't believe those American dogs! Titmo is the same thing as Gitmo, they just changed the name! Don't you see? They're still the same Muslim-torturing, Kuran-debasing, Bush-Cheney respecting, Infidels that they've always been."

"Go find some other sucker, Mr. Terrorist Recruiter, the Americans are nice now. There has been Change. I feel the Change and I feel better. I'm down with the new administration."

If we re-named it we wouldn't have to move anyone anywhere. We wouldn't have to spend $80 million to tear down the facility that cost $200 million to build.

And besides, Titmo sounds much nicer than Gitmo. It's softer, warmer. It makes you want to hug it, snuggle it, cuddle and nuzzle it. Who would ever have a problem with spending time in Titmo?

hilarious

George came back from college and turned me into a hockey fan. Tho, probably not this bad. Yet. . . .

Amateurs

Did he or didn't he? That is the question.

Maryland Conservatarian: Robert Gibbs Refines Barack Obama's Resume

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hummer's for sale


I don't mean "hummers for sale"--evidently that's what Craig's list is for. Hummer's for sale--with an apostrophe. The whole division of GM. For a cool $200 million it could be yours.

That's just two times what we've reportedly pledged to help rebuild Gaza. That's one thirtieth of what GM lost in the first three months of this year alone. Don't think $200 mil. will solve the prob, GM.

Maybe Tata Motors (ticker symbol TTM) will buy Hummer. Wouldn't that be cool to build both the Nano and the Hummer?

What are the chances that more good money will be thrown after bad to preserve those UAW jobs, UAW campaign contributions, UAW Democratic votes?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mujahideen ate the zoo animals


The headline here reads that the Afghanis quarantined a pig bc. of the swine flu panic. But read on, McDuff. The most interesting part of the article: they ate the bunnies in the zoo! One dastardly Muslim fighter grenaded a poor defenseless lion leaving him (the lion that is) blind and toothless.
Mujahideen fighters then ate the deer and rabbits and shot dead the zoo's sole elephant. Shells shattered the aquarium.

One fighter climbed into the lion enclosure but was immediately killed by Marjan, the zoo's most famous inhabitant. The man's brother returned the next day and lobbed a hand grenade at the lion leaving him toothless and blind.

Savages. (Tho, I would like to think that one of my brothers would grenade any zoo animal that ate me.)

I got the picture here where there is also a good definition of Mujahideen.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

An Apple a Year


How would you like a diet that only required you to eat one less apple per year?

At his cabinet meeting the other day, Barry O'B made a grand production out of asking his bureau chiefs to find a way to cut $100 million with an "m" in wasteful government spending. Thought at the time that surely he meant $100 billion with a "b", but it slipped from my mind.

Today's lead editorial in IBD shocked me back to life. Remember, this guy sent a budget to Congress that totals $3.6 trillion with a "t". That's a proposed budget for one year.

Here's a blurb from IBD:
To get a real sense of just how little is being asked of his Cabinet, consider:

• If Obama were your dietician, you'd only have to give up an apple a year to abide by his diet plan.

• If he wanted you to cut your gasoline consumption, you'd have to drive just one-third of a mile less in a year.

• And if he wanted you to waste less water, you'd only have to reduce the time you spend in the shower on one day of the year by 30 seconds.

We forget how big a billion is, can't comprehend the size of a trillion. A hundred million is actually quite a lot of money to most of us. But it's really nothing on a relative scale.

There just isn't enough money to do what he and the Dems in Congress want to do. You could and take all we've got and that still wouldn't be enough.

Read the whole editorial here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Raised Eye Brow

My guess? No matter what the plastic surgeon says, to close a crater that big, my brow will look like this for the rest of my life.

It adds character.

Buy the poster here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Barry O'B Bows to the King


Ironic that as a nation we have had to bow to the Arabs economically since 1973 but only now does our President actually do it in person. GW was just as bad, by the way, when he kissed the King and held his hand.

We will continue bowing metaphorically until this country puts the bureaucrats, the Greenies, the NIMBYs, and the scaredy-cat hippies in their place and starts building more nuclear power plants. We'll be bowing until we start drilling in Alaska and off our own shores and until we embrace coal for electricity and natural gas for our truck fleet.

It's sad--sad that we're bowing and sad that this government can pass an emergency "stimulus" package in a matter of days, if not hours, but seems to be powerless to do anything effective to remove this Arab yoke from our neck.

Sad, too, that Barry O'B's spin doctors deny that he bowed. No, that's more pathetic than sad. We're back to arguing about what the meaning of "is" is.

[How PC of Wikipedia to change the name of the "Arab Oil Embargo" to the "1973 Oil Crisis".]

He Qualifies


Wrote before about folks falling into one of two categories. Without a doubt, this guy is pretty much of a dick.

His interview on The Tyra Banks Show is on Youtube but it's not worth publishing the link.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Great Mardis Gras costume

This cracks me up. Came in an email--a mystery Mardis Gras reveler.

Tho, it must be tough reveling with all those young uns.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Can you afford $48,000 more?


IBD reports that Barry O'B's budget would put every American family $48,000 deeper in debt.

In the next five years alone, Obama's budget adds $5.7 trillion to the U.S. debt. That's $48,000 per household. Put in perspective, servicing that debt each year will cost as much as the annual defense budget by the end of the decade.
So we'll be spending as much on debt service as on defense? Ouch. (My prediction is that we'll be spending more bc. the Dems will cut defense as soon as they get the opportunity.)

It's beyond words. . . .

I swiped the picture from here.

DeSantis Quits

Hey, somebody at AIG did quit. His resignation letter, published on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times, is a must read.

Just goes to prove there are two sides to every story. I wish Mr. DeSantis well and hope the demagogues get what they deserve.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What if they all quit?


What happens if all the folks who got those bonuses at AIG just quit?

A small detail that hasn't been mentioned much--these were retention bonuses. In other words, in theory, they were offered to employees in order to keep them from fleeing the company. After all, these were folks who had been working for a big insurance company, not the government.

So what if they all decide not to come to work tomorrow? What would whoever's-in-charge do? Promote into executive positions junior AIG employees who didn't get bonuses? Hire people away from Travelers or State Farm? Hire people from government regulatory departments?

I mean, doesn't whoever's-in-charge there at AIG have an important job to do? Don't they need to pick up the pieces and put this thing back together--get rid of the the crap and make it a profitable company again?

Maybe they can tax bonuses 90% and still retain the best people who have stuck it out this long. Maybe.

My guess is not, tho. My guess is that they will hire (in a figurative sense) postal workers, DMV cashiers, OSHA inspectors, IRS & Social Security Administration help desk phone operators, and airport security wand-wavers. And if that's not who they hire to fill the vacancies, that's what the remaining employees will be turned into.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ripples

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost;
For want of the shoe, the horse was lost;
For want of the horse, the rider was lost;
For want of the rider, the battle was lost;
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Gotta love Mother Goose. Timeless. Here's a modern day version to ponder:

Blabber Mouth Barney and Congressional Cohorts attack some TARP-receiving corporation for having a corporate retreat at a fancy resort.
The Acme Widget Company board fears bad publicity, stockholder backlash, and Congressional subpoenas.
Said board cancels its Gold Legion Sales Award program in Las Vegas.
Vegas hotel vacancy rates skyrocket.
Vegas hotels lay off workers.
Laid off Vegas workers quit making house payments.
Banks foreclose on laid off Vegas workers.
Banks now own lots of Vegas real estate.
Banks have to take TARP funds.
Blabber Mouth Barney gets to tell banks what to do.

The winner? Blabber Mouth Barney gets his mug on TV, gets more votes, and gets more power to tell banks what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot pay their employees, and--just around the corner, it's coming--who they have to lend to.

The losers? The taxpayers. The taxpayers' grandchildren. Everyone else in the chain.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tidbits of Good News


Good news in the news in the last couple days.

First, home sales are way up in the Land of Arnold. Twice as many California homes sold in Jan. '09 as did in Jan. '08. Of course, the median home price dropped 40% year-over-year. But isn't that good for the buyers?

What's even better is that the inventory of homes plummeted from a 16.6 month supply to a 6.7 month supply. A shorter supply may lead to price increases. Time will tell. Read the article here at IBD.

Of course real estate is local and just because prices may be nearing a bottom in La La Land doesn't mean it's necessarily a bottom for the rest of us. BUT, if the Left Coast is bottoming out, the rest of the country will follow and will probably end up hitting a bottom that's no worse than California's. The most recent Case Shiller Report puts L.A. at 37.5% off it's Nov. '05 all-time peak. That's Dec. '08 data. If this does end up being the bottom in L.A., look for the rest of the country to follow in the next year or so. Of course a bottom is one thing and a rebound is another.

The other bit of good news is that the Baltic Dry Index seems to have bottomed. This index tracks the cost of transporting dry goods such as coal, cement, ore, and grain by ship. The higher the index, the greater the demand for shipping. A Baltic Dry Index on the rise means that credit must be flowing and countries are trading. A good thing. Read about it here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Triple Baconator

Now this is truly painful to watch. But fun in an odd sort of way.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

So Are French Fries


The Sunday morning chat shows were full of powerful Dems this morning raving about Barry O’B’s approval ratings--NY Sen. Schumer, VA Gov. and DNC Chairman Kaine, Meet the Press host David Gregory. It’s true: the President is very popular. But ya know what?


So are french fries.


Just because something's popular doesn't mean it's good for you.


Don't get me wrong, it's good, it's refreshing to have a popular figure in the White House once again. But being popular doesn't create one new job or save one single "victim" of "predatory" lending. So while I would still say that the President is a pretty good guy, the debt that he and the Congress are running up and the energy, health care, and tax policies that he bandies about are, in the long run, about as helpful for our economy as french fries are for our arteries.


Ahh, but it makes for good politics.





Friday, March 6, 2009

How Low Could It Go?


Fascinated by the similarities bet. the Dow crash of '29 and the Nasdaq crash of '00, I decided to look into it a little further. Here's the poop.

The Dow peaked in August, 1929. From there it fell 87%, bottoming in July 1932. "The entire gains of the Roaring Twenties boom and more were wiped out in just three years," writes Harry S. Dent, Jr (p. 274). Interestingly, by July 1933, just one year off the low, the Dow rallied 300%! From there it faded 50% to hit another low (tho not as low as 1932) in 1942. From this second low, it took 12 years to regain the 1929 high. So $10,000 invested in the Dow in August 1929 wouldn't be worth $10,000 again until November 1954, 25 years later.

The interesting thing, the thing that caught my eye, anyway, is that the Nasdaq fell by almost an identical amount, 84%, when that bubble popped in 2000. It peaked at 5132 on March 10, '00 and bottomed at 807 on March 3, '03. From that '03 low the Nasdaq rose 350% to 2810 in November 2007. Today it's trading around 1280, roughly 55% off the '07 high and 75% off the '00 high.

So the question is, if the Dow dropped 87% from it's '29 high and the Nasdaq dropped 84% from it's '00 high, will history repeat itself with this latest carnage? The Wilshire total market index hit it's high October 11, '07 at 15,819. If it drops 85% and takes three years to do it, as the markets did with these other two bubbles, it will bottom around 2375 sometime in the fall of 2010.

Today, the Wilshire sits at right around 6900. So if history repeats itself with an 85% drop off the '07 high, we are going to drop 65% more from where we are right now. In that case, $10,000 invested at the peak will be worth $1500 and $10,000 invested today will be worth $4500. Ouch. What's worse, the $10,000 invested in 2007 won't be worth $10,000 again until the year 2032.

So much for riding it out. So much for buy and hold.

A couple things. Heading into these bubbles, the Wilshire chart does not look as parabolic as the Dow (see chart above) and the Nasdaq charts do. So maybe the market will not crater as strongly as it did after '29 and '00.

Who knows? The major indexes are all off around 50% from their '07 highs. Maybe doubling the national debt, slashing interest rates to zero, nationalizing Freddy and Fannie and AIG, and legalizing mortgage cram-downs will do the trick. Maybe not.

On the one hand, those who don't read history are doomed to repeat it--whether as an investor or as a legislator or chief executive.

On the other hand, history repeats itself until it doesn't. Maybe this will be different.

Click on the chart above to enlarge. I found it here along with a very good article by Eric Parnell at Seeking Alpha.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"Pump It!"


Here we go--something on a more cheerful note. I probably watch this once a month or so and it cracks me up every time.

States' Troubles

Man, oh, man, talk about doom and gloom. Read this. It's a depressingly downward spiral for the states.

Remind me to find something cheerful to post in the a.m.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

New Word for Webster's


Every year the good folks at Webster's pick new words to go in their dictionary. Surely this year they will pick as a new word "TheDeficitIInherited". It's a very popular word these days. Especially with our new Chief Executive. Has anyone else noticed this? Every time He says "deficit", He follows with "that I inherited".

It's smart. Blame it on Bush. After all, if it's a deficit that "I inherited", then it's not my fault. And, too,"TheDeficitIInherited" has surely been heavily focus-group-tested so it's surely a safe bet.

The question is, will Barry O'B get away with it? Who knows? FDR beat Herbert Hoover in one election and Hoover's ghost in three more even when unemployment was 16.9% in 1936 and 14.6% in 1940. And once again, anyone who can beat Billary is a force to be reckoned with.

Some would say, what's to get away with, He did inherit it? I would say, yes He inherited a mess. But
So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains/
And we never even know we have the key.
The chains are a debt so large it can't be paid back. Spending more will not free us from those chains. In fact, the key to unlocking those chains is to spend less.

For some, "TheDeficitIInherited" will always remain a problem that's not this President's fault because, for some, Barry O'B can do no wrong.

The question is when, or will, the rest of the folks realize the "TheDeficitIInherited" has morphed into "ADefictIMayBeResponsibleFor". Time will tell.

Monday, February 23, 2009

India's Model T


Tata Motors' 33 horsepower Nano hits the road in April. Billed as the world's most economical car, the Nano will cost only $2,500. For that, there are no airbags, no Ipod docks, no shoulder belts in the back seat, no passenger-side mirrors. Hand crank windows, plastic bumpers, glued-together seams in places that on other cars are welded.

But, it's safer than a scooter. It'll get you to work on Monday and across town on Sunday to visit Grandma. And it's green, boasting a 50 mpg rating.

No wait a minute, the Greenies are complaining. In fact, "having nightmares". This means more cars on the road. So many that the Nanos will counteract any improvements made by industrial nations to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Too bad for the Greenies. A billion-with-a-"b" members in the new middle classes of India and China will likely not be denied the freedom and economic opportuny afforded car owners. After all:
Rich Westerners, says Tata Motors boss Ravi Kant, “ask about congestion and pollution and global warming. I ask them, ‘Sir, will you stop using your car and take the bus?’”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Obameter


At PolitiFact.com one can track Barry O'B's campaign promises on the Obameter. Courtesy of the St. Pete Times.

Right now they claim he's kept 11 promises, broken two, compromised on three, and has 20 in the works. He's yet to take action on 474. (And here I thought Bill Clinton would go down in history at the great promiser-in-chief with those never-ending laundry lists of promised pork in his State of the Union speeches). The Obameter needs to be updated bc. that behemoth pork package that Barry signed this morn reportedly "fulfills or makes progress" on 50 more promises.

It'll be fun to watch how this goes. Grab your wallets.

Go here to buy the poster.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Audacity of Soap


"This is our moment. . . to clean up America."

The American Spirit survives. Buy some silly soap and support wounded veterans and thier families through the Yellow Ribbon Fund.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Count me in . . .


With this 44%:
Forty-four percent (44%) voters also think a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress.
That, according to Rasmussen. Only 37% disagreed.

Put another way, only 37% of voters agreed that these Bozos are doing a better job than would folks picked randomly from the phone book.

Very amusing. Someone at Rasmussen has a good sense of humor.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Scared People Don't Buy


Back from a couple days with one of those "intestinal" things. . . .

Not generally a fan of Donny Deutsch--one of those pretty-boy, New York, Frank Gifford-types--but he sure did hit it on the head today in an appearance on CNBC.

The talking heads were arguing about whether the "stimulus" package will stimulate and bring us out of this mess. Argues Donny, "Scared people don't buy cars. Scared people don't buy houses. People are scared." Those are pretty close to the exact words. I would add that scared people don't even go to the mall, let alone buy anything there. They don't go to Disney or buy lattes at Starbucks. They wait an extra week or two before getting a haircut and, unfotunately, may not be as charitable.

And there's no doubt, folks are scared these days.

I agree with Donny that the government can posture and primp and spend all they want, but until Joe Sixpack has stopped being scared, he's never going to buy a new truck.

So my prediction? This "stimulus" bill will have no effect. (Did Pres. Bush's package last spring bring us out if this?)

Prob. is that this "stimulus" bill is only $790 bil. in a GDP that in 2008 was $14.58 tril. Of course GDP won't be that high this year. Even so, the most of the money in this bill will not be spent this year either.

Think of it this way. $790 bil/$14.58 tril=5.4%. What's happening is Congress is borrowing 5.4% of what we all produced last year in order to give it back to us. So we're all going to get, collectively, a 5.4% "raise".

If you got a 5.4% raise starting tomorrow (and remember, it would really only be a 2-3% raise in '09 bc of the back-loaded nature of the package), what would you do with it--assuming that Donny is right and the you are as scared as the rest of us are these days? Buy a new GM car? Eat out a couple extra nights each month at Ruth's Chris? Or save it, pay down debt, or chuck it into the 529?

There's no way that even those Bozos on Capitol Hill can make up for a consumer frozen by fear. We got burned when the dot.com bubble burst. Then the real estate bubble burst. Then the banking system collapsed.

Spending a bunch of money and calling it "stimulus" may get you re-elected in some parts of the country, but it's not going to get us to buy new cars again. Or RVs made in Elkhart, Indiana.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

GE Footnote


Someone must have been reading me: GE was up 14% yesterday. I take full credit.

Some Change


Looks like Pres. Obama won't be "changing" much with regards to Iran. That's a good thing. And a compliment to his predecessor. This from Stratfor about Biden's speech at the Munich Security Conference:

The Obama administration’s position, as staked out by Biden, is that the United States is prepared to speak directly to Iran provided that the Iranians do two things. First, Tehran must end its nuclear weapons program. Second, Tehran must stop supporting terrorists, by which Biden meant Hamas and Hezbollah. Once the Iranians do that, the Americans will talk to them. The Bush administration was equally prepared to talk to Iran given those preconditions. The Iranians make the point that such concessions come after talks, not before, and that the United States must change its attitude toward Iran before there can be talks, something Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani emphasized after the meeting. Apart from the emphasis on a willingness to talk, the terms Biden laid out for such talks are identical to the terms under the Bush administration.
The question is: what will Tehran do? They have "elections" coming up soon.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

GE: The Dems' Haliburton?


Pres. Obama put Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, on his Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

We'll all but skip over the fact that by the only measure that matters to his bosses, the shareholders of GE, Immelt is a complete failure as a businessman. GE stock is at a 14 year low. As a stock broker would say, "$10,000 invested in GE stock in 1985 would now be worth . . . . . . $10,000." Tah dah! Shoulda bought a GE washing machine instead, at least then you'd have something clean you cloths with.

The way I see this is that it's payoff for MSNBC and NBC news--GE owned businesses--being in the tank for candidate Obama throughout the campaign. And now it's time to shovel the dollars into govt support for GE products.

Prediction: this advisory board will recommend that we build nuclear plants to create jobs. Guess who's big in the nuclear business? GE. (Pres. Barry will suddenly turn pro-nuke on the advice of this commission. I'm not complaining here. Nuclear is the way to go and it makes no difference how we get there.) Guess who makes all those florescent light bulbs that, thanks to the "stimulus" bill, we will be paying former auto workers to install in govt buildings? GE. Guess who makes bajillions from making windmills and "smart grid", whatever that is? Again, GE.

Guess whose Ecomagination (and here) initiative will start getting millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars to research green technology? GE's. Just you wait and see.

Personally, no problem here with much of this. It's a rough game and as the Pres. says, he won. And so has GE. They bet on the right horse.

Don't tell me, tho, that this is change. It's the same old thing. GE is a special interest just like any other and they have a right to make a buck as does anyone else. Gettin' your guy in office is simply good business. Use that jackass Kieth Olbermann to do it. Jam that "stimulus" package through and let's start opening all those presents under the tree.

What cracks me up, tho, is the hypocrisy, intended or unintended. I 'spect very few of the people who were whining about Haliburton owning the executive branch for eight years will have much to say about this. They either can't see or won't see or simply refuse to mention that this is no different: it's just a different company.

I guess, tho, it's OK for Big Business to own the White House as long as they use it to save the planet. Instead of using it to free 24 million Iraqis.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Smuggling?

The Israelis told a ship carrying humanitarian aid from Lebanon to Gaza that it had to land in Egypt rather than Gaza. The ship agreed and then decided to go to Gaza first anyway. So the Israelis boarded the ship, took control, and are now reportedly towing it to Israel where the crew will be turned over to Israeli immigration and the cargo sent to Gaza over land. Read about it here.

My prediction? There will be more than rice and blankets found amongst the cargo.

No matter, Israel will still be portrayed as the aggressor (and as the devil) by Al-Jazeera.

If you want calm in the Gaza strip, you have to stop the smuggling of rockets. And that means Egypt needs to cooperate.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nerf Madness


According to The Central Virginian headline, a "fourth-grader could face expulsion" for bringing a Nerf gun to school.

Now, school safety is a good thing. Guns should be left at home.

On the other hand, isn't it a ridiculous overreaction to send a letter home to parents because of a toy? Isn't it an overreaction to even consider expulsion for bringing a toy to school? It's a fourth grader for crying out loud.

Says Superintendent Dr. Deborah Pettit, "We take any child bringing a weapon to school very seriously." Oooooo, I feel safe now. It wasn't a weapon, it was a Nerf gun, you fuss-budget.

What you do is you take the Nerf gun from the kid and put it in your desk. You tell the little whippersnapper that if he wants it back, Mommy has to come to school to get it. No eyes put out, no "consideration" of expulsion, no letter sent home to every kid in the school, no headlines in the local paper. No drama. No wasted time.

Good golly.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Soc. Sec. Ponzi Scheme

John Trever at the Albuquerque Journal had it spot on with this cartoon.

Here's how Investopedia defines a ponzi scheme:
A fraudulent investing scam that promises high rates of return at little risk to investors. The scheme generates returns for older investors by acquiring new investors. This scam actually yields the promised returns to earlier investors, as long as there are more new investors.
That seems to describe Social Security exactly. SS promises a return with little risk--it's "security" after all. The older investors are paid from the receipts of new investors. As long as the new investors keep paying, the older investors get their checks.

The prob. is that it can't go on forever when the number of contributors keeps shrinking and the older investors keep living longer. And when the Congress has no lock box, to use an Al Gorism, they put their grubby little hands on our money. All that goes in goes right back out.

The scary thing is that rather than making the terribly hard decisions to fix SS, our friends on Capitol Hill on both sides of the aisle are talking about reducing payroll taxes. Yep, that means Social Security. So instead of fixing it, they'll make it worse. Keep paying out what you're paying but reduce what's coming in.

Now don't get me wrong, I would never say never to a tax cut in any form. But, but, but, this is different. Payroll taxes--SS, unemployment, medicare--aren't the same as the income taxes. There's supposed to be some sort of relationship bet. what you put in and what you get back. If they go cutting what people put into SS, they're making a terrible problem worse.

And for what? So they can look like they're doing something to "fix the economy". It's lunacy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Friend from Across the Pond

At least one Brit still looks to the U.S. for inspiration. Says Iain Martin at the Telegraph:
America is proving the regenerative power of democracy. Do not listen to those who say that great country is finished - it is still the global centre of gravity. Yes, we tuned in in our millions to watch the rather sinister opening ceremony of the Olympics in China. But if you want something life affirming rooted in a belief in human dignity, give me America and an event such as the inauguration every time.
And here I thought everyone around the world despised us. Isn't "regenerative" the perfect word?

Most Beautiful Church

This is the most beautiful church I've ever visited. Located in Grand Teton National Park south of Yellowstone, I pulled in on a week day and poked my head in. That's not a picture or HD screen but a window looking out at the mountains. Absolutely magnificent. How would you like to look out at that every Sunday morn?

One day wifey and will drive the retirement camper out there to attend a service.

I got the picture here. If you want a cool 360 degree panorama of the place, go here and click and drag the mouse around.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Next Willie Horton?

A former prisoner at Guantanamo was released to the Saudis and has now become the number 2 guy in the Yemeni chapter of al-Qaida. Read about it here.

Prediction: Obama will have his own version of Willie Horton by the time re-election rolls around.

Speaking of Dicks. . . .


Our Speaker of the House, second in line to the Presidency, qualifies. As reported in the San Fran Chronicle:
Pelosi said one of her favorite moments from Inauguration Day was when Marine One lifted off the Capitol grounds, signifying former President George W. Bush's exit from Washington. "It felt like a 10-pound anvil was lifted off my head," she said.
What a total lack of class.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Israelis Pull Out

The difference between Israel and Hamas? Israel said that when the rocket attacks stopped, they would pull out.

The rocket attacks stopped. Israel pulled out.

(Oh, that and the fact that the Israelis don't hide behind their women and children and don't store weapons in hospitals, schools, and holy places.)

On that international playground known as the Middle East, every once in a while one needs to smash the bully in the face.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Don't Be a Dick

My short-lived college roommate put every male he'd ever met into one of two simple categories. Ask him about someone he'd met and Taz would say either, "Yeah, he's a pretty good guy" or, "Nah, he's pretty much of a dick." Good guy or dick, it was one or the other. No room for confusion.

This recent peaceful transfer of power gives folks the opportunity to identify themselves.

Booing President Bush and VP Cheney from the Mall in DC today would qualify as a dick move and put you in the category of being a dick. Prosecuting someone for pouring water into a terrorist's nose when the lawyers said such tactics were legal at the time is a dick move, Rep. Conyers. You know what that makes you.

Not giving the New Kid a chance, questioning the honesty of his motives, wishing the economy gets worse so that he will fail--these can, in some cases, qualify you as a dick. Some folks have shown their dickish natures by rooting for higher casualties and American failure in Iraq and by cheering American economic collapse with the idea that such disaster, tho tragic, would help bring an end to GOP control of the executive branch.

Refusing to move-on can, in some instances, make you a dick. Blaming everything, ad nauseam, on the previous administration will surely make those who will want to call this the Bush Recession be dicks just as much as those who blamed 9/11 completely on Bill Clinton or completely on George Bush were dicks.

In the other camp, doing everything in your power to make this a smooth transition of power makes you a pretty good guy. Living by your campaign rhetoric which called for working together to solve some of our problems without all the Beltway BS will make anyone who can pull it off a pretty good guy. Possibly a miracle worker. Leaving the race card behind will also earn points toward being a pretty good guy.

Time will tell.