Friday, October 31, 2008
I've got more on Sarah and the "conservative" defections this weekend, but this afternoon I'm going trick or treating with my 8 year old Hermoine Granger instead.
Don't believe for a minute that I've forgotten what's really important.
First it was higher taxes if you make more than $250,000 per year, then it was $200,000, now it's $150,000 per year. And when he gets rid of the "Bush Tax Cuts" taxes will go up on anyone who makes more than $47,000 per year. Well here is an update for anyone who was stupid enough to believe him when he said $250,000:
The math never works out on government programs. They have to take in $130 dollars for every $100 they plan on spending, so they will ALWAYS need more than they said.
I saw John McCain on CNBC this morning and he was terrible at getting his message out. Larry Kudlow practically had to tell him what his own policy was on capital gains cuts. But as clueless as he may be about delivering the message, he largely has the right message to deliver. Meanwhile Barak 'The healer of America' is just another left wing ideologue who is lying to the American public about everything but his name.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
More evidence of how the ends always seem to justify the means for Democrats. Some of us always knew that they didn't really care about elections being free or valid, they only cared about snatching power. And of course, the major news media has been so good at exposing these issues that if it weren't for a college reporter we wouldn't know anything about it.
I guess those intrepid guardians of freedom over at ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NYT, WP, LAT and the other media are just tired after spending the last several weeks pouring through Alaskan shoe store receipts looking for Sarah Palin's credit card number. And of course that contagious 'chilled leg' syndrome that they all seem to have caught from Chris Mathews.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I know ... don't laugh ... they mean well.
Well as a timely coincidence, the Tax Foundation sponsored a video contest to talk about it. Here is the winner:
More news from the "House Pro-American Activities Committee" and their quest to root out pernicious capitalism in America's various institutions. This time Congressman Waxman is asking questions about the compensation that the banks intend to pay to their employees.
I guess the new metric our compensation should be measured against is the indignation of the media at the number (many of whom probably make more than us in the first place).
For those of you who sent me emails asking ... yes of course I know how dangerous it is to be saying things like this especially now that it looks like Democrats will be in charge. We all know how much they love to hear opinions that they don't agree with. And we've all seen what the Democratic leadership will do to people who raise issues they don't want raised.
I've never done anything but make money for those people who have trusted me to do so, and I have nothing to hide. Think of me as a financial services version of Tito the builder, but instead of my US passport I'm shoving my P&L in the face of anyone who wants to question me. I am guilty of nothing, and I'm not going to start to pretend to be, witch hunt or no. I won't be made to fear the mob when I've done nothing wrong. I'm a conservative from New Jersey. I'm used to being surrounded by people who despise me.
How these goons can believe that they can treat people like this without discouraging investment in the US is astounding to me.
When I was fresh from school, for a short time I worked as a field rep for a company that sold robots and automation gear for manufacturing. To make a monthly bonus I once had to fly out to Bay City Michigan, rent a truck and drive back to deliver some equipment myself. Along the way I had to stop in our factory in Franklin Pennsylvania, a small town outside Pittsburgh. Thanks to traffic and a wrong turn, I didn't get there until almost 9PM so I rolled into the parking lot expecting to stretch out in the truck for the night and to get my gear in the morning.
You can imagine my surprise when I found the guys from the loading dock, none of whom I had ever met before, sitting there waiting for me smoking cigarettes and BS'ing. I backed up to the dock, hopped out and thanked them instantly for hanging in for me all that time and helping me make my bonus. They all affably made fun of my navigation but said they were happy to help. "Well at least you all got a few hours of overtime while you waited." I said at one point.
They all looked at me with surprise. "What do you mean?" they said "we all punched out at 3PM like we normally do." they had been hanging around for almost 6 hours, without pay, just to help a guy who needed it.
These are the guys that Jack Murtha (and Barak Obama) has taken to slandering more recently. These are the church going, gun clinging rednecks of western Pennsylvania. These incredibly hard working, "salt of the earth" guys who hung around half the night, away from their families, so some kid they never met could make his monthly bonus. And there are a hundred stories like mine about the guys in Franklin Pennsylvania. So many in fact, they're quite commonplace.
Personally, I don't think a guy like Jack Murtha deserves them. And they certainly deserve better than him.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Here's a piece for my increasingly vocal liberal readers who claim to believe that raising a tax on business helps them in some way. "Spreading the wealth around" has been tried before countless times and has never worked. Obama's plan won't be more fair, it will be less fair. The same as it always has been. The only difference is that Obama will be the guy who gets to decide for everyone instead of everyone getting to decide for themselves.
A WSJ piece on how the unions and the Wager Act helped create the "Great Depression" in the 30's, and how the "Employee Free Choice Act", a bill to encourage union strong-arming, is probably going to do the same to this one. We already have a similar bill in place in New Jersey.
More on that abysmal legislation in just a few days.
“I’ve begun - for the first time in my adult life - to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living,”
While I "feel his pain", I'm not embarrassed about my job exactly but I am a little scared these days. I guess that's the difference between being guilty of what you're accused and being totally innocent. The overwhelming majority of Hedge funsd staffer are innocent of any wrongdoing, while in the news media, innocence of bias is somewhat harder to come by.
A friend told me last week that the guy at the customs desk was giving him crap over working for a hedge fund. So I guess for the record I should now describe myself as "An Investment Risk Management Consultant". Still technically true, but at least no one out there thinks they know what that means.
Monday, October 27, 2008
We had a conversation in the office today about Congressman Waxman's committee looking into the financial crisis. It’s the typical congressional witch hunt, poking around in issues they don’t understand for the TV cameras and trying to make someone, anyone, look bad. These are the same people who "investigated" the steroid use in baseball.
Someone who has a way with words (who for obvious reasons wishes to remain nameless) took to calling the hearings the "House Pro-American Activities Committee". Like its mirror image from the 50's the "House Un-American Activities Committee" which was run by Joe McCarthy and designed to root out communism, this one is designed to ferret out capitalists and capitalism and to make an example of them before the proletariat.
But Hedge funds didn't create this problem, the highly regulated investment banks and mortgage lenders did. Hedge funds haven't asked the government or the taxpayers to bail them out of anything. But the goal of the committee isn't to find out who is 'responsible', but to punish those who have committed the real sin that Democrats are opposed to, the sin of amassing wealth. That millions of other investors also benefitted through their pension funds or other institutionalized investment is totally beside the point.
The hedge funds all start getting called in next week. We’re all hoping that none of them “name” any of us. It's gonna be a whole different world with the Democrats in charge.
I have a confession to make, I knew this video was coming down the pipe, and it's effected my other writing. My recent blurb about the comparisons between the French Revolution and The American were all originally derived from my reading of Dr. Sowell's work. And since I knew this video was about to be published, I guess it was fresh in my mind.
For those of you who haven't heard me say it until I'm blue in the face, this man, Dr. Thomas Sowell, is the living man I most admire. His groundbreaking economics works have been the basis for much of my own labor, and his book "Knowledge and Decisions" is the book I'm most likely to reccomend. It's not light reading so I rarely reccomend it to people who aren't accustomed to reading economic texts, but it's a truly profound effort. Here he is talking up another of his books regarding political philosophy.
The title is a warning not a prediction, ... well, ... it's a prediction too, but it doesn't have to be that way. Basically Art is claiming that high taxes will doom us to a life without the kind of high living standard we've grown accustomed to.
The Money quote:
But here's the rub. Now enter the government and the prospects of a kinder and gentler economy. To alleviate the obvious hardships to both homeowners and banks, the government commits to buy mortgages and inject capital into banks, which on the face of it seems like a very nice thing to do. But unfortunately in this world there is no tooth fairy. And the government doesn't create anything; it just redistributes. Whenever the government bails someone out of trouble, they always put someone into trouble, plus of course a toll for the troll. Every $100 billion in bailout requires at least $130 billion in taxes, where the $30 billion extra is the cost of getting government involved.
If you don't believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they'll do with Wall Street.
A great Read from the WSJ.
This is the 2001 audio of Barak Obama that you've probably been hearing all about if you follow alternative media, and that you've heard nothing about if you stick to the mainstream news. If you can't stand to listen to the guy (like I honestly can't) then it can be tough to get through, but basically he's saying what a "tragedy" he thinks it is that the Supreme court didn't focus more on "wealth redistribution" as part of the civil rights movement.
It doesn't mean that he's going to embrace the stupider ideas of the victim-ologists like Slavery Reparations, (although if I'm not mistaken he stopped just short of supporting the idea early in the campaign) but it does give you an idea of what he thinks is fair. I think it makes it pretty clear that the doesn't think the people who earned the money have as much right to it as the people that didn't, and he will more than likely take it from the first set of people for no reason other than to give it to the second.
This is profoundly bad economics and will only result in job loss, and slower economic growth. That may not seem like a big deal to you today, but in three months when the credit crisis is no longer a theoretical concept and is being felt by the man on the street, all of America will realize what a mistake Obama's economic outlook for America is.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I’ve taken to deleting more comments than I used to. I’d prefer it not be the case, but I seem to have acquired a liberal reader who thinks that this should really be a format for him to offer his opinions to counter my ‘lies’. I’m deleting his comments not because I find his ideas too challenging, but because I don’t. He doesn’t really have anything substantive to say. He’s just repeating the doctrinaire positions of the far left, and I figure that if you really want to read that stuff you can go to Democratic Underground. Radio Free Europe never worried about giving equal time to Pravda, and I don’t see the point in doing so either.
If he had some substantive criticism of my thinking or offered any support for his positions other than the opinions of other liberals, then of course I’d leave the comments in place and respond to them as I’ve done many other times before. But that’s not what he’s about. He’s a kid who’s still trapped in that insular, self referential bubble where liberalism flourishes best; a group of people who all agree with each other, who then insist they must be right because everyone in the bubble agrees with them. In an environment like that they view a dissenting voice as evidence of mental illness or stupidity.
I say he’s a kid but I don’t really know. I think he is because it’s hard for me to imagine someone over 30 being so laughably naïve. He’s earnest of course, and seems to genuinely believe that he’s enhancing the political dialog when he does things like insist that there is no such thing as liberal media bias, or when points out incidents that he believes are motivated by racism against Obama. He probably thinks he’s a deep thinker because he’s rejected the radical “our economy should be based entirely on the sale of hemp” view (or some other ridiculous perspective) that manages to stay alive in some academic hothouse. It hasn’t occurred to him yet that the roughly 50% of the people in the real world who disagree with him are anything except ‘blind to the obvious evidence all around us’.
Don’t laugh… he almost certainly means well.
John Podheretz once wrote a piece about this but I couldn’t find it. To paraphrase him he basically said that Conservative need to be multi-lingual. They need to be able to speak both liberal and conservative. As a matter of necessity, conservatives understand the thought processes of both liberals and conservatives, but liberals understand only themselves. Conservatives see this every day and it’s a constant source of frustration to us. We can explain our views till we’re blue in the face but liberals just can’t get past their base assumptions.
Personally I think that’s because liberal’s political philosophy requires that you buy into their base assumptions first, while with conservatives, the opposite is true. The conservative base assumptions are usually tragically arrived at after observing the behavior of man, while liberal’s assumptions are optimistically hoped for in specific contradiction to all contrary evidence which can be seen in the world everyday.
The American Revolution was a Conservative event (as we presently use the word) which set men’s tragic vices in opposition to one another. Ambition was used to balance ambition, and the result was the US Constitution and the greatest engine of prosperity every created. The French revolution was a liberal event which optimistically hoped for ‘egalite’ but which only led to the guillotine, Napoleon and decades of instability that didn’t end until Degaulle. The conservative event was (as always) worried about results, while the liberal event was worried about intentions. Conservatives get all that, but liberals never will. That is, until they become more conservative.
As I’ve said many times before, it’s a mistake to think that our society would be better if we simply purged all liberals or sent them to reeducation camps (as they have always done with conservatives when they were in charge). Arab culture is a society that always looks backward for the truth and simply deletes any new ideas, and I don’t think many of us would prefer a world like that. Liberals can (and should) have very important things to say and can make a valuable contribution to the dialog. But it’s a symptom of American culture that they are, at the moment anyway, largely unable to. They rehash the Carter and Johnson mistakes, and treat old and failed ideas as if they were going to be ‘different this time’. To conservatives that would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.
The comments I’m deleting are symptomatic of that broader problem, and their author is a snapshot of modern liberalism. He has lots of earnest energy to say something, but damned few substantive things to say. I’m disappointed that it’s so, but there is just no talking to some people. If you aren’t prepared to learn from observation, then that certainly applies to you.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
For ages now I've been telling everyone who will listen that if Obama is elected and does even 10% of the things he says he's going to do, it will be an unprecedented economic disaster for America. Since the credit crisis has made congress feel empowered to change virtually the entire financial market with new regulation, that's more true than ever.
People don't really seem to understand what that means. They think they'll probably be OK anyway. They don't realize that with a stagnant economy, collapsing financial markets and a government that is punishing people with more taxes for being successful, the world will be a different place. Our standard of living will be more like that of a third world country.
And After seeing the way Team Obama and their news media hand puppets have behaved toward an average citizen like Joe the plumber, it's not hard for me to imagine thought crime trials, and brown shirt enforcers. All the worst totalitarian fantasies of the left are becoming real possibilities for the future of America.
Here's Fred Thompson taking a more optimistic view. I hope he's right.
The astounding thing is that it has never occurred to the management of the Newark Star-Ledger that they aren't getting read because of their shamelessly overwhelmingly liberal view of damned near everything. I know a number of liberals who have seen their stories and said "Yeah that probably does go just a little too far."
The bulk of the mainstream news media still cling to their increasingly unbelievable claims of objectivity by calling all the evidence that pops up 'isolated incidents'. Until the systemically differing treatment of Obama and Palin, most people in the center were probably trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. But since Obama's deification and the Palin hatchet job, the falling ratings, declining readership, reduced ad revenue and falling market share are an obvious product of their falling credibility.
The fact is, the public gave up on the Star Ledger ages ago as a hopelessly partisan rag barely suitable for bird cages. Good riddance.
The AP posted the Actual Numbers ....it's now a 45% cut.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Lots of people seem to believe that those who manage investments for a living do the same things that personal investors do only with bigger numbers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Personal investors can buy or sell anything they like across all markets, and are able to continue investing even after they’ve taken sizable losses. That isn’t true for professionals. Professional investors, particularly those working in hedge funds, are much more seriously constrained in what they can and can’t do.
Investment professionals make their way in the world through analyzing and quantifying risk. The art of blending those risks and understanding their various weaknesses and strengths is what all hedge fund managers do to earn their money. While no one is right all the time, the best managers continue to be right more than they are wrong. And many of the best have done so for many years.
These days, a great many of the best hedge fund managers have looked at the market and concluded that there is a risk present that makes it impossible to predict how markets will behave in the future. It isn’t a risk of inflation, or the risk of an economic slowdown or a similar exogenous risk. It’s not a reduction of trade, or an increase of costs, or a change in the value of the dollar. They see those risks every day and are comfortable with their ability to forecast their effect. It isn’t even a risk directly related to the ‘credit crisis’, because even that unusual circumstance has begun to be understood by the industry.
The risk they’re concerned about is political risk. And since that risk is so arbitrary, it can’t be effectively valued by money managers. The world governments have decided, for good or ill, that the free market doesn’t work the way they want it to and they are interfering with its natural ebb and flow in highly disruptive ways. In their effort to meet artificial and politically motivated expectations, they’re picking economic winners and losers, and in the process preventing the market from fulfilling its role as a feedback mechanism for private industry.
They’re propping up banks that should be allowed to fail, artificially supporting prices by outbidding hesitant customers, and using government power to interfere with the banking system in ways that would have been unconsidered just a few years ago. Rather than taking the place of ‘lender of last resort’ they are assuming the role of ‘lender of first resort’ and are embedding government bureaucrats much further into the already highly regulated global banking system than they have ever been before. In the meantime, Democrats in congress are threatening to redefine Wall Street in ways that will satisfy their far left constituency and fulfill their vision for American culture where everyone receives an equal reward regardless of differences in their contribution.
This haphazard, piecemeal, purely reactionary approach has made it impossible for many hedge funds to forecast the behavior of their positions, so many of them have done the natural thing and backed away from the markets entirely. As arguably the most sophisticated investors in the world, it’s clear to many managers of hedge funds that although the government may be reducing some risks, they are greatly increasing others.
Why invest in a bank if new regulation will limit their executives pay and make it impossible for them to attract and keep the talent it takes to maintain a competitive edge? Why extend a loan when the government will compete against you to make it, or is picking which companies win and which one’s lose? Why invest in a drug company, (formerly considered a safe haven for capital during periods of economic contraction) when the industry may find itself nationalized in a few months ruining all chance for future profit?
Between the Treasury department and the Congress, many investors have concluded that the potential losses are simply too great to warrant any investment at all. And while John McCain's populist streak and his anti-capitalist rhetoric have made him few friends on Wall Street, between the two presidential candidates its Barak Obama that’s most feared. It’s not the thought of his administration that so scares investors, but the government his administration will be a part of. More than anything else they fear a single party government where someone as wholly irresponsible as Nancy Pelosi will be given a free hand in setting much of the government’s policy. A one party government with little understanding of economics and a deep desire to interfere in free markets is seen as a car speeding toward a cliff with three gas pedals and no brake.
Fear of government intrusion has frightened away many hedge funds and those that remain are limiting their investments to the very short term only. This is what’s caused the much higher than average volatility in the stock market. The few investors still participating in the markets are expecting to be in and out of their positions quickly, because the future to them seems so uncertain. Very few are willing to think about longer term investment unless, like Warren Buffet, their investment is actually a deal with the government itself. The haphazard government intrusion is providing them with a huge negative incentive toward investment. And the net effect of that is to greatly limit the capital available to America’s corporations, and to further depress prices in America’s stock markets, mutual funds, and retirement accounts.
During the great depression, Franklin Roosevelt took to selectively nationalizing utilities that he saw as being essential to the ‘national interest’. But his arbitrary application of government power had the same effect on the markets of the 1930’s that we’re seeing in our markets now. Roosevelt drove away investors who were afraid that he would destroy their capital investment with the stroke of a pen and in the process, greatly extended the depth and length of the great depression.
And the same thing is being done now by the Treasury department and Barney Frank. They’ve convinced America’s most sophisticated professional investors that at the moment anyway, investing long term in America isn’t worth the risk. And if they continue to arbitrarily grab at power the way they have, and to take over more and more of the private sector, they’ll soon convince everyone else who remains to give up as well. They will be replicating the failed policies of an early administration, without any consideration of the lessons to be learned from history.
Sometimes you forget that not everyone knows something that you think is such common knowledge that you take it for granted. When I read this post on NRO from Andy McCarthy, it occurred to me that this might be one of those times:
The America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories. A perfect democracy, a "warm body" democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction.... [O]nce a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader — the barbarians enter Rome.
The quote is from Robert Heinlien, one of my all time favorite sci-fi writers and the guy responsible for "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" and "Starship Troopers".
The rest of Andy's reaction to congressman Frank's fulfillment of RH's prophecy is here.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Keynesian Economics is based on the idea that things would be better for everyone if the government takes money away from those people who have earned it and spends for them, instead of letting them decide how to spend it themselves. It's based on the incorrect assumption that government knows better what people want to do with their money than they do. Keynes was a brilliant man in many small ways but it was his policies adopted by the Roosevelt administration that made the great depression so tragic. And now Barney Frank wants to do that all over again.
If the people who earned the money get to spend it, that money will be used to reward the most productive behavior. Companies that are innovative or well run will get more investment than those that are not, and the result will be a higher standard of living for everyone along with more jobs and better pay. But if the government gets to spend it, it will be given to everyone, both productive and unproductive. The people who behave the worst will be just as entitled to the money as someone who behaved better ... in fact they'll be entitled to more if the history of the Democrat party is any indicator.
And that will make every one's lives worse because not only will the money be squandered, but we'll also lose all the good things that could have been done with it as well. The jobs that could have been created if the money was invested well will instead be lost, the businesses that should have prospered will fail, and all we'll have to show for it is more government dependency and a weaker economy.
We're headed for an slowdown right now. But if we let economic imbeciles like this guy dictate policy then we are going to turn a slowdown into a tragedy... all over again.
Lewis Diuguid, columnist for the Kansas City Star, struggles mightily to take and hold the position of 'Stupidest man in America'.
According to him, 'Socialist' is a new Conservative code word for Black.
You can't imagine what he believes the word 'communist' is code for ....
Actually by most accounts I'm a "Wall Street Fat Cat" which really just means that I'm the guy who everyone wants to duck out on at the last second and stick with the bill.
And even though I'll probably make more money if Obama gets elected, I still think voting for McCain is a good idea.
Raised by wolves as I was, I’ve had many moments when I’ve seen that my instincts are contrary to my interests. It's had the effect of making me question all of my own conclusions, pretty much all the time. I'm constantly revisiting my assumptions to make sure they are based on objective and observable phenomenon. (In fact... that's whats driven me into the 'quant' world as well.)
But it’s pretty clear to me that Joe Biden doesn’t suffer from that same self-doubt. He just gets out there and ‘lets it rip’ without any forethought. Then I suppose he hopes that the fact that he's basically a likeable guy will get him off the hook on those occasions when he flubs it.
But in this case I just don’t see how that can be good enough. He just said that if we elect his candidate, the world will invent a crisis to test him (and us). Where do you go with something like that?!
Personally I’m speechless, but that's only because to me an incident like this is like that all too common nightmare where you find yourself standing naked on stage in front of your entire high school class.
To tell you the truth, this is such a massive, historically monumental, world class, "gods shuddering in their heavens' flub that I feel bad for Biden. But the fact is, he's got no one to blame but himself. It's his own fault for shooting his mouth off without thinking.
Monday, October 20, 2008
This is really great "DO NOT MISS" piece from Bryon York about the "Joe The Plumber" story. The media thinks it's perfectly justified in choosing to attack and discredit Joe and to defend Obama even though Joe's only sin was to ask a perfectly legitimate question of their candidate. but they feel so justified in ther view that they will defend the decision at other McCain rallies. The following fraces was between David Corn assigned to cover McCain, and some private citizens at a McCain rally:
A black woman with a strong Caribbean accent jumped in the fray. “Tell me,” she said to Corn, “why is it you can go and find out about Joe the Plumber’s tax lien and when he divorced his wife and you can’t tell me when Barack Obama met with William Ayers? Why? Why could you not tell us that? Joe the Plumber is me!”
“I am Joe the Plumber!” Munoz chimed in. “You’re attacking me.”
“Wait a second,” Corn said. “Do you pay your taxes?”
“Yes, I pay my taxes,” the woman said.
“Then you’re better than Joe the Plumber,” Corn said.
Read The rest here at National Review Online".
I think media bias has finally gone over into farce from tragedy.
If you’ve never missed a shot at an animal, then you’ve never really been hunting. It’s a fact of life. You can devote much time to practice, and spend many hours (or in my case usually days) scouting, planning and stalking. You can devote yourself to the effort for months and spend a great deal of money to improve your odds. But when that critical moment comes if even just one of the million little details that you need to have in place slips just enough, you’ll miss the shot. It happens.
And what’s worse, your friends will almost certainly laugh at you for it. There is usually a short grace period while we wait for the worst of the regret to wear off, but we all kid each other about it eventually. I’ve been laughed at for it the same as everyone else, but it always seemed to me that the best of us can laugh at ourselves about it as well. We’re all guilty of it after all. There is no real loss of face in a miss even as much as your friends might say so. But even knowing that, when you think back to that moment it’s sometimes hard to let it go completely.
Personally I’ve got some great miss stories (even if I do say so myself). I have a story I tell of a turkey that silently came in to my call after one distant gobble, and then jumped up on the fallen log beside me not 18 inches from my face. At that distance the bird took up roughly 40% of my field of vision and at the time, looked to me to be about 5 feet tall. The both of us were so startled that he flew into a distant tree and I practically had a heart attack. A shot was never fired but I still call it a miss because I could have killed him by swinging the barrel of my shotgun at his head like a baseball bat.
And there is a story of the first buck I ever shot at with a bow. He had a smallish irregular rack by Pope and Young standards, but we had just moved to New Jersey and the freezer was empty so I wasn’t too concerned. He was scratching at some acorns in the low scrub under an oak when I fired my first arrow into the ground just in front of him. That made him look up at me in mild surprise, but he wasn’t too concerned. All he did was take a few slow steps to the left while I strung my second arrow. When I fired that second one 18 inches over his back he turned away from me briefly to look at the fresh arrow stuck in the ground, and then calmly looked back up at me with what I can only call disgust. He seemed to sigh a little and then he slowly strolled into the heavier cover while I struggled to get a third pathetic arrow strung. Robin Hood at that point, I was not.
Anyway we all have stories like this and if you don’t, then you’ve either never been hunting or you’re a liar, or both…. frequently both. Me, I guess I’ve always tried to take the sting out of it by laughing at myself. But this week I learned that there is something worse than a miss. And it’s something that at the moment, I’m afraid I don’t know how to joke away yet.
It’s bowhunting season in New Jersey right now, and in spite of the crisis in my industry, I’ve managed to get out in the woods just a little bit. Those who know me know that I’m a real early bird, so the pre-dawn hours of hunting have always suited me. But instead, this weekend I tried getting in my favorite stand in the evening instead of in the morning. I’ve seen more bucks at night, and I thought it might improve my odds. Sure enough, in the last ½ hour of legal shooting light there were bucks everywhere. Big ones, small ones, more than I could count literally dozens (no I won’t tell you where so don’t ask). I didn’t see the monster I’ve been waiting for, but I did see his younger cousin, a tough looking three year old with a symmetrical 8 point rack.
He wandered below my stand and when I drew a bead on him he turned at the last second and was partially obstructed by a tree branch. When he finally cleared it a minute or so later, I looked carefully through my peep site and let the arrow fly. I hit him clean on the left side, right in the kitchen; the arrow was a little behind his shoulder but not too much, and he took off for heavier cover. I watched him from my stand and lost sight of him maybe 50 or 60 yards away. I didn’t realize it at the time exactly; but there was something about his gait that didn’t look quite right to me. I couldn’t place what… but there was definitely something.
I waited an appropriate amount of time before I followed him but by then it was after sunset and the dusk was settling in tight, so I wasn’t too shocked when I couldn’t find him. I left a market or two so I could be sure to find my way the next morning and I packed up and went home to tell my wife to make some freezer room. But I was still a little troubled about that Deer’s gait. He seemed a little too stable to me, too strong. At one point my wife actually took notice of it on my face and asked me what was wrong. “I’m just not sure where that Deer has run off to”. I said distractedly.
When I got out there before sunrise the next morning I found my markers easily and got to work. I searched everywhere for blood, but I’ve always had trouble finding blood trails under maple trees where all the fallen leaves are red too. At first I started out looking in the places that I thought I might instinctively have run if I were that Deer. I checked all the really tight cover within a few hundred yards of where I last saw him, but no luck. Then I doubled back and walked along the clearest trails to search for a blood spattering and no luck. Then I doubled back again to where I hit him, even though I had clearly identified the place I’d seen him run to the evening before. When I got to the spot and couldn’t find any blood there either, I started to get genuinely concerned.
By now you’ve probably guessed that I never recovered that buck. I spent the better part of the day searching. I walked concentric circles and out along paths, I checked beside logs, and in heavy thorn brush. I climbed up high and got down low to get perspective, and even tossed an identical arrow out into the woods to give myself a visual reference for its twin. My legs got sore from walking and my face got scratched from the thorns, but I never found him. I checked better than a square mile of land around the spot I hit him, and far more than that if you include a few paths I followed for a total of another three miles or so.
I thought I had hit him far enough forward but in the low evening light I guess I must have hit him too far back. I didn’t realize it at the time, but his gait must have looked strong because I missed all the vitals that would have brought him down within easy scouting range of my stand. There is no doubt that the Deer is certainly dead now. I may not have hit him well but I certainly hit him. And to be perfectly honest, that seems to me to be the worst of it. Had I recovered him and had him for dinner I would have been thrilled by this experience, but not having done so I feel like I’ve committed some affront to nature. I never intended it of course, but I’m sure the Deer doesn’t know that. I have realized this weekend that this is a far worse thing than a miss. To hit fruitlessly certainly feels worse to me.
I take no issue with trophy hunters because they still make use of their kill. This isn’t about meeting some standard of hunting ‘purity’ to me. Besides, most of the trophy hunters I know donate the meat as well, as much of it as they can carry anyway. But even if they didn’t, there is no harm in hunting for trophies that I can see. The deer population in the area I hunt is wildly overcrowded so I’ve done no harm to the local eco-system, in fact quite the contrary. With 1 less mouth around this winter the rest of the deer will be slightly better off. And any one of the other bucks I saw could happily replace the one I hit in the local breeding cycle. He’d had more than enough chance to spread his genes already. Also, if you’re curious, no I’m not having a bout of self congratulatory sentiment like the animal rights nuts I so often ridicule. They don’t really care about animals, they only care about themselves.
For me it’s a question of failing to do what I set out to do. And because I’ve failed, a Deer had to die for no good reason. It’s the waste that I feel so badly about. Had I done what I set out to, he’d be in my freezer and that would be fine with me. That’s how it goes in nature when you’re at the top of the food chain. But failing to recover him this weekend feels wrong to me. It feels like a sin. So I suppose this is a confession of sorts. When my judgment comes if I’m asked whether I regret being a hunter I’ll say no without a moment’s hesitation. But I think I’ll regret this one. I’ll regret that I wasn’t able to follow through the way I know I should have.
I’ve hit pheasants at long range and had them fall to the ground never to be found by the dogs, but I always assumed that it was because they survived and ran off. This was the first animal I’ve ever been sure I killed still not recovered. I guess just like a miss that goes with the territory too. But at the moment my regret is still a little too fresh for joking about it. It’s not going to have me swear off hunting, in fact I’ll probably be back in that same area in a few weeks come ‘permit’ bow season. (No … I still won’t tell you where it is.) But you can bet that I’m going to be a lot more certain of my next shot, or I won’t shoot at all. This is a circumstance I don’t want to repeat if I can avoid it.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Joe is a private citizen who asked a question of a guy who is running for political office. The left has reacted to this in the way you would expect, by investigasting his background, trashing him in the "news" media, and trying as hard as they can to find some reason that they shouldn't have to take his criticisms seriously.
I thought that this was all as shameful a circumstance as one could imagine, until I heard this. Now the candidate himself is mocking the private citizen in public forums. How can anyone consider voting for this guy?!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Liberal Bloggers Rage against "Joe The Plumber."
Nothing but class those people.
This is why I put my McCain - Palin bumber sticker on with magnets so I can take it off when I park in the Mall paking lot.
Even more classy behavior detailed by the folks at NRO:
After Targeting Joe the Plumber, Obamabots Pledge To Expose Scandals of Guy in Rockwell's 'Four Freedoms' Painting
I'm really looking forward to the day these people are in charge of the whitehouse and both houses of Congress.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Prior to 2008 the Nobel Prize had never been awarded posthumously. So great minds such as John Maynard Keynes and Fischer Black never received the coveted award. But all that has changed. This year, the prize for economics is going to Paul Krugman, an economist who died a decade ago.
The rest can be found here.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer details what appears to be a systematic attempt at national Election theft by Acorn:
Board workers said ACORN had turned in nearly 72,000 cards since January. Of those, more than 5,000 were missing information and so could not be used. The board could not verify the address on 3,500 others.
The story of the investigation of ACORN currently underway in Ohio can be found here.
In Lake County, Indiana, ACORN turned in 5,000 new registrations. The authorities there started reviewing them, and quit after they found that the first 2,100 were all fraudulent.
That's the very same ACORN where Obama got his start as a 'community organizer'. CNN minimizes the connection between ACORN and the Obama campaign, but Mark Steyn mentions the $800,000 that the Obama campaign has given ACORN to engage in this kind of 'dig up the vote' drive. ACORN is currently being investigated in multiple states for this kind of thing.
If there is anyone out there stupid enough to believe that these fraudulent voters wouldn't go 100% for Obama, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Assistant Secretary of Financial Stability Niel Kashkari has named 7 teams with 7 leaders for 7 tasks for nationalizing the Banking industry. Each team will have a staff, and the staff will have analysts and assistants. It's going to be awfully quiet over a Goldman when he's don hiring all these people for all these various federal offices.
It certainly makes me uncomfortable to see such rapid growth of government.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Cuba, that bastion of Social Justice for documentary film makers and upper west side dilettante alike, is being forced to ration food. This happens not because there are too many people, but because politics destroys the incentives to grow and sell the food.
Maybe the next time a Hollywood celebrity is down there talking about how terrible America is they can try standing in line a few hours for bread. It'll be good practice for them when they have to do it here. I figure that should start happening in about year 3 of Obama's reign.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I was writing a long essay today about how our current financial crisis is different from the great depression. I started flipping though my reference books looking at the specifics of what Roosevelt did to turn a mild economic downturn into the disaster that shaped half a century of American politics. There are a lot of people writing about how we shouldn't panic and how life will go on. But as I puttered around I realized that given the way the election is looking to go, in all likelihood this is going to be just as bad as the 30’s after all. The only difference will be that we're starting from a higher basic standard of living.
If Barak Obama is elected president he’s promised to adopt policies which will bring utter economic catastrophe upon this country. And according to the polls, the American people seem to support that idea. In a healthy and thriving economy his ideas would have been painful, frivolous and counter-productive, but in an environment like this one they could mean disaster. And the fact of the matter is, we probably deserve it. For a generation or three, basically since Roosevelt, we’ve operated under the belief that there is some way we can use government to get something for nothing. Or if we didn’t think it was for nothing, we thought we could pawn the bill off on ‘the rich’. We wanted to be given all the government provided stuff that someone else was able to pay for, but it hasn’t worked out. Instead, we will be leaving a completely irreconcilable mountain of debt for our children and grandchildren.
There is only one way our politicians are ever going to be able to address that mountain and that is with intentional inflation of the currency. They will simply print as much money as they have to in order to retire the debt. That will have the effect of raising prices until Americans have a living standard on par with any third world country. It won't happen immediately... the economic slowdown will keep prices lower for a while. But eventually, about this time next year if you ask me, the inflation will start in earnest. There really aren't any workable options anymore. And the worst part is it’s not going to hurt me and the people like me nearly as much as it will hurt “the poor”. Their lives will be shattered, their hope for the future stolen by a political class who lack the character to face the countries problems, and an electorate who couldn’t be bothered to pay attention when they didn’t.
My family will be almost certainly be fine. My wife grew up in Eastern Europe without running water, and I was raised by wolves and am still quite accustomed to hardship. We know how to get by with far less than we have now. And apart from that, I still make a pretty good living. So long as I stay a step ahead of President Obama’s economic enforcers, I’ll be just fine. There are overseas trusts, and other legal devices that I can use to keep the money I’ve earned out of the government’s hands.
But for the middle class, things are going to get tough. If you’re one of those people who have no savings and a large debt, you’re going to be in for real misery. His plan for keeping fuel expensive with new environmental regulation and windfall profit taxes may ‘save the planet’, but it’s going to do so by leaving you cold and in the dark. And with prices rising 20% per year thanks to inflation, and new corporate taxes being passed through to the consumer, you can expect a harder life than you’ve had up to now. Imagine a McDonalds hamburger that costs 15 bucks and you'll get an idea of what conditions will be like. And all that assumes that you keep your job through all of this. Double digit unemployment is a foregone conclusion so you had really better hope that doesn’t mean you. If it does, then I wouldn’t expect to be a part of the ‘middle class’ for long.
If elected, Obama is going to be given the power to destroy this country. And thanks to this crisis, by fulfilling his campaign promises he’s going to do just that.
Here ... you be the judge:
I guess when they do a movie of my life, I'll be played by the Greek God Apollo.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
If he’s right, the consequences of that will be catastrophic. To put some perspective on it, at 30% unemployment we'll need the national guard and martial law to keep the peace. I’m not as pessimistic as he is, but I don’t think it’s impossible either. In fact, both the quantity and quality of people who are talking to me about doomsday scenarios have both risen rapidly lately. And the worst part is, the kinds of things that need to happen to bring about such a scenario are all exactly the kinds of things that most ‘in the know’ people are pretty much expecting to have happen.
The fact that anyone can consider electing someone like Barak Obama in a circumstance like this strikes me as surreal. It makes me feel like I woke up on the wrong side of the looking glass. Not that John McCain knows all that much about it either. Every time he opens his moth about economics it costs him votes because he sounds so confused. He made his whole career being to the left economically of the bulk of his party, so now he’s trying to do the same to Obama. Even Obama seems surprised by it.
Early on in the development of the ‘Paulson Plan’ many of my friends would call me and say “Hey what the hell is with all those conservatives out there who are against the plan. Don’t they know how close to the edge we are?” I usually just mumbled something about how they were sticking to their principles in spite of the cost. They want to keep the market and the government separate because they know what government does. They know that government will get out of control immediately and will stay that way.
Turns out that maybe those principled men knew what they were talking about.
So far, the Paulson plan isn’t restoring the necessary confidence to the financial systems, and every days that goes by without that confidence, we’re closer to the brink. Today GM traded at a price level it hasn’t seen since the 50’s. The Government has driven the natural buyers out of the commercial paper market by outbidding them, and the credit market remains frozen. The government is throwing gobs of money at the problem but it isn’t clearing the pipes. The only thing that will save us from inflation at this point is a serious reduction in economic activity.
So by all means, let’s elect the single most left leaning member of the US congress as president, and give him a house and senate of the same party.
You may not think much of John McCain… god knows I don’t. But as it stand I think he may very well be America’s last chance. Had you told me I'd say that 6 months ago, I’d have laughed it off as hyperbole. But these days I really believe it. My friend I recently wrote about thought we would survive an Obama administration, but he didn’t know then about the impending credit crisis. And right now, giving the Democrats control of the government at a time like this looks suicidal to me.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Hearing him say so really surprised me. My friend was a financial supporter of the “American Enterprise Institute” a well known conservative think tank in Washington DC, and his conservative credentials were absolutely unimpeachable. More than that, he was one of the most intelligent, introspective and generous people I knew; he was hardly the self absorbed “my ego is my whole world” type I’ve come to recognize as being typical of New York City liberals.
“Are you serious?” I asked, “You really don’t have any dog in this fight?”
“No it’s not that” he said, “...but I remember the Carter administration. Democrats like Carter or Obama believe that government can solve every problem. They can’t of course, but in the process of trying, they mess with the markets in stupid ways. They change the rules around to try and make all the outcomes turn out the same for everyone, and in the process they’ll end up distorting the natural order of things. The people who are smart and see their meddling for what it really is can usually take advantage of those governmental missteps. I was trading during the Carter administration and I can tell you for certain, there is never a time when it’s easier to make money in the markets than when there is a Democrat in the Whitehouse who believes he smarter than everyone else.”
“But Roy” I said, “that kind of Democrat meddling will lead to thousands, maybe millions of people with a worse life than if they left things alone. How can you stand back and be OK with that?”
“Well I won’t stand back” he said, “I’ll try to do what would be best for everyone and support the laissez faire candidate. But if the people decide they want something else then I see no reason why I shouldn’t make a little lemonade too. It’s not that I prefer it, but I’m not going to be inconsolable. Life will go on. We survived the Carter administration, and we’ll more than likely survive an Obama administration as well. And in the meantime, guys like you and I will have to find a way to be content with making lots of money."
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I know the News Media is dying ... DYING to make her look bad, and to a great extent they have achieved what they set out to do. Sometimes they did it with careful editing, sometimes with the standard "gotcha" format with which she was unfamiliar. But all that's done is temporarily hide the substance underneath, and that won't last forever.
Sarah Palin is the most popular governor in Alaskan history, and the most popular governor in the country. She's a reasonable, open minded, intelligent woman who been unfairly treated by a News Media who want to portray her as a backward, inbred hick. They've been profoundly unfair. And when the American public gets to see what she's really about instead of the intentionally distorted view of the New York Media, they're going to feel the same way about her that her constituents in Alaska do. I'm still completely convinced that she's going to be the first woman president.
Friday, October 3, 2008
I once described the credit collapse as watching a man fall down the stairs in slow motion. Well things have changed fast in the “credit crisis”, and they still are, but now it seems to me the man is finally reaching the bottom of the stairs.
The Democrats made a big mistake when they had their media lap-dogs portray this is a “bailout for the Wall Street Fat cats”, but I think they’ve gotten it right now. I think they went that way to bolster their desire to turn the Paulson plan into a Democrat Christmas tree with goodies under it for all of the radical left interest groups like ACORN and La Raza. They couldn’t structure any 800 Billion dollar deal without cutting out a slice for themselves… they simply couldn’t. So they went with the shamelessly inaccurate “fat cats” line.
But now I think the Democrat leadership has realized that it wasn’t a useful or productive message because it got all the wrong people angry. And by that I mean the people who were most effected by that sound bite were libertarian leaning right, all of whom would rather perform their own appendectomy with a rusty garden trowel than let Barney Frank and Chuck Schumer slap an 800 Billion dollar bill on the American taxpayer. And then of course there was notorious dimwit Nancy Pelosi, and he pre-vote warm up speech to motivate the faithful God… what an embarrassment that woman is.
Anyway, I’ve gotten a lot of traffic on the credit crisis stuff over the last few weeks, so I went back and looked again at what I wrote just to make sure I didn’t write something a few months ago which now looks idiotic in the new landscape. I don’t think I did, but I leave it to you to be the judge. So here, with a little detail about where we all were in context of the crisis, is my “Credit Crisis Redux:”
First was this piece:
A Quant On The Credit Crisis
I wrote this just after the Fed provided a “credit backstop” to JPMorgan for the purchase of Bear Stearns. The data about pervasiveness or severity of the distress at other institutions was still unknown. I said that I was bored with the issue at the time… needless to say, that’s no longer true.
Then came this:
A Free Market Solution To Further Market Crises
I still think regulation like this will go a long way toward interrupting the boom-bust cycle, and reduce the need for further government intervention. But with the leanings of both of our candidates for president, I think this kind of Free Market Solution is exceedingly unlikely in the face of the scope of the current problem. Free Markets don’t’ fail, government regulation causes them to fail, but that fact is always ignored when it comes time to react to the crisis it creates and the answer is almost always more regulation, even if that regulation is likely to lead to another crisis.
Then came this piece:
Corzine Won't Ask For Taxpayer Approval (even though the law says he has to)
which described a little of the outlook for New Jersey during the coming crisis, and how it was effecting the current governor’s policies.
Then came this one:
Too Big To Fail: Fed Chief's Latest Temptation
which described the reaction my coworkers and I had to the Lehman deal. It was posted in the corner by my occasional shooting buddy John Derbyshire, and it received a great deal of attention.
Some of which resulted in this:
Credit Crisis: So What Happens Now?!
which was my testimony for the NJ Legislature Labor Committee on the topic.
And then finally there was this:
Witch Hunting Instead Of Deer Hunting
where I’m back to harping about the wholesale distortion by the news media, and (to my eyes anyway) I seem as frazzled and unfocused as everyone else in the business.
I’m not going to detail all the mountains of ridiculous conspiracy theories being tossed around out there by the under informed, or review any more forward looking stuff until after the vote this afternoon. I’m expecting the vote to pass this time; not because the bill has tax break kickers, but because the media has gotten out of the way. No one was willing to bail out the Wall Street fat cats, but now that it’s clear that it never would have done that, people can get behind it as a bad but necessary thing.
After that, hopefully, we can begin to look at solving the problems that caused this, and can begin to consider how to end the systematic distortions of reality that were Freddie and Fannie’s mortgage policies. Government caused this, not the free market, so we'll need to change the government rules if we want to fix it.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Because of the way my wife's family escaped from eastern europe, my daughter knows that Communists are people that you should run away from. Apart from that, she is totally innocent and unaware of any of my politics. Shame on these people to allow (or encourage) their children to be used in this way.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
It's a long standing New Jersey tradition that on election day, the dead rise from the grave and vote Democrat. But apparently in Chicago, they get up even earlier and donate money too. The junior Senator from Illinois ... I forget his name ... is apparently running for President. And lo and behold, miracle of miracles the man is cheating on the fund raising for his campaign. And not just a little. If this stuff is true, then he's wantonly breaking campaign finance laws all over the place.
Does the media care? Not really. Making the dead rise is impressive, but this wasn't the kind of miracle they were hoping to associate him with.