Monday, December 28, 2009

- Those Crazy Franciscans

I got into a debate recently with one of my catholic friends about the virtue of the confessional. We came to the conclusion (my friend proposed... and I agreed) that it's monks who should be hearing confessions instead of priests.

But clearly... not these guys.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

- Leftist Insecurity

One of my major character flaws is that when I’m writing something that I’m uncomfortable about, I end up being pretentious. It's not quite the same as an apology, but do I know where it comes from. I grew up with virtually everyone I saw telling me that I was nothing but useless, good for nothing, trailer trash that will never be anything but a complete loser. It wasn't true of course, but as an insecure teenager I didn't really know that. So I ended up being as showy as I could manage about my intelligence so that people could see at a distance that I was something different.

Those days are long gone now of course, but the pretension has hung around in spite of my best efforts, mostly out of habit. Lots of people who meet me today don’t like me, but none of them, even my worst enemies, ever think of me as stupid. Still, even though I think I've grown out of most of the insecurity, I still find myself slipping into it when I write.

Anyway, that’s my excuse…. I wonder what this guys excuse is. He talks about the healthcare bill being an empty shell as if that were a tragedy… OK fair enough. He’s entitled to his view however economically misguided it might be. But I’ve never seen anyone trying so hard to prove that he’s smart. Not even me at my worst.

That Olberman must be terribly … terribly insecure to be that pretentious.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

- Cough Sputter - LOL!!!!!!!!

Oh my god ... can you imagine a more breathlessly arrogant statement than that one? "There is a culture of believing that they always make good decisions and if they turn out badly it's someone else's fault?" Have you ever heard a better one sentence view of the Democrat political ideology?

Hey dimwit... it's people like you that are the problem here... the bankers just gave you what you asked for....actually demanded. If they were even a little ambivalent about it, ACORN (acting on the instructions of someone like you) would hold protests outside their offices until they gave in. The bankers were irresponsible only in not telling you to take a long walk off a short pier when you demanded it.

If left alone, the markets can always fix themselves. It's only when government gets involved that nonsense like what happened last year occurs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

- Perfect Global Warming Cartoon

- Why They Need The Public Option

The public option is a vital step to the consolidation of the union’s strangle hold on the US taxpayer, but naturally the press has missed this issue entirely. The unions have over-promised a long string of benefits to their constituents, and all face massive unfunded liabilities. So if the public option dies in the senate, the unions will be facing an imminent fiscal collapse. Congress will then be forced to structure a more specific ‘bailout’ for them. And while that will be a more direct and more honest way to legislate the issue, it will be profoundly unpopular with the broader voting public.

It will also be wildly unpopular with those investors who are funding the dreams of the Obama administration. Labor unions reduce output and raise costs, making an economy less efficient. This is particularly true of civil service unions who since they are working for the government and are untouched by the incentives created by the profit motive, they are little enough interested in efficiency in the first place. Giving them a ‘bailout’ will be like throwing cash in the fireplace in terms of the return it provides and it will be seen as such by foreign investors in the US.

But team Obama and the radical Democrats in the leadership won’t let a little thing like that stop them. Obama is a ‘big labor’ president, so a bailout for the unions will be forthcoming one way or the other. It will be wrapped in rhetoric about how it’s really to ‘help workers’ or to ‘stand up for the little guy’… there really is no limit that the press is willing to stretch the truth when it comes to big labor. But it will be complete waste of money and energy. And in the end, I’d bet that it won’t even benefit the people in the union rank and file. But the labor leaders will all praise it as a triumph for American workers because it helps them personally.

By manipulating US labor laws, big labor has shattered the US manufacturing base, driven the airlines and the auto industry into bankruptcy, and still drives thousands of companies offshore every year. Now they are firmly in charge of government, and they are having the same effect on that institution’s efficiency. They finally have us all trapped, because there is no competition for government; no ‘non-union’ option for us to choose if we want to. They’ve finally got us where they have wanted us all along, and there isn’t all that much we can do about it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

- Buying a Handgun In NJ

I find that I get a lot of search hits for the phrase “buying a gun in NJ”. That makes sense I suppose. It is one of the hardest states to buy a firearm legally. Ironically, it’s still pretty easy to get one illegally, but that’s really another story. I figured that since it’s such a common search term I’d relate the story of what I went through to buy my new Beretta PX4 .45 just a few weeks ago.

The first step in buying a firearm for NJ residents is to apply for a NJ State “Firearms ID Card”. I’m not sure about the constitutionality of it or what the claimed legal justification for it is. But I do know that it’s settled law as far as the local courts go, so there is no way to buy a firearm in NJ without one. It’s required if you plan to buy either a handgun or a long gun, so there is really no getting around it. The good news is its good for life, so you really only have to go through it once.

You can get one by going to your local police station and requesting the forms for a NJ FID. When I first moved to NJ from NY, I got one right away. Of course, I already had several guns when I moved to the state, but I knew that I would want to buy more so I figured I might as well get to it. The detective who was assigned to that duty in my town was an old world guy who was close to retirement. Most cops are actually pro-gun; it’s really only politicians who are against civilian gun ownership, and he was a guy who was cut from that cloth.

He helped me get the forms filled out correctly, did my fingerprints, and submitted my paperwork to the state police cheerfully and since I was new to the state, he even recommended a local gun club. He was big on smiles, and long on patience so even if it would take a while for everything to get processed, it was still a pleasant endeavor for me. Under the law, the review process where they check your background and fingerprints etc, is allowed to take up to 6 months to complete. Back in the bad old days of liberal hegemony in Trenton, that meant that every application submitted anywhere in the state would take exactly 5 months, 29 days to finish. But the liberal bureaucracy being what it is they weren’t able to hold to that standard, and in an ironic twist, “good enough for government work” now means that permits are actually filled more rapidly than they used to be. Mine took about a month.

Anyway, that’s step one. Once it’s complete, you can go into any gun shop in the state and purchase a rifle or shotgun. Of course, thanks to literally thousands of prohibitive restrictions and a generally anti-business climate in Trenton, there are fewer places to buy a gun than there used to be. But assuming you can still find someone to sell it to you, it would be legal for you to do so. There are also federal regs that need to be met at the time of purchase along with forms to be filled out, but I’ll let the guys at the gun shop explain those to you. If you get past the FID check then the federal stuff is a breeze and shouldn’t represent a problem for most people.

Of course, the gun I wanted to buy was a handgun, so I had another problem. To purchase a handgun legally in NJ, you have a state issued “permit to purchase a handgun”. To get one of those requires a great deal more work on your part. Each handgun you want to purchase will require you to file a seperate application for a ‘permit to purchase’ because they are only good for one each. They also expire 6 months after they are issued, so you had better do your shopping first.

In my case, when I called my local police department to apply for my ‘permit to purchase’, I discovered that the friendly and generous detective I’d worked with in the past had retired and been replaced with a younger man who didn’t share his views on civilian gun ownership. On the phone he explained to me that I could come by to pick up the paperwork anytime I liked from Tuesday to Thursday, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, or Friday from 5:00PM to 7:00 PM only. And since I work full time I elected to ‘pop by’ at 6PM on a Friday.

When I got there he gave me the required forms, explaining which ones I needed to have notarized, and also explained who was to be paid with the two separate checks I needed to bring back. He then told me in what I was to come to understand is his typically nasty tone, that if it were up to him he would get rid of every gun in the country and never let anyone buy another one. When I asked if that might make his job more difficult having to do it without a firearm, he explained that he only meant that to apply to “you people…you know…civilians. Cops could still have guns of course”.

“Oh I see” was my only reply. I didn’t see any point in engaging in a political argument with someone whose good faith effort I needed. I expected him to meet his legal requirements but I knew there were other obstacles he could put in my way if he wanted so rather than alienate him I just let it go. Had I known what was coming I’d have just verbally opened up on him, but instead I just left with his instructions that I had to call for an appointment to bring the forms back.

Anyway… over a period of the next few weeks, I got the forms filled out properly, got the required notarization's, and picked up the needed certified checks. When I had everything in order I gave him a call only to roll off to his voicemail. I left a message explaining who I was, what I wanted, and how he could reach me, and then asked him to call me back to arrange something. When a few days passed without a call back, I tried that again… and again…and again.

After 4 voicemails I assumed there was some problem so I called the main desk of the police department and asked if he was out on leave or vacation and if so, was there someone else who could handle my permit application. They explained that not only was he in every day, but there was no one else there who could help me… I had to deal with him.

This seemed like an intractable issue to me until I had a revelation. I called one more time to find out when he would be in the office, and instead of calling from my home I went down there unannounced. The police department in my sleepy Monmouth county town doesn’t even have a reception desk, just a phone in the lobby which you use to call the police behind the opaque barrier. So I walked in there, picked up the phone and asked for Officer Mike Moody.

Sure enough after a ring and a half there he was on the phone. I have no evidence of course, but my suspicion is that rather than seeing a call from an external phone which he invariably let roll to voicemail, he saw this as an internal number calling and picked it up without thinking. This view was supported by his surprised and annoyed tone. He certainly didn't sound happy to be hearing from me.

Given his stated political views, it seemed a rational conclusion to me that he might be adding his own ‘procedural delays’ to the process. I wouldn’t expect him to do anything that might leave a paper trail of course, but I wouldn’t put it past him if he were thinking that a guy could hardly be blamed if he missed a voicemail or two right? I mean, it could have been horribly garbled, or maybe he couldn’t understand my accent or something. He might have just been lazy or incompetent, but that isn't the way I would bet.

Anyway when I explained from the lobby that I had left several unanswered voicemails but was here right now with my paperwork in hand, I think he imagined the date being listed in a civil rights lawsuit and eventually came out to fetch me. His manner was as terse, nasty and dismissive as any other overly pampered civil servant I’ve ever dealt with, but he met all the legal obligations of his task. He accepted my forms and my checks and told me that it could take as long as 6 weeks for the paperwork to be processed.

I told him that was fine, through a proud grin. Whether I was right or wrong, I was feeling particularly pleased at myself for being able to circumnavigate what I saw as intentional procedural delays. And I knew that with the paperwork submitted, he would have to either give me my permit in the time allowed by statute, or show just cause why he would not. Since I was certain he would find no valid cause to deny my application, I already felt as if I had won.

Sure enough, a little over 5 weeks later I got an unbelievably nasty voice mail on my cell phone from him telling me that “I had better get down there and pick up my permit because it was going to expire at the rate I was going”. Given how I saw the circumstance of the delays, this seemed particularly obnoxious to me. I no longer needed his good will and was under no further illusions about getting it anyway, so I had every intention of getting in the jerk’s face when I went to pick it up. But instead he sent a secretary out to the lobby with it, denying me my last bit of emotional satisfaction. It’s probably just as well.

Since you deal with the local police department, it’s different in every town. And I’m told by my friends at the gun club that not all towns are so difficult. Even my town wasn’t so bad when I first moved here, it’s only recently that it's gotten so much worse. But the moral of this story is that even in a town where they really don’t want you to own a gun, it’s still your right. And the law is the law even if those that are supposed to enforce it make it abundantly clear that they don’t like it much.

Going forward, I’ll have my triumph over Officer Mike Moody to brace me up the next time I’m forced to deal with him. In fact, to be totally fair to the rest of my town’s police force, a quick google of New Jersey Public records shows that on November 19th of this year he received a 10 day suspension for insubordination and neglect of duty. I guess they don’t like him any better than I did. Or maybe some other applicant with good political connections got jerked around by him even more badly than me and complained to his boss. Guys like that are sure to offend the wrong person eventually.

Anyway …that’s a narrative, but embedded in it you can see the process for getting a gun in NJ. And in disclosure, I’m not a lawyer so if you want the official process for applying for and receiving permission to buy a firearm in NJ, I recommend you get it from your local police department... don't listen to me. Hopefully you'll have it easier than I did. I had to deal with the new breed of civil employee that sees himself as my civil master rather than a civil servant. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

- A New Low In Academic Stupidity

There was once a time when no one who is the least bit worried about maintaining intellectual credibility would ever say something as idiotic as this:

Anti-tax zealots denounce all taxation as theft, as depriving citizens of their right to spend their hard-earned incomes as they see fit. Yet nowhere does the Constitution grant us the right not to be taxed. Nor does it grant us the right to harm others with impunity. No one is permitted to steal our cars or vandalize our homes. Why should opponents of taxation be allowed to harm us in less direct ways?

I hardly know where to begin, but since that bit of nonsense is certain to be ridiculed high and low across the blogosphere, let me focus on this other memorable quote from the article:

When the transactions of financial speculators fuel asset bubbles, they increase the risk of financial meltdowns. A small tax on those transactions would reduce this risk.

While that may be the popular tripe in academia, as usual it doesn't bear any relationship to what actually goes on in the markets. Speculators don't cause asset bubbles, poorly structured regulation and government generated incentives do. The real estate bubble was caused by congress not by the people who gave them what they wanted. Even the run up in energy prices from last year (not actually a bubble... but I'm sure an imbecile like this says it was) was actually caused by the government's hysterical energy policy which makes exploiting domestic energy all but impossible (limiting supply) and simultaneously makes the cost outlook for foreign energy more expensive by weakening the dollar with massive debt.

Actually, I can make the argument that the exact opposite claim is true, and unlike this idiot, my view is supported by reality. Bubbles only occur when regulation and other government generated incentives overwhelm the yin and yang of the normally functioning market, and make only the option of a rising price work as a risk adjusted trade. When that happens, it effectively eliminates short sellers who by their very definition are speculators. Their presence is precisely the thing that prevents asset bubbles because the more a specific market rises the more of it they sell. And when the market begins to fall again, they're the ones who buy into that to prevent a price collapse. they add stability through their speculation, nothing more. In fact, it's the absence of short sellers that causes asset bubbles.

I'm sure this dimwitted political hack would say "oh... I only meant high frequency speculators who don't help the markets in any way". And when he says that, he gives himself away as an obvious intellectual fraud and useless deconstructionist buffoon of the lowest order. I believe he would say something like that only because HF trading is politically unpopular right now and he's just trying to kick them when they're down. In reality, all high frequency speculation does is it makes the market more responsive.

Think of the market as a poll. When government implements a policy the market reacts to it showing precisely what people expect to have happen with the sum total of governmental action, and the corporate responses to it. They aren't saying what they would like to have happen ... hopes and dreams no matter how shiny and rife with rainbows and unicorns are all ignored in the markets; the markets are all about results. And what high frequency trading does is that it causes the markets to shows those expectations in hours rather days or weeks. That's all.

I get a little annoyed that such an obvious fool with so little actual knowledge has the credibility necessary to get his Op-ed published anywhere...even in the New York Times. Since he teaches at that liberal laughing academy Cornell University, he's also deeply involved in the indoctrination of young minds as well. That's a shame because it's one more University whose graduates I now don't dare hire. They all end up misunderstanding reality so much that it takes them years to unlearn what they've been taught, and I don't usually have that kind of time.

It really is tragic what the media and academia have been reduced to when it comes to economic commentary. There was once a time when if a man dared say something this stupid he'd be ridiculed far and wide. Now he's celebrated across the academy and published in the New York Times, and only the people in industry are the ones who ridicule him. The piece is rife with intellectual stolen bases, places where policy intent is used in place of policy results, and where disastrous unintended consequences are are totally ignored. But I've come to expect no less from the people involved. Too bad that we've been reduced to such a level that something like this can pass as part of a serious policy discussion.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

- Global Warming: Still A Total Sham

I became bored with the whole climate-change sham about the time that the market exploded. Actually... it was a little before that... but that was the final nail. I knew there was simply no way the American people would allow the charlatans and imbeciles (yes...that's all their is) of the climate change movement accomplish any of their totalitarian ambitions with an unemployment rate as high as it's been since the 30's.

A basic requirement of letting spoiled rich kids from advanced economies get their way bossing others around, is a cushy lifestyle where people don't care too much if the kids want to waste a buck acting like 'know it all's'. But as soon as it starts to cut seriously into the beer money, most civilized societies tell the children that: "no they can't play with the loaded revolver after all because they might kill us... and that would be bad". That's how climate change movement has looked to me... it's been just like an economic loaded revolver in the hands of spoiled children who want to boss everyone around. Now it's been taken away from them so we can relax a little.

I haven't been paying too much attention to the whole climate-gate story because frankly, I don't think it matters. I knew they were lying about the data ages ago and wrote an essay at the time saying so. In fact, the guy who put the random number data into the temperature forecasting program that the IPCC liked so much, only to have it come back with the 'hockey stick' anyway, really did all the work for us back in 2006.

I don't think the emails revealed anything new, but I guess they did make the lies harder to dodge by the worst offenders. But either way, I think global warming as a political issue has been on the decline for some time now, and would have ended in failure whether the emails surfaced or not.

But if you're really interested in that sort of thing, I think it should at least be entertaining to read about. And what could be more entertaining than reading Mark Steyn making fun of the New York Times. You can almost hear him laughing as he whacks away at his keyboard.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

- Obama Polls Negative

Does this mean we can give up on all this Orwellian idea of treating retread Carter Era socialism as a being something new now? Does this finally mean that the grown-ups can be in charge again?

- My New Beretta

I bought a new Beretta PX4 this week (45ACP since I know you were curious) and although I'd like to go try it out this weekend, I'm afraid I might have to wait a bit. It's the end of Deer season and my freezer is empty so I'm thinking that I might go do my part for Deer overpopulation and go shoot a doe for the meat.

A few weeks ago I shot an arrow 1/2 inch over the back of the biggest deer I've ever seen who wasn't on TV. I was too excited to see if he was an 8 or 10 pointer, but his main beams were as long and as heavy as my arms. He was a true monster, the kind of Deer that would have gotten my picture in Field & Stream at the very least. He was even standing with his head behind a tree so even the movement of my draw didn't spook him. And then I went and underestimated the range, and flubbed the shot. Oh well... there is always next year...when I may very be using a crossbow just to be on the safe side. I know... I know....weapon for poachers, yada, yada, yada... but if you had a shot at this deer and missed you'd be saying the same thing, believe me.

Anyway buddy Craig sent me this great list of gun quotes from Clint Smith, director of Thunder Ranch. Many of them you've probably heard before but there are a few that I haven't heard yet. It makes for fun weekend reading anyway. My favorite is a close tie between number 10 and number 8.

- "The handgun would not be my choice of weapon if I knew I was going to a fight....I'd choose a rifle, a shotgun, an RPG or an atomic bomb instead."

- "The two most important rules in a gunfight are: Always cheat and Always win."

- "Don't forget, incoming fire has the right of way."

- "Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets. I may get killed with my own gun, but he's gonna have to beat me to death with it, cause it's going to be empty."

- "If you're not shootin', you should be loadin'. If you're not loadin, you should be movin', if you're not movin', someone's gonna cut your head off and put it on a stick."

- "When you reload in low light encounters, don't put your flashlight in your back pocket... If you light yourself up, you'll look like an angel or the tooth fairy...and you're gonna be one of 'em pretty soon."

- "Do something. It may be wrong, but do something."

- "Nothing adds a little class to a sniper course like a babe in a Ghillie suit."

- "Shoot what's available, as long as it's available, until something else becomes available."

- "If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid. That's ridiculous.. If I have a gun, what in the hell do I have to be paranoid for."

- "Don't shoot fast, shoot good."

- "You can say 'stop' or 'alto' or use any other word you think will work but I've found that a large bore muzzle pointed at someone's head is pretty much the universal language."

- "You have the rest of your life to solve your problems. How long you live depends on how well you do it."

- "You cannot save the planet. You may be able to save yourself and your family."

- "Thunder Ranch will be here as long as you'll have us or until someone makes us go away and either way it will be exciting."

- "More Excellent Gun Wisdom.......The purpose of fighting is to Win!"

- "There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield, and skill is more important than either."

- "The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental."

- "Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you."

- "If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck."

- "I carry a gun cause a cop is too heavy."

- "When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away."

- "A reporter did a human-interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognized the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him 'Why do you carry a 45?' The Ranger responded, 'Because they don't make a 46.'"

- "An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity."

- "The old sheriff was attending an awards dinner when a lady commented on his wearing his sidearm. 'Sheriff, I see you have your pistol. Are you expecting trouble?' 'N o ma'am. If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought my rifle.'"

- "Beware the man who only has one gun. He probably knows how to use it!"

- "'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' - G. K. Chesterton"

- "A people that values its privileges above its principles will soon lose both."

- "'Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.' ~ Thomas Jefferson"

- "A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy." -- Samuel Adams

- Negative Credibilty On CNBC Squawk Box

I heard a great quote the other day on Squawk box. It was said by one of their guest hosts, whose name I couldn’t find. But he said:

“As the value of information falls to zero, the value of expertise rises to infinity”.

If I were the producers and content decision makers at CNBC, it’s a quote like that which would give me chills and keep me awake at night. Because if there is one thing that’s becoming painfully apparent, it’s that the folks at CNBC, even the most informed of them, are journalists far more then business people. They are allowing themselves to become much more a source of nothing but ‘information’ and eliminating all but the tiniest portion of actual expertise. That’s a tragic shame.

A journalist isn’t an expert, but they get to play one on TV. In fact, in the world of modern journalism, even a journalist who actually knows something is forced to ‘un-know’ it in the interest of seeming non-partisan, or in not being too confrontational with the person being interviewed. Take for example a guy like Steve Liesman, who is not a stupid guy, but still finds himself forced to say truly idiotic things when wearing his ‘journalist’ hat. He knows that as a journalist, he needs to continue to get access to powerful people and that will only happen if he ingratiates himself. In the age of Obama, the powerful people all believe in rainbows and unicorns, so in order not to offend them, Liesman has to ask about the effect that rainbows and unicorns will have on the unemployment index or the value of the dollar, even though he knows that it’s all pretend.

The decay of the news media is sort of the first derivative of the Orwellian doublespeak currently being emitted by the ton from the Whitehouse and the halls of government. Guys like Tim Geithner go on TV carefully misrepresenting the facts in order to support policy decisions. Fair enough… it’s his job. But in order to stay on the good side of powerful people, the media tone’s down the content of their reporting. The result is tha they're able to generate more reporting, but less of it has any value. And you can see it most clearly in a case like CNBC where there is actually expertise some days and nothing but useless pabulum the next.

Can you think of any reason a Marxist hack like Valerie Jarrett shouldn’t be challenged when she claims that the stimulus created between 600,000 and 1.2 million jobs when everyone with a brain knows that isn’t so? But on CNBC they still gave her a pass both on that, and every other piece of public policy fiction she talked up. what's even worse is, instead of yelling at the TV like I normally would I simply laughed... because by now I've come to expect no better from them.

To you folks over at squawk box, you should really be more careful with your credibility. You all look like a bunch of puffed up overpaid fools when you let them say things like that. I’ve heard you say that you know it isn’t actually so…. You should have said so to her. Even on your best day you look more like journalists than business people, but that doesn’t mean you need to look like particularly stupid journalists as well.

Everyone has an opinion, but a great many of those opinions are obvious falsehoods so you shouldn't treat them all as equivalent. Logic, reason, and empirically observed cause and effect should hold greater sway with you than political spin, or PC equivalent nonsense. If you call a cloudless day sunny, you will still offend Indian rain dancers or whoever. But if you pander to them and call it something else, then it's you who looks like the fool instead of them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

- The Enemy Camp

The dirty little secret of my family is that I'm actually the black sheep. Every choice I've ever made, every direction I've chosen, every relationship I've pursued and every friend I've made over the last 40 years has all been over the direct objection (and deep shame) of either one or both of my parents. Mom wanted me to work for the post office (or somewhere else equally safe and secure), and dad wanted me to be a soldier, and eventually president. Readers of this blog know that I've managed to let them both down.

I tell you this because until quite recently I had a secret plan that I was waiting to hatch which might have restored me in the eyes of my father, but I never actually got a chance to pull it off. The best man at my wedding was my buddy Matt who attended Georgetown Law School. And whenever I went down there to visit him I'd keep my eye open for senator Ted Kennedy. My thinking was that if I ran into the senator from Massachusetts, I could restore my father's opinion of me if I just hauled off and slugged him right in the nose.

I'd be brought up on charges of course, but it would be a small price to pay to restore my father's much degraded opinion of me. Unfortunately Ted Kennedy died before I ever got my chance, but it didn't really matter. The truth is, I stopped caring what my dad thinks of my life ages ago anyway... so Ted probably would have gotten off without a beating after all.

I don't know what my dad thinks of Chris Matthews. So if I ever run into him down in DC, any physical abuse he gets will have to be delivered purely for the pleasure of it. But thanks to comments like this one, I think that will be justification enough.

Friday, November 27, 2009

- Who You Callin A Servant... Boy!

My buddy Tim, having nodded vigorously to my rants about public sector unions for the better part of 20 years now, has finally started to outpace me in terms of his level of outrage.

He sent me this really great piece about how the public 'servants' in California have set themselves up as an upper class of citizen while contributing zero to the living standard of the people paying the taxes:

Government employees use various scams to boost their already generous benefits, which include fully paid health care and cost-of-living adjustments. The Sacramento Bee coined the term “chief’s disease,” for example, to refer to the 82 percent (in 2002) of chief’s-level employees at the California Highway Patrol who discovered a disabling injury about one year before retiring. That provides an extra year off work, with pay, and shields 50 percent of their final retirement pay from taxes. Most of these disabilities stem from back pain, knee pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and the like—not from taking bullets from bad guys. The disability numbers soared after CHP disbanded its fraud unit.

The same thing is going on in NJ, NY, CT, VA, MI, IL and everywhere else that public sector unions are strong. think 'Blue States'.

When the states start declaring bankruptcy it's going to be quite a shock to these people who are all counting on the rest of us keeping them in considerable comfort for the rest of their lives.

There are too many great quotes in the piece to mention them all. Read it here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

- Still Thankful

This will be a very short post… not because I because I don’t have lots to be thankful for, but because I’m so busy right now that I have very little time. Principle cause of that is that I’m doing the ‘single dad’ thing this year. My mother in law just passed away, so my wife has gone to Florida to tend to her dad and handle the details. My daughter and I are getting by OK on our own, but it’s a heavy workload even for someone who sleeps as little as me.

All the same though I could really use a nap.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to write a longer piece about my mother in law. She and her husband took on enormous and terrifying challenges in their lives, many of which had to do with guard dogs, barbed wire and machine guns. But she always considered herself a small person with a fairly ordinary life, for whom her family was by far the most important priority. There is a great deal more to say about her, and like I said, I may write about it; but not today.

Even with the tragic news, we have lots to be thankful for. We have our close connections (many made closer by the tragedy of loss), and we all have each other. Since she was little I’ve always told my daughter that people are much more important than stuff, and thankfully she seems to have taken that to heart. She’s terribly sad about it, but she’s handling the loss pretty well, as kids her age all surprisingly seem to do.

In an odd twist this year, I even find myself being thankful for president Obama, because as I said in this email to Jonah Goldberg, I’m not happy about what he’s doing, but he’s doing it in such a predictable way that I’m making a fortune on it.

Anyway… we’ve had bad news, but we are getting through it. And we haven’t lost sight of what’s important. But if you don’t hear from me until a week or so after the holiday, now you’ll know why.

Best to you and yours for this holiday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

- Why Republicans Suck

The RNC has written a pathetic bunch of talking points for vetting candidates. Clyde Middleton over at The Patriot Room has added some improvements. A sampling: (his comments are italicized)

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee identifies ten (10) [It's not eleven - see below] key public policy positions for the 2010 election cycle, which the Republican National Committee expects its public officials and candidates to support:

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill;

[Poorly drafted. You are pigeon-holing a single piece of legislation. This isn't high school. You need to add "less regulation" and revise the tax bit to read "lower taxes on individuals and businesses covering income and profits, including capital gains." Then you need to say - in addition - that you "oppose a stimulus bill not designed to support the jobs-engine of this country - small business."]

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;

[Wow. You guys REALLY suck. Let me write it for you: "We support market-based health-care reform including insurance-company competition across state lines and Med-Mal reform including caps. We do not support government intervention or involvement in the nature propose by President Obama."]

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

[That's IT? Really? What about an accelerated program to develop domestic energy resources including oil and natural gas? What about building new refineries and new nuke plants? You OPPOSE something and that's IT? You see why we don't like you? You commit to NOTHING.]

As it stands if the RNC hires clyde to run the communications office, I'd actualyl consider giving them money again day.

The rest of his well written suggestions are here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

- Lets Put On A Show Trial: Part 2

Charles Krauthhammer thinks this is a very bad idea too:

What happens if KSM (and his co-defendants) “do not get convicted,” asked Senate Judiciary Committee member Herb Kohl. “Failure is not an option,” replied Holder. Not an option? Doesn’t the presumption of innocence, er, presume that prosecutorial failure — acquittal, hung jury — is an option? By undermining that presumption, Holder is undermining the fairness of the trial, the demonstration of which is the alleged rationale for putting on this show in the first place.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

- Lets Put On A Show Trial!

No miranda rights, no discovery rights, no right to remain silent, special interrogation techniques, no chance of acquittal, and even if acquitted, no chance of release. And after this trial (for KSM) these are the legal precendents we'll all be forced to cope with.

This is Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad. Holder and Obama are trying to prove a point, and will destroy our legal system in the process. Stalin would be proud.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

- American Pride

Cultural tradition my eye.

If I ever meet Obama, I want him to prostrate himself at my feet.

- Pulling Another Torch...

Apparently the Democrat machine is concerned with Frank Lautenberg's increasing age. Here he's pictured about to consume one of the many children whose blood he's forced to drink daily to continue to preserve his life.

No ... not really... but the Democrat machine really is really concerned. So what they now plan to do, in the musical chairs style so typical of Trenton, is to have Corzine retire before leaving office in January. That will make Richard Codey governor again. Then if Lautenberg will retire as well (again), Codey can then appoint Corzine to Lautenberg's empty seat. This musical chairs act (which happens every 4 or 5 years or so) is known locally as 'pulling a torch' so named after former Senator Robert "The Torch" Toricelli's timely resignation when corruption allegations started to make his poll numbers look bad in a recent election.

All this is important to the Democrat machine because if Lautenberg were to have his coffin discovered by the gathering mob, or accidentally go outside during the daytime or eat soemthing with garlic in it or whatever, incoming governor Chris Chritie could then appoint his own Republican candidate to replace him in the Senate. Can you imagine ?! A Republican ... in the Senate...from NJ ... gasp... oh the horror...

I'm not really surprised, but I am as embarrassed as always. NJ and corruption...perfect together.

- The Cult Of Celebrity...

One of the discouraging things about American politics is that we don't vote for people who we think will be good at their jobs, we vote for people who remind us of ourselves.

The left believes that we on the right like Sarah Palin because she's attractive. But as much as we may agree with them about her appearance, it's not the kind of thing that drives decision making on the right. For the left who have cast aside the pedestrian trappings of western morality, attractive = virtuous, famous = competent. That's how Paul Krugman avoids public ridicule, and how anyone takes a boob like Joe Biden seriously.

Now Sarah Palin is taking the new morality of fame and making them eat it. She is everything they have trained themselves to like...she's attractive, and famous. And it was one thing to attack her when she was a threat to their annointed one, but now that she's just an author and ex-governor, I'm quite sure they find themselves reacting to her differently than before.

I hope it's enough to rehabilitate her image with the media, but I'd bet against it. The truth is, in their heart of hearts, they know they're full of $4it too. and they would sooner be accused of hypicrosy than admit they were wrong.

Monday, November 16, 2009

- Well Worth A Buck

Would you pay a dollar to watch Al Gore be forced to defend his global warming hyperbole and exaggeration on international TV? Me too.... here is your chance.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

- The Eloi King And The Emperor ...

Nothing makes a people prouder than seeing their duly elected leader debase himself before every foreign dignitary in the world.

Maybe while he's at it, he can apologize to the emperor for Pearl Harbor.

Friday, November 13, 2009

- Public Pension Trouble: Part 3,299,873

California's public pension system (CalPers) is in "deep financial doo doo" according to the Sacramento Bee.

Hey ... you know what might help them out? If the government were to take over all their health care costs for retirees. Then the taxpayers would pick up that tab instead of the pensions having to go to politicians for a direct bailout. That would probably be much more politically palatable... they can even call it 'health care reform' so it sounds like an overall improvement.

Man... that's just genius ... even if I do say so myself.

Now if I could just think of someone someone in government who is sympathetic to the issues of big labor who can champion a plan like this... That will be tough, but what might make it easier for them is if they can find a way to make it seem like it will reduce overall health care costs. Maybe if they included 10 years of tax revenue but only 7 years of benefits so it seems like it's deficit neutral...

I don't know... not even the US taxpayer is stupid enough to believe an obvious ploy like that. but I'll keep thinking about it.....

- While The Eloi King Fiddles...

Today the king of the Eloi is meeting with the Japanese prime minister. They’re missing every salient and important point between the two countries, and instead focusing on the no nukes movement. Which as you know has been recently revived from it’s suspended animation tank in the Whitehouse basement, where it had slumbered undisturbed since the end of the Carter administration.

That they are focusing on this idiotic stuff is criminal and that the dimwit press is letting them is negligent. Of course Japan is no nukes… who else if not them. But if we can set aside the pacifist movement (as most Americans did a generation ago), there are issues of today that should really be discussed. Japan’s economic condition is deteriorating rapidly. It will be the first country to go over the economic waterfall, and rather than addressing that and dealing with the all but certan disaster, Obama continues to paddle us closer to their position.

Japan is about to face that crisis of all social crises, a haircut for their pensioners. The after affects of that will be dramatic to say the least. (To imagine what this means, just picture what would happen if we told everyone in America that we're cutting social security payments in half regardless of what was promised or what you may have paid in.) Japan will no longer be in a position to help support the dollar or to buy US debt. Their domestic economy will go into freefall as the price of commodities soar, and they’ll try to cope with the social changes when energy becomes so expensive in yen that the worlds second most modern economy will begin to more closely resemble the 15th century.

But not to worry … the Eloi king is on the job. He’s got a rousing speech about ‘international cooperation’ and our ‘shared goals’ and world without nuclear weapons. He’s so much like Carter that the secret service should start carrying small gauge shotguns to repel all the rabbits that are bound to attack.

Carter was an incredibly weak president; so weak that even herbivores scared him witless. The same is obviously true of Obama. But Obama has an ability to ignore the facts that Carter never had. At least Carter tried to run the country, but all Obama seems to be doing is continuing the election campaign.

God help us all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

- Intrade Odds On The Public Option

In most cases I think these intrade markets are useless and stupid because they ask questions where the public perception holds no sway. What can we possibly learn about reality from asking questions like "Will Michael Jackson's Doctor be charged with Manslaughter?"

The answer of course is nothing at all. In this particular case however, I think there may be some small (OK very small) merit in looking at the intrade odds. Much of the future of the healthcare bill relies on the public perception. If it really does look like a kamikazi run at the good ship capitalism, then it's going to be very hard for the Democrat leadership to find pols who are willing to fly the plane. But if it turns out to be anything else, then big labor says they won't support it. And what's the point of paying the political price of implementing an expensive new bill over the objections of the voters, when the interest group who gives you your marching orders says that they don't want it anymore?

I know the talking heads of the right say that this is all a power grab... it may be that as well. But what it really is, is a bailout for the unions. Big Labor's pensions are hopelessly underfunded, and shamefully mismanaged. Many of them will never be viable again. In the case of the public sector unions, the taxpayers will be forced (by law) to make up the difference, but that will mean that the pols will have to raise everyone's taxes, and that means that they'll be voted out. As you can imagine, they don't want to be put in that situation.

This healthcare bill and particularly the public option, are really just a little political sleight of hand. It's a way for the congress to transfer money to the pension plans of the public sector unions without having to tell the voters about it. When the public option is adopted, the unions will fold up their benefit plans and put their membership on it immediately. And with that cost absorbed by the taxpayers, their plans become viable for a few more years at least.

Of course, the public plan will then end up costing 2 or 3 times what we're told it will, like all government plans. But the pols know that once the deed is done it's unlikely to be undone, so there is no point in worrying about underestimation.

This is all just another case of the people in government (the union people in government) demanding a bigger slice of pie for themselves, and telling us it's for our own good. No one really believes that a public option will 'increase competition' or 'lower costs', not even the people who say so. When in all of human history has a government plan ever done either of those things? And if you are so stupid that you do believe it just because some self interested politician told you so, then you'll be getting exactly what you deserve.

I think the most common mistake finance industry professionals are making when looking at the hopey-changey crowd is that they are underestimating the high degree of importance that big-labor is playing in defining policy. We give the pols too much credit, and assume that they know things that we see as obvious. But the truth is that they have no idea. Even the most basic rules of reality for us are deep and abiding mysteries to them.

While we all spent the last 20 years learning how markets and economies work, they were reading "A people's history of the United States" and banging undergrads. They don't know that borrowing is connected to interest rates, is connected to bond prices, is connected to currency rates. Even the law of supply and demand isn't universal as far as they're concerned. They think that the price of something and the cost of something are the same thing and that if you lower the price, you've lowered the cost too.

To us that seems unbelievable... it's totally breathtakingly in it's stupidity. But I assure you... it's what they really think. For them wisdom went on hiatus when Reagan was elected. Since then they've been frozen in amber, the permanent adolescents, waiting for yet another chance to make the same old mistakes.

Just think about some of the horrifyingly stupid things that Nancy Pelosi says... or Harry Ried... or gasp...Joe Biden. Even the simplest most obvious facts about how the world works remain totally unlearned by them. And because that's so, the people who hold internal sway in the Democrat party don't know anything useful, and the people among them who do are all hopelessly marginalized.

That's why Obama seems like he's always campaigning... because it's quite literally all he knows how to do. And whats worse.... he's so shut into a bubble and so insulated from reality, that he probably has no idea of how quickly the edge of the cliff is approaching, or how the childish and simplistic 'stimulus' plans he promotes every couple of months are speeding us faster toward the edge. He doesn't see it, and neither does any of his staff. I know this will seem hard to believe, but from his perspective, he probably thinks he's helping things.

Anyway... if the intrade numbers can be believed, then the public option is finished. And that could very well mean that Obamacare is finished too. At least that's one change we can all hope for.

Monday, November 9, 2009

- The Cost Of Socialism

This is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For those of you too young to remember, that event even more than the collapse of the soviet government, was the moment we won the cold war.

But now, among the young in this country, the sins of totalitarian socialism have all become 'theoretical'. They forget that real lives were effected and runied by central planning. So I offer this clip from the brilliant German movie "The Lives Of Others", about life in East German just before the wall fell.

What you don't see here is that the young man was consigned to purgatory for that joke. He appears much later in the movie sorting cards in a windowless basement, not quite in prison but all but. His life was destroyed because he made a joke in front of someone who had the political power to harm his career. And what's much worse is that I'm quite sure Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel look at the Stazi officer who did it to him with envy.

Socialism is a bad idea. It's always been a bad idea. It's not 'different this time"... it never is. And it's a little ironic that most of the cost of socialism, is actually social.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

- I Really Laughed At The Wet Spot

Offered without Comment.
(Although the temptation to mention Howard Dean is really pulling at me.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

- The California Decline Continues

There has been much discussion in my sewing circles about what it looks like when a government collapses. Well here we have yet another chapter. The government of California has raised the amount withheld from workers income taxes by 10%. They'll simply take it and keep it. But there hasn't been any corresponding increase in Taxes to correspond with it, so they are actually calling it a 'no interest loan'.

The Wall street journal gets right to the salient question and that is: "What happens come April if the state doesn't have enough money to pay the tax refunds it owes its citizens? Will taxpayers get IOUs the way state contractors did last year when Sacramento ran out of money?"

At least when the Fed's try something like this Texas will secede. It will be the first civil war in history that owes it's beginning to a mandatory no interest loan and poor credit.

- Two Lions Fight Over One Antelope

I guess it’s no stretch to say that I see the Republican victory in NJ a little differently than most others. Chris Christie is a machine Republican who will be friendly to continuing the current distribution of government benefits in Trenton. And at present, most of the benefits of government spending go directly to those running and working for, the government.

If the people in government (1 voter in 9 in NJ not counting teachers) had gotten the idea that Christie would be standing up for the tax payer instead of them, then they would have turned out to the polls in droves. That would have given him a 16% disadvantage at the outset, and even against a wildly unpopular candidate like Corzine, he almost certainly would have lost. But instead, Christie made it clear that he has no plans to really change things in Trenton at all. He spoke in the broadest generalities but no specifics. And that gave them the confidence to believe that they had 2 candidates on their side, the same as always in NJ.

The Election in NJ was two lions fighting over an antelope. And whichever one wins, it’s tough to call it a victory for the antelope.

Does that mean I think Christie will be as bad for the state as another Corzine term would have been? No, I don’t think so. But the fact of the matter is the system is so deeply broken in NJ that it’s outside the power of any governor to fix. Much of the taxes we pay are as a result of mandates set by the State Supreme Court, and the unions reap the benefits. They won’t allow any bill to be brought up that might change any of that. For 99% of the issues, the Christie administration will be more of the same old thing for NJ’s taxpayers.

What’s more, it’s about to get much worse. The population continues to drop but it isn’t people in government moving out of the state. The businesses and individuals who generate the taxes are the ones leaving. The tax base is shrinking but the burdens on them are not. The cost to each taxpayer will almost certainly continue to increase. So too will the pension liabilities for public employees, and the degree of mismanagement of the state and local finances. Eventually it will become too much of a crisis to ignore, but not yet. Since Corzine was from the party doing the most direct damage, he probably would have made it worse. But even though Christie is a Republican, the most we can hope for from him is that he keeps kicking the can down the alley for 4 more years.

So am I pleased? Sure. Am I looking at the event as a game changing moment? No. In NJ the lions will continue to fight, and I, and the rest of the private sector, will continue to be the Antelopes. And with a future like that it's hard for me to celebrate.

Monday, November 2, 2009

- A Goldman Sachs Shout Out

I just wanted to give a little shout out to the 40 or 50 Goldman Sachs employees who, according to my hit tracking software, are reading this blog on a regular basis. Over the last year I've received uncountable thousands of insults and one completely serious online death threat all because I work at a hedge fund. And even I'm amazed at how the public has reacted to you guys.

I'm a JPMorgan alum myself. I've never had any problem with Goldman, but I do kind of get how maybe if you've come up from a second tier firm, you might find it annoying how Goldman always seems to come out on top. There is a lot of that over at zerohedge I think... I can only describe it as Goldman - Envy. Then when you mix a little of that (partly joking) Goldman bashing in with an uneducated online investing public that doesn't really understand the ins and outs of the corporate finance world, then add to that 800 billion in banking industry bailouts and I get how people are a little put out.

But even so, I think it's way over the top. So I just wanted to let you all know that not everyone thinks you're the problem. Some of us know that a great many of you are part of the solution. Or that is... you would be if we ever get the idea to start solving things in this country ever again. So take heart. Not everyone in America thinks your evil. And the people who do are more interested in fashion than in information. Eventually they'll get tired and go away.

- When The End Comes...

... this may be what it will look like.

My buddy Rob sent me this piece on the current state of the Japanese collapse:

"The debt situation is irrecoverable," said Carl Weinberg from High Frequency Economics. "I don't see any orderly way out of this. They will not be able to fund their deficit. There will be a fiscal shutdown, a pension haircut, and bank failures that will rock the world. It is criminally negligent that rating agencies are not blowing the whistle on this."

They had a bit of a real estate crisis about 20 years ago. They decided to solve that problem with some keynesian fiscal stimulus and some quantitative easing on their currency. They then had 20 years of anemic economic growth where the emphasis was on rich pensions for their rapidly aging population. If this sounds familiar, it should. this is us in 20 years.

But maybe it will be even sooner. For instance, if Japan collapses tomorrow (an entirely believable scenario) then we're hardly in a position to brace them up are we? In fact, we're in a desperate enough circumstance to potentially be pulled over the edge along with them.

But either way, they are where we will be in 20 years under the current policies.

- There's That Word Again...

Duncan Currie - The Swamps Of Jersey:

Corzine’s decision to raise taxes in an election year indicates the rickety condition of New Jersey’s fiscal house. “Public spending in New Jersey doubled in real terms, as a percentage of GDP, between 1971 and 2008,” write Mercatus Center scholars Eileen Norcross and Frederic Sautet. Government spending represented over 7 percent of GDP in 2008, compared with 5.4 percent in 1997. Corzine has touted the spending cuts in his fiscal year 2010 budget, which took effect on July 1, but New Jersey’s nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services projects a structural budget deficit of around $8 billion for fiscal year 2011. As of June 2008, the state had an outstanding debt of roughly $31.8 billion (one of the highest burdens in the country). It also faces the daunting long-term challenge of shoring up public liabilities: As Norcross and Sautet point out, “New Jersey’s pension fund faces a potential $56 billion unfunded liability (up from $18 billion in 2006), which rises to $130 billion when post-retirement medical and prescription drug benefits and stock market losses are factored in.” In early August, Moody’s Investors Service bumped New Jersey’s credit outlook down to “negative.”

The frightening details can be found here.

- The Public Pension Disaster

I've been writing about this for years, but I strongly suspect no one cares ....yet.

My friend John Derbyshire posted my "Civil Servants Gone Wild" piece in the corner once. In that one I said that most economic terms cause spontaneous narcolepsy and that 'Unfunded pension liability" is no different. I tried to make the lighthearted parallel between the way our public pensions are being run and the way a college kid uses their parents credit card while on vacation in Mexico. If you understand the ins and outs of institutional finance, it's a better comparison than it probably seems if you don't.

Here is a TownHall piece by Bruce Bialosky which puts some harder numbers on the problem, using California (natch) as an example. But I can assure you that the very same thing is occurring in NJ, NY, Mass, VA etc. Since the process is self sustaining there is no way to break the chain. Large benefits leads to big union gains, which leads to big political contributions, which leads to politicians friendly to big benefits etc. Round and round we go until the music stops and we realize that we just burned the last chair for firewood. that's when we typically realize that not only is there nownowhere for anyone to sit, but winter is coming and there is nothing left to burn either.

That's progressive America.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

- Are You Serious?

When asked where the constitution gave congress the authority to order Americans to buy health insurance, that Constitutional Scholar Nancy Pelosi's answer was: "Are You Serious?"

Afterward, her Staffer then rushed the reporter to tell him that the speaker's comment wasn't on the record.

Nothing but class that woman.

- Benefits Neither Public Nor Good

Interesting piece on how the High Tax - High Benefit model chosen by blue states like California and New Jersey, just doesn't seem to work out:

California's interlocking directorate of government employee unions, issue activists, careerists and campaign contributors has become increasingly aggressive and adept at using rhetoric extolling public benefits for all to deliver targeted advantages to itself. As a result, the political reality of the high-benefit/high-tax model is that its public goods are, increasingly, neither public nor good. Instead, the beneficiaries are the providers of the public services, and certain favored or connected constituencies, rather than the general population.

I know the feeling. But when 1 in 9 people in the state work for the government (not counting teachers), it's almost impossible to elect someone who isn't on their side. Anyone who tries to run on the side of the taxpayer starts the election with a roughly 16% disadvantage in the polls.

I think Chris Christy will get elected. I'm certainly going to vote for him. But if a few years from now you're wondering why he didn't manage to get anything done, that's why.

Friday, October 30, 2009

- Saved Or Created

All but the embarrassingly naive, or the devoted kool-aid drinkers know that the 'saved or created' line is a lie... a made up statistic endlessly repeated by the administration to make themselves look good. Imagine my shock and horror to discover that politicians lie.

But even if you drink the kool-aid then the "jobs saved" that the administration is talking about, are the jobs of state and local government workers. That part of the economy produces nothing. They add not at all to the living standard of Americans, so in the longest term, the money has been wasted.

And that's why I'm sick of hearing this particular lie. Even if it's the truth, it's actually a net on net bad thing. It's just another means of taxing the productive part of the economy, to support the unproductive parts. It's another attempt to insulate the bureaucracy from the effects of the economic downturn by making things worse for the private sector.

But that fact won't come out until after the media decides to wake up from it's Obama stupor.

- Governed By Callous Children

I've written a lot about this but never so well:

When I see those in government, both locally and in Washington, spend and tax and come up each day with new ways to spend and tax—health care, cap and trade, etc.—I think: Why aren't they worried about the impact of what they're doing? Why do they think America is so strong it can take endless abuse?

I think I know part of the answer. It is that they've never seen things go dark. They came of age during the great abundance, circa 1980-2008 (or 1950-2008, take your pick), and they don't have the habit of worry. They talk about their "concerns"—they're big on that word. But they're not really concerned. They think America is the goose that lays the golden egg. Why not? She laid it in their laps. She laid it in grandpa's lap.

Frankly, it's the best thing Peggy Noonan has written in years.

They don't feel anxious, because they never had anything to be anxious about. They grew up in an America surrounded by phrases—"strongest nation in the world," "indispensable nation," "unipolar power," "highest standard of living"—and are not bright enough, or serious enough, to imagine that they can damage that, hurt it, even fatally.

We are governed at all levels by America's luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists but they're not optimists—they're unimaginative. They don't have faith, they've just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don't mind it when people become disheartened. They don't even notice.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

- Peter Schiff: "Sell Into The Dollar Rally!"

For the record, I agree with Peter Schiff. I think there is little that can be done at this point to save the strength of the US dollar over the long term, even if the administration wanted to (which they don't). And I think the effect of that is exactly what he says it will be.

But you need to be a little careful how you say things like this. You quickly reach a point where people will dismiss you, not because of the facts you present, but because of the emotion with which you convey them. Glenn Beck has exactly the same problem. And if you aren't convincing anyone other than those people who already agree with you, then why bother to say it in the first place?

Peter Schiff is a very smarty guy who (I believe) accurately sees what's happening in America. But I think he'd convince more people he's right if he just turned it down a notch.

With all that said, if you're a regular guy who wants to save his family's future, you should go out there and borrow lots and lots and lots of money, and use it to buy hard assets. Inflation can be thought of as a reverse interest rate that punishes lenders and rewards borrowers. That makes it sound like good medicine to team Obama.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

- And So It Begins...

GMAC want's even more money from the US taxpayer
, and since the original decision to buy the company was based on politics rather than any kind of rational economic or financial gain, there is no reason to believe that this request will be handled any different than the last one.

The US taxpayer is now the proud owner of a labor union whose only real accomplishment is the annihilation of the world's great industrial sectors.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

- Scary Marxist Clown Mask

Just in time for Halloween. Available from amazon at the link.

- Doug Hoffman For Congress

Oh how I wish a guy like Hoffman were running for Governor in NJ.

- Tragic Stupidity

Nancy Pelosi thinks a new name will get the debate about the Democrats healthcare take-over rolling again. According to a piece on

The speaker said the "competitive option" idea emerged during her closed-door roundtable at the Sunrise Senior Center with advocates of seniors and others who work with older populations.

The competitive option. That would be hysterical if it wasn’t such a tragic testimony to how detached our political class has become. The purpose of a government run insurance plan is to eliminate competition not to enhance it. And it will be highly effective at doing just that.

Pelosi and the Democrats believe that eliminating the profit from the healthcare industry will solve all the problems of the healthcare industry. This is in a word, idiotic. Eliminate the profit and you eliminate the companies who provide the insurance. Why do it if they’re prohibited by law from making a profit at it? That will quickly leave only the government to provide medical care, and as we’ve seen in Canada and the UK, that will end tragically for millions of Americans.

And the truth is, the Democrats know this… they just don’t care. Big labor has promised their members a luxurious raft of benefits that they simply cannot possibly hope to deliver, and they need the government to take it over before they run out of rope. The SEIU and the AFL-CIO want it, so Obama and Pelosi have every intention of giving it to them. That’s why Pelosi is forced to say such obviously stupid things.

Monday, October 26, 2009

- Some Financial Notes

- If Ben Bernanke tries to raise interest rates before unemployment falls to 8%, they’re going to find him at the bottom of the Potomac, tied up in the trunk of Rahm Emanuel’s car.

- Contrary to what they tell you on CNBC, inflation causes rising prices not the other way around. First the money supply increases… that’s the inflation. Then as it works its way though the currency supply chain, prices begin to rise. The rising prices are a symptom not a cause, and it may take months before we feel those effects.

- Equity Markets and Gold markets are rising together because equity represents a hard asset. Think about it.

- Support for the dollar is only going to come from the Germans and Japanese for whom a weak dollar is contrary to their interests. Watch the price of gold in euros to stay on top of that situation.

- High inflation can be thought of as a reverse interest rate. It takes from lenders, and gives to borrowers. In that way it can be used as a wealth transfer mechanism (by those inclined to that kind of thing) since the lenders are always the “haves” and the debtors are always the “have nots”.

- Team Obama likes the weak dollar because someone in organized labor (the only people he listens to) told him that it would help our industrial exports. What they didn’t tell him (or they did and he didn’t understand) is that after 30 years of terrible labor laws, virtually our entire industrial sector has already moved to Mexico and China so the upside will be far less than they expect.

- For Team Obama there is no such thing as a problem, until it becomes a political problem. It's only once it will effect election results that a situation will require immediate action. So long as the voting public doesn't care if his economic plans work, neither does Obama.

- Americans understand that higher interest rates slow the economy, but they don't understand where inflation comes from. Higher prices for commodities can be blamed on 'speculators' or 'foreign interests' or whoever, but an interest rate hike will only be blamed on the president. Since that's so, we'll get more of the former, and less of the latter.

PS I have an original copy of the above cartoon which I clipped from a copy of the Wall Street Journal in November, 1989. If that doesn't' date me I don't know what does.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

- Principle Vs. Ambition

I’ve tried a few times to write something about why I still like Sarah Palin, but I confess that I’ve really struggled with expressing it. It’s not an easy idea to reduce to the kind of sound bite that I know resonates with most people. I can get close; but up to now the sentences I wrote lent themselves too easily to misinterpretation. But I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on it.

The people that pursue politics as a career in this country, (from both parties) are usually people like Joe Biden, who wouldn’t be able to succeed if they had to worry about things like talent or competition. My local state senator Jennifer Beck is a good example of someone with a similar lack of substance on the Republican side. Both she and Biden are attractive and reasonably well spoken, but their only talent is in telling people what they want to hear when they want to hear it, and avoiding responsibility when things go badly. Neither has what you might call character or even a core of beliefs.

In fact, even more than that, they will energetically believe whatever you tell them to if you can convince them that it will lead to them getting more political power. Sometimes compromises come with that. Both Democrats and Republicans believe a general philosophy that they can’t contradict too terribly much. But the only reason they don’t is because they don’t want to seem inconsistent; and even that is only because it might cost them votes. If it was in their interest to be a socialist today and Austrian school true believer tomorrow, they would have no internal issue with making the switch.

They would tell you that those compromises of principle are simply a part of playing the game and you can’t make an omelet without breaking an egg or two. But the fact is, the game is as it is because Biden and Beck are as they are. And what they are is ambitious. They long for power… they crave it with every fiber of their being. They want to rule. They want to be in charge. It’s their defining character trait and they’re prepared to sacrifice everything toward reaching that goal. Put them in a situation where they can have absolute monarchical rule of all of America if they’ll just put 6 million Jews in a gas chamber, and neither of them (nor virtually any other professional politician in America) would have any issue at all re-enacting the holocaust.

Fortunately for America’s Jewry, that isn’t a choice any of them will be offered. But replace the Jews with an even less popular group like Insurance companies, or Wall Street Executives, and change the gas chamber to something more moderate like a permanent indentured servitude, and all bets are off. For Biden and Beck, their desire for power will vastly outweigh any theoretical idea about the rights of citizens, and they’ll happily strip them of those rights as fast as they can. Of course, in America extremist views don’t win votes so there will be no gas chambers any time soon. But while the degree is dramatically different the principle (or lack of one) is exactly the same. The people in public office don’t have a problem with an utterly unjust act, only that it won’t help get them re-elected.

This isn’t to say that these two particular politicians have a populist streak, although they can if it serves their greater ambitions. Like I said, they’ll believe whatever the fashion of the day will allow them to so long as the result is that they get more power. There is no cost too great for them to meet that goal. They are empty vessels filled with whatever we want them to be. They are utterly without vice or virtue apart from the ambition for power. The only beliefs they hold or personality traits they possess are those that they have been convinced will lead to more control over the masses. And they are moderated in their beliefs only by what shows up well in the polling.

Sarah Palin does not fit that mold. Sarah Palin has a set of core beliefs which she values as more important than any personal ambitions. As I said in the first paragraph I ever wrote about her, “she doesn’t just talk the talk, she also clearly walks the walk”. She may be playing the same political game as Joe Biden or Jennifer Beck, but she’s doing it from the position of someone who would rather lose the battle than give up her core beliefs. Many American live their lives that way. I like to believe I have, and I know a great many of my friends have as well. And to us, it’s very easy to see that very same thing in Sarah.

To the media and the elites on the coasts, she looks like an unsophisticated rube. But Sarah remains unphased by their criticism. It's been more than adequately demonstrated by people like Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry that intelligence isn't a requirement for political success, so who cares it the New york Times can't tell her quotes from those said by Tina Fey? She's confident that if she just stays true to what she believes, the truth will out in spite of the media's attempts to distort it.

In Sarah's view they can either accept her for who she is or not… but since she isn’t going to change, there is no need to fret over it. And rather than playing the game to win at all costs like most politicians do, she’s going to play to achieve what she believes is right. She has principles, and principles don’t change. Even if the poli-sci teachers at Harvard would have us all believe otherwise.

That’s the thing about her that I don’t think the media understands. She’s not in this to win if it means she has to sacrifice those principles. That idea is totally foreign to them so it looks like she’s not taking the game seriously. But I believe she is. I think she knows as well as anyone what the stakes are. In fact, she probably understands it better than the gobs o’ ambition that rule the roost in DC. She knows that if we don’t turn the tide very soon then we’ll quickly become a third world country with a third world standard of living. And very shortly afterward, what we know as ‘America’ will cease to exist.

So she’s trying to make things better. And if that means she can also win… great. But she isn’t prepared to sacrifice her principles for it. For empty suits like Joe Biden or Jennifer Beck, there is no internal struggle in doing their job. How could there be? They don’t believe in anything so there are no beliefs to compromise. But Sarah Palin is different. Sarah Palin’s internal battle is between the virtue of representing the interests of a free people, and the vice of ruling a dependent and subservient populace. If she decides to win at all cost like most politicians do, then she’ll be choosing the latter, and in her mind that would mean that she’s already lost.

I like Sarah, and I think I understand her. And so long as it looks to me like the virtue of her character is winning, she’ll continue to have my support.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Support All Pay Limits

The fact is, the companies that still owe the government money were mismanaged, and should have failed last year. The fact that they’re still operating is as a result of our politicians acting contrary to the interests of the American people. Had they been allowed to fail, the assets would have been bought by other, better managed firms. Those firms would have fired the people responsible, and reorganized the companies right away. The market could have then come roaring back without an undue burden upon the taxpayer.

Instead, our government stepped outside the bounds of its constitutional authority and propped up the mismanaged companies with taxpayer dollars. But that won’t stop the companies from eventually dying none the less. The difference is that instead of dying right away and donating their still useful organs to others, we’ve put them on life support where they will continue to fester uselessly, and to drain the resources of the taxpayer.

I support our government limiting the compensation of executives from those specific companies because it will hasten their demise. No competent risk manager will accept the terms offered by the government, so they will end up with incompetent managers or none at all. If market forces are then allowed to operate, they will be in default in no time. The danger however is that the US government will not allow them to fail in the future either. If the executive compensation is also attached to legislation preventing those firms from receiving any further government support (be it equity, debt or credit guarantees of any kind), then I can stand firmly behind them.

Some have raised the concern that having taken over the taxpayer supported companies; the government might then also want to limit the compensation of other executives as well. I support those efforts as well, and I do so for two reasons. The first is that I believe socialists are only elected by people who don’t realize what a terrible idea socialism is. So in some respects, the purpose of a socialist politician is to teach that lesson to a new generation. Government limited compensation for all executives will have an economic effect so terrible, that no one will be able to ignore that lesson.

Secondly, if the Obama administration limits the compensation of all executives, then all the companies which don’t rely on Washington for their support will move their headquarters overseas, while only those companies that rely on congress to make their way will remain. This will greatly limit the ability of the Obama administration to transfer wealth from those who earn it to those who don’t. In effect it will cause the socialists government to ‘run out of other people's money’ all the sooner.

These may sound like extreme measures but they are no less than what we are on track for eventually with the current administrations economic policies. It's just that these will have the benefit of being completed sooner, and will therefore leave us more time to rebuild America again.

- Liberal Thinking

The left is convinced that everyone should get with the program because their agenda has already been universally agreed to. Well … not universally per se… all the bible clinging, gun toting rednecks may still have a problem with it. But they’ve spoken to everyone who matters according to them, and they’ve all agreed that we’re good to go. So anyone who doesn’t just sign on to the whole package must be doing so for some other nefarious reason.

I mean… it’s pretty clear that no reasonable, intelligent, educated or otherwise cosmopolitan person could possibly disagree with anything team Obama has proposed. So when someone like the Senate Republicans pose objections, it must be because they’re being hard hearted, and trying to exploit the suffering of the masses for their own political gains. So of course the Democrat’s try to silence them. It might be a different story if their objections were reasonable, but as I’ve mentioned, everyone who matters has already signed on.

You may ask yourself how they can tell whose opinion counts and whose doesn’t. Well it’s simple. All you have to do is ask them what they believe. If they know that Global Warming is caused by human industrial activity and can only be prevented by unilateral government action, then they are part way there. If they also believe that the reason some people win in this country is because they’ve gamed the completely corrupt ‘free markets’ and have exploited the poor for profit, then that helps too.

In short, if they sign on to the agenda that team Obama is promoting then clearly they’re intelligent enough for their opinion to count. If however they aren’t, then they are either too selfish or too stupid to matter. And with the whole world to change, the Democrats can hardly be expected to wait around while every two bit bible thumping redneck from the middle of nowhere gets on board. In fact, they can’t even be expected to wait for a simple majority to do so.

If about 30% of the people agree, that should probably be good enough. After all, it’s not like they’re doing this out of greed or selfishness. It’s for the good of the people, even if the people aren’t sophisticated enough to understand that. So the best thing for everyone would be to let the people who ‘REALLY’ matter make all the decisions, and once it’s done, everyone else will see that it’s really better for them after all.

I mean think about it…. many of those people don’t even know what total bunk Christianity is, so how can they possibly be expected to understand how to make their own healthcare decisions. I mean, it’s all that miracle mumbo – jumbo, and it caused all those wars throughout history. The Pope even thinks abortion is bad, so who could possibly believe in any of that? It’s not like one of the helpful religions like Kabalah or Scientology or Witchcraft.

Sometimes the selfish or stupid people bring out some statistic that might make it seem like they have a point, but that’s just them using meaningless numbers to distract from the real question; so there’s no point in listening. It would be better for them all to just shut up, and let the important people work this out on their behalf. After all, that’s how a Democracy works. Everyone votes, and then the ‘important’ people decide things and that’s it. That’s how the world is supposed to be.

So it’s OK to try to stifle Fox News. The fact that they have so many dumb people watching doesn’t matter. If they were smart people it would be a different story of course… but since they haven’t signed on to the program…..