Friday, October 29, 2010

- Life Imitates... well...Me.

Do you remember back when the Greek communists were striking and I wrote that open letter to them? In it was this phrase:

"In the eyes of the world you all look just as stupid and spoiled as can be. You could be protesting in diapers and demanding that the state wipe your behinds and it would only marginally affect your public image."


Here then are the French Communists:










The next time a liberal tries to myopically tell me that cradle to grave socialism doesn't infantilize us, I'm sending him this link.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

- Chris Christie "Man's Up" ... Again.

Gov. Chris Christie gives one last 'No' to ARC tunnel project


- Your Union Masters




As you probably know, the people of NJ have been subservient... some might even say at least partially enslaved... to the same master for some time now. That master is the labor unions. Political parties come and go, but until Chris Christie (a name we now say in my house with a substantial degree of reverence) no one and I mean NO ONE, stood up to the unions.

They didn't dare. The unions voted as a block. Their members all received the same continual class warfare indoctrination and believed that taking from those who earned it and giving to those who didn't was just fine ... so long as they were on the receiving end. They manipulated the labor laws and political contribution legislation to gain massive economic advantage over other groups, and used that to influence elections. The public official who offended the unions would see their competitor gain a big advantage in contributions from union PACs.

They were the power behind every throne; the force behind every battle. They made the rules of the game then played the game as well. They made institutionalized envy a fixture in NJ's public policy debate.

We're on to them now, and that great hero of the humble tax payer, Chris Christie, is finally pushing back against the worst abuses of big labor. The unions, particularly the civil service unions, were a parasite that was bleeding the host nearly dry. And now finally, it seems he's managing to turn the corner on the worst of NJ's problems from big labor.

Now it's the federal government's turn. But if there is one thing you can say about Barak Obama, it's that he's no Chris Christie. On the contrary, Barak Obama has always been a product of the unions efforts to enslave the rest of the country as they have NJ. He's the figure head - the sock puppet, carefully fitted over the hand of big labor. He's the president from central casting, if central casting had been taken over by the AFL-CIO. He was presented as the post racial, post partisan president; totally above the usual political fray, and concerned only with the working class and ensuring 'redistributive justice'.

Many of us are on to the union's game now. The image of Obama from the election has fallen away and we can now see that the man behind the curtain is the same old infantile, economically illiterate Democrat we've grown accustomed to. And the while we used to ask what a 'community organizer' actually does, we now know that radicalizes victim groups and divides people by race and class to try and gain a personal political advantage. He's an empty suite - delivered to America by the labor unions and their vast political treasure chests.

His popularity has fallen now that people see what he really is, but the unions haven't given up. The civil service unions are the biggest spenders in this election cycle, by quite a lot. And to get the country back on track after this election cycle is won, we'll need to implement legislation to prevent civil servants from organizing into unions. We will also need to take the rest of the teeth out of the worlds of US labor law that has driven so many production jobs overseas.

Eliminating the unions is to make America more of a meritocracy. Merit is a better way to reward people than union politics, politically motivated wealth redistribution. But that's in the long term. In the short term we just need to keep shining light on the cockroaches.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

- Joy Behar Raising Money For Sharon Angle



I can't understand why anyone listens to Joy Behar an any topic. She's unattractive, not very smart, not very funny, and deeply confused about the most basic premises that constrain our universe. Even among liberals (a group not known for the generosity of spirit) she's a crude, crass, infantile, vindictive nasty woman. And yet... she has her own show on cable someplace and she's also on "The View". I suppose I could understand if you tuned into the view to see Elizabeth Hasslebeck (the most attractive woman on television) and accidentally heard Behar going off on a tear. But I would assume that like me, you instantly tune it all out.

Anyway ... she had some nasty things to say about Sharon Angle and her campaign to unseat Harry Ried. and it must have had the usual effect because Team Angle was nice enough to send her flowers for her help. the not that came with them read:

“Joy, Raised $150,000 online yesterday. Thanks for your help. Sincerely, Sharron Angle”


Gotta love that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

- Republicans To The Back Of The Bus



The irony here is amazing. How could someone be so perfectly inept; so breathlessly, shockingly, astoundingly gifted at jamming his foot in his mouth, and still be elected to the highest office in the land? And what does it say about the massively idiotic and deeply ideologically bigoted losers who voted for him?

When I read it on drudge I couldn't believe he really said it. If it were Biden I'd have believed, it, but I always figured Obama was smart enough to just read what was on the teleprompter. Maybe that's all he did. But if this quote came off the screen, then the guy who wrote it shouldn't be fired, he should be burned at the stake (and that's probably JUST what the Democrat's will do to him). This is the money quote from Obama's Rhode Island speech, describing his progress on the economy:

"We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back."


Civil rights activists all over the country are probably comitting Hara Kiri, just so they can spin in their graves.

This guy is going to be the unwinding of a century of socialist incrementalism.

Monday, October 25, 2010

- Teacher's Unions Gone Wild

- NJ.com's Bob Braun: Explaining To His Readers How Stupid They Are



This is a perfect example of how the mainstream media loses it's audience. In this case it's Star Ledger columnist Bob Braun whose trying to make the case for that massive union giveaway project masquerading as infrastructure enhancement - the ARC tunnel.

Braun is clearly a believer in the progressive vision where only enlightened academics and other self appointed experts see the big picture, while base and simplistic conservative like Chris Christie only see the short term benefit. As is typical with liberals, this view gets things exactly backwards. There are no suprises about the case Braun makes - it's the same old union sponsored boilerplate. but his spin on the governor's take is a little more obvious than usual. Here he is contrasting it with the view of Robert Yaro, Harvard trained President of the Regional Plan Association, an advocate for union built infrastructure projects:

"But Yaro is an academic, trained to appreciate complexity, with no particular interest in trying to simplify things. Christie is a master of the punchy one-liner, a Carl Paladino with all his marbles, but a similar approach to policy."


No condescension there at all.... jeez aren't there any editors at NJ.Com who don't want to specifically insult their readership... and can't they get a handle on this crap? Seriously, aren't any of you people embarrassed to publish this? Are the yucks around the office cooler realer worth the drop in readership that this crap costs you?

We conservatives are not all mindless drones without the sophistication to see the forest for the trees. Quite the contrary, In my specific case, I think I know a hell of a lot more about getting a return on an investment than any central planning advocate from Harvard, who has never worked in an environment where there are consequences to being wrong.

So how about this Bob... if this tunnel is such a great investment for NJ and really must be built, then surely it would be an even better investment if we could build it for half the cost. That is how "investment" works you know.

So instead of doing the standard union giveaway that we usually do with infrastructure projects (1 guy working - 5 guys watching, plus a supervisor), lets dump the union contract and hire 'immigrants without proper papers' (to steal another phrase of yours) to do the work instead. We'll hire them for every job on a low bid basis. Then you can have your 'must build' infrastructure project and we still don't have to worry about the consequences of overpaying for it later.

If the private sector is any indication of what the labor savings will be, then that 'half the price' metric leaves more than enough room to hire 10 times as many quality assurance staffers to ensure the the work meets the public sector's lofty quality standard. How about that Bob? Then you can have your infrastructure cake, and eat it too.

The fact is, this may very well be a good idea for NJ, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea at any price. The unions want too much to build it. In fact the truth is, they want too much for everything they do. That's the whole point of a union - to increase costs as much as possible. But NJ can't afford their lack of work ethic anymore. There are tens of thousands of people who can do EXACTLY the same job, and are willing to do it for a fraction of the price. It's time for the public sector unions to wake up and smell the unemployment line.

The unions have structured the entire civic construction industry to ensure them as high a level of budget overrun as possible. Until Chris Christie came along they simply stole what they liked, and we all had to live with it. That's why we're hearing all the focus on 'public infrastructure' from the Democrat's these days.

Christie is finally calling them out on it and NJ's citizens all see that for exactly what it is. In fact the only person treating NJ voters as if they're simplistic is you. You think we'll be stupid enough to believe your union crafted spin on the topic instead of our own eyes and pocketbooks.

Seriously Bob... quit treating us like we're idiots. The only person whose getting left behind in this whole mess is you.



%%%%%%%%%%%%%%UPDATE%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%


It turns out that Chris Christie has killed this project after all - over the shrill rantings of the transparently leftist activism of the local media. Good for him - and good for us. The only people it's bad for are the unions who wanted to slop a little longer at the public trough, and media hacks like Bob Braun who are using it to burn the last of their thinning credibility.

So I guess all is well that ends well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

- American Muslims & Jersey Shore



I don’t watch much TV at all, so it’s probably no surprise that I’ve never seen MTV’s Jersey Shore. As my favorite Governor said, it’s not like those people are from NJ anyway. And although I live very near the Jersey Shore, I have so little in common with those people that I don’t feel too affected by anything that they do. It really has nothing to do with me.

Like I said, I’ve never seen the show, but I did watch the Jersey-Shore based episode of Southpark where the people from the MTV show attempt to take over America. That episode expends a lot of energy making fun of the hyperbolic fear that some people in Middle America really feel when they think about New Jersey’s citizens. Obviously, it’s not really like that. Most people in New Jersey are just like the people everywhere else. And the vast majority of us are just as horrified by that imported collection of MTV imbeciles as the rest of the country.

My point though is that when someone finds out that I live in New Jersey, and even worse – very close to the beach, thanks to MTV they now have very unrealistic expectations about my dress, my behavior, and even my accent. Based on those assumptions I wouldn’t be too surprised if they wanted nothing to do with me on principle, although I think a sense of morbid curiosity would probably be more typical.

But however they feel, I don’t see it as their problem. They are entitled to feel any way they like about people from my area. If all they know is that TV show, then I think they have the wrong impression, but it’s still their prerogative. And if I want them to feel differently about me and my family, then the responsibility falls on me to show them the error of their ways. It would only take a moment or two for most people to see their wrong, and I think once corrected about the real ‘Jersey shore’, most minds will probably stay changed.

I think there is a parallel there for America’s Muslim community. Like it or not, a bunch of guys (about as many as appear on the MTV show actually) hijacked planes and flew them into buildings in the name of Allah. If they don’t like that image, then it’s their responsibility to change people’s minds. Maybe they agree with that view, in which case they should go ahead and broadcast that fact and learn to live with making most Americans ‘ill at ease’. But if they want to be accepted on any other terms, then the responsibility for making people feel comfortable falls directly on them.

Juan Williams did nothing wrong at all except honestly express his perfectly rational feelings on the subject. If mainstream Muslims don’t like his anxiety and think it’s misplaced, then it’s their responsibility to change that. As you can imagine, liberals don’t see it that way. In their minds it’s Williams’ responsibility to purge himself of any thoughts that would constitute liberal heresy, however justified they may be. This is stupidity on stilts – even for liberals. And this episode with Williams is showing their true colors in all their rigidly conformist ugliness.

We teach people how to treat us. If I don’t mind being treated like those idiots on MTV, then I can go ahead and look and act exactly like them, but then I’d have to live with the consequences. The same is true for America’s broader Muslim community. If they don’t like the assumptions that people are making about them thanks to 9-11, all they have to do is act differently, and most people will eventually learn.

- Why Am I Paying For NPR Again?!



“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

Thomas Jefferson

NPR takes tax money from everyone, in order to present only those ideas that the intelligentsia agree with. It's a good thing they aren't as 'intolerant' as they claim conservatives are, or Juan Williams might have been drawn and quartered instead.

It tells you everything you need to know about this issue, that racist, evil, and generally unenlightened FOX NEWS has given the black liberal a 2 million dollar contract to say whatever he likes, while sweetly tolerant NPR fired (and later ridiculed him) for admitting to a liberal thought crime.

These are the same liberals that think government action should be based on what they think is 'moral', and that it should be powerful enough to compel us to act as they see fit as well. Sometimes I think we're much closer to the cliff's edge than any of us realize.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

- The New French Idiocy



Proving that the Greeks have nothing on them, French unions have called a general strike and are demanding the repeal of Newtons third law of motion. Newton's third law of motion maintains that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. But to France's labor movement, this seems an unfair way to run the universe.

"This is unjust" says a local striker, "Our grandparents fought for their action, and our parents had the same action, so we feel that we are entitled to the same for us, our children, and our children's children. We think that it's only fair that the equal and opposite reaction be put off indefinitely".

Ok I'm making fun... but tell me that this nonsense doesn't sound just as idiotic as that does. From an AP piece:

"We want to stop working at 60 because it's something our parents, our grandparents and even our great-grandparents fought for," says Gilly, 50, a union representative < ... >

"And over the years ... you can see that we're losing everything they fought for. And that's unacceptable."


They genuinely don't care that there is no more money. It simply isn't a part of the equation for them. They sincerely don't understand that for them to consume wealth, someone else must first produce it, or at the very least, borrow it. That seems like no constraint to them. They view being kept in a comfortable lifestyle by others as a birthright. And they think they can have it if they simply 'insist' enough. That it will all work out if they just stamp their feet and hold their breath. I find that kind of denial ... astounding.

In most cases I don't think it's right to ridicule a person's ignorance. As an example, I know a lot about markets, and a fair amount about economics and finance. But I don't know anything about professional hockey, or dust mites, or the ways in which California's building codes handle earthquake preparedness. And failing a test on Wayne Gretsky's scoring stats wouldn't necessarily make me an idiot on other things. I find that most people are that way about something or other, and usually just need to be educated a little.

But these people don't understand that subtracting 5 from 3 doesn't leave another 5 for the next generation to subtract for themselves. They have failed to comprehend one of the basic rules of the universe. They think the government can magically fix it all like Jesus with the loaves and fishes. It's the equivalent of believing that Rome was not only built in a day, but that it spontaneously generated itself from the Italian dust, while the roman legions all enjoyed their plush retirement benefits, free healthcare, and unlimited free vacation housing on the amalfi coast.

I'm really beginning to think that you need to have a serious mental illness to be a socialist.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

- Home Loan Modification



When my wife and I bought our current house, we could have paid cash, but instead we got a small mortgage for tax purposes. We also could have used the extra money we had to upgrade the house we were buying but we weren’t interested. There are just the three of us, plus the dog and even the smallish place we live in now is really larger than we need. It’s a very modest house on a smallish plot, but it has lots of mature trees and a very private backyard. It's also been updated inside, and is in an EXCELLENT school district (in relative terms) so it meets our needs.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but I guess we felt better about the idea of being secure in our overall financial condition than having a super nice house. It’s the same reason that my wife drives a Honda and I drive a Jeep. We can afford much nicer cars – I can afford a Ferrari if I really want one and my wife can have her pick of make and model as well. But having other people look at us with envy doesn’t do anything for us. We’d rather not attract that kind of attention. But I guess that’s just us.

I never knew how decidedly ‘off trend’ we were until this big push to modify home loans cropped up. You can see these people on TV lined up by the thousands to get some government giveaway, or some other service the government has strong armed the banks into providing. But if you believe the inevitable cost for this stuff will fall on anyone but the US taxpayers, then you really don’t understand the issue. The people lined up on the news seem to me to be clerks, civil servants and various blue collar types of unremarkable intelligence. And they're all lining up overnight in the rain, to get a better deal on the 5,000 square foot mini mansion they really couldn’t afford.

I’m not totally unsympathetic to their plight. When I was a kid we were tossed out of multiple dwellings against our will for a variety of embarrassing reasons, and they were all MUCH more modest than the ones these people are trying to hold on to. (most we were only renting) I know what it’s like to pick up your family and move under duress like that. It’s no fun, and I don’t envy them. But to put it bluntly, it’s not something the taxpayers should be compelled to subsidize either. They did this to themselves. It was there responsibility to manage their finances, and the fact that someone talked them into something that was plainly too good to be true, should have been a red light for them.

They all need to learn to live within their means. If that means a smaller house and a less expensive car then that’s what they have to do. In the end they were the ones who took the risk and they shouldn’t be trying to foist it off on the taxpayer now that it’s gone bad for them. As a matter of personal tragedy I’m completely sympathetic and I feel for them. But as a matter of public policy I say, throw them all out, and bring in the bulldozers.

- My Election Prediction



Lots of people have asked me how I think the mid-term will work out, but I've kept my opinion to myself. I'm pulling for all the 'Tea Party' candidates, but I don't want to jinx anything.

One prediction I will make though is that given how fast and loose the Democrats have been with the truth this term (even faster and looser than usual if you ask me) is that they are going to bend, break, push, shove, tug and trample every election law on the books. In my mind, there is no one more likely to break the law than a desperate Democrat pol. In fact, it looks like it's already started.

I would expect ACORN/SEIU staffers with Billie clubs, Black Panthers with firearms, UAW mobs with torches and ACLU lawyers with racial bias lawsuits all over the country. Democrats will tell you that for them the end justifies the means so given that they look to take a REAL pounding this year, I would expect this to be one of the dirtiest elections in American history.

- The Day I Stopped Reading The NYTimes



All conservatives have that moment when the lights go on and we realize how badly we’re being had by the media. For me, that moment was Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing. You remember the whole business don’t’ you? Anita Hill accused him of sexual misconduct in order to block his confirmation to the Supreme Court. There was something about a pubic hair on a coke can… I don’t know… the actual testimony wasn’t all that persuasive.

To me it was pretty clear that Hill was playing fast and loose with the truth at the very least. I don’t think she was lying exactly. My freshman year of college about 85% of the girls I knew claimed they were raped at one time or another. They weren’t of course; certainly not all of them. And when you heard their actual stories you realize quickly that it simply wasn’t so. I always assumed it was the same with Hill. She had and interest and he didn’t take her up on it, so she invented all this other stuff to make him look bad.

But that wasn’t how I knew the media was a sham.

At the time, Katy Couric was still cute. She was the toothy face of that fatuous NBC morning program (I forget the name) and on the morning before Hill’s testimony she was interviewing some liberal congressman who I didn’t know. Remember, hill hadn’t testified, so no one knew for sure what precisely she was going to say. All we knew was that she had some allegations of sexual misconduct by the big scary black man. Katy led her hard hitting interview with the following question:

“Congressman, are they REALLY going to let this man get away with something like this scot free and on top of it all, still be appointed to the highest court in the land?!”

My initial reaction was “wait a minute… get away with what?” and then the light went on. I realized that Katy didn’t care a whit whether Thomas had actually done something or not. The allegation alone was all she needed to form her conclusions about the guilt or innocence of a (gasp) conservative. In fact, she wasn't even going to wait for the actual allegation to be made - just the rumors were enough as far as she was concerned. And all that talk from the media about their ‘objectivity’ was all BS. That was when I started reading between the lines on the Wall Street Journal, and I stopped reading the NYTimes at all.

Anyway, Ginny Thomas (who I like more and more these days), in the interest of magnanimity, called Anita Hill and asked her to apologize for her distortions of the truth at her husband’s confirmation hearing. And as an example of the kind of generosity of spirit that is typical of liberals, Anita Hill responded by calling the police.

It’s a tempest in a teacup really. I’m sure there is some other agenda here but I don’t know what it is. Thomas is on the court for life and needs no publicity. Maybe Ginny needs it, in which case, I’m fine with a stunt like this.

Monday, October 18, 2010

- Why I Wont Hire From The Ivy League



It’s been a policy of mine for years to never hire anyone who got their undergraduate degree from an Ivy League university. Some people in my industry find this surprising, but my experience is that those graduates aren’t that much smarter than someone who attended a top tier public school like Michigan, UT, or UVA. The graduate schools are different. But I stay away from those BA’s from Harvard and Princeton.

People with a background like that have very lofty expectations about how they should be treated in the business world. They've been taught that the world should genuflect when they enter the room and defer to their brilliance when offered. These expectations are almost never justified and absolutely never met. So when they enter the ‘real world’ where there are consequences to bad decisions, they end up deeply disappointed with how they're being treated. Maybe it’s different inside Goldman Sachs, but this is a consistent story wherever I’ve worked, whether the Ivy Leaguer in question works directly for me or not.

Also, among the Ivy League, there are differences. And it's Princeton that has the reputation as the place where the patrician elite can always buy a library for their idiot sons to have a place to get their art-history degree. The sons then go off to their career of teaching tennis to debutantes in the Cayman Islands or something equally as challenging. Even at Harvard and Yale Princeton is considered a ‘snob factory’. Physics is the exception for Princeton, where they have consistently produced results. But in every other area, they are not particularly well thought of.

There is also a mannerism that comes with being a Princeton grad. I’ve seen it from multiple people although how they are taught this kind of thing mystifies me. (I keep thinking it must be a selection bias of some kind) You can see it when you watch Paul Krugman speak. I can’t explain it precisely, but he kind of ‘looks at his shoes’ between ideas, as if he isn’t really certain of what he says or as if he knows he’s lying and he’s afraid that he’ll be caught at any second. He even keeps this manner when he’s discussing his own opinion and the issue of right or wrong is off the table.

At a glance it telegraphs a kind of personal insecurity, but I don’t think that’s it exactly. I think instead, Krugman truly believes that he is so much smarter than the rest of us that only he can see the truth clearly, but he dare not speak it plainly for fear of spooking the herd. He’s trying to let us down easy on the various ways that we’ve failed to meet his expectations, and have therefore done ourselves harm in the process. It's more like he doesnt' want to seem to be too harsh and unforgiving a god.

This would be more consistent with this insightful assessment of Krugman from Stephen Spruiell at NRO.

In my world Krugman is a laughing stock; his 'streed cred' from his Nobel prize has long since expired. He’s so widely ridiculed that you have to be careful about mentioning him positively at all for fear of reducing your own credibility through association. But to your average New York Times reader, desperate to find further justification for a faltering self congratulatory worldview, Krugman’s articles are like a leaky life raft in a hurricane. They cling to his writings like life itself so long as there is a little air left. Since their self opinion depends on people who think like Krugman being right, they'll support any stupid idea rather than face the harsh truth of reality.

It doesn’t matter to them that Krugman is wrong about virtually everything. It doesn’t matter that his kind of institutional short sightedness will push the country to the very edge of ruin. And it doesn't matter that anyone with skin in the game thinks Krugman has become a national joke. To them, it's all about supporting their ego's just a little bit longer, until the new soviet man can spring fully formed from the ashes of capitalism, and prove that they were right all along.

In other worlds, all that matters to them is that he’s telling them exactly what they want to hear.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

- Jon Stewart's Rally: The Joke Is On Us



Maybe it says that I’m getting old, but I don’t get the point of the Jon Stewart rally.

It’s a joke right? I mean Jon Stewart is a comedian isn’t he? So what’s the point of the joke? Stewart is a favorite of the coastal elites, so I guess the joke is the rest of us. But if that’s so, then this joke is really an inside joke right? It’s a joke that only the people who would go to the rally are supposed to understand. It’s the sneering kind of joke that the cool kids in high school tell to each other about the un-cool kids; to reinforce their egos and to assure each other of their superiority.

So his rally is an attempt to regress the entire country back to high school? Maybe with the rise of the tea party the coastal elites have become so insecure that it’s exactly what they need and Stewart is just giving them that. Insecurity is the foundation of all liberalism… maybe this is all just insecurity turned in on itself. But if that’s so, why would they want to make such a public spectacle of themselves?

Well if I don't get his joke, then it's pretty clear that he certainly doesn't get the rest of us either. Stewart and the people like him clearly don’t realize that for all their sneering and condescension, we still don't see them as our superiors. And their response to that is to sneer a little more and then high five each other. Like the 'cool kids' in high scool, it's really all they've got.

Every once in a while they seem to notice that we don’t hold them in as high a regard as they do themselves, and then the story slips out that we are all too stupid to recognize their brilliance. But the truth is we are very much able to recognize the intelligence of our superiors… we simply don’t believe that designation applies to them.

But they don’t care. In their minds they are the only group that matters and the rest of us aren’t cool enough to consider. And that perspective supports all kinds of logic twisting where the people who want to smash American culture and rebuild it to match their own experimental vision are considered ‘mainstream moderates’ and the people who want to limit government based on the powers enumerated in the constitution are described as ‘radical crazies’.

I think a sense of humor is very important, and it’s especially important to be able to laugh at yourself. I think I can take a joke as well as anyone and I don’t generally take them personally. I won’t take Stewart's joke personally either if it turns out that I’m right about who he means to ridicule. After all, I’m not in high school anymore, I’m a man. I have a man’s responsibilities, a man’s sense of self. I don’t care enough about other’s opinion of me to fret over a little sneering from some high school kid.

And that's how I'll see Jon Stewart from now on. As a high school kid who thinks he's too cool to deal with the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

- A Personal Story



RadioFreeNJ is coming up fast on 1,000 posts. So to commemorate that, I thought I’d tell a personal story of something that happened to me when I first started working on Wall Street. Many of the regular readers are friends of mine and some may have heard this before. I feel like many more who have read and commented on my stuff have becomes friends, even though we've never met. I appreciate all of you lending me the time you do, and going to the trouble of reading my opinions. Thanks.

Anyway this story is really for those of you who are regular readers but aren’t already personal friends of mine. You know who you are. I think it tells you something important about who I am; or at least who I think I am; or at least, who I thought I was, and how that changed a little. It’s revealing of something anyway. It's a pretty good story that has the virtue of being absolutely true. And you'll probably understand at least a little more of what makes me what I am after reading it, than you knew before.

Thanks again.

It was 1990, and I was living in Hoboken while working unspeakably long hours at JPMorgan on 60 Wall Street. Normally I was in the office before 6:00 AM but I had been there very late the night before and overslept. So that day I was on my way in to the office at the embarrassingly late hour of about 8:00 AM. When I reached the corner of Broadway and Wall, about a block from the exchange, I noticed that there was a smallish protest going on and the commuters were giving it an awfully wide berth. The protesters had their arms linked and were blocking all pedestrian traffic on Wall Street, just west of the exchange. The police had them outnumbered and were standing around wondering what to do about the whole thing, but were at the moment doing absolutely nothing.

I had no idea what they were protesting, but I was quite confident that it had nothing to do with me. I was just a little worker bee after all, not anyone that they would be concerned with. I wasn’t a Wall Street Fat Cat… I was a skinny kid with a head for math, big student loan bills, and an unresolved compulsion to over achieve. I wasn’t even actually going to the exchange, I was just trying to get past it. Besides, at the time I very much saw myself as a member of the lower economic class that was just ‘passing’ on Wall Street where I was trying to make up for my lack of proper Wall Street breeding by working harder than my peers.

But even more important to me than any of that at the time was, I was terribly late for work. So instead of looping around the block and coming in a different way, I walked up to the protester on the side of the street furthest from the exchange, said “excuse me”, and tried to slip by him. This it turned out, was just what he was waiting for. I guess he saw it as his chance to ‘make a difference’ and stand up to ‘the man’. He looked at me with utter vitriolic hatred and screamed in my face (from about 5 inches) at the top of his lungs “NO F-ING WAY MAN!!!!!!!” Then he braced himself with his fellow protesters and prepared for my assault. I looked at him totally perplexed… why in the world he could be so angry with me? He was several years older than me, and as far as I could tell, was probably making more money. And I was just a kid - late for work.

At that point I felt a hand fall gently on my shoulder. It was the police sergeant (who was also about 15 years older than me) who said ‘excuse me sir.” to me, as he stepped between me and the protester. He then waved his arm in a beckoning manner and the police who had been forming up behind me swooped in. They started grabbing the protesters three policemen to one, and tossing them through the air at about waist height, into a large truck which they had nearby. After about 8 or 10 of them had been unceremoniously scooped out of the way, the sergeant then waved me forward and personally escorted me past their remaining number. He then tipped his hat to me and told me to have a good day.

I was totally blown away. Up to that time my only contact with policemen had involved the phrase ‘What you think you’re doin here boy?” It was that day that I realized that my place in the world had changed in an important way, and that wearing a $30 tie meant the difference between being frisked on the side of the highway by a South Carolina state trooper, and having a bunch of NYC riot police toss people through the air so that I can be on time for work.

- Maxine Waters On CNBC



When I heard that CNBC would have on Representative Maxine Waters I was a little annoyed. "How can then lend credibility to a woman who thought that the way to solve high gas prices in 2008 was to nationalize the oil companies?" I said to myself. Then I watched their piece. It was all Erin Burnett could do to keep from laughing out loud, and even lefty Mark Haines was understandably puzzled by Waters' total lack of intellectual coherence.

The thing about "Mad Max" is that she lives in a world where success is proof of malfeasance. In a word, she's a total nutjob. Putting a camera in front of her doesn't do anything except make her foolishness more public. What did she say about the mortgage market? Who cares. The best thing anyone could for Maxine Waters' credibility is tackle anyone who comes within 500 feet of her with a camera or tape recorder.

Monday, October 11, 2010

- The Media Crucifixion Begins...



The media deified Obama, and now the day has come to crucify him. From Time.com:

With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters.


Time to go long Lumber.

- Killing The Tunnel



I don't take mass transit to the city any more. Instead I usually drive. And since that's so, I would personally benefit from the increased car capacity under Hudson river. But if Paul Krugman, the Huffington Post, and Frank Lautenberg are all going crazy at the idea that Christie has canceled the tunnel project for being too expensive, then there is simply no way it can be a good idea to go through with it.

Road building in America is union dominated so it has a tendency to run WILDLY over budget. The Pennsylvania department of Transportation started building a bridge across the Delaware river in Easton Pennsylvania, and if I'm not mistaken they finally finished it two years ago. This is typical of highway jobs, which have long been a source of excess for union where eight men are paid to watch one man work. but none of that matters to liberals who can't remember the tragedy of the commons, but can remember that union members all vote as their told.

Christie was right to shelve the project. The uproar on the left should tell you that if nothing else does. It means they have promised their union handlers that they would make it happen, and now the gravy train has been put at risk.

Christie has agreed to take another look at the cost benefit numbers before scrubbing the project entirely. This is the kind evidence based analysis I would expect from him. There would be a benefit that comes from the tunnel and it might be worth it if the costs could be controlled as if it were a privatized project. Hopefully he'll get concessions from the unions that will penalize them if it runs over time or over budget, before re-authorizing it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

- Don't Panic



I knew there was a reason that "The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" was on my mind this week. Sunday is the day 10-10-10 which everyone knows is the binary representation of the number 42. And you also probably know that 42 is the answer to the question "What is the meaning of Life?" (6x9... that's it)

Thanks (as ever) to Jonah Goldberg for pointing this out for me.

- America's 12 Step Program



The horrible thing is that if even a single Democrat running for office anywhere manages to fight off his competitor, then the media is going to proclaim it a huge triumph not just for him ,but for Obama, and the progressive Obama agenda as a whole.

Power to the people man!

- Obama The Bungler



I have about the average number of conspiracy minded friends but I've never bought into that sort of thing myself. I've always believed that it's impossible for people to keep a secret, so most conspiracy could be better explained away by stupidity. I mean think abut it... how many successful conspiracies have you ever heard of, while how much stupidity have you seen? In a case like this Occam's razor says go with the odds.

Mike Potemra over at NRO has expressed this view much more fluently than I ever could:


My concern is not that these analyses are necessarily false — for all I know, Obama may have a secret plan to remodel America in accordance with the writings of Herbert Marcuse or Frantz Fanon (good luck with that) — as that even if some of them happen to be true, they don’t really explain the observed problem of Obama’s presidency, which is, not to put too fine a point on it, that he is a clueless bungler.

Look at the utter gormlessness with which he has been able, over the past two years, to alienate virtually all groups of Americans, left, right, and center; to squander the massive good will of the people who elected him. What’s more likely — that he’s a hardened ideological “Manchurian president” deliberately laying the seeds of our future enslavement? or that he’s just a lucky working politician-magician who amazed us with a few magic tricks in 2008 but who long, long ago ran out of new ones?


Well Said.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

- Tea Anyone?

- Obama Screws The Little Guy (again)



For all the empty gas-baggery coming from the far left about how they just want to help the little guy, socialism always seems to do the opposite. The reason for this is that politics drives the decision making, and there is always a politically expedient reason for those in government to support the powerful.

Here is another example of that. Team Obama has provided Obamacare waivers to 30 large employers. Those employers were about to drop the medical coverage they provide to their employees because complying with Obamacare would make it too expensive.

So the Whitehouse sprang into action by exempting the large employers from having to comply with the law, and forcing only their smaller competitors to pay the increased fees. This will take a big bite out of the smaller companies by making them less competitive with their larger, more politically connected competition.

Once again socialism has managed to achieve the exact opposite of what it's advocates claim is the goal. I think Obamacare is an unconstitutional disaster, but if we're going to do it, we should all have to do it. We shouldn't be allowing those with good lobbyists to avoid the burden while only screwing the little guy.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

- Preserving The Political Caste

Tea Party upstart Anna Little’s supporters have been busy lining the road to Rutgers Stadium with signs:



I wonder how long it took for team Pallone to send a bunch of union thugs over there to steal them all. I’m going by there on Saturday - I’ll let you know how many managed to hang around.



Frank Pallone is typical of NJ’s Democrat politicians. He’s imperious, condescending toward his constituents, and dismissive of any criticism. To be fair, you cast an awfully wide net in NJ when you make accusations like those, and you’ll probably find more than one Republican in your catch (Jen Beck springs immediately to my mind). In a state where it’s so hard to tell the difference between the Republicans and Democrats, it’s not worth it to be too partisan.

The truth about Frank and the other guys (and gals) like him, is that they have a formula for their careers, and it’s served them well. You do a little pay to play with the real estate developers and other 'politically engaged' parties. If you're a liberal you have the Star Ledger print a few press releases, otherwise you send them out in mailers. You spend an hour in front of the ShopRite one afternoon before election day (for the ‘common man’ photo op), and make sure you bring home enough in earmarks to keep the labor unions happy and you’ll be reelected ad infinitum.

Apart from the specific people who fund their reelection campaigns, they don't think about their constituency much at all. Mostly they view them as an inconvenient part of the whole process. To Frank Pallone, and his ilk, the general public is just an annoying rabble for whom you have to draft an occasional batch of lip service before you can get back to your 'real life' among the powerful in Washington.

Most of them don’t aspire to be a Jefferson or Lincoln – they don’t even think about it. Who they really want to be is Frank Lautenberg. He’s our geriatric Senator who has remained in Washington long past his due date, and whose disco era 'tax, spend and regulate' worldview is so old it's become fashionable again. He’s spending his sunset years moldering away in the Senate where he replaced Bob Toricelli in one of those 'only in New Jersey' type scandals. And thanks to name recognition, he keeps getting sent back to a life of privilege and importance whether he actually does anything or not. That’s the kind of man who our political class aspires to be. That's the benchmark against which they all measure themselves.

In effect, they want to be part of the permanent American political caste. That’s how they believe things should be run. It’s not about serving the public for them, it’s about ruling over them. And in NJ at least, this is not a Democrat only worldview. Most Republicans feel exactly the same way about it. Anna Little’s photogenic competitor in the Republican primary Dianne Gooch, was a perfect example of someone on the ‘right’ who never aspired to be anything but a sock puppet to a different set of powerful special interests than those who own Frank Pallone.

This is the thing that the Tea Party is so annoyed at. And it’s also the Reason the Republican Party in New Jersey probably won’t get the point even if Anna Little wins. Like the Democrats, the Republican party machine has a deeply warped view of the role that politics is supposed to play in the lives of ordinary citizens. An upstart like Anna Little is more of a problem than a help to them because even if she pulls off an upset victory, it won’t be thanks to them. It's the same story the Tea Party candidates are hearing everywhere...if they can't own her, they don't really want her.

I have no idea if Anna Little is doing well or poorly in the polling. I haven’t seen anything on the topic. But I do know that the only people who could manage to be devoted Pallone supporters are either part of the most economically illiterate of NJ’s citizens, or they own a piece of him. So as you can imagine, I’m hoping she pulls something off. We have enough mandarins in NJ politics, and ditching a hack like Frank Pallone can only be a good thing. Who knows… maybe if we fire him he’ll have to go get a ‘real job’ like we poor schlubs he’s been lording over for the last 17 years.

But I won't bet on it. This is New Jersey. After 17 years in congress he's got to know where enough bodies are buried to keep himself in consulting and 'advisory' gigs for a good long time. Because digging up stuff like that is one 'shovel ready' job the NJ Democrats will do anything to prevent.

- Creating Connecticut Jobs



Here's one for our neighbors across the way. This speech by Dick Blumenthal about how government creates jobs is absolutely stirring. I can see why all those Democrats are so charged up for a worldview like this.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

- Christie in ... Iowa?!



Things like this leave me understandably torn.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rallied conservative activists in Iowa late Monday, saying his success in a Democratic state shows his tough-talking, smaller government message resonates with all voters.



Without Christie, NJ will slide over the edge for good like California. Without Christie (or someone very much like him) the whole country may do the same, even if it will take a bit longer. Personally I hope he can get his changes carved into the political granite of New Jersey quickly enough to run for president in 2016 or 2020.

- No More (class) War!



This strikes me as ironic:

“There’s this concern about the business community’s attitude about the administration,” said Feldstein, 70, who was a chief economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan. “And it’s not just the business community, it’s high-income individuals, entrepreneurs and others.”


I'm sorry Mr. President, but you can't be a class warrior without the war. And here's another little tip... the people you declare war on, almost never love you for it.

It doesn't matter what you decide. Any decision that you make for us will be the wrong one. Not because of it's consequences but because you're not leaving the decision to us. We know better how to run our businesses than you or your advisors do. If you want us to be optimistic about the future for American business, then you need to let us decide for ourselves what that future is. This government heavy top down 'screw the rich' idea has a shelf life, and it's gone way past it's due date.

Monday, October 4, 2010

- Paid Union Thugs For Marxism In America: Part 2

Apparently union thugs cost more than 'The Tide's Foundation" was willing to pay for them:



HT: Dan Foster at NRO

- American Self Reliance



This weekend I channel surfed past a TV show about the bizarre evolution that they’ve had in New Zealand over the last 35 million years. It’s interesting stuff that makes for good ‘child safe’ TV viewing. A parrot that lives in the snows atop a mountain; a penguin that raises it’s young in the forest; a bat that burrows in the ground like a mouse. This is the kind of odd footage that makes nature photographers really feel like they’ve earned their pay. But the first thing I thought of was that these animals are - every single one of them – at an evolutionary dead end.

The problem, according to this show anyway, is that New Zealand is very remote. It’s over 1,500 miles to the next nearest land mass, which is much too far for any predatory mammal to swim. So these odd little creatures have gone their own way for 35 million years in an environment where there wasn’t anything to be afraid of. As a result they’ve become the fat, slow, lazy, biologically self indulgent offspring of creatures that were their vast superiors in a general survival sense. Their happy island was a paradise for them with a moderate and diverse climate, lots of food, and a complete absence of large predators of any kind. That is… until man showed up.

The Maori are the main aboriginal ethnic group of New Zealand, and they arrived there somewhere prior to 1500. I personally found it telling that the very first thing they did when they landed on the beach was to hunt one of the more defenseless local birds to extinction. The New Zealand Moa was a huge flightless bird which apart from being relatively slow and easy to catch was also apparently pretty tasty. In fact, they were so perfectly evolved as a human food source that the only way nature could have improved upon them, would have been to instill in them an admittedly unlikely desire to build their nests directly in Maori cooking pots. A few birds managed to hang on precipitously until the 1700’s but according to the Discovery Channel, they met their final natural end in 1773.

This is the point where your typical lefty would get all amped up about the evils of man and how nature should be allowed to progress on it’s own without human ‘interference’. Nonsense. I mean… a few thousand Maori tribesmen with stone tools and grass skirts are hardly the same thing as releasing dioxin into the primary water supply. What exactly about their arrival and interaction with the local fauna was ‘unnatural’? The fact of the matter is, man is the planet’s most successful predator for a very good reason. And sure as the sunrise, he was bound to find his way to wherever the prey is so fat, slow, and delicious.

In other words, the real problem here was not that the Maori were so effective at catching and eating the Moa but that the Moa was so inept at avoiding capture. It took a total of 35 million years for nature to hobble them so thoroughly and for the consequences of that hobbling to become apparent. And now that more diverse predators are finding their way to New Zealand by hitchhiking on human civilization, the rest of New Zealand’s over-evolved species are probably on borrowed time as well.

So what’s the broader point?

Well there a bunch of places my mind runs to with data like this. The first and foremost is that America’s education system has become a lot like the evolutionary environment of New Zealand. Free from the pressures of coping with the real life consequences of their thinking, they have wandered off far too much into the realm of the theoretical.

Deconstructionist thinking (if you'll forgive the misuse of the term "thinking") is the intellectual equivalent of the cooking pot nesting Moa. It’s the kind of thing that leads to your personal and immediate extinction in the exact proportion to your degree of commitment to the idea. And that bill comes due at the very moment you’re forced to deal with an environment that has even the lamest predators in it. But I’m loath to point to someone else and call them over-evolved when my own position seems so terribly tenuous. I was really thinking more of myself.

We here in the west are utterly dependent upon the things that a college professor would refer to as ‘modern conveniences’; and not just because they’re so convenient. The fact is, many of them are absolutely essential to keeping the machine of the modern world running. Without modern water treatment, modern refrigeration, all the trappings of modern farming, and the high technology of modern medicine, a great many of us would never see another spring. And while guys like me prefer to believe that it would be the hitchhiker’s guide - ‘third space ship’ types that won’t make the cut, the truth is, they probably won’t be the only ones.

One of the things I’ve gotten a kick out of reminding people when this subject comes up is that 6 months after the lights go out in New York City, every whitetail deer in North America will be dead. The whitetail is no Moa. It’s fast, quiet and very nervous – all good skills to have if you’re a large herbivore. But the problem for the whitetail is that the carrying capacity of North America (Canada included) at a ‘hunter gatherer’ lifestyle level is roughly 10 million people. Even if you were to upgrade the survivors to a subsistence farming lifestyle the total carrying capacity is only something like 105 million people.

That means that if the lights were to go out there will be something north of 245 million starving people duking it out over every last piece of suburban road kill. A year after that, most of North America’s forests will be stripped bare either to provide fuel or to clear land for cultivation. In the meantime, even the slowest of the omnivorous humans will be stripping the environment of every spare calorie that isn’t already being heavily guarded, including most of the things that our bloated deer population has been eating for years. Today the whitetail is a good survivor, but against enormous environmental pressure like that the nervous and elusive Deer looks a lot like the ‘cooking pot nesting Moa’.

The other thing this should highlight is that after civilization’s collapse, all the hunting, camping, and survival skills you’ve been studying up on won’t really mean all that much. In fact, even if you’re one of those people who have been stockpiling Soviet rifles and cold war era ammo to pass out among the faithful after the collapse, it still probably won’t matter. Because the things you’ll really need to survive in a post apocalyptic world aren’t things you can learn in the US Army Field manual. They aren’t things that you can do on your own at all. They are more a question of logistics.

The thing you’ll need first and foremost is help... lots and lots of help. The best kind of help is the kind whose loyalty can be relied upon, specifically – family. A big family helps plant, harvest, kill and clean, but also gives you more points of interaction with others. Not only will it give you more people to sit watch at the fence, but it will give you more chance to specialize while doing other tasks. But we modern suburban dwellers have very small families and city dwellers, often no families at all. That means a big ecological disadvantage in that setting.

Beyond family a congregation or parish would be the next best organizational group, but we in the modern west don’t think so much of church-going either. That will no doubt change soon after the first gay minority English professor is killed in a fight over a curbside possum carcass. But the churches might not be so amenable to new members by then. The fact is, most groups will probably see new folks coming a long way off, and not just because there will be so many of them. If you don’t offer to your new group far more than what you’ll cost them, then my guess is that the ‘inn will be closed’ to you too.

Anyway, my point isn’t to get you all depressed. The truth is, this almost certainly won’t happen. It’s just that I’m reminded once again that the values and priorities of liberals are all a product of ease and excess. Take away that ease and excess, make survival an imperative, and they instantly become big liabilities. What’s more, even something we think of as being basically conservative – that uniquely American ideal of the “independent spirit” is in itself probably also quite liberal. Or at the very least it’s framed in light of having spent our whole lives in a world where survival was so easy and free from predation that even a modern liberal could manage it.

You may think of yourself as the great independent outdoorsman, and it may even be true. But that ‘all by yourself’ existence won’t be nearly enough if things fall apart. Bearclaw Chris Lapp may have helped Jeremiah Johnson survive , but he was also a crazy old coot. He was fine when Robert Redford wandered onto his mountaintop, but replace him with 2,000 starving liberals from Denver, and he wouldn’t have stood stand a chance. In fact, his Grizzly Bear and Mule wouldn’t have had an easy time of it either.

If you really want to be prepared for anything, you’d be better off thinking of the Amish or the Mennonites. Since they already operate without the use of most modern conveniences, and are already set up for mutual support and cooperation, they have almost all of the survival skills they’ll need post collapse. Almost.

What skills are they missing? Well they may not be quite as far gone as the ‘cooking pot nesting - tenured English Literature Professor”, but their world is still premised on comfort and excess too. Don’t think so? Let’s see how they do when 2 million starving phone sanitizers, interior designers, and wanna be gang bangers from Philadelphia show up in the heretofore pastoral Lancaster county countryside.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

- Paid Union Thugs For Marxism In America



Even the AP can't make this weekend's pro-communism rally sound like a success.

"Thousands of people flocked to the Lincoln Memorial for a rally Saturday organized by labor and civil rights groups, hoping to show support for the Democratic agenda in the face of expected GOP election gains next month.
says the AP piece.

Although one activist did offer some advice that I think the Democrat's should take:

< Shelley Casala > said Democrats need to look at the rally, take heart and govern from a liberal platform. "Democrats are too afraid of losing their job," she said

I agree whole heartedly. they should be unafraid to proclaim their positions. But they know that if they did, they've never win control of another government again.

Obama only got elected because the press managed to convince the American voter that he was NOT a radical progressive but a centrist. He then proceeded to govern as the radical progressive that he always saw himself as. That gave the entire country the worst case of political buyers remorse in living memory and this election cycle is when they try to turn him back in at the dealer in spite of the mileage.

Really it's the press's fault. At least with Carter we knew he was an imbecile going into it.

In the fantasies of progressives everywhere, this sparsely attended rally is supposed to be the same thing as the rally held by Glenn Beck a few weeks ago. It's supposed to show America that their agenda can generate enthusiasm among 'regular' people too. So they cobbled together a bunch of union hacks who were required to attend, had the tides foundation buy bus tickers for a few more communist organizers and agitators, and dragged them down to DC to celebrate their plan to smash the system and recreate it anew.

Yeah... that's just the same.

I spend a lot of time wondering how liberals can think we're all so stupid, but every once in a while they remind me of exactly why. It's because they truly believe that we are just like they are.

God ... what idiots.

Friday, October 1, 2010

- Cut Your Emissions Or We'll Kill You.



Maybe in their next Ad Campaign they can herd all us non believers into cattle cars and then ship us off to camps to be gassed.

- Goldberg On The Left And The Constitution



Classic Jonah Goldberg on how the left is repulsed by the idea of sticking to the constitution:

Does anyone, anywhere, think legislators should vote for legislation they think is unconstitutional? Anyone? Anyone?

How about presidents? Should they sign such legislation into law?

Yet, according to this < the left's > creepy logic, there’s no reason for congressmen to pass, obey, or even consider the supreme law of the land. Reimpose slavery? Sure! Let’s see if we can catch the Supreme Court asleep at the switch. Nationalize the TV stations? Establish a king? Kill every first-born child? Why not? It ain’t unconstitutional until the Supreme Court says so!


Lol.... that's why you have to read this guy. The rest is at the link.

- My New Favorite Campaign Ad

Sean Duffy For Congress:

- 21st Century Currency Combat


If you ever wondered what Hedge Fund portfolio managers talk about when are trying to solve the world's problems at the bar-rail, it's things like this.

The Federal Reserve Board is run by academics and bureaucrats. But even so they manage to have the markets do a great deal of their 'heavy lifting' for them. But if you had a market's guy like me or one of my friends running the monetary policy of a country, you would see more of this sort of thing not less. With that said though, the outcome of a policy like this isn't necessarily a good thing. Central Bankers leveraging their resources changes the relationship between countries. And if it's done on a large enough scale it can easily upset the whole applecart.

Competitive devaluation is combat of a sort. It's several countries all trying to push their currency to the bottom of the pile at once. If only one country were engaged in devaluation at a time, it would be no big deal in the grand scheme of things. But with everyone doing it at once, it becomes a question of reserves. In the long run, it's the biggest central bank that will win. Obviously, the Mexican Central Bank see's that, and is going to try to use leverage to even the odds.

One thing we have not seen yet is the central bankers exploiting the stratospherically high correlation between assets. For example, if the FRB were just a little less concerned about who the dollar is weaker against, then they could get a lot more mileage out of their devaluation dollar. If the Fed went out and bought 50 Billion dollars worth of gold, a pittance compared to the hundreds of billions being spent on buying treasury bonds, the dollar would drop below EVERYTHING. And since that would cause the price of raw commodities to rise, it would spread around some of the inflation to other countries as well. That would make Europe and Japan very happy but would make countries like China and Brazil very upset, and make people like Hugo Chavez apoplectic. I leave it to you to assess the odds of of them actually doing it.

Of course, the real problem with competitive devaluation is that it's competitive. If something like this were to get heated enough, it's really no great leap to imagine nationalization of foreign assets (think factories and mining not bank accounts). And from there it's one very short step into a military response.

I'm not saying any of that is inevitable, far from it. In fact, Obama is such a girl that a foreign army could seize the Library of Congress along with Pennsylvania avenue from D street to the river, and the only thing he'd do is respond with a strongly worded UN sanction.

I don't see this turning to a shooting war anytime soon. I'm just extrapolating the current data to a worst possible case. And the sophistication of this Mexican trade brings us all one tiny step closer to something horrible like that. Even if it's still a very long way off and way way under 50% odds.