Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Perhaps They Can All Sing "Death to America" in 3-Part Harmony

Honestly, I don't what she's thinking here.
March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Iran offered “promising” ideas at an international meeting today on helping Afghanistan.

Cheezburger of the Day

A Look Into the Spirit World

... or something like that. I took a photo of a local house, swapped colors like I did in the previous post and inverted the RGB values. It comes out as one spooky pad, daddy-o!

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's Hard for a Tuxedo Cat to be Psychedelic

Bummer, man. I took, like, this totally awesome photo of our Maximum Leader, you know? And then I, like, totally changed the colors to make it Maximum Coolness. Like, the red became green and the green became blue and the blue became red, you know? But the cat, like, she didn't change at all. Except the eyes. Click on the photo and trip on the eyes, man.

Dig it, dudes and dudettes.



Link of the Day

Charles Murray, the (in)famous sociologist, had an article in the WSJ recently that I am only now getting around to reading. It's fascinating. He argues that biological research is coming to the conclusion that ... well, check this out, then read the whole thing.
For many years, I have been among those who argue that the growth in births to unmarried women has been a social catastrophe--the single most important driving force behind the growth of the underclass. But while I and other scholars have been able to prove that other family structures have not worked as well as the traditional family, I cannot prove that alternatives could not work as well, and so the social democrats keep coming up with the next new ingenious program that will compensate for the absence of fathers.

Over the next few decades, advances in evolutionary psychology are going to be conjoined with advances in genetic understanding and they will lead to a scientific consensus that goes something like this: There are genetic reasons, rooted in the mechanisms of human evolution, that little boys who grow up in neighborhoods without married fathers tend to reach adolescence unsocialized to norms of behavior that they will need to stay out of prison and hold jobs. These same reasons explain why child abuse is, and always will be, concentrated among family structures in which the live-in male is not the married biological father. And these same reasons explain why society's attempts to compensate for the lack of married biological fathers don't work and will never work.

Once again, there's no reason to be frightened of this new knowledge. We will still be able to acknowledge that many single women do a wonderful job of raising their children. Social democrats will simply have to stop making glib claims that the traditional family is just one of many equally valid alternatives. They will have to acknowledge that the traditional family plays a special, indispensable role in human flourishing and that social policy must be based on that truth. The same concrete effects of the new knowledge will make us rethink every domain in which the central government has imposed its judgment on how people ought to live their lives--in schools, workplaces, the courts, social services, as well as the family. And that will make the job of people like me much easier.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

One of the Last Remaining Profitable Businesses

We recall reading, but don't remember where, that there is a bill making its way through congress to bail out the nation's newspapers. You may now add them to the side of the ledger that reads: "corporations that can no longer be expected to take care of themselves and need the rest of us to drag their carcasses down the street."

That's all well and good, I suppose, but one begins to wonder just how many profitable businesses remain to carry all of the deadwood. In a spasm of citizen journalism, we took a photo of one of the last profitable businesses in San Diego*.

A mighty engine of industry, it shall carry us all to a brighter future!

* - err, we regret to inform you that while writing this post, the increase in California taxes necessary to pay for the indolent and unproductive members of society killed this business. But we promise to keep looking until we find one or more businesses that can carry us all!

Popular Culture has no Effect on Behavior

... except for when it does.
Teens who were exposed to high levels of sexual content on television were twice as likely to become pregnant during a three-year period than peers who had lower levels of exposure to sexual content.
Thanks, Hollywood! Thanks a lot! Now we won't have to worry about all those huge prisons of ours going empty.

Hey, it could have been worse. They could have been raised by prudes.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How to Game the Geithner Plan

UK Bubble posted this video. It's 12 minutes, but it shows in detail how the Geithner plan is easily gamed.

Don't Cry for Obama, Argentina!

Desmond Lachman knows a thing or two about the failed economics of some emerging countries. When he warns us that we're on the same road to ruin, it's worth listening.
Like Argentina in its worst moments, we never seem to question whether it is reasonable to expect foreigners to keep financing our extravagance, and we forget the bad things that happen to the Argentinas or Hungarys of the world when foreigners stop financing their excesses. So instead of laying out a realistic plan for increasing our national savings, we choose not to face up to the Social Security and Medicare crises that lie ahead, embarking instead on massive spending programs that -- whatever their long-run merits might be -- we simply cannot afford.

After experiencing a few emerging-market crises, I get the sense of watching the same movie over and over. All too often, a tragic part of that movie is the failure of the countries' policymakers to hear the loud cries of canaries in the coal mine. Before running up further outsized budget deficits, should we not heed the markets that now see a 10 percent probability that the U.S. government will default on its sovereign debt in the next five years? And should we not be paying close attention to the Chinese central bank governor's musings that he does not feel comfortable with the $1 trillion of U.S. government debt that the Chinese central bank already owns, let alone adding to those holdings?
Read the whole thing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Growing Your Brain

... is possible. In the process of doing some research to help my daughter in school, I came across this cool article. My quick takeaways from it were that in order to grow your brain, you need to:
  • Get plenty of sleep. The brain grows during sleep, and it grows the most between the 6th and eigth hours of sleep. I don't do so well here.

  • Get aerobic exercise. Oxygen flow to the brain is important. I need to work on this, too.

  • Throughout life, continually take on new intellectual challenges. Your brain grows when forced to think. Finally, I get one right!
There's lots more at the link. Check it out if you get a chance.

It seems to me that watching TV is the converse of all of these points. Hmmm. Sounds like a lesson for someone small ...

Questions for the Next Press Conference

From what I've seen, the press is not quite the lapdog everyone on the right seems to think it is. In The One's last press conference, some of the questions were even mildly difficult. Of course there were no follow-ups worth mentioning, but still, it's a start. Here are two questions that might even get asked in a future press conference.

Q1: If reshaping our health care system is key to financial stability, then how come countries who have done it already are in the same shape as we are?

Q2: Obama has said that yt's time to change from a country that borrows and spends to a country that saves and invests?!? His budgets call for endless streams of $2T deficits. Is he on crack? Is simple math too difficult for him?

There. That ought to cause a ruckus if asked.

Gen Y is Getting Robbed

... and they're doing it to themselves, the dummies. They reliably vote Democrat in each election and the Democrats are rewarding them with positively monstrous theft. It's like cows voting to become steaks.

Meanwhile, PJTV has come up with a positively brilliant contest.
Pajamas TV invites college students, collaborating with their professors, to calculate the financial impact of government programs on individuals. Both students and professors can earn money and recognition in the process. The winning entry will earn $10,000 for the participating college student or student team, and $10,000 for the professor.
I can't wait to see how this unfolds. Can't you just see the ideological warfare breaking out in the lefty college newspapers? Can't you see their little brains imploding as they see what all of this spending is going to do to them? It's like the last part of the Grinch. Here's an adaptation written just for the Democrats.

Nine trillion stolen! Up the sidewalks of K Street, they rode with their load to their parasites to dump it! "Pooh-Pooh to the Ys!" they were grinch-ish-ly humming. "They're finding out now that no paycheck is coming!" "They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!" "Their mouths will hang open a minute or two Then the Ys down in Y-ville will all cry Boo-Hoo!"

"That's a noise," grinned the Democrats, "That we simply MUST hear!" So they paused. And the Democrats put a hand to their ears. And they did hear a sound rising over the land. It started in low. Then it started to grow...

But the sound wasn't sad! Why, this sound sounded angry! It couldn't be so! But it WAS angry! VERY!

The fun is just beginning ...

If teh Watr is Comin in den Where are teh Fishes?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Guy Needs to Talk to Obama and Pelosi

H/T: UK Bubble.

Second Link of the Day

... goes to this post at Iowahawk. Hilarious! As a commenter on another thread said, the (D) after Rep. Corrine Brown (D) is superfluous.

Dick Dale

After watching surf movies, I've taken to scoping out Dick Dale music videos on YouTube. Here he is from 1996 playing a song he made popular in 1963 (or earlier?).

It's fun to go through the various Dick Dale videos and see him as this clean-cut guy in surf movies and on various TV variety shows playing some awesome guitar licks that wouldn't be matched until Eddie Van Halen came on the scene in the late 70s.

Link of the Day

... is this one from a comment in a blog. It's so good that I won't even give a spoiler.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Starving Spain, Part III

... and starving the rest of the EU as well. Dig this.
STRASBOURG, France (AP) -- The president of the European Union slammed President Barack Obama's plans to have the U.S. spend its way out of recession as "a road to hell," underscoring European differences with Washington ahead of a crucial summit next week on fixing the world economy.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, told the European Parliament on Wednesday that Obama's massive stimulus package and banking bailout "will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market." ...

"Americans will need liquidity to finance all their measures and they will balance this with the sale of their bonds but this will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market," said Topolanek.
The rest of the Euros have all wet themselves upon hearing this and are quickly moving to distance themselves from the Czech firebrand, but just how they plan to finance their own debt in the midst of a massive American hogschlopfeszt* has yet to be seen. Does this sound familiar?

* - yes, I invented that pseudo-German word. Just sound it out and you'll get it.

Stupid Pet Tricks - Play Dead!

My fiancial guru told me about this video from the David Letterman show. I absolutely loved it. The dog does a great job going completely limp ...

Link of the Day

... is this one from Option ARMageddon explaining why the market jumped up wildly at the unveiling of the Geithner plan. Warning: the link contains some basic math - addition and subtraction. You'll have to think when you read it. Make sure to have coffee standing by.

If you don't want to read it, here's the synopsis: the markets went up because the plan is for the taxpayers* to cover the losses in the financial institutions so the stockholders won't get wiped out. The stockholders are home free and the rest of us get crushed under mountains and mountains of debt.

* - well, not really the taxpayers since we don't actually pay taxes for the things we buy any more, we just print money. Instead of taxpayers it should be "dollar-holders".

Financial Responsibility

... ur doin it rong!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cheezburger of the Day

First They Asked for Financial Restraint

... now they're looking to go somewhere else. Dig this.
China’s call for a new international reserve currency may signal its concern at the dollar’s weakness and ambitions for a leadership role at next week’s Group of 20 summit, economists said.

Central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan yesterday urged the International Monetary Fund to create a “super-sovereign reserve currency.” The dollar weakened after the Federal Reserve said it would buy Treasuries and the U.S. government outlined plans to buy illiquid bank assets

“China is concerned about the potential for a slide in the dollar as the U.S. attempts to stimulate its economy,” said Mark Williams, a London-based economist at Capital Economics Ltd. The “rare” sight of a Chinese official attempting to reframe an international debate may be “a sign of China becoming more engaged,” he said.
A while back the Chinese asked the Obama Administration to show some restraint in spending. We then passed the $800B Stimuloid Porkgasm™ and after that we passed a bloated supplemental spending bill loaded with earmarks and then the Fed decided to print $1.2T and then Geithner suggested the government backstop another $1T in bad debt and then ...

... and then the Chinese took their toys and went home.

There will be two more $1T printing runs by the Money Fairy this year, minimum.

Link of the Day

Today's link of the day is this outstanding opinion piece by George Will. Here's a tidbit.
With the braying of 328 yahoos -- members of the House of Representatives who voted for retroactive and punitive use of the tax code to confiscate legal earnings of a small unpopular group -- still reverberating, the Obama administration Monday invited private-sector investors to become business partners with the capricious and increasingly anti-constitutional government.
Read the whole thing.

Replacing Many Decades of Financial Services Management Will be Easy

... it was finding someone who would reheat Secretary Paulson's bank bailout solution and serve it up as something new that would have been hard. That's why we confirmed Tax Cheat Geithner, dontcha know. Dig this.
A handful of senior executives working within American International Group Inc's controversial financial products unit have resigned, said a company spokeswoman late on Monday ... The spokeswoman declined to specify the exact number of resignations, noting they were expected to be "manageable," and said there were indications that more will follow.
Again, these were not the folks responsible for the crash, these were the folks trying to clean it up. Oh well, what's the big deal? How hard could it be to replace experienced, dedicated banking executives whose replacements can't be offered industry-standard bonuses? It should be a piece of cake.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This is the Strangest Juxtaposition of Music I Have Ever Seen

"Pipeline" played on the Lawrence Welk show? The Lawrence Welk show?!?


... is overrated.

The Geithner Plan is Just Another set of Derivatives

If you look at it closely, the Geithner plan to bundle the toxic assets and sell them to private investors is just another derivative investment. This time, however, the rules can be repeatedly rewritten by Congress after you've invested.

Run away!

Why Bashing the Bankers is a bad Idea

... because you'll need them to cooperate in the future. Like when the Geithner plan is unveiled and it turns out you want the bankers and hedge funds to help out buying toxic assets.
(S)ome executives at private equity firms and hedge funds, who were briefed on the plan Sunday afternoon, are anxious about the recent uproar over millions of dollars in bonus payments made to executives of the American International Group.

Some of these executives have told administration officials that they would participate only if the government guaranteed that it would not set compensation limits on the firms, according to people briefed on the conversations.

The executives also expressed worries about whether disclosure and governance rules could be added retroactively to the program by Congress, these people said.
Retroactive changes in the rules? From this Congress and Administration? Impossible!

If I ran a hedge fund or was a big investor I would run as fast as I could in the opposite direction. There are plenty of investment options out there right now. I would never get involved with these capricious nitwits if I could possibly help it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Fifth Anniversary, COTC!

The Carnival of the Cats turned five today. That's an amazing run for a blog carnival. Many thanks to our Archbishop of Texas for starting it. You can see the fifth anniversary version here.


So last night my son and I were watching Riding Giants, the movie chronicling the history of surfing monstrous waves. It was a great video and it closed out with a bit on Laird Hamilton surfing Teahupoo, a reef off of French Polynesia. Here's some surfers in the same locale.


Should I Be Worried?

Our Official Artist, Justin, posted his results on this poll, turning us on to this quiz. My results may indicate a problem.

If you try this poll on your own blog, make sure to throw Justin a link.

In the meantime, I need to look into a 12-step program for blogging addicts. I'll be sure to blog what I find and post my progress regularly.

Err, I mean, that's the methadone version of blogging, isn't it?

What's With the Masks?

Check this out. I don't get it at all. Wearing ski masks and dressing like Hamas terrorists to go to a multiculturalism rally? It's like wearing body armor to go see Disney's Princess Wishes Ice Show. (Personally, I'd ditch the body armor and stock up on barf bags for that one.)

Somebody Needs to Work on Their Math Skills

B-Daddy left a link to this NYT article in a comment on another post. Dig what it says.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will call for increased oversight of executive pay at all banks, Wall Street firms and possibly other companies as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul financial regulation, government officials said.
Now check out who pays taxes.

If you make over $388K, you pay 22.8% in taxes,
if you make over $153K, you pay 20.7% in taxes,
if you make over $108K, you pay 18.9% in taxes,
and so on, getting smaller as you go down the pay scale.

The top 10% of all earners pay about 71% of all taxes. If they put a cap on salaries, they will destroy their tax base. How will they pay for all that groovy spending?

Oh, I forgot. The Money Fairy.

Now on the positive side: Also in the proposal discussed in the NYT article is this little bit, which I like a lot.
It will propose that many kinds of derivatives and other exotic financial instruments that contributed to the crisis be traded on exchanges or through clearinghouses so they are more transparent and can be more tightly regulated. And to protect consumers, it will call for federal standards for mortgage lenders beyond what the Federal Reserve adopted last year, as well as more aggressive enforcement of the mortgage rules.
Jumping Jupiter, we've needed this for a long time. All these wacky financial instruments are little better than gambling with a blindfold on. This would be something very, very good.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Abstinence-only Education Doesn't Work, Part II

This is a continuation of my previous post on this topic wherein I argued that abstinence-only education can't work to prevent out-of-wedlock births in our libertine culture.

The first thing detractors have to do is look at the scoreboard. Here's one part of it.
Since 1960, illegitimate births have increased more than 400 percent. In 1960, 5 percent of all births were out of wedlock. Thirty years later nearly 30 percent of all births were illegitimate.
You can claim that pregnant girls were hidden away until they had kids or that there were shotgun marriages or that people got married earlier, but you can't hope to use those tools to explain away a 4-fold increase in illegitimacy. The scoreboard doesn't lie.

Second, there are about 1,250,000 abortions per year in the US these days. The four-fold increase above does not take these into account. That means the scoreboard is much more lopsided than it looks, unless you want to make the hopeless claim that abortions were just as common back in the 1950s. Adding the abortions to the live births, it means that there are almost 8 times as many illegitimate pregnancies today as there were in 1960.

You cannot bridge that number no matter what wild assumptions you make about some kind of bizarre Underground Railroad of pregnant girls or waves of back alley abortions. Give it up. The scoreboard is more lopsided than a Detroit Lions - Indianapolis Colts game.

The inescapable conclusion is that parentally-controlled, abstinence-only education in, say, the 1950s worked far better than anything we're doing today. It's not even close. So why is that? I'd like to offer an experiment that might convince you the underlying culture is the dominant feature.

The Experiment

Immerse yourself in the culture of the 1950s for a full day. Listen to the music, watch the movies, read books about the era, whatever you'd like. Then immerse yourself in the popular youth culture of 2009 for a day. Listen to urban hip hop, watch MTV, surf MySpace and so on.

Compare the images, the ads, the themes, the underlying morality of the two eras. My bet is that in two days, you will be able to explain the difference in the statistics and do so with a deeper understanding of what they mean.

To get you in the mood, allow me to recommend some Doris Day. She was a popular actress and singer from the 1950s. On a tribute website, I counted at least 5 #1 hits and about the same number of #2 singles. Here's one of my favorites that I heard while listening to our local jazz station's Rug Cutter's Swing program a few weekends ago.

This was not one of her big hits, but I like the song and I wanted an excuse to post it on the blog. So there. Another great place to start would be to buy the Dean Martin CD, Amore. The music is fantastic and even if the experiment doesn't work, it's always a good thing to have some Dean Martin CDs in your possession.

As for books, try reading Lynne Cheney's Blue Skies, No Fences. For those lefties out there, I'm pretty sure this was the blueprint for Dick Cheney's attempts to destroy the Constitution and install a Cheney-based dictatorship. You'll need to read the whole thing to find out.

When it comes to movies, watch a Western or two or maybe some war movies. The Caine Mutiny is fantastic.

If anyone actually tries this, I'd love to hear what you find out. The scoreboard doesn't lie. Social pathologies correlate strongly to broken families and we have more now than we did then. We're far more libertine than they were. My original post claimed that libertines need to own those pathologies. If the 1950s were too repressed and you think we've got a much healthier attitude about such things, that's OK. You just need to accept that this morality has given us mammoth prison populations, more drug abuse, more child abuse and so on.

As always, comments are welcome.

Friday, March 20, 2009

First, Let's Kill All Bankers

... and then we'll let the Money Fairy do her magic!

In a spasm of lynch-mob populism, the Congress and the President are passing a law to tax bonuses from those no-good, T^&@#*@T&* bankers. That's all good, right? I mean, we hate bankers, don't we? What do we care if they're chopped up like embryos and harvested for stem cells?

Err, not so fast. Dig this.
Today's frantic passage of the Populist Rage Tax was a new low in the US government's response to this crisis. It shows just how likely we are to doom ourselves to a decade or more of misery--by choking our markets, closing our borders, turning our banks into tools of social policy, and wrecking what's left of our economy.

In case you've been too outraged by AIG (justifiably) to notice what happened, here's a recap:

If the "TARP bonus" bill the House passed today becomes law, any of the hundreds of thousands of people who work for Citigroup, Bank of America, AIG, and nine other major US corporations will have to fork over 90 cents of every dollar they make that puts their household income over $250,000.

That's household income, not individual income.* If you're married and filing singly, you'll have to surrender anything over $125,000. Indefinitely.
If you're some non-bonus-receiving fellow making $100K and your spouse makes $160K, your household income is over the threshold and you will be punished, punished, punished! If you work for a bank that was doing fine, but took the TARP money forced on it by a government trying to free up the credit markets, you will be punished, punished, punished!

Talk about engendering an atmosphere of distrust and hatred between the government and the banks. With Obama and Pelosi in charge and their populist, ignorant hatred of capitalism coming into full bloom, they are methodically wrecking whatever spirit of cooperation remained between them and the banks.

If you don't think this matters, recall that the credit flow crisis was resolved through just this kind of cooperation under TARP where the Bush Administration forked over money to the banks to stabilize their reserves. Interest rate spreads dropped dramatically and we averted a meltdown. Now we've got this crew in town and all they can think of is that bankers everywhere must be punished, punished, punished!

The banks are responding by handing the money back so they can tell the Obama Administration and the Pelosi Congress to get lost. After that, the only leverage the government will have is the passage of ingenious laws like the one above.

Well, so Long as Someone is Punished, I'm OK With It

Let's take all the bonus money back from those @^#&^#@&*^ AIG executives! They're the ones who got us into this mess.

Err, maybe not. Here's the scene from within AIG as they gathered in their office to watch their boss get pilloried on TV by a Congress and a President eager to get in front of the lynch mob.
A sense of fear hung in the room -- the palpable, unsettling kind that flashes across people's eyes. But there was anger, too. No one would express it publicly, of course. Who wants to hear a wealthy financier complain? And yet, within those walls off Danbury Road lies a deep sense of betrayal -- first by their former colleagues, now by their elected leaders.

The handful of souls who championed the firm's now-infamous credit-default swaps are, by nearly every account, long since departed. Those left behind to clean up the mess, the majority of whom never lost a dime for AIG, now feel they have been sold out by their Congress and their president.

"They've chosen to throw us under the bus," said a Financial Products executive, one of several who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. "They have vilified us."
There's lots more. Read the whole thing.

After that, ask yourself this: Who would take that job if these folks quit? How long does it take to replace someone at that level and then bring them up to speed to the point where they can function and accomplish anything? How long would it take if they all decided to leave and there wasn't any corporate memory left to train the new people?

If it was me, I would have resigned yesterday. These people are getting death threats. No one knows that they had nothing to do with the collapse of AIG. No one is telling the public this. Instead, you've got all the politicians pointing fingers at everyone else saying how lenient the other guy is and how much they all hate the AIG executives.

Live it up, guys. Have fun. When you're done, you just try and get someone to work for you in AIG or anywhere else that you plan to nationalize / buy / coerce / threaten.

Here, Nancy Pelosi explains to the mob that if only she had been in charge, all banking executives from all financial institutions would be dead by now.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Defending President Obama

First, I love the fact that the President picked his NCAA basketball brackets. Good for him. And no, I don't think he should have been "trying to fix the economy instead." First off, he isn't going to fix it (that's our job, not his) and second, lighten up. I thought it was a nice touch.

Second, apparently Barack went on the Tonight Show and joked about his bowling being like the Special Olympics. Everyone's fussing about him mocking the disabled. Get over it. Stop encouraging the Politically Correct crowd. Watever his faults might be, I can't imagine that President Obama is the kind that mocks the disabled. It beggars the imagination to cook that one up.

Good for the president that he acted like a normal guy and picked his brackets and made a silly joke about his own failings. Well done, sir.

Volcanic Eruption off of Tonga

Dig this amateur video of an underwater volcanic eruption off of Tonga.

Way cool.

Cheezburger of the Day

The Real Problem With the Fed Printing Money

... is not that they decided to print $1.2T, it's who gets to spend that $1.2T.

Printing money inflates the currency. No new wealth was created yesterday. Instead, we all saw our dollars lose value. The value squeezed out of our dollars (consider it a wealth tax) is the $1.2T that will now be handed over to Obama and Pelosi.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Correcting My Mistake

I would like to apologize for my previous post. I was wrong when I said the Fed was going to buy $300B worth of Treasuries. It's not true. Instead, it's buying $1.2T of various odds and ends, within which are $300B of Treasuries, $750B of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages and $100B of Agency (other Federal Government) bonds.

I'm terribly sorry for having insulted the Money Fairy like that. I hope she forgives me and gives serious consideration to leaving a few million dollars on my doorstep.

Yay! It's the Money Fairy! We're Saved!

Today, the Fed announced that it would buy $300B worth of government bonds.
The Federal Reserve opened a new front in its battle to bring down borrowing costs across the economy, pledging to buy as much as $300 billion of Treasuries and stepping up purchases of mortgage bonds ...

With today’s move, the Fed has committed to buy or loan against everything from corporate debt, mortgages and consumer loans to government debt, after cutting its benchmark interest rate to zero failed to end the credit crunch.
Translation: we are now simply printing money so Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi can hand it out. There is no limit to how much they can hand out now that the money appears out of thin air. There is no need to balance the budget, raise taxes or say, "No!" to any special interest group.

Why are we doing this? Well, Brad Setser explains.

(F)oreign demand for long-term Treasuries has disappeared over the last few months ... with global reserve growth slowing (even China doesn’t currently seem to be adding to its reserves), central banks won’t be as large a source of demand for Treasuries going forward as they have been in the past ... And if — as seems likely — foreign demand for Treasuries fades long before the US fiscal deficit, the US Treasury will need to sell an awful lot of Treasuries to American investors. For the past several years I have argued that it was almost impossible to overstate the impact of central bank demand on the Treasury market.

That may no longer be the case going forward.

The world is changing. Global reserves aren’t growing. The echo from their past peak that we observe in the current Treasury data will fade.
Gold jumped $50 today. I wonder why.

4 AM This Morning

... I get awakened by our Maximum Leader who has learned she can make a "thump-thumpy-thump" noise by pushing on my closet doors. She wanted me to open her cat door and let her out. This is what I felt like.

I'm Waiting for the Constitutional Challenges

I'm only partially paying attention to the whole AIG bonus thingy. It doesn't really interest me and I'm not upset and yelling about it. Bonuses get paid out all the time to corporate bigwigs, both deserved and undeserved. $165M seems like a big number until you look at common practice. As for AIG taking government money, so what? Chris Dodd himself wrote language into the Stimuloid Porkgasm™ to allow such things to happen, so long as they were last year's bonuses, which these were.

What's bothering me is the ever-deepening level of government interference. We've now got government officials at all levels, all the way up to the President threatening to tax and sieze and grab in order to make things right in their eyes. There are no rules, no limits, nothing to stop their meddling.

They can rewrite mortgages - voluntary contracts between two private parties! - at will. They can stop corporate marketing efforts by fiat. They talk down banks and cause runs on their deposits. They can limit pay to employees. Now they're going to retroactively sieze bonuses from employees.

Aren't there rules that apply here? Can the government come in and simply blow contracts and agreements away on a whim? This is so destabilizing for the business world. Everything is up in the air. If I was running a business, I'd be slowly backing out the door, looking for a place to set up shop where there was stability and a respect for personal property.

It's not the bonuses or the greed that bother me, it's the never-ending spasms of interference. The effects of those go far beyond whatever industry is currently in the crosshairs of our childish leaders.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Looking for Something

I can't find my renewal letter from the DMV for the FredMobile. Do any of you know where I left it?

The Little Red Hen Adapted for the Age of Obama

The Obama Administration is giving the UAW and GM a blank check.
March 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration is “open minded” about giving General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC more aid and will use “all the resources” of the federal government to avoid bankruptcy for the automakers, said Steven Rattner, chief adviser to the U.S. Treasury’s autos task force.
This reminds me of the children's tale, The Little Red Hen with some modifications. Here's an excerpt of the way I would write it for today.
One day as the Little Red President was scratching in a field, he found an automaker who was going bankrupt because it paid too much money to build cars.

"This automaker should be saved," he said. "Who will pay for this bailout?"

"Not I," said 45% of the population who pay no taxes. "You're trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor!"

"Not I," said Big Pharma. "You've wiped out our profits by allowing foreign drugs into the market!"

"Not I," said the energy utilities. "We're struggling to build unprofitable renewable energy resources."

"Then I will," said Mr. Geithner. And he did it by issuing mountains of Treasuries that were bought by the Fed with money created out of thin air.
The completion of the story is left as an exercise for the reader.

Banks vs.Geithner - This Can't Be Good

Even assuming that Wells Fargo & Co. Chairman Richard Kovacevich is wrong about his assessment of Geithner's plans for stress-testing banks, this bit from Bloomberg is not a good sign.
When the U.S. Treasury persuaded the nation’s nine biggest banks to accept capital investments in October, it signaled the whole industry was weak, Kovacevich, 65, said in a March 13 speech at Stanford University in California. Even though Wells Fargo didn’t want the money, it must comply with the same rules that the government placed on banks that did need it, he said.

“Is this America -- when you do what your government asks you to do and then retroactively you also have additional conditions?” Kovacevich said. “If we were not forced to take the TARP money, we would have been able to raise private capital at that time” and not needed to cut the dividend to preserve cash, he said ...

“We do stress tests all the time on all of our portfolios,” Kovacevich said. “We share those stress tests with our regulators. It is absolutely asinine that somebody would announce we’re going to do stress tests for banks and we’ll give you the answer in 12 weeks.”
The loss of trust and an increasingly adverserial relationship between banks and the government is not good for the country. I had not realized that the TARP money was forced on some of the banks. I can certainly see why Mr. Kovacevich is angry. He didn't need the money and the conditions to accepting it are changing all the time.

This just adds to the uncertainty in the market and goes along with my previous post on why I got out of TBT. The government is a capricious master and is capable of almost anything. That's not what anyone wants in an investment. When the government gets in, it's time to get out.

This is so Utterly Insane That it Doesn't Seem Real

Dig this article from the Telegraph.
The International Monetary Fund is poised to embark on what analysts have described as "global quantitative easing" by printing billions of dollars worth of a global "super-currency" in an unprecedented new effort to address the economic crisis ...

Alistair Darling and senior figures in the US Treasury have been encouraging the Fund to issue hundreds of billions of dollars worth of so-called Special Drawing Rights in the coming months as part of its campaign to prevent the recession from turning into a global depression ...

Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the IMF, said: "The principle behind it is that everyone would get bonus dollars and instead of the Federal Reserve having to print them, everyone gets them."
This is totally insane. I don't have any other word for it. I haven't seen any reference to this anywhere else, so I question the accuracy of the article because the concept is completely crazy.

Pre-publishing Update: Mish tells us that it is indeed possible. Here, he quotes from this article and then analyzes it.
The IMF, led by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has the power to raise money on the capital markets by issuing `AAA' bonds under its own name. It has never resorted to this option, preferring to tap members states for deposits.

The nuclear option is to print money by issuing Special Drawing Rights, in effect acting as if it were the world's central bank.
AAA rated IMF nuclear printing. Now there's a joke. Who gets to make that rating call? What printing presses are backing up the IMF printing press?
I'll say it again: This is totally insane. Conspiracy nuts have been worried about handing over sovereignty of our foreign policy to the UN, but handing over control of printing money to the IMF seems even worse.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Jon Stewart, Attack Clown

So Jim Cramer, the nutty host of CNBC's Mad Money show, fired off a series of anti-Obama rants on TV recently. Jim was infuriated by the profligacy of the Obama Administration and the market tanking as a result. Jim's rantings prompted any number of counterattacks by administration lapdogs, culminating in Jon Stewart attacking him on his TV show. Here's one of Jim Cramer's rants.

There have been plenty of blog posts on the subject. All of the ones that I have seen so far take sides. Either Stewart is a know-nothing or Cramer is a corporate shill. The arguments circle around Cramer's history of stock picks.

I think that's a mistake.

Cramer was not on the show because of his stock picks. He's been doing Mad Money for quite some time and there were plenty of chances for Jon Stewart to attack him before now. Stewart went after Cramer because he criticized Barack Obama. There's nothing more to it than that.

It's the shape of things to come.

On Managerial Experience and Prayers for Obama

My first management job was given to me 22 years ago. I was handed a set of projects to manage with a pat on the back and a lot of support. I was quite young at the time.

The first thing I found was that one of my contractors had overspent and was coming back to get paid the difference. A couple of the people I had working on my projects turned out to be incompetent, nuts, or both. I had never dealt with contracts and lawyers or managed people before in my life. With lots of help from the people around me, we managed to solve the immediate problems and get the projects back on track. It all worked out, but I have to admit to suffering from plenty of anxiety back then.

I moved on to managing larger and larger efforts until I finally managed a turnaround where about 15 years after the job described above, I took a failing organization and brought it back to profitability.

When I look at what's going on in the Obama White House, where they can't staff the Treasury and the president delegated his economic centerpiece, the stimulus bill, to Congress I think back to my first project. I was quite nearly overwhelmed by the legal issues associated with my contractor and that was with the support of people above me. President Obama has no such support, many more stresses and about the same amount of experience as I had 22 years ago. Whereas the people around me had career interests with the organization that made them stable, the people around Obama have endless opportunities for personal wealth and power based on their proximity to influence in the government.

I can just imagine what life is like for Barack Obama. I developed physical symptoms associated with stress in my initial foray into management. He's got to be a wreck.

I can't say that I support the man in any way, shape or form. His policies on life alone are hideously evil in the extreme. Having said that, as I see more and more articles popping up questioning his competence, I pray for the man who seems increasingly overwhelmed by the world around him.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reasons for Optimism

Now that The One has achieved liftoff on the debt and it's blasting into orbit, plenty of pundits are writing about what a lot of swine we Baby Boomers are. One of my favorite snarkers is Mark Steyn whose most recent column had this to say about the Boomers saddling the younger set with a monstrous bill.
This is the biggest generational transfer of wealth in the history of the world. If you're an 18-year-old middle-class hopeychanger, look at the way your parents and grandparents live: It's not going to be like that for you. You're going to have a smaller house, and a smaller car – if not a basement flat and a bus ticket. You didn't get us into this catastrophe. But you're going to be stuck with the tab...
That much is true. We've bankrupted the country both morally and financially. But there's more to the story.

Every generation has its good and bad. While the Boomers managed to wreck the family and spend our children's money, we've also saved the environment, done away with racism to the extent possible, defeated the Soviet Union and delivered a cornucopia of technological innovations. Life isn't ever unalloyed good or evil.

Every generation of Americans seems to find a way to rise to the occasion at hand. How many of you remember the Love Canal?
Love Canal was a never-used, late 19th-century hydroelectric channel that was sold to the Hooker Chemical company in 1942. Between then and 1953, Hooker used the site to bury 22,000 tons of chemical wastes in barrels.

Hooker sold the site to the Niagara Falls School Board for $1, and the board built an elementary school there in 1955. A blue-collar suburban neighborhood flourished around the disused industrial site.

Flourished is probably the wrong word. Schroeder's parents found black sludge seeping through the walls of their basement starting in the late 1950s. A woman who ran a beauty parlor in her basement developed a debilitating weakness and had to give up working. Trees and shrubs died. Noxious chemical smells hung over the neighborhood.
The predecessors to groups like the Sierra Club managed to take on major industrial corporations and win.

Environmental destruction was a major problem and yet Americans were able to defeat moneyed industrial corporations and alter the way we saw the environment. We owe a great deal to the environmentalists from the Boomer generation.

You can make similar arguments about the Cold War. With Ronald Reagan's leadership, the Boomer generation defeated the Soviets. The election of Barack Obama, whether a good or bad decision, is an indication of how far the Boomers went in the healing of race relations.

So now the big issues are financial and moral. Yep, we're still wrecking the economy and we've yet to re-make the connection between traditional families and success. But previous generations of Americans faced equally daunting problems and managed to rise to the occasion. I'm betting that this one can, too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blogging Has Been Light Today

... because I got up way late and have been rushing about today. In the meantime, here's an interesting post about Russia basing strategic bombers in Venezuela.

Yes, that Venezuela.

Brother, can you Spare $8B?

After a wondrous budget compromise, California is at it again.
The California Legislature’s budget analyst says the recession has created another $8 billion hole in the state’s budget just weeks after the end of a bruising fight to close a $42 billion gap through June 2010.
I think we should raise taxes on the richest 2% of the population.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Link of the Day

... is this one. I love the video!

New Orleans, 3 1/2 Years Post Katrina

... is an odd, patchwork kind of place in the areas that had been flooded. Some folks have rebuilt and some have not, leading to neighborhoods dotted with abandoned homes. The end effect is incongruous. In some of these neighborhoods you see houses like this:

across the street from houses like this:

In the neighborhood where I was cruising around, about 25% of the houses looked to be abandoned. There were some businesses that seemed to have been left to rot as well, but I didn't get any shots of them.

Maybe the abandonment of these places is not a bad thing. The residents who have returned have shown an admirable tenacity and work ethic. The rebuilt houses and businesses are lovely. On the flight from Houston to New Orleans I sat next to one such fellow. His wife's family had owned Mandina's Restaurant for about 100 years and she was determined to come back and re-open it after it had been flooded. I went there to eat on Tuesday night and the place was packed. At 8PM there was still a wait for tables.

If you go, try the Catfish Meuniere. It's excellent.

The locals I worked with all had an air of determined resignation about the city - resigned to live amidst the remaining ruins from the hurricane, but determined to live a normal life. We talked Saints football and food and it was clear that their lives in New Orleans had resumed and they had recovered. They were the kind of people you would want as neighbors.

The derelict houses are intriguing to see and will no doubt continue to get media attention from people who want to tut-tut about the damage from the hurricane, but they're not the real story. To me, the real story was the ability of the residents to adapt and recover and thrive again.

New Orleans Sunrise

Looking out over the Mississippi River right near Cafe du Monde on Wednesday morning, I watched the sunrise through the fog on the river. New Orleans is the busiest port in the US and I watched one of its customers, a huge freighter, slowly steam by. I shot a couple of pictures of it, but they didn't come out well enough to post. The effect was striking in person, all you could see were the tops of its deck cranes and the shadows of the massive hulk beneath them as it soundlessly slid past me.

This was the best of my sunrise shots.

The Ghosts of Jackson Square

... wandered in the mists on Wednesday morning as I sipped my cafe au lait. Dawn was breaking, so they soon fled and I was left with a bag of beignets as my only companion.

A Compassion and Budget Deficit Analogy

Giving money to Catholic Charities is a good thing. Taking out a loan on your credit card to give money to Catholic Charities is a bad thing.

The proof is left to the reader.

I Just Sold my TBT

... in time for it to skyrocket today as Premiere Wen wondered aloud about the safety of Treasuries. I did OK on it and made a little money, but I lost out big today. That's OK with me. Here's why.

TBT is a fund that shorts the long-term Treasury bond. Essentially, if you buy TBT, you are betting that the US Government will not be able to fund it's debt without raising interest rates. That seems like a pretty good bet, given the monstrous amount of debt we will have to sell under Obama.

That's not the full story, though. TBT is dramatically affected by government policies. Unlike an industrial company like Caterpillar where you can look at financials and sales forecasts, TBT bounces around at the statements of various premieres, presidents and bankers. It's more like gambling than investing.

There is no question that at some point this year, the Federal Reserve will have to start printing money to buy Treasuries. Just the rumor of that sends TBT into the dumps. When that will happen has more to do with conversations in the meeting rooms and hallways in Peking, New York and Washington than it does with anything else. Who knows which way they're going to go? The UK recently announced that their central bank was going to start printing Pounds to buy British debt. That sent TBT into the tank. I saw that coming, but couldn't anticipate the timing.

That last event spooked me. I don't want any part of something so utterly dependent on the whims of Premiere Wen, Barack Obama, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke. Their motivations are hidden to us. I'm not into gambling on whether or not they woke up in a bad mood and decided to pull the trigger today, so I bailed out.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Maybe Geithner is on his Chai Break

... because the UK can't reach him for conversations prior to the G-20 meetings.
The head of the civil service, Sir Gus [O'Donnell] said the handover to President Barack Obama's administration was severely hindering preparations for next month's G20 summit.

In an extraordinary blunder, the usually-guarded Sir Gus said no-one in the U.S. Treasury department was answering telephone calls.

He said it meant the Government was finding it 'unbelievably difficult' to hold discussions ahead of the meeting of world leaders in London.
Well who can blame Geithner for taking so long to answer the calls when there is sweet, delcious chai to be drunk?

I have never in my life heard of having a US Treasury Secretary called out in the global media for not answering the phone. Maybe it's true after all:

(T)he Obama White House and their staff are just a bunch of incompetents who got in over their heads.

Personally, I'm Investing in Green Ink

... because we're gonna need a lot of it to pay for Obama's spending sprees.

Brad Setser has a new post up showing how China's exports have fallen off a cliff. Imports have fallen as well, so China still has a surplus, just nothing like the surplus they will need to fund the Obama-Reid-Pelosi madness. And since China is the only remaining large creditor in the world, this means the Fed will have to start monetizing the debt that much sooner. Dig this chart of Chinese exports / imports.

This means we will be printing money with nothing behind it. Lots and lots and lots of money. The Obama budget calls for $1.75T of borrowing this year with some very rosy assumptions. I think they will blow by $1.75T like it was standing still. I expect $2T is debt, minimum. With no one to borrow the money from, I'm bullish on green ink.

Well, They got the "Revolution" Part Right

The UN is rushing about suggesting that the Obama Administrations efforts to obliterate the American economy reduce CO2 emissions in the US will spark a revolution.
The head of the UN body charged with leading the fight against climate change has conceded that Barack Obama will face a "revolution" if he commits the US to the deep carbon cuts that scientists and campaigners say are needed.
You better believe there will be a revolution, particularly in the industrial Midwest where shuttering coal-fired plants will drive the area back into the 1880s. Meanwhile, with sea ice increasing and temperatures falling, Al Gore's Army of Drumbeaters is seeing some defections.
The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming "incontrovertible."
For me, the question is how many endless miles of windmills will we have to build before the public finally wonders why we can't build a single nuclear power plant.

Little Johnny and Billy on a car vacation with Mom and Dad finally gave up counting the @&^@ing things after they reached 17,235.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Decided Against the LG Dare

I blogged earlier about my interest in getting a phone that could get the Interweb Tubes, specifically the LG Dare. I stopped by a Verizon store tonight and tried one out.


The screen is too small. I brought up The Scratching Post, but I had to drag the screen around to see what was on it. When I clicked on the link to the Cheezburger of the Day, it took a while to bring up the lolcat page. The whole experience was unsatisfying. I left the $250 in my bank account and bailed.

Cheezburger of the Day

Looking at a Dare

I'm starting to travel more and after playing with a friend's iPhone, I've decided I'd really love to have the Interweb Tubes with me as I rush thither and yon. I don't want to leave Verizon and I'd prefer not to get a Windows Mobile device (why do I want to edit MS Word and Excel files when I can get to Google Docs?) so that leads me to LG. The Dare looks pretty cool and seems to hold up well in reviews. If I buy one, I'll post my review here.


Does Anyone Else See This Coming?

I've got a creepy feeling that Obama is going to abandon Afghanistan. I've seen a smattering of thought pieces written questioning if the Afghan campaign is worth the effort. The Obama Administration's searching for "moderate Taliban"* with whom to negotiate. That smacks of undercutting the Afghan government just like he betrayed Poland and Czechloslovakia to the Russians.

I'm wondering if when warmer weather comes and the Taliban starts killing people in larger numbers, if all of this groundwork will turn into cover for a retreat.

* - these would be, as suggested elsewhere on the Internet, Taliban that behead their wives, but do not film it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Heading off to N'awlins

I'll be blogging from the Big Easy this week as work is sending me to N'awlins. It's time to stock up on New Orleans Saints gear, good food and great music!

A Weekend That Made it all Worthwhile

As many of you know, I'm a single father (soon to be remarried - Yay!) and I spend a lot of time with my kids working hard to help them succeed. This weekend was about 10% work and 90% payoff.

My daughter, a Russian orphan adopted at 15 months, played four soccer games and her teams won them all. She's had a difficult time of it throughout her life, recovering from her lack of human interaction in her first 15 months. It's been a long, erratic journey finding something she liked to do and helping her excel at it, but this weekend it all paid off. Her club team took third place in their indoor soccer league and her school team won the championship. Her best position is right defender and she played full-on Ronde Barber defense in the second game on Saturday.

My son has taken to surfing and track in high school. This week he was named captain of the pole vaulting team and got to start in the weekend surf meet. He then ran off and had a wild weekend with his buddies. After I hadn't seen him any more than 30 minutes in 3 days, I joked with my fiancee that he was like the male dog that gets loose and comes back home three days later exhausted and happy.

No, I didn't say he was doing that, I said it was like that. Sheesh! Keep it clean, people!

Life is good. I hope you had a great weekend, too.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Inviting Trouble

If I were an enemy of the United States, I would be licking my chops when I read things like this.
Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama's inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to "even fake an interest in foreign policy". ...

The American source said: "Obama is overwhelmed. There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.

"That was the gamble these guys made at the front end of this presidency and I think they're finding it a hard thing to do everything."
You never want to let the world know you're in over your head. That's just asking for someone to start something.

Diplomatic Gift Ideas for Barack Obama

Here at The Scratching Post, we're not completely consumed with snark for our president. And unlike some of our friends, we don't want to see him fail. Recently, President Obama hosted the Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon Brown. While the Prime Minister gave Barack some lovely gifts, The One responded with a pack of DVDs.

It was very badly received.

In light of these developments, we'd like to offer some suggestions to the Obama staffers who ran off to Costco at the last minute to buy a gift for our most important ally in the world. That way, the next time an important dignitary arrives, they'll be prepared.

Here's our list.

For Nicolas Sarkozy of France, we recommend some very nice scented candles.

As we understand it, the French don't like to bathe. These candles will really help mask the odors in their meeting rooms!

For Angela Merkel of Germany, how about a lovely assortment of chocolates?

Since she's a girl and worries about her figure, these could be combined with a Jane Fonda workout video.

For Kim Jung Il of North Korea, nothing says, "I want to be your friend so will you please stop threatening us with a sea of fire" quite like a Hickory Farms gift basket.

Plus, since his people are all starving to death, this will go over big when he gets back home!

For Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, how about some groovy designer footwear?

The guy is like 4'6" or something. These would make him feel taller and boost his self-esteem!

I'm sure you can think of some good gift ideas, too. Leave your ideas in the comments. Let's all pull together and help Barack Obama out. After all, we don't want to have to keep reading criticisms like this:
At least if he meant to snub Brown, it would suggest a certain competence at this brand of diplomacy. Instead, we’re told that the Obama White House and their staff are just a bunch of incompetents who got in over their heads.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Jovian Sunset

Abstinence-only Education Doesn't Work

... or at least I'm willing to grant the statistical analysis referenced in this post by our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands.

Having said that, there is a larger world in which these statistics live, a world where gloating about the failures of one's cultural opponents is fraught with danger. A more accurate statement of the title of this post would be, "Abstinence-only Education Doesn't Work in an Overarching Libertine Culture."

First, let's set up some assumptions. Feel free to question these in the comments. Since I don't want to take the time to find the references for these assertions, I will leave them qualitative and not quantitative.

Comparing the 1950s with the year 2009, I assert that:

  • Abortions are much more common now

  • Birth-control is far more available

  • Teen fertility has not changed significantly in the past 55 years

  • Teen pregnancy and teen birth rates are higher today than they were in 1955
Conclusion: Abstinence was practiced more in the past with greater success than whatever it is we are practicing today.

Corollary: Something else has changed that makes abstinence fail today when it was successful in the past. I think if you immerse yourself in the popular culture of the 1950s for a week, you'll see a substantial difference from today.

I now further assert the following:

  • Illegitimacy rates are higher now

  • Incarceration correlates with illegitimacy

  • Child abuse correlates with illegitimacy

  • Poverty correlates with illegitimacy

  • Education level inversely correlates with illegitimacy
So let me suggest a broader conclusion to the statistics our Missionary quotes.

It is difficult to enact isolated social behaviors from a previous era with any hope for substantial improvement. Further, anyone supporting libertinism must accept that in exchange for sexual freedom, they must pay for it with larger prison populations, more child abuse, more poverty and more high school dropouts.

Nothing is free. Rather than just chortling at the prudes who reject modern culture, it is more intellectually honest to own the consequences of the libertinism implicitly supported with those chortles.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

No one Knows What the Rules are any More

... and that's why the market is tanking.

“It’s the Obama bear market,” said Dan Veru, who helps oversee $2.8 billion at Palisade Capital Management in Fort Lee, New Jersey. “We don’t know what the rules are in so many different areas the government is touching.”
Here's the DJIA since the passage of the Stimuloid Porkgasm™, thanks to the Puppy Blender.

As my financial guru has always said, the markets predict the economy about 6 months into the future. No one knows what's going on here at all. As an example, yesterday I read something about Obama closing down consideration of using Yucca Mountain to store nuclear waste. That's a bad sign for building new nuclear power plants. The cap and trade tax plan is bad for coal-fired plants. He's put all kinds of areas off limits for drilling, so we're not going for oil.

The message: No more energy for you! So don't invest in energy or manufacturing. Meanwhile, his position on banks is pretty bad as well. The mortgage bill he's pushing will allow mortgage contracts to be rewritten, always in favor of the borrower. Don't invest in banks, even the good ones.

His solution for medical costs is to reduce what the government pays and open the door to generic drugs. That's very bad for big pharma which relies on high drug costs during the time their drugs are under patent protection to recoup their research costs. So, let's not get into big pharma or medical stocks.

See where this is going? It's a broad assault on the economy by the government. Even granting the bank failures as a problem, there ought to be a few sectors that show signs of hope 6-9 months into the future. Other than low-end necessities, I don't see where the growth is going to come from. Even there, it's bad. WalMart (WMT) is basically unchanged since the Stimuloid Porkgasm™ was passed and has been getting killed since Inauguration Day and even moreso since the election.

Meanwhile, Treasuries are paying next to nothing in interest and their future supply is piling up like a vast mountain waiting to suck more investment money out of the economy.

Anyone who doesn't think this is the Obama Bear Market isn't paying attention to what people are saying with the fruits of their labor. No one knows what the end result of Obama's massive spasms of statism will be. They only know that they will be bad.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mystery Photo

OK, so just what are these things in the photo? Feathers? Maybe. The answer is here.

Surfing Huge Waves in Tasmania


A Zen Moment from WannaSmile

I love her Zen Moment posts.

On the Effects of Obama's Inexperience

I think I'll just do one serious post today* and then put up some old flower photos or sunsets or lolcats or stuff borrowed from WannaSmile for the rest of the day. The news is just too predictable to keep analyzing. I'll release my thoughts in a quick once-over and then flee to my sanctuary of more enjoyable topics.

We've elected a president with no executive or foreign policy experience. That has consequences. Here are a few of the most recent ones.

  • With a single letter to Putin, Obama has severely damaged our relationships with Poland and the Czech Republic. He offered to trade promised protection of them for some assurances from Putin that Russia wouldn't help give Iran missiles or missile technology. Putin leaked the letter and told Barack to get lost. We've lost the trust of two allies and gained nothing.

  • Obama insulted Prime Minister Brown of the UK and the British are pretty angry about it. Regardless of Brown's poor political health, snubbing a country we rely on to back us up in military matters was beyond stupid. Why did he do it? Who knows? Hubris, perhaps?

  • Yesterday's tepid stock market rally was partly due to the Chinese considering yet more stimuloids for themselves. Everyone cheered. The cheers won't last long. The money China spends on itself can't be loaned to the US. Obama and Pelosi need every penny of investment money they can get. If they don't get it from China, they will get it from ... the Money Fairy.

  • Obama, bless his tiny heart, intended to pay for his gargantuan spending increases with monster tax hikes. Cap and trade carbon taxes, cuts in mortgage and charitable deductions, etc. It looks like many of those will get carved out of the budget and we'll be left with huge spending increases and modest tax increases. Guess what that means. Obama is being taken to the cleaners by the Democrats in Congress. I wonder if he knows that.
This is what you get when you elect a total novice. Expect more of the same. There is no indication that he learns from failure or even recognizes it.

I need to find some pictures of daisies.

* - I always make these pledges and then see something later in the day that I think is really interesting and post about it, so don't hold me to this promise.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

More Proof of Global Warming

Can be seen over at our Priory of Small Princesses.

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

The Commercial Real Estate Collapse is Just Beginning

Residential real estate has fallen apart and is nearing a bottom. Commercial real estate is farther up the curve and falling fast. Here's a video of a real estate investor that Paul Kedrosky posted. The beginning has the bit about real estate. At around 5:00 they discuss the Stimuloid Porkgasm™ and everyone becomes very, very angry.

Can you go Geocaching with the Magellan 1212?

Yes you can! Tom Haws discovered the trick that lets you enter GPS coordinates into the 1212. While the 1212 is meant for driving, Tom's found how to make it useful for trails. Way cool!

Does This Include Freighters?

The One is looking to make a deal with the Russians.
WASHINGTON — President Obama sent a secret letter to Russia’s president last month suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons, American officials said Monday.
If the payload is a nuclear warhead, just what does a long-range weapon look like?

Couldn't this be a long-range weapon?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I Wasn't Joking

... when I said that the economy and jobs were a distant third on Obama's priority list. Dig this.
In the end, Obama believes, forward motion on his agenda matters more than any details.

“Even if we’re busting the budget, we’ve got to solve some of these problems,” said a member of his inner circle. “I’d rather live with a debt than have people go without health care.”