Friday, October 31, 2008

Final weekend

We have arrived at the final weekend of the race for President of the United States of America.


Finally, I’ll be able to get my mind on other things.  No matter which way it ends up when the polls close on Tuesday, our nation will have a new President.  No matter which one wins, he will be my President.


And there will be no claims from me that “XX%” of the country got it wrong or the “election was stolen”.  The new President will be my President.


Things will once again go back to some form of “normal”.  I won’t be running.  The troll will go back under his bridge.  We won’t get a new health care program.  There won’t be a fix for social security.  Vital infrastructure will continue to go unfunded.  Traffic will suck.  I’ll bitterly cling to my guns and religion. 


But all in all, life will be good.  In fact, life will be better here than it is in most of the world—that’s why people risk their lives to get here and will put themselves through almighty hell just to have the opportunity to be poor in America, because poor in America is still pretty fucking rich.  Despite what the news will have you believe.  Despite desperate attempts to try and convince us we should look like the rest of the world.  Life here, though it be not anywhere close to perfect, is good.  And always with a chance to be great, if we’re individually willing to take the chance to make it so.


At this point in the process wishes of “good luck” are empty and pointless.  So I’ll simply say to both candidates that I’m glad it’s almost over and I’m looking forward to finally being able to say “President Elect” after this most historic race—no matter who wins.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And the tax man cometh...

Here's a piece of information from


Under the Obama Plan:

  • Middle class families will see their taxes cut – and no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase. The typical middle class family will receive well over $1,000 in tax relief under the Obama plan, and will pay tax rates that are 20% lower than they faced under President Reagan. According to the Tax Policy Center, the Obama plan provides three times as much tax relief for middle class families as the McCain plan.

Straight cut and paste as of 9:38pm, October 29, 2008.


On the Barack Obama Half Hour Variety Hour, please allow me to quote:


"No family making less than $200,000 will pay higher taxes".


Which is it?

He’s now lowered the definition of “rich” from families making $250,000 to families making $200,000.


According to Joe Biden it's families making $150,000.


After all, paying higher taxes is patriotic.  We should all WANT to support our government and give it all our money so that they can redistribute it back to us in amounts that the government deems acceptable.  Because, you know, there’s apparently such a thing as “too much”, and the government Obama wants will make sure you don’t have “too much”.


"Ask not what your country can do for you, but how much your country will let you keep."


And the video award goes to...

I'll say it right now:  we have no idea what's on the mysterious video tape that is currently being held hostage by the LA Times behind the curtain of "the source doesn't want it released" (more on that bullshit in a minute).

Truth is, we may never know what's on this mysterious video.

It might just be a home video of Barack taking care of his children and being a great family guy.  It might a video of Barack making an anti-American screed in Arabic and beheading a room full of elementary school children…  ok, I don’t really think ANYONE thinks it could be that.

As long as the LA Times holds the video hostage, we can make up whatever story we want.  We do know it has the Junior Senator toasting someone he allegedly doesn't know very well.  Someone who is allegedly a terrorist sympathizer...  someone who allegedly was closely involved with extremist terrorists...  someone who he allegedly doesn't know very well...  who he is toasting at some function.  That's all we really know.

Could it be the mythical dead hooker?  Yes.  Maybe no.  Who knows? 

Oh, yea.  The LA Times knows.  And Obama knows.  But neither one of  
them are talking.

It depends on how significant you consider the association with known terrorists, hate-filled racist pastors, his desire for redistribution of wealth, his close association with a corrupt felon, his propensity for throwing allies under the bus when they're no longer useful, and his dishonesty with regards to these associations and actions.  What do we know about him?  Only what he's told us and what the complicit media has allowed into the open.

So, until we know differently, the video is whatever we want it to be.

Let's circle back to the "source doesn't want it released" bit.  How many times has a newspaper received information that the source doesn't want released, but it has other value such as marketing, or national security, or just plain old salacious dirty laundry value.  Does anyone remember the intercepts of communications to points overseas that were errantly called "domestic wire taps"?  A program that intercepted foreign calls AND yeilded valuable intelligence information was completely undone due to the release of the knowledge of the program by newspapers over the objection of the intelligence  

That was a national security issue...  the papers didn't give a shit about it.  They wanted to sell papers (and make the administration  
look bad).

But now were possibly going to elect someone who is a potential terrorist sympathizer...  or not, we don't know... but it can all be put to bed by releasing the video...  which would happen if the media wasn't complicit with Obama's deception...  or not deception, we just don't know.


And that’s the core issue.  We just don’t know enough about this guy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

60% + 60% +1 = 100% domination

Hillary Clinton is campaigning for Al Franken (yes, the same Al Franken who is Stuart Smalley, who is a leftist radio wonk from the failed Radio Free America) telling the people of Minnesota that Al might just be number 60.


She tells the good voters there that as long as there are fewer than 60 democrat senators, the republicans can block anything the democrats try to do (just like the democrats could and did do when they were in the minority, just like the republicans can and do now).  Al can be number 60.  Get out and vote.


According to Senate rules you need 60 votes to bring a cloture vote—or force a vote, for those of us who speeka de inglish.  If you have 41 Senators, you can block a vote.  This is how the democrats blocked judiciary nominees until John McCain and 13 other senators (a  group the junior senator from Illinois was invited to join, an invitation which was declined by the allegedly post-partisan-able-to-work-across-the-aisle junior senator, consequently a group which Barack Obama was not counted) known as the Gang of 14 broke the filibuster.


This is something that John McCain has FINALLY picked up on—Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama…  no checks, no balances.


How much damage can a filibuster proof majority in the senate do in 2 years (2 years being the next possible chance to turn over at least 1 house in Congress)?  I don’t know…  and I’m not really willing to find out, either.


And what happens if there is a 2/3 majority in BOTH houses?  Why, that gives them enough votes to propose constitutional amendments.  Yes, they’ll still need 2/3 of the states’ legislatures to ratify the amendments to change the constitution, but again, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.


One thing I do know, John McCain won’t be able to get away with much on his own in DC.  Especially with a significant majority of opposition voices in the congress—possibly a veto proof margin.  But he WILL be able to rhetorically steer the ship into more moderate waters than where Nancy and Harry will prefer to steer.  They will have to moderate, or he will skewer them.  If Barack wins, there is no need for any kind of moderation at all.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just over a week...

McCain is down by anywhere from 1 to 11 points with just a little more than a week to go.


The Friday before election day Al Gore produced a drunk driving charge that was expunged from a young George Bush’s record that the broadcast media outlets were just more than happy to pounce all over.


I wonder what McCain will produce in these last two weeks…  and if the media will bother to report it.  Hard to believe that associating with a terrorist and other unsavory types is the best they’ve got.  Because, you know, that PALES in comparison to an expensive dress or two.  (Maybe that’s what Obama has in his closet…  expensive dresses?)


Alternatively, McCain may just be to classy to stoop to such a thing.  Though his surrogates probably aren’t.  After all, they have a lot to lose if their guy doesn’t win.


Alternatively, alternatively, there may simply be nothing to produce.  That would be something, eh?  A politician, from Chicago, with no dead hookers in his closet.  You know, because Obama has been thoroughly vetted and all…  lol.


The market has been effectively crapping it’s pants the last few weeks, but the dollar has gained about 27% against the Euro since July.

Oh, and "Spartikus" (if that is your real name, lol), rebuttals should be in your own words… and address the actual statement you’re attempting to refute rather than redirect the argument with someone else’s words. Anyone can be contrarian... it takes a little more to have ideas of your own. You've had plenty of comments posted which can generally be summed up with "you're wrong, and vague". I issued a clear challenge to prove me wrong, in a forum of your own, and I will be happy to post the link. Otherwise... I've met your type before. Your antics are tired and boring.

Day 3 (or is it 4?) of the "wardrobe scandal"

I’m not sure if this is the third or fourth day of stories at the beginning of Good Morning America focusing on Sarah Palin’s wardrobe.




If bringing up Barack Obama’s association with known terrorists, convicted criminals, lack of legislative record, and long, long time association with a radical preacher is a distraction from the real issues, then…  um…  wouldn’t a nearly weeklong focus on the Republican National Committee’s decision to outfit a Vice Presidential candidate also be a distraction from the real issues?


I guess the moral of the story is that it’s ok to distract from real issues and cover frivolous crap when it’s the other guys, but don’t look into any history or background on the junior senator.


This kid may just win this thing.  It’s hard to tell what the mood is in Ohio when the reporting from all sectors is so ridiculously biased away from reality.  And truth be told, I don’t think Obama would be a particularly bad President, per se.  The last time we had a dangerously inexperienced President with a compliant congress and a strongly partisan Vice President things looked destined to have a change in control in congress after only 2 years and unless something changed in the way the President governed, a change in President 2 years later.


But then there were the terrorist attacks of 2001, and congress stayed in the hands of the one party and the incumbent won another 4 year term.


The time before that when we had an inexperienced President (though far, far more experienced than the current contender) and a strongly partisan Vice President with a compliant congress we received a big, fat tax increase that was jammed down our throat by a congress that was promptly voted out of office and at least one congressman saying “sometimes you have to make decisions that are unpopular to your constituents” (he lost his job).  With the change in control of congress that President became a very good President who had to lead with moderated policies and reasonable objectives.  Hell, we even managed to not only balance the budget, but somehow hold spending back enough to allow those massive tax increases to generate surpluses.  Sure, policies were enacted that created other problems toward the end of the game, but if we were able to keep that split government in place we just might have been able to address them and prevent catastrophe.


But, alas, the partisan bickering and brinksmanship outweighed good legislative leadership and a lame duck President was marginalized by an increasingly partisan congress and we have what we got.


No, an Obama Presidency likely won’t be much different from a McCain Presidency over the long run.  But an Obama Presidency with a highly partisan and compliant congress that is only too ready to push through …  well, whatever Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid want to push through…  that may be a bad thing.  [if a tax hike for over $250,000 is good, a tax hike for over $125,000 is twice as good!!]  McCain, at least, would push back against the congress and, at the very least, require them to use the veto/filibuster proof majority if they get it.


Judging by the exceptionally low approval rating congress has right now, though, the dystopian future of Nancy and Harry running Berry’s administration may be very, very short lived, and I don’t think they can do TOO much damage in 2 years.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cultural failure

Lemme esplain a few things to those who toss accusations when they know nothing…


After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush told the American people to go out and buy stuff, go to Disney Land, and spend, spend, spend.


For the last several years, a looming crisis of liquidity has been fast approaching because Americans don’t save anything, rely on low interest rates to buy stuff, and consider the amount they have to spend equivalent to the amount of prosperity they can afford.  Investment banks were only too willing to take us up on the offer, and we were only too willing to buy in to their new financial tools. 


We, collectively as Americans, bitch and moan about prices when they go up and demand that the government do something about it, yet bitch and moan when jobs are allegedly “shipped overseas” in the constant push to save a nickel so that we, as Americans, can buy one more useless piece of crap to put on a shelf, in a closet, or out in a garage.

We, as Americans, would rather go out and buy a $10 aluminum pressed pan made in China every 4 months rather than pay $60 for a good, solid pan, once every 3 years.  Why?  Because $10 is less than $60, so it costs less.  Meanwhile wealth is being drained from our mindless, consumption based culture to elsewhere in the world in the race to save, save, save so that we can spend, spend, spend and continue on the financial hamster wheel.


Ours is a consumption based economy.  People “feel” wealthy by buying more and more stuff, even if they can’t pay for it—ESPECIALLY if they can’t pay for it.  That’s why we had a housing bubble.  Home prices were not driven by newfound wealth.  Home prices were driven by newfound low interest payments and financing options that allowed people to make lower and lower payments in order to afford higher and higher priced homes.

When the rate reset, BAM!!  The bottom dropped out.  People don’t buy cars, they buy loans.  People don’t buy houses, they buy mortgage payments.


Just as an example, people complain about the price of gas and whine that Exxon makes too much money and we should take that money away and give it to others.  Congress drags the CEOs in for questioning and grills them on whether or not they think what they make is unfair (as if a Congressman will ever admit that he’s paid too much).

That’s a pathetic, defeatist point of view.


There is NOTHING fair about taking away money from one, to give to another.  Nothing is fair about that.


Just about every large capital mutual fund owns Exxon Mobil stock.  Just about every pension fund owns Exxon Mobil stock.  Just about every insurance company and bank owns Exxon Mobil stock either directly or indirectly.


More than half of all Americans own Exxon Mobil stock either directly or indirectly.


The defeatist cultural failure is the inability to recognize that by cutting off the nose of Exxon, we’re spiting our own face.


A culture of ownership and a wealth building society is one that looks toward the long term viability of estates, rather than focusing on “keeping up with the Jonses”.  A wealth building society realizes that even though the Jonses can have more now, we still have more than enough to get buy and give to the next generation, and eventually we’ll catch up with the Jonses.


But no, we don’t have a wealth building society.  We have a consumer society.  We have a consumption based society that gobbles up resources and shits them out into landfills.  We don’t need to preserve clean air, we’ll just wait for wind to blow fresh air in.  We don’t need to preserve land, we’ll just go develop the next patch of infinite grass.  We don’t need to save money, we’ll just borrow more tomorrow.  We don’t need to invest in our future, the present is ours.  We’d rather bitch about not having enough money (and Exxon having too much) while running to the payday loan store to get a loan at 350% interest so that we can pay the cable bill that we can’t afford and shouldn’t have.


So, we look to today and others look to tomorrow.  The consumers among us buy interest only loans and the wealth builders among us buy houses.  The consumers among us bitch and whine about gas prices (which have dropped precipitously) and the wealth builders among us already conserved gas and drive paid off cars.  The consumers among us spend money and seek to save the nickel at all costs (even the cost of off-shored jobs) and the wealth builders among us acquire durable goods and save over the long run in order to hand wealth down to the next generation—wealth that the defeatists would have seized with an estate tax.


A cultural failure has led us to where we are.  The credit crunch and looming financial meltdown is a mess of our own making.  When you match greedy (companies) and stupid (consumers) you get ripped off consumers and a financial mess and everyone puts their hand out to the government to fix the problem.  Here’s a newsflash:  the Government didn’t get us into this mess, we did.  The Government won’t permanently fix this mess, only a cultural shift will fix it.  We experienced a massive cultural shift away from reckless spending and credit based consumption once…  I doubt it will happen again.  Too many people are looking toward the government to stave off having to make hard choices for a mass cultural shift to occur again.


There will be pockets of cultural change, though.  A small, meek minority who are credit poor and shunned by those who speak with no knowledge.  That meek minority shall inherit the financial world that is to come.  Those credit poor will be asset wealthy.  Those who are the least, shall be the first.  And while the storm rages, the chosen ones who chose not to participate in that foolishness will weather it the best.

A clear double standard

“Mark my words” he said.

A “contrived crisis” he said.

“They will test him” he said.


No, not John McCain, but one of John McCain’s best (unwitting) advocates, Joe Biden.


You see, Joe Biden was explaining that the untested and completely inexperienced junior Senator, in the unfortunate event that he actually win the election, would SURELY be tested by a world crisis within 6 months of being elected.



That’s what John McCain has been saying all along.


And not a peep out of the junior Senator’s media machine.  Not a peep.  No, because they are so desperate to help the junior Senator win that they’re not willing to shine a light on that fact—that the junior Senator has absolutely no track record of decision making, legislative accomplishment, or success of any sort.  This kid has been handed success on a silver platter and vaulted to the head of his party on image alone.  All style, no substance.


And if Sarah Palin had made the same remarks?


According to a CNN anchor they’d have been all over it, demonizing her and denouncing the remarks.  But because Joe Biden says it, not only is it true, it’s totally ignored.


This kid is a chump.  A Presidency run by Nancy Pelosi, for the people of San Francisco and California is NOT the kind of leadership I want for my country.

Sure, I want a different tone in foreign policies.  I want a different direction than the one GW has taken us on.  Absolutely I want a more progressive and hopeful tone for my country.


But the vision and direction that the junior Senator offers is most definitely not the future I want for this country.  I don’t think it’s patriotic to pay more in taxes (and neither does anyone else, otherwise they’d be cutting “bonus” tax checks every April 14), I don’t think it’s a good idea to “spread around the wealth”, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to enshrine “fairness” in a tax code.  Life is unfair.  Deal with it.

The failure to take part in the prosperity of the nation is not a tax policy issue, it’s a cultural issue.  And handing out money to people who don’t pay a dime in taxes is NOT the way to change the culture, it’s a way to enforce laziness and suckling at the government teat.

We need a cultural change, not a figurehead empty suit.  We need to go forward as Americans, not as Europeans.  There’s a reason Europe can afford to do what it does, it’s because America does what it does.  God willing, we’ll continue to be able to do so.


[I suppose the silver lining of an Obama victory in 2 weeks would be a wholesale cleaning out of the pathetically horrid congress 2 years hence.  I don’t necessarily think an Obama Presidency would be inherently bad, just an Obama Presidency with a Pelosi/Reid congress.  That thought sends shivers down my spine.  If we’re going to be stuck with Pelosi/Reid, I want McCain.]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Not sure of my 10% week

The week started out promising, but now it only looks like we may be getting a 4 or 5% week.  Oh, shucks.  “Only”  a 4% weekly gain…  over 52 weeks…  only 208% annualized?  Gee whiz, what a crappy market.


Oh, yea, and Warren Buffet is sinking some of his 44 billion dollars that Berkshire Hathaway was sitting on into US Equities.

Oh, yea, and Warren Buffet is sinking some of his personal cash hoard into US Equities.


So, what do I know that Warren Buffet doesn’t know?  Nothing.  He’s a genius and I’m a fool.  If he says the sky is purple and made of cotton candy…  yea, we’re going to be calling the crazy cops on him.  But he’s isn’t saying that.  He’s saying that AMERICAN EQUITIES ARE ON SALE!!!


Everything’s 25% off, some are more so.  Go out and buy 2.


20 years from now which economy will be on top of the world?  (here’s a hint…  it’s not China.)


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What my opening statements would be...

Ok, if I were writing the opening statement for the Senior Senator, rather than outright attacking the Junior Senator over his ties to terrorists I would instead do the following:


My friends, we have tried hard over the last few weeks to bring to the voter’s attention my opponent’s history of poor judgment in his choice of whom he would associate himself with.  This information has been labeled as “attack advertising” or “mudslinging”, but the reality is that the information is true.  Yes, it’s unsavory, but it’s true.  And to be quite honest I’d rather be talking about and critiquing my opponent’s legislative records and history of accomplishment, but that is shockingly thin for someone who aspires to an office as significant as the Presidency of the United States of America.

Tonight, though, I’m going to take a different tone.  I’m going to set aside the so called “attacks” on my opponent and share some honest truth about my own poor judgment in my choice of associates.  Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I was involved in what became known as the “Keating 5 scandal”.  Charles Keating was a big player in Arizona politics and ran the company which controlled the Lincoln Savings and Loan.

I knew Charles Keating and he was a major fundraiser, not only for me but for most successful Arizona politicians.

I was caught up in this scandal because a colleague of mine asked me and 3 other senators to attend a meeting with bank regulators who were investigating Mr. Keating’s banking practices.  My understanding of the intent of these meetings was simply to insure Mr. Keating was being treated fairly, but any time 5 senators are together in a meeting with regulators there is the appearance of impropriety.  I never tried to pressure the regulators, but my very presence there gave the appearance that my colleagues and I were doing just that.

It’s that appearance of impropriety that tainted the early part of my career and it was that appearance of impropriety that drove me to champion campaign finance reform and refuse to ask for earmarks.  Stephen King wrote a story called “The Eye of the Dragon”, and in that story a mother explained to her young son, who would one day be king, that when boys grow up to be kings they get big in a way that can’t be seen, and because of that hurt people just by being careless about where they walk.

That scandal from early in my senate career drove that point home for me.

The most damning part of my association with Charles Keating wasn’t that I actually pressured regulators, because I was completely exonerated of that charge.  The most damning part of that whole, sorry episode was that it gave the appearance of impropriety.

Upon the revelation of how profoundly and deliberately Mr. Keating was breaking the laws I disassociated myself from him, because even associating with someone who cost so many people so much—not just money, but careers and livelihoods—gave the appearance of impropriety even if, as it happened, I was exonerated of any wrong doing.

So that’s why it was important to me to make sure you knew, my friends, who my colleague associated himself with and give him the chance to explain or defend his association with these despicable people.  When I knew what Mr. Keating had been up to, I not only condemned the actions but I disassociated myself from him.  I didn’t just assume he was rehabilitated.  I was done with him.  I haven’t spoken with that man in nearly two decades because I didn’t even want the appearance of impropriety because, my friends, when it comes to character and judgment, both a solid record of accomplishment and appearances matter.


Of course, this does 2 things.  It takes the Junior Senator off script AND clears the air with a  little honesty about McCain’s own record, which he is not only able and willing to defend, but has also put out there with complete transparency for others to review—2 things the Junior Senator has not and cannot do (has not because the seedier associations have never been examined with any real zeal and cannot because there really isn’t any record of accomplishment to present).


All the same, I’ll be in class tonight so I might have to catch the debate on tape delay.  What joyous fun.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Math sucks

I just got an e-mail suggesting an alternative to the $85 BILLION bailout of AIG (that happened something close to a month ago).


“Rather than give $85 billion to AIG, I propose we give that money to ‘bailout’ the average American citizen.  The population stands at 301 million (actually closer to 306m today, but what’s a few million?) and a fair estimate of the total adult population is 200 million.  If we give every man and woman a share of that 85 billion dollars each and every person would get…  $425,000!!!”


It goes on from there, but now is a good time to stop and pull out a calculator (or excel spreadsheet).

What can you do with $425,000?  Let’s just assume you put it in an interest bearing account for the next 20 years earning a meager 3.25% (like a good money market fund).  You’d have, just by doing nothing, a whopping $143,000,000.  That’s good times.

Of course, half of that money would have already been taxed, so you’d really only have $297,000 or so to put in the bank.  All the same, that $297,000 would be a whopping $100,000,000.  That’s no chump change.  That’s family tree changing money.  That’s the kind of money that will allow you to go and feed the starving and fund space ventures and such and so forth.

Of course, it’s also likely that EVERYTHING would instantly become more expensive due to the old, precedent setting court case of Fool v Money where the court ruled that the one would always be separated from the other.  And as a lot humans are stupid and greedy and think they absolutely must have the newest and shiniest baubles right NOW AND I MEAN NOW OR I’M GOING TO START MAKING SOME SERIOUS TROUBLE!!!!


But, more importantly than all that, $85,000,000,000 divided by 200,000,000 is only $425.


Not $425,000.


Yea, it’s true.  Math is a bitch.  No matter how hard you try, you just can’t get around basic, immutable laws of primal math.

Nonetheless, if you can take $85,000,000,000 and divide it among 200,000,000 people and somehow make the shares equal to $425,000 I’m all for the plan.  I’ve also got some loaves and fishes for you to share among your true believers, too.  Maybe some water for you to walk on before changing it to wine.

Monday, October 13, 2008

10% week

The markets lost something like 15% over the last week or so.

I think this week will be a net gain of about 10%.  Why?  Because the fundamentals of our economy are sound…  just some crappy investments working their way through the very clogged digestive track.  Plus regulators are FINALLY taking action.

Then again, I’m bullish on the American economy.  In the long run, we tend to find a way to win.  That’s what we do.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Interesting side developments

Ok, so the market is continuing to drop a load at our feet.  That’s cool…  I still think it’s on sale and I’m not selling a damn thing.


After all, if we didn’t think the market would eventually come back (and historically it ALWAYS comes back), we’d be packing up and getting the fuck out of Dodge.  But the truth is it’s bad EVERYWHERE (even in places like Europe where there are no republicans).  So, we’re not going anywhere and, eventually, probably sooner rather than later, the market will snap back.  And if you quit today, you’re going to miss out tomorrow.  It is what it is.


And looking at it from a logical standpoint…


Why do companies exist?  To return value to shareholders.  That’s it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Sure, as a byproduct of “returning value” they also create jobs and improve conditions for their chosen homes, but their A#1 job is to return value to the shareholders.

Now, let’s just imagine for a second that you’re one of those shareholders…  go ahead…  imagine for a second…


Doesn’t that feel good?  No, of course not.  You’ve just lost several thousands of dollars on your investments.  What are you going to do about it?  Sell low?  That’s not how you became a big mover and shaker in the investment game.  Is Warren Buffet selling?  No.  No he isn’t.  Calm down…  take a deep breath.  What are you going to do?


You’re going to look at your company that you own a chunk of and figure out how that company is going to start returning value back to you and your fellow share holders.  And what happens when value is returned to shareholders?  That’s right, the price of ownership in those companies goes up.  The price of ownership is represented by the stock price—which is a share of ownership—and THAT price represents expected future earnings, which is why you always want to buy companies that are ABOUT to hit it big (or are continuing to hit it big), not companies that just hit it big.  So, all the idiots that bought Google at $600, they screwed up.  The geniuses that bought it anywhere from $100 to $500, brilliant.  Of course, you only know when you’re a genius after the fact, not before the fact…  which is why the smartest people in the world buy distressed assets that are fundamentally sound (like the US Economy) and poised for a big comeback (like the US Economy).  People who tell you that our system is fundamentally broken are fools and you should offer to separate them from their money before someone without scruples does it for them.


News flash, people.  The US market isn’t going anywhere.  It’s down, but certainly not out.  We may very well break the 8,000 mark today, but that’s no big deal…  it just means the sale is getting better by the day.  Of course, none of this applies to folks who are unemployed or recently evicted…  although statistically speaking that is still the vast VAST minority of folks out there.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Debate Post Mortem II

The short form analysis is this:  meh


I was non-plussed by the whole thing.  It was nice to see McCain offer up the “in my opponent’s short tenure” line and point out that he promised a tax cut for the middle class when he was running for the Senate, but offered up no legislation to follow through on that promise.

Meanwhile, a lot of McCain’s answers were indirect and betray a more fundamental understanding of how to govern, rather than how we want to be governed.  Which makes sense, since he’s been a politician on the national stage for over 2 decades…  not as long as Joe Biden, but still a really long time.


Yes, I’m saying McCain seems out of touch with day to day realities and more well versed in government policies and foreign relations than with what it’s like to get up every day and go to work in order to simply pay the bills and (God willing) set a little aside for a rainy day, much less retirement.


That said, his opponent is just the opposite.  He’s more well versed in having to live within a budget (because he’s practically barely out of college) and interacting with the day to day transactions than with government relations and foreign policy jibber jabber.


And that all makes sense, too, if you think about it.  One is practically fresh out of college, where you have to live on a budget and know how people live.  The other is a Washington insider who knows everyone up and down the halls of Congress, but not necessarily the people who live down the street from him in Arizona.  It is what it is…  you don’t fault a fish for being wet.


However, when the rhetoric stops, it’ll be time to get down to business and make work happen.  How do you make work happen?  Well, Mr. Perot, you need to know people in Washington to get work done in Washington.  Unless, of course, you want to just sit back and punt the responsibility to your policy wonks and the folks in Congress…  oh, wait…  we already HAVE that President.  Maybe we should have someone who knows people in Washington and has actually done something.  There’s only one guy running who has that kind of cred.  And the only remarkable thing from the debate is that he pointed it out a few times…  but the media is ignoring it.

Why do we do it...

Taking a break from the debates (yes, more later, but not now), I’ve been pondering something lately.


Some people run because they love it.  They just flat out want to go out and run and get itchy feet if they don’t.


Some people seek out challenges because they must.  They don’t just climb mountains because they’re there, they climb mountains because they ABSOLUTELY MUST climb that mountain—whatever the mountain is.  The strain and punishment of accomplishment diverts their attention from the emptiness that they otherwise would have to confront.  It consumes their life, lest their life consume them.


Some people do these things for fun.  They get great joy and/or peace from hang gliding or survivalist-type camping or whatever their particular drug of choice is.  It’s integrated with their life and their life has consumed and metabolized their peace and past time and that peace has become a part of their life.  It’s not so much an activity as it is an act of meditation.


And then there’s me.  I don’t use my various challenges as a drug.  I’ve picked up and put down challenges as easy as I would pick up and put down anything else.  I don’t need to run or swim or cycle or hike or camp as an act of meditation any more…  there was a time, once, when that might have been true, but that time is long past.  Maybe that’s why I don’t ride as often (or at all) as I used to.  I certainly don’t love running.  There are very few things I want to do less than run.


Yet, the marathon was one challenge that I picked up and couldn’t put down.  I picked it up.  I failed.  I could have simply walked away and washed my hands of the whole, sordid affair.  Yet I did not.  I picked it up again and completed my marathon.  I’ve considered running another one, but have yet to feel the absolute need to scale that mountain again.  The triathlon is still to come, but thanks to the hurricane the timing just hasn’t been right.


So why did I even bother?  Months of work, capped off my failure, followed by more months of work, capped by the one fleeting moment.  Cross the line.  Release the primal cheer of victory.  Receive the medallion.  Take a drink.  Eat breakfast.  Sleep.  Wake.  Back to work, life goes on.  A few months go by and the fellow in the mirror barely resembles the fellow at the finish line.

So, why bother?


I think the answer to that is because there is another reason to seek out mountains to conquer.  For some it’s the love of the thing and they must do that thing.  For others it’s the fear of reality.  For still others the thing is a gateway to their own center.  And then there’s the other reason…  the quest for an anchor.

An anchor is that thing you can look back to, your own personal crucible, your own universal analogy.  It’s the quest to finish the sentence that starts with “Life is a…”


For me, life is, and forever will be, a marathon.  That marathon is my anchor.  The 42 miles worth of marathon that I ran, and all the intervening training miles that I (grudgingly) put under my belt is my universal analogy.


Work sucks?  Remember, life is a marathon and you have to put in the training miles to appreciate that moment at the finish line.

School is tough?  Remember, life is a marathon and you have to put in the training miles to appreciate that moment at the finish line.  Nothing is as sweet as that moment.  That moment, forever fleeting, forever there, can run on a permanent loop.  The anticipation, the cheers of the thinning crowd…  finishing is what it’s all about.  And finishing strong.  Crawl, roll, lurch, limp, walk, or run…  it’s all about the finish.  You can stumble.  You can fail.  You can start over.  Just remember…  finish.


In “City Slickers” they say there’s nothing like bringing in the herd.  Sure.  You can use that as your universal analogy…  but I prefer finishing.  Nothing beats going past that finish line.  Nothing beats the marathon pancakes.  Nothing beats the trip through the Valley of Legends.  Nothing beats entering through the Hero’s Gates.  Nothing beats running over the bumpy stretch of Allen Parkway that I will only ever remember as the gut ripping Giant Washboard.  Nothing beats cresting the railroad overpass on Westpark that I will forever remember as Victory Hill…  renamed from Heartbreak Hill the year of my most humbling and humiliating failure.  And then there’s The Spot.  Right there, past the Newcastle Curve at Richmond and 610.  The Spot of surrender in 2005 where I simply couldn’t go another step.  The Spot that can never be erased and will never be forgotten.  The spot where I had to call my lovely wife (and crew chief) and tell her I was done.  The Spot that I spit on as I trotted by one year later en route to the ultimate goal, the ultimate Universal Analogy…  finishing.  They can bring in the herd…  and I may even steal that line on occasion.


But nothing beats finishing. 





Debate post mortem I

Ok, during the town hall (and during the first debate) I found myself looking at the candidates’ backs a lot.

(What’d he say?!?)

Yea, you read that right, looking at their backs a lot.

Did anyone else notice how smooth the seam was between the candidates’ shoulder blades?  Yea, so did I.  Makes that whole “bulge on the back” thing from 2004 seem curiouser and curiouser.


More later.  I just wanted to toss that out to start things off.  Consider it an appetizer.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Practicing what I preach

Well…  I’ve been saying for so many years that when the stock market tanks, it’s on sale.  When houses are foreclosed and on the market at 80% of value, they’re on sale, not depressed.  When Apple stock is a good buy at $200, then it’s a FABULOUS buy at $97.

After all, when a car dealer knocks $15,000 off the sticker price, we don’t say “gosh, that car was totally over priced” and refuse to buy.  No, no, no…  we say “what a deal!!” and rush to get a loan that we can’t afford for a car we don’t want that will plummet in value (far more than the $15k) when we drive it off the lot so that we can impress people we don’t know or like.


When Payless puts shoes on sale for 50% off, we break down the door to buy yet another pair of shoes that we don’t need.

When WalMart knocks another nickel off the crap they sell, we buy 2 of each so that we can have more crap.


We love crap.  We love crap that’s on sale even more.


So, why do we freak out when the market drops 7%?  10%?  15%?  Or 3%, as it’s been doing nearly daily over the last week or so?


95% of 5 year periods in the US Stock market are positive net returns since 1929.

100% of 10 year periods in the US Stock market are positive net returns since 1929.

The ONLY reason for corporations to exist is to return value to stockholders either through earnings growth or dividends.  They have no other reason to be, period.


Why, then, do we freak out when stocks go on sale, rather than buy them when they go on sale?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to bust down the door to the stock exchange when they hang out the banner that says “EVERYTHING 5% OFF!!”?


Well, I finally got through to myself.  I rebalanced my 401k funds do dump a couple of funds that were redundant and allocated that 30% to an S&P500 index fund.  Why?  Because over the next 30 years the S&P will return 5% to 10%, on average, and index funds have a much lower cost basis than the funds I dumped.

For the record, the other 70% is heavily weighted in Dow and S&P companies already.


What can I say?  The whole damn market is on sale and Apple, Schlumberger, Google, Microsoft, Exxon, Conocco, Merck, and their friends are NOT going anywhere.  Might as well strike while the iron is hot and snatch up that pair of shoes marked 10% off.

Why Bill Ayers should matter

“Senators, how would you go about addressing the problem of terrorism against the United States and around the world?”


O:  First, we have to confront it and prevent it with law enforcement when possible and military action when necessary, but in addition to that we need to understand why these terrorists act the way they do and address the root causes by rehabilitating the image of America in the world. 


(This is, by the way, the so called “Bush Doctrine” with regards to terrorists—arrest, assault, capture, kill, and drain the swamp that creates terrorism.  The difference is that the one sees cultural and social issues playing a part in conjunction to attitudes towards the US, while the other sees only a poor image of the US causing the problem.)


M:  I don’t disagree, but we cannot simply sit back and wait for a crime to be committed when the danger is the planning of these heinous, evil actions against the United States and our allies.  Besides, it shouldn’t be hard for my colleague to seek out the root causes of the poor image of America in the world, he can just go around the corner to one of his associates and fund raisers who used to help coordinate these sorts of attacks against American interests and ask him what compelled him to support bombings here at home.

Monday, October 06, 2008

True racial equality

Barack Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois, is an agent of change.  His chosen profession—politician—and his genetic background absolutely confirm that he is an agent of change, just as a female kicker in the NFL would be an agent of change.

He has a different perspective.

He is not an old, white man.

He is not a young white man.

He is not female.

He brings a different and fresh perspective to the whole game of Presidential politics.


If this is truly a “post-racial” society (which in some pockets of society it clearly isn’t), the most logical way to look at these “qualifications” and address them is to say the following:  “so what”.


Good for you, you’re a minority.  That doesn’t earn you my vote any more than being white should earn you my vote.  You’ve got to come with the hard stuff.


What have you DONE?

More importantly, what will you DO?


We know the answer to the first is a resounding “nothing”.  No significant legislation, no significant leadership, no significant anything.  When the chips are on the table and a decision actually matters, the answer is more often than not “present” if there is any answer at all.  So, then, what will you DO?


I have no doubt in my mind that he is willing to sit down and forge a consensus among differing parties.  The problem is that if he becomes President, there won’t be differing parties.  One party will control the house, senate, and executive.  Remember how well that went in Clinton’s first couple of years?  What about Bush’s first few years?  Not such a great time, remember?

And this time we have Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid—two of the most liberal legislators in the legislative branch.  Add to that the Barney Franks and their cohorts, you have serious cause for concern.

I find myself in the unusual position of wishing there was a republican majority in the house and senate, because I would like really like to see an Obama Presidency, mostly because I don’t really think he’ll DO much of anything, but he’ll at the very least change the conversation and tone a bit and be a hedge on republican law writing.  But with a democrat congress, I fear that he’ll be less a President and more of a rubber stamp, not unlike George Bush who didn’t receive a bill he wouldn’t sign into law for 6 years.


Obama might yet win this thing.  If he does, he can thank George Bush and his cabal (Cheny, Rumsfeld, et al) for being so very horrid and so grossly miscarrying the public trust for the majority of the terms in office that the public would vote my old front tire into office just to have someone else in there—if it ran as a democrat.  Unfortunately, that means giving Nancy and Harry the keys to the ship for 2 years.  So, when the nation descends further into the shit hole that has been dug the last two or three years and new “reforms” are implemented that allow Nancy to “save the planet” while completely crapping on the Constitution she allegedly has vowed to uphold, we can also extend a hearty “thank you” the Bush and his cronies and his whole party for collectively bending us over and showing us some prison love.


Hopefully, though, good sense and reason will win the day and America will see Obama for the empty suit that he is, with no significant achievement in his rearview mirror, except for the fact that he strives for significant achievement at every turn, just so long it is politically expedient.

If you haven't bought a hat yet...


Holy freaking crap.


Nearly 700 points on the big board today…  this mess is getting badder and badder by the day.  Now it’s the foreign markets that are making the American markets’ collective head spin.  This happened once before, and the US exchanges bounced back.  I expect this week will be a slight loss by the time the dust settles, but this ain’t over yet.


If you don’t have a hat, go out and buy one, then hold the fuck on to it, because this is going to be a bumpy ride until this mess gets sorted out.


Meanwhile, remember, everything is on sale!!  The market WILL come back.  It’ll take time, for sure, but it’ll come back and it’ll come back strong.  Better to buy now and keep buying than to wait until it bounces back up.  Get your shares while they’re on sale!!!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pet peeve

Heard something the other day that just riles me to no end.  We were discussing perception in one of my classes (marketing or management) and someone offered up:  “It’s extremely important because perception IS reality”


(deep breath…  calm down…  easy…  easy…  ok)


Alright, look here.  That’s just about the stupidest thing ever.  Perception is no more reality than paper is lead.  Don’t believe me?  I can prove it.


Stand with your back facing the wall, close your eyes, take a few steps forward until you can no longer feel the wall, keep your eyes closed, turn 180 degrees around, and walk forward.


With your eyes closed (and lights off, if you want to be adventurous) you cannot perceive the wall, unless it has an unusually large temperature variance to the rest of the room or a ticking clock or some other tip that it’s still there.  All things being equal, and if “perception IS reality”, then that wall should also cease to be there and, as long as you keep your eyes closes, you should be able to walk until your legs get tired. 


Unless, of course, your perception is flawed (because your eyes are closed) and the wall really is there, then you’re going to smack your face into the wall and look very, very stupid.  Unless the lights are off, and perception is reality, then you won’t look stupid because nobody will be able to see you.


Look, perception IS NOT reality.  REALITY is reality, perception is how we interact with reality.  Everyone has a right to perceive the world around them through whatever filter they want, but that does not mean that however they perceive the world is equally right as compared to how others perceive the world.  Or, simply put, some opinions are flat out wrong (and I’m not exempt from that universal truth).


As an example (and this is a real life example, by the way), I can say “the sky is blue”.  You can respond “no, I’m color blind, the sky is actually green.”  Your color blindness does NOT change the fact that the atmosphere of the earth refracts light in such a way as to filter the spectrum of available light so that the blue segment of the spectrum is most visible under normal circumstances.  Your color blindness only means that the blue light which is filtered and eventually delivered to your retinal cones and whatsits is altered so that your optic nerve interprets the blue to be green.  The sky is still blue, your eyes are just messed up.  Despite that, this idiot kept trying to convince me that because he saw the sky as green, then the sky was green.  The thing is the sky is not green any more than if he closed his eyes the sky, moon, and all of his surroundings would cease to be in their entirety (with the exception of those things he could still feel, smell, or hear).  By the same logic, Columbus not only “discovered” America, but he also CREATED every inch of territory he saw for the first time with his eyes.  Newly discovered planets DIDN’T EVEN EXIST before they were perceived by humans.


It’s just about the stupidest thing ever.  And if you’re offended by this, then just perceive that I didn’t write it and it’ll be like it didn’t even happen.  In fact, perceive that I wrote the exact opposite, if that makes you feel better.

While you’re at it, why don’t you perceive me a million dollars, too, and I’ll admit that I’m completely wrong and retire this blog forever.